EASTER 1954 TRIP TO MTS. LA PEROUSE & HIPPOPOTAMUS
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Party: Misses Betty Frost, Dorrie Piper, Elaine Webber, Bessie Husband, Prudence Auchinachie and Heather Arnold, and Messrs. Chris. Binks, Bill Thompson, Bruce Nicholson, Alan Flood, Max Barnard, Dennis Arnold, Kelvin Viney, Lindsay Crawford, John Wythes and Keith Lancaster (leader).
On Thursday, April 15th. 1954, the Club bus left the G.P.O. at 7.5 p.m., picked up passengers in Wellington St., at Perth and Hobart and travelled on to Geeveston, taking the byroad up to the old mill at the commencement of the Hartz Mt. track, where we stopped for some sleep about 2 a.m.
In the morning the party of five to travel to Hartz Mt. and Adamson's Peak and meet us at Raminea on the Monday were left behind, and the remaining 16 left at 6.15 a.m., having breakfast en route and arriving at Ida Bay (110' - 7.55 a.m.). Tram transport had been arranged with Mr. Donnelly and we were away at 8.10 a.m. in his quaint little train which runs to the limestone quarry about four miles away.
About 2½ miles along the line, we left the train where an old tram track crosses (420' - 8.25 a.m.) and followed this downhill on the right. The tram-line was becoming overgrown and the cross ties were rotting. In the valley below, an old tram branch to the left was taken (150' – ¾m. - 8.43-45 a.m.) and this gradually deteriorated as bauera and cutting grass began to encroach across the path. Slippery and elevated tram rails slowed up some members of the party, but at last the end of the tram was reached (2m. - 9.53 a.m.).
Our route then followed up an old shoe track for a short distance and then curved around the hillside through more cutting grass. Here the berries were out in profusion – aristotelias of all colours from white to black, red-berried coprosmas, cyathodes, drymys, hovea and, farther back, the drymophila (turquoise berry). The cutting grass tangle was left behind as the "La Perouse 8 miles" sign was gained on the edge of the myrtle forest (920’ – 2½m. - 10.15-22 a.m.) and a much clearer course appeared. Progress, however, continued somewhat slow as we were able to go no faster than the weakest link. At length the steady ascent through the myrtle, where the bright pink prionotes adorned the trunks, ended as a ridge 'scarp. was gained (1850' - 4m. - 11.40-50 a.m.) and it was a short walk through ti-tree, banksia and cutting grass to our lunch spot at the small stream beyond (1800' – 4¼m. - noon).
The cutting grass proved of some value when fire-lighting time commenced. Clouds were thickening all around and tipping the higher hills, and rain appeared imminent. A magnetic compass check was taken as an emergency measure: Hill 1, 240 deg.; the rise ahead, 220; the homeward route, 80, just north of some high dead trees.
Resuming at 1.15 p.m., we crossed to the crown of the nearby ridge and followed the crown up through button grass and light scrub towards the higher ridge southwards. Approaching the higher ridge, the vegetation thickened but luck was with us as we stum¬bled upon an old track which led us through into thinning scrub. Near the top of the high ridge (2270' – 5½m. - 2.5-12 p.m.), we turned westwards, threading our way through generally clear country towards Hill 1. Progress had improved somewhat after dinner, but deterioration was in evidence as we passed a good stream and fair camp below Hill 1, and the ascent through low scopari commenced. There were several brief rests before the party gained the summit of Hill 1 (3300' - 8m. - 4.8-30 p.m.), where thick, low cloud prevented sight-seeing opportunities. A magnetic bearing was taken when cloud conditions permitted: Hill 2, 240 deg.; homeward route, 130 deg.
The way was fairly clear now across alpine, undulating, sandstone country. We passed the recent H.W.C. campsite below the Hill 1-2 col and shouldered Hill 2. Cloud conditions were worsening considerably and it became obvious that progress could not be stepped up sufficiently to gain the lagoon camp-site before dark. Accordingly, we searched the slopes below the Hill 2-3 col for a satisfactory camp-site but without success. The cold N.W. wind urged an early decision, so I elected to retrace our steps back to the H.W.C. camp-site in spite of its unprepossessing appearance with low clouds surging all around.
Descending down to the H.W.C. camp-site (2960' - 10m. - 6 p.m.), we were pleasantly surprised to find it better than anticipated, although tent-poles and dry camp-sites were hard to find. It was not long before all had settled in, the majority preferring a cold meal rather than attempt fire-lighting in the rain. All had retired by about 8.30 p.m. and considerable rain fell throughout the night. Most camps had some difficulty with water which found its way into the tents and a wet, cloudy morning brought little activity from members.
During the morning as conditions improved, some ventured out to scoop out drains to protect the tents, and later fires were lit and drying out attempted. After lunch a walk was undertaken, Chris, Elaine, Bill, Max and Alan tackling Mt. Hippo and most of the remainder rambling along to Hill 4 to inspect the view. The clouds, of course, restricted opportunities but we were able to see the lower sections of La Perouse, Wylly, Precipitous, V.C., Bobs, Picton, Hartz and Adamson' s, whilst Moore's Bridge, the glacial cirques and the ancient landslips nearer at hand all rewarded examination.
That night it was fine and cool with an early morning frost. A La Perouse party was away at 8 a.m. and a Hippo party at 8.40 a.m. The clouds were higher and the hilltop views extended to Federation, Anne, Field West, the Snowies, Weld and the Wellingtons, whilst the interesting coastline to the south and east claimed much attention. Both parties achieved their objective, the Hippo party gaining the summit (3100’ - 2m. - 9.50 a.m.) after a good scramble up broken dolerite. Both parties were back at camp by midday.
After lunching and packing up, sections of the party set out from soon after 1 p.m. to 1.38 p.m. for the proposed campsite at Friday's lunch spot. Beyond Hill 1 the parties converged into two groups. The descent down to the low ridge crown was made through thicker scrub, but all were at the campsite by 5 p.m. (1800’ – 8¼m.). Dry camp sites were scarce and thus tents were spread out somewhat around the water supply. All turned in reasonably early.
Monday morning was cloudy but fine and all were astir early and the start homeward commenced at 8.12 a.m.. An effort was made at blazing the route through the overgrown section just ahead, and was continued down through the myrtle below the escarpment as far as the wooden tram track. The result must represent a 100% improvement, but re-growth will necessitate continual attention. A better plan would be write off the old tram route and cut a trail from the myrtle straight down to the end of the train line at the limestone quarry. We reached the "La Perouse 8 miles" sign (920' – 1¾m. - 9 a.m.) and, after botanical diversions by some, track work by others and leisurely progress by the remainder, the train line was reached (420' – 4¼m. - 11 p.m.). Then we followed the line down a gradual descent until we reached its terminus and the bus (110’ – 6¾m. - noon). Away at 12.10 p.m. after visiting Mr. Donnelly, we drove to the tepid pool chalet near Hastings. Here we had hoped to meet our other Easter party which were climbing Hartz Mt. and Adamson's Peak but they were not there. We had lunch and bathed in the tepid pool - an unusual experience and quite warm enough despite the cool conditions and light sprinkle. We resumed in the bus at 2.35 p.m..
Arriving at Raminea at 3.10 p.m., we failed to find our other party there but were not surprised as we fully expected that the bad weather of Saturday had prevented them from getting past the Hartz Hut and that they would return back down the Hartz track to Geeveston. We drove to Geeveston (4 p.m.) and then up to the Geeveston mill to find that the party had not returned to that point.
It was evident now that something was amiss, so we decided to return to Raminea and make enquiries. At Raminea there was still no sign of the party and a telephone call to the tepid pool chalet disclosed that they were not there, also. After exploring the road leading towards Adamson's Peak and making enquiries, I decided to return to Geeveston as a last resort. The party was then over three hours overdue (6.10 p.m.) and I had a feeling that further waiting was futile as darkness was approaching and I fully expected that the party had encountered cloud trouble on the high plateau and decided to stay put until the weather cleared.
At Geeveston, we were unable to find any trace of our absent party, so I sanctioned the return home of the bus to Launceston, devising en route plans for any necessary search and the notification of relatives. The party arrived at Launceston at 1 a.m. due to the excellent work of the river, Kelvin Viney.
Next day, due to parental anxiety, much undue publicity was given to
the delay of our other party and officials had quite a harrying time.
However, the party arrived home about 5 p.m. and relieved the situation
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