Tuesday, May 09, 2006

February Plains

2 weeks ago on ANZAC Day, Tuesday 25th April, I dashed up into the Mersey Forth high country for an afternoon exploring around the north end of February Plains.

I was inspired by Ned Terry’s book “Identities and History of Tasmania’s High Country.” Several of the trappers, snarers and stockmen spoke about “the February.”

February Plains average about 1100 metres above sea level and can be a very inhospitable place during the winter months. They lie along the flat-topped ridge that runs north south between the Mersey and Forth River valleys. In the north, they rise above Borradaile and Emu Plains, south of Mount Claude. In the south, February Plains come to an abrupt end at the cliffs of Mount Oakleigh.

I approached from the north along logging roads over Bare Hill and Borradaile Plains. A few years ago, the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park and World Heritage area boundary was moved north to include February Plains and to protect the dense forest of the Lemonthyme Valley.

After leaving the car at a locked gate, I walked south along the disused logging road before heading up onto the button grass plains on top of the ridge. After an hour walking, a large coil of rusty wire hanging from a tree served as the first reminder of times past when mountain cattlemen would bring stock up here in the summer months.

Tucked among the trees on the northern end of the plains, I visited the decaying remains of a snarers hut. The roof had gone and three walls were nothing more than an open frame. The one standing wall still had chicken wire over the open eaves where smoke used to escape from the fire used to dry the possum and wallaby skins.

From the high parts of the plains Cradle Mountain, Barn Bluff and the surrounding ridges could be seen to the west sporting a thick coat of fresh snow. At one point, Mount Pelion West also showed its snowy head. In the east, the peaks lining the western rim of the central plateau glowed in the sinking sun.

I completed my circuit by following Sardine Creek back to the disused logging road a few kilometres south from where I started. As I approached my car, the sun set right behind the Cradle Mountain massif creating a stunning silhouette to cap off a pleasant afternoon.

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