Cape Queen Elizabeth

While visiting my sister on Bruny Island, we had set aside the morning to go and visit Cape Queen Elizabeth and to check up on the Cardboard Goblet, as many years had past since we were there last. The day was already starting to heat up as we made the short drive down from Great Bay to the start of the track. We passed a number of runners who were partaking in the Bruny Ultra, and we were all pretty happy not to be running 64km on hot bitumen.

We followed the sandy road on foot down towards the beach, passing by the Big Lagoon to check out some of the birdlife. The water level was pretty low so we didn’t spend long looking around.  Shortly after leaving Big Lagoon behind, the track narrows as it passes over the sand dunes behind the beach. The tide was up but on it’s way out, and we decided to try and get around the rocks below Mars Bluff. We were able to get past scrambling along without too much trouble, and spent a fair bit of time admiring the geology of Mars Bluff. The long walk along Miles Beach was made more interesting by the strange trail left by a wallaby the night before, as well as a number of juvenile sea birds and their noisy parents. The Cardboard Goblet hut is located behind the beach, and was in fair condition; according to the logbook, it also still gets a few visitors. We had contemplated staying out there one night, and we were pleased to see someone had brought in a plastic drum to collect water off the roof. However, it could do with a bit of a sweep and there appeared to be an endless stream of ants passing through.

We left the beach and began heading south through the dry eucalyptus forest. The first snake was encountered just before a section of mutton bird nests, but didn’t hang around long enough to get featured in a photo. We reached CQE after a leisurely 2hours and 20 minutes, and enjoyed some lunch overlooking a large bait ball and a pod of  dolphins in the bay.  On our way back we headed over Mars Bluff and were pleased to see a number of black cockatoos very close to the track feeding on the banksia that lines the cliff tops.

All up: 13.4kms in 4 hours and 20 minutes with 322m ascent.

Getting there: The start of the track is access just off Bruny Island Main Road, just before the airstrip (when heading south) and about 4kms before the neck lookout.

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Starting off on a section of road
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Melaleuca sp.
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Melaleuca sp.

 

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Big Lagoon
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Neck Beach – looking south
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Climbing around from Neck Beach
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Golden rays

 

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Nice rocks on Mars Bluff
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View out from the arch
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Wallaby trails
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Cardboard Goblet
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“Kitchen”

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Miles Beach and Mars Bluff
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Mars Bluff from the mutton bird nests on the way to CQE
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The Hounds Tooth
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A mountain dragon
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Looking back towards CQE from Miles Beach
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Black Cockatoos feeding on banksia 

Quamby Bluff

1128m Abel #93

A couple of Emily’s friends from Sydney were spending a few days in the north of the state, and were keen to meet up for a walk; Quamby Bluff seemed a good fit as it is well tracked and relatively short. The walk starts on old farm land just off the Lakes Highway.  Once in the forest, a nice patch of large tea trees is traversed before reaching a section of scree.  At the top of the scree field you enter a moss covered myrtle forest which was completely unexpected, but reminded me of the beech forests we walked through on the way to Green Lake Hut. From here, the track climbs steadily before emerging at a saddle on the southern end of the bluff. Good views of the Meander Valley and the Western Tiers can be found from here. Before reaching the flat top of Quamby, there is another small rock scree to climb up, offering more views of valleys on either side. A quick walk across the top gets you to the trig point and the summit, where we had lunch in a sheltered rocky nook out of the wind.

All up – 7kms in 3 hours and 55 minutes with 518m ascent

Getting there:  The start of the track is well marked and can be easily seen on the Highland Lakes Road (A5) at this location. Additional parking can be found ~100 meters down the road.

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Quamby Bluff from the carpark.
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On top of the scree field. Drys Bluff on the right.
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Myrtle Oranges.
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Nice beech forest.
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Looking west towards Mother Cummings.
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Drys Bluff and Liffey Bluff from the saddle.
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Flat walking along the top.

Picton River

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.

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GPS track of the trip
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Looking upstream from the rafters access.  Old bridge pylons can be seen on the left.
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Just down from the entry point.
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Looking upstream – plenty of pines on the banks.
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SS Emily.

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White-bellied sea eagle
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A large section of wall just up from the main bridge.

Esperance Peak

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.

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Heading into the forest
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A section of cutting grass before the creek
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On the plateau looking towards Snowy and Hartz
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Nice tarns overlooking Adamsons and Mesa
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Esperance summit
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Looking south
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A lone pine
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Richea Scoparia starting to flower
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Looking towards the plateau on the way back down
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Wild flowers
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Back into the forest
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Large cliffs
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A very slippery log

 

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

Mt Connection

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.

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GPS track
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Sandstone caves at Gravelly Ridge
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Sandstone details
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Big Bend trail
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Second Collins Bonnet sign (track to Thark Ridge to the left of sign)
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Looking back towards Thark Ridge
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Looking east from Mt Connection
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Looking north from Thark Ridge
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Pools on Thark Ridge

 

 

Macgregor Peak and Deep Glen Bay

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.

 

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GPS route of track –

 

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The fire tower
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Nice moss under the fire tower
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Regeneration following the large fires a few years back

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Nice forest on the way to Macgregor Peak
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What’s left of the trig
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The view south to Eagle Hawk Neck

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Currawong feathers on a mossy mound
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Hut beside Schofields Road
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Man Fern bridge – Deep Glen Creek
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Deep Glen Bay
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Deep Glen Bay
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Schofields Road

Bushwalking in Tasmania