Published: Oct 15, 2016 12:40 AM
Located fifteen kilometres north-northwest of Cradle Mountain, the Vale of Belvoir is a large open limestone valley, about ten km long and two km wide, flanked by ancient rainforests and eucalyptus forests.
The Vale of Belvoir is an important botanical, geological and historical site, with a surreal, majestic and welcoming ambience.
The Vale was given its name in 1827 by Joseph Fossey, after the valley in Leicestershire in England. Cattle was grazed in the area from the 1850s, originally by the Field family, then by George Moon, then by the William’s family from Narrawa, near Wilmot. George Williams also ran a dairy herd and operated a cheese factory. The discarded whey was popular with the local thylacines and tiger snakes.
The Charleston family from Wilmot took over grazing from the Williams during the 1960s, with the annual cattle drives from Wilmot and back were part of the families memorable events. They later sold their Vale property to the Tasmanian Land Conservancy in 2008, while continuing the right to graze during summer periods.
The Vale lies at an altitude of about 800m and is covered by subalpine vegetation. The Vale is underlain by Ordovician limestone which has been dated to be about 450 millions years old and represents the only sub-alpine limestone valley in the state.
The Vale has an unusual bi-directional drainage of the valley, which may be a result of the basalt flow of dolerite that covers much of Central Tasmania. At the north end is Lake Lea, which flows northwards via the Lea River into the Iris-Wilmot system and out into Bass Strait. The Southern flowing Vale River drains the rest of the Valley, out into the Pieman River on the West Coast.
As with other limestone valleys, numerous sink holes and caves appear across the Vale and are typically 10-20m across, with grassy and muddy walls, and floors where the soil has collapsed over time into the cave beneath. Many of these have wombat burrows on their sides, showing very large populations, and other marsupials in the area.
If you’re travelling to Cradle Mountain, take a moment to appreciate this unique, high-altitude valley.
You can learn more about the Vale of Belvoir at the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.