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



Our track profile


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



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