Friday, 15 Nov 2019

Quamby Bluff

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Quamby Bluff
- 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.

Bag a local landmark Quamby Bluff for panoramic views over northern Tasmania. A northern Tasmanian landmark visible from multiple compass points, Quamby Bluff is a solitary northern outlier of the Great Western Tiers, stranded (by about six kilometers) by the mountain range’s erosion and retreat over time. Dolerite, intruding through a base of sandstone and mud-stone, and eroded to columnar cliffs, forms a largely-flat ‘peak’ at 1227m above sea level, which promises – and on clear days delivers – sweeping views of mountains, valleys and the north coast.

Quamby Bluff - photo 1

Quamby Bluff rewards climbers with a grandstand view

Walk:

7.5km out-and-back

Time required:

3–5 hours

Best time:

Mild, clear day. Spring or summer is best for wildflowers; the sky is often clearest in winter but the plateau can be snowbound.

Grade:

Moderate (with a short, steep clamber)

Environment:

Farmland, rainforest, boulder field, alpine heath, mountain plateau

Best map:

This one

Toilets:

None

Food:

None – the nearest food (pubs, cafes, restaurants) is in Deloraine, 21km north.

Tips:

If spending a few days in the area there’s no better place to camp than Quamby Corner in Golden Valley, at the foot of Quamby Bluff. This country caravan park has everything you need but no superfluous luxuries.

Quamby Bluff - photo 2

Quamby Bluff

Reaching the top of Quamby Bluff involves some fun rock-clambering but starts innocuously in farmland 21km south of Deloraine; follow the A5 out of town and through Golden Valley. The gravel Quamby Bluff Conservation Area parking area (with no facilities) is on the left/east of the road. There is room for a couple of cars at the start of the walk (the Fairy Glade route), 50m further along the road, but don’t block the farm gates!

Marked with a yellow arrow on a blue pole, the track begins vehicle-wide and runs between fenced paddocks towards Quamby Bluff with the Great Western Tiers cliff line dominating the pastoral view to your left. A short way beyond a house that enjoys that view year-round, the track narrows into myrtle beech forest (see point 1 on map) blanketed with ground ferns and bracken. Climb Quamby Bluff gently through beech and tree ferns and a palisade of slender tea tree about 15m high.

Quamby Bluff - photo 3

Quamby Bluff

Ignoring foot pads other walkers have cut, keep to the arrowed track (red arrows lead up the mountain and yellow ones down it), ascending into tall eucalyptus, many killed by bush fire, with an under story of beech and mossy rocks. Fallen trees can block the track on Quamby’s lower slopes so you may need to work around a recent casualty.

The track then emerges from forest to work across and up a river of rocks (see point 2 on map) running down the mountain, the going becoming more and more uneven as you climb. Back in trees adorned with moss and epiphytes (stop and look up at these natural chandeliers) continue uphill, skirting a pile of rocks behind which looms Quamby’s ridgeline. This rock pile is part of an imposing boulder field spilled down from a V-shaped saddle. Arrows and cairns mark the recommended route part-way up and across the boulder field. You may find an alternate route you prefer, but don’t venture far from the markers.

Quamby Bluff - photo 4

Quamby Bluff

More forest awaits and from among the branches you get a view over the scree and the treed hillside below, down the valley to the Great Western Tiers and up the boulder field to Quamby Bluff. The rocks underfoot demand your attention for the remainder of the ascent.

Having climbed Quamby Bluff steeply through old beech trees whiskered with mosses and lichens, the track gradient eases slightly to traverse the face of the Quamby Bluff. Steps fashioned from lumps of local stone then climb, steeply again, between boulders and trees and up a gully to a saddle between outcrops. A rock atop the right-hand one looks like Shrek.

Quamby Bluff - photo 5

Quamby Bluff

On the saddle the track Quamby Bluff pushes through mountain berries and prickly heath plants and another stand of beech, passing a bristling scoparia bush with multiple trunks below a wall of vertically cracked rocks wallpapered with orange, grey and black lichen. If you brought walking poles, leave them on the saddle because hands are more helpful from here. The view opens up, taking in the Great Western Tiers and man-made Huntsman Lake (a wild brown trout fishery), to the south-west, as you clamber up broken dolerite (see point 3 on map) onto Quamby’s flat summit.

With a barricade of dolerite cliffs at your back, walk 500m north-east across the plateau, following red arrows and then high-vis yellow ones through weather-pruned scoparia, mountain-berry bushes and tea tree gnarled with age but only a metre tall. The track Quamby Bluff is unformed with stepping stones fording patches that become boggy in the wet.

Quamby Bluff - photo 6

Quamby Bluff

From the trig point Quamby Bluff (1227m above sea level) you get a panoramic 360° view across the plateau to the Great Western Tiers and over the plains. On a perfect day you can see Strzelecki Peak on Flinders Island, in Bass Straight, about 200km to the north-east.

If it’s not too windy, you can lunch-with-a-view at the trig point before heading back the way you’ve come. As you retrace your steps think about the geological forces that uplifted the Great Western Tiers and then separated this Quamby Bluff. Think too about the formation of the rock beneath your feet. Outcrops of metamorphosed sediments on Quamby Bluff are some of the oldest rock in Tasmania.

“Top Walks in Tasmania”
Melanie Ball 

 

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