Sunday, January 08, 2017

Mount Field West

Mount Field West
A couple of free days in December allowed my first visit to this peak.

Lake Dobson

Lake Seal and Mount Bridges
After lunch overlooking Tarn Shelf beside the Rodway ski tow we scrambled over the Rodway Range.  We paused briefly to collect the peak bagging points at the high point overlooking Lions Den.

Rodway Range high point.  The Eastern and Western Arthurs grace the horizon beyond Tyenna Peak.

Lions Den

Lake Hayes and The Watcher
Views to Florentine Peak were a constant companion as we crossed K-col and ascended the plateau beyond Clemes Tarn.  Masses of flowering scoparia, a sparkling stream and numerous tarns made the final approach to Field West delightful.

Peterson Memorial Hut

Clemes Tarn and Florentine Peak

The view from the top stretched to the many mountain ranges of the central and south-west Tasmanian wilderness.  Most of the peaks on show feature on my unclimbed 'to-do' list.  After a period of dreaming up future trips my focus turned to the Florentine Valley laying directly below our vantage point.  It is sad to think parts of that once wild valley were removed from Mount Field National Park to feed the paper mill at Boyer.  At least the mill has now moved to 100% plantation timber and the largely untouched upper Florentine Valley is now safely within the World Heritage Area (no thanks to the Hodgeman & Abbott governments who attempted to have them removed!).

Lake Gordon brooding beyond the ramparts of Mount Field West
On our return journey a brief break in the clouds allowed us a quick side trip to Naturalist Peak for more peak bagging cred.  K-col greeted us with a short sharp downpour making it easy to decide against the longer return via Tarn Shelf.  The Watcher made no attempts to keep an eye on us, instead staying well behind a dark, cloudy veil - those points will wait for another day.

As we recrossed the Rodways, rain turned to sleet before making the full transition to a spectacular snow storm as we arrived back at Lake Dobson.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wielangta Walks

Wielangta Rain Forest Walk
In recent times I've discovered I'm a shocking 'Western Tasmania Snob'.  Growing up on the Cradle Coast meant the western wilderness was my backyard.  From my earliest memories family hikes featured rivers raging through deep gorges, soaring dolerite crags piercing the sky, plunging waterfalls and moss-lined ferny gullies.  I really struggled to imagine any appeal in the dry eastern half of the island.

A colleague, Bert Spinks - Storyteller extraordinaire, recently tapped into this feeling with a Myrtle Forests post in the Field Guide to Falling in Love in Tasmania.  The following paragraph struck a distinctive chord:
Sant sees Tasmania as a “skewed island, all that mountainous weather-burdened weight in west!” And it is true: don’t let the historic bickering between the towns in the north and south fool you: the division of this island is vertical. There is the difficult transylvanian west, with its “straining forests”, facing towards the worst weather and absorbing it, reprieving the “sheltered east, with its vineyards and holidays”.
Give me transylvania any day!

Lucky for me (given I now work mostly in the east) I've discovered pockets of the east which mirror the west.  The significantly drier east coast is never completely dry as this year's floods can attest.  Sheltered nooks and fern-filled gullies harbour pockets of my beloved myrtle, sassafrass and moss.

Today took me along the Wielangta Road.  I remember this area being part of some legal wrangling over the meaning of "protection".  (The law has since been changed so "protection" means whatever the government of the day wants it to mean.)  My western-prejudice caused me to pay little attention.  I now see what the fuss was about.

In the west I've always enjoyed exploring the plethora of abandoned rail and tramway corridors through seemingly impossible terrain.  The main lifeline for the long-deserted Wielangta township in south-east Tasmania was a tramway out to the coast at Rheban.  A section of this makes for a liesurely stroll along the SandSpit River mid-way between Copping and Orford.  Man ferns galore and mossy patches of blackwood and sassafras made me feel quite at home.

While in the area we checked out the Three Thumbs Lookout (must return to do the walk sometime) and the Marion Bay Lookout.  The viewscapes have been lovingly enabled by strategically cutting down any trees which may block the view.  You don't see that in a National Park!  (Please understand my irony here - I am NOT a fan of chainsaw-enhanced lookouts.)

The highlight of my day was the seemingly abandoned Rain Forest Walk at Robertsons Bridge.  The recent (2012?) bridge reconstruction appears to have wiped out the start and end of the track.  From the southern side of the river on the upstream side of the road, follow the gutter down between the bridge embankment and a small natural cliff.  A boardwalk can be found among the man ferns close to the river.  Follow this upstream to the point where a footbridge has been washed away.

Soon after crossing the river (which only flows strongly after heavy rain) the boardwalk swings back towards the road.  At this point, while the man ferns were lovely, I was a little disappointed at the brevity of the walk.  However, a treat was in store!

En route back to the road they well-constructed board walk skirts along an impressive rock overhang.  Giant trees have fallen (the natural way) from the slopes above making a formidable sight as the track passes beneath.  The path emerges somewhat unceremoniously at the roadside between clumps of cutting grass.

Apart from the missing footbridge and obscured track ends, the boardwalk is in good shape and well worth a visit.  Please go there!

Sassafras trees at Wielangta Rain Forest Walk

Wielangta Rain Forest Walk

Sandspit River

View* from Three Thumbs Picnic Area over Sping Bay (*chainsaw enhanced)

Spring Beach and Quarry Point

Great Sun Orchid (Thelymitra aristata)
Perhaps the tallest grass tree flower I've ever seen (Xanthorrhoea australis)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Funny Weather in Hobart

Towering over 1250m above the city of Hobart, Mt Wellington / kunanyi is generally 10 degrees cooler.  Check out the BoM snapshot of conditions while I was on the Pinacle late in the afternoon.
I wonder how often Hobart and the mountain record identical temperatures as shown above.  In fact the summit defeated the capital in a battle for daily maximum honours yesterday as Hobart only managed to crawl 0.9 degrees above its 4:00am minimum.
 My tour enjoyed sunny contions at Russell Falls, Lake Dobson and Bonorong Wildlife Park but our return to Hobart was greeted with gloomy low cloud.  Much to our delight, we broke through above the cloud just above The Chalet.  Generally the summit is crowded in fine sunny conditions.  Instead we basked in the sunshine in relative isolation.  Up above the cotton wool we almost had the mountain to ourselves.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Waterfall Bay

Waterfalls, orchids, berries, flowers, people and boats on a work trip to Waterfall Bay on Tassie's spectacular Tasman Peninsula. This group is starting Tasmanian Walking Company's 6-day Wineglass Bay Sail Walk aboard Lady Eugene.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


I'm sitting atop a sandstone buttress part way up taytitikitheeker  (Drys Bluff). Golden whistlers, Tasmanian currawongs and forest ravens are singing to their hearts content. A breeze has sprung up and high level cloud has replaced the blue sky which accompanied the start of my climb.
Looking north east Mounts Arthur and Barrow join Bens Nevis and Lomond on the smoky horizon. Between me and them the rich fertile patchwork quilt is a modern indication of the fertile deposits left by the ancient lake which covered the Cressy district aeons ago.
This is my first time here for a decade and a half. My first time since conservationist Bob Brown bequeathed his property to Bush Heritage Australia for us all to enjoy. Not that we weren't welcome before. Among the new signs it's great to see there is still one which declares, "Trespassers Welcome"!