OF MT. FIELD WEST (4721’)
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Note: The reports have been scanned in as written. I have included the height and distance indications, e.g.:
(1000'- 12m.- 4.45p.m.)
which read as follows: height in feet - miles for the day - time.
Breaking camp at Fentonbury early on Wednesday, Feb. 14th. 1940, I drove towards National Park. A nicely graded and well surfaced new road extends from the reserve entrance as far as Lake Dobson – 7½ miles and rising nearly 3000’ in that distance. The road leads through what is probably the most wonderful forest that Tasmania possesses and quite three-quarters of the island’s flora is represented within the confines of the reserve. Towering eucalypts of various genera, many exceeding 200’ in height and as straight as saplings, line the route for the first half of the journey where they are accompanied by many varieties of olearia, blackwood, dogwood, mint tree, wattle, mimosa, tea tree (melaleuca), dicksonia, etc.. Half way up, great myrtles, vying in height with the gums, assume command, bringing in their wake tall, stately sassafras, leatherwoods, horizontal, great richeas, waratah, laurel, fagus, more dicksonias, tea tree (melaleuca and leptospermum), small ferns and, near the plateau, pencil pines. Such a marvellous forest with such contrasts of delightful greens and with the usual accompanying addition of smaller growths of ferns, mosses, lichens, creepers and fungi is alone worth making the trip to revere.
Lake Fenton, with its tourist huts, lies on top of the plateau about a mile before the road terminates at smaller Lake Dobson (3500’) wherein the Broad River rises. This pine-girted lake lies at the eastern foot of a long 4500’ ridge which extends (N.W. to S.E.) from Mt. Lord to Mt. Mawson. This ridge has to be surmounted on the way to Mt. Field West, so I climbed through the dwarfed snow gums with their associated waratahs, richea scoparias, hakeas, etc. and soon gained the rocks. A pretty glimpse of Lake Seal is procurable higher up on the ridge and also several small tarns in the vicinity.
From the top of the ridge, Field West can be seen to the westward and an interesting view is obtainable, including Lakes Belton and Belcher, Florentine Peak and distant mountains. Descending the other side via the K Col, I had the unique experience of seeing for the first time the two richeas, scoparia and pandanifolia, growing side by side. The latter was still in flower a fact which was not at first recognised as the flower panicles are partly obscured by the huge leaves but the blooms of the former had practically all dropped off. The abrotanella forsterioides displayed its minute star like blossom while the native artichoke (astelia alpini) exhibited its small bright red fleshy fruit.
At the lowest point of the saddle nestles Clemes Tarn and in here and the neighbouring pools, I was treated to my first glimpse of the mountain shrimp (anaspides tasmaniae), a weird crustacean of about two inches in length, which thrives here, feeding upon the mosses and water weeds and any unfortunate moth or the like that may drown in the pool. The small Amphipod (neoniphargus ripensis), which inhabits the smaller pools, is a bent backed crustacean of about three quarters of an inch in length and appears to enjoy a similar diet to the anaspides. A number of tiny black worm like forms of scarcely half an inch in length are numerous in the tiny pool and often they assume a large tangled mass. These may possibly represent an early stage in the life of the neoniphargus. Myriads of grasshoppers covered the plateau of all sizes and colours far more than I had ever seen before.
From Clemes Tarn, a gradual rise of a mile leads to the summit of Field West and, upon attaining this point, a most marvellous panorama is unfolded. The day was perfect for visibility and not a cloud existed to mar the wide range of view. Steep cliffs, falling almost sheer for a good 1500’ from the western edge of Field West where a fall of over 3000’ occurs in three miles to the Florentine River, far below. I was able to review much of the country around Reconnaissance Hill to the northward. The grass clearing in the Florentine valley was visible to the north west. The low lying wooded ridge that divides the Florentine and Gordon valleys lies close at hand and, farther afield, great open plains (possibly button grass) could be seen extending along the west of the Gordon through the Valley of Rasselas from near Gordon Bend almost to the King William Range. The windy track to Adamsfield from Fitzgerald was plainly revealed and looked to be quite a motor road from the distance. Due west, the Great Bend of the Gordon was apparent as it abruptly turned westward, carving a tortuous course between wild and rugged mountains.
Mountains galore may be admired from this vantage point. Little Mt. Misery reposes just westward of north and, farther afield, Wyld's Craig presents a grand sight at N.W. by N.. Over the western shoulder of Wyld's, Mt. Hobhouse appears while, in the distant background, a maze of peaks in the Olympus area are grouped. The King William Range rises in the N.W. and the jagged contour of the Denison Range is seen to good advantage in the W.N.W. with the lofty Frenchman dominating the rear. To the westward, both near and far, are numerous mountains, none of which I could name with certainty, some being quite high peaks. I was also unfamiliar with the mountains to the south but among some fine peaks, I was able to locate Mt. Wedge at S.W. by S., Mt. Anne at S. by W., Mt. Mueller in the S., Mt. Picton at S. by E. and Hartz Mt. at S.S.E.. The Wellington group occupies the E.S.E. with Mt. Dromedary lying E. by S.. Away to the N.E., Table Mt. could be seen. Other peaks of the Field plateau were Mt. Field East in the east, Mt. Mawson E.S.E. and Florentine Peak, S.S.E.. Much of the eastern view was curtailed by the Mts. Mawson Lord ridge.
After a lengthy stay at the pinnacle, I tackled the eight-mile return journey to Lake Dobson. Arriving at the lake about 4.30 p.m., I had a brief dip in its cool waters, changed and drove off for Hobart. After enjoying the evening meal in Hobart, I journeyed a few miles along the Huon Road, camping for the night in the vicinity of Longley.
The Field West trip must rank as one of my most absorbing mountain excursions
to date and there is no doubt this National Park reserve is a truly wonderful
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