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The Chill Approaches

May 19, 2022

The Chill Approaches

A weather window of 3 fine days was approaching and I decided to return to the Cradle Mountain area to catch the last of the Fagus. Deciduous Beech, alias Fagus, is Tasmania’s only deciduous plant. It turns the slopes of the mountains a glorious golden hue for a brief period each Autumn.

I left home relatively late this time and I didn’t reach my chosen off-track camp site until just after sunset. I was expecting a cool night as it was already -2°C as I set up my Moondance 1 FN tent with a crystal clear sky above.

I was still using my “summer” sleeping bag, the Mont Helium 450, as it is normally comfortable down to -7°C for me. This bag is the ideal 3+ season bag for Tasmania. Light, cosy and warm.

The night air chilled to -4.9°C  before a magically clear and tranquil morning with just a few wispy clouds drifting through the mountain peaks. 

I was up at 6am and I walked down to a favourite location ready for the approaching sunrise. A wilderness photographer never knows what is in store for him/her and all they can do is hope for good conditions. This time I was lucky and conditions were sublime.


A couple of hours later I knew I had some good images captured so I headed back up to my tent for breakfast.

Being in the mountains when the weather is this good is hard to describe. The best way is to say it fills the heart with happiness. No wind, frosty cool and clear, the air seems to be luminous and the mountains benign.  It makes the world’s problems fade into insignificance.

After breakfast I decided to explore a ridge I had not visited before. Working my way around the copses of Pencil Pines, Pandanni and tarns I traversed the ridge to its end where it dropped into the forests of the surrounding valleys. Exploring nearby areas during the day is always worthwhile as it is a good way to find subjects to photograph during the “golden hours” at dawn and sunset.


The evening light as the sun dipped below the horizon made the vegetation glow as if lit from within.


Another cold night followed as the temperature dropped to -3.7°C before rising to a positively tropical 5°C at dawn with a thick mist cloaking the landscape. For most photographers, mist is a fantastic addition to the landscape, introducing atmosphere and intrigue to the images. I drifted from location to location, isolated in the silent mantle of dense mist, trying to capture the ethereal sights in front of me.


 This morning was in complete contrast to the previous day’s clear sunshine but it was just as satisfying to photograph. Different, but equally beautiful.

One photograph I captured was quite different. There is a lichen that grows in the Tasmanian highlands called Coral Lichen orCladia retipora.Incidentally, this was the first Australian lichen to be recorded in a scientific publication. It was described in 1792 by French naturalistJacques-Julien de Labillardie on the Brunid'Entrecasteaux expedition of 1791-94.

I used a technique called focus stacking where multiple images with slightly different focus points are combined to give an image with extended depth of field so that the whole image is sharp. This is the same way our eyes see it. In this case I stacked 30 images. The result was satisfying :)


Once the mist had cleared I packed my gear and headed for home. 

Always good to be in the mountains. 

Geoff Murray
Mont Ambassador

Gear used: 

Mont Moondance 1FN tent

Mont Helium 450 Sleeping Bag

Mont Odyssey Jacket

Mont Guide Hoodie Primaloft Jacket

Mont Micro Bush Shirt

Mont Thermal Top

Mont Thermal Pants

Mont Mojo Shorts

Mont Backcountry Pack


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