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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. 13th. 1987 I left Launceston
with Marcus Smith at 9.30 a.m. and drove via Mole Creek to Cradle Mt., arriving
there soon after midday and parking close to Waldheim. Our objective was
Mt. Romulus on a five-day journey.
At 12.35 p.m. we shouldered packs and started off along the Overland Track in warm sunshine. Passing the Scout Hut turnoff at 1.15 p.m., we ascended steadily along the track to gain the Kitchen Hut at 2.50 p.m.. Heat and poor condition made progress even slower as we continued, passing the Round Trip turnoff at 4 p.m. and reaching the Barn Bluff Track junction at 4.15 p.m..
Resuming after a rest at 4.35 p.m., we covered the flat route across the moor and then climbed up the eroded track to the crest of a steep hill (5.20 p.m.). The track then traversed the crest to reach an adjoining ridge linking it to Barn Bluff. We continued up the side of Barn Bluff until we were close under the jumble of huge rocks at the base of the cliffs.
From here we traversed westward around Barn Bluff through low scrub and rock until we felt we had reached a good position from which to descend towards the base of Mt. Inglis. Dead gums from old fires mingled with substantial regrowth on our downward course which led us to a relatively open shelf where we elected to make camp about 7.30 p.m. amidst some low scrub and gums. Water and wood was nearby and we secured some shelter from an increasing northerly wind. Darkness was with us before we retired and I've experienced much more comfortable camps.
Saturday produced a clear, bright sky, but we made a lethargic start at 8.30 a.m., descending down through the remaining scrub to a broad semi-flat area with low vegetation and soggy patches. From this we chose what appeared a reasonable course up the slopes of Mt. Inglis to surmount the escarpments, but it produced some quite difficult vegetation amongst the trees with scopari being the main culprit. We were relieved indeed to arrive at a tiny open shelf high up the slopes at 11.40 a.m. and, finding a little water there, decided to boil the billy and have lunch.
The warm work not only entailed continuous sweat, but I had been robbed completely of saliva and found swallowing food almost impossible. Our respite over, we had a further hard tussle up the remainder of the climb and at 1.45 p.m. struggled out onto the main ridge of Inglis, about 1/2 km. west of the summit. Here we were able to examine our advance route, although the choice of the ultimate course to Romulus had to be deferred until we reached the crest of Pencil Pine Bluff about 2 km. away to our north.
At 2.5 p.m. we resumed north-westward, descending slightly through clear territory and locating the point where Innes' track reaches the ridge a few hundred metres away. In ascending the high, broad eminence ahead, the indentation of the Innes Track could frequently be seen. Pencil Pine Bluff proved to be much more massive than at first appeared and we did not reach its north-western end until 3.20 p.m. where the Innes Track commenced descending westward.
We had a good view westward from here, but a choice of route to Romulus was no easy decision. Below us westward was a large undulating plain which sloped away to the south-west. There was no adjacent high country that linked us with Romulus, even if my recognition of it was correct. Beyond the western plain was rising high ground but quite heavy timber carpeted its eastern slopes. To the north was a high semi-clear ridge running east-west, but there was no evidence that it would link up with further high ground nearing Romulus. The alternative of following the plain down south of west and climbing Granite Tor to approach Romulus from there was rendered uncertain as the true position of the peak was obscure and likewise its connection.
Heavy clouds were coming in from the west and rain was forecast for tonight and, tired and despondent, we dumped our packs and descended to the plain to examine if a useful campsite existed there. We found no nearby possibility and realised we would have to go a couple of kilometres further before any hope offered. We returned and retrieved our packs and probed about the northern slopes to no effect. Finally we ascended to the pencil pine cluster on top of the bluff and settled there for a well-sheltered site with a comfortable base.
Firewood was adequate but not plentiful, and a nice sloppy hoosh was prepared to enable me a chance of consuming some food. It worked but I still had to struggle. An early camp gave us plenty of time to settle in early, and we were tucked in contentedly when the first raindrops fell. It had become evident to me as the day progressed that there was no possibility of accounting for Mt. Romulus in the five-day period available. It was still practicable for us to go on for another half day or more before returning, but it was questionable if much would be learned from such an exploration. The poor condition of the party had to be considered, and I felt it a good time to suggest what would be a more interesting alternative for my companion and this was readily accepted. On later reflection, I feel I should have explored further.
The rain continued well into the night and low cloud mist surrounded our camp on Sunday morning. However, the sun was out brightly at 9.30 a.m. as we explored a faint pad leading north-eastward. It led through low vegetation down the slopes, across the valley below and uphill towards a distant rocky outcrop that would overlook the Fury Gorge. This could provide an easy course to the nearby east-west ridge that could lead close towards Romulus.
We left our camp on Pencil Pine Bluff (3950') at 10.20 a.m. and retraced our outward route towards Mt Inglis. Despite two brief stops we gained the summit of Mt. Inglis (4050') at 11 a.m.. Viewing and photography came to the fore as the sky had cleared rapidly and time no longer was important.
We confidently chose a better route homeward, and at 11.45 a.m. descended just south of the summit eastward across a broad but tapering ridge to its eastern end and then down through a collar of scrub and forest to an open valley at its base where we halted for lunch (10.25 - 55 a.m.).
The relatively "open" rise beyond was pursued north-eastward through low patchy vegetation which steadily deteriorated into sprawling scopari fagus, etc. which we laboriously climbed above to secure some helpful leads in the forest and eventually come out onto an open crest at 2.25 p.m. on the S.W. of Barn Bluff.
Resuming at 2.40 p.m. we pushed up high and closer to Barn Bluff until relatively close to the cliffs and then began the traverse around its northern side to the track. It was quite a long slog around through varying terrain and quite twice as far as employed on the outward journey, but at length we were there at 4.10 p.m.. Then it was just a stroll down to the adjoining ridge where a vain search for a suitable campsite was made. Onwards again and down the adjoining hill to the flat below where we were able to select a campsite alongside the track at 4.45 p.m..
Monday morning was misty but the sun was winning through as we set off at 9.35 a.m. to reach the Overland Track at 9.50 a.m.. The Round Trip turnoff was passed at 10.20 a.m. and we lunched beyond the Kitchen Hut (12.20 - 1.20 p.m.) and were back at Waldheim at 2.40 p.m..
We visited Lake Dove after changing, and then drove on to Middlesex Plains where we turned off along the road under construction to the Murchison Highway. We explored it for 10 km. on a solid metal surface and then turned off on a branch road to the north and camped about a kilometre along it near a locked gate, beyond which lay a fine view of the Vale of Belvoir. It was a pretty setting for our camp amidst some myrtles, and see scopari growing nearby in neat erect bushes.
Next day it was homeward via Sheffield, climbing Mt. Bell on the way.
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