The Weld Valley is part of Tasmania’s “Southern Forests”. These forests are some of the most beautiful and impressive forests in the state, containing tall (up to 100 metres high) eucalypts and magnificent rainforest. While most of the South West is preserved as part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, a lot of the forested areas were not included within this boundary and are available for logging, and often logging operations occur right up to the boundary of the WHA.
This practice has been the subject of much debate and bitterness across Tasmania over decades. In fact, since plans to flood the original Lake Pedder were announced in the 1970s, an incredibly loud and determined voice began to appear in the Tasmanian community opposing development and industrial activity in such pristine places. Lake Pedder was dammed, but the disapointment and passion aroused by its loss gave birth to an incredibly determined environmental movement in Tasmania. This movement really came alive in the late 70s & early 80s during the battle to save the Franklin River from the same fate as Lake Pedder, and eventually evolved into the Greens party which continues to grow in political influence all over the world, but especially here in Tasmania.
The Franklin Dam was never built, and the debate switched to forest management, in particular, the woodchipping of native “old growth” forest. Over the years the forest ”battlegrounds” have switched, from the Lemonthyme forests near Cradle Mountain, the Tarkine in the north west, and the forests adjacent to the world heritage area in south west Tasmania; but the arguements remain basically the same. Is woodchipping really the most valuable way to use these forests? Is not tourism, clear air and water and the carbon storage of these huge trees more valuable?
The Weld Valley has been an area of conflict in recent times, but for the first time there is also the very serious potential for some sort of end to the forestry wars, as the traditional “foes” – ie the logging industry and environmentalists, have been engaged in discussions for over a year which could see an additional 430,000 hectares of native forests added to the National Park Reserves, while the forestry industry shifts most of its operations into plantation timber.
Visiting and Photographing the Weld Valley
terms of visiting and photographing the Weld Valley, there is a great vantage point off the South Weld Road called Glovers Bluff. From this point you can view the Weld River as it flows from the mountains of the WHA, on its way to the Huon River. There is a short walk to Reubens Falls a little further along the road, but after that there are no official tracks. There is a tagged walk to the top of Angel Falls which is accessed from a series of clearfells near the end of the road. Angel Creek is full of beautiful cascades and Angel Falls itself is quite spectacular. It is not an easy area to navigate, but it is a great area of lush Tasmanian rainforest, full of horizontal, myrtle and leatherwood and well worth riding the bumps of the gravel roads that lead to the area.
Because the forest is so dense, you almost have no choice but to go for long exposure shots when photographing waterfalls, creek and forest scenes. This is great when the light is nice and even, but there is always the risk of overexposing the white of the cascading water when exposing for the dark green of the forest. The steepness of the creek valley should allow you to avoid most direct sunlight, especially if you visit early in the morning.
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