Thursday, 30 November 2017

Mt Ida

29th - 30th November 2017

Mt Ida

Day 1
Nick and I started paddling the kayaks on the glass like waters of Leeawuleena (Lake St Clair) at 9am, after driving up from Launceston at the crack of dawn. This was a trip we'd wanted to do for ages, so it was wonderful to be finally doing it, and in such crackin' weather! The first part to our day was to paddle two thirds of the way up the west side of the lake to Echo Point. Here we had a leg stretch, and caught up with a friend/track ranger who'd just finished his shift. We then had to cross to the eastern shore of the lake, and having chosen our destination from the jetty at Echo Point it took about 20 minutes to get there. We made land about 700m south-east of Ida Bay in a small, south facing bay, with a beautiful beach. We set up the tents, had some lunch, and found a good place in the water to cool down some beers. By 12:30pm we were heading into the bush for Mt Ida.

The walk was simple, just head north-east, and go up hill! The summit of Ida was only about 1.5km from where we had the tents and the walking was delightful. To start with there was majestic rainforest with straight Myrtles, peppered with some Sassafras, and ferns. This lead steadily through a small line of sandstone cliffs before the scrubbier vegetation was reached higher up. This was still very light by comparison to many other places, though. Most of the time we could weave between the Tea Trees and Scoparia bushes with ease. Soon enough we had the tower of Mt Ida looming above us, and it was a matter of heading left till we picked up a very well cairned route through some scrubby scree, and the final push up Ida. We reached summit in just over an hour from the water. The view was amazing! Looking back towards the Walls of Jerusalem, with the crumbling cliffs of the Traveller Range, and it's associated lakes was particularly beautiful. And of course, the stand out feature was the beautiful big lake we'd just come from, with Mt Olympus looming tall above. We spent at least 45 minutes on the summit, before the thought of a swim in the lake became too tantalising!

We followed the cairns as far as we could, and then made a bee line for the lake. Again, very easy navigation, although we did manage to hit a few patches of scrubber bush on the way down. As soon as we got to the lake we cracked out a beer and jumped in the warm waters. We spent the afternoon enjoying the view, the brew, the water, and a lot of 'Hitty Rock Thong' (a game involving Nick, Zane, a body of water, many small stones, and a thong [flip-flop for you yanks]).

Water like glass.

Such a classic mountain!

Heading up the lake.

Echo Point Hut.

Our little bay for the night.

Myrtle Orange's.

Warratah looking sublime.

Mt Ida peeping through the trees.

Nick doin' his thing.

The view from the summit was mint!

Hello Mr Lizard!

Some cheeky craft.

Day 2
Sleeping in till about 7am, watching the sun rise on Mt Olympus, listening to the birds. Not too bad. We packed slowly and were in the kayaks before 8am. The paddling wasn't as smooth as the previous day, but the wind was blowing in our favour. We kept to the eastern shore, which was interesting to see so close up. A lot of thick bush in there. With the aid of the wind, we were back at the visitor centre in just under 2 hours! The inevitable Hungry Wombat pilgrimage followed.

I'll be back again for sure!

19 left.


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

King William Range

19th - 21st November 2017

Slatters Peak
Mt King William II

Day 1
Chevi and I left Launceston at 3:30pm for the 3 hour drive to Lake King William. Our plan for this jaunt into the wilderness was to kayak across a section of the lake and set up camp, giving us a full day up on the range to enjoy the walking. We drove to the same place we put the kayaks in when we went to Mt Hobhouse, and found the water level in the lake (it is a Hydro lake, and dammed, so the water level can fluctuate) full to capacity, unlike last time. A wee bit before 7pm we were in the kayaks and on the beautifully calm water. We only had to paddle 4km to the point where we'd set up camp, and before long we were set up in the tent and playing Rummikub!

Getting the Kayaks ready for an evening cruise.

The northern section of the King William Range.

Camp, sweet camp.

Day 2
A 6am alarm woke us, making sure we'd have plenty of time for the day's activities. We feasted on baked beans, packed our gear, and were walking by 7am. First we had to get to the western most point of the lake, where the Divide Creek flows into the lake. This was over small buttongrass and scrub that looked recently burnt. Once at the end of the lake, we kept heading up the valley (as the Abels book describes) till the summit of Slatters Peak was directly on our left. At a suitable point we jumped into the Banksia scrub and started our 600m vertical climb. We found a really good route though the bush, and while scrubby, nothing slowed us down too much. We passed through the usual bands of vegetation, taking a bit under 2 hours to get to the alpine Snow Gums that denoted easier walking ahead. We were soon on a boulder field strewn at the feet of Slatters Peak, and from there it was a short but steep push to the summit. We reached the summit by 10:30am, and soaked in the amazing views.

From the summit of Slatters, we headed 30 minutes onward to Lake Anne. A beautiful shallow lake, surrounded with Fagus and alpine herbfields. I left Chevi here, as it would be an 8km return walk to the Abel of King William II and she wanted to chill in the beautiful environment. While I was gone, she busied herself taking photos and rescuing butterflies from Sundews! I hot-footed it, taking full advantage of the open and beautiful range. The lack of Scoparia has inspired poetry from some bushwalking clubs, and I agreed that I could happily spend a few days on the range exploring. But I was on a mission, passing the named Mt King William II for the higher point some 1.5km further south. When I reached the top I was rewarded with a great view of the Spires, Prince of Wales, and Algonkian Mountain. From Lake Anne, to the Abel, and back again took me 2 hours. After a quick break by the lakeside, we headed back down over Slatters Peak, picking a slightly scrubbier decent down to Divide Creek. Once back at camp at about 5:30pm we took full advantage of the lake and swam for a good 20 minutes! What a way to end a big day!!

King William I in the morning.

Walking up the Divide.

A Tasmanian Waratah looking beautiful.

This is a fine example of the vegetation we were walking through.

Chevi being all smiles as we open out into boulder fields.

On the summit of Slatters Peak!
Lake Anne - Photo thanks to Chev.

A Macleay's Swallowtail - Photo thanks to Chev.

Looking to the King William II high point.

On the Abel! Looking at the Prince of Wales Range... No Abels there.

Heading back over Slatters Peak.

Looking down to the lake.

Beautiful evening.

Day 3
Sleeping in was the order of the morning, listening to the birds in bed is always delightful. We slowly packed up our gear and stuffed it into the kayaks. The water was like glass and we intended to take our time paddling back to the car. We slowly made our way, following the shore, delighting in what we saw on shore, as well as just beneath the kayaks. The submerged logs made for an eerie feeling! We paddled to at least 2 hours before we came upon the car and ended our day. It was a perfect way to end the trip.

Look at that water!!

Chev being a boss kayaker.

A nice place to be on a Tuesday morning.

Slatters Peak bids us farewell.

20 left.


Friday, 20 October 2017

The Southern Ranges

15th  - 19th October 2017

Pindars Peak
Mt Wylly
Mt Victoria Cross
Precipitous Bluff

Day 1
Once again I found myself driving the long distance from north of Launceston to the Mystery Creek Cave carpark near Lune River, as here begins the walk up Moonlight Ridge to the Southern Ranges. I had walked here in April when I climbed Mt La Perouse, but went no further on that particular trip. So I knew what I was in for on the first day, and the walk was more or less the same in both scenery and walking time. I started walking at 11:00am up the beautiful rainforest covered limestone ridge that then leads to the open ridge line around Hill's 1, 2, 3, and 4. I decided to push on a little extra distance than Pigsty Ponds (where I had camped previously), as I had ample time in the day and no need to climb Mt La Perouse again (yet - I will be back many times to this area, I believe). By 5:00pm I had made it to Lake Ooze for my first night, which sits at the feet of Pindars Peak, and is a beautiful hanging lake with two smaller mountains towering above it on the southern side.

Old logging equipment.

A fossil in some limestone.

Going over the 'Hills".

Amazing dolorite action!

Mt La Perouse.

Looking to Lake Ooze and Pindars Peak.

Day 2
I started my day at 7:30am with the sun promising to bring a hot day. I followed the well marked path up out of the basin where Ooze Lake sits, to then proceed on to Pindars Peak. The track diverts up the peak as a quick 15 minute return jaunt, so I nipped up and enjoyed the early morning views. After getting back to my pack, it was time to head towards the Wylly Plateau for the night. This involved passing over a few hills and saddles that are on a low ridge between the plateau and Pindars Peak. The decent to Leaning Tea Tree Saddle was scrubby, but with a reasonable path to follow. I did however, loose a walking pole somewhere in this area (it was strapped to the outside of my pack at the time). There was little water in the small pools, and the sun was fierce, but I pushed on and had lunch after climbing out of the last small saddle to reach a long broad ridge that meets with Mt Wylly. After lunch I continued on the cairned path around and over the shoulder of Mt Wylly to a point where I dropped the pack and bagged an Abel for the second time that day. An easy scramble up Wylly lead to some lovely views with Mt Victoria Cross and P.B as obvious stand out features. After getting back to my pack I strolled on to the plateau, which I reached by 2:00pm.

I set up camp on the Wylly Plateau. I had gotten sun-burnt and wanted to hang out in the shade, so I read and had a few cuppa's while the heat of the day burned off a bit. I headed off to Mt Victoria Cross a bit after 3:00pm, and the walk to the base of the mountain was quick, easy, and pleasant. A lot of alpine herb field and cushion plants, before the cliff line gave way to a small section of scrub. This had a rough cairned path through it, but was unreliable, so I just smashed through it as best I could. This lead to and open gully which I slogged up, taking me to the summit plateau. The true summit was not far away, and soon I was on the third Abel of the day! And my favourite of the day, too. The view north, over Mt Bisdee and the forest that contains the elusive Vanishing Falls is what made it the best, in my opinion. After a reasonable amount of summit time, I strolled back to camp and spent the evening reading. I am currently on a Robin Hobb book "The Golden Fool".

Heading out from Ooze Lake.

On Pindars Peak.

Pandani sentry.

Leaning Tea Trees at Leaning Tea Tree Saddle.

Looking back up the track.

Atop Mt Wylly.

Approaching Mt Victoria Cross.

The steep gully.

The fine views.

Sunset on Mt Victoria Cross.

Day 3
Originally I planned on backtracking over the range to my car, thus only necessitating a probable day trip to Precipitous Bluff. But after the scrub of the day previous, and the knowledge that I'd have to go back UP through it on the hottest predicted day of my trip, I decided instead to pack up camp and head over P.B to camp on the shore of New River Lagoon, and walk out the South Coast Track (a common way of doing the Southern Ranges).

I left camp earlier, at 7:00am, to give myself enough time as well as to avoid the heat of the day. The Chapman notes I was using (are 10 years old) suggested a 5-6 hour walk to the base of P.B. The track to get onto the long ridge, called Kameruka Moraine, that leads to said point  was simple to follow for a while. Leading over a small knoll, before dropping into a wide saddle. There were many false leads, but most were marked with sticks across them (I like to call them "Tassie No Though Roads") made navigating the braided path relatively simple. This was until a marshy section was encountered where I could find no path on the other side. I followed what I thought was a track, before getting stuck in some fierce scrub. I pushed through it, getting a compass bearing to follow, and with dogged determination I eventually popped out upon the path again after 30 minutes in the scrub! Navigating knowledge is an essential thing in Tasmania. My time in the scrub did cost me a croc, however. My left camp shoe must have been ripped out from under my pack lid as I was forcing my way through the shrubbery. Two hours after leaving camp, I had made it onto the moraine. I had a break and then followed the reasonable track to the cliff line of Precipitous Bluff, arriving at 10:30am.

A short, but steep climb awaited me. I had run out of water, and the knowledge of a waterfall coming up spurred me on as I slowly made my way up P.B in the sun. The waterfall was a delight for the eyes and ears, and I had a long break under some shade near the cascade. The track followed the falls up into a gully, and some (surprisingly) really good track work awaited my feet. I was soon at the High Camp area, where I ditched up pack and made for the summit, which was an easy 15 minute walk away. The views were amazing, especially as the bluff towers over New River Lagoon. I signed the second last page of the log book up there which had been in use since 2005, and headed back to my pack for lunch in the shade of a rock. After lunch I began the climb down to New River Lagoon, a seemingly improbable route picked it's way through towering cliffs and over steep gullies, before dropping steeply and steadily through rainforest, studded with GIANT Eucalyptus and Mytrle. I set up at Cavern Camp in the forest on the edge of the lagoon, a still and humid night awaited me.

Sunrise on P.B.

"Tassie No Through Road"

A Tiger Snake.

Beautiful cloud action.

A looming presence.

Would you look at that track?!

The summit of P.B is close.

The view was divine.

Going down.

I can't express how mind blowing the track was here.


A giant.

Day 4
In order to get from Cavern Camp to the South Coast track I needed to wade the edge of the New River Lagoon. I knew this was forecast to be the hottest day, so I left early at 6:30am before the day could heat up. I started bare foot in the lagoon, but with too many rocks that only lasted 10 minutes before my boots came on (although, that was enough time to cut the bottom of my foot pretty bad...). The wade was amazing, and one of my favourite parts of the trip. It was calm, warm, picturesque. Black swans and various sea birds kept me company as I splashed along, and I could easily imagine the palawa people living harmoniously with nature in this splendid place. Only one creek that flows into the lagoon is deep enough to warrant going upstream (on a taped track) to a few log crossings. I arrived at the Prion Beach camp site on the SCT only two hours after leaving Cavern Camp.

From here the walking was to be a breeze. The South Coast Track is still reasonably tough in parts, but a lot kinder than the scrubby stuff I had spent the last few days in. I hoofed it along, enjoying new sections of track that I hadn't seen before, and all the while dreaming to come back here with a big group of my closest for a good fun walk. The kilometres chewed themselves up on the quick walking, and soon I was lunching at the Surprise Bay campsite. I wanted to get to Granite Beach for the night, which was only another hour on, so I lazed in the shade for a while before heading off again. I arrived at Granite Beach after an hour of walking from Surprise Bay. I had all afternoon to hang around in the shade reading, re-hydrating, washing, and playing with various bits of debris that had washed up and been brought to camp.

Golden capped Ironbound Range.

The stony shore of the lagoon.

Art by Nature.

Precipitous Bluff.

My faithful wading pole.

Some schwanky new track work.

Swamp Tea Tree.

Some kind of Eyebright.

A cave on the Surprise Bay beach.

Kelp patterns on Granite Beach.

A stream coming from no-where, on Granite Beach.

Day 5
The one down side of coming out via the SCT was that my car would be 23km away when I arrived at Cockle Creek. But I'd have to deal with that when I got there. To start with, I wanted to give myself as much time as possible to to find a lift/walk it, so I left really early. This also was because a 460m climb awaited me first thing, over the South Cape Range. I left at 5:45am in the dark. The walking was lovely, as it was still already warm, but also slightly drizzling on me. The up hill went quickly and I was treated to an early morning view as I went over Flat Rock Plain an hour after leaving. The weather then decided to get wetter, and it mostly rained on me the entire way out. I didn't stop often, and made it to South Cape Rivulet at 9:00am sharp. From there the track gets better and better as it goes over Coal Bluff and the meets one of Tasmania's 60 great short walks on Lion Rock Beach. As I was hot-footing it north to Cockle Creek the rain lifted and the humidity rose. It was lovely walking weather. I arrived at the end of the South Coast Track at 11:30am, five and three quarters of an hour after leaving. I was surprised at how quickly I walked that section of track.

There was next to no-one at cockle creek. I made a few phone calls to people I know in Dover and Hobart, but nothing proved to be much help. Then a couple from one of the only two caravans there (who weren't in when I knocked) walked passed me on their way back from a morning stroll. I got yacking to them and Kay and David from Batemans Bay in NSW were happy to give me a lift! They were super lovely, and we had plenty to talk about. The humbly denied my offer of a bottle of wine or payment for fuel, stating "what goes around, comes around". Super lovely couple! They drove on, I got changed, jumped in the car and headed to the Veg Bar in Hobart for a dang delicious burger! WOOHOO!

Looking over Lion Rock.

Cockle Creek.

Veg Bar - Sloppy Jack Burger! YUM!

22 left.