Keith Lancaster 
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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.

On Wednesday, Dec. 25th. 1940, we celebrated the festive day in unfestive style by starting out on a two-day effort at the Rugged Mts. To further handicap our prospects of success, it was not until 8.5 a.m. that Harold, Jack and I left Prospect. We journeyed via Deloraine and Western Creek and abandoned the car on Higg’s track (1300’) at 10.20 a.m.. A few mint trees were in brilliant bloom near the bridge and made a grand show. Transporting very heavy packs, we found the steep ascent of the Tiers very exacting but were on the edge of the plateau at 12.15 p.m. (3470’ - 4¼ miles).

After a brief respite, we passed Lady Lake Hut (3500’ - 4½m. - 12.30 p.m.), ascended for another mile and then descended to the Connecting Lakes (3750’ - 6¼m. - 1.10 p.m.). Passing between Lakes Weston and Lucy Long (3800’ - 7¼m. - 1.45 p.m.), we reached Lake Nameless (3830’ - 7¾m. - 2 p.m.) and stopped for our Christmas dinner farther along the lake-shore (3830’ - 8¼m. - 2.10 p.m.). The Walls of Jerusalem were visible in the S.W., Forty Lake Peak was S. by E., Blue Peak W.S.W. and Ironstone Mt. in the N.E..

At 3 p.m. we were again under way, leaving the track near the lake’s outflow and, passing close to Snake Lake, we arrived at the familiar Lake Explorer isthmus (3850’ - 9¾m. - 3.25 p.m.). Pursuing our old route to Hall's Buttress, we passed the next lake (3950’ - 10¼m.) with Blue Peak now away to the W. by S.. Threading our way past several small tarns and the two familiar stakes we eluded the last large lake in our path (3950’ - 12¼m. - 4.30 p.m.) and ascended the slopes of Hall's Buttress, passing around the west of the peak. Finding the plateau eminence to the south of Hall’s Buttress practically in our path we ascended it to take in a view of the surroundings and get a good glimpse of the Rugged Mts. (4450’ - 14¼m. - 5.50 p.m.).

An interesting view is obtainable from the South Buttress as we dubbed it and some of the landmarks available are Hall's Buttress (1m.) N.E.; Blue Peak (6m.) N. by W.; Western Bluff, N.N.W.; Culmer Bluff N.W. by N.; a group of tarns (1m.) N.W. by W.; the Walls of Jerusalem (2m.) W.N.W.; a lake (1m.) W. by N.; ‘Conical Peak’ (3½m.) W. by S.; Du Cane Range (around corner of Rugged Mts.), S.W.; Highest peak of Rugged Mts., S.W.; second peak do. S.W. by S.; eastern peak do., S.S.W.; scattered tarns in S.S.W. and S.; and a fair-sized lake (¾m.) E.S.E..

We left 'South Buttress’ at 6 p.m. and, heading S.S.W., we zigzagged between tiny tarns and stunted plateau growth, ascending a 4300’ ridge and descending into a small valley wherein a chain of lakes stretched eastwards. A cold south-westerly wind had been blowing throughout the day and we were anxious to locate a suitable camping site, protected from the penetrating blast. The only tree-growth on the plateau was the pencil pines which usually grew in clumps around the pools. Neither were there any cliffs to provide shelter. We crossed the valley and chose a camping site to the south of the lakes amongst some pencil pines where firewood was plentiful (3970’ - 17¼m. - 7 p.m.).

Our camping spot was damp and, consequently, soft. We had an unusual experience in firewood gathering in that the dead pencil pines, that were still standing, needed little persuasion to send them crashing to earth and we would see the unusual spectacle of a member carrying a whole tree of this light wood home for firewood. And what a roaring fire they made! No other wood could radiate the intense heat of the Athrotaxis and we were able to more or less effectively counter the frigid south-westerly although, when morning came, my eyes were very sore from the accompanying smoke.

An early start was essential on the Thursday, so we set off for the Ruggeds at 5.10 a.m.. We ascended the ridge, at the foot of which we camped and were rewarded with another view of our objective (4250’ - 5.30 a.m.). The highest peak of the Ruggeds still occupied the S.W. with the eastern peak at S. by W.. A circular lake, about a mile across, lay at the southern base of our ridge while a substantial hill rose up in our path on the other side of the lake. An area of richea scoparia delayed our descent to the lake which we passed on the western side and began the gradual ascent of the hill ahead. We gained the summit at 6.10 a.m. (4350’ - 2m.) and were delighted with the very fine view.

The Rugged Mts. appeared to be much closer than when we last saw them and we had great hopes of reaching them now. The highest peak was still in the S.W., the second peak, S.W. by S., the lowest peak, S.S.W. and the eastern peak due S.. To the westward, morning mists enveloped the skyscrapers of the central
reserve but we were pleased to note that the mists were slowly clearing. At W. by N., a jagged bluff (4300X’ - 2m.) appears on the far side of the intervening valley. The high table bluff (4500X’), lying west of the Walls of Jerusalem, appeared in the N.N.W.. The conical culmination of our last ridge, 'Conical Peak' (4500X’ – 2m.), lay to the north with the highest point of the last ridge we surmounted on the previous day (4600X’ - 4m.) at N. by E.. Ironstone Mt. occupied the N.E. skyline with the circular lake providing the foreground. A long lake, probably a mile in length, nestled about two miles to the east. A long and beautiful lake ('Lake Paradise’), 1½-2 miles in length, lay at the base of the peak to the S.S.W..

Before leaving the peak, we erected a small cairn on its summit. Resuming at 7.20 a.m., after much photography, we descended the slopes of the hill to the lake below and encountering our first relief from the omnipresent pencil pines - a forest of gums, every one of which had been dead for years. Hence we denominated our recent vantage point 'Dead Gum Hill’.

Upon gaining the shores of ‘Lake Paradise', we skirted the western shore then, taking a line through a distant valley which led in the direction of the second peak of the Ruggeds, we climbed a slight rise and were soon at the shores of a smaller lake which was dotted with tiny islands (3750’ - 3½m. - 8 a.m.).

The flora had increased and thickened by this time and dwarf gums were becoming common. The various forms of stunted plateau growth had increased sufficiently to become a serious impediment to what had been particularly easy travelling. This was where our friends, the kangaroos, who thrived in the locality, provided us with unforgettable proof of their value. By following the well-worn tracks of the ‘roos we were able to secure, not only an easy passage through the dwarf scrub, but a route which unerringly directed us around the concealed pools and tarns that ever and anon would spring up in our path.

Little time had elapsed after leaving the Lake of Islands ere we were gradually ascending the great damp valley, so conspicuous from ‘Dead Gum Hill’. Taking full advantage of the network of ‘roo tracks which traversed the trough of the valley, we made the top in good time and just over the brow we located another small lake (3900’ – 4 7/8m. - 8.30 a.m.). This charming little lake, with its fringe of pencil pines, a la palm fashion, and its bordering rim of cushions of abrotanella, so reminded us of a coral atoll as it lay perched upon the hill-slope, that it became ‘Lake Atoll' instinctively [(Pool of Siloam)]. As we approached, a pair of wild ducks refused to be awed by our presence and delayed retreat until we were within a few yards of them. A cormorant was soaring high overhead while kittywakes were also common visitors to this locality. Earlier in the day, an occasional black swan would put in an appearance. The alien rabbit has also penetrated to this region.

We were now practically at the foot of the two highest peaks of the Ruggeds (i.e. the western peak and its adjoining neighbour) and their conquest was assured. Nevertheless we lingered awhile at beautiful 'Lake Atoll' in order to afford the camera an opportunity of endeavouring to record some of the wonderful grandeur of these glorious mountains which form an imposing background to our charming little lake.

The ascent of these mountains appeared quite a problem as the walls facing us were generally sheer and even overhanging in places. Aiming at the lowest point of the high shoulder connecting the two peaks, we strode across the grassy flats as a break in the mountain wall appeared a possible easy means of ascent. Although the practicability of this means of access was not conclusively revealed from below, we chose to essay an ascent thereby and were well rewarded as this 'great Couloir’ provided an easy means to the mountain top. Once at the head of the couloir, it was but a short journey to the highest peak where we happily assembled at 9.30 a.m. (4700’ - 6¾ miles). [(West Wall of Walls of Jerusalem)]

The early morning mists had long since evaporated and, with practically a cloudless sky, one of Tasmania's most treasured panoramas lay unfolded below in brilliant sunshine. It was with a feeling of extreme exaltation that we beheld the monstrous peaks of the Scenic Reserve from this new, secluded and remarkable vantage spot. Here was nature at her very wildest and most primitive with not a living soul within twenty miles of us in any direction. Cliff- fringed ravines, beetling crags and shimmering lakes - a writhing and twisted jumble of immortal loveliness, scarcely trodden by the foot of man - and there we stood in command of the whole scene, a reward even superior to the unceasing toil with which it was purchased!

In the distance, slightly N. of W., the pale grey form of Black Bluff was visible. In the W.N.W., Cradle Mt. rose high above Mt. Brown [(Mt Emmett)] on its left. The unmistakable Barn Bluff was situated W. by N.. Slightly N. of W., little Mt. Oakleigh appeared, while slightly S. of W., Pelion West provided a grand sight. The mammoth bulk of Ossa, dwarfing the respectably high Pelion East slightly to its north, rose splendidly in the W.S.W.. In the S.W. the Du Cane Range, vying in height with the mighty Ossa, provided one of the highlights of the scene with its gigantic and amazingly-shaped peaks. In the S.S.W. two large lakes were near at hand while the broken Traveller Range brought up the rear. Neither the Fields nor Wyld's were distinguishable in the south nor were any familiar peaks to the eastward. In the S.E. the second highest and adjoining peak of the Ruggeds appeared, with the lowest peak of the Ruggeds in the E.S.E. and the more isolated eastern peak at due east. Lake Atoll nestled snugly in the E.N.E. while a remarkable series of landmarks were practically in line in the N.E. – Lake of Islands, Lake Paradise, Dead Gum Hill, Hall’s Buttress and Ironstone Mt.. N.E. by N. rose the Walls of Jerusalem with the table-shaped bluff, to the west of the Walls, located at N. by W..

After a brief hour's stay on the summit of the Ruggeds [(Walls of Jerusalem)] - a period many hours too short for an admirer of nature but, nevertheless, the utmost limit available if we are to be back in Launceston for the night – we reluctantly retraced our steps from the summit, descending via the ‘great couloir’, skirted little ‘Lake Atoll’ and arrived at the shores of the ‘Lake of Islands' (10 miles – 3750’ - 11.45 a.m.). A little over a mile brought us to ‘Lake Paradise' and here we essayed a more direct route for home, keeping westward of 'Dead Gum Hill'. We saved no time by this detour as the scrub proved bad, and pushing onwards, we reached our camp site of the previous night (13½ miles – 3970’ - 1.15 p.m.). Here we gathered the remainder of our belongings and, after a snack and a short spell, resumed our journey, complete with fairly heavy packs at 2 p.m..

All went well until we commenced ascending the rise towards the Hall’s-Wall's shoulder when, mistaking a plateau eminence much nearer the Walls of Jerusalem for Hall's Buttress, we moved too far westward and passed very close to the Walls of Jerusalem. This meant extra mileage and we had to choose a slightly different course in order to gain our old tracks. We picked up our outward route east of Lake-Girt Peak and soon we were once again crossing the Explorer isthmus (23 miles – 3850’ – 5.15 p.m.).

From there we passed around Forty Lake Peak to gain the staked track on the shores of Lake Nameless which piloted us across the plateau towards the car. Making excellent time, we had left the Lady Lake Hut behind and were well down the mountain side ere darkness fell. A large black cockatoo presented an interesting sight as he prepared for slumber alongside the track. Soon after dark we gained the car and another hectic blitzkrieg was over (32¾ miles – 1300’ - 8.10 p.m.). We lost little time in getting under way and an uneventful drive brought us to Prospect at 10.15 p.m..

This laborious expedition supplied new figures for a two day walking mileage 50 miles and we were delighted with the manner in which we had stood up to the trial. It will go down as one of the most appreciated of all our trips for, by the grace of superb weather, we were enabled to behold a scenic wonderland. Inconsequently my tally of mountain successes rises to 38, Jack's to 14, Harold's to 9 while Jeff’s remain on 24.

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