Getting There: From Hobart head over the Tasman Bridge and continue on the Arthurs Highway (A9), turning right at the main intersection in Sorell (sign for Tasmanian Peninsula). Continue towards Port Arthur, taking the right after the Tasmanian Devil Park, onto Nubeena Road (B37) towards Koonya. After 4.5km turn left onto Fire Tower Road (Clarks Cliff Walk is signposted with a little blue sign). The walk begins at the end of the road, about 5km away.
Fire Tower Road was a lovely country road, easing along a small ridge and surrounded by sleepy farms. We were surprised to see a little produce stall at a farmhouse near the end of the road, which we decided we must take a closer look at on the way back again (and we did, picking up some lovely fresh garlic and potatoes).
The circuit walk can be completed in either direction. We chose to walk anti-clockwise, which starts on a slightly overgrown fire trail, in order to leave the reputed scrambly wet section to the end of the walk. We set out at about 11.15am. The initial section of the walk was gently graded and easy going, with fairly dense Dogwood (Pomaderris apetala) bush on either side of the trail. It was a pretty woodlands scene and very enjoyable.
Before long (about 1.9 km or 30 minutes in) a very short side-track to the right provided nice views of the hills descending onto Norfolk Bay and Koonya.
Back on the track, shortly afterwards we turned left off the fire trail and headed west into dense forests. This section of track is quite overgrown with beautiful myrtles and eucalypts. We found that quite a lot of small and large trees had fallen over the track, and it took some effort to climb over or under them. A little bit of chainsaw action is overdue. It was all pretty moist too, which was surprising given the long dry summer we have experienced. It was a great time for spotting fungi.
The track was fairly lightly defined, and we relied heavily for navigation on on the surveyor's tapes along the way.
It was a gradual climb. At 1pm we walked out onto a fabulous dolerite clifftop above the Musk Forest. This forest of Musk Daisybush (Olearia argophylla), Blanketbush (Bedfordia salicina) and Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), nestled under the sheer cliffs, is a highlight of the walk.
Here we enjoyed our (overdue) lunch, the great view, and ribbing Lyn about her parking fines.
Back on the track again, and ten minutes later we reached the summit of Mt Clark (480m) and walked out onto Clarks Cliffs. From these dolerite outcrops we had a great view over the south-western section of Mt Clark, and over towards Bruny Island.
To complete the Clark Cliffs circuit, we continued on the trail towards the carpark. The trail became more challenging, plunging down a steep track skirting Plummers Creek. In many sections the trail was damp and quite slippery. It would have been pretty muddy if we'd had much rain recently. For 3 km the trail zigzagged, occasionally sending us across the creek and up and down the banks.
It was in this damp side of the mountain that we noticed quite a little community of leeches. While a couple of us seemed immune, others seemed to be leech magnets (my count was up to 9 by the time we reached the cars).
Finally the walk flattened out a bit and dried out, and we emerged onto the road at 3.03pm by Bob's watch, and just 50m above the carpark. So, total walk time 3hr 45 mins. Back at the cars, after flicking off a few more leeches, we headed off in the direction of coffee. Di's suggestion of the Waterfront Cafe at Dunalley wasn't too good, as we found that it closed at 4pm. The first car got in safely, the rest of us had to beg our way in. We were then a bit embarassed when they discovered some of our leeches on their carpetted floor!
Note for next time - start the walk earlier than 11.15am, as we were well and truly ready for lunch before we reached either of the lunch opportunities at the Musk Forest or Clark Cliffs lookouts.