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
Frozen plants on the summit
The tower emerges
Looking towards the start of the North West Bay River
Nice tarn past Thark Ridge
Mountain River from the rock above the hut
The hut
North West Bay River on the way out
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
Looking back towards Tim Shea
Summit in view.
Looking south at a rainbow
The final climb
Summit, looking east
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
Boggy button-grass plains
New growth emerging from charred stems
A creek emerges from beneath a boulder
Looking back down the track to Lake Gordon
The view when we reached the ridge
Stuck in the cloud
The Sentinel Range highpoint and a skinny ridgeline
Clouds lift for a moment
The southern side that was spared by the fire
Looking west
The first waterslide
The second waterslide