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Tasmania - Central Plateau Walk - Jan 2003

These are a selection of photos taken on a SUBW walk over the Central Plateau of Tasmania in January 2003. The text is the walks report by Mal McLeod.

All images by David Noble (unless otherwise stated). They cannot be used for any purpose without permission from the photographer.

© David Noble


Tassie Adventure Part 1: Deloraine to Lake St Clair

 

Party: Dave Noble, Jo Boyd and Mal McLeod

 

Day 1, 2 January 2003

 

Starting with packs full of food and bellies full of breakfast (Banjo's) we wandered up the hill and took the Redline from Hobart to Deloraine. From there the local cabbie and snake phobic took us on the short drive to the base of the Higg's Track. Before the first step was even taken the video camera was duly waved over us, very much setting the scene for the eight days ahead. A climb of 600 m left us at the top of the Western Tiers with our last glimpse of the civilization the farms in the valley below. We strode inland on Higg's Track for much of the afternoon through alpine country of low scrub, mosses buttongrass and sedge, passing the remains of a number of mysterious small fires on the way (lightning strike?). Near Lake Lucy Long we ran into Vince, allegedly the local track ranger but looking for all the world like an angler with his rod in hand. After a few words about low impact bush walking we parted company - him for the next lake and us for our destination of the hut at Lake Nameless. It was very wet underfoot due to recent rains and one occasion we had to shed footwear to wade the outflow from a lake, however we were blessed with fine weather. We arrived at the Lake Nameless hut as the evening wore on and it was apparent there was no room at the inn. Apart from Vince and a few other folk staying in the hut we also met Gimli (really, but without his axe on this occasion) and his merry band of 7 bush walkers who were also on the way to lake St Clair. We left our mark in the logbook and left them to it and walked up into the adjacent saddle to camp in a beautifully secluded spot in the lee of Forty Lakes Peak. Mushroom risotto for dinner.

 

Day 2 Day of the devil.

 

Dawned fine and with high cloud and a blustery wind and we started out on our epic walk through the central plateau. Our route meandered through the myriad lakes of the region past stands of pencil pine. Heading South and then West we visited the mysterious rim lakes and then pressed on towards Lake Lexie. Our approach to the lake gave us one of the wildlife highlights of the trip - a close and extended encounter with a young and brave Tassie devil which Dave tormented extensively with the video. Shortly after we also saw four wedgetail eagles passing overhead, soaring on the gusting winds. From Lake Lexie to Pencil Pine Tarn and lunch. The afternoon saw us pass the Southern end of Long Tarns, Daisy Lakes and Lake Tyre to leave us standing under the looming bulk of the East Wall and on the doorstep of the Walls of Jerusalem. Pressing on we made the Valley and camped just over the saddle under Solomons Throne. From there it was a short stride to the summit of the temple to see the sunset, with a few beams penetrating the low cloud. Macaroni and cheese for dinner.

Above - the Rim Lakes

Above - Cushion Plant detail

Day 3 The day of the snake

 

Another fine day with blustery wind, we had a day fin the Walls and climbed a number of the major peaks in the park. The morning saw us visit Dixon's Kingdom to leave our mark in the logbook followed by a clamber up Mt Jerusalem with fine views over the plateau we had traversed the previous day and Solomons Throne with great views of the valley below and also in the distance the Du Cane Range and the walking to come. After lunch we scrambled up the scree to the top of King Davids Peak for another view of the valley. On the descent we headed for the Pool of Siloam for a to check out a lake. On the way Dave met the our snake for the first time on the walk - a big black tiger snake that very obligingly slithered in and out of the shrubbery for the benefit of the video. In the evening ate an early dinner of cous cous and then climbed the Temple to view the sunset - again a few beams penetrated the low cloud in the distance.

Above - West Wall detail

Above - Mal and Jo descending off the West Wall

Above - Pool of Siloam

Day 4, Return of the snake.

 

We rose before 6:00 to catch the sunrise and on poking our head out of the tent were initially disappointed to see thick mist shrouding our campsite. Looking further afield though, we could just see the tips of the West Wall tipped with pink light. Racing to the top of the Temple for a third time we climbed above the mist to a spectacular morning. In every direction surrounding the Walls of Jerusalem the mist swirled and eddied in a thick carpet stretching to the horizon, punctuated only by the taller mountain peaks in distance. The valley was largely clear with mist billowing in over the saddles and vanishing in the wind. We stayed up there for a long time savouring the spectacle of it and taking the odd photo. After some time the surrounding landscape began to emerge from the mist. After breakfast our walking started to the North, hanging a left just after the leaving Herods Gate and walking across the button grass to the join a track just North of Lake Adelaide. The day was beautifully warm and sunny as we made our way along the Eastern bank of Lake Adelaide, with beautiful banks of waratah and fagus clustering by the water. On many occasions during the day our progress was briefly checked by the appearance of the same big black snake we had seen the day before lying on the track. At Lake Meston a swim in the lake was followed by a leisurely lunch, disturbed only by the endless march flies (many of which were surprised to find themselves make a tasty snack for the ants). Pressing on disturbed an echidna by the track in one of the few stretches not occupied by snakes. This little critter was very camera shy and he wasn't hanging about to put in an appearance on the big screen. Further on we passed by the quaint Meston Hut to leave an entry in the logbook and survey the general disapproval of previous hut visitors that fires were no longer allowed. No fish, no fires, no f---ing fun as one punter put it. The day ended further down the track at Junction Lake where we camped near the hut. Dahl and rice for dinner. Gimli and his merry band of bush walkers turned up later in the afternoon.

Above - Dawn light and morning mist

Above - Sunrise - Mal on the Temple

Above - Morning mist and pencil pines

Above - Morning mist

Above - Pencil pine reflections

Above - Cushion plant detail

Day 5

 

Again dawned fine as we donned our packs, forded the Mersey and climbed a scrubby track up to Lake Artemis. Jo called it exfoliation. Dave and I called it time for gaiters. After elevenses we followed the less well-defined track around Lake Eros crossed the outflow stream over some boulders and made our way up a scrubby hill to the top of Rocky Knob (well it doesn't have a name on the map). To the west rose the peaks of the Du Cane range with Ossa, Pelion and Cathedral to the North. Behind us and now in the distance we could see the Walls of Jerusalem. Immediately below us stretched the Traveller Range - our destination for the night. The rest of the days walking involved picking our way through a bewildering array of lakes and ridges as we made our way towards the Eastern edge of the range. Everywhere we wandered was an endless garden of water, rock and alpine vegetation. Towards the end of the afternoon we made our camp up high on the range with brilliant views of the Du Cane range and the Cathedral. We each retired to our own personal lake to swim and wash clothes before dinner of satay tuna on rice and sitting back under clear skies to watch the sunset. As spectacular as the dawn of the previous day with the mountains silhouetted against the darkening sky and a crescent moon to set it all off. I even rose late at night to survey the stars - stunning. No sign of Gimli.

Above - Mal on the Traveller Range

Above - Jo at the campsite

Above - Traveller Range tarns

Above - Reflection

Above - Evening light - tree skeleton

Above - Crescent moon over the Du Cane Range

 

Day 6 Attack of the killer ants.

 

We descended the Traveller Range by a steep track to briefly join the Overland Track. Our estimates of the number of people we would see that day ranged from 35 for Dave, 40 for Jo and 50 for me. By lunchtime we had made Pine Valley Hut and I had won the guessing game hands down. While we lunched we talked with the Track Ranger Nicki, who recognised Dave from previous adventures - or was that his volleys? Leaving the multitudes to it we then trudged up the steep hour long climb to towards the Labyrinth and camped on the Eastern bank of Lake Elysia facing the towering peaks of The Acropolis and Mount Geryon. The wind was freshening in the evening and as the evening deepened the scudding clouds cast great shadows over the landscape. Rice and veges for dinner followed by stewed apricots and pears. Despite the beautiful surrounds the area is infested with a high density of little black ants which bite at the first opportunity. Tucking my trousers into my socks solved the problem well enough, but a few echidnas would have been a more long term solution.

Above - Mal at Lake Elysia

Above - The Geryon

Day 7

 

Again we rose to sunny skies but the Westerly wind soon put paid to that. After breakfast we had to retire to the tents to sit out the hail and then snow that briefly engulfed our campsite. At least it kept the ants in bed. This weather pattern was to set get worse over the day. In the next clear spell we packed up and started our walk out of the labyrinth. At times we walked with the snow blowing in and clinging to our hairy legs - No snow on Jo though. At other times the we walked in sunshine with fine views of the feathery clouds brushing the tops of the Geryon and the Acropolis. We made our way to the Pool of Memories and then found the steep track down off the plateau and into the Cephissus Valley. It was more protected win the Valley with showers as we picked our way though the lush moss-clad rainforest of pines and myrtle, back to Pine Valley Hut. We resolved to have a comfortable lunch at the Hut followed by a climb to the top of the Acropolis, rain, hail or shine. The climb up the Acropolis was almost deserted due to the inclement weather, however we did see Scott and Amundsen descending wrapped in their all their polar gear. They seemed a little surprised to see the three of us motoring to the top in shorts. When we reached the plateau we were walking in flurries of snow, but Press on Regardless we did, confident that the next break in the weather was going to coincide with our reaching the summit. We reached the top in 1.5 h from Pine valley and waited patiently out of the driving wind and snow for that break in the clouds. It never came, except for some brief glances to the West and Lake Elysia where we had camped the night before. On our descent we resolved to stay in the hut for the night before making our way out the next day. When we arrived back at Pine Valley Hut, things had taken a turn for the worse. The place was packed to the rafters with noisy, steamy hikers all eating two-minute noodles and drying there smelly socks over the stove. We hunkered down over a hot drink and surveyed the scene, eventually deciding even though it was 6:00 we would abandon the rabble and head down the valley to camp. Good decision too as we enjoyed a peaceful night snug and warm in our dry tents as the rain pattered down outside - the first serious rain of the trip. Macaroni and cheese with sun dried tomatoes for dinner followed by hot milo before bed - perfect.

Above - The Geryon

Above - Lake Elysia

Above - Pandanis

Day 8

 

Our last day and a very short one. We woke to overcast but dry skies and a chorus of birds in the forest surrounding our little camp. We walked for a little over and hour to get down over the button grass to Narcissus Hut. due to an early start we also managed to catch the 9:30 boat out to the Cynthia Bay at the end of the lake with some wait until the bus at 4:15. to fill the time we showered and all put on that carefully guarded set of clean clothes. We took a stroll around on the walking tracks to Platypus Bay and back and then a pie and chips for lunch, washed down with liberal quantities of beer. Dave kept us entertained with highlights of the video and eventually it was time to go. I don't remember much of the bus ride due to beer induced nap. In the evening we met up with Steve and had much wood fired pizza all round.

 


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