Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018

Hobart Region. Wellington

Hobart Region. Wellington

Top Walks in Tasmania

Melanie Ball

 

HOBART REGION

KUNANYI/MOUNT WELLINGTON

Spectacular views abound on the walk to Hobart’s high point

  Loop through fern-filled gullies and eucalypt forest and traverse exposed slopes as you summit Hobart’s landmark mountain for a hard-to-better view of southern Tasmania (Hobart Region, Wellington).

 

Walk: 13.8km loop
Time required: 5 –7 hours
Best time: Clear day
Grade: Hard
Environment: Tree-fern gullies, eucalypt forest, exposed alpine plateau
Best map: TASMAP’s Wellington Park Recreation Map & Notes 1:20,000
Toilets: Flushing toilets at The Springs picnic area and on the summit
Food: Pub lunches and dinners, takeaway pizzas and homemade cakes are all on offer at Fern Tree Tavern.
Tips: There is no drinking water on this walk, so take enough for the whole day.

Tasmania’s capital spreads over the Derwent River estuary like a colony of colourful molluscs, and from nowhere is this description more apt than the top of kunanyi/Mt Wellington, the natural sentinel that protects Hobart region from the worst of westerly storms. Often covered in snow, which can fall here even in summer, the mountain is both the city’s spectacular backdrop and the barometer by which residents check the weather. Come here and you will fall in love with Hobart Region and Wellington. 

Hobart Region. Wellington - photo 1

Hobart Region. Wellington

Officially named Mt Wellington in the 1820s, in honour of the duke who beat Napoleon at Waterloo, Hobart’s mountain was renamed kunanyi/Mt Wellington to acknowledge that places had Aboriginal names first. kunanyi means ‘mountain’ in palawa kani, a constructed composite of original Tasmanian Aboriginal languages. Walking tracks in Wellington Park reveal the ‘noble forest’, ‘most extensive views’, ‘elegant parasols’ of tree ferns, and the ‘huge angular masses of naked greenstone [dolerite]’ that Charles Darwin described in his book, The Voyage of The Beagle, after climbing kunanyi/Mt Wellington in 1836. This walk links several tracks into a grand day tour.

The walk starts in a small parking and picnic area on the mountain side of Summerleas Rd, just short of Fern Tree village, 13km from Hobart’s CBD. The parking area can accommodate half a dozen sensibly parked cars. There is roadside space for a couple more, but the road is narrow and winding, so it’s safer to park in Fern Tree and walk back. The track disappears into thick forest from the picnic area, up stone steps beside a small seasonal waterfall. Follow the creek feeding the fall up a ferny gully, ignoring other tracks and footbridges left and right. Cross a restricted-use vehicular track and scale the stone steps opposite, up which you’ll see a fabulous old gum tree. You can be sure that you will never forget beautiful Hobart Region and Wellington!

Hobart Region. Wellington - photo 2

Hobart Region. Wellington

Climbing from tree ferns into smooth-barked eucalypts, you‘ll intersect multi-use Radfords Track (mountain bikes permitted). Here stands a memorial to George H. Radford, who died coming down Mt Wellington on 19 Sept 1903 during the first recorded footrace from Hobart region to the pinnacle. The modern-day equivalent is the annual Point to Pinnacle, promoted as the world’s toughest half-marathon. Cross Radfords Track, and continue north on an easy, vehicle-wide track through tall eucalypt forest for about 300m, then turn left up Fingerpost Track, a steeper, narrower, rocky track.

Cross sealed Pinnacle Rd, which snakes to the summit, and ascend the stone steps opposite, shortly after which you reach another track junction with the road immediately ahead. Watching for mountain bikes, cross North–South Track (there are toilets in The Springs parking area, down to your left) and turn right onto Lenah Valley Track, parallel with the road.Lined with prickly mountain-berry bushes – the females produce plump pink-to-red fruit – this flattish track ambles through eucalypts and traverses a boulder slope. Gaps between tree trunks provide a preview of the view to come. Hobart Region and Wellington will surprise you with unforgettable beauty!

Hobart Region. Wellington - photo 3

Hobart Region. Wellington

About 1.3km from The Springs, on a sharp left bend, a side trail tunnels through tea tree to Sphinx Rock (a childproof gate prevents overeager youngsters from rushing out onto this unfenced lookout). While you obviously need to view this sandstone outcrop from afar to see any similarity to the famous Egyptian monolithic creature, the impressive view from Sphinx Rock takes in Hobart, the Derwent estuary and the Tasman Peninsula. Up to your left is the spectacular dolerite Organ Pipes formation. Immediately beyond the Sphinx Rock side trail, turn left onto Lower Sawmill Track, and climb through a swathe of spiky heath plants from which soar alpine gums.

The track becomes rougher here, and crosses another boulder slope, the rocks underfoot decorated with rosettes of white lichen. Lower Sawmill Track ends at Pinnacle Rd. Continue on Sawmill Track, which starts about 20m north up the road and climbs through sedgy grass, tea tree, elegantly striped eucalypts and alpine mint bush to the Organ Pipes. A mountain-side wall of dolerite columns visible from afar, the Organ Pipes is one of Tasmania’s most popular rock-climbing venues. As you walk north, with stone columns reaching skyward above and Hobart region and surrounds spread below, you may hear voices and the tinkle of rock-climbing gear. Hobart Region and Wellington are the most beautiful places in this world! 

Hobart Region. Wellington - photo 4

Hobart Region. Wellington

After descending to The Chalet, a stone shelter beside Pinnacle Rd, walk about a kilometre up the road to Panorama Track (on the left). A bit of a stretch up stone steps puts you on a rocky track that scrambles up through alpine gums and scratchy alpine heath, and rounds boulders. Steep steps put you on Pinnacle Rd, with kunanyi/Mt Wellington’s signal tower ahead. Follow the road to the top, where you’ll find toilets, boardwalk-linked viewing platforms and a stone-and-glass lookout that shelters you from the bitter winds that often blow here. 

When you’re done ooh-ing and aah-ing at Hobart region and southern Tasmania spread at your feet, and have ticked off the summit proper (a trig point on a rock pile), keep on along the road (a one-way loop) to the television and radio signal broadcasting tower. Turn left immediately beyond the tower onto ZigZag Track, and traverse kunanyi/Mt Wellington’s wind-scoured rocky plateau, treading a slightly uneven but beautifully stone-paved pathway through metre-high heath towards another fabulous dolerite wall. South Hobart region and Bruny Island come into view beyond this tubular wall, and the view reaches to the east to take in Hobart as you descend further. 

Hobart Region. Wellington - photo 5

Hobart Region. Wellington

Now it’s down the ZigZag Track, steep and rocky, with chains running between posts in places where nothing would prevent a rapid descent if you went over the edge. Go steadily and enjoy the 180° panorama of estuary and islands bookended by fabulous vertical geology. The view vanishes as you drop into trees, there coming to another junction, with Organ Pipes Track running uphill. Turn right down Pinnacle Track and cross the path of a landslide, looking up at the swathe of damage and down at the boulder that caused it, resting just off the trail. 

Wider and less rocky now, so you can step out at last, the track crosses a grassy fire trail running along power lines and proceeds down into tea tree forest, towards The Springs. Stone track and stone steps descend through leafy forest to a one-way bitumen road. Turn right towards the ‘No Entry’ sign and pick up the walking track again opposite the grassy site of The Springs Hotel (1907), following this downhill. Cross the one-way loop road again (The Springs picnic area is to the left), then step down onto an unmarked walking track. Hobart Region and Wellington will always be in your heart.

Hobart Region. Wellington - photo 6

Hobart Region. Wellington

Signs a short way along announce this is a multi-use track, so watch for mountain bikes as you navigate chicanes fashioned from fallen trees and rocks, designed to slow cyclists. Turn right down Reids Track (no bikes permitted), a steep track lined with mossy rocks and tall gum trees. Turn right again at the bottom, towards the swish of running water, and amble to Silver Falls, where Brown’s River cascades prettily from a low ledge into a walled pool that empties into a stone-lined creek. (The stonework is part of the Waterworks scheme (1861), which took water from Mt Wellington to South Hobart Region.)

Cross the footbridge and follow the wide, formed Pipeline Track down the burbling river beneath a canopy of fern fronds. The track then recrosses the creek and diverges from the water. Benches along here might tempt you to stop and listen to the forest, but soon the loudest sound will be cars. You come out on Pinnacle Rd opposite Fern Tree Tavern. Stay on this side of the road and walk left to the car park, passing the pretty, Swiss-style Anglican Church of St Raphael, one of the few Fern Tree buildings to survive the devastating 1967 bushfires. Travel, love and enjoy your life. In Hobart Region and Wellington you will feel all beauty of this world!

Hobart Region. Wellington - photo 7

Hobart Region. Wellington

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