Russell Falls could very well be our favorite waterfall in Tasmania. It was certainly the best known and most popular waterfall that we had visited in the state. In fact it had been said that it was often a contest between this waterfall and Liffey Falls for the title of Tasmania's most beautiful waterfall (though we tend to favor Russell given our somewhat suboptimal experience at Liffey). In any case, what made this waterfall stand out to us was its character. As you can see from the photo above, it actually consisted of two main drops, but it was the satisfyingly segmented and vertical appearance along with its size that really drew the camera clicks from us and just about every other visitor who shared the experience at the falls.
Russell Falls was the centerpiece of Mt Field National Park, which was said to be Tasmania's first national park. It was also part of the greater Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which dominated much of the southern and western sections of the island state. From the large car park (see directions below), we took a short and very-well developed 10-minute track to the lookout that yielded the photo you see at the top of this page. That was the lower of the waterfall's two tiers, which was very photogenic (I was definitely glad I brought my tripod along).
The upper tier was partially hidden amongst the foliage above the lower drop. We continued on the track, which started going up steps and slopes on its way towards another waterfall called Horseshoe Falls further upstream. However, just after one of the switchbacks, there was a somewhat unofficial but well-used track behind the railings flanking the main track. This track (which was probably closed to the public) ultimately led to the bench between the two waterfalls. It was from here that I was able to cross a couple of narrow and shallow streams to get a frontal view of the impressively wide block shape of the Upper Russell Falls.
Meanwhile, I was also able to get fairly impressive views of the forest looking out above the lower drop of the falls. I definitely had to be careful here since it was a sheer drop to the bottom. So I made sure to stay away from the edges and from the running streams (where the footing was the most slippery) as much as possible. This would definitely NOT be the place to be if the falls was flowing a lot more heavily than what you see on this page.
We actually showed up twice at the falls - once in the early afternoon near midday and once near sunset. For the long exposure photographs, clearly the best way to go would be to show up when the shadows would be long enough to keep the sunlight from washing out any part of the scene (i.e. very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon). Of course, it wouldn't be necessary to be as picky about the time of arrival to the falls if it was cloudy, but that wasn't the case on our visit.
Continuing on the main track as it climbed beyond the upper falls, we then eventually made it to the short but wide Horseshoe Falls, which was also on the same watercourse about 100m upstream of the Upper Russell Falls. Even though we visited this waterfall early in the afternoon, there was enough shade around it to enable us to attempt a long exposure photograph, which you can see further down on this page.
In addition to these waterfalls, we could have also extended the hike to take in the Lady Barron Falls as well as the Tall Trees Walk. However, the connecting track that would've made the excursion a two-hour return hike when combined with the one-hour return walk to Horseshoe Falls was closed due to cliff instability. So we had to do that excursion separately, and as a result, we gave that excursion its own separate writeup.
Directions: The way we took (and recommend) was to leave the Lyell Hwy (A10) at Gordon River Rd (B61) about 52km northwest of Hobart. Then we followed the Gordon River Rd westbound for about 23km to the Lake Dobson Rd (I recalled we had to cross a few railroad tracks near the turnoff). Once on Lake Dobson Rd, it was a short drive to the car park for Russell Falls.
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