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.
At last my 1948 annual leave
came around but, try as I would, I was unable to secure hiking companions
for any venture whatsoever. The news that the J. Thwaites party had just
returned from Federation Peak with another weather rebuff plus the sting
of last year's failure finally decided for me the unattractive ordeal
of a solo blitz at Federation planned on a nine-day maximum journey.
Thus on Friday, Jan. 28th. 1949, I left Launceston at 7 p.m. in sultry
and cloudy weather en route for Federation. Arriving at Hobart soon after
10 p.m., I lost a few minutes in trying unsuccessfully to see Ron regarding
the approaches to the Peak and, resuming at 10.15 p.m., journeyed down
the Huon Road, choosing a by-road as the night's camp (720' - 140m. -
Saturday broke fine and clear and I was away at 5.20 a.m., having breakfast
at a stop by the wayside and then on to park the car at Irving Fletcher's
(120' - 18½ m. - 8.15 a.m.). Weighed down with a pack of about 55 lbs.,
I set out from Fletcher's at 8.33 a.m., passing the end of the road (2m.
- 9.8 a.m.) and Frying Pan Creek (50' - 3m. - 9.33 a.m.) to reach the
Arve River (90' - 5½m. - 10.33 a.m.). The early morning mist along the
Huon soon lifted and the sunshine and humidity caused sweat to flow very
lavishly in crossing the Arve Plains. The first creek beyond the button
grass provided a welcome midday meal respite (10m. - 12.18-1.5 p.m.),
whilst the Picton Forest made the heat more endurable prior to reaching
Picton Hut (180' - 12m. - 2.10 p.m.). A tin of apricots proved most palatable
here but the liquid oozed straight out through the skin pores. A sudden
blast of wind brought a light shower and cooler temperatures.
Resuming at 2.40 p.m., I reached the Picton River and, with the new bridge
not completed, waded to the other side in about 2' of water (160' - 13½m.
- 3.19 p.m.). The track to Blake's Hut was under process of re-cutting
and I reached the end of the easy newly-cut section just as the bad scrub
is entered (15m. - 3.50 p.m.). To counter-balance the advantage of the
new track, the next section has deteriorated considerably and a further
shower of rain added its discomfort. After some difficulty in following
the track, I reached the almost unrecognisable camping spot used on my
first trip - the "Shaw" camp (15½m.- 4.25 p.m.). The remainder of the
journey to Blake's varied little from my previous experience and the following
points were passed as I battled towards my objective for the night: Riveaux
Falls (16½m.- 5.23 p.m.), Riveaux camp (16¾m. - 5.33 p.m.), Bracken fern
(Geelong Grammar [this should read: Geelong College])
camp (17 1/3m.- 6 p.m.), Big Creek (300' - 18m. - 6.27 p.m.), button grass
patch (320' - 18¾m. - 6.53 p.m.) and Blake's Hut (370' - 20m. - 7.40 p.m.).
Very pleased at realising the first section of my schedule in spite of
the late start, I was unable to make an early retirement with wet clothes
requiring drying, etc.. Soon after arrival, I made the acquaintance of
"Mr. Smith'', a large brush 'possum so-named by a previous party and who
keeps close at hand in expectation of any tit-bit which may become his
lot. Unfortunately, my limited food supply did not permit me to make a
good impression on "Mr. Smith" but, for all that, he did not desert me
during the night and made a close inspection of all my gear. I kept the
mosquitos at bay by using the tent as a net but still, as the previous
night, five hours' sleep would be the limit.
Sunday rolled in fine with scattered clouds. A cache of a day's food made
the pack slightly easier. At 7.50 a.m., I was away, gaining the top of
Blake's Opening (1050' - 2m. - 8.44-52 a.m.). (Note: to locate Opening
exit on return, head 358 deg. or towards southern end of Weld. The ensuing
steep ascent was warm work until "Red Rag" scarp was reached (2170' -
3m. - 10.18-38 a.m.). Increasing wind was speeding the passing of the
clouds overhead. Still adhering to last year's course, I passed Clearwater
Creek (2550' - 3¾m. - 11.33 a.m.) to reach its main feeder, North Lake
(2800' - 4½m. - 12.15 p.m.).
A cold dinner of sandwiches and cake prefixed my departure at 1.5 p.m.
into the cool westerly and over the saddle ahead to descend to the first
of the two north-flowing streams beneath (5¼m.- 1.30 p.m.), close in to
the wall of Picton. Keeping the hill with the thick coat of dead timber
and the landslides on my left, I climbed over the rise ahead, around the
pool and down to the tiny North Plain Creek (2880' - 6½m.- 2.10 p.m.)
after passing the third landslide. The route then inclines left slightly
to take the clearest course towards the junction of Hewardia and Fool's
Ridges. I ascended Hewardia Ridge direct and gained cloud level (3300'
- 6¾-7½m.- 2.36-3.0 p.m.) and, as a consequence of both, lost some time
in securing my bearings. When all was cleared up, I journeyed westward
down the ridge and made the rock cairn beyond the quartzite outcrops (8¼m.-
3.16 p.m.) and met the party from Geelong College on their return from
Federation. Thus I was first to learn of the first ascent of the peak
and some details of the climb during a 17-min. chat.
Clouds seemed to be developing everywhere when I resumed. Passing the
Low Col camp (2700' - 10¼m.- 4.25 p.m.), I searched vainly for water on
the other side of the col, then climbed to the South Picton Ridge into
thick cloud and, after continued water scouting in the increasing mist,
located a tiny supply on the high ridge overlooking Pineapple Flat (3380'
- 11½m.- 5.45 p.m.) and elected to camp in the most sheltered available
spot nearby. Rain was upon me before I had gone far in my preparation
for camp and hampered me somewhat in my culinary preparations. I chose
a camp-site between two huge rocks on the leeward side of the crag and
turned in about 8.45 p.m.. The night was very cold whilst the wind increased
to high velocity and curled around the mountain, attacking the tent from
the south and thoroughly testing the pegging and durability of my tiny
Needless to say, sleep once more was elusive and, with Monday arriving
enshrouded in mist and all outside very wet and cold, a quick cold breakfast
was chosen in order to permit of early exercise to regain warmth and circulation.
Leaving at 7 a.m., I descended gradually down the crest of the slope to
the south-east and at 7.20 a.m. located Pineapple Flat through a mist
break to the left. Reaching the flat five minutes later, I shouldered
Mt. Chapman (ex McPartlan's Bluff) and descended to the quartz outcrop
on the bare col to the south, thence up the abrotanella slope ahead, inclining
slightly to the right at the diagonal quartz outcrop to avoid the summit
of Abrotanella Rise and ascend direct to the small rock cairns on the
ridge above (2m. - 8.0-10
With the cloud-mist lifting, I took several compass shots in order to
guard against cloud trouble on my return. They proved invaluable. I reached
the foot of Anderson Bluff (ex Farmhouse Cliff Bluff) at 8.15 a.m., had
shouldered it on the east to the south end by 8.20 a.m. and reached the
base of Burgess Bluff (ex South Picton) (2¾m. - 8.38 a.m.). Descending
diagonally around Burgess Bluff in a drizzle, I located the little knoll
on Wilsmicro Lead and dropped down upon it (2000' - 4m. - 9.43 a.m.) and,
inclining right, descended down the button grass lead to reach the South
Craycroft camp-site (1050' - 5m. - 10.25 a.m.).
A hot dinner, some drying out and the laying of a cache preceded my resumption
at 12.45 p.m. during the only brief spot of sunshine I saw that day. In
spite of a continuance of clouds all peaks were visible now, i.e. with
the exception, of course, of Federation. I crossed the West Craycroft
at the first serpentine and kept to the higher button grass. Showers were
soon in evidence again as I progressed towards the burn through the ti-trees
and banksias ahead. Recrossing the West Craycroft beyond the burn at 2.10
p.m., I started to round Hopetoun on  the south bank, keeping out
wide in the ti-tree and button grass for a while until the riverside going
improved. I located the track incline from the river (still well blazed)
at 2.45 p.m. and soon reached the paper-bark camp (1200' - 8m. - 2.48
p.m.). The afternoon was one of frequent showers. I decided to camp here
for the night and get things ready for a big attempt tomorrow. The drying-out
of clothes was a problem under the showery conditions and took up most
of the afternoon, whilst mosquitos were abundant and troublesome. Several
toes and both insteps were badly rubbed from boot contact and bathing
didn't seem to allay their deterioration. One of my knees was through
the trousers and I had lost my needle for repairs. Trousers' buttons and
braces were in bad state of repair, whilst one rubber boot was leaking.
The barometer, however, was rising although the continuation of showers
did not make it appear so. Turning in about 7.30 p.m., the innumerable
mosquitos dashed all hope of a good night's sleep in spite of efforts
to convert the groundsheet into a mosquito net.
Tuesday, Feb. 2nd. came in with broken cloud and a little sunshine and,
leaving a small cache behind, I was off at 8.8 a.m. with a pack of about
30 lbs. still. Keeping well out from the West Craycroft, I found fair
going amongst the ti-tree and button grass and crossed a south branch
of the West Craycroft (1m. - 8.45 a.m.). I then followed up a few button
grass burns which marked a previous route and was able to follow the trail
of the Geelong College party without undue difficulty. I added a few burns
to clarify the route. I crossed the main stream of the West Craycroft
(1240' - 1½m. - 9.28 a.m.) and entered horizontal and pandanni. The horizontal
was wet, rotten and moss laden and, after sticking it for a while, I edged
up the side of the foothill of Federation on the left, hoping to get above
it. The horizontal went well up the hill-side and, where other growth
is met, its composition was such that it contributed nothing towards improving
progress. An odd fall or two occasioned by the treachery of rotten branches
accentuated the dismal mood already animated by renewed instep rub, saturated
garments, clothing problems and that accursed loneliness. A gully was
looming ahead and it was questionable whether to go through or above it.
In fact, I was at a loss as to whether to continue siding the hill or
ascend it, so little would the clouds let me see of Federation's approaches.
It was at such a moment when the hour of climax arrived - a test which,
had I managed to survive it, probably would have let me account for Federation.
But, alas, I regret that morale was too low to withstand the trial. It
was whilst taking a chance on the solidity of one of the aforesaid rotten
branches, that I took a spiller, one foot wedging between two other branches
as I fell and severely spraining my right ankle. It was a few moments
before I was able to free my foot and sometime before I could restore
some degree of usefulness to my injured ankle. During those 20-min. of
enforced idleness, I regret all desire to attain Federation vanished.
At 11.20 a.m. (1520' - 2½m.) I started my retreat, stepping very gingerly
and cautiously with my maimed limb. As the ankle warmed up, it functioned
quite well. I emerged from the horizontal at the West Craycroft crossing
(1240' - 3¾m. - 12.45 p.m.) and then set about blazing and clearing the
return route. Re-crossing the southern branch of the stream (4m.- 1.38
p.m.), the blazing was continued and I feel that the result would prove
satisfactory to the next party. The weather improved and the sun was out
before I regained the paper bark camp (1200' - 5m. - 2.15 p.m.).
I had dinner at the camp and departed at 3.33 p.m., leaving  my small
cache behind for the next party. Proceeding downstream, I crossed to the
north bank over two beds (5¾m. - 4.5 p.m.) and was in relatively open
going at 4.20 p.m.. Trying out a new route which proved much easier and
quicker, I kept fairly close to the stream and re-crossed it at the foot
of a wooded hill much higher up than previously (7m. - 4.56 p.m.) to enter
open button grass. I detoured to the right over a button grass rise to
study the route to Mt Bobs, but lowering clouds, the knowledge of a falling
barometer and the uncertain condition of my feet deterred me from pushing
up the valley to press my claims on the morrow. Then I descended to the
South Craycroft and followed it down for about half a mile to the South
Craycroft camp (1050' - 5.40 p.m.).
I was just in time to beat the brown ants to the more vulnerable items
in my rock cache. I had a tremendous meal and gave my feet much bathing
attention before turning in at 8 p.m.. The instep sores were much deeper
and the right ankle was swollen. The sky was overcast and the mosquitos
less numerous. A fair night's sleep was obtained.
Wednesday, Feb. 3rd. came in as dull as ever with low clouds obscuring
the hills all around. I was away with a 30 odd lbs. pack at 7.10 a.m.,
hanging on to all food in case I failed to reach Blake's before nightfall.
I toiled up to the knoll on Wilsmicro Lead (2000' -1m. - 8 a.m.) and,
changing direction to 10 deg., soon entered thick cloud, attaining the
summit of Burgess Bluff with only about 30 yds. visibility (3500' - 2¼m.
- 9.10 a.m.).
Here the magnetic shots taken on my outward course proved invaluable.
Pushing N.N.W., I soon located Anderson Bluff and, shouldering it on the
east, changed direction to 30 deg. to reach the rock cairns above Abrotanella
Rise (3m. - 9.46 a.m.). Continuing through the dense cloud-fog in the
direction of 20 deg., I descended to the diagonal quartzite outcrop, thence
inclining to 10 deg. to make the quartzite patch just beyond the col trough.
Here I shouldered Mt. Chapman on the west, getting close up to the rock
wall so as to see when I had sufficiently rounded it in order to make
the true descent to Pineapple Flat, which was duly accomplished (3000'
- 4¼m. - 10.22 a.m.). I ascended the ridge to the N.W. until near the
top (10.45 a.m.) and then followed the ridge along. At 11 a.m. I descended
to what I thought was the Low Col but it turned out to be a low spur running
away to the east. Discovering my error at 11.15 a.m., I was back on the
ridge again at 11.30 a.m., visibility improving with the lower altitude
and increasing wind. I had just passed over the Low Col when the clouds
lifted sufficiently to reveal it below me at 11.50 a.m. and I dropped
down into its trough immediately (2670' - 7m. - 12.10 p.m.).
Dinner was due but I dare not squander time dining whilst the cloud-break
was there to be exploited. A nine-minute stop for re-fuelling and pocket
filling had to suffice before I resumed up the long rise northward (actually
340 deg.) to where the ridge turned right (8m. - 12.50 p.m.). The Clouds
had definitely lifted a little and visibility was much better, although
fine cold rain and cloud descended upon me frequently. Changing direction
to 20 deg. for a few yards, I swung back to 320 deg. to reach the junction
of Blandfordia and Hewardia Ridges, thence back to 20 deg. for a short
distance before climbing up to the rock cairn on the higher section of
Hewardia Ridge (9¼m. - 1.26 p.m.). Then it was just a matter of keeping
near the quartzite outcrops to reach the quartzite cairns on the scarp
overlooking North Plain Creek (10m. - 1.45 p.m.). Down at North Plain
Creek (2888' - 10½m. - 1.58 p.m.), I paused for a little refreshment in
a brief dash of sunshine, but it was sprinkling again ere I left at 2.5
Reaching the two north-flowing streams beyond the next saddle (2700' -
11½m. - 2.36-57 p.m.), I found that the Geelong College party had camped
on the low rise between the streams - a more sheltered spot than North
Lake. I lost some time here in readjusting my socks which had disappeared
in the boots. The instep sores were giving much trouble and my feet were
starting to drag. Passing North Lake camp (2800' - 12¼m. - 3.20 p.m.)
and Clearwater Creek (2550' - 13m. - 3.40-48 p.m.), the clouds still hung
only about 200' above me.
Near the foot of the cutting grass patch, I came upon the trail of the
Geelong College party and, following it into the myrtles, unwittingly
was lead astray. Coming to the edge of the scarp near a small landslide,
I was able to pick up my bearings and regained the track about 200 yds.
to the left near Red Rag Scarp (14¾m. - 5.10-15 p.m.). The other party,
however, had descended into the mixed forest below and regained the track
below Blake's Hut. Reaching the top of Blake's Opening (1050' - 16m. -
6.15 p.m.), I struggled on to regain Blake's Hut (370' - 18m. - 7 p.m.).
Clouds were still fairly low when I arrived but the stars were out brightly
between 9 and 10 p.m.. "Mr. Smith" soon put in an appearance and, with
my abundance of provisions, I was able to humour him and make closer acquaintance.
He showed great relish for my cooked vegetables which were starting to
pall somewhat with me.
Thursday dawned fine but overcast with a N.W. wind. I enjoyed my best
night's sleep of the trip and was tardy in arising. I was not away until
8.58 a.m., a black cloud looming threateningly overhead. Passing the button
grass break (1¼m. - 9.37 a.m.) and Big Creek (2m. - 10.1 a.m.), my injured
ankle gave its first indication of instability. The continual stepping
and swinging over logs was having a bad effect on both ankle and boot
rubs. Approaching the bracken camp, I met the Melbourne University party
outward bound for Federation under the leadership of Prof. Cherry and
many minutes passed in conversation.
Resuming, I passed the bracken camp (2¾m. - 10.52 a.m.), Riveaux camp
(3¼m. - 11.20 a.m.) and a new camp just used by the Melbourne University
party (4m. - 11.55 a.m.), to reach the "Shaw" camp (190' - 4½m. - 12.13
p.m.). Dinner was partaken here before resuming at 1 p.m. and making the
end of the newly-cut track (5m. - 1.38 p.m.).
I had a 10 min. talk with the track cutters on the plain beyond before
wading the Picton River (160' - 6½m. - 2.10 p.m.), seeing the palings
being cut for the new bridge and then on to the Picton Hut (180' - 8m.
- 2.42 p.m.). Apart from the monotony and rapid deterioration of feet
towards the close, there is little to record of the remainder of the journey
back. The Arve River was reached (90' - 14½m. - 5.18-24 p.m.), then Frying
Pan Creek (17m. - 6.31 p.m.) and finally the car at Irving Fletcher's
(120' - 20m. - 7.43 p.m.), where I spent the night in the car, retiring
late after dining, bathing and talking with Irving Fletcher.
Next morning (Friday, Feb. 4th., I drove off late in the morning for Hobart
and civilisation, arriving at the capital at 12.15 p.m..
"Mountaineering in Tasmania", Vol. II, pp 171-175