Wineglass Bay Lookout - September 2014

Robert and I enjoyed a great weekend with our friends Kerrie and Richard, at Swanwick. The weather was glorious, more like summer than spring.  On the Saturday Robert and I walked to the Cape Tourville lookout and discovered that the path had been very professionally upgraded since we were here last.  Top quality stainless steel railings and winding modern timber decking mean there are no irritants to detract from the fantastic views over the cliffs.

Richard and Kerrie told us that the Wineglass Bay Lookout walk has also been upgraded in the last few years, so we decided on the Sunday that we had to take a look.  Unfortunately Kerrie had to work in the morning, but Richard, Robert and I set off.  The newly extended carpark features strong use of the fabulous pink Hazards granite in the stone walls and steps.

The gathering area at the starting point of the walks to Mt Amos, Wineglass Bay and beyond has been enlarged to cater for the busloads of visitors who come to this famous National Park.  

The path up to the wide saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson has been extensively re-routed and widened since we were last here.  There are many stone steps to provide a safer trek up the hill, and there are lots of well engineered granite retaining walls, benches and drains.  

The new balustrades here have a smooth treated steel railing and rusty-look iron uprights.  This look and feel complements the rugged granite outcrops and the muted greys and greens of the pristine East Coast woodland of the Hazards.

There are many artisan made wooden and granite benches for people to catch their breath on.

The viewing platform overlooking Wineglass Bay has been extended to accommodate the increased visitor numbers, but is still a very inviting spot to rest and enjoy the view.  

I was intrigued by this metalwork embedded in the path near the lookout:

Coming back down, we found that the new return loop to the carpark is actually the old track.  A new section towards the bottom veers to the right and features the same upgraded handrails and superb stonework as the new uphill track.

What a great place to sit and enjoy the view.  These rocks were massive.

The walk took us 1 hour 9 minutes.

To top it off, back at the carpark was a very tame wallaby with joey in the pouch.

Tinderbox Hill and Fossil Cove - August 2014

We had quite a crowd for this duo of short walks at Tinderbox, on a beautiful Spring day (or is that Sprinter - an Australian season between Winter and Spring?).  Our plan was to visit the top of Tinderbox to see the view from the hill, and then go down and around the peninsula a little to see the fossils at Fossil Cove.

Meeting up at Bob's place at about 9.30am were Bob (of course), Di, Robert, Wayne, Julie, Gary, Sophie, Austin, Lyn, Catherine and Peter. Several of us were feeling a bit flat, no doubt because we hadn't done a walk for a while! Our convoy drove to the end of Estuary Drive on Tinderbox Hill.

We probably set off at about 10am. The track was firm, dry and pleasant, through dry schlerophyll bushland, initially passing a couple of houses and then following the ridgeline at a fairly steady slight incline.  The time for the walk was estimated at 1.5 hours return.

The walking was easy enough that we could do a lot of catching up with each other's news and a bit of gossip, which was great.

The open bushland seemed to be in good condition and the views were good, over the Derwent on the north side to South Arm:

and to the south over Margate.  Apparently the forty-spotted pardalote lives on Tinderbox, and there were certainly lots of birds around.   But we were perplexed when we came across a Council sign saying that no-one was to proceed beyond this point as it was private property from here on.  We didn't seem to be at the promised Lookout and the track stretched out ahead.  What the hell!?   There was a bit of milling around at this point.

Some of us ventured on to the next rise, but we are all such law-abiding citizens that we felt we shouldn't go further. We turned around and headed back down the hill.  Just before we reached the road we spotted a very professional looking wildlife protection system around a thriving vegie patch, which Lyn, Sophie and Austin took great interest in.

It was about 11.30am when we regrouped at the cars and drove down and around the hill to Fossil Cove Rd. The walking track to Fossil Cove is estimated at 30 minutes return.

The track started out very dry but became noticeably greener and damper as we descended through a steep gully towards the river.  The beach at Fossil Cove is a gem, secluded and a great spot for snorkelling in the kelp forests. There are views across to South Arm and Oppossum Bay, and down the river to the Iron Pot lighthouse. At low tide, you can walk through a large rock archway on the left side to an even more secluded little beach.  Sadly, we were there at high tide.

It was a great spot for a beach picnic, and we spread our 21st century bodies and lunches over the ancient split and layered mudstone rock platform.

Robert took this beautiful panoramic shot:

There were lots of fossils, of course!

There seemed to be more steps going back up the hill than there had been on the way down.  But we made it. Another lovely outing with friends, a great cure for tiredness and low moods.  Thank you everyone.

Cascade Track, Mt Wellington - June 2014

Winter arrived in Tassie this week, with "penguins in the southerlies", as our favourite cartoonist Kudelka would describe it.  Sunday dawned with steady light rain and bitter temperatures, and a prediction of snow to the 600m level. Oh well, there's nothing for it but to get out there.  Caroline had organised a fairly easy walk up the nearby recently refurbished Cascade Walking Track and a second leg up the Myrtle Gully Track to the Junction Cabin.  Braving the poor weather outlook were Caroline, Warren, Di, Robert, Pauline, Girwan (spelling?), Wayne, James, and Gary.  We parked just behind the Cascade Brewery, right where the track commences, and pulled on our layers.  Gary was sent home due to already having a cold and not having brought enough layers.

This is the map of the Cascade Walking Track:

At 10.10am we set off up the track, hoping that the drizzle would clear.  And what do you know, it soon did. So we had a lovely cool, only slightly showery, walk along this track.

A lovely new arched stone bridge has been built on the track, dedicated to Peter Graves, founder of the Cascade Brewery. Apparently this land belongs to the brewery and they have kindly worked with Council to encourage public access along the creek.  Here's another nice bridge:

There are other neat little curated experiences on the track, such as:

We reached the carpark at the top of Old Farm Rd at 10.50am (only 40 minutes), and decided to continue up the hill towards the Junction Cabin.  At the junction of Myrtle Gully Track, Old Farm Track and the firebreak road, we took the Old Farm Track option.  Not long after, we selected the Myrtle Gully Track option (against the Old Farm Track option) and walked up this beautiful little gully.  There was a good amount of water in the falls, following the rains.  

Robert, Di and Pauline decided to call it quits about 20 minutes into this stretch, and headed back down the hill.  The rest of the group continued up to the Junction Cabin (which happens to be at 600m!) for a short break before heading back down again.  

Wayne reported that it was "a bit of a slog with lots of huffing and puffing.  Just to show that we made it:

Just as we were leaving, it started snowing, sleety snow really, but unfortunately not heavy enough for the phone camera to pick up. We all agreed it was a magical moment, but it didn't last long as we wandered back down the mountain". 

A nice spot to rest on the Cascade Walking Track:

One for Bob:

Di, Robert and Pauline were back at the cars at about midday, and were back home, warm and dry by 12.30pm.  This shorter version (at 2h 20min) was an enjoyable short walk and very handy to home.

Mt Field East, April 2014

This was a return visit for some of us - we did this walk in March 2010, on a hot sunny day - and a first for others.  Given the timing of this walk, just after Anzac Day, we were expecting to be able to see the 'fagus in its autumn colours on Lake Dobson Road.  Our thoughts were also with our friends who were expressing their support for the rainforest just around the back of Mt Field in the Florentine.

Di, Robert, Caroline, Bob and Lyn met at Wayne's place at 8am to pile into two cars for the trip.  It was a cold morning, the first real cold snap of winter had swept over southern Tasmania the previous day, but the outlook was for a fine day.  It wasn't until we got to the Mt Field Visitors' Centre an hour later that we realised the weather would be grimmer than it had appeared in town.  There was a hint of rain and it was definitely cooler already.

As we climbed Lake Dobson Road, the outdoor temperature steadily dropped, till it reached 6 degrees.  We saw our first snow of the season, it was enchanting.  But surprisingly, the 'fagus on the bend in the road had not started to turn!  We did a clever car shuffle, leaving one car in the lower carpark, so that we could avoid a dreary 2km at the end of the walk, climbing up the road to the top carpark. In the top carpark, which was covered in pristine snow when we arrived, we pulled on as many layers as we had. Those without thermals, gaiters and raincoats were wishing they'd had more time to prepare.

At about 10.15am we set off into the pretty first section of the path, through pure snow, enjoying the thought that only native wildlife (wallaby?) had been on the path before us today.

We crossed Lake Dobson Rd and walked into the (closed) Lake Fenton carpark.  There was a track entering the carpark on the right which had us confused.  But we continued straight ahead under the base of the dam and were soon rewarded with a proper sign pointing to our track.

The snow was a couple of inches thick and the snowmelt was running down the track, meaning a lot of hopping from rock to solid ground to root, and the occasional splosh when we missed.

 In the areas of rocky scree, the snow covered not only the rocks but also the gaps around them, so the walker at the front had to work harder to spot where the track was and was pretty tentative with placing the first footprints of the day (except for the wombats!).

So our rate of progress was fairly slow.

But we were surrounded by beauty.

When we got to the turnoff to Seager's Lookout we thought we would give that a miss today, given the conditions.  We continued on, with the track mostly uphill.  It was an impressive view back over Lake Fenton and towards the Tarn Shelf, with lots of chilly clouds coming our way.

On Windy Moor, the melting snow meant the track was mostly a creek, with large sections of ice.   We were forced to take wide detours just to avoid walking through knee depth icy pools.  This is Di missing her footing!

At the base of Mt Field East we decided to stop for lunch, and skipped hiking up to the top of Mt Field East.

Then we headed downhill towards Lake Nichols. Unfortunately this involved a lot of scree, which was difficult to manage in the snow.

But there were some lovely fungi in the woodland parts of this track.

It was nice to reach Lake Nichols and take a short break.

We reached the lower carpark at 3pm, so we had been walking for 4h 45mins, which was quite enough for us.  It had been a terrific day though, with fantastic views and a pristine wilderness experience.

After bringing the top car down again, we drove slowly down the mountain and stopped for a reviving coffee/chai/tea in the Possum Shed cafe in Westerway. The cafe was bulging with likeminded people who'd been at the Rally for the Florentine - they'd all had a good day too.

East Cloudy Head, Bruny Island, March 2014

Thanks Caroline, for taking on organising our walks this year.  This walk was a good pick, and we were lucky to enjoy a fine, cool day, perfect for walking. Lyn, Di and  Robert set off from West Hobart at about 8.30am, and met Caroline, Warren, Austin and Sophie at the ferry terminal at Kettering at 9am.  Bob was an apology this time, with bad knees. We sorted into two cars to reduce the ferry costs, and (just) had time to order takeaway coffee before the 9.30am ferry left. We had a quick stop at the Bruny Island Cheese Factory so that Robert could order a cheese platter for lunch, then we had a pleasant drive southwards past Alonnah and Lunawanna.   The travel time from the Roberts Point ferry terminal to Cloudy Bay was an hour, and we set off on our walk at 10.55am (I recorded all the times because Bruny Island visits tend to be shaped by the ferry timetable, and we were aiming to make the 5.30pm ferry home).

It was a lovely walk along the smooth, firm sands of the beach.  There are now several desirable beach houses peeping over the dunes, with prime positions facing south and west across the bay.  40 minutes later we reached the 4WD road which leads up to the pretty camping ground at the east end of the bay.  This is within the South Bruny National Park and is very well maintained, with large private bush camping spots and a pit toilet.   The 4WD track makes a large loop around the campsite - to reduce walking time, take the road to the right on entering the campsite.  We came across the break in the fence next to the large boulder, dropped down the track to the walkers' registration point, and at 11.50am signed on to the walk.

The track was in good condition, with the first kilometre or so recently cleared.  Then it got pretty close and scratchy, so long trousers or gaiters are recommended.  The heathlands are kept trimmed by the winds - we were lucky to have a still day!

There were great views as we got higher, looking back towards Cloudy Bay, westwards to the Tasmanian mainland from Mt La Perouse to Mt Hartz, and far south to the ocean.

It is a fairly steady climb up towards Beaufort Point and a further climb to the ridge that leads towards East Cloudy Head.  Here the climb becomes less steep, and soon we were overlooking the beautiful Pyramid Bay, with The Friars in the distance.  Right on time, at 1pm, we saw one of the Pennicott Bruny Island Cruise boats emerge and start investigating the seal colonies on the Friars.  What a spectacular view of the pristine waters and rugged coastline.

 We soon reached the trig station (292 m a.s.l.), and a few steps further on we reached a flat rocky outcrop on the headland, with panoramic views, a perfect spot for lunch.

We set off on our return trip at 1.45pm, and enjoyed a mostly slightly downhill walk back.  The view of the sun shining on Cloudy Bay as we came down the hill was quite special.  By 2.50pm we were back at the beach camp, signing off in the book.  Thirsty Di and Robert were disappointed to find the water tank at the campsite empty, but Caroline, Warren and Lyn enjoyed a dip in the bay.  The walk along the beach was tranquil and the sun on the waves very beautiful.

With the swims, and being a bit tired by now, we took longer walking back along the beach than on the outward trip, and we got back to the cars at about 3.45pm.  The total walking time for us had been 4 hours 50 minutes.

We reached Roberts Point at 4.45pm, in good time for the 5.30pm ferry (we found ourselves halfway in the queue), and eased our stiff joints down towards the shop to enjoy the ritual icecream. It was a good way to finish the day.