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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Big Hill

Tuesday 5 November 2015

I misunderstood the route Dave intended to take for this walk; he mentioned an old road which I assumed was the old railway line.  However, it was the old road that was once the Midlands highway running south out from Kempton. So we followed that for about 2k before going through a farm gate; well actually climbing over is a more accurate description. After crossing paddock, we climbed quite steeply through bush, stopping on a knoll for morning tea, before reaching the wide summit then down a much gentler slope with spaced out trees, some quite large and old.

Eucalypt on Big Hill with Neville














Old Eucalypt

Quoin Mountain

Quoin Mountain

Before us was a short ascent to Kempton Sugarloaf where we lunched then a very steep grassed slope past a series of white pained tyres advertising the Kempton Festival.

As we walked the short distance back along a road we met the property owners who gave us a suggestion for another walk on their property to the west.  The mention of cliffs, caves and losing ourselves in the gully spiked our interest and no doubt this walk to Johnsons Hill will get a guernsey before too long.

All up the Big Hill walk was an 8.6k circuit and it took a shade over 4 hours including lunch.

Big Hill from Kempton Sugarloaf


Big Hill from viewed Kempton Sugarloaf

Although it doesnt look it so much in the photo, this slope was very steep.

Although it doesn't look it so much in the photo, this slope was very steep.

Big Hill

Monday, September 28, 2015

Beatties Tarn

Saturday 19 September 2015

The track to this lovely area is once again open for walkers to visit. Beatties Tarn is such a tranquil and beautiful spot sitting 200m below the tree covered slopes of the high ridge between Seagers Lookout and Mount Field East.

The park management plan suggested a re-route the Beatties Tarn side track and rehabilitate the old track, (page 37) and a consultant in a 2008 report on tracks commented that he was “not convinced it’s practical or desirable to prevent access to the tarn.

Beatties Tarn from near outflow

The track was closed for several years because the original track traversed a very wet area where some of the water flowed over a small flat area and became degraded. This area also has a considerable sphagnum content. A suitable route close to the old was marked out by Friends of Mount Field with PWS staff and is about 320 metres of track of which 80 metres is the existing but overgrown track and the remainder is rerouted but close to the former track

The track now passes through a flat area of very nice bush to reach a short boulder field where the rocks have been manoeuvred to allow relatively easy passage. It then drops down to bush again before veering west through some tall old tea tree to meet the original track just below a short boulder climb. It is then along a dry level section to reach Beatties Tarn at a very pleasant spot beside the water with a good vista. It takes about 10 minutes from the main track which in turn is about 20 minutes from the Lake Dobson Road.

There is a Beatties Tarn web site that gives details of the track, referred to in PWS and Placenames Tas documents as Beatties Tarn Side Track.

Details on the work of the Friends of Mount Field can be found on the web


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



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.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015


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.


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.


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.




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.



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