Needles and Holes, 10 Aug 2021

Robyn and I were keen to revisit both The Needles and Growling Swallet, but neither was long enough to fill the day so we combined them (plus Junee Cave) into “Needles and Holes” on 10 August.

The Needles are a spectacular quartzite outcrop above Humbolt Divide (highest point on the road to Stratghordon). It seems to be the first bit of classic SW quartzite terrain that you encounter as you head west. On a clear day they offer wonderful 360º views including Mt Anne, Mt Mueller, bits of the Western Arthurs, The Thumbs, Mt Reid (above Lake Rhona), even a distant glimpse of Frenchmans Cap. And of course parts of Lake Gordon in the middle distance.

Looking E along The Needles ridge

The walk is only 1.5 km but it’s a steep climb of 350 m with a particularly rough bit near the top. Some of the group elected to wait just below that where the views were still excellent.

Most of the happy crowd on top of The Needles

We had lunch in a sheltered spot a bit further down (pretty windy on the exposed ridge and summit). The whole walk showed clear signs of the dreadful fires in 2019 but also encouragingly strong regrowth.

Lunch with our backs to the wind

Growling Swallet (isn’t that a wonderful name?) is where a creek descending from Mt Field West disappears down a deep dark hole, to re-emerge (together with water from other streams) at Junee Cave. The swallet itself is a bit anticlimactic because you can’t safely access the point where the water plunges down.

Growling Swallet

But the real delight of this short walk (less than 1 km) is the glorious mixed forest along the way. Massive eucalypts soar above huge myrtles and sassafras with the usual understory of huge ferns and lots of fungi. Personally I think it’s up there among the best forest I’ve seen in Tasmania.

Forest en route to Growling Swallet

Junee Cave is just a 400 m tourist walk, and it was getting close to sunset by the time we reached the opening at the bottom of a south-facing gully. Hence the light was poor and we could not really see much into the cave. Nevertheless it felt nice to have “closed the loop” of the water flow from Growling Swallet.

Junee Cave

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