October 2018 - Ride and Walk to Wellington Falls

We had been talking about adding a bike ride to our monthly walk schedule for some time, and today Di had set up an interesting idea:  a group of riders would ride from Ferntree Tavern, and a group of walkers would set out from the Morphetts Rd entry point, to each take the Pipeline Track and the groups would meet up at the turnoff to the Wellington Falls track.  We would then all walk to the lookout over the Falls, have lunch, walk back and then each group return along the Pipeline Track to their respective starting points. 

Getting the timing right so that the two groups would arrive at the start of the Wellington Falls track at the same time was the tricky bit.   Today we got pretty close.

Di, Robert and Lyn set up their bikes at the Ferntree Tavern.  We were a diverse lot - Di with her hybrid bike, Lyn with her MTB, and Robert with his ultra comfortable e-bike.  The riders set out at 10.10am, and then had a couple of stops to sort out a flat tyre and some wonky gears on Lyn's bike.  Lyn was effectively stuck in one gear for most of the ride.

The ride along the scenic unsealed trail was very enjoyable.  It was fairly smooth and featured a couple of nice little bridges and one we had to carry our bikes up the other side of.  Of course the Pipeline Track is a slight but steady uphill incline on the inbound direction.
Kat, Philip and Bob set out walking from the carpark at Morphetts Rd at 9.30am.

Cathedral Rock

Montagu's Thumbs

How did the timing go?  Well, the walkers arrived at 11am (took 90 minutes to cover 6.4 km) (av 4.3 km/h) and the riders arrived at 11.15am (took 65 minutes to cover 10.7 km) (av 10 km/h).   Given the weather was a bit nippy, the walkers didn't really enjoy their 15 minute wait!

The walk to Wellington Falls (about 2.3km, expected to take 40 minutes to get there) was beautiful and well made, and mostly uphill. 

The temperate rainforest was stunning, with Richea dracophylla heavily in flower. 

Richea dracophylla in flower

There is a short descent at the end to the nicely built lookout, which provides excellent views to the falls (if you sit at the end of the log!).

Wellington Falls

We spread out on the handy log and ate our lunch, better able to catch up with each others' news now that we'd got our breath back (!).

Tucking in
We didn't hang about after eating, as the wind was a bit fresh. 

The crew, minus Kat the photographer

The stroll back down the trail was pleasantly mostly downhill now, and conversations flowed.

Back at our bikes, we made our farewells.  Because of the difference in expected times of the two groups to get back to their starting points, booking a coffee together was not going to work.  With the steady downhill gradient, the riders were going to make very good time getting back.  And so it was that the riders averaged 15 km/h on the return leg and were settling into the Ferntree Tavern for beer and coffees by 2.20pm and the walkers didn't reach their vehicles until about 2.50pm.

From the riders' point of view, it was a great experience.  The ride was fun in both directions - a pleasant workout on the way up, and on the way down we had the increased speed and challenge of the downhill run. And the nice beer/coffee at the Tavern was a nice finishing touch.

Tips for riders:
  • Riders on the Pipeline Track need to have a bike capable of riding on an unsealed and occasionally bumpy offroad track  - therefore a hybrid (i.e. with some suspension front forks) or a MTB (suspension both front and back).  Relatively wide and textured tyres are important too.
  • Carrying walking gear - either a capacious pannier or a basket to slip your daypack into, or carry it on your back.
  • Take a lock to secure your bike to the excellent parking loops at the junction for the Wellington Falls track.
Tips for walkers:
  • Good walking shoes are fine (don't need boots), and carry water.  As usual with walking on the mountain, several layers to deal with cold, wind and possible rain are essential.

August 2018 - Organ Pipes Track, kunanyi/Mt Wellington

The Organ Pipes Track was refurbished earlier this year, so we decided to see how good it now is. Seven of us congregated at The Springs - Di, Robert, Wayne, Caroline, Warren, Bob and Lyn. 

Although a cold change (including snow) was predicted for mid afternoon, the day was gloriously cool clear and sunny at 10.30am when we gathered and set out.

The original plan had been to do an anticlockwise loop, along to Junction Cabin and up to The Chalet (in consideration of doing the steepest section uphill for those with dodgy knees).  This would have taken almost 5 hours.  Some of us did this loop a few years ago.

Given the weather prediction, we decided to do the loop clockwise, in case the nasty weather came over earlier than predicted.  This would give us options to shorten the walk if necessary, while still making sure we experienced  the Organ Pipes Track.

So it was first up the Pinnacle Track and then a right turn onto the Organ Pipes Track.  The new trackwork was excellent in most places, some lovely stonework has been done to stabilise the path and to enhance some dear little waterfalls.  We'd had some wet weather recently and some parts of the track were a bit slushy as a result, but the path was heaps more comfortable than last time we walked it. There was some residual snow on the track - yay!!

The track was quite busy, with several family groups as well as visitors to the state enjoying the day.
Birds spotted: Scarlet Robin, Olive Whistler. 

The Organ Pipes looming over our heads were still pristine and majestic.  Of course we all agreed that pylons, cables and flying cars over the front of them would be bloody ugly.

Just beyond the Organ Pipes we came across a clear rocky area with superb views over the city and the Derwent.  It was an enticing spot to stop for lunch.  Bathed in sunshine and with calm clear air, we rested for 20 minutes to enjoy our sandwiches and drinks, and of course to chat.

Back on track, we appreciated some more of the newly solid and level trackworks.  By the time we  reached The Chalet the wind was picking up and darkening clouds were scudding across quite quickly.  We decided that discretion was the better part of valour.  To shorten the walk we would walk down the road to the Lower Sawmill Track and switch down that way to the Lenah Valley Track.  That was probably just as well - as we walked past the start of Hunters Track there was a sign up saying it was closed at some point along there.

The walk down the road wasn't too bad.  Drivers heading up to experience a bit of snow were fairly polite, although we did feel forced to the side a bit.  Di lost concentration at one point, slipping on the loose gravel on the side and falling on  her knee (thanks Caroline for suggesting the ice pack, I think that helped a lot).

It was a relief to switch onto the Lower Sawmill Track, a pleasant change from the road, but a fairly steep downhill section for those of us with tender knees.

At the Lenah Valley Track, we took a few moments to enjoy the view at Sphinx Rock, once again counting our blessings at living in such a beautiful place and with wild areas so accessible. 

Then it was an easy stroll back to The Springs, where Council staff were in the process of closing the road to uphill traffic. We tested out the Lost Freight coffee kart.  The coffee was nice, the ceramic mugs a nice touch (especially for those who had forgotten their keepcups, whoops).  Sadly the staff lost points due to somewhat shambolic service - luckily we all eventually ended up with something like what we had ordered.

The relaxed post-walk conversation is often the best part of the walk, but a bit after 2pm we felt the first shower sprinkles and realised it was time to go.  We made it back to the cars just before the shower turned to heavy (and very cold!) rain.  Excellent timing, well done team!

The total walk time today was a bit over 3.5 hours, including the essential lunch and coffee stops.   

June 2018 - Mt Amos and Wineglass Bay

On the long weekend in June Phil and Kat organised a fabulous getaway to Freycinet for our walking group.  A large weekender at Coles Bay was our base, with beds for eight and room for an additional body on the couch.

View from the large deck - Kat

In total eight of us found our way there over the weekend, some arriving on the Friday evening, others arriving on the Saturday.

The Mt Amos track is the red one on the left

On the Saturday we had Mt Amos in our sights.  Known to be challenging and accessible only to those with good bushwalking skills, including strength and balance, we knew it could only be attempted when the rocks were dry, as the rock faces are sheer and very slippery when wet.

Luckily there had been no rain for some time in these parts.  Taking on the challenge were Philip, Kat, Bob, Robert, Di, Kerrie and Richard.  We set off with some trepidation at 10am, noting the dire warnings posted on the track. 

Fortunately Kerrie and Richard are locals who had done the walk several times before so we felt we would be in good hands.

The trail started off with easy walking on a sandy path through dry bush.  However, it wasn't too long before we commenced rock hopping, the trees thinned out and we became heavily reliant on the yellow trail marker arrows (which were pretty useful and looked fairly recent).  Despite the dry weather, there were several soaks within the mountain producing little streams on the rocks, and we found that any water we collected on our boots made for instant slipperiness. The mountain ahead looked dramatic and exciting.

We're going up there? - Di


Then we encountered the first of the sheer sloping rock faces, bloody hell.  It was a long and exhausting haul up one rock face after another, with some of the surfaces almost glassy in parts.  

Looking back - Bob

Halfway up - Robert
Getting a tad steep and scrambly - Kat

We used all appendages to scrabble up, finding little crevices to hold onto. 

Richard, Kerrie, Robert, Di - Kat

This is a climb for people with good balance, good rockholding shoes, strong knees and ankles, and a head for heights! There is little room for error and nothing to stop you if you should slip.

Disbelieving - Di

We were very pleased with ourselves to reach the top, and the views were worth it.

From Mt Amos towards Wineglass Bay - Robert

From Mt Amos, looking back towards Dolphin Sands

We had lunch as we rested and took our photos.

Then it was time to descend.  The climb down was as worrying as the climb up, if not more so. 

Oh dear - Kat

Taking the plunge - Kat

Taking assistance from a little tree - Bob

We eased our way downwards, some of us with knees that were starting to give trouble. 

It seems so unlikely - Di

It was a great relief for our group to finally leave the sheer faces behind and return to flatter and safer trails.  Arriving back at the trailhead at about 2pm, we eased our aching bodies into our cars.  It was a pleasure to get back to our holiday house for showers, a rewarding drink, and to watch The Hazards changing colour in the sunset.

Sunset on The Hazards - Bob

After sunset - Robert

That night we ate at the Geographe Restaurant, which happened to be just around the corner. Pub-style food and a bit noisy, but very pleasant nonetheless.  Angie showed us Scorpio in the heavens.

Scorpio - Robert

 Of course there were further drinks and nibbles back at our digs.

Next morning some of us were up early to watch sunrise on The Hazards and the mist on the bay.

Mist on the bay - Bob

For Sunday our plan was to walk the Hazards track anti-clockwise.  This would put the less interesting section at the front of the day and allow us to enjoy lunch on the fabulous Wineglass Bay. Setting out at 10am again, this strategy turned out to be a great way to gently ease our tired mountain climbing legs into walking again.

Group selfie
 The firm sandy path wound through Oyster Bay pines and teatree, quiet and easy.

Looking back, Oyster Bay Pines - Robert
Secluded amongst the teatree - Robert

We witnessed a stream of fishing boats coming from all parts of Great Oyster Bay, heading towards Hazards Beach.  There must have been some bites there!

Coming through the she-oaks - Bob

 It was lovely to come upon the first delightful little beach.

Promise Bay - Robert
At the northern end of Hazards Beach we stopped in the sun for a snack and marvelled at the peaceful beauty of the bay and the peninsula stretching into the distance.

Hazards Beach - Bob
We're here! - Angie

Beachwalk - Angie

Pied Oyster Catcher - Kat
A couple of Black Cockatoos screeched from the top of the sandhill, meanwhile Angie was investigating the midden evidence of Aboriginal occupation.

Mud Oyster midden - Angie
Goodbye to Hazards Beach - Angie

The track across the isthmus was flat, sandy and dry - very pleasant.

Pity about the bracken, though

At Wineglass Bay we found a nice spot on the sand and had a proper lunch, entertained by the antics of tourists, and some of us actually saw a dolphin.

Meanwhile Caroline and Warren had reached Wineglass Bay before us on a separate outing.

On the rocks - Warren
We committed to the climb up the Saddle - someone said there were a thousand steps.  It felt like it.
Finally reaching the familiar Lookout, we enjoyed another view of Wineglass Bay before managing the downhill leg back to the carpark, arriving back at about 3pm.

From the comfort of our deck we watched the Westpac helicopter rescue an unfortunate walker on Mt Amos who had broken their ankle. For us, that evening was barbecue night, and a large convivial shared meal with plenty of wine went down very well.  We hatched some plans for future weekends away, debating the best time of year to go.

Monday morning found some of us a bit subdued.  Was it a progressive unwinding after two solid days of physical activity and mental relaxation, or a bit of the morning after the night before, or were thoughts starting to turn to the world outside Coles Bay?  Whatever, we bid our fond farewells and made our various ways homewards.  It had been another very enjoyable interlude with good friends and our beautiful Tasmanian environment.