Well-over a month had passed since the previous walk in Tas, and we were keen to get some longer days in before attempting Ossa in a day. Originally we were thinking about heading to Lake St Clair and climbing Rufus, Hugel and maybe Little Hugel, depending on the time; but we ended up canning that idea and sticking to something a bit closer to home.
We had attempted to summit Mt Chapman and Burgess Bluff on a very wet and windy day last winter (Mt Chapman and Burgess Bluff (almost) , but were forced to turn around at Square Tarn due to blizzard like conditions and a very high chance of walking back in the dark if we had kept going. This day was a much more enjoyable 23 degrees, with light winds and barely any cloud cover, and I was keen to see what the area actually looked like.
We arrived at the the track just after 9:00am and left the car at 9:25am. The start of the track follows an old logging track that is now overgrown with cutting grass and other small trees, before making its way into the bush after about 5 minutes. From here, its basically straight up through the forest and over a bunch of fallen trees-but for the most part, it is easy to follow. Additionally, it looks as though someone has been through fairly recently and retagged the route with pink ribbon. After about 50 minutes the forest starts to thin out and you can start to see Mt Picton across the valley. This area is mainly heathland, with a track running through the middle. When we were here last in winter, that same track was basically a knee high creek and we were forced to wade through it; this time there was a significantly less water, and apart from a few large bog holes we managed to stay relatively dry. It is a bit scrubby through here though, so a long sleeve shirt and pants isn’t a bad idea-but it is over fairly quickly.
It was then onto the first plateau, where the scrub clears up and pad makes its way towards Square Tarn. This is one of my favourite sections, as not only is it full of wild flowers but on one side you can see Mt Chapman and Mt Picton, while on the other side you can see Hartz, Esperance, Adamson’s and Bobs. Large rock formations begin to appear, and the track takes you right along the side of one before reaching a small and hard to see junction. We decided to head to Square Tarn to refill our drink bottles and have a quick snack; this was a good idea, as there was very little water for the rest of the walk apart from a few stagnant ponds on Abrotanella Rise. Two hours had passed since we left the car and we now had to make our way up to the saddle. I had heard that there was a faint pad that heads up from Square Tarn and rejoins the main track on the left hand side of Abrotanella Rise; we managed to find some sort of track but ended up having to scrub bash our way back across. I would recommend back tracking to the junction and heading up from there to avoid any unnecessary scrub.
About halfway up, the track pretty much disappears and it’s up to you to find the easiest way up on the southern side. We reached the top of Abrotanella 40 minutes after leaving Square Tarn then headed south to climb Burgess Bluff first. The walking here was easy and we were careful not to tread on the hundreds of flowers and cushion plants that dot the area. I later found out that a number of the landmarks around here are named after the abundant flora that grow in the area; for example abrotanella is the genus of cushion plants, Pineapple Flat is named after Pineapple Grass (Astelia alpina) and Hewardia Ridge is named after the Tasmanian Purple Star (Isophysis tasmanica), which is also called Hewardia.
We first made our way across Anderson Bluff to avoid the scrub on the eastern side, then found a cairned route across to the summit of Burgess Bluff. We had some lunch and took in the views of Mt Bobs and PB to the south and Federation Peak to the south west. It was then back the way we came, and across Abrotanella Rise to the base of Mt Chapman. We passed a number of nice spots to camp below the rocky scree on the southern face of Mt Chapman, but unfortunately there is almost no water near here in the dryer months and it would require carrying what you need up from Square Tarn. We came across a cairned route about halfway up Chapman but overall it was an easy rock hop to the top. Looking north-west from the summit you could see all the way up to The Thumbs and Mt Field West, but it was Mt Weld that really caught my eye. On the way back down we bypassed Square Tarn and took the much quicker, direct route across the plateau.
All up: 19.2kms in a leisurely 8hours and 12 minutes with 1134m ascent and plenty of stops for photos.
Carpark to Square Tarn – 5.4kms in 2:20.
Square Tarn to Abrotanella Rise – 1.2kms in 36min.
Abrotanella Rise to Burgess Bluff (via Anderson Bluff) – 2.2kms in 53min.
Burgess Bluff to Mt Chapman – 3.2kms in 1:15.
Mt Chapman to Carpark – 7.1kms in 2:32