Category Archives: Wild Rivers National Park

Frenchmans Cap, Clytemnestra and Sharlands Peak

Frenchmans Cap; 1446m; Abel#21

Clytemnestra; 1271m; Abel#75

Sharlands Peak; 1140m ; Abel#131

Having managed to take a few extra days off work for the Hobart Show Day public holiday, we decided to head to the Franklin-Gordon NP to summit Frenchmans Cap, Clytemnestra, The White Needle and Sharlands Peak.  The forecast for the first two days were promising and there was only a bit of rain forecast for early morning on the third day.  With the new canopy set up on the back of the ute,  we chose to drive out after dinner on Wednesday and sleep in the car park, so we could get an early start.

The plan was to walk to Lake Tahune on Day 1, summit Frenchmans and Clytemnestra on the 2nd day then walk back out on the 3rd day after climbing The White Needle and Sharlands Peak.

Day 1: We left the carpark just before 8, with the intention of walking all the 20ish kilometres to Lake Tahune.  There has been a significant amount of work done to upgrade certain parts of the track, and this was obvious about 5 minutes in when we reached the first marshland.  The original log sleepers had been removed and replaced with a large amount of compacted gravel, with regularly spaced drains.  This made for quick walking, and before long we were heading up the Loddon Hills.  Just before reaching the suspensions bridge that crosses the Loddon River, we came across a tent whose inhabitants were just getting out for the first time that day.  They had walked in the night before and found a nice little spot by the track.  It was then onto the not-so-sodden Loddons.  I was a bit disappointed that all of the bog holes had been duck boarded, and remnants of old tape on nearby bushes were the only reminder of what the track used to look like before it was made more accessible.  However, it was quite nice to maintain good pace and not be knee deep in mud for a few hundred meters.  From here, the new track then climbs slightly to what is called Laughton’s Lead.  The old track used to go through Philps Lead, which, judging by the map, looks like another boggy marsh.  The track then climbs again before before dropping back down to the Lake Vera hut, which we reached just over 4 hours.  We found a nice spot by the creek and had some lunch before heading around Lake Vera, and up the Barron Pass.  Having reached the top of the Barron Pass, we decided to drop our packs and try and make our way up to the summit of The White Needle. Unfortunately, about halfway up we were unable to proceed and decided to keep going to Lake Tahune rather than spend any extra time searching for the way up. We arrived tired and hungry at Lake Tahune around 5:15pm, and found 3 park rangers with chainsaws clearing the bush around the hut.  They had started clearing to make room for the new hut that is supposed to be getting built within the next few months. A number of tent platforms had also been built, but we chose to camp on a pad not far from the lake and with a bit more privacy.  Later that night we were sitting in the hut enjoying some port that the rangers had left for us, and all of a sudden the door opened.  It was the two people whose tent we passed earlier that day; they had underestimated the walk to Tahune and were lucky to get there before night fell.  After some dessert and more port we started chatting, and it turns out they designed the submarine that James Cameron used to descend to the deepest point known on earth.

 

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King William I on the drive in.
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The new sections of track.
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Descending the Loddon Hills.
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Looking at Agamemnon
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Emily crossing the Loddon River.
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Duck boards over the Sodden Loddons.
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Looking at Philps Peak from Lake Vera
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Nice track work all the way up The Barron Pass.
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A small waterfall on Vera Creek.
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View from The Barron Pass. Clytemnestra on the left and Frenchmans Cap on the right.
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Nicoles Needle from The White Needle.
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Looking back towards The Barron Pass.

Day 2: Today was going to be the most exciting part of the trip; mostly off track walking with only a daypack and some decent exposure to negotiate, not to mention the complete lack of cloud and and minimal wind.  We made our way from the tent up to the summit of Frenchman’s and reached the summit within an hour.  A number of large snowdrifts had covered certain parts of the track, but for the most part it was very easy to follow.  After a quick snack at the top we headed west to try and find the way down and onto South Col.  Everything I had read about getting down from Frenchman’s mentioned not to head South too early or you will be greeted with some very steep cliffs that offer no safe way down.  Out of sheer keenness I managed to find a couple of these no-go zones before deciding to head further west.  Eventually we reach a small chute that was clearly the easiest way down.  Once we got down, we had the option to head through some scrub towards two small tarns then head up a ridge-this was a longer and less exposed way.  The second option was a much quicker sidle below the cliffs on large rock slabs and loose scree; we chose the second option.  Once you have negotiated the exposed sections,  the walking gets pretty easy. You basically follow a ridge line across that yoyos across to Clytemnestra. The last little climb requires you to head west for a bit to find an easy way to the top, but for the most part it is very easy to negotiate.  After some lunch on the summit and checking out a small cave, we made our way back towards the cap.  Note that there is very little water along the ridge and only a few small tarns on Clytemestra that look like they would dry up pretty quick.  We arrived back at the tent after 7 and a half hours and went for a very quick dip in Lake Tahune.

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The first exposed section.
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The second exposed section with more serious consequences. Lake Sophie in the background.
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The Cap from the summit of Clytemnestra.
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Very lucky with the weather.
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A small cave below the summit with a nice view of The Cap.
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Pandani by Lake Tahune.

Day 3: It had been raining on and off since midnight and it gave us a reason to stay in bed a bit longer than usual. By 8:30 the rain had stopped, and it was time to pack up the tent and make our way back to the car park. This was the first time during the trip that the cap had been in cloud; supposedly this is what it’s like the majority of the time.  Just before reaching the large landslide, we dropped packs and headed up over the little saddle to try and find Davern’s Cavern and climb Sharlands Peak.  About half way to Davern’s Cavern we decided to turn back, as we wanted to get a counter meal from the Derwent Bridge Hotel on the way out.  We had enough time to do Sharlands Peak and found a decent way up that only required a small amount of rock scrambling. It was then back onto the main route and down the Barron Pass.  It was significantly quicker coming back down and we managed to pass a few people that had left Tahune Hut a while before us.  We arrived at Lake Vera Hut at 2pm and had a quick bite to eat before leaving at 2:15pm. Neither of us really talked at all on the way out, and we were just focused on getting back to the car as quickly as possible.  At 5:50 we reached the carpark and bumped into Graham and Becca who had just returned from spending a couple of days at Lake Vera to summit Agamengnon and Philps Peak.  Not long after, we were at the Derwent Bridge Hotel enjoying a drink and some very tasty dinner.

All up 60.1kms with 4161m ascent.

Getting there: The carpark is on the side of the Lyell Highway, about 30 minutes drive past Derwent Bridge heading west.  A bus from Lake St Clair visitor centre can also be arranged.

 

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Emily climbing up the last steep section of Sharlands Peak
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GPS track of the walk.

Reeds Peak and Great Dome via Lake Rhona

Reeds Peak; 1290m; Abel#66

We had a couple of free days over the weekend and were looking for a reasonable overnighter.  Originally the plan was to do Pindars Peak and La Perouse but decided against it due to average weather.  We decided then to do a somewhat less ambitious walk to Reeds Peak and The Great Dome.  The plan was to leave early and clear some trees that were down on the road leading to the Wylds Craig track.  The sun had just started to come up as we passed Westerway and we were lucky to see about 100 white cockatoos perched in the gumtrees.  After what felt like a long drive on gravel roads we reached the the campsite by the Floretine River.  From here the road that leads to Wylds Craig begins to climb up-but as expected the road was blocked by trees.  We then spent the next hour clearing the road so that when we returned in a few weeks time to climb Wylds Craig we could drive straight to the start of the track.

We then back tracked along Tiger Road until we reached the turnoff to the Lake Rhona.  I’d read a number of posts about Lake Rhona saying that it is a very popular walk but didn’t expect the number of cars that were parked in the carpark.  The forecast for the day was pretty average, overcast with a possible chance of showers.

Given that it rained so much the day before I was expecting the crossing of the Gordon River to be more difficult than usual.  Luckily the fallen tree across the river was still above the water line and allowed us to cross without getting wet.  However, the log itself was very slippery in the morning shade and we were forced to cross it on hands and knees.

The plan was to walk straight to Lake Rhona, with only a short stop at Gordonvale and oncemore before the final ascent to the lake.  The walk consists mainly of button-grass plains separated by areas of forest and a few creeks that provide a good source of water to refill drink bottles.

The climb up to the lake is pretty steep and provides great views of the valley as well as Wylds Craig.  We reached the lake and bumped in to a few people who had camped there the night before and had just started to leave their tents after a misty morning to explore some of the surrounds.  According to the log book there were about 20 people up there but they all decided to camp in the areas behind the beach. Seeing so many people at a campsite felt weird to me, especially after having done Lake Sydney only a few weeks earlier and not crossing paths with anyone.  Overall we made good time even with the steep ascent, having reached Lake Rhona from the carpark in a quick 4 hours and 20 minutes.  This gave us enough time to set up camp and have a quick bite to eat before heading up to Reeds Peak and Great Dome.

From the campsite we continued around the lake; it was a nice feeling to not have a pack on.  I was also trying out a pair of cheap reef walker shoes that I bought at Rivers for about $8.  I had intended to use them as river wading shoes, but thought I would see how they held up on a steep and rocky track.  We followed a creek up towards the saddle, where we rejoined the track along a ridge-line that continues up towards Reeds Peak. Once we’d climbed up the ridge, we were treated with the view of Lake Rhona’s pink sands and dark water, surrounded by the cliffs. After taking a few photos and chatting to a group who were coming back down from the plateau, we set off to ascend Reeds. Just before reaching the base of Reeds, we passed a chute that drops straight down to Lake Rhona that makes for a good photo opportunity. The walk along the plateau is relatively flat, with plenty of cushion plants and some dried up tarns, due to drier weather in the previous weeks. It’s an easy trek along the pad to reach the rocky beginning of the climb up Reeds, with a cairn route snaking its way up to the summit. Unfortunately, upon reaching the top we had a few seconds of the view before the rain clouds rolled in and we found ourselves in a downpour. On the way back to the camp we stopped by the Great Dome; however, due to all the mist we couldn’t see Lake Gordon which was visible earlier on in the day. We made our way back to the camp around 6:30 for some dinner, hoping the rain would hold off while we dried off again. This was not the case-we cooked and ate in the tent.

In the morning we were treated with a colourful sunrise and clear skies. After breakfast, we went for a quick dip in the lake before packing up. We were on the track by 9, and as we climbed back down the ridge-line the clouds from the valley were making there way up towards the lake. After a quick stop at Gordonvale we arrived back at the car after 4 hours and 15 minutes.

All up, 36.8km and 1391m ascent.

Getting there:  Shortly after passing through Maydena turn right on to Florentine Road.  Follow this road for about 20kms until you reach reach the turnoff to Eleven Road on the left hand side (there will be a sign saying Lake Rhona).  Continue along this road until you reach a T intersection.  Turn left onto Tiger Road and follow for 1km then turn left again onto Range Road.  Follow Range Road for 3.5kms then turn left onto Terry Walsh Road.  The track starts at the end of this road.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMt Wright obscured by clouds on the walk in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALooking back towards Gordonvale as we begin the steep climb.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEmily pretending to smile on the walk up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur first glimpse of Reeds Peak and Lake Rhona.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWalking around the lake on the way up to Reeds Peak and Great Dome

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHeading up the saddle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAReeds Peak free of clouds.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGood spot for a photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAReeds Peak from the plateau.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreat view of Lake Rhona

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother angle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe only photo from the Reeds peak before the cloud and rain rolled in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInteresting rocks and Wylds Craig in the background.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinger guns. 10/10

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Looking out towards Wylds Craig.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMorning light.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASunrise from the tent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABreakfast with a view.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAReflections as we leave.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlues skies make a nice change from the grey of the previous day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAClouds rolling up the hill as we walk out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the mist on the way back to the valley floor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPatiently waiting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMist settling on 1000’s of spider webs in the button grass.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlues skies for the rest of the walk out.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACrossing the Gordon  River on the way out.

Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 8.53.22 pmGPS track

Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 8.53.48 pmClose-up of the route we took to Reeds Peak and Great Dome.

Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 9.02.46 pmElevtion plot.