With his story, fellow gardener N gives me inspiration and motivates me to get out again onto our wonderful kunanyi/Mt Wellington and walk, regardless of the weather. You can access a map of the mountain tracks here. If you enlarge the document you can trace the path that N followed (see details below), as it meandered over a small but sometimes challenging part of the mountain (especially when icy or slippery after rain).
Of a recent walk with a friend he told me ‘This was the weekend’s walk. 11.5kms and 4.5 hours starting on the Fingerpost track up to the Springs and then Icehouse Track, South Wellington Track and then returning via the Zig Zag Track to the Springs and back along Fingerpost.
Started the walk on Fingerpost Rd just past Strickland Ave turnoff just before 7am in the dark and a steady drizzle. Fingerpost track is steep but not technically difficult and we covered the 1.6kms in 40 minutes. Once at the Springs we took the Icehouse Track to the mountain top – we had walked down this track a few weeks back so knew what to expect and in the wet and going up it was certainly challenging. There are several ruins of icehouses on this track from which it gets its name.
Apparently in 1849 these were built by convict labour to store compacted snow as ice, then transported to Hobart by pack horse ‘to be used by the confectioners of Hobart in the preparation of ice creams’.
As we had missed these sites previously we set out to look for them. We did manage to find one site as we neared the top of the track (photos sent separately). There was a rocked wall and a two meter pit in which the ice was obviously kept – but we were both a little underwhelmed as we were expecting a more substantial structure along the lines of the Junction or Lone Cabins. Certainly a long trip for the horses from there to Hobart Town in the 19th century.
When we finally reached the top the weather deteriorated even more with a cool breeze to go with the cold mizzle and ice on the trail in parts. We decided against visiting Smiths Monument and set out across the alpine plateau towards the summit which we’d foolishly thought we would have seen (the tower at least) once we had got up top on the mountain.
We met another traveller here who had come up via the zig zag track and warned us of the ice ahead – he was similarly dressed as us so imagine our surprise 30 minutes later when a couple of chatty girls came running past us like it was a summers day – shorts and all. Needless to say we felt a bit old at that point but soldiered on never the less. The Broadcast Australia communications tower which stands at over 60 metres only became visible to us as we neared the start of the zig zag track and it was with some relief that we left the summit behind for the relative calm of this track.
This was our first time descending the zig zag and with the drizzle being fairly persistent it was a slow descent on slippery but thankfully not icy rocks. We met a couple of hardy souls who were ascending as we made our way down to the Springs where we stopped for some oat cakes and a cup of chai out of the rain.
The descent on Fingerpost track was fairly quick though a little slippery underfoot from the leaf litter — it hadn’t seemed that steep coming up it but the gradient was greater than we’d recalled. All up it took us 4.5 hours for a round trip of 11.5 kms which included a side trip to an Icehouse and tea break at the Springs. Not a days for views and we were quite wet at the end but as my friend said half way up the track -”good for our constitution”!
The detail in N’s report is impressive and will help any blog follower who plans to walk on the mountain. N’s photos are equally impressive and show us the weathering atmosphere during his walk. Wonderfully evocative! Yet again we can see one of Tasmania’s glorious treats wearing a mantle of exoticness.