• Helen Avaient

Cruise the Leven River and enjoy a forest walk in Ulverstone, Tasmania, Australia


In the 1880s, river cruises on the Leven River were an extremely popular form of entertainment. Today, it is no different. An enjoyable way to discover the river is to take a cruise with Leven River Cruises. As well as seeing this beautiful part of northern Tasmania from the water, you learn some history of the settlement and the development of this region.


Kim was our guide on the Jus Leven. The boat was originally built in Ulverstone in 1982. It was being used as a houseboat in St Helens when purchased and then loving restored by Kim and her family.


We sailed along 8kms of the 99km river. The first 12kms are a tidal sanctuary and the water can be anywhere from 10cm to 3.7m deep.


Looking out for rare sightings of pelicans, the Tasmanian Azure Kingfisher, eagles and platypus, I was fortunate to see a pelican posing for a photo.


The stories Kim told about Ulverstone give you a greater appreciation for the town when you return back to dry land. I felt that I knew the town better. We sailed under the Ulverstone bridges and learnt that the western side of town is named after females, and the eastern side after men. Sporting events and even hospitals catering to each segregated sex were firmly conducted on the appropriate side in days gone by.


Past the potato factory we sailed. It employs 320 people and operates 24/7 making frozen chips. During the world wars in the 1900s, it was used to process rabbits. The meat was canned for the soldiers, and the pelts sold.


Long ago the barge Annie worked on the river daily, transporting fresh produce, logs, even workers. These days the river doesn't get used a lot due to the amount of logs that fall naturally into the river. For people who fish, the river produces sea run trout, white bait, mullet and cocky salmon.


We passed by several creeks. Skeleton Creek was named after they found skeletons here in the 1950s, with chains on them. Maybe it was the bushranger Matthew Brady, or some poor convicts. Mannings Creek was named for the timber getter who was given land for his work.


Our bush camp was a great stop for refreshments before a forest walk.


This 15 acre block was the people's garden from 1880. People cruised up the river to this English Garden on the riverbank. The introduced plants competed with the native forest and it is now overgrown with English giant ivy running rampant.


Strolling through the forest you see the blackwoods, dogwood, white gum, man ferns, Tasmanian ash, Tasmanian oak and peppermint trees. Kim identified the various plants for me. She has been doing these tours for many years and also tells of the changes in the environment and interestingly describes the life cycles of the various flora.


I was entranced how some of the tree roots look like legs about to walk away, almost fairytale like. Kim explained that there probably would have been a log under here, and the roots grew on top and around it. Then the log rotted away and we are left with these strange roots.


There are many differenty types of fungis and mosses living in the forest.


Each season brings different perspectives and occassionally the river rises and the whole area is under water. 600mm under ground is a fresh water table that feeds the plants. Without this groundwater the rivers would be lost.


My guide for the day was Kim. She loves interacting with the visitors and enjoys showing people what the natural bush was like when she was young. She also loves sharing the history of the Ulverstone area. Her enthusiasm is evident as she hands out photos and newspaper clippings that aid in getting a visual to go with her stories. Kim said it was good that the younger generations are interested in experiencing nature. (Kim, it is also amazing for older ones such as me! But you already know that.)


Book a trip with Kim at www.levenrivercruises.com.au


Happy Travels!


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