Liffey is Just Full of More Surprises
So our time here staying at the Liffey school has been spent, with a beautiful little mountain looking over us in the background. I asked Lindsay about it and he expressed some desire to cut a horse track up it, thinking horse-riding tourism might help his struggling farm. I asked how the best way up would be, filling him in on our love of hiking. “oh to get up Drys Bluff you just start down at Bob’s place” he said as if we knew who Bob was.
Turns out we know exactly who Bob is. After typing “Drys Bluff” into google it turns out “Bob” is former Greens Party senator Dr Bob Brown. Bob has a long history in the area it turns out. Knowing Lindsays logging past and attitude towards lazy protestors, I asked Lindsay if Bob was much liked in these parts. His reply was a true Lindsay-ism…“Well nah not really, but you know what? a lot of people do like him as well you see”. The old fella just can’t say a bad word about anybody.
The House that Bob Built
So back in the early 70s Dr Bob Brown was a practicing Doctor in Launceston, about an hours drive away. In a radio interview with the ABC, he talks about coming to Liffey and being over-come with amazement at what a beautiful place it was. He decided to buy a little cottage here, just up the road from Lindsays farm as it turns out. He remarks on the threat of loggers (Probably Lindsays old man) to the area and how it was Liffey that inspired him to start the United Australia Party, which later became the Greens Party. He talks about the electricity free cottage becoming his place away from the stresses of modern life and infact, how most of his biggest battles in parliament life were planned in meetings under the walnut tree out the front. The cottage would later be refereed to as Greeny HQ
In 1989 Bob outbid the loggers on all the bush blocks surrounding the cottage covering Drys Bluff and the Oura Oura reserve. He used money he had won with the Goldman Environmental prize as a deposit and this would be the beginning of Bush Heritage Australia. In 2011 Bob gifted the cottage on to Bush Hertitage Australia stating a desire for the area to be used by people for not 20 years but at least 200 years into the future. What a great thing to give to people.
Well it should be a good hike I guess, Its not everyday you hike a trail that inspired the entire Australian environmental movement
So We Started Down at Bob’s Place
A little footbridge leads you over a stream where you are greeted by a sign reading “Trespassers Welcome”. Cheers Bob, I thought as I walked up to greet the two welcome ponies. The trail does indeed start just behind the cottage. It is a day hike but don’t let that fool you into thinking it is some kind of walk in the park. It is listed in places as the toughest day walk in Tasmania and once you get started its not hard to see why. There is none of this zigzagging slowly up the mountain business, as with most climbs. The trail blazes a direct line straight up with 1000m of elevation gain. Most of the walk you can touch the ground with your hands, as is the steepness.
About half way up you’re rewarded with a little rest spot where you see your first view of the valley. We stopped here to refuel and we met a guy named Chris. Chris’s wife and his mate headed to the top without him. He had done the trail before he said, and it just gets too scary for him at the top. He wasn’t wrong.
It is mostly scrambling, and at times scrambling with A LOT of exposure. I recall mentioning to Chris more than once on the way up to not slip and fall, as she would land at the bottom of the mountain. There are a few ropes to help out on the way up and as is the case usually with pre-laid ropes we didn’t rely on them too much. Ominous broken ropes lying around made us a little weary.
The way up isn’t all doom and gloom though. There was a pretty remarkable little river making its way down through a gully just below the plateau, drinking water from a babbling little creek so high up was quite the reward. Once you reach the plateau there is a guest book to sign, I wrote something along the lines of “Thanks Bob” and we kept going. The real reward is the trig point about another half an hour away.
The top is lovely. We marveled at the patchwork of farms in the meander valley from high above for a while. Not too long though as we would need to make it back down before dark, the track down at night not a very nice thought. We were pretty careful again on the way down taking our time and being sure of each step. We noticed the few rotting tree stumps about, relics of the areas logging past before Bob came along. It’s hard to imagine that this area we spent the day in could have easily been a logging plantation. You are left to wonder what other beautiful places have fallen victim to the logging industry. If places like this are no longer around is that really sustainable? I really don’t know but I’m sure glad Bob fought hard to preserve this little part of the world.