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.
A big dump of snow was forecast for the weekend and the chance to surpass 99 peak bagging points was very enticing. Mt Hartz seemed to be a good candidate as reaching the summit is fairly short and the track relatively easy to follow, even in heavy snow. We were the first to arrive at the carpark and soon after made our way along the duckboards. The first 15m comprised of pushing through and ducking under snow laden branches covering the track, before reaching the open moors. Unfortunately not as much snow had fallen as I had hoped; though this was probably a good thing as it was very soft, even with snowshoes. A quick detour to Lake Esperance to check out the view was well worth it, though we couldn’t see as much as we’d like in the foggy conditions.
Once on Hartz Pass, we were hit with some very strong wind gusts and snowstorms, with pellets of ice belting us. Luckily there were a number of snow markers still visible, and we were able to follow them instead of relying solely on the GPS for navigation. Up we went, trying to avoid the patches of softer snow covering the bushes. We reached the top in just over 2 hours, but unfortunately couldn’t see more than 20m around us. Some protection from the wind could be found in the small rock windbreak where we had some snacks and a rest. Just as we were about to leave, the clouds cleared and we were able to see the Southern Ranges, Bob + Boomerang and the Picton Range.
The clearer conditions held up all the way back to Hartz Pass and made the descent much quicker, as well as more enjoyable with the occasional view of Hartz Lake, a frosty Devils Backbone and the occasional snow tornado whirling along the ridge. We were back at the car just after 12, which left plenty of time to check out something in the area that I had been keen to see for some time and to explore forestry roads.
All up 8.4kms in 3hours and 45 minutes with 518m ascent.
Getting there: The easiest way to access Hartz is by driving along the Arve Road from Geeveston. Follow all signs towards Tahune Airwalk and Hartz Mountain.
Having made good time climbing The Sentinels in the morning, we were keen to check out another spot on the way back home. The Needles were a good fit as it’s a quick scoot straight up, with some great views- so we stopped by the road at the Humboldt Divide and made our way up through the bush. The well-cleared track passed through patches of thick bush before climbing steeply through open terrain. The large rock formations on the way up were impressive and provided a good vantage for checking out the surrounding peaks. Unfortunately the cloud was thick on the southern side, and we had no view whatsoever of Mueller, Anne and friends. The track levels off slightly before one last climb to the summit, home to a very large cairn, and was reached 40 minutes after leaving the carpark. A great short walk with some impressive scenery.
All up 2.6kms in 1 hour and 18 minutes with 386m ascent.
Getting there:The track starts 16.5kms past Maydena on the Gordon River Road at the top of the Humboldt Divide. There is a decent carpark and a sign that says it is the highest point on the Gordon River Road and states the average annual rainfall. A small cairn on the opposite side of the road indicates the start of the track.
The last couple of walks we went on were in the Franklin Gordon National Park so we decided to stay south. There were a couple of day walks that I wanted to check out including Mt Burgess, Nevada Peak as well as Mt Riveaux. I can’t think of any reason as to why we chose to do Nevada but that’s what we ended up choosing. I hadn’t heard much about this walk but knew it was between Snowy North and Snowy South and, on a clear day, provided excellent views of Mt Weld. The plan was to walk to Nevada Peak then Snowy South before heading back out again.
A quick stop in Banjos Huonville to pick up lunch then we followed the Huon River towards Judbury. We then continued out past the Rivers Edge camping ground and began winding up Russell Road. Unfortunately we reached a bridge over the Russell River that has been blocked. A quick glance at the GPS showed that we were roughly 5kms from the start of the track and it looked as though the other access road would take ~45 minutes to reach. We decided then to cross the bridge by foot and walk along the road until we reached the start of the track. It took approximately an hour to reach the start of the track. Note that about 10 minutes before the start you will reach a bridge that has partly collapsed, this is where you will have to leave your car and continue on foot.
Follow this road and stay left when it forks until you reach the end of the road and the old carpark. From here follow the blue sign posts towards the forest, before long you will see the sign indicating the start as well as the walker registration box. The track then slowly climbs through the mossy forest and involves a traversing a couple of logs with foot holes cut out. Overall the track is well marked and easy to follow, it was a nice change from some of the more overgrown tracks that we had encountered in the months before. Thirty five minutes after the registration box we reached the junction and turned right towards Woolleys Tarn. The track then continued to climb through pandani and myrtle forests until it opened up and revealed Wetpants Peak and Woolleys Tarn. Although Woolleys Tarn did provide a good spot to stop and refill drink bottles, it was not that interesting and we decided to keep on moving. The climb from Woolleys Tarn to the plateau below Nevada Peak was slightly overgrown and required a keen eye to spot the next cairn or ribbon. Once on the plateau we walked towards the Snowdrift Tarns so that we could summit from the southern side. From what I could see there was no marked track here just a mix of pineapple grass, cushion plants, scoparia and the occasional boulder to navigate around. To get to the summit we followed a rocky scree and before long we had reached the top. After a quick look around and some photos from the summit we sought shelter from the strong wind and had some lunch.
At this point we had to decide whether we would try to climb Snowy South before heading back to the car. It was already almost 1pm and we had to factor in the extra hour of walking back to the car because of the stuff up in driving to the start of the walk. We decided to give it crack and headed off along the ridge in the direction of Snowy South. Mt Weld could be easily seen towards the west and is definitely on the bucket list of overnight walks to do in the near future. The walk between Nevada and Snowy South involved a lot of scrambling over various sized boulders and careful foot placement to avoid slipping and I would not recommend it to everyone. Careful route planning before ascending may help a lot and save a considerable amount of backtracking. Dispersed between the rocky sections are flatter areas with lots of small shrubs and cushion plants that shouldn’t be walked on. The last rocky section before reaching the summit of Snowy South is probably the most difficult as the rocks here a quite large and can be very slippery.
We reached the very windy summit around 2:30 and had a quick snack and a drink before heading back towards the Nevada Peak track. By this stage we were planning to be back at the start of the track just before dark and then walk along the road back to the car. On the way back I made a couple of small detours to check out the Honeybird Basin and Dungeon Tarn from above. There is also an unnamed tarn to the north of Dungeon Tarn that features heavily in the photos taken that day. After refilling our water bottles at one of the Snowdrift Tarns below Nevada Peak we set off back down to the car park, this time taking the more direct route. The light was slowly fading and the thick canopy made it harder to see the track ahead. We made it back to the old carpark then continued to walk along the road for about 15 minutes before night fell. The rest of the walk back to the car was helped by a phone torch light as the moon was hiding.
All up 30.3km in a total of 10 hours and 14 minutes and 1565m ascent. Note that if you take the correct route you can shave off about 10kms of road walking and approximately 2 hours.
Getting there: The correct route as of 18th of April 2017 is to head towards Judbury from Huonville then drive along Lonnavale Road where you will reach Denison Road. Continue along Denison Road and follow all signs towards Lake Skinner. You will eventually end up on McDougalls Road which you will follow for about 6.3kms where you will see the last sign indicating the Lake Skinner track. Continue along McDougalls Road following all signs indicating Forrest Drive. 1.5kms later you will now be on Russell Road which you will follow for 6kms. At the intersection turn left (turning right will lead to a blocked bridge about 1km down the road) and follow this road for 4.3kms, making sure you go left when the road forks about 2kms in. You will reach a taped off part of the road indicating the collapsed bridge then continue walking up the road for about 10 minutes to reach the start of the track. Clear as mud.
This walk had been on the list for a little while; unfortunately I still hadn’t received my camera back from getting repaired and was stuck with my phone camera. We were really lucky with the weather with warm, blue skies and most importantly, no wind. The plan was start at the Farmhouse Creek track around 11am then walk up to the lake before stopping for some late lunch. We would then walk around Lake Sydney to set up camp on the southern side, near the start of the climb to the saddle. The next morning we would head up to Bobs and the Boomerang then return to camp and collect our packs and walk back out.
After a second breakfast stop at Banjos in Huonville we arrived at the start of the Farmhouse Creek track around 11:15. Ten minutes later we were off and followed the track along the banks of Farmhouse Creek where we encountered two large tiger snakes in the space of two minutes sun baking by the creek. We walked next to the creek for approximately 2 hours until we reached the fallen tree that is used to cross over to the other side. After a few quick snacks we crossed the log and continued away from the creek. This part of the track has some particularly boggy sections, even in the middle of summer. After about 500m we reached a small tree covered in ribbon indicating the turnoff to Lake Sydney, where shortly after we arrived at a small clearing that could be used as a campsite if necessary. After leaving the clearing through a small opening on the left hand side, you enter an almost impenetrable wall of cutting grass, vines and bauera with a gap just large enough to push your way through. Luckily this section doesn’t last that long and before you know it you begin to climb up towards the Lake Sydney.
After climbing over and under a number of fallen trees and nearly treading on the third and final snake of the day we eventually reached a small opening that provided fantastic views back towards Chapman and Burgess, as well as Federation Peak. We knew we were getting close to the lake so we took a few quick photos then continued on our way. From memory the track climbs a little bit more before it starts to decent into the marshy sections between Pine Lake and Lake Sydney. About 1 hour after reaching the lookout we arrived at the sinkhole, where we stopped for a late lunch before walking around the other side of the lake.
From here on in there is no track except for the occasional ribbon in the dense forest on the way up to the saddle. At first it was easy; all we had to do was follow the lake around the western side. Just before reaching the camp we arrived at a small cliff that prevented us from continuing. We had to backtrack slightly and head up into the forest above the cliff. This section was fairly steep and scrubby and took a bit of effort with large packs on. Before long we had reached the campsite, 5 hours and 25 minutes after leaving the Farmhouse Creek carpark. We set up camp quickly so that we could have a quick swim and enjoy what was left of the afternoon sun. The cliff that prevents you from walking around the lake provides a good spot to jump into the water as it drops off pretty quickly. While we were sitting around the camp we spotted a platypus swimming out towards the middle of the lake, as well as a cormorant that seemed to be a long way from home. That night the sky was clear and provided an excellent view of the milky way, further adding to my annoyance of not receiving my camera back in time for this walk.
The sunrise the next morning was worth waking up for and we quickly ate breakfast and packed up the majority of our stuff before heading up to the saddle between Mt Bobs. The walk between the lake and the saddle is probably the worst part of the whole trip. The trees and pandani are very dense and there is no real way to get your bearings. Although we had GPS coordinates we were frequently back tracking to find a better path up. The best advice I can give is to make your way up on the Boomerang side of the forest where you will find the occasional ribbon. This was something we found out on the way back down. Once we reached the saddle we had to make a decision on which peak we would summit first. Given the climb up to the saddle took a lot longer than expected, we chose to summit Mt Bobs as it would probably take a bit longer than the Boomerang. On the way up to Bobs we chose another bad path that led to an unclimbable cliff face and cost us about 20 minutes. After backtracking and finding a much, much better route up we reached the top and quickly forgot about our troubles. The view of Federation Peak that day was 10/10, and as expected there was not a breath of wind and blue skies were above the valley that was covered in cloud. We were joined at the top by dozens of swallows that appeared to be heading south, but spent a little while whizzing around just above us.
On the way back down to the saddle we decided not to summit the Boomerang and return back to the camp to collect out bags. I still regret that decision, but it gives us a good reason to return to this lovely place. We stumbled across a better path on the way back down to Lake Sydney that would have made the climb up much quicker. Almost 4 hours after leaving camp we returned and collected our packs for the walk back to the carpark. We reached the carpark 4 hours and 54 minutes later, about 30 minutes quicker than the walk in. I really enjoyed this overnight trip and would recommend it to anyone who is keen to get away from some of the more popular overnight walks in Tassie.
All up, 29.1km and 1474m ascent.
Getting there: To get to Farmhouse Creek follow the directions to Mt Picton but do not turn off West Picton Road. In short, from Geeveston head towards the Tahune Airwalk along the Arve Road. Just before the Airwalk turn left onto Picton Road and turn right onto West Picton Road once the road forks. Continue across the bridge over the Picton River and follow this road until you reach the gate and the start of the Farmhouse Creek track.
This Saturday had been set aside to summit Mt Anne with some members from the Pandani group. Unfortunately the weather didn’t hold up and the walk was cancelled. Instead of staying at home we decided to head up towards Scotts peak dam and do a shorter, less exposed walk in that area. We chose Lake Judd as it was pretty much the only walk that fit that criteria.
Not too much to say about this one, the track was in good condition but some sections were very boggy. I recall one bog hole being almost waist deep. The weather wasn’t as bad as expected but the intermittent showers were enough to keep everything damp all day. There is a track marked by a cairn that leads off the main track and up towards Schnells Ridge, unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to go up there but we will be back.
After passing through some thick scrub and avoiding bog holes you will eventually reach a button grass plain that leads to the Anne river. The only way to continue is to wade through the river and rejoin the track on the other side. From here the track climbs steadily until you reach the lake. The track then follows the eastern side of the lake around to a spot where you can easily access the water. Unfortunately the moment we reached the lake to have lunch the worst shower of the day came through and covered Mt Eliza and Mt Anne in cloud. I’m sure the views on a clear day are spectacular.
All up I think it took a leisurely 6 hours. Not sure about distance or elevation as I didn’t have my GPS on me that day.
Getting there: Follows directions to Lake Pedder but turn off the highway onto a well maintained dirt road called Scotts Peak road. Continue driving past the Mt Anne carpark until you see a signpost indicating the Lake Judd track.
The walk starts off easy with a couple of small inclines
Looking back towards the start of the track and Lake Pedder
Buttons grass plains looking east towards Mt Weld? Anne river to the left.
Crossing the Anne River
Lake Judd and clouds shrouding Mt Eliza as we stop for lunch.