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Monday, May 23, 2016

Cape Pillar

26-28 April 2016
After such a disastrous walk to Cape Pillar in October 2007 I was anxious to only go there in light winds. On that trip I was blown into a rock and suffered deep cuts and a broken nose and considerable lacerations and of course an abandoned walk.  A four-day period was set aside to pick out three for the walk and fortunately the weather was suitable for them all.
Crescent Bay from Arthurs Peak

The idea was to use the old Cape Pillar track for an hour then branch off turning west across several plains on northern side of Crescent Mountain with final short ascent to Arthurs Peak by this time using the new Three Capes track which will be followed through to the junction where it meets with the old track.   From there is not a long way to Lunchtime Creek where the new track swings away on a new route.


Soon after setting out Agnes Creek was reached where it was surprising to find a tree had knocked the bridge down and all traces of it had been removed.  The creek is however a very simple crossing on rocks and after a drink we were on our way up to the plains where the old track had been quite recently trimmed back quite wide.  It was on the return walk, after passing two hut rangers, that it dawned on us that one of the reasons for this would probably be to make access for them easier.

Arthurs Peak

Once past the junction the cleared track ended and the next hour and a bit was mostly pushing through scrub varying between waist high and well over the head and it was not until close to Arthurs Peak that it got lower and drier. We cut off from the pad for400 metres to intersect with the Three Capes Track and from there it was high quality track. Initially involving a climb to get great views to Crescent Bay and surrounds then down to the sidle Crescent Mountain where the gravel and rock steps.  Once over the plain of Ellarwey Valley a delightful shelf on the northern edge of Tornado Ridge went through forest on mostly a gravel track to the junction with the old Pillar track and then the refurbished part of the old track was followed to the turnoff to Lunchtime Creek where we camped.  I did make a blunder here by telling Nigel I would leave my blue drink bottle on the track at the turnoff, but after passing some walkers heading the other way, I thought someone might pick it and take so just put a few logs over the track instead. When Nigel failed to appear I realised that something had gone wrong, and sure enough he had kept going as my bottle was not there to mark the spot; however, he eventually backtracked and reached camp before dark.

Cape Pillar

Another nice day and a most enjoyable walk, initially following the old track, then joining the new one for the walk to The Blade. There was one quite extensive section of boardwalk bypassing well to the east of Perdition Ponds, but the rest was good to travel on and the views from the cliff tops just so splendid. On return we went via the old Perdition track which is overgrowing rapidly then went on the check the swanky Munro hut, where the ranger invited us to inspect it, before completing the circuit to arrive at camp at a more respectable time of day.  We met a lot of Three Capes patrons during the day and over half of them were in the 20-30’s age bracket with the remainder over 50’s.
The final day was cloudy but nice for walking and we arrived at the car at 11 just as rain began, which soon became quite heavy; good timing.


Distance 40.5k


The upgraded track along the clifftops




Click on the image below for the photo album

  Cape Pillar April 2016
Cape Pillar April 2016

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Neika Snake Plains Circuit

Saturday 7 May 2016
Previously we had walked from the Snake Plains track along a rough somewhat overgrown pad over hills covered with Melaleuca squamea to an unnamed hill above Neika.  On the way a junction was met and today the walk was the reverse, starting at Neika and climbing the hill to see if the pad at the junction could be followed.
Route up to the top of the hill
Well it could for a while and had some rock cairns and the occasional old bit of tape marking it, but just before it would have entered a wooded area, dense Bauera was met and eventually we had to give up and retrace our steps.  Back at the junction we opted to head over the hill down to Levert Rivulet (previously Millhouse Creek on old map) and on to the Snake Plains track then to the Pipeline track to Neika.
On the way up from Neika a pad was noticed leading around the right hand side of a prominent rock area.  Previously we had followed the pad down using the left side, but decided to see where this other one went, hoping it may provide a better way to the top of the rock ridge.  However, despite coming upon old cut bushes, it petered out suddenly leaving us to with little option but to scramble up the slope to locate the previously used track.  This was quite warm work, but it didn’t take very long to get back on the right course.  It did leave us wondering why this other track was there and why it suddenly ended.
Cathedral Rock and Montagu from plains 
At lunch, on a pleasant and open rocky top in the forest, we heard a variety of songs from a Lyrebird accompanied by a lot of clicking sounds from another. On creepy along the track were able to get a view of them with feathers raised before they spotted us and fled in panic with a hissing type of alarm sound. 
Route profile

Map of route

Total distance including the diversion was 6.7k and took 4 hours including lunch.  Height gain 360m.

For more photos click this link or the text below the image.
Plain where track emerges from the trees on skyline.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lakes Fenton to Dobson Circuit

Saturday 30 April 2016

The track between Lakes Fenton and Webster is a favourite and this walk involved leaving some cars at Lake Dobson so that we could return on the track coming up there and thus making it a circuit walk.
Fagus at Lake Fenton

Although in the high country it is a fairly protected from the elements and takes you along the side of Lake Fenton, where we were fortunate to have Fagus still with leaves in bright colour. Beyond there was Kangaroo Moor then at the end of the moor it was gently downhill for the biggest challenge of the day in the crossing of the Broad River. The water level wasn’t too bad even though there had been a couple of days of modest rainfall and although there was a bit of nervousness among the group, all got over without any mishaps.

A couple of the reasons behind putting this walk on is to encourage people to visit and appreciate our national parks and also to make known the Tas National Parks Assoc.  Catherine from TNPA was on hand to give a brief rundown on the organisation and hopefully the fine weather and the lovely area did the rest.  Feedback afterwards did suggest people liked the walk which is encouraging.  I was hesitant about taking a bigish group, but it didn’t prove to be a problem and made easier as they were such a nice bunch of people. Most also made the detour to lake Seal during the walk up to Lake Dobson.

The track has been maintained by the Friends of Mount Field for a number of years and is good condition, although several bushes had fallen in recent months and will need work soon to clear them.

The walk was about 11k and took about 5 hours, excluding major breaks.


Pandani beside the track





Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Long Marsh Dam

Wednesday 30 March 2016
Long Marsh
Long Marsh Dam has quite a history as it was the site where local landowners were going to use convicts as free labour in 1840’s but when it was decreed in 1844 that they had to be paid the landowners refused and the convicts walked off the job and that was the end of the project.
Hibbertia procumbens
Shirley suggested that Honeysuckle Road be used as the access to Long Marsh and a perusal of the 1:25 maps and satellite images seemed to confirm that way would be possible. From Ross it was about 44k with the last 28 Along the gravelled Honeysuckle Road, which was not too bad although it was a bit rougher towards the end. A bridge that once spanned the Macquarie River has long gone which meant a walk along the road to the access 4wd track. It was most noticeable that the bush along beside it was literally carpeted with Hibbertia procumbens to an extent that I had never seen anywhere like this before,
At a junction Shirley took us to the old quarry sites where large stone had been shaped and abandoned, then on to the Long Marsh itself and the coffer dam still partly in place. Here we could also see the extensive embankments that the workers had toiled to build. From there it was a scramble up more embankments on the western side.
Coffer dam
probation station ruin
A marked walking track took us to the ruins of the probation station. Quite a number of the remains of buildings are there and it was interesting to wander about the site. Our return eventually brought us to 4wd track above the weir on the river and this point was less than 1k from the car and we opted to risk following it in the opposite direction heading south westerly and hoped it would get us close to the cars. In fact, it went all the way meeting Honeysuckle Road, only a couple of hundred metres from the cars.
Trough at probation station
A photo album is on line, click the image below.


The Map of the route taken




























Some history

From a Northern Midlands Council report on the site
The Long Marsh Dam and Convict Probation Station is located on the upper Macquarie River, about 13 kilometres south of Lake Leake and north of Tooms Lake. The site is accessible by vehicle and foot via Honeysuckle Road. It is an important historic complex within the rural landscape of Tasmania’s midlands region.
The Long Marsh Dam and Convict Probation Station contains evidence of a range of convict dam building activity, and extensive remains from the associated convict settlement. The combined dam and settlement site is a large complex that covers an extensive area.
The site comprises three main activity areas, evidence of the construction of the dam. Firstly, at the southern most end of the complex is the dam site. Two 20 metre high manmade earthen and rock abutments form the dramatic visual presentation of the dam site. The embankments flank the partially completed rubble coffer dam wall below. Diversion channels under the embankments run parallel to the river.
Secondly, is the sandstone quarry to the southeast of the dam. The sandstone quarry is located east of the embankment and rock abutment. The quarry contains numerous dressed sandstone blocks cut from the quarry face, and the remains of the quarry face has partly cut blocks of sandstone in situ. Dressed sandstone blocks are scattered in the marsh area east of the embankment. Thirdly, a pathway from the dam site gives access to the ruins of the convict settlement, situated in open woodland on a hill overlooking the Long Marsh. The settlement contains numerous features including building foundations, remains of dry stone wall compounds, pathways, outbuildings and several chimney butts. The station area originally consisted of 14 dwellings. Other ruins and features are linked by a network of cleared pathways through the bush. At a distance from the main settlement is the isolated grave of Thomas Collins, a convict worker killed by a falling stone in 1843.
The Tasmanian Heritage Council state that the Long Marsh Quarry and Convict Probation Station is of cultural heritage significance because of its association with the convict probation system specific to Tasmania. Long Marsh Dam demonstrates early attempts at applying civil engineering in the form of large scale irrigation projects aimed at promoting agricultural development in the Midlands. The site also has significance from being one of the largest and ambitious convict based land development projects undertaken in Australia at the time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cradle Hill

Tuesday 22 March 2016
Now this walk turned out to be nicer than I thought it might. It didn’t hurt that the day was absolutely lovely, warm but not uncomfortably so.
We expected to find a barrier on the road and when we reached it we were pleasantly surprised to find the property behind it was owned by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, and there were a lot of large rocks that prevented illegal entry. After a short walk along the road we turned off into the bush, soon came upon an old logging track of sorts to ease the way, then went up a boulder field to a higher level and before long were at the foot of the final scramble to the top of Cradle Hill. Some fine old gums were encountered but they weren’t huge in height and splendid views were appreciated on the rocky summit.

Dave, Nigel, Greg and Adrian on summit of Cradle Hill with Lake Sorell beyond.

Return was by initially heading north where an open large area, that was marked on the map and clearly visible on satellite images, was crossed. It was all low grass that was heavily cropped by the wildlife that would have found it very much to their liking. A short distance through mostly pink mountain berry bushes a 4wd track was met and a hut spotted on the edge of another plain. We did investigate the hut before the downhill leg and it did test a few legs too. The cars were reached by 2:40 and this gave us time for a relaxing coffee and more at the Stables at Oatlands.
Total walk time 3:10, but elapsed time was 4:20 and distance 8.2k

A photo album is available – click the image below


Below is a map of the property owners

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Belton Florentine Circuit

Tuesday 15 March 2016
I had been trying to organise a circuit walk to Lake Belton and up to Florentine Peak for several months, but weather and other circumstances intervened.  Finally, it was on and completed successfully. The walk was from Wombat Moor to Lake Belton, alongside the eastern shore and ascending by a narrow and very distinct ridge to the plateau between Tyenna and Florentine Peaks. The return journey to go via k Col and the Rodway Range.
Greg and Neville at morning break at Lake Belton


Being a long walk we needed an early start and were on the track at 8:00 am. Wombat Moor was as usual a bit wet in parts but not as awful as sometimes and the track from the saddle down to the Humboldt River in very good condition, due to the work of the Friends of Mount Field. A previous visitor had recently placed pink ribbons on trees along the way, which seemed a strange and irritating thing to do as the track is very obvious.

After crossing the river, a route through the bush was taken, as it would be good to find a better way to Lake Belton than the existing poor track. The bush was a bit wet but by the time we arrived at the lake some 30 minutes later it was sunny and trousers quickly dried during a pleasant break near the shore. The walk beside the lake is mostly quite easy with lots of open spots and it is scenic with even a few spots giving views down the Lake Belcher valley. There are numerous Pencil Pines on the banks.
Lake Belton from high on ridge, the lunch time view


Belton has a long narrow isthmus jutting into it and this could now be seen and soon after it was time for the brief descent to cross the outlet creek and climb onto the ridge that goes all the way up to the plateau.  We were now on new territory for us and it proved to be about as expected; light scrub interspersed with relatively open country. High on this narrow ridge we stope for lunch at a spot giving very good views and a different perspective of Lake Belton. Above awaited a further short climb then we had to locate the way down to the route that would take us to K Col. Two things stood out, one being we had all forgotten the need to pinpoint the rocky descent location and the other being the minimal pad between there and Clemes Tarn; clearly it does not get high usage. As we had all been more than once to Florentine Peak and did not bother going to the top.

The remainder of the walk was via the Bobs Peterson hut for a break, then over the Rodways to lake Dobson followed by the trudge up the road to the car at Wombat Moor. It was fair to say by then we were somewhat tired.

Click the image below to view a photo album

Belton Florentine Circuit
Belton Florentine Circuit

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Johnsons Hill

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Now the ascent to Johnsons Hill was very steep and even the gentlest descent we could see was also steep. Part way down the land levelled out and it was much easier going to the southern gully, although as we discovered it was the northern one that had by far the best caves. Unfortunately, then access to this latter gully was choked with Gorse and a clamber up on the side was needed to get to the destination.
Cave in northern gully



I had mistaken the meeting place for the walk, thinking it was in Kempton, and it as we drove past Dysart when we noticed Dave’s car and had to make a quick exit from the highway. Then soon after we got to the start of the walk a car pulled up and it was Alan, who we didn’t know was coming and had been waiting at Kempton. As no one turned up at Kempton Alan decided to drive out to see if he could find us and we were very glad he did. 

Alan and Dave crossing the flat



For the photo album click this link