Sunday, May 16, 2010

Family Bushwalk to Pelion

Over Easter we took our 11, 9 and 5 year old children to walk the Arm River Track. While Pelion Hut was the loose objective it was not set in stone. The area has many lovely spots for camping so the plan was to do whatever we could do then setup camp. With enough meals to last 4 days our agenda was delightfully flexible.
On day one, we had a fairly late morning start. While there was a bit of complaining, we all made light work of the infamous hill one kilometre after the start. Ironically, it was after the steep bit that we struggled to maintain motivation as we sidled around the top of the hill to our lunch spot beside the outlet from Lake Price.
Lunch at Lake Price with Mt Pillinger looking over us.
After lunch, renewed spirits allowed us to scoot over to Wurragarra Creek and the highpoint where the Cathedral Range and DuCanes joined Mt Pillinger to provide a breathtaking panorama. Steady progress was made down the hill but, as we approached Lake Ayr, spirits were flagging again. The last 4km had taken us 1.5 hours, we had 4km to reach Pelion Hut and there were 1.5 hours of daylight left. It was not hard to make the decision to pitch our tent on a small rise beside a creek where we enjoyed spectacular views along the lake to Mt Oakleigh and back to Mt Pillinger. The remaining daylight was spent relaxing, and cooking a superb dinner. Mrs TasTrekker had invested in some of those fancy dehydrated hiking meals which cut down on weight and ensured we could enjoy fairly normal and wholesome food.
Mt Oakleigh and Lake Ayr from our campsite.
Day two started enthusastically and 90 minutes' walking took us to a deserted Pelion Hut where we settled in for morning tea and card games. A group from Anthology's Cradle Mountain Huts arrived at the hut soon after us en route from the private hut at Pine Forest Moor. They tucked into their gourmet lunch and then set off to climb Mt Oakleigh.
Mt Pelion West looms over the Douglass River bridge.
Pelion Plains offers some hidden treasures for a family not looking to scale the heights of surrounding mountains. Some copper mines and an old hut are worth exploring along with the recommended swimming spot at the pencil pine flanked Douglas River.
Old Pelion Hut
We took our lunches and stoves a short walk along the famous Overland Track to the historic Old Pelion Hut. While enjoying lunch in the hut's grassy surrounds we had a visit from the friendly local track ranger. She was heading down to the old bridge on the Wolfram Mine track (more recently known as the Forth Valley Track) to 'take measures' to prevent people using the bridge. The treated pine decking looked to be in good condition but underneath the steel beams were completely rusted through.
Rusty bridge over Douglas River on Wolfram Mines (Forth Valley) Track
Over an hour was filled as the whole family were entertained by the antics of tugging at planks and dismantling the decking. Everyone chipped in to lend a hand. In a weird way, there was a strong sense of irony heading into the wilderness and engaging in some serious demolition work.
Ranger Jen calls the shots as we 'take measures' to discourage people from using the bridge.
Once all the planks and old nails were collected, we got back to our original agenda which was a visit to the old Pelion Copper Mine. A distinct pad leads 250 metres down the valley from the hut to a brightly coloured tailings heap which extends all the way down the hill and into the river below. The boys and I explored the adit which went far enough in to be completely dark when we turned our torches off.
Pelion Copper Mine
On the way back to the Overland Track, the children stopped on a new section of board walk to test the depth of the bog. In the photo it looks like they are engaged in constructive track work. If Ranger Jen returned to continue her board walk construction, I'm sure there would have been three willing young helpers.
On the track to Old Pelion Hut.  Mt Pelion East in the background.
In the evening, dinner preparations and the ensuing feast were accompanied by a lovely sunset transforming Cradle Mountain, Barn Bluff and Mount Oakleigh into stately silhouettes against the fading hues of a fine and still autumn evening. Card games and socialising were the order of the evening. Even the junior walkers found friends they had met on a previous holiday camp so the hut atmosphere was very lively.
Barn Bluff, Cradle Mt and Mt Oakleigh are sillhouetted at sunset.

Ready to set out from New Pelion Hut
On the morning of day three we joined the throng of walkers preparing for departure and, after a family snap, set off along Lake Ayr. The first four kilometres melted away as we dawdled through the mist, taking photos of shrubs, cobwebs, flowers and berries along the route.
The gradual uphill climb from the Pelion Plains up towards the Wurragarra sadle caused spirits to flag a little so a cooked lunch beside 'Tarn of Islands Creek' gave us the necessary encouragement to continue back to the walk's high point. From here, the panorama opens up to include the Cathedral and DuCane ranges along with Mt Pillinger close at hand. Ironically, as they rested on a large rock, my family seemed more inclined to watch the tadpoles in a tarn rather than take in the stunning scenery. Each to their own I guess.
Twin Spires, Cathedral Mt and Castle Crag from the Wurragarra saddle.
At this point we had covered eight kilometres since leaving the hut and we were four kilometres from the car. We had food to do another day but being this 'close to home' with the possibility of a home day before returning to work made it an attractive option to push on. There was just the issue of enthusing the troops. We made a strong start heading down over Wurragarra Creek but the slight climb to Lake Price caused our youngest trekker to threaten mutiny. The others were starting to enjoy the thought of being back to their own beds that night.
Lots of encouraging and distracting chatter pulled us through to our day one lunch spot at the Lake Price outlet stream. An Easter Sunday afternoon tea of celebratory eggs was in order and, with all that chocolate in our collective bellies, it seemed only a hop, skip and a jump to the steep descent into the Arm River valley. At the bottom of the hill, I wondered how we would go with the final kilometre to the car. As it turned out, everyone was able to focus on the goal and with much celebration we bundled into the family wagon and headed for a Sheffield take-away dinner. There was even energy in reserve to don fancy dress for an easter supper with the in-laws in Burnie!

What a trip! Walking with young children is a joy when appropriate precautions are taken. We have been fortunate enough to gather some good gear for the whole family. Complete sets of thermal underwear, sleeping bags, inflatable camping mats, rain coats, boots and a 4-person Macpac Spectrum tent that fits all of us made this trip possible. Walking with an open agenda, listening to each other's needs and being willing to stop whenever the need arose were other critical factors. Of course, the trip would not have happened without the willing participation of the whole TasTrekker family. I am very proud of everyone!


SG-3 said...

I came across your blog while searching for things to do around Sheffield for our first big family holiday. (It is funny what you stumble upon with a search of "paloona dam tasmania"!)

I wasn't able to read your blognow post on the Waterfalls on Hogg Creek, but I have spent WAY to long reading (and thoroughly enjoying)a number of your posts in the last hour, and was especially in awe of this one! What a great, adventurous family you have, loving this wonderful state of ours!

Thanks for sharing!

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Vern Doddridge said...

Wowee your youngsters are fit. Fantastic family outing...superb reading and great photos. Love to similar but coming in from.Pelion Mine using latest electric bike to Pelion.
I have undertaken many long day walks but none overnight. My longest day was the entire Freycinet Peninsular..some 45km return.
Once again..well done to all the Trekker must be justly proud.
Regards sirius Tas.