About Champagne Falls and Bridal Veil Falls
Champagne Falls and Bridal Veil Falls were a pair of attractive waterfalls that we combined into a single excursion that began and ended at the Lemonthyme Lodge Wilderness Retreat. Although each waterfall could have been done individually as separate excursions, we decided to visit both in one slightly longer but non-trivial hike. After all, it didn’t make sense for us to make two trips to this fairly less-traveled part of Tasmania. In any case, both waterfalls were quite different in shape and character. Bridal Veil Falls (pictured at the top of this page) had a taller (about 20m) and potentially wider drop (depending on the volume of Bull Creek) while 15m Champagne Falls (pictured further below) had a mossy and more rounded segmented appearance.
In terms of effort, each waterfall was about the same distance from the Lemonthyme Lodge (said to be 1 hour 45 minutes return walk according to the signage). However, given the very steep hill we had to climb at the very start of the track, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to do both waterfalls as two separate hikes. So as mentioned before, we combined the two hikes as a slightly longer loop hike. The following trail description is based on this slightly longer looping route.
From the day use car park, we walked up an initially paved road that went between some cabins as well as the former location of the manager’s residence of the Lemonthyme Lodge (now called the Lemonthyme Wilderness Retreat as of our latest visit in 2017). The pavement then started to end as the walk continued up a steep 4wd track. This was a very relentless climb that took the better part of at least the first 1.5km. Along the way up there was some kind of tower (possibly a cell tower), and at around 850m from the day use car park was a picnic table that I supposed represented the lookout referred to at the trailhead signage. This vista offered us a chance to catch our breaths and take some photos before continuing on during our first visit, but on our second visit, this lookout appeared more overgrown so the vistas weren’t as impressive.
Next, the track continued to climb briefly for another 400m before it finally started to reach the apex and level out somewhat. We didn’t pursue a fork that continued climbing on our left though a barricade and lack of signage suggested that it wasn’t worth pursuing anyways for hikers. Shortly after the apex, we then reached a signed fork in the road, where the track on our right descended steeply into the forest towards Champagne Falls. So we went right and took this path to embark on the looping part of the hike.
Ordinarily, this steep track was very narrow and quite slippery. It trampled through lots of low-lying ferns while weaving in between mossy myrtle trees. Signage at the start of this descent recommended against doing this track under wet conditions (which was the case when I did this hike the second time in 2017), and there were definitely a few spots where the the ground gave way and caused me to slip (without falling thankfully). The steep track was aided by orange tape tied to some of the trees to help aid in navigation. Eventually, the track followed along some narrow ledges with exposed tree roots as it went by an easy-to-miss junction for the Bridal Veil Falls connecting track (which we’ll get back to later) on its way down ultimately to the Champagne Falls.
While it was awkward at best to view the waterfall from the signpost, I managed to carefully scramble my way down to Bull Creek for a more frontal view of the waterfall, which might have been overwhelming to see from this close. So in addition to the views from within the slippery rocks of the creek, I also managed to find an outcrop a short distance downstream where I was able to look back at a more contextual (albeit overgrown) look at Champagne Falls flanked by interesting dark cliffs.
Once I had my fill of Champagne Falls, I then went back up the steep track to the signed junction. I definitely had to fight the temptation to take one of the false tracks along the cliff walls. Once on the correct connecting track, we then followed along a fern-flanked path with some stepping stones and boardwalks as well as other numbered signposts along the way. The connecting track would eventually cross the Bull Creek then undulate along the northern banks of the creek (passing by some very minor cascades en route) before ultimately arriving at another bridge over Bull Creek right in front of the Bridal Veil Falls. When we first came here in late November 2006, the bridge was merely a one-sided log, but on a return trip 11 years later, it was a more legitimate bridge with handrails on both sides.
After getting our nice frontal views of Bridal Veil Falls from the bridge, we then climbed up steps that led us back up to the 4wd track that we had forsaken earlier. At this point, it was a predominantly downhill hike on the much wider and more open 4wd track eventually taking us past the Champagne Falls Track junction and then to the familiar picnic area as the road descended even more steeply. The temptation was great to run all the way down the road to the car park, but the presence of rocks and the likelihood of things falling out of pockets tempered that desire. Ultimately, it took us around 2.5 hours to do the entire excursion though I believe spending 3 hours would make for a more leisurely visit.
In order to access the Champagne Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, we first had to reach the Lemonthyme Wilderness Retreat (formerly the Lemonthyme Lodge). However, since we took a pair of different routes, we’ll describe them in this section.
The first approach we took was from Cradle Mountain. It would definitely be worth following this route description if going this route because the GPS tried to take us on a route that wasn’t recommended (in fact there was a strategically placed sign at the start of that bad route as I’m sure more than a few people had tried going that way).
So we first drove north on the Cradle Mountain Road to the Belvoir Rd (C132). We then turned right to head east to continue on the Cradle Mountain Rd (C132) for about 18km (note that about 12km, the GPS will definitely attempt to have you turn right onto Bull Creek Rd, which was the same 4wd track that we had to walk!). So we then reached a signed turnoff at Dolcoath Rd, where we then turned right and followed the unsealed Dolcoath Rd for about 7.5km. There were signs along the way to keep us on the correct road to the Lemonthyme Lodge.
Overall, this drive took about 45 minutes.
The second approach we took was from Devonport. We began that route by taking the Bass Hwy (Hwy 1) then exiting at Stony Rise Rd (B19). Following Stony Rise Rd northwest (beneath the highway), it then became Forth Rd (still B19). Continuing for another 6km on Forth Rd, we then turned left onto Wilmot Rd (C132) shortly after crossing the River Forth.
We’d then follow Wilmot Road (C132) for about 46km as the road eventually became Cradle Mountain Road after passing through the town of Wilmot. After getting past Moina, the C132 would reach the Dolcoath Rd turnoff on the left. Then, we followed the remaining 7.5km unsealed road to the day use car park at the start of the Lemonthyme Wilderness Retreat complex.
Overall, this 62km drive would take at least an hour.
To provide you with some geographical context, Cradle Mountain was about 111km (over 90 minutes drive) north of Queenstown, 101km (about 75 minutes drive) south of Burnie, 78km (about 75 minutes drive) southwest of Devonport, 93km (about 90 minutes drive) west of Deloraine, 157km (about 2.5 hours drive) west of Launceston, and 319km (4 hours drive) northwest of Hobart.
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