We left Launceston early on our way out to the Weldborough area and thought we might bag a quick Abel on the way. The easiest to get was Mt Barrow and neither of us had ever been up that way before. The drive up the side of Mt Barrow winds through some nice forest before reaching a large scree field that is reminiscent of Jacobs Ladder on the way to the Ben Lomond ski fields.
We then parked at a turning circle just below the large communication tower and proceeded up towards the ridge. There is a large metal and concrete staircase that provides access to the comms station which we followed to avoid walking through the scrub. The landscape was typical of any other mountainous region of jurassic dolerite and we were quickly rock hopping our way along the cliff top towards the summit that lay a few minutes further west.
A somewhat favourable weather forecast allowed for a short trip to the Southern Ranges. We arrived at the start of the track around 8am and were on our way along the old tram line shortly after. After crossing paths with a handful of lyre birds- one of which stood on a limb long enough for me to get a quick shot- we arrived at the Mystery Creek crossing. It was flowing, but not enough to cause any concern as we made our way across. We reached the junction at the old quarry and turned right, as the track starts climbing up Marble Hill almost immediately; before long we were overheating.
Once near the top of Cave Hill, the track flattens out briefly while passing through some nice rainforest (also full of Lyre birds), before another consistent and slippery climb. We reached a patch of tea tree forest contains a small clearing for tents around 1hour and 40 minutes in, popping out at the burnt edge of Moonlight Flats 25 minutes later. Visibility had dropped to about 15 meters as we passed along the eerie landscape, burnt following lightning strikes in 2013/14. The track was pretty overgrown with scoparia on the way up to Hill 1, as well as a few sections on the way down to the saddle between Hills 1 and 2. We stopped briefly on top of Hill 2 to have some lunch and to admire the wind blown shrubs growing across the dolerite.
From there on in the walking was a lot clearer as we walked along the open hill tops and we arrived at Pigsty Ponds after 5 hours and 40 minutes. We reached the small creek crossing and decided to drop packs before heading up to Mt La Perouse. About 10 minutes further along the track after a small ascent, the junction is marked by a very large 3 pronged arrow constructed out of small rocks. The track to La Perouse is indicated by the longest arrow and heads in an easterly direction, as you wind around the sides of the peaks. We arrived at the large summit cairn in just over 40 minutes; but unfortunately the cloud and the drizzle had not abated, and we returned to our packs damp and disappointed. The night was spent camping by the head waters of the D’Entrecasteaux River, hopeful of better weather the next day.
The morning of day 2 started with a nice sunrise and clear skies in all directions, and the jagged silhouette of the Cockscomb rising above our tent provided plenty of motivation to finish packing and get exploring. Our plan was to head back along Moonlight Ridge to Hill 3 and before detouring to follow the ridge down to The Hippo. On our way back up to Hill 4, we spotted a tent next to one of the small tarns at Pigsty Ponds- we later found out it was a friend who we had met a few months earlier at Lake Petrarch.
We reached the summit of Hill 3 in 1 hour and 40 minutes, and made our way down the dolerite ridge line towards Agnetes Garden. The walk out was easy open walking, and once at the base of The Hippo we followed a cairned route that made its way through some scrub, with a quick scramble up the eastern side before turning west to the summit. We reached the top exactly an hour after leaving hill 3 and took in the views over Mt Leillateah towards the ocean. Once back to our packs, we sheltered behind some boulders for lunch, and were battered by the infamous winds on our way out. The walk back along Moonlight Ridge seemed to take a lot longer than the walk in, and the knees were very grateful when we reached the car 4.5 hours later.
On the way back from our weekend away in Sheffield, we thought we would take the opportunity to finally get up to Projection Bluff. The walk starts on the Lakes Highway and quickly enters some stunning and unexpected myrtle forest. The cairned/taped track then climbs steeply through the open myrtle forest to the escarpment, which was reached in just 25 minutes. The true highpoint is roughly 1 km further North as the crow flies and can be reached by following a cairned route along the top of the escarpment. This pad provides good views of Liffey Bluff and Drys Bluff just across the valley.
We reached the summit in an hour and took a few snaps of Quamby Bluff before returning to the car. Although this is a very quick walk, the forest on the way up is well worth seeing and the summit does provide some good views of the other bluffs that make up the Great Western Tiers.
All up 4.7kms in 1hour and 50 minutes with 250m ascent.
Getting there: The start of the track is marked on the Lakes Highway at this location .
To celebrate Emily submitting her PhD thesis we were treated with a few nights at the Eagles Nest Retreat in Sheffield; this provided the perfect opportunity to bag the peaks of the Fossey Mountains. After our first night there, we organised a lift to the start of the Mt Claude track with the owner Des, and left our car at the end of the face track below Mt Roland. The route we chose to take is the same as the Triple Top Mountain Run that takes place each year-and having walked the ascents, is something that I have no intention of joining.
The track starts off on a steep gravel road that provides vehicular access to radio communication towers. There isn’t much to see until you climb a little higher and the many peaks of the central reserve come into view. We reached the last radio tower and the end of the road in 20 minutes and headed towards Mt Claude, our first peak for the day. We continued up following a relatively clear walking track, and before long had reached a junction by a large boulder below the summit of Mt Claude. I had assumed that all three summits would be well marked-however that was not the case. We continued along the trail for about 10 minutes before realising we had gone too far, so instead of returning along the track we decided to scrub-bash back towards the summit. This however was a big waste of time-we spent 30 minutes crawling through scrub and around boulders, before we decided to just backtrack and find the normal way up. Eventually I made it to the summit by traversing a precariously placed chockstone above a rather large drop. Emily on the other hand was not so keen on the initial drop and scramble, and decided to sit this one out. We later found out that there is an easier route to the top that follows a cave just below the summit, so Emily can come back to bag this one.
After wasting an hour or so claiming 1 measly point, we carried on towards the saddle between Mt Claude and Mt Vandyke. The track was pretty boring and consisted mostly of winding down through the forest; however the cliffs on the northern side of Mt Vandyke were impressive and reminded me of the mountains along west coast.
During the steep, long climb out of the saddle we passed a couple of Dutch visitors. They had planned to stay around Cradle Mountain for a few days, but were put off by the masses of people and wanted a genuine wilderness experience. We provided a few options, and they told us that they had to climb Vandyke as it was also their surname. After a quick chat, we finished the climb and were back walking through the alpine scrub. We reached the junction that leads to the Vandyke summit 60 minutes after leaving the saddle, including a brief stop for lunch. The pad up to the summit was difficult to follow, so in the end we just found our own way up; thankfully getting to the top of Vandyke was a bit easier to reach than Claude. At the summit, we found a discarded pair of broken hiking boots that unsurprisingly, were found to be from Target.
The next leg involved a short drop down to the saddle between Roland and Vandyke. We passed along the top of a small waterfall called Reggies Falls, and as this was the first source of running water we had passed in 5 hours we made the most of it. Shortly past the falls, we came to the junction for the more commonly used Mt Roland track. It was significantly more developed and made for quick walking on the way to our final summit. Rain had started to fall as we approached the summit, and by the time we were on top we were robbed of a view. The final part of the triple tops track was a very steep descent down the notorious face track; passing through nice forest and interesting rock that was hard to appreciate when trying to keep your balance. We lost 700 meters elevation in just over 2kms, and by the time we had reached the car we had almost lost the ability to bend our knees. Unlike most walking trips where we then spend hours sitting in the car, we still had another night at the Eagles Nest Retreat and were able to drive a few minutes up the road to relax in the spa over looking Mt Roland.
All up 19.7kms in 7 hours and 40 minutes with 1307m ascent.
Getting there: Access to the start of this track is on Olivers Road (C138), off Claude Road (google maps). Plenty of parking is available. Access to the face track is on Kings Road, also off Claude Road and is well marked (google maps).
A large chunk of the state was closed due to the ongoing threat from bushfires, so we decided to head to the east coast and find a few waterfalls. Our first stop was Meetus Falls on the Cygnet River. We arrived to find a surprisingly empty carpark that has a number of BBQs and picnic areas. The walk to the lookout is only 5 minutes down the track and provides a great top-down view of the large waterfall.
We were keen to get a closer look so we back tracked to the junction and made our way down to the Cygnet River. We arrived at the river in 10 minutes and found a nice unnamed waterfall just near the end of the track. We then headed upstream along the rocks to get to the base of Meetus Falls. Unfortunately there were a number of plastic bottles and cans around the base of the falls that had most likely been thrown from the viewing platform above.
All up 3.1kms with 188m ascent
On our way back down south we went to check out Lost Falls. Unfortunately this monstrous waterfall was nothing more than a trickle so we will have to come back another time.
Getting there: Meetus Falls can be accessed from McKays Road, just past the Lake Leak turnoff on the Lake Leak Highway (B34) when coming from Campbell Town.
Today’s walk was a visit to a lesser known cape on the Tasman Peninsula. Accessing the start of the track is is not recommended in a car with little clearance, as there is a low level creek crossing and sections with large ruts. The end of the road provides an excellent view of the cape and enough room to park a few cars. A shortcut from the car park to the track is marked by some tape; otherwise the start proper is about 50m back along the road.
It begins with a short climb through typical dry forest and bracken fern, and about 5 minutes in you are provided with an excellent view point north towards the large cliffs of High Yellow Bluff. The track continues to climb quite steeply as you reach the highest point of the walk, before dropping down into a small gully that passes over the first of two unnamed creeks. There was very little water coming down so we continued on towards the next creek, which had a surprising amount of water given the lack of rain. We spent some time walking around the creek and checking out the large ferns that line both sides. The track then climbs again until it reaches the turnoff to Macgregor Peak which provides access to the forestry road that leads to Deep Glen Bay.
Good views of Sisters Rocks to the south can be had from a small clearing just before the summit of Cape Surville. Atop the summit, lunch was had out of the wind and enjoying the views of the sea cliffs.
All up 4.8kms in a leisurely 2 hours and 20 minutes with 416m ascent.
Getting There: The road to the start of the track has degraded to the point that accessing in a 2wd with low clearance would be difficult. In brief, at Murdunna, turn onto Hylands Road and follow it for 6.4 and it will become Richardsons Road which is followed all the way to the start of the track. Google Maps
This trip was originally going to be a traverse of the Eastern Arthurs; however, with the huge fires burning in the southwest we had to change our plan. Our plan B was an extended trip checking out some of the peaks in the Pine Valley area, but upon reaching Lake St Clair we were informed that walking tracks had been closed due to a small fire west of Nereus. We then had to come up with a new plan pretty quickly, and decided to head into the Cuvier Valley to try and bag a few peaks around the area.
I had been eyeing off visiting Lake Petrarch for a while and this was a good opportunity for a visit. We left the visitors centre just after 2pm and made our way along the end of the overland track. Just after crossing the large bridge at Waters-meet, we reached the turnoff to the Cuvier Valley which is marked by a large sign that reads “track not maintained”. We walked through open forest before reaching the extensive button grass fields, where we had good views of Mt Othrys and the Seven Apostles. I was too busy taking photos to notice a very large lumbering wombat pass just in front of me after we had startled it, before disappearing into some thick bush by the track. For the most part the track was in good condition; I believe a number of working bees have been held there over the last couple of years, and the track has been cleared almost all the way to the lake, which we reached in 3.5hours. We found a nice spot in the pines looking over the lake and the sandy bank to set up camp, and enjoyed burritos for dinner.
We awoke the next day to no sunrise and low cloud shrouding the lake. Unsure of what the day would entail, we set off early along the western lake edge. Here, the track was a bit more overgrown and hard to follow in places; we lost it on the northern side and so made our way across the plains to what looked like would be the most sensible way up to Byron Gap. Not long after we came across some tape and were back on an easy to follow track through the forest. About halfway up the cloud started to lift and the impressive cliffs of Mt Byron appeared just above us. We reached Byron Gap about 2 hours after leaving camp, and dropped packs before retracing the track about 30m to pick up the pad that heads up to Mt Byron.
The walk up passed through some nice forest before reaching a boulder field that leads all the way to the top, making for a good scramble. We reached the summit in just 30 minutes and waited some time in hope that the clouds would lift; thankfully we didn’t have to wait long, and enjoyed the views during lunch. We returned to our bags and decided that we would then head to Mt Olympus from Byron Gap, rather than taking the route up from near the Echo Point hut. We found a faint pad heading up and followed that for a few hundred meters, before it disappeared and the scoparia took over. Luckily this didn’t last long and we quickly made it up through the scrub bands to the open alpine fields below the cliffs. Instead of heading up to the summit, we decided to follow the extensive boulder fields below the cliffs on the eastern side. This route wasn’t too bad- albeit slow at times- except for a small section of thick scrub on the slopes above Lake Helen. We reached Lake Oenone ~4 hours after leaving Byron Gap and found a nice campsite beside one of the numerous tarns below the lake.
The plan for the day was to summit the northern end of Mt Olympus, then walk back out to Lake St Clair. We followed the pad up on the eastern side of Lake Oenone to the saddle between the two high points of Olympus. We then continued NW along the ridge line, scrambling up some large boulders to reach the flat expanse that stretches all the way to the summit. I was surprised to see that the numerous large tarns up on top were almost all bone dry; a worrying sign of the current conditions, particularly with the fires raging all over the state. We reached the summit in 90 minutes and took in the excellent views in all directions. On our return, we took the pad that heads back down on the western side of Lake Oenone among dolerite columns which was considerably quicker; however it was a bit more airy. This track may have been first cut by Emily’s great great uncle, during his time as the Lake St Clair ranger in the 1930’s- it’s thought that he built a ladder that climbed up the dolerite to reach the summit.
The track down to Lake St Clair from camp was difficult to follow and we found ourselves in thick scrub on multiple occasions. We ended up following a creek to try find the pad again, and passed by numerous large waterfalls that were no more than a trickle. A number of large cliffs need to be descended as you get closer to the lake, and we were able to pick up the tapes that mark the safest way down each cliff face. The long and boring walk back along the Lake St Clair took just over 3.5 hours and we will not be doing it again for a third time.