Category Archives: North West

Claude, Vandyke and Roland

To celebrate Emily submitting her PhD thesis we were treated with a few nights at the Eagles Nest Retreat in Sheffield; this provided the perfect opportunity to bag the peaks of the Fossey Mountains. After our first night there, we organised a lift to the start of the Mt Claude track with the owner Des, and left our car at the end of the face track below Mt Roland. The route we chose to take is the same as the Triple Top Mountain Run that takes place each year-and having walked the ascents, is something that I have no intention of joining.

The track starts off on a steep gravel road that provides vehicular access to radio communication towers. There isn’t much to see until you climb a little higher and the many peaks of the central reserve come into view. We reached the last radio tower and the end of the road in 20 minutes and headed towards Mt Claude, our first peak for the day.  We continued up following a relatively clear walking track, and before long had reached a junction by a large boulder below the summit of Mt Claude. I had assumed that all three summits would be well marked-however that was not the case. We continued along the trail for about 10 minutes before realising we had gone too far, so instead of returning along the track we decided to scrub-bash back towards the summit.  This however was a big waste of time-we spent 30 minutes crawling through scrub and around boulders, before we decided to just backtrack and find the normal way up.  Eventually I made it to the summit by traversing a precariously placed chockstone above a rather large drop. Emily on the other hand was not so keen on the initial drop and scramble, and decided to sit this one out. We later found out that there is an easier route to the top that follows a cave just below the summit, so Emily can come back to bag this one.

After wasting an hour or so claiming 1 measly point, we carried on towards the saddle between Mt Claude and Mt Vandyke. The track was pretty boring and consisted mostly of winding down through the forest; however the cliffs on the northern side of Mt Vandyke were impressive and reminded me of the mountains along west coast.

During the steep, long climb out of the saddle we passed a couple of Dutch visitors. They had planned to stay around Cradle Mountain for a few days, but were put off by the masses of people and wanted a genuine wilderness experience. We provided a few options, and they told us that they had to climb Vandyke as it was also their surname. After a quick chat, we finished the climb and were back walking through the alpine scrub. We reached the junction that leads to the Vandyke summit 60 minutes after leaving the saddle, including a brief stop for lunch. The pad up to the summit was difficult to follow, so in the end we just found our own way up; thankfully getting to the top of Vandyke was a bit easier to reach than Claude. At the summit, we found a discarded pair of broken hiking boots that unsurprisingly, were found to be from Target.

The next leg involved a short drop down to the saddle between Roland and Vandyke. We passed along the top of a small waterfall called Reggies Falls, and as this was the first source of running water we had passed in 5 hours we made the most of it. Shortly past the falls, we came to the junction for the more commonly used Mt Roland track. It was significantly more developed and made for quick walking on the way to our final summit. Rain had started to fall as we approached the summit, and by the time we were on top we were robbed of a view. The final part of the triple tops track was a very steep descent down the notorious face track; passing through nice forest and interesting rock that was hard to appreciate when trying to keep your balance. We lost 700 meters elevation in just over 2kms, and by the time we had reached the car we had almost lost the ability to bend our knees. Unlike most walking trips where we then spend hours sitting in the car, we still had another night at the Eagles Nest Retreat and were able to drive a few minutes up the road to relax in the spa over looking Mt Roland.

All up 19.7kms in 7 hours and 40 minutes with 1307m ascent.

Getting there: Access to the start of this track is on Olivers Road (C138), off Claude Road (google maps). Plenty of parking is available.  Access to the face track is on Kings Road, also off Claude Road and is well marked (google maps).

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GPS track
Mt Roland from Eagles Nest


Looking towards the reserve
The large boulder by Mt Claude
A cave we passed while scrub bashing
Summit of Claude looking east
The track
Large cliffs on the norther side of Mt Vandyke
Minnow River catchment
Tarn near the Roland summit junction
The top of the face track
Heading down the scree field

Mt Tor

While visiting Emily’s family in Burnie, we were keen to tick off an Abel in the area. We ended up choosing Mt Tor, as it relatively close-by and should’ve been pretty quick to get up and back. There are a couple of ways to access this Abel, both outlined in the Abels Vol.1; we choose the northern route, as there can accessibility issues on the western approach due to forestry activity.

The track starts by crossing Dempster Creek- thankfully, it’s not deep enough to cause any problem though the rocks are quite slippery. Shortly after, you reach the Leven River which can be a bit more difficult to get through due to deeper patches and a stronger current. Unable to pass safely where the road traverses the river, we headed upstream to see if we could find a more suitable crossing. A few minutes later we came across a shallower section with a number of partly exposed rocks. The rocks were incredibly slippery, but I managed to get across without getting wet; however, Emily was not so lucky and took a dip. Having made it past the two major obstacles, we pushed on,  following the old 4WD road along the banks of the river before veering left and finding the final creek crossing at Tor Creek.

From here the track begins to wind up through nice rainforest, climbing steeply before levelling off and then descending slightly. After 3.7kms we arrived at a fork and continued left and up for a few hundred meters before reaching a large cairn indicating the track upwards. The tapes seemed to disappear almost immediately and we were left with no choice but to find our own way up. Initially, we were able to follow some rocky sections and avoid the thick scrub, but we were soon met with a wall of bauera and his mates tea tree and banksia. Any attempt to stay dry was thrown out the window as we pushed up through the wall of scrub. Thankfully, we had already climbed a fair way and we soon reached the buttongrass fields which we were able to cross without too much trouble. Unfortunately the cloud was still present and we got no views whatsoever atop the wet and windy summit.

On the return we found a slightly better route down that avoided the worst of the scrub but had a number of cliffs to negotiate and clamber down. We also found a better river crossing about 100m upstream from where we first crossed, marked by an old road entry.

All up 12.7kms in 5hours and 45 minutes with 791m ascent.

Getting there: Turn off the Bass Highway at Ulverstone onto Preston Road. Follow this past Preston and onto South Preston Road towards Nietta. At Nietta turn right onto Loongana Road (also marked as Leven Canyon). Follow this for 21.2kms and park down by Dempster Creek.

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GPS track
Cross Dempster Creek by the carpark
Tor Creek
Heading up the old road
Cairn indicating the way up
Looking back while climbing up through the scrub
Summit views
A burly tree by the road
A ring of lichen
Nice forest walking

Winterbrook Falls

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.


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GPS route.
Sign indicating the collapsed bridge and the new car park.
The traffic hazard.
There is an information sign at the beginning of the track.  We only walked the Tramway track.
The old Tramway from the footbridge.
Open walking in old forests.
Duck boards near the start of the walk.
Odd fungi on the side of the track.
A Fun Guy.
Playing around with the live exposure function on my camera.
Winterbrook Creek.


Our first glimpse of Winterbrook falls
Winterbrook falls from the base.