Nick, Bert, and myself left Launceston bright and early to drive down to the south west of Tasmania, first objective: Mt Mueller. Just after passing through Maydena we went up into the Styx Valley and followed a few forestry roads until we arrived at the walking track up Mueller. The track is an old bulldozer trail that was pushed through in the 60's that makes a beeline for Fossil Lake, which sits just beneath Mt Mueller. It was overgrown in patches, mainly with baura and other scrubby delights, but the 3km track to the lake was easily reached in just over an hour. Once at the lake we found a spot for the tents and Nick and I headed for the summit while Bert poked around the lake and surrounding forest.
There was a well marked trail all the way up to the eastern summit of Mt Mueller, heading through Snow Gum forest and large patches of snow in the alpine heath, however, the true summit lies around a kilometre to the west. As soon as we arrived on the eastern summit the clouds quickly gathered and it started to rain, Nick and I weren't deterred though and pushed on through the cruddy weather. We reached the summit as the rain ceased, but didn't get a view which is unfortunate. We stuck on top for around 20 minutes in hope, but decided to head back to camp before more bad weather hit.
Just as we arrived back at camp the rain came in again and we spent the evening tent bound yelling above the wind to each other in a game of eye spy.
|Butts. And Mt Mueller just visible through the trees.|
|Bashing up the bulldozer track.|
|Fossil Lake looking fossily as we walk up Mueller.|
|Just before the cloud surrounded us, a view to the true summit of Mueller.|
|Well! The GPS says this is the top (and the summit cairn, and the lack of anything else to climb)|
After a night of ferocious winds and rain, we got up around 7am when there was a break in the weather. Breakfast was had and camp was broken down before the short walk back to the car was smashed out. We arrived at the car in more rain, so piled everything in and headed back towards the Gordon River Road and then onward up Clear Hill Road. After driving around 21km up Clear Hill Road we reached the very inconspicuous trail up Clear Hill. The visibility was very poor, so we sat in the car for a while and brewed a coffee.
After about an hour the cloud had lifted and we were off up the surprisingly well trodden track. A quick 10 minute steep and scrubby bash lead to a very pleasant ridge-line walk through towering conglomerate boulders and Buttongrass. The summit was reached after about an hour and a half, and we sat an enjoyed the summit that was once again shrouded in cloud (with the occasional view presenting itself to us). Once back at the car we headed for the Wedge River camp ground nestled beneath the towering Sentinel Range to set up a lovely camp in the rest area there. Complete with a roaring fire and good curry, and great beer.
|Wet morning near Fossil Lake.|
|Clear Hill Road coffee house, the best around by far!|
|Clearing weather on Clear Hill.|
|The Thumbs looking mighty.|
|Some amazing geology on the ridge-line up Clear Hill.|
|Turtle sitting on a rock?|
|Check out those striations! Such geology. Many wow!|
|Looking to Boyes Basin from Clear Hill brings back memories of The Spires.|
Waking up to a beautiful day we felt inspired to pack up camp quick and head to the nearby walking trail up Mt Wedge. The track starts through some beautiful rainforest and quickly starts to gain elevation through the towering trees. Within an hour we had poked out of the tall forest and were oohing and aahing at the views stretched out before us above the low alpine vegetation. Another 20 minutes and we were on top of the delightful mountain. Clear skies and not a breath of wind meant we spent well over an hour on top. Relaxing on the helipad was a real highlight!
Once we got back to the car we decided that we needed more fuel for the rest of our journey, and seeing how we would have to return to Maydena to drive up the Florentine, we might as well head to nearby Westerway for fuel and hot chips! Coffee was had, hot chips were devoured, a quick stop at the National Park hotel was made for beer and pool, and then we were on our way up the Florentine Road. We arrived some 30kms later at the old Tiger Road bridge across the Floz (now closed due to it being in rubbish condition), set up camp on the other side of the bridge and got keen for the next expedition: Wylds Craig!
|Picnic shelter campsite.|
|These huge lines passed overhead on the track.|
|Mt Wedge through the tall timbers.|
|Bert with the Sentinel Range.|
|On approach to the summit.|
|Looking towards Lake Pedder from the summit.|
|Camping at the Florentine River.|
|Some fungi on a Sassafras.|
We awoke early to pack up and move off in good time, and after a great breakfast of Nutrigrain we were road bashing our way up a few kilometres of old forestry road towards the starting point of the Wylds Craig track. There were heaps of downed trees across the road, making this a more arduous section than it should have been! The track starts through an old forestry coup, very messy being it is out of the public eye, but soon enters a beautiful wet sclerophyll forest and the assent began. Within 15 minutes we had gained a decent amount of altitude and arrived in a gorgeous section of Snow Gum forest. After passing over a knoll (which we named Shannon) and descending to a small creek, we made our final push uphill towards the plateau, which we gained after about 3 hours of walking from the camp. We left our big packs near a pile of rocks and went for the summit of Wylds. A stunning view towards many iconic south west peaks, and a clear idea of why this mountain was a valuable place for surveyors to climb to gain a better understanding of Tasmania.
We had planned on going north along the ridge of Wylds to camp at Lake Laurel, and also climb Mt Shakespear (another Abel), but after checking on an updated weather forecast and observing the broody skies to our west, we decided to set up a camp near where we left our packs. Not long after the tents were up we were hit with a smattering of bad weather that lasted through untill the next morning...
|The aftermath of forestry activities.|
|Pushing uphill through a beautiful forest.|
|Wylds poking its head through a Snow Gum stand.|
|Some very tall Pandani.|
|A beaut little Pandani near the summit.|
|Atop Wylds Craig looking north towards Mt Shakespeare.|
|The summit trig.|
|Our windy campsite beneath the summit.|
The weather was still atrocious outside when we woke up at around 6:30am. We packed everything up in the wet, didn't worry about breakfast, and smashed down the mountain to the car. We were having a coffee at the car by 10am and on our way home soon after. A bridge near Wayatinah was burnt out so we took a few other forestry roads to exit near Ellendale. A coffee in Hamilton and a beer in Bothwell and then we were home!
|Beers at the Bothers pub!|
Spring is now upon us and given reflection, I have had a rubbish winter. Unfortunately it has been one of the wettest and warmest winters in a long time. Record breaking floods causing roads closures, bridges out, landslides, all hampering my efforts to gain Abels. It is sad and annoying that I will have to double my efforts in summer to make up for it, but it is even sadder that we are witnessing climate change happening around us, and power-holders still stagnating on their obligation to create positive change.