Walking to The Labyrinth

IMG_56907 IMG_3136While we were in Tasmania we joined with two of our children to revisit the Labyrinth, a trip we had done previously with all the family in 2005. We had limited time so decided to walk into Pine Valley Hut and do day walks from there. Ray and I walked in to Echo Point Hut carrying all the food because the boat was too expensive with only two of us on the afternoon run. As usual it was harder than we remembered but that was because of heavy packs and September snow that had knocked over many trees. We had to go over, under and around them until we finally arrived at the hut in its unique setting,  hidden in the trees but opening to a lake view.

We went on to Narcissus Hut and then Pine Valley, passing a very still snake that could well have been dead except it was gone on the way out. We reminisced about our first trip in when many of the rivers were crossed on logs rather than bridges. The logs are still there but no longer used. Our children finally caught up with us after they set off a day and a half after us.

We visited Cephissus Falls and climbed to the Acropolis plateau in the afternoon. The snow detered us from climbing to the top.

The next day was a picture perfect day to climb to the Labyrinth. The track no longer went through the bog our friend was caught in years ago but it still had the same big steps near the plateau that took an effort to get up with a full pack. We wandered on to Lake Elysia and enjoyed the vistas of snow dappled mountains. We missed out on the sunset views over the mountains as seen from our camp in 2005. We revisited the falls on the way out.

We headed on out the next day, Ray and I taking the boat after Jessica and Shaun had walked all the way out the previous day.

The weather was too good to waste so Ray and I  completed the circuit walk to Mt Rufus and discovered what we’d missed out on all these years. It was well worth the big effort.

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The Colours of Spring

Spring saw us in Tasmania to see the tulip display at Table Cape with the waterfalls being a bonus. We started by visiting the bathing boxes in Brighton, Victoria while we waited to board the Spirit of Tasmania. They are certainly very colourful and bring lots of people to see them.

We went straight to visit the tulips but we were too early and so spent a week chasing waterfalls before returning to an amazing display of colour and well worth taking a special trip to Tassie.

The Tasmanian coast provides lots of opportunities to create colourful photos with rocks covered with vivid orange lichen or bright green algae or just beautiful patterns. Sunsets and rises are often special when there is nothing to block your view and you can never beat blue water and coloured rocks.

Springtime brings out the blossom and unsettled weather especially on the west coast. We took some walks in the fresh, green forest and discovered the magical Japanese garden at the Hobart botanic gardens.

The Sound of Falling Water

For a change of season we headed to Tasmania in Spring instead of our usual Summer trip. This gave us the opportunity to revisit favourite waterfalls with good flows and also find some new ones. The tiers along the northern coast produce many of them. We went back to Guide Falls, an easy walk, and Champagne and Bridal Veil Falls near Lemonthyme Lodge. Upper Cam Falls are a photographers delight and the Castra circuit gave us a number of falls.

A website, Waterfalls of Tasmania, was our gateway to many new falls as well as reminding us how to get to ones we’d seen before. Sensation Gorge had only a rough track but was well worth visiting. Another new one to us was Bastion Cascades in a very pretty setting. We revisited Smoko Creek with its many lovely falls and cascades though we were disappointed that the rickety log that enabled you to see Chasm Falls had been removed (it was very dangerous!). Hopefully a bridge will replace it in future. Dip Falls were amazing as the water cascaded over the basalt columns.

Every trip to Tasmania seems to see us at Liffey Falls, possibly my favourite of all.

We also headed down the west and back to Hobart. This took us past the delightful small but colourful Nelson Bay Falls in the Tarkine, the ever reliable Nelson Falls, Tarraleah Falls near the town and the popular Russell Falls and the photographers’ favourite – Horseshoe Falls.

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.

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.