South Coast Track – Ironbound Ranges and Leeches

In this post we continue with Larry Hamilton’s guest post on hiking the South Coast Track in Southern Tasmania.

The South Coast Track runs between Melaluka and Cockle Creek in the South West Heritage area in Tasmania. It combines spectacular coastal hiking with some (a lot) of slog through inland sections with mud and more mud….

Part Two commences from the Louisa Creek campsite before he heads up the Ironbound Range, a climb notorious for difficult weather conditions and a very steep exposed climb.

Day Four 22 June

I was up by 5.30 am packing up in the dark and on the track before dawn at 7.45am. It was a beautiful, clear, still morning and the weather report for the area was for heavy fog. That wasn’t evident in the Louisa River valley but as I ascended the Ironbounds the fog rolled in over the ranges and through the valleys from the west. I was above the fog by the time it arrived and so got a very pretty view of the mountains poking out of the fog for most of the day. And I walked in clear weather for the whole of the day. I got to the top of the Ironbounds at 11.30am and was pleased to have had a cool day for the climb. Tackling the climb on a hot summer’s day wouldn’t be my idea of fun.

Views from the Ironbound Range- great weather

I hit the Ironbounds high camp at midday, had lunch and a look around the campsite. The descent was trickier than the ascent as everyone finds and I reached the low camp at 2.30pm and thought carefully about continuing as dusk was not that far away. I decided to push on and almost immediately came across a number of big trees down across the track and my pet hate (yellow, slimy mud! I much prefer the peaty black mud) this combination slowed me down considerably, probably contributed to by some weariness from the climb and descent.

I got into camp as dusk was descending at 4.15pm in pretty dim light and was pleased to have done so. Little Deadmans Bay is a pretty spot and I thought I’d take another rest day to have a good look at it and its surroundings on the morrow.

(Ed: Check out this post Hiking the South Coast Track Solo by a very fit woman)

Day Five 23 June

Having resolved to take a rest day I woke up feeling fresh and eager to continue and as a result thought again about continuing. The forecast was for deteriorating weather and drizzle in the evening so I fought the tendency to keep moving and instead I took advantage of the sunshine and pretty location to dry things out, relax and take some photos.

Deadmans Bay

Day Six 24 June

The drizzle didn’t eventuate yesterday or last night and while the weather was evidently coming, it was not a frontal gale coming from the west but more heavy overcast and increasing drizzle. It is an easy walk from Little Deadmans Bay to the New River Lagoon and the rain started while walking on the beach approaching the lagoon. I had an interesting half hour trying to put on a tarp/poncho I had brought with me and would have been good entertainment for an observer as I struggled to get it draped as it is intended to be. When I eventually got it on I had a good laugh at my tracks on the beach. It looked as if I’d had a moment of madness dancing and pirouetting around in the midst of a sober and solitary trail up to and on from that mad dance. I enjoyed the walk along the beach.

Somehow the wind and the drizzle matched the wildness of the waves, the windswept beach with its jetsam of bull kelp and the pacific gulls and oyster catchers along the shore. As the wind wasn’t all that strong and was mostly from a northerly direction the crossing was uneventful and uncomplicated. I was impressed by how many wombat and wallaby tracks there were along the banks of the lagoon.

The boat at New River Lagoon – it is heavier than it looks!

Day Seven 25 June

The morning forecast was for increasing showers and rain for the next four days but while there were some heavy showers, most of the early rain was drizzle really so I packed up and headed for Surprise Bay. I got pretty wet on the walk to Surprise Bay as the showers certainly got heavier so I decided to camp there after a short day to wait out the worst of the rain. It was a nice walk though. The crossing of Milford Creek was a thigh-deep wade and it looked like it was rising.

By the time I got to Surprise Bay the creek at the west end of the beach was running pretty strongly and was turbulent with froth and dark with tannin so that I had no idea how deep it was. It turned out to be above waist deep with a strong current but I managed to keep my feet. The campsite above the beach was quite large with a good selection of sites to pitch a tent so I set up my tent and tarp and added my poncho/tarp to the set-up which allowed me quite a bit of dry space to sit under outside of my tent.

New River Lagoon from the air


I came across my first leech here. I can’t say I’d missed them earlier in the walk as I’m not too fond of the little suckers but I’d been surprised by their relative absence and had puzzled over why this might have been the case. I can only think that the salty air and seaside environment was something that they weren’t fond of. I always carry salt to deal with them and know how much they dislike it.

For this trip I was keen to try some pyrethrin spray that my research indicated should be effective with leeches. So the first leech was experiment number one and it was one leech down. Even here there were not many leeches and because of that I suppose I got careless. After retiring to my sleeping bag after dark something bothered me while I was lying there reflecting on the day. On turning on my led lantern I discovered a leech stretching from the inside of the inner tent towards my cheek, only a few centimetres away. A flurry of activity and some more spray and scratch leech number two. That had me checking the inside of my tent pretty carefully to make sure that there were no more to surprise me inside the tent and that the inner was zipped up fully.

When it gets dark at 5pm and doesn’t get light again until 7.30am I tend to spend a lot of time in my sleeping bag and really too much time trying to get some sleep. Winter walking is a way of catching up on sleep and I wouldn’t recommend it for insomniacs. At night I value the mp3 player and little radio, even when the reception is pretty crappy.

Related Posts

The South Coast Track – Solo Winter Trip report by Larry Hamilton – Part One
Larry’s Port Davey Trip Report– great reading
Gear List for Wilderness Bushwalking Trip – Larry Hamilton’s excellent gear list
Stuck between Louisa and Faraway Creeks – Our adventure on the South Coast Track
Hiking the South Coast Track – our first (and last time)


  1. Anonymous says

    Hey there Frank. Just letting you know I still lurk around your blog reading. A – F@#$*&# AMAZING!!

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