Teach your children well

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Willa Blazey-Nicholls in a Nothofagus forest

This spring, Penny and I were lucky enough to holiday in the Tasmanian wilderness on two occasions.

In August we were blessed to be staying at Cradle Mountain just as the snow fell on the mountain and at the lodge. Our 3-year-old granddaughter was with us, spellbound by the floating snowflakes, the very tame Red-bellied Paddymelons (a smaller hopping form of mini wallaby) and the not-so-shy wombats scuffling along the duck boards.

She managed the 2 hour walk around Dove Lake with its spectacular views of Cradle Mountain, followed by the magical ballroom forest of gigantic Myrtle Beech (Nothofagus cunninghamii) almost completely covered in moss. Under the shelter of Marion’s Look-out are truly gigantic forms of our most elegant grass-like palm Richea pandanifolia and dotted around the lake are 500-year-old King Billy Pines (Anthrotaxis selaginoides).

Now our granddaughter is too young to know that most of these plants are ancient and of Gondwana origin, but I don’t think that there is any part of Australia so mesmerisingly beautiful, except perhaps Lord Howe Island, which is the reason for taking my children and grandchildren there. Strangely the eastern side of Tasmania, and most travelled route from Launceston to Hobart, has overly familiar, rather dull scenery, being so similar to grazing land throughout mainland Australia.

There is a reason why Cradle Mountain, the Tarkine and Lord Howe are listed on the World Heritage Register, because that they are the most precious parts of Australia and indeed the world. Perhaps that’s why on the more than the 30 occasions that I have been to Cradle Mountain, I more often hear Japanese, German, Dutch, Chinese and American spoken, but hardly ever any Australian.

Maybe this is the reason that Gunn’s were allowed to woodchip so much of their ancient forests because most Tasmanians have yet to visit and value this unbelievably precious World Heritage Area.

Beech forests

To walk through a Beech forest in autumn in Britain, France or Italy is a sight as memorable as any over-used, autumn tourist brochures of American Maples, but this is not an experience any of us in the southern hemisphere are aware of.

Glimpses of that sylvan paradise can be seen at the garden of Cloudehill in the Dandenongs from May and also at St Erth where Tommy Garnett planted both the European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) as well as numerous false beeches from the southern hemisphere (Nothofagus species total 43 in number). In visual terms, a southern Beech forest is memorable, not for its autumn light and leaves (because it is evergreen), but rather the trees are gigantic and host the mosses and parasites that create the Hobbit-like shady nook of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

The Tarkine

Bob Brown has been very active in working to protect this precious area from mining and wood chipping, so we were anxious to visit and stay.

Unlike Cradle Mountain, the area lacks spectacular rugged peaks, the sunshine that comes with high altitude wilderness, walks through spectacular lakes as well as button grass plains.

80% of this conservation area of north-west Tasmania has, with the change to the Liberal state government, allowed logging which clearly threatens 1,800 square kilometres of cool temperate rainforest

We stayed on the Pieman River at Corinna, a delightful tiny village on the edge of a Nothofagus forest. There are lots of fascinating short walks but it lacks accessibility, being a further 4 hour drive from Devonport or Launceston than Cradle Mountain.

Clive Blazey (14 Jan 2018).

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Clive Blazey

Clive is the founder of The Diggers Club, a pioneer in the rescue of heirloom vegetable and fruit varieties and author of seven books on flower, vegetable and fruit gardening.

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