Sunday, 13 October 2013

South Cape Bay- 5th October 2013

A windy day was forecast, with some possible showers. As it turned out, it was indeed windy at South Cape Bay, and it showered occasionally. Good day's walk though, generally sunny, with a few spring flowers out, and South Cape Bay looking very wild. The waves weren't huge, but the bay was a maelstrom, the sea streaked by the strong and gusty westerly wind.

New stone and timber steps have been built to the left of the coal cliffs. It will remain to be seen what happens to the large boulders that form the base of the steps, but I think they'll probably do better than the timber steps which have regularly been bashed around by the sea. It pays to realise that every boulder on the beach is either so large it fell off a cliff and sat where it was, or it has been placed where it is by the sea. This would be a dangerous place in a proper storm.

New steps from South Cape Bay onto the coal cliffs at the eastern end - 5th October 2013

South Cape visible across the windswept bay, South Cape Bay - 5th October 2013

South East Cape - 5th October 2013

South Cape Bay - 5th October 2013

South Cape Bay - 5th October 2013

The creek flowing strongly across the beach near Lion Rock, South Cape Bay - 5th October 2013

Lion Rock, South cape Bay - 5th October 2013

Sunday, 21 July 2013

From the Zig Zag Track

Yesterday was actually a really good day for climbing the mountain. The river and even Storm Bay were very calm, with lovely pastel hues. This is a three-shot panorama, and is massively detailed in its full size incarnation.

South Arm and the Tasman Peninsula from the Zig Zag Track
South Arm and the Tasman Peninsula from the Zig Zag Track

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Changes proposed for management of the Walls of Jerusalem

St Davids Peak from Solomons Throne at sunrise
There are some interesting suggestions from Parks and Wildlife about how the Walls of Jerusalem should be managed in future. The area is certainly quite heavily used, and they've been trying to work out how to minimise the impact of the number of visitors for some years. There's a pdf you can download with all the details.

Perhaps most notably, they propose a circuit walk in through Herods Gate, over to Dixons Kingdom, then down to Lake Ball and then Lake Adelaide and return from there.

I will note one item I have come across in the report. At one point, in talking about the use of the area by large non-commercial groups, it notes "Anecdotal reports have also noted the poor social conduct of some large groups, their lack of adherence to an appropriate code of practice and general lack of understanding as to the sensitivities of the environment in which they are bushwalking."

This may be true, but I have encountered the well-known local school groups who take both primary and secondary students for daywalks from the Arm River campsite. The last group I saw were beautifully behaved, friendly and cheerful, led I think by Aardvark Adventures, and were enjoying the landscape. Mr Aardvark, the boss I think, correctly identified me to the group as a specimen of a Whiskered Tasmanian Bushwalker.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Chalice Lake and Twin Spires - 13th to 15th February 2013

Having circled this area in January, I was intrigued to see what was there. I met the three ladies of Warrnambool at Junction Lake, and they were headed for Chalice Lake for a night on their way to being picked up at the very end of the Mersey Forest Road. Indeed, I found their brief entry in the logbook at the start of the track as I headed upwards on this trip.

Maybe I visited at the right time - the weather was excellent - but this is one of the most spectacular and scenic places I have been. It also seems to be quite ecologically fragile, and I suspect that camping at Chalice Lake shouldn't be encouraged. I had some difficulty finding a spot to use as a toilet actually, and had to go a considerable distance before I thought any "flow" wouldn't be likely to end up rapidly in the lake.

Chalice Lake sits in a large natural bowl in the Cathedral Mountain plateau. Cathedral Mountain is the spectacular line of cliffs visible from Kia-Ora along the Overland Track. The lake itself is awesome, and working against the idea of not camping there is the fact that at sunrise and sunset it is very photogenic. From Chalice Lake, you can walk on a little higher to Tent Tarn, where there is a more obvious campsite, but the same ecological concerns would apply. Around the edge of the plateau are various peaks - mostly the peaks noted along the rim of Cathedral Mountain. Twin Spires is the tallest point - the North Spire being the true "summit" of this high area. There is basically a quite obvious route from Chalice Lake to the summit of Twin Spires, with a few spots where the way ahead isn't entirely clear. I will put up a walk description, but I'm not going to be too specific about the route, as part of the fun is finding your way there. The Abels and Chapman both have descriptions, with Chapman probably a little more complete.

For now, here are a few selected photos which show a little of the beauty of the area and the views from the summit.

Chalice Lake in the early morning.

Twin Spires at far right, from my campsite at Chalice Lake.
Twin Spires at far right, from my campsite at Chalice Lake.

The Pelions and Mount Ossa from Twin Spires summit
The Pelions and Mount Ossa from Twin Spires summit.

The Du Cane range visible behind the Southern Spire from near the summit of Twin Spires
The Du Cane Range and Mount Ossa visible behind the Southern Spire from near the summit of Twin Spires.

Chalice Lake at sunset
Chalice Lake at sunset.

Sunrise at Chalice Lake.
This one above is available to purchase at RedBubble.

Sunrise in the mist at Chalice Lake
Sunrise in the mist at Chalice Lake.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Mount Pillinger Walk Description

Mount Pillinger from Twin Spires
Mount Pillinger from Twin Spires
Mt Pillinger lies to the east of the Overland Track and provides spectacular views (1MB jpg) of the main peaks along that route, as well as many other peaks of the Central Plateau and northern Tasmania. This is a moderate daywalk and well worth the effort.


The walk should take 2 to 2 1/2  hours one-way, but this will depend on how quickly you climb steep hills. Slower climbers should allow more time. You will also need to allow extra time for sitting on top soaking in the view.

Accessing the walk

The walk commences from the very end of the Arm River Road; the first part of the walk is along the standard walk-in to Pelion Hut. Drive to Mole Creek and then heading west out of the town take the Mersey Forest Road.  About 35 km from the middle of Mole Creek, you turn right into Maggs Road (signed to Arm River), and then after a further 2.5 km fork right into Arm River Road. Follow the road to its end. There isn't a great deal of parking - try to park so that others can too.


The summit is at 1280 m, and in poor weather the approach and climb would be unpleasant as for all Tasmanian walks, take warm and waterproof clothing. Some of the slopes are steep and bouldery, so some care is required. Mobile phones on the Telstra network operate from the higher parts of the peak.


From the carpark, the track first heads through the forest and is fairly level for a short distance before climbing steeply to the plateau. Once the track has levelled out, you will come across a fork.  The main track goes right, and a more minor pad heads left.  Someone has placed some sticks across the minor track, and I'm not sure if perhaps there is a later turnoff to the Mt Pillinger walk. Anyway, you can head left, and the track undulates and winds along a pleasant valley.

The wrong cairn which does NOT
lead up Mount Pillinger
There is the opportunity to go astray along here where a misleadingly well constructed small-cairn marks an intersection with a track leading left. This track actually heads east, away from Mt Pillinger, probably back to the end of a road in the Mersey Valley I think. (See photo of the WRONG cairn.)

Keep going until you find a substantial cairn (GPS Ref. S 41 48.404 E 146 07.802) and can see a reedy lake ahead. The track now turns left and heads uphill and is easy to follow all the way to the top although some sections are steep and/or bouldery. The track first heads roughly southeast, then turns through roughly southwest before turning west and climbing steeply and more directly to the summit. The views open up, and from the top there is a very spectacular view of many of the peaks of the Overland Track and Central Plateau.


At 1:100,000 you can use either the Mersey (8114) sheet or the Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National park map. At 1:25,000 you will need the Rowallan (4237) and Cathedral (4236) mapsheets.

Other sources of information

The Abels Volume 1 contains a description.
John Chapman also covers this walk as a sidetrip in his Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair Guide.

See also my post about my walk to Mount Pillinger in February 2013.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mount Pillinger 360 Panorama

Had a lovely day to climb Mount Pillinger in February. Stitching the panorama together probably took almost as long as walking the track. Not sure why, but it came out quite (or very) strangely in every piece of panorama software I currently have, using every option I could find. I finally got it to work OK in Microsoft ICE on about the third attempt by omitting one photo where there was enough overlap to miss one. Sorry for the slight waviness, it was handheld. I got one version which was straighter, but it had weird kinks in the horizon and bands where it couldn't sort out the joins! This is especially for Peter McHugh, who found this an inspiring view as a teenager.

Larger version (about 1MB). Zoom in on it, it's 800 pixels high.

360 degree panorama from the summit of Mount Pillinger - well worth the climb
Walk report here.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

New website highlights Hobart walking tracks

This new website, Greater Hobart Trails was featured in the Mercury this morning. Well worth a look. I've found a couple of new walks already. I do note that they have avoided some of the more risky bits of some walks. I think it's probably a compilation of the walks that have been featured on the various council websites for some time.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Mt Pillinger - 12th February 2013

A nice climb to this peak with great views of so many famous Tasmanian mountains. "...I took in that view and have never stopped walking since." (P. McHugh)

Mount Pillinger is walked from the end of the Arm River Road, up the Mersey River valley behind Mole Creek. This is the same walk start as the standard walk-in to Pelion Hut on the Overland Track. Walk Description coming soon.

Having "walked around the mountains" previously, I was keen to try climbing both Mt Pillinger and Twin Spires on Cathedral Mountain. I had wondered if I might climb Mt Pillinger as a side-trip at the end of that earlier walk, but in the rain of my last day it didn't seem like a brilliant plan.

Mt Pillinger from Kia-Ora
Mt Pillinger from Kia-Ora.
Mt Pillinger is quite impressive from several places, not least down the Mersey Valley from Kia-Ora. I've seen it a few times from there, and spent some time getting a sunset photo from near the tent platforms this last time, on a beautiful evening. What a lovely prominent peak, steep cliffs, all massive dolerite, definitely seemed worth climbing, and its position suggested it would have great views from the summit.

I've found that if I want to really understand the shape of the land, I have to climb every mountain in an area several times, in various weathers and light. Then I start to understand how the hills and valleys, ridges and rivers, cliffs, peaks, creeks, lakes and forests all work together to give us the landscape. What can I see from here? How does it look from here? What shape IS that ridge I can see from over there? I've climbed the peaks of the Huon, and have started to get a three-dimensional understanding of what I can see. Mt Pillinger, and Cathedral Mountain, looked like really great places to view this spectacular area from - The Du Cane Range, the Pelions including Mount Ossa, Cathedral Mountain. I expected to see all these. In fact, when I got there, the view was indeed fit to inspire a lifetime of walking.

The walk description provides the explanation of the route. Suffice to say that I did indeed manage to find an "alternative" route, as usual, which fortunately only added about half an hour and two kilometres to my trip. I suspect my impromptu sidetrip actually heads back to a different point in the confused road network in the upper Mersey River Valley.

Mount Rogoona from Mount Pillinger
Mount Rogoona from Mount Pillinger.

Mount Rogoona is stretched out across the view when viewed from here. When it's viewed from Lake Myrtle, it's steep and prominent, the view being really along the ridge. From Pillinger we see it side-on, and can also see to the left of it the ridges which have to be crossed to climb it from the saddle. I see from here that it's no wonder it took me a while and I have a strong recollection of wandering across those misty ridges, not always sure where I was, nor exactly where the top might be. Interestingly, it's hard to pick out exactly where Lake Myrtle lies, the hills on this side of it meld into the slopes of Mount Rogoona, and perhaps it's only really visible from Mount Rogoona. From here though, I can see the forested slopes which fall away into the Mersey Valley - this is where one of my earlier "impromptu routes" headed - I think this is what is called the Jacksons Creek Track, and it heads from Lake Myrtle down to the end of the  Mersey Forest Road.

Twin Spires, Cathedral Mountain and the Du Cane Range from Mount Pillinger
Twin Spires, Cathedral Mountain and the
Du Cane Range from Mount Pillinger.
I'm headed here over the next few days, the plan being to walk up to Chalice Lake and climb Twin Spires. It's an Abel, and promises even more central views than Mount Pillinger. The cliff line from Cathedral Mountain running down the Mersey Valley is visible from here. I saw these a few weeks earlier from Lees Paddocks, from where they were mysterious imposing crags, appearing occasionally through the clouds. I'm always taken by the way 30 degree slopes seem pretty much vertical when you're looking straight up them. Even more so when you have a week's worth of food and gear on your back.

Lees Paddocks from Mount Pillinger
Lees Paddocks from
Mount Pillinger.
I walked down to Lees Paddocks a few weeks earlier in the rain, the first time I had ever visited them. From Mount Pillinger Lees Hut is easily seen, laid out in the sun. It was drizzling when I was there, but I could see cliffs high above which my new friends confirmed belonged to Mount Pillinger. I don't think I could see the summit for cloud, but given I can see Lees Paddocks from the summit, it follows that the opposite is possible!

Mount Hyperion (centre) with the south ridge of Mount Ossa (right)
Mount Hyperion (centre) with the south ridge of Mount Ossa (right).
Quite some years ago I walked out to Lake Helios at the northern end of the Labyrinth, and climbed Mount Hyperion. It's a very distinctive mountain with the impressive summit tower seen in this photo, and featured on the cover of the first volume of The Abels. You can also see it from the climb to Mount Ossa. It has some scrambling near the top, which I have to admit I had to think about as I ascended. The views from the peak were awesome, only slightly impacted by the concept of having to climb down again. Having managed that, I recall being completely unable to detect any light above my tent as thick cloud descended during the night. By morning it had cleared, and I photographed the most stupendous view of Mount Ossa and Mount Pelion East in the sunrise. They were on film, and I must see what I can do to produce better versions.

Mount Pelion East and Mount Ossa from Mount Pillinger
Mount Pelion East and Mount Ossa from Mount Pillinger
Mount Ossa and Mount Pelion East fill a good swathe of the view. I've only had a view from the top of Mount Ossa once, but I have a 360 degree panorama from that morning. Unfortunately it's on film, so not trivial to actually produce. I should see what I can do with it in today's software. I love the view of the sedimentary rocks below the dolerite caps here.

Mount Pelion West and Lake Ayr from Mount Pillinger
Mount Pelion West and Lake Ayr from Mount Pillinger.
I haven't climbed Mount Pelion West. I've heard it has large dark holes between vast boulders. They've made it more difficult by limiting where you can camp (legitimately) before climbing, but I suppose I'd better climb it sometime.

See the 360 degree panorama. It shows all the above views, and I think it confirms Peter's sentiments about the views from Mount Pillinger.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Frenchmans Cap - Walk Description

Northward view from the Lake Tahune helipad around sunset.
Northward view from the Lake Tahune helipad around sunset.
The Frenchmans Cap area is one of the most spectacular parts of Tasmania. It is wild, remote and quite inaccessible, except for the one track leading from the Lyell Highway to the summit. Walkers usually take three to five days to climb Frenchmans and return. Longer itineraries provide more opportunities to reach the summit. Parties need to be fully prepared for poor weather, and accept that the weather may mean they cannot climb the peak.


In common with many other Tasmanian walks, Frenchmans Cap has obvious hazards - precipitous cliffs, snakes and poor weather. People often under-estimate Tasmanian weather. It can be bad enough to cause hypothermia in any season, and deep snow can fall on the higher peaks at any time of year. Read this guide before undertaking walks in Tasmania. Although not to be relied on, there is Telstra 3G access from the summit and other high points along the track. the carrying of a registered personal locater beacon (PLB) is recommended.

Distances and times

The walk is 27km each way from the Lyell Highway. Walking times will vary significantly depending on fitness. I think it is occasionally daywalked in 12 -15 hours return by extremely fit and experienced "walkers", but for most of us this is beyond reach. The Loddon Plains are about to be largely circumvented, which will reduce walking time and improve comfort on the first section. Approximate one-way times are:
  • Lyell Highway to Lake Vera - 5 to 7 hours
  • Lake Vera to Lake Tahune - 3 1/2 to 5 hours
  • Lake Tahune to Summit - 1 to 1 1/2 hours
The Lions Head, just to the north of Frenchmans Cap.
The Lions Head, just to the north of
Frenchmans Cap.

Choosing an itinerary

Very fit parties walk from the highway to Lake Tahune in a long day, but for most people walking this whole distance on their first day is not a good option. A three-day visit would normally be undertaken by walking in to Lake Vera and daywalking the summit from there. This will make for a long second day, and provides only one opportunity to reach the summit and see the view, around lunchtime on day 2.

Four-day trips would normally include a summit trip either (i) on the afternoon of day 2, having walked up to Lake Tahune in the morning, or (ii) on the morning of day 3 before walking back to Lake Vera, or even (iii) both. Five day visits allow more flexibility again, providing more opportunities to go to the summit and more leisure to take the quite arduous walking at your own pace.

A further option would be to walk out from Lake Tahune to the highway in one long day. This would be less arduous than the inward journey. Some parties also choose to walk out as far as the Loddon River and then do the last bit over Mount Mullens on a final day.

If you are not fit and experienced in this sort of walking, I strongly recommend a four or five day choice. On my recent trip, I allowed 5 days, and used them all, although I considered walking back to Lake Vera on day 3 having been to the summit that day.

Accessing the walk

Driving from Hobart, you head for Queenstown. The road is slower than you might imagine given the distance, so allow extra time. You drive to Derwent Bridge and then around 29km further on there is a large carpark and information display. Just a warning, theft from vehicles has occurred at the start of this walk in the past, although I haven't been able to determine if anyone has had trouble recently. Leave no valuable items in vehicles.

Walk description

The timing shown assumes you have allowed five days.

Day One: The walk commences descending to the Franklin River and crossing it on a suspension bridge, before turning west and undulating around the hills and across some small plains. A boot-washing station is passed, and then the track starts to rise. There is a quite solid climb to the shoulder of Mount Mullens, before the well-made track descends steadily to the Loddon River. Getting there is likely to take two hours or more. Depending on start time, this may be a good spot for lunch, and there is even a seat. You can camp here.

The Loddon River is crossed on a suspension bridge, and you are now on the (sodden) Loddon Plains. However, the track has been greatly improved over this first section. After a while, you will notice a significant deterioration however. This is the soon-to-be avoided southern section. A new track has been cut and will open sometime soon (as at Apr 2013). This track will head up Laughtons Lead, cutting off the southern Loddon Plains and Philps Lead. It will no doubt be impossible to miss once actually opened. For now, the old track heads south across the quite muddy plains - the wettest bit of the old track. It then turns southwest up Philps Lead, and this section is less muddy, although just as wet, and tends to consist of standing or flowing water in runnels. However, these runnels have mainly eroded down to the gravel beneath and make for better walking. UPDATE: The Laughtons Lead section is now open, and you will find the track should now be a doddle. Hopefully it's made well enough not to collapse into new bog holes any time soon.

At the upper end of Philps Lead (where the new track will emerges), the track re-enters the forest and climbs quite steeply over the hill and down to Rumney Creek and then the Lake Vera Hut. This hut sleeps around 20, but would be pretty cosy at that capacity. The hut has a coal stove. Firelighters are very useful for getting these started. (Visitors note, huts are unattended. You can't buy food there.) There are some tent sites further along the track, but visitors are requested to use the hut in preference.

Tahune Hut stove
Tahune Hut stove
Day Two: From Lake Vera Hut, the track twists and turns around the edge of the lake. This section of track has been upgraded in recent years which makes it easier, but progress is not rapid. At the far end of the lake, a creek is crossed on a small footbridge, and then the ascent to Barron Pass commences. This is a long, steep, wet climb, with many tree roots and slippery sections. However, it has also received a lot of attention, and many of the harder bits have been improved in recent years. This climb takes some time, but eventually you will emerge at Barron Pass, a great spot for a rest in good weather. If it is clear, you will have a magnificent view of Frenchmans Cap and surrounds from here. Alternatively, and probably just as likely, you may be inside the cloud. The pass is flanked by Sharlands Peak to the north and the ridge leading to Philps Peak to the south.

From here the track falls and climbs steeply and roughly around the slopes of Sharlands Peak. This section takes some time, and requires care with a large pack. After a while the track descends into Artichoke Valley, a wet area over-shadowed by strange rock formations. This area was severely burnt in the 1960s, and the dead pine trees are very obvious. The track climbs and falls steeply beyond here, partly on ladders, before emerging quite suddenly at the Lake Tahune Hut. This hut is spectacularly located below the northeast cliffs of the Cap, and has a helipad with grandstand views to the north, including the Eldon Range. There are a few tent sites along the track that goes to the lake shore. The hut supposedly sleeps 16, but this would be very cosy. It has a coal stove.

Lake Burbury from Frenchmans Cap
Lake Burbury from Frenchmans Cap.
Day Three: The track continues past the hut and starts to climb steeply up the obvious gully to the North Col. The track was re-routed here a long time ago, and now makes a large zigzag across terraces above Lake Tahune. The climbing here is quite easy, and the views around make for very enjoyable climbing.

Having zagged back towards the Col, the route heads more steeply up the rock to the left (south). There are some scrambly sections, including one bit some will find tricky in a gully. With care and thought, this will be passed with little difficulty for most people. In snow or ice, you will need to consider whether proceeding is actually safe given your level of skill. There are certainly a couple of spots where a slip could result in serious injury.

Misty views seen from the northern slopes of Frenchmans Cap.
Misty views seen from the northern
slopes of Frenchmans Cap.
The route is well marked and winds up the steep slopes, eventually becoming more gentle and arriving at the summit at the edge of the enormous cliff. Of course, great care is required, as a fall would be undoubtedly fatal. On a clear day, the views are astounding, and well worth the effort required to get there. Hopefully you have made time to be able to remain a while and soak it all in. You can spend a fair time wandering about the plateau.

If you have a full day for exploring the area of the peak, you can make your way to the North Col and beyond. A track heads further west along the ridge of the Lions Head, and eventually drops a long way to the Franklin River. This makes for a long return climb if followed all the way, but the first part of the ridge provides good walking and different views for those with some spare time.

The return is merely a retrace of your inward journey, and as noted above your return itinerary is up to you.

Other peaks

Nearby Sharlands Peak can be climbed relatively easily from along the track. Clytemnestra, Philps Peak and Mt Agamemnon are more complex. The book The Abels Volume 2 (Bill Wilkinson) contains descriptions of how to attain these summits. They all require off-track walking and navigational expertise.


Frenchmans Cap Walk Map and Notes - I suggest getting the laminated waterproof version from the Tasmanian Map Centre at 100 Elizabeth St, Hobart.

For really good detailed info, get the 1:25,000 maps Vera 4031 and Loddon 4032. These are also available laminated from the Map Centre as above.

Other information sources

The Parks and Wildlife Service have a page about this walk here.
The Abels Volume Two - Bill Wilkinson has good information about climbing Frenchmans Cap and surrounding high peaks.
John Chapman's South West Tasmania has a good description of the walk.

Frenchmans Cap - Four Seasons In One Hour

Clytemnestra seen from the summit of Frenchmans Cap - 1st Feb 2013
Clytemnestra seen from the summit of Frenchmans Cap
Frenchmans Cap is one of the most spectacular walking venues in Tasmania. The area is very steep, accessible with any ease only along one actual track, and potentially subject to the full variety of Tasmanian weather even in the middle of summer. Most trips take three to five days, with longer itineraries allowing more chances to climb the peak and obviously reducing the daily effort required. Overall, the walk is more challenging than walks like the Overland Track, and requires good foul-weather gear. Fortunately, the mud of the famed Loddon Plains has been partly tamed, and will shortly be largely circumvented by a new section of track.

I have provided a full walk description here which has some more photos.

My recent visit

This was my third visit to the Frenchmans Cap area. My first two were in 1998 and 1999. The first was an ill-conceived attempt by two only barely fit blokes to do Frenchmans in three days. The weather cracked up, and we were met at Barron Pass by horizontal sleet and hail, then found the creek had risen about two feet and broken its banks at the bottom of the hill when we returned there. My second visit was the next year, but was planned over five days, and in glorious weather I climbed Frenchmans Cap twice and wandered around the ridge towards the Franklin River. I was hoping for a repeat this year, but the weather forecast wasn't optimistic.

Lake Vera hut
Lake Vera hut
In the event, I had an enjoyable although occasionally uncomfortable walk, and spent an hour or so on and about the summit in chilly weather which included snow and hail. Day one was a little drizzly, with occasional moments of rain, and I walked into Lake Vera. The track has been significantly improved, and a new segment of track up Laughtons Lead is apparently nearly ready for use. I couldn't locate the ends of it, otherwise I'd have used it in preference to the southern part of the Loddon Plains and Philps Lead, which were somewhat wet and muddy, but not too bad. I heard that the new track was supposed to be opened in March, but I haven't seen it in the news. When it is complete, most of the mud will be remediated or avoided, making it a much more pleasant track.

Lake Tahune hut
Lake Tahune hut
Day two it at least drizzled all day, and was often raining properly. I climbed Barron Pass and made my way to the Tahune Hut. They have installed a stove, and this was superb for drying out wet stuff. It makes the hut a much more comfortable place. There were even some fire lighters there to give it a good start. It was very pleasant and snug sitting in the hut while the rain and hail fell around.

View of misty hills from the slopes of Frenchmans Cap
View of misty hills from the slopes
of Frenchmans Cap
Day three was quite clear although chilly at around 4am. I should have headed up the mountain then, because by 7am the clouds were swirling around again and drizzling. However, the sun broke through regularly, and I set off up the hill towards the col. After about ten minutes, a solid, lengthy shower of hail caused some indecision but it cleared quickly and the sun came out, making it feel quite like summer. The clouds cleared more as I traversed the terraces high above Lake Tahune, and the sun shone on the hills to the north, making for good photographic opportunities. At the summit, there was initially no view, and it shortly commenced snowing on me. However, after a brief descent and return, the clouds cleared quite a bit providing views to Clytemnestra, Lake Burbury and other points. The summit, at the edge of the huge cliff is a spectacular and exhilarating place, and is well worth a visit. The views are great on a clear day, and even with only partial views the precipitousness of the whole landscape is obvious.

View downwards from the summit
of Frenchmans Cap to Lake Cecily.
Returning to the hut, I decided to stay a second night and see if the weather was clearer in the morning for another trip to the summit. It hailed now and then through the afternoon. The sunset was quite attractive and I broke out the tripod on the helipad. The next morning the weather was actually worse, so it was time to head back to Lake Vera. There were occasional views down to the lakes in the valley, but drizzle accompanied me most of the way back to the Lake Vera hut. My final day was relatively clear, with just occasional drizzle and some rain. I couldn't locate the southern end of the new track segment, so I had to plod down Philps Lead and up the Loddons again. A hamburger at Derwent Bridge for late lunch was very welcome.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Grey Mountain - 13th April 2013

Rain over Huonville from
Grey Mountain - 13th April 2013
I'm a bit out of sequence here, but I will go back and add in a couple of walks soon including Frenchmans Cap and Chalice Lake/Cathedral Mountain. Meanwhile, on a sometimes rainy Saturday, I went to Grey Mountain.

This walk commences from Van Morey Road, Margate, (see map here) and offers views of the Huon and the mountains beyond. On the strength of this, it makes it into Walk the Huon, and I've updated the walk description there. The track and mountain are within what is now known as Snug Tiers Nature Recreation Area. This appears to be a sort of reserve in which 4WD vehicles and motorcycles are allowed, but the area is protected from some things, such as the taking of firewood not being allowed. If you do this walk, you will share the tracks with 4WDs and bikes, but these are all subject to the road rules and must be registered and drivers/riders licensed. My experience yesterday tells me the rule about registration is not adhered to, but the vehicles that were there were being used sensibly. There is one well-burnt car body along the route.

Buttongrass on Snug Plains, Grey
Mountain Track - 13th April 2013
The top of Grey Mountain has a trig point and a couple of communications towers. Views normally include various close and distant peaks, but there was little to view yesterday. I had a view down to the river, Castle Forbes Bay I think, and an occasional glimpse of Collins Bonnet through the rain to the north. The walk traverses easy 4WD tracks and overall rises maybe 500m with some ups and downs. Much of the walk is across the undulating Snug Tiers with steeper climbs at the start and finish. I suspect that Spring would be a good season, with the flowers out, and a rainy autumn day was less than ideal. Nevertheless, the summit is only 831m, so on a rainy and windy day it's probably a better bet than some other places. In any case, it makes for a different view of the Huon area than those usually acquired. The walk overall is a little over 20km return, so requires some solid effort.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Trestle Mountain - 24th January 2013

I had a very good walk to Trestle Mountain on a quite grey day. The last time I went was in May 2007, and little has changed. I've done some minor updating of the description on the Huon Walks website, so the walk description there is up to date. The most significant change seems to be that the creek I might once have thought was good to drink from seems to have a festering swamp behind a point where the track now crosses it. I think this has been caused by erosion and damming, probably by motorcycles passing through the creek. It'll probably be alright in winter when there's been enough rain to flush it out, but it wasn't looking too inviting a couple of months ago.

The Huon Valley and Huon River from Trestle Mountain - 24th January 2013

Collins Bonnet from Trestle Mountain - 24th January 2013

Now, I have increased the size of jpg files I am uploading. I'm hoping the enlarged files still fit neatly within people's browser windows, and I assume most browsers will be set to resize larger photos anyway. If any regular viewers find they can't see the pictures properly though, let me know and I may do something about it.

View Trestle Mountain in a larger map

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Pelion Hut to the Mersey Forest Road - 18th January 2013

With rain forecast after a good day out at Paddys Nut, I would have the option of climbing something else on the following day or heading straight out to the car. Now, the usual exit from Pelion is along the Arm River Track, but the car was left towards the end of the Mersey Forest Road. Advice from a friend and perusal of the maps showed that exiting via Lees Paddocks would bring me back to the road, and require only about 2.5km of walking along it to reach the car, parked as it was at the bottom of the track to Lakes Bill and Myrtle. If I did this again, I'd probably drop the pack at the end of the track to Lake Myrtle, park at the end of the Lees Paddocks Track and do the road walk at the start without the pack. Hindsight and common sense are wonderful things!

Predictably it dawned rainy. So, no mountains, and the vision of a hamburger at Deloraine formed. While the Overland Trackers headed off to Pelion Gap in full wet weather gear, I headed along the Arm River Track. I haven't used this before, so it was all new. The track is well made, and is largely duckboard. At the far end of Lake Ayr there is a remote area logbook. Here, the route to Lees Paddocks heads to the right.

As Chapman says, it heads along the edge of the button grass plain, and is easily followed. It then however becomes indistinct as it climbs onto a small ridge. As expected, I lost it. It's not a major problem, as long as you have a compass, and you can pick the approximate direction and will emerge beyond the hill and trees and can cast about for the actual track. I was keen to actually find the correct route, and ended up on the ridge wandering about in the scrub just as the rain came down most heavily, looking for the actual track over the top. In the end I gave up, took a compass bearing and emerged about 50m from where the far end of the track was marked as it entered the trees. Interestingly, I found that in the rain and mist, the forest was quite disorienting - I had trouble with directions after wandering about for a short time. So, the message is, yes, as Chapman says, the short bit of the Lees Paddocks Track over the ridge is "indistinct", and, always carry a compass!

From there the track to Lees Hut is clear. You pass Reedy Lake, and then start to descend, eventually quite steeply through lovely myrtle forest, emerging on the paddocks near Lees Hut. The hut is visible from where the track emerges. The day I was there, two gentlemen from Devonport were in residence, and generously made a cup of coffee for a soggy bushwalker. They were friends of the current lessee of the paddocks. They expected him to arrive the following day on horseback, whereupon they would all be doing some spraying for thistles. Nearby 19 head of cattle munched away.

I was directed towards the track, and had a look at the "bridge" over nearby Wurragarra Creek. This resembled a narrow sloped skating rink, with grip-giving barbed wire nailed on only the lower, and far, end of it. I waded the very low creek. The chaps at the hut had said something non-committal about "fixing" the bridge, but I think that was more about ensuring the continued attachment of the ends of the bridge to the banks of the creek.

The Lees Paddocks Track from here is obviously well known to northern walkers, and is well trodden by both them and the cattle. In a number of places the cattle have made a quagmire, but in general there's a walkway around it. I made one impromptu sidetrip when I failed to note the actual continuation of the track and instead found myself at Oxley Falls. Not realising that I wasn't on the main track any longer, I was a little bemused for some time to find that the track didn't continue beyond where the falls could be viewed. This was the last time I was "lost" on this trip, and it took me a little while to work out that I must have missed the proper route some hundreds of metres earlier. The rest of the walk was uneventful.

Kia-Ora and Pelion Plains Photos

I had some opportunities for late afternoon and evening photography at Kia Ora and Pelion. I was surprised by the way so many people sat inside the hut while the sun set and lit up the landscape. Must have been tired! The photos are taken over three nights.

Cathedral Mountain from Kia Ora. The highest point is Twin Spires, visible to the far left of the picture.

The Du Cane Range behind Kia Ora Hut, Castle Crag to the left.

Mount Pillinger from Kia Ora. Mount Pillinger sits above the upper Mersey Valley north of Kia Ora.

Mount Pelion West is an imposing site from near Pelion Hut. You have to walk a little way towards Mount Oakleigh to get this view across the plains.

Mount Oakleigh as sunset nears. The shadow on the slopes between the sunlit trees and cliffs is the shadow of Mount Pelion West gradually extending across the whole mountain.

Barn Bluff is visible from Pelion. here a lenticular cloud has formed around its summit just as the sun has set.

Mount Pelion West.

Last light on Mount Oakleigh.

The sun has set and night falls on Mount Pelion West.

Stitched panorama of Mount Oakleigh. The full size version of this has a LOT of detail!

Mount Pelion West and Mount Oakleigh from Pelion Plains. Some learning required with panoramas - I really did need to continue further to the sides of this, given that I was taking in heaps of sky. Obviously I need to go back.