Location: Chauncy Vale Wildlife Sanctuary, Bagdad
Length: 6 kilometres
Grade: 3 (suitable for most with some steep rocky sections)
Distance from: Hobart - 42 km, Launceston - 165 km, Devonport - 246 km
Over its history, Tasmania has shown a fierce commitment to natural preservation. The Chauncy Vale Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the oldest protected pieces of land in the Natural State. Sitting just 42 minutes north of Hobart, this is one of the most accessible and rewarding parks on the island. And, to top it all off, the Brown's Cave Track is the most rewarding of its hikes.
The entirety of the walk takes place in dry sclerophyll forest eucalypts so you are nearly guaranteed encounters with Tasmanian wildlife. Wallabies continually hop across the path and you may even run into the intimidating Tiger snake if the weather is warm. The trail will take you to a series of caves that span over 200 metres which are ripe for exploration. You'll also get stunning views of the Vale itself. And a visit to the Chauncy Vale is a great way to see some of Tasmania's birdlife.
The sanctuary can be accessed off the Brooker Highway (A10) in the town of Bagdad. Turn east onto Chauncy Vale Road and follow for 4 kilometres to the picnic area. There is a small donation per adult to pay at the entry gate.
The drive from Hobart is only 42 minutes over 42 kilometres. Launceston is only a 2-hour drive over 165 kilometres. Devonport sits 246 km to the north and that drive takes nearly 3 hours.
You'll be greeted by an informational display right at the outset. You'll learn about the 380-hectare sanctuary, its history, the Chauncy family, and its flora and fauna. After educating yourself, you'll set out on the Winter Track towards Brown's Caves. Expect to see some wallabies along the way and keep your eye out for other marsupials and snakes.
After a short period of time, you'll link up with the Caves Track. It's a short but steep walk up to the caves on well-constructed steps. Turnaround to see views of the entire Vale or turn your attention to the 200 metres worth of caves to explore. The caves are easily accessible and safe, and it's the perfect place to bring energetic children.
After exploring the caves, head east to link up with the Old Road Track. The rocky descent from the caves can be rather difficult especially when it is wet. After getting to the bottom safely, you'll follow the Old Road Track to Guvy's Lagoon. This is a great place for Tasmanian birdwatching, but the lagoon can be dry during summer months.
The Old Road Track then returns to the carpark along the creek. You'll pass by a cascade of water called Eve's Bath where the Chauncy family use to bathe. Shortly after, you'll be back at the carpark.
All Tasmanian snakes are venomous so watch your step and seek medical attention if bitten.
Wear sturdy shoes as the rocky descent from Brown's Cave can be a bit slippery.