This was a walk that was most likely going to fail, given the weather and a few delays early on in the day.
Mt Chapman and Burgess Bluff are mountains that make up what is sometimes referred to as the South Picton Range, and sit nicely between Picton to the North and Mt Bobs to the South. There wasn’t a great deal of information on the internet regarding this walk and that’s what made it more interesting. I clearly remember looking out from Picton a few months earlier and noticing the strange looking rock formations that make up part of the South Picton Range.
I left Cygnet early that morning and was hoping to get a glimpse of Hartz or Adamson’s just to get an idea of how much snow had fallen over the last couple of days. Unfortunately the peaks never showed themselves but the thick cloud and rain was a pretty good indicator of what was to come. I met Emily in Huonville and we stocked up on lunch and some snacks before heading off towards the Arve Road. We were hoping to get to the start of the track around 9:15 but after dawdling in Huonville and missing the West Picton Spur 1 turnoff things weren’t looking promising. We eventually arrived at the start of the track a little after 10, and just in time for the first of many showers to pass overhead.
We made our way through the cutting grass and into the forest, following it up for about an hour. A few small patches of snow started to appear once the forest thinned out and opened up. Apart from a few streams across the track and the constant dripping from the trees above, we were reasonably dry; this didn’t last long however, as once we left the forest we were in chest high bauera and basically walking through a creek.
This continued for some time and we basically just walked through as quick as we could to minimise the time our feet were submerged. We reached the plateau and spent a minute or two trying to orientate ourselves as the surrounding cloud was very thick. Walking along the plateau was a nice change from the scrub, although we were getting hit with some serious wind and hail. We then reached a gully that had a number of dead pencil pine trunks and the interesting rock formations that I saw from Mt Picton a few months earlier. The track then climbs right next to these rocks and onto a ridge that overlooks Square Tarn.
We stopped briefly on the western edge of Square Tarn for a bit of lunch then continued westward to try and find the pad that leads up to Abrotanella Rise and on to Mt Champan. After about 5 minutes of looking around for any sign of a pad we decided to head back to the car. Given the time of the day, it was unlikely that we would be able to hit one peak – let alone both – without having to walk in the dark. Normally this wouldn’t be too bad as I did have a head torch, but given the weather and the increasing sensation of cold we were experiencing after having stopped for lunch, it was the safest thing to do. On the way back along the plateau some of the low lying cloud lifted revealing a snow covered Mt Bobs and The Boomerang, as well as a number of large waterfalls running over the cliffs below the north-east side of Mt Chapman. The break in cloud didn’t last long and the view started to disappear so we continued back along the wet track and to the car.
All up 11.5kms in 5 hours. 763m ascent.
Getting there: The directions are the same as Mt Picton with the start of this track beginning about 200m further up the road. In brief follow the Arve Road towards the airwalk. Just before the airwalk turn left onto West Picton Road. Follow this road over the Picton River for about 15 minutes until you reach West Picton Spur 1. Turn up this road and follow it until you reach West Picton Spur 1/2, just past Cook Creek. Follow this road up and go past the first set of cairns and tapes that indicate the Picton track. The start of the Burgess and Chapman track is about 200m further at the end of the road.