ARTHUR (3895’) PRESENTS NO TROUBLE
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At 6.15 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 26th. 1932, I met by arrangement at the Queen Victoria Bridge, Launceston, my companion of the previous expeditions. The sun was shining brightly from an almost cloudless sky and the weather ideal for our purposes. We travelled via Rocherlea and were speeding down the Underwood hill, 11½ miles from Launceston, at 7.30 a.m. when a mishap to one of the bicycles caused considerable delay. At 8.10 a.m. we were again awheel and twenty minutes later reached the turn-off to Mt. Arthur, about a mile short of Lilydale and fifteen from Launceston. The road over which we had travelled carried us through some very pretty bush country with young wattle and gum thickets as well as numerous wild flowers in bloom on either side.
At a cottage near the turn-off we left our bicycles and, discarding our riding shoes for our heavier boots, we set out for the mountain at 8.45 a.m.. For nearly two miles the track is wide and, although rough and steep, is easily accessible by motors. At the end of the road is the mountain track upon which we proceeded for a short distance. It is evident, to our surprise, that Mt. Arthur receives very few visitors for the track is very little worn. After passing through a small marsh the track became fainter and lost altitude and I gave way to my suspicions that we were not on the true track and, parting from my companion, I struck off through the light scrub up hill towards the south where I expected to find the true path.
On the top of this ridge is a maze of small trails leading in all directions, none of which had the appearance of being much used. After making progress for about half a mile along these tracks towards the mountain, the bush became much thicker and I crossed over to meet my associate who was about half a mile away on my left. We united a little above the track and we agreed to push on through the bush in a direct line to the mountain in the hope of picking up the track en route. In places the undergrowth was particularly thick and stringybarks and myrtles rose to a great height all around us. After a gruelling climb of about two miles (although it proved to be not near as long and no steeper than the track taken by the track but, of course, not so easy to penetrate) the trees began to thin out and we could see a couple of rocky eminences ahead. We made our way through the stunted scrub and over the rocks and soon reached the plateau.
From here we soon espied the cairn of stones that mark Mt. Arthur’s loftiest point and, making towards it, we were fortunately able to find some good water. We took advantage of our good fortune by lunching here as this was the first water we had seen for some considerable time and inconsequently it was the first drink of which I had partaken since my early breakfast. After a half hour's respite we were again afoot and arrived at the cairn about 1.30 p.m..
Although the sky was cloudless except for a few isolated high ones, visibility was not ideal, the hazy nature of the horizon allowing only a dim vision of the more distant landmarks. This was in particular evidence in the north, the sea being scarcely discernible although the wide sandy beaches around Bridport gleamed golden through the haze. Beginning from the south-east a remarkable close up of Mt. Barrow is obtained. On the northern side of this mountain a view of the north-east corner of the Ben Lomond plateau is to be had, the remainder of that giant table land being obliterated from sight by the intrusion of Mt. Barrow. Just north of Ben Lomond we have a glimpse of a distant peak (possibly Mt. Nicholas) before we turn our gaze to the nearer form of Ben Nevis Farther north Mts. Saddleback and Victoria away to the east rear their heads above the surrounding hills. To the north of here lie a number of small mountains or more correctly hills included in which I might mention Mts. Maurice, Scott, Stronach and the distant Cameron and then the sea appears in the north. In the east the Tamar valley can be seen to advantage, the view of Launceston being exceptionally fine for we were able to distinguish a few of the buildings from this distance. Lilydale, of course, was easy to recognize at the foot of the mountain and the beauty of the nearby agricultural districts we did not fail to realize. In the far south-west and south the long range of the Western Tiers with its many high peaks formed a grand rugged background to the low-lying farming districts between it and us.
After a quarter of an hour's stay on the elevated vantage point we commenced our return. We had noticed a couple of stakes leading down the south-west side of the plateau and guessed we had found the track, nor were we disillusioned. After a while the track proved very difficult to follow for some time owing to its little used and overgrown state. Once the way had been well blazed but the paint marks were almost washed out and the tree cuts almost barked over. For a while we were in difficulties but at length the track became much plainer and soon well-defined. As I previously men¬tioned we began our descent on the south-western side of the plateau but the track soon curved away to the north and later came back to the east where we again came upon the end of the motor track at 3.40 p.m..
The track from the mountain top leads through some truly wonderful surroundings. Firstly in the higher region we would come upon countless varieties of luxurious wildflowers conspicuous among which were the fine crimson blooms of the waratah which thrives in this locality. Then we would plunge into the thick forest where the tall trees - gum, wattle, myrtle, sassafras, etc. shut out the warm rays of the sun and afford ample protection for the velvety green mosses, innumerable wild ferns and delicate rank fungi that encroach upon the track itself. Next we would halt at a small trickling stream, sample its cool, crystal water and pause for a moment’s respite beneath some tall stately manfern which covers us with its long, broad, feathery fronds. There is nothing so refreshing to the eye of the fatigued traveller as the exquisite loveliness of these forest streams. The abundant fern growth, hanging over and almost hiding the creek, the reeds, the creepers, the bushes and the tall trees above are mirrored in the clear, pellucid water of the stream as it glides and deviates through the thick undergrowth. Everything, even the fallen logs with their thick coat of beautiful mosses, is a picture of vivid green – cool, soothing and invigorating. Then on again along this enchanting forest path till we leave the bush behind and emerge at the end of the motor road.
It was 3.40 p.m. when we gained this wide stretch of the route, having
travelled about 3½ miles from the mountain top and thirty five
minutes later we had covered the remaining two miles that divided us from
our bicycles. We spent another twenty minutes here having our tea before
we commenced the journey home. We arrived at Mowbray at approximately
6 p.m. and were well satisfied with the day’s outing.
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