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.

The Launceston Walking Club undertook its most lengthy trip from home to date at Easter 1950, giving members the alternative of walking to Adamsfield, Gordon Vale or Mt. Curley. We were due to leave Launceston at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 6th., hoping to reach the Divide by midnight. The sky was semi overcast and there was a light southerly breeze. The party of 29 was held up for nearly three hours with 'bus trouble before we eventually waltzed off and, journeying via the Main and Lyell Highways, New Norfolk, Bushy Park, Maydena and the new Australian Newsprint Mills' road, reached the Divide (otherwise known as “the Gap”) several hours behind schedule (1850’ - 4.40 p.m.).

Here I had the responsibility of group leader of the Mt. Curley trip naively thrust upon me and, upon weakening and assembling the party, they unanimously agreed to start off immediately without sleep, leaving the other two parties to settle down for a few hours' repose. The party comprised: Misses Anne Husband and Margaret Williams and Messrs. Jim Turner, Norman Hoyle, Chris Binks, Martin Scott and myself.

We were away at 5.20 a.m. with moderate packs and there was just enough light, in conjunction with the reflective gleam of the quartzite gravel, to show us the way. The drought of the last few weeks had dried up most of the small streams which cross the Adamsfield track and water for breakfast was slow to appear. Even then the party seemed loath to pause for breakfast and the Little Florentine was reached before they could be induced to make a stop (1300’ – 3½m. - 6.40 a.m.).

Daylight revealed low cloud skimming the surrounding peaks and there was little wind to disturb them. The Thumbs was the dominant landmark but there were plenty of other points of interest. At 8.15 a.m. we resumed and soon reached the Florentine (1250’ – 4½m. - 8.35 45 a.m.) and its few huts, where we left a note for the parties following before taking the turn off to Gordon Bend on the far bank. The narrower track led through a pretty myrtle forest, coming out amidst ti tree patches, gums and button grass beyond. At length, we reached the wide open button grass with the open route to the Thumbs on our left (1430’ – 7½m. - 9.50 a.m.) and we halted for photography and rest as a little sunshine appeared.

Photo stop 1. From left: Keith Lancaster, ?, ?, Jim Turner

Photo stop 2. From left: Margaret Williams (?), Anne Husband, Keith Lancaster

Here a party from our sister walking club caught and passed us, having used jeep transport to the Florentine. Resuming at 10.30 a.m., we overhauled our Hobart friends and passed them whilst they sought shelter from a shower and we went on to the sound little hut at the Gordon crossing (1420’ - 10m. - 11.30 a.m.). Here consideration was given to a detour to the Gordon Gorge as plenty of time remained for the rest of the journey to Gordon Vale. Jim, Norm. and Martin chose to rest at the hut, so Anne, Margaret, Chris. and I crossed the Gordon in the cage and, making extensive deviations to avoid wet scrub, gained the button grass on the foothills around Dome Hill. Soon we were looking down on the Gordon threading its way between the Thumbs and Dome Hill but the walls of the Gorge were evidently some distance down stream. Each bend we rounded gave enough inducement to lure us on to the next in spite of diminishing time but, at length, with the awkwardness of the going increased, we gave up the chase. The scenery was very interesting nevertheless but the grandeur of the Gorge a mile or two below must be hard to surpass. Descending to the Gordon, we were able to cross it easily on the rocks as it was at very low level. We found the left bank provided much easier going and arrived back at the Gordon hut (14m. – 4.20 p.m.) to find our companions sound asleep but the dinner nicely simmering.

At 5 p.m. we were all under way once more across the river, this time taking the track to Gordon Vale, the outpost home of that renowned hermit of the Vale of Rasselas, Ernie Bond. We arrived there in the rain at dusk (1460’ - 22m. - 6.30 p.m.) to find a record crowd of visitors present and mine host dishing out ‘roo stew and pudding for all, but sadly dismayed that he had underestimated the number of the invasion force. The hospitality of this grey eyed, bearded giant has to be sampled to be believed! What he has done for the walking fraternity of this State is never likely to be surpassed by any other living person. He adopts the "give and go without yourself” policy and his door is always open to any visiting hiker. His only worry on this occasion was that numbers prevented him from giving all the personal attention he desired.

At Ernie Bond's place, from right: Keith Lancaster, Anne Husband, Ian?, Jim Turner and Margaret Williams (?)

Naturally, accommodation was very strained and, with the advent of rain, camping out was not attractive. Our party found sanctuary in the dairy and, by manipulation of the furniture within, cleared sufficient space on the uneven floor to provide sleeping quarters. As four of the party had no sleep the previous night or since, we were first to retire and sleep was not so hard to woo.

Saturday morning broke with low mist and showers and gave little promise of clearing. Thus we were somewhat slow in rising and, after discussing plans with the party, Jim, Norm. and Martin transferred to the Gordon Vale party. At 9.30 a.m., Anne, Margaret, Chris. and I left our friends and turned northwards along the Vale of Rasselas for the Denisons and, if circumstances permitted, Mt. Curley. Crossing Reed’s Creek (1470’ - 1m. - 9.55 a.m.) at the western edge of the forest, we passed the row of small ponds and exploited the narrow lead through the bush to reach the button grass. Then keeping to the middle of the Vale and skirting the clumps of forest, we finally turned in to the left to reach the clear climbing ridge leading up to Lake Rhona and Reed's Peak. Here small Hobart parties showed out in front and behind us. After climbing the steep ridge to within sight of Lake Rhona, we chose a sheltered gully on the left for dinner (1 p.m. - 1.30 p.m.) after which we continued on to Lake Rhona. Clouds had completely enveloped Reed's Peak all the morning and the keen wind and steady drizzle had us struggling to maintain warmth in our fingers. At 2.20 p.m. we gave the Denisons away in the vicinity of Lake Rhona and set out to retrace our steps back to Gordon Vale, arriving there about 5.30 p.m..

Sunday was even a less pleasant day with some snow falling and, apart from a little wood cutting, etc., activity was almost nil. However, our Gordon Vale contingent left in the afternoon for the Gordon Hut and with them went the indefatigable Anne. The remainder of our party took their leave of Ernie at 8.30 a.m. the following morning, reaching the cage at 9.50 a.m..

Flying Fox, Gordon River crossing. Keith Lancaster and Chris Binks.

The flooded track and river was in marked contrast to our outward journey, the rise in the Gordon being about 10’. Re organising on the south bank, we were off again soon afterwards. Mt. Wright and the Thumbs were thickly coated with snow and the track around the Huntley well under water.

Arriving at the Florentine (1250’ - 9m. - 12 noon) on the heels of a Hobart party, all appreciated the drier conditions of the Adamsfield track. Monotony was further broken on the hill-climb by uniting with our Adamsfield party and learning of their adventures. We gained the Divide (1850’ – 13½m. - 1.45 p.m.) and soon after left for home, breaking the journey at National Park for a view of Russell's Falls and eventually reaching home rather late. I feel that members saw enough of this area, in spite of the unfavourable weather conditions, to entice them back again on some future occasion when the weather may be less obstinate.

Walking in the rain 1

Walking in the rain 2






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