Tag Archives: Ben Lomond

South Ben Lomond Circuit

Having only been to the Ben Lomond National Park during the 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

Ben Lomond (NZ)

It was our second last day in Queenstown, and as we no longer had a car we decided to check out one of the walks closer to town.  A guy at the car rental company had suggested the mountain overlooking Queenstown, Ben Lomond, as it provides excellent views of it’s surrounds.  We decided to catch the gondola up the first section, as it was a few hundred meters from our accomodation and it meant we could skip an annoying forest walk through pine trees. Once off the gondola, the track starts up past the luge area and for a short time, makes its way through Douglas fir and mountain beech forest. This is the very last of the shade for the remainder of the track, and should be noted when walking in hot weather.

Once out of the trees, the track is opens up to alpine tussocks and grasslands. We noted the large amount of wilding trees that are an introduced species in NZ and pose a threat to native flora. We passed some walkers who were stopping to uproot any evidence of these pests, with small tracts of land along the way allocated to various school groups and organisations who then have the job of eradicating wilding trees in that area.

The track climbs steadily up to a saddle at 1300m between Bowen Peak and Ben Lomond, following the ridgeline. We stopped at the saddle for a quick refuel, joined by various other groups of walkers. From where we sat, we could see just how popular the walk is, with people visible on the summit, others descending and even more making their way up. After admiring the views from the saddle, we then made to tackle the steepest part of the climb.

This last part of the track to the summit climbs very steeply, and while predominantly a dusty trail it can be rocky in places-though nothing challenging. The last part of the walk curves up behind the peak, before popping out on top at 1748m. There were plenty of other people on the top, so we made our way to a small spur for our lunch, and to take in the views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables, Moke Lake and the Southern Alps. There’s a dial at the top that points out each of these sights and gives their coordinates.

We mingled with some more curious Kea parrots before making short work of the hike back down, ready for some luge action.

All up 10.8kms in 3hours and 20 minutes with 1031m ascent.

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GPS track.
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Out of the forest and into the sun.
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Looking back down the ridge towards Queenstown.
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Looking west from the saddle.
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The track up to Ben Lomond.
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The ridgeline from halfway up.
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Looking north.
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Kea at the summit.
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Summit.
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Emily on the luge.