Mt Byron and Olympus

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.

 

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Looking up the Cuvier Valley
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Seven Apostles
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Little Hugel
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Mt Byron from Lake Petrach

 

Day 2

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.

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Misty morning on the lake
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Northern end of Lake Petrach
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Cliffs of Mt Byron
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Looking back at Lake Petrach from the summit of Mt Byron
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Looking towards Olympus from Mt Byron
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Gould, Guardians etc.
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Heading up to Olympus from Byron Gap
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Gets a bit windy up here
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The imposing cliffs on the eastern side of Olympus
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Emily dwarfed by the boulders
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Olympus
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Lake Helen
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Moonrise over Ida

 

Day 3

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.

All up 43.5kms with 1814m ascent over the 3 days.

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Mt Olympus
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Lake Oenone from Olympus
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Overhang on the track down to Lake St Clair
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Smoke plume from the Great Pine Tier fire

Tyenna Peak

We had previously attempted to summit Tyenna during a winter walk to Florentine Peak; however, we hadn’t anticipated the amount of snow that day and were forced to turn back at Florentine so that we wouldn’t be walking in the dark. This time we thought we would do it as part of a circuit, beginning at Wombat Moor then heading up to Tyenna from Lake Belton, before returning via K-Col and the Rodway Range.

The track begins on duckboards across Wombat Moor – also called the Moorland Walk – which is a very short walk that has some placards with information about the local flora. Shortly after, the duckboards disappear and you reach a slightly muddy track that has become a watercourse. We were pleased to see a lot of pink, white, red and orange scoparia, a nice change from the variations of yellow that were abundant on the Ben Lomond Plateau a few weeks earlier. You then leave the moor as the track heads west up through snow gum forest to a small saddle below Mt Mawson. There are good views of Mt Mueller and the Needles before dropping down into the subalpine forest around the Humboldt River. The track down to the river was in surprisingly good condition, and I believe this is thanks to the Friends of Mt Field,  who do a lot of great work all around the Mt Field NP.

Once we reached the Humboldt River the track quickly became a muddy, and sometimes scrubby pad through button grass plains. We reached the hut in just under 2 hours, where we had a snack and admired the recent renovations carried out by the Friends of Mt Field. We had a quick look at the lake before backtracking to the small signpost near the beginning of the buttongrass section (see photos). This sign is also the start of the overgrown pad to Lake Belton. The pad climbs for a bit, before levelling out and skirting some nice small tarns just before Lake Belton. It took only 25 minutes to reach the lake from the sign, and we stopped briefly on the shores to take in the nice view and to refuel before finding a way through the forest to Tyenna Peak. From the lake we were able to scope out what appeared to be a good route up, and ultimately we were able to follow scree all the way to the top with only a very short section of scrub.

Lunch was had sitting on top of Tyenna, 60 minutes after leaving Lake Belton. The position of this peak provides a unique vantage point of the impressive Mt Field cirque as well as number of mountains within the SWNP. We then pushed onwards towards K-Col to continue our circuit around to Lake Dobson. The plateau between Tyenna and Floretine was very pleasant, with large patches of flowering scoparia, other native blooms and cushion plants surrounding alpine tarns. The only sign of other walkers that day was a tent in the bushes around Clemes Tarn, presumably there to check out the floral display. Having done the leg between K-Col and Lake Dobson a number of times now there wasn’t much need to stop and take photos. We reached Lake Dobson 1 hour and 45 minutes after leaving K-Col hut, and made our way back down the road for about 2kms to the car at Wombat Moor.

All up 21.9kms in 8hours and 18 minutes with 1052m ascent.

Getting there: The Wombat Moor carpark is on the left hand side ~2kms before Lake Dobson.

GPS track
Wombat Moor
Looking North
Forest before the saddle
Looking towards Mt Mueller
A large scoparia branch
Crossing the Humboldt on a slippery log
Boggy track and the sign (left to Lake Belton)
Tarns in the buttongrass
Lake Belcher Hut
Inside – new walls and well looked after
Lake Belcher
Tarns before Lake Belton
Lake Belton
Lake Belton panorama
Pandani family on the scree
Lake Belton from higher up
Looking towards Snowy Range from Tyenna Peak
Looking at Mt Floretine from Tyenna Peak
Alpine gardens
richea scoparia
Looking towards Mt Field West
The tarn shelf
Snow gum

South Ben Lomond Circuit

Having only been to the Ben Lomond National Park during winter, we were keen to check out the numerous bluffs along the southern rim, as well as the two highest lakes in Tassie. We started the walk at Storys Creek, planning to do a clockwise circuit with an overnight stop at Lake Youl. The track begins on some old forestry roads and climbs up through dry sclerophyll forest for 1.2kms, before the road ends, leading onto an easy to follow path that winds higher towards the rim of the plateau. Before long, the forest gives way to large boulder fields and an uninterrupted view of Stacks Bluff and Denison Crag can be enjoyed. Cairns can be followed across the boulder field and up a steep chute on the eastern side of Denison Crag to reach the plateau. The short side trip to check out Tranquil Tarn is well worth it, especially on a warm day when extra water is required.

Once on the plateau we had a quick snack, then continued west towards Stacks Bluff. We occasionally lost the pad, but for the most part it was pretty open and easy going. We dropped packs and picked the easiest looking route up to Stacks, and stumbled across some cairns along the way. We reached the summit in just under 3 hours and spent some time walking around checking out the cliffs on all sides. On the way back to our packs we made a quick trip up to Wilmot Bluff to claim a point and get some good views NW to Heimdall and Asgard Crag. We then followed the eastern side of Lewis Creek down through Foster Vale and through to Lake Youl, passing by large cushion plants and tarns surrounded by flowering plants. The remainder of the day was spent paddling around the very shallow Lake Youl and admiring the small sand dunes formed by the relentless wind that is normally present in this area.

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Start of the track at the car park.

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Alpine finger orchid

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Stacks Bluff

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Denison Crag

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Tranquil Tarn

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Up the chute, Storys Bluff and Sphinx Bluff behind

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On the plateau

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Stacks Bluff and Wilmot Bluff

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Looking north from Stacks Bluff summit

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Dolerite stacks on the southern end of Stacks Bluff

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Nice alpine gardens

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Denison Crag, Story Bluff and Sphinx Bluff

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Asgard and Heimdall Crag from Wilmot Bluff

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Nice tarns below Wilmot Bluff

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Lewis Creek

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Tarns near Lake Youl

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Sand dunes and scoparia

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Getting ready to paddle on Lake Youl

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Sunset over Lake Youl

Day 2: The morning started well with a nice sunrise and only a faint breeze; but by the time we had packed up camp and made it about halfway to Lake Baker, the clouds rolled in from the east and visibility dropped to to about 30m. We arrived at Lake Baker and pumped up the raft for a quick paddle on Tasmania’s highest lake. Our next target was Pavement Bluff- unfortunately the cloud was still present, so we had to rely on the GPS in the absence of a marked track. We found the easiest way forward was following the rocky river bed of the River Tyne, which is no more than a small creek at this altitude.  This not only avoids some of the scrub, but also prevents damaging the sensitive alpine plants. We reached the summit of Pavement Bluff in just under two hours after leaving Lake Youl, but the clouds were still lingering and so we had no views whatsoever. Our last bluff for the weekend was Sphinx Bluff, and we experience the same sort of weather as we traversed SW across the plateau to The Knuckle where we dropped packs.

We followed a small scree down to the saddle then picked up a cairned route that climbed up the north western side of the bluff.  The dolerite on Sphinx Bluff was quite different to what we had seen on the trip so far and was well worth checking out.  Again we had no views on top, so we returned to our packs and made a bee-line to intercept Storys Creek. I was keen to check out Coal Falls but I wasn’t sure how we would go following the creek down as there was little information about it.  It ended up being pretty straight forward, and we made it to the falls without any trouble. We had some food and poked our heads into the old coal mine which was now home to a few swallows before continuing to follow the creek down, which was pretty slow going and hard on the knees. At one point the creek disappeared, leaving only a dry creek bed before reappearing about 100m downstream. As we neared the old forestry road we left the creek and made our way southwest through the open forest.  We did come across a few tapes and cairns but they were few and far between, and were more confusing than helpful. Before long we popped out on the road and were then 10 minutes from the car.

All up 27.1kms with 1196m ascent.

Getting there: The Stacks Bluff Track starts behind the old school in the small township of Storys Creek (google maps pin here).  There are a few blue arrows that indicate the way up the forestry roads.  The road is quite rough and probably not suitable for a 2wd car with low clearance. There is plenty of parking further down and would only add a few hundred meters of walking.

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Sunrise 

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Looking back at Lake Youl

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Stacks Bluff and Wilmot Bluff from the between the lakes.

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Fogbow

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Nice alpine gardens and the cloud getting thicker

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Paddling on Lake Baker

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Pavement Bluff summit

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Great view 

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Large cliffs on Pavement Bluff

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Dolerite on Sphinx Bluff

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Nice walking on Sphinx Bluff

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Storys Bluff

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Heading down Storys Creek

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Waterfall on Storys Creek

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Large dolerite towers on the way down

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Coal Falls and coal mine 

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Coal mine

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Mist on Storys Creek

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

 

Bushwalking in Tasmania