Friday 6 January 2023

Wandering the Little Fisher 2: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

[Our Goal for the Day] 

Sounds from the nearby creek and river lull me towards slumber; the loveliest form of white noise. But when the whoosh of wind in the trees and the percussive patter of rain on the tent are added, I know the forecast change has arrived. It only encourages me to linger in the tent, so much so that when I blearily look at my watch, I think it reads 8:48. I’ve slept in!

[The nearby creek that lulled us to sleep]


I hurriedly emerge from my little red crysalis, and stumble over to our “kitchen” expecting everyone to have breakfasted and be wondering where I am. Only Tim is there, sipping coffee beneath the large tarp. There’s no sign of Ken or Merran. I check my watch and see that it’s actually 6:52. Oops – should’ve gone to Specsavers.


By the time the others join us, the rain is consistent, as is the wind. We linger over breakfast, in no hurry to go out into this. My usual cup or two of tea with porridge is followed by a brew of coffee. We discuss our options. These are not the weather conditions for venturing onto the open plateau, and it’s clear none of us is in favour of donning our big packs and climbing out of the valley just yet. We sit tight. I have a second coffee. Our expedition is becoming bijou rather than epic.

[Our campsite kitchen beneath the tarp]


Eventually we concede that we really should do at least some walking. And if it’s going to rain, what could be better than to walk through rainforest to Rinadena Falls? We’d actually crafted this Little Fisher wander with Tim O’Loughlin in mind, partly because he’d long wanted to visit these fabled falls. Alas TimO excluded himself from the walk at the last minute, having been a close contact of someone with Covid.


In his honour we don wet weather gear and day packs, and head for the falls. Except there’s an undecided voter. Merran is very comfy in the tent, and reading something exciting. She waivers a little before wishing us well, and hunkering down inside the tent. So three of us amble across the floodplain, scout out a suitable river crossing, and rejoin the Little Fisher Track.

[Ken and Tim on the Little Fisher Track]


Hoods up, heads down we wander upriver in light but persistent rain. Tim D points out that we’ll soon be out of regrowth forest and into old growth rainforest. Once we cross that invisible boundary, the contrast is tangible. The girth and height of the dominant myrtle trees is much increased, and the complexity of the under-storey more obvious. We sidle up and down, but mostly up, through delightful, deep green, fern-fringed rainforest. 

[Beside the Little Fisher River]

The Little Fisher is never far away, usually visible, always audible. Much of the forest floor is covered in almost luminous sphagnum, which is dotted with green and chocolate coloured leaves and twigs dropped from the trees. We also notice a proliferation of Pterostylis scabrida – rough greenhood orchids – more than I’ve ever seen. Occasionally the bright red flowers of Tasmanian waratah (Telopea truncata) provide a contrast.

[A Cluster of Greenhood Orchids]


[Ken photographs a Tasmanian waratah]

A little more climbing leads us away from the Little Fisher towards the falls, which are on a tributary creek. Our first glimpse of them is up through tall rainforest. Water drops over a broad rock shelf, perhaps 30m high, with the main channel a little off centre. Lesser falls and trickles add watery drama and mossy greenness to the whole. 

[First glimpse of Rinadena Falls through the forest]

[Part of Rinadena Falls]

Surrounded as they are by beautiful rainforest, it’s hard not to be won over by these lovely falls. What’s more it’s stopped raining, and there may even be some sun waiting for us above the canopy. We sit on a log and take it all in over lunch. 

[Lunch in the forest by the falls]


After the mostly downhill wander back to camp, we’re well pleased with our few hours of walking. So pleased in fact that a couple of us retire to our tents for a recuperative break. In truth we’re also happy to get away from the mosquitos, which are enjoying our warm-blooded presence beneath the tarp a little too much.


When we’re all back in the “kitchen” for dinner, our day goes from the sublime to the ridiculous. Tim decides to get serious about the mosquitos, and deploys a battery operated “mozzie zapper” he’s been given for Christmas. He turns the small dalek-shaped contraption on, and it emits a violet light. But if its job is to exterminate, it proves the mildest-mannered dalek imaginable. Hundreds of sizeable mozzies buzz around us, but show no interest in the zapper. We even “hoosh” a few towards it, to no avail.

[One kamikaze mosquito in the "zapper"]


We return to cooking, in between swatting mosquitos and applying repellant. And then it happens. There’s a barely audible “fizz”, and Tim nearly falls out of his Helinox chair, shouting “We’ve got one!!” Sure enough, some poor befuddled mozzie has strayed into the “killing machine”, and lies there, gently frying. Without meaning offence to the unfortunate kamikaze creature, we roll about, almost crying with laughter. We decide it deserves a posthumous Darwin Award for services to the mosquito gene pool. Its gormlessness will not be passed on.

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