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.

Return to Bruny

Our now annual trip to Tasmania began with the trip on the Spirit of Tasmania – in a cabin this time as we feel we are past using the recliners for the overnight trip. We headed through the Central Highlands with our usual stop at Liffey Falls, our favourite waterfall in Tasmania. We also scrambled up the scree at Quamby Bluff for a hard climb but little reward due to cloud cover.

We timed our visit to Hobart with the bi-annual Wooden Boat Festival though it was entirely unintentional. The handiwork is amazing and the boats seem too beautiful to put in the water. The sail past was a great display of sail.

The weather was against our plans for walks in the mountains so we retreated to the much more pleasant climate of Bruny Island to complete some of the walks we had missed last time. We began at Cloudy Bay with a walk to East Cloudy Head where we found we could have easily driven along the beach to the very nice Cosy Corner camping are instead of making do with the more accessible Pines. The walk gave views back on Cloudy Bay but unfortunately not the impressive cliffs of the headland. We then moved to the lovely camp at Jetty Beach where a new water tank has been added. We visited the lighthouse where I took the tour to the top between showers and appreciated the magnificent views. We walked the Labillardiere Peninsula the next day, an easy walk showing the contrasting sides of the peninsula.

We headed for Adventure Bay where we revisited the best views of Fluted Cape.  I took the Bruny Island cruise while Ray went to set up camp at the Neck. The views of the cliffs from sea level were even more dramatic and many more features were revealed. We spotted caves, zoomed between rock monuments and were wet by spray from an undersea spout. At the Friars we watched the fur seals basking in the sun and frolicking in the water while a pod of dolphins joined us for part of the trip back.

The Neck campground gives views from both sides of the isthmus and turned on a spectacular sunrise. We returned to Hobart via pretty Snug Falls.

The last of Tassie

We headed out to stay at Lime Bay to visit the Coal Mines, a less visited historical area on the end of the Tasman Peninsula. The ruins could be experienced on a well explained circular walk.

We walked out and peered down the deep ventilation shaft and then enjoyed the lovely setting of Lime Bay camping area.

We had some time to spare as we headed north to catch the boat so decided to go via the east coast. We arrived at Freycinet Peninsula in the afternoon only to find all the campsites full. We pushed on further up the coast to a large and beautiful campsite we had visited previously at Lagoons Beach. The lagoon created a great foreground for sunrise and set.

We had the offer of a night’s accommodation at Ben Lomond so drove there via Mathinna Falls. We had also visited these previously and had the knowledge that it was worth scrambling up a rough track to the next level to see more falls.

We enjoyed our time at Ben Lomond walking to the highest point and another walk that took us through the alpine plants studded with the bright red seed pods of rocket plants. The others were hard at work on a working bee but we still had time to enjoy sunset views from the top of the daunting Jacob’s Ladder.

Mts Wellington and Field

We spent a day at Mt Wellington taking some of the walks to visit some waterfalls. The first was Secret Falls, hidden in a gully below the track and admired the amazing artistry of the dry stone bridge on the track above Cascade Brewery.Lunch was at the Fern Tree Tavern (very nice) and then we walked to Silver Falls, the Octopus Tree (worth a visit) and Sphinx Rock (big rock but ordinary view).

A visit to the top of the mountain was obligatory and rewards with all encompassing views over Hobart though the wind went straight through us. We met Ray’s brother up there and survived a drama with electronic locks affected by the tower – beware! Ray and I returned on another night to enjoy a mild night with no wind and the lights of Hobart sparkling below.

Mt Field was our next destination and we headed up the mountain to revisit Tarn Shelf. It was my fourth visit and I’ve still only seen it in cloudy weather but it is still beautiful. The cloud lifted a little as we traversed the shelf and then headed down to Twilight Tarn and back to the start. If I hunted hard I could find some fagus leaves starting to turn in preparation for autumn.

We then stayed the night in the excellent campground at the bottom of the mountain and took a walk to visit the waterfalls with Russell being the most famous. Once we left them there were very few people.

A night at Government Huts at the top of the mountain was a treat. The weather didn’t improve but we could take some short walks and then snuggle up by  the hot fire with firewood supplied.

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.