Sunday, 9 Aug 2020

Mount Farrell and Lake Herbert

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- 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.

Mount Farrell is part of Tasmania

Mount Farrell and Lake Herbert are one of the incredible parts of amazing Tasmania. Mix man-made lakes, tranquil tarns, panoramic mountain views and a bit of bush bash and you have got a great half-day adventure

Mount Farrell and Lake Herbert - photo 1

Mount Farrell. From Mount Farrell you can see into the Cradle Mountain range. 

Walk:

10.5km return

Time required:

4–6 hours

Best time:

Clear, mild day

Grade:

Moderate

Environment:

Forest, sub-alpine button-grass plains, man-made and natural lakes, exposed hillsides and ridgelines

Best map:

This one

Toilets:

Public toilets in Tullah’s main street

Food:

Drop in to Tullah Tavern for pub grub, including assorted chicken parmas. All meals at Tullah Lakeside Lodge come with a side serve of Lake Rosebery view.

Tips:

Wear trousers or gaiters as protection from the sharp shrubs on the overgrown last leg of this walk. Be prepared for changes in weather; take a water- and windproof jacket and turn back if conditions deteriorate.

Mount Farrell and Lake Herbert - photo 2

Mount Farrell

Mount Farrell, on whose flanks prospector Tom Farrell found galena (a silver- and lead-yielding mineral) in 1892, overlooks the tiny township of Tullah from a height of 712m. The settlement that sprouted at the mountain’s foot after Tom’s strike initially took the mountain and man’s name but in 1901 the town proclaimed it was named Tullah. Tullah is an Aboriginal word meaning meeting of the waters, due to the town’s location where the Mackintosh and Murchison rivers become the Pieman.

The indigenous name proved doubly apt, because the ex-mining town was a construction base for hydro-electric power schemes from the 1970s to 1990s. Twenty years on, forest-fringed, man-made lakes stocked with trout attract fishers while walkers continue their love affair with the enfolding high country and tarns, such as tiny, elevated Lake Herbert.

The Mount Farrell and Lake Herbert walk is signed in Tullah’s main street, 56km winding kilometres up the B28 from Queenstown. There is a small turning/parking area about 150m off the bitumen but it’s easier to park in the street and tread the rough, gravel vehicular track (Peters Road) between houses and past the parking area to a rusty mine frame and vandalized information board.

Mount Farrell and Lake Herbert - photo 3

Mount Farrell

Mount Farrell. Here the walking track swings right off the vehicular track, up past a pole and a rustic ‘track’ sign. If you haven’t brought walking poles, take your pick of the assorted sticks other walkers have left here after their climbs. The track, obvious and marked with ribbons and red arrows, starts steeply enough to stretch your Achilles tendons. Ignore a track going left from a Mount Farrell Regional Reserve sign and keep climbing, past what looks like an old mine shaft (unsigned) (see point 1 on map). The going’s reasonably easy despite the odd rock and root – and in any case, someone has placed a couple of plastic chairs on the track for rests!

Mount Farrell. About 1.7km from the start you step from shaggy eucalyptus and occasional tree ferns into open forest of white-flowering bauera and button grass. The forest interchange can be boggy but full-frontal of Buttress Hill, ahead, and Mount Farrell to its right, make up for the mud.

Worn through 30cm of peaty soil, the track heads towards Buttress Hill before veering right and gifting a view along Mount Farrell to the craggy monolith of Mount Murchison. (A more challenging hike with a rock-clamber finish puts you atop Mount Murchison). Man-made Lake Rosebery appears behind as you continue up Mount Farrell.

Mount Farrell and Lake Herbert - photo 4

Mount Farrell

Mount Farrell. At an unsigned three-way junction, take the middle track, ignoring the logs someone has laid across it. The right-hand track is the shortest route up Mount Farrell but we’re visiting Lake Herbert before summiting and coming back that way. The left-hand track is a loop to nowhere that re-joins the middle one a few metres on.

In spring and summer, red Tasmanian Christmas bells and pink trigger plants decorate the slope up to a rocky saddle and on the climb Mount Murchison disappears behind Mount Farrell and man-made Lake Mackintosh appears left. The view encompasses more of that huge lake, and backdrop glaciated ranges, as you work right (see point 2 on map), around the back of the mountain. (Mount Farrell’s quartzite spine blocks the worst westerlies, but this east-face traverse can still be windy.)

Mount Murchison reappears as you pass a conglomerate boulder, it’s rugged visage dwarfing Lake Herbert, the exquisite tarn that comes into view below as you crest a pyramidal rise, but the mountain disappears again as you make the often boggy final approach to the tarn. Look for cute mauve-and-white fairies aprons and other wildflowers along the way.

Mount Farrell and Lake Herbert - photo 5

Mount Farrell

Lake Herbert, 4km into the walk, is a gorgeous spot for a cooling swim in warm weather however it might stop your heart in wintry weather! Work clockwise around its shrubby shore to stepping stones leading to a tiny island for a close look at the rocky bed through liquid-toffee water.

Retrace your steps roughly a kilometre, turning left onto a faint foot pad, usually marked with a ribbon, a shortcut to the summit track that saves you more than 1km of backtracking. A short climb leads to a shoulder-wide, chin-high cutting. Immediately inside, clamber left onto the ridge, rather than push through the overgrown shrubbery. Mount Farrell.

The summit track heads left from here up the ridge, with the view behind broadening into a horseshoe of ‘wow’! Note the pink conglomerate boulder and, uphill to its right, a natural rock arch. Topping this slope you’ll see Mount Murchison again and Lake Herbert nestled down left.

Mount Farrell and Lake Herbert - photo 6

 

Mount Farrell

Mount Farrell. A very steep pitch (see point 3 on map) puts you under a banksia in a conglomerate cluster. Tread the right-hand track a few metres out onto the boulders for an expansive view over Tullah and Lake Rosebery and the takayna/Tarkine. The track beyond here is less distinct and more exposed but navigable in clear conditions.

Enjoy the view before backtracking down the mountain or proceeding (weather permitting) through button grass. Having veered right around one outcrop, you’ve got a short, steep pitch onto another. Tullah and Lake Herbert now lay either side of you, range upon range fading into the distance behind the tarn.

Push, literally, through wiry heath along the ridge, following a faint track very occasionally marked by a pink ribbon. After several false summits, a major outcrop gives you your first look at the trig point 100m ahead. (A red arrow tied to a tree identifies the step-down point from these rocks for your return.) The summit is secured after one more climb and it’s worth the effort, because the view beats everything that’s come before. There’s even a flattish rock on which to sit and enjoy it. Mount Farrell.

Mount Farrell and Lake Herbert - photo 7

Mount Farrell

Mount Farrell. Back where the shortcut came up (it’s easy to miss from this angle – keep to the most obvious track), follow the main summit track down over a grassy knoll, passing rusty metal scraps probably from the mining days. The track changes from boot-wide and sporadically boggy to rocky as it descends a scrubby gully (watch for snakes). The track then escapes the gully and crosses a hill to the junction passed earlier. Turn and retrace your earlier steps downhill.

The forest descent back to Tullah can tire legs weary from rock work. Take your time; appreciate the lichen, moss and fungi – even some purple ones – that you probably missed coming up.

“Top Walks in Tasmania”

Melanie Ball 

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