I saw on a poster once, "Nature - the Art of God". God being God, doesn't make life too easy and puts his best works of art in places only bushwalkers can reach. Such is the case with The Western Arthur Range.
To walk here you need a strong heart and a strong pair of legs. I met Olegas Truchanas 's daughter on The Rolling Ground, Kosciusko Nat Pk once, and she told me Peter Dombrovski the great Tasmanian wilderness photographer died of a heart attack two days into the Arthurs. That would put him in the area of Lake Oberon. Olegas, by the way, was the environmentalist who drowned in the Tasmanian wilderness and was found by Peter. The world truly does turn in circles.
I genuinely feel that I have an obligation to share what I experience and photography is why I went to the Arthurs. I can understand why Peter liked the place.
The bus trip in is pleasant, with my favourite bus company - Tasmanian Wilderness Travel. The drivers are remarkable people, very entertaining and genuinely love what they do. I remember discussing this point with Kevin as we crossed the pass leading down to Lake Pedder. When they stop at the creepy crawly trail, to let the tourists look at an old growth rain forest, do take the time and go with them. It is very pretty.
In regard to the tourists, Kevin said that it is a real education for them when they arrive at Scotts Peak Dam to pick up smelly, dirty, hungry looking bushwalkers. Many, he said, find it a bit of a culture shock .
The car park/ camping ground at Scotts Peak is a good spot. I suggest if you are being picked up there to arrive the night before and rise early to walk up to the middle of the dam wall and catch the sunrise. Very pretty.
The walk to Junction Creek, after signing the trip registration book, takes about three hours. Be careful of the muddy bits. One section leaves you thigh deep in clay if you pick the wrong way.
Junction Creek is a nice place, camping among the trees. Remember to read the sign about washing the mud off your shoes so as to not transport the root rot disease over the creek.
It was here that I had my first experience with a remarkable invention - the South West Toilet, so said the sign. Imagine a cylinder about a metre round with a small flat top. At one end of the top is a screw on lid. The trick is, after a messy first try, (a bit slow on where to stand, you see), to balance on the narrow, small other part of the top and do your business, praying that you don't overbalance and fall in, a horrible thought as there is nothing to grab onto. When the ball is full, in comes the helicopter, hooks on and takes it away. I hope you weren't put off by this but I couldn't believe it.
Such is the way with the main bushwalking routes these days. No fires and no digging holes in the ground.
Junction Creek is the main turning point for trips to Port Davey, The Arthurs, The Eastern Arthurs and Federation Peak.
About an hour along The Port Davey track, across the boggy plain and after a short turn off is the base of Morraine A. A good, small muddy campsite with running water is here. The ascent would have to be one of the most unpleasant undertaken in a long time. Heavy erosion has resulted in countless steep steps being taken, taking me about 2 hours. (A young French mountaineer left the campsite and bumped into me above Lake Cygnus at 10am - now that's what I call going for it.)
At the top of the Moraine on the range, with the obligatory outstanding views, is a grassy, very wet slopping plain. In this wet grass, in small holes live small sky blue crayfish. Remarkable.
Basically you climb the Moraine, turn left and seven days later come down off the range. The range consists of 30 lakes, jagged peaks, ridges, cirques, moorland and narrow aretes.
About five hours from Junction Creek you come to Lake Cygnus. A great campsite in a cirque, surrounded by jagged peaks. The Parks and Wildlife have done a remarkable amount of work here, providing set camping areas. Before arriving you pass Mt Hesperus, an easily accessible summit with great views along the range.
My original plan was to walk to Lake Oberon, spend a couple of days there and walk out. I ended up spending a couple of nights at Lake Cygnus and doing a seven hour return walk to the ridge overlooking Lake Oberon.
What caused me to change my mind was the weather - it was unusually fine. Being by myself I was a little concerned about going back without any company in bad weather, in this my first trip here. I thought that I was overdue for a session of foul weather. Perhaps a bit too cautious.
At Lake Cygnus I camped with a party of NPA people from Victoria and a couple from Sydney. The couple were interesting people. Their children now adolescents, don't belong to any walking clubs, they wanted to do something together and were on their third trip to South West Tasmania. I decided to walk out with them.
The section to Lake Oberon is more challenging. The track becomes more exposed here, such as the section on the eastern side of Mt Hayes, and is a series of traverses around the peaks. Mt Hayes provides some great views. Square Lake, named after its shape, is a good rest point after a couple of hours. From here there is short trip up a steep ridge to the best view - Lake Oberon with the rest of the range behind. Staggering stuff.
Whilst there I watched a helicopter fly into the cirque to drop off a couple of fisheries department people.
In a way, I am glad I did this because the angle of light in the morning and afternoon allowed for more balanced photographs.
The first day on the range gave a blue sky, the second high haze and the third low cloud and rain. Strong winds one night resulted in a somewhat cold exit of the tent to adjust the guy ropes. There are stories of walkers being tent bound here for days.
I think I was lucky to get so many good sunny days.
Like most of these initial walks it only made me want to go back. The missed photo opportunities.
I will return, although there are three walks, four weeks, in other places here before I return.
I think I had better put in some quality time with my family if I am to get away with it ... I could get a quick trip next Xmas for one week, another in March and a must do week in the Fagus season. Three weeks ... thank goodness for Frequent Flyer Points.
Ahh, if only it were possible. The problem is it is.
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