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  • Expeditions & Adventures

    Posted by Will

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    overland track, tasmania, geoff murray, bushwalking

    The Overland Track, Tasmania. By Geoff Murray

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    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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    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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  • Expeditions & Adventures

    Posted by Will

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    epoch tent, tasmania, kayak, geoff murray, mont ambassador

    Stanley to Wynyard with Geoff Murray

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    Expeditions & Adventures

    Continuing my paddle across the northern Tasmanian coastline, I drove up to Stanley in NW Tas and left my car in a safe spot in pleasant sun and little wind. It was low tide in Stanley and it seemed like miles to the water. I always carry a trolley on solo paddles and it is absolutely invaluable for situations such as this.
    I had timed the paddle to match the flood tide to speed me on my way but it didn’t work out quite that way…

    Mont Ambassador Geoff Murray

    Leaving Stanley and aiming for the kilometre long jetty at Port Latta, it wasn’t long before I was out of the wind shadow of the land to the west of me. I raised my sail and made good time with a steady 15-20 knots from the WSW. By the time I was nearing the jetty, I decided it was time to drop the sail. Conditions on the water were much worse than they should have been for the amount of wind that was blowing. It was then that I realised that even though it was a flood tide with the stream heading east, there must be a large eddy in Sawyer bay and I was paddling in wind over tide conditions. Bouncy!
     

    A highlight of the day was an Albatross that flew in and landed close to me. It just sat there on the water watching me paddle by and I had the distinct feeling it was a friendly meeting.

    I had intended to continue across the bay to Rocky Cape, round the Cape and land a few kilometres further on but as I neared the Cape it became lumpier and lumpier with an underlying swell sneaking in from the West just to add to the overall confusion of the water I was on. There was a beach on the western side of Rocky Cape with a bunch of shacks lining the shore. I decided a landing at the beach would be a better option than paddling around the Cape in worsening conditions. Working my way towards the beach, I was contemplating what the landing would be like with a definite possibility of a crash landing but luckily the wave heights eased as I made the final run onto the sand of Rocky Cape Beach.

    Mont Ambassador Geoff Murray

    Somewhat relieved, I unpacked my trolley and dragged the kayak up to a nice little grassy patch in a sheltered spot hoping that the shack residents wouldn’t mind this new “blow in”.

    Mont Ambassador Geoff Murray with his Mont Epoch Tent

    First things first, get changed into dry clothes and get the camp set up. I put my Mont Epoch Tent up, spread my mattress inside and unpacked my Mont Spindrift Sleeping Bag. Even though it has been very mild in Tas this winter there was still the possibility of a cold night so the Spindrift was my best option. This bag will cope with whatever Tassie throws at it.

    Then it was time for a walk out to the Rocky Cape light house for some evening views.

    The forecast was for easing winds so after a pleasant night in the tent, warm and cosy, I woke to almost flat water and a clear sky.

    Gear packed and kayak trolleyed to the water’s edge, I stepped into the kayak for the day’s paddle to Wynyard, 31km away.

    Rounding Rocky Cape I enjoyed watching a sea eagle moving from jagged outcrop to jagged outcrop following my progress. I paddled past the light house that I visited the day before and pointed my bow east in pleasant conditions. Nearing a medium sized island just past Sister’s Beach I was intending to paddle past the northern end of it but as I watched I saw a very large back broach in the water a few hundred metres in front of me. Ok, I thought, must a big dolphin. It will surface again shortly…..but it didn’t. Other possibilities, a whale, or a shark. Right then, the southern end of the island looks really good, let’s go that way.

    black-and-white

    Table Cape gradually loomed closer and finally I was paddling past it’s rugged and densely vegetated cliffs. Rounding the Cape, Wynyard came into view, only a few kilometres way.

    I landed just south of Wynyard at a business that had agreed to let me leave the kayak there while I bussed back to Stanley to retrieve my car. Another stretch of Tassie’s magnificent coastline done:-)

    Geoff Murray

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  • Expeditions & Adventures

    Posted by Will

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    TAGS

    epoch tent, tasmania, kayak, geoff murray, mont ambassador

    Continuing Around Tassie with Geoff Murray

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    Expeditions & Adventures

    After watching continuous wind and fronts passing across Tassie for several weeks, I finally spotted a weather window that would allow me to continue my Tasmanian paddle from the far NW tip, Woolnorth Point, across the North coast, down the East coast and into Hobart.

    I am chipping away at the paddle, just doing a section as weather and time allow.

    I drove up to Wynyard where I left my car and started off east in fine and sunny weather. I had all of the usual gear packed, including my ever faithful Mont Epoch tent and Mont Spindrift sleeping bag, along with an assortment of Mont warm and useful clothing. The coastline in Tassie’s central North isn’t so much spectacular as pleasant but it does have an amazing number of jagged and kayak destroying fangs of rock all along the coastline so vigilance is essential.

    The first night’s camp was at Sulphur Creek, a nice grassy spot with even a table and benches! But boy, getting the kayak up across the beach on my trolley was tough!

    Geoff Murray Mont Ambassador at Sulphur Creek

    Geoff Murray Mont Ambassador at Sulphur Creek

    The next day was another fine and sunny day, and I loaded the kayak with my gear and headed off again, this time ending the day’s paddle at Turner’s Beach. A nice, secluded spot, with more tables and chairs, and toilets!

    Geoff Murray Mont Ambassador at Turner's Beach

    Only a short paddle into Devonport the next morning but the wind had picked up a bit overnight, and so had the waves. A little more concentration as 1.5m waves regularly came through but it wasn’t long before I was bouncing through the rebound off Mersey Bluff and altering course into the mouth of the Mersey River and landing at Devonport. A quick phone call to a mate and the kayak and gear was deposited at his place and I caught a bus back to Wynyard to retrieve my car.

    A couple of weeks later, I saw that there was a 2 day weather window in the NE so late Saturday night I had all of my gear loaded into the car and the kayak strapped on top.

    Bridport is a small fishing town which is also the departure point for the boat’s that carry passengers and freight to Flinders island. The town has character.

    Geoff Murray Mont Ambassador in Bridport

    I pushed off from Bridport heading East again in fine and reasonably calm conditions. Basically to-day’s paddle was a long beach paddle and I intended to camp at Croppies Beach then return to my car the following day.

    I landed part way along the beach through small surf for a bite to eat and a drink. The sun was shining, and life was good…… and my excellent Mont Paddle Hat kept me from getting sunburnt.

    Geoff Murray Mont Ambassador in Tassie

    Geoff Murray Mont Ambassador at Croppies Beach

    Back in the kayak again and around a small headland to Croppies Beach in rather dramatic light.

    Searching around I finally found a decent campsite for the night. Up with the tent again and in with the gear.

    Geoff Murray Mont Ambassador at Croppies Beach

    Time for a meal and I was warm and cosy in my Mont Slinx Top and El Gringo bottoms. These pieces of clothing are made from Polartec Power Stretch and they are unbelievably comfortable and warm. A Mont beanie on top and I was set!

    Geoff Murray Mont Ambassador at Croppies Beach

    The next morning the forecast was for rain and a moderate NE wind, but the weather forgot! So I had flat, oily smooth paddling back to Bridport. Amazing watching the waves slide past utterly silently.

    Geoff Murray Mont Ambassador paddling back to Bridport

    Mid afternoon, and I was back at Bridport. Time for a quick look at the Old Jetty and it was time to pack up and head for home. 180 kms done, 560 to go :-)

    Geoff Murray Mont Ambassador at Bridport old jetty

    Geoff Murray

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