Where we went: Montezuma Falls, West Coast Tasmania (with the whole Sapphire Clan)
When we went: Summer 2023
Grade of walk: long 2
Proposed time for walk: 3 hours
Time spent walking: 3.5 hours (long lunch)
Montezuma Falls, near Rosebery, in Western Tasmania is the tallest waterfall in the state and one of the 60 great short walks in Tasmania (it is worth noting that the word “short” has been aggressively scratched off the sign by a member of the public who isn’t really wrong; 3 hours is a fairly large chunk of the day). There are benches along the way for rests. I am also delighted to report that dogs are permitted on leads in this area and we got to pet multiple dogs! It is also possible to access this area via the Melba Flats 4WD track if you engage in this as a hobby.
The walking track is clearly signed, easy to follow, and there is parking available. An old mining tram track cut this pathway through the rainforest along a leisurely incline, so it was a requirement that a tram be able to lumber along this journey.
It is listed as suitable for wheelchairs on some sites and, as a wheelchair pusher I can confirm that a hippocamp, Xrover, or adequate offroader could definitely give it a go, but here’s the thing, the Falls themselves are only visible after a short flight of stairs, or along a narrow suspension bridge and there is a small pinch point formed by a log that would require a chair user to move through without their wheels and the chair to be lifted over. A chair could definitely take all but the last 2 minutes of the journey, and the rest of the way could be handled with physical assistance, so ensure you travel with someone capable of offering physical support up a small, narrow flight of stairs (with the railing). There is a landing base at the end for safe seating.
The track can definitely get very muddy in very wet weather so avoid very wet days if using wheels to get around (or if you just don’t really want super muddy boots). We were travelling during a dry spell and the falls were still beautiful, this isn’t one of the ones you have to wait for rainfall to actualise it.
We set of at 11:20am (the whole Sapphire Clan except for the pater familius, who had work to tend to) with picnic lunch spread across all our packs and lots of water because the water in the stream on the way isn’t drinkable (heavy metals, mining area, seriously don’t drink the water). With temperatures expected to soar very high we had specially chosen a rainforest walk to keep to the shade.
There is a longdrop toilet without toilet paper or handwashing facilities a short way from the start of the very clearly marked entrance. We always carry hand sanitiser, soap, and toilet paper with us and we suggest you do the same. There are no other toilet facilities so we suggest you use these ones.
The first section of track is along a broad, rocky path lined with trees on both sides there is a fork in the road and a sign which points you towards the falls (to the right), to the left is a mystery track with no obvious sights to peep. Follow signs and you’ll do fine.
The rainforest engulfed us quickly after we crossed a bridge (with a 4 person load limit) that sits beside the dilapidated remains of the old bridge, which is steadily being reclaimed by the bush.
The path, in parts, through-cuts rocks which form cooling sentries upon which tall trees perch. Water droplets trickle over the edges, dripping from the mossy rocks. A gentle breeze tickles the canopy causing some branches to creek softly. Bug and birdsong fills the summer air which is mercifully pleasant in the shade.
Around an hour into our walk we came across a small cave (adit) dug by miners of yore with a boarded path to the a small viewing platform. Very keen to potentially view a glow-worm, and only moderately concerned about cave spiders, we entered the adit. Some party members insist there was a glow-worm, others agree that blue dots were seen but blame eye-sight trickery. All agree that there were very spidery bugs on the walls near were the natural light was getting in and beat as calm a retreat as we could manage.
Shortly after the adit we came across a fallen tree which was being dealt with by park rangers (who did not agree to be photographed). One has to admire the work ethic of these men as it was literally new years day, and also a Sunday, but they were still out bush chainsawing and having a chuckle with guests.
Not long after the fallen tree the path was rendered accessible by foot traffic only by a collection of logs which I grumbled about as someone who had hoped to bring a wheelchair through here one day. I am pleased to report that the rangers had cleared this section by our return.
1 hour and 20 minutes after we set out we came to a suspension bridge which passes over the river and forest below. The bridge offers a wonderful viewpoint of the falls, but it is not essential to cross it to see the falls from the base. Those with a fear of heights may wish to skip this section. The path continues straight, not across the floating rainforest nightmare maker. There is a path on the other side of the bridge that connects to the Melba Flats track.
We played on the bridge to our satisfaction before returning to the side with the track to the falls, from there it is an easy 1 minute or so before you are at the base of a short, narrow stairway up. The sound of the falls is heavily muted by the trees and you don’t really realise until you reach the end of the line and are greeted by the thunderous applause of Montezuma, who presides over a small clearing filled with ferns, flowers and butterflies.
While we were enjoying lunch the rangers caught up to us (they had a little golf cart so could make vastly superior time), to work on the platform. As we were lunching on the rocks we were not in each other’s way, and the sounds of their machinery was covered by the falls so our nature amenity was not interrupted at all. There is more solitude and serenity to be found along the old mining trail than the full car park and many guests would have had us believe possible.