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.

At 12.30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4th. 1934, in company with Mr. J. Yates, I set out for Miller's Bluff. The weather was spring-like - rather cloudy and somewhat showery. On the previous day I had ridden to this locality in order to survey the route and gather some data concerning the approach to and the summit of the mountain. I was fortunate in acquiring some helpful details from a resident of the district and learned that the highest point of the mountain was occupied by a trigonometrical station. Other nearby eminences are similarly crowned as trig. stations were also constructed on Jacob’s Sugarloaf, The Hummocky Hills (1575') and Campbelltown Mt. (2356’).

We journeyed by way of Perth, Epping, Lincoln Bridge, Barton and the Isis Road finding the roads in excellent condition. After covering about forty-two miles, we abandoned our bicycles at 4 p.m. in the Maitland District. We were soon afoot and heading for a small, grassy sugarloaf lying to the westward. We wasted a while trying to find a dry-footed crossing over the Isis River but in the end we were obliged to wade across. After about two miles of walking, we decided to camp beside a tiny stream on the south-western side of the sugarloaf. Then began a very busy time for us as the sun was approaching the horizon and a large quantity of fuel had yet to be gathered as well as a good supply of tussocky grass cut for our 'mattress'. At length the exertion was over and darkness descended.

Despite a slight shower at sunset, the weather continued fine during the night. Neither was it cold as might be expected at this time of the year. The following temperatures Fahrenheit taken at intervals during the night bore witness to the mildness of the weather:-
8.50 p.m., 44 deg. 9.50 p.m., 42 deg. 11 p.m., 43 deg. 12.50 a.m., 40.3 deg.
2 a.m., 41.6 deg. 3.10 a.m., 40 deg. 4.20 a.m., 37 deg. 5.20 a.m., 38 deg.
6.10 a.m., 40 deg. 7 a.m., 36.2 deg.
Curiously enough, it was the heat that troubled us more than the cold for at times the intensity of the heat created by the two roaring fires, one on each side of us, was unbearable. On one occasion the temperature was taken giving a recording of 105 deg. F. but this would be far from the maximum.

We were astir early but it was 7.30 a.m. before the camp was vacated. The kookaburras are well established in this vicinity, but they are greatly outnumbered by the rosella parrots which seem to have their Tasmanian headquarters here. Magpies, native hens and jays ware there in galore while the wild cockatoo is no stranger.

Following the advice I had received, we headed for the small gap just north of the large gap at the southern end of the mountain proper, and about a mile south of the highest point. This small gap, I was informed, gave the easiest access to the plateau and it was unwise to attempt to reach the plateau farther northwards as the cliffs were very formidable.

After pursuing our course for about two miles, we arrived at the foot of the mountain with a small, grassy, conical sugarloaf a little to our left. Then commenced the climb and quite a climb
it was too. Our passage was not hampered much by undergrowth, although the mountain-side was well-wooded. The treed continued almost to the plateau level and we were unable to catch a glimpse of the mountain gap during the ascent. When we emerged from the trees we found the mountain covered in clouds and, when we gained the plateau shortly afterwards, visibility was decidedly poor.

At 9.55 a.m. we ascended a peak nearby where we gained the plateau and attempted to pick out the highest point but without success as our vision was limited to about a hundred yards only. The south-westerly wind was very cold here, and, although the thermometer registered 35 deg., it felt much colder. Many of the mountain bushes were laden with small icicles probably frozen there during the night
from the moisture left by the passing clouds, while other bushes were sodden with water, originating from a similar source. We walked a short distance towards the south and there found the gap through which we had essayed to pass. Retracing our footsteps, we proceeded northwards and soon sighted the trigonometrical station which we gained after a mile's journey from our southernmost position at 10.40 a.m..

In a sheltered position nearby, we enjoyed a well-earned rest for we had kept up a good steady pace during the climb and in the meantime we were delighted to see the clouds lift, unfolding an extensive and very interesting panorama before us. Innumerable mountain peaks greeted us on all sides. Starting from the north and proceeding eastwards, Mt. Arthur is first to appear followed by the cloud-capped Mt. Barrow and then the volcano-shaped Ben Nevis. Then the long form of the Ben Lomond plateau, also heavily cloud¬-capped, appears followed in turn by the more distant Mt. Nicholas. Farther southwards, Mt. St. John and its neighbours and St. Paul's Dome are revealed with the Snow Hill and the nearby Jacob's Sugarloaf in their wake. Then appears three peaks with which we were unfamiliar (probably one of them would be Mt. Connection) before Molly York's Nightcap intrudes upon the plateau a little to the south. On the right of the latter a corner of Lake Sorell is to be observed with Old Man's Head looming above it on the south. Mt. Franklin temporarily obscures a view of the Lake but it again appears to the westwards of that peak with the flat-topped Table Mt. rearing its summit in the background. Progressing westwards the bare face of Grindelwald presents itself followed by a corner of one of the Arthur Lakes. Then the Parson and Clerk Mt. hoves into view, whilst farther north the remaining peaks of the Western Tiers - the 'Lofty' Range, Brady's Lookout, Mt. Projection and
Dry's Bluff appear in that order.

The rivers, too, are well in evidence in the landscape, particularly the Tamar tributaries. The Isis River, lying just below us on the east, was easily visible with the Elizabeth River some distance beyond and much farther afield was the South Esk, also very prominent. On the western side of the plateau, the course carved out by the Lake River was clearly indicated as it passed between the main range of the Western Tiers and the out-jutting portion we occupied.

The ever changing rise and fall of the clouds did not give us a prolonged view in any direction and ever and anon they would descend upon us. Yet we were pleased that at last our cameras did not prove to be merely ballast as upon the few preceding trips.

After we had spent nearly two hours on and around the trig. station, during which time we had managed to secure a few snaps and partaken of a light lunch and a short rest, we left the peak at 12.40 p.m.. Just prior to our departure a recording of the temperature on the pinnacle registered 34 deg. F., the same as a reading we had taken there an hour previous.

We made our descent in a direct line for our over-night camp site, receiving only moderate resistance from the cliffs. We found this way presented no more obstacles than that of our ascent, except for the steeper climbs at the cliffs near the summit. Keeping a steady pace we came down the steep grade of the mountain, gaining the foot at 2 p.m.. Then about two miles across the undulating, semi-cleared country brought us to the camp site at 2.40 p.m., Here we relighted the fire, enjoyed a meal and gathered our things.

At 3.45 p.m., we said adieu to the camp and this time we were lucky to find a bridge over the Isis just above where we forded the stream the previous day. At 4.25 p.m. we located our bicycles and were under way twenty-five minutes later. The forty-two miles road journey thoroughly tested our endurance and it was rather late (8.30 p.m.) when we pushed into Launceston. We were somewhat surprised at receiving such hard opposition on this trip as we had anticipated a much easier conquest, but the four miles cross country walk at the foot of the mountain was unexpected.

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