Sunday, June 10, 2012

Walk Number 32....Cape Pillar 10/3/2012

Well it's finally arrived.....the final walk to complete my personal challenge of trekking the Tasman Peninsula.  Saving the best for last we are setting off on the two night hike to Cape Pillar.....yeee!!!!   By "we" I mean Jane, who has accompanied me on a number of walks and 2 newbies, Deb & Mike.  The Labour Day long weekend in March had been earmarked for this trip so it was with much excitement we headed to White Beach for an overnight stay before embarking on our trek.

Cape Pillar is a wilderness area on the southeast tip of the Tasman Peninsula and normally requires overnight camping.  It is quite feasible to complete the walk in two days but, in my opinion, does not allow you to do justice to the truly spectacular scenery of the Cape and Tasman Island, so therefore I had decided to undertake it as a three day walk.  While the walk itself is not too arduous the weather in this area can be very unpredictable making conditions tough, so should only be undertaken by those with camping experience.

As per other walks completed this walk commences from Fortescue Bay, from the walking track marked "Cape Pillar". Follow this track for about 15 minutes over fairly level ground, through tall damp forest to a bridge across Agnes Creek. Beyond the bridge the track climbs steadily through drier forest for a further 20 minutes before it levels out into more open country.

We continued on, passing to the southeast of Snake Hill approximately 1 hour 20 minutes from Fortescue Bay.  Passing the turn off to Arthurs Peak, continue on for a further 40 minutes or so to the Mt Fortescue/Cape Pillar intersection.  The track crosses the sheltered eastern slopes of Tornado Ridge.  The track now descends steeply into Lunchtime Creek 35 minutes from the Mt. Fortescue turn off.  This is where we decided to set up camp.....fresh drinking water only 20 minutes away and a sheltered camping site.  Another quirky fact is that we actually did reach this area right on lunchtime....haha!

After a good night's sleep we were all eager to undertake the long trek out to the Cape.  The first stop was at Lunchtime Creek to restock our water supply. There is a boot cleaning station at the creek to prevent the spread of Phytophthora (root rot) into the sensitive vegetation on the Cape.  Once our boots had been scrubbed we crossed the creek and climbed into open country which provides views to the west, then entered dry sclerophyll forest on the slopes of Purgatory Hill.  

The track now climbs at this point to an area known as Hurricane Heath, where the vegetation has been forced to grow horizontally, hugging the ground because of the force of the prevailing westerly winds.  The Cape is one of the windiest areas in the state thus the names of various spots along the Cape......Tornado Ridge, Hurricane Heath....luckily for us there was very little wind this weekend.  

Our next stop, for morning tea, was at Perdition Ponds.....there is a great camp site here which could also be considered as a set-up spot....a very picturesque spot.

After a well earned cuppa it's onwards and upwards to the cliff edge, from here the track follows the cliff tops providing a number of spectacular views along the rugged coastline and to Tasman this is what this walk is all about, seeing part of our wonderful state for what it is.......fantastic!!  

After about 1.1/2km the track enters a sandy and rocky area known as The Oasis, where there is often water, but it should not be relied upon in dry conditions.  The track leaves the clifftops for a short distance before descending and regaining the edge near Trident Bluff. From here there are views to the north taking in Cape Hauy, Hippolyte Rock, and the more distant Maria and Schouten Islands while to the east are The Trident and The Blade.

We now come to a junction.....The Chasm to the left and The Blade to the right.  Both these climbs provide fabulous views ....neither is easy but well worth the effort.  From the Blade and the Chasm you will see views across Tasman Passage to Tasman Island.

Eight hours after leaving our camp we return full of wonderful experiences that will stay with us for a very long time.  

The next morning we pack up our tents and head back to Fortescue Bay.  

What a fantastic weekend, and what a fantastic way to end my little personal challenge of completing all the listed walks on the Tasman Peninsula.  I've had the wonderful experience of sharing my passion for this area with numerous people either by accompanying me on walks or reading my ramblings.....hope you've all enjoyed it as much as I have.

Cheers to us all & to this wonderful place that we live in!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Walk Number 31.....Sloping Main to Whalebone Beach 6/5/2012

As the walk to Mt Koonya was only an hour we were able to fit in another one on the same day.....bonus!  This is mainly a beach walk, with a few hundred metres of coastal heathland and a short scramble up a steep bank to add a little spice to the trip.  Graded easy and only taking 2 hours for the return trip, this walk is accessible to most people.

Turning off the Arthur Highway at the Taranna turn-off continue driving for 9 km and turn right onto the C341 Saltwater River Road near the Old Trading General Store at Premaydena.  Follow this road for 13.7km to a junction with Kelletts Road and turn right, driving for 200 metres to the Sloping Main Beach and a picnic area.

This beach evokes a lot of nostalgia with me as it is where my family holidayed every year when I was a child.  Poor Jane had to endure numerous tales of my childhood memories of the area.....she's so patient!

The first part of the walk is along the firm white sands of the Sloping Main Beach, heading in an arc from northeast to northwest and providing views to Mount Wellington,South Arm and Sloping Island.  After around 40 minutes walking the beach ends at a small creek and some sandstone cliffs which have been sculptured by wind and salt spray.  The route up the cliffs is slightly to the right of this where a large eucalypt grows out of the bank.

Scramble up the bank and 20 metres into the bush turn left.  Approximately 100 metres along the jeep track, pass through a gate into the Lime Bay State Reserve.  At this point we came across evidence of Parks and Wildlife activity....controlled burnoffs!  How this would effect our ability to follow the trail, we weren't sure.

As it turned out we were still able to follow the track even though most of the foliage around had been burnt....really not sure of the necessity of this as there are no areas of human habitation for kilometres from this area.  Unfortunately the walk through this particular area was not as picturesque as expected.

After 15 minutes of walking through burnt out foliage the path emerges to overlook Whalebone Beach.  This small idyllic beach provides views across Federick Henry Bay to Betsy Island and the mouth of the Derwent River.

The return walk is by the same route.

It was around 4.00pm when we arrived back to the car and the sun was starting to set.....I managed to capture a couple of really cool photos.

Walk Number 30........Mount Koonya 6/5/2012

This walk is a short hike through wet sclerphyll forest starting from a small car park 5 km along Firetower Rd.  This is located by turning right off the Arthur Highway onto the B37 road just south of the Tasmanian Devil Park at Taranna.

The walking track heads up the slopes of Mount Koonya which is intermittently marked with blue tapes.  The track is clearly defined and follows the route of the old firetower telephone line.  The track passes through regrowth forest initially dominated by Swamp Gum, which give way to Stringybark as the track gains altitude.

This forest was razed by wildfire in the mid 1930's and so the regrowth is relatively young.  After climbing for about half an hour the track emerges from the forest onto a dolerite scree slope and outcrop, which is a bit of a scramble for the last 100 metres or so.  The views from the top of this outcrop take in Mt Clark and the eastern section of the Koonya State Forest.  Unfortunately on the day we took on this walk it was quite wet and a mist had descended over the hills obliterating the view.  However it did provide some very eerie photo opportunities.

After admiring the view, on a clear day, return to the carpark via the same route.

While we missed out on the expansive views over Norfolk Bay we did get to see some fabulous funghi......a great compensation for me as a lover of all things mushroomie!  Here's some examples of the fantastic specimens we came across.


Walk Number 29........Retakunna Creek Circuit 20/2/2012

The Retakunna Creek Circuit is one of the longer day walks on the Peninsula, so it was on a fine Sunday morning Jane & I decided to tackle this one.  This walk is full of attractions which include rugged cliffs, rainforests, a 20 metre waterfall and buttongrass plains......just about everything covered!  The walk is graded as hard, so a medium to high level of fitness is required and the trip takes just on 9 hours for the return route.  

As with a number of the listed walks this one starts from the Fortescue Bay Camping Grounds.  Following the track to Cape Hauy for about an hour you will come to the sign marked "Mount Fortescue" pointing to the right.


The above information is correct should you follow the directions documented in the walks book, however as I have traversed this trail on numerous walks I made the executive decision (which by the way, as the hike leader, is my prerogative) to enter the trail via the Cape Pillar track, which is located around 5 minutes before the camping ground.  Entering via this track also cuts down the walk time quite considerably without missing out on any of the natural phenomenons.

Once on the Cape Pillar track you will cross the bridge over Agnes Creek after around 15 minutes before climbing steadily through forest which eventually levels out into more open country.

The track eventually passes to the southeast of Snake Hill, past the turn off to Arthurs Peak, through a small campsite at Denmans Creek onto Calculation Hill.   The track climbs steadily onto a plateau-like crest which provides the first views to the west of Cape Raoul and Bruny Island.  Approximately 2 hours from Fortescue Bay you will come to a junction......left to Mt Fortescue, straight ahead to Cape Pillar.

While it was very tempting to keep walking ahead to Cape Pillar, we weren't equipped or ready to take on that adventure just yet, so it was a left-hand turn to Mt Fortescue.  It's at this point that the track descends quite steeply through some magnificent rainforest through an area known as Tornedo Ridge.  

Approximately 40 minutes from the turn-off is a camp site which is one of the listed camping areas used on-route to Cape Pillar.  It is a sheltered site beside Retakunna Creek, which provides flowing fresh water for campers.

Once past the campsite you will cross the creek several times and head upwards to Wughallee Falls.  One hundred or so metres past the falls is a lookout where you can see across Cape Pillar to Tasman Island and down onto the rugged shoreline of Munro Blight.

After admiring the view the trek back is via the same route.

This abridged version of the documented walk takes about 5 - 6 hours.  Should you decide to undertake the longer walk you would be coming into the campsite via Mt Fortescue, past the lookout and Wughallee Falls.  Either route would be fantastic, so the choice is yours.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Walk number 28...........Arthur's Peak 26/1/2012

What better way to spend Australia Day than to take a hike on the Peninsula, and this is exactly how Jane and I decided to spend our National Day.  We decide to make the trek to Arthurs Peak.....6 hours return and graded hard....yeee!  The reason this grading has been given is because the latter section of the walk to the peak is not along a clearly defined track.  Two-thirds of the walk is through either open forest or buttongrass plains, with the route indicated by fairly widely spaced markers.  

The walk starts from the Fortescue Bay Camping Ground...don't forget your parks pass and to record your details in the log book.  Once you've organised these walk back along Fortescue Bay Road for around 5 minutes to a walking track marked "Cape Pillar". 

Follow this track for about 15 minutes over fairly level ground, through tall damp forest to a bridge across Agnes Creek.  Past the creek the track climbs steadily through drier forest for a further 20 minutes before it levels out into more open country.

The track now goes through some Melaleuca scrub and dry sclerophyll forest and continues on into some beautiful buttongrass plains.

Approximately 1 hour 20 minutes walk from Fortescue Bay you will reach the Arthurs Peak Track junction......not the most sophisticated signage you'll ever come across!

Turn right at the junction and follow the track which is marked by tape and the occasional venetian blind!   The track descends to a small plain.  Cross the plain and ford Denmans Creek, climbing onto another open forested bank and follow the markers as they cross the bank and descend to a larger buttongrass plain.

Follow the markers through a shallow depression and then along a series of plains at the foot of Crescent Mountain.  Eventually the tree cover increases and the going can be quite tough as the scrub is dense and the ground uneven.  Added to this it becomes apparent that the track isn't used all that often as at times you are actually pushing through thick scrub with no semblance of a track.  The route climbs gently to emerge on an open bank, where the markers change to rock cairns before terminating all together.

While Arthurs Peak can be quite clearly seen across a wide plain it is unusual to be slugging through an ill-defined chance of getting lost though, thank goodness!  From the end of the plain, climb the relatively open lower slopes of Arthurs Peak.  After a little while care must be taken as the trail takes you very close to unprotected clifftops....and I mean really close.  While the view is spectacular the climb is quite hairy, at times only a metre or so away from a shear drop of a few hundred metres....scary stuff but yahoo...very exhilarating!  

 From the summit these views are expanded to include Safety Cove, Crescent Beach and Mount Brown.  Further afield Cape Raoul, Bruny Island and The Friars can be seen in the west.

Crescent Beach & Mt Brown

The return trip to Fortescue Bay is via the same track.

While this walk is quite long, a good 6 hours return, and partly unmarked it isn't so physically demanding that anyone with a reasonable level of fitness would be able to undertake it quite comfortably.  The only real incline is the scramble to the summit of the Peak.  Overall this is a very enjoyable walk which provides the added challenge of keeping to the ill-defined path.