Many Melburnians escape winter by flying north, desiring sun and sandy beaches on their too-short escapes from our traditionally cold and wet weather at this time of year.
Redcliffe, actually – just north of Brisbane. The best I could lay my hands on right now, but you get the point.
We travelled south for a holiday of fire and ice.
Fire Organ en flambe at ‘Dark Park’ during Dark Mofo
An icy morning in South Hobart
And it was awesome!
To contrast our summer holiday in Hobart, we thought we’d return to experience winter. Happily, our holiday almost perfectly coincided with this year’s Dark Mofo celebrations (we arrived the day after they started), so we were once again out on the streets with many Hobartians enjoying the festival atmosphere – just somewhat more rugged up now compared to how we’d been dressed 5 months prior.
Dark Mofo is what you make of it. Feasting? There were five nights of gorging available this year. Entertainment? If you were too full to waddle or groan your way over to ‘Dark Park’ (aka Macquarie or “Mac” Point) or participate in the numerous other Dark Mofo events happening around the city, then there were entertainers circulating at the Winter Feast.
%22Uptown Brown%22 entertaining the queue waiting for the Winter Feast to open
An entertainer at Dark Mofo’s Winter Feast
One of the two ‘clouds’ with sparkling red shoes and stockings in the crowd on the last night
The audience kept warm around fires in metal drums while listening to the live music and feasting from the stall both inside and outside the Princes Wharf Shed
However, making that effort to wander over to Dark Park was definitely worth it, even if we didn’t get to see everything…
“Angry Electrons” by Jason James where the lights pulsed as people moved beneath
A celebration of pigs in the courtyard behind the Henry Jones Hotel
Hendricks Parlour of Curiosities was in the lot between the Fire Organ and the Solid Light Works at Dark Park
Anthony McCall’s “Solid Light Works” was enthralling
I’d recognise that head anywhere – it’s mine!
Fire Organ en flambe at ‘Dark Park’ during Dark Mofo
But aside from the Dark Mofo events, which were mostly run of an evening – what did we do in Hobart for 10 days?
We visited the Cascade Female Factory and learnt what life was like for many women who were sent to (or chose to) come to Hobart. The re-enactment tour called Her Story really brings this period to life, but both this and the pure historical tour are worth doing.
Simple but effective use of materials recreates structures in our minds that have ceased to exist in physical form
A chance for audience participation in the ‘Her Story’ tour at the Cascade Female Factory
Cascade Female Factory is run by the same organisation who runs the Port Arthur Historic Sites. We have been meaning to visit Port Arthur for quite some time, and I can finally now say I’ve been – albeit possibly on the coldest and wettest day of our holiday!
Ahhh – toasty warm by the fire. But the inmates wouldn’t have felt its warmth – The Separate Prison
Artifacts on display in the old Asylum
The lichens here are fantastic, but erode the sandstone – behind the Penitentiary, Port Arthur
I found the ballroom at Hobart City’s Town Hall which is gorgeous, then did a tour of Australia’s oldest theatre, the Theatre Royal on Campbell Street.
The ballroom at Hobart City’s Town Hall is just stunning!
View from the stage of Hobart’s Theatre Royal on Campbell Street
Having taken our Bromptons on holiday with us we were keen to explore Hobart’s bike paths – and found we were staying right next to the Hobart Rivulet track; a very convenient and safe way to either walk or ride into town from South Hobart – better than braving either Macquarie or Davey Streets as a cyclist!
Riding our Bromptons along the Hobart Rivulet Track into the city from South Hobart on an icy winter’s morning
Although we had visited MONA on our summer holiday we wanted to visit again. Our first attempt ended with having lunch across the road and a ride home in the rain as we hadn’t checked ahead and only found out on arrival that MONA is closed of a Tuesday! Our second attempt was much more successful – and worth the re-visit for the new exhibits and permanent features we missed last time.
MONA is closed on Tuesdays
Cellist & singer, Helen Gillet, was amazing as she constructed music that sounded like it was being performed by at least half a dozen people
The Chamber of Silence – Instructions for the Public. Wear Earmuffs. Be Still. Be silent.
Not hard to meditate in the Chamber of Silence, with such a lovely view
In the barrel room during the Moorilla winery tour
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) was also on the list of places to re-visit as we didn’t finish exploring it in summer. This time, the Central Gallery was lit with red lights in celebration of the winter festival, lending a slight macabre feeling to the space, but it definitely fit in with the tone the that surrounds Dark Mofo. We made sure to explore the Bond Store Galleries – another fantastic old building, brilliantly fitted, maintained and suited for the displays contained.
TMAG’s Central Gallery bathed in red for Dark Mofo
Learning about our history inside the Bond Store
I love the staircase inside the Bond Store, too
We rode along the Intercity Trail to the Tasmanian Transport Museum in Glenorchy; admired their collection, saw some volunteers hard at work, and discovered a rail line (still in use) in the north-west that we hitherto knew nothing about.
Engine M5 being driven back into the shed
A double-decker Hobart Tram – more signs of civilisation lost, as Hobart no longer runs trams or trolley buses
Exploring the Salamanca Market is always on the cards when we’re in Hobart of a Saturday morning. On this trip we both wanted to buy more Mongrel Socks, but we picked up a range of things from a number of stalls; from apple liqueur to fresh passion fruit, fudge, a hand-crafted silver thistle broach for my floppy breton (cap/hat), and Tasmanian-themed screen-printed calico shopping bags.
Even in winter Salamanca Market is bustling by mid-morning
The Farm Gate Market on Bathurst Street in the CBD is open every Sunday morning. If you think that Salamanca is too touristy, then this is probably the market for you. It’s definitely the farmers market to go to for local, fresh produce direct from the grower/maker that you can walk to from your city-based accommodation.
The Farm Gate Market on Bathurst St is packed with fresh produce and freshly cooked or home-made food
There’s space in the middle of the market to eat some of the great fresh food you’ve just bought
We only had time for a day trip to Bruny Island this trip, so it was more in the nature of a scouting mission for next time. Crossing the d’Entrecastaux Channel from Kettering, my hopes of walking up South Bruny Island’s Mt Mangana were dashed when our fears were confirmed – the C Grade roads (maintained by Forestry Tasmania, not the local council) were far too potholed for our Mini to traverse. I don’t think even rental cars ventured much further than we did – and that’s saying something! So, like everyone else, we had to be continent with a walk up the big sand dune at the northern end of the isthmus which connects the two islands, as well as a couple of short walks on some gorgeous beaches around Adventure Bay.
Adventure Bay sure looks perfect for a family holiday!
Bruny Island isthmus from another angle
Atop the sund dune overlooking the isthmus connecting north and south Bruny Islands
The Huon Valley is renown for good food and bountiful harvests of apples! The Apple Shed at Grove is a scenic drive from Hobart. The museum cleverly tells the story of the family who now produce Willie Smiths Cider – indulging in a delicious treat at the cafe while you’re there is highly recommended.
The Apple Shed is right on the road to Huonville, so you won’t miss it
Tools of the trade in the foreground, apple varieties on the wall in the background – the Apple Shed is a great place to learn how Tasmania became known as the ‘Apple Isle’
Mulled cider and an Apple Rillette – a heavenly winter treat at the Apple Shed
The ‘new’ Lake Pedder was on my list of places that I wanted to see, and towards the end of our trip we thought we’d drive out there. Since Mt Field National Park is on the way, we thought we’d stop for lunch and stretch our legs on the short walk to Russell Falls. If you like fungi, this really is the place for you! Mt Field really is a mycological hotspot. (I’ll come back and name them properly.) Oh, and the falls were lovely, too.
Fungi at Mt Field National Park
Yellow coral fungi at Mt Field National Park
Deflated fungi on a log, Mt Field National Park
Blue Fungi, Mt Field National Park
Fungi with peaked caps at Mt Field National Park
Green Fungi, Mt Field National Park
Possibly (not) bracket fungi, Mt Field National Park
Russell Falls, Mt Field National Park
Strathgordon is the township on the shores of Lake Pedder; it’s the last settlement on the road – 84 km of well-made, winding road along from the Mt Field NP visitor centre. Stephen had fun driving; I was amazed by the view out the window. The very end of the road is the Gordon Dam where you can park and climb down to walk along the top of the dam wall. When you’re done taking photos and playing with echos, it’s another 184km back to Hobart.
You can walk down to the Gordon Dam wall – the water level seemed pretty low to us
Dedication plaque at the Gordon Dam
The road curves its way around the base of the Sentinel Range and makes for a fantastic drive
So that’s what we did. As for what we ate? Well!
Dark Mofo’s Winter Feast ran for five nights this year (we went along on three nights). Five nights of gorging on sensational dishes from the best local restaurants and businesses. There was plenty of red meat – Tasman Quartermasters‘ Wallaby Bites with Pepperberry Aioli were very moorish, and I’ve never had a better steamed beef dumpling than those by Written on Tea, but there were also stalls preparing seafood and vegetarian meals. Naturally there was local wine, beer, cider and spirits to go with the local food – and a better selection of warmed beverages I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying. Gluhwein, mulled cider, a gingery hot toddy – what a way to celebrate mid winter! But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t also get ice-cream. The deserts were every bit as marvellous as the savoury dishes! Ashbolt Farm did a marvellous crumble (they also did the fantastic gluhwein), but special mention has to be given to Lady Hester’s sourdough doughnuts! The three nights we attended just weren’t enough to taste it all; maybe if the feast was run over, say…10 days?, we just might be able to pace ourselves and have enough time to get to try all the stalls…
Ashbolt Farm’s Gluhwein and heirloom fruit crumble were both fantastic, and I love Lost Pippin Cider!
Ashbolt Farm’s Gluhwein and heirloom fruit crumble were both fantastic, and I love Lost Pippin Cider!
There was plenty of action happening outside as well
Spilling out onto the grassed areas, people enjoy dinner under the created boughs above, continuing the nest theme from inside
MONA had a number of Heavy Metal Kitchen stalls selling woodfired BBQ dishes
Ethos Eat Drink on Elizabeth Street is a perfect example of fine dining in Tasmania. With a set six course degustation menu that is completed in a more modest time frame than what you might expect when you hear ‘degustation’ and one that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re too drunk to walk out, I highly recommend Ethos to get a taste of Tasmanian produce at any time of the year. (Reservations required.)
Ethos Eat Drink – we’ve finally arrived!
There are fine cocktails (or aperitifs) to be had in The Carriageway
BarCelona was a stroke of good luck. We were hoping to eat at Smolt, but the wait staff seemed disinterested (on a Monday night we thought it’d be the opposite) so we tried the restaurant opposite to them in Salamanca Square. It’s a funky bar/restaurant with great lighting highlighting the sandstone walls of the old building. A warm fire (and adequate overhead heating) matched the warm welcome we received from the waitstaff. We weren’t overly hungry that night so we shared a tasting plate of (locally sourced produce) but succumbed to temptation and had a desert each. It was just perfect.
BarCelona is in one of the old warehouses at Salamanca Place. They’ve really used lighting effectively to highlight the original stonework – Salamanca Place, Hobart, Tasmania, June 2015
The bar in BarCelona was quite impressive – Salamanca Place, Hobart, Tasmania, June 2015
Le Provincal is a French restaurant one block away from where were staying on Macquarie Street in south Hobart. In summer we never saw it open (because they were on holidays) so we were intrigued. Turns out it’s a very well-known restaurant and it pays to make a reservation more than one day in advance! The dishes are expertly prepared and delicious which you expect from the reviews. It’s the murals on the walls that I was most entranced by! Extraordinarily well done, if we hadn’t been dining in winter and at night I would have believed that we were actually in a farm cottage in France in late summer! Beautiful ambiance and fantastically authentic food.
Le Provincal is a very, very short walk from the Firemans Loft – Cnr of Macquarie & Weld Streets, South Hobart
The national symbol of France is well represented at Le Provincal, in all it’s many forms
And sometimes you just feel like fish ‘n’ chips. Flathead Cafe was also just up the road from where we stayed. Since they’re a fish monger as well as a cafe, you can check for yourself just how fresh the fish is that you’re going to be eating. It looked pretty good to me (as you’d hope)! What’s more, it tasted great – not just the fish, which you’d expect, but the coleslaw too. A place that puts as much consideration into the preparation of the ‘side dish’ as they give to the main is a pretty good catch, I reckon. (Pun intended.)
Does finding a table for breakfast at 9:30am on a weekday morning in a South Hobart cafe sound tricky to you? We didn’t think so, but then we didn’t realise until we arrived at Ginger Brown that it is The place to go for brekkie in South Hobart. (Even so, you can still reserve a table! That’s unheard of in Melbourne!) So why is it so popular? Could it be because of the delightfully plump, giant marshmallow they serve with each hot chocolate? Surely it’s not for the jaffa accompanying your cappacino. No, my guess is that it’s the creative way they construct breakfasts. My house-baked crumpets were light and fluffy, Stephen’s crumble was equally delicious. We went twice (both times lucky just to get a seat in the window and not out on the cold footpath) and were impressed on both occasions.
Ginger Brown is a very popular cafe on Macquarie Street in South Hobart
Naturally we couldn’t pass up at least one brekkie at Jackman & McRoss at Battery Point. It was a cold morning when we rode in on our Bromptons, but there was enough room behind Stephen’s chair to put both and have them out of the way. The rooms aren’t crammed full of tables and chairs as you’d expect to find in a Melbourne cafe. On the other hand, you may need to wait to be seated. Since Jackman & McRoss are a proper bakery, their huge selection of baked goods to purchase and take away are all mouth-wateringly tempting – even after a filling breakfast!
Bromptons at breakfast inside the famous Jackman & McRoss bakery at Battery Point
Bromptons outside Jackman & McRoss, Battery Point, with Mt Wellington in the background
Our accommodation this trip was once again Fireman’s Loft in South Hobart. The location is perfect, especially if – like us – you’re planning to use your accommodation as a ‘base camp’ and go exploring each day; the carpark isn’t a long walk from your room, you don’t have to tackle the city traffic and there are so many conveniences nearby like Hill Street Grocer, The Lost Sock (Laundrette), chemist, newsagent, postoffice, bakery, cycle shop – it’s a great little village along Macquarie Street. On this trip we also discovered the Hobart Rivulet Track into the city was just a stone’s throw away from the Loft. The Hobart Rivulet Track is a shared path that connects Collins Street in the city with the Cascade Brewery. It’s the easiest and most pleasant (and sometimes coldest) route into and out of the city, and the safest route for cyclists. Although it is a dirt path that can freeze in winter, I still feel it’s better than mixing it with the traffic on either Macquarie or Davey Streets – it’s a much easier gradient, too.
The entrance to Firemans Loft – our accommodation in South Hobart
Bathroom at Firemans Loft
Loungeroom at Firemans Loft
The kitchen-dining room at Firemans Loft
You can book to stay at Fireman’s Loft (upstairs) or Flourish (downstairs) through either Stayz or Airbnb, but why not contact Tracey directly via the Facebook links?
I aim to (eventually) write separate posts about each of the places we visited – as well as update my Tasmania pages – as we have plenty of photos and enjoy sharing our love of Tasmania. It’s a wonderful state to explore.
If there’s a way to condense the whole of Tasmania’s famous 6-day Overland Track down to a day walk, surely the Mt Field East circuit has to be it – what’s more, it’s so close to Hobart!
Start/Finish: Lake Fenton Car Park, ~11km along Dobson Road from the Visitor Centre at Mt Field National Park, Tasmania Distance: ~9km Time: ~4hrs (plus lunch break) Difficulty: Medium Note: National Park Permit required, as with all National Parks in Tasmania; passes can be obtained from the Visitor Centre near the entrance of the park.
About the only thing I knew for certain before visiting Mt Field National Park, was that it’s the place closest to Hobart that you can see Fagus – also known as Deciduous Beech (Nothofagus gunnii).
We’ve been to Cradle Mountain around Easter time to see it changing colour before, but the question in my mind was: how much harder would it be to spot in summer when it’s leaves are all still green?
Fagus in autumn
Fagus changing colour
Of course I’d heard and read interesting things about the park, but unless I have a memory to link them to (e.g. linking the Fagus to a previous Tassie holiday), I find they just don’t stay put. So I just have to go and find out for myself. It’s also much more fun that way.
Armed with a Park map as well as Chapman’s Day Walks Tasmania, we thought we’d make a final decision on which walk to do when we got there. Due to a little sunburnt from the Taste of Tasmania festival the previous day – and that was with temps in the low 20’s – and given today was looking like it’d be pretty similar for Hobart, I didn’t pack a heavy jumper, instead planning to rely on my Gortex jacket if it turned windy. By the time we’d made lunch and were ready to go it was already about 10am – not really an early start.
Mt Field National Park is roughly a 1 hour drive north-west of Hobart, along the River Derwent past New Norfolk, through Bushy Park (where they grow lots of hops), and around the rolling hills, closer and closer to the mountains until you come to Westerway; a small town supplying the nation with its blackcurrant requirements over about 30 hectares, with a few hectares given over to luscious raspberries and sour gooseberries. Despite how much I love summer berries, given our late start we thought it better to stop on the way back.
Follow the River Derwent west to New Norfolk
The car-lifting kangaroo is probably my favourite road sign in Tassie, but the message is a sober one
Not much traffic on the road makes for an even better drive
Nearing Bushy Park – what a fantastic day for a drive
Hops. Lots and lots of hops grow at Bushy Park, about 45min north-west of Hobart
Turn left to Mt Field National Park at Bushy Park, along the Gordon River Road (B61)
Looking over Bushy Park’s fields and fields of hops
Approaching Westerway, neither of us were yet paying much attention to the clouds on the horizon
Turn left again at Westerway as signed and follow Gordon River Road (Ginger Creek is now on your right) for a few more kilometres to the park’s entrance. If you haven’t noticed the old railway tracks running alongside and crossing the road multiple times by the time you’ve arrived at the park’s entrance you must have been asleep the whole way (if so, I hope you weren’t the driver!). There used to be a train servicing townships from Bridgewater (the suburb on the north-side of the bridge over the Derwent that you’re most likely to cross if you’re driving up the Midland Highway to Launceston or Devonport) through to, and just beyond, Westerway. The trains would also bring logs back to the paper mill at Boyer (read more here). It would be nice to have trains operating in this part of the state again like they do on the west coast. Our train ride on the West Coast Wilderness Railway was a real highlight from a previous trip.
When you reach Mt Field National Park (about 7.5km from Westerway), drive past the picnic area about 400m and the Visitor Centre is on the right. It’s signed; you won’t miss it. There’s a cafe/shop there too.
One of many railway track crossings – no trains use the track at present (taken on the way back)
Convoy – We weren’t the only ones thinking it was a nice day to visit Mt Field National Park
There’s even fagus on the welcome sign at the entrance – Mt Field National Park – A Park for all seasons
Visitor Centre at Mt Field National Park
Inside the Visitor Centre at Mt Field National Park
Inside the Visitor Centre – they didn’t need the fans or fireplace the day we visited
As we already had a Parks Pass you may wonder why we bothered to stop at the Visitor Centre. Besides simply being interest to have a look, we wanted to check the condition of the road up to Lake Fenton and even more importantly – to log our walk. The sign in book for all walks is just outside the front door of the Visitor Centre, so before leaving I duly logged our intended walk – Mt Field East circuit from Lake Fenton Car Park.
We hadn’t stopped long, but as we walked back to the car Stephen pointed out the clouds which were coming over the range above us were thick and black. Despite this, we headed off along Dobson Road into the Park. It wasn’t long before it started to spit, and as we climbed the slightly corrugated (dirt/compacted gravel) winding road up into the mountains, it soon turned to sleet, then small hail was bouncing off the windscreen. We watched the temperature fall to around 10oC, which had me hoping that what I was wearing would be warm enough!
Setting off along Dobson Road with ominous clouds rolling in from the west
It snows here in winter, which is probably why there are orange road markers, too
Wet, but the road surface was pretty good
Getting close to Lake Fenton, the rain, sleet and hail had eased, but no blue skies yet
Fortunately the road wasn’t boggy, and there wasn’t much traffic so we didn’t have to pull to the side more than a couple of times. The poor MINI was getting a splattering again! (Mud and dirt does show up very well on a British Racing Green car!)
The hail had passed and changed back to a light rain by the time we’d driven the 11km to the small car park near Lake Fenton. We were lucky – there was one spot left. We got out, put on our Gortex jackets… and then the rain stopped. Typical. Regardless, we took or wore everything we’d brought with us. For once we hadn’t over-packed!
The short track to Lake Fenton starts at the top corner of the carpark. Summer is a great time to visit Tasmania – so many plants are flowering. I felt like I was in heaven before I’d taken 10 steps!
The track starts to the left of the sign (behind the Britz van)
There’s a short, lovely track between the car parks and Lake Fenton
Thymeleaf Purpleberry (Trochocarpa thymifolia)
Top view of Tasmanian Waratah (Telopea truncata)
Purple Cheeseberry (Cyathodes glauca) – I think
Wiry bauera (Bauera rubioides)
Tasmanian Waratah (Telopea truncata)
Lake Fenton is part of a catchment area supplying drinking water to Hobart. As such, recreational activities such as camping, boating, swimming and fishing and not allowed. After reaching Lake Fenton we had to stop and refer to the walking notes (a couple of times) to make sure we were setting off along the right path.
Arriving at Lake Fenton, part of Hobart’s water supply
Cross the outlet or overflow pipes
Over the wall and follow the track
My first sighting (this trip) of Deciduous Beech, aka Fagus (Nothofagus gunnii) in its spring and summertime green
Cross the outlet pipes and follow the track over the wall and around the north side lake until you come to a sign (a very weathered one on this trip) marking the turn off to Seagers Lookout and Mt Field East – but while there may be, or at least was, a track that continues around the northern edge of the lake, the water catchment committee and Parks & Wildlife Tasmania are trying to discourage people from walking that track. The Seagers Lookout/Mt Field East Track that we were taking is quite clearly well used, and there was little chance of us missing it at this point.
Under grey clouds the forest seems to be leached of colour. Then Stephen pointed out that the spots of white on the ground, which I’d taken to be petals or leaves, were actually small hailstones.
The sign, although quite weathered, was a reassuring sight
The patterns and colours of gums trees are amazing
What at first I thought were petals were actually small hailstones on the path
Small hailstones collected between the rocks along the path
The path was clear over the tangled roots of the grey forest
The track climbs steadily, but not steeply, up to the junction to Seagers Lookout. Had we started walking earlier maybe we would have done this side trip. As the sign there indicated it would take more than an hour to return to this point we chose to continue along the Mt Field East track.
Scoparia (Richea scoparia) are very common around alpine areas of Tasmania
The grey forest gave way to more diverse flora further up the slope
We saw a number of these scats on our walk – Spotted-tail or Tiger Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) I hope
It’s not particularly steep, but it is a steady climb amid the summer flowering plants
Rust coloured mosses and lichens on a boulder
Track junction – Stephen is on the track to Mt Field East, to the right is Seagers Lookout
Lake Fenton can be seen as the trees give way to a small swampy area. I was surprised, but also very thankful, to see the boardwalk – the ground looked very boggy beneath. Not something I would care to step in. Before long you’re back on rocks and climbing up, past some very impressive boulders, to cross a boulder field. This was where we had our best view over Lake Fenton and south-west toward the Mawson Plateau and Mt Field West.
A glimpse of Lake Fenton. The weather was still unsettled
Crossing the boulder field is not very hard – just look for the next marker
Glad I’m walking over, not through, that bit!
Scoparia (Richea scoparia) with exposed stamen at the end of the terminal spike where the petals have fallen off
Magnificent and enormous boulders form cliffs on one side of a boulder field
Looking across Lake Fenton to Mt Mawson and the ski fields above Lake Dobson (not visible behind the ridge in the mid-distance)
The area between the boulder field and the top of the hill is quite marshy – I’m not sure if it’s technically a small moor or not. There are plenty of woody shrubs to about 1m tall that do not appear to be present on the large moors. While very wet, you can mostly avoid stepping in and muddying the water as there are plenty of rocks forming the track through this section. No need for more boardwalk.
Gets a little wet through here, but there are plenty of rocks to step on
Mountain everlasting (Ozothamnus ledifolius) – I think
Still following the track markers up the hill, though the path is pretty clear
Rigid candleheath (Richea sprengelioides)
Alpine Finger-orchid (Caladenia alpina)
Old Man’s Beard – I’m not sure what it’s species name is here – I certainly hope it’s native!
Not the ususal smooth trunk on this tree
I think it’s Naturalist Peak and Mt Field West in the far distance
A lovely soft clump of a bryophyte species on a tree trunk
This is possibly Cushion plant eyebright (Euphrasia gibbsiae ssp. pulvinestris)
Mountain teatree (Leptospermum) I think
Looking back across the heath toward Lake Fenton
The Track over the hill is dirt and stone, but wasn’t boggy
Yellow orites (Orites acicularis) I think
Moss and heath (Epacris spp, I think)
Possibly a sphagnum(?) moss with Alpine coral fern (Gleichenia alpina) I think
Pouched coral fern (Gleichenia dicarpa) with a Pineapple grass (Astelia aplina) poking through, and some sphagnum moss towards the top right of the photo
Scoparia (Richea scoparia) beneath what could well be a Snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora)
Entering the shelter of trees on the other side, the track rises over, then follows the curve of the hill around to the left. It seemed a never-ending display of wildflowers and other flora were just waiting to be discovered.
We passed by spiky lawns of Pineapple Grass (Astelia alpina) which were just starting to flower, and through banks of Scoparia (Richea scoparia) in all it’s colour variations, which delivered us to the edge of Windy Moor, whereupon a wave of nostalgia swept through me.
Flowers of a Pineapple grass plant (Astelia alpina)
Close up of the flowers of a Pineapple grass plant (Astelia alpina)
A white Scoparia, or the closely related Bog Candleheath? (Richea spp)
We can see Mt Field East, having rounded the hill
The Scoparia and Mountain Everlasting bush is plentiful around here
Mt Field lies directly ahead, across Windy Moor
Gazing upon the browny-green moor, with Mt Field East in the distance, and low, grey clouds overhead, I felt like I was back on the Overland Track. I felt like I was where I longed to be. I felt like I was home.
And I knew precisely what was ahead of us.
Starting out across Windy Moor to Mt Field East
There’s no boardwalk, or even duckboarding here. But then, there aren’t crowds of tourists trampling all over the place like a herd of Brown’s cow’s turning everything into muck, either. If you haven’t got gaiters on already, now is the time to don them (or kick yourself for leaving them behind) ’cause you’re about to find out just how water- and mud-proof your hiking boots are, and when some of the ‘puddles’ are more than ankle-deep, you’ll want those gaiters.
With only a small, tree’d hillock providing a windbreak, there’s no prizes for guessing how Windy Moor got its name. The clouds had not cleared from the previous storm front, yet the westerly wind was intent on pushing more rain clouds in our direction.
Walk on the rocks where you can
A slight rise means less water-logged ground where trees can grow
Windy Moor is wider than it first appears
As usual, follow the track markers
A creek runs through the middle of Windy Moor
Getting closer to Mt Field East
Silver snowdaisy (Celmisia asteliifolia)
Close up of Mountain Buttercup (Ranunculus collinus) flowering in a streamlet
Mountain Buttercup (Ranunculus collinus) flowering in a streamlet
Close up of possibly a Field daisy, (Brachyscome decipiens)
A lot of work must have been done to create the stony path across the moor, and indeed much of the whole Mt Field East track. I’m not sure how much the Friends of Mt Field Landcare group are responsible for (whether it’s more maintenance, or everything) but their work for the benefit of all bushwalkers cannot go unthanked or unappreciated.
Sticking to the rocks on the path (though not always possible) will help prevent damage being done to this most fragile of environments. A footprint can scar a cushion plant for decades – if it ever recovers. Cushion plants are actually a community small plants rather than one large, spreading plant, and they’re quite often composed of more than one species. Their dense outer foliage is what protects the plants from the elements and allows them to survive, grow, and reproduce.
Cushionplants are bright spots of green in the landscape
This cushionplant may never recover from being trampled. If it does, it could take decades.
Cushionplants can be composed of different species – this looks like it could be Dracophyllum minimum (darker, spiky) with possiby Ewartia catipes (lighter, clustered)
There are even more species making up this cushion plant
Heath cushionplant (Dracophyllum minimum) with something else poking through?
Despite the earlier storm, the edge of the moor was quite distinct as the track became a lot drier and tree’d at the base of Mt Field East. Now sheltered from the wind blowing across the moor we were befriended by a cloud of midges. Rather more numerous than those met earlier on the walk, and so rather more annoying. I was glad we had insect repellent mixed in with our suncream, but I wasn’t sure how long its effectiveness lasted.
Climbing to the summit of Mt Field East is possible by following a series of cairns. You’ve got to keep your eyes open and stick to the track, apparently. Well, we had our eyes open, alright – we’d been watching another bank of clouds approaching from the west. A couple of bolts of lightning dispelled any regrets I may have harboured about coming this far and not at least attempting to climb to the top.
Off Windy Moor and moving up the lower slope of Mt Field East
The cairns marking the route up to the summit are not immediately obvious
Midges captured in the shot at the junction of the circuit with the side track up to Mt Field summit
When outlined against the skyline, the cairns are much more obvious
Walkers coming down off the summit of Mt Field East
We weren’t the only ones on the track that day, it seemed. As we turned to continue on to Lake Nichols we saw two other walkers making their way down from the summit as the storm approached. We didn’t stop to watch them, but followed the track to the trees disappearing over the edge of the plateau, trying to hurry along whilst still taking a moment to appreciate the view.
Looking back at Mt Field East
Lake Nicholls is just below this plateau
Moving down through the forest involves a bit rock scrambling across a couple of screes, but as on the climb up above Lake Fenton, the path is marked by poles and is not hard to follow.
Amongst the silvered trunks of the forest
Looking back, it’s a reasonably steep path, but the rocks make it easier
Pandani (Richea pandanifolia) in flower
At the top of a scree section – just look for the track markers
There are plenty of track markers along here to guide you
Although a little steep, footing is quite sure along the track as it remains fairly rocky. Further down towards the lake the path does become a more soil than rock, but it wasn’t muddy. Still, we were walking in summer. Winter and spring conditions are probably much wetter due to snow/melt.
Flowers of the Mountain Pinkberry (Leptecophylla juniperina subsp parvifolia)
Further down the slope the understorey is bursting with flowers once more
What really caught my attention along this section of the circuit was the incredible diversity of mosses and lichens growing on the trees and rocks in this protected area of the park. I noticed some above, earlier, but I was probably more distracted by the diversity of wildflowers. Here it was like exploring a coral reef, but a terrestrial one – a world of unusual colour and form and things that look like plants or branching corals but aren’t either.
A striking type of lichen I think. I wonder if it’s a member of the genus Usnea – the same as Grandfather’s Beard
Possibly a jelly fungi, even Tremella mesenterica. You can see from my finger, these ones are only a couple of milimetres wide at present
What a marvellous host tree!
This plant looks very happy with its leaves spread out to catch the rain
Spores beneath the leaves
Other bryophytes the tree is hosting
These bryophytes remind me of a shag-pile carpet
Lichen on the trunk
Lichen sporing, looking a bit like extremely delicate lacework adorned with burnt popcorn
Bryophtyes and maybe lichen on a rock add splashes of colour to the green
I’d spent quite a few minutes at the base of the tree, marvelling at the species around it, and as I regretfully left I wondered just how far ahead Stephen was…
Fortunately, the answer was ‘not far’, because as it turns out I was just a short walk from the Lake Nicholls hut. Chapman notes that it makes good shelter in wet weather, and yes – we can attest to that! We were grateful for the opportunity to take off our packs, hang up our wet jackets, and sit down somewhere comfortable and dry for lunch.
Approaching Nicholls Hut
Sitting down for lunch in the nice, dry Nicholls Hut
Nice view out the window of Nicholls Hut
No camping allowed in Nicholls Hut
The Hut at Lake Nicholls
We didn’t cool our heels for too long in the hut, as nice as it was; we didn’t want to get cold and stiff or lose too much time. (Our thanks again to the Friends of Mt Field Landcare group who do such a great job of maintaining this hut and track.)
After crossing the outlet stream to the lake, there’s a very short rise up to a rocky ridgeline that the track follows for a good kilometre or so. Now walking through wet sclerophyll forest there are fewer types of flowers blooming, but the diversity of other vegetation was getting better and better!
The rocky path along the ridgeline above Lake Nicholls
Absolutely stunning bark on this snowgum
Stinkwood (Zieria arborescens) – the leaves apparently have an unpleasant smell when crushed
Lichens (& bryophytes?) in fantastic colours
It reminds me of a coral community
A lovely green bryophte with spores
The top of a immature celerytop pine – sorry about the focus
A slightly larger celerytop pine (Phyllocladus aspleniifolius)
Stephen’s also found something to photograph
A withered banksia flower
The track markers have changed to old, fading red blobs of paint
Fairly sure this is a Hard water fern (Blechnum wattsii)
I think there’s even a hornwart in this photo
Green, red and aqua-grey bryophytes
This marker is very faded, but the track is pretty clear at least
Bryophytes and lichen on a rock
A sporing liverwort, possibly
Good thing we hadn’t taken off our gaiters because soon enough we came across another wet section of track. It doesn’t last too long, and the puddles weren’t too deep. The slope of the track increases as the track descends towards the Lake Dobson Road.
Don’t cross the sticks, continue along the clear track
A few more puddles to cross yet, but they weren’t deep
The yellow track markers have reappeared, but it was the bryophytes and lichens on the rocks that I was more interested in by now
Bryophytes and lichen – some the same, some different, all marvellous
I think there may be different lichens here than I saw previously, possibly sporing
Sometimes there are such interesting mixes of bryophtyes
Continuing down toward the road
Scrubtit (Acanthornis magna), lower centre – apologies, I couldn’t get a better shot
To the left is a steep path down to Dobson Road, while the track turns back up the hill
The first turnoff to Dobson Road marks the lowest point of the circuit. Our walk didn’t exit to the road along this quite steep looking track, but continued uphill on the same track towards the Lake Fenton Car Park (as signed). The path is very lush, mossy (‘bryophyte-y’) and provided a nice view of Mount Monash directly ahead as the clouds lifted.
Lichen, I think. Life grows everywhere here, given half a chance
Lush, green, wet sclerophyll forest
At first glance you might this this was moss, but it’s a different type of bryophyte I think
Close view of some bryophytes by the side of the track
Nearing the end of the track where it joins Dobson Road again
Mt Monash dominates the skyline in this section
Back at the road, but a little way to go until we’re back at Lake Fenton Car Park
A newer wooden sign (the wood was still brown when we were there!) at the next bend in the road leads you up a short track to meet the road a turn or two closer to Lake Fenton Car Park. The bleached, silvery grey, twisted tree trunks against the grey, jumbled dolorite boulders is quite a contrast to the green forest we’ve just emerged from.
The newer sign, although something’s been trying to eat the sign, by the look of it
Starting up through the greyed forest ‘short cut’ back towards Fenton Lake Carkpark
The twisted trees speak of the harsh conditions in this alpine environment
How they grow amongst the boulders is amazing
Back at the road, no more shortcuts
When you step onto the road this time, there are no more shortcuts – it’s simply a matter of following the road back to the start. It was about 1km from the forest to the carpark. Given the weather and time of day it’s not surprising we were only passed by a couple of cars. The most surprising part about this walk was that the road is lined by Fagus! They grow quite tall and bushy in protected spots. I really was quite astonished to see what I had thought to be – if not a rare plant, then certainly one that required effort to find – growing so happily beside the side of the road.
The tall green ‘bush’ behind the rocks along the Lake Dobson Road are Fagus in their summer foliage
Stephen stopped to read the sign, but it’s not a shortcut back to Lake Fenton Carpark
We’re the last ones back to Lake Fenton Car Park
Although it was getting late by the time we made it back to the Visitor Centre and logged out – it was closed, but that’s why the log books are kept just outside – we still (just!) had time to stop at the raspberry farm at Westerway for some fresh fruit and an ice-cream.
Couldn’t pass up fresh raspberries (and an icecream) from the farm at Westerway
You don’t have to look far to see where the fruit’s being grown
We got talking to one of the members of the family who own the farm and it turns out that they’re the last growers of blackcurrants in the country! Growing up in Queensland, blackcurrant juice (or cordial) wasn’t something we drank as kids, or that I readily identify with but, by the sounds of it if you grew up in Tasmania or Victoria it’s something you may become quite passionate about. Not just where the berries are grown, but also the percentage of juice being used, trademarks on recipes and brand take-overs.
Ice-creams finished, we were back in the car for the drive home. As the weather hadn’t cleared the grey clouds made a dramatic background against the rolling countryside as we drove back down the valley. Tasmania is not just scenic around the edge. Like most of the roads in the state, the road is single carriageway until you get closer to Hobart, but the surface was pretty good.
One of the blackcurrant fields
A straight road across the gently rolling countryside
There is some lovely countryside around this region
The field of green is poppies just after flowering
Late afternoon sunlight over the River Derwent
While I certainly had fun taking lots of photos on this walk, I also found enjoyment in trying to correctly identify species in for this post. My main references were:
The first book is a very good field guide and although I found the second book very useful, there are some notable gaps in the information contained, for all its’ nearly 400 pages of species photos and descriptions. Unfortunately, I haven’t – yet – bought a field guide to Australian bryophytes, and since we have over 2,000 species of them it’s not a simple matter of Googling the answers, especially if you’re not sure where to start. I’ll endeavour to come back and update the titles of these photos once this situation has been remedied. Identifying species in cushionplants has also proved to be somewhat challenging.
I’ve done my best, but if anyone thinks I’ve mislabeled something, or if I haven’t been able to identify it myself, please – let me know!