ENCOUNTER MANY DIFFICULTIES
IN CAPTURING BRADY’S LOOKOUT
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On Saturday March 18th. 1933 at 2 p.m., in company with my friend Mr. Jeff. Yates, I set out on our eighth expedition together – this time to attempt to reach Brady’s Lookout (4497’) and return over the week-end.
This peak which lies in the Western Tiers to the east of the Great Lake reaches a fair height in 4497’ and must not be confused with that elevated rock near Rosevears on the West Tamar, generally referred to as Brady’s Lookout but also as Brady’s Rocks. Several of the mountains of Tasmania suffer a similar fate in nomenclature. It is rather a pity that greater distinction is not given between the names of these peaks. For example take the names of the following mountains – Arthur, Direction, Cameron, Charles, William, Rocky, Black, The Hummocks, The Thumbs, Christmas Hills, etc. – and note how many times each of these are applied to different mountains.
The weather, when we left, was showery with many clouds about and most unsuitable for mountain sight-seeing but, as our opportunities for mountaineering had been extremely few of late, we decided to go through with our plans. A very strong north-westerly wind blew throughout the day but this assisted more than it retarded our progress. As this had been our first long ride for quite a while, we, naturally, were very tired when we pulled up at Mr. Francombe’s residence at the foot of the Great Lake track at 5.30 p.m.. We had come by way of Carrick, Bishopsbourne and Liffey – a total distance of about thirty-two miles.
We left our bicycles at Mr. Francombe’s, his being the last house on the track, and set out to climb the three miles which separated us from the ‘cave’. From Francombe’s a stock track leads up the side and over the Western Tiers, between Cathcart’s Bluff and Brady’s Lookout, to the Great Lake. As far as the ‘cave’ the track can be negotiated by cars but, although the grade is not particularly steep, the roughness and narrowness of the so-called ‘road’ makes it extremely difficult. If I had a car it would be about the last place I should think of taking it.
The ‘cave’ at which we arrived at 6.30 p.m. is a huge shelf in the mountain wall and, although it only goes about half a dozen yards into the rock, it affords complete protection from both wind and rain. We were indebted for our knowledge of the ‘cave’ and its whereabouts to a cyclist we had chanced to meet on our ride out.
As soon as we arrived we set about getting in a plentiful supply of fire wood to tide us over the night. This took us quite a while for previous campers in this spot had cleaned out most of the logs in the immediate proximity. It was quite dark by the time we had our fire aglow and with the assistance of the light from the fire combined with that from our torches we commenced our evening meal. Although not very deep, this great mountain crevice is so long that it would have little difficulty in accommodating a hundred men and it was in this sheltered nook that we had our best night’s rest we have experienced to date on a mountain-side. With a huge fire roaring between us and the entrance we were never troubled by the cold outside and we must have obtained quite four hours’ sleep – possibly more.
We were astir next morning at daybreak and at 6.40 a.m. we began the day’s journey. We continued up along the track until we reached the top of the defile after crossing a wire fence about two miles from the ‘cave’. Leaving the beaten track here, we struck off to the left aiming for a rocky eminence about three quarters of a mile away. To reach this we had to fight our way through some particularly dense scrub. Upon reaching this objective, we beheld a long, lofty ridge about a mile ahead of us to the south-east. We descended into the valley that separated the ridge upon which we were standing from the much higher elevated ridge before us. The undergrowth was not near so thick giving greater facility of progress and soon we arrived at the foot and began to climb up the rocky side of the higher ridge.
At 8.20 a.m. we arrived at the summit of this gigantic mountain backbone, for such it truly was. Upon gaining this vantage point we were in a quandary as to which peak was Brady’s Lookout. We were occupying the northern end of this long wall of rock which I will more aptly describe as a range upon a range. Running from N.N.E. to S.S.W., and later curving a little to the south it continues for about four miles until it loses itself among the smaller peaks to the south. We did not have a good map of the locality to assist us but from what little data we had gained by perusing several vague maps we had estimated Brady’s Lookout to be about four miles east of the stock trail. We could not have left the track as far as two miles behind yet but, upon looking around, we could not select a peak and say convincingly that it was higher than that which we then occupied. We expected to find a cairn of stones upon Brady’s Lookout, being the highest point at the east end of the Western Tiers, but altho’ we scanned all the peaks in the vicinity we could not observe one with such a distinction. Just slightly south of due east about four miles away were two peaks close together, both apparently similar in altitude to that upon which we stood, but they appeared to be too far away to be the mountain we sought.
The lofty range we still occupied, and for future reference and for want of a better name we shall call it the ‘Lofty Range’ [Sandbanks Tier 1384m.], varied little in altitude over the whole length. In the hope of gaining a clue to the whereabouts of our objective, we decided to follow this range along to the south. After a half mile we came to what I can now affirm to be the highest point of the Lofty Range (approximately 4400’). This was at 8.40 a.m. and three quarters of a mile farther on at 9.2 a.m. we reached another point almost as high. We continued for another half mile and at 9.14 a.m. arrived at still another high point of the range. I will now pause to give a brief description of the chief landmarks in the vicinity of this fourth point of the long range.
About a half mile S. by W. of here lies another eminence almost but not quite as high as the second point of the range. Half a mile S.E. of this fifth point and a mile S.S.E. of the fourth point is a conical peak also of similar height. About four miles E.N.E. of our peak are two high peaks rising to a height somewhere in the vicinity of our point. The middle of the large eastern bay of the Great Lake lies about two and a half miles to the west. E.S>E> by S. of this fourth point of the Lofty Range lies the Little Lake about ten miles away and in the far south-east may be seen Lake Sorell. About ten miles S.E. by S. and extending across behind the conical peak aforementioned lies the Arthur Lakes.
After closer examination we saw what appeared to be a small cairn of stones on top of the higher of the two peaks away to the E.N.E.. As we were now of the opinion that the Lofty Range or any of its immediate neighbours did not contain the peak for which we were in quest and as the distant pinnacle now appeared to have a slight advantage in elevation on the other peaks, we forsook the Lofty Range and headed for it.
At 9.40 a.m. we commenced our descent of the Lofty Range and made our way over the plateau of the Western Tiers, over rough grassy clearings, across rocky stretches and through patches of scrub until we finally came to and ascended the rocky sides of the conical shaped peak of Brady’s Lookout (4497’). At 11.23 a.m. we gained the cairn of stones which marks the highest point of the Western Tiers east of the Meander and we had added yet another mountain to our list of successes.
From the topmost pinnacle a wide diversity of landscape unfolds around us. The most prominent feature is the high companion peak less than half a mile on the N.N.E.. Due south about six miles away are the Arthur Lakes while the Little Lake is about five miles to the S.S.E.. Many miles farther S.S.E. lie the larger lakes of Sorell and Echo with the peaks of Old Man’s Head and Table Mt. standing out behind them. Miller’s Bluff and the long high range which connects it to the Tiers arrests the eye to the south-east. In the north the view was very limited owing to the low-lying clouds in that area but a fair view was obtainable of the low-lands immediately below the Tiers. In the west the long line of the Lofty Range cut out any farther view in that quarter while in the south-west were many smaller eminences appearing on the Tiers.
At 11.55 a.m. we bade farewell to Brady’s Lookout and began our retreat towards the track heading for the second point on the Lofty Range. This route was more open than that to the fourth point from which we had arrived and it led us much nearer to the track. All went well until we had covered the four miles which lie between Brady’s Lookout and the foot of the range. The foot of the range is heavily wooded and to avoid the scrub we would take the path of least resistance, sometimes turning to the left, sometimes to the right. Near the bottom of the ridge is the framework of a rough building which is probably covered by a tarpaulin at times and occupied by the shepherd from the Great Lake for we saw a small flock in the neighbourhood. When we reached the summit of the Lofty Range we were dismayed to find we had worked a long way south of the point we had hoped to reach. I would say we were somewhere in the vicinity of the fourth point of the range, well over a mile from the place at which we expected to rise.
We had two alternatives to follow to reach the stock trail – firstly, to continue along the summit of the range to the spot where we had previously ascended and return via the route by which we had come and, secondly, to descend from the range just where we were and edging to the north reach the track a little higher up. As this second route presented the shortest means of leaving the plateau, we favoured it with our decision, but unfortunately, this was our undoing.
Everything began satisfactorily and we found the country to be more open and easier to traverse than we had expected. We passed through a couple of grassy clearings where a few cattle were grazing and came upon a stock trail which appeared to lead in the direction of the mountain defile through which we knew the true track to run. This track did not have the appearance of being much used, but in the hope that it should prove to be or lead us to the correct path, we followed it for about a quarter od a mile. Here we lost it at the gate of a large paddock and although we tried to pick it up farther on we were unable to do so. Eventually we arrived at the opinion that this was just a track from the shepherd’s hut to one of his paddocks and ended here because the cattle would scatter out when they had passed through the gate and leave little or no tracks.
As this opinion appeared logical to us both, we continued farther on in a north-easterly direction hoping to cross the old stock trail at any moment. The bush soon began to grow thicker and the clearings much fewer and when I should imagine we had travelled about two miles and a half we had the unnerving surprise of finding ourselves back in a clearing through which we had passed nearly an hour earlier. This experience does not seem to pay a very high tribute to our bushcraft, but when one considers the denseness of the growth through which we at times forced our way – now turning to the left, then sharply to the right to avoid patches particularly difficult of penetration – the unfortunate result is pardonable.
At first we would not believe this clearing to be the same but one very similar to that we had previously crossed but we soon found a few odd characteristics which definitely proved our worst fears to be correct. Such an occurrence as this is far from pleasant especially as by this time the shadows were beginning to lengthen and the uninviting prospect of spending the night on this inhospitable plateau, lightly clad as we were, appeared imminent. The first thing and I should say the most practicable was to pick up our bearings from the sun and this showed us we had been heading for the west far too much.
We then agreed to separate and reconnoitre. Jeff was to proceed to the north and I to the east and after about quarter of an hour both return and report. I had the good fortune to be able to bring the glad tidings that I had found a steep defile in the mountain somewhat similar to that down which the stock route wound. As my companion had nothing near so encouraging to report, we immediately set off as fast as possible in the direction I had explored. Soon we caught a glimpse of the fertile lowlands which lay below the Tiers and, after descending farther down this mountain gorge, we had the great satisfaction of learning this to be the mountain pass which possessed the stock trail.
The sun had now set and, calling upon our tired limbs for their very utmost, we sped on towards where we hoped to pick up the trail before dusk. We were on the north-west side of the defile and as we knew the track to be on the opposite side we had to edge around towards the south-east, gradually descending the while. Progress was not at all easy as the growth in this huge sheltered gully was fairly thick. However, we had the good luck to reach an area where a bush fire had opened up the way somewhat and after rushing through this we shortly afterwards were delighted to gain the track at 5.20 p.m..
We were not far above the ‘cave’ and twenty minutes later we reached our camp of the previous night and collected the remainder of our pack which we had left here. At six o’clock we were again afoot. Dusk had now fallen and we had about three miles yet to cover before we could leave the bush behind at Francombe’s. We made the distance in the excellent time of three quarters of an hour and it was quite dark when we mounted our bicycles for home.
Misfortune still dogged us for I have never before endured such a miserable ride. The night was very black with no moon and I could not succeed in making my torch keep alight to show me the road. The road between Francombe’s and the Liffey is so rough that it is difficult enough to negotiate it in daylight as it seems to be an alternate succession of thick sandy patches and loose stones, relieved here and there at intervals by a portion of only ‘fairly bad’ road. Therefore progress with me was very slow and to add to our burden of ill-luck, my companion thrice punctured. Miraculously, it seems, I was fortunate in this respect.
Upon approaching the Liffey we were able to dispense with the torches as the road was very much better. We then kept up a good solid pace for the rest of the journey to Launceston, but it wanted only ten minutes to midnight when we arrived at our destination after what was easily the hardest day’s exercise I have ever been called upon to display. To walk twenty-two miles and then cycle another thirty-two miles after only about four hour’s sleep on a rough floor succeeding as it did a solid day’s walking and riding, is no mean achievement and, although I am pleased to have come through O.K., I hope I will never have to repeat the performance again. I would prefer walking two miles on any country road to one on a mountain plateau, except during the few descents. During the day and a half we had cycled a total distance of sixty-four miles and walked and climbed about twenty-six miles.
Another little matter worthy of reference is the solution of the stock trail incident. The track we discovered and afterwards lost was undoubtedly the true track for we did not encounter any other track farther west and as we entered the track from the west that is proof positive that we must have crossed it somewhere. Probably if we had continued a couple of hundred yards beyond the gate we would have again picked up the trail.
So much for our trip to Brady’s Lookout. It is not a particularly
wonderful place although the view from the peak itself is very wide and
interesting, but the plateau is dull and uninteresting, just a combination
of rough grassy patches, rocky flats and eminences and wooded areas covered
thickly in places with all manner of stunted scrub.
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