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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With almost perfect conditions forecast for the weekend, we decided to head up to the Upper Mersey Valley and bag a few peaks in the area. We had thought about returning to the Walls, but in the end chose to head to Cathedral Mountain and avoid any potential crowds that may have also been encouraged by a favourable weather report. Car access to the end of the Mersey Forest road had reopened a few weeks prior, and the large carpark made for a descent home for the night. The beginning of the track follows open and recently burnt forest before reaching a decent sized suspension bridge that spans Jacksons’ Creek. A few minutes later, you reach a walker registration booth and a track junction. The left side of the booth goes towards Lake Bill and rejoins the Lake Myrtle Track, while the right hand side heads towards Chapter Lake and Cathedral Mountain on the Moses Creek Track.
Ten minutes later, another small creek is crossed before climbing up through nice open Wattle Forest. The track then flattens out before passing by some of the biggest myrtles I have seen, followed by a steep climb up towards Chapter Lake. The first sign of snow was observed about halfway to the lake- and should have been taken as a sign of what was to come. We reached Grail Falls 1 hour and 45 minutes after leaving the carpark, sticking to the right at the other heavily taped junction that continues on to Cloister Lagoon. We quickly found the pad on the left hand side of Grail Falls and continued up along the Chalice Lake outlet creek. The pad was hard to follow given it was a foot under the snow, but we did find a number of cairns and were able to cross safely about 550m past Grail Falls.
This is where the soft snow really started to slow us down, and we had to reconsider our initial plan of heading to Bishop Peak. We continued around the northern shores of Chalice Lake, occasionally passing a snow covered cairn and tried to pick out the large dolerite slabs instead of the deep scrub; not always successfully, sinking into snow. We found a nice flat spot and set up camp next to Chalice Lake, before continuing further west to pick up the pad towards Tent Tarn with the intention of summiting Cathedral Mountain. Walking got progressively easier as we neared the tarn and we were surprised to see it fully frozen over. After spending far too much time walking on the tarn we continued west again. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to pick up the pad and ended up walking through some very deep snow covering scrub, only managing to cover 900m in an hour.
We reached a highpoint a few hundred meters east of Twin Spires summit but decided to turn back due to time. On the way back down we managed to find the pad just south of where we were; it was significantly quicker, but still would have been hard work to make it all the way out to Cathedral Mountain.
After what was initially a clear night, we woke to find a snow covered lake and little chance of the weather improving so we headed straight back to the car. The way back down was a bit quicker as the snow was slightly harder than the day before, making it back in just under 3 hours.
All up 19.7kms with 1040m ascent.
Getting there: Follow all directions to the Walls of Jerusalem National Park but continue straight along the Mersey Forest Road instead of turning left to the WoJ carpark. The carpark and start of the track is at the end of this road. As at July 2018 the road is suitable for 2WD drive cars.
Parsons and Clerk had popped up on the Pandani program and we were keen to join, as we were already staying in the area after a family gathering. There are a couple of ways to access this Abel; one from forestry roads one the southern side (as described in The Abels and our route for the day) or from Gunns Marsh Road on the north western side, that I believe might be closed some times of the year. After a quick meeting at the bakery in Campbell Town for snacks and coffee, we set off along the back roads to Cressy. We reached the boom gate and were walking down the road by roughly 9 am in the cool but clear weather. An old snig track, 1.8kms past the gate and 50m past a small creek, provides a clear walking path up through the forest and towards the highpoint. The snig track splits occasionally but there are a number of small cairns and remnants of tape to point you in the right direction. After a while the track begins to narrow as you enter thicker bush, and care needs to be taken to keep heading in the right direction.
The tapes disappeared once we reached a large rock formation, and from there on in it is all track-free. The next few hours were spent alternating between rock hopping on slippery scree fields or finding the path of least resistance through moderate scrub. After 3.5 hours we popped out the forest and could see the southern highpoint- a short scramble up large boulders and pushing through some scrub led us to what appeared to be the highpoint. However, we quickly realised that the actual highpoint was about 30m further north so we all went over to claim our point after some lunch. We tried to follow the same route back for the most part, picking the clearest possible line through the scrub to make it back to the cars just before dark.
All up 12.4kms in 8 hours and 20 minutes with 856m ascent.
Getting there: From Campbell Town, take Macquarie Road C522 towards Cressy. After what seems like a long time, turn left onto Lake River Road until you reach a locked boom gate.