Western Arthurs – the walk I’d been waiting so long to do!

Date: January 6 - 10, 2020
Distance: 60km
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:
Distance: 19km

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.

A lovely day for it

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:

Carrington’s recollections:

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!)

I’m known for my love of starting early.

After all, an early start means an early finish (sometimes) and I think it just feels good to get things done early.

At least I used to think that. We started day 2 around 9:45am and it was glorious. Time to have a nice sleep in, time to spend making a good coffee, time to take time.

Does it mean I’ll convert to starting late from now on? Hell no. But it was nice.

We set off at started the short walk to Oberon.

In my opinion, this is a really nice part of the track. It’s easy walking, but the view just changes every time you pop up over a new ridge.

Wasn’t too long before we got to the junction for Mount Hayes. A bloke the day before had told us that it was hard to find ones way up Hayes, but we just followed the piles of rocks.

Three years ago I wrote that Hayes was “on the list for next time”, and indeed it was. Before long we were at the top.

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.

Oberon and friends
A panorama from Sirius.

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.

Time to head back down, and around, and down to 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!

The cool waters of Lake Oberon

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. 

Mount Pegasus. 

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.

Mount Capricorn and Lake Uranus from near the top of Pegasus

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…

Yes yes you’re on top of a mountain very clever

… 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.

Looking back towards Capricorn (in the middle) and Dorado Peak (off to the right).

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.

High Moor camp

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.

This is one of the six or so pictures I took the whole trip…. I’m getting a better camera. I need to improve.

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:
Distance: 25km

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.

The turnoff is right where I thought it would be

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.

Walk map:

Western Arthurs – Lake Oberon return (Jan 2017)

Date: January 3 - 6, 2017
Distance: 46km
Weather: Fantastic. Could not have asked for anything better.

Day 1 (3rd January 2017):

For me, the walk into the Western Arthur range began along a familiar track. The walk to Junction Creek is around 9km from the Scotts Peak dam car park, and is tolerable.

I’d previously been to Junction Creek camp a few years back, when Dash and I did the Port Davey/South Coast Track walk. It wasn’t very exciting then, and it hasn’t got any better.

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.

Nearly ready. It’s taken rather a long time to get here

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).

All together again

From here, most of the rest of the track is spent avoiding mud and bog.

Jimmy avoids mud

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 Western Arthur range comes into view

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.

Fire all around Junction Creek camp in 2013
Fire all around Junction Creek camp in 2013

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).

Junction Creek campsite was not as I remember it.

“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.

Jimmy starts the ascent up Alpha Moraine
Jimmy starts the ascent up Alpha Moraine

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.

Some flowers, with Lake Fortuna in the background. I think that’s Bathurst Harbour all the way back.

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.

Lake Cygnus

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.

A tight squeeze

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)

A steep walk down

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.

We came from where? Up there!

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.

Square Lake. We all agreed that while it’s a bit square, it’s more of a rectangle with an oval bit
I like a nice right angle – Square Lake

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!

I made it

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!

Obligatory group shot

Pete set the camera up for a group shot, giving himself 10 seconds and legging it. He just made it!

Lake Oberon panorama
Lake Oberon panorama

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.

Nearly back at Lake Cygnus, a good spot for a snack

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.

Sunset over Lake Cygnus
View to Lake Pedder

Though despite the views and the amazing colours, the internet needed checking and messages needed to be sent.

Stuff the views, I’ve got emails to send and weather to check
Another sunset picture of Lake Cygnus

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 pineapple;
  • 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

Day 4:

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.

Going down Alpha Moraine
Going down Alpha Moraine

Plod, plod, plod.

Least the views were nice.

Spot for a snack
Spot for a snack

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

Arthur Plains
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.

Arthur Plains
Arthur Plains

We hit Junction Creek, had a snack and started the last 9km.

It was muddy. It was hot. It was slow going.

Oh yeah, the mud. Pete has some fun.

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?

He’s keen. Yes! Can’t wait to go back!

Walk Map