Grant, our Wild Dog Minister, got his arm twisted by us and has “happily” provided a comprehensive trip report on the Wilmont – Frankland range, which is in the Lake Pedder area of Tasmania. Many thanks to Grant for taking the time to put together this very detailed report.
Getting there from Hobart
Grant and three others undertook the walk in January 2008. This walk is for bushwalkers who are experienced in the Tasmanian Wilderness. You must be competent with navigation by compass. Map reading should be second nature. Grant suggests you should have completed a hike such as the Western Arthurs before attempting this hike. He is NOT JOKING.
There are five 1:25,000 maps required for this walk.
They are: Serpentine , View, Rookery, Solitary and Maconochie . Grant has noted the coordinates of significant spots in his trip report.
Wilmot – Frankland Range 4th – 11th February 2008, anticipated trip up to 10 days
Day 1 Serpentine Dam – past Mt Sprent:
Four of us left my place at 6:00 am paused at Westerway and Frodsham’s Pass, and went down to Red Knoll Hill Lookout where we left my car ready for our trip home. Looking out across Lake Pedder the ranges looked very long and high and I felt more than a little daunted by it.
A generous partner of one walker took us back up Scott’s Peak road and round to Serpentine Dam. At 9:45 am we hoisted our packs, crossed the dam wall, headed up the steps, signed the walker registration and then on to the hills. The weather was fine with blue skies.
We started well enough. It’s a steep climb for a while as the track makes its way up. It heads south initially, then west climbing steeply before bending north, continuing to climb, then flattens out alongside the first stream where we found water (an encouraging sign), as we’d not expected any. The day was warming up. We expected to get to the top by midday.
Shonky Map showing the start of the walk at Serpentine Dam.
The track has several climbs or ‘steps’. Mt Sprent trig tower can be seen to the south (left) but follow the track west, eventually reaching a saddle grassy area where it turns south (Serp 153628). There are more climbs across three saddles then a rock climb, cresting the final summit where there are great views on a clear day.
I was pretty slow but eventually caught up and after some rest on top we headed off again, albeit a few hours later than expected. On leaving Sprent (2 peak bagging points) we moved back north from the summit about 10 – 15 metres then down the western edge (Serpentine 152616) then south-ish down among the rocks to the next grass ‘ledge’, headed south for a few hundred metres across low scrub (knee height) down the lead toward 907 (Serp 154607), then turned west down into the valley (Serp 148605).
We stopped for a drink (and I needed a bit more rest) at the stream before climbing up the western side. We stopped beside the peak (894 – Serp 146605), then headed SE down the lead to a saddle past 785 (View – 152596) and arrived there about 4:30 pm, about half a day back from where we’d originally expected to be (Islet Lake).
About 5:00 pm rain clouds thickened overhead, two of the group found a running stream and topped up their water. We had tea in our tents as the rain began. I crawled into bed at 6:00 pm exhausted as the lightning began. I woke about 9:15 pm to a lightning flash close by, and thunder 5 secs later. It crossed my mind that there’s no protection from lightning when I’m in my tent, nor is anyone else safe in theirs. I drifted off to sleep and woke at 6:30 next morning, feeling about 80% of normal fitness instead of the 40% I’d struggled with on day 1.
The others told me of the lightning flashes immediately followed by thunder the night before for about half an hour, and similar thoughts of our vulnerability to the random ‘landing’ of lightning around us. The good news was that the storm had dropped good amounts of water on the top of the range and so had relieved our anxiety about its availability for the next 2-3 days.
We headed off at about 8:30 am south-ish across the ridge line, over 785 – View 153593; 829 – View 153588; 776; 829 – View 153576; 793; 794; 813 – View 153564; 810 – View 154557; 737 – View 156552; 776 – View 158546 and 804 – View 158544. It was reasonably easy going, clear shin deep grass, with a bit of a pad now and again. The sky was clear again so visibility was very good. We stopped just north of Koruna Peak about 12:00-ish just past 804 – View 159544, where there was a small pool under a rock overhang.
We climbed Koruna Peak (2 peak bagging points) with daypacks, going up on the eastern side of the north-facing gully. When we got in among the rocks we cut west across to the middle of the gully and climbed up the grass and rocks to the peak. On our return we found a pad all the way back down to our lunch spot, but it was overgrown a fair bit so would’ve been ‘uncomfortable’ to climb up. We had lunch and afterwards I didn’t feel I could climb the peak with my full pack (not yet recovered from my exhaustion of preparation days and Day 1). This proved an unfortunate decision. As a consequence of my turning away from the peak, we headed around the western side of Koruna, trying to stay as high as possible, but got seriously stuck in thick scrub. (Others have suggested there’s a pad around the eastern side leading to Islet Lake, but we weren’t going to stay at Islet so thought we’d go on around the west side of the peak).
We slogged through for the afternoon, about an hour and a half to get around the back of the peak (about 500 m ‘as the crow flies’) to a saddle (View 163538). As daunting as the peak looked, it would have been better to go up and over with the full packs, as we had to gain the same saddle on the south-eastern side.
From here we headed south-east and round the western sides of 943, 922 (View 164534) then headed further south east toward what some call ‘Hatchett Peak’ – 837 (View 166528). When we were almost there, we dropped down through the scrub on the eastern slope to the valley floor (Hatchett Valley). This was thick, but reasonably easy to get through as it was moss-covered logs, soggy branches and soft moss underfoot.
It was great to reach the grassed valley floor and flowing stream (View 167528). Comfortable tent spots under the peak with a view to the hills to come, but plenty of water and a good night’s sleep before that. There are plenty of tent spots along the valley floor with the stream, when it’s flowing, never more then 30 – 40 m away.
Camp site – Hatchet Valley at the end of Day 2 looking south east to the hills we began with on Day 3.
I woke feeling much better. The weather had ‘clagged’ in up the valley. We headed off about 8:30 again along the valley floor then climbed up into the mist veering south-east, bearing 133° on the compass, sidling on the eastern side past 813 (View 168524) and 866 (View 170520). We then descended through scrub to a grassy creek area (View 173518) before climbing solidly through thicker scrub for a while on the same bearing before cresting the hill south-west of 768 (View 175518) overlooking Lake Wilmot, which like all other lakes on the ranges, was inaccessible.
From here we headed almost due south to the east of 872 (View 174515), west of 922 (View 177513), west of 918 and 961 (View 178508).
We crested the rise and saw a grassy saddle to the west as the sky cleared for a couple of hours. We headed west down the slope and across the grassy saddle and climbed the north side of 967 (View 177504); then on again south-west across another grassy saddle with good views of Coronation Peak (6 peak bagging points) to the south-east and Tribulation Ridge to the south. We climbed around the north then west side of 971 (View 177501) where we had lunch, I think.
There’s a pad along the next part, over a couple of ‘bumps’, which become a regular feature of the ranges. Each bump was enough to feel a little more daunted by the look of Tribulation. A fairly clear pad leads to the ridgeline, be on it before you start to climb, as the scrub nearby looks quite thick. The pad climbs steadily up the first peak, usually on the east (steep) side with a climb onto a boulder very close to the edge, and then across a small saddle and goes mostly up the west side of the highest point 1037 (Rookery 182484). Look out for the dragon!
Looking toward Coronation Peak (the ‘bump’ in the distance on the left). We had to walk hard right and cross Tribulation Ridge before getting closer to Coronation and our wet/windy night.
From here there are some ups and downs on the west side before this abruptly ends and seems to descend vertically down 10 – 15 metres into scrub. If you reach this point, stop! Don’t go down. Instead, retrace your steps about 20 metres and there’s a gully up to the east (right as you retrace). We left four small stones here to mark it, if they’re still there. We climbed up into this gully till it too appeared to lead to nothing, this is the right way! The rocks up on the right (south-ish) needed to be climbed (some took packs off), and then we hugged the east side of the tallest ‘blade’ and saw a pad. It then descended through trees to the east and led along the west side of the next part of the range. There was clear walking again, even if our sky was not, and once in the open again we climbed eastwards then south-east and the range opened out onto a saddle (Rookery 188479).
A similar spot with more of Lake Pedder in the pic
Coronation Peak was to the east (left) as we walked onto the saddle, although we could not see a thing. We camped on this saddle, setting up the tents in a stiffening breeze and collecting water from small puddles and yabby holes. We arrived about 4:00 pm as I recall and by 5:30 the rain began and the wind increased considerably from ‘stiff’ to ‘strong’ to something more akin to ‘gale’. Both wind and rain persisted all night. My Minaret stood the test with the only water inside being condensation on the toe of my sleeping bag from sliding down the slope and touching the lower western (wind & rain) facing end of the tent.
Grant’s tent at Coronation Saddle
The two in Microlites fared much worse, one because the flat spot turned into a puddle overnight and the other because of the wind blowing rain under the edge of the fly. By morning the rain had eased but the wind was still howling. We decided to move on, as it was a horrible place to spend the day in those conditions.
We could not climb Coronation because of the rain, wind and very short visibility, so the highest point valued peak will have to wait another time. In the packing I almost lost my tent bag to the wind but for some sharp ‘slips-catching’ reflexes, but I was not fast enough to catch the plastic coverall bag I put the tent bag inside, so somewhere Coronation was crowned with a thick plastic ‘Rivers’ bag, my apologies to the wilderness.
Shonky Map showing Coronation Peak to Frankland Peak (near Lake Surprise)
We headed further along Tribulation Ridge. When leaving the saddle we stayed on the west side and followed the pad, we had a good day for pads mostly, up and down and around. We got a glimpse of Orb Lake with Coronation Peak to the east, we then came around to the saddle north east of Double Peak (3 Peak bagging points) (Rookery 196467) where we dropped the packs out of the wind and headed to the eastern of the double peaks. We climbed the peak up a partly visible pad and rock scramble to a grassy saddle and the final brief climb. On top it was driving rain so just enough time for photos before returning. On our way back we saw a metal stake at the lower end of the small grassy saddle (this became a useful reference later on).
We got to our packs in closed in ‘clag’ again and thought we should head between the two peaks. We were wrong. We looked east back toward the peak we’d climbed and I led us up a gully and clambered over a few rocks before I realised I had lost my sense of direction! The others thought we should head toward the small grassy saddle we’d seen near the peak and, as needed to happen for all of us a couple of times, I acquiesced to the majority. I was ‘lost’ in terms of not know which direction was which, and then just to add to the moment, it began snowing light flakes! (A Tasmanian summer of course). Fortunately these only lasted a minute, but it felt an increasingly tense minute as, for the first and only time on the walk I did not know which way was which.
Our scramble got us back up to the grassy saddle and the metal stake. Like Koruna, it would have been better to carry our packs up the peak the first time. From here one of our group looked into the mist and spied the murmuring suggestion of a pad on the eastern end of the saddle. To me it was the opposite direction to where I thought we needed to go, but out there, pads tend to correct, so we followed it that way. It was still clouded in, 20 metres visibility, we followed a succession of cairns fairly closely spaced for a while along the Madonna Ridge to a saddle part way along. At this open area there were no more cairns, just another ‘knob’ we expected to have to cross somehow. But there were no cairns at the eastern or western ends, despite four of us searching for about 10 minutes in the low ‘clag.’
Someone suggested we retrace to the last cairn we saw, where we looked around, spread out just on the edge of visibility and still came onto the open saddle with no apparent next step. The compass bearing 135° pointed into what seemed an abyss in the ‘clag’, the GPS confirmed we were where we thought we were and while three of us looked at map, compass and GPS, the fourth, not me, suddenly called out, ‘hey, look!’ and sure enough, there on the bearing of 135°, after a steepish descent of 40 or so metres, was the next part of the range, so trust the compass!
The temporary thinning of mist had revealed the range and there were more serious ups and downs through the scrub following the pad mostly on the western side of the knobs and eventually out onto another saddle (Rookery 213455) and the steady climb to Redtop peak (1 peak bagging point) with some ‘pre-peaks’ on the way. The pad goes to within about 20m of the peak, which has a surprising square shaped boulder on top, as though a crane has lifted it into place.
From here there is more scrub, a pad on the eastern side and through the trees (Rookery 217453) before turning (cairns) onto the west and the reasonably open rocky slopes of 935 (Rookery 222454). We sidled on the west side of 935 before dropping packs on the saddle (Rookery 223453) west of The Cupola (2 Peak bagging points). There was a pad from the saddle down onto the grass area where a small stream flowed. On a still night it’d be fine to set up tents there, but it seems very vulnerable to wind. It’d be a good place if the intention is to climb The Lion the next day on the say to the Citadel shelf. It took us about 15 mins to reach the summit across cushion plants and some rocks and about 10 mins to return. Good views over Lake Pedder and north-south along the range from the top of the ‘cup.’
It was about 3:00 pm as we headed south to 917 (Solitary 223447) and on the western side of another couple of ‘bumps’. One saddle has 2 or 3 rocks standing like sentinels about equal distance apart. We followed a pad up and around the west side and climbed into a saddle among the ‘knobs’ where you can go out to the Lion (2 Peak bagging points). We didn’t have time to go out to the Lion that afternoon but thought we might get a chance on our ‘day trips’ day coming up tomorrow.
We began on the eastern side of the knob following a pad and cairns among the craggy bits then crossed up and over to the western side following cairns where there were several more cairns, some in different directions, but mostly down hill further west. We went part way down these, then climbed up south-east (left) over a rocky outcrop, down again – it was very convoluted, but we stayed with the cairns and it seemed to give an easier trip on a pad which is much better than the scrub.
Eventually (after 2 hours in this last knob!) we were out on an open saddle with one last hill to climb, sort of. Cairns were not to be seen and the pad disappeared as we ascended, but we kept our bearing (135° – ish). Don’t head to the top part of the hill, instead sidle to the west of the top which brings you down to a very bare looking pebbly saddle. Once on the saddle (Solitary 233433) there’s a pad heading east (left) down a grassy slope, along a stream (if there’s water) and down again in among the moss covered tree branches. About 5 minutes later it opened onto a grass area with a small stream and trees and plenty of tent sites (Solitary 234434). To get to the most sheltered tent sites (which we found the next day), as you come out of the trees facing east, veer north east (left), follow a pad about 15 – 20 metres to one sheltered spot on your left, and another 10 – 15 metres further on. At the end of this second one there’s a good view out over The Moat which, as you’d expect by now, is surrounded by thick scrub.
It seems the only way of accessing the Moat is to come down a lead from the Lion, but it’s a longer trip and thicker scrub. I think it’s preferable just to enjoy the view. The grassy shelf we were on is called the Citadel Shelf and it was our best campsite on the whole range. Worth staying for a couple of nights.
Citadel shelf looking toward the nearest Citadel
A day trip day. We left the tents at 8:45 am to head to Remote Peak (2 Peak bagging points), back up onto the saddle, headed south-east for 100 metres or so then turned south down the hill. The entire valley had been burnt by fire so there was no undergrowth which made the walking a lot easier. We had reasonable visibility, but not to the top of Remote. We headed toward the saddle between the ridge we were on and the one leading to Croaking Lake (Solitary 230424). We sidled the lead east of the lake and climbed to the outlet creek flowing from Croaking Lake (Solitary 226424). There was a pad from here, firmer black soil, up above the northern end of the lake and it then climbed and sidled the eastern side of the peak for about 500 metres along under the rocky peak which we couldn’t see because of cloud.
We turned south when we got to (Solitary 219425) and climbed up the gully that was like a back door entrance to the peak. It clagged in even more and was raining when we got to the top, so only a brief stay. It’d been an hour from the tents to Croaking Lake, then and hour from the Lake to the summit.
On our return we headed more directly toward the saddle (Solitary 230424), and then climbed a more open lead to the east of where we’d come down earlier in the day, more in line with 948 (Solitary 235432) as our bearing through the mist. About 100 metres short of this we turned to the north and crested the saddle where the pad led back to the tents. We arrived back at about 12:15 pm.
Over lunch we kept an eye on the clouds waiting for a clear break to try to get to the Citadel (3 Peak bagging points). About 1:00 pm it looked like it’d be clear for a while so we headed off. If you go along to the eastern most grassy area, closest to the 884 knob (Solitary 236434) there’s a well worn pad through all the scrub, so it’s worth finding. The pad leads to the knob (884). We went over the top of it and followed the pad & cairns to the first Citadel (this one is not the highest even though the Citadel name is closest to it on the map). The pad descends to the saddle then goes around the north-west side. It’s a well worn pad and as you get passed the first Citadel it descends steeply through scrub, but the pad is as good as many tracks. It crosses the saddle between the two Citadels and the marginally higher one looks very imposing from here.
There are a couple of cairns and the pad & cairns go around the north-west side of this taller (by 3m) Citadel, keeping fairly close to the scrub-rock line. It goes past a vegetated steep gully to the south-east (right), before coming to a scree-type gully going up south-east (right). At the top of this loose gravely-stone-rocky gully comes the ‘interesting’ part of the climb. The next section is a corner-gully and is ‘steep’. The lower section has two rock-wedged steps at convenient points in the ‘corner’ and after these comes a tricky haul up using the scoparia branches and other, moving yet seemingly well rooted, plants. The rock was damp, but it wasn’t raining, which made it important to concentrate as the moisturised narrow ledges were a bit less than trustworthy for grip. Once above this bit, the next part isn’t as steep, and it has more vegetation to hold and feel protected by. At the top of this section, turn south-east (left) for about 10 – 15m, then east, there are cairns along this part, so remember the way, then south-east up one last climb to the top. We had good views to Lake Pedder, but all peaks were cloud-covered, which was the ‘normal’ view for our trip. Good view to the Moat, one or two of our tents, and Murphy’s Bluff to the east.
On the way back we had to be careful to watch for the cairns and the remembered distinctive rocks, as the ‘wrong’ gully leads to more difficult places. We retraced our way back down, it was easier in some ways than going up, and picked our day packs up again from under an overhang, before stepping back onto the saddle. The pad was sometimes harder to see, but with two other pairs of eyes and rememberings, we found our way back to the tents about 2 hours (1:50 to be precise) since leaving.
We had a quiet afternoon discussing our options for ‘after Frankland peak.’
A very quiet night with no wind or rain. It was so unusual I had trouble sleeping.
A big day with a long walk and climbs.
We left Citadel shelf about 8:30 am, climbed to the saddle and headed along the range. There was a reasonable pad to follow, mostly along the burnt/unburnt line of the ridge. Sidled the western side of the 933 knob (Solitary 243427) where we dropped our packs, glad that the highest part of Murphy’s Bluff (2 Peak bagging points) was closest to us.
It was very open walking across the saddle and a reasonably easy climb up to the peak in the cold wind. Returned to the packs in about 45 minutes for the round trip.
From the packs we followed the pad through scrub, much of it burnt, over 872 (Solitary 246424) on the eastern (I think) side of the saddle, then the pad toward Cleft Peak (1 Peak bagging point). The pad was reasonably easy to follow and we dropped our packs at 908 (Solitary 256425), to climb the peak in the cold wind, about 25 – 30 mins return trip.
From here we headed south-east down the lead toward 807 (Solitary 258420), across the saddle, following a pad and on to Greycap (1 Peak bagging point) (Solitary 272417).
From Greycap we followed the pad and low scrub south, south-east, then east to 816 (Solitary 275415); 815 (Solitary 277409); 797 (Solitary 279408). Once 150 – 200m past 797 we turned east (left) at Solitary 281407 at the saddle before the last knob, and descended the steep grassy and low scrub slope to the first Frankland Saddle. At this saddle it’s possible to put a tent. We decided to continue on toward Frankland Peak as it was about 3:00 pm. We looked around the western side of the saddle where there’s a pad to a more sheltered tent site, but after the tent site comes much thicker scrub. So we returned to climb the indistinct pad up the NW facing slope between 747 (Solitary 285408) and 739 (Solitary 284407). It was mostly shin deep grass and a few rocks to ‘hop’.
We got over this reasonably quickly and from there the pad up to Frankland Peak is close to the eastern edge of the ridge line. It’s easier to walk this than climb through the scrub, as I was doing for a fair while out of sight of the others. We stopped at a flat grassy area (Solitary 296404) and set up the tents, above the last main saddle before the Peak. We’d not seen much water on the climb so three of us set off around 6:00 pm for Frankland Peak (3 Peak bagging points) with water bottles/bladders in tow. We found some puddles at the saddle (Solitary 296403) where we filled some bottles. From there we headed up the slopes (mostly burnt) to the rocky crags. The actual peak is further than it first appeared as we had to go over a succession of rocky crags. The weather was clear, but in cloud it’d be a follow your compass bearing experience.
Once on top we looked over to Secheron Peak and the gullies on the eastern steep slopes to get off Frankland and around to Secheron, as well as our other option of going the opposite direction west towards Right Angle Peak and then down to Pebbly Creek and on to Mt Giblin which looked much clearer and easier. My feet were very sore at this time so I was very agreeable to missing Secheron and going out to Right Angle and Giblin, but we had a good idea of what’s involved in getting to Secheron, Lloyd Jones and Terminal Peak. It’d be a long down hill, then back up again to get onto the saddle linking Frankland and Secheron, and then the rocky climb up on to Secheron, before the tricky bit, so we’re told, getting on to Lloyd Jones. We returned to the tents by 8:00 pm (because of our loitering reconnoitring), so it’d been a long day with four peaks and assessing options for tomorrow.
Shonky map showing Frankland Peak to Scotts Peak Dam – the end!
We woke to heavy cloud again, so were pleased we’d climbed Frankland Peak the night before. The cloud and mizzle confirmed our decision to go to Right Angle rather than the wet ledges off Secheron.
We headed off about 8:30 am and walked out toward Right Angle Peak hoping to see some tape markers we’d been told were there. We had 20 m visibility, so stopped regularly to check the compass bearing. The GPS was not calibrated to the new Maconochie map so we relied on compass, map and reading the clag covered terrain.
We passed Right Angle Peak (Maconochie 303394) and headed west past 889 (Maconochie 297393). We were expecting/hoping to find the tape markers at the saddle past 847 (Maconochie 293394) and as we got closer to the saddle walked nearer the edge scouting for a pad or markers.
At the saddle just west of 847 we found a pad, and a small cairn (Maconochie 294393), which was very reassuring. We followed the pad down into the forest, passed a rock drip area (some got down without packs), and kept going down pretty much. We had to be careful when the pad got into the moss covered treed areas as it became more difficult to see. One or two scouted in different directions while two stayed put for a base reference point. The pad turned right a bit which opened into a clearer area for a minute then more thick scrub. The pad made all the difference to getting through much more easily than if we’d had to push through the full thickness of scrub, which would have made it a full day getting down the 800 metres to the grassy lead (Maconochie 294387).
We headed down the open grassy lead after a break, the pad goes pretty much down the ‘spine’ to where it meets Pebbly Creek (Maconochie 298383). A small area for a tent had been pressed down and another about 15 metres west indicated someone else’s campsite.
We pushed through the scrub to the other side of the creek, went horizontal west for about 20m before turning up hill and out onto the open grass slope of the back end of Giblin range heading toward 590 (Maconochie 298380).
There was cloud on all the high peaks and we got up onto the ridge line at 590 (Maconochie 298380), climbed the ridge line over 682, 743, 801 and had lunch just before the peak (2 Peak bagging points). We climbed the peak with packs, as there’s no reasonable way round either side. The ridgeline descends then over a bump 869 (Maconochie 325378). Past 824 (Maconochie 327379) the pad drops steeply. Be careful here to look for a side branch to the right as you go down (maybe 1/3 of the way). If you keep straight ahead on the main pad you stop at a 5 metre cliff drop. By taking the right turn you pass these and down onto the saddle. We climbed over the next couple of bumps 884, 838(Maconochie 342383).
We thought of following a lead south of 838 down onto the valley floor and camping near the creek, or walking down the much clearer north side to the Pebbly Creek plain. It was a close weighing up of the options and we eventually decided on the north side. We sidled around to 811 (Maconochie 345335) and decided to miss Jim Brown’s peak (no points anyway) and aim for the lakeshore to camp. Two climbed higher, and two went lower (including me) expecting to get down and across rather than push tired knees up on one more climb. This was a mistake. After 7 days of regular experiences that higher means less scrub which means easier walking in the long run, it should’ve been clear that another 50m climb was going to be better than going lower even though the lower gully looked clear enough, the ones out of sight round the corner were not.
The two who went higher missed the worst of the gullies. The two who went lower, including me, ended up going right down to the Pebbly Creek plain at about Maconochie 347394. Then along the plain was slower through button grass holes, higher scrub and soft mud underfoot. The others were out of sight and obviously at our agreed tent site. We two, pushed back south across the creek to get to the more solid grass at the base of the slope. One of the other pair had come out looking for us and we trudged into the tent area at 7:45pm, after walking-climbing 11 hours of the day!
The site was Maconochie 358394, just across from the Barrier Islands. We each found flat enough spots for the tents and it was great to have the lake so close. It was the latest we’d cooked tea on the whole trip, but we entertained thoughts that maybe this would be our last night. I drank the last of my much valued hot chocolate, so I was more than hopeful, and, of course, it rained overnight again.
We left at our usual time around 8:30 am and headed along the lakeshore. It turned out to be much easier than expected. We’d got someone’s trip notes off the internet who had waded the lake the length of the shore for a tough day and a half. We’d expected quite boggy areas at the creek deltas but none of this eventuated. Where it got softer we climbed off the mostly rocky or dirt shore and went through the knee deep scrub where there was often a pad anyway but this was only 2 or 3 times and only for about 20 – 30 metres each time.
We had to put up a temporary branch ‘bridge’ once or twice to get across some creek outlets, but once we’d passed the two main creek deltas before morning tea we were confident of reaching the car early that afternoon. But, of course, the last kilometres can sometimes be the longest of a walk, and we could see our final hill seemingly not too far away.
We crossed the peninsula to miss McKay’s Point and then sidled around the last hill at 345 (Maconochie 399345) down to the south end of the last inlet before climbing up the hill to the seismic research station.
On the climb we split into two pairs again. Two of us stayed high, walked east along the rough 4WD ridge line to the road, dropping the packs and me walking up to Red Knoll Lookout to get the car, and the other two getting to the seismic station and walking down it’s road to the main lookout road. Once I’d retrieved the car, we drove down to meet the others and our walk was complete at about 1:30 pm which we thought was a good time for the lake shore walk.
After a change of clothes (to me, cotton always feels like soft luxury after a walk) and some leg stretches to hold off the lactic acid build up in the legs, we were on the road, quite satisfied with the walk and ourselves. We stopped in at The Possum Shed at Westerway for a drink and luxury snack, chatted with some others with the ‘post-walk-hobble’ who’d been to Lake Rhona for the weekend, before heading home and surprising our families by being back a day earlier than expected and two days earlier than originally planned.
Looking back, it all seemed to go too quickly, despite being eight days. The rain we had limited our views but gave us enough water to drink and I’d rather have the water. We had enough glimpses of the range to appreciate its ruggedness. To me to compare the Wilmot-Frankland with the Arthur range, the Arthur’s are prettier with access to the lakes and a track to follow, but the Wilmot-Frankland is a next level up, like graduating to uni from high school, with it’s lack of water, tougher ups and downs, and navigational demands.
The weather we had was certainly not the worst it could be, but the regular ‘clagged in’ experience meant we had to do our compass-map bearing, and the GPS was a reassuring device. Our experience of the range changed dramatically when it ‘clagged in.’ We went from only needing to be fit enough to get over the bumps, to then also having to be very careful with our navigation as a wrong lead can see you into thick inhospitable scrub very quickly. We worked very well together as a team on the navigation and each had experiences of being the one person to find/point the right way as well as experiences of being wrong. I think that in this area most of a walking party need good navigation skills rather than relying on only one or two to be responsible for everyone.
We appreciated the pads and cairns that others have formed. There are not too many of them to detract from the experience of the range, as you have to work to find them sometimes. Water is the other main issue next to navigation. Our plastic tubes (used like drinking straws) to poke into puddles or down yabby holes, were essential on several days, and that was after we’d had recent good rain earlier in the walk. It would be difficult to find water during a dry spell, even at somewhere like Hatchett Valley and the Citadel Shelf – Moat which both had creeks while we were there.
There is no easy day on the range, unless you have a rest day doing no walking! From start to finish it’s a challenge, with perhaps a half day, or maybe half and hour, here and there that’s easier. While we had an easier second last day over Giblin, most people go over Secheron, Lloyd Jones and Terminal. Our easy final day round the lake shore could have been boggy if the water level was higher, so it’d be worth a check with Hydro about the water level before going. Full supply level for Pedder is 308m Above Sea Level. Hydro Tasmania have lake level info on their website ,which when we returned said Pedder was 1.49m from full.
It’s a great walk, but certainly not for the inexperienced. I recommend that people complete the full traverse of the Arthur’s, plus a few other south-west walks before visiting the Wilmot-Frankland ranges. It’s a good challenge in the best conditions, but with water scarcity, and especially the navigational demands in the regular cloudy weather, it can quickly become beyond the capabilities of many.