Keith Lancaster 

Home to Index  

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

Clumner Bluff is referred to in this story as Culmer Bluff.

This mountain trip market the addition of a third member to our mountaineering group in the person of Mr. E. Bailey. On Sunday, Sept. 3rd. 1933 at 5.30 a.m., we all three left Newstead and travelled via Deloraine and Chudleigh to Caveside by car. We lost a little time in attempting a shorter route but at 7.35 a.m. we parked the car at Mr. Parson's residence and set off for the mountain track. The track starts from the western side of a red-coloured house (the highest elevated homestead thereabouts) situated about half a mile to the south-west of Parson's and to reach the commencement of the mountain track we were obliged to climb a few fences.

We had not proceeded far along the track before we met the tram-line, many years ago used for the conveyance of logs to the timber mill which has since been removed from the locality. We followed the tram-line along for nearly half a mile to the finger-post where the track parts with the tram-line and turns to the south. Shortly afterwards we arrived at the second tram-line and the track, after following the line to the east for about ten yards only, crossed it and began to gain altitude much faster.

We were fortunate to find the track looking at its best for at this time of the year the Spring rains add an extra gloss to the bright green of the undergrowth. The trees rise to a great height during the early stages of the track and the thick foliage above forms an almost impenetrable barrier to the sun’s rays, a condition presumably appreciated by the tall stately man-ferns, delicate small ferns and luxurious mosses which thrive and abound in delightful confusion.

After climbing a little over two miles along the mountain path we passed by our old camp-site of the previous trip on the first level stretch of any considerable length so far on the route. Another climb of nearly a mile then began, followed by another level stretch (much longer this time) and here the trees were rapidly thinning out and giving precedence to the rocks and mountain scrub. Only the 'Grunter' then separated us from the plateau and after surmounting this last obstacle, we gained the summit at 9.45 a.m.. We could have improved this time by about twenty minutes to half an hour only our new companion was not anxious to increase the pace. We had covered about four and a half miles of the most difficult of the six miles of track which led to the hut at the Chudleigh Lakes. The climb was very steep for the most part and the ascending grade would vary from about 1 in 3 to 3 in 5.

From an eminence on the plateau near here a remarkable glimpse of Mt. Roland can he procured. At a leisurely pace we proceeded across the plateau to the hut at Sandy Lake and at 10.50 a.m. we set out for the Devil's Gullet. The plateau began to slope gradually away to the west and we headed in the same direction, picking our way as best we could. Except in the higher altitudes, the snow had practically disappeared from the Tiers but had given place to the water which was abundantly distributed all over the plateau. It was practically impossible to put a foot down without stepping in the water and consequently our feet were soaking before we had covered much ground. The couple of streams which crossed our path were greatly swollen from the melting snows and carried about four times the water they had contained on our previous trip to this region.

We were moving at a much faster pace now and steadily app¬roached the Gullet. After traversing this grassy alpine plain, a short ascent of about three to four hundred feet was all that separated us from the top of the cliffs of the Devil’s Gullet and this we soon negotiated. We had left the hut six miles behind us and 12.45 p.m. we were on the edge of the Gulf, having our first glimpse of its wonders.

Mere words fail to express an adequate description of the truly majestic grandeur of this remarkable mountain gulf. Below us, the stupendous precipice upon which we were perched fell perpendicularly for about fifteen hundred feet. The cliffs at the northern end of Ben Lomond may exceed them in height but for sheer sublimity the Devil's Gullet is unparalleled. The cliff wall we occupied ran for about a mile along the plateau edge bringing the Western Tiers to an abrupt halt. Across the gulf to the south and over a mile away, the southern wall of the mountain gap rose up cliff on cliff, ledge on ledge, until its summit nearly approached the altitude of the one we commanded. Between these two giant sentinels, Fisher's River (not a very large stream) came dashing and frothing down the mountain gulf from the plateau. A small lake through which this stream passed had the appearance of being deeper than it was long from where we stood, but that is problematical. Higher up, the stream passes over Parson's Falls but they are out of sight from the Gullet. The Fisher is an eastern tributary of the Mersey.

As an experiment we threw a few stones over the cliffs and found that they averaged about six seconds to reach the bottom. One rock, a good deal larger than the others, incidentally gave us a little idea of the immense momentum that is developed by such a long fall. The rock landed on the top of a dead tree and splintered it to matchwood. The sight seemed unbelievable.

The view from the Devil's Gullet is very limited in all directions with the exception of the south-west. In the north-west lies Extreme Tier, the western extremity of the Western Tiers. In the north and north-east the view is cut short by eminences rising out of the plateau. Due east, about ten to twelve miles away, Ironstone Mt. can be seen rising above the neighboring crags. Between the east and south the plateau still forms the skyline but is by no means uninteresting although not near so varied as seen from Ironstone Mt., due chiefly to the lack of lakes in the vicinity.

But by far the most spectacular feature in the panorama was the snow-clad mountains in the south-west, appearing between Culmer's Bluff in the S.S.E. and Extreme Tier in the S.N.W.. Starting from Extreme Tier the first peak to come into view is Cradle Mt., probably the jewel among Tasmanian mountains. At first the summit, which lies due west from here, was covered in clouds but later they lifted, exposing the pinnacle of Tasmania's fourth highest peak towering high above its foothills covered with a thick white mantle of snow that gleamed brilliantly in the sunlight. A little farther south another majestic peak greets the eye. This is Barn Bluff, a little higher than its stately neighbour and occupying second place in the mountain altitudes of the state. This peak has an unusual formation rising barn-shaped with cliff-like walls and is easily recognised by this peculiarity for miles around.

The mighty block-shaped Mt. Pelion West is next to appear and its tremendous form, cut off on all sides by steep cliffs, immediately captured our attention. This peak is only reckoned 14' below Barn Bluff but it greatly exceeds the latter in bulk. We were loath to take our eyes off this snow-capped mountain but turning our gaze a little farther south, we beheld Mt. Ossa rearing its proud head up alongside its mighty companion. Mts. Oakleigh and Pelion East appear almost simultaneously next and are both somewhat over-shadowed in height by their lofty neighbors although they both exceed the 4000’ mark. The foothills around these last two peaks had a very thick coating of snow which added considerably to the magnificence of the stately peaks. Just a little farther to the south, the Du Cane Range, perhaps the most rugged of all our lofty mountain backbones and certainly one of the highest, arrests our gaze. Then Culmer's Bluff intervenes and denied us any further view to the south but one would be a glutton, indeed, who could not satisfy himself with the glorious panorama already revealed.

We lunched on top of the cliffs and afterwards wandered along the edge of the chasm searching for fresh peeps into the gulf far below and recording not a few of them on the camera.

At 2.15 p.m., however, we were obliged to commence our return if we did not intend to risk the night on the plateau. We headed in a direct line for the plateau edge from where the track wound down the mountainside. In this way we cut off a good deal of ground and reduced the distance to about seven miles. This we accomplished by 4.35 p.m. after cutting out a really fast pace all the way. We immediately began the descent, passing our old camp site at 5.10 p.m., reaching the bottom of the track at 5.50 p.m., and arriving at Parson's at 6.5 p.m..

We spent several minutes here and once again the hospitality of Mr. Parsons was extended to us in the very acceptable and much appreciated hot cocoa with which he greeted us. We had a slight hold-up on the road owing to a shortage of petrol which was soon rectified and Launceston was gained at 9 p.m.. The day had provided quite a good quantity of walking and I think I would be safe in saying I had accounted for at least twenty-four miles.

Home to Index  
If you would like more information on Keith Lancaster's diaries, please feel free to send me an email.