Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Federation Peak!

29th February - 5th March

Federation Peak
Mt Bobs

Federation Peak is an imposing and renowned peak in the South-West of Tasmania. It sits at the southern end of the Eastern Arthur range and has several routes of access. I did this walk with my dad (Gordon), and we did the peak via the Farmhouse Creek track.

Day 1
Dad picked me up from home at 4:30am for our long road-trip to the other end of the state. The Farmhouse Creek track starts at the end of an old forestry road just beyond the Tahune Airwalk near Geeveston, a very scenic part of the state. The 350km drive took us around 5 hours; we started walking by 9:30am after fueling up on Sultana Bran and Black and Gold box milk. Good stuff! We had a good window of weather for the trip, but the best day was looking to be day 2, so we wanted to make that our summit day. This meant we had to push for a long first day - 16.4km in rough track conditions.

The walk winds its way through sections of rain-forest and scrubby patches of cutting grass and ti-tree. Farmhouse Creek is often thought of as the least attractive approach to Fedders due to the lack of views, but we thought it was beautiful. There was lots of fungi and big Myrtles to look at and when there was a view it was that much more rewarding! We heard several Lyrebirds flaunting their vocal talents in some of the thicker sections of rain-forest, but didn't manage to glimpse one. We passed several campsites on our walk in, one of which we would come back to in a few days. After our lunch break the terrain opened up into buttongrass plains with views of surrounding mountains. It was here that I encountered the first snake of the trip, basking in the sun. A large Tiger Snake, very lively. He hissed loudly and then darted off into the scrub before I could snap a photo. We pushed on through riverside vegetation, sometimes being very tangled and making for slow going. We arrived at our campsite - Cutting Camp at around 7:45pm. A hasty set up before we lost the sun completely and then a delicious curry for dinner. Alarm set for 5:30am the next day...

Sleeping boats on the Huon River.

The old Geeveston poles.

Sultana Bran!

We look ready for adventure.

This is where the easy walking ended...

Gorgeous Climbing Heath.

Crossing Farmhouse Creek.

I had a go at crossing it too.

This is the junction to go to Mt Bobs.

Gorgeous rain forest.

Our first peep of Federation Peak!

Some poor sod was unlucky with their boots.

Dad with Mt Hopetoun in the background.

Mt Bobs.

Making sure we're on track! I think we are.

What a view!

We got to camp just before dark, very happy to put packs down.

Day 2
We woke up before the sun. We wanted to be walking as soon as there was light because we had a big day planned, so we packed a large day-pack and fueled up on porridge. Summit day. We were walking a bit after 7am and soon faced the first challenge of the day - Moss Ridge. A very thickly vegetated, steep, muddy ridge-line that took us up 600 meters in altitude to a high camp underneath Federation Peak. We expected it to take us about 4-5 hours, but smashed it out in just under 3! Thank goodness for day-packs. About 2 hours into the day we reached an open knoll on the ridge with stunning views of the peak as well as the rest of the Eastern Arthur range and several other mountains. When we reached the high camp at Bechervaise Plateau we re-organised the day-pack to take the bare essentials for the summit. We carefully stowed spare clothes and lunch at the campsite and headed for the top via the main Eastern Arthur traverse track. Altitude was gained (and sometimes lost) fast over short distances in the steep terrain and soon we were at the turn off to the summit; marked by a large rock cairn.

The summit track is notorious of its exposure and height, and it is a well deserved reputation. No doubt that a fall would be deadly, but the actual climbing was not too hard. Steady moves and a multitude of good holds meant it was a fantastically fun climb. After getting some classic photos up the steep section, the path became less aggressive and the last 5 minutes to the summit was a breeze. Upon reaching the top, my first reaction was to get tears in my eyes - super manly. I was blown away to be on the top, and on a nice day! Then came yippee and yahoos at our achievement. We stayed on top for nearly an hour, the weather was gorgeous and calm so we took full advantage of it. The walk/climb back down was fine, just like going up but in reverse! Many good opportunities for photos and view points. Just before we arrived at Bechervaise Plateau where we left our lunch, I spotted a small White-Lipped snake basking in the sun on a tuft of alpine grass perched over a cliff. We had lunch as one of the Par Avion planes flew around the summit on one of their sight seeing trips - odd to feel so remote, but to have day-trippers from Hobart having their quick visitation to the wilderness just a few hundred meters above us.

After lunch we headed back to the camp, taking a bit longer to descend Moss Ridge now that we knew we had plenty of time. It offered the opportunity to get some well lit photos of the track through the Horizontal scrub. Horizontal is a tree that grows to several meters high and then falls over, only to sprout more limbs going up. The whole process repeats itself many times creating a matted floor of branches and trunks. And can make for slow going when walking through it. We arrived at camp a bit after 5pm very happy with our successful day and enjoyed relaxing around camp and enjoying the antics of a pygmy possum flitting around the trees near out tents. We were both looking forward to a sleep in and an easy next day - only 7km!

Fedders from the knoll atop Moss Ridge. 

Looking gorgeous in the morning sun.

Dad is excited!

Panorama of Mt Hopetoun.

What is this?!

Would be a great place to camp up here.

Heading out of Bechervaise Plateau.

Dad gettin' his kit off! It was warm.

Precipitous Bluff - Another Abel for another time.

Lake Geeves through the eye of the needle.

Dad gets a hero shot.

Zane gets a hero shot.

We're on top!
Dad soaking in the view of the Arthurs.

Looking south towards the coast.

Eastern Arthur range continues.

Stunning.

On the way down, many photos to be taken.

Alpine veg at its best.

Geology is amazing!

Dad climbing down a good bit of geology.

Such cutie-pies!

This wasn't here on the way up!? (... it was.)


Dad loving the track down Moss Ridge.

It was actually quite beautiful.

Camp life; a good life.

Cherry Creek flowing passed our camp.

Time to cook up a storm!

Day 3
We slept in and had a lazy breakfast. We enjoyed the surrounds of our camp-site, the small creek that flowed through the bush near the tents, the moss growing on the trees, the birds singing their morning calls. We fare-welled a couple who also spent the night at the camp, they were heading up Moss Ridge to spend the night on the upper plateau. We soon packed up and headed off up the path we came in on two days prior. A small day was ahead of us, only going about 7km to a camp-site on the edge of the South Cracroft River nestled in among a beautiful open forest. We were constantly walking ahead of a frontal system that looked looming above us, but  it never eventuated into anything. A few very light patches of drizzle was the worst the weather got in all 6 days!

The creek trickles on slowly.

Porridge. Breakfast of champions!

Dad doing some morning stretches.

Fedders starting to get cloudy... We thought we were in for some weather.

But the front never really came!

Day 4
We had a plan to continue heading back up the main path, but take a turn off towards Lake Sydney; the access point to Mt Bobs. After a few hours of walking we hit the track junction (signaled by a tree covered in several bits of tape) and then started wading through some scrub towards Lake Sydney. The track was pretty poor and at some points vague to follow. It headed through some beautiful rain forest up to a ridge covered in stunted Myrtles and a few HUGE King Billy Pines, some being well over 1000 years old. The descent from the ridge to Lake Sydney went through some boggy patches, but was all good fun. It had been very dry weather lately, but the path was still very wet and I wouldn't like to see it after a heavy downpour! Lake Sydney drains into a sink-hole and the whole area is amazing to study and walk around. The sink-hole was empty when we were there and only had the small cascades from the lake and several creeks filling the bottom, but it has the capacity to fill up. We were spoiled with choices for camp-sites and found a nice grassy, shady, flat place near a small creek. We spent the evening poking around the place and looking at the amazing geology. We were happy to be spending a few nights here!

Fairy Apron - A gorgeous carnivorous bladderwort.

A coral fungi in the forest.

A misc fungi.

Another coral fungi (one of my favorites!)

A little Fan-Tail was ditting around, and he landed on my walking pole!!

This Tiger Snake was very slow in the shady rain forest.

The sink hole at Lake Sydney.

Where the lake drains into the sink hole.

A beaut little cascade.

Camp-o-rama!

This little stream was beautiful - Mt Bobs in the clouds.

Just before the sun went down for the night.

Day 5
A whole day to explore Mt Bobs and Lake Sydney? Sounds great!! We headed off early to make the most of our time, walking around the north-west edge of Lake Sydney to head up a shallow valley towards the leading ridge-lines up Mt Bobs. The lake was easy to walk around and soon we were in the valley. It was full of beautiful forest and while there were some very rough pads, we ended up mostly bashing our own way up. We popped out of the thick forest onto large slabs of rock and then proceeded to hop between these 'islands' of rock in a sea of scrub. Eventually we got to a rocky ridge that went all the way to the summit and had a very enjoyable scramble up to the top. The summit of Mt Bobs is very flat, and only scrapes in to be an Abel at 1111 meters in altitude (what a fun number!!). It is covered with cushion plants, so we had to be weary of where we put our feet. The views were superb and we spent well over an hour exploring the summit area (and climbing any small high point we could find). The climb back down was just as fun and we found another way through the forest to get to the lake edge. We were back at our camp by 3pm, so had many hours ahead of relaxing in the sun, reading, poking around the sink-hole, and cups of tea!

Sun rise.

Lake Sydney, easy walking.

Up on the rocky 'islands'.

My caterpillar friend 

Such a fun mountain to scramble up!

And so flat on top.

Looking towards Federation.

Dad loving the view.

I was pretty stoked too.

Family photo time.

Very photogenic Richea.

A view that needs to be photographed.

We couldn't help ourselves...

A peaceful little stream in the rain forest.

5 ducks on Lake Sydney.

Amazing geology at the sink hole.

Day 6
We woke up early as we wanted to get to the car by 3pm at the latest, this would mean we wouldn't get home too late. We figured we had 6-7 hours of walking today, and all backtracking on paths we'd walked in on. So by 8am we were walking though the rain forest and well on our way home. The weather looked like it could possibly crack up into rain, but by late morning the sun was out and the day was warming up. We had a quick lunch stop before charging off to arrive at the car by around 1:30pm - smashed it! On the drive out we admired the huge gums that still stood by the small creeks through the previously clear felled areas. The drive home had us reflecting on a great walk! Thanks Dad!

Would you look at those trees!? So tall.

Two very happy bushwalkers!!

136 left.

Peace,
Zane.

5 comments:

  1. A fantastic write-up on a fantastic trip! It has to go down as one of the best experiences for a long, long time. The weather and views were just stunning, it was so good to share the journey with you Zane. :-)

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    1. Thanks Dad! I had an absolute blast :)

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  2. An amazing adventure up a mountain with serious altitude and attitude! I felt the tears well up when I read that you had the tears well up. Great to see you didn't decide to jump in the air for your summit pic for this one! Very memorable no doubt - with those fantastic pics it's hard for any one to forget. Would have loved to have been a "fly on the rock/wall" :)

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  3. A brilliant read, can't wait to hear about your many more adventures!
    Aren't we so lucky to have Tasmania's pristine wilderness on our doorstop :)

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    1. Hi Jacinta!

      Thanks for the support! We are indeed very lucky to have such beautiful places on our gorgeous little island. Love and cherish them, many people aren't as lucky as we.

      Peace,
      Zane :)

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