About Dip Falls
Dip Falls was a bit of an out-of-the-way excursion as it sat to the far northwest of Tasmania. For a waterfall that required quite the drive to reach, we wondered whether it would be worth the trouble. Well, as you can see from the photo at the top of this page, I’d say with conviction that it was indeed worth it! After all, this was where the Dip River dropped at least well over 30m in height over a much wider sloping field of dark hexagonal basalt lava. It was that stair-stepping tiled property of the riverbed that really gave the waterfall its rippling characteristic and reminded us of a much bigger version of say Iceland’s Svartifoss. We happened to catch the waterfall after a clearing downpour (the same system that flooded much of Victoria in early December 2017), which revived the otherwise typically low-flowing waterfall into quite the contrast of white water and red-black lava cliffs. As a result of its size and unusual properties, it earned a higher scenic rating even though its flow wasn’t as reliable as other waterfalls that would score this high.
In addition to the waterfall, we also made an optional side visit to the so-called Big Tree. It was a bulbous Browntop stringybark eucalyptus tree with a height of 62m and a girth of 16m in diameter. There were other tall trees in the same grove that accompanied the Big Tree, and these were basically the last surviving group of such trees in Tasmania, especially after the logging onslaught that had occurred in the 1920s. We managed to visit both the Big Tree and Dip Falls in a roughly 60- to 90-minute visit that included all the short driving, picture-taking, and walking on the tracks and boardwalks.
From the well-signed car park for the Dip Falls, we went on a track that descended alongside the northern banks of the waterfall. There were some lookouts along the way to peer across the large field of basalt cliffs as well as the upper sloping tier of the falls. But it was pretty much a steep downhill walk along stairs as each step yielded views from a variety of positions and angles. The steps got steeper and the terrain more lush as we descended closer to the waterfall’s base. Eventually after about 160m from the car park, we reached the lookout platform pretty much smack in the middle of the Dip River looking right up at the sloping basalt wall responsible for Dip Falls.
While it was difficult to capture the grandeur and size of the entire waterfall from down here, even just the smaller lower drop with its wide semi-horseshoe rim and steeper, more pronounced basalt columns made the descent very worthwhile. This would also be the viewpoint to take that selfie or couple shot as the sloping wall of water and/or basalt would be right behind you as the backdrop.
After we climbed back up the long series of steps to return to the car park (requiring about 15 minutes return), we then headed another 200m up the unsealed Dip Falls Road across the bridge spanning the Dip River then towards another trailhead. That track led to an alternate overlook on the opposite side of the Dip River and the basalt field below. With such a lofty position high above most of the waterfall, I’d argue this would be the spot to try to take in Dip Falls’ overall scale. The photo you see at the top of this page was taken from this very overlook! Indeed, it was next to impossible to try to capture the whole scene in one shot without a fisheye lens or some serious signal processing for stitching or shooting in panoramic mode. But just having that grand perspective really added to the overall Dip Falls experience.
Finally, when we returned to the car, we then drove another kilometre down Rabalga Road to the short walk for the Big Tree. Once at the short 100m walk, I was able to walk amongst other towering eucalyptus trees until I reached a dead-end with an obvious boardwalk surrounding the wide girth of the Big Tree itself. It had a bulbous base with some knobs or knuckles higher up its trunk. But when you consider its full size, it really did compare to the thick Sequoia trees we were used to back in our home state of California or some of the kauri trees in the Northland Region of New Zealand’s North Island. Given the relatively short drive to get here, we easily could have walked to this optional excursion to really soak in the rainforest ambience of the Dip River Forest Reserve.
Since the largest city nearest to Dip Falls was the coastal city of Burnie, we’ll start the driving directions from the city centre.
Leaving the Esplanade in the Burnie CBD, we headed south to the Bass Highway on Mount Street. After turning right to go onto the westbound lanes of the Bass Highway (A2), we then proceeded to drive nearly 63km to the signposted Mawbanna Rd (C225). This was a very scenic drive revealing beaches and mesa-like coastal bluffs of Tasmania’s northwest coastline. With a future visit, we’ll be sure to spend more time here.
Note that our GPS really insisted that we leave the Bass Hwy (A2) and take the shorter route via the Montumana Rd at the turnoffs at about 40km and 46km from Burnie, but I’d advise against it as we had to leave Montumana Rd to follow a narrow and fairly rough unsealed Newhaven Rd eventually linking up with Mawbanna Rd after about 15km. The Mawbanna Rd was pretty much all sealed until the very end.
Anyways, once we were on the Mawbanna Rd (C225), we then followed it south for about 25km to the Dip Falls car park on the right. The last 2km of the Dip Falls Rd was unsealed.
In order to reach the Big Tree, we went another 200m beyond the Dip Falls car park, then turned left onto the Rabalga Rd. After another 800m on Rabalga Rd, we then parked next to the trailhead for the Big Tree.
Overall, this 90km drive took us nearly 1.5 hours.
To provide you with some geographical context, Burnie was about 101km (under 90 minutes drive) north of Cradle Mountain, 46km (over 30 minutes drive) west of Devonport, 99km (over an hour drive) northwest of Deloraine, and 147km (over 90 minutes drive) west of Launceston.
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