Nelson Falls was a gorgeous 30m high wall of water shaped like an inverted wine glass. Julie and I were very pleasantly surprised to see this waterfall pumping the way it did, and perhaps it might have had to do with the rain we received the previous night while we were staying in Queenstown (some 27km to the west). In addition to the waterfall itself, the short 700m long (20 minutes return) walk took us through a temperate rainforest that was probably the healthiest ecosystem we encountered throughout our drought-stricken trip to the southeast of Australia in November 2006. Not only were the ferns and mossy trees dripping with dew and displayed a vibrant green, but the flow of Nelson River was also vigorous. Even the lookout at the end of the track was getting hit by the waterfall's spray, which was something we couldn't say about any other waterfall during this trip.
The interpretive signs along the track had us imagine we were in a time machine. By doing so through those signs, we learned that this part of Tasmania was not only under water, then under ice, and then split up from neighboring forests that would now be in New Zealand and even South America, but that the species of fern that were along the walking track also happened to occur in those distant places. The primal and wild feel to the rainforest here was aided by the fact that Nelson Falls was part of the undeveloped Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, which was part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Although the legislative protection helped maintain the health of this area, we could see that prior efforts to find mineral riches as well as a way to traverse the boggy and rugged wilderness on the former Linda Track resulted in pretty harsh living conditions. No wonder why the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area that dominated much of the western and southern parts of the state of Tasmania remained one of the largest contiguous tracts of undeveloped land throughout Tasmania. We learned that the Lyell Highway that passed through the Tasmanian Wilderness, including Nelson Valley, was the remaining legacy of the original Linda Track. And if it wasn't for that highway, this waterfall probably wouldn't be nearly as easily accessible nor could it be the opportunity for us to break up the drive from Queenstown towards Hobart.
Even though the signs said it was merely a 20-minute return walk, Julie and I spent about 45 minutes here. We were simply taking our time enjoying the pleasing waterfall while also letting the taste of the Tasmanian Wilderness sink into us along the way.
Getting to this waterfall is pretty straight forward as it's right off the Lyell Highway (A10) 27km (30 minutes drive) east of Queenstown and 233km (about 3.5 hours drive) west of Hobart. The car park was well signposted. However, park fees applied through the self-help payment kiosks at the car park.
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