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A trek up into Fagus habitat

By April 17th, 2023Out and about3 min read

On Wednesday 11th May 2022, I ventured into the breathtaking alpine wilderness of the Tarn Shelf, in Mt Field National Park. I’ve been there a number of times so my aim this time was to catch a glimpse of the golden hues of the foliage of Fagus, still splashing the landscape with some warm golden tones of autumn.

For just a few weeks a year, the beautiful lush green foliage of a very special Tasmanian endemic plant species Nothofagus gunnii (Fagus) prepares for winter dormancy by shedding its foliage. First the leaves turn from a lush green to golden yellow, and in some years we’ve seen rich rusty reds too. It all depends on seasonal conditions and the time it takes for the cycle to complete each year. Eventually, the leaves fall from their branches to the ground leaving the shrub with bare limbs for the duration of winter. Then in spring, when the weather warms up, the green foliage returns for another season.

It’s been a few years since last exploring Fagus territory, and although the peak of the “Turning of the Fagus” season has almost ended for 2022, I wasn’t at all disappointed with what my eyes (and camera) were drawn to.

Upon reaching top of the trail, my first distant view of the Tarn Shelf, revealed several small patches of the autumn gold of Fagus remained to be seen. However, it will probably only take a storm, some heavy rain or a few gusts of strong wind before what’s left all falls to the ground.

With the sun warming my skin and a light breeze wisping by, I paused for a while on a ‘comfortable’ rock to admire the view and breath in the fresh alpine air. After a well-earned rest, there was more Fagus views to explore. Every way you look is an eye-catching view and new perspective to be admired. Simply breathtaking it was… as always!

Mid-afternoon, and it was time to retrace my steps back to Lake Dobson and return home after a fabulous day outdoors in nature – a fabulous ‘nature boost’. So back over the rocky terrain and along the boardwalks I traversed, downhill most of the way until I returned to the car. By that time, my legs were so pleased with what was next… the return drive home where I could put my feet up and tend to a small blister on my heel.

Taking hikes like this one allows me to feel revitalised and accomplished. This certainly was a day for wandering solo so I could immerse myself in nature… just me and my camera. Alone but certainly not lonely – there were others on the trail to whom it was lovely to pause for a friendly chat. However, on my own and surrounded by the beauty of nature, my mind is clear and present where I am and in what I’m doing, including while huffing, and a’puffing up and up and up along the trail, to reach the Tarn Shelf from Lake Dobson.

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