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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Central Meehan Range

Tuesday 18 August
The prospects for this walk were somewhat unknown and it had been so many years since I had been along the top of the central part of the Meehan Range. This was on a trip John Cannon took which went along the tops from near Brighton and finished at Lindisfarne, and I didn’t really have much recollection of it. Anyway for this walk I got details from Chris who had been there only a few weeks before and it sounded like it might be interesting. I have often noticed the enticing cliffs and overhangs when driving on Grasstree Hill Road.

Rock slab area with Mount Wellington
Rock slab area with Mount Wellington
The morning for the walk was still, clear and sunny with a chill still in the air. As we were about the leave from Risdon Vale a car pulled up behind us and what we though was a woman got out and began talking to us, however by this stage we were quite unable to determine if the person was male or female. Afterwards neither Greg, Adrian nor I felt any the wiser.
Initially the walk is on a rough 4wd track that appeared to have been cleaned up and it also had a few ditches dug to try to stop vehicle access, but bikes obviously were managing to bypass them. This continued for about 2k until a private property sign and fence were met and at this point we headed uphill. During the 200m ascent we went through some really nice country with big rock slabs, lookouts and numerous grasstrees. In fact grasstrees were a stunning feature of this section of the Meehan Range. Once on top there are several open areas and sections of easy scrub free through the trees. Morning break was at rocky hillock where we noticed that the eucalypt tree species was now smaller and quite different to those prior. We were now on Basin Hills and open walking and soon came upon a 4wd track that continued along for the remainder of the way to Downhams Road. At one point before exiting the PWS reserve land a track turned downhill and this may well go back down to a marked entry point off Magnolia Rd and would make quite a good circuit.
Open lead through Eucalypts
Open lead through Eucalypts
A private property sign was noted after we left the reserve, but it was only a short distance to the next bit of reserve and then the steep downhill to the road. It was amazing to see where vehicles have gone up and down and they must be desperate to get to the trees for woodhooking to bother. Closer to the road there were heaps of rubbish unfortunately. Chris had made a note about the way down but we must have missed his turn as we arrived at the road some 500 metres south of where he did and as a consequence had a steep ascent up the hill opposite.
This hill had suffered from a fire, but seedlings were plentiful and, as we believe the gums here are Eucalyptus risdonii, many looked like they may be that variety. The property through here is owned by the Flagstaff quarry lot up until a solid fence is met, which we hopped over as it was easier walking but then on the upper part of Eagle Hill we had to hop back over again. A couple more hills had to be ascended then descended before we reached Caves Hill and Rocky Tom (I had originally mistakenly thought this was part of Pilchers Hill Reserve). To get there it had been mostly open country and at one point we reached a rough 4wd which we didn’t follow for long as it started to go too low, but we did wonder if in fact it came back up because we met a track again closer the Caves.
I managed to include a geocache at Rocky Tom. It isn’t a long walk to it by the regular tracks, but this would have to be one of the longest routes taken to get to it. We had journeyed in from the Basin Hills part of the Meehan Range, a distance of 10.5k with a 700m height gain and 500m of downhill. The GPS pointed to the spot to start searching and Adrian who had been here to log it before saved me bending down to look by pulling it out from the hiding spot.
After a wander about the rock climbing venues of Shadow Buttress and Excalibur it was down to Seagers Saddle and the open grassy hilltop. I did ask Greg whether the blob in the distance was an animal or bush, but the head of a wallaby looked up to provide the answer, after which about of them began hopping away. A gentle downhill bush section brought us back to Downhams road and the back through the streets of Risdon vale to the car.
A total distance of 15.2k with a 790 metres of climbing. Total time was 6:15
A photo album is online and can be viewed by clicking the image below
Central  Meehan Range
Central Meehan Range

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Platform Peak

Tuesday 21 July 2015

There was some sun during the drive to the start of the walk, but soon after starting a high cloud cover took over and remained that way for the remainder of the day. The ground was frosty and even after lunch some ponds were still frozen.

Track on axscent to the platea of Platform Peak

Track on ascent to the plateau of Platform Peak

Once out of protected areas there was a cold wind but quite a lot of the walk was through forest with plenty of understory, including one stretch where Teatree had overgrown the old vehicle track. Lots of tapes mark the route and on the climb, traverse and descent of the main massif there were also triangle markers, although those nailed on live trees have been hammered in far too tightly and most of these are in stages of either being ejected by the growing tree; quite a bundle of these were picked up off the ground where they had fallen.

By far the Platform Peak was the best part of the walk. Once the forestry tracks and roads are left behind for the climb the vegetation becomes more interesting and the Boronia over the massif would be really good when in flower. Once the 900 metre height was reached we were in really delightful Snowgum woodland. At the top of the climb a rocky prominence gives good views and the large summit cairn can be seen on the summit 600 metres away at the northern end of the plateau.

Cairn on Platform Peak

Cairn on Platform Peak close to the north end of the plateau.

We did not stay on the top very long because of the strong and cold wind and headed down the track to complete the circuit. The track came out on a fairly good forestry road and turned off this to follow a lesser track to join our inward track.

It took 4 hours, excluding lunch for the 12.7k circuit. A height gain of 500 metres.

 

Platform Peak

 

A photo album can be viewed by clicking the image below

                                         Platform Peak

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mount Franklin

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Sometime last year Neville suggested a walk to Mount Franklin and we have now settled on a day for the walk. It is a prominence of 1102 metres and is situated on the north east side of Lake Sorell in the highlands and rises about 300 metres above the lake.   It is assumed it was named after former governor John Franklin but checking at Placenames Tasmania didn’t give any history.

This was a particularly cold morning and the temperature was -4 for most of the drive to Oatlands with heavy frost about, Nigel used his windscreen wiper and it turned to ice.  But apart from several fog patches on the way it was still and sunny. Along the Tunbridge Tier Road the gums were spectacularly white.

We had two vehicles and there was confusion about the road to take from the highway, but thanks to mobile phone communication this was soon sorted out.

A 4wd road goes reasonably close to the peak, but it was unknown how far, if at all, we would be able to drive.  However it was in good condition and apart from the final bit was suitable for 2wds. It was only from the junction of the lakeside road up a rougher road that a short rough bit was encountered.

Soon after leaving the cars we noticed a length of open country heading towards the peak and were able to follow this until it ended, and from there a gentle climb over either boulder country or light scrub brought us to a lookout and in a further 150 metres or so the summit.  Wherever the sun hadn’t been able penetrate it was quite icy and white, but it was pleasant in the sun.  The views over Lake Sorell were surprisingly unobstructed and Mount Wellington could clearly be seen in the south.

From the car it was 1.5k each way and took 1:10 up and 1 hour back. The return distance is 3k.

Gums near the lookout

Gums near the summit of Mount Franklin

Lake Sorell and Cradle Hill

View from Mount Franklin with Lake Sorell and Cradle Hill.

Route of walk

Mount Franklin Walk

 

 

A photos album is online

Mount Franklin

Mount Franklin

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Den Hill

Thursday 21 May 2015

We had a couple of waypoints, taken off the map, but did not have any knowledge of the majority of the vehicle tracks within the area, so a likely looking track was picked that headed roughly in the direction of the closest waypoint. This point was at the junction of two tracks that were marked on the 1:25k map but the track we had been following did a turn away when about 250 metres from the waypoint. I went off to check but could not find this track although must have walked over it. All this took 20 minutes and was compounded by going in the wrong direction until the GPS was consulted. While this was going on the others had morning tea so we didn’t lose much time and headed up through the bush towards Den Hill. After a short distanced we came upon the old track which was fairly indistinct but certainly followable. A more pronounced track was met some 600 metres on and that eventually joined an even bigger one that took us to within 280 metres of the top. The top of Den Hill, however was surrounded by bush and there were no distant views.

The cool air did not encourage a long lunch and 40 minutes later we were on the return walk, but this time we kept to the clear tracks and found ourselves back at the cars one hour later. We did make one dogleg that could have been avoided had we been aware that a track going in the wrong direction had a branch turning directly to the where we needed to go.

On the side we approached Den Hill (western) it is surrounded by eucalypt plantations but once beyond that and in the reserve there are old gums and quite a lot of grass and sags. As drizzle and light rain had fallen in the hours prior to the walk, this ground cover caused boots to get quite wet and it didn’t take long for my socks to take on a drenched feeling. Towards the top of this 859 metre hill the large trees gave way to smaller but thickly growing eucalypts, although they appeared to be quite a few years old. There were clear signs of many of the bigger trees up here having been cut and removed in the not so distant past, and in fact we could heara chainsaw not that far away. Part of the hill is private land so it was hard to know if the woodhookers were on public land.

It was 5k up and took 1:50, whereas the return was 1 hour and 3k.

Place name information

Den Hill Conservation Area and  was previously known as Den Hill Forest Reserve.

Den Hill

Mentioned several times in Clyde Company Papers. Historical Note: Spelt Denne Hillby S Spurling Junior in article Trip to Frenchmans Cap.

Lunch on Den Hill Adrian, Christine, Dave and Dave

Lunch time on Den Hill. Adrian, Christine, Dave and Dave.

Gums on top of Den Hill

Gums on the top of Den Hill

Forest on slope of Den Hill where the indistinct track emergedForest and track lower down the slope

Forest on the lower slopes

Below is the route taken  - red = first part to morning tea and the meandering searching for an old track.  black = second part to the summit and blue = return route

image

 

Close up of the track search meandering below, the red line from “Rest Stop” and back.   The black line is the route taken from there to the top.

image

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WHEN THE EAST WIND BLOWS - Spires Range

Article written for the Tasmanian Tramp No 29, which probably accounts for the style adopted.

The walk was to the Spires Range in southwest Tasmania between 5 and 13 February 1990

Official predictions for the south west were for easterly weather with cloud and showers for the next several days. In the past an easterly pattern usually provided ideal conditions out west, so there was much discussion as to the wisdom of leaving on the planned date. As it transpired some of our original party pulled out leaving just four of us, Chris, Mary, David and myself, setting out on day one, albeit almost three hours later than first planned.

By the time vie reached Maydena, the last town, it was pleasant though somewhat: cloudy. Here a local resident informed us that the river levels had dropped since the previous day, which brought on the need to make a decision between fording the Gordon River or walking downstream and crossing at Gordon bend, by flying fox. As an extra couple of hours were needed for the longer route we decided to take the wet option.

Standing on the banks of the Gordon I recalled the last crossing at this spot was on a nice gravel bed. This time it was lying well below the dark water. Chris plunged, in and pioneered the course. During his crossing David got up on a tree trunk bridging the deepest section, but did not continue. With water thrashing around me, including into my trouser pocket, I began questioning his lack of movement. The reason was to allow Chris to dig into his pack for a camera to take our photo. This seemed to take a long time, so that when the picture session finished and David seemed to make a move I readily clambered out of the water, unfortunately making light contact with him. Well slippery logs and human feet require gentle movement and the bump was enough to have us both desperately trying to avoid falling into the river.

David Hardy & Peter crossing

Each side of the Gordon River is clothed in thick bush all lorded over by large eucalypts. However once away from these, the wide button grass plains of the Vale of Rasselas provided delightful views of sunlit Mount. Wright and The Thumbs. Within 5 hours we were ascending the steep moraine leading to Lake Rhona. Because of the later than planned for start, camp was made behind the brilliant white quartz sands of the lake shore, surrounded by the dramatic dark cliffs of Reeds Peak.

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Just a touch of light rain fell overnight, leaving misty clouds still cloaking the mountain above next morning. It was hoped to make up for lost time, so an early and energy sapping start took us up the most direct route of a very steep gully passing right under the summit of Reeds Peak and out onto ridge tops towards Bonds Craig.

My memory of the time and distance between the two peaks caused me to be surprised at how long it was taking, though this world enshrouded in grey and the slippery rocks both required care, as I found out by taking a rolling spill into some bushes. Eventually after some 2 hours we found ourselves on the appropriate ridge and the misty cloud gave way as we descended, gradually revealing more of the country that was to be our home for the next week. A most immediate pleasure though, was finding that there existed a very clear pad to follow.North Star and David Hardy

Once down on the button grass, however the pad ended and we were left to establish our own route. Behind rose the steep scree slopes of the Denisons, much like a New Zealand scree, according to David, and ahead the rolling arms of North Star. Sitting on the rocks of a pretty white bottomed creek, for lunch, seemed like an oasis amid the button grass and low scrub of these undulating hills and plains. Apart from the ubiquitous button grass there was plenty of heathy Melaleucas, Teatrees and Sprengelia.

Much of the thickest scrub was avoided but even so it was proving to be a long tiring day. As we crossed Badger Flats and came through the gorge where the Gell River runs, the end of the exertion seemed close. The last kilometre, however, proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back. I stopped to fix a snapped bootlace and on finishing couldn't understand why the others were not further ahead. The reason was soon discovered, as I too floundered about through very thick button grass and Melaleuca. Eventually the only obstacle left was crossing the Gell and it was very pleasing to finish the day.

I didn't feel like eating, so after putting up the tent and having a cup of tea I just lay about. It was hard to understand why I had no appetite but did manage a drink of Staminade and within 10 minutes had to dash from the tent to find a spot to spew. Only liquid came up which gave the impression that no solids remained. I took this as a lesson to make sure that time was taken to keep up the nibbles during a hard day.

Food now seemed more appealing and David made me a cup of soup then a bit later I fancied some yoghurt and somewhat later cooked a main course. The only problem was that this last meal was at 2:30am and with the tents close together disturbed everyone, especially Mary who on hearing all the rustling and clinking of a billy woke up Chris to tell him that the large rat, seen earlier, was at their food.

7013Fortunately I was back to normal next morning for the climb from Lake Curley onto Perambulator Ridge. The lake was a fine sight, some 200 metres below, with its kilometre long passage hemmed in by Mt.Curley on the opposite side. More button grass and scrub brought us over a higher hill and the peaks of The Spires started to look close. We continued without a break, as all were keen to get to these most dramatic mountains with many great massings of rocky tors reeling back at sharp angles. They possessed such exciting names such as Flame Peak (once known as The Flame), The Camel, False Dome and White Pyramid etc. Flame Peak was obvious as it had red cliffs up one section.

A ridge edge was followed to a solid quartz wall. We climbed up onto the level ground to be confronted with the eastern face of Flame Peak and other peaks all cradling a small, but exquisite, lake known as The Font. On closer examination the sheer face of Flame Peak was quite dramatic with wriggly folds of rock appearing to lean out over us.

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There are not many tent sites and unfortunately someone, quite recently, had taken upon themselves to cut out and terrace a new one right beside The Font. It looked a muddy scar and emphasised the fact that these areas need care. It would be preferable for rangers to create a site or two further from the shore in some less conspicuous spots.

Even finer weather greeted us on day four, although skin temperatures were kept: down by a brisk south easterly breeze. Innes High Rocky, our objective, remained completely in view across the plateau to the north, but getting there took much more effort than was first thought, mainly due to the unexpected concentration of button grass at this altitude. On the way Chris climbed a large turret shaped outcrop, rising from the plateau and if you look at the cover of Tramp 28 you can see him there.

Quite a lengthy and relaxed lunchtime was spent on the summit of Innes High Rocky admiring the rugged gullies leading to the vast valley of the Denison River backed by the sawtooth of the mighty Prince Of Wales Range. Equally splendid were The Spires back to the south.

For me the occasion was also marked by the discovery of my camera failing to read the light correctly. I switched back to manual, but felt irritated because I enjoy reliving the experiences from a walk, by looking over the photos, and was now unsure whether there would be any on this occasion. Later that night David, who had two cameras, removed these doubts by suggesting lending one to me. This vas gratefully accepted and later was to be a considerable bonus.

Fortune smiled on us for our second full day at The Spires right through to its ending with a gorgeous sunset. Chris had led us up and over the rocky peaks, chasms and cliffs. During that whole day, a distance of only 4 kilometres was covered but the majestic views of the quartzite towers close to hand, those on the Prince Of Wales Range and on to the distant Frenchmans area had been constant embellishments. The magnet of Flame Peak drew David and myself to its top, where we lazed in calm March Fly free air during the late afternoon, the only real distraction was spotting Chris and Mary skinny dipping in The Font.

7105

 

7107

Chris thought another day should be spent at the current site but David and I prevailed for an extra day at Lake Curley. An early start provided a stunning benefit of The Font under a breathless blue sky, then once down, glorious panoramas back to The Spires with the occasional cloud giving an added depth and contrast to those rugged mountains.

During the long climb back to Perambulator Ridge the cloud increased and kept the temperature from rising too high. Once back at Lake Curley, however, the trend went into reverse and as the clouds diminished we were treated to the thrill of this expanse of water becoming like black glass, reflecting perfectly the surrounding mountains, especially Mount Curley and ending in a peaceful sunset. Days like this cement a commitment to bushwalking.

A beautiful morning followed and after climbing Mt .Curley we returned to enjoy the solitude of the lakeside wilderness. Mary, who had brought 5 books as a precaution against being tent bound by rain had still somehow managed to finish them so joined me in what must be a rare event of circumnavigating the lake. Equally rare we left David and Chris both lazing in the sun like lizards. Chris was so lizard like that that a tiny hopping mouse, which had been wandering about as if we did not exist, nibbled his toe.

From the pattern of the weather it appeared likely the journey back to the Denison Range would be both long and hot, so we started breakfast at 5:30 ready for a 7am departure. Chris and Mary did get away on time, but for David and myself to do so was beyond our capability, simply because Lake Curley that morning was so hauntingly beautiful that we were held there as if under a spell.

The sun rose directly behind the bulk of Mount Curley, thus denying the early rays to the lake and surrounds. In the stillness, mist gradually increased, encompassing all in a quiet ethereal world. Shafts of sunlight gradually flaring over the summit played on the mist ceiling above, then as it slowly worked its way down, brought a brilliant glowing of colours upon the scene. Finally the warm air dominated and the mystery and magic was gone. Knowing that that camera had to be returned encouraged me to take plenty of photos, and how thankful have I been ever since.

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David and I finally started off into the still wet scrub at 8 o'clock. The colours and shadows of the morning splashing on the surrounding mountains provided pleasant company at first, but eventually the summer sun became the master throwing an envelope of heat over us as we trudged up and over the ridges on the long haul back. On breasting the Denison Range, however we were pleased to realise that it had not proven to be as physically draining as expected.

The northern part of the Denison Range has a distinct cirque of tors and peaks with many lakes over the eastern edge; it was at the highest of these that we decided to camp. Memories of Lake Malana, are of sitting on a comfortable flat: rock for tea, wandering amongst the rocky tors during a chilly sunset, but most of all the calm and peace of a lovely morning with the sun colouring the soaring cliffs of Bonds Craig.

Most of a morning was spent walking along the top of the easily negotiated range, but once at the southern end it was quite tiring work crossing the foothills of button grass and scrub during the hottest part of the day. Stopping at Gordonvale for the night was an easy decision. It was here that we came across the first people for 8 days. They looked tired, especially two women, and completely bemused us by saying they were going to Lake Curley the next day. I don't know where they ended up but would be stunned if they made it in a day. Perhaps some people hear of these places, look at the distance on a map without realising that this is wild country with just the odd lead. It can be challenging enough in ideal weather.

7207On our final day we crossed the Gordon just below Gordonvale, negotiated some massively tall bottlebrushes and finally brushed through country massed with fragrant Boronia. It had been a very satisfying trip with many truly memorable moments that make walking in the wilds such a great delight.

You can view a photo album from the walk by clicking the image below

Spires Range

Spires Range

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wards Bluff

Tuesday 21 – Wednesday 22 April 2015

We did not manage to get to Wards Bluff and in fact we were a long way short when we turned around. It would be most interesting to know how others have got on in recent years.
 
Two reports from quite a number of years ago indicated that the groups did the walk in a long day. One of them from close on 20 years ago took 12 hours whilst the other was a mighty 14 hours. We also had a GPS track log for the major part of the ridge top walk which took 4 ½ hours. Our plan was to do the walk over two days with a camp at a creek that was on the map and also easily visible on satellite images.
Peak north of Flat Bluff in early morning

The peak on the northern end of Flat Bluff from our campsite 


The ascent on the old, but revegetating, logging road took us just over 2 hours to reach the ridge top where the route ahead could at last be viewed. The first section looked to be clad in a lot of vegetation and it did look to be a long way to Wards Bluff.  However there was no feeling that any real problems lay ahead.
Some minor doubts crept in when the track leading along the initial 500 metres of ridge had quite a lot of scrub obscuring it, but eventually a more obvious section was reached and we stopped to take in the great views of Flat Bluff and down into the deep ravine of Joyce Creek.  But by the time we reached a small rocky knoll for lunch it had become scrubby again.
 
From here it got worse and pink tapes from an earlier party began to appear; we guessed to help them find the way back. To supplement these we broke scrub to help us do the same.  By now our average pace had really dropped to below 1k per hour with some parts extra slow indeed.  It was fairly unrelenting until we broke out onto small buttongrass flat leading the high part of the ridge. This point was 1.5k from the old logging road which had taken 2 hours of actual walking. Some 30 minutes of more scrub found us on the high point of the ridge with more of the same visible ahead.  It was now 3:30 and we both realised that we had not the slightest chance of getting to the planned campsite. 
 
I was thinking that there was also no likelihood of attaining Wards Bluff and Neville had come to the same conclusion.   This did make our next decision easier because we had to decide where to camp for the night and returning 30 minutes back to the only water we had seen for a long time seemed much more sensible than pressing on in the hope that both conditions would improve and that there would be water.  We had come almost 2k along the ridge top to this point and had 6k more to travel including almost 2k before reaching what seemed to be open country.
 
Even back at the flat there were very few even half decent camping spots and it was a matter of skimming water it out of shallow pools between the buttongrass.  We managed to get tea and were in the tents just before it got dark.

View over country walked with camp back on flat area bottom right View over country walked with camp back on flat area bottom right, taken from the point we we turned back 


The weather had been very nice for most of the day and there was no breeze. It was even better next day, yet despite clear sky and heavy dew it was not noticeably cold. On the way back along the ridge several stops were made to take in the magnificent views over the mist filled valleys towards the Frenchmans Cap area and north to the Eldon Range.

Eldon Range with Eldon Peak and Eldon Bluff

 

 

Eldon Range with Eldon Peak and Eldon Bluff
 

 

Once back on the old logging road we walked downhill a short distance for lunch at a small creek which was the only running water we had seen in the high country during the trip. Neville brewed some coffee and produced some cake whilst Strong Billed honeyeaters foraged in trees. From there the 400 metre steep descent was not surprising considerably quicker than the ascent of the previous day.
 
Although we failed to reach Wards Bluff the walk still felt like a success.   Yes we are both getting old and have slowed down heaps but just being out in the bush feels so good, especially with the great weather and enchanting views. The other side of getting old is that we are wise enough to keep away from these places in crook weather.
 
Total distance walked was 15k and the actual walking time of 4:45 inward and the return 3:30. The descent of the old logging track was almost twice as quick as the ascent.  From our turnaround point there was a further 6k to Wards Bluff.

Frenchmans Cap with Sharlands and Clytemnestra

Sharlands Peak,  Clytemnestra in centre back and Frenchmans Cap

 

To view a photo album click the image below

 

Wards Bluff

Wards Bluff

 

 

View of the route on the satellite image.  The red line is our GPS route and the blue is that from a previous party

WardsSatellite

 

Our track profile

WardsWalked

The profile for the remainder of the walk (blue line above)

WardsUnwalked

 

Wooded hill Wards Route with notes

Our route in black and the remainder blue line

Place Names

Wards Bluff

Referred to by Mr Sprey in P & P of Royal Society 1957. Named after former Government Geologist.

Raglan Range

Raglan Ranges first appears in 1883 Map of State. Lord Raglan of Crimean War fame, Commander in Chief. Lord Fitzroy Henry, 1st Baron Raglan 1788-1855, led the charge of the Light Brigade.

Flat Bluff

Referred to by M Sprey in P & P of Royal Society 1957.

Joyce Creek

Referred to by Mr Sprey in P & P of Royal Society 1957.

Eldon Bluff

First shown on map by J R Scott, 1877.

Eldon Range

The Eldon Range shown on Frankland's map 1837.

Eldon Peak

James Sprent made remarks about this peak, at the time trig observation were made. This name given in 1828 by Henry Hellyer to what is now known as Mount Farrell. See VDL Co 1825-42, page 42 by A L Meston.

Sharlands Peak

Suggested by Hobart Walking Club. (I am assuming named after surveyor William Sharland)

Philps Peak

Suggested by the Hobart Walking Club. Named after J S Philp who cut the track from Loddon Plains to L Tahune in 1910. John Ernest Philp, son of Captain John and Mary Philp, born in 1869, died at Lindisfarne on 16/6/1937

Frenchmans Cap

A lofty peak rising [1450m] above the level of the sea. It is the highest point of the Deception Range. Quartz and syenite. [Bailliere's Tasmanian Gazetteer 1877]. James Sprent made remarks about Frenchmans Cap at time of trig observations. Shown on Cross Map as Conical Mount, visible 26 leagues, also about this date for first appearance of name on a map (Jorgensen), name thought to have been given at time of penal settlement of Macquarie Harbour, see Sharlands Journal. See VDL Co Map No 3. Aboriginal word for this area is 'mebbelek' (J Milligan).

Other Comments

On the 1:25 Collingwood map sheet (1986) it shows a clear area all the way along the top and down the northern sloe of the hill where we turned back and Tas Listmap aerial photo overlay still shows quite open areas.

The peak to north of Flat Bluff seems to be unnamed but is 1070m high whilst Flat Bluff is 1055m

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

VC Falls via Lake Belton

Quite some time ago someone mentioned about visiting VC Falls but going there was never high on my list of walks to do. Then after thinking about places I hadn’t been to much at Mount Field and looking at the satellite view of the park, I noticed some interesting features at Lake Belton. In particular there was a valley beside it with four tarns, a long narrow isthmus as well as the outlet creek dropping sharply down to Lake Belcher. Suddenly a visit became quite an interesting idea and hence this walk.

It was pleasant weather, although a front was due late in the day with showers. Wombat Moor was quite wet as usual but the track down to the Humboldt River was in good order after recent track work by the Friends of Mount Field. Rather than follow the regular soggy ascent to Lake Belton, a route through the bush was chosen and after some 50 minutes we were at the lake shore. Although a bit of light scrub was met it is a nicer way to get to this attractive lake perched as it is up on a wide shelf.

Island in Lake Belton

Island in Lake Belton

What came as most pleasant was the easy walking along the ridge top bedside the lake. Virtually for the whole length there were open areas that could be walked through and allowing viewpoints to the tarns, Lake Belton, down to the valley 100 metres below and to the surrounding peaks. The outlet creek was reached after 65 minutes and had pencil pines at the edge and we were also able to gain access to a good view of the narrow isthmus jutting into the lake. One particular Pencil Pine was bright with masses of fresh fruiting and the cones were very noticeable; I learnt after returning home that it was one of those rare seasons for fruiting in the highlands.

Pencil pine in fruit

From our lunch spot it was a short walk down through the first real scrub for the day to VC Falls. There are quite a number of small drops, reportedly 10, and we managed to get to Creekside at several of these. The descent was steep and we at the shore of Lake Belcher in quick time. The lake is probably the at this point, with numerous large pines along the shore with quite an extensive forest of them visible on the opposite side of the lake.

After a brief stop at the hut we commenced the notoriously wet and muddy walk along the valley to the crossing point on the Humboldt. We have seen it worse and that made it seem less laborious, nevertheless it was good to be back on the track up to the saddle. Wombat Moor is nice country, but crossing it is not.

Since returning from the walk I discovered that place names held by the Nomenclature Board are now made available online at this site. Details on the naming of features visited are:

VC Falls looking down to Lake Belcher

VC Falls was a little hard to discover, but eventually by just clicking the map in the region it brought up a host of names and VC Falls was one of them. It was in honour of the Tasmanian VC winners of the First World War, the number equalling the ten steps of the Falls. Some details are also in the Tasmanian Tramp Number 11 Page 42. The decision resulted from the 1952 examination of the nomenclature and there was also a proposal to rename as Statton Falls (after Sergeant Statton VC), but obviously this was not accepted.

 

Lake Belcher, not surprisingly was named after Bill Belcher the first Park Ranger.

And Lake Belton is recorded as a lake, 1200 yards long and averaging 250 yards wide, in the Mount Field National Park at the foot of the eastern slope of the Florentine Peak -- Tyenna Peak Ridge, about 3250 feet above sea level. Probably named after the Hon James Belton, a former Minister for Lands and Works. See Tasmanian Tramp page 41 Number 11. From J E Calders Diary it appears that he originally applied the name Lake Fenton to either this or lake Belcher.

The total time taken was  8:50 but actual walking time 7:30

Distance 14k

To view the photo album from the walk, click the image below

Lake Belton and VC Falls

Lake Belton and VC Falls

 

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