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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mount Styx

Thursday 20 March 2014

From the top of the head it sounded plausible; go on a bushwalk to Mount Styx and because it is not a long walk collect some geocaches on the way, plus stop for a coffee at Mount Field. On the return stop for coffee and get some caches by taking the alternative road back to New Norfolk.

But I had forgotten how much longer it takes to get from Mount Field through to the Styx Valley and didn’t factor in the stopping times for each cache. The result was the completion of in first half of the plan only by 5:00 PM and obviously the second half was completely out of the question. That will have to wait until another day.

It was early afternoon before we set off on the walk. Beforehand some web information provided a couple of road approaches and the Andromeda one was chosen, but it had a locked gate at the start. Back at Jacques Rd we passed an unlocked gate and then the large tree that had been reported over the road a couple of months ago, but had now been cleared. On the day before the trip a call to Forestry revealed that the area of the intended walk had been handed over to PWS and a call into the Mount Field visitor centre gave us hope that gates would be unlocked.

Once past the forestry area, the walk up was through a nice bit of forest before lower scrub with some rocky sections requiring the use of hands to get up and over at times.

Forest in lower section of track to Mount Styx

Eventually the low scrubby plateau, typical of Tasmanian mountains, was reached and the summit cairn could be readily seen not far away. There were good views of the Snowy Range and the length of Wellington Park could be appreciated. It took 1:25 to ascend and 1:10 back down for the 4.3k return, including 600 metres each way on old logging track.

Snowy South and Nevada Peak

Nevada Peak from Mount Styx

Mount Styx had never had an appeal to me which accounts for 40 years of bushwalking having elapsed before making the first ascent. It was only after seeing a few photos of the top that sparked an interest. Quite glad to have done the walk.

Mount Styx

Click the image above to view the photo album

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

South Wellington Milles Circuit

via Ice House Track and Potato Fields

Tuesday 11 March 2014

On top of Mount Wellington a temperature of 21 degrees was expected with Hobart going to 29.   It was quite warm for the walk, but nothing untoward but down at sea level it did reach 32.

The Ice House track brought us to the South Wellington saddle at which point the pad to Devils Gulch was used.  The track is now on the Wellington park map and now doubt gets more patronage nowadays, but it was markedly more worn and obvious since the last visit here in mid 2010.   In fact it was quite surprising how clear the pad was.

Cliffs at Devils Gulch

Cliffs of Devils Gulch

Devils Gulch

Devils Gulch

At the western end of the Gulch area we diverted by about 100 metres to get a better view into it from a prominence.  Morning tea was contemplated at this point but the breeze was cool and noticeable enough for us to continue on to a more sheltered spot. As we continued on along the shelf it was noticeable how the vegetation changed with the conditions and the Ozothamnus dominated shrubland was replaced by a wider range of plants, including Waratah and Orites.   It seemed to be further to walk along the shelf than my memory of it, but in time of course the descent over a scree began  then a forgotten short rock area was met followed soon after by the large Potato Fields scree.   Once past this the walk became progressively easier especially once past Snake Plain on the Milles Track.

View to Cathedral Rock and Montagu Thumbs

Cathedral Rock and Montagu Thumbs

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mount Alma

Thursday 27 February 2014
When planning for this walk we had the idea of driving to Derwent Bridge and going south from there to Mount Charles would be a good idea followed by camping beside Lake King William and doing the Alma walk the next day. When Dave heard of the plan he mentioned that he only took 1:30 to get to Charles and suggested we include Bedlam Walls as well. However we managed to drive close to Charles and so were back at Derwent Bridge much earlier than expected and decided to go on to Mount Alma.
Mount Alma
Mount Alma  from half way up
It was a steady ascent up the slope for 300 metres to the ridge top. Mostly knee to waist high Melaleuca and Tea tree with buttongrass was met on this section. At the ridge end there was a drop to a short band of tall scrub and trees back to the previous conditions, until taller scrub was gain met. After this progress became slower and at several spots we had to force a way through the mixture of vegetation, which now included some Bauera. Neville led all the way and did a sterling job of making forward progress. The effort meant that the return would be much clearer, so long as we could find the entry points into the scrub. Fortunately we did manage to follow it, again most of the credit for this goes to Neville who spotted the openings. As a result it would an ideal time for anyone to go there now before the scrub refills the gaps (see the track notes).
The spot where we arrived on top was at the southern end of a plateau and it seemed that the other end some 400 metres away appeared slightly higher and so it proved to be. The views from there revealed the valley of the Plains of the Mists and north to mountains such as Gould Sugarloaf. But the scene of Mount Gell was the closest and very impressive with a big scree slope above a deep valley. Equally impressive were the mountain peaks of the Frenchman area to the south and as we descended the foreground of Junction Peak set them off nicely.
Mount Gell
Mount Gell from summit of Alma
One other interesting aspect to the walk was the report from a 2009 visit where the group spied what
looked like an area of low heathnot far from the road, but it turned out to be tall tea tree with result that the walk took 7 hours all up. Fortunately we managed to avoid anything as difficult as that.
It took us just over 2:30 to get to the top and at 1:50 it was quite a bit quicker to descend. What was surprising was that almost an hour was spent on top. The walk including the summit stroll was 6.75k.
Click the image below for the photo album
Mount Alma

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sentinel Range

Wednesday 29 January 2014

The suggestion, and it was a good one, came from Greg for a walk to the Sentinel Range. An early start saw as the car park and ready to depart at 8:30am and it was not very long before the bottom of the ascent gully was reached.   My memory of this bit was a sidle below the range for a reasonable distance, but in fact it was quite short, so that is a turn-up because it usually the other way around.

View west along the Sentinel Range

View west along the Sentinel Range

Going up was a steep climb but with a comfortable temperature was achieved by the three of us in what seemed like pretty good time. After morning tea on the saddle above the climb, it was on to the summit of the high point on the range. By the time we arrived the cloud had broken up leaving just a few floating in the blue sky.  The views from the crest were now sparkling clear.

Sentinel summit from peak 2

Summit of Sentinel Range

After retracing steps to the saddle we walked along the top to the next prominent peak, finding an overgrown pad at times with the final ascent through a bit of low scrub. It was a great place for lunch, had no flies or other insects pestering us and the temperature was most pleasant.  The steep descent once back at the saddle didn’t leave our knees any the worse for wear.

The track is in fairly good condition without a great deal of erosion in the ascent gully and beyond.   The pad is quite distinct, except for a very short distance on the ridge top, but is a bit overgrown in parts.

The walk was a mere 5k return and took a shade over 3 ½ hours not including lunch.

Sentinel Range panorama

Sentinel Range

Click image below for the photo album

Sentinel Range

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snowy South

Wednesday 8 January 2014

My first visit to the range was probably back some 31 years in 1982 (oh dear), on a trip to Nevada Peak, but I still remember arriving at the plateau there and seeing a spectacular south west scene ahead. That walk was via Lake Skinner and had delightful weather, on another occasion I remember sheltering behind the large rock at the lake to avoid the crap being thrown at us. 
Some months ago the planned walk to Snowy South had to be cancelled and at any rate the weather was not suitable.  Good conditions prevailed this time and in fact it was fairly ideal because it was at the start of a predicted fine spell which gave quite a cool morning with a fair amount of sun and even by the afternoon it was still pleasant.  There was some high cloud about but not enough to detract from the day.
It was in 2003 that I last went to Snowy South and my memory was driving past clearfell towards the end, but it was mostly trees beside the road this time.  It also seemed further and to have more uphill than what I remembered. We started walking at 8:50 and made good progress with Neville setting a pace that tested my ability to keep up; I think he realised this and slowed his pace to match mine.

Lake Skinner with prominent rock

Initially the track is fairly level with several wet and boggy spots, but with enough stepping options to remain out of them. After some 45 minutes a flatter zone was reached then it goes back into rainforest for a somewhat steeper section before arriving at a ridge and drops a little through a shrubby area.  Once the track kept going through this and was quite wet, but a diversion track was put in and it sidles round to join back with the original one a bit before Lake Skinner.  1:25 Skinner
The lake looked really good in the calm conditions and we spent a pleasant 30 minutes or so there.  A bonus was a geocache there and the only negative was a beer can that had been fairly recently thrown away by an uncaring visitor; Neville snared it and carried it out. 

Lake Skinner panorama of two photos from above

After crossing the Falls Rivulet, the outlet creek, there was a not overly steep climb to the plateau.  It does look like a slog when viewed from the lake and it does have a few rock scrambles but is not as hard it appears.  Once on the plateau we took a longer approach route past some small tarns and pools with attractive alpine gardens.  I veered off too soon so we did have a couple of screes to cross to reach the summit.  The top is up some big rocks but with care is not hard to reach.

Anne Range with Srah Jane on left and Mount Anne on right


The views whilst on the summit were good and we did notice what looks like a big landslip near the Four Peaks area of the Eastern Arthur Range; it would be interesting to learn more about this and when it happened.

The conventional direct route was taken to return and it was easier than I had remembered; which is something these days.  Although going up usually is slower than down the time saving by the direct route was 65 minutes to Lake Skinner as against 80 minuted to get from there to the top via the more circuitous route.
The walk inwards, excluding breaks, was just short of 3hours and the return 2:30.  The total distance was just over 12 k with the inward route about 200 metres longer then the direct return route.

Richea scoparia EPACRIDACEAE at pool on plateau

Click on the image below or this link to view the photo album from the walk.

Snowy South 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Field East Circuit

Thursday 23 January 2014

With such a promising day a walk to Mount Field East beckoned. We opted for the circuit, but without the actual ascent of the Field East summit.

At the Lake Fenton car park there was a group of 6 from the Hobart Walking Club doing the same walk; except they were going up Seagers and the summit. The group was led by  a friend Chris and included Wendy, another friend. They did invite us to join them, but we wanted to have the flexibility to spend time at particular locations and go at a pace that suited us. The decision was vindicated when the group steamed past us soon after the start.

On the ridge high above Lake Fenton there is a saddle with the most delightful garden of nature and that has been our regular morning tea stop on many occasions, and was again today. The Richea scoparia there was fantastic and quite a while was spent wandering about and taking photos.

Richea scoparia EPACRIDACEAE on west ridge prior to Field East

Richea scoparia

Richea scoparia EPACRIDACEAE on moorland with Field East

Richea with Mount Field East behind.

At the end of Windy Moor the HWC party caught us up and headed for the Field East summit whilst we continued on to a lunch break at Lake Rayner. On getting there we heard voices from above and assumed it was the HWC party approaching, but it wasn’t until after we were back to the main track after lunch that they came into view. The HWC party had met some other walkers who had become lost and it was most likely their voices that we heard. Incidentally back in 1869 there is a record of local trappers, the Rayner brothers, guiding botanist Baron von Mueller to Mt Field East on a week long collecting trip. It is assumed that is who the lake is named after.

Lake Rayner

Lake Rayner

On calling into the Lake Nicholls hut, Sue noticed some soiled toilet paper in the corner of the hut and bagged it up to take back. I emptied the remains of a whisky bottle and packed that out. There are some pretty poor type of visitors get there at times. The toilet paper was most offensive but at least the bulk of the excrement was not in the hut.

We made a diversion to Beatties Tarn but after circling the wet areas we made three attempts to get close only to be confronted by large boulders. From memory the old route went all the way over low lying ground. The final attempt looked like it would get there but appeared a bit of distance off, so we turned back. A more concerted effort will be made later on as part of a check to find a better approach.

There was a tree down near the end of the Old Pack Track and in general there was very little maintenance needed on the whole circuit track. A bit of trimming here and there plus a small section above Lake Rayner and close to the rim that could be cut back.


Click image below to view photo album

Field East Jan 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mount Charles

Wednesday 22 January 2014

It was an ideal day for a walk, with sunny and calm conditions without the temperature getting too hot; nevertheless we took advantage of the shade for rest stops and lunch. It was pleasant walking up to the Collins Cap firetrail and the area where steps have been put in, near the firetrail, was looking good and continuing to recover.  Even though we were walking at a reasonably good pace a couple of blokes much younger than us strode past.

A section of bush running beside the firetail was still very much showing the damage from the bushfire of last January, but recovery was underway and most of the gums were shooting.
Near dam view to Trestle March 2013Recovering from bushfire 12 months after event  site photo 4
Before and 12 months after bushfire

Beyond that, the slashing beside the trail that had taken place at the time of the fire, was  somewhat of an ugly sight.   Once on the shortcut that avoids the big  arc of the fire trail,  we were quite surprised at the amount of growth of the vegetation there.  Once back on the firetrail the slashed sides and the combination of thick recent growth caused me to miss the turnoff to the Pineapple Grass area that I hade planned for morning tea.; it was eventually taken just off the track near the Mount Marian turnoff.
Mount Charles looms into view with Greg and Adrian

 The firetrail had more ups and downs than either Greg or I could remember and it seemed to go on for longer.   Mount Charles remained out of view until we were getting fairly close and once at the base the walking was a complete contrast, with scrub and scrambling now involved. Greg located the pad and we managed to follow it for much of the way arriving at the top about 12:30, some 3:45 after leaving but that included a morning tea stop.  After the effort of getting there it was good to be able to spend a bit over an hour on top in the nice bush.
Summit area of Mount Charles with a walker of skyline

Soon after starting the descent we spotted another walker approaching over the top of the rocky southern peak and when we got closer realised it was a woman, but she didn't want to speak to us and waved us on; we think she may have had poor English. I missed a few bits of the pad down but it didn't make a lot of difference.  Whilst passing beside Trestle I managed to locate the Pineapple Grass field that was missed on the walk in and the access now had more bush and tree impeding access than once.

Large area of pure Pineapple Grass Astelia alpina LILIACEAE at foot of Trestle Mountain with Collins Bonnet in distance

The route taken to (red)  Mount Charles and the return (blue)
Click on the image below to go to the photo album