After a month of not Abeling, it was time to get back into the hills! I have had one previous attempt at Loddon Bluff (it was going to be my 1st Abel in 2015), but poor weather turned us around beneath Mt Roland Cross. And this was the 4th time that Shelly and I had put the dates aside to set out on this mission, with the previous 3 being cancelled due to bad weather; this is Tasmania! It was worth the wait though, as it exceeded both our expectations!
We met at Derwent Bridge at 8am (we were headed in different directions post walk, hence separate cars), piled all the gear into one car and drove the 20 minutes towards Queenstown to our starting point. This is where my previous attempt proved handy, as I knew of a semi taped route. Just beyond Squires Creek we found the piece of pink marker tape on the side of the road and parked near it. Scrub gear on and we headed enthusiastically into the rainforest. After the first piece of tape, we didn't see any more, but it was just a matter of heading straight down towards the Surprise River some 400m away. Half an hour after leaving the car we had crossed the river with minimal fuss and were headed for the ridge of Eucryphila Lead; our access to the Loddon Range. Steady uphill took us through magnificent stands of Man Ferns, with smaller Mother Shield ferns beneath, and scattered fungi all around. It was about here that we picked up the taped route again, although we didn't necessarily depend upon it, as the ridge was easy enough to stick on. The tape acted as our occasional reassuring friend, with both of us yelling 'Tape!' when we spotted some. Once we had gained a few hundred metres in elevation we entered Myrtle and unsurprisingly, Leatherwood (Eucryphila) dominated forest. It was steady going for a few hours, but around 11:30am we had emerged into the scrub line, and had a view to the leading ridge of Mt Roland Cross.
We had to push through some more scrub in order to get to the clearer alpine area on the main ridge of the Loddon Range, but this wasn't too bad, and the nearer we got to our goal, the more pad-like the going became. Eventually we ended up on a reasonable pad, marked by odd bits of tape and occasional cairns. A smidge after midday we were sitting on Mt Roland Cross, looking along the range to where we were heading; not a bad place to stop for lunch! From our lunch spot we could spy Needle Rock Tarn, nestled beneath the main ridge, and confirmed that it would be our camp spot. We headed along the range, negotiating a few rocky knolls and a few scrubby patches. A little over an hour after lunch we reached a saddle between a knoll and Church Peak where we opted to leave our packs. This would be an ideal place to come back to before dropping down to the tarn, only a few hundred metres away. We shoved some gear into day-packs and kept going along the range. At 2:30pm we arrived at the summit of Loddon Bluff! Treated to a great view, although the valleys and hills to the south were hidden from view with large clouds gathering. We spent a pleasant 30 minutes on top in the calm weather before re-tracing our steps back to the packs. We had one deviation on the way back to look at the Needle Rock beneath Church Peak. We had camp set up by the tarn at about 5pm. A very satisfying day was had by both of us, and we were stocked to have finally climbed Loddon! I was asleep by 7pm.
|Of course that's the start of a walk!|
|A sweet colony. Couldn't I.D with my fungi-flip...|
|A very Jurassic lookin' environment.|
|Stocked to nearly be out of the scrub! King Williams in the backgroud.|
|Looking along the Loddon Range from Mt Roland Cross.|
|On the summit of Loddon! Looking back to where we've come.|
We awoke with the morning light and started to venture out of our tents at around 7am. The clear sky had left everything frozen, but the view was gorgeous. All the valleys to the north were filled with thick fog and the peaks were standing tall above it. When the sun started to throw colour on the fog it was a sight to behold. We had breaky, packed up, and were walking by 8:20am. More or less re-tracing our steps from the previous day, we stopped occasionally to ooh and aaah over the fine views. When we were back on Eucryphila Lead we made good pace, and we arrived back at the car at 1pm. Back to Derwent Bridge for a good feed at the Hungry Wombat.
It's great to be back in the hills!
|The fog filled valleys, delightful.|
|Morning frost on Needle Rock Tarn.|
|Morning light; yet to thaw the tents.|
|Some kind of mycena?|
|Again, maybe a kind of mycena. Very sweet little things. I love Autumn.|