Autumn is when the turning of the fagus occurs in Tasmania. The fagus is Australia’s only native winter-deciduous tree and attracts visitors from all over from mid April to early May. The fagus is very rare and is found only in mountainous areas of western Tasmania. It is an ancient tree from the family “Nothofagus” and is closely related to the common myrtle beech found in most Tasmanian rainforests. Interestingly, relatives of the fagus (Nothofagus gunii) are also found in South America and this connection is one of the links that confirms theories of continental drift and the ancient landmass of Gondwanaland.
Where to see the turning of the fagus… Mt Field
The most accessible stands of the fagus are at Mt Field National Park and Cradle Mountain. For those with limited mobility, the drive to Lake Dobson at Mt Field takes you right through groves of roadside fagus. There is also a very short “Woodland Walk” about 15 minutes up the road from the park entrance. Clambering across the rocky boulder field beside the woodland walk or walking around Lake Fenton (just a short drive from the Woodland Walk) is great for those who want to stretch their legs a little. Anyone feeling more adventurous, or wanting to see great landscape views of the colours, should take a pack and spend half a day or longer exploring the Tarn Shelf.
Where to see the turning of the fagus… Cradle Mountain
The easiest viewing of the fagus at Cradle Mountain is at Waldheim where there are a few medium sized trees growing right next to the car park. A shortish (one hour each way) walk to Crater Lake is also great at this time of year. From Dove Lake you will be able to see the orange tints of the fagus clearly on all the surrounding peaks – Mt Campbell, Cradle Mountain and Marions Lookout. The shortest walk to see it up close is towards Lake/Mt Hanson, and a full day circuit including Mt Hanson, the Face Track and Marions Lookout is simply stunning at this time of year.
Whichever way you go you are sure to have a blast. There are a couple of webcams worth checking before departure too:
Mt Mawson (perfect view to the Tarn Shelf, Mt Field)