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.
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.
The Easter break had long been set aside to do an extended walk somewhere in Tas. I was reasonably confident that my knee would hold up if managed correctly, and we’d considered doing the Southern Ranges weather permitting. Our other options were to do the Tyndall Range and check out some of the Tarkine, or to walk through The Never Never. After a lot of planning and weather checking we scrapped the first two options and decided to walk from Lake Ada to Lake St Clair, passing through The Never Never. This appeared to be the safest option, as there is not a great deal of ascent and descent, so would be easier on the knees; plus the forecast for the central plateau looked half decent for the first few days. So after shuttling a car to the Lake St Clair carpark and a great meal at the Derwent Bridge Pub, we headed off to Lake Ada to spend the night sleeping in the back of the ute.
Unfortunately about 20m from the the Lake Ada carpark we hit a wombat and found that she had a baby in her pouch. The mum had died instantly, but the baby seemed in good health; we managed to pull him out and wrapped him up in one of Emily’s jumpers for warmth. We drove back towards The Great Lake to get some phone reception, and got a hold of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. As it was 9:30pm they could not send anyone out to meet us until the next day, and so suggested that we ask the people at The Thousand Lakes Lodge to keep him warm for the night. Luckily enough, they were more than happy to take care of him-we later found out that he was a hit with guests and by the time he was picked up, was happily rambling around the lodge. We eventually made it back to the carpark next to Lake Ada and settled in for the night.
Day 1: Lake Ada to Dixons Kingdom
We left the car at the carpark by the boat ramp at Lake Ada, and continued down the Talinah Track in the early morning. This track can also be accessed with a 4WD, but as it’s for day use only we did not want to risk getting locked in. As we reached Ada Lagoon, we met an older fisherman who was happy to share a few tips about our upcoming journey. He spoke very highly of The Never Never, and mentioned that there is a natural rock bridge upstream of Ferguson Falls that can be used to cross the Mersey. We then crossed the outlet creek and made our way around the southern end of Ada Lagoon, following an old vehicle track towards the distant collection of peaks that make up the Walls of Jerusalem. Even at this early stage, it was obvious that there had been a lot of water dumped here over the past week; water was coursing down the track and every tarn we passed was full to the brim.
We reached the end of the vehicule track after ~45 minutes and made our way towards the remnants of an old hut that was little more than a pile of rusted metal and broken glass. Upon reaching Talleh Lagoons, I noticed a number of brightly coloured plants dotting the shore of the most northern lagoon. Upon closer inspection, I found that these were mountain rocket (belladona montana) and they were to become more abundant as the day wore on. We then had to cross a the small creek that flows from the upper lagoon to the lower lagoon. Normally, this would be a straight forward rock hop but there was enough water coming down that we first decided to check for a safer place to cross. A quick look upstream revealed an old log that might have once been used to cross the creek, but was now too rotten to be any use. In the end we decided to use the normal crossing, and managed to get through without getting too wet.
A short walk from the crossing, there is a very nice sheltered campsite that could be used to break the trip in-or-out of the walls. Given that we had only been walking for 2 and a half hours (9.1kms), we continued on towards Lake Fanny. The track follows Powena Creek (the outlet and inlet creek of Lake Fanny) and passed by a large number of cushion plants of all shapes and sizes.
Once we reached Lake Fanny we continued along the rough pad that follows the eastern shore, losing it and finding our way back repeatedly. There is a decent amount of scrub that can be avoided if you are careful, and our goal was to reach the northern end of Lake Fanny and sit down for some lunch.
A lot of water was coming down Powena Creek and we noticed a number of cairns situated not far from where the creek runs into Lake Fanny; these cairns indicated a relatively easy spot to cross to the other side. The walk from here to Zion Gate was one of the highlights of the entire trip. We passed hundreds of small tarns that were chock full of water, and some were surrounded by Pencil Pine. Walking was quite slow-going as we were forced to zigzag across the spongy, pineapple grass landscape in order to avoid large water channels that looked like they could swallow you whole. Again, there was no obvious pad, but we would occasionally stumble across an old cairn or two. After ~2 and a half hours hours were reached the forest around Zion Gate and began descending into the Valley of Hinom. Once we reached the start of the Fysh River we turned west, and made our way through the Valley of Hinom and up towards Jaffa Gate. The large cliffs of Mt Jerusalem were a nice change from the open and sometimes desolate landscape from earlier in the day.
Once at the top of Jaffa Gate it was only a short walk down some duckboards to Dixon’s Kingdom, where we picked a sheltered spot under the large pines and settled in for the night. Walking for 7 hours and 21.7kms across the spongy marshland took its toll, and we decided to have a rest before summiting Mt Jerusalem in the morning . Unfortunately, we were kept awake most of the night thanks to a very large possum that insisted on getting into the vestibule and causing havoc. At one point during the night I caught him hanging off our food bags that I had carefully hung in the pines.
At this point I will refer to a quote from the Chapman book on Cradle Mounatin/Lake St Clair where he states “Ones love of animals is often forgotten in the battle between possum and walker”
Carpark to Lake Fanny – 11.5kms in 3 hours and 20 minutes.
Lake Fanny to Zion Gate – 7 kms in 2 hours and 30 minutes including lunch.
Zion Gate to Dixons Kingdom – 3.1kms in 1 hour.
Day 2: Dixon’s Kingdom to Lake Meston – Mt Jerusalem
After an interrupted night we woke early to summit Mt Jerusalem and, if the weather cleared, also to summit Solomon’s Throne and King David’s Peak. The wind and rain worsened as we climbed higher, and unfortunately we had no view whatsoever. On the way back down we decided to scratch climbing the other peaks in the area and save them for a nicer day. Instead, we would continue on past our intended destination of Lake Adelaide and head further west towards the hut at Lake Meston. We packed up our wet tent and gear, and followed a pad down towards Lake Ball. The track along the lake passes through some large fagus trees that had just started to turn yellow. We reached the old hut about halfway around the lake 54 minutes after leaving Dixon’s Kingdom, and decided to stop for some lunch.
The track then continues around the shore of the lake, passing by a number of creeks that were flowing quickly. We reached the northern end expecting to see the usual pineapple grass fields; unfortunately they were all underwater, with only the tops of a few mountain rocket plants visible. Shortly after, a large creek needs to be traversed- which unsurprisingly, was rather deep and uninviting. Not that interested in going swimming, we continued further up for about 20m and found a log that someone had placed across two large boulders. After a bit of hesitation, we traversed the small log and made it to the other side. The track then climbs through some old dead pine forest before dropping down towards Lake Adelaide.
We stopped briefly to check out the campsite for a potential future visit, and unfortunately found not only had someone gone to the toilet 2m from the campsite, they’d also gone 5m from the nearby water source, with minimal attempt at bury it. That was enough to ruin the beautiful area, and on we went around the lake. The camping at the southern end seemed a bit nicer but we still had plenty of daylight left so we continued on towards Lake Meston.
The open plains between Lake Adelaide and Lake Meston were a highlight for me, and we would have happily spent more time around there if we hadn’t been walking all morning. Once we reached the excellent campsite on northern end of Lake Meston, we decided to stop there to dry our tent and everything else that got wet the night before. This was definitely the best campsite we came across on the whole trip, and we were surprised that no one else had planned to stay there that night. There were a number of large log seats, a small beach, plenty of water nearby and an excellent view across the lake; we will definitely be back again.
Another restless night ensued, though this time not thanks to a devil spawn possum but actually due to a slow leak in my air mattress. It meant that every 2 hours or so I would wake up on the cold ground and have to blow it back up again.
Dixon’s Kingdom to Mt Jerusalem – 2kms in 35 minutes.
Dixon’s Kingdom to Lake Ball Hut – 3.1kms in 54 minutes.
Lake Ball Hut to Lake Adelaide – 2.4 kms in 50 minutes.
Lake Adelaide to southern end of Lake Adelaide – 4.4kms in 1 hour and 35 minutes.
Southern end of Lake Adelaide to Lake Meston – 2.5kms in 40 minutes.
Day 3: Lake Meston to Junction Lake – Mountains of Jupiter
I woke early to find the tent frosted over and the skies clear; as this was probably the best chance to catch a nice sunrise, I went straight down to the lake to set up my tripod. The lake was mirror calm and certain sections were covered in a small amount of mist-before long the skies turned pink and I had the sunrise that I was hoping for. With the water so still, it was also a good chance to find the leak in my mattress.
The plan was to walk to Junction Lake then drop our packs before heading up to the Mountains of Jupiter for the afternoon. We reached the Meston Hut within 35 minutes and had a chat to some people that were heading back out that day. The hut itself was fairly large and in pretty good condition; something worth remembering if visiting the area in winter, or if the weather is too miserable to camp.
We continued around the northern shore of the lake towards Mayfield Flats, with a dozen or so currawong keeping us company for part of the way. The walk to the Junction Lake wasn’t very exciting so we pushed on to get there ahead of schedule. 1.5 hours after leaving Meston Hut we reached the sign that indicates the Junction Lake Hut. We continued right towards the campsites so that we could get the tent up and dry some stuff while the sun was out. There are a number of nice and flat campsites overlooking the lake, but unfortunately there are also a lot of jack jumpers that were quick to crawl over everything. Once set up, we headed back towards to hut where we would have to find a place to cross the Mersey River.
The normal crossing behind the hut was around knee-to-waist-deep water, so instead we crossed on a fallen tree with the help of a large stick to counterbalance. After a short climb, the well-marked track enters some of the most spectacular mossy forest I have seen to date. It then passes below some large rocky outcrops before emerging onto an open marsh. From here on, the bauera takes over and the legs get a nice tickle all the way up to Lake Artemis. The “track” to Mountains of Jupiter can be found just before dropping down toward the lake. Given that we hadn’t had lunch yet, we chose to head down to the lake and find a nice spot to sit. The overgrown track follows the southern side around and presumably continues out to Lake Eros.
We retraced our steps back to the “lookout” and headed straight up. There is no real path to follow-just a bunch of cairns that are more confusing than helpful-and in the end decided to follow the large rock slabs to avoid the scrub. Once on the rim of the plateau, we made our way east to what appeared to be the highpoint. This would have to be one of the most unusual mountains around, with large dolerite slabs as far as the eye can see and some nice tarns had made me wish we had the time to camp up there. We spent the next little while getting weather updates and touching base with family. The forecast for the coming night and morning wasn’t looking good, and we thought it might be a good idea to spend the night in the hut to avoid packing up a wet tent.
By the time we made it back down to our camp, a few others had arrived and set up. Thankfully no one had set themselves up in the hut, and so we moved in. We lit the fire and patched up my mattress, then finally had the first uninterrupted sleep of the trip. The hut is rough around the edges, but has four bunks and is dry and warm; though the presence of some rodent friends is noted.
Lake Meston north end to Meston Hut – 2kms in 35 minutes.
Meston Hut to Junction Lake – 5.3kms in 1 and a half hours.
Junction Lake Hut to Lake Artemis – 2.5kms in 1 hour and 5 minutes.
Lake Artemis to Mountains of Jupiter Summit – 2kms in 1 hours.
Day 4: Junction Lake to Narcissus Hut
The day crossing through The Never Never had finally arrived. Not knowing how easy it would be to cross the Mersey River, we left early to give us as much time as possible to find a safe way across. The track into The Never Never goes past the campsite and follows the eastern side of the Junction Lake. Before long, we reached the registration box and made our way down the steep and slippery track to Clarke Falls. Unfortunately there was so much water coming down that we couldn’t even get near the falls without going for a swim. By this point I was starting to get a little nervous about the crossing, particularly with full packs on.
Nevertheless we continued along the banks of the river, following faint pads that wound their way through forest and open plains. Feather Falls grew closer but we decided not to detour up to its base and instead to continue along the river. At one point we had deviated a few hundreds metres from the river bank and found ourself walking through some nice moss covered forest, similar to what we saw on the way to The Mountains of Jupiter. After not being able to locate a pad, we decided to head back down to the river and sure enough we passed by what appeared to be a pad through some sphagnum moss down to the river’s edge. This appeared to be the normal place to cross when the river is much lower, but we decided to head a bit further down to try and find a fallen tree. The next 15 minutes were spent pushing through tea tree and scoparia to try and keep the river in view; lucky for us there was a large pencil pine that appeared to have come down recently that provided a decent crossing to the western side.
Once across we located the pad we made our way down to McCoy Falls, passing by a number of other fallen trees that could have also been used to cross safely. The track down to McCoy Falls is steep and requires a short climb down some tree roots. On the way back up, Emily managed to get a leech in her eye and the next 10 minutes were spent trying to pull it off her eyeball where it had latched on, with a pair of crappy plastic tweezers from the first aid kit.
From here on in, The Never Never exceeded expectations. Walking along the moss covered banks of the Mersey, and passing by toadstools of all sizes really felt like something out of a fairy tale. It was unlike anything I had seen before in Tasmania and was worth every leech. By the end we had lost the track again and popped out very wet and muddy on the track to Hartnett Falls, 4 hours after leaving the hut.
Instead of staying at Burt Nichols Hut, we decided to push through to Narcissus Hut so that we had less walking to do in the morning. The walk between the huts was uneventful, but we did pass through some nice forest. We reached Narcissus Hut 8 and a half hours (23.4 kms) after leaving Junction Lake Hut, and it’s safe to say we were pretty happy to put the feet up. Unfortunately the hut began to fill and a long sleepless night ensued, mostly due two noisy snorers and restless tossing and turning of others. This is why I prefer to camp.
Junction Lake Hut to McCoy Falls – 4.8kms in 2 hours and 10 minutes.
McCoy Falls to Hartnett Falls – 3kms in 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Hartnett Falls to Burt Nichols Hut – 5kms in 1 hour and 45 minutes including lunch.
Burt Nichols Hut to Narcissus Hut – 10.1kms in 2 hours and 35 minutes.
Day 5: Narcissus Hut to Cynthia Bay
Unfortunately the weather had not improved and our plan to camp on Mt Olympus was scrapped. We decided to walk back to the visitor centre instead of taking the ferry, as we felt a sense of cheating if we had caught the boat. In the end, I was glad we took that option as the walk back-although wet-consisted of a nice stroll through beautiful myrtle, sassafras, manfern and dogwood forests, spaced out far enough apart to keep things interesting. It also gave us a chance to locate the track up to Olympus, as well as sussing out the small but welcoming hut at Echo Point. In the end it took us just over 4 hours and 20 minutes (17.3kms) to reach the visitors centre from Narcissus Hut, and we happily jumped into the free showers before the midday ferry arrived. Before long, we were at The Hungry Wombat Cafe devouring a burger and chips, and back to reality.
Narcissus Hut to Echo Point Hut – 6.3kms in 1 and a half hours
Echo Point Hut to Cynthia Bay 11kms in 2 hours and 50 minutes
Getting There: Turn onto Lake Augusta Road from Liaweenee and follow past the Thousand Lakes Lodge. Continue along the dam wall and follow all signs to Lake Ada. There is a large carpark at Lake Ada.
I had heard very little about this waterfall, but when I saw it pop up on the Pandani program and that it was being led by AB we decided to join. The plan was to walk to the campsite on day 1, spend day 2 walking with day packs to the waterfall, and to walk out on day 3. The weather forecast for the weekend was hot; temperatures around 30 degrees, with the chance of rain and a thunderstorm on the final day.
Day 1: Our party of 7 left Cradle Lodge just after 9am and made our way onto the Speeler Plains, the last section of the Penguin/Cradle Trail. It was already starting to get hot, so we spent little time out in the open and headed towards the forest. Once you have traversed the buttongrass fields of Speeler Plains, the track to Reynolds Falls can be found off the left of the main track-about 5.8kms from the Cradle Lodge. The track then descends down an old four wheel drive track that crosses Fleece Creek, which is a good spot to have a break and refill water bottles. From here the track climbs slightly, winding through dry forest and buttongrass fields, before a rock cairn on the right hand side indicates the start of Ossie’s Track to Reynolds Falls. After passing over a couple of small creeks and pandani groves we bumped into the other two members of our group- Marie and Anna-who had camped further along the Penguin-Cradle trail at Fourways the night before and had planned to meet us along the track. We continued on for another 10-15 minutes across large open plains covered in coral fern, before finding a shaded spot to have some lunch.
The track then enters open myrtle forest and descends rapidly towards Tumbling Creek, passing by a nice unnamed waterfall along the way. We decided to name this falls Numbum falls as AB slipped straight onto his arse while crossing the slippery rock. Descending through the forest can be particularly difficult, especially when wet, and finding the next blaze or ribbon can sometimes be tricky as a number of trees have fallen over the track. This section of forest is pretty special; I have since heard it referred to as Cloud Forest, as the higher altitude limits growth of the understory, leading to a thick canopy of myrtle branches over an open forest floor that is only home to a patchwork of ferns. We reached Tumbling Creek 5 and a half hours after leaving the Lodge, and had made it to our campsite on a spur above Tumbling Creek shortly after. There were a number of descent spots to pitch a tent, and a small creek about 100m metes further along the track provided an adequate source of water for us all.
Day 2: Expecting a shorter day than the previous, we didn’t get going until just after 9. We passed the creek that we used to get fresh water, and the track then climbs up before contouring another spur. We followed a pad marked by blazes and ribbons down towards another potential campsite a couple of hours past our own, with room for a couple of tents and a descent water source nearby. Much of the walk down to the falls was fairly similar and there was little to look at except a number of large trees and the occasional glimpse of the western-most slopes of Mt Beecroft. The track then drops very steeply down to the Vale River, which we reached just over 3 hours after leaving camp.
It was very warm and we didn’t hesitate to jump into one of the many rock pools and cool off. After sufficient paddling, a few of us ventured further up the creek to the base of the falls and had a quick swim in the large and seemingly deep bowl where the water lands. Unfortunately, I was unable to take my camera up this far as it required some swimming, but I would highly recommend checking this out if the water level is low. We spent the next 2 or so hours relaxing and taking in the view, before heading back the way we came. From the campsite it was approximately 9.5kms return in a comfortable 8 hours (including all stops).
Day 3: We were all packed and ready by 7am so that we could get the steep walk back up through Cloud Forest out of the way before things really started to heat up. By the time we reached the Fleece Creek crossing, it had really started to heat up and so we made the most of the last bit of cool, running water before crossing the exposed Speeler Plains. We reached the Lodge just shy of 6 hours and were getting stuck into the refreshments and burgers before long. All up, this was a great trip over a very hot weekend. Although this trip would be possible to do over two days or even as a very long day trip, I would recommend taking your time and really taking in the waterfall. It would have to be one of the best I have been to in Tasmania and was particularly good on a hot day.
All up: 29.4kms with 1703m ascent.
Cradle Mountain Lodge to Start of Ossies Track: 5.8kms in 2 hours and 24 minutes.
Start of Ossies Track to Tumbling Creek: 3.8kms in 3 hours (with lunch break)
Campsite to Reynolds Falls: 4.7kms in 3 hours and 5 minutes.
Getting there: Drive to the Cradle Mountain Lodge and park in the carpark across the road at the interpretation centre. The track can be found by following the signs to the Pencil Pine Track.
Australia Day long weekend had been set aside to join a Pandani Club walk to Reynolds Falls. Instead of leaving Hobart early in the morning, we decided to drive up after work and stay the night in the Cradle Mountain area. This gave us good opportunity to bag a peak and we decided on Mt Campbell, as it’s a short walk and has an excellent view of Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake.
We arrived at the Dove Lake carpark around 7pm and made our way around the eastern side of the lake and followed all directions to Hansons Peak. Instead of walking to the saddle between Mt Campbell and Hansen Peak, we decided to head up a rocky scree a bit earlier in order to save a few minutes. This was a mistake and most likely took a little longer than just going the regular way. Once at the saddle head left and follow one of many paths that snake through the fagus and up towards the peak. Once you get to the rocky scree there is only one main path that can be followed all the way to the top. We stopped for sometime about halfway up as the sun was setting and lighting up Cradle Mountain in a yellow/orange glow. The flat and unimpressive summit was our next target and we reached the heap of rocks that is the highpoint (~40 minutes after leaving the carpark).
All up: 4.1kms in an easy 1 hour and 40 minutes with 318m ascent.
Getting there: Follow all directions to Cradle Mountain and drive to the Dove Lake carpark. Once at the lake, walk around the eastern side and follow directions towards Hansons Peak. At the saddle, turn left and follow the pad up to the summit.
Summiting Tasmania’s highest mountain had been on my mind for a very long time, but the thought of getting there and then not caring about climbing any others was a slight concern. However, after experiencing some of the wide variety and variable difficulty of other mountains in Tasmania, this was unlikely to be the case. We had decided to do it in style, and walk in-and-out in a day from the Arm River Track. A number of online sources stated that it would take around the 12 hour mark, so we were keen to get an early start and be back on the road to Hobart before too late.
We arrived at the carpark at 9:30pm the night before and were surprised to see a number of cars parked there given the weather had been pretty average over the last few days. After a quick check of daypacks and food, alarms were set for 5:30 and a restless night ensued.
We were on the track by 6:20am and made our way up the zigzag track to the western rim of the Cradle Mountain/Lake St Clair NP. We reached Lake Price in 50 minutes, slightly wet from the dew covered bushes that were encroaching on the track. In an attempt to reduce weight and increase comfort we had opted not to wear gaiters and only pack the bare minimum, not including my tripod, which I had instantly regretted when we arrived at the lake. The next 15 minutes were spent taking a number of photos of the lake and Mt Pillinger. From here the track descends into open myrtle forests, before crossing a small creek and onto clear marshland. Another small tarn is passed before heading south, down into the forest and towards Lake Ayr. The registration box can be found near the start of Lake Ayr and it also indicates the hard to see intersection with the Lees Paddocks Track.
It was then onto New Pelion Hut where we had a quick snack and avoided the hoards of miserable looking people (this might have been due to the rain the previous day or the fact that they had to sleep in a hut with 40 or so other people). We had arrived there in just under 3 hours and were making pretty good time, even with the extended stop at Lake Price. The walk up to Pelion Gap consisted of overtaking large groups of people and Emily taking a slip on a tree root. Fancy new steps, similar to the grippy plastic stuff that we saw on the way to Vera Hut, had been installed on the first part of the ascent to Mt Doris and made for quick climbing. The track then contours the southern side of Mt Doris on some very nice rock work that weaves around cushion plants and scoparia, before dropping down into a saddle before the first rock scramble. Unfortunately we were following a couple in front of us, and hadn’t paid attention to the ski poles marking the way; this meant that we went straight up the chute and had to a climb up a fairly exposed section of rock instead of the somewhat less airy route on the right hand side.
The track then dips again slightly, before the last little climb to the plateau and on to the mass of boulders that is the true highpoint. Hail had started to fall as we reached The Pools of Icarus and we sought shelter from the wind on a large rock on the northern side of the boulders, looking towards Cradle Mountain and Mt Oakleigh. After a bite to eat and losing half my chocolate bar down a deep crevasse between the boulders, we made our way back down towards New Pelion Hut. About 15 minutes before reaching the hut we made a quick detour to check out a track that leads down to Douglas Creek beside the track. We were delighted to find a couple of very nice little waterfalls that were flowing quickly, and again made me regret not having a tripod. From here we basically walked straight out, with only a couple of short stops to get a snack or stretch the legs. We were happy to have made it back in just over 11 hours and for the most part, in pretty good condition except for a sore knee and a bit of sun burn.
All up: 39.2kms in 11 hours and 9 minutes with 1660m ascent.
Start of the track to Lake Price – 50 min, 3.2kms
Lake Price to New Pelion Hut – 1 hour and 55 minutes, 8.8kms
New Pelion Hut to Pelion Gap – 1 hour, 4.4kms
Pelion Gap to Ossa summit – 1 hour 15 minutes, 2.8kms
Ossa summit to carpark – 5 hours and 18 minutes 19.5kms
Getting there: Access to the Arm River Track is off the Mersey Forest Road. Follow the Mersey Forest Road past the dam and continue until the road becomes dirt. Shortly after, take a right up Arm River Road and continue for 3kms past the old Arm River Outdoor Education Centre. The road then forks and you need to turn left onto Maggs Road as the bridge on Arm River Road is down. Follow Maggs Road for 13kms until you reach a pile of dirt. Take a left again and follow this road for about 1km to the carpark.