Having pulled the pin on a previous attempt to summit Mt Snowy due to blizzard-like conditions, we were determined to reach the summit; even if the weather was less than ideal. The plan was to reach Arthur and Emily Tarn, then head up to Snowy returning via Hartz Peak. Unsure of how much snow would be around the other side of Hartz, we packed snowshoes and set off along the main track- the first visitors for the day according to the logbook. Heading out along the well maintained track, we made quick time over the duckboards and had no need for our snowshoes or rain gear. Once we found the turn off to Arthur’s tarn, we didn’t stay dry for long- the track was pretty overgrown and boggy in places.
We reached Arthur’s Tarn an hour after leaving the carpark, but didn’t spend long as the wind had picked up and was howling down the valley. We continued uphill for about 100m, passing through some nice alpine gardens before heading back down towards Emily’s Tarn, which was surprisingly sheltered from the wind. We stopped briefly here before looking for the pad up to the Hartz/Snowy saddle, still hoping that the cloud would clear and we would have at least some views or a break in rain.
From the saddle we followed a rough pad for 15 minutes up to the summit of Mt Snowy, where we found the wind was too strong to stand up straight. On the way back we chose to follow the high route across Mt Hartz – though this proved quite slow and challenging as the large dolerite boulders were icy – but we made it to the summit in just under an hour. For the first time that day we chucked on the snowshoes as there was just enough snow on the north-western slopes of Hartz to warrant them. On our way down we passed a number of very cold and seemingly unprepared walkers post-holing their way up in blundstones and jeans.
All up 10.3kms in 3hours and 35 minutes with 698m ascent.
A somewhat favourable weather forecast allowed for a short trip to the Southern Ranges. We arrived at the start of the track around 8am and were on our way along the old tram line shortly after. After crossing paths with a handful of lyre birds- one of which stood on a limb long enough for me to get a quick shot- we arrived at the Mystery Creek crossing. It was flowing, but not enough to cause any concern as we made our way across. We reached the junction at the old quarry and turned right, as the track starts climbing up Marble Hill almost immediately; before long we were overheating.
Once near the top of Cave Hill, the track flattens out briefly while passing through some nice rainforest (also full of Lyre birds), before another consistent and slippery climb. We reached a patch of tea tree forest contains a small clearing for tents around 1hour and 40 minutes in, popping out at the burnt edge of Moonlight Flats 25 minutes later. Visibility had dropped to about 15 meters as we passed along the eerie landscape, burnt following lightning strikes in 2013/14. The track was pretty overgrown with scoparia on the way up to Hill 1, as well as a few sections on the way down to the saddle between Hills 1 and 2. We stopped briefly on top of Hill 2 to have some lunch and to admire the wind blown shrubs growing across the dolerite.
From there on in the walking was a lot clearer as we walked along the open hill tops and we arrived at Pigsty Ponds after 5 hours and 40 minutes. We reached the small creek crossing and decided to drop packs before heading up to Mt La Perouse. About 10 minutes further along the track after a small ascent, the junction is marked by a very large 3 pronged arrow constructed out of small rocks. The track to La Perouse is indicated by the longest arrow and heads in an easterly direction, as you wind around the sides of the peaks. We arrived at the large summit cairn in just over 40 minutes; but unfortunately the cloud and the drizzle had not abated, and we returned to our packs damp and disappointed. The night was spent camping by the head waters of the D’Entrecasteaux River, hopeful of better weather the next day.
The morning of day 2 started with a nice sunrise and clear skies in all directions, and the jagged silhouette of the Cockscomb rising above our tent provided plenty of motivation to finish packing and get exploring. Our plan was to head back along Moonlight Ridge to Hill 3 and before detouring to follow the ridge down to The Hippo. On our way back up to Hill 4, we spotted a tent next to one of the small tarns at Pigsty Ponds- we later found out it was a friend who we had met a few months earlier at Lake Petrarch.
We reached the summit of Hill 3 in 1 hour and 40 minutes, and made our way down the dolerite ridge line towards Agnetes Garden. The walk out was easy open walking, and once at the base of The Hippo we followed a cairned route that made its way through some scrub, with a quick scramble up the eastern side before turning west to the summit. We reached the top exactly an hour after leaving hill 3 and took in the views over Mt Leillateah towards the ocean. Once back to our packs, we sheltered behind some boulders for lunch, and were battered by the infamous winds on our way out. The walk back along Moonlight Ridge seemed to take a lot longer than the walk in, and the knees were very grateful when we reached the car 4.5 hours later.
The time had come to test the new rafts on something a bit more exciting than the lower Huon, but unfortunately river levels in the south weren’t quite as high as we had hoped; though we gave it a go anyway. The plan was to put in at the site of the old bridge over the Picton, and paddle down to Tahune.
We reached the rafters access just before 10am and made our way down the steps to prepare the boats. There are some changing facilities nearby as well as a toilet, however it was temporarily closed. The river starts off pretty gently, and we pulled up a little way down stream to check out the Huon Pine and take a few photos. As we made our way downstream, the shingle rapids were easy to negotiate- but we did found ourselves stuck on a number of rocks on the wider sections of river. Luckily they were very smooth and didn’t damage the rafts.
Further on, there is a narrow section known as The Gorge that was probably the most exciting part of the trip. There are two small drops followed by a narrow channel where the water is funnelled through. A large tree has fallen over the narrow section, blocking access on the main waterway and we were forced to move some logs on the left hand side to squeeze by. At high water this obstacle could be very dangerous as it comes out of nowhere and would need to be portaged if the left hand side is also blocked. Just before reaching the main bridge over the Picton we were lucky to see a large white bellied sea eagle perched on dead branch above the river. He kept a close eye on us as we drifted past but didn’t seem too worried. As in previous sections, a bit more water would have been nice as we found ourselves beached again while passing under the main bridge over the Picton. It was easy going though once we rejoined the Huon, and before long we had reached the exit point at the Tahune Bridge.
All up 10.5kms in 2hours and 39 minutes.
Getting there: Follow all directions to Tahune Airwalk from Geeveston. Just before the Airwalk turn left onto West Picton Road. Follow this for ~500m and turn left again onto East Picton Road. Follow this until you reached a locked gate and access to the river is on your right.
Sitting between the easily accessible Mt Hartz and Adamsons Peak, Esperance Peak is rarely visited and doesn’t quite get the attention it deserves. I had gathered some information regarding access, but was unsure as to what we would encounter along the way. We were surprised to find a recently taped and mostly cleared route all the way to the plateau.
The track begins along an old, overgrown forestry road which heads west for a few hundred meters before heading up into the forest. A steep climb ensues before entering a patch of cutting grass where the track makes use of a number of fallen logs. A small creek is crossed about 35 minutes in, which was the only source of water on the way up. The initial crossing was dry, as the creek appeared to be running underground; but water was accessible a bit further up the track.
A number of fallen trees need to be crawled under before the forest opens up and the pandani start to appear. After ~2.4kms – or about 1hour 20 minutes – the gradient increases as you make your way up the steep and scrubby edge of the plateau. Suddenly the views opened up, and we spent some time checking out the geology on the northern rim before picking a clear line through the alpine scrub. There were a number of small tarns on the southern side that were full of water, but looked like they would dry pretty quickly during the warmer months. We stumbled across a faint pad and followed it towards the northern ridge before heading southwest to the summit, as this pad avoids a scrubby section on the eastern slopes. Once on top, we were treated with uninterrupted views in all directions and had a longer than usual lunch, before making our way back the way we came. Just after dropping off the plateau, I made a small detour to check out the large cliffs just south of the track which can be seen on aerial imagery, and are only a few minutes from the track. We arrived back at the car in just over 2 hours.
All up 8.8kms in 5 1/2 hours with 740m ascent.
Getting there: Follow the Huon Highway past Dover until you reach the bridge over the Esperance River. Turn right onto Esperance River Road just before the bridge and follow it for 11.3kms until you reach Casey’s Road. Turn left and follow Casey’s Road for 5.1kms and turn right onto Casey Spur 7. About 100m up there road there is a small carpark and the start of the old forestry road.
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.
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.
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.