Intrepid walker N headed off into Wellington Park recently for a walk that was 13.88kms in distance and took 5 hours and 39 mins. His evocative photographs show a range of weather and indicate how beautiful this landscape is up close as well as well as when panoramic views are visible, regardless of whether the sun is out or not. We are lucky to be given a view towards the Huon Valley south of Hobart.
He told me:
‘This walk had been on our list for some time but the pinnacle road is often closed at this time of year and we didn’t fancy adding an extra 10kms from and to the Springs with a 13-14km return trip through to Mt Montagu.
The walk can be attempted from a variety of other avenues which we’d semi-explored and we were aware that the track was overgrown in patches and could also be confusing through some of the boulder fields – not to mention the below freezing conditions.
We set off from the Big Bend Car park around 7am and were a bit disappointed to see several other cars already parked there though we should not have worried as we only met one other couple 2kms from the end. The track was a little difficult to find in the dark but it is signed – just several metres back from the road along with warnings regards weather, etc.
There was a heavy fog as we set off into the fresh conditions for Thark Ridge. Even as the light improved the visibility was very limited and there was little in the way of views until we started descending towards Mt Montagu. The walking wasn’t as tiring initially as some others we’d done though you are constantly picking your way through a fairly rocky trail with some substantial patches of ice that had to be skirted. There were a couple of Torvil and Dean moments, with none of the grace those two possessed, with my knee and backside both getting close up views of the local flora.
The descent becomes more technical and mazy through significant boulders which we found relatively easy to follow on the way in but harder to see the way on the ascent back with the sun in our eyes when we had to backtrack a couple of times.
After this technical piece you come out on to a fire trail which was, as advertised, fairly overgrown which reminded us of our experience at Wellington Falls a few weeks back with the brush in places at chest height so it was difficult to see your feet. There was less ice here but still quite wet. After a while we came upon a sign indicating the track to Wellington Falls (1.5 kms). Upon checking the GPS we realised that we were only 100 meters shy of this junction on our Wellington Falls jaunt but the overgrown nature of the track deterred us at the time.
Finally we reached the start of the track to Mt Montagu which is well signed and advised just 600 metres to the summit – “Too easy” we thought to ourselves as we tucked into a couple of wedges of rum & raisin and a quick drink. It’s a steep ascent with a bit of scrambling – some large and exposed sheets of rock that were in places wet and/or icy. A bit more Disney on ice from me and lots of huffing and puffing and we hit the summit. By this stage it was a beautiful clear day and though we’d been stripping off on the way up we were quickly looking for something warm as the wind was biting. It had taken us 2 hrs 40 mins which was slightly less than the advertised time of 3 hours but we’re semi-fit and not yet on Zimmer frames so we expected nothing less.
After some more refreshments we set off on the return journey. It’s one of those walks that feels a lot greater distance on the return and certainly the trip back through the overgrown Fire trail and up through the boulder labyrinth with a couple of backtracks left us knowing we were on a decent walk.
Even once you’re back up on the mountain plateau there’s still a distance to the car and the wind on Thark Ridge was unkind to exposed flesh. The track doesn’t lend itself to fast walking as you’re always picking your way and/or boulder hopping for a large portion of the walk and we were pleased to see that “bloody” broadcast tower which at times seemed closer than the car park which we felt for sure had been moved down to the Springs.
There were cries of joy at the sight of the car park which was a testament to the challenging nature of the walk. Probably not quite as taxing in mind and body as the Fern Tree, Potato Fields/Icehouse Track loop but certainly we were glad we didn’t have to then walk home.’
What a fabulous report of a fabulous walk in a fabulous part of Tasmania; all from so close to Hobart! Great job N and thanks for sending me your story and the glorious photos! Your last report attracted lots of blog attention and I have no doubt this one will also.