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    walls of jerusalem, tasmania, geoff murray, bushwalking

    Walls of Jerusalem, Tasmania. By Geoff Murray

    Posted by Will 1 Comment

    Expeditions & Adventures

    Tucked away in Tasmania’s Central Highlands is a jewel. Compact, photogenically outstanding and an easy place to travel, it is The the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. I have visited The Walls many times over the years, and in all seasons.

    I saw my coldest Tasmanian temperature here one chilly Winter’s night, -13ºC. But the next day was sensational; Deep, firm snow, a crystal clear atmosphere and scenery that filled the soul with joy.

    I decided it was time to pay another visit. Packing all of the necessary items into my Mont Backcountry pack (plus a few luxuries) I left home early one morning for the 4 hour drive to the Walls carpark.

    The carpark is deep within the Mersey Valley, at the end of a rough, dusty road. Isolated, you would say. I turned into the carpark, and was greeted with 24, yes 24 cars! This island and its superb bushwalking is becoming more popular.

    Anyway, hoist the pack on and up the hill. The ground alongside the track was dry, bone dry. Creeks that never fail, dry. Tassie is in the midst of a desperately dry period, clear testament to the awful effects of climate change.

    A couple of hours later, I was in the Walls, a superb amphitheatre of mountains with a scattering of alpine tarns within. Bright green cushion plants sat in between the Scoparia. Alpine grasses made walking easy and I made good time across to the far side. Finding a quiet spot for my tent, I set up camp. I had brought my Mont Epoch tent with me, a mountain tent as tough as they come, and a genuine pleasure to use. I value it very highly.

    Mont Epoch Tent in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park Tasmania

    Time for a wander through this alpine wonderland. Up over Damascus Gate, a quick scamper up onto The Temple for a superb view, then a slow walk down through the ancient Pencil Pine forest in the general direction of Dixon’s Kingdom Hut. Some of the pines here are over 1,000 years old, craggy and ancient, beautiful and haunting and they watched silently as I walked amongst them. Like walking through a living cathedral.

    macro photo of flower in Tasmania

    A quick yarn to some walkers camped at the Hut then it was time to return to my tent for a meal and a deep sleep.

    Up at 4am the next morning to allow time to walk across to the Pool of Siloam for sunrise. The silence was absolute, the stillness complete as I arrived at the Pool. I waited for the light to grow, the sun’s rays slowly fingering down the mountainsides as the day was born.

    lake at walls of jerusalem

    Images appeared before me, to be captured through the lens. A good start to the day. The rest of the day was spent almost aimlessly wandering around, searching for images that please.

    Late afternoon and back at the tent, a meal, then sleep. A simple existence in the wild.

    The third day was the last. Time to go back to civilisation but recharged and refreshed.

    I packed up, and tramped off in the direction of the carpark. Another good trip.

    Geoff Murray

    December 2015



  • Expeditions & Adventures

    Posted by Will

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    overland track, tasmania, geoff murray, bushwalking

    The Overland Track, Tasmania. By Geoff Murray

    Posted by Will 0 Comment

    Expeditions & Adventures

    A couple of months ago my wife told me she wanted to walk through Tassie’s Overland Track. She last walked through 6 years ago with her brother but wanted us to walk it together. I hadn’t walked that trip for something like 18 years so I was curious to see what it would be like.

    Liking our solitude, we resolved to camp away from the huts, something that was ok’d by Parks staff, just as long as we were discrete and did the right thing.

    Loading our gear into our packs, we tried to keep the weight to a reasonable level while at the same time remaining comfortable. I was going to use a new Mont Backcountry pack, a serious 85 litre canvas pack suitable for the toughest trips while Lyn had her well used Mont Escape pack. I was carrying 27kgs, Lyn had 15kgs. My pack was a bit heavier than most due to my photographic equipment.

    Our first day was a short one walking, but a long day overall as we first had to drive for 4 hours from our home to the track start. We left Ronny Creek and headed up the main track. The packs felt good and so did life!

    Goeff Murray on the Overland track 2015

    After negotiating Marion’s Lookout (and helping a couple of lost Asian tourists find the way down) we worked our way across the face of Cradle Mountain to find a campsite on Cradle Cirque in the late afternoon sun. There was a cool breeze as I set up our new Mont Moondance 2 tent. This is a superbly compact and light tent for 2 people, quick to erect and as usual for Mont, full of innovative ideas in its construction.

    A mist descended over the mountaintops in the evening and we watched as a well spread out group of four weary trekkers trudged slowly past in the gloom. We slipped into our tent and were soon warm and cosy in our sleeping bags.

    The next day dawned fine and cool and we quickly packed up and dropped down to Waterfall Valley hut where we met one of the track rangers. After yarning for a while we moved on in the gathering heat towards Windermere Hut. The scenery was brilliant, towering dolerite mountains reaching up into a blue sky dotted with fine weather cumulus clouds. We had a great view of Lake Windermere from a lookout before continuing south and reaching Windermere hut in the mid afternoon.

    Cumulo nimbus clouds above the overland track, tasmania. by Geoff Murray

    On the way Lyn had a snooze on a rock while I wandered around finding some superb red barked Tasmanian snowgums to photograph.

    The new Overland track huts are a far cry from what was there when I last walked through, veritable mansions easily able to cater for the 34 independent walkers allowed through each day but still built sensitively so that they assimilate into their environment. Sometimes compromises need to be made to cater for larger numbers of people and it has been well done.

    After having dinner at Windermere hut, we packed up and walked for another two hours as the sun eased towards the horizon, finally setting up camp in the forest near the Forth Valley Lookout.

    After listening to a couple of possums having a real ding dong and another creature that had a call like a running zip (no kidding) we entered the world of slumber. Cosy again ☺

    Our next day was normally one of the longest days on the track but we had shortened it nicely to an easy 14kms. The day was hot and we walked a little slower in the shady forested sections, savouring the relative coolness out of the sun.

    Our campsite this time was next to the Old Pelion Hut. This hut is no longer allowed to be slept in by walkers due to its heritage value but it was pretty handy when a thunderstorm rolled in and the heavens opened. It was crowded in the tiny hut with at least another 6 or 7 walkers sheltering from the downpour.

    After the storm had rolled through the air was vibrant and cool.

    The next morning was magic! Mist floated ethereally over the hills and through the valleys as the sun weakly filtered through. The dew clung to the grasses, saturating my boots and gaitors as I wandered around looking for “the image”. A great start to the day.

    mist on the Overland Track, Tasmania, by Geoff Murray

    A day that involved a long slow trudge up to Pelion Gap, at 1126metres, one of the highest points on the track. A platform has been built at the top of the climb, with an unusual sign warning bushwalkers that the local Currawongs (birds) have worked out how to undo pack zips. And in fact we even heard of a fastex buckle being undone!

    The descent was much easier and it wasn’t long before we came to Kia Ora hut. Dinner again and we move a little way down track to find a tent site. This was our 4th night and we only expected to spend one more night in our Moondance tent before heading home.

    Mont Moondance 2 tent and hut on the Overland Track, Tasmania, by Geoff Murray

    The fifth day was the hottest day of the trip, reaching somewhere around 27 degrees in the mid afternoon, no fun when you are carrying a pack. We arrived at the new, very impressive Burt Nichols hut which had been built to replace the much smaller Windy Ridge hut. Dinner again and onwards. This time it was a little difficult to find a tent site offtrack and being late, we ended up pitching our tent right on the track. No-one came past so it was no problem.

    old hut on the overland track, tasmania. By Geoff Murray

    The final day we only had 6 kilometres to walk then it was “Narcissuss Hut to Ferry base, come in please” over the radio and we had our boat ride to Cynthia bay and civilisation organised.

    The boat trip is a great way to finish the trip, zooming down Lake St Clair looking back at the mountains we had threaded our way through and feeling just a little chuffed at the fact that this pair of “oldies” (60 years for one and a little less for the other) had easily traversed this stunning wilderness.

    A trip well worth doing, made all the easier with superb equipment.

    Geoff Murray

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  • Expeditions & Adventures

    Posted by Will

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    Australian Alps Walking Trail, AAWT, bushwalk, hike, Kosciuszko, high country, ACT, NSW, Victoria, highland sleeping bag, Snowy Mountains

    Hike For Huts: 800km in 51 Days on the AAWT

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    Expeditions & Adventures

    Jakob and Sonja recently completed the Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT) through the Australian high country. Their walk was entirely unassisted, covered 800km, took 51 days and included many of the highest peaks in Australia including Mount Kosciuszko.

    In the early planning stages of this walk it was only an endeavour of the enjoyment and personal achievement, but after seeing firsthand the damage caused by bushfires Sonja and Jacob's walk took on a greater purpose: Hike For Huts, a fundraiser for the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife who work to preserve the historical huts throughout the Australian high country. These huts are a link to Australia's heritage, built by graziers, remote farmers, gold miners and early settlers, and provide important, sometimes life saving, shelter to hikers.

    The Ins and Outs of an 800km trek in 51 days

    The idea for the Australian Alps Walking Track came up in October 2013, the start date of our hike in Walhalla was Friday, 17 October 2014. In between lay a year of preparation and planning.

    We knew we needed equipment that would withstand the harsh and changing weather conditions on the walk, food that was nutritious and light weight, without being boring and repetitive and other bits and pieces that would make us totally self-sufficient.

    Who we are

    Jakob is a published author on German adventurers and traders in the Southern Pacific. He has always enjoyed hiking and bushwalking. During the European summer of 2003, he hiked 1300km west to east across the European Alps (Montreux to Vienna).

    Sonja works in sustainability at a large Australian infrastructure company. She completed the 100km Coastrek from Palm Beach to Coogee in 2013.

    Together, Sonja and Jakob have hiked in the French Vosges, as well as many areas in Australia.
    Sonja and Jakob on the Australian Alps Walking Track


    While the idea started as a challenge and an answer to the question of what’s next after the Coastrek, it soon made sense to give it a deeper meaning. We had hiked through the Snowy Mountains the first time during Christmas and New Year 2002-03 and were amazed by the natural beauty of the land, its remoteness and its harshness. Caught in bad weather and a white-out near Mt. Kosciuszko on New Years Eve, we were fortunate to have gear that provided us with safety.

    A ranger we spoke to relayed the history behind Seaman’s Hut and some of the other huts that were built by grazers and remote farmers. Apart from having local and historic significance, these huts today provide emergency shelter for hikers.

    Mawsons HutMawsons Hut

    We were devastated to learn that just a few weeks after we passed through this amazing country, huge bushfires burned through the area, destroying natural habitat, rare flora and fauna, and numerous huts.

    “We were devastated to learn that just a few weeks after we passed through this amazing country, huge bushfires burned through the area”

    It was during our first test walk in October 2013 when the idea arose that we could assist in preserving some key-features of the region. Ten years after the bush fires, the devastation is still clearly visible in the remnants of burnt out tree trunks. It was huts like Mawson’s, Valentine’s and O’Keefe’s that had also been destroyed and rebuilt – rebuilt to provide shelter and keep historic evidence alive. They enable us and fellow hikers to enjoy these trails as documented in the hut books; their upkeep is of importance.

    We are therefore proud to support the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife through our walk, Hike for Huts, in their endeavours to maintain and preserve the historic and recreational significance of this region.

    Cope HutCope Hut


    Equipment: Tent, Sleeping Bag, Pack, etc.

    The most important pieces of equipment are of course the tent, sleeping bag, backpack, GPS and bad weather gear.

    We took a three person, four season tent large enough for us to keep our packs inside and cook within the vestibules.

    For excellent weight-to-warmth, we chose Mont Highland sleeping bags with temperature rating of -10°C and a weight of only 1200g each. We were very happy with our choice, they kept us warm with temperatures regularly dropping to zero and heavy winds buffeting the tent.

    “For excellent weight-to-warmth, we chose Mont Highland sleeping bags”

    Mont Highland Sleeping Bag

    Having had some issues with Goretex shellwear in the past, we were looking for something that would better meet our requirements. Mont’s Hydronaute membrane sounded like a good option and it was. We stayed dry and comfortable whilst hiking even in day-long drizzle and continuous rain.

    We used a SteriPen for sterilizing water on the track. A PLB helped us to let family and friends know our location. Thanks to a solar charger and rechargeable batteries, we never had to resort to spare lithium batteries which we also carried, just in case.

    In addition to the usual set of clothing we took gloves, merino mid-layers, thermals, fleece jackets, spare shoes for crossing rivers, Nordic poles, a methylated spirit cooker and a comprehensive first aid kit. Except for the sleeping mats, everything fitted into our backpacks of 80 and 90L respectively.
    Hike for Huts

    Food and Food Depots

    There is not even the most basic infrastructure along or close to the AAWT. That is why our food supply needed to be self-sufficient. We chose food that was high calorific, low weight, non-perishable and enjoyable. The last one was important, because good food can make or break a day. Based on the average Australian calorie consumption guideline of about 2000kcal per person/day, we assumed a 3000kcal/day consumption for our trip. A full day’s portion was not to weigh more than 1kg per person.
    freeze dried, vac packed food

    A typical day would include muesli, powdered milk and tea for breakfast and a muesli bar for morning tea. Lunch consisted of wraps (with salami or sardines and cheese), couscous (with tuna and sundried olives) or scrambled egg (with biltong and freeze-dried vegetables). Nuts and dried fruit (mango, papaya, oranges) made up afternoon tea and an assortment of 20(!) different dinners constituted dinner. Chef Sonya Muhlsimmer, in the middle of writing a new recipe book for bushwalkers, provided us with recipes for Pasta Puttanesca, Dumpling Hotpot and Camp Stroganoff, along with desserts like Chocolate Cake and Crumbles.

    Most foods, such as pasta, rice, powdered milk and egg, vegetables and spices we derived at a local grocery. Specialised stores assisted with freeze dried ingredients and fruits.

    We vacuum packed, labelled and allocated individual portions for lunches and dinners over three weekends, to finally store them in tamper-proof containers. These were allocated to nine designated food drops, between four and nine hiking days apart. These locations were dependent on the accessibility of roads and the intersection with the AAWT. It took nearly five days and 1800 km to drive as we deposited the drops on the way down to the start. The containers were hidden under branches and bushes – not buried, as National Parks prefer for the soil not to be disturbed.
    Sonja cooking


    There are plenty of dry ridges along the AAWT and even though there are water sources available away from these ridges they can be depleted toward the end of summer. Taking this into consideration, we started the hike in early spring and were able to refill our bottles at least once a day (about six litres per person). However, not every source shown in our guide actually had water. We spent ninety minutes searching for water in the gully below the Murray Hut in the first week of November, but in vain. Staying at Mt Wills Hut six days later, the water tank was so close to empty that we had to “fish” water from the bottom with a rope and pot.

    “the water tank was so close to empty that we had to “fish” water from the bottom”

    fishing water


    A common misconception about the AAWT is the notion that it is a designated track, leading from its start in Walhalla, Victoria to end in Tharwa, ACT. Rather, this ‘track’ is a combination of well-maintained trails, a lot of barely visible foot pads (a track formed by wear and tear of multiple people hiking it) and heavily overgrown fire access roads. It very often goes through scrub and bush and wide grassy plains with no pad at all – especially when choosing some of its most scenic and rewarding detours in the Snowy Mountains region, as we did.

    Quality of marking and cairning along the way varies significantly. A number of sections are newly marked and it is practically impossible to get lost. On the other hand, all such navigational aid is lacking in several stretches through Wilderness Areas, such as the Cobberas.

    When using a GPS it can prove disastrous to blindly rely on recorded tracks from the internet. However, taking such data as a starting point for programming one’s own route by crosschecking it against digital maps and satellite views (Google Earth) showed to be a smart and time efficient strategy for us. It also assisted with learning about the hike.

    In the wilderness, increased accuracy of most hand-held GPS devices these days will even allow for walking in fog – an absolute no-no when using traditional instruments. However, such a strategy is only safe when displaying considerable respect for obstacles that might conflict with the route: slippery cliffs, rocky sections, snow fields and overgrown passages. To assist in finding a way around them, but also back to the route, the via-points on the GPS should not be programmed further than 50-100m apart.

    Last but not least, taking a GPS on the walk must not mean saving on the additional weight of a compass, altimeter and a set of topographic maps with a scale of at most 1:50,000.
    walking the AAWT

    Day to Day Life

    Our alarm would go off at daylight around 5am. We took plenty of time getting ready in the morning and were usually on the track between 7 and 8am. When possible, we pitched our tent an hour or two before sunset so we could enjoy nature and the scenery, cook and eat outside. Cold rivers and creeks replaced hot showers. Every 6-8 days we had a scheduled rest-day and we managed to ‘wash’ our clothes twice during the trip.

    There were literally no arguments on the track, because we had allocated different responsibilities to each of us. Jakob was in charge of programing the route and the GPS, general navigation and giving directions, while Sonja had the function of a scout, finding the best route between two points. Sonja was in charge of food and nutrition, while Jakob did the cooking. Jakob kept a diary on the condition of the track, while Sonja focussed her diary on the daily experience.
    Jokob getting some shut eye


    We had a great time on our trip. The planning took the stress and anxiety out of the trek and we could enjoy the journey. We were still faced with a lot of challenges, but we were in control of all the crucial tasks all the time; We never ran out of food and we lost our track only once or twice for a maximum of fifty metres. To read more about our trip or to contact us, go to

    Sonja and Jakob
    Hike for Huts
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  • Expeditions & Adventures

    Posted by Will

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    lake st clair, epoch tent, tasmania, geoff murray

    Geoff Murray: A Short Sojourn in the Tasmanian Highlands

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    Expeditions & Adventures

    It’s May and I had a couple of days spare to disappear into the wilderness. The weather forecast was for clear and cool conditions and for a change I decided to head into the Tasmanian Highlands with my sea kayak.

    Lake St Clair is a beautiful, high altitude lake sitting at 740 metres above sea level with a neat campsite behind a sandy beach near its northern end. I packed my kayak then set off up the lake. Conditions were a little breezy so I was able to sail part of the way up the lake but the forecast was for a descending calm towards evening.

    Geoff Murray, Mont Ambassador, award winning photographer, adventurer kayaking in Tasmanian Highlands

    I arrived in time to set up camp in warm sunshine in a dying breeze. The campsite was deserted so peaceful solitude was assured. As the sun dropped below the surrounding mountains, a chill descended upon my camp, with my thermometer registering -2.7°C by 6pm. I sat up for awhile, rugged up in Mont fleece (a Slinx), a Mont beanie and my Mont Icicle jacket. Still toasty warm, I retired to my tent around 8pm and read for another hour. The book? Ice Trek, a bitter recount of the walk to the South Pole by Jon Muir, Eric Philips and Peter Hillary. They were a lot colder than me!

    Geoff Murray, Mont Ambassador, award winning photographer, adventurer kayaking in Tasmanian Highlands

    I tightened the hood and collar on my Spindrift sleeping bag and drifted off to sleep. I slept well, only waking briefly at 1.30 am to look outside just in case an Aurora was hovering above but there was only an inky blackness above studded with crystal clear diamonds. My thermometer now informed me that it was a rather impressive -10°C. That’s a very low temperature for Tassie. I have only seen a lower temperature twice before so it was definitely a cold one!


    "Overnight, my camp had turned into a crystal fairyland"

    Sliding back into a luxurious sleep in my Mont sleeping bag, I woke fully refreshed at 7am and dressed in time to be up for the sunrise. Overnight, my camp had turned into a crystal fairyland, with my tent, the ground beneath me and the bushes around me all rigid with frost. Even the water in my MSR Dromedary water bladder had half frozen… Cold.

    Geoff Murray, Mont Ambassador, award winning photographer, adventurer kayaking in Tasmanian Highlands

    Once again, the Icicle jacket earned its keep, allowing me to rejoice in the fresh, cold clarity of the morning in warm comfort.

    Geoff Murray, Mont Ambassador, award winning photographer, adventurer kayaking in Tasmanian Highlands

    I enjoyed a slow start to the day, giving the sun time to thaw my gear before packing it back into the kayak and pointing my bow south again.

    A short escape, but a perfect one.

    Geoff Murray

    Geoff Murray, Mont Ambassador, Professional Photographer, Adventurer

    Geoff has been a bush walker for longer than he cares to remember and a professional photographer for around 20 years. He has supplied images to the publishing industry in Australia and overseas including Australian Geographic, The Australian Conservation Foundation, Explore Australia Publishing, Penguin Australia, The Sophisticated Traveller, Tourism Tasmania and The World Wildlife Fund.

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