I had heard very little about this waterfall, but when I saw it pop up on the Pandani program and that it was being led by AB we decided to join. The plan was to walk to the campsite on day 1, spend day 2 walking with day packs to the waterfall, and to walk out on day 3. The weather forecast for the weekend was hot; temperatures around 30 degrees, with the chance of rain and a thunderstorm on the final day.
Day 1: Our party of 7 left Cradle Lodge just after 9am and made our way onto the Speeler Plains, the last section of the Penguin/Cradle Trail. It was already starting to get hot, so we spent little time out in the open and headed towards the forest. Once you have traversed the buttongrass fields of Speeler Plains, the track to Reynolds Falls can be found off the left of the main track-about 5.8kms from the Cradle Lodge. The track then descends down an old four wheel drive track that crosses Fleece Creek, which is a good spot to have a break and refill water bottles. From here the track climbs slightly, winding through dry forest and buttongrass fields, before a rock cairn on the right hand side indicates the start of Ossie’s Track to Reynolds Falls. After passing over a couple of small creeks and pandani groves we bumped into the other two members of our group- Marie and Anna-who had camped further along the Penguin-Cradle trail at Fourways the night before and had planned to meet us along the track. We continued on for another 10-15 minutes across large open plains covered in coral fern, before finding a shaded spot to have some lunch.
The track then enters open myrtle forest and descends rapidly towards Tumbling Creek, passing by a nice unnamed waterfall along the way. We decided to name this falls Numbum falls as AB slipped straight onto his arse while crossing the slippery rock. Descending through the forest can be particularly difficult, especially when wet, and finding the next blaze or ribbon can sometimes be tricky as a number of trees have fallen over the track. This section of forest is pretty special; I have since heard it referred to as Cloud Forest, as the higher altitude limits growth of the understory, leading to a thick canopy of myrtle branches over an open forest floor that is only home to a patchwork of ferns. We reached Tumbling Creek 5 and a half hours after leaving the Lodge, and had made it to our campsite on a spur above Tumbling Creek shortly after. There were a number of descent spots to pitch a tent, and a small creek about 100m metes further along the track provided an adequate source of water for us all.
Day 2: Expecting a shorter day than the previous, we didn’t get going until just after 9. We passed the creek that we used to get fresh water, and the track then climbs up before contouring another spur. We followed a pad marked by blazes and ribbons down towards another potential campsite a couple of hours past our own, with room for a couple of tents and a descent water source nearby. Much of the walk down to the falls was fairly similar and there was little to look at except a number of large trees and the occasional glimpse of the western-most slopes of Mt Beecroft. The track then drops very steeply down to the Vale River, which we reached just over 3 hours after leaving camp.
It was very warm and we didn’t hesitate to jump into one of the many rock pools and cool off. After sufficient paddling, a few of us ventured further up the creek to the base of the falls and had a quick swim in the large and seemingly deep bowl where the water lands. Unfortunately, I was unable to take my camera up this far as it required some swimming, but I would highly recommend checking this out if the water level is low. We spent the next 2 or so hours relaxing and taking in the view, before heading back the way we came. From the campsite it was approximately 9.5kms return in a comfortable 8 hours (including all stops).
Day 3: We were all packed and ready by 7am so that we could get the steep walk back up through Cloud Forest out of the way before things really started to heat up. By the time we reached the Fleece Creek crossing, it had really started to heat up and so we made the most of the last bit of cool, running water before crossing the exposed Speeler Plains. We reached the Lodge just shy of 6 hours and were getting stuck into the refreshments and burgers before long. All up, this was a great trip over a very hot weekend. Although this trip would be possible to do over two days or even as a very long day trip, I would recommend taking your time and really taking in the waterfall. It would have to be one of the best I have been to in Tasmania and was particularly good on a hot day.
All up: 29.4kms with 1703m ascent.
Cradle Mountain Lodge to Start of Ossies Track: 5.8kms in 2 hours and 24 minutes.
Start of Ossies Track to Tumbling Creek: 3.8kms in 3 hours (with lunch break)
Campsite to Reynolds Falls: 4.7kms in 3 hours and 5 minutes.
Getting there: Drive to the Cradle Mountain Lodge and park in the carpark across the road at the interpretation centre. The track can be found by following the signs to the Pencil Pine Track.