Russell Falls is just over an hour’s drive northwest of Hobart, in Mount Field National Park, a World Heritage Wilderness area. The 25-minute return walk to the falls is one of the shortest waterfall walks in Tasmania, yet it’s one of the prettiest. All but one of Tasmania’s twelve endemic birds can be found there, along with the eastern barred bandicoot and eastern quoll.
Mount Field National Park is a stunning area known as the ‘park for all seasons.’ The path leading to Russell Falls is filled with species typical of the park’s diverse wet forests and cool temperate rainforests. The short path to the falls is framed by tall tree ferns and passes by myrtle, musk, native dogwood and towering swamp gums, the tallest flowering plant on Earth.
Tasmania is home to over 200 waterfalls and Russell Falls is definitely a favourite. Wrapped in lush rainforest, it’s a spectacular two-tiered waterfall, that cascades into a picturesque pool embraced by tall tree ferns.
Russell Falls flows all year round but is at its peak during the winter months as the surrounding snow melts, or after heavy rainfall when it puts on an exceptional show of power and beauty. Although it’s a short walk, the 1.4 kilometre, easily accessible path is featured as one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.
Another 10 minutes upstream from Russell Falls is Horseshoe Falls. A delightfully serene spot, the rainforest surrounding the falls creates a natural amphitheatre as the water tumbles over large, moss-covered rocks. The walking tracks in the area are well-maintained and easy to negotiate. Along the way there’s signage identifying the flora and fauna, providing in-depth information about this special place.
For tens of thousands of years, the land was home to the Big River nation of Aborigines. There is evidence they lived in caves when the area was buried in glacial ice, and as it later transformed into rainforests and eucalypt forests.
Previously known as ‘Browning Falls’ after the first European who ‘discovered’ them in 1856, they became a much-loved tourist destination and by 1884 were known as Russell Falls.
First protected as a nature reserve in 1885, Russell Falls was featured in 1899 on a set of eight postage stamps, promoting tourism. In 1916, they became part of Mount Field National Park which, along with Freycinet, is Tasmania’s oldest national park.
By the early 1900s, the park was accessible by rail and a guesthouse was built in 1911 for visitors who came for walking and trout fishing. Today, more than 200,000 people visit Mount Field National Park every year.
Russell Falls is approximately one and a quarter hours’ drive northwest of Hobart in Mount Field National Park in the southern part of the Central Highlands.
The Russell Falls track is 1.4 kilometres long and takes approximately 25 minutes to complete the return walk.
The falls sit at an elevation of 295 metres. The two waterfall drops have a height of 34 to 58 metres.
The falls usually flow throughout the year but are at their peak after heavy rainfall or during the winter months after the snow melts on nearby mountains.
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