RECONNAISANCE OF THE ELDONS
(THE CLIMBING OF MARBLE BLUFF)
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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 Sunday [March 2nd. 1947] the weather was still unsettled but gave an indication towards night of an improvement. Consequently, preparations were made for a one-day thrust at the Eldons. Astir well before daybreak, it was difficult to assess weather prospects as a heavy morning mist enveloped the valley. At 5.55 a.m. I started off in a bad light, taking the rough road opposite the picnic ground and followed it along beyond the huts to its northern limit (2m. - 6.30 a.m.).
Continuing onward, I veered away from the river slightly in order to keep to the clear country. The mist-drenched button grass soon had my trousers unpleasantly saturated. Slowly the mist began to thin, sunshine lighting the nearby peaks and revealing the presence of some cloud. Alternate button grass, tussocks or low ti-tree patches ran out as I neared the level of the big quartzite hill on the opposite bank of the stream, so I swung in towards the river through wattles and high, thick bracken ferns, finally coming out on the river in a mixed myrtle and gum forest containing an immense variety of tree growth (7.50 a.m.) opposite the foot of the southern crag of the quartzite hill aforementioned. The river was very pretty here - the southern limit of the forest zone in this region. The mist had now evaporated, revealing the cloud-capped Eldon Peak ahead.
Continuing slowly up-stream, I had to zig-zag through all manner of scrub - fern, cutting grass, dogwood and fallen tree - until it became obvious that it was impossible to make Eldon Bluff in a day trip under such conditions. At 8.45 a.m. I was immediately opposite the centre of "Quartzite Hill", every outcrop of which gleamed brightly in the sunshine. Electing to climb Quartzite Hill [(re-named) Marble Bluff] as its summit should reveal what lay ahead towards the Eldons, I took off my footwear and waded a convenient ford, resuming from the other bank (850’ – 5m. - 9.12 a.m.). Eldon Peak was a grand sight to the N.N.E., rising steeply above a stream bordered with myrtle, leatherwood, blackwood, wattle, sassafras, ti-tree, laurel and gum. Quartzite Hill was to the W.N.W. and rose steeply straight above the river. The climb was rather hard owing to the thick ti-tree scrub which covered a big portion of the ascent. The latter portion of the climb was relatively easy and I made the top of the northern crag (2620’ – 6m. - 11.10 a.m.).
From here an excellent view of Eldon Peak in the N.E. was available and the South Eldon valley was unfolded to the east. Mt. Gell in the E. by S., the Frenchman in the S.E. by S. and a few peaks to the westward were visible in spite of increasing cloud. But more important was the possibilities of a practical route to the Eldons. It became evident that had I persevered beyond the point where I believed the button grass ended, I would have run into a further clearing which would have taken me forward fairly close to the South Eldon River. Between this stream and the southern prong of the Eldons, a series of small button grass clearings led around the south west corner from where a fairly practical ascent to Eldon Peak existed from the S.W.. This appeared to be the best route and it should be possible to reach the base of the Eldons within three hours from the end of the road, although the actual ascent would probably require a further three hours. It was also revealed that I must have been within a quarter of a mile of the confluence of the two Eldons when I left the river.
After a light meal, I left this vantage point at 12.5 p.m. in a cool southerly, heading for the highest point of Quartzite Hill a little to the south across undulating button grass. Reaching this point at 12.18 p.m. (2660’), I was soon under way again at 12.25 p.m. for home, electing to essay the more direct southern descent. I fared little better on this descent than on the ascent, this time owing to the steepness and slipperiness of the route, finding all manner of growth in the narrow chimney. In places, running water made the quartzite smooth and it gleamed like marble. The hill itself was almost 100% quartzite, even more so than the Frenchman.
Gaining the button grass at the foot at 2 p.m., my good fortune did not extend beyond the tiny creek ahead (2.8 p.m.), where thick bracken ferns appeared in almost endless array. Realising the futility of continuing along the west bank, I swung in to the river and located a reasonable ford (840’ - 2.13 p.m.), resuming from the east bank at 2.45 p.m..
Leaving the river behind, I pushed through the scrub and gained the clearing
to the east (2.55 p.m.) and plodded southward until I came up with the
end of the road (10½m. - 3.30 p.m.). It was a simple matter to
cover the remaining road journey and regain our camp at the King River
picnic ground (800’ - 12½m. – 4.7 p.m.). On the way
home to Launceston on the following Wednesday, we experienced more rain
but, in spite of the elements, I pushed in around the King Williams to
secure the marine fossils we had seen on our earlier trip to K.W.2 at
an elevation of 3100’.
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