As Australia starts to tentatively ease restrictions put in place for the Covid 19 virus, people are being given access to places that have been closed for several weeks.
In Tasmania, residents are now allowed to access parks and reserves within 30kms of their place of residence.
This was exciting news to me as being denied walking through my beloved wilderness is tough. Fortunately, I have a private property of several hundred hectares nearby that I have been able to walk on but it wasn’t the same as “the wild places”.
So on the morning that the reserves were to be opened, I was awake at 3am, on the road by 4am and walking away from the car in the foothills of Mount Wellington at 5am.
With not another soul around, it was a peaceful uphill walk as I followed the pool of light from my headlamp. I love walking at night, I feel comfortable and relaxed in wild surroundings, quietly walking with my own thoughts and feeling content and happy.
My plan was to reach the ridge of South Wellington by sunrise but it was going to be tight. The ridge is 800 metres above Ferntree and I had two hours of steady uphill climbing ahead of me. As I transitioned from wet eucalyptus forest towards the more alpine type vegetation of the upper slopes, the eastern sky showed an increasing red glow, urging me to walk just a little quicker. I could hear the wind surging above the ridge and as I crested the top a few minutes before the sun slipped into sight I was greeted with a cold, blustery wind. I checked the weather figures for Mount Wellington and it was 2 degrees and blowing 30 to 35 knots so I felt justified in feeling a little cool.
This was my first visit to South Wellington so I was unfamiliar with the photographic possibilities of the area but searching around I found a decent foreground and captured a couple of good images. The light was ethereal. Oranges and red and yellows filtering through the mist flowing down the mountain face creating a magnificent, almost other worldly landscape.
Satisfied with my efforts, I made my way across the plateau towards a craggy cliffline further south. The colours had faded by now but the mist beneath the upper boulders of the cliff softened the distant contours, emphasising the foreground. One more image and it was time to make my way back to the car.
I walked back along the ridge and up to the summit of Mount Wellington then followed the Zig Zag track steeply down onto the lower slopes. The vegetation here is attractive and photogenic so the camera saw a little more use.
By the time I had returned to my car I had climbed and descended 950 metres….and had a very good time :)
Geoff Murray, Mont Ambassador and wilderness photographer
The Tassie authorities initially said residents were allowed to access parks and reserves that lay within 30kms of their place of residence, which for me included Mt Wellington…in a straight line. Unfortunately they then clarified the statement by saying that it had to be 30 kms driving distance, which is a bummer 'cos I can’t visit there again until the restrictions are eased further. Oh well, there are alternatives :)
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This week’s jaunt saw me in Tasmania’s north and west spending some quality time in our magnificent Myrtle Beech forests. The first stop was Upper Quaile Falls, a place I had not visited before. Despite the track in leading through some previously logged forest, there were still some magnificent trees to be seen and the falls had plenty of water.
Back to the car and onward to a location west of Cradle Mountain, the Vale of Belvoir. This area was purchased by the Tasmanian Land Conservancy in 2008 and consists of a limestone valley roughly 10 km long by 2 km wide. Lying at an altitude of 800 metres it is Tasmania’s only sub-alpine limestone valley.