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St Columbia Falls Ride

In this detour episode, we’re heading to the picturesque St Columbia Falls in the Pyengana valley of Northeast Tasmania. Our route east along the Tasman Highway from Scottsdale follows what’s marketed as the “Trail of the Tin Dragon”, which tells the story of Chinese tin miners in the district in the late 1800s. We detour off the Tasman highway to check out the woodcarvings at Legerwood then head up to the historic Weldborough Hotel for lunch. After we take a brisk walk at the falls before we stop off at the famous Pub in the Paddock for a well-earned ale.

Legerwood Memorial Trees
Not far out of Scottsdale we hit some great twisties at the Rocky Cutting and the infamous Billycock, before we detour off the highway to see the Legerwood Memorial Trees.

We’re told that back on the 15th of October 1918 a ceremony was held in the railway reserve at Ringarooma Road, which was renamed Legerwood three months later, where nine trees were planted to honour soldiers killed in World War 1.

As the names of the fallen were called out, a relative or near relative came forward to hold the tree until it was planted.
  • Douglas Fir –Alan Andrews, 
  • Giant Sequoia– Thomas Edwards, 
  • Deodar—William Hyde, 
  • Giant Sequoia-Robert Jenkins, 
  • Deodar– John McDougall, 
  • Douglas Fir-George Peddle , 
  • Deodar-John Riseley ,
  • and a Weymouth Pine at each end of the avenue for Gallipoli and the Anzacs.

In 2001 a report on the condition of the trees showed that they were no longer safe and the community were devastated that their memorials would be lost. However in 2004 a proposal was put forth that the stumps be carved into a likeness of each soldier. Eddie Freeman a chainsaw carver, from Ross, was employed by the Legerwood Hall and Reserves Committee to sculpt the masterpieces you see today.

Weldborough Pass
You’ll be hard pressed to find a bike rider who’d disagree that the Tasman highway east of Branxholm to St Helens doesn’t offer some the best riding in the country. The road winds and twists its way through rich undulating farm land before climbing the Weldborough Pass which has one of the most spectacular fern displays that you will see anywhere in Australia. For kilometres beside the road huge ferns are on either side of the road. They are interspersed with stands of blackwood, sassafras and myrtle. The pass, which rises 595 meters, offers excellent views on either side of the road and the range. Treasured giant myrtles, over 300 years old, stand as sentinels along our journey.

http://www.hotel.weldborough.com.au/

Our lunch destination was the historic Weldborough Hotel that was established in 1876. Today its run by Marc and his wife and they serve one of the best count meals on the East Coast of Tasmania. They also have the award winning Tasmanian MicroBru Experience which showcases one of Tasmania’s largest selections of Traditional ales, crisp ciders and real soft drinks and the food served is locally sourced, freshly prepared and cooked to order. They also have vegetarian, vegan and gluten free menu items.

If you have a little more time, they have rooms as well as a well-serviced campground. The Weldborough hotel is situated a stone’s throw from forestry trails, hikes, and the Blue Tier. There are loads of things to do. A Mountain bike heaven, there are also amazing 4wd, Quad and Trail biking opportunities (see a full list). Gems can be found in the nearby Weld River and they even hire fossicking gear?

However we met a chap at the bar who offered to drive us the six kilometers up to Mt Paris Dam, in his 4WD, to see the only pillar and slab built dam in Tasmania if we bought him a couple of beers. We did, and even though it has no water now it is well worth seeing what was achieved with wheelbarrows and shovels!

Then it was back on the bikes for another blast through some of Tassie’s finest riding country, where the road roll from one hill through to another twisting and turning through spectacular scenery.

St Columbia Falls

The St Columbia Falls, which plunge 90 metres (295-foot) from the Mt Victoria foothills, can either be viewed from the car park or from a viewing platform at the end of an easy 15-20 minute rainforest walk. As you can see we chose the walk and it was certain well worth it as the view was sensational.

The Pub in the Paddock
The story of how the “Pub in the Paddock” came to be was that in the late 1800 the local midwife of the valley Mrs Terry, who led by example, had 15 children of her own. Her six sons were more interested in drinking beer than farming so they simply licensed their homestead! And so, in 1900 the Columbia Falls Hotel, now known as the pub in the paddock, was born. The Terrys seem to have taken care of the social life in the valley too. The not only converted their house into a hotel, but also their barn into a dance hall and picture theater for Saturday nights. The venue must have had an interesting smell as the Terry’s pigs slept under the barn’s floorboards and had to be chased out before dances could commence.

The Pub in the Paddock is one of Tasmania’s oldest country pubs. Literally sitting in the middle of a paddock in the verdant Pyengana Valley, the Pub offers hearty country meals or morning and afternoon teas along with comfortable pub accommodation.

And after that walk down to the waterfall we certainly enjoyed cold ale.

However the Pub in the Paddock also a tradition which can’t be passed up and that’s feeding Priscilla their resident pig a beer, which can be purchased at the bar for a dollar.

Then it was down to the road a few kilometers to the Pyengana Dairy Company, to sample and pick up some of their award wining English style cheddar cheeses. They have a fully licensed Cafe serve a range of breakfast and lunch meals, snacks and desserts, complemented by espresso coffee, boutique teas, Tasmanian beers, wines and ciders, and (of course) their farm–fresh milkshakes.

And as the day drew to a close it was time to reflex on the ride. Overall we give riding anywhere in Northeast Tassie a full five helmet score, the food, hospitality, scenery and riding are all superb.

Things to watch out for are wandering wildlife and farm machinery, apart from that we’d definitely recommend this ride.


May 11, 2012 | Posted in: On Road Tours, Tasmania