Sunday 17th April.
Up early to greet a misty morning, dressing warm and packing lunch , flasks and Michael took a camping stove. The drive to the start of the walk was a scenic tour in itself. The mist cleared to reveal lush grass, shrubs and trees changing to autumn colours .We really did drive through Paradise ,seeing Mt Rowland on the left. Mt Rowland looked very, very high, steep and rocky. Following directions from the book of walks , 200m east of the Memorial Hall we turned left onto a gravel road , known as Kings Road which after 1.4K revealed a small ( very small ours was the 2nd car and it was full) car park. Actually it was just pull over on the road. We signed our names and intent in the book and then began to walk uphill for the next 800m. The track went off to the left through dense Eucalypt forest .It became increasingly rocky and steep and soon hands as well as legs were needed for balance and gripping the rock ahead . We had crossed a gully and then began to climb in earnest. We climbed through a forest of trees and shrubs and always behind us were panoramic views .We clambered up the rocks needing big strides and our hands to support and pull us up .We climbed for a long time. Still it was a beautiful track, there was birdsong, trees, shrubs and clear views. Nearer the top the rocks changed in colour and character and the vegetation changed too becoming alpine. We had to be near the top now, looking down and around there is not much that is higher than us , apart from clouds.
The actual summit is hidden by rocks until it is very close so the final few meters ascent is a very welcome surprise. Wow but was it worth the climb. Such a clear day and from the summit 360 degree views. We were ready for lunch, the restaurant at the top of the world. We were on alpine heathland and could see Cradle Mountain, Barn Bluff to the south, Sheffield and the Northern coastline on turning round. Near the top we met another walker who had walked from Gowrie , she reported that the track was just fine and not at all neglected. So much for local knowledge at the information centre. Walking down of course was hard in a different way, we had to watch every step, knees were on guard , poles useful. Not far below the summit, there was a drop of a couple of meters where we had to lower our packs down separately ??
It was a happy return to Mole Creek after a wonderful day. It was also great to return to a kitchen, a hot shower and home cooked food. Later the guys lit a fire in the little lounge and we planned the next day.
Monday 18th April.
Again waking to misty morning fog ( as per the song) and Paul having predicted good weather the plan was to walk to ( but not up ) the Walls of Jerusalem. Again it was great to enjoy the sunny autumn morning as we drove to the start, turning down Mersey Forest Road and crossing over Fish river. We saw that the river had been dammed and there were signs of construction work. Just after the Fish crossing the left fork leg southeast uphill for about 1.5 K to a car park on the slopes of Howells Buff. The walker registration booth is here and we signed on and began our walk. To walk all the way to Mt Jerusalem ( our plan) is 21.5K return. There was steep climbing head but today a mere 650K. We were heading into an area of wilderness 12 K wide and 40K long with 4000 lakes and tarns. The 5 peaks around the central basin is called the Walls of Jerusalem. The alpine plateau is 1200m above sea level. To protect the vulnerable tundra much of the walk is on boardwalks.
Initially the track was very steep but I good track through shrubs including lomatia and tea tree. After 2.5k we reached Trappers Hut and had a break there. We also met some other walkers .
There was more uphill then the tracked plateaued out somewhat as we approached Solomon’s Jewels. I really loved the alpine terrain with sphagnum mosses, bog plants, alpine ferns, thick grasses, little streams with steep tufty banks, tarns with the freshest water possible. The trees were snow gums and pencil pines .We approached and had a look at Wild dog Creek Campsite , it was getting colder by now. On through Herod’s Gate and Lake Salome on the left. We had decided to walk as far as Damascus gate, and enjoyed views across a valley spotted with tarns to the Great Pines Tier. Returning was a joy to walk through the scenery again from a different perspective . Returning to the plateau we were fascinated to see hundreds of Pandani trees some in clusters some single standing like soldiers. Paul said it was unusual for so many of them to be out in the open ( unlike bush walkers).
Tuesday 19th April,
After 2 monumental climbs this day would perhaps be easier. Another sunny but somewhat windy day, leaving Mole creek this time driving east through Deloraine to Liffey. First we visited Bob Browns former cottage called Oura Oura . He had given the cottage and property to Bush Heritage Australia in 2011. I was very interested to see this modest wooden cottage where he had lived , hosted meetings to plan the campaign against damming the Franklin river, promoted Green politics, nursed his aging parents and from where he cycled to Launceston at weekends to work as a doctor. As we walked onto the property we read a sign saying “Trespassers Welcome”. The cottage stood white, pretty outside , simple inside, surrounded by 14 hectors of grass, woodland, birds backdrop of mountains. Perhaps it would be less comfortable in the depths of winter but on this day it was pleasure and privilege to wonder the grounds, peep into the house through the windows and just enjoy being there.
The afternoon was spent at Liffey falls, a more gentle walk through the rainforest. We walked to the upper cascade. Crossing a bridge and looking down onto the rocky base of the falls we noted many small towers hand build from the nearby rocks and stones. The stones were all different sizes and it was hard to believe they were not held together by cement ( they were not we went down to check). At the end we viewed the giant Eucalyptus Obliqua ( browntop stringybark) , this specimen is 3.39 me diameter and 50m wide. I tried to photograph it but it would not fit into my camera.
This was the last night in Trappers Lodge Mole Creek.
The next day Wednesday 20th April began our next series of adventures in Cradle Mountain National Park.
The report for this will follow in the next addition of Boots n All.