One thing that wasn’t on my 100 things to do in 2013 list but should have been because it’s something I’d wanted to do for ages, and that is to go and see the fagus in autumn.
Fagus, for the unaware, is also known as deciduous beech (or if you want to be scientific, Nothofagus gunnii) and is the only winter-deciduous tree in Australia. The only place it grows is Tasmania, mostly in remote highlands areas above 800 metres.
Every year around this time I see spectacular pictures that people have taken of the turning of the fagus, as the leaves go through the autumnal colour change. And every time I think I should go up and have a look, and it never seems to be the right time, and I miss out, thinking I’ll do it the next year. And by the time spring and summer have hit, I’ve forgotten all about it (which is why it wasn’t on the list).
This year it was different. I started seeing posts about people’s trips to Mt Field a couple of weeks ago, when the colours started changing and decided that this was the year I was going to go.
So we blocked out the day and headed off to Mt Field. We had a vague idea of where to start looking and thought that bright yellow and orange leaves should stand out pretty well – which indeed they did.
Our first stop was at the boulder field, where there is a short walk amongst the rocks, and a few fagus trees growing nearby. These had only just started to turn yellow, so we hoped we hadn’t come too early.
Oh yes, there was also snow. It’s pretty cold up there at the moment.
We drove a bit further up to Lake Fenton, which is in Hobart’s drinking water catchment. There’s some spectacular trees around the lake, including the beautiful snow gums that we saw last time we were there.
There’s also fagus! The trees here were more advanced in colour than the ones lower down and we weren’t the only people taking photos. The main problem I had was trying to take photos of some delicate little leaves that were constantly moving in the wind. Not an easy task. But I got a couple of photos I was happy with, so it was worth the trip.
Apparently there is another area in the park where the fagus grows; this is the Tarn Shelf, which is higher up in the park and involves a two-three hour walk. Not really an option with Juniordwarf in tow (based on previous experience of longer walks), but perhaps that can go on next year's 100 things list.