A weekend retreat: Mount Field National Park

Mount Field National Park

Week 24/2023 (part 2): Week of 19 June 2023

When we lived in the Derwent Valley (it seems so long ago now), we used to take the occasional trip to Mount Field National Park. Sometimes for short walks, sometimes to camp overnight.

Prior to colonisation, the area where the park is located was home to the people of the Big River nation. According to the official park website, the Pangerninghe band, which lived near the present-day town of Hamilton, was the closest group to the national park.

Mount Field is one of Tasmania’s first national parks, established in 1916.

It includes a spectacular and diverse range of scenery and places to explore, from short walks through amazing forests to waterfalls at the bottom of the park to sparse alpine vegetation at the top, where you can take longer day walks. The best known of these is (possibly) the Tarn Shelf, which Lil Sis and I attempted most recently in 2021.  The higher parts of the park are also known for the deciduous beech (Nothofagus gunnii), commonly referred to as simply “fagus”, which puts on a spectacular display over autumn.

The retreat

We were aware a new retreat was being developed just outside the boundary of the national park. We’ve known the owners, Rachel and Greg Power, since not long after they moved to Tasmania, I think about 10 years ago. Rachel operates the Waterfalls Cafe and Gallery in the park’s visitor centre and, among other things, Greg’s a professional photographer.

A sign on a stone wall in front of a dead tree, reading Mount Field National Park: A Park for All Seasons
Mount Field National Park entry

Building the Mt Field Retreat has been a long-term project for Rachel and Greg. It’s encountered a lot of hurdles, but they’re now at the point where the first four accommodation pods are open, and last week we had the chance to test them out.

After a couple of false starts with dates, we settled on a weekend that we were all available, booked in, and set out on the road trip up the Derwent Valley.

It was exciting to know we’d be in brand new accommodation rather than tents. (Tenting isn’t my favourite activity at the best of times, and isn’t something I would ever consider in winter. Ever.)

Four of the 12 pods planned for the site are now in place and it will eventually house a convention centre as well. Rachel describes it as still being “a bit of a building site” but the first four pods are definitely ready to occupy. From what I’ve heard, Greg has put a lot of work into minimising the environmental impact of the complex in the design and the landscaping.

Four small accommodation units in a landscaped area with large ferns
The first pods at Mt Field Retreat

The pods are small self-contained units with a separate bedroom and ensuite, and a small kitchenette, which I forgot to take a photo of. Kitchening isn’t my thing.

A made up bed with white sheets and pillows and a grey cushion with a grey throw at the foot of the bed, and wooden side tables with white lamps
The bedroom

The pods seem to be designed for two people comfortably, with capacity for an additional person (or persons) on the fold-out sofa bed in the lounge space.

The decor is lovely. I loved this shawl but Kramstable got to it first.

A grey chair with a green throw rug and a long cushion with a Tasmanian native plant design
A beautiful shawl

The art work on the wall includes one of Greg’s photos.

A small living area with a dark grey couch ,a side table and a large photo of yellow flowers on the wall
The living area

There’s also work by Emma from Emalyn Studio in the bedroom, which is one of a series commissioned especially for the rooms. The pieces were inspired by the flora and fauna of the park. Ours had a platypus!

Painting of a moss covered tree in amongst Tasmanian flora and a platypus
The artwork in the bedroom

The bathroom products were from the beautiful range by Milie Organics.

And for the observant among us, outside, a pet fagus in a pot that matches the colour palate perfectly.

A blue-green pot with a small plant on a wooden step in front of a wood panelled wall
Little touches I like

We had a quiet, relaxing night, which was great. I didn’t have to do anything about dinner because Slabs sorted all that. As I said, kitchening isn’t my thing.

The pods are a great option for people who want to stay close to the park. I’ve always liked staying at Mount Field (yes, even in a tent) because it allows a lot more time to explore than you get from a day trip. And staying overnight on warmer nights means you can walk up to Russell Falls to see the glow worms, which is very cool.

Sunday morning: Tyenna River walk

I got up on Sunday morning before anyone else was awake and went for a walk along the Tyenna River bank.

A curving green track leading into some trees in the distance
Track along the Tyenna River

It was a lovely morning.

mist over distant hills with trees in the foreground
A misty start to the morning

There was mist in the hills behind me and as I turned around to look back at the river, there was mist on it too.

Sunlight shining through mist on a river edged by trees and ferns
Mist on the Tyenna River

I’d love to have got out further into the middle of the river rather than being stuck behind a tree. Even so, it was beautiful.

After breakfast, we packed up and went into the park for another short walk.

Russell Falls

Russell Falls was the first reserve proclaimed in Tasmania, in 1885.

The track to the falls is the easiest walk in the park. It’s relatively flat and it’s sealed so it’s suitable for almost any level of mobility.

The walk is a 1.4 km return trip that the park guide says takes about 25 minutes.

Tangled tree trunks and ferns overgrown with green moss
Possible inspiration for the bedroom art work

It’s obviously going to take longer if you stay longer at the falls.

Closeup of a waterfall behind some ferns
Russell Falls
A series of waterfalls emptying into a basin of water
Russell Falls

And if you see a platypus in the creek, well, who knows how long you might spend there!

I didn’t manage to photograph the playtpus because I’d just switched over to my wide angle lens, but I saw it—the first time I’ve ever seen one there. It was a special moment. I wonder if it was the same one from the painting in the pod.

Due to various injuries, this was the only walk we did on this visit, but this section of the park has a lot more to explore and Russell Falls is just one of the waterfalls it’s possible to see.

Even though it’s short, the walk back will probably take longer than the walk up if you’re with someone with a camera who insists on stopping at every interesting funghi along the track.

A cluster of orange funghi

It was a lovely end to the trip.

A black and white image of three small funghi
Tiny funghi

I had lots of photos to edit when we got home!

A cluster of grey-white funghi on a horizontal tree trunk surrounded by moss
A cluster of tiny funghi

We were invited to take up an offer of discounted accommodation at Mt Field Retreat in return for providing feedback to the owners, which we did. I wasn’t asked to write a post about it. This post is my personal reflection on what we saw and did and isn’t paid or sponsored content.

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