Despite a rather paranoid fear of heights, I’m drawn irresistibly to big mountains. I love hiking above the tree line in alpine climates. Not only are the views better, but the stillness, serenity and solitude is unparalleled.
Other peaks are just hard work and the exhilaration is found in surviving the challenge of finding a way to the top without falling off the edge. Lately I’ve done a couple of hikes ranging from warm south-east Queensland to much cooler Tasmania and covered a number of peaks:
Main Range Hike (Qld)
The first six peaks were all part of the Main Range walk from Spicers Gap to Teviot Gap in south-east Queensland. Arguably the hardest walk I’ve done due to the vertical elevation gains, thick thorny scrub and little to no track or pad. Add in some serious cliffs along with some rope work and it made for an adventure.
The main concern on this hike (besides falling off a cliff) was the lack of water sources. The first creek was dry and the relief was evident in everyone when we found the second source running with water. Most of us each had only 100ml left.
There were a number of ascents which involved walking/scrambling up small ridges with cliffs either side through thick scrub and negotiating/contouring around more small cliffs encountered on the way up. All the while avoiding the 300m big cliff to the east.
Each peak had it’s pain and it’s challenge. Spicers Peak extracted a price from all of us. Quite a climb. Mt Huntley was topped by cliffs with only one cliff break found. Cliff break still involved pack-hauling on ropes. Climbing up Mt Steamer on a narrow ridge was tough work. Climbing off Mt Steamer on an even narrower razorback ridge was just scary to me. Sheer cliffs (300-500m) on the left and sharp decline of the right, left 1-2 mtrs of ridgeline to navigate. On this ridgeline, we used ropes to pack-haul and descend a small cliff. As darkness was falling, we made a decision to camp in the saddle on the ridgeline as the next climb up to Lizard Point was steep and unknown.
Next morning brought renewed energy and we climbed Mt Lizardback up to Lizard Point, arguably one of the best views in South-east Queensland. You can see from the QLD-NSW border around to Mt Barney, Lake Moogerah and surrounding peaks, and a view back along the Main Range peaks where we had walked.
Camping on a narrow ridge next to a 300m cliff with sweeping views of south-east Queensland is one of my favourite memories of this walk. Knowing that few people do this walk makes it all the more special.
Lees Paddocks Walk (Tas)
While this walk was nearly all flat and didn’t contain a peak, it was most enjoyable as a more leisurely walk and camp on secluded private lands very close to the Overland Track. Whilst only 2.5hrs to walk in, it was nice to be able to do this walk with my brother and his family, with some of the kids hiking with a pack for the first time.
This was probably one of the coldest nights I’ve had while camping. The estimated temperature overnight was -3C to -5C. The heavy frost and considerable ice on the tent bore witness to the cold I felt, even in a good down sleeping bag.
‘Lees Hut’ (an old cattlemans hut) was a classic and we had the bonus of free use of the hut. It doesn’t cost to camp at Lees Paddocks or stay in the hut. This is definitely a place to return to.
Walls of Jerusalem Nat Park (Tas)
With my brother and family returning home, I proceeded about 10km up the Mersey Forest Rd to the famed Walls of Jerusalem National Park. Having spent a large part of the day walking out of Lees Paddocks, my start time on this track was 3pm. A late start, knowing I have at least 2hrs walking ahead. First hour was a strenuous climb up to Trappers hut and then another hour past lakes and tarns to arrive at Wild Dog Creek campsite.
The actual Walls (past Herods Gates) is quite gentle and a lot of it is board-walked (to preserve fragile environment). a day pack and 1.5hrs got me to Mt Jerusalem where the views were spectacular! It felt like I was on the roof of Tasmania with a 360 degree view of mountains including Frenchmans Cap, Great Western Tiers, Cradle Mountain, Barn Bluff, Mt Ossa, Mt Pelion and everything in-between. It was hard to absorb the entirety and immensity of the surrounding vista.
Walked back to the campsite after lunch and packed up the tent. Hot-footed it out to the car to beat the sun going down (again). Once car was reached, it was straight over to Cradle Mountain.
Cradle Mountain Nat Park (Tas)
By the time I arrived, darkness had set in and my camping options suddenly became quite limited. After repeated enquiries, it became clear I would have to find my own accomodation or return to greater civilisation. I opted to sleep in the back seat of the rental car on the side of the highway (I need to start hiring larger cars!).
The next day brought more beautiful weather and I set out from Ronny Creek up the Horse track. Having walked the other tracks on previous occasions, I prefer the Horse track for it’s open, exposed views and high elevations. Wouldn’t be as much fun in bad weather. In fact, no fun at all.
A picture perfect day for climbing Cradle summit which was my objective. The boulder scramble was longer than I anticipated, but the views from the summit were breath-taking. Being able to view a considerable portion of the Overland Track, and as far as Frenchmans Cap, was a delight. The weather was warm and still on the summit (windy on the way up).