WEEK-END ON THE SNOWIES
by
Keith Lancaster
Home to Index  





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.
Taking advantage of a further opportunity of combining forces with our Hobart friends, we left Launceston at 7.25 p.m. on Friday, April 1st. 1949 and arrived at Wilson's at 11 p.m., spending the night there. Next morning our two-car party left Hobart at 7.30 a.m. in cloudless weather, the party comprising Dorothy Keats, Nancy and David Wilson, Jim Brown, Ivor Role and David Brink (all of Hobart) and Jack Daniel and Keith Lancaster (both of Launceston).

We travelled via the Huon Road to Huonville, then following the Huon upstream to Judbury, crossing it there and entering the Little Denison River road (120'- 39m.- 9.6 a.m.). Beyond the Russell R. crossing, the road crosses a high divide before descending to cross the Little Denison River. Not far beyond the latter a new gravel road affords faster travel and the slab road which leads towards the Snowies was gained (300'- 43m.- 9.15-20 a.m.). Before entering the slab road we explored the new road to ascertain if it re-contacted the slab road farther afield but, after having any such optimistic illusions dispelled at the next mill, (Standard Case Mill), m. farther afield, we returned to the first slab road (300'- 44m.- 9.40 a.m.) and parked the cars.

At 9.55 a.m. under the same bright cloudless sky we started our hike up the easy board-walk to the remains of Page's Mill (700'- m.- -10.15 a.m.). Running westward from the mill is McDougall's 6' forestry track and this is used as a mill logging track, the haulage wires running along the track for a good quarter of a mile. Beyond the haulage, the track is quite pretty, but fallen timber is starting to affect the hitherto excellent going. After 1m. of the wide track, a blazed route runs off on the left for the Snowies at a couple of well-blazed trees. However, we unconsciously over-ran this turn-off, reaching the end of McDougall's Track a quarter of a mile beyond at 11.15 a.m..

Returning to the blazed track turn-off (1300'- 2m.- 11.25 a.m.), we were all under way by 11.40 a.m., crossing a small creek within a few yards of travelling westward through myrtle, horizontal and cutting grass along a route which wound considerably and was difficult to follow in patches. Swinging back to the north-west, we reached the second crossing of this small creek (1700'- 3m.- 12.50 p.m.) and stopped for dinner. Off again at 1 40 p.m., the same tedious going persisted beyond the creek until the forest surroundings were broken as we climbed out on to a sandstone ridge covered with high gum skeletons and low scrub (2350'- 5m.- 3 p.m.). Beyond this small break, the track re-enters a myrtle and pandanni belt, from which one climbs out on to a fairly clear, high ridge spiked with numerous bleached tree skeletons. The ridge of the Snowies can be seen from here across a small gully below and the route (very faint here) was abandoned as we knew the course lead through the break in the ridge ahead to the westward. Crossing the little gully and shouldering the ridge, we gradually inclined our course towards the creek on our right, dropping down on it just before we suddenly came upon the eastern end of Lake Skinner at the generally-accepted camping spot (2940'- 6m.- 4.28 p.m.).

The lake is about half a mile wide and is handily placed close under the southern peak of the Snowies. It is quite a picturesque spot and must be a delightful camping site. With only the morrow left in which to complete our trip, we agreed it desirable to push on closer to the peaks we aspired before pitching camp and to climb the first peak if possible. Leaving the lake at 4.45 p.m. with the sky still practically cloudless, we split up on the climb to the plateau above (7m.- 5.10 p.m.), being greeted on top by cloud-mist rolling up from the westward. It soon became apparent that a view from the peak above would be impossible that night so the selection of a camping spot became the immediate task and, eventually, all agreed to pitch the three tents on a thick artichoke patch to the east of the first peak (3600'- 8m.).

The night was cool, but all spent a comfortable night on this soft mattress, fairly well protected from the cold without. Astir early, we found that the wind, which had developed during the night, had prevented the clouds from settling. After breakfast, we were away at 7.27 a.m., ascending westward through the mist, reaching the summit of the southern peak (4300' m.- 8 a.m.). The persistence of the thick mist and cold wind was a deterrent to a continuance of the journey to the second and, reputedly, highest peak of the range and only three responded to the call for volunteers to leave at 8.30 a.m..

By adhering to the north-west rather than north, we early encountered steep cliffs ahead but, after a short tussle with these, we were able to deviate more to the northward and secure easy passage along the range. Using the compass continually, we reached the col dividing the two main peaks (3850'- lm.- 9.8 a.m.) and, at the top of the first rise beyond, were rewarded with a break in the clouds for about five minutes enabling us to see both the two highest peaks, a corner of Mt. Weld and the Wellington Range to the east. Soon the mist was as thick as ever but we scrambled on from spur to spur until finally the second peak was gained (4300'- 2m.- 10 a.m.). From aneroid readings obtained and various compensations and allowances made, it appears that the height of the two peaks is so close that I wouldn't like to press the claims of either.

At 10.10 a.m., Jack, David Brink and myself set off on our re-turn to camp, retracing our way back to the col (3850'- 3m.-- 10.50 a.m.) and catching glimpses of the three small lakes to the eastward and the low cliffs at the head of the gully below the col as thinnings in the fog permitted. Then we sidled around the lee-ward side of the southern peak, retaining our altitude until contact was made with the remainder of the party at our night's camping spot (3600'- 4m.-11.15 a.m.).

They were under way practically immediately, leaving us some much-appreciated hot tea. After a brief snack and packing up, we were all homeward bound by 11.39 a.m.. The descent to Lake Skinner was accomplished (2940'- 5m.- 12.7 p.m.) and, after dropping behind for photography and specimen collecting, I located the blazed route not far below the lake, following it across the valley and uniting with the remainder of the party on the "dead timber" ridge beyond. After consultation, a split in the party was arranged to permit the Launceston party an earlier start homeward and thus we say farewell to Dorothy, Nancy, David and Jim.

We made much faster progress on the homeward route and this can be mainly attributed to the easier job in finding the trail now it had been ploughed up by eight pairs of feet. Reaching the creek where we dined on the previous day (1700'- 8m.- 2.16-21 p.m.), we encountered less distinctness beyond but gained McDougall's Track (1300'- 9m.- 3.15-20 p.m.) and appreciate the resultant easy going. The top of the haulage (10 m.) presaged our arrival at Page's Mill (700'- 10m.- 3.52 p.m.), from which it was an easy walk down the slab road to the car (300' 11m.- 4.7 p.m.). A quick change and a wash and we were away in 20 min. down the new gravel road, passing Huonville (20m.- 5.15 p.m.) to reach Hobart (43m.- 6 p.m.). After leaving our passengers, we set out from Moonah at 6.15 p.m. and were home in Launceston by 9.40 p.m..
Home to Index  
If you would like more information on Keith Lancaster's diaries, please feel free to send me an email.