ALGONKIAN JUNGLE MOUNTAIN
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.
On Friday, Feb. 28th., 1962, a party of 20 members of the L.M.C. left Launceston at 7.30 p.m. for the Jane River Track. Travelling in the Club bus via the Bass, Lake and Lyell Highways, we reached the King William H.E.C. hut at 12.15 a.m. Our plan was to camp the night here, but vandalism had reduced the hut to a shambles and quite a deal of cleaning up and improvisation en-sued before a reasonable shelter was available.

After a cool night we were astir before 6 a.m. After break-fast we set off at 7.45 a.m. in the bus for the Jane River Track. The bus was parked at 8.5 a.m. opposite the huts, all rapidly deteriorating due to senseless vandalism. There was quite a delay at the first obstacle, the jay wire crossing of the Frank-land but all were safely across at 8.40 a.m. and we started along the "New" Jane River Track under a clear sky with the sun rapidly becoming warm.

The early stage of the track was becoming somewhat overgrown, though insufficient to cause much delay. We crossed Carbonate Creek and reached the first Loddon (1410' - 5m. - 10.5-18 a.m.). The party held together well to the foot of Margaret Pass (8m. - 11.5 a.m.) but became well strung out on the steep climb. Half a mile over the pass, a stop for lunch was made at the first stream, the party arriving in small groups and seeking shelter from the hot sun.

At 1.5 p.m. we resumed along the track, the heat not being conducive to a fast pace. We reached the Erebus River (1300' - 13m. - 2.55 p.m.) and halted whilst the party sorted itself out into its respective groups. The party of twelve destined for Algonkian set off at 3.15 p.m. and halted again after mile (3.28 p.m.) whilst changes in clothing were effected before tack-ling the trackless portion of the journey.

At 3.40 p.m. we left the track, starting off on a clear lead on a bearing of 108 deg. mag., roughly the direction of our goal. Very hot weather caused frequent spells. The going was relatively open except for one short passage of thick scrub which could have been avoided with better luck. There was one long spell whilst we waited for Arnold to recover from a bout of cramp. We contin-ued through an area which had been substantially "burned" many years ago, but now had some sizeable regrowth. Then a descent eastward commenced - down through healthy button grass and bleached tree trunks to find scattered campsites in a valley through which the Algonkian Rivulet flowed with the mountain rising steeply behind (1400' - 16m. - 5 p.m.).

The sun blazed from an untrammelled sky as we hurried over breakfast, and it was a relief to have everyone on the move east-ward before 8 a.m. across the last button grass opening we could expect to see prior to our return. The great mountain rose steeply just across the Rivulet, its slopes swathed in various shades of green, each giving a clue to the identity of the vegetation likely to be encountered in each area. Here was the place to select the course of ascent, bearing in mind the direction of the ridges and the position of the upper rock outcrops. Opportunity would not recur in the approaching forest.

In a few minutes we reached the Rivulet, and then followed up the western bank along the crest of a low ridge which had been denuded of vegetation by some bygone fire. Only 15 min. from camp we vacated the ridge crest and descended to cross the stream, and maintain an ascent route on a mag. course of 120 deg. We were in a typical rain forest amidst tall myrtle, sassafras and leatherwood with heath tree, pandanni, horizontal and tree fern forming an undergrowth of reasonable penetrability. Moss, a good 2" thick, seemed to cover everything in this cool retreat, secure from the sun's heat.

For half a mile our course undulated before the ascent began, and here it was pleasingly clear beneath the preponderating sassafras. However, our course worsened gradually as horizontal and fallen trees became more plentiful, and incursions of cutting grass would bar the way. At 10 a.m. we passed around a large quartzite outcrop to vacate our ridge and enter a broad intervening gully bordering the next ridge to the left. Here we had a short rest before starting up towards the final climb through a forest of large "paper barks" and an abundance of thriving cutting grass - easily the toughest going yet encountered.

As we climbed, the tree-growth became more dwarfed, and banksia, tree heath and white waratah in glorious blossom became intermingled. The ti-tree was only head high and very thickly packed, when we reached the first glistening quartzite outcrop. Here we turned right into a small gully, where King Billy Pine and pandanni provided shelter from the torrid sun, and a much easier walking course. Water, wonderful, indispensable water was found here, and we halted once more to regale ourselves with its irresistible coolness, and planned to return here after the ascent, despite the high proportion of muddy discoloration in its composition.

Off again at 11.30 a.m., we followed the King Lillies upwards and then emerged into low tree growth, ti-tree, myrtle and scoparia which steadily decreased in size until it became easy to handle, and the final few yards to the summit was through growth only inches high. Breasting Algonkian's top at midday, a feeling of triumph predominated as our gaze swept around fruitlessly for some sign of earlier visitors. True, there were wombat pads galore and ample evidence of the existence of wallabies, but of human contact, none was evident.

Our gaze wandered further afield to the more distant features, but there was some fascination about this remarkable green mountaintop that kept claiming our attention. No rocky pinnacle was this, no bare treeless crest, but a tapering green summit broken here and there by a gleaming quartzite outcrop. The ridge crest dropped and then continued northwards along a sparsely clothed summit lined with wombat pads. The same pattern was repeated southwards. Elsewhere, thick vegetation was ever in evidence, great patches of fagus appearing over to the east. Our eyes followed the northern ridge N.E. towards the King Williams, and the ridge linking Algonkian to the Prince of Wales Range looked a reasonable proposition from here, but I guess there would be many heartaches before it could be reached.

The whole south-eastern skyline was monopolised by the Prince of Wales Range - higher, clearer and much more rugged, with the Southern Needles silhouetted to perfection. To the west, the forest was broken in many places by button grass openings, and further afield could be seen the wholesale destruction caused by countless fires. The distant horizons revealed mountains galore from the West and South Coasts to Tasmania's centre - the Eldons, Frenchmans Cap, the Du Canes, the King Williams, the Denisons, the Spires, Clear Hill, Mt. Wedge, the Arthurs, the Franklands, and many others. The more we looked the more we could determine, but unfortunately we seldom have the time adequately to rhapsodise over the attractions. Time was running out, for we must return to our lunch spot soon if we were to complete our return to camp before nightfall and fulfil the rest of our commitments. Reluctantly we turned away and started homewards, but each with a glorious feeling of a climb well done and amply rewarded.

Leaving the 3600' summit at 12.45 p.m., we retraced our steps to the water and our packs in the King Billies and had lunch (1.10-45 p.m.). Then we took the same course back to the quartzite outcrop and, maintaining a course of 280-300 deg. mag., kept close to our outward course without actually contacting it. Our course was quite good until we reached a low-level creek and here it was really bad through dense scrub until we emerged on open plain at 4.30 p.m. alongside the Algonkian Rivt. Just opposite our campsite. It was but a short walk through an old "burn" and down to camp (4.45 p.m.).

We packed up and were away at 5.25 p.m. and selected quite a good course to regain the Jane River Track (6.35 p.m.) and carry on to the Erebus (6.48-52 p.m.). As the good campsites were all occupied by the Jane River party, we decided to push on to Best Rivulet and made camp there at 7.20 p.m. (1480').

Next morning we were away at 8.45 a.m., a little behind the other party. At the top of Margaret Pass, Kevin Cox and I left the track at 11 a.m. to explore the route to Mt. Emma but soon encountered horizontal and at 11.40 a.m. we secured a distant view of the mountain across a deep wooded gully, realising it was completely beyond us in the time available.

We were back at the pass at 12.15 p.m., resumed at 12.35 p.m. and had lunch at the foot of the pass (1.15 - 2.10 p.m.). In spite of a fast pace outward, we failed to overhaul any of the party and reached the Franklin River at 4.25 p.m., had a swim and soon set off homewards in the bus.
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