Roaming Down Under

Dip Falls

A distinctive basalt-column waterfall in north west Tasmania which is spectacular after rain

It's tucked away up a dead end road in the north west corner of Tasmania, easy to overlook. But anyone making the effort to visit Dip Falls will find one of the most impressive waterfalls in the state.

The upper stage of Dip Falls, Tasmania

The upper stage of Dip Falls

The first thing that struck me on visiting is the scale. Dip Falls is BIG. It's not just the height: the width, the amount of water tumbling over it, and the thunderous sound it makes, all contribute to making it impressive. Especially in winter.

My first visit to Dip Falls was in winter after good rain, and it roared. My last visit was also in winter but after a few months of ordinary rainfall, at a time when the famous Russell Falls was a fraction of its normal glory, ... and Dip Falls still roared. Its location near the wetter western side of the state is an advantage. However, expect less water if visiting in the drier summer season - most photos of Dip Falls I've seen are less wet than in what you see here.

Dip Falls, lower stage. The bright white area at top left is the upper stage of the falls

Dip Falls, lower stage. The bright white area at top left is the upper stage of the falls

From the parking area right next to the falls, a short walk over the road bridge takes you to a viewing platform which looks down on the falls. It's a great view, and shows the cascading foamy water of the upper stage of the falls in its entirety, and much of the lower stage too. So expansive that a typical compact camera at its most wide angle setting probably won't fit it all in. I tried taking a panoramic series; this captured the width but not the height. Sometimes you just have to photograph a partial scene and record the full scene with your senses.

Returning to the parking area, another path leads steeply down rocky steps to the bottom of the falls, in a deep, dark and ferny gully. The view here is also delicious. The dolerite columns over which the water flows make the falls distinctive - in places the water seems to bounce from one to the next.

After a bit of wandering around I managed to find a spot where most of the falls could be seen through a wide angle lens. Unfortunately the bright sunlit water at the top and the deep shade down below provided too much contrast for a good photo - sunny days have their disadvantages.

Dip Falls, Tasmania

Water cascading over basalt columns, Dip Falls, Tasmania

Water cascading over basalt columns

Situations like this are a great opportunity to "zoom in" and experiment with photographing small parts of the scenery. The bottom of Dip Falls has a good variety of mossy rocks, ferns and other foreground objects which frame, or provide depth to, sections of the falls. And some parts, where water cascades over rock columns, are very picturesque indeed.

After climbing back up to the parking area (which has toilets), a short walk across the road takes you to the remains of an old boiler left over from when the area was logged. The rich lushness of the forest overgrowing it provided reassurance that nature can recover, if left alone long enough. Not all forest has this luxury, however: while in the area I passed two log trucks busily removing some of the forest nearby.

About a kilometre beyond Dip Falls, and worth a look if you've come this far, is the Big Tree. As the name suggests, it is rather large, with a height of 62m and a circumference at the bottom of 17m. The quietness of the surrounding forest is a stark contrast to the noise of the falls after rain.

Base of the Big Tree near Dip Falls, Tasmania

Base of the nearby Big Tree

Dip Falls is between Stanley and Wynyard in north west Tasmania. From the main highway it is a 27km detour up a quiet and mostly sealed country road passing through pleasant rural scenery. The falls are not on the way to anywhere - the return trip easily consumes an hour; two hours or more if exploring the surrounds. If you have any appreciation of good waterfalls, I think it is time well spent.

A short video

You've read about it and seen some photos, but this short (50 seconds) video should bring Dip Falls to life. It shows all parts of the waterfall in full winter flow, and it isn't quiet.