Friday, 22 Nov 2019

Shadow Lake. Amazing Tasmania

How to grow Dick
Shadow Lake
- 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.

This half-day loop to a beautiful sub-alpine lake is a feast of forests, mountains and moors. The half-day Shadow Lake loop introduces three distinct habitats: highland eucalypt forest, cool temperate rainforest and moorland. You can tread it in either direction but clockwise gives you the steepest climbs early and an easy run home.

Shadow Lake. Many people know Lake St Clair as the southern end of the Overland Track, but Australia’s deepest lake (maximum 160m), in Tasmania’s Central Highlands, is a walking destination in its own right. It’s a trailhead for pedestrian outings from an hour-long lakeside stroll to overnight hikes in the rugged Du Cane Range, such as The Labyrinth.

Shadow Lake. Amazing Tasmania - photo 1

Shadow Lake. Mt Rufus is the backdrop for this lazy loop from Lake St Clair

 

Walk:

14km loop

Time required:

4–5 hours

Best time:

Mild, sunny day

Grade:

Easy–moderate

Environment:

Eucalypt forest, cool temperate rainforest, button-grass moor, sub-alpine lake

Best map:

This one

Toilets:

Flushing toilets at Lake St Clair Visitor Centre

Food:

Variety of snacks, food and beverages in the visitor centre café; scrumptious burgers at the Hungry Wombat Café at Derwent Bridge, 5km back, on the Lyell Hwy

Tips:

This is a great family walk to Shadow Lake, which climbs only 270m.

Be alert for snakes, particularly in warm weather when they may curl up on the track to catch the sun.

Shadow Lake. Amazing Tasmania - photo 2

Shadow Lake

Shadow Lake. The park is two hours’ drive from Hobart via the sometimes-windy Lyell Hwy. Turn north for the lake at Derwent Bridge. Walk through the visitor centre to where all the walks are signed left and the lake ferry (Ida Clair) to the right. Swing left and walk past huts and staff quarters to an information shelter.

Initially following the Mt Rufus route, tread wide, flat track to a junction. Turn left for Shadow Lake (five hours), following track and boardwalk through eucalypt forest, button grass and tea tree. A marginal climb brings you to the Leeawuleena ‘tabelti’, a one-hour Aboriginal cultural loop, coming in on the right, 600m into the walk. (The Larmairremener people, of the central Big River Nation, call the lake Leeawuleena, meaning ‘sleeping water’) Shadow Lake.

Continue straight on, treading good but narrower track among banksias and tea tree, and boardwalk through paperbarks (melaleucas). How many different bird calls can you hear? Eleven of Tasmania’s 12 endemic bird species have been recorded in Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair National Park; it’s also habitat for flame robins, pink robins and striated fieldwrens. The loud, swallowing noise often heard on this walk is the yellow-cheeked wattlebird, unique to Tasmania. Watch for green parrots too.

Shadow Lake. Amazing Tasmania - photo 3

Shadow Lake

Shadow Lake. Obvious but also marked with occasional arrows and reflectors, the track dips into cool temperate rainforest gullies crammed with ground ferns, grey- and-white trunked sassafras trees and myrtle beech, which scatter confetti-like leaves in your path. In drier forest, look out for mountain berries (autumn and winter) and needle bush with creamy, curlicue flowers. The finger-like roots of a fallen giant about 2.5km into the walk reach out from a woody core embedded with clay and stones.

Fairly rocky in places, but still navigable, the track now makes several steep but short ascents. Watch for a magnificent eucalypt that splits into four trunks about a metre above the ground about 3.5km into the walk (see point 1 on map); the trunks appear scratched, its peeling bark revealing pink beneath. Soon after, orange arrows mark a short clamber up through rocks and trees shaggy with lichen and moss. Shadow Lake.

Having crossed a creek and climbed natural root steps that are slippery when wet, arrows keep you on the main track through a beech gully littered with fallen logs. Open forest then shows you a ridge through branches.

Shadow Lake. Amazing Tasmania - photo 4

Shadow Lake

Shadow Lake. This forested ridgeline ends ahead as Mt Rufus and a more energetic extension to this walk puts you up top for views over mountains and lakes and into Franklin–Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. Turn right at the Mt Rufus track junction, almost 5km into the walk, and continue among heath shrubs and eucalypts, including stylish, striped snow gums. Beyond a creek you cross on stepping stones you’ll find yourself among pandani (the world’s tallest heath), with leathery leaves ending in curls, and scoparia, a spiky shrub which produces profuse candle-like summer flower spikes in every shade from white to red. Slender rice flower shrubs produce pretty heads of pink-tinged white flowers most of the year.

The track navigates gullies, boardwalks, boggy areas, and more beech forest before offering another look at Mt Rufus and, clockwise, Mt Hugel’s indented dolerite profile. Heading towards Hugel, tread boardwalk across a button-grass moor (see point 2 on map) and then walk along its edge. The track briefly pulls away from the moor and through snow gums before cutting another corner of moor. Shadow Lake. 

Climb slightly now, water showing between native pines, beech and gum trees, and pass the Mt Rufus extension returning on the left. Rooty track through beech forest leads to Shadow Lake, its bank and shallows strewn with fallen trees. Shadow Lake. The track heads east along the lake, footpads leading to waterside rocks on which you can sit and lunch looking at a cinematic dolerite-peak backdrop.

Shadow Lake. Amazing Tasmania - photo 5

Shadow Lake

Shadow Lake. Having crossed a creek emptying out of the lake you come to another junction. If you have time, turn left for Forgotten Lake, 30 minutes west of Shadow Lake. Or walk on. Visitor centre-bound now, the track is rocky in places but fairly flat. It passes through banksias, juvenile tea tree, moor and clusters of snow gums. Just past one magnificent specimen, on the right, and opposite a lumpy dead tree, there’s a pretty wetland, behind which rises Mt Rufus.

A gentle descent takes you from snow gums to beech forest where there’s no alternative to getting your boots muddy (or at least none that won’t increase track damage). These damper conditions promote the growth of fungi, including beautiful, pink, coral fungus. Shadow Lake. 

Still descending, you find yourself walking in more open eucalypts to the burble of running water – the Hugel River, down to your right. Shadow Lake. The track veers away from the river but descends steeply back into beech forest above the water with a footbridge visible below. Stop on the bridge and watch the river run over the rocky bed.

Shadow Lake. Amazing Tasmania - photo 6

Shadow Lake

Shadow Lake. Continue along the other side to where the Leeawuleena tabelti (Aboriginal Cultural walk) comes in and keep left towards Watersmeet, where the Hugel and Cuvier rivers converge (see point 3 on map). Crossing the bridge below the confluence would start you on the Overland Track. It’s also the way to Platypus Bay, on Lake St Clair. (The Platypus Bay walk circuit adds 30 minutes to this walk but it will be worth it if you spot one of these remarkable monotrenes.)

Remaining this side of the Hugel, which runs into Lake St Clair, gives you an easy walk back to the visitor centre via the lake. A vehicle-wide compacted gravel track climbs through sassafras, beech, silver wattles and tall eucalypts, some metres in diameter. Here too are Tasmanian waratahs, with elongated leaves, and red spider flowers in spring. Shadow Lake.

Shadow Lake. Amazing Tasmania - photo 7

Shadow Lake

Shadow Lake. Turn left at the next junction, for the visitor centre via the lake, and walk through a camping area to the lake. Built in 1940 as part of the state’s hydroelectricity scheme, the lone industrial building seeming to float 300m offshore across the water is now the luxury Pumphouse Point accommodation.  Stroll along the water’s edge, towards the ferry jetty, with the lake lapping metres from your feet. Steps at the end of the beach lead up to the visitor centre.

 

“Top Walks in Tasmania”

Melanie Ball 

 
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