I was fortunate to enjoy a fine walk on the Central Plateau of Tasmania. The route was – Lake Bill, Lake Myrtle, Mt Rogoona, Lake Meston, Junction Lake, Cloister Lagoon, Chalice Lake, Cathedral Mountain, Mersey River, Overland Track, Windy Ridge, Pine Valley, Lake St Clair.
I had been staying for a few days at my sister and brother in law’s house at West Ulverstone and enjoying their hospitality. On my last evening there, Roger joined us. He had driven down from Sydney and taken his car to Tasmania on the ferry. He had planned a walk to Lake Bill and Cathedral Mountain – and I planned to join him for that part of the walk and then walk out via the Southern Reserve. For the first night of the trip – my sister, Alicson and brother in law, Shane joined us.
We drove to Lake Rowallan and then parked at the small carpark at the start of the Lake Bill Track. It was a beautiful fine day – a welcome change from some of the weather I had experienced so far on my visit to Tasmania. Also – the forecast was pretty good for the next week.
I was an easy walk to the top of the ridge and from there not far to Lake Bill. We stopped for lunch in a nice sunny place not far before Lake Bill. One of Roger’s goals on the walk was to study the post bushfire regeneration at Lake Bill. The track around the side of lake Bill took us through a burnt out area. The track was still quite well marked and easy to follow.
At the far end of the lake, we had to cross the stream that flows from Lake Myrtle to Lake Bill. This was quite high after recent snow. Roger crossed in his shoes – getting them quite wet. I took mine off and waded across. My sister and her husband went upstream. They had been here before – and knew of a crossing log. Further along, there had been a section of new trackwork – the track had been recut through a less boggy area. Part way along we made a short diversion to inspect the sit of an old hut. Not much remained of it. I think it had been burnt down sometime – but not in the recent bushfire.
We soon arrived at Lake Myrtle. What a beautiful place it was! Roger wanted to stay here two nights – to give hime time to study the bushfire regeneration at Lake Bill. I was more than happy to spent an extra day at a place as nice as this.
There were quite a few possible campsites. Some were less protected and offered sun and views. Other were sheltered by scrub a little further around. We chose the more exposed sunny sites. The forecast was good – so why not?
Looking across the lake we could just see the top of Mt Ossa -a bit snowy after the recent weather. Much closer was the dominant peak of Mt Rogoona.
With a new moon, we enjoyed a great starry sky. I was able to do a little astrophotography.
We awoke to a dewey morning. We farewelled Alicson and Shane, and a little later Roger set of with his camera a notepad back to Lake Bill. I spent a relaxing day near Lake Myrtle.
It was a beautiful place to wander around. I spent a bit of time exploring one of the nearby tracks. It went around the northwest side of the lake and then through a low saddle and started descending to Jacksons Creek to join the Chapter Lake Track. It would be a quicker way to get to Lake Myrtle or good for a circuit walk.
I later headed up the track towards Lake Myrtle. I only went a short way to some lovely pools. From there, it looked an easy and worthwhile walk to Lake Poa.
Roger returned later in the afternoon and had quite good day.
Then another cool starry night. Next morning was sunny and frosty with a tinge of mist over Lake Myrtle.
We packed up and then started off on the track to Lake Meston. Part way along, we left our packs and started off along a cairned route that leads to the summit plateau of Mt Rogoona. I had been up this way on a previous trip and knew you had to look carefully to spot the cairns. We made our way to the alpine area of dolerite boulders and small tarns. One of them was fringed by some native deciduous beech – our first fagus of the walk.
From there it was not far to the summit. With perfect weather we had excellent views in all directions, but our eyes were drawn to the high peaks of the Reserve. We could see all the way from the peaks of the Du Cane and Pelion Ranges to Cradle Mountain.
We then returned to our packs for a well deserved lunch break near some pools a little further down the track. From there we descended to Lake Myrtle. Our track joined the Lake Adelaide – Lake Myrtle – Junction Lake Track near the Lake Myrtle Hut. Around about the hut was some magnificent fagus.
Our original plan was to walk down to Junction Lake that day, but our climb of Mt Rogoona had taken a fare while and we were both feeling a bit tired. However – the area around the Lake Myrtle Hut was very damp – and camping there did not appeal. I had marked a campsite on my map – a short way along the track and when we arrived there it seemed a lot better than near the hut. Small, but a lot drier, and there was a creek nearby for water.
Next morning, we walked down to Junction Lake and stopped for a break at the campsite a short way down the lake – a very nice place.
We then carefully located the track that goes to Cloister Lagoon. It was marked by faded pink tape and the odd cairn or two. It follows an open stream bed for a fair way until myrtle forest is reached – and then climbs up and you soon reach Cloister Lagoon.
Some more nice fagus as we followed the track around Cloister Lagoon. At the far end, we found a nice rock shelf to sit on for lunch. We then continued up through an unusual valley past a few more lakes and down to Chapter Lake.
Then we followed a rough bushwalkers track that climbs up near Grail Falls and goes to Chalice Lake and Tent Tarn on the Cathedral Mountain Plateau. Grail Falls had an impressive flow after the recent snow – but the Sun made photography difficult. But higher up – the cascades were really of exquisite beauty. The creek was descending through some fagus. Magic!
It was starting to get late when we reached Chalice Lake and we looked around for a campsite. We spotted a nice place – but it was already occupied by tents. But we soon found another spot not far along the lake.
That evening and the next morning were exceptionally beautiful. Quite atmospheric.
We awoke to a covering of mist, and as the Sun burnt it off – we were treated to an amazing fogbow. Very special to see!
After packing up, we headed off to Tent Tarn. We started following a series of cairns – but they seemed to be going in the wrong direction and it didn’t seem to fit in with what I recalled from my last visit. Checking the map carefully and using a phone GPS with open street maps showed that we had deviated from the track by several hundred metres. So we then headed cross country, trying to avoid scrubby patches and bogs (not so easy) – and sure enough picked up a much better track and more cairns.
We soon arrived at Tent Tarn. After elevenses, I left Roger and headed off by myself intending to camp on the rim of Cathedral Mountain like I had on my previous trip. Roger planned to spend a few days on the Cathedral Plateau and then walk back via Chapter Lake to Jacksons Creek and the Mersey Valley Road and his car. My intention was to walk out to Lake St Clair and spent time in Pine Valley photographing fungi.
I initially followed a cairned route that led up towards the Twin Spires. Part way up, I left the track and traversed on dolerite boulders around the side of the Cathedral Mountain summit to the rim. I then, slowly headed along the rim in a south east direction to my campsite.
I ended up camping in the same spot I had used on my last visit. There were plenty of nearby tarns – I could use one for a wash and another for water. This was a great spot to spend some time. The views are absolutely magnificent. From my site I could see all the peaks of the Du Cane Range and also Mt Ossa. It also allowed me to see the massive cliffs under the summit area of Cathedral Mountain.
In the other direction were a series of beautiful alpine lakes – fringed with pencil pines and fagus. Further back was Mt Rogoona.
A pleasant spot to sit back ad wait for the sunset.
After sunset, I tried a little photography using the moonlight.
Sunrise was not that atmospheric. No morning mist. But it did herald a fine day.
After packing up, I started off on the decent down too the Mersey River. There is no track for this section, and it is not open going. But I had noted on the side of my map, that last time it only took one and a quarter hours from campsite to Fergusson Falls. So it couldn’t be too bad. At first I avoided the worst of the scrub – sub alpine scoparia – by following the more open leads under cliffs to the south and then started descending through forest. As I descended the forest became more open – although the ground was quite steep and also greasy – so you had to watch your step. Fallen trees were the main obstacles.
The trees were magnificent – large Eucalypts and King Billy Pines. There also lot of very tall Pandanis. The offset floor was covered by fungi.
I headed down following a compass bearing to Fergusson Falls on the Mersey River. But I really did not need the compass. I could hear the falls – and just walked down towards the sound. I was surprised to reach the river in what was close to an hour and a quarter.
This time I crossed the river on the rock bridge just below Fergusson Falls. On the far side – once on the track, I could start looking for fungi to photograph. A fair bit was out – so I took my while reaching Windy Ridge. That night I stayed in the Bert Nicholls Hut.
The next day, during the morning I walked to Pine Valley, arriving at the hut for lunch.
I spent a rewarding afternoon looking for and photographing the fungi in the valley. I could see that another full day would be needed. The best fungi in Pine Valley can be seen close to the lower section of the track to the Labyrinth and also along the Acropolis Track and the old track to the Geryon Camp.
I stayed in the Pine Valley Hut both night of my visit. The first night I shared the hut with 5 other walkers. The second night I had the hut to myself – several other parties had arrived – but they camped outside on the new tent platforms. My day in the valley had worked out very well.
One species I was surprised to find was a waxcap I was familiar with around Sydney – Hygrocybe aurantipes. I found it in two places several kilometres apart.
There were also a lot of other colourful waxcaps out –
One interesting species that I observed before on previous trips to the valley is small yellow disc/cup that grows on wood. It is unusual in that it has a serrated edge –
I have not known what this species is. But after posting its picture on the Tasmanian Fungi Facebook page – it seem to be identical to a species that occurs in Chile called Cyathicula chlorosplenioides.
After my two nights at Pine Valley, I decided not to camp high – the weather forecast was now bad, so instead I walked out slowly – seeing nights at Narcissus Hut, then a very short day to Echo Point and a last half day along the Lake St Clair to Cynthia Bay. This schedule would allow me plenty of time for fungi photography.
Despite the first rain of the trip, the walk down to Narcissus Hut was quite pleasant. I arrived for lunch and spent the wet afternoon close to the hut.
When I arrived at the hut, I was the only one to put my sleeping bag down on one of the bunks. But late the hut filled up – including a large family group with a 18 month old baby. So I was happy to pitch my tent on one of the new tent platforms. Later, all the platforms and a fair bit of the ground nearby was occupied with tents.
Next morning, I set off in overcast conditions for my slow walk to Echo Point. It was slow – I stopped many times along the way to photograph fungi.
The fungi was excellent. Lots of interesting species were out. One of note, was a rare species that I have seen at Wolli Creek in Sydney – Humidicutis viridimagentea.
I found it in two places along the Overland Track on the way to Echo Point. Here is some of the other fungi I observed –
When I arrived at Echo Point, no one else was there, but later two more walkers arrived and a party of kayakers camped outside.
Next morning, was more of the same – a slow walk along the lake photographing fungi as I went.
I arrived at the Visitor Centre at Cynthia Bay, Lake St Clair, in time for lunch at the cafe. Then it was over to the nearby bunk room and a hot shower. In the afternoon, I wandered back up the track to the Watersmeet and did the Platypus Bay loop and the Aboriginal Walk. I didn’t spot any Platypus but I did find a lot more fungi.
The next day, my bus to Hobart was not until the afternoon, so I spent the morning photographing – Lake St Clair and some more fungi – back along the track to Shadow Lake and also the last part of the Overland Track.
More photographs from the trip are online starting from this page on my website.