Tag Archives: Lake St Clair

Lake Ada to Lake St Clair

The Easter break had long been set aside to do an extended walk somewhere in Tas.  I was reasonably confident that my knee would hold up if managed correctly, and we’d considered doing the Southern Ranges weather permitting. Our other options were to do the Tyndall Range and check out some of the Tarkine, or to walk through The Never Never. After a lot of planning and weather checking we scrapped the first two options and decided to walk from Lake Ada to Lake St Clair, passing through The Never Never.  This appeared to be the safest option, as there is not a great deal of ascent and descent, so would be easier on the knees; plus the forecast for the central plateau looked half decent for the first few days.  So after shuttling a car to the  Lake St Clair carpark and a great meal at the Derwent Bridge Pub, we headed off to Lake Ada to spend the night sleeping in the back of the ute.

Unfortunately about 20m from the the Lake Ada carpark we hit a wombat and found that she had a baby in her pouch.  The mum had died instantly, but the baby seemed in good health; we managed to pull him out and wrapped him up in one of Emily’s jumpers for warmth. We drove back towards The Great Lake to get some phone reception, and got a hold of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. As it was 9:30pm they could not send anyone out to meet us until the next day, and so suggested that we ask the people at The Thousand Lakes Lodge to keep him warm for the night.  Luckily enough, they were more than happy to take care of him-we later found out that he was a hit with guests and by the time he was picked up, was happily rambling around the lodge. We eventually made it back to the carpark next to Lake Ada and settled in for the night.

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Day 1: Lake Ada to Dixons Kingdom

We left the car at the carpark by the boat ramp at Lake Ada, and continued down the Talinah Track in the early morning. This track can also be accessed with a 4WD, but as it’s for day use only we did not want to risk getting locked in.  As we reached Ada Lagoon, we met an older fisherman who was happy to share a few tips about our upcoming journey.  He spoke very highly of The Never Never, and mentioned that there is a natural rock bridge upstream of Ferguson Falls that can be used to cross the Mersey. We then crossed the outlet creek and made our way around the southern end of Ada Lagoon, following an old vehicle track towards the distant collection of peaks that make up the Walls of Jerusalem.  Even at this early stage, it was obvious that there had been a lot of water dumped here over the past week; water was coursing down the track and every tarn we passed was full to the brim.

We reached the end of the vehicule track after ~45 minutes and made our way towards the remnants of an old hut that was little more than a pile of rusted metal and broken glass. Upon reaching Talleh Lagoons, I noticed a number of brightly coloured plants dotting the shore of the most northern lagoon.  Upon closer inspection, I found that these were mountain rocket (belladona montana) and they were to become more abundant as the day wore on.  We then had to cross a the small creek that flows from the upper lagoon to the lower lagoon. Normally, this would be a straight forward rock hop but there was enough water coming down that we first decided to check for a safer place to cross.  A quick look upstream revealed an old log that might have once been used to cross the creek, but was now too rotten to be any use.  In the end we decided to use the normal crossing, and managed to get through without getting too wet.

A short walk from the crossing, there is a very nice sheltered campsite that could be used to break the trip in-or-out of the walls.  Given that we had only been walking for 2 and a half hours (9.1kms), we continued on towards Lake Fanny.  The track follows Powena Creek (the outlet and inlet creek of Lake Fanny) and passed by a large number of cushion plants of all shapes and sizes.

Once we reached Lake Fanny we continued along the rough pad that follows the eastern shore, losing it and finding our way back repeatedly.  There is a decent amount of scrub that can be avoided if you are careful, and our goal was to reach the northern end of Lake Fanny and sit down for some lunch.

A lot of water was coming down Powena Creek and we noticed a number of cairns situated not far from where the creek runs into Lake Fanny; these cairns indicated a relatively easy spot to cross to the other side.  The walk from here to Zion Gate was one of the highlights of the entire trip.  We passed hundreds of small tarns that were chock full of water, and some were surrounded by Pencil Pine.  Walking was quite slow-going as we were forced to zigzag across the spongy, pineapple grass landscape in order to avoid large water channels that looked like they could swallow you whole. Again, there was no obvious pad, but we would occasionally stumble across an old cairn or two.  After ~2 and a half hours hours were reached the forest around Zion Gate and began descending into the Valley of Hinom.  Once we reached the start of the Fysh River we turned west, and made our way through the Valley of Hinom and up towards Jaffa Gate.  The large cliffs of Mt Jerusalem were a nice change from the open and sometimes desolate landscape from earlier in the day.

Once at the top of Jaffa Gate it was only a short walk down some duckboards to Dixon’s Kingdom, where we picked a sheltered spot under the large pines and settled in for the night.  Walking for 7 hours and 21.7kms across the spongy marshland took its toll, and  we decided to have a rest before summiting Mt Jerusalem in the morning .  Unfortunately, we were kept awake most of the night thanks to a very large possum that insisted on getting into the vestibule and causing havoc.  At one point during the night I caught him hanging off our food bags that I had carefully hung in the pines.

At this point I will refer to a quote from the Chapman book on Cradle Mounatin/Lake St Clair where he states “Ones love of animals is often forgotten in the battle between possum and walker

Carpark to Lake Fanny – 11.5kms in 3 hours and 20 minutes.

Lake Fanny to Zion Gate – 7 kms in 2 hours and 30 minutes including lunch.

Zion Gate to Dixons Kingdom – 3.1kms in 1 hour.

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Long shadows as we leave the carpark.
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Water along the Tallinah Track.
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Tarns full of water everywhere.
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What’s left of the hut.
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Talleh Lagoons and mountain rocket.
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Cushion plants everywhere while walking to Lake Fanny.
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Mountain rocket on Powena Creek.
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Looking towards the Fysh River from Zion Gate.
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Mt Jerusalem from The Valley of Hinom.
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Cushion plants and Mt Jerusalem.
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Dixon’s Kingdom.

Day 2: Dixon’s Kingdom to Lake Meston – Mt Jerusalem

After an interrupted night we woke early to summit Mt Jerusalem and, if the weather cleared, also to summit Solomon’s Throne and King David’s Peak.  The wind and rain worsened as we climbed higher, and unfortunately we had no view whatsoever.  On the way back down we decided to scratch climbing the other peaks in the area and save them for a nicer day.  Instead, we would continue on past our intended destination of Lake Adelaide and head further west towards the hut at Lake Meston. We packed up our wet tent and gear, and followed a pad down towards Lake Ball. The track along the lake passes through some large fagus trees that had just started to turn yellow.  We reached the old hut about halfway around the lake 54 minutes after leaving Dixon’s Kingdom, and decided to stop for some lunch.

The track then continues around the shore of the lake, passing by a number of creeks that were flowing quickly.  We reached the northern end expecting to see the usual pineapple grass fields; unfortunately they were all underwater, with only the tops of a few mountain rocket plants visible.  Shortly after, a large creek needs to be traversed- which unsurprisingly, was rather deep and uninviting.  Not that interested in going swimming, we continued further up for about 20m and found a log that someone had placed across two large boulders.  After a bit of hesitation, we traversed the small log and made it to the other side.  The track then climbs through some old dead pine forest before dropping down towards Lake Adelaide.

We stopped briefly to check out the campsite for a potential future visit, and unfortunately found not only had someone gone to the toilet 2m from the campsite, they’d also gone 5m from the nearby water source, with minimal attempt at bury it. That was enough to ruin the beautiful area, and on we went around the lake.  The camping at the southern end seemed a bit nicer but we still had plenty of daylight left so we continued on towards Lake Meston.

The open plains between Lake Adelaide and Lake Meston were a highlight for me, and we would have happily spent more time around there if we hadn’t been walking all morning.  Once we reached the excellent campsite on northern end of Lake Meston, we decided to stop there to dry our tent and everything else that got wet the night before. This was definitely the best campsite we came across on the whole trip, and we were surprised that no one else had planned to stay there that night.  There were a number of large log seats, a small beach, plenty of water nearby and an excellent view across the lake; we will definitely be back again.

Another restless night ensued, though this time not thanks to a devil spawn possum but actually due to a slow leak in my air mattress.  It meant that every 2 hours or so I would wake up on the cold ground and have to blow it back up again.

Dixon’s Kingdom to Mt Jerusalem – 2kms in 35 minutes.

Dixon’s Kingdom to Lake Ball Hut – 3.1kms in 54 minutes.

Lake Ball Hut to Lake Adelaide – 2.4 kms in 50 minutes.

Lake Adelaide to southern end of Lake Adelaide – 4.4kms in 1 hour and 35 minutes.

Southern end of Lake Adelaide to Lake Meston – 2.5kms in 40 minutes.

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The clouds lift briefly as we summit Mt Jerusalem.
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Approaching Lake Ball.
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The track along Lake Ball.
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Small hut by Lake Ball.
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The submerged northern end of the lake.
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Cushion plants and coral fern.
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The southern end of Lake Adelaide, just past the campsites.
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Approaching Lake Meston.
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Drying out at camp.
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Great camping spot.
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Sunrise over Lake Meston.

Day 3: Lake Meston to Junction Lake – Mountains of Jupiter

I woke early to find the tent frosted over and the skies clear; as this was probably the best chance to catch a nice sunrise, I went straight down to the lake to set up my tripod.  The lake was mirror calm and certain sections were covered in a small amount of mist-before long the skies turned pink and I had the sunrise that I was hoping for.   With the water so still, it was also a good chance to find the leak in my mattress.

The plan was to walk to Junction Lake then drop our packs before heading up to the Mountains of Jupiter for the afternoon. We reached the Meston Hut within 35 minutes and had a chat to some people that were heading back out that day.  The hut itself was fairly large and in pretty good condition; something worth remembering if visiting the area in winter, or if the weather is too miserable to camp.

We continued around the northern shore of the lake towards Mayfield Flats, with a dozen or so currawong keeping us company for part of the way.  The walk to the Junction Lake wasn’t very exciting so we pushed on to get there ahead of schedule. 1.5 hours after leaving Meston Hut we reached the sign that indicates the Junction Lake Hut.  We continued right towards the campsites so that we could get the tent up and dry some  stuff while the sun was out.  There are a number of nice and flat campsites overlooking the lake, but unfortunately there are also a lot of jack jumpers that were quick to crawl over everything.  Once set up, we headed back towards to hut where we would have to find a place to cross the Mersey River.

The normal crossing behind the hut was around knee-to-waist-deep water, so instead we crossed on a fallen tree with the help of a large stick to counterbalance.  After a short climb, the well-marked track enters some of the most spectacular mossy forest I have seen to date.  It then passes below some large rocky outcrops before emerging onto an open marsh.  From here on, the bauera takes over and the legs get a nice tickle all the way up to Lake Artemis.  The “track” to Mountains of Jupiter can be found just before dropping down toward the lake. Given that we hadn’t had lunch yet, we chose to head down to the lake and find a nice spot to sit.  The overgrown track follows the southern side around and presumably continues out to Lake Eros.

We retraced our steps back to the “lookout” and headed straight up.  There is no real path to follow-just a bunch of cairns that are more confusing than helpful-and in the end decided to follow the large rock slabs to avoid the scrub.  Once on the rim of the plateau, we made our way east to what appeared to be the highpoint.  This would have to be one of the most unusual mountains around, with large dolerite slabs as far as the eye can see and some nice tarns had made me wish we had the time to camp up there.  We spent the next little while getting weather updates and touching base with family. The forecast for the coming night and morning wasn’t looking good, and we thought it might be a good idea to spend the night in the hut to avoid packing up a wet tent.

By the time we made it back down to our camp, a few others had arrived and set up. Thankfully no one had set themselves up in the hut, and so we moved in. We lit the fire and patched up my mattress, then finally had the first uninterrupted sleep of the trip. The hut is rough around the edges, but has four bunks and is dry and warm; though the presence of some rodent friends is noted.

Lake Meston north end to Meston Hut – 2kms in 35 minutes.

Meston Hut to Junction Lake – 5.3kms in 1 and a half hours.

Junction Lake Hut to Lake Artemis – 2.5kms in 1 hour and 5 minutes.

Lake Artemis to Mountains of Jupiter Summit – 2kms in 1 hours.

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Mountains of Jupiter from Mayfield Flats.
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Junction Lake from the campsite.
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Junction Lake Hut.
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Myrtle forest on the way to Mountains of Jupiter.
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Lake Artemis.
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The cairn that signifies the track up to Mountains of Jupiter.
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Tarns near the summit.
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Emily on the summit and Lake Artemis.
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Two of three wedgies fly over us.
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Lake Artemis, Eros and Merope and Mt Geryon.
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Looking south from the summit.
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Cosy in the hut.

 

Day 4: Junction Lake to Narcissus Hut

The day crossing through The Never Never had finally arrived.  Not knowing how easy it would be to cross the Mersey River, we left early to give us as much time as possible to find a safe way across.  The track into The Never Never goes past the campsite and follows the eastern side of the Junction Lake.  Before long, we reached the registration box and made our way down the steep and slippery track to Clarke Falls.  Unfortunately there was so much water coming down that we couldn’t even get near the falls without going for a swim.  By this point I was starting to get a little nervous about the crossing, particularly with full packs on.

Nevertheless we continued along the banks of the river, following faint pads that wound their way through forest and open plains.  Feather Falls grew closer but we decided not to detour up to its base and instead to continue along the river.  At one point we had deviated a few hundreds metres from the river bank and found ourself walking through some nice moss covered forest, similar to what we saw on the way to The Mountains of Jupiter.  After not being able to locate a pad, we decided to head back down to the river and sure enough we passed by what appeared to be a pad through some sphagnum moss down to the river’s edge.  This appeared to be the normal place to cross when the river is much lower, but we decided to head a bit further down to try and find a fallen tree.  The next 15 minutes were spent pushing through tea tree and scoparia to try and keep the river in view; lucky for us there was a large pencil pine that appeared to have come down recently that provided a decent crossing to the western side.

Once across we located the pad we made our way down to McCoy Falls, passing by a number of other fallen trees that could have also been used to cross safely.  The track down to McCoy Falls is steep and requires a short climb down some tree roots. On the way back up, Emily managed to get a leech in her eye and the next 10 minutes were spent trying to pull it off her eyeball where it had latched on, with a pair of crappy plastic tweezers from the first aid kit.

From here on in, The Never Never exceeded expectations. Walking along the moss covered banks of the Mersey, and passing by toadstools of all sizes really felt like something out of a fairy tale.  It was unlike anything I had seen before in Tasmania and was worth every leech.  By the end we had lost the track again and popped out very wet and muddy on the track to Hartnett Falls, 4  hours after leaving the hut.

Instead of staying at Burt Nichols Hut, we decided to push through to Narcissus Hut so that we had less walking to do in the morning.  The walk between the huts was uneventful, but we did pass through some nice forest.   We reached Narcissus Hut 8 and a half hours (23.4 kms) after leaving Junction Lake Hut, and it’s safe to say we were pretty happy to put the feet up.  Unfortunately the hut began to fill and a long sleepless night ensued, mostly due two noisy snorers and restless tossing and turning of others.  This is why I prefer to camp.

Junction Lake Hut to McCoy Falls – 4.8kms in 2 hours and 10 minutes.

McCoy Falls to Hartnett Falls – 3kms in 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Hartnett Falls to Burt Nichols Hut – 5kms in 1 hour and 45 minutes including lunch.

Burt Nichols Hut to Narcissus Hut – 10.1kms in 2 hours and 35 minutes.

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Drizzle as we leave Junction Lake.
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Feather Falls from The Never Never.
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Large cliffs and open plains.
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Convenient log crossing.
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McCoy Falls.
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Banks of the Mersey.
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Toadstool everywhere.

Day 5: Narcissus Hut to Cynthia Bay

Unfortunately the weather had not improved and our plan to camp on Mt Olympus was scrapped. We decided to walk back to the visitor centre instead of taking the ferry, as we felt a sense of cheating if we had caught the boat.  In the end, I was glad we took that option as the walk back-although wet-consisted of a nice stroll through beautiful myrtle, sassafras, manfern and dogwood forests, spaced out far enough apart to keep things interesting.  It also gave us a chance to locate the track up to Olympus, as well as sussing out the small but welcoming hut at Echo Point.  In the end it took us just over 4 hours and 20 minutes (17.3kms) to reach the visitors centre from Narcissus Hut, and we happily jumped into the free showers before the midday ferry arrived.  Before long, we were at The Hungry Wombat Cafe devouring a burger and chips, and back to reality.

Narcissus Hut to Echo Point Hut – 6.3kms in 1 and a half hours

Echo Point Hut to Cynthia Bay 11kms in 2 hours and 50 minutes

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Mt Ida.

Getting There: Turn onto Lake Augusta Road from Liaweenee and follow past the Thousand Lakes Lodge.  Continue along the dam wall and follow all signs to Lake Ada. There is a large carpark at Lake Ada.

Mt Ossa

Abel #1; 1617m

Summiting Tasmania’s highest mountain had been on my mind for a very long time, but the thought of getting there and then not caring about climbing any others was a slight concern.  However, after experiencing some of the wide variety and variable difficulty  of other mountains in Tasmania, this was unlikely to be the case. We had decided to do it in style, and walk in-and-out in a day from the Arm River Track.  A number of online sources stated that it would take around the 12 hour mark, so we were keen to get an early start and be back on the road to Hobart before too late.

We arrived at the carpark at 9:30pm the night before and were surprised to see a number of cars parked, there given the weather had been pretty average over the last few days. After a quick check of daypacks and food, alarms were set for 5:30 and a restless night ensued.

We were on the track by 6:20am and made our way up the zigzag track to the western rim of the Cradle Mountain/Lake St Clair NP.  We reached Lake Price in 50 minutes, slightly wet from the dew covered bushes that were encroaching on the track.  In an attempt to reduce weight and increase comfort we had opted not to wear gaiters and only pack the bare minimum, not including my tripod, which I had instantly regretted when we arrived at the lake.  The next 15 minutes were spent taking a number of photos of the lake and Mt Pillinger.  From here the track descends into open myrtle forests, before crossing a small creek and onto clear marshland.  Another small tarn is passed before heading south, down into the forest and towards Lake Ayr.  The registration box can be found near the start of Lake Ayr and it also indicates the hard to see intersection with the Lees Paddocks Track.

It was then onto New Pelion Hut where we had a quick snack and avoided the hoards of miserable looking people (this might have been due to the rain the previous day or the fact that they had to sleep in a hut with 40 or so other people). We had arrived there in just under 3 hours and were making pretty good time, even with the extended stop at Lake Price.  The walk up to Pelion Gap consisted of overtaking large groups of people and Emily taking a slip on a tree root.  Fancy new steps, similar to the grippy plastic stuff that we saw on the way to Vera Hut, had been installed on the first part of the ascent to Mt Doris and made for quick climbing.  The track then contours the southern side of Mt Doris on some very nice rock work that weaves around cushion plants and scoparia, before dropping down into a saddle before the first rock scramble.  Unfortunately we were following a couple in front of us, and hadn’t paid attention to the ski poles marking the way; this meant that we went straight up the chute and had to a climb up a fairly exposed section of rock instead of the somewhat less airy route on the right hand side.

The track then dips again slightly, before the last little climb to the plateau and on to the mass of boulders that is the true highpoint. Hail had started to fall as we reached The Pools of Icarus and we sought shelter from the wind on a large rock on the northern side of the boulders, looking towards Cradle Mountain and Mt Oakleigh.  After a bite to eat and losing half my chocolate bar down a deep crevasse between the boulders, we made our way back down towards New Pelion Hut.  About 15 minutes before reaching the hut we made a quick detour to check out a track that leads down to Douglas Creek beside the track.  We were delighted to find a couple of very nice little waterfalls that were flowing quickly, and again made me regret not having a tripod.  From here we basically walked straight out, with only a couple of short stops to get a snack or stretch the legs.  We were happy to have made it back in just over 11 hours and for the most part, in pretty good condition except for a sore knee and a bit of sun burn.

All up: 39.2kms in 11 hours and 9 minutes with 1660m ascent.

Start of the track to Lake Price – 50 min, 3.2kms

Lake Price to New Pelion Hut – 1 hour and 55 minutes,  8.8kms

New Pelion Hut to Pelion Gap – 1 hour,  4.4kms

Pelion Gap to Ossa summit – 1 hour 15 minutes, 2.8kms

Ossa summit to carpark – 5 hours and 18 minutes 19.5kms

Getting there: Access to the Arm River Track is off the Mersey Forest Road.  Follow the Mersey Forest Road past the dam and continue until the road becomes dirt.  Shortly after, take a right up Arm River Road and continue for 3kms past the old Arm River Outdoor Education Centre.  The road then forks and you need to turn left onto Maggs Road as the bridge on Arm River Road is down. Follow Maggs Road for 13kms until you reach a pile of dirt.  Take a left again and follow this road for about 1km to the carpark.

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GPS track.
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First light as we reach the rim of the plateau.
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Mt Pillinger from Lake Price.
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Myrtle oranges everywhere.
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Lake Ayr and Mt Oakleigh.
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Mt Oakleigh.
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Pelion East and the new track.
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Rock steps.
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Local wallaby.
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Looking back down the chute that we mistakingly took.
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Pools of Icarus.
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Getting cricket scores on the highest rock in Tassie.
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Looking south. Too many mountains to name.
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Looking towards the southern end of Ossa.
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Cushion plants near Mt Doris.

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Small waterfall on Douglas Creek
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Open walking near the Lees Paddock intersection.

Little Hugel

A few weeks had passed between walks and Sunday was gearing up to be a pretty decent day. Originally we had hoped to join Jane and AB again on another walk around Cradle or the Walls; unfortunately I had work on Saturday and couldn’t take it off, which didn’t matter in the end as the trip was cancelled due to some pretty serious weather warnings. Heavy snow falls Friday and Saturday meant that we were somewhat limited with our options.  Having not walked in the Lake St Clair area before, we decided to head up that way and summit Little Hugel.

We arrived at the Lake St Clair visitor centre around 9:30 am and set off along the Shadow Lake Track (direction Watersmeet). The walk to Shadow Lake was easy and it took just over an hour and a half to reach the junction to Forgotten Lake. Up until that point, the snow on the track was only around 5cm thick and didn’t slow us down-however, things started to get interesting once we reached the northern side of Shadow Lake.

At this point the track had completely disappeared under a thick blanket of fresh snow and showed no signs of reappearing.   We continued toward Forgotten Lake, then followed a sign-posted track up through the forest and to the base of Little Hugel where we sat in the snow for lunch.  By the time the pandani started to appear, we were well and truly walking blind.  The mist had settled in and the markers were buried under snow, as was the boulder field leading to the summit.  There isn’t much to say about to walk to the top from here, except that the snow was very deep and the intended track was almost impossible to follow.  The soft powder meant that every movement forward was a slog, and we found ourselves chest deep on many occasions. We were forced to backtrack a couple of times to try and find a slightly easier route up, and also had to refer to the GPS to get our bearings.  We arrived at the top just over two hours after leaving the Shadow Lake Circuit Track, including our 10 minute break for some lunch.  Unfortunately the mist was still present and we could not see anything beyond 20m.  It was a shame as I’m sure the view of Olympus would have been pretty special after the glimpse we got heading out from the visitor centre.

The way back down from Little Hugel was significantly quicker-this was in part due to retracing our steps up, as well as sliding down the steeper rocky sections.  We arrived back at the intersection to Forgotten Lake in 1.5 hours and decided to head back along the Shadow Lake Circuit Track, even though it was slightly longer than the way we came in.  The sun appeared momentarily, and so did Rufus, giving me no choice but to add it to the ever growing list of places to explore.

All up a solid 19.6kms in 7hours and 7 minutes with a 779m ascent.

Getting there:  On the Lyell Highway follow direction to Derwent Bridge/Lake St Clair.  Once at the Lake St Clair visitors centre follow the direction of all walking tracks.

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GPS track of our walk.

 

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Olympus from Lake St Clair.
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The snow is starting to get thicker.
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Frozen pool just before Shadow Lake.

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Little Hugel.
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Snow-capped banksia.
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Shadow Lake.
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A platypus and Rufus.
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Looking back towards Forgotten Lake.
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The path up to Little Hugel.
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Emily trudging up the snow.
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Snow-capped pandani.
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Sun shining through the forest on the way out.
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Rufus on the way out.