The aim for the day was to climb a few Abels on the eastern side of yingina, starting with Sandbanks Tier. We had contemplated climbing this peak a number of times on the way through Poatina, but never ended up stopping. We parked at the small carpark just off of the highway and began our walk up the gravel road. A large number of rocks and dirt from this area was taken to build the Miena Dam and the area has since been fenced off to allow rehabilitation. We then followed a small creek up towards a large rock scree, which had the remnants of an old fence at the bottom and followed it as long as possible before hitting a couple of scrub bands. The next 20 or so minutes were spent alternating between slippery scree that had been in the shade all morning and the odd patch of scrub throughout. The occasional cairn was more confusing than helpful, as it was pretty obvious which way we had to go.
As we approached the summit from the south we had to zig zag a bit to avoid large patches of scoparia and slippery rock ledges. We arrived at the summit in just under 60 minutes and found some shelter from the wind on the eastern side. From here we had good views in all directions and could make out the summit of our next Abel just across Arthurs Lake…
All up 4.1kms in 2 hours and 30 minutes with 310m ascent.
Getting there: The walks starts at a small carpark by Poatina Road, just past the turn off to Cramps Bay. Link here
We were invited to join some friends to help with the Where Where Wedgie survey, a statewide survey designed to estimate the likelihood of seeing birds of prey when out and about. The 4km x 4km plot they had chosen was North-West of Lake Augusta, wedged between Julian and Pillans Lakes, and was a priority square as defined by the survey. Jane and AB were to ride fat bikes in along the 4wd track, whilst Emily and I would walk in.
We had decided to drive up on Friday night and sleep in the ute, in order to get an early start in the morning. We found a nice spot by the boat ramp at Lake Augusta under the stars, and settled in for the night. The forecast for the weekend was clear but cold; this was evident, as the moisture in the canopy had completely frozen and at one point the doona was stuck to the canvas. With the moon almost full and with a clear sky, I took the opportunity to take a few shots of a very still Lake Augusta under moonlight. The sunrise the next morning was also worth getting up for, as parts of the lake had frozen and there was still not a breath of wind.
Jane and AB met us at the boat ramp early, and before long we were ready to start the walk in. Access to the Julians Lake Track in a 4wd is entirely dependant on dam levels, and with that in mind we had chosen a more non-conventional route. This track started just near the boat ramp and follows the northern side of Lake Augusta, before crossing the Ouse River and rejoining the Pillans Lake Track just before the first hut (Allisons Hut). AB had the route marked, and it looked like a decent track on the state aerial imagery. We found out very quickly that this track was quite overgrown and would have been almost impossible to ride bikes through. In the end, they decided to ride along the normal 4wd track and hope that the water level was low enough to cross.
We continued along the overgrown track, negotiating a few creeks and arrived at the Ouse River around an hour after leaving. Crossing at this point would have required wading, and we were keen to stay as warm and as dry as possible. Instead we followed the river upstream to find a more suitable crossing. This proved difficult, as most of the exposed rocks were covered in ice and spaced too far apart to cross safely. We ended up walking almost a kilometre upstream, until we found what seemed to be the safest place to cross. For those interested, the crossing we used was just upstream of the first pine tree that can be easily seen on the other side of the river. We eventually made it across the Ouse and continued to our rendevouz spot at the first hut. As we approached the hut we could see Jane and AB, who had just arrived a few minutes earlier. We spent a bit of time checking out the very cool Allisons Hut; unfortunately I didn’t take any photos but information can be found here.
We then continued along the Pillans Lake Track, as it climbed out of the bush and into the more open landscape that is characteristic of the Central Plateau. Although we had not yet reached our intended survey plot, we spotted a pair of wedge tailed eagles flying just overhead and gave us hope of seeing more over the weekend. We chose to take a small shortcut across an open- but very boggy- grass plain that was once used by vehicles. This track has since been closed to facilitate rehabilitation, however, the deep tyre tracks are unlikely to disappear any time soon.
We continued on towards our destination, stopping occasionally to conduct 10 minutes survey once we were within our plot. We reached a junction in the track that either heads a few hundred metres further to Kerrisons Hut, or continues along to Julian Lakes and the other huts (private) in the area. Once at the hut, we set up camp and conducted a couple more surveys in the area; unfortunately we didn’t see any other birds of prey, so cracked open a can of rum and coke, a few bottles of red and settled in for the night. According to some scribbles on the wall, the flue had blown off so it had been decided to start afresh and build a whole new fire place. An unopened bag of pink mats on the top bunk also suggested the hut might be getting some insulation in the near future.
Clear skies that night made for some nice photos of moonlit tarns and trees; it also meant it was very cold, and we could hear the hoarfrost cracking up through the ground. I decided to get up early to check out the sunrise and wasn’t disappointed, as all of the tarns had frozen over, as well as parts of the larger lakes. A fiery reflection of the sky on the ice was worth the frozen hands and face. We packed up after breakfast and returned along the Pillans Lake Track to conduct more surveys on the way. This time, we were lucky enough to see two Wedge Tailed Eagles (likely to be the same pair from the day before) and a Brown Falcon during a survey. On the way back out, we decided to walk back the long way and avoid crossing the Ouse. I had only recorded the GPS track for the return journey
Kerrisons Hut to Bernacchi – 16.7kms in just over 6 hours including lunch and surveys, 207m ascent.
Getting there: From the Lakes Highway at Liaweenee, turn onto the Lake Augusta Road until you reach the Thousands Lake Lodge. The shorter track that crosses the Ouse starts just up from the boat ramp, but the Pillans Lake 4wd Track starts a few kms past the lodge.
It was the Queen’s birthday long weekend and we were setting out on our first walk with the Pandani Walking Club. The walk was a 2 nighter visiting huts along the Western Tiers, and the summits of Forty Lake Peak and Ironstone Mountain. The proposed plan was to walk up the Higgs Track to Lady Lake Hut on day 1, where we would set up camp and spend the night. For day 2 we would walk to the hut next to Lake Nameless, drop our packs and head to Forty Lakes Peak before returning to the hut. On the final day we would head off track towards Lake Ironstone, and then climb up Ironstone Mountain before returning to the cars via the Western Creek Track.
Day 1:Higgs Track to Lady Lake.
We left Hobart just before 8 so that we could meet up with the others in Deloraine. We met AB and Jane at the Deli in Deloraine to grab a quick coffee before heading off to the start of the Higgs Track. Along the way we met John and continued along the back roads of the Meander Valley and finally on to forestry roads to reach the car park (directions at the bottom of the page). Given that we were walking out via a different route a few clicks up the road, we did a quick car shuttle to leave one car at the end of the Western Creek Track. After a quick bite to eat and a final pack check we were ready to head off.
We were spoilt with the weather, with plenty of blue sky and almost no wind. The Higgs Track starts off reasonably flat but then quickly begins to climb up towards the Great Western Tiers. Some sections are fairly steep, but overall it is a pretty pleasant climb through old forests. The restoration of the track back in 2014 using ancient Scottish stone-pitching techniques provides a nice level surface to walk on, even when the gradient begins to increase. Sections of rock wall-presumably used as a retaining wall-are also quite impressive and make for a good photo. Once you pop out on top you can see the Lady Lake Hut about 150m in front of you. This open section is quite boggy but a few strategically placed logs make crossing the small and particularly deep ponds very easy. To our surprise there was no one at the hut, which meant we had first choice on where we would camp. We chose a slightly elevated section of ground between the hut and the toilet (which I’m told has a fantastic view) and got to work unpacking all of our gear. We wandered around the area for some time taking photos of Lady Lake, which can’t be seen from the hut but is only a 2 minute walk away; surprisingly, some of the smaller ponds still had ice in them. When we returned we met a young girl and her mum who had just walked up the Higgs Track and were planning to spend a couple of nights sleeping in the Lady Lake Hut.
Not long after we spotted another couple of people popping up over the horizon; this was likely to be Simon and Jess who had decided to join us last-minute as their kayaking trip looked in doubt due to large rainfall forecast for the South West. As the sun began to set I positioned my camera next to a small pond and a King Billy Pine in order to catch some colour changes of the sky. I was not disappointed.
We only had a short walk on day 1 – 2.9kms in 2 hours with a 524m ascent. It was nice to have some time to relax and look around, as normally we push to walk as far as possible without time to pitch the tent and relax for a few hours.
Day 2: Walking to Lake Nameless and Forty Lakes Peak.
I set the alarm at 7am to catch the sunrise. I had woken up earlier that morning when Emily had to go to the toilet, and I could hear the frost cracking under her feet. She said that everything was white and spent a bit of time walking around under the bright light of the full moon. I was hoping that it would still be white when I got out but that was no longer the case. The weather that morning was a big step down from the day before, as mist had settled in and it looked like there were going to be a couple of showers. We had some breakfast and packed up our damp tents and followed a taped/cairned route out behind where our tents were towards Lake Nameless. After a short climb we reached the top of a small hill and caught sight of a number of lakes, unfortunately the low-lying cloud had obscured our vision of any nearby peaks. The pad was easy to follow with a number of ribbons and cairns to mark the way. We passed a number of lakes, including Weston’s Lake and Lake Lucy Long, before we reached the northern end of Lake Nameless. As we walked down the western side of the lake, we caught a glimpse of Mt Ironstone in the distance and that of the much closer Forty Lakes Peak perched behind the Lake Nameless Hut. By this stage it had been raining on and off and the constant mist had effectively dampened our clothes and packs.
We arrived at the hut after 2 hours and 40 minutes and covered 6.6kms with a 200m ascent. During trout season this hut gets used regularly by fishermen and is home to a very nice Tassie Barrel wood heater, but unfortunately the last people there had burnt all the wood so we had to go and find our own. We managed to find a fair bit of dry timber in the vicinity, enough to get the fire lit and to start warming up the hut. The Lake Nameless hut appears much older that the Lady Lake Hut and is significantly colder and darker. A brief pause in the rain allowed myself and AB to set up our tents on the limited flat ground surrounding the hut while John, Simon and Jess decided to sleep in the hut instead. With plenty of light left in the day we decided to go up to Forty Lakes Peak, then walk down the south-eastern side to try to find some old cairns that mark the Ritter’s Track. The walk up to Forty Lakes Peak follows a cairned pad past the toilet about 50m to the east of the hut and up through some scrub and snow gum forest. About 20 minutes later we had reached the peak.
We descended on the south-eastern side to look for the 100-year-old cairns that mark the Ritter’s Track. The Ritters Track is a 100-year-old stock route originally used by a Meander Valley farmer called Charles Ritter who used to drive cattle to the Walls of Jerusalem, more information can be found here.
We eventually found a number of very old-looking cairns that were covered in lichen, unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of any but I’m sure they will still be there the next time I’m in the area. Our last night was spent in the hut back at Lake Nameless where we ate dinner and dessert, as well as some delicious custard prepared by Jane.
Day 2: 10.8kms in 6 hours in 15 minutes including breaks and only 399m ascent.
Day 3: Ironstone Mountain and the Western Creek Trail
Today was going to be a long day so we set our alarm for 6:30 and had all of our bags packed to leave at 8. The sunrise that morning was very special. We headed east along the lake and made our way towards Ironstone Mountain. The next few hours of walking were all off track but navigating was easy due to the large open spaces. We eventually reached Lake Ironstone and proceeded to walk around the western side until we reached a pad leading up the saddle to Ironstone. There were a number of scattered cairns on the way up but for the most part we made our own way through some scrub and over small boulder fields.
The summit of Ironstone is marked by a trig that John had painted about 10 years earlier. However, the last time he arrived by helicopter. The lack of cloud provided a full 360 degree view of the Walls of Jerusalem in the south-west, Ben Lomond NP to the east, the Meander valley and Mother Cummins to the north-east and Mt Roland towards the north-west. We shared a few lollies and chocolate then returned to where we had left our packs. The trip up from the northern end of Lake Ironstone took a little over 2 hours with a couple of breaks along the way.
We had our final lunch of the trip next to the lake then proceeded to head north to find Whiteley’s Hut and the Western Creek Track. This didn’t prove too difficult and before long we were following a pad down to the hut. From here the view back towards Ironstone are pretty impressive. Whiteley’s Hut is a small but seemingly cosy hut that has a good wood heater and room for ~4 people. There were a couple of people camped there who, unfortunately had decided to bring their dogs into the world heritage area.
The rest of the walk follows the beautiful Western Creek Track down the gully. There are countless waterfalls and rock pools almost all of the way down. Compared to the Higgs Track on day 1 this is considerably more undulating, and also has a water crossing sections that would prove difficult following heavy rain. I would not hesitate to come back here though as it is truly an amazing walk.
We arrived at the carpark and thanks to a car shuffle a few days earlier we were able to drive a couple of km down the road to the Higgs Track carpark and pick up the rest of the vehicles. That brought an end to a very enjoyable weekend away and our first walk with Pandani was a success. Big thanks to AB, Jane, John, Simon and Jess and we hope to catch up again soon.
Day 3: 12.5kms in 7 hours and 20 minutes, 338m ascent and 803m descent.