This was a walk that was most likely going to fail, given the weather and a few delays early on in the day.
Mt Chapman and Burgess Bluff are mountains that make up what is sometimes referred to as the South Picton Range, and sit nicely between Picton to the North and Mt Bobs to the South. There wasn’t a great deal of information on the internet regarding this walk and that’s what made it more interesting. I clearly remember looking out from Picton a few months earlier and noticing the strange looking rock formations that make up part of the South Picton Range.
I left Cygnet early that morning and was hoping to get a glimpse of Hartz or Adamson’s just to get an idea of how much snow had fallen over the last couple of days. Unfortunately the peaks never showed themselves but the thick cloud and rain was a pretty good indicator of what was to come. I met Emily in Huonville and we stocked up on lunch and some snacks before heading off towards the Arve Road. We were hoping to get to the start of the track around 9:15 but after dawdling in Huonville and missing the West Picton Spur 1 turnoff things weren’t looking promising. We eventually arrived at the start of the track a little after 10, and just in time for the first of many showers to pass overhead.
We made our way through the cutting grass and into the forest, following it up for about an hour. A few small patches of snow started to appear once the forest thinned out and opened up. Apart from a few streams across the track and the constant dripping from the trees above, we were reasonably dry; this didn’t last long however, as once we left the forest we were in chest high bauera and basically walking through a creek.
This continued for some time and we basically just walked through as quick as we could to minimise the time our feet were submerged. We reached the plateau and spent a minute or two trying to orientate ourselves as the surrounding cloud was very thick. Walking along the plateau was a nice change from the scrub, although we were getting hit with some serious wind and hail. We then reached a gully that had a number of dead pencil pine trunks and the interesting rock formations that I saw from Mt Picton a few months earlier. The track then climbs right next to these rocks and onto a ridge that overlooks Square Tarn.
We stopped briefly on the western edge of Square Tarn for a bit of lunch then continued westward to try and find the pad that leads up to Abrotanella Rise and on to Mt Champan. After about 5 minutes of looking around for any sign of a pad we decided to head back to the car. Given the time of the day, it was unlikely that we would be able to hit one peak – let alone both – without having to walk in the dark. Normally this wouldn’t be too bad as I did have a head torch, but given the weather and the increasing sensation of cold we were experiencing after having stopped for lunch, it was the safest thing to do. On the way back along the plateau some of the low lying cloud lifted revealing a snow covered Mt Bobs and The Boomerang, as well as a number of large waterfalls running over the cliffs below the north-east side of Mt Chapman. The break in cloud didn’t last long and the view started to disappear so we continued back along the wet track and to the car.
All up 11.5kms in 5 hours. 763m ascent.
Getting there: The directions are the same as Mt Picton with the start of this track beginning about 200m further up the road. In brief follow the Arve Road towards the airwalk. Just before the airwalk turn left onto West Picton Road. Follow this road over the Picton River for about 15 minutes until you reach West Picton Spur 1. Turn up this road and follow it until you reach West Picton Spur 1/2, just past Cook Creek. Follow this road up and go past the first set of cairns and tapes that indicate the Picton track. The start of the Burgess and Chapman track is about 200m further at the end of the road.
It was the Queen’s birthday long weekend and we were setting out on our first walk with the Pandani Walking Club. The walk was a 2 nighter visiting huts along the Western Tiers, and the summits of Forty Lake Peak and Ironstone Mountain. The proposed plan was to walk up the Higgs Track to Lady Lake Hut on day 1, where we would set up camp and spend the night. For day 2 we would walk to the hut next to Lake Nameless, drop our packs and head to Forty Lakes Peak before returning to the hut. On the final day we would head off track towards Lake Ironstone, and then climb up Ironstone Mountain before returning to the cars via the Western Creek Track.
Day 1:Higgs Track to Lady Lake.
We left Hobart just before 8 so that we could meet up with the others in Deloraine. We met AB and Jane at the Deli in Deloraine to grab a quick coffee before heading off to the start of the Higgs Track. Along the way we met John and continued along the back roads of the Meander Valley and finally on to forestry roads to reach the car park (directions at the bottom of the page). Given that we were walking out via a different route a few clicks up the road, we did a quick car shuttle to leave one car at the end of the Western Creek Track. After a quick bite to eat and a final pack check we were ready to head off.
We were spoilt with the weather, with plenty of blue sky and almost no wind. The Higgs Track starts off reasonably flat but then quickly begins to climb up towards the Great Western Tiers. Some sections are fairly steep, but overall it is a pretty pleasant climb through old forests. The restoration of the track back in 2014 using ancient Scottish stone-pitching techniques provides a nice level surface to walk on, even when the gradient begins to increase. Sections of rock wall-presumably used as a retaining wall-are also quite impressive and make for a good photo. Once you pop out on top you can see the Lady Lake Hut about 150m in front of you. This open section is quite boggy but a few strategically placed logs make crossing the small and particularly deep ponds very easy. To our surprise there was no one at the hut, which meant we had first choice on where we would camp. We chose a slightly elevated section of ground between the hut and the toilet (which I’m told has a fantastic view) and got to work unpacking all of our gear. We wandered around the area for some time taking photos of Lady Lake, which can’t be seen from the hut but is only a 2 minute walk away; surprisingly, some of the smaller ponds still had ice in them. When we returned we met a young girl and her mum who had just walked up the Higgs Track and were planning to spend a couple of nights sleeping in the Lady Lake Hut.
Not long after we spotted another couple of people popping up over the horizon; this was likely to be Simon and Jess who had decided to join us last-minute as their kayaking trip looked in doubt due to large rainfall forecast for the South West. As the sun began to set I positioned my camera next to a small pond and a King Billy Pine in order to catch some colour changes of the sky. I was not disappointed.
We only had a short walk on day 1 – 2.9kms in 2 hours with a 524m ascent. It was nice to have some time to relax and look around, as normally we push to walk as far as possible without time to pitch the tent and relax for a few hours.
Day 2: Walking to Lake Nameless and Forty Lakes Peak.
I set the alarm at 7am to catch the sunrise. I had woken up earlier that morning when Emily had to go to the toilet, and I could hear the frost cracking under her feet. She said that everything was white and spent a bit of time walking around under the bright light of the full moon. I was hoping that it would still be white when I got out but that was no longer the case. The weather that morning was a big step down from the day before, as mist had settled in and it looked like there were going to be a couple of showers. We had some breakfast and packed up our damp tents and followed a taped/cairned route out behind where our tents were towards Lake Nameless. After a short climb we reached the top of a small hill and caught sight of a number of lakes, unfortunately the low-lying cloud had obscured our vision of any nearby peaks. The pad was easy to follow with a number of ribbons and cairns to mark the way. We passed a number of lakes, including Weston’s Lake and Lake Lucy Long, before we reached the northern end of Lake Nameless. As we walked down the western side of the lake, we caught a glimpse of Mt Ironstone in the distance and that of the much closer Forty Lakes Peak perched behind the Lake Nameless Hut. By this stage it had been raining on and off and the constant mist had effectively dampened our clothes and packs.
We arrived at the hut after 2 hours and 40 minutes and covered 6.6kms with a 200m ascent. During trout season this hut gets used regularly by fishermen and is home to a very nice Tassie Barrel wood heater, but unfortunately the last people there had burnt all the wood so we had to go and find our own. We managed to find a fair bit of dry timber in the vicinity, enough to get the fire lit and to start warming up the hut. The Lake Nameless hut appears much older that the Lady Lake Hut and is significantly colder and darker. A brief pause in the rain allowed myself and AB to set up our tents on the limited flat ground surrounding the hut while John, Simon and Jess decided to sleep in the hut instead. With plenty of light left in the day we decided to go up to Forty Lakes Peak, then walk down the south-eastern side to try to find some old cairns that mark the Ritter’s Track. The walk up to Forty Lakes Peak follows a cairned pad past the toilet about 50m to the east of the hut and up through some scrub and snow gum forest. About 20 minutes later we had reached the peak.
We descended on the south-eastern side to look for the 100-year-old cairns that mark the Ritter’s Track. The Ritters Track is a 100-year-old stock route originally used by a Meander Valley farmer called Charles Ritter who used to drive cattle to the Walls of Jerusalem, more information can be found here.
We eventually found a number of very old-looking cairns that were covered in lichen, unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of any but I’m sure they will still be there the next time I’m in the area. Our last night was spent in the hut back at Lake Nameless where we ate dinner and dessert, as well as some delicious custard prepared by Jane.
Day 2: 10.8kms in 6 hours in 15 minutes including breaks and only 399m ascent.
Day 3: Ironstone Mountain and the Western Creek Trail
Today was going to be a long day so we set our alarm for 6:30 and had all of our bags packed to leave at 8. The sunrise that morning was very special. We headed east along the lake and made our way towards Ironstone Mountain. The next few hours of walking were all off track but navigating was easy due to the large open spaces. We eventually reached Lake Ironstone and proceeded to walk around the western side until we reached a pad leading up the saddle to Ironstone. There were a number of scattered cairns on the way up but for the most part we made our own way through some scrub and over small boulder fields.
The summit of Ironstone is marked by a trig that John had painted about 10 years earlier. However, the last time he arrived by helicopter. The lack of cloud provided a full 360 degree view of the Walls of Jerusalem in the south-west, Ben Lomond NP to the east, the Meander valley and Mother Cummins to the north-east and Mt Roland towards the north-west. We shared a few lollies and chocolate then returned to where we had left our packs. The trip up from the northern end of Lake Ironstone took a little over 2 hours with a couple of breaks along the way.
We had our final lunch of the trip next to the lake then proceeded to head north to find Whiteley’s Hut and the Western Creek Track. This didn’t prove too difficult and before long we were following a pad down to the hut. From here the view back towards Ironstone are pretty impressive. Whiteley’s Hut is a small but seemingly cosy hut that has a good wood heater and room for ~4 people. There were a couple of people camped there who, unfortunately had decided to bring their dogs into the world heritage area.
The rest of the walk follows the beautiful Western Creek Track down the gully. There are countless waterfalls and rock pools almost all of the way down. Compared to the Higgs Track on day 1 this is considerably more undulating, and also has a water crossing sections that would prove difficult following heavy rain. I would not hesitate to come back here though as it is truly an amazing walk.
We arrived at the carpark and thanks to a car shuffle a few days earlier we were able to drive a couple of km down the road to the Higgs Track carpark and pick up the rest of the vehicles. That brought an end to a very enjoyable weekend away and our first walk with Pandani was a success. Big thanks to AB, Jane, John, Simon and Jess and we hope to catch up again soon.
Day 3: 12.5kms in 7 hours and 20 minutes, 338m ascent and 803m descent.
Winterbrook Falls lies in the Winterbrook Forest Reserve, about an hours drive south of Burnie. This is a nice half day walk (3-4 hours return) that takes you through old myrtle forests and up to about 900m in altitude. There hadn’t been much rain in the previous days but there was still a fair bit of water coming down the falls, allowing us to walk around the base without getting too wet.
This weekend had been set aside to visit Emily’s family in Burnie, and we were hoping to have some free time on the Sunday to go and bag a peak in the area. Originally the plan was to hike up to Black Bluff via the Penguin-Cradle trail but this was likely to take the best part of a day so we decided to cut the walk right down. I wasn’t overly disappointed as I had a few too many wines the night before. The walk we chose to do was a more leisurely 3-4 hour return to Winterbrook Falls, which lies just below the Black Bluff ridge.
The walk starts along the old forestry road and passes over the eroded bridge. Turning left at the fork brings you to the old carpark and the start of the Tramway track. The beginning of the track is mainly duck boards followed by open forest and a small bridge. The track then climbs slightly while still following the old snig track. About an hour in you will reach Winterbrook Creek which provides a nice spot to stop and refill drink bottles. From here, the track climbs reasonably steeply until it opens up to reveal the falls from afar. To get to the base of the falls, continue along the duck boards and follow the signs/ribbons. The final climb to the falls is short but fairly steep and could be difficult if there is a lot of water coming down. We decided not to return via the slightly longer Maxwell track as we had to be back in Burnie for lunch.
All up 9.7kms in 3 hours and 15 minutes. 390m ascent.
Getting there: Take the B15 (Castra Road) off the Bass Highway at Ulverstone. Continue along this road through Sprent and Upper Castra until you reach South Nietta Road. Drive along South Nietta Road then continue straight onto Smith Plains Road. Follow all signs for Winterbrook Forest Reserve.
Black Bluff can also be accessed via this track but I believe it is a bit steeper and more challenging than the Penguin-Cradle trail. For those interested in reaching Black Bluff from here, you can start along the Maxwell track by turning right at the fork past the collapsed bridge (continuing along Smiths Plains Rd). Alternatively you can walk the Tramway Track and turn right about 5 minutes before the falls to cut across to the Maxwell track.