St Columba Falls
St Columba Falls, near Pyengana, is one of Tasmania's highest waterfalls, with water plunging 90m from the Mt Victoria foothills to the valley of the South George River. The walk is on a high-quality track through cool and shady rainforest.
The water that tumbles over these falls is the reason the region became known as Pyengana. It is the Aboriginal word for 'two rivers'. These days the two rivers are called North and South George. South George flows through the valley and spills over the top of St Columba Falls. Halls Falls is a smaller, cascading waterfall, but its location in beautiful forest makes up for anything it may lack in size.
The river gave its name to the local Post Office (Georges River PO) which opened on 1 December 1885. It was renamed Pyengana three years later. Nearby are the beautiful forests of the Blue Tier, the Chinese mining heritage of the Trail of the Tin Dragon, and the wonderful cheeses of Pyengana, whose cloth-wrapped vintage cheddar has been produced continuously since 1895.
St Columba Falls take their name from the home of the pioneering settlers George and Margaret Cotton who settled here in 1875 and raised a family of nine children at a property they called St Columba. The name recalls Saint Columba (521-597), a Gaelic Irish missionary monk who propagated Christianity among the Picts.
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Pyengana is a rural farming region set among sites of such significant natural beauty and it is well worth leaving the highway that bypasses it, and stopping to savour a little of what it has to offer. Pyengana is not nor has ever been a town, but a community that grew around the home of pioneering settlers George and Margaret Cotton who settled here in 1875 and raised a family of nine children at a property they called St Columba.
The Blue Tier Reserve is an exposed plateau with a rich mining and natural heritage. What makes the Blue Tier Forest Reserve so interesting is its long history in mining and forestry operations. The first Europeans came to this area after some miners who were working in the Mathinna goldfields discovered some rich tin deposits in some of the creeks in this area. The news spread quickly and the area was settled in 1878 as a mining town. Back then the town was made up of a pub, two hotels, a blacksmith, butcher, three stores and a few residential cottages. The Blue Tier area also has a history in forestry operation.
From 1945 to 1952 two sawmills were in operation with one run by a French family who milled celery top pine; while the Nichols mill focused on myrtle. There is a range of walks from a short 400m circuit, which is wheelchair friendly, to a 10.5km walk one-way to Weldborough for the more adventurous.
Halls Falls is located near Blue Tier, and is the first attraction along the way to the Anchor Tin Mine Site and Blue Tier. There are also a number of picnic tables near the information booth, and some old mining equipment. The walk to the falls is only 30 minutes return, however if you want the full experience it is recommended that you dedicate about an hour and a half. The falls are one of the prettiest in Tasmania and are well worth leaving the main road to visit. What it lacks in sheer size it makes up for in quiet beauty.