Tasmania – Heading north

After leaving Bruny Island we headed north via the Great Lake. We couldn’t drive past Liffey Falls without visiting as I think it’s my favourite waterfall on the island. You get three very different waterfalls on the walk and every time we visit the water is at a different level creating varied views.

We then headed off on what turned out to be a most excellent walk and a highlight of our trip. We had track notes for a four day walk but decided to turn it into an easier out and back to Cathedral Mountain. It was a lovely walk in through varied forests and we were surprised to reach Chapter Lake after two hours as our notes said it would take three. This gave us lots of time to explore Grail Falls.

We left the packs behind for our day walk to Cathedral Mountain. This involved climbing up above the falls and following the stream to the much larger Chalice Lake. As we passed by this lake the view was constantly changing with the many inlets and islands. We had to keep out eye open for the cairns that marked the route and had to backtrack a couple of times. We climbed up past Tent Tarn and onto the ridge which gave a glorious panorama of all the peaks on the Overland track from Cradle Mountain to Mt Olympus. As this had taken us four hours we decided to give the peak a miss and sat and soaked up the beautiful view.

The walk out took us back through the eucalypt, beech and acacia forests. We stopped off to visit the pretty Gadd Ck Falls on the return drive.

Another day, another waterfall. This time Westmorland Falls. The drive took us past the Mole Creek Karst NP and we decided to pop in for a look. We found a huge network of large open tunnels with lots of exits including one at the bottom of a sinkhole. It was very impressive and we were pleased we had stopped as it was a good way to conclude our Tasmanian adventure.


Tasmania – Bruny Island

After our cars were packed in like sardines as we crossed on the ferry to Bruny Island I couldn’t even get out of the car. We started by strolling along Nebraska Beach at the north where I viewed and photographed the sandstone cliffs while Ray helped himself to fresh oysters.

We took the walk out to Cape Queen Elizabeth and climbed the steps to the lookout on the Isthmus. The campsite at the neck was quite crowded but provided contrasting water views the next morning for sunrise.

Fluted Cape was a bit of a disappointment as we climbed to the top and found it didn’t have dolerite columns like Cape Raoul however as we completed the circuit the impressive cliffs could be seen. We then drove down to the lighthouse set on a rugged coastline before heading to the campsite at Jetty Beach. After camping in New Zealand we had forgotten about checking the availability of water before heading to a camp and were shocked to find the tanks empty. However the nearby swamp provided palatable water. We took the walk here but found it not as scenic as some of the other walks. We had a visitor who scrounged about under the leaf litter and I think might be a swamp antechinus.

Tasmania – Tasman Peninsula

Our daughter is working on the Tasman Peninsula so we spent quite a bit of our time in Tasmania there, doing walks and seeing the sights. We started with a day walk to Cape Raoul, the third of the three capes on the walk being developed by Parks to rival the Overland. The scenery is certainly spectacular but we enjoyed walking it without backpacks. We quickly got a grand view of the peninsula and then continued on to the end of the cape, only rock climbers can go further. The pillars of rock were too tempting to Sara who carefully perched above the drop to the ocean.

We also spent a day at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park (now called the Unzoo) where Sara works and enjoyed watching the feeding of the animals along with the informative talks. The interactive bird show with trained parrots was a highlight and we got to see pictures of wildlife coming to food placed to lure them.

Sara and I took the Tasman Island cruise though the seas were too big to go that far. Instead we went as far as Cape Huay and had time to seek out seals and albatross as well as the bonus of dolphins. The cliffs were very impressive as seen from the ocean and there were a lot more features and caves than we realized when walking above. The shorter cruise and small numbers gave us individual attention and we will have to return to go to Cape Pillar.

Another part of the Three Capes walk is from Waterfall Bay to Fortescue Bay. We walked to Tatnell’s Hill, the high point and got some impressive views from the cliffs. We saw the tour boats on their rush to Tasman Island and visited the stream that created the waterfall.

During our time on the peninsula we also visited the other attractions including Remarkable Cave and the Tesselated Pavement and walked to Tunnel Bay.

Tasmania – Western Arthurs

We’ve always had the hankering to return to the Western Arthurs, one of the great multi-day walks in Australia, but I’ve never been sure I could complete it as I was in my twenties last time. However we decided we could do the start and so set off from Scott’s Peak Dam on a lovely new path complete with yabby. Of course it couldn’t last and we were soon dodging mud and wading through streams. At Junction Creek the old cable crossing had been removed but someone had made a crossing with logs and rope.
We had sunshine for our climb up Moraine A. It was as long as we remembered with lots of rocks to be negotiated as we climbed higher. It was a relief to reach the top and know the hard bit was over. We were also amazed to discover the track across the high moors was completely constructed from large flat rocks. It must have been a mammoth effort to assemble and it made for lovely walking. There was one burnt patch where summer fires had climbed the hill but luckily most of the range was unscathed. Soon Lake Cygnus came into view and we descended to camp.

After rain in the night we were pleased to see sun between the clouds in the morning. I was displeased to find that the rat I had been fighting off during the night had nibbled two holes in my pack. We set off without packs to overlook Lake Oberon. We made the most of the stepping stones until the track resumed its more normal look and we slowed down to clamber over rocks, roots and scoparia. The towering rocks that surrounded us loomed eerily out of the drifting cloud.
We continued on past Square Lake and then stopped on the ridge overlooking Lake Oberon to eat lunch while admiring the classic view of this iconic range. The return trip was completed uneventfully and we then moved our tent to avoid the rat.
The next day also began with cloud but it didn’t clear and when we climbed to the top of the range we found a wind so fierce that we had to use our poles to keep us upright. It also blew a damp mist over us making it extremely cold. It was actually a relief when we started to descend and leave the wind behind. The weather improved as we headed down though we had rain in the night at Junction Creek and had to wait half a day for the creek to go down enough for us to cross.

Tasmania – South Coast Track

Our farewell from Melbourne as we boarded the car ferry to Tasmania was a glowing sunset followed by a passing storm. This sent us on our way to spend a month in Tasmania hiking a number of tracks that we hadn’t walked previously and revisiting one epic.

The first track was the South Coast Track, one we’d thought of walking for years but never got around to. After lining up our walking partners we began with the flight in to Melaleuca for an easy beginning. We did meet other walkers who were approaching via the Port Davey Track and even one pair who walked in from Huonville via the Arthur plains. The flight was a bonus as we flew around the coast and spotted landmarks we would visit on our walk.It was fascinating to see the huge industry that salmon farming is in this region.

We had a look at the lagoon and bird hide (though didn’t see any of the endangered Orange-bellied parrots) and then set out across the plains on the duck boarding allowing for easy passage. We could soon see our destination of Cox Bight and set up our tents by the beach with the most other campers we would see for the whole trip.

Day 2 was the longest being 17 kilometres. Our exit point from the beach was marked by a colourful array of flotsam as were most of the others. We first had to climb over the Red Point Hills, a steep pinch and from there could see the Ironbounds, the next challenge. The white quartzite rock of the track stood out dramatically as it headed down the hill and onward. We could see the tree line of a creek and soon some of us had wet feet while others stayed dry with adroit foot work and gaiters. The afternoon walk dragged on and we were very pleased to cross the last hurdle and settle in to camp.

We knew that day 3 was the big one with the crossing of the Ironbounds, a climb of 940 metres and then all the way back down again. We set off early and climbed the steps in the shadow of the mountain. We had the advantage of clear hillsides giving expansive views behind us and reason to take a break. We finally reached a point where the track headed down and we had no more hills to climb. After lunch with a view we headed down through the forest and discovered that the downhill was much harder with no steps, just roots, rocks and trees to impede progress. Traveling at 1km/h we were very weary until the track finally leveled out and we could stroll to our campsite after an 11 hour day!

We had a lie in after our big day and set off soon arriving a the biggest bog hole of the trip so far. We did our usual sidling around instead of ploughing through as we knew we should to stop the bogs from growing. We soon had our revenge from the environment as we reached an area with lots of tripping grass, otherwise known as cutting grass, but tripping grass was much more appropriate to us as we stood on one end and caught our other foot underneath. Prion Beach provided a change as we walked along the four kilometres of sand. Two of us enjoyed the sand beneath our bare feet (me as a relief from blistered feet!) After four kilometres the novelty of beach walking had worn off and it was then a change to rowing as we took the three trips that were necessary to leave one boat on each side of the lagoon. The afternoon saw us walking by the lagoon and negotiating steep slopes with the help of a rope before the final trip across the plains to our campsite at Osmiridium beach.

The beach produced the novelty of a message in a bottle and a view to Precipitous Bluff, a landmark of the track. We also decided to use our wet weather back up day by walking two short days of five and three kilometres. Our short walk took us to a campsite perched above a photogenic, rocky bay with a lagoon for a well deserved wash (we all wimped out of swimming in the bracing water!) This also produced our most luxurious campsite. Having used objects washed up by the sea we found a swing, clothes line as well as seats and a table.

Up a steep ridge and then down the other side and we were at our next beach. Along the way a pygmy possum was spotted that we hadn’t even known existed in Tasmania.Unfortunately the beach ended with a balancing act over large, rounded boulders before a scramble up a cliff beside a waterfall. A lazy afternoon ensued with the tents providing refuge from the persistent march flies. We had a short visit from a snake (While visiting New Zealand where the inhabitants are paranoid about the snakes in Australia, we assured them we rarely saw them while walking. Of course Tasmania produced the lie to this where we we have seen more snakes than in ten years walking on the mainland!)

The last hurdle was the South Cape Range, another up and down. Again the ascent was easy though we had our first rain for the trip at the top as we dodged a thunderstorm and the notorious bogs. The descent was the hard part with the now slippery rocks and roots. We got wetter and colder and munched scroggin to get us to the relief of a late lunch at the very pretty South Cape Rivulet.

The last day had us leaving at sunrise to meet our bus at Cockle Creek (though we didn’t need to leave at 5am as our neighbours did!) The track was amazing with all the vegetation cleared, boardwalk and the most amazing set of steps up off the beach. You can always tell when you are getting near civilization on a walk.