The Unzoo

After our marathon effort on the Mt Anne circuit we needed a quiet day.  After greeting the dawn from cliffs above the Derwent I headed to the Unzoo where my daughter worked for a behind the scenes tour. Fran, the Tawny Frogmouth, stole our hearts and we enjoyed getting closer to the other animals.



Mt Anne circuit

Mt Anne circuit is an iconic bushwalk that we should have tackled 30 years ago when we were in our bushwalking heyday trekking over the Western Arthurs and other Tasmanian highlights. We decided to remedy this gap in our walking repertoire with the help of our daughter and her fiance and took a rope along for those tricky bits.

We had a late start after driving from Hobart and had lunch at the car park before beginning the climb. It was up, up and more up with views back to Lake Pedder to reward the effort. We arrived at High Camp hut in the mist and the decision was made to go no further with poor weather and still 2-3 hours to the campsite. (The stand taken by Ray was justified by the tales from those who were on top overnight and the glorious weather we then had to traverse the Eliza plateau the next day.) We filled in the time with yoga in the attic and chin ups on the porch.

An early finish meant an early start to the next day so we were up in the dark at 5.30 and walking by sunrise. This made for lots of stops to capture the glorious scene unfolding behind us. The clouds glowed pink and then lit up with the rising sun. At the top we had to stop to enjoy the beauty. We strolled across the plateau and then unexpectedly came to a boulder field that we had completely forgotten from our climb of Mt Anne 30 years ago. The years and the addition of packs made the traverse slow and we were pleased to reach the flat ground of the saddle. From there we could see Jess and Nick on top of Mt Anne so we made our leisurely way down to Shelf Camp to await their arrival and lunch.

After soaking up the sun and enjoying the views we headed towards Mt Lot and seemed to make good time. Then we came to the rocks and our progress slowed considerably. The rope came out and packs were lowered. Nerves subsided when we looked over the edge and discovered it was an easy layback manoevure down a sloping rock face and not the vertical drop we had feared.

We managed that and continued on along the ridge until the Notch came in sight. At first glance it didn’t look too hard with lots of rock steps but as we got closer the steps got further apart. If Ray and I had been on our own we would have retreated well before this but the young ones took it in their stride and were quickly up to the top. The rope was used to haul the packs up and with lots of help the oldies also made it up.

We had a breather on top of Mt Lot from where we could see the ridge to be descended and the ultimate destination of our lakeside campsite. We climbed down slowly due to tired legs and a big drop off. The saddle gave us a change of scene as we descended into the forest and had new problems as our poles attached to our packs caught on the encroaching branches. It was a relief to emerge at the bottom and follow an easy trail to the lake in the gathering gloom. We had just completed a 14 hour day but the views had been stupendous.

A misty cloud cover changed the weather for us the next morning as we climbed up towards Mt Sarah Jane. The fit young ones took a detour while we plodded on down feeling our knees on the descent to the plains. At the bottom the decision was made to detour to Lake Judd which gave us a beautiful campsite. The walk in tested our stamina but the reward of a wash and the view down the lake to Mt Eliza made up for it. We also had the unexpected delight of a brave swamp rat who investigated our campsite.

We were rewarded with sunset and sunrise colour from our viewpoint before we headed out. We let the young ones off the leash again as they had use a bike to get back to the car at the start and we traversed the plains and mudholes. Ray tried walking through one that was deeper than expected but we finally made it back to find the bike ride had turned into a hitchhike and they had two hours to kill.


Maria Island

Maria Island was just down the road from Primrose Sands where we were staying and was a good place to go for a two day break. We decided to stay in the Penitentiary (beds with mattresses and cooking facitilities)making it easy and managed to get on to the early boat. After dropping our belongings we headed for Mt Maria, a walk we had not tackled before that would take most of the day. It was a comfortable climb until we reached a field of boulders that we had to cross and climb up following the orange arrows. We should have left our poles there as the remainder of the ascent involved climbing up rocks and the poles only got in the way. We emerged at the top to gain a wide view back to the mainland and down on to the sweeping curves of the bays that flanked the isthmus.


We descended and decided to visit Painted Cliffs as we went past. The high tide gave us a different view as we removed shoes to get around on to the shelf as the waves broke below. We returned via Ruby Hunt’s cottage and it’s wind sculpted attendant trees.

We planned to climb Bishop and Clerk the second day but the misty weather put paid to that so we wandered the ruins. We revisited Painted Cliffs to see it with the tide out and covered by tourists.