Nature just seems a bit wilder in Tasmania. On the slopes of Mount Wellington in Hobart’s Wellington Park, there’s an Octopus Tree that takes its name from thick tentacle-like roots that wrap around a boulder below the tree. It’s only a 0.3-kilometer walk to the tree from Shoobridge Bend on Pinnacles Road and the tree can be visited on a loop by incorporating Circle Track for an easy and enjoyable 1.1-kilometer (0.7-mile) hike that passes through a dense mossy forest.
The loop begins from Shoobridge Bend, a pronounced horseshoe bend on Pinnacles Road, nine kilometers below the summit of Mount Wellington. The direct route to the Octopus Tree starts from the outside of this hard left bend in Pinnacles Road. There is a car park on the left just before the turn that is a convenient place to leave a vehicle. The start of Circle Track is farther down the road across from the car park. Walk a hundred meters down the road from the parking area and turn left down Circle Track, which is marked with a sign. Circle Track heads down the mountainside into a fern-covered forest full of fallen trees and rocks covered in vibrant green moss.
Circle Track progresses downhill for 200 meters to a wooden footbridge over a trickling stream. Turn uphill on the other side of the short bridge and pass a junction with Betts Vale Track, staying to the left to continue on Circle Track. The single-track trail makes a sharp left bend and ascends to a junction with Shoobridge Track, 0.5 kilometers into the hike. The return route to Pinnacles Road is to the left, but turn right first to venture off the loop to the impressive Octopus Tree.
After less than a quarter of a kilometer of level hiking on Shoobridge Track, you will see a funky sign labeled Octopus Tree. Take the spur trail below the sign, which descends to the right toward a tall eucalyptus tree that stands atop a large boulder rising above the rest of the mountainside. The tree’s thick roots grow around the rock like the tentacles of an octopus. You can walk all the way around the base of the tree, but the left side is the one that most resembles an octopus. Four large finger-like roots extend from the trunk and clutch the boulder below like fingers around a ball. The octopus’s tentacles aren’t as obvious on the other side of the boulder, but there is an octopus’s garden of ferns, fungi, and moss clinging to the roots and rock on that side of the tree.
After checkout out the Octopus Tree, return to Shoobridge Track and turn left to walk back to the junction with Circle Track. Continue straight (which would have originally been a left turn) and Shoobridge Track takes you back to Pinnacles Road in another tenth of a mile. If you parked in the area between the two ends of the loop, your vehicle will be visible just down the road to the left.
Octopus Tree is an interesting attraction in Wellington Park, and the 1.1-mile loop on Circle Track to Octopus Tree is a good short walk to explore along the drive up Pinnacles Road (toward the Pinnacles Boardwalk at the summit). Bikes are not permitted on Circle Track and Shoobridge Track, but dogs are allowed on leashes. No fee or permit is required to hike to Octopus Tree in Wellington Park, so get out and enjoy!
Directions: From the central business district of Hobart, where Highway 1 and A3 merge, continue south on Davey Street (A6). After 2 kilometers, stay to the right to continue straight through an intersection with Sothern Outlet (A6) and proceed up Davey Street (B54). After another 900 meters, Davey Street becomes Huon Road and curves to the right. Drive another 6.3 kilometers up Heon Road and make a very sharp right turn up Pillinger Drive (C616) toward Mount Wellington. Pillinger Drive turns into Pinnacles Road. From the intersection, it is 2.6 kilometers up to the car park at Shoobridge Bend where the loop begins.
Trailhead address: Pinnacle Road, Wellington Park, TAS 7054, Australia
Trailhead coordinates: -42.908751, 147.24798 (42° 54′ 31.50″S 147° 14′ 52.72″E)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding Australian trails, campgrounds, and lodging.
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The 0.3-kilometer round trip walk on Pinnacles Boardwalk can easily be extended to a 0.75-kilometer walk on the top of Mount Wellington, checking out another short boardwalk and the trig station at the summit.
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