Day 1 Hobart to Lees Paddock Hut
We took off from Hobart at about 10am in our hire car, a Toyota Tarago people and pack mover. A little later than expected as we got a bit carried away shopping at Mountain Designs when all we really needed to buy was cooking gas. Drove via Launceston, Perth, and then to Deloraine where we stopped and had lunch. Bought supplies – 15l of water to fill up everyone’s water bladders and then we ran into Dennis from Maxwell Coaches. We have met Dennis on previous trips to Tasmania when he has dropped to walking tracks so it was nice to see him and say Hello. Next we used three maps and one guide book to help us locate the car park for the start of the Lees Paddock walk. (It is on the Mersey Forest Rd a bit over 10km past the Lake Rowallan Dam wall, the road is quite windy and the car park is on the left just off the road. The track starts on the opposite side of the road). We found the car park – yeah – and then spent a fair bit of time sorting stuff, filling water and changing our clothes, eventually setting off walking at 3pm.
The track notes we had said it is for “experience Bushwalkers only” so we weren’t expecting much of a track, but actually it was pretty good, although it still took us 3 hr 15 minutes to walk the 7km. The track was boggy in parts but apart from a couple of miss guided foot steps we all escaped with dry socks.
The scenery was beautiful – rainforests, marshy green clearings and also two waterfalls. Lewis falls and Oxley falls on the Mersey with so much water flowing.
Was great to go off the more common walking tracks and see a beautiful spot up in near the Overland Track and the Walls of Jerusalem. We even got a glimpse of Mt Pelion East from another direction.
Bekk spotted an echidna drinking water on the other side of the Mersey River, so cute. We also saw a wombat, but it was shy and took off and hid pretty quickly.
Had a bit of luck at the end of todays walk finding a bridge over the creek we thought we’d have to wade through according to the track notes. This was our final hurdle before finding Lees Paddock and the Hut.
Lees Hut is rustic but better than most backcountry huts. It is privately owned but open to all and has a great big fire place, some rustic bunks, axes, saws, benches, chairs and a tap supplied water straight from the creek. GREAT.
We set about collecting wood and had a splash/wash in the creek and then we all enjoyed some home made Blackberry Wine a friend had given me when I stayed the night with him prior to the walk. Peter’s homemade Blackberry wine went down a treat, that and a cozy dinner around the fire, it was the perfect end to a fine afternoons bushwalking. Three degrees outside the hut tonight and a little bit of drizzle too which makes being in a hut all the more special.
Day 2 Lees Hut and along the Mersey River to Kia Ora Hut on the Overland Track
Bekk – Woke up at 8am. Following brekky of porridge, apart from Mark who had sultana bran, we packed up and enjoyed a sterling view of the Lees Paddock and the surrounding mountains – which had fresh snow on them.
Walked approx 500m to Ladder Falls, which were really quite pretty. Followed the Mersey River – gorgeous and amazing and so untouched.
Crossed some marshy areas and came to the Reg Wadley Memorial Hut – a great little horsey hut on the open plain with amazing views. Enjoyed ‘smoko’ there and then continued along the river in the forest. The river was just so beautiful. We stopped and had lunch in a sunny spot on the side.
Kate- Beautiful spot to sit and enjoy lunch and it was fortunate that we didn’t press onto Kia Ora for lunch as we all needed our energy to go up the “steep incline” to the overland track. Steep was the key word here. We lost the track a couple of times, but Mark and Bekk forged the way as the rest of us where crawling, slipping and clawing our way up the ‘steep incline” to the top. We were following a blazed tree trail which thankfully was very regular – like every 2nd tree.
Jen- We finally found the “four way highway” – aka Overland Track! A very welcome sight considering the hours before of bush bashing! Once we got to the luxury hut, we got our change of clothes out and headed to the river for a dip – Bekk then said to me “time to get naked” and I realised she wasn’t joking when I looked over and saw 2 naked bodies heading straight for the water. My facial expression must have said it all because Bekk and Kate assured me that it was all ok. So I did it! Layer by layer, conquering one inhibition at a time, until there I was, standing naked in the middle of nowhere washing myself as quickly as possible in a freezing cold creek. And can I say…how exhilarating! I didn’t realise I could actually do it until I just did! Now I can’t wait for tomorrow to do it all again…..(kidding! I think)
Mark – Meanwhile I was forced to use the alternative wash spot (now known as the men’s shower). After bravely wading up the creek and heroically going for a long swim under the rushing water. Then being a true gentleman went back and waited for the ladies.
Joel- Prior to this, Dugald and I decided to make a trip up to Pelion Gap – a trip which according to Mark should only take 20 minutes at a slow jog. We set off at a cracking pace eager to reach the gap within 20 minutes. 1 hour and a litre of sweat later we reached Pelion Gap. Having now worked out that Mark uses a different measurement of time to the rest of the world, we decided it was unwise to climb either Mt Ossa or Mt Pelion East based on Mark’s estimated travel time.
Kate – Having learnt this new “Mark Time” they arrived back at the Hut at “wine time” The last drops of Peter’s wine were drained from the poweraid bottle and savored. The hut was full tonight – 8 other Overland Trekkers. Dinner was yum, Dugald’s pancakes yummier and Mark’s custard a hit too. Lovely to be in Kia Ora Hut again and enjoying the coal heater which as I write in this I can hear Mark clanging away at making a lot of noise attending to its needs. Should be warmer in here tonight, then in last night’s breezy hut.
Day 3 Kia Ora Hut to Junction Hut via the Never Never
Dugald – During the night it had snowed and the ground was white. Ahh, the beauty of frozen water – as the tap had frozen, so we had powdered soup for breakfast without water.
Mark- Meanwhile those who were working, cleaned the stove, unfroze the water tanks swept the hut and waited for Dugald to get packed. Finally he was ready and after the obligatory photo by Kate we were off in gorgeous lightly falling snow.
Kate –Had to pack my bag twice this morning as I realised that my gloves where on the bottom of my pack!! Ahhh . We took off at 9:30am heading south on the Overland Track. Easy going – downhill mostly to DuCane hut where we enjoyed morning tea at 10:15. Snowing on us lightly the whole way. Some of us in shell gear and some of us optimistically hoping that the snow wouldn’t touch them. At 11, we came to the turn off to Ferguson and D’Alton Falls. We decided that this was a side trip we had “time” for so took off for D’Alton Falls first. The mighty Mersey with loads of water roaring over it. We took two different routes over to Ferguson Falls. The boys took the low route along the Mersey and the girls took the high route. At Ferguson Falls you appear at the side of the falls, almost next to them- very close. Spectacular with all that water.
Got back to the packs at 12pm. Surprisingly Mark said it would take an hour and it did. Hiked a further 30 minutes down the Overland Track before saying goodbye to the spacious, wide and easy to navigate four lane highway and saying hello to 5 hours of bush bashing and trackless in parts navigation. To prepare ourselves for this we ate lunch at Hartnett falls. It started to snow again when we arrived but stopped shortly after and that was the end of any more drops from above for the rest of the day. With scrubby walking coming up we took off the expensive shell jackets and pants and also removed our pack covers.
Jen – We were soon on a track by the side of the Mersey River. The track was well marked and fairly easy to walk, much to the relief of everyone as we had anticipated bashing our way through some pretty dense scrub. We passed 2 more waterfalls, the second being most impressive!
A little distance after McCoy falls we needed to cross to the other side of the river. We spotted a fallen tree stretching from one side of the bank to the other. This seemed like the perfect place to cross as it avoided anyone getting wet. Mark courageously led the way – he got on his belly and gripped on to the tree for dear life.
Bekk- Mark ‘frogged’ his way along the incredibly slippery and slimy log to the other side, dropped his bag and headed back. Dugald was next – he scampered along on his belly too, dropped pack off and came back with Mark. Production line set up with Joel passing to Mark and then to Dugald. Next the girls went across…all elegance. Jen on her belly first and then threw herself at Joel to get off – which nearly landed them both in the river. Kate next using her extraordinary triceps to manoeuvre her body along. Bekk last then all over and set off to find the foot pad again. Not too bad, pretty good navigation skills taking us quite well through the Never Never to the log book and then along to Junction Lake (source of the Mersey) till we got to Junction Hut.
Had a great wash tonight down at the creek behind the hut – Bekk lost her fake croc and had to chase it down the stream. It was a naked frenzied chase, but thankfully an eddy saved it from following down the Mersey never to be seen again. Had a fire in the hut which was lovely, but a little ineffective unless you were sitting on top of it.
Good dinners all round. Entertaining hut “log” – a small pocket notebook with some interesting stories – especially the one about the snake coming into the Hut!
Day 4 Junction Hut to Dixon’s Kingdom
Kate – Brrrrrr…a very cold morning. -3 degrees overnight and it did not get above 0 before we left at 9:30am. Cozy in the hut with a fire last night until it went out. We set off from Junction Lake and then over the ridge and past 2 very large dead trees that had fallen over and then we were at Lake Meston. We spent the next hour walking alongside the Lake and then stopped briefly take a rest at Meston Hut – quick morning tea here. We pressed onto conquer Lake Meston before going along and tramping “between lakes” to the start to Lake Adelaide – It was 1:30pm by then and Lunch was eagerly munched down.
Jen – We then started on the 3rd Lake for the day. The path was over-grown, a little slippery at times and having to contend with trees which had fallen on the path. I am of course talking about Lake Adelaide. Pretty and picturesque, however it really just was something that needed to be endured and conquered. Bekk walked on first, fearlessly scaring off any snakes; however, she did not do such a good job as one slithered right next to me under a rock. Black and scary looking. Bekk knew something had happened when I emerged pale faced and little shaky.
Bekk- We ran into Dave and Jodie at the track junction at the end of Lake Adelaide. They were out for a day hike in the Walls of Jerusalem and where on their way back to the Walls car park. We had a quick chat and then asked them if they could car shuffle our car up to the Walls Car Park (Thus saving us a 9km road walk at the end of our Hike) They kindly agreed to move our car, so we handed over our only set of hire car keys to two perfect strangers in the middle of the Tasmanian Wilderness and said good bye.
Next we headed up to the next rise and got some great views back to Mt Pelion East, Ossa, Barn Bluff and Cradle – how awesome! From here it was down to Lake Ball past gorgeous water holes – love those and along Lake Ball to turn off to Dixon’s Kingdom.
Beautiful walking up the valley to the hut, although we had a little detour trying to locate the hut. Got in at around 6pm. Bathed in a nearby waterhole and then weathered some rain.
Kate – Hut is cozy, ie very small – no fire tonight. We have been very lucky with the beautiful warm fires. Bekk and Mark set up the Teepee tent and Dugald set up his very very cozy Bivvy Tent. Quite a few hoppers (any variety of hopping marsupial) around too. One particular hopper who couldn’t have cared less that we’d arrived; he just kept chewing his berries and looking straight at us.
Lovely colours on the mountains as the sun set, but then the rain/sleet/snow came over and we commenced the evening meals. Was about 7:30 when dinner started and it’s still going on now at 9pm with Dugald cooking pancakes and Mark making custard and snickers being eaten by Joel and Jen and hot chocolate going down too. Not exactly warm in the hut but warmer than the -1 degree outside.
Day 5 Dixon’s Kingdom to Hobart
Kate: Joel, Jen and I spent a frosty night in the hut on the raised wooden slab which was on a bit of a slant. The door didn’t seal too well either so fresh air flowed in all night. Lots of tossing and turning and rolling and inching back up the bed over night. Mark came in at about 7:30 to announce the temp was -5 Degrees outside. Brrrrr. Their tent was warm but in the morning the condensation had frozen and they got an ice shower in the tent. Dugald’s cozy bivvy was apparently the warmest – he did up his sleeping bag at some time thru the night and even got a little hot! So, so cold going down to the stream to get water and wash my hands and face. Managed to get ready to go by 9:30; all the while the snow was coming down outside. But by 9:30 the clouds were clearing and it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day.
Still not 0 degrees yet though and everyone’s toes where frozen. Trudged off and over the pass walking over plenty of snow. Once at the pass we decided to go up King Solomon’s Throne. Was easy going at first, but then came the snow and ice to go up thru the pass. Was very steep. Boys went up, Dugald choosing his own way and then Bekk followed. Jen stayed put and so did I. We watched them for a while then decided to go down and walk up The Temple instead. Not as much snow on it. I’d never been up the Temple before so was keen to do it. An easy walk up with good well made rock steps. We could see and yell out to the others on Solomon’s Throne.
Such a beautiful day – views everywhere. We could even see Frenchman’s Cap, which was a nice surprise. Ate Morning tea of muesli bar and starburst’s compliments of Jen as we marveled at the view. Started to take photos of the magnificent view when we heard Bekk coming down from Solomon’s Throne! Two blood curdling screams echoed out in the valley and we could not see Bekk. We could see, Dugald and Joel were down lower and out of the shute and didn’t look too worried so we tried not to worry either. Bekk does not like heights and we found out later that it was Mark tugging on Bekk’s legs and hauling her down that had made her scream out. Lots of steep snow, poor Bekk.
We made our way down off The Temple and once at the bottom we saw Mark scoot back up the Throne to find Bekk’s missing glove. She thought she had lost it in the Shute so he went as far as that and couldn’t find it. Once down and with pockets checked again and still no glove, the consensus was that the glove must be on the top of Solomons Throne. We took off walking, Mark went back up the Throne. Further down the track we heard a Coo wee and another conversation re position of glove was shouted out in the Walls. Good acoustics, you could hear very clearly and eventually…..the glove was found. About 5 minutes walk later I realised that I only had only one glove now too. I took off back along the track, knowing that it wouldn’t be too far back. Lucky the track today is mostly duck boarded so no tree hopping or bush bashing. I came across Mark and Dugald and they had just found my glove…phew. So on we marched at a rate of knots till Herrods Gate was upon us and a marvelous view of Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff was before us.
Was 12:30 so we had lunch which doesn’t get much better than this. Took off down to Wild Dog Creek and over and down to Trappers Hut. Little bit of “up” to contend with that we’d forgotten existed from last time we were here. Then at Trappers Hut at 2:20pm – quick hi to the Jerryl look alike picture in the hut and then down, down, down to the car park, pausing only for a photo at the Welcome to the Walls of Jerusalem sign and then also to sign out of the Log Book. Our new best friends Dave and Jodie had left us a Hello to Kate, Jess and Mike (who cares if they got all but my name wrong!) in the log book and hip-hip hooray – they had moved our car and it was waiting for us with keys under the front wheel rim in the car park. “Tasmanian Hospitality” as they say. Boots where flung off, Joel’s impressive blisters were revealed and all stinky clothes were left on, expect Mark who had a bought a couple of clothes options in his little duffle bag, and we were off and on our way to Hobart. We almost left Jen’s gloves in the car park, they’d dropped out of her pocket somehow so that was all three girls gloves lost and found in one day….got to be a world record?!
Quick stop in Deloraine for a second more hearty lunch, and phone calls on the road to organize accommodation and dinner. Rolled into the “newly renovated” Pickled Frog at 7pm. Was more like – we have just started to renovate, and have a LONG way to go. All showered , shampooed and reacquainted with flowing hot water and flushing toilets and ready to eat by 8pm. Walked to the Ball and Chain at Salamanca for a fine night of food, beer, and reminiscing the last 5 days.
Fabulous walk with great friends, great weather and stunning scenery while we safely meandered our way along the Mersey River and beyond.