HIGHLAND LAKE COUNTRY
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On Friday, Jan. 23rd. 1959, I left Launceston at 7.30 p.m. with Marcus Smith in his car on a three-day trip covering the Traveller Range, the Mts. of Jupiter and Mt. Oana. We made good progress to Derwent Bridge where we learned of the existence of the old "hall" across the river and ultimately retired to it at 12.7 a.m. (2390’).
We were away at 7.35 a.m. on Saturday under a bright, cloudless sky, driving eastward along the Lyell Highway until we reached the hut on the left, practically opposite the Mt. Charles homestead (8 a.m.). A brief chat with the sole resident presaged our resumption on foot at 8.5 a.m. In accordance with directions just received, we headed northward, past a small pine tree and alongside a wire fence on a jeep track which soon emerged on the plain as a pack track. Through a light gum area, painted markers on the trees indicated the route which re-emerged for a while on the plain and then re-entered the gums.
The track developed into quite a well worn pad and gradually rose, crossing a creek (1½m. - 8.40 a.m.). The ascent steepened through the open forest as the gully of the Travellers Rest River closes in slowly on the left. Two short spells were taken on the climb, and on the crest of the rise we reached a small hut suitable for an overnight stay for 5 to 6 people (3200’ - 4m. - 9:45-50 a.m.). A tiny creek was crossed 200 yds. farther along with a semi-open plain laying in a shallow trough a little to our left. The sun was becoming very warm as we pressed forward on the same bearing on level ground with the track becoming weaker every moment.
We halted at the next creek (6m. - 10.45 a.m.) to check the map as the track had vanished. Then we swung to the left, almost immediately sighting a small lake to our left. In a dry gully a little further along we “froze” as a half grown Tasmanian Devil ambled out, apparently seeking water to appease a natural thirst. He went by within a few feet but the hasty camera shot gave only a mediocre record, doubtlessly due to the excitement and unexpectedness of the visit. We angled down to the shore of Travellers Rest Lake (7m. - 11.25 a.m.), at a point about ¾m. from its southern end. We continued north, following the eastern shore whilst it remained open, but later had to skirt it a little as the scrub increased. At a convenient spot near the northern end we stopped for a swim (3200’ - 9m. - 12.30 p.m.), a most enjoyable refresher from the intense heat.
After lunch we continued up to the lake's inflow (3200’ – 9½m. - 2.45 p.m.) and followed up the stream's eastern bank through generally clear going until the first lake was reached (12m. - 3.50 p.m.). Here we crossed the stream, thus entering the Cradle Mt. - Lake St. Clair National Park. Skirting around the western shore of the lake, we reached its N.W. corner (3600' – 12½m. - 4.5 p.m.) and stopped for another swim, encour¬aged by a high humidity.
Off again at 4.28 p.m., we headed N.N.W., climbing over a high rise to avoid the two associated lakes on our left. Then we crossed a valley to pass the eastern end of the upper of the two lakes (one possessing an island) and ascended a further high rise. Heavy clouds were rolling in from the N.W. and visibility was deteriorating. Temporarily we had navigational trouble as sufficient of the lakes ahead were not showing and these were the main identifying features. We descended uncertainly for a while, passed a small tarn and then arrived dead centre at the lake we were seeking, obliging us to make a scrubby traverse to the left to reach its western edge (3900' – 14½m. - 5.45 p.m.).
Resuming at 6 p.m. in a light sprinkle, we ascended a little and passed the next tarn on its east, swung around it and climbed the light rise beyond, inadvertently turning too far south and temporarily became non-plussed as the shape of the next lake and the magnification created by the mist gave it the illusion of being Lake Payanna, although the compass argued against it on the logic of direction. After much poring over the maps, the conundrum was solved. The lake in question to the S.W. was but another of the hundreds of unnamed ones and only a tenth of the size of Payanna, though copying its shape.
We realised that our objective, Lake Riengana, must be down in the deep valley to the W.N.W. and turned that way, traversing along the high ridge and then descending the steep, scrubby slopes to the lake shore and around to its northern end (3450’ - 17m. - 7.35 p.m.). We chose an excellent campsite nearby and the chores proceeded to the accompaniment of thunder and lightning. Apart from the comforts and position of the site, it was also most favourably blessed scenically and strategically with the high peak of the Traveller Range rising above to the west and the pine-fringed lake-shore making it the prettiest lake so far encountered. We retired at 10.45 p.m. as a light sprinkle began. The night was humid, enticing many mosquitoes to sally forth on their gory quest. Sunday dawned unsettled. Overnight rain and early morning showers delayed our rising, but breakfast was enjoyed under fine conditions. At 8.45 a.m. we started off packless around the lake for a few yards to the base of the rock slide running down from the high peak above. Then it was up the rock slide and the consequent gully to the top of the western peak of the high massif (4250’ – 1¼m. - 9.30 a.m.). The clouds were relatively high but capped all the higher peaks and limited the view. The immediate surroundings [Traveller Range] were really picturesque - the lake below, the valley leading to Mt. Ida, and the nearby lakes. The adjoining eastern peak was obviously higher, so we crossed over (4300’ – 1¾m. - 10 a.m.) to what must be the highest summit along the Traveller Range. A relatively clear route seemed to exist between Lakes Riengana and Payanna towards the Mts. of Jupiter, our next alpine objective. At 10.10 a.m. we started back for camp down over the side and encountered little trouble in regaining it (3450’ – 2¾m. - 10.30 a.m.).
As a light shower was in progress and possibilities of fine periods seemed remote, we had a light lunch before setting off fully laden at 11.22 a.m. Our course was northward, following up the inflow from Lake Payanna. Once through the tangle of fagus, the course was fairly open and we were on the main climb and in sight of Lake Payanna (3½m. - 11.50 a.m.). We traversed around the eastern side of the lake through mixed scrub, keeping 100 yds. up from the shore to avoid tougher going. Passing above the eastern arm of the lake (5m. – 12.30 p.m.), the weather was giving further signs of deterioration with lowering clouds and a continuous light sprinkle. Continuing north, we climbed a low rise and headed for the high part of the Mts. of Jupiter. The higher we climbed the more open and easier our course became. We halted for lunch near the crest of the northern Jupiters, huddling up and munching away in steady rain (1.35-2 p.m.).
We were on the crest at 2.10 p.m. in heavy rain, cold and mist. Sighting a high peak through the mist to the north, we dumped packs and pushed on to a high cairned top (4330’ - 8m. - 2.30 p.m.), which I confidently feel marks the highest point of the Mts. of Jupiter. We crossed back to our packs at 2.45 p.m., still in heavy rain, giving rise to the thought that these must surely be the Mts. of Jupiter Pluvius.
Our course now changed to S.E. to a further high section of the mountain group and then nearly south to a further high section, from which we headed east to pass between two elevated lakes which drain into the central of the Ling Roth Lakes. A compass check from our position on the ridge crest at 4 p.m. gave the general direction of the central Ling Roth Lake as 60 deg. mag. and Lake Norman (just sighted) as 100 deg. mag.
Our eastward course was steadily curving S.E. as we worked around the eastern edge of the high country, slowly descending and seeking a good route down to the south of Lake Norman en route to Mt. Oana. We passed two tarns to reach the edge of the alpine shelf at 5 p.m. with Lake Norman still showing through the mist at 100 deg. We encountered fairly good going down the ridges towards the lake, although the desirability of adhering to the ridge crests despite their meanderings took us too far south, where we swung towards Lake Lula without knowing it and descended to the plain on its west, still believing it to be Lake Norman.
We settled for a campsite on the western inflow of the lake, some distance short of the lake (3480’ -14½m. - 6.20 p.m.). There was a lull in the rain for half an hour whilst the tent was pitched and the cooking began. Then came a torrential downpour and we were able to shelter inside the tent. Fortunately it ceased just as suddenly and we had a prolonged dry period during which we cooked, ate and dried out much of the wet gear until we were again forced inside at 9.20 p.m. by more rain. A hectic lullaby of terrific thunder then proceeded well into the night.
Despite heavy rain during the night, a cold wind seemed to keep the rain at bay as Monday morning was ushered in and we tardily arose to breakfast. At 9.15 a.m. we set off and soon reached Lake Lula (½m. - 9.25 a.m.). We skirted the southern shores at some distance and had a fair passage around, discovering our error of yesterday on the way. At the eastern tip of the lake, we took a course of 55 deg. mag., climbing up to the top of a high hill (3850’ – 3½m. - 10.42 a.m.). Lakes Lula and Norman were both visible and so was the impressive waterfall on the inflow into Lake Lula from Lake Norman. A couple of tarns lay ahead on the route to Mt. Oana and a pass led away on the left.
We descended past the tarns and threaded our way through light forest for some time before we started climbing the steady slopes of Dana, which was an uneventful and uninspiring ascent with the summit trig. located amongst the bleached gum trunks on top (3920’ – 5¼m. - 11.53 a.m.). The weather was cold and cloudy but remained fine. Lake Malbena dominated the limited view and we also dwelt on an examination of the Nive River route home. A survey peg was located just a few yards south of the trig. point.
After lunch we resumed at 12.50 p.m. on a course of 70 deg. mag. down a good descent route. Passing the southern tip of Lake Malbena (3370’ – 6¼m. - 1.10 p.m.), we encountered clear and then mixed going to reach and cross the Nive River at the lagoons (7¼m. - 1.35 p.m.). The course then changed to S.E. as we followed the Nive River down to Lake Ingrid, passing its outflow (3290’ – 8¼m. - 2.10 p.m.) to reach a swampy tributary on a long narrow lagoon (9¼m. - 2.30 p.m.). Then we passed a larger lagoon, followed by a lake where a recent "burn" had cleared the eastern shores (3120’ – 10¼m. – 3 p.m.).
Resuming after a rest at 3.15 p.m., we failed to sight the inflow of
the Little Nive, although we were in the vicinity at 4.5 p.m. We crossed
a creek inflow from the east (14m. - 5.10 p.m.) and, with the river turning
south, we left it and headed E.N.E., seeking to pick up the jeep track
leading to Gowan Brae. At 5.25 p.m. we changed our course to east and
later to E.S.E. to reach the jeep track at last (16m. - 6.15 p.m.). We
picked the track up much later than intended and thus had only to descend
back to the Nive over cleared paddocks and cross the footbridge to reach
Gowan Brae (2700' – 16¾m. - 6.30 p.m.). By 6.50 p.m. we had
changed, packed our gear into Mark’s car, which we had arranged
to be driven around, and were off for home. We reached Launceston at 11.45
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