THE MT. ANNE GROUP
by
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's Christmas 1950 walk to Mt. Anne afforded John and I another opportunity to visit the locality with the object of climbing some of the satellite peaks of the Anne group. The main Club party had seven days in which to complete the walk, but limitation of holidays obliged three of us (Bess Husband, John Daniel and myself) to use Club transport and accomplish our walk within four days, i.e. in the same time in which Johnny, Tom and I completed our initial trip to Mt. Anne during Christmas, 1946.

On Friday, Dec. 22nd., Bess and I left Launceston at 6.22 p.m. per car in cool, cloudy weather. Johnny left a few minutes earlier in the Club's bus acting as road guide. Passing the Club bus near Epping, we encountered rain and thunder beyond Ross but, nevertheless, made good time down the Main Highway. The rain ceased as we entered the Lyell Highway, but clouds persisted. We chose the shortest route via Plenty, Bushy Park etc. to Maydena and, after a little uncertainty created by the new A.N.M. roads, entered the much-overgrown turnoff leading to the Port Davey Track near Kallista. Halting the car at the slip-rails (800' - 157m. - 11 p.m.), we prepared the car for the night's brief sleep and were settling down as the remainder of the party arrived a little before midnight.

Astir at 5 a.m., we were greeted with a cloudless sky and soon the whole party was astir eager for action. At 6.25 a.m. we were under way, finding no difficulty in following the old track out to Maines. Beyond here, however, the bracken and dicksonias enveloped the track and combined with fallen trees to hide its course. Johnny, nevertheless, was making good progress in locating the route and the worst was left behind before reaching Four Mile Creek. Here the intended split-up in the parties was developing as the better track appeared. Passing the 3 mile peg (3m. - 7.30 a.m.), we were. delighted at our maintenance of a 3 m.p.h. gait in spite of obstacles. Bess and I passed the Divide camp at 8.5 a.m. and, soon after, Johnny rejoined us. At the Styx River crossing, we took our first rest (1850' - 6m. - 8.55-9.10 a.m.).

The wet bush and ferns during the early stages drenched our legs and kept us cool. Now the bush was drying but the appearance of numerous clouds overhead maintained the cool conditions which we knew would enhance our prospects of accounting for a good day's mileage. An uninteresting spell was broken by our crossing of the first Weld tributary (9m. - 9.54 a.m.). In the more open country beyond, white waratah and laurel blooms relieved the monotony, plus occasional glimpses of Mt. Anne and Mt. Mueller. Several fallen trees along the track hampered progress and occasionally caused slight confusion. False Alarm Creek (11m. - 10.32 a.m.) and the Weld River (11m. - 10.40 a.m.) presaged our arrival at Black Creek and Damper Inn (1400' - 12m. - 10.50 a.m.).

Everything, so far, had gone according to plan and all were bearing up well to the steady grind. We had dinner and rested awhile before resuming at noon, with no sign of our other party approaching. The track was particularly good for the next few miles. Making the South Gordon turn-off in good time (1600' - 14m. - 12.40 p.m.), speculation arose as to how much further the 1946-7 clearing of the track had been continued. A little over a mile beyond the turn-off, we suddenly hit the uncleared section at 1 p.m. and our pace diminished as our obstacles increased. However, the track hadn't deteriorated much since our 1946 visit and our previous experience with it stood us in good stead. Our progress was delayed further by efforts made to re-blaze the course in its weak patches to assist those following. After about an hour of scrub-bashing, we emerged on the more open sector at the base of Mt. Bowes, but the zigzagging around its slopes in the hot afternoon sun soon had me struggling and I was more than relieved when we reached our newly, and most aptly, named "Cot Case Creek", the substantial stream careering down the gully on the southern side of Bowes, and stopped for our afternoon lunch (1800' - 18m. - 2.45-3.35 p.m.).

It was encouraging to find that the expected difficult state of the track up the ensuing rise was not near as bad as anticipated and was really in slightly better shape than last trip although, of course, anything but good. We gained the top at 4 p.m. and enjoyed a good passage down-hill through the sassafras and myrtle and pandanni. On the next rise through the scrub and bauera, Bess refused to remain behind the leader any longer and insisted upon taking her turn in front, whereupon the male members were struggling instantly to keep pace and soon John had to demand a rest. Upon resumption, the top of the pass was gained at 4.50 p.m. and the peaks of the south-west around Wedge came into view. Then followed a long descent through a fine mixed forest around the shoulder of the ridge until at last we dropped down on to the button grass below (21m. - 5.20 p.m.). As we approached the timber clump on the right (our planned camp-site for the night), a suggestion to carry on to Sandfly Creek met with little support from the less fit element of the party, but concessions in camp fatigue won the day and the party split up over the final distance. Re-staking along the open button grass and re-blazing through the scrub delayed our arrival at Sandfly Creek (1000' - 23m. - 6.50-7.30 p.m.). Our camp-site was on the south side of the stream about 100 yds. below the crossing and we enjoyed a comfortable night's rest.

Sunday morning broke cloudless and we were away at 7.10 a.m. in warm sunshine. On the blandfordia knoll we repeated our previous trip's experience of despatching a snake. The track was in a bad way in the manuka swamp about 1 miles out and, after we had drifted astray for a short distance, a halt was called whilst I went back and re-blazed quite a section to assist those following. Even so, the effort was futile.

The track came good again on the plain beyond the swamp and it was still fairly clear as it skirted the large ridge running down to the Huon. We found that some walkers had done good work at the Huon crossing by erecting a good line of stakes leading down to the river. We took a rest in the shade at the last creek on the track (1000' - 2m. - 9.30-30 a.m.) before taking the open plain in the hot sun. Shouldering the next two corners of the ridge, we kept well to the left of the button grass, otherwise keeping much the came course as taken in 1946. We crossed Condominion Creek at the same point, stopping there for a light lunch (1050' - 5m. - 10.35-11.0 a.m.).

The clear climbing ridge was hot, arduous work in that incessant hot sunshine. It was a case of splitting up and leaving it to the individual to plug as best possible. The first ridge soon tapered off and pressure was eased in making the slight descent to the intervening gully, but the main Eliza ridge beyond was steep and long and our heavy packs dragged laboriously. At long last we passed over the quartzite outcrops and, nearing the snow-gum collar, the high camping site was gained (3150' - 8m. - 12.45 p.m.).

Whilst the others were coming in, a search was made for water which proved scarce. However, I managed to scoop out several little "reservoirs" of the half-gallon capacity, a couple of which were filling rapidly, calling for an increase in holding capacity. Then we got on to the job of dinner preparation and a review of our position led us to the decision that, as no good camp-site existed on the plateau owing to the absence of tree-growth, It was too late in the day to climb the mountains we intended and return before dark and thus we may as well rest and retire early, making a daybreak start in the morning. Camp preparation occupied a large portion of the afternoon and, following our evening meal, it was 7.50 p.m. when we retired, the sky still being cloudless.

We struggled out of our sleeping bags at 3.25 a.m. on Christmas morning in preparation for our big day. We were off at 5.5 a.m., carrying only our camera and iron rations under a still, cloudless sky. The narrow scrub belt soon was left behind and the bare rock leads exploited to breast the summit of Eliza (3900' - m. - 5.35 a.m.). The plateau was bare and free from snow with abrotanella flowering profusely. What a change from our "White Christmas" of 1946!

Resuming at 5.45 a.m., we moved over towards Mt. Anne, passing over a high section of Eliza which overlooked Lake Judd (3980' - lm. - 5.55-6 a.m.). About half a mile further on, we parted company with Bess who headed for Mt. Anne whilst John and I swung to the right to try conclusions with Mt. Lot and the neighbouring peaks. Crossing over another high section of the plateau, we descended to where the long "Razor Back" attached itself. The Razor Back formed the northern wall of Lake Judd and fell away even more steeply on the northern side to the forest far below. It also provided the high level link-up with Mt. Lot in a series of jagged spurs and knife-edged cols.

At 6.30 a.m. we had gained the trough of the second col as Bess gained the summit of Mt. Anne in excellent time. Her remarkable walking performance on this trip must place her amongst the top class of feminine Tasmanian walkers. Zigzagging from right to left and up and down seeking the best course possible along the tortuous Razor Back, at length we approached the eastern end, finding it advisable to bypass the last spur via its northern side and then climb directly up Mt. Lot. The second and more distant of Mt. Lot's two pinnacles proved the highest and we settled down to a well-earned rest thereon (3900' - 4m. - 8.35-9.18 a.m.).

Long before we gained the top of Mt. Lot it was obvious that time would not permit us to continue on either to Lot's Wife or Mt. Sarah Jane and return to within a day's march of our car before nightfall. The view of the route to either of these from the top was less encouraging as low ragged, broken cols had to be surmounted along either connecting ridge. However, the view from Mt. Lot had its compensations, even compared with that obtainable from Mt. Anne or Eliza. The high glaciated cliffs of Anne can be appreciated fully only when seen from this direction, whilst the remarkable walled Lake Judd became more intimate. The closer contact with Sarah Jane was worth while, whilst Lot's Wife assumed an entirely different appearance. The three nice lakes on the high shelf below us to the south-east appealed to us as an ideal spot for a long camping holiday. Schnell's Ridge showed up well and its lakes and ridges enticed exploration. Mt. Weld, the Arthurs and the more distant mountains of the south and east all claimed some attention. Needless to say, the camera worked overtime during our short stay in which a small cairn also was constructed.

We cut our stay short at 9.18 a.m. and started retracing our steps back along the Razor Back, our outward experience gaining us a much speedier return. Rejoining Bess, who had moved across to meet us, near the western end, we ascended the high ground of Eliza, meanwhile inspecting the numerous small pools and examining their animal contents. At length, we arrived back on Eliza and, starting off down the descent to our camp, espied the remainder of the Club party split up on the climbing ridge, the first section just entering our camp. Soon we were in vocal contact and all assembled at the camp (3150' - 8m. - 12.10 p.m.).

After learning of their experiences whilst we prepared and ate dinner and packed up for departure, we bade farewell to the high camp and its new occupants and set off homewards at 1.40 p.m. back down the ridge. The continued absence of cloud or wind kept the sweat flowing freely. Our first short rest was at Condominion Creek (1050' - 11m. - 2.50-3.5 p.m.). We crossed the next stream at 3.13 p.m. and took a further rest at the last stream before the Huon Crossing (990' - 13m. - 3.40-50 p.m.) before regaining the track at 4.7 p.m.. Our intentions had been to make the "island of timber" for the night but, passing the already prepared camp-site at Sandfly Creek, it was more than we could resist (1000' - 16m. - 5.45 p.m.). Our choice didn't prove a wise one in that the sandflies were still most active and continued their incessant torment until dark. We retired at 8.50 p.m. and had a comfortable night.

Astir before the sandflies next morning, we vacated camp at 6.15 a.m. just as they commenced making their appearance felt. An odd cloud tempered the morning sunshine as we traversed the open plain and we found the forest cool and made good progress, taking our first rest for morning lunch at "Cot Case Creek", (1800' - 5m. - 9.1-25 a.m.).

The route through the scrub beyond was proving much easier, doubtless owing to its encounter with about 20 following bodies which had succeeded us on our outward course, including a number of Hobart Walking Club members bound for Lake Pedder and Geeveston. At 11.10 a.m. we entered the cleared section of the track. The Gordon turn-off was passed at 11.29 a.m. and, in spite of increasing heat, fast progress was made to Damper Inn (1400' - 11m. - 12.3 p.m.).

With dinner completed, we resumed at 1.36 p.m., reaching the last Weld affluent (14m.) at 2.43 p.m.. Leaving at 2.50 p.m. we found the more open patches very warm although clouds appeared to be increasing. At 4.50 p.m., we passed the Divide camp (18m.) to descend gradually to the fern country and Maines and then on to the car (800' - 23m. - 6.30-7.5 p.m.). Johnny, who was trailing the party, struck trouble amongst the ferns and ended up doing portion of the journey trackless.

Soon we were on our way homeward, covering a substantial distance before dark. Our early enquiries for petrol were unsuccessful but we were confident of filling up at Mangalore. Unfortunately, the shop was closed and the owner away so, after fruitlessly chasing around for nearly an hour, we were obliged to return to Hobart to re-fuel. Leaving Hobart at midnight, it was necessary to take turns at driving and it was a most weary combination which returned to Launceston about 3.15 a.m..
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