This blog post will set the scene while post number 2 will talk about the track and will include photos. The destination for my second Medium walk, organised by the Eastern Shore Ramblers Club, was Hartz Peak.
The Peak sits within the Hartz Mountains National Park as part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. National Parks fees apply. The Park is 84 km (1.5 hrs) southwest of Hobart through Huonville to Geeveston. As you enter Geeveston, turn right onto the Arve Road (C632) which is signposted Hartz Mountains National Park. Much of this becomes a winding, steep but good quality unsealed road. It is 21 km to the National Park then follow the signs to Hartz Peak.One Rambler suggested this was an easier trip for Hobartians compared to visiting Mt Field west of Hobart simply because access was faster and the route was shorter from Hobart. Certainly, the many cars in the Hartz Peak car park and lots of walkers on the track and at the pinnacle of the Peak shows the popularity of the location and suggests he could be right.
How did my day commence? The wheels had been set in motion through a flurry of email exchanges so that I was offered a ride with a couple of long term Rambler members. After my collection at Rosny, we travelled south and at Huonville stopped by the side of the road and waited for the other 10 walkers for the day, before driving southwards along the roads described above. The day was overcast, no wind, quite cool, and the heavens and forecasts suggested rain and low visibility.
We found the road to the significant Tahune Airwalk tourist attraction remains closed because of fire damage ahead. After leaving Geeveston and before reaching that road closure barrier, we drove past endless hectares of severely burnt forest from the bushfires earlier this year. The Guardian’s photo story presents an appalling picture of the destruction. Regardless, we rejoiced in the bright greenness of the fronds sprouting from the massive blackened trunked tree ferns, and in the new born leaves poking out oddly from the tree bark on some eucalypt trunks.
In seemingly no time we arrived at the Hartz Visitor Shelter which is suitable for larger groups. It has four picnic tables and toilets including one suitable for people with disabilities. The shelter would provide some protection from the elements if a blizzard was raging outside but hypothermia would still set in despite being inside if you did not have sufficient foul weather gear. I know I became progressively colder standing around waiting while everyone leisurely had morning tea before heading off.
I looked down and out from the shelter. In the distance the landscape dissolved into a mist but close by, the wetness brought out fresh clean colours.
The walking tracks commence at this shelter and our walk leader filled in the book at the walker registration booth inside the shelter.
One useful website here provides an excellent map of the track we took. Make sure you look at this site for the stunningly beautiful photos taken on a clear day – in contrast to our often moody misty day.Over a total return distance of 10 kms or so, and not forgetting the undulations, the summit of Hartz Peak is a 400 m climb from the car park. A return trek to Hartz Peak may take between 3 to 5 hours. The faster members of our group took no more than a leisurely 4 hours and the last to arrive back at the car park took around 4 1/4 hrs. Some online sites suggest the steep uphill climb to the Hartz Pass and to the pinnacle is for reasonably fit walkers. I would say this is a walk for people with flexible bodies because you do need to be able to step or clamber up and down irregular rocks placed at irregular depths – this is especially necessary if you possess a pair of short legs. In the past I have walked on much more challenging clambers, nevertheless this walk moved, extended and compressed every muscle regularly.
Of course there is always one person who does things differently. A lean young man wearing a T-shirt and shorts passed me running up the mountain and then down again before I had reached the pinnacle. Made me smile. Shake my head in disbelief. Runners had passed me along the steep pathways on the previous Mt Wellington walk. This approach seems like a new normal for some.
The summit of Hartz Peak sits at 1254 m above sea level. The great backbone of dolerite rock extends almost the entire length of the Park. This igneous rock which is very resistant to weathering, intruded into the earth’s outer crust around 165 million years ago during the break-up of Gondwana. The area has also been modified over time by several ice ages and the cirques, horn peaks, aretes and glacial troughs were all formed during glacial activity on the Hartz Range.
Hartz Peak is the highest point of the Hartz Mountains, and in fine weather the summit apparently offers great views of the southwest. It was not a clear sky day during my walk but from time to time the mist rolled back. While I did not see the 360 degree panorama, I did get glimpses for some minutes in some directions – and it was spectacular.