Sunday, 20 Oct 2019

Higgs Track to Lady Lake

How to grow Dick
Higgs Track
- A man with a seven-inch (18 cm) penis may proudly compare his organ to the average man’s five to six inches (12-15 cm) but be intimidated when learning another wields an eight-inch (20 cm) rod.

Higgs Track to Lady Lake

Scale the Great Western Tiers and hang out beside an alpine lake undisturbed by Earth’s upheavals. Higgs Track (also used by fishers and snares) gives you a taste of the Plateau which often stimulates appetites for return trips and longer explorations.

Higgs Track to Lady Lake - photo 1

Higgs Track. Clear sky colours Lady Lake a beautiful blue.

Walk:

7.2km out-and-back

Time required:

3–5 hours

Best time:

Clear, mild spring or autumn day. The rainforest doesn’t look its best in a dry summer and snow is common in winter.

Grade:

Moderate

Environment:

Wet forest, sub-alpine rainforest, heath, plateau, dolerite cliffs, alpine lake

Best map:

This one

Toilets:

Composting toilet on the plateau

Food:

None

Tips:

The walking Higgs Track beyond Lady Lake hut can be very difficult to follow in snow; only experienced hikers with navigational skills should hike in these conditions.

Higgs Track to Lady Lake - photo 2

 Higgs Track

Higgs Track. Way back down Tasmania’s geological time line, when the island was still part of the Gondwana supercontinent, the Central Highlands Plateau uplifted from the Meander Valley. Subsequent erosion sculpted the plateau’s northern escarpment into the Great Western Tiers, a series of bluffs strung 100km across Tasmania, and pushed the escarpment south, about 6km (so far), marooning Quamby Bluff.

An old stock route forged in 1879 by Sydney Higgs to graze cattle on the plateau in summer, Higgs Track (also used by fishers and snarers) gives you a taste of the Plateau which often stimulates appetites for return trips and longer explorations.

Higgs Track starts off Westrope Road, near Western Creek, 28km from Deloraine. Enjoying the window-framed Great Western Tiers, take Mole Creek Road (B12) west out of Deloraine and turn left (south) onto Dairy Plains Road (C168) after about eight kilometres. Dairy Plains Road doglegs south for about 13km before T-boning Western Creek Road (C168). Turn right and then left about 800m north-west onto Westrope Road. From here you’ve got 4km of good but single-lane gravel off which lead logging roads; follow the Higgs Track signs to Dale Brook Road which ends in a gravel turnaround ringed by rainforest.

Higgs Track to Lady Lake - photo 3

Higgs Track

Higgs Track. Step into the trees on gravel that shortly becomes leaf-littered track. Wind downhill through myrtle beech and sassafras, identifiable by their distinctive serrated leaves (and eight-petalled white flowers from September till October) and fallen trees greened with moss. A sign about 350m into the walk erroneously gives the Higgs Track length as 4.5km return. Immediately past this sign, a log footbridge built in 2014 after flooding demolished its predecessor, spans beautiful Dale Brook.

Across the bridge the track immediately starts uphill, climbing from hard water ferns (they look like plastic fakes) and tree ferns into eucalypts, some tall and elegant, and myrtle beech; grape-like bunches of beech orange fungi often festoon these trees. On the ascent you tread modern examples of the ancient art of Scottish stone-pitching: track workers restoring the track in 2014 used this intricate technique, developed in the Scottish highlands, which involves hammering rock wedges into the ground. The finest example is a ‘corridor’, about 300m after the bridge, along which stone-reinforced banks bookend stone pathway (see point 1 on map). Naturally rocky track roughened with exposed roots links the stone-pitched sections and it’s difficult to imagine cattle treading this forest path. Higgs Track.

As you climb you’ll start glimpsing, behind you, when you stop to catch your breath, dolerite cliffs above and through the treetops. Ignore the original alignment of the Higgs Track forking right (see point 2 on map) about 2.4km into the walk (branches are laid across it) and keep left on the new route, still climbing. Three hundred metres after the junction you rock-hop across a narrow gully. Immediately beyond, the track roughens and steepens and pushes uphill beside the gully, elevating you to more open beech forest with a ground storey of mountain berries, white-flowering heath shrubs, and tea tree.

Higgs Track to Lady Lake - photo 4

Higgs Track

Higgs Track. The climbing ends at a cairn-marked track junction among summer-flowering mountain rocket (the red ‘petals’ are actually fruit, the flowers are white-to-pale-pink) and other alpine heath shrubs. Leaving the left-hand lookout track until your return, head for Lady Lake Hut, its back to a rocky rise, about 300m across a sponge-like moor, subject to winter snow and laced with pooling streams frequented by dragonflies. First, though, note the position of the cairn; the only marker for the start of your return descent, it is not obvious from a distance, even on sunny days, and hard to find in low-cloud conditions.

A faint footpad leads to the hut but there’s minimal damage to the patchwork of coral fern, moss and pineapple grass, indicating that far fewer hikers come this way than tread Tasmania’s more popular alpine tracks. For thousands of years the Great Western Tiers were a summer hunting ground for northern Aboriginal people but you might not see another human being. Higgs Track.

As you approach Lady Lake Hut you’ll see three unmarked footpads. The first goes hard-left to the toilet, its roof visible among the trees. The middle one heads left of the hut, and is an extension of the Higgs Track; it crests the hill and continues south across the Tiers plateau and exposed plain to Ironstones Hut and the imaginatively called Lake Nameless. The third footpad, and the one we’re following, leads to Lady Lake Hut, which sleeps eight hikers on bunks. A handmade map and notes inside the hut describe this and other walks, many off-track, that you can do as day walks if you overnight here. Higgs Track.

Higgs Track to Lady Lake - photo 5

Higgs Track

Higgs Track. This is the second incarnation of Lady Lake Hut. The first, destroyed by a bushfire in the 1960s, was contracted in 1911 to Sydney Higgs. Men and packhorses carted the materials and equipment for the original hut’s construction. Helicopters did the heavy lifting for its reincarnation in 2003–04 and an information board on the verandah tells the heroic tale of a helicopter crash on the mountain during construction and the miraculous survival and recovery of the four men on board.

Follow the third footpad, across the front of the hut and anticlockwise around the treed hill, to Lady Lake. You’ll pass solo pencil pines, a bonsai-like tea tree (see point 3 on map) and snow gums on the flat, 300m walk. Avoid stepping on the vivid-green cushion plants along this short last leg, because these intriguing plant colonies are extremely fragile and take many years to recover from footfalls. Roughly 100m in diameter, Lady Lake reflects expansive sky and in good weather the rocks around the shoreline make irresistible alternative picnic spots to the sheltered hut verandah. Higgs Track.

Replete with food and alpine vistas, and amazed (perhaps even awed) by the sense of space and your smallness and vulnerability on the planet, retrace your steps. But before starting down off the escarpment, follow the short right-hand track at the cairn junction. This footpad leads through snow gums and flowering shrubs to the edge of the Great Western Tiers for a breathtaking view of their sheer, columnar dolerite cliffs and the Meander Valley plains spread out below. Now you can start back to your car. Higgs Track

Higgs Track to Lady Lake - photo 6

Higgs Track

“Top Walks in Tasmania”

Melanie Ball

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