Western Arthur Range Kappa Moraine Circuit, South West National Park, Tasmania
Wed 28 Feb to Tues 6 March 2018, Walkers Lucy, Don, Tina and David
The details of this spectacular and difficult walk are described in John Chapman’s book South West Tasmania which has just been reprinted with minor changes. Therefore I will not describe daily details. I gained valuable information from the Tasmanian Wilderness Hikes guide Stan, the Pandani club members Simon at Find your Feet and Becca Lunnon’s blog
The weather forecast for the week was good with showers predicted only for the first day. After lunch in the rain at the Huon River campground shelter we headed off on the Port Davey track towards Junction Creek campsite in a drizzle on what John describes as an easy track with short sections of mud. However we encountered very extensive mud and board walks falling apart. Not pleasant! My Garmin GPS map had Junction Creek in the wrong place but Lucy had been there before. We also used a water resistant Tasmap Western Arthur 1:50000.
The mud and drizzle continued next day towards alpha moraine where the fork is only signposted to Port Davey. Then the climb started from 300m to 1100m. Halfway up we met a group of 8 young tourists coming down with flimsy ponchos flying in the wind and some wet gear dangling from their small packs. Apparently they had seen a photo of Lake Oberon on Instagram but followed advice from 3 experienced walkers to turn around at Lake Cygnus after a cold, wet and windy night. We continued upwards in the clouds with Mt Hesperus, Capella Crags and even Lake Cygnus barely visible. We set up our tents on the plastic matting and suspended our small tarp with walking poles so that we could sit, cook and eat under shelter from the rain.
We got used to packing up wet heavy tents and putting on wet, cold and smelly socks and boots most mornings. Today the sun was shining and so we climbed up Mount Hayes along the way. After lunch at Square Lake we missed the turn off to Mt Sirius amongst several ‘X Track closed for regeneration’ signs. These were often placed to block false leads. Descending a rocky gully towards Lake Oberon turned into a steep rock scramble down. We had heard that this was the first hint of what we could expect for the next 2 days. I was glad that Tina and I had some training in rock climbing and that Lucy is an experienced climber. Any slip would mean serious injuries. A small beach looked inviting as group campsite and we dried our gear in the sun. No rain tonight.
We started early for a big day ahead scrambling up and down very steep slopes of Mt Pegasus and Mt Capricorn. I carried a 20m climbing tape (1kg) and we used it on some tricky sections today. A couple of slings would have been useful as the tape occasionally jammed during retrieval and I had to climb back up to get it free. Choice of anchors was usually limited but none of us weighed more than 80kg including packs so they held our weight. Much scrambling was done while holding or stepping on roots and branches and the damage and erosion was obvious. After 8 hours we arrived at High Moor campsite as the weather closed in. At this very exposed site our tents seemed to get flattened in the storm but we stayed dry inside our high quality tents.
At daybreak next morning it was dark and gloomy with water everywhere even underneath the tent platforms. As this was another very difficult day through the Beggary Bumps we delayed our start until we could see a glimpse of clear weather on the horizon. We used the tape several times to scramble down the Tilted Chasm and some very steep rock faces. The weight of the tape doubled with all the water it soaked up. Several false leads had been blocked and the route was obvious but had some very steep ups and downs as well as height exposure. Luckily the wind gusts had eased. After 7 hours we arrived at Haven Lake with tent platforms reasonably sheltered amongst the shrubs.
Next day was the last one along the top of the range in the clouds but as Lucy and I climbed Mt Scorpio they lifted occasionally for some great views. A long, steep descent followed. Over lunch in the sun with mobile reception we reorganised our plans ahead as we needed a break to clean and dry our gear before another walk. We decided to walk the unmarked short cut towards McKays Track as we had seen it quite well trodden from the top but we lost it near the Seven Mile Creek crossing with a lot of fallen trees. After another km cross country we struck McKays track and were surprised at the absence of mud. Heading west through the Arthur Plains we could admire the range which we had just traversed. Around 4 pm we arrived at Wullyawa Creek and camped there.
The sun was shining again next morning with good views of the range and we thought how wonderful it would be up there now. Instead we were battling with the mud again which seemed deeper than 6 days ago. At 2.30 pm we got back to the carpark. The next 2 nights we stayed in a cottage near Tyenna to wash and dry our gear. Our achievement was duly celebrated at the National Park Hotel nearby. David
Tasman Peninsula Three Capes Pillar, Hauy and Raoul
Friday 9 March to Mon 12 March 2018, Walkers Don, Tina and David
We were looking for a mud free walk after recovering from 7 days of wet boots on the Western Arthurs. Incidentally I had bought a Tasmap Peninsula Walks and realised that using the one way direction of the Three Capes Track and the Wughalee campsite we could visit Cape Pillar and Hauy during a 3 day circuit from Fortescue Bay where we camped the nights before and after the circuit.
We started on the Old Cape Pillar Track through dry heath and woodland. Some shrubs were flowering but it would be great in spring. After 8km we reached the new track and then 1km further found the campsite after a steep descent down to Retakunna Creek. Only a trickle was flowing but enough for drinking. 8 timber platforms among sheltered wet forest and no one else here. Nearby are a waterfall and an overhang in the cliff next to it with views down to Munro Bight. After a peaceful night we walked about 11km of gravel, boardwalk and rock steps to Cape Pillar past a very glamorous Munro Hut with 48 beds fully booked. The Blade is spectacular with dolerite columns and Tasman Island across the passage. The cape is another 30min further with the Chasm lookout on the way. After a long day out we found the campsite full. The young group next to us went for a night walk to the cape and then partied on until I told them to be quiet at 1am.
We had heard that the old track to Mt Fortescue was overgrown and so we walked along the new one past Retakunna Hut up into lush rainforest of the 482m high mountain. What a change from the heath land! Eventually the track follows the edge of the coastal cliff with great views and then climbs up some outstanding staircases of rock to Cape Hauy. After 18km our day finished with the incredibly turquoise water and white sand of Fortescue Bay.
Next day we drove to the end of Stormlea Rd for the start of the recently reopened track of 8km to Cape Raoul. It undulates through woodland until it reaches the cliff edge and then traverses a windswept plateau with a dried up wetland and spectacular dolerite cliffs battered by rough seas. This was the real three capes experience on a shoestring! David
North Peak , Mt Barney Saturday 30th June 2018
Participants: Alan G, Gary W, Shane M and Leader Karl.
The intention was to scale the North Peak of Mt Barney going up Rocky Creek and returning via the North Ridge. A long day was expected so effort was put into a 5:30am start in the dark. We all had arrived the evening before and got a little shut eye in the vehicles at yellow pinch. With head torches on we left the junction of Barney Lodge Road and Upper Logan Road (GDA 742-721) and headed off along the same route as Logan's Ridge steadily climbing the track from 200m (alt) to 500m (alt). At that point ( GDA 717-722) we veered off to the North on a less obvious track and soon were in Rocky Creek at (GDA 714-723) then the real climb began. Karl led the way up through the semi vertical slabs finding the route. We found it challenging in spots to follow. Fortunately the rocks were dry and traction was good, no water to speak of except for the occasional stagnant pool. At about 800m (alt) we were in among thick, scratchy vegetation which really sapped our strength. Emerging the other side of that we could see the gorge between East Peak and North Peak and the immense slab slopping up to the top of the creek. Challenging even on all fours. There was one spot there where we used a 15m tape rope to assist with the packs and the scramble. Reaching the saddle (GDA 702-720) between the two peaks we then headed up the comparatively easy track to the summit arriving at 11:50AM. Quite happy at this point to have finished the climb and looking forward to lunch with a spectacular view. Fantastic views in every direction especially to the North with all the lower peaks seeming to be at an arm's length. At 12:30pm we commenced the descent down the North Ridge. The initial part was very steep down to a small knoll which we skirted around on the eastern side. From then it was a rather rapid descent from one knoll to the next with a lot of down then followed with a little up to get over the top of the next knoll. Several of these proved rather challenging. One even required the the use of 23m of tape rope. The route proved to be more difficult than the ascent but at least there was less effort going down. It was 4:00pm before we reached the bottom at (GDA 712-723) and changed direction to the South back to Rocky Creek and then retraced our previous ascent route and the 3.3km walk back to the cars. We arrived at the car at 5:11pm quite satisfied with our accomplishment. A cold beer was enjoyed and we headed off in our own directions. We had started at 200m (alt) and reached 1252m (alt) and covered 11.7km in approximately 11.5hours. Definitely a difficult walk but really worth the effort. Shane
Save Kosci Walk December 2- 11
Steve M writes, as a young Melbourne University student, I was introduced to bushwalking in the Cobberas and Pilot Wilderness areas at the southern end of Kosciusko National Park. Back then you may get fleeting glimpses of feral horses on one or two of the high plains, but the herds would quickly disappear into the bush. On a 4 day Club walk 18 months ago, the horses were in large numbers everywhere and they boldly walked around our camps. So when Bushwalking NSW called for protestors to walk to the summit of Kosci from various directions I immediately planned a five day walk from my old stamping grounds. As it turned out, it was 50 years ago to the same week that I walked with Don K, a current Club member, and two others, from Buchan to Kosci, so our protest walk would be replicating the second half of that hike. It took 3 days to drive to Native Dog Flat; the start of our hike. Cas, one of our new members, camped with us at the strat of our hike and then bravely drove our ute back into and then up out of the precipitous Snowy River gorge, where she then joined the main protest group in the last days of their 35 day walk from Sydney.
Day 1 was a hot slog along a fire trail that climbed from 1100m to 1400m and then back down to 1100m at Cowombat Flat. Barbara and I tried climbing Mt Cobberas 2 (1750m) as a side trip, but we turned back after getting to 1540m because of the thick scrub and rough terrain. It was after 6pm when we finally reached our favourite camp site on Cowombat Flat, with feral horses grazing undisturbed by our presence. Scientists have fenced off 4 quadrats to show what the vegetation would be like without horses clipping the grass to the ground. Inside the fences, the small stream running through knee high grass could provide habitat to the endangered Corroboree frog, but outside, the horses have turned the stream into a quagmire that cannot support native species.
On Day 2 we climbed from 1100m to 1500m over the shoulder of The Pilot (1800m). During our lunch break I was surprised to get perfect phone reception but shattered to get a text telling us that the summit protest would be brought forward to Saturday because thundery weather was forecast for Sunday and this could endanger the protestors and the helicopter which would be filming them. There was no way that I thought we could turn a 5 day walk into 4 days. We felt utterly deflated and the ‘ups’ on the undulating track seemed to get harder and steeper. We camped outside on the horse-trimmed lawn of the huts at Tin Mine, as a young stallion and his only mare grazed peacefully.
Day 3 brought more brutal undulations along the track but we covered the 18km to the Cascade hut by 1pm, so I suggested that we eat and then have a siesta under a big shady tree before pushing on from 1500m to camp on Bob’s Ridge at 1800m. We loaded up 10kgs of water between us as we trudged 5km uphill on a very hot afternoon. About 10 vertical metres from the summit, a cool mountain stream babbled out of a marsh about the size of a football field! Walking can be so cruel! Just as we were lying down recovering and trying to find an ant-free tent spot, a mountain biker came along and talked us into walking another 2km with a 200m descent into the Thredbo River valley. We were now in the treeless high country. The vista up the valley seemed to go on forever. As the sun set slowly on this idyllic scene, a black stallion came out of nowhere to prance chauvinistically around our camp: such a wild, wondrous display. What a pity that these once-abandoned horses are so destructive to so many of our unique alpine species. Just on dark we set up our tent just 30cm from a gurgling side stream. What a wonderful sound to fall asleep to!
Day 4. We woke to a crimson sunrise, with the rays lighting up the Rams Head Range that we were planning to walk up and over to the Kosci summit. As we walked down the Thredbo River towards Dead Horse Gap, the idea dawned on us that if we caught the Thredbo chairlift which would save us 600m of our 900m climb, we might just rendezvous with the protest. As we got on the lift, a buckle on Shane’s pack caught on the chair, preventing him from getting his bottom onto the seat. At this point the lift attendant should have stopped the lift. Instead we were whisked 10-15m into the air where a fall onto the rocks below would have been fatal. Once I was able to release his buckle, Shane was able to slide his pack from behind him and we hauled him onto the seat. However the sideways movement of his pack almost pushed Barbara from the chair! Eventually we got the safety bar down and tried to enjoy the view as we gained our precious elevation. From the top of the chair we still had 300m elevation and 5.5km to go. After 2 hours of trudging up the steel mesh path that preserves the alpine environment, we finally joined the main group just a few minutes after they had reached the summit! We were jubilant to meet around 250 like-minded walkers, 5 of whom had spent 35 days walking all the way from Sydney. We planned to camp out about 1km from the summit and join Cas, our driver, the next day as planned. The organisers wouldn’t hear of this as they insisted that we walk another 9.5km so that we could stay with them ( and Cas ) at their chalet in Charlotte’s Pass where a big party was planned. That meant a second day of around 25km! But the party was worth it. Being in such committed company made the whole adventure very satisfying. From where we started at Native Dog Flat (1100m) we had to climb 1100m to the summit of Kosci, but Shane’s GPS showed that we had walked 90km and climbed just over 3100m because of the undulations in the track: not bad for a 4 day walk by 3 dedicated walkers.