Keith Lancaster 

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Note: The reports have been scanned in as written. I have included the height and distance indications, e.g.:
(1000'- 12m.- 4.45p.m.)
which read as follows: height in feet - miles for the day - time.

At 6.30 p.m. on Sunday morning, May 15th., 1932, I left Launceston with the intention of scaling Dry’s Bluff. The morning was frosty making my feet and hands rather cold but the blue sky above gave promise of a warm day and, what was more to my taste, a clear, wide range of visibility.
I went per bicycle as usual, traveling via Carrick arid Bishopsbourne and, after covering about nineteen miles, I found my fellow-aspirant, J. Yates, waiting for me, having trouble with one of his pedals. We were delayed several times by this offending pedal which had a tendency to work tight every now and then but at length we overcame the difficulty. We continued our journey keeping the Liffey River on our right until we reached the Upper Liffey district where we made a few inquiries concerning the approach to the mountain. At 10.30 a.m. we located the ford which takes us across the Liffey to the old coal mine track which was recommended as the best way to the top of the mountain by the people in the vicinity. At this stage we were about twenty-eight miles from Launceston with the Liffey, which we had crossed a mile and a half back, on our left and the mountain to the south. The advice we had received was to follow this partially overgrown coal mine track (the coal mine had closed down many years before and the track was seldom used except for an occasional trapper) leading us around to the western side of the bluff until we came into sight of the “Gap” which was, as its name implies, a gap in the cliff-like walls of the mountain through which we could make an easier ascent to the plateau from the top of which we would have little difficulty in reaching the highest point.

After disposing of our bicycles in the scrub, we crossed the stream and shortly afterwards located the track. The track was indeed overgrown and after following it for about a mile we lost all traces thereof and struck off through the dense scrub towards where I expected to find the mountain pass. It must have taken us nearly two hours to penetrate this thick bush which lay between us and our objective and when we did so the top seemed as far away as ever. The approach to this portion of the plateau of the Western Tiers was now becoming much steeper and, as we gained altitude, we edged around towards the west and at length had a view of the “Gap”.

However, we did not pass through this opening but through a much smaller gully known as the “Little Gap” which was much nearer at hand. When we gained the plateau we were at a loss to locate the highest point as there were several hillocks on top close together all much about the same height. We found our objective after a while and at a few seconds to 2 p.m. we had added the conquest of Cry’s Bluff (4257 ft.) to our list of mountaineering achievements. We were indeed fortunate to have arrived so late as the clouds, coming up from the north side just beat us and soon completely obliterated our view in that direction.

From the top of Dry’s Bluff we had a fine view of Quamby’s Bluff, Projection Bluff, Cluan Tier and the western peaks of the Great Western Tiers, but only for a few minutes before the clouds blotted them from our vision. To the south-west a corner of the Great Lake was visible but this, too, disappeared ere long owing to the agency of the clouds. Towards the south a long layer of clouds occupied a valley in the Tiers and formed a picturesque and unusual spectacle with the lofty peaks of Brady’s Lookout and Miller’s Bluff in the background rising high above the clouds. Visibility in the north and west was too limited to enable us to distinguish any distant landmarks.

By the time we had finished our lunch on this high eminence, the clouds had thickened all around us, enveloping us like a fog and, when we attempted to find the pass through which we arrived, we met with no success. After considerable scouting along the plateau edge, we abandoned our attempt to locate the “Gap” (especially as our opinions regarding its whereabouts differed greatly) and tried to find a way down the precipitous cliffs. It was not until we had made several unsuccessful efforts, going down crevices in the rocky mountain wall only to pull up on the brink of some sheers drop of hundreds of feet and retrace our steps, that we reached the bottom of the main cliffs. Our route from the top had taken us down a very steep grade and at considerable risk we negotiated the steep descents and, towards the bottom when we were among the loose stones, we would often set a miniature avalanche hurtling below.

It was about 5.30 p.m. when we arrived at the bottom of the cliffs and, although we did not know exactly where we were, we knew that we had yet a long way to go. To make our predicament worse, dusk was falling. We had not descended much farther when we came to a tiny creek and we agreed not to forsake this as it appeared now certain that we would have to camp the night on the mountain side. We
followed the creek down through the thick scrub and man-fern growth setting up a fast pace. On and on we rushed through the gloomy bush, at times being held up by a barrier of extra dense scrub for a few moments but soon pressing on again, stumbling, falling, and sliding through the undergrowth. The sun had long since set but with the providential assistance of the moon, without which we would have been unable to continue, we were able to labour onwards. At length the scrub began to thin out and soon we entered a clearing upon which a few cattle were feeding. A little later our stream joined the Liffey and, after following it a little way, we crossed it and found the road a quarter of a mile away.

It was then about 7.30 p.m. and after waiting for a while we stopped a passing jinker from the driver of which we learned that the location of our bicycles was about a mile down the road i.e. to the eastwards. It was then obvious to me that the route we had followed had led us down the mountain about half a mile to the west of the “Gap” and, but for striking the creek which was flowing north-eastwards, we would have reached the road two miles farther up and , if we had encountered (as would have probably have been the case) such dense bush as when ascending, it would have most likely been about 9 p.m. before we could reach the road. However, as it was, after we had followed the creek for a while, it took us in the right direction. We were indeed fortunate in not having to spend the night on the mountain side. The journey from the road to the highest peak would approach five miles in distance, taking us nearly three and a half hours to cover, whereas our return journey, covering easily seven miles in all, took about four and a half hours, the majority of this time being lost in trying to find a way down the cliffs for once we reached the bottom of the cliffs, we reeled the last five to six miles off in an hour and three quarters, a performance of which we are justly proud.

At a brisk walk we set off to where our bicycles were concealed and, procuring these, we began our journey home. We were surprised that, notwithstanding the fact that our legs had been in constant working ever since early morning, we could make such good time. We had a little difficulty with the aforesaid pedal but it was soon repaired and we sped along through the bright moonlight at a strong pace. The air was frosty and cold but we were more than satisfied with the day’s outing and arrived home at 10 p.m.. This trip would easily be the most severe one-day trip to date.






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