This walk in Tasmania's far south leads to a tranquil small lake hidden in forest. If you fancy a not-difficult walk in beautiful quiet forest, walking to Duck Hole Lake can be pleasant. The biggest challenge is finding it.
With gentle slopes and a length of 2.1 km each way, the walk is not a hard one. It's not flat, but is about as near to being flat as you're likely to find in the Tasmanian bush. The hardest part may be finding where the track starts.
The turn-off from the main road and the two subsequent turns on gravel roads have some signposts ... but at the time of my visit none of them mentioned Duck Hole Lake, or gave any clue to its existence. An online search revealed others have been similarly frustrated. Fortunately some had posted directions, and the Tas Parks and Wildlife website has a map (see bottom of this page).
Once you've found the right road, the place to park and start walking is signposted and easy to spot. There are no facilities of any kind, just a little space at the edge of the road for a few cars to park in.
The track heads uphill on a gentle gradient, following the route of a 19th century forestry tramway. A small creek is to the left, initially close by.
In the quietness of the dense forest, with only the songs of birds and soothing sound of trickling water, it doesn't take long to become immersed in the beauty of classic Tasmanian forest scenery. The area may once have been logged, but it has grown back beautifully!
I'm not sure how long it took me to reach the lake. I became lost in nature and lost awareness of time - a sign that I was enjoying the walk and not distracted by any tricky bits. The walk is described as a one hour return walk, but I suspect someone taking it easy and "stopping to smell the flowers", as I was, could easily double that.
A steeper but short slope leads to a small cleared spot with a picnic table, and suddenly there is Duckhole Lake. Oval shaped, and being a flooded sinkhole it is deeper and darker than a regular lake. The thick forest extends right to the water ... hiding the presence of the lake until you get close, and sheltering it from wind. The stillness of the surface can produce lovely mirror-like reflections.
The track continues around the lake but quickly becomes indistinct, as if not many people walk beyond the picnic table. It didn't look like the view would be any better from elsewhere, so I was happy to linger near the picnic table and enjoy the tranquility.
Returning is by the same route, which is downhill when heading back to the road. The gradients may be gentle, but when your fitness is less than optimum even a small change in gradient makes a difference. For me the return walk felt much quicker.
There are supposed to be relics of past logging on the track. Maybe I was too focussed on the plants, but the only relic I noticed was a round metal piece of an old boiler. Nature has done a great job of covering the signs of past destruction.
Was the walk to Duckhole Lake worth the effort? I think so. But for me, as beautiful as the lake is, it was the track to the lake I enjoyed the most. Tasmanian forest can be gorgeous, even regrowth forest when left alone for long enough. The Duckhole Lake track is a fine example of Tassie forest which is also accessible to the less fit among us.
I did wonder if the lack of signposting is a strategy to preserve the lake’s tranquility by deterring casual visitors. Perhaps not … but if it is, it's working.
If approaching from the north, after leaving Dover you'll pass through the tiny town of Strathblane after a few km, and a bridge crossing the Esperance River. From the bridge, look out for a turn-off 3.1 km further south, onto a gravel road on the right. There isn't much warning of it, so slow down when you think you're getting near. Turn right into this road (Old Hastings Road), then at a junction about 1km further on go right (Darcy Link Road). A little further on turn left into Creekton Road, and look out for the track parking area (signposted) on the left side of the road, close to a small bridge.
To approach from the south, the Tas Parks & Wildlife website suggests a route suitable for 4-wheel drive vehicles. I tried a different route up some seldom-used gravel tracks which someone at Hastings Caves suggested - it got me there eventually, but I wouldn't want to try it in damp weather. My recommendation if approaching from the south is to use the roads I described above ... just as quick as any alternative, and less likely to be dodgy in wet weather. Try to spot the turn-off when heading south, so you'll recognise it when driving back the other way.
Duckhole Lake (Parks & Wildlife Service)