Walking Tall Among Giants

May 21, 2012 Updated: May 22, 2012
Epoch Times Photo
A very different experience than walking on the forest floor. (Chani Blue/The Epoch Times)

If you’re in Australia’s southern most state and driving south of Hobart along the Huon Trail, no doubt you are in search of Tasmania’s world-renown forests and wild rivers. 

The Tahune Airwalk is a fantastic way to get up high in the canopy and see the breathtaking surroundings from a unique vantage point which is only a 90-minute drive from Tasmania’s capital city.

The Tahune Airwalk at 600 meters long is one of Australia’s longest tree top walks. The highlight of the walk is viewing the junction of the spectacular Picton and Huon Rivers from an incredible 45-meter cantilever which protrudes out from the walk. The metal platform is suspended on cables alone, hanging out high above the characteristic tea-coloured water. Standing here gives one a surreal sensation of hovering high above the scene like a bird.

There are several other enjoyable walks to do after the Airwalk, so allow a few extra hours to complete them all. The Huon Tree walk is an easy 20-minute loop following the banks of the Huon river to view the painfully slow-growing but long-lived Huon Pine. 

There is also the swinging bridge walk, which allows walkers to cross the river- Indiana Jones style, providing a great photo opportunity and an adventure for the young ones. All walks are clearly sign posted and although a bit muddy are not difficult, so bring your bush walking shoes.

There are many natural and man-made points of interest along the walks. The wooden entrance at the beginning of the Airwalk is reminiscent of a clinker boat hull. This construction was built by the reputed Franklin Boat School and allows visitors to see how the wood from the local forest is used to build sea vessels employing both high skill and quality resources. This wooden boat building tradition is one of the highlights of the Huon trail and an important part of the history of this region.

Epoch Times Photo
" Tahune" is an Aboriginal word meaning "Peaceful place by running water". (Chani Blue/The Epoch Times)

Many trees are labelled including some 60-meter-tall giants: the stringy barks, sassafras and dogwood. Other flora highlights include trees such as the native laurel, blackwood and celerytop pine – known to live for up to 800 years. Samples in the gift shop can be touched and admired for their unique qualities and uses.

On a clear day, bird sightings are plentiful and their bright colours flashing through the green are hard to miss. Finches, blue wrens, as well as the striking Black Cockatoos and Rosellas make up just some of the bird life here. 

If travel time is restricted and you do happen to visit on a rainy day (which is likely as it rains a lot in Tasmania’s wet eucalypt forests) don’t despair. A misty, rainy day can be a magical experience in itself, as the atmosphere is rich and the varied shades of greens in the forests become iridescent. Saying that, there is no need to get soaked-Ponchos can be bought very reasonably from the gift shop.

After you spend a few hours walking in the cool forest, it’s good to warm up beside the fire in the open picnic room where guests can eat their own picnic lunch on wooden tables. There is also a café that sells hot drinks and food, sandwiches and cakes.