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.
With nine days available for a trip into the South-West with the Propsting Range as our main objective, a party of three (Chris Binks, Bessie Husband and myself) left Launceston about 6 a.m. on Sat. Nov. 22nd. 1953 in Chris' car for Cambridge. We hoped to be flown in to Lake Pedder that day by the Tas. Aero Club, but the weather was somewhat uncertain when two of us took off later in the morning, and bad conditions forced the plane to turn back before reaching Mt. Anne. We awaited an improvement in the conditions until next morning but, as the report was unfavourable, were obliged to drive on to Maydena and walk out.

Thus we set off from Rilet's Hut at 11.20 a.m. under breezy and cloudy conditions and stopped for dinner at a creek on the ascent to the Styx R. - Fourteen Mile Creek divide (1400' - 4m. - 12.45-1.48 p.m.). We camped that night at Damper Inn (1400'- 12m. - 5.53 p.m.), the barometer rising considerably by 9 p.m. but was on the decline again in the morning when a light shower greeted us.

Away at 7.45 a.m., we soon experienced more showers, lunching at a small creek on the forest descent to the Huon Plains (1800' - 81/2m. - 12.5-1.25 p.m.). After resting at Sandfly Creek (980' - 103/4m. - 2.43-52 p.m.) and Huon Crossing (950' - 14m. - 4.20-35 p.m.), we essayed to reach the shelter of the Pedder camp that night, but the weight of the packs began to take effect upon at least two of us and, whilst Chris made the camp in daylight at 7.50 p.m., we others ended up in the dark over the swampy section and were pleased when at last the scramble was over (900' - 22m. - 9.20 p.m.).

Monday morning broke fairly clear but we were not away until 10 a.m. We passed through the gap between Isolation Mt. and the Franklands, thrice crossing the creek therein. Turning the corner of the Franklands, we entered Jones Pass, following up the base of the range for nearly a mile, when it seemed advisable to cross to the Giblin side for clearer going. Lunch was had well up the slopes of Giblin on the clear button grass above the forest which occupied the valley. The plain through the pass had been burned three years previously and was in reasonable condition for good progress. Re-crossing the valley above the forest, we climbed the open button grass which led right up to the top of the pass, near where we located the. H.W.C. camp-site (1800' - 81/2m. - 3.0-11 p.m.).

From the exposed hillside a little beyond, we had a clear view of the country ahead but, unfortunately, at this stage we were unable to recognise sufficient of the new features ahead to be certain of our course. Thus it was excusable that we should mistake a high mountain (probably Cinder Hill) for the high peak of the Propstings and a section of Innes' Long Ridge for Cinder Hill. Actually, little of the Propstings (the northern tip only) were showing, although part of Doherty Ground and the Frankland R. valley were very conspicuous.

We mapped out a course via the crest of the long, clear, tapering descent ridge leading westward to the low plain, and followed this down to its "scrub-burn", where we turned to the left, reached the plain, crossed the North Frankland and ascended the low, clear shoulder of the opposite low ridge, which we believed to be Innes' Long Ridge. After descending to the next plain, we crossed the South Frankland R. (520' - 111/2m. - 4.30-40 p.m.) and soon commenced shouldering a much higher and clearer ridge beyond. From the crest of this ridge, we expected to find the Davey River in the valley between us and the high peak beyond (the one thought to be the high peak of the Propstings) but we soon were disillusioned. As we followed the high ridge north-westwards, the full extent of our error became more and more apparent and it began to dawn upon us that this must truly be Innes' Long Ridge and the high peak probably Cinder Hill. A white patch amongst the trees in the valley on our left intrigued us and, when almost opposite, it became apparent that this must be the prospectors' Cinder Hill camp. So, with night beginning to approach and the Propstings still out of vision, we elected to descend down to the camp where we halted for the night (400' - 151/2m. - 7.20 p.m.). The camp occupied a sheltered position alongside a small stream on the edge of a mixed forest patch.

The morning of Wednesday 26th. dawned clear and promising and it appeared essential that the Propstings must be forced in a day's march to and from this camp if we were to succeed on our mission. Obviously, such a plan meant a rather severe day across country which we had not had the opportunity of a close inspection. At this stage, Bessie (who was finding it difficult to regain her true form and already was showing signs of weariness) declined to continue, whilst insisting that the effort should be undertaken. Thus, Chris and I left the camp at 6.50 a.m. and followed the valley to the N.W. until we reached the edge of the low ridge on our left, whereupon we commenced turning [into] it, with the Frankland River showing up near at hand in the valley below, with a substantial ribbon of forest along its banks.

We rounded the bend, bringing the whole of the Propstings into view, and increased our height on the ridge-side so that we could halt and plan our course (2m. - 7.45-8.5 a.m.). After some consideration, we favoured the central peak of the three higher ones on the range as the highest by a small margin over the northern peak, and we mapped a route to it via Middle Ground. Most of this course would lead through the area affected by that extensive fire of last year.

The Propstings looked very attractive and the sight of them keenly whetted our appetite for the climb ahead. Descending immediately to the plain, we tackled the Frankland forest at its narrowest collar, crossing its two substantial river beds on logs through a fine forest in which King Billies were well represented, and reaching the clearing beyond (200' - 21/2m. - 8.40 a.m.). Then we crossed the burnt button grass an2d low ti~tree of Middle Ground, still heading for the high peak of the Propstings, passing the small pool on our left and working down into what appeared to be the narrowest belt of timber banking the Hardwood River. A narrow ti-tree-bauera collar was all that separated us from the black, placid depths of the Hardwood and we crossed this on a large bowed log a little upstream. We spent a little time on the far bank (180' - 4m. - 9.20-45 a.m.), eating a few raisins and marking our crossing point with stakes on the clear plain beyond.

From the narrow plain, we immediately climbed the low, clear ridge above, gaining the crest at 10 a.m. and seeing Longley's Ground for the first time. This was quite an extensive undulating basin fringed with hills and covered mainly with burnt button grass and ti-tree and a few unburned thickets and extending right to the base of the Propsting Range. Planning a course through the clearest section as far as the base of our apparently clear climbing ridge, we proceeded westward, crossing tiny creeks on the way and then the major creek - Hardwood Creek (7m. - 11.12 a.m.), where the rapids pour into the "Swimming Pool" over a large slab of mica-schist.

We pressed on to the base of the climbing ridge before we halted for lunch (650' - 8m. - 11.38 a.m.-12.5 p.m.) - a "dry" lunch out in the hot sunshine. Perspiration came apace as the steep ascent began and soon Chris opened up a substantial lead. Half-way up, low head-high scrub that had evaded the recent "burn" slowed up progress and increased the strain. As the scrub shrank approaching the rocks, we re-united and both appreciated the freer going on the high rocks and alpine growth. We topped the first (eastern summit) of this triple-headed peak at 1.35 p.m., descended a little and hastened on to climb the second, central and highest summit of the Propstings' major peak (3000' - 101/2m. - 1.45 p.m.).

There were quite a number of clouds about and rather considerable haze, but the panorama was fairly extensive and particularly interesting. Time, of course, would not permit us the unhurried inspection we would have preferred. A glimpse to the south and west revealed inaccuracies and limitations in the S.W. Sketch Map. Broad button grass plains provided other unnamed "grounds" amidst the hills, and the presence of uncharted streams and hills was revealed. Port Davey and three stretches of West Coast beaches were visible. The West Coast Mts., Eldon Peak, Frenchman's Cap (with north peak of Propstings in foreground), High Dome, Reserve Mts., Junction Ra. (?), Mt. Sprent, the long line of the Franklands (above which rose the Denisons, Thumbs, Fields and High Rocky), Cinder Hill, the Anne group, Mts. Giblin, Weld, the long impressive mt. south of Giblin, Picton, West Portal, Eastern Arthurs, Federation Peak and Precipitous Bluff were the main features in a sweep of the panorama. The creamy basin of Longley's Ground and the plains of the Davey, Frankland and Hardwood Rivers supplied an absorbing foreground.

At 2.55 p.m. we left the summit, realising that fast time would have to be maintained all the way if we were to reach the Cinder Hill camp before dark. Good progress was made back down to the base of the climbing ridge (13m. - 3.45 p.m.), from which a clearer course was found to the Hardwood Creek crossing (14m. - 4.10-30 p.m.). After some refreshments, we resumed and, despite a little orchid gathering, gained the crest of the low ridge overlooking the Hardwood plain (161/2m. - 5.40 p.m.).

Re-crossing the Hardwood River, our progress across Middle Ground was marred by the failure to pick a good course, our more southerly route taking in more burnt ti-tree and swamp. Entering the forest of the Frankland River (200' - 181/2m. - 7 p.m.), our early progress to the first stream was good but thereafter the choice of course brought some unnecessary scrub-bashing, and the button grass was not reached until 7.45 p.m. Darkness descended as we commenced traversing the ridge-side ahead and, as we turned the corner of the ridge, we were groping in real darkness. Each tiny depression looked like a tremendous abyss and each rise looked a formidable mountain with scrub appearing to close in on all sides. Our stamina was being severely tested and our physical resources were at breaking point when a fire suddenly burst the gloom on a rise a short distance ahead. True to arrangement, Bessie was providing the beacon we so badly needed and she joined us a few moments later and all we had to do was blunder on in her wake towards the camp, a short distance on, where she had our dinner waiting (400' - 21m. - 8.45 p.m.). We learned during dinner of her activities during the day, including the ascent of Cinder Hill.

The morning of Thursday was windy with an overcast sky. We were away at 8.24 a.m. on our return to Lake Pedder. Ascending to the crest of Long Ridge immediately, we descended to the Frankland valley after a short ridge traverse, crossing the river lower down and rounding the western edge of the low ridge ahead. This course was much quicker and fairly clear. After crossing the North Frankland River, we traversed the lower slopes of the Frankland Range, mainly through burnt button grass. Several tiny creeks were passed at frequent intervals. We headed for a shorter ridge leading up to Jones Pass than the one by which we had descended farther to the south. This new ridge was clear and steep and, after a final inspection of the Davey River area before it passed out of sight, we passed on to the H.W.C. camp near the top of the pass (1800' - 6m. - 12.13 p.m.). Lunch was taken at a small creek a little farther down the pass (1750' - 61/4m. - 12.20-1.35 p.m.).

Resuming, we retraced our outward course down Jones Pass, finally rounding the Franklands and reaching Lake Pedder beach (14m. - 4.50 p.m.) and then the Prospectors' Camp (900' - 141/2m. - 5.10 p.m.).

It was raining next morning and we left camp in heavy rain and strong wind at 9.10 a.m.. The plain was rather sodden and the little streams all swollen. Our stop for lunch was made at the Huon Crossing (950' - 8m. - 12.25 p.m.). The rain continued at intervals throughout the day and we plodded steadily onwards to gain our Damper Inn objective towards evening (1400' - 22m. - 7.35 p.m.).

Next day the weather continued wet and we decided to have a day's rest at the hut as we had a spare day left. Thus it was not until the Sunday morning that we set off at 8.15 a.m. on the final leg of our journey, maintaining a good 3 m.p.h. over the early sections of the route. Some floral diversions took added time over the later stage and we reached Rilet's Hut for dinner (860' - 12m. - 12.55 p.m.). It was not until 3.40 p.m. that we started off in the car after changing and grooming. The long journey home continued until 10.30 p.m..
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