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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.
Party: Dave Pinkard, Chris. Binks, Norm. Hoyle, Gordon Whitaker and Keith Lancaster (Leader).
Leaving Launceston at 7.5 p.m. on Friday. Jan. 25th. 1952 in company with the Club party assigned to climbing the Snowy Range, our party journeyed in the Club 'bus via the Main and Huon Highways, turning off at Huonville and proceeding via Upper Huon, Hull, Russell River, Little Denison River and the new Forestry Road to the “Slab Road" turn-off, where the Snowy Range party was deposited in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Returning almost to the Little Denison River crossing, we took the rough turn off on the right, finding it in worse and more overgrown state than when using it last year. The surface was rather swampy around Sunset Ranch but improved later. We gained the end of the road at 2.30 a.m. (160’ - 172m.) and were settled down for slumber within the bus at 2.50 a.m.. Heavy rain had fallen during the week but clearing windy weather appeared at hand when we left Launceston.
At daybreak the sky showed fairly clear and we were astir early and away to a 6.32 a.m. start. Locating the new jeep track (which supersedes the old foot track) a few yards to the left, we followed it through scrub and clearing to its end at the large button grass clearing (1¾m. - 7.2 a.m.). Then the foot track was pursued across the clearing and into the forest beyond. Our first spell was taken at the "arrow head tree" (80’ - 3½m. - 7.38 45 a.m.) where a tin sign indicates the true direction of the track where deception urges otherwise. Soon our clothes were rather wet from contact with the encroaching ti-tree, bauera, etc. which rapidly was overgrowing the old Weld Track. The track had to be watched closely in several sectors but no noticeable hold ups occurred. Crossing Blackwood Creek (4¾m. - 8.25 a.m.), Fletcher's Paddocks and passing the tent frame (5½m. - 8.37 a.m.), we reached the Weld River (100’ - 6m. 8.45 a.m.) and continued on to the remaining lean to, where another short spell was taken (105’ - 6½m. - 9.0 10 a.m.).
At 9.13 a.m. we reached Glover's Paddocks where good open track was a great help. However, deterioration was rapid towards the other side of the button grass opening where ti tree, bauera, etc. blocked the way. When progress in finding the track became unreasonably slow and unprofitable, we gave it away (8½m. – 10.10 a.m.) and pushed down through horizontal and mixed scrub to gain the bank of the Weld River (9m. – 10.40 a.m.). We had hoped for fast upstream progress by using the rubble along the edge of the river bed as our course but flood waters confined us to the bank where scrub invariably was thick and obviously having an adverse effect upon some members of the party. Pushing up stream as near as practicable to the eastern bank, it remained in doubt whether we had passed my 1951 camp site or it still lay ahead when we stopped for lunch (120’ - 9¼m. - 11.15 a.m.) on a rock platform projecting into the stream.
Not long after resuming at 12.15 p.m., we gained the 1951 camp site with the older H.W.C. camp showing out on the opposite bank (130’ - 9½m. - 12.40 p.m.). The going improved considerably beyond this point and we passed the inflow of the first creek opposite ten minutes later. Ever on the qui vive for a reasonable fording place across the fast moving flood waters, we selected a spot some distance beyond, but the depth and velocity of the water combined with the slippery nature of the rocky bed made the crossing a slow, tedious affair in almost waist deep water. Successfully gaining the western bank, we zigzagged along through abundant horizontal as far as the inflow of the second creek (140’ - 10¼m. – 2.5 p.m.).
Following up the northern bank of this small torrent through rather thick horizontal, we soon swung away to the right in the hope of securing better going on the ridge side. Awkward bracken fern (at first) and horizontal patches still persisted and huge fallen trees often presented tough obstacles on the steep slopes but, at length, we found an easier course through clearer myrtle and sassafras as the ridge top broadened. Yet the worst retarding agent was lack of sleep which produced such a lack of enthusiasm amongst the lesser conditioned members that appeals for greater effort met with little or no response. After frequent costly delays in awaiting the arrival of some straggler, a halt was called at 4.15 p.m. (12½m.) where thickening horizontal and a deeper gorge indicated the probable nearness of the largest waterfall.
A frank discussion upon our prospects followed and the general conclusion reached was that it was beyond the capabilities of the party in its present condition to account for Mt. Weld within the three days available. Our schedule had been maintained to Glover's Paddocks but progress dropped well behind plans from the time the riverbank was regained. The floodwaters had accounted for much of this although the slowness of some members in the forest was hard to understand. This was particularly evident after we left the Weld River behind. Our plans included using the stream bed of the creek we were following within a short distance of our position but the floodwaters probably would prevent this. We really needed to account for another three miles before camp if we were to be in a reasonable position but that was now out of the question. Thus it was decided to abandon our efforts and we decided it wiser not to push on any farther but to return and re cut that section of the old Weld Track which divided from Glover's Paddocks the 1½ miles of track re cut by a party last year. This should save us at least an hour each way on a future trip.
At 4.55 p..m. we about turned, searching for a suitable camp-site as we retreated. At approx. 5.30 p.m. we halted at a hopeful spot and, after some preliminary investigation, chose our camp site (400’ - 13m. - 5.45 p.m.). Throughout the day the weather had remained in precocious vein, yet the only rain we encountered was an odd light shower. However, heavy nimbus cloud covered the whole Weld plateau and it was quite obvious heavy rain was continuing at higher elevations.
After an early arising on Sunday morning was effected, the weather looked more reliable and clouds were fewer. At 11.35 a.m. the party was under way down to the Weld River, encountering lighter scrub resistance over the latter stages by keeping clear of the creek. Gaining the river (140’ – 1¼m. - 12.20 p.m.) at a point a few yards above the creek inflow, we located an excellent fording place where the stream was only knee deep, although a slight fall in the river accounted for some of this. We had our dinner on the eastern bank and then climbed up the hillside to the re cut track where we set about improving the re cut section immediately. Soon we were at the lower end of the re cut section where the track had been lost by the re cutting party. We located the continuation of the old track a short distance away and the work of opening up the track commenced in real earnest, our three diminutive axes doing yeoman service.
Ere long we failed, despite a wide exploration amidst the thriving cutting grass, to find any farther trace of the ancient track, but we located some more recent tree blazes (probably ten to twelve years old) leading slightly uphill. Cutting and blazing a track along this route, we received a further set back when the tree blazes were lost near the top of the hill. I made a very extensive search again to locate a further sign of the route or the old track but, although I reconnoitred half a mile ahead, I found it not. However, I did locate a practical route for continuing our track. From the point where we gained the top of the hill, it ridged southwards, paralleling the river and bordered by a deep depression over to our left, through which we discovered later the old track must run. The lower creek showed out clearly on the other side of the Weld, and the crown of the ridge proved very suitable for a track as the view was good and the scrub at its thinnest. Towards the end of the ridge, an unusual clearing occupied a broad shelf, below which the ridge receded rapidly and was lost in a horizontal clad gully beyond which it appeared a reasonable route must exist through which to continue our task.
Returning back to the hill top where Chris and Dave were still working along the track, we abandoned operations as nightfall was at hand and rejoined Norm and Gordon who were back amongst the dogwoods preparing camp. At length the task of camp making was over and we retired at 10 p.m., hoping to complete cutting the track through to Glover's Paddocks by midday on the morrow, enabling us to reunite with the bus party before dark. The weather had remained fine throughout the day with quite a few cumulus clouds around and a light wind.
Monday morning opened with an uncertain sky and, breakfast over, all hands resumed track cutting. Ascending to the hill top, we cut a path along the crest, mainly through dogwood and riceana, until we emerged at the ledge opening. The course from there down into the horizontal in the gully was not easy to blaze through the dicksonias but, once on the other side, opportunities were manifold amongst the young gums, musk, etc.. Soon thick cutting grass again threatened to defeat our aims but, by using fallen trees as our track and blazing the route accordingly, we traversed slowly around the hillside, ultimately ascending gradually in expectation of better scrub above.
A short steep rock climb provided a bad patch on our track but brought us into better country where dogwood preponderated once more. Here we located the lightly blazed route of the H.W.C. (Easter, 1950) and for a while we used the same course where it traversed the hill but we lost trace of it in the myrtles beyond. However, button grass could be seen at no great distance above us, so we turned our track in that direction through myrtle and light horizontal and regained the old Weld track at a badly overgrown point about 1.30 p.m.. We blazed the track turn off very conspicuously and roughly estimated that the length of our re opened track from here to its northern extremity would be about three miles. It is of serviceable width and clarity and should survive a few years and permit about 2½ m.p.h. walking pace. It probably represents the first effort at track cutting yet undertaken on a L.W.C. trip but obviously will not be the last by the interest shown.
With still just a little time available for track clearing, we endeavoured to open up the old track out on to the clearing, still a short distance ahead and above us. This was a more difficult proposition as here the track was cut deeply into the hill side, its narrow, water retaining shelf providing ideal conditions for the cultivation of ti tree, richea, bauera, etc. which formed an impenetrable covering over sections of the track. Our tiny axes, which had performed very worthily, now were hopelessly blunt and, after making some improvement for about ¼ mile, we had to abandon our efforts and make a hasty return homewards.
Entering the clearing a short while later, we were soon on the familiar
route out. Dinner had been snatched during one of the light showers back
on our new track. Maintaining a fast pace homewards, we were back at the
road and in company with the remainder of the Club party about 6.30 p.m.
and, after a quick meal, all were aboard the bus on an uneventful journey
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