Pyengana & Weldborough

Tasmania’s mountainous and hilly landscape means that the island state boasts countless hidden valleys,  and Pyengana is one of them. This fertile vale, a picturesque 20-minute drive west of St Helens, is the site of St Columba Falls State Reserve and St Columba Falls, a 90 metre-tall cascade considered Tasmania’s highest, and most beautiful, waterfall.

Weld River, Weldborough

Weld River, Weldborough

From the reserve car park, it’s an easy ten-minute stroll through the heart of an ancient temperate rainforest studded with colossal tree ferns, sassafras, myrtle and beech trees to a swiftly flowing creek of such beauty that it takes your breath away.

An untouched Garden of Eden, St Columba Falls State Reserve is home to elusive platypuses, who make their burrows along the shores of the pristine creek. It is simply magic, while soaking up the enchanting silence of the rainforest, to spy these enigmatic egg-laying mammals darting amid the creek beds.

Overlooked by densely wooded hills, this heavily-forested country was prime habitat for thylacines – Tasmanian Tigers – once Australia’s largest carnivorous marsupial, which have been listed “presumed extinct” since 1986, fifty years after the last documented thylacine died at Hobart Zoo in 1936.

There have been some 4,000 reported sightings of thylacines over the past 50 years, many in the north-east region.

St Columba Falls was the scene of one famous 1995 sighting, when a local ranger reported spotting a tiger sitting on a rock ledge near the falls. It was just one of around one-dozen sightings of the mysterious marsupial reported in the region each year.

Many locals believe that it is unlikely the Thylacine is extinct: there are plenty of places to hide in the vast tracts of Tasmania’s silent forests, and thylacines – trapped, shot and poisoned in their thousands by early settlers – have every reason to keep their distance from humans.

Mt Paris Dam

Mt Paris Dam

Just down the road is the Pyengana Dairy Company, which has been making delicious cheese since the early 1900s. Famous for their award-winning cloth-bound cheddar, Pyengana also produces all sorts of flavoured cheese – from chilli, sun-dried tomato, pickled onion to caraway – made from the milk of the fat cows you see grazing in the fields of Pyengana’s dairy farms. You will enjoy this light hearted video of some Pyengana locals: http://gobehindthescenery.com.au/seedo/pyengana-dairy

It’s a short drive to nearby Halls Falls walking track, a 1.5 hour trek through dense, unspoiled bush to an historic weir built by timber workers in the late 19th century. Stroll amid massive gum trees and centuries-old tree ferns, drinking in the pure eucalypt-smelling air of the Tasmanian bush.

Pyengana

Pyengana