A wedding on a mountain

After the exhilaration of the walk we had to come down to earth and get back to the main reason we had come to Tasmania this year – our daughter’s wedding. We tried to do all we could to help as the excitement grew as the day grew closer. We even got an advance peak at their wedding outfits as they made sure they still fitted.

We headed for Launceston where the mainland relatives gathered ready for the trip up Ben Lomond. A trip to Cataract Gorge filled in the day.

The next day we all headed up the mountain where the sun was shining and the forecast winds didn’t eventuate. My job was to put together the bouquets for the bridesmaids with the help of my son and then we helped where possible. The outside ceremony was lovely and we were royally fed, put together by the groom and his mother. The folk band had the feet tapping and the dance floor full. We had to retreat outside to cool down.

The next morning we were treated to pastries and coffee for breakfast before the big clean up and retreat. We retreated to Chudleigh where we explored the nearby Honeycomb caves.

Leven Canyon is another of our favourite stops in northern Tasmania and this time we took advantage of the free camping in this delightful spot. A highlight was walking to Devil’s Elbow where the river makes an abrupt turn under towering cliffs.

We needed to fill in one last day and discovered the beautiful Guide Falls at the back of Burnie that we had not visited before. Ferndene near Ulverstone had us stretching our legs on a walk to old mines and Goat Island was accessed while the tide was out before we returned home on the Spirit.

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Off to the Pigsty

What a name for a place that we found quite delightful! Though I must admit reading about other peoples walks to this area the weather is not always as good as we had it – though the walkers after us had it even better.

We were walking in to the Southern Ranges in Tasmania and aiming for Pigsty Ponds. We had a warm up walk on Mt Wellington first, completing a circuit from Ferntree via the Organ Pipes and returning via O’Grady Falls. The forecast was looking more promising than it had been for the rest of our time in Tasmania so we decided to head off on the walk. After reading the track notes we decided to turn it into a 5 day walk rather than push in in one day. As we climbed Marble Hill on the first day we decided that was a good decision. The track heads straight up the hill side and luckily was well marked with tape as we were a bit bamboozled at times. We finally made the top of the hill and enjoyed the next flat bit along the ridge before it was once again straight up a hillside. We passed a dry campsite in the trees before climbing on to Moonlight Ridge where a fire had killed off the scrub and left sharp, pointed sticks to catch unwary legs. We reached our destination on Moonlight creek and found the only dry camp site in a bog surrounded by dead trees. They did look good in the late light.

Next morning we climbed up Hill One from where we could start to really appreciate the mountains around. First we had to traverse a garden of cushion plants that Parks had put stepping stones across – it wouldn’t look out of place in a Japanese garden. We later met the ranger in charge and he said they hadn’t been trying to make it beautiful, just protect the vegetation. Hill Two gave us a muddy ditch guarded by prickly scoparia and we realised we should have brought gaiters. Once we were through that and up onto Hills Three and Four the views were just fantastic under blue skies. We looked across to Federation Peak, ahead to Precipitous Bluff and not be outdone – the nearby Hippo. We were passed by a walker who had left that morning and would easily keep up with Chapman’s fast times in his guide book (whereas we were slower than his slow times!) After lunch was taken sheltering between rocks from the relentless wind but overlooking the impressive scenery, we headed down to Pigsty Ponds. The whole area was one giant soak so you need a tent with a good floor but we managed to get an almost dry site situated between two ponds and mostly sheltered from the wind. From our campsite we admired the changing light as the sun lit up the Cockscomb (jagged tail end of La Perouse) and surroundings.

The weather was quite different the next day with overcast skies but not too bad to put us off climbing La Perouse. We followed the closely spaced cairns to the top where we were pushed to the top by gale force winds and cloud obscured the views. We caught our breath behind the huge not quite on the summit cairn before breaks in the cloud had us making for the edge to enjoy glimpses of the coast. We didn’t linger and pushed back across the rocky summit using the now fortuitously spaced cairns to find the route back down and escape the blasting winds. Pindars Peak peeped out from the cloud and made us think we would perhaps need to return. A side trip down to Reservoir Lakes showed alternative sheltered campsites.

The sun came out to farewell us as we headed back over the now familiar route. It didn’t seem nearly as hard on the way out as we knew all the worst bits. We gathered water at Bullfrog Tarns to ensure we could camp in the forest where it was dry underfoot for a change. As we headed out on the Saturday we were astounded by the number of people coming in. They had all studied the forecast and knew they were in for something special – blue skies and  little wind in the notorious Southern Ranges.