Esperance Peak

Sitting between the easily accessible Mt Hartz and Adamsons Peak, Esperance Peak is rarely visited and doesn’t quite get the attention it deserves. I had gathered some information regarding access, but was unsure as to what we would encounter along the way.  We were surprised to find a recently taped and mostly cleared route all the way to the plateau.

The track begins along an old, overgrown forestry road which heads west for a few hundred meters before heading up into the forest. A steep climb ensues before entering a patch of cutting grass where the track makes use of a number of fallen logs. A small creek is crossed about 35 minutes in, which was the only source of water on the way up.  The initial crossing was dry, as the creek appeared to be running underground; but water was accessible a bit further up the track.

A number of fallen trees need to be crawled under before the forest opens up and the pandani start to appear. After ~2.4kms – or about 1hour 20 minutes – the gradient increases as you make your way up the steep and scrubby edge of the plateau. Suddenly the views opened up, and we spent some time checking out the geology on the northern rim before picking a clear line through the alpine scrub.  There were a number of small tarns on the southern side that were full of water, but looked like they would dry pretty quickly during the warmer months. We stumbled across a faint pad and followed it towards the northern ridge before heading southwest to the summit, as this pad avoids a scrubby section on the eastern slopes. Once on top, we were treated with uninterrupted views in all directions and had a longer than usual lunch, before making our way back the way we came. Just after dropping off the plateau, I made a small detour to check out the large cliffs just south of the track which can be seen on aerial imagery, and are only a few minutes from the track. We arrived back at the car in just over 2 hours.

All up 8.8kms in 5 1/2 hours with 740m ascent.

Getting there: Follow the Huon Highway past Dover until you reach the bridge over the Esperance River. Turn right onto Esperance River Road just before the bridge and follow it for 11.3kms until you reach Casey’s Road. Turn left and follow Casey’s Road for 5.1kms and turn right onto Casey Spur 7.  About 100m up there road there is a small carpark and the start of the old forestry road.

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Heading into the forest
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A section of cutting grass before the creek
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On the plateau looking towards Snowy and Hartz
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Nice tarns overlooking Adamsons and Mesa
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Esperance summit
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Looking south
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A lone pine
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Richea Scoparia starting to flower
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Looking towards the plateau on the way back down
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Wild flowers
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Back into the forest
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Large cliffs
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A very slippery log

 

Mt Tor

While visiting Emily’s family in Burnie, we were keen to tick off an Abel in the area. We ended up choosing Mt Tor, as it relatively close-by and should’ve been pretty quick to get up and back. There are a couple of ways to access this Abel, both outlined in the Abels Vol.1; we choose the northern route, as there can accessibility issues on the western approach due to forestry activity.

The track starts by crossing Dempster Creek- thankfully, it’s not deep enough to cause any problem though the rocks are quite slippery. Shortly after, you reach the Leven River which can be a bit more difficult to get through due to deeper patches and a stronger current. Unable to pass safely where the road traverses the river, we headed upstream to see if we could find a more suitable crossing. A few minutes later we came across a shallower section with a number of partly exposed rocks. The rocks were incredibly slippery, but I managed to get across without getting wet; however, Emily was not so lucky and took a dip. Having made it past the two major obstacles, we pushed on,  following the old 4WD road along the banks of the river before veering left and finding the final creek crossing at Tor Creek.

From here the track begins to wind up through nice rainforest, climbing steeply before levelling off and then descending slightly. After 3.7kms we arrived at a fork and continued left and up for a few hundred meters before reaching a large cairn indicating the track upwards. The tapes seemed to disappear almost immediately and we were left with no choice but to find our own way up. Initially, we were able to follow some rocky sections and avoid the thick scrub, but we were soon met with a wall of bauera and his mates tea tree and banksia. Any attempt to stay dry was thrown out the window as we pushed up through the wall of scrub. Thankfully, we had already climbed a fair way and we soon reached the buttongrass fields which we were able to cross without too much trouble. Unfortunately the cloud was still present and we got no views whatsoever atop the wet and windy summit.

On the return we found a slightly better route down that avoided the worst of the scrub but had a number of cliffs to negotiate and clamber down. We also found a better river crossing about 100m upstream from where we first crossed, marked by an old road entry.

All up 12.7kms in 5hours and 45 minutes with 791m ascent.

Getting there: Turn off the Bass Highway at Ulverstone onto Preston Road. Follow this past Preston and onto South Preston Road towards Nietta. At Nietta turn right onto Loongana Road (also marked as Leven Canyon). Follow this for 21.2kms and park down by Dempster Creek.

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GPS track
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Cross Dempster Creek by the carpark
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Tor Creek
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Heading up the old road
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Cairn indicating the way up
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Looking back while climbing up through the scrub
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Summit views
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A burly tree by the road
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A ring of lichen
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Nice forest walking

Mt Connection

After unsuccessfully attempting to summit Quoin Mountain- largely due to access issues- we returned to Hobart and made our way to the Big Bend car park.  The plan for the afternoon was to summit Mt Connection via the Big Bend Trail, then return via Thark Ridge.

The track initially follows a wide and rocky 4wd trail that is used as an entry point to the East West Trail. After 1.8kms, there will be a sign indicating the Collins Bonnet Trail on the left hand side.  We followed this for a few minutes before reaching a second Collins Bonnet Trail sign and turning right.  From here you enter an open moor that has been duck boarded as it crosses the numerous streams and pool that make up the beginning of Mountain River.  The track then climbs gradually as it passes along the northern edge of Mt Connection, and a small cairn is encountered indicating the way up to the summit. We sat in the sun on the summit for a few minutes before heading off once more.

We backtracked down to the small Collins Bonnet sign, then turned right and continued up to Thark Ridge. We completed the circuit and walked back down the road to the car, after poking around an old hut. Note that the section between Collins Bonnet Trail and Thark Ridge is not maintained or marked, and is overgrown in sections.

All up 12.2kms in 3hours and 20 minutes with 544m ascent.

Getting There: Drive along Pinnacle Road until you reach the clearly marked Big Bend Trail. Additional parking can be found a few hundred meters up the road and the Thark Ridge Carpark.

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GPS track
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Sandstone caves at Gravelly Ridge
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Sandstone details
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Big Bend trail
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Second Collins Bonnet sign (track to Thark Ridge to the left of sign)
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Looking back towards Thark Ridge
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Looking east from Mt Connection
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Looking north from Thark Ridge
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Pools on Thark Ridge

 

 

Macgregor Peak and Deep Glen Bay

Having spent the past few weeks eating excessive amounts of nasi campur in Indonesia, it was time to get some exercise.  I had been interested in visiting Deep Glen Bay for some time, primarily to drive in by boat and go diving, but I have also heard that the walk in is pretty special. The opportunity to bag a nearby peak was also enticing and with that, we had decided to do it as a circuit.  This was put together with information  from Dennis’s excellent blog, Hiking South East Tasmania, which I encourage you to check out if you don’t know it already. Link here.

We parked at the carpark on Macgregor Road and followed the signs toward Macgregor Peak. This track follows a zig zag fire trail up to a fire tower, which we reached in just over 20 minutes. Note that there is a track that descends to the other carpark, which can be accessed a few kms past the MacGregor Road turnoff.  The views from here weren’t great, so we continued up through the bush.  The forest just past the fire tower was still regenerating from the last big bush fire and as a result was rather boring.  As we climbed, the impact of the bushfire seemed to reduce until we reached forest that had been largely spared. At this point we entered some very unexpected but beautiful moss covered forest and followed this up to the summit.

Unfortunately the clouds had not lifted and the views across to Eagle Hawk Neck were non-existent. Keen to keep moving, we followed the track (to the right of the sign that says fire tower 1h) along the ridge in a north easterly direction. The forest along the ridge was as stunning, if not even more stunning than the way up and it was a shame to drop down to Schofields Road. A few hundred meters down the road we passed a small hut.  The door had been left open and it looked pretty grim, though someone had stored a fair bit of firewood in there which might lighten the mood somewhat. I had read somewhere that there used to be a large shark jaw in there that was supposedly found at Deep Glen Bay- unfortunately there was no sign of it anywhere.

Continuing along Schofields road for a few hundred meters, we saw a number of Pink Breasted Robins finding some breakfast in the mud. We soon reached a sharp left turn, but continued straight down through the old forestry road.  We followed this towards Deep Glen Creek for about 10 minutes before reaching a small clearing on the right hand side of the track. From here there is a reasonably well-marked but steep route down to Deep Glen Bay, which follows and frequently traverses Deep Glen Creek. A number of large, recently fallen trees need to be negotiated but overall the huge man-ferns and sassafras make for a very pleasant walk to the ocean. We reached the bottom in an hour and had some lunch on the rocks, before a quick 45 minute trip back up to the road.

To get back to the car we backtracked along Schofields Road, past the turn off to MacGregor Peak until we reached a fork, about 2.2 kms past the hut. Note there is a taped tracked through the bush a hundred or so meters before the fork, that cuts out maybe 200m of road walking. We followed this for another 2.2 kms as it climbed steeply before dropping back down to Macgregor Road.

All up 15.1kms in just over 6 hours with 919m ascent.

Getting there: The turnoff to Macgregor Road off the Arthur Highway is approximately 5kms past the small township of Murdunna, heading towards Eagle Hawk Neck.  There is  also a sign by the road that says Fazackerlys Range Circuit. Access to the other Macgregor Peak track, which rejoins the route described above at the fire tower, can be accessed by driving a couple of kms further along the Arthur Highway and taking the next left turn up Pattmans Road.

 

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GPS route of track –

 

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The fire tower
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Nice moss under the fire tower
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Regeneration following the large fires a few years back

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Nice forest on the way to Macgregor Peak
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What’s left of the trig
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The view south to Eagle Hawk Neck

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Currawong feathers on a mossy mound
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Hut beside Schofields Road
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Man Fern bridge – Deep Glen Creek
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Deep Glen Bay
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Deep Glen Bay
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Schofields Road

Mt Rufus

We had originally planned to join an overnight Pandani walk to Rufus via the Gingerbread Track, but in the end had had to pull out due to work commitments. Instead, we decided to do it as a day walk and hopefully meet the group somewhere for lunch. We stopped briefly at Lake St Clair on the drive up the night before and were happy to see Mt Olympus covered in snow.

The start of the Gingerbread Track is not signposted and is only marked by a small cairn next to the road, just past the Navarre River crossing. Initially the track is somewhat overgrown, but soon opens up as it follows the western side of the Navarre River.  Although there was some snow in the forest, it wasn’t until we reached the first button-grass plain that it started to get a bit thicker. From here we were able to follow footprints from a group who had walked up the day before and had camped somewhere along the track, and got our first glimpse of a snowy KWI which is also on the cards for future walks.

Large frozen puddles and very slippery treated pine logs kept our focus while climbing up towards Joe Slatter Hut, which we reached 60 minutes after leaving the carpark. There was no sign of any recent habitats, except for a pair of  well-worn boots with a note saying that they will be picked up again shortly.  From here we decided it was time to put the snow shoes on, as we were starting to sink in the deep drifts.

We lost sight of the markers once we reached the large plateau but continued following ski tracks left the day prior that led towards the western rim. Some time was spent here admiring the sandstone boulders overlooking Lake Undine, Gell and the Cheyne Range.  Pyramid Mountain was also clearly visible, and its namesake shape accentuated with a heavy blanket of snow. As we climbed higher the views just kept getting better, but before long we had dipped back down into the sheltered bowl just south of the summit and looking onto the Gingerbread Hut.

We noticed three people at Gingerbread sitting outside looking out towards us and went over to say hello. They had walked up the day/night before and were somewhat disappointed with the amount of snow and icy conditions. With the conditions being much more favourable to snowshoeing, we then went off the track and continued straight up the large bank behind the hut, cheered on by the three skiers as we climbed the steep face. We were at the summit 10 minutes later and treated with 360 degree views of snow clad mountains, as well as a very strong westerly wind. Luckily the large cairn on the summit provided sufficient shelter to have some food and a quick break.

On the way back down we followed snow markers around the eastern side- which was longer but not as steep as our summit route- before returning to the Gingerbread Hut to say goodbye. By this stage the snow was starting to get slushy and we wanted to get back to the first hut before it would slow us down. Just before we reached Joe Slatter Hut, we bumped into the Pandani group who were on their way up. They had left a bit later than planned, so unfortunately we didn’t meet them for lunch but they were more than happy to talk poo tubes.

The track past the hut had started to get pretty muddy and unfortunately I found a thigh deep bog hole amongst the button grass. We arrived back at the car at 1:45pm and made the compulsory stop at the Hungry Wombat Cafe for a second lunch.

All up 13.4kms in 6 hours and 20 minutes with 734m ascent.

Getting there: Mt Rufus can be accessed a number of ways, the most common being a well-marked track from Lake St Clair.  The less frequented Gingerbread Track is accessed from Rufus Canal Road, a few kms past Derwent Bridge on the Lyell Highway heading towards Queenstown.

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GPS track
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Lake St Clair
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KWI
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Arriving at Joe Slatter Hut
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First sight of Rufus
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Sandstone carvings 
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The path ahead
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Descending into the bowl – Gingerbread hut can just be made out
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Pyramid Mountain (L) Hugel (C) 
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Gell and Lake Undine
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King William 1 and Loddon from the summit
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Heading back down

Mt Hartz

A big dump of snow was forecast for the weekend and the chance to surpass 99 peak bagging points was very enticing. Mt Hartz seemed to be a good candidate as reaching the summit is fairly short and the track relatively easy to follow, even in heavy snow.  We were the first to arrive at the carpark and soon after made our way along the duckboards. The first 15m comprised of pushing through and ducking under snow laden branches covering the track, before reaching the open moors. Unfortunately not as much snow had fallen as I had hoped; though this was probably a good thing as it was very soft, even with snowshoes. A quick detour to Lake Esperance to check out the view was well worth it, though we couldn’t see as much as we’d like in the foggy conditions.

Once on Hartz Pass, we were hit with some very strong wind gusts and snowstorms, with pellets of ice belting us. Luckily there were a number of snow markers still visible, and we were able to follow them instead of relying solely on the GPS for navigation.  Up we went, trying to avoid the patches of softer snow covering the bushes.  We reached the top in just over 2 hours, but unfortunately couldn’t see more than 20m around us. Some protection from the wind could be found in the small rock windbreak where we had some snacks and a rest. Just as we were about to leave, the clouds cleared and we were able to see the Southern Ranges, Bob + Boomerang and the Picton Range.

The clearer conditions held up all the way back to Hartz Pass and made the descent much quicker, as well as more enjoyable with the occasional view of Hartz Lake, a frosty Devils Backbone and the occasional snow tornado whirling along the ridge. We were back at the car just after 12, which left plenty of time to check out something in the area that I had been keen to see for some time and to explore forestry roads.

All up 8.4kms in 3hours and 45 minutes with 518m ascent.

Getting there: The easiest way to access Hartz is by driving along the Arve Road from Geeveston. Follow all signs towards Tahune Airwalk and Hartz Mountain.

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GPS track
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Approaching the carpark
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The sun trying to shine through
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Lake Esperance
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Summit with no view
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Looking west towards the Boomerang
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The clouds clear
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On the way back down
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Hartz Lake
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Hartz Lake
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Devils Backbone
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Mt Hartz and Snowy
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Ladies Tarn
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Largest known flowering plant in the world

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Freycinet Circuit

The weekend forecast was looking promising and the thought of a weekend away that didn’t include snow and sub-zero temps was also enticing. Emily had done Graham and Freycinet before, but I had only done the Hazards Circuit- so we decided to tick them off during the significantly quieter winter months.

Day one started with a quick trip up to the summit of Mt Amos to catch the sunrise.  It turned out to be a ripper and I only just made it in time; unfortunately Emily wasn’t as lucky and missed it by a minute or two.  We drove back into Coles Bay for a nice and fresh brekky at Geographé, before returning to the main carpark where we would start out along the Hazards Track.  The first sight of the cloud-covered peaks of Graham and Freycinet were from Lemana Lookout; though they would not be summited until the following day. Today’s aim was to reach Bryan’s Beach and set up camp, then spend some time checking out the coastline further south.

We noticed a lot of Eleven Armed Seastars washed up along Hazard Beach and did our best to return them to the water. The southern end of the beach has a toilet and decent camping, but no water.  We continued past this camp, through the forest towards Cook’s Beach, and passed the turnoff to Mt Freycinet at the northern end of the beach.  Surprised to find no one at the hut, we stopped for some lunch at Cook’s Beach Hut and filled up our water bladders and bottles from the numerous rainwater tanks. There had been little rain in the lead up to this weekend, and every creek we had passed was dry so the chances of finding any water at Bryan’s Beach were slim.  The track between Cook’s Hut and Bryan’s Beach was clearly less used than where we had been earlier in the day, but it was still well defined and mostly clear of debris.  We reached Bryan’s Beach 4.5 hours after leaving the carpark and bumped into a couple who had been spending the day down there before returning to camp at Cook’s Beach.

We found a nice spot under the she-oaks to set up camp, when suddenly a wallaby hopped up next to our tent to have a look, before it continued down to the beach and began to swim circles in the see while being swooped by seagulls. After all that excitement, we continued down the coast towards the shipwreck on Passage Beach.

Day 2 started with another nice sunrise, this time over Schouten Island.  We left our camp and made our way back towards Cook’s Beach, where we refilled with water again and made our way along the beach to the junction to Mt Freycinet . From here the track slowly starts to climb through the forest, a welcome change from the soft sand. A lot of the plants had just started to flower and added a bit of colour and scents to the forest.  The climb up to the East Freycinet Saddle was steep, hard work thanks to the extra 7 or so kgs of water I was carrying. There were a couple of smaller creeks along the way that were flowing slowly but I would not rely on them, especially during the summer months. From the East Freycinet Saddle, the track descends slightly before another quick climb to the Mt Freycinet/Graham Saddle, which we reached 1.5 hours after leaving Cook’s Beach.

Given that we had only seen 2 people in the last 24 hours, we were surprised to find around 20 odd backpacks spread out in the scrub. On the way up Mt Freycinet we passed the owners of the packs, a large school group of GYC that had initially planned to do the Overland Track, but changed plans due to the weather. Thankfully they were heading to Wineglass Bay and would not be joining us on Mt Graham, so we’d have some peace and quiet. We reached the summit in 30 minutes of rock scrambling, and spent some time taking in the views before returning to the saddle to pick up our packs. We were standing on top of Graham 25 minutes later and had also just earned our 99th peak bagging point. At this point we were pretty happy to stop and set up camp; as expected there weren’t many good spots, and we ended settling with a what I think was the most sheltered spot on the eastern side below the track.  This was a good choice as later that night the wind really picked up and would have led to an interrupted sleep.

An early rise the next day saw us packed and walking by 8am, and we wasted little time getting back to the carpark in 2.5 hours. Lunch was once more had at Geographé, and we were happy to have a mini feast. Given our early start, we decided to check out Bluestone Bay on the way back to Coles Bay. I decided to go for a quick snorkel at Little Bluestone to test out a new underwater lens, while Emily read a book on the rocks.

All up 44.4kms with 1743m ascent.

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GPS track
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Sunrise from Mt Amos
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Approaching Hazards Beach, Graham and Freycinet in cloud
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Graham and Freycinet from Hazards Beach
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An upside-down 11 armed seastar
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Northern end of Cook’s Beach
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Cook’s Hut
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Cook’s Hut
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Bryan’s Bay
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On the way to Passage Bay
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Schouten Island
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Passage Bay
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Sunset from Bryan’s
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Sunrise over Schouten Island
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Bryan’s Lagoon
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Flowering plants
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Hazards from Mt Freycinet
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Schouten Island from Freycinet, Maria Island out back
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Sunset from Mt Graham
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Hazards from Graham
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Wineglass Bay
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The Nuggets from Little Bluestone
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Testing out a new underwater lens
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Underwater macro

 

 

Bushwalking in Tasmania