One of my favourite things about walking in the forest is the bird song (I did say one of the things – there seems to be quite a list that is ever-growing). Another favourite is that more often than not we have it all to ourselves.
Since we’re on favourites (told you I had a list….) – one more thing about walking in the forest – never disappointed. They just ooze something – something calming – some happy juice or something. This one is like walking in an enchanted forest – it is sooo green – trees covered in moss, the ground covered in moss, ferns, foliage – green, green, green. Seriously it really is incredibly green – almost unbelievably green. Stephen comments that people won’t believe he hasn’t played with the colours in his photos – but he hasn’t!
This is another one of those hikes in the bush – beautiful bush scenery coupled with fantastic gold and coal mining history. The trail starts out following a small stream deeper into the forest before it then starts climbing – and yes we climb. All in all there are around 785 steps, not all at once though – I think the first stint is around 300 odd – as well as just general small steep sections and gentle inclines. Worth it to get high in the canopy of the trees, our own Treetop walkway.
Soon enough we’re into the first of the remnants from gold mining days – the remains of a stamping battery rusting away in the creek and then into coal mining history with mine entrances and scattered coal around us, sometimes forming part of the trail.
The trail takes us up more steps but these ones are skirting the side of a huge rock face and then carves into the edge of the hill. There are hanging mosses dripping with water and it is very atmospheric. There are signs along here also with warnings not to enter the cave entrances – you can only imagine the working conditions here in the “golden days”.
One last section of stairs leads us to a sea of green. Beautiful shades of all things green, especially the ferns – and all things ferns – shrubs, leaves, trees – they are amazing. We named it the Fern Grove there was such an abundance of them.
We’ve pretty much reached the tops now so the trail evens out a little and we’re following the old Lankey Creek Tram Track around the edge of the mountain side often giving us great views out to the tops on the other side of the road and river. The trail is nicely benched – no more ups, no more downs or so we think…….
Remember I mentioned 785 odd steps well to date we’d only done about 400…… the next 300 odd were downhill – which of course meant we were going to have to come up them sooner or later. As it turned out it was going to be sooner rather than later as at the bottom we had reached our destination – the site of the old Energetic Gold Mine. It plateaued out and there was a lovely grass area complete with picnic table and the Murray Creek running down far below. If we’d wanted we could have carried on to join up with the Murray Creek track back to Blacks Point but that would have meant then walking a couple of kilometres along the main highway – we were doing this as an in and an out.
(thanks to Annette Woodford for this photo – Stephen wasn’t happy with the quality of the ones he took from this area. Annette has also visited Lankey Creek with her family http://annettewoodford.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/lankey-creek-track-reefton/)
It was beautiful here in amongst the old gold mining workings. DOC had a sign complete with photo showing what used to be here in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s. Quite the industry with over 30 people working the mine in it’s hey-day. For us though it was our lunch stop – taking advantage of the picnic table and our stop at the bakery on route…. come on you knew it was coming!
Re-fuelled it was time to hit the steps – exactly 300 back up to the top. We were dreading them but took them slow and steady and they actually weren’t as bad as we thought they’d be – we were back at the top before we knew it.
Back around the old tram line, back past all the historic sites before the final descent through the sea of green and down into the enchanted forest. The smiles rarely left our faces pretty much the entire time and for the final section back through the enchanted forest we couldn’t help but continually look around us in awe.
This walk has been on our “to do” list for sometime. We’d done a small section of it but didn’t have much time for a proper explore so we had always intended to come back to investigate it properly. It is on now our highlights list – “just” another great bush walk on the West Coast.
Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth. The West Coast has been named as one of the top ten regions to visit in the world by Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel – easy to see why.