Thinking about where I could go, Mount Field came to mind.
I’ve been up there quite a lot over the years, climbing Mount Field West a few years ago but Mount Field East was always the mountain one drove past to get up to Lake Dobson.
So Mount Field East it was.
I parked in the car park (was the only one there), and set off up the hill. It wasn’t long before I was at the turnoff to Seagers lookout, but I kept going.
I found myself up on Windy Moor – and was presented with a very lovely view.
The sky was blue, the wind was very mild. Perfect walking weather.
Oh I may as well include a panorama shot!
I usually don’t take many photos on my walks, but have tried to change this lately. The photos I do take are with my old iPhone 7 so they’re… not great.
To try and remedy this, I’ve recently purchased a second hand Sony RX100 V from a friend so I hope the quality of images improves with the next walk.
Anyway, I flew across the Moor and up the side of Mount Field East and before long was looking at the summit!
I sat down for lunch with a wonderful view of Ellendale and Westerway.
It’d taken me roughly an hour or so to make it to the summit. It’d probably be a bit quicker if I took the same way back, and I thought since I’d driven all this way I may as well go back via Lake Nicholls.
So I took a different route home, quickly finding my way through much denser scrub and a rather steep hill as I lost about 150 meters of altitude.
The views over Lake Nicholls were superb
Lake Nicholls was a wonderful spot, with an interesting old hut to have a quick look at.
This walk was also a bit of a test for a new map system I was hoping would work.
It’s now almost impossible to get hold of the old TasMap 1:25000 series which is wonderful for bush walking.
However, you can get digital version of the old maps for $2 from the TasMap eShop, but the problem is getting them printed.
I thought I’d have to get a whole map printed – which needs A1 sized poster. But the price will add up quickly, especially when you probably need to laminate them too.
However, Officeworks has an option called Nevertear which you can print on A4 and A3 size. So I had myself a map printed off the DOBSON 25,000 map.
The Nevertear material is wonderful, and – as I found out after a bit of an experiment – waterproof!
So now, all I have to do is make a few maps before I go and get them printed. Not only is it cost efficient ($2 for the map and about $1.50 per page for A4 colour printing and about $3 per page for A3), it’s easy and fun to make your own maps too!
I’ve been playing around a lot with QGIS (QGIS is a free and open-source cross-platform desktop geographic information system application that supports viewing, editing, and analysis of geospatial data – Wikipedia) and it’s bloody brilliant.
It’s actually how I process and obtain screenshots of my walk route you can see at the end of each post.
Anyway, the new map system is a huge success and I’m keen to try it out on a walk where maps are slightly more needed – but always good to practice.
So back to the walk, it was a lovely walk back from the hut at Lake Nicholls and before long I was wandering back up the hill towards the car to close the loop.
All up, it took a little over three hours. A nice walk on a fantastic day.
Date: January 6 - 10, 2020
Weather: Couldn't ask for anything better
The logistics for this one were different from your usual pre-hike planning.
Sure there was the usual requirement to get food, maps, supplies, etc, but COVID times bring additional challenges.
On this walk, I was to be joined by a friend who has long been keen on walking the Arthurs. The only problem was he lived… interstate.
Now, that’s not usually a problem and it certainly didn’t seem like it was going to be. The borders were well and truly open between NSW and Tasmania.
Well, they were until the Northern Beaches outbreak.
Carrington, who’ll you hear from later, called me as case numbers in Sydney started to rise.
“Get out,” I advised in a very calm and collected manner. “If you want any chance of getting to Tassie, you need to get out of Sydney now.”
Ok I agree it’s a bit narcissistic to quote myself in my own blog post and I can’t really remember if that’s exactly what I said, but it certainly was the vibe.
I was obviously persuasive enough, as Carrington left Sydney that night. It turns out I was also right. Lockdowns of the Northern Beaches were announced, and before long Sydney was added to the NOT WELCOME list of the Tasmanian government.
But because Carrington had left early, we were still in the clear. So long as rural NSW wasn’t added to the list he’d at least have a chance.
(Note: This was all within the regulations and rules at every step of the way. I have no interest in trying to break COVID rules just to go for a walk.)
So did he make it? Yep, thanks to a long stay with his parents over Christmas and a bit of luck.
And with that out of the way, the excitement was over and we did a walk in the Western Arthurs and that was that.
Thanks for reading.
Sorry, oldest joke in the book. Ok, on with the walk now.
Day 1 (Jan 6): Carpark to Lake Cygnus. A trudge to Junction Creek.
Day's quick notes:
The start bit (and end) of the Western Arthurs sucks.
Ok that’s a bit extreme, but let me explain.
I’ve walked along the track to Junction Creek a few times now, and it’s fine. I think its main problem is that it feels like it’s getting in the way of something so much greater.
The Western Arthurs are just so spectacular it’s hard for the poor track that leads to them to compare.
Yet here I am writing about them for some reason, so lets move on.
The walk in was fine, and before long we were climbing up Alpha Moraine. I’ve been up it once before and it certainly helps knowing what’s coming.
From Junction Creek, it took us 1 hour, 10 minutes to get to the next junction where the Port Davey track peels off and you start up Alpha Moraine. From there it was about another two and a half hours to the top.
Another hop, skip and a jump and we found ourselves at Lake Cygnus.
Now it’s normally just me that writes these blog posts, but I thought Carrington would like to add some recollections too. So everyone, this is Carrington. Carrington, meet everyone:
As Will noted, the journey to get even get into Tasmania proved to be a bit of a journey in its own right. The allure of the Western Arthurs was strong enough for me to do the necessary work to make it down.
Will had done his best to make sure I was well aware of the potential difficulties in doing the hike. I would in no way claim to be an expert hiker. I’ve done a few multi day walks including the Overland Track, Tiger Leaping Gorge in southern China and Macchu Pichu in Peru but I knew this would be much tougher ask.
I’d given myself a significant amount of time in Tassie. I’d pencilled out three weeks in total (I’d lived in Tassie in 2019 so was fortunate to have a few people who seemed ok with hosting me when I wasn’t walking).
We knew the tracks relative difficult (and our enjoyment in doing it) would likely be highly correlated with the weather. The hope was, Will would spot a kind forecast and we’d set out then. Boy, did we ever.
I arrived in Tassie and was able to scrounge together a great set of kit from a few different friends. The only missing piece was a high quality, super warm sleeping bag. I ended up renting one and it’s worth the investment. We had fantastic conditions and I was still super thankful for the warmth of the sleeping bag. You don’t want to skimping on your sleeping bag.
As Will has noted, the walk from the car park in Alpha Moraine is definitely not one of the highlights of the trip. I mean, it’s fine.
Being in nature is normally pretty good, but it’s not what you’d describe as spectacular. In saying that, I love the excitement of starting off on a big hike. Getting away from the confines of normality and setting off on an adventure into the unknown. Untethered from technology. Excited to talk to my friend about a broad range of topics (there’s much less chatting on the way out. Friendship remains firmly intact but when you’re trudging out, you want to save your oxygen for the march).
Hitting Alpha Moraine is when you know this is a serious walk. It’s the first serious climb.
I was in pretty good fitness going into the walk though I hadn’t done any long walks for a while. At this point I wished I’d done some more mountain climbs recently to put some extra work into those specific leg and hip muscles that only seem to get activated by this activity.
Alpha Moraine will test many, but it’s nothing on what comes on later. There will be a heaps of false peaks to both excite and then disappoint you. When we ascended there was still a bit of cloud cover hiding the peaks (this was basically as close as we got to bad weather the entire time).
It gradually lifted as climbed and we had basically uninterrupted views of the valley below. One of the great joys of the Western Arthurs (as would become apparent through the rest of the trip) is that each peak ascent seemed to bring a new and spectacular vista. Alpha Moraine is the first taste of that.
The descent into Cygnus was gorgeous – although again just a taste of what is to come.
Carrington’s thoughts – day 1
Day 2 (Jan 7): Cygnus to Oberon (with fun side trips!)
Day's quick notes:
Distance: 6km (not including side trips - I didn't take the GPS!)
Don’t have a picture because I forgot to take one.
Doesn’t matter. Hayes isn’t bad. The views are great. But the real highlight of the day was Mount Sirius.
Last time, I’d climbed Orion. Of the two, Sirius is the clear winner.
The views down to Oberon and along the range are just phenomenal.
We stayed up on Sirius for quite a while, just soaking in the view (and also the sun).
All up, the detour took us more than an hour, and we could have stayed longer.
But it was getting on (well, in my mind it was. In reality it was 3:30pm) so we made the trek down Sirius and over to the start of the decline into Oberon.
This was as far as I’d been on my previous trip.
We scampered down from Sirius, then dropped down into Oberon. We had a pick of camping platforms (they filled up later that night), and the late afternoon/evening was stunning.
We went for a swim!
Oberon really is a magical place.
Day 3 (Jan 8): Oberon to High Moor. The packs come off and the rope comes out.
Day's quick notes:
Distance: 7km (not including side trips - I didn't take the GPS!)
Past Oberon is where the track gets a bit less refined and the obstacles get slightly tougher.
Climbing out of Oberon, you’re greeted with a lovely little wander around a few rock forms before coming to a small cliff requiring a scramble.
I’m sure many people can just rocket up the very small cliff thing, but this was the first of many pack hauls for us.
I’d recently learnt to tie a bowline after all these years of not knowing, and before long we were up and at our next obstacle of threading our way up a small hole through boulders.
Easily cleared, we found ourselves at the next side trip for the trip.
Wasn’t a bad little trip up and had a nice view from the top (which ones don’t?) – but as choices go along the range wasn’t the highlight.
Which raises an interesting point. What makes a peak a “highlight”? Is it the view? The effort in getting there? The weather or company? Or a mix of all of the above?
Sirius from the day before was definitely a highlight. But like most of the peaks along the Western Arthurs it was easy to get to (once you were there). It had a great view over Oberon as we peered down the lake hundreds of meters below. It’s also a bit bigger than the others around it so you can see it for longer. It acts as a marker of how far you’ve got to go and then how far you’ve come.
And Aldebaran was a highlight too in my mind (coming up later), but I think that was less about the view from the top (while lovely), and more about the interesting trip up from Haven Lake.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I hate some peaks, it’s just I like some more than others. I suppose beyond a certain point it’s all somewhere on a continuum from “yeah this is nice” to “I love this peak for some unknowable reason”. Anyway, I digress.
Anyway the peak was nice. We got a few pictures (of other peaks) and headed back to our bags.
Sooner or later we were up Mount Capricorn…
… and headed down some steep af slopes, finding ourselves in a nice little rest area just below the towering mountain we’d just come down.
It’s an area of the track that is pretty eroded as hundreds of hikers – including us – go up and down it.
From our resting spot it’s not too far to High Moor, through some relatively thick scrub. We didn’t make the side trip to Dorado – but I would next time. Just to see where I’d place it on the peak continuum.
Before long we’d squeezed our tents onto the platform (we were first to arrive but knew it was going to be a tight night with several groups behind us) and started up Mount Columba.
Looking north, there was another hill thing. So we walked back up it too and got a great view of where’d we’d come that day.
High Moor is the only campsite that’s not next to a lake so water can be an issue. It was pretty dry when we were there but we still could scoop some up from the very small little trickle near the platforms.
The night was … restless. With such a tight squeeze, it was like sleeping in a hostel dorm room.
Day 4 (Jan 9): High Moor to Haven Lake (and a side trip up Aldebaran)
Day's quick notes:
Distance: 9km including side trips - I did take the GPS up Aldebaran!)
I woke up spinning.
As I turned over sometime in the early hours of the morning, I felt like I was falling off the earth.
A bizarre feeling of dizziness that I can’t remember happening before.
“Oh uh,” I thought.
The dizziness persisted through breakfast and coffee. It persisted while I packed up – staggering about with the lightest of heads. And it persisted through much of the day, though it did get slightly better, or I just got used to it.
A bit of a bugger really, considering some of the near vertical drops we’d have to negotiate.
High Moor to Haven Lake requires walking the Beggary Bumps – a series of big hills which one must go over, or around. It’s quite scrubby – when compared to other parts of the walk and when you’re down in the bush it can get quite warm.
Water is a bit limited too, so have a big drink before you leave.
It’s also a bit more technical – lots of things to climb over and roots to avoid. But all in all, fun walking. Even with a spinning head – which had improved slightly since breakfast.
Wasn’t long before we were walking up the big spine to the top of Mount Taurus – a mountain with two peaks that stick out like the horns on a bull.
Given the astronomical naming scheme that is heavily used along the Arthurs (pity they stick with Arthur Ranges), I presume that’s what they were going for.
It was back in 1967 when it was officially named Taurus (a far better name than its previous name of Peak 24).
Meeting 121: PRESS STATEMENT. Members agreed that the astronomical nature of the Western Arthur’s names, was of particular interest, and warranted a press statement. Gazetted as TAURUS, MOUNT 1967 Jun 21.
– Placenames Tasmania database entry
After Taurus, you go down and down – and there’s a few unexpected cliffs to climb down. We pack hauled the packs again, before maneuvering down a crevice.
Then it’s a hop, skip and a jump down to Haven Lake.
Now I’ve heard that Haven Lake isn’t much of a Haven, but it was the day we were there. Fresh from a sticky walk, it was mere minutes before we were in the lake going for a very lovely swim.
But it wasn’t the end of the day. Alderbaran called.
An Abel of 1107 meters, Alderbaran takes about 2-3 hours return up a fairly simple to navigate rock/low-scrub ridge.
The peak brings lovely views of where we’d come from, and Lake Mars down to the east.
After half an hour it was time to head back for dinner. I went to bed and the spinning started again, which was annoying.
Tomorrow was also going to be a big day. We’d decided to haul out to the car park in a day and I knew there was a long way to walk.
Day 5 (Jan 10): Haven Lake to car park
Day's quick notes:
We didn’t know if we could get to the car park in a day, but we were going to try.
I woke again spinning, a real shitter. But nothing I could do but keep the head down and trudge along.
The weather in the morning had also turned slightly, and we had a little bit of cloud that obscured the view. It was the first cloud we’d had the whole trip, so can’t complain.
Before long we were at Lake Sirona, and a little after that at Scorpio.
We forgot to go to the top of Scorpio, even though we passed just meters from the summit. Never mind, one to visit another day.
Coming off Scorpio, we started to see the results of the horrible fires a few years back.
Some vegetation has slowly started to return, but it’s going to be a long recovery.
We were keen to tryout the shortcut we’d heard about, which seems to be becoming “The Way” now. You can see a pretty large pad from up high, and it’s quite obvious which way to go.
It shaves off a few hours though, and with fire (I think) burning out what used to be much heavier scrub it’s very easy walking.
There’s not really much else to say from here.
We crossed over Seven Mile Creek and hightailed it to Junction Creek.
From there, we trudged out in the rapidly warming day ending up at the car park just before 4pm.
It was a long day (about 9 hours, 30 mins all up) but we’d made it out.
What an awesome trip. We’d been so lucky with the weather. So lucky with having relatively few people about and so lucky to have such good company.
It’s a walk I’ve long wanted to do, and finally it’s done! And now I can’t wait to get back again.
The access track from Wellington had reopened, allowing me to start the walk from The Big Bend and walk in via Mount Connection.
I set off around 11am, the weather being overcast and cold. Frankly, it was a bit shit. There wasn’t a lot to see.
However, I was here to walk and I figured the weather would improve later in the day like the forecasts had tipped.
Started along the Big Bend Trail, and wasn’t long before I came to the Collins Bonnet track.
It was quite wet, having rained a bit in the hours before I got there.
After a bit of a wander, popped out with a …. lovely view of Mount Connection. Well… I presume it’s a lovely view. It was a little clouded over.
After I rounded Mount Connection, it started to get really windy. So I took a small break behind a big rock and took a few out of focus shots of trees and bushes (partly because I have a terrible lens that makes photos of mountains impossible)
Before long, it was time to hit up the first of three mountains on today’s walk. First up was Collins Bonnet.
I got to the top, and stayed about four whole seconds before getting the hell off that windy freezing peak. A shame really as I’m sure the views are usually great.
But as they say, oh well. Can’t always get the view you want.
Collins Bonnet didn’t show itself until late in the afternoon. My next mountain was Trestle Mountain. It’s a pretty easy walk from along the East West Trail (a trail that you spend a fair amount of time on).
In case you’re wondering, this is what it looks like:
Well constructed, excellently graded road. It’s not the most exciting of tracks, but it does make life very easy.
Anyway, I scaled Trestle and got to the top.
This time, I spend roughly seven to ten seconds at the top before turning around and heading back down.
Next up was Mount Marian.
Marian is further along the East West Track, and there’s a very obvious sign that marks where you need to turn off.
It’s – again – easy going up Marian with well marked tracks.
The weather had cleared slightly, so I finally had a view!
The top of Marian is quite interesting, and would be fun to spend a little more time exploring.
But time was getting on and I had to get home, so it was time to leave.
Took about 20-25 minutes to get back to the road and then not much longer to the turn off to the Collins Cap Trail.
As the clouds had lifted, I finally got a few glimpses of the mountains I’d been up that day.
And finally, good ol’ Collins Bonnet finally showed themselves just before I dived into the lovely walk back to Collinsvale along the Myrtle Forest Track.
All in all, it was a great little walk in an area I’ve never been before.
The weather wasn’t perfect – but you can’t expect perfect weather all the time. It was easy walking too, so if you’re up for a long day then it’s well worth the effort.
If you’re interested in the Collins Cap/Trestle/Marian journey, you’ll enjoy these posts/blogs too!
Date: December 11 - 13, 2020
Weather: Marvelous, simply marvelous
I have long wanted to walk to Frenchman’s Cap, I’ve just never been able to convince anyone to come with me.
And I couldn’t find anyone to come with me in December 2020 either, so I just went by myself.
The weather forecast looked amazing. I had a weekend. Why not go?
First I needed to get a spot due to social distancing and COVID.
There were two left, so I grabbed one.
Then I was off early on Friday morning, setting off about 10:30am.
The walk into Frenchman’s – these days – is easy. There’s very nice tracks and it routes around the infamous Soddon Loddon Plains which sounded very much like your classic Tasmanian bushwalking experience.
Within about five hours I was at Lake Vera, and had my tent setup. Knowing what I know now, I’d have liked to continue to Tahune and spend more time up there. I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to do that though with the COVID stuff, but it seemed like many people still did.
Anyway, what was a lovely night at Vera – I got up early again and set off for Lake Tahune.
The walk up to Barron Pass was hot and sticky, but the view you get when you finally stick your head up over the last bit of the hill is just simply unbelievable.
I stuffed around on Barron Pass for a while, and a few minutes later a few trail runners came by.
They were doing the whole thing – all the way in, up and out again – in a day. Massive effort.
An hour or so later, I was at Tahune and ready to go up Frenchmans.
The walk from Tahune is lovely. A steep climb out gives really nice views both up and down the mountain.
About an hour and a bit later, I was at the top. There wasn’t any wind at all. The sun was shining. It was perfect.
I stayed up on the summit for several hours, just looking around.
After a while, other people turned up – so there was always someone to chat to.
Someone pointed out Clytemnestra – another lovely looking mountain to the south – and I knew I’d be back here sooner or later to try and get over there.
This was supposed to be a walk to Collins Bonnet, an easy to get to mountain which lies roughly west of Mount Wellington.
I drove up Wellington to access it via the Big Bend Trail, but when I got there I realised the trail was closed and no known date for reopening.
It seems I could either wait, or take the far steeper route from Collinsvale. That would also require me driving around there, and since I was going for lazy I opted instead for a little walk on top of Wellington.
I drove up to the summit, and decided a walk out to near South Wellington would do nicely.
Parking at the top on Pinnacle Road, I set off past the big antenna tower and down the South Wellington Track.
A very uneventful walk, it was still lovely to get out and about on a very warm Hobart day.
I got to the Smith’s Monument junction and decided to walk out there – just because really.
20 or so minutes later, I made it to the cloth covered monument. Sat down. Had some chips and a bit of cheese and wandered back.
So why am I writing this very simple blog post?
Well, I haven’t really updated anything for a while – and I’ve been thinking I’d like to a) do more walks and b) write about them here!
I’ve got lots of walks planning. I’m hopefully going to Mount Gould sooner or later, I’ve been up the Western Arthurs and Frenchman’s, I should write up that walk from the Walls to Lake St Clair.
So many walks. So many possible blog posts.
Anyway, hope to see you soon.
I’ve long heard about this so-called Red Paint Route that goes up near the Organ Pipes from close to The Chalet.
So on my way back to town, I stopped to go and see if I could find it.
After a bit of thrashing around and keeping an eye out for red paint – I found it!
Date: 9 - 16 March, 2019
Weather: Too many different weathers to mention. Some good. Some not so good.
It’s been a few years since we did this walk, and only now (20 Feb 2021) am I coming back to add a few notes, photos and recollections.
This was a fantastic walk, but unlike our other ones, Dash and I just decided to explore with only a broad idea of where we wanted to go.
We know we had to end up at Lake St Clair, but we didn’t have solid plans (or a track) to take us there.
Day 1 – Walls car park to somewhere near Mount Jerusalem
We set off near lunchtime, after getting a lift up from Hobart.
The climb up to the plateau was pretty uneventful, and soon we passed Trappers Hut and were on out way into the Walls.
It’s a magical place.
We left our bags and went up Solomons Throne for an amazing look around.
Making it into Dixons Kingdom, we decided not to stay.
I’ve heard about some pretty aggressive possums, so we camped a bit further away to avoid them.
Day 2 – Dixons Kingdom (area) to Lake Sonja
The sleep was nice. The next morning we went up Mount Jerusalem, and doubled back to go up The Temple too
With that done, it was time to se off down Jaffa Vale – an amazing walk if ever there was, on our way to somewhere down beneath the Great Pine Tier.
I don’t have any photos that I can find of this area (I don’t take many), and I can’t find any that Dash took either, so here’s a boring GPS map
Days 1 and 2
The night was spent just above the shore of Lake Sonja – a wonderful little camp spot nestled in between a few trees. Nice and sheltered, not that it mattered all that much because it was a stunningly wonderful night.
Day 3 – Sonja to the end of Three Arm Lake
Day 3 saw us leave Sonja, and set off heading down Bernes Valley, before turning more southerly.
Looking at the map now, I think I made a few navigational errors. I totally missed Ah Chees Lake (a lake apparently named after someone called Archie – but spelt incorrectly), and after walking through heath and other low lying vegetation, we went west to get us back into the vacinity of Curena Creek.
From there, it was a pretty easy walk down the grass plains to Lake Rotuli. I’ve been here before, but it was Dash’s first time.
It’s a lovely lake. With large open areas, and light scrub. Well, that’s the eastern side. I think the western side is far wilder.
After getting a bit too high up trying to avoid a small bit of scrub, we made our way back down to a small neck that separates one half of Rotuli with the other half.
This is easily wade-able, and in no time we’d made our way across and had lunch on the western beach.
From there it was up a creek I don’t have the name of before needing to head up a hill to get to Three Arm Lake.
Again, I made some navigational errors and ended a little too far along. All it meant was a bit of extra bush bashing and we popped out close enough to where we were hoping to.
We camped a little past the end of one of the arms of Three Arm, you can see where in the bottom left of this map
Day 2 and 3
Day 4 – Bad weather arrives
It wouldn’t be a Dash and Will walk without some bad weather.
Day 4 was that day.
It started with snow.
But at least is seemed like it was going to be a nice enough day
It was not to be.
We set off from our little lake camp and set our direction to point towards the Ling Roth Lakes.
But it wasn’t long before it started raining, which happened roughly as we go to some sections of bush that can only be described as sharp, waist height and wet.
It was rough, slow going and we were soon very wet.
It started sleeting hard.
Then I lost a map. Oops.
We decided to stop for the day, put up the tent and dry off.
Amazingly, we found a flat little area with some nice shelter. Water wasn’t too far away either. Perfect to wait out the conditions and hope for a better day the next day.
I wish I had a photo of the campsite, because it really was a good spot. We were also so lucky to find it. There were very very few options around.
Luckily I had my Kindle and got some good reading done as it rained.
Here’s the next boring map and track in this long running boring map series
Day 5 – Don’t go to Ling Roth Lakes
If anyone suggests going to the Ling Roth Lakes, think twice.
They’re very overgrown between the lakes, and it takes a LONG time to cross.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.
We woke up, the weather was better so we set off on day 5 of our trip to Lake St Clair.
We weren’t really sure where we’d end up by the end of the day. We didn’t really even know what was ahead of us.
The map had a lot of green, and we were getting sick of the bush that that colour green represented.
Nonetheless, we were right in the middle of it so we had to get out of it one way or another.
Now you might be wondering about the lost map. How would we navigate without it?
Well, luckily we had a spare. I had lost a 1:25,000 TasMap but Dash had a 1:50,000 of the area too. Phew.
So to spare you too many details it was scrubby – but not too bad.
*fast forward to Ling Roth*
Crossing between the lakes is incredibly slow going. Pack on/pack off. Scramble and crawl. Climb a tree. Down again.
There was some considerable scrub bashing between each of the Ling Roth lakes which meant we had to deflate and inflate the rafts each time, even though the distances were short.
Son of a Beach – Mon 14 Jan, 2019 11:51 am
It took us about an hour to get from one side to the other. We might have had lunch too, but we needed a break.
Anyway, from there it was a pretty simple walk up onto the Mountains of Jupiter.
We stayed that night on the shores of Lake Eros.
Finding a campsite wasn’t as easy as hoped. We found a spot, but wasn’t great.
But the views we got that night were amazing.
Day 6 – Our last in the wild
Day 6 was to be our last day in the ‘wild’. We’d make ourway along the shoe of Eros (where I nearly lost another map….), skirting past Merope and up and over the northern part of the Traveller Range to the Du Cane Gap.
The Range walking was mostly easy enough – pretty fast too, as we saw Falling Mountain get closer and closer.
We misjudged the walk down from the Range to the Overland Track at Du Cane Gap though, and ended up a little too close to the cliffs. A few hundreds more meters south before heading down might have the decent far less steep.
Once we just the Overland it was like joining the freeway. We flew along the track, ending up at Bert Nicohols Hut for the night.
Where’s that boring map and GPS track? Oh here it is:
Day 7 and 8
We figured because we had an extra day or so, we’d go to Pine Valley and maybe go up The Acropolis.
A brilliant part of the world.
The weather was amazing and the views fantastic. Don’t have any pictures… oops.
I do have a boring GPS track though.
This was my second trip to Pine Valley, and would prompt a third trip with dad to complete the Du Cane Range. But that’s another story.
So all and all, a wonderful trip. Bit of bad weather. Lots of good.
New mountains and new area covered. And best of all, we’d made it from The Walls to Lake St Clair.
Why not have a look at the WHOLE GPS track all on one big map. Not boring at all is it?
It’s best described as a warm up. The few steps that need to be taken to get to the destination. The brussel sprouts you’ve got to eat, before you can get to the delicious main meal. The starter motor which gets the engine going. The … well you get the idea.
Me, my mother Angie, my father Clive and friends Pete and Jimmy set off towards Junction Creek. Finally. It was the late afternoon, and after the messing about getting ready – which always takes longer than you’d hope – we were about to leave.
As you can see, Clive doesn’t have his pack on here. Sick of waiting for him, the rest of us – minus Clive – walked up to the walker registration booth to sign in (the track goes just behind where Dad’s water bottle is pointing).
But when we turned around he’d gone. He was no where to be seen. He hadn’t walked past us, he’d disappeared. We hadn’t even got out of the car park and already we’d lost someone.
“CLIVE!” we yelled, to no response. “HELLO?”.
I sprinted up the track to the Huon Campsite, and found him.
“Wrong way,” I said. We both walked back to the group.
It was not the best start we’d ever had. Lesson learned: don’t leave someone – especially Dad – behind.
After wasting another 15 minutes on that little journey, we were finally off. We walked through the lovely little forest that bridges the car park with the Junction Creek track.
I remembered walking this track before. You can look up at the road, which winds up the hill to the Red Knoll lookout. It doesn’t feel quite like a bushwalk until that’s gone.
But it isn’t long until it’s just you, some lovely boardwalks and the clear blue sky (if you’re lucky).
From here, most of the rest of the track is spent avoiding mud and bog.
The mud begins about 2km after the car park, and rarely lets up.
In a way, we were lucky. It hadn’t really rained all that much before we got there, and so parts of the track had started to dry out.
But it wouldn’t be a post about a walk in the South West National Park, without complaining about it. So that KPI is now achieved.
My feet got wet pretty much straight away. It’s probably because I was wearing shoes with more holes in them than a plot of a Dan Brown novel. The rest of the group seemed to be fairing pretty well. Maybe because they were avoiding them better than me, but probably because they had better shoes.
Anyway, we walked along slowly counting down the kilometers until Junction Creek camp.
As we walked up and down a few smaller hills, I knew the Western Arthur Range would soon be coming into view. Finally, it did. And what a sight!
The clouds were rolling in from the south-west, and spilling over the range. It was as if they were hugging the mountains and lakes hundreds of meters up, insulating them from the cold space above.
Reality was different. For the walkers already up on the range – as we’d later find out – it was Yet Another Day In A Long Line Of Days of constant mist, rain, wind and pretty much zero visibility. Rather unpleasant walking; I know the feeling.
For us though, it was spectacular. And as it turned out, was pretty much the last bad weather for a while. For the next three days of our walk, the weather was amazing.
As I cleared the final hill before the walk down to Junction Creek, I reflected on the last time I was here. I was interested in seeing the campsite again. When I got there, it had changed a fair bit and wasn’t nearly as nice as it once was.
Since our last walk, there’d been a destructive fire in January 2013, and what seemed to be few floods. Small logs litter the campsite, and the canopy and cover than once existed had gone.
Dash and I slept up the hill a bit, and so I wandered up there to have a look. It was also a much sparser place. It lacked the same cozy feel.
This time round, the camp was also a lot more full. We’d had the place to ourselves back in March 2012. Now, we struggled to find a spot. We took the last few remaining places near the river (which is to the left).
“There’s going to be a lot of tents up on the range,” one camper told me as I wandered by. “How many tents do you have?”
“Three,” I answered. “Five people.”
“I’ve been counting the tents this afternoon,” he said. “There’s at least 10 here now. Most people are going up tomorrow.”
Hm… it seemed as if it would be a very tight squeeze at Lake Cygnus the next day.
We had a pretty late dinner and went to bed. For me, sleep came quickly.
Day 2 (4th January 2017):
Today we had to walk up Alpha Moraine. It’s a whopper of a walk. At least 700 meters of altitude to conquer, as the roughly 2.3km track winds its way up to the top.
No one got lost today, which was a bonus.
We were the second group to leave camp, and we got away at a pretty good time. I always like leaving early, as it means you can get going in the cooler morning and so you don’t have to slog it out too much under the hot afternoon sun.
Out destination today was Lake Cygnus. We were to walk past bluffs, crags of quartzite and alpine flora.
This is when the walk starts to get more interesting! It’s why we were here.
The day begins with a quick walk (compared to what’s coming a bit later) across the Arthur plains along the Port Davey Track.
You eventually come to a fork – the track either goes up Alpha Moraine, or down towards Bathurst Harbour.
It was slow, but solid going up the mountain. Behind us, we could see the other groups that had left a little later. They were slowly gaining on us as they walked the flats and we had the hills, but they never did catch up.
There was still a morning mist, so the top of the mountain was obscured behind cloud. It wasn’t long before people who had walked out from Cygnus that morning started to appear.
In traditional walker style, one had to stop to chat (and have a break). We heard that the weather had been horrid over the last week. Rain, hail, winds. Everything under the sun, except for the sun itself.
For one man who stopped to chat, it was the first time he’d seen further that 50 meters in four days. He said he originally went up to Oberon to take some photos, but ended up getting stuck in his tent for a few days. Eventually he pulled the plug and was on the way out.
If only he’d waited one more day.
It took us about an hour to get from Junction Creek to the turn off, so we started the ascent at about 9am.
An hour into it, I’d done about 1.5km. Another hour later, I’d done another one. It’s not exactly quick walking, but we were at the top having a look at the amazing views by midday.
We ran into a woman, who was waiting patiently for her partner who was a professional photographer. He too – like the people we met coming up – was finally seeing things he could take photos of, and was making the most of it.
After a quick snack, we pushed on walking across the flat and wonderful ground at the top of Alpha Moraine.
I took the opportunity to quickly run up Mount Hesperus, and was rewarded with an amazing vista all the way down to the south coast.
We finally cleared the last ridge, and were greeted to the site of Lake Cygnus, a lovely little spot. We arrived around 2:15pm, where we had lunch.
Despite the fear the night before that Cygnus would be packed, we were the first ones there. There was a family that was going to stay another night, and they had taken the spot down on the beach.
We picked the smallest of the platforms, and squeezed our three tents onto it.
The idea was to use the space as efficiently as possible in case other groups turned up, but we needed have worried. The huge area with the rubber mats – which could sleep 6-7 test – wasn’t used at all that night.
It seemed that half the people skipped Cygnus and went straight to Oberon. The others apparently stayed at Lake Fortuna – an old campsite that’s not on the “official” list anymore.
Lunch was down at the beach after a quick swim in the very cold water. It was lovely.
Eventually it was dinner time. Everyone ate and went to bed. I wanted to have a quick look at the weather forecast, so walked up to the ridge above Cygnus. The general rule of thumb is that if you can see Lake Pedder and if you’ve got a Telstra connection, you’ll probably get reception.
Weather forecast for the next day was wonderful. We were in the middle of two highs, and the outlook was “partly cloudy, 20-26 degrees, light winds”. Perfect.
It was a stunning night, so I walked a little further up the hill to get this panorama.
What a day!
When I got back, everyone was in bed. It was about 9pm.
Day 3 (5th January 2017):
Today’s plan was a day trip (return) to Lake Oberon, the lake we’d all been waiting for.
We set off around 8am to walk the 4.5km route.
The walk to Oberon isn’t too hard by Western Arthurs standards. Apparently it starts to get far more difficult, exposed and technical after you’ve passed Oberon. Lucky for us, we weren’t going that far.
The walk starts by climbing out of the Cygnus bowl, and heading over the ridge towards Mount Hayes. Mount Hayes is a 1119 meter high peak I’d quite like to climb, but I didn’t get the time/opportunity this time round – so it’s on the list for next time.
There are moments on the walk where you go over a ridge, and you’re presented with a whole new vista. Then, as you gaze around you wonder “where the hell does the track go?”
This is one of those. The track just drops down this gully, with scree and rocks everywhere. It’s steep and slow going. You can see Dad just (wearing a green shirt)
This is the view from the saddle looking back up.
It’s hard to know how the first people navigating the area worked out where the hell they were going. These days we just follow a trail.
It must have taken a long time.
Over the next hill, we come to a longer section before dropping down into Square Lake.
A wonderful area that has a few stops for camping at a pinch. There’s a lovely bit where you go trough some think scrub, and have to clamber over the stream that runs from Square Lake down the range.
We debated if Square Lake really deserves the name. It was a silly discussion.
Up one more hill, across it a little bit and up some more and we were finally where we wanted to be: looking down at Oberon!
This is as far as we’d go this trip. We didn’t bother the long trek down to the lake’s edge. It apparently takes 30-60 minutes one-way, and there wasn’t really any reason to do it. The view is what we were after, and it’s what we got!
Pete set the camera up for a group shot, giving himself 10 seconds and legging it. He just made it!
We had lunch, and then… started walking back.
I took the opportunity with Dad for a quick summit attempt up Mount Orion. It took us about 20 or so minutes, and we were rewarded with amazing views back to Pedder and of the range.
We had a brief discussion about taking the ridge back to Pyocyon Peak, but Dad had left his bag back at the lunch spot so we didn’t – luckily as it turned out. It would have taken hours.
I was curious as to where Epsilon Moraine started, as apparently this is the section where you get onto it for either a decent/assent – though Parks discourages that these days, as it’s not a maintained route.
An hour behind, I wanted to catch back up so I flew down Orion, rounded Square Lake, and caught back up with Mum somewhere a before Mount Hayes.
Another break was had at the top of Lake Cygnus. We ate chocolate in the sun. It was magical.
Then it was back to camp. After dinner we walked back up to the ridge line to get a few photos as the sun set.
Though despite the views and the amazing colours, the internet needed checking and messages needed to be sent.
As the light dimmed, it was time for bed on the very cramped platform.
Actually, there was a bit of camp drama on Day 3.
Mid-afternoon, when we were pottering about we noticed a large group appear on the horizon. They all made their way down to Lake Cygnus. Hellos were exchanged, but the group seemed to be a little …. pissed off.
They had taken hours to get to Cygnus. We’re talking 8-9.
The reason for their very long day would soon become clear, both in overheard conversations and later them telling everyone who’d listen.
It appeared that the group usually walked together. They’d flown in from interstate to walk the Arthurs, and at the last minute a person – who’d never travelled with the group before – joined, assuring them he was experienced.
Whether he is or not, I’ll never know. But we eventually caught sight of him some hours later on the horizon, with a huge backpack.
We found out from some of the others, that his original pack was much, much larger.
Half his stuff had been left at Junction Creek, so the story went. More of it had been left on poles along the Arthur Plains. Even then, he’d apparently still insisted on taking things like:
A bag of potatoes;
A spice rack
I don’t know if the “spice rack” was an exaggeration from a member of the group who was clearly frustrated with the slow-going, and pack hauling the others had done of the guy’s stuff to get them there before dark, but I can’t imagine many of them have been used at Lake Cygnus.
Anyway, an hour and a bit later, the guy had finally made it down the Lake Cygnus hill and was making his way to the beach to set up his canvas hut thing.
I’m not sure how they went, because the next day we had to get off the Western Arthurs, and get back home.
Sun almost gone at Lake Cygnus
We woke up early, packed everything up, skipped breakfast and took off.
Sometimes going down is worse than going up. Actually, mostly going down is worse that going up.
It’s not always faster either.
7am departure. We walked about an hour, then set up and made some hot drinks and a quick breakfast before pushing on.
It wasn’t long before we came to Alpha Moraine and begun a multi-hour (2-3) decent.
Plod, plod, plod.
Least the views were nice.
Eventually – as expected – we started passing a few people heading up. They looked as tired as we probably did several days earlier.
Finally we made it down, and started along the wonderfully flat Arthur Plains
It was like this for a while. I found some of the stuff from the group before hanging on one of the poles. It looked like a pretty big bag.
We hit Junction Creek, had a snack and started the last 9km.
It was muddy. It was hot. It was slow going.
We made it back to the car around 3-3:30pm. It was hot. Water was drunk. We packed the cars up, tore off down to Lake Pedder and had a traditional after bushwalk wash.
What a walk. Stunning, phenomenal, brilliant. All those words. And more.
And we’d had pick of the weather too. Not a drop of rain, mostly clear skies and still days. Couldn’t have been better.
I only wish I had kept going. Anyway, when I got home I called Dash and made the pitch to him: Western Arthurs + Eastern Arthurs + Full Traverse + 2018?
I’ve been to Maria Island twice now. Once in December 2016, following the first time about two decades ago.
My memories of the first time are very scattered, yet after arriving on Maria for the second time I wondered why it’d taken me so long to return.
Getting off the ferry and walking into what could be described as town – Darlington – is nice, but it took an hour or so before I started to relax and get into the “vibe” of the walk.
We didn’t really want to stick around in Darlington, so headed straight towards the next closest “official” campsite of Frenchs Farm. It’s about 11km or so south, and is easily accessed via a road.
It’s not a track, it’s a road. Parks vehicles can – and do – drive up and down it. One passed us when we were about 3/4ths of the way there.
The day was warm, and I had big plans for the trip – I wanted to get up both Mount Maria, and Bishop and Clerk. Unfortunately, due to the weather turning bad I didn’t get up either.
The first night was spent at Frenchs Farm, and was a lovely evening. After a nice little meal, we went for a wander over some of the old paddocks that historically would have been used for farming.
The farm animals and/or crops have gone – replaced by fields of wombats. You couldn’t throw a stick without hitting one.
They ambled about unworried. You’d look in one direction and count 10. Look in another direction, count another 10. Wombats, wombats everywhere.
When it got dark, we went to bed but woke to a noise best described as someone sawing wood. The noise made as the teeth of a saw are pulled and pushed through a log.
Wondering what on earth it was, I opened the tent and shined the torch which revealed a large wombat gleefully rubbing its butt up and down on a sharp stick. It looked happy. Satisfied, it wandered away munching on grass as it went.
Is that rain? Dammit. A peak outside the tent revealed that the island was misty, cloud covered the peaks and it didn’t seem like it’d be getting better anytime soon.
Nonetheless, we set off at around 10am for a quick walk over to Point Lesueur via Encampment Cove.
I wanted to see the campsite (I like seeing what things look like), and it wasn’t long before we wandered through. It was wet, but not too bad. It’s used heavily by people who come in via private boat – and I’m told the Frenchs Farm site is far quieter.
Wasn’t long before we got to Point Lesueur, checked out the weather station and walked back.
We passed a large (guided?) group all wearing the same style jacket. It was red.
Rest of the day spent at Frenchs Farm, watching it rain, and trying to take photos of wombats.
We were originally going to stay another night, but the weather hadn’t improved much. So instead we walked back to Darlington, changed our ferry booking and went home.
I really want to go back to Maria Island soon. A few things I’ll do differently:
Take a bike. The roads are (mostly) well graded and easy to ride on, and a bike would increase speed between major areas allowing me to see more things, more quickly.
Get a good weather window!
That’s all. It’s a fantastic place, and there’s so much more to do there.
Date: September 2 - 9, 2016
Weather: ... not great.
precipitous adjective 1. dangerously high or steep: the track skirted a precipitous drop.
* (of a change to a worse situation or condition) sudden and dramatic: a precipitous slide in the government’s popularity.
2. (of an action) done suddenly and without careful consideration: precipitous intervention.
Day 1. Ida Bay to Pigsty Ponds
We (Dash and me) woke early in Hobart on Friday 2nd, ate breakfast, drank coffee. The usual morning routine. Then we jumped in a car with our driver (Dad) and made our way south. Destination: Ida Bay.
We had planned a rather long – and as it would turn out rather optimistic – journey over the Southern Ranges to Precipitous Bluff, turning north to Vanishing Falls, then back via New River Lagoon to the South Coast Track for an exit (pursued by a bear.)
As such, we had 10 days worth of food in our packs, along with a pack raft, oars, and all sorts of other stuff we were sure to need for the next week and a half.
The bags were… heavy as fuck. Mine was around 24kg; Dash’s a few kilograms lighter at 22kg.
We said goodbye to Dad, who was about to fall asleep (and I think had a several hour nap as we thrashed our way up to Moonlight Ridge), and walked into the bush.
The weather was great. Not too hot, but cloudless and still. Perfect Tasmanian bushwalking weather.
We were optimistic about the distance ahead. We knew it wasn’t going to be as easy as previous walks (e.g South Coast Track, etc). But we knew – if we were lucky – we’d be getting some great views, and also finally I’d be conquering the mighty PB (Precipitous Bluff). It’s a mountain I’ve long wanted to visit, ever since I gazed up at it from Prion Beach a few years earlier as we flew along the SCT.
A picture of Precipitous Bluff had been on my phone screen for the past six to eight months. A constant reminder – when ever I looked at my phone – at the mountain I really wanted to visit. I am taken by it’s sheer cliffs, at its seemingly impossible approach, and trek up to the plateau on the top, at its infamy for good weather (lol, sure… /s),the way it dominates the landscape, at its (possible) views of a spectacular part of the state and – frankly – its name.
We had planned to get there – again, rather optimistically – by the fourth day if all went well (which of course we assumed it would).
So we walked. By about 2:30pm we were at Moonlight Creek. And we walked some more. We must have had lunch somewhere (probably somewhere this photo was taken), and after lunch we walked more.
We passed Hill 1, and paused. It was now started to get a bit later in the day (about 4pm) and since it was September, we knew we had until about 5:30pm-6pm before it would get dark.
The decision was made to keep going to Pigsty Ponds. It was our target for the day, and we were sure we could make it.
It was about 5km from the saddle between Hill 1 and Hill 2, to Pigsty – and relative to the first section of the day, flat.
We walked. And walked.
The part of the day (always at the end), where you’re sick of it came and went. And we walked some more. Eventually we cleared the last Hill (aptly named Hill 4) and could see Reservoir Lakes, and knew we were close.
We walked down into Pigsty Ponds with time to spare, quickly found a good campsite and unpacked everything.
A big day, but a good one. We were happy, optimistic and ready for dinner.
I had a two-way satellite messenger with me and used it regularly for the trip to let everyone know what we’d done that day/we were okay. I’ll use those messages in this post, because they’re more revealing of our mood/feelings at the time.
I say that because the mood (and weather) of Day 1 was not to remain the same for the rest of the walk….. In fact, it was about to change for the worse. You could say it was about to take a precipitous turn.
Day 2. Pigsty Ponds to Ooze Lake (via Mount La Perouse)
We woke to coldness, stillness and ice.
Yes, that’s (rather large?) chunks of ice in a (not small) lake. The smaller lakes around the tents were frozen over. The tiny lakes were frozen solid.
No wonder we were cold overnight.
As we finally rolled our ice covered tents up and pushed them in the bag, we started having a discussion about the track – and destination ahead.
It was within a few minutes along the track that the decision was made to carve Vanishing Falls from our itinerary and replace it with a few side trips along the Southern Ranges. It wasn’t sad at all – and even if we hadn’t made the decision then, it would have been made later. It was too ambitious, too far. Too much bush bashing, too much extra time. Good bye Vanishing Falls, we hardly even knew you.
Now: a side trip. Mount La Perouse.
You can sort of see when and where we decided to do MLP. None of this back tracking along the track we just walked crap, we’re going to summit both MLP and that little hill 946m high!
The trip to Mount La Perouse was fantastic. A lovely walk up the mountain, without backpacks, to meet a flat open area on top of the mountain.
There are a few huge piles of stone dotted around the top – I’m not entirely sure which one signalled the actual summit – but it didn’t matter. The view was fantastic.
We walked back to our bags, heaved them up, and set off towards Ooze Lake.
It was a short day, and as we climbed Maxwell Ridge the clouds started closing in.
I like to think this was the point along out Southern Ranges traverse where things (read: The Weather, and as an extension our walking enjoyment) started getting worse.
The day’s walking wasn’t too bad, pleasant even. But the foreboding mood of the slowly growing winds wasn’t a great outlook for us.
Despite the name, Ooze Lake is a great spot. It’s surrounded by two steep hills/mountains on one side, and a rising bank on the other with the lake at the bottom.
We wandered around for about 15 minutes, trying to find the best spot. Eventually we settled on a site up the hill a bit.
With the tents up, Dash had a nap. I went for a wander. I climbed to the snow line of Lake Mountain and walked down the track a little way where we’d be heading tomorrow.
When I got back to camp, Dash had decided it was time to try out his pack raft. So, he did.
I don’t know how many people in the past have done this, but I would imagine Dash’s efforts aren’t replicated by too many people. I don’t think there’d be many people who’ve paddled on Ooze Lake.
It also meant we could name his craft: HMAS Ooze.
We’re keen to give you some perspective here too. Here’s a shot of me on the shore.
After that, we started to make dinner. Then the winds arrived.
They started fairly light, but as night fell they got stronger. And stronger.
Outside cooking was abandoned. We moved to the tents, and I made sure everything was seriously pegged and tied down.
It was a rough night by any measure. Compared to the stillness of the first night, it felt like a cyclone.
I woke many times during the night to the whole tent shaking like crazy. It became a cycle: drift to sleep listening to rain hit the side of the tent, wake to a violently shaking shelter.
The infamous Southern Ranges bad weather was here. And it wouldn’t be going away.
I’m told the change in tone of the update message in the morning was noticeable.
And here’s the elevation plot of the day from Pigsty Ponds to Ooze Lake:
Day 3. Ooze Lake to Leaning Tree Saddle
We woke to a roaring wind, rain and all round bad weather. It was cold, wet and miserable.
We wanted today to get to Wylly Plateau camp, but I think we both knew it was unlikely.
There were also dangers ahead.
We set off from a now windy and damp Ooze Lake at about 8:20am walking the northern edge of the lake, before taking the track up the hill.
We skirted the edge of Lake Mountain, and set off south west towards one of the (the?) highest point of the trip: Pindars Peak.
Turns out now – looking at our GPS track – that we got pretty close to the top of Lake Mountain, but we didn’t get there so what ever.
But from there, there was a constant walk upwards. The weather was horrible. Really, really horrible. It was blowing full on towards us, pushing not just wind but rain. We were soon wet and cold. It was, as they say, hypothermia weather.
My legs were soaked. The top layers were going better thanks to my coat. We pushed on.
We finally got to a point where we were sheltered, but came across another problem. Snow.
There was heaps of it. It lay all over the track, and it was deep.
We were the first across it – there was no evidence of anyone else having been here since it had fallen. We trudged through it the best we could, progressing slowly.
I had – luckily – organised a GPS track of someone else who had done the walk before (at a more summery time), so we always had an indication of where we should be, even if we couldn’t see the track.
The snow walking (well, falling through to the ground below) continued for a while on and off. There was boulder jumping, and the grab for a plant/bush and hope-to-hell-it-holds. As I say, slow going.
As we kept going through the snow, it occurred to me that if either of us slipped and were injured, we were going to have a Big Problem.
And as we kept getting higher, the snow problem kept getting worse.
We were perhaps 40 meters (in altitude) from the highest point of the track over Pindars, where I almost called it quits and turned back.
I think I was hip deep in snow, looking across a huge snow drift when I said to Dash “I am a minute and a half from ending this.”
Dash said, to his credit, said: let’s keep trying – just this next bit, we’re probably nearly at the top.
We don’t have any pictures of this section, mainly because it was too cold and we had better things to do (ie, keep walking and not get hypothermia), but there was this part where we walked across the snow and it was either thick enough or strong enough not to collapse as we walked over it.
It was that section of snow which allowed us to keep going. About 50 meters of it. Had I fallen though it, I’d have gone back. But it held and we skipped across, up and over the Pindars saddle.
We obviously didn’t go up Pindars Peak. Far too much snow and we were far too busy, but we did get over. Just.
Once we made it over, it was down hill again to Leaning Tree Saddle camp.
We flew past Pandani Knob, kept on going. Cold. Wet. Weather: raining, windy.
More walking, more rain, more wind.
We started walking up the 800 meter hill that makes up one part of Leaning Tree Saddle. We got to the top, and started walking straight down the other side.
At one point, we got a glimpse of the flat(ish) area that would make the camp. While we ideally wanted to get to Wylly Plateau camp today, we were at a point where it was getting vital that we get out of our wet clothes and start warming up quickly. Hypothermia weather.
When we got to camp, we wandered around an area that was like a swimming pool. Every flat area was soaked and water was everywhere. We walked up and down, desperately looking for somewhere dry enough. Or, to put it another way, somewhere that wasn’t a river.
We eventually found two tiny spots that were (somewhat) sheltered, which had a very small rise out of the pool. It was good enough. Even though getting out of the tent meant stepping into what seemed like a lake, it was fine.
Tents were up quickly. We were into them out of our wet clothes ASAP. Life started getting better. It was 2pm.
It probably took us 2-3 hours to fully warm up/recover, but by dinner our good spirits had returned. Dinner was cooked from bed (again), as the wind and rain continued to lash our tents. I might have read a few chapters on the Kindle; Dash went to sleep.
Thus ended the worst day of the trip. The rain continued overnight. The wind didn’t stop.
And the elevation plot for our Day 3. Remember, “Pindars” does not mean Pindars Peak. Close, but not quite.
Day 4. Leaning Tree Saddle to PB Low Camp
This is what we did on day 4. Apparently. 10-11km. Urgh.
The first two hours out of Leaning Tree Saddle again got us wet. The slopes of Mount Wylly were exposed, and the wind was still strong. Visibility was poor. We were scanning for markers continually, but with the help of the GPS track we saved quite a lot of time with navigation.
We practically flew over Wylly Plateau, before hitting more scrub.
Have I mentioned the scrub yet? No, I don’t think I have.
The scrub is pretty hard going at times. A very small track, with trees and bushes that almost seem designed to grab and hold you. It’s probably the oars strapped to the side didn’t help much, but either way it was hard. The exposed sections may have had high winds and poor visibility, but at least they weren’t scratching to shreds like a pack of 100 hungry cats would when you hold the only tin of tuna.
The track moved from large sections of mud through saddles, to bag grabbing scrub and hill climbs to exposed sections of high wind and horizontal rain. It wasn’t exactly fast going, but the distance needed to be covered.
By about 11am, we were on top of that hill (standing a 884m) above the word VALLEY on the map above. From there, it would be a long trek down through the saddle and onto Kameruka Moraine.
Kameruka Moraine held nothing easy for us either. There was 30-45 minutes of navigating boulders, before they thinned out and were replaced by a rabbit-warren of tracks down to PB low camp. We got lost a few times, managing to back track and re-discover the track. It got old after a while, but eventually we walked into Low Camp. Low Camp is “hardened”, which basically means many years ago a group of people spent a lot of time putting heaps of logs on their side and building a camping platform of sorts. It was very welcome and nice to have somewhere relatively out of the pools of water to pitch the tent.
We were at Low Camp by 3:30pm, and no doubt in the tent warming up by 4pm.
Dinner was cooked (again) in the tent. The wind was still blowing. It was still raining. Spirits were low. I was worried about un-passable snow drifts.
The weather forecast was predicting a slight improvement the next day, and a fantastic day the day after. That improved spirits.
I may have read a few more chapters and then decided to swap books entirely. That made me happier too.
Finally, I went to sleep accompanied by the sound of wind and rain which I was now getting used to.
Day 5. PB Low Camp to Cavern Camp (New River Lagoon north)
We woke to this! No clouds, and only a bit of wind. OMG.
That’s the top of Precipitous Bluff. PB. The actual mountain.
I need to go back a few days to explain why this was worthy of a photo and discussion in the illustrious publication that is TGA.
Usually on the approach to PB, you get glimpses from the heights of mountain tops as you approach. The dominating pile of dolerite gets bigger by the day as you take muddy step by muddy step.
That’s if the weather is good. For us though, we didn’t get to see it much at all. Occasionally, for a minute or two we’d see parts of it as the clouds shifted. Then … nothing as they shifted back.
So to wake up on day 5 and actually see the bluff we were here to see, it was nice.
Alas, it wasn’t around long. As it got a bit later, the clouds again came in and obscured the view.
Oh, today was also supposed to be the day we were going to head north into the bush to get to Vanishing Falls. Thank lord we gave up on that idea for this trip. I’m not sure we’d have got out a) alive, or b) not in a rescue helicopter.
We packed up, and stepped into a huge mud puddle. The day had begun. We immediately got lost and spent the next 10 minutes trying to find the proper track. The track eventually found, we set off up PB.
The climb up to PB high camp was easy. There were a few scrambles in places, and a few simple rock climbs in others, but for the most of the time it was an easy climb.
My fears about snow thankfully didn’t turn into reality. There was maybe one small part, but nothing like the day going over Pindars. Eventually we found ourselves at PB high camp. We were at the junction to either head down PB or head up to the summit – a 15 to 20 minute walk. The weather was horrible, we didn’t even bother. There’d have been nothing to see even if we had.
A small disappointment for sure. Always great to get the view and bag the peak, but on the other hand we’d made it to PB! My bushwalking goal of many years had been achieved. We were happy.
Until we turned the corner from high camp, and faced the first gully that would take us down to about 800 meters.
To say the wind was strong coming up the gully would be under estimating it. It was ferocious. It smashed into our faces, relentlessly. We pushed into it and headed down the gully. Slowly descending, hoping for a bit of shelter.
Eventually we found it at the tree line as we skirted around the cliffs on the western side of PB. It took about an hour to get to the tree line, and another hour to get to the point where the track turns sharply right (on the way down) to begin the long, long decent to sea level.
FWIW, the co-ordinates for the turn off are approximately 781866 (grid ref), or -43.472283, 146.60205 (GPS). Only say that as TasMap has very helpfully* removed the track from the Precipitous 1:25,000 map.
It was about three and a half hours to walk from the turn off to the beginning of the flat area at lagoon level. It wasn’t easy going. I mostly prefer to go up rather than down. It was slippery and dodging fallen branches took time.
But the track was – for the most part – pretty well marked all the way down, as long as you fastidiously followed the tape and string.
The top section was very well marked, the middle section has missing sections but with enough time you can find the next piece of tape, the bottom section (lagoon level) was too well marked – there were pieces of tape everywhere but no track pad.
At the very bottom, believe it or not, we got lost and just ended up going our own way. Eventually we found and crossed over a log (over what I assume was Damper Creek), and we were at Cavern Camp.
It was glorious. Flat, calm and the weather was lovely. As the sun disappeared, there might have even been a rainbow. I can’t really remember. All I do know is that it was wonderful. Even the water tasted amazing.
I think my update message that night was to the point:
The weather forecast for the next day was still promising too, which was even better. We were hoping for a good day because we had a 7km paddle ahead of us and didn’t really want to do it in the rain, or worse – with a headwind.
We slept very well that night. In fact, I slept so well I can’t remember even waking up. And we got a sleep in!
Day 6. Cavern Camp to Osmiridium Beach
Most days on the Ranges, walking started at about 8am. For day 6, we started hours later. After 10am. Meh, we deserved it. But the late start did have ramifications down the track.
Originally, we had planned the Vanishing Falls trip so that we’d be able to paddle out again down New River. After we cancelled that part, we obviously still had our pack rafts, so we put them to use.
Usually the route from Cavern Camp to Prion Beach is via wading along the side of the lagoon. The time this takes ranges from three to six hours, depending on how much water there is in it.
We could basically take it in a straight line though, cutting off all those corners.
It took us two hours and 40 minutes to get from Cavern Camp to Prion Beach boat crossing, where we had lunch.
The paddle was a great change from the constant walking over the past five days. It wasn’t super easy, but at least we were using a new set of muscles.
Oh and the weather was wonderful. It was perfect.
It took us two hours and 40 minutes to get from Cavern Camp to Prion Beach boat crossing, where we had lunch while sitting in one of the boats used for the Prion crossing.
We also used the time and sunlight to dry a few things out as much as possible.
After lunch we set off, headed along Prion on the dunes just behind the beach. All was good.
Then we got to Milford Creek.
Milford Creek is usually a small creek crossing, but today – for some reason – it was a lot harder.
Getting across the creek was fine, but either the river had changed pushing it very very close to the dune bank or the tide was in (thus achieving the same thing), but we had to walk through the thick bushes and it was chewing up the time. We were hoping to get to Surprise Bay for the night, but the unexpected bush bushing put an end to that.
In the end, it was so difficult we just pulled out the pack rafts again and just paddled to the end of Milford Creek where the South Coast Track again heads inland.
I’m not sure if this section is always like this, or if we were just unlucky but it was a lot easier the first time we did this section of the SCT several years ago.
If you know the answer (has it changed and is it always like this, or if it was a tidal thing) please let us know in the comments!
Anyway, in the end this section ended up taking an hour of our time. Very unexpected. It was just after 4pm when we set off to the camp for that night which had now become Osmiridium Beach.
Osmiridium was about another hour away, and the time flew. We walked into the campsite (which was new to us – last time we did SCT we skipped it) and walked down to the beach to see the sunset.
Day 7. Osmiridium Beach to South Cape Rivulet
We got going at about 8:30am, knowing the day was going to be a big one. Last time we did the SCT, we walked from Surprise Bay to Cockle Creek. That wasn’t going to happen this time round, but the walk to South Cape Rivulet was still going to be difficult.
We also knew very early on that we’d be pushing to to make it to camp on time before it got dark.
It ended up being about 21km long, which included going over the South Cape Range which sits about 450 meters high. It meant going all the way up, then all the way back down again.
The weather was okay, but the forecast had rain in the afternoon.
Took us two hours to get to Surprise Day camp, giving us 5-6 hours to get to South Cape Rivulet. The clock was ticking.
So up we went. Up the range, up and up and up. Dash was like a rocket, I struggled. We were both fatigued, but Dash’s spin class training was giving him a serious boost.
We got to Granite Beach fairly quickly all the same – about an hour or so from Surprise.
Then came time to finally do the South Cape Range.
The first section is about 1.2km long, for a 320 meter rise. It’s steep. The next section is about 2km for the final 140 meter rise to get to the highest point. But then, there’s the down again.
The top of the range is generally the muddiest/worst. Here’s what I wrote about this section last time we did it (in 2012):
It was muddy, and full of roots. It wasn’t nice walking. You had to pick your way though a potentially ankle-breaking track and wade through pools of water and mud. The track was also pretty overgrown too, which made it very slow going.
I’ve heard that people take hours and hours and hours to do this stretch – especially when it’s raining – and now I understand why.
Nothing has changed since then. It was pretty horrid. Of all the sections on the SCT, the stretch over South Cape Range needs the most essential track work. The whole part over the range needs to be boarded to stop the huge, huge mud piles and track erosion.
From the top to the camp site at South Cape Rivulet, it’s about 7km. 7km to lose the 450 meters, with a few more hills added in for fun.
We plodded along, getting closer with every step. But we were running out of daylight rapidly. The last few kilometers, it was gloomy and getting darker. While sunset was close, much of the gloom was the clouds and trees blocking out the sun.
We sped walked the last kilometer, finally arriving at the campsite with about 30 minutes of daylight to spare.
We were buggered. A very tough day, and a day that both of us would pay for later with small injuries.
I wrote about the sleep in at Cavern Camp causing problems down the track. This was – arguably – one of them. Had we reduced our sleep in and got going a little earlier, we may have made it to Surprise Bay which would in turn have given us more time to tackle the Range. That said, the Cavern Camp sleep in was bloody nice.
Day 8. South Cape Rivulet to Cockle Creek
Final day! About 11-12km total. Should have been easy. Urgh. But we were tired, fatigued, dirty and ready to finish.
We set off from South Cape Rivulet camp at about 8:30am. I had messaged Dad to aim for about 11:30-12pm at Cockle Creek for a pick up.
After walking along the beach, you come to a 100 meter or so hill that is Coal Bluff. It’s not too hard, but not really welcome when all you want to do is finish!
Nonetheless, Coal Bluff was conquered quickly. We took the time to take a few quick shots near the top, just for old time’s sake.
By that, I mean I had a photo taken here in 2012 when we both first walked the SCT. I wanted a before/after kinda photo. Also interesting to look back on the amazing weather we had in March 2012!
After that, we came to Lion Rock. Then all that was left was the six or so kilometre walk back to civilisation.
At about the 9km mark, we ran into a group of three people who were just starting their walk to Melaleuca. They were the first people we’d seen in a whole week. They were clean, keen and looking strong. We were dirty, tired and ready to lie down.
After a few more kilometres we ran into Dad who’d been walking up the track to meet us.
The final bit was easy, then we were done!
We chucked the bags in the car, grabbed some towels and hit the beach for a traditional after walk clean up swim!
And then we had a beer. Why the hell not?
Here’s the elevation information from the last day:
Oh and here it is for the whole walk (if you click on it you’ll be able to see all the details).
So that’s it! A blog post of the Southern Ranges, going for more than 5200 words. I highly doubt anyone will read it, but just like the walk it’s sometimes more about the journey.
And with that, for this blog post at least, we’ve reached the end!
(Actually not quite the end. Massive thanks to Dash for his company and all the photos used here. I didn’t take a single one. I didn’t even take my phone camera out. What a lazy shit.)