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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Frenchmans Cap

Monday 20 October – Wednesday 22 October 2014

Originally I intended to do the walk to Frenchmans Cap over 4 days which was the usual time I had taken most visits, but after considering some of the things I needed to get done later in the week, a 3 day excursion sounded a better fit.  The weather forecast had been insisting two very fine sunny days followed by most of the third one which gave me great hopes.  Neville had been in contact but only had two days free, but in the end I decided that my mind had become set on this walk and I wanted to see what it was like with the new track.  Graham was interested but couldn’t go til Wednesday and that would have left me with too little time to get ready for another trip and besides the weather was just too promising to pass up.  I mentioned all this to Sue and she reckoned I should stick to my plan, and that helped with the decision.
When I pulled into the car park there was another vehicle and a reasonably young fellow getting ready to depart on the walk.  We chatted for a while and established that our plans were fairly similar, including going for 3 days but with food for an optional 4th day.  I set out first expecting him to soon overtake me and wondered why I didn’t hear him closing the gap as I ascended mount Mullins. However I was most surprised that he didn’t turn up whilst I had lunch at the Loddon River. He talked about photographic equipment so perhaps taking photos was the reason.  However he didn’t get the lake Vera that night and I did feel a little worried about him; Alasdair I think his name was.  

Frenchmans Cap from Mount Mullins

That first view of Frenchmans from Mount Mullins is always breathtaking.


Although the bogs had all been hardened prior to the Loddon, it was once over that the main work on the new track begins. Initially it follows the old route, with the worst bogs hardened and just a few not as bad sections waiting to be fixed.  After some 1.7k a sign was reached indicating Laughton’s Lead and at this point it is a completely new track of really good quality that winds around the hills.  It is mostly north facing and so is in a good perspective for drying.  Much of it is built up from the excavation of often deep drains with soft sections boarded. There is a photo of the machines used for the work in the huts.  Anyway it is excellent although the end joining to the old Philps Lead is still under construction.  The surprising thing is that it feels to be mostly uphill, but on the return walk you realise that there is quite a few short uphill bits that way as well.  On checking the map this new track starts at the 400 metres height and joins Philps at 500 metres so for a distance of 4 Kilometres it only rises 100 metres, but it certainly feels like it was more. 

Lake Vera with part of Philps Peak
Lake Vera and Philps Peak

I had completely forgotten how many steps up it was on the Philps Lead part.  The other surprise was coming upon a group of seven walkers here; I read in the log that there was such a party but that their departure was the previous day.  They were from the mainland and had arrived by bus latish in the afternoon and because it was raining had camped by the Franklin, so had really only set off today. They were a pleasant lot and I had a bit of a chat to them at the Vera hut after I had finished my tea and gone to see if Alasdair had arrived; which mysteriously he hadn’t.

Nicoles Needle comes into view

Nicoles Needle comes into view during the latter part of the climb to Baron Pass

Shortly before I set off on this trip I decided to go for 3 days rather than 4 and said I wouldn’t be worried if I didn’t get the summit of Frenchmans.  The area is spectacular with the sharp quartzite spires and massifs and just being there is sufficient.
I was conscious that I would need to keep to the times in my notes, which I was able to do.  In fact I was ahead but without a big pack that as not unexpected.  What I didn’t sufficiently allow for was rest breaks, and being keen to get to Lake Tahune with ample time for Frenchmans Cap, arrived feeling a bit tired.
I weighed up the options and decided just to go part way up to North Col to get the view down on Lake Tahune.  The decision was for me the wise one as it gave me a full hour for lunch and able to ensure the day was much better than if I was tired and rushing.  Even so I didn’t get back to camp until 4:30 after leaving that morning at 7:20.
I never felt any regrets and still haven’t; perhaps it might be different if I had never been to the top before. I have freely admitted that it takes me longer to get to places than once and I guess this is just acknowledging that I am not able to do as much either.

Barron Pass flanked by Sharlands and Philps Peaks

Barron Pass flanked by Sharlands and Philps Peaks

Whilst sitting back at camp I heard a voice and walked over Vera hut to find a couple there, Barry and Hu.  Barry was telling me he had camped at Barron Pass with a photographer named Dan; well there surely could be only one bushwalking photographer with that name.  It transpired that Barry and Hu had also started the same day as me but later and had camped at a nice grassy site on the western bank of the Loddon.  They also mentioned meeting a walker returning who hadn’t gone all that far, which solved the Alasdair mystery; although he didn’t explain why he was returning.
Well the weather for return walk was again fine with no clouds and it eventually got quite warm by the middle of the day.  The climb up Mullins seemed to be seemed steeper than the impression when coming in; a common theme.  A few minutes resting and taking in the last views of Frenchman before going over the other side and back to the car. That last bit of track between the creek at the bottom of Mount Mullins and the Franklin River certainly felt a lot longer than it did on day one.

Frenchmans Cap with North Col on approach to Lake Tahune


Frenchmans Cap on the approach to Lake Tahune with North Col

A few people queried me about the safety of leaving a car at the parking area odd the Lyell highway and I answered to the effect that I had heard of no problems in recent years.  Nevertheless this did put that uncomfortable feeling in my mind.  It was good to not see any broken glass there when I arrived, but during the walk I did think a few times about the possibility.  I asked the last two who arrive at the Vera hut if the cars were OK and then as I was departing Barry said he hoped my car was not up on blocks.  Although said in jest it caused me to think how I would cope with such a situation; not very well I think.  I was pleased to find the car OK when I did arrive back.
In Car to Lake Vera 5:20 inc 30m lunch  = 4:50  15.25k
Lake Vera to Lake Tahune 7k 3:30 with a 15 m break   = 3:15
Lake Tahune to Lunch 0:55  Vera 2:20 inc break 15m = 3:00
Vera to car 5:05 inc break at Loddon 10 min  =   4:55


A photo album can be viewed by clicking the image below.

Frenchmans Cap

Frenchmans Cap

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Heathy Hills Nature Reserve

Wednesday 1 October 2014

It was when looking at our route for the Harry Walker Tier walk that I noticed Heathy Hills Nature Reserve on the map and proceeded to view the satellite image.  It seemed that some of the reserve was fairly open and also appeared to have overhangs, as well, the name sounded quite enticing so a walk was planned.
The reserve is approximately 189ha and is 3km north north east of Elderslie.  It includes characteristic examples of Inland Eucalyptus tenuiramis forest. This place is located within the Elderslie Sandstone Landforms, a very extensive complex of sandstone cliffs and caves in Triassic sandstones.

Cliff on  north facing aside of gully
Spring is best for flowers and the volume of water in the Jordan River would hopefully be lower than the winter flow. Getting over was the first problem and after checking few options the spot used by farm vehicles was the best one, and a dash across kept wet feet to a minimum.  We had obtained permission from the owner of the small segment of land between the road and the river.

Boronia anemonifolia on plateau of southern section of Heathy Hills Reserve
There were massed flowing of Boronia anemonifolia in the reserve


A sizeable gorge was entered and the cliffs enticed a closer look, firstly to a decent sized cave then much to our surprise we came upon a big arch of rock.  This was quite a feature and certainly a most unexpected highlight.


A steepish climb up the opposite gully brought us to a sandy flat top with a very gentle walk up to the high point on this, the southern side of the reserve, for lunch.
The return was back down this top and down to the river where we found easy crossing points of the Jordan.  It seemed to have two channels here as we had to make two crossings.
The 7k walk took 3 ½ hours, including morning tea and return a mere 1 ¼ hours.

Click the image below to view the photo album

Heathy Hills

Heathy Hills

Friday, September 26, 2014

Cape Raoul

Friday 26 September 2014

It was a fine quite pleasant day with lots of sun, although a bit of wind on the end of the cape encouraged us to sit behind the shrubbery for lunch.  Flowers were plentiful and colourful but it would have been even nicer if the Calytrix had been out. At the cape we could see seals up on the rock shelf.

Cape Raoul cliffs


Towards end of Cape Raoul with Epacris


At the Raoul Lookout we located a geocache and another at Cape Raoul.
It took a shade over 2 hours for the 7k walk to Cape Raoul, although it is took us 40 minutes longer than that with a morning tea break at the lookout.


Click the image below to view the photo album

Cape Raoul 2014

Cape Raoul 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Snowy North

Tuesday 23 September 2014
After getting updated information on the walk, I imagined that it may be a little unclear in places where the pad was, but nevertheless no real problem.  However it worked out to be quite a hard walk, mostly because we had trouble finding where the pad was in one location and eventually ended up in thick scrub. The walk ended up being the hardest I have done in quite a number of years.
Getting to the start presented no dramas and it was handy having the road junctions in the GPS, as the South Styx road junction was unsigned. We did discover a quite new sign a few hundred metres from the track start indicating the end of the road, presumably because it was at a wide area for turning and parking.
Locating the track start was easy, but then we took a while to find where it went for the next 50 metres or so until a marker was spotted and a pad. It was straight forward until a small cliff line at which point some uncertainty crept as to the whereabouts of the next marker.  Eventually a pink tape was found in a Pandani thicket below a gap in the cliffs, and the assumption was made that the route went that way.  However we were considerably mistaken and this became obvious when thick bush began to close in on us.  We took the gamble that the scrub higher up would be more congenial, but this hope was soon dashed. A small rocky top was reached and the cliffs of Snowy North were directly in front of us, but a valley of thick scrub lay between.
First view of cliffs of Snowy North we ascended through the saddle on the left skyline
The scrub to be negotiated

The 1:25k map was consulted and we noticed it showed the track passing close to a tarn and we took another gamble that the map was correct and headed the 100 metres to it. The tarn was substantial being about 60 metres long but quite narrow.  There was even what seemed a sawn log there which gave encouragement and Neville scrambled around the edge to search whilst Greg and I attempted to get to the top of a ridge; our effort was aborted by a wall of scrub and we joined Neville at the other end for a hot drink and a bite to eat. It was now 10:50 AM and some 2½ hours since setting out.
Tarn from eastern end
Tarn in the thick scrub
It did not us long to discover that the track marked on the map was not correct and so we were left with more scrub to negotiate. For a short while this was relieved by a rock scree before commencing a steep pull up through more scrub, with the Bauera trying to push us back down.  At one stage I leaned back against a small tree thinking to myself that “I just can’t get up here”, but a zig zag up overcame the problem.  At a rock wall I tried to use some ledges but what lay in the rocky crevice ahead was too unknown so it was back to the scrub. However the ridge top was now quite close and a welcome break for lunch; it had taken us over 4 ½ hours to this point.
I had the track descent point marked in the GPS and we walked the 250 metres to verify that, then went to the Snowy North summit arriving there at 2:15, exactly 6 hours after setting out. The return walk was down a pad but nevertheless it was still somewhat scrubby and overgrown, but a dream run compared to the upward journey we had made. Once on the shelf where the track took a sharp turn I had some difficulty with spotting the pink tapes; being colour blind doesn’t help. Neville who was ahead had no such problem but Greg pointed them out to me when needed.
Valley  from rock scree
The valley crossed, the track is actually at the other end.

End of Jubilee Range
Jubilee Range from summit plateau of Snowy North.
Arriving back after 3 hours walking and now starting to feel all the scratches on the arms.  It was certainly the hardest walk I had done for quite a number of years.
The distance walked was 11.5k.
Here is the satellite image of our route with red line as our inward route to lunch time

Click the image below to view the photo album from the walk
Snowy North
Snowy North photo album

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mays Beach via Coast

We had walked from Cremorne to Calverts Hill on a geocaching excursion and wondered at the time if it was feasible to continue on to Mays Beach and Lauderdale.  A couple of months later Sue noticed that Pandani bushwalkers were doing that trip and then by chance saw that a group from U3A had written up a northern end circuit. So we decided to try the Pandani route from Cremorne and knew that although a big section was crown land there was a private farm to cross.  We made the assumption that Pandani either got permission or were aware that the owner didn’t mind.

Mays Beach

The walk initially followed Cremorne Beach then climbed to a headland along a gradually diminishing pad to corner fence where the large parcel of former farmland now crown land was reached. The 900 metre crossing was through quite tall dry grass then much lower grass over the private farm.  A pad followed high above the coast until reaching the bush of a coastal reserve where a track took us down to Mays Beach.  The beach is quite nice and at the far end a public access track gives access from Lauderdale.
After lunch at the end of the beach we retraced our route.


In all it was 12.5k (although this included a short walk to a high point further north) and took 4:50 with lunch included.  The actual walk in was 1:50 hours and return walk 2:00 hours

Click on the image below to view a photo album.

Mays Beach

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Schnells Ridge

Wednesday 27 August 2014

What good fortune we had with a superb sunny and calm late winter day.

About 70 minutes after setting off we were seated for morning tea at the base of the climbing ridge to Schnells before starting on the unrelenting ascent. After 45 minutes of this I was quite looking forward to a breather and Alan mentioned that the spot ahead, with a view over the small tarn, would be a good spot. However when the assumed point was reached we realised there was another level to go and a stop now was preferred. The tarn lookout was a further 15 minutes on and gave a good excuse for another spell.

One of the peaks on the plateau of Schnells

Peak on the high plateau

The first high plateau was reached soon after and at last some views of Smiths Tarn. From here we also appreciated the surrounding mountain ranges with really good views to the Anne Range with Lake Judd at the foot. Further afield were stunning views over Lake Pedder to the Frankland and other ranges whilst to the south the Western and Eastern Arthurs ranges dominated the horizon.

The elapsed time to walk the 6.5k was 3 ½ hours and the return a bit less at just under 3 ¼ hours.


Shadows on the ridge to the south of Schnells



Hills south of Schnells ridge








Unnamed tarn on ridge

Tarn on ridge

The photo album can be viewed by clicking the photo below.

Schnells Ridge

Schnells Ridge photo album

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mount Marian

Tuesday 19 August 2014

It is always a puff climbing up the Myrtle Forest track and it was good to arrive at the firetrail to see nice blue sky above Mount Marian. However a mere five minutes later it was grey and even a light scud could be seen there.

Nevertheless the day remained fine directly above us all day, relatively bright and with patches of sun.


Mount Charles from the Marian plateau


A call into the Pineapple Grass field under Trestle for morning tea was made. After lunching on the summit we did a sweep of the plateau west of the summit, where amazingly an exotic pine was discovered. Fortunately Greg had a small handsaw and it was enough to cut the small tree down.



Tackling the exotic pine (radiata) on the Mount Marian plateau