Reader’s letter – tourism shame

The walk into Junee Cave near Maydena

LAST month we had two ladies from Japan visit us and we spent time being “tourists” in our own state. Firstly we did a day tour of the Derwent Valley up to the Styx Tall Trees area near Maydena.

After phoning various departments to find out how to get there and what to see (as a tourist would) we ascertained that we could get to the Tall Trees area from the far side of Maydena. Preferring not to take the same road in as out, we enquired about the “round trip” using the road at Karanja almost opposite the sawmill. Nobody could tell us a thing about this road other than “there is a gate on it that could be locked and you may have to turn around.” Being intrepid we went in that way. A short way in we did see a gate but it would appear that it has not been closed for many years.

Eventually were delighted to arrive at the Styx Tall Trees area. Arriving at lunch time we got the Esky out but although there was a toilet it appeared that tables chairs and cover from the elements was not a priority. What a shame. A beautiful ferny area with some of Australia’s oldest tallest trees and well maintained walkways of timber and railings and several information boards, but nowhere to sit and eat. Very disappointing. The information sign tells you (if you came in from Maydena) “No exit from Styx Valley. Private road and locked gate 34km ahead” so nobody is really going to try it. What a shame.

Anyway we had been there, done that and headed into Maydena and sought out another local highlight: Junee Caves. This is a must do trip for visitors. For those that do not know, Junee Caves is a very interesting place where a mountain stream that empties eventually into the Derwent comes literally out of a hillside cavern. The system includes Niggly Cave, Australia’s deepest cave. There is a well maintained walkway with handrails through dense ferny bush leading to a viewing platform and information board. But the road in is an absolute eyesore: about 4km or so of roadside devastation. Trees laying on top of each other, like a bomb has hit them. Cleared for some reason I know not why. The bridge across the Junee River has been blocked by boulders meaning a long walk from the parking area to the cave, all right if you are fit, but not to be attempted if you are elderly or unfit. Again, no table, chairs or cover from the elements. What a shame. The entry to a fantastic icon is an absolute eyesore.

We chose not go into Mt Field as the National Park fees for a brief visit were too high, although there would have been tables and chairs and cover from the elements. So we headed back to New Norfolk, hoping for a nice area on the roadside to stop for afternoon tea. Westerway gave us some hope as there are tables and benches on the river’s edge. But not a toilet in sight. Apart from that the next good stop off area to have a cuppa is in New Norfolk itself. What a shame.

Here we are, an acclaimed tourist area and we cannot provide facilities to make travel around our valley more pleasant. Even though we have the Derwent River running through the centre of the valley there are no real “happy friendly” parking spots to stop and view the river and orchards. Even the layby next to the railway bridge on the road from Bushy Park to New Norfolk has gone. What a shame.

Well that was our Styx Tall Trees trip as tourists. After that we went north to Burnie, Deloraine and then back home via the East Coast.  Places we could learn a lesson from.

Paul Beresford

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