Norris Hut

The plan for the day was to check out a little-known hut above Mountain River in the Huon Valley.  We had chosen to take a track that we hadn’t been on before-the Thark Ridge track- and join up to the Montagu Track, which would take us to our intended destination. Unfortunately the road was closed at The Springs due to icy conditions, meaning we were forced to rethink our route. We decided to continue with our original plan, but to start with a quick trip up The Pinnacle Track to the summit then back down the road to the start of Thark Ridge. As Murphy’s Law dictates, The Pinnacle Track was also closed due to track works that are supposed to be completed by August 2018, so we had to take the Sawmill Track up to the Organ Pipes then follow it back down to the start of the Zig Zag Track before reaching the summit.  We were in low cloud from the Organ Pipes onward and it made the climb up pretty spectacular. Once on top we were hit by the wind, and the frozen bushes told us a story of the previous night.

We were amused to see that in the hour it took us to walk up, the road had been reopened and people were scurrying around the summit carpark to get a photo before jumping back in their warm cars. I also copped some strange looks for being in shorts in the midst of the wind and flurries of snow. We made our way down the road to the start of the Thark Ridge Track, which begins a few hundred meters up from the Big Bend carpark.  For the third time that day we were confronted by a “track closed” sign, but decided to continue on as we had already made it this far.  The reason behind the closure was supposedly due to flood damage on the Montagu Track, of which we later found out was not dangerous at all- only comprising of a few areas where branches and rocks had accumulated.

Crossing Thark Ridge was not that memorable thanks to lingering cloud and the occasional shower.  What appeared to be fairly recent track upgrades were well done and not over the top, but the ridge proper was probably the most interesting landscape we encountered during the day.  A nice little tarn about 70 minutes in can be easily seen from the track and seems to be the only decent source of water. There were a couple of steep drops on the south western side and some large boulders, before a boggy and overgrown marsh had to be traversed.  All hope of staying relatively dry went out the window and we pushed ahead through the wet scrub.

After about 1.5 hours we reached the Montagu fire trail and continued past the Mt Montagu track (information about Mt Montagu and Montagu Thumbs can be found here.)  Large sections of the trail are overgrown with candle-heath, which had already begun to bloom.  We continued past the turnoff to Montagu Thumbs and made our way down towards the hut, which was reached in around 5 minutes.  This nice little hut has been built up against a large boulder and has a few bunks, as well as a small wood heater. According to the logbook we were the first visitors in a few months, but could only stop briefly as it was looking likely that we would be walking in the dark and wanted to get back on a clear track before then.  Instead of returning the same way, we decided to take the track down to Wellington Falls and return to The Springs via The Milles Track.  Head-torches came out just after traversing the Potato Fields and 2 hours and 50 minutes after leaving the hut we reached The Springs.

All up 21kms in 6 hours and 10 minutes with 1009m ascent.

 

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Heading up the Zig Zag Track
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Frozen plants on the summit
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The tower emerges
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Looking towards the start of the North West Bay River
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Nice tarn past Thark Ridge
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Mountain River from the rock above the hut
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The hut
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North West Bay River on the way out
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Looking across the top of Wellington Falls

The Needles (Maydena)

Having made good time climbing The Sentinels in the morning, we were keen to check out another spot on the way back home. The Needles were a good fit as it’s a quick scoot straight up, with some great views- so we stopped by the road at the Humboldt Divide and made our way up through the bush. The well-cleared track passed through patches of thick bush before climbing steeply through open terrain.  The large rock formations on the way up were impressive and provided a good vantage for checking out the surrounding peaks.  Unfortunately the cloud was thick on the southern side, and we had no view whatsoever of Mueller, Anne and friends.  The track levels off slightly before one last climb to the summit, home to a very large cairn, and was reached 40 minutes after leaving the carpark.  A great short walk with some impressive scenery.

All up 2.6kms in 1 hour and 18 minutes with 386m ascent.

Getting there: The track starts 16.5kms past Maydena on the Gordon River Road at the top of the Humboldt Divide. There is a decent carpark and a sign that says it is the highest point on the Gordon River Road and states the average annual rainfall. A small cairn on the opposite side of the road indicates the start of the track.

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GPS track
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Looking back towards Tim Shea
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Summit in view.
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Looking south at a rainbow
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The final climb
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Summit, looking east
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Nice rocky ridges

The Sentinel Range

The original plan of an overnight hike in the snow had unfortunately fallen through (due to there being no snow), and we were then left with a number of day walk options. After much deliberation, we decided it would be a good day to climb The Sentinel Range. We left Hobart early and made our way to the Wedge River Picnic Ground; intermittent rain and low lying cloud made up the majority of the drive along the Gordon River Road.  I had wondered whether the log crossing across the Wedge River would still be there given the amount of the rain over the previous few days- so the backup plan was to drive just past the bridge that crosses the Wedge River and cut up through the button grass to rejoin the track.  Thankfully we were able to cross with dry feet, even though our boots were almost entirely underwater.

From the plains we could see a few hundred metres up the range, before it disappeared in the cloud.  It was evident that it was a steep climb straight up to the ridge, and we wasted no time gaining elevation. Evidence of the bushfire from a few years ago was still all around, however the bright green shoots of new trees and bushes contrasted nicely with the charred ground.   The track is marked with a number of cairns and ribbons, and heads southeast after the first steep climb. A small creek is then traversed, which is likely to be the only constant source of water in the summer months, before climbing straight up along side a huge wall of rock.  The upside of the bushfire is that the view back towards the Gordon Dam is completely uninterrupted.  After 60 minutes we reached the ridge line, and had to have a quick rest after climbing 530m in just 1.4 kms.

The highpoint was still a bit further east, and the ever present cloud made the skinny ridge-line even more impressive. While the views south towards The Coronets and the Lake Pedder impoundment were infrequent, the occasional sight of a broken spectre was a nice surprise. Walking across the ridge was easy given the fire had cleared a lot of the scrub, and the southern side that was not affected showed what it would have been like up here in years past. We reached the summit 20 minutes after hitting the ridge and had some lunch looking over the lake.  On the way back down we a made a small detour to check out what I thought might be a number of waterfalls.  They turned out to be more like waterslides, so I took some photos then rejoined the track just up from the creek.

All up 4.1kms in 3hours and 7 minutes with 668m ascent.

Getting there:  Follow the Gordon River Road for 17.6kms past the Scotts Peak Road turnoff until you reach the Wedge River Picnic Ground. The track starts to the left of the old toilet block and crosses the Wedge River on a fallen log.

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GPS track
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Boggy button-grass plains
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New growth emerging from charred stems
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A creek emerges from beneath a boulder
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Looking back down the track to Lake Gordon
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The view when we reached the ridge
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Stuck in the cloud
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The Sentinel Range highpoint and a skinny ridgeline
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Clouds lift for a moment
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The southern side that was spared by the fire
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Looking west
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The first waterslide
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The second waterslide

 

Kerrisons Hut

We were invited to join some friends to help with the Where Where Wedgie survey, a statewide survey designed to estimate the likelihood of seeing birds of prey when out and about. The 4km x 4km plot they had chosen was North-West of Lake Augusta, wedged between Julian and Pillans Lakes, and was a priority square as defined by the survey.  Jane and AB had decided to ride fat bikes in along the 4wd track, whilst Emily and I would walk in.

We had decided to drive up on Friday night and sleep in the ute, in order to get an early start in the morning. We found a nice spot by the boat ramp at Lake Augusta under the stars, and settled in for the night.  The forecast for the weekend was clear but cold; this was evident, as the moisture in the canopy had completely frozen and at one point the doona was stuck to the canvas. With the moon almost full and with a clear sky, I took the opportunity to take a few shots of a very still Lake Augusta under moonlight.  The sunrise the next morning was also worth getting up for, as parts of the lake had frozen and there was still not a breath of wind.

Jane and AB met us at the boat ramp early, and before long we were ready to start the walk in. Access to the Julians Lake Track in a 4wd is entirely dependant on dam levels, and with that in mind we had chosen a more non-conventional route. This track started just near the boat ramp and follows the northern side of Lake Augusta, before crossing the Ouse River and rejoining the Pillans Lake Track just before the first hut (Allisons Hut). AB had the route marked, and it looked like a decent track on the state aerial imagery.  We found out very quickly that this track was quite overgrown and would have been almost impossible to ride bikes through.  In the end, they decided to ride along the normal 4wd track and hope that the water level was low enough to cross.

We continued along the overgrown track, negotiating a few creeks and arrived at the Ouse River around an hour after leaving.  Crossing at this point would have required wading, and we were keen to stay as warm and as dry as possible.  Instead we followed the river upstream to find a more suitable crossing.  This proved difficult, as most of the exposed rocks were covered in ice and spaced too far apart to cross safely.  We ended up walking almost a kilometre upstream, until we found what seemed to be the safest place to cross. For those interested, the crossing we used was just upstream of the first pine tree that can be easily seen on the other side of the river. We eventually made it across the Ouse and continued to our rendevouz spot at the first hut. As we approached the hut we could see Jane and AB, who had just arrived a few minutes earlier. We spent a bit of time checking out the very cool Allisons Hut; unfortunately I didn’t take any photos but information can be found here.

We then continued along the Pillans Lake Track, as it climbed out of the bush and into the more open landscape that is characteristic of the Central Plateau.  Although we had not yet reached our intended survey plot, we spotted a pair of wedge tailed eagles flying just overhead and gave us hope of seeing more over the weekend. We chose to take a small shortcut across an open- but very boggy- grass plain that was once used by vehicles.  This track has since been closed to facilitate rehabilitation, however, the deep tyre tracks are unlikely to disappear any time soon.

We continued on towards our destination, stopping occasionally to conduct 10 minutes survey once we were within our plot. We reached a junction in the track that either heads a few hundred metres further to Kerrisons Hut, or continues along to Julian Lakes and the other huts (private) in the area.  Once at the hut, we set up camp and conducted a couple more surveys in the area; unfortunately we didn’t see any other birds of prey, so cracked open a can of rum and coke, a few bottles of red and settled in for the night.  According to some scribbles on the wall, the flue had blown off so it had been decided to start afresh and build a whole new fire place. An unopened bag of pink mats on the top bunk also suggested the hut might be getting some insulation in the near future.

Clear skies that night made for some nice photos of moonlit tarns and trees; it also meant it was very cold, and we could hear the hoarfrost cracking up through the ground.  I decided to get up early to check out the sunrise and wasn’t disappointed, as all of the tarns had frozen over, as well as parts of the larger lakes. A fiery reflection of the sky on the ice was worth the frozen hands and face. We packed up after breakfast and returned along the Pillans Lake Track to conduct more surveys on the way. This time, we were lucky enough to see two Wedge Tailed Eagles (likely to be the same pair from the day before) and a Brown Falcon during a survey. On the way back out, we decided to walk back the long way and avoid crossing the Ouse.  I had only recorded the GPS track for the return journey

Kerrisons Hut to Bernacchi – 16.7kms in just over 6 hours including lunch and surveys, 207m ascent.

Getting there: From the Lakes Highway at Liaweenee, turn onto the Lake Augusta Road until you reach the Thousands Lake Lodge.  The shorter track that crosses the Ouse starts just up from the boat ramp, but the Pillans Lake 4wd Track starts a few kms past the lodge.

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GPS track on the way out – the shorter track follows the northern end of Lake Augusta from Bernacchi. 
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Sunrise on Lake Augusta
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Large cushion plants
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Old vehicle tracks on the short cut
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An open but very boggy paddock
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Large pineapple grass mounds by the track
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A lone pine at at night
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Kerrisons Hutand our campsite
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A fiery sunrise
Landscape
Frozen tarns at sunrise
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A great place to camp
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Patterns in the ice
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Ice up close
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AB acknowledging the crowd
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Not so easy going
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A secret garden
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Approaching the plain
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Wombat toilet
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Long shadows as we approach Lake Augusta
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A convenient crossing

 

Clear Hill

Abel#105; 1198m

The day started off with a quick visit to Adamsfield after collecting the key from the Mt Field Visitors Centre. We had a look around the Clarke Huts and some old machinery, before heading further along the Morley Track to poke around the old mine sites.  After negotiating a couple of creeks and puddles we reached a large section of the track that was significantly under water, and decided not to take the risk and return in drier times.

After performing a 48 point turn, we returned to Clear Hill Road and continued on for a few kms to the start of the Clear Hill Track.  There is a small cairn on the left hand side of the road, and a number of ribbons on the right hand side that indicate the start leading up the embankment. The first ~10 minutes from the road follow a steep and slippery track cut through thick bush before reaching the ridge.  At this point, a number of large conglomerate boulders occupy the landscape and The Thumbs can be seen across Clear Hill Plains. We were lucky to get a quick glimpse of Gordon Gorge before the clouds settled in, and any chance of getting a view from the top had vanished.  From this point the track climbs steadily, passing by a number of very large boulders that seem out of place.  At one point the track descends into a gully and passes by a small cave on the left hand side, before the final climb to the summit.

We reached the summit trig 1.5 hours after starting and had some lunch out of the wind.  I can only imagine the views of Stepped Hills, The Thumbs and the Denisons would be pretty spectacular on a clear day.  On the way back we stopped to check out Adams Falls which had a lot of water coming down.

All up 5.1kms in 3 hours and 10 minutes with 592m ascent.

Drive along the Gordon River Road until you reach Clear Hill Road (4kms past the Scotts Peak Dam turnoff). Follow Clear Hill Road for 21.6kms and the track will be on the right.

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Adamsfield Hut
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Old machinery at Adamsfield
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Morleys Mansion
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Rust and lichen
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Looking towards The Thumbs
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Clear Hill Plains and Gordon Gorge
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Gordon Gorge
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Near the summit
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Lake Gordon on the way down
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More cloud on the way down
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Large boulders
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Interesting geology
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Adams Falls

 

 

 

Mt Marian and Collins Cap

Mt Marian Abel #127; 1144m

Accessing this Abel is possible from a number of different starting points, the easiest being driving along the East West Trail.  However, we decided to head up from the Myrtle Forest Track and check out a few other land marks along the way.  Unfortunately there was very little water coming down Myrtle Forest Falls, so we pushed on towards the track junction just after crossing the creek and continued right towards the Collins Cap Trail. This was the first time I had walked through this area and was surprised to see a number of large trees and heaps of Candle Heath, particularly in the more open sections of track.

We reached the Collins Cap Trail in 45 minutes and decided to continue up towards the East West Trail.  Once on the East West Trail, we headed west and followed it to the shortcut that bypasses the Mountain River Track and rejoins the East West Trail just past the Trestle Mountain turnoff.  This whole section of track is easy walking along fire trails and provides good views of Collins Bonnet, Mt Marian and the Derwent Valley through the trees.  We reached the start of the Mt Marian Track 1 hour and 40 minutes after starting, but decided to go and check out Fools Tarn first.  It was just by chance that we decided to leave the trail where we did and stumbled across a number of cairns that led us directly to our destination.

We then had the idea to head further west to try and find a reasonable way down to Hutchinson’s Falls. After finding a few more cairns we thought we were on the right track, but quickly ended up in some THICK scrub- a nice mix of banksia, tea tree and bauera over uneven ground.  We gave up shortly after and returned to the East West Trail to summit Mt Marian. We reached the top in 30 minutes, following a well-marked pad and took a few quick snaps before heading back to the car.  On the way back we ducked up to Collins Cap and were lucky to see some nice clouds forming over Collins Bonnet. The howling wind meant we didn’t stay too long on the summit, quickly taking some more photos before making a speedy return back down. Emily managed to over-estimate how quickly she could negotiate the downhill, ending up with a bruised knee and torn pants for her trouble.  Over all this is a very enjoyable walk-  plenty to see, not far from home and we have plans to return over winter.

All up 19.7 kms in 6.5 hours with 1170m

Getting there: If coming from Hobart, drive through Collinsvale and turn left onto Springdale Road, follow for 1.8kms to Myrtle Forest Road then you will reach the boom gate and carpark.

 

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GPS track
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Heading up through the forest
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Myrtle Forest Falls
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Top of Myrtle Forest Falls

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A large Pineapple Grass clump and Mt Marian behind
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Collins Bonnet
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Fools Tarn
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One of the cairns we found leaving Fools Tarn
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Start of the Mt Marian Track on the East West Trail
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Pineapple Grass fields on the Mt Marian Track
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Collins Cap (L) and Collins Bonnet (R) from Mt Marian

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Collins Cap from the shortcut
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Yellow Cliffs from Collins Cap
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Collins Bonnet from Collins Cap

 

Mt Field East

Abel#72; 1274m

A sunny autumn day was forecast and we were keen to summit our last Abel in the Mt Field area. Instead of a simple up and back, we decided to make it a circuit and walk in via Lake Nicholls and out along Lake Fenton. We parked about halfway between the Lake Fenton and Mt Field East carparks, then walked about 1km back down along the Pack Track prior to intersecting the Mt Field East Track.  As it is a pretty quick walk all up, we decided to check out a few other spots along the way-  the first of these was Beatties Tarn, which takes about 5 minutes to reach from the main track.  This is a nice little tarn, nestled under the eastern slopes of Seagers Lookout and is worth checking out.

Our next stop was at the day use hut at Lake Nichols, which is in good shape and has a lot of information about the history of the area.  From the hut the track begins to climb up towards Windy Moor, with another possible detour to check out the crystal clear water of Lake Rayner.  As we were heading up, we noticed the cloud was moving quickly out of the valley towards us and had already reached Lake Nichols.  Worried that we might soon be in the clouds, we pushed up along the rocky scree and towards the plateau of Windy Moor.

Once on the plateau, the track continues north east for ~200m before reaching the main route from Lake Fenton.  From here we turned right and followed a cairned pad up to the summit, which we reached about 2 hours after leaving the car.  We had good views of the rest of the Mt Field Abels including  Mt Lord , which we had bagged a few weeks back in complete whiteout.

On the way back we quickly traversed the newly constructed duckboards across Windy Moor.  Once across, the track starts to drop down towards Lake Fenton and passes by old snow gum before reaching the intersection to Seagers Lookout.  We decided to go and check it out ,and spent a bit of time scrambling across the rock on the eastern side to get a good view of Beatties Tarn.  Unfortunately we didn’t find a good vantage point, so we made our way back towards the carpark.  The fagus had started to turn and the last 30 minutes was spent photographing various bushes between Lake Fenton and the car.

On the way back home we decided to go and check out the Styx Big Tree Reserve, which can be found about 20 minutes from Gordon River Road just out of Maydena.

Carpark to Lake Nicholls via Beatties Tarn 3.6kms in 55min.

Lake Nicholls to Mt Field East 1.8kms in 46min.

Mt Field East to Seagers Lookout 3.5kms in 1 hour.

All up 10.9kms in 3hours and 50 minutes with 618m ascent.

Getting There: Follow all signs to Mt Field then drive up towards Lake Dobson.  Road status can be checked by contacting Mt Field Visitor Centre.  The carpark to Mt Field East is well indicated about 10-15 minutes in.  There is another small carpark about 1km up the road that is about halfway if completing the walk as a circuit.

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GPS track of the walk
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Beatties Tarn
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Lake Rayner
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Heading up to Windy Moor
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Looking back towards Lake Nicholls
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Summit in view
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Pineapple Grass fields
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Looking towards Mt Lord and Wylds Craig
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Looking back towards the ski fields and Mt Mawson
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Nice walking across Windy Moor
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New track work on Windy Moor
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Pandani
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Twisted gums.
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Lake Fenton from Seagers Lookout
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Fagus turning
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Some fagus near the carpark
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Styx Big Tree Reserve
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Styx River
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Styx River

Bushwalking in Tasmania