Bushwalking: Mt Rufus, Tasmania

Another terrific day walk in Tassie, this time taking in the summit of Mt Rufus in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park.

The walk commences from the National Park Visitor Centre, seven or so kilometres along a sealed road from a turn-off at the Lyell Hwy. The visitor centre sits at the southern end of Lake St. Clair and is a popular and busy spot with camping, cabins, a visitor centre and a licensed cafe.

The walks in this part of the park all start by following a closed (except to management vehicles) vehicular track that proceeds west from the visitor centre. After about half a kilometre a signposted track to Mt Rufus is reached. This track climbs steadily west for about four kilometres to a junction. Ignoring the link track, the path proceeds to climb west, before turning south-west and the north-west to work around a prominent rocky outcrop. There’s a final steepish pull up to the ridge line and then a fairly leisurely stroll up to the prominent summit cairn.

Views from the summit are simply magnificent with Lake St. Clair to the east, the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park to the west and to the north, Cradle Mountain and the wilderness traversed by the Overland track.

From the summit you could return the same way, but if time permits a better option is to descend north-west to a saddle and then eastwards towards Shadow Lake, before following the path through forest, an impressive clearing that requires careful attention to staying on the track as this area is rather boggy, and some wonderful woodland that includes one of Australia’s few native deciduous trees, the deciduous beech (or Fagus)*. I was there in autumn, so the leaves had started to change colour and this part of the walk was particularly attractive. The path eventually arrives at Watersmeet where it’s a 1.5km walk back along the vehicular track to the visitor centre.

All-in-all a definite A+ must do Tasmanian walk.

* I thought this was Australia’s only native deciduous tree, but a bit of research revealed that there are several others, although all are monsoonal deciduous (i.e. they lose their leaves just before the wet season) – the beech is the only native winter deciduous. This page has more information.

Bushwalking: Tarn Shelf Circuit, Mt Field National Park

View from along the Tarn Shelf Circuit walk

A fantastic circuit walk in the Mt Field National Park, an hour or so west of Hobart. The walk takes in a series of alpine tarns as well as a couple of rustic huts and provides exhilarating walking and great views.

The walk commences at the Lake Dobson car park and if following it clockwise (recommended), initially follows a boardwalk and path by the side of Lake Dobson before branching off and climbing to a vehicular track that also climbs steeply to some ski huts. From here the walk proper begins along a well defined path and boardwalks, with great views of the Tarn Shelf and Lake Seal to the north.

The track then drops down past a ski tow and shelter to pass by a series of tarns, eventually reaching Lake Newdegate and an old ski hut. From here, the path branches to the north-east to pass Twisted Tarn and ultimately to reach the secluded Twilight Tarn where an appealing old ski hut is worth a quick visit. The path then continues past Lake Webster, turning south to pass by Lake Seal and Platypus Tarn (visiting both of these requires taking a detour off the main path), before returning to the car park.

This was a great walk and is highly recommended. The weather for me started a bit cold and grey, although this seemed to add to the atmosphere while walking along the Tarn Shelf. It eventually cleared up to a lovely sunny afternoon. Mt Field National Park has proved to be a little gem – close to Hobart, with plenty of variety and walks and yet not too busy – I was there on a Saturday in October and apart from a few people around Lake Dobson, did not see a soul along the walk. If you haven’t visited, it is well worth it.

Walk date: Oct 17, 2009
Time/level: Around 5 hours, moderate
Map: TASMAP Mount Field National Park (1:50,000)
My rating: A+

Full photo gallery here.

Waterfall Bay and Tatnells Hill, Tasman National Park, Tasmania

View from Morleys Lookout

“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 East, Tasmania

View of Mt Field East, Mt Field National Park, Tasmania

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)