Keith Lancaster
Mountaineering in Tasmania 1931-71 Volume I, pp 41-43

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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.

[41] Part 1: The Reconnaissance.

On Dec. 18th. 1937, we - the usual company - set out from Newstead at 1.5 p.m. with the object of ascertaining the practicability of making an ascent of Stack’s Bluff via the Kingston road.

Weather conditions were not promising and we encountered a heavy shower soon after passing Evandale. Then punctures caused further delay and we did not reach the turnoff to Kingston until 3.55 p.m.. A little way along this road we encountered a resident of the district who delighted us by informing us that a little used track connected the road with the Gipp's Creek - Avoca road and that the mountain was easily accessible from there. He also directed us to a grass hut near the end of the road where we could camp for the night.

We had our rifles with us and lost much time in hunting rabbits which were fairly common, and did not reach the grass hut (thirty five miles from Launceston) until 5 p.m.. By the time we had collected enough fuel, darkness was upon us and we were quite hungry when we at last commenced tea at 9 p.m.. A rather unpleasant night was in store for us, for the hut was the home of myriads of fleas. We were literally overwhelmed by these ravenous creatures and spent a sleepless night, fervently hoping that daylight would speed its coming.

At long last dawn broke but brought little relief from our tiny tormentors. At 7.45 a.m., after having spent a considerable time in shooting, we set out to walk to Kingston, 1¼ miles away, and there gained some further information as to how to locate and follow the stock track to the Gipp's Creek – Avoca road. Crossing the Ben Lomond Rivulet at Kingston, we struck off to the northward in order to pick up with the stock track. We succeeded in picking up the faint trail and following it over a hill and down the other side as far as a ford, on the other side of which we met the shepherd from the tiny settlement at the end of the track. The shepherd had been on the Ben Lomond plateau on several occasions and assured us that Stack's Bluff was easily accessible via this new route.

So with the main object of our trip completed, we chose to retire homeward. Recrossing the ford at 9.45 a.m., we gained the top of the pass, 2/3 mile away, at 10.10 a.m. and, checking up en route, reached the bridge over the Ben Lomond Rivulet in the vicinity of the grass hut at 10.50 a.m., one mile from the crest of the pass. We cached a few supplies for our future trip nearby and then indulged in a swim and a thorough shaking of all clothes, but nothing we could do could rid us of our voracious vampires which spoilt what was otherwise a very interesting week-end. We set out for home at 1.30 p.m., reaching the Nile road at 2.25 p.m. and Launceston late in the afternoon.

Part 2: The Conquest.

On Saturday, Jan. 29th. 1938, we set out from Newstead at 1.10 p.m. with the Gipp's Creek Settlement as our objective for the night on our three-day effort to scale Stack's Bluff and return. The afternoon was warm and sunny, giving every indication of a fine week-end, when we commenced our journey, assisted by a slight northerly breeze. We crossed the Ben Lomond Rivulet (alt. 580') at 3.40 p.m. and commenced our journey up the Kingston road, arriving at the bridge at the commencement of the stock track at 4.20 p.m. (alt. 800’) after thirty five miles of cycling.

After collecting a few items that we had cached nearby on our previous journey and making a change of footwear, we began the walking portion of the journey at 5 p.m.. Half an hour [42] later we crossed the ford (alt. 900') and soon commenced the ascent of a fairly high hill over which the stock route wound. At length, after 4¾ miles of walking, during which my thirty pound pack made its presence evident, we gained the shepherd's house at the Gipp's Creek Settlement (alt. 1620') at 6.25 p.m..

Some time ensued before we could decide upon a camping place for the night and, whilst thus engaged, I made the acquaintance of a family residing nearby and from whom I learned some all-important data concerning the best route to Stack's. Bluff. Later we made re-acquaintance with the shepherd to whom we were very grateful for the loan of a number of chaff bags and a pair of blankets. But imagine our supreme ecstasy when soon after our first acquaintance revisited us, bringing along a tent which we soon pegged out and were able to enjoy our first experience of 'camping de luxe' on a mountain-bound journey. In spite of all this, however, we only managed about three or four hours sleep during the night owing partly to a late turn in.

We were astir early next morning and broke camp at 6.30 a.m. carrying light packs, intending to camp at the same spot for the ensuing night. Stack's Bluff was plainly visible about six miles away to the N.N.E. and we had yet to increase our elevation by about 3400' but we were quite confident and the beautiful morning gave promise of a magnificent view.

The Ben Lomond Rivulet was crossed in order to gain the road which led us back over the stream again shortly afterwards, winding up and down hill towards the south-east. Two and a half miles from camp found us crossing the tiny Gipp's Creek where once a small tin-mining colony thrived. After leaving this creek behind, the road climbed up a fairly steep hill and, on the top where the pedometer registered 3 4/5 miles and the aneroid 2470', we parted company from the road at 8.5 a.m. and began our trackless way to the mountain which lay to the N.N.E..

For the first one and a third miles the route lay over flat country, devoid of undergrowth and in places covered thickly with rank grass and other marshy ground flora. It was in a grassy clearing about a mile in from the road that a remarkable view of the mountain was obtained. Probably the portion that appealed most was the southern extremity of the bluff where the plateau rounds off abruptly, presenting a rugged outline very similar to that of a gigantic cog wheel, with each huge tooth of the wheel represented by a block-shaped eminence.

Then the foothills rose up rather steeply but the going was fairly clear and quite easy. Another one & a third miles found us at the base of the cliffs at 9.30 a.m. and here the aneroid read 3420'. A mile and a half's climbing brought us to the top of the plateau where we again brought the camera into use with satisfactory results, securing some interesting cliff studies.

The highest peak of Stack's Bluff (5010') lies a little to the northward and we were soon in occupation of that point which had succeeded in eluding our efforts on three previous attempts. And so at 10.50 a.m. we were able to add this lofty eminence to our list of mountaineering achievements.

The plateau is most uninteresting, being practically devoid of growth and, except for a couple of small tarns in the interior of the plateau, contains no features worthy of mention. The view was particularly fine and extensive and, as we were seeing the distant mountains from a new angle, much speculation occurred as to the whereabouts of certain peaks. Visibility was very good on this bright and sunny day and it was only in the extreme [43] distance that any haze was evident.

The northern view is composed entirely of the Ben Lomond plateau. Mts. Saddleback, Blackboy and Young are prominent in the north-east, while the Mt. Nicholas group of peaks are assembled in the east with Fingal, easily discernible, a little to the south. Denison Crag, a high protuberance on the plateau edge, is near at hand in the east. The Storey's Creek and Rossarden settlements are located in the south-east at the foot of the mountain with St. Paul's Dome and Snow Hill in the background. Avoca lies to the south, while away in the far distance Maria Island and Mt. Wellington were distinguishable. In the south-west, Table Mt., Miller's Bluff and Brady's Lookout appear, while the western view includes Dry's Bluff, Quamby Bluff, Extreme Tier and Mt. Roland. Launceston and the Tamar valley are discernible in the north-west and farther north Ragged Mt. and Mt. Barrow can be seen above the plateau. A very extensive view indeed!

After lunching and rambling around the plateau, we bade farewell to the mountain summit at 12.55 p.m. and began our descent via a different gap in the cliffs and a more difficult one than that by which we ascended. Soon we were at the foot of the cliffs but, in making our way down the foothills, we encountered fairly thick undergrowth. In order to avoid the thicker scrub we deviated too far to the south. The going was not difficult but not near so easy as our outward route and we did not reach the road until 3.30 p.m. after an eight mile tramp from the peak.

We were then one mile above the point where we had sep¬arated from the road in the morning. By this time we were very tired indeed and, continuing homeward or more correctly campward, crossed Gipp's Creek at 4.15 p.m. and finally trudged into camp at 5.5 p.m. with the pedometer giving us a total mileage of twenty-one and one-third miles for the day.

Firstly we enjoyed a well-earned rest and then set about gathering grass and gum tips with which to make a mattress for the night. Then we partook of our evening meal at sunset and, looking back at the jagged contour of Stack's Bluff, we witnessed that the grey-blue hue of the rocky walls had been replaced by a lurid red, reflected from a fiery sky. And as we gazed we saw the red give way to pink, the pink turn into purple and magenta and then into grey, until finally darkness entirely blotted out the whole scene.

That night we wooed sleep with more success, having about six hours, possibly a record for us. Although we were astir early, we did not say adieu to our friend the shepherd until 7.15 a.m. and start our return journey.

The homeward trip was uneventful, being interspersed with all manner of sport and idling for we were in no hurry to reach home and did not gain Launceston until late in the afternoon.

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