Tasmania’s Mount Field National Park, one of the oldest national parks in the state, is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.
Located some 70km north-west of Hobart, it was established as a national park in 1916, making it the oldest park in the state alongside Freycinet, situated on Tasmania’s east coast.
The park’s 100th anniversary coincides with the annual Fagus Festival, which celebrates the flowering beech tree found in the area.
On this occasion, thousands of people visit Mt Field to see the leaves of the Fagus turn bright red, orange and gold.
Unique to Tasmania, the Fagus is Australia’s only cold-climate winter deciduous tree and is closely related to Fags species found in South Africa and New Zealand.
This year’s festival was opened by Tasmania’s Governor, Professor Kate Warner, who has been visiting the park her entire life.
“We came here and stayed in the government huts at Lake Dobson and we used to go skiing on Mt Mawson,” the Governor told the ABC.
“After that started bushwalking with my kids. I can remember taking them for a walk on the Twilight Tarn circuit. We’ve come up here for many times since, I’ve done many walks up here, so it’s a favourite place in all seasons.”
Aside from providing a good representation of much of native Tasmanian flora and fauna, Mt Field is also home to ski slopes that are as old as the park itself. These ski slopes are run by volunteers.
“Skiing at Mount Field’s still really popular still,” said Peter Davis, president of the Southern Tasmanian Ski Association.
“It’s the only ski field in southern Tasmania and it’s been operating downhill ski totes here for 50 years. But skiing’s been happening at Mount Field National Park for 90 years, which is pretty remarkable really.”
According to historic account, the last wild Tasmanian tiger was caught in the nearby Florentine Valley in the 1930s.
“We’re all looking out for those but haven’t seen any yet,” Dr Davis added.
“But certainly driving up the Lake Dobson road, particularly in the evening, you can see native quolls, lots of possums and wallabies and of course fantastic birdlife.”