May 2019 - Lake Pedder

Our May 2019 walk happened on the first weekend of June.  The excellent plan was to base ourselves at the Lake Pedder Wilderness Lodge (the refurbished Hydro village at Strathgordon) and do some nice walks (or even canoeing) in the wild and beautiful South West National Park.

Our first challenge was the terrible bushfire season this summer.  Large tracts of the SouthWest World Heritage Area were badly burnt, and sadly this included the area immediately to the east and south of Lake Pedder. The fires have been extinguished but the trails we were most interested in investigating (like Lake Judd, and Mt Eliza) were closed for repair. Never mind, we thought we could do Mt Wedge or find some alternatives once we got there.

The second challenge was the weather.  Winter had arrived in Tassie just that week.  As we rolled along the Gordon River Road on Saturday morning, the mountains were obscured by lowering clouds and strange little mounds of snow appeared on the sides of the road.  Snow was in the weather forecast, as well as rain.  It was going to be cold and wet.

You know you've arrived when you come to the McPartlan Pass Canal, which links Lake Gordon and the enlarged Lake Pedder.




Kat, Philip, Bob, Lyn, Gary, Rachel, Di, Robert and Angie congregated at the Wilderness Lodge, curiously checking out the facilities.  Lyn had carefully booked three cabins, each with room for three or more guests, but it turned out that these were a bit spread out.  There are several neat little groups of three cabins, a good setup for a large group we thought, but we were told that two of the cabins in each group were smaller, only one bedroom.  Never mind, we ransacked our three allocated cabins for the required numbers of plates, glasses, cups and cutlery, and piled into Kat and Philip's cottage (the party cabin) for the first of many yummy shared meals.

The weather was holding up nicely so far, and our first excursion was to see the Gordon Dam.  En route we drove up to the Serpentine Lookout for excellent views over Lake Pedder.
At the Serpentine Lookout

There are some white dots in the water on the RHS, these were some canoeists, involved in some event that weekend.

Next stop was the huge Gordon Dam.

This dam was an engineering marvel due to its size and double-curvature when it was built in the early 1970's, and is still pretty awe-inspiring today.


We couldn't resist the long walk down to the dam wall, and staring down to where a quiet trickle of water now follows the course of the original Gordon River downstream of the dam.


Back at the Lodge, we located the start of the nearby Rainforest Trail, just about 100m to the west of the entrance to the Lodge.  Short and sweet.


This is a pretty little cool temperate rainforest trail, looping around and back to the road, and it did take less than 30 minutes to walk!





As darkness began to fall, it was time for pre-dinner nibbles and drinks.   


Then dinner - everyone had brought a contribution, with Lyn and Kat providing the core casserole dishes.  It was lovely.  The big hit tonight was Rachel's meringues with Persian Fairy Floss - wow!


Sunday dawned with rain, and showers were forecast for the whole day.  Bummer.  Six of us (Di, Lyn, Angie, Kat, Philip and Bob) opted for a short morning walk up Jack's Track, which is basically a gravel access road up to a weather station on the top of the Twelvetrees Range.

Map of Jack's Track

Parking is on the lake side of the road, just past Ted's Beach campground.  We set off up the trail, and immediately of course the showers and rain began.  We managed to catch some views of Lake Pedder and Ted's Beach as we steadily gained altitude.




The road is a steady gentle climb, and has been cut through some pockets of glacial moraine.

On all sides are mountain heath and buttongrass.

By about halfway up we were into the clouds, with the views disappearing fast.  Half the crew decided that they were sodden enough and the rest of the climb was not worth the effort.  Di, Lyn and Angie continued upwards. 


While the views FROM the top were not to be had, the misty views AT the top were rather lovely.



It was about 65 minutes going up and 55 minutes coming down.

We took a look at Ted's Beach on the way back, quite pretty and looks like a nice camping spot.







A warm shower and we were ready for another cosy lunch in the cabin, not out in the rain!   Afterwards, with the weather not getting any better, we ambled over to the lounge to hang out in company for a while. It was time for the manager to feed the local Green Rosellas.


They were very friendly!




The views over the lake were nice, the bar was well stocked, and eventually (after some prodding!) the manager lit the wood fire.

We had dinner at the restaurant, and were very happy with our meals.  Then it was back to the cabin for coffee and Lyn's apple crumble.  And Kat's tokay.  It's a hard life.

On Monday we saw blue sky again, but it was time to head home.   We got some lovely views as we left.

View from the lounge


Ted's Beach with sun


Last views of the enlarged Lake Pedder.
We were looking for the access to the Mt Wedge trail on our way back, but didn't see any signs.  So if wanting to do this walk, best to navigate via maps and road distances.


April 2019 - McGregors Peak

This months walk to McGregor Peak on the Forestier Peninsula was organised by Caroline. A  previous attempt at this walk was in pelting rain which obscured the views and covered everyone in leeches. So the group was  keen to schedule it again for a clear day, to take in the views and experience the Magic Forest.  

On the last Sunday in April, Caroline, Warren, Bob and Lyn 
met at Sorell and travelled along the Arthur Highway 5 kms past Murdunna to a turnoff on the left called Petman Rd. There is a 'McGregors Peak' sign visible to the left after you turn off the highway. After another 500 metres on the unsealed road there is a small clearing on the right hand side which is the carpark for the beginning of the trail.   

There is no signage for the carpark but we managed to find the track sign buried deep in the bushes. Subsequently, the beginning of the trail was also very overgrown and it required some effort to plough through. 

The thick, dense scrub continued throughout the forest with many mossy logs, fallen trees and tree litter making for a slow and sometimes slippery ascent. The trail is well marked in this section with pink tape.







The notes say it should have taken 40 minutes to reach the fire tower but it took us almost 80 minutes due (mainly) to the state of the track. 



Views from the fire tower

By the time we left the tower, the wind was picking up and howling over the ridge and storm clouds were moving over the hill. There were many huge dead trees on this part of the trail so we decided to head back and find a sheltered spot for lunch.





Lunch at the fire tower

Rather than return the same way we decided to take the risk (without a good map) and follow the forestry road back down even if it meant a hike back along the highway to the car. 

The road was a steep descent but made for faster progress. Unfortunately we were unable to follow the direction provided on google maps for a more direct route back to the carpark as we were unable to find a way through the dense bush.

Warren looking for the trail in heavy bush

And so we continued walking on what became Macgregor road to the highway, a few kilometres away from where we parked the car. Luckily,  Warren managed to get a lift to the car so that we had time for a well needed refreshment at the Dunalley Hotel to end the day.

All up we had a lovely walk through tall trees and dense forest with good company even though the wind and threatening rain cut it short and compromised the views we could have had. We discovered some interesting forestry trails, and made some mental notes for next time. Thank you to Caroline for organising.

It was noted that it would be better to commence the walk from the forestry gate on Macgregor road, even though it would be a long uphill climb at the beginning. Other observations along the way were the large amount of rubbish which has been dumped on Macgregor road (which is unsightly) and that the track is in need of serious maintenance. 

March 2019 - Randalls Bay

We last walked this trail, which was only recently built, in May last year.  Some of us had missed that chance, so Bob picked it for this month's outing.  It was a nice day for a walk, clear but cool,  with the weather gods threatening a range of temperatures and moisture levels :).  It feels like the end of March has definitely brought Autumn.

Di, Robert, Bob and Lyn met at the commuter transit hub/carpark at the "Fork in the Road" roundabout in Kingston at 9.30am. It took about an hour to drive to Randall's Bay, just east of Cygnet.  New steps to the track up into Echo Sugarloaf  State Reserve leave the road a little way up the hill, and we managed to find a space on the edge of the road to park on.



This RideWithGPS record of our walk is a little misleading - we actually started the track (and finished) where the red finish icon is.


The return walk is about 5km, it took us about an hour and a half.

It was a lovely walk, along well made trails, through lovely typical dry East Coast bushland.  There was a steady rise (as you can see!), but it was barely noticeable.  Possibly because we were chatting all the way (as usual). 

The local coastcare group have done a great job acquiring the land through crowdfunding and creating the trail.  They aim to extend the walk into a loop, if and when additional funds come along.



At the summit we stopped for a drink and a snack, and to try and identify the bays lying in front of us. Then we headed back down again before cooling down too much.




Reaching the car again, we drove back along the beach and enjoyed our packed lunch in the picnic area.

Then we had time for a short walk (only 1km) around the headland in the direction of the Mickeys Bay trail.




Take this trail for lovely windswept views over the Huon River.  The rock scramble we chose on the return leg offered a little more challenge!



Thanks Bob for organising this, and for being our excellent chauffeur on the day.  It was another great day out with good friends in beautiful unspoilt Tasmanian nature.

February 2019 - South Arm

Lyn organised our February walk, which was a long deferred circuit of the Gellibrand Point Nature Recreation Area (just a bit north of Opossum Bay), the peninsula of South Arm.  Six of us enjoyed splendid weather on the day - Lyn, Sophie, Erin, Angie, Di and Robert.  The walking was easy, and everyone caught up on each other's news.

The Arm End Circuit is an easy 6km, 2 hour, walk from the end of South Arm at Opossum Bay. Following the perimeter of the coast, the walk offers constant views of the Derwent estuary including Hobart, the Tasman Bridge and Bruny Island.

We met at the boom gate at the end of Spitfarm Road at a bit after 10am.  There is a map here of the controversial proposed gold course development:


We took the anti-clockwise option, following the trail to the right to meet the vehicle track near Shelly Beach. We continued around the eastern side of the peninsula, passing by the Split, a small outcrop and home to a number of breeding birds.



From Gellibrand Point at the northern tip, views north include Hobart and the Tasman Bridge.


Returning along the western coast, there were constant views of Kingston and down the river. We stopped at Gellibrand Vault, the burial site of original South Arm grantee William Gellibrand and a couple of his descendants. Sadly this is looking a bit neglected these days.


We took an almost hidden path to the right to find Mary Ann Bay, the nicest beach of the walk and popular with boaties and swimmers. It was time for quick snack.






Next we chose the track that headed up the next hill, then turned left on the ridge top trail. When this reaches the utilities cabin on the clifftop, the trail then heads left, still keeping to the ridge top.  We got back to Spitfarm Road a little after midday, almost talked out!

Arm End Circuit map, thanks to TasTrails:
https://tastrails.com/arm-end-circuit/