Yesterday was another lesson in how fast the weather can change in alpine areas. I headed to Mt Field National Park in Tasmania – on the drive from Hobart the weather looked like it was going to be nice, but it closed in as I approached the park and got steadily worse as the morning progressed. The weather bureau forecast ‘isolated’ showers – I think they were all isolated in exactly the same place, which was where I planned to walk! Originally intending to take the Tarn Shelf circuit of the lakes, I ended up cutting the walk short at Lake Seal when the showers turned to rain which then turned to snow. While well equipped with full waterproof clothing, it proved impossible to keep my feet dry due to the amount of rain and water on the path.
Nonetheless, it was still an ‘invigorating’ walk, and the alpine landscape and the lakes and tarns have their own kind of appeal in this type of weather. Very few photos though, too wet and windy and the cold temperatures affected the battery in my digital camera. Conditions were also a reminder to ensure you are appropriately equipped when entering this type of terrain, and that sometimes it makes sense to turn back rather than push on.
Previous walks in Mt Field National Park: Mt Field East Circuit and Waterfalls and Tall Trees
“The spectacular coastline around Eaglehawk Neck is a popular tourist destination … less known is the Tasman Coastal Trail which heads south from these formations to the even taller cliffs around Waterfall Bay”
Day Walks Tasmania
This is a very enjoyable half day or so walk based in the Tasman National Park about an hour and a quarter out of Hobart. It takes in Tasmans Arch and Devils Kitchen as well as some spectacular coast line and great views. I used the track notes from “Day Walks Tasmania” by John and Monica Chapman.
The first section between Tasmans Arch and Waterfall Bay is along an upgraded track with plenty of lookouts and suitable safety fencing. From Waterfalls Bay it becomes a more traditional bush track and skirts quite close to the cliff edge in places with no barriers. As such it is suited to more experienced and careful walkers although I’d still grade it as moderate only. The views along this section are great, particularly from Morleys Lookout (take care here, it’s a long drop down the cliffs) and Tatnells Hill.
Well worth doing, the walk commences at the car park at either Tasmans Arch or Devils Kitchen (a couple of hundred metres apart) and is an out and back walk. Access from Hobart is via the A3 to Sorrell (the nearest town), then A9 towards Port Arthur and finally Blowhole Road (C338) to the aforementioned car parks.
Walk date: May 15, 2009
Time/level: Around 4 hours, moderate (approx. 11.5km)
Map: TASMAP 1:25,000 Tarrana, map in guidebook
My rating: B+
Mt Field National Park, about an hour and a half’s drive from Hobart, is a small but attractive national park and well worth visiting. There are some excellent day and shorter walks and this one, which takes in three waterfalls including the impressive Russell Falls and a short meander through a forest of swamp gums, apparently the world’s tallest flowering plants, is most worthwhile.
The walk begins at the visitor centre which is just up from the entrance to the park. If you are parking a car, make sure you have a valid pass – these can be purchased from the centre, which will also supply a leaflet that outlines the walks available and includes a basic map. The path, which is well marked throughout, is sealed and fairly level up to Russell Falls and so suitable for pushchairs/wheelchairs, although the roots of trees have caused the surface to break up in a few places.
Russell Falls have been a scenic attraction for a long time – in the early/mid 20th century trains would take tourists on day trips to the park (known simply as ‘National Park’). There had been a lot of rain and some snow the day before I was there and as a result the falls were particularly impressive with a large volume of water flowing.
After taking in Russell Falls follow the track as it climbs by the side of the falls and eventually reaches an intersection and a short part to Horseshoe Falls. Follow this to have a look at these falls and then return to the intersection and follow the path as it joins with the ‘Tall Trees’ circuit. At this point, you could go left or right – I took the right hand branch which soon joins the Lake Dobson Road. Take care while crossing the road and join the track on the other side, following it to Lady Barron Falls. These falls are also quite impressive.
From here continue along the clear path back to the visitor centre. Note that the Lady Barron Falls section has a couple of moderately steep sections, one of which is a staircase which you will be ascending if you follow the route described.
Walk date: May 16, 2009
Time/level: Around 2-2.5 hours, easy/moderate
Map: Leaflet from visitor centre
My rating: A
Mt Field East, located in the Mt Field National Park about 90km outside Hobart, provides an excellent target for a day-walk. If the weather is fine, you’ll get superb views from the summit.
I did the walk as a circuit, which requires a bit of a road bash. Parking at the Lake Fenton car park, I took the path by the south-eastern end of the lake that climbs steadily and affords excellent views. After a quick detour to Seagers Lookout (worthwhile) I proceeded across Windy Moor to the obvious summit.
After taking in the great views from the summit I took the path down by Lake Nicholls which eventually reaches Lake Dobson Road, and ultimately back to the parking area.
At around 4 hours I found it a moderate day-walk. The trail is generally pretty well marked, but some sections will require a bit of navigational care. The final pull up to the summit also requires a bit of rock hopping. I’d recommend doing the circuit clockwise as the path down from the summit to Lake Nicholls is quite steep and drags a bit – going down here seemed preferable to climbing up. The final road section is uphill but the grade is much less steep. This whole area is an alpine environment so please ensure you are properly equipped.
My rating: B+
Map: TASMAP Mount Field National Park (1:50,000)
“South of Devonport, the rolling farmlands and towns are dominated by the towering cliffs of Mt Roland.”
Day Walks Tasmania
We chose this walk primarily because it was on the way to our ultimate destination (we had flown in to Devonport and were travelling to Cradle Mountain). As a result, we were very pleased when it turned out to be a very enjoyable walk in its own right.
The nearest town is Sheffield; the start of the walk is accessed from the C136 road which turns off the B14 just outside Sheffield. We used the detailed route description in “Day Walks Tasmania” (a guide book that I can recommend).
Walk date: December 10, 2005
Time level: 1 day moderate/hard (allow around 7 hours), about 18km
Map: TASMAP Cethana (1:25,000), map in the guidebook
My rating: B+. Well worth a visit, especially if you are travelling down from Devonport to Cradle Mountain
“The most photographed peak in Tasmania is Cradle Mountain. This mountain is reflected in the waters of Dove Lake and a trip to its summit is an obvious attraction for many walkers”
Day Walks Tasmania
This is a classic Australian bushwalk which we did on a beautiful December day in 2005, following the suggested route in “Day Walks Tasmania” by John and Monica Chapman, two bushwalkers with extensive experience walking in Tasmania.