Keith Lancaster 

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Note: This report has been scanned in as written. I have included the height and time indications, e.g.:
(1300m. – 4267’ - 5 p.m.)
which reads as follows: height in metres - height in feet - time.

1) The relay towers are actually on the lesser peak at 1053 metres. Abbotts Lookout is 660 m. due south and 53 metres higher.

A large high pressure area lay south of the Bight and appeared due to reach Tasmania very shortly as I set out from Launceston on March 16th. 1992 intent upon climbing peaks in the Mt. Field area. Away at 9 a.m. under a promising sunny sky, clouds began to gather as I traveled south and I deemed it wisest to push on to Maydena and tackle the Maydena Range first. I chose to attempt Abbotts Lookout, the highest point on the range and entered the Styx Road at 12.5 p.m.. Passing below the overpass (0.2 km.), I located the Roberts Road turnoff (0.4 km.) on the left between two piles of timber logs. The road was very narrow and hemmed in with regrowth timber most of the way. The grade was comfortable in second gear and the surface reasonable.

I reached a major junction (6.3 km.) at a ridge crest. The road going straight on crosses the ridge to split up with the main section (139-140) curving westward. However, I turned left onto the other bifurcation which was obviously in greater use, and continued climbing up the northern side of the range. I was soon in cloud mist as the tree growth lessened and I came to the end of the road on the high crest (8.3 km.) at 12.28 p.m.. Tall T.V. relay towers occupied the crest with the summit rock cairn and its trig. point (1106m. – 3628’); so this was Abbotts Lookout. 1)

Sheltered from the cold southerly which did nothing to remove the cloudmist or offer a glimpse in any direction, I lunched in the van. The crest was rather exposed and much of the earlier tree growth had been cleared, but there was ample stunted eucalypt regrowth with minor tea tree, hakea, waratah, bauera and cyathodes around.

I left this dolerite crest at 1.25 p.m. in worsening cloud and a light drizzle and drove back down Roberts Road to Maydena. From there I cruised back to National Park in cloud and intermittent sunshine. Then followed the beautiful drive through that remarkable rain forest to Lake Dobson car park at 3.15 p.m.. What a disappointment to experience that south-westerly gale from which shelter was impossible. It was not a pleasant decision to envisage a walk up Mt. Mawson in what daylight was still available, but there was much to be learned by tackling it.

Donning long pants and heavy boots, I set off at 3.45 p.m. along the road beyond the locked gate into the strong wind. The road was in good condition and passed around the eastern sides of Lake Dobson and Eagle Tarn to curve westward in zigzag fashion climbing gradually. At 4.15 p.m. I reached the junction of the Sitzmar Lodge branch and turned southward along it to pass the lodge and ski huts at 4.22 p.m. and ascend the Mawson ski tow trail. This brought me out onto an alpine plateau from which Mt. Mawson summit was visible in the west.

The powerful south-westerly gale ensured me a struggle to reach its misty top (1300m. – 4267’ - 5 p.m.) and I lost little time in heading back as time was running out. I retraced the outward course and regained the van at 5.50 p.m. Up went the van hood in order that the evening meal could be heated, but it was pulled down again as soon as possible. The gale developed in force and I sought a better parking spot but it had little effect. I turned in at dusk, hoping for a weather improvement by morning to start out.

Daylight was slow in materialising next morning after a wild night. Light rain was falling, but it was the wind that dominated. The now intense gale came in tremendous bursts, roaring through the trees and illustrating the path of each successive gust with the bending of the branches and the crashing of leaves. It was bedlam, and an ordeal to open a door and get out. I had a cold breakfast and waited hopefully but even the radio weather report was bad. At 8.15 a.m. I lost hope and left the gale, rain and low mist behind and drove back down the road to the park entrance where it was still raining and windy. My journey back to Launceston was accompanied all the way by a strong sou'-westerly but the sky brightened as I neared home.

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