DIAL RANGE AGAIN
|Home to Index|
On Friday, 17th. Dec. 1993 the call of the high hills became too strong to longer resist after a severe fall on my back had hampered me for over a month. I was far from fully fit and decided upon a simpler introduction by re-visiting the Dial Range.
I left Launceston at 8.30 a.m. and drove along the Bass Highway to Penguin. I left the highway where the Dial Road branches off and travelled south along it with gravel replacing bitumen as it wound through a fine forest on the eastern side of the Dial Range.
I parked my van where the good section of the Dial Road ended, had lunch and changed into my bush clobber. I realised that the road must provide an access to Dial Peak in this vicinity, but had no information upon the route. A sign had indicated a track to Mt. Montgomery about a kilo. before I'd halted, but nothing indicated a route to Mt. Dial.
I set off at 11.40 a.m. up the steep continuation of Dial Road and 200 metres along encountered the following notice on my left: "Horse trail and Walking track only" pointing to left, plus "beyond this point" which to me was rather inconclusive as the road was continuing onwards somewhere.
I turned off on this track to some undisclosed destination, finding a few tiny creek crossings on what seemed an old 4WD road. After a while the course narrowed, deteriorated and began to climb and soon would have become tough on any horse. I persevered and reached a sign at 12.15 p.m. which read: "walking track only - Gnomon" on my right.
Here was something concrete, and I took the steeper track up the eucalypt clad hillside. Farther up the ascent I reached a further sign: " «Gnomon - Tall Trees track?» " at 12.35 p.m.. Still pushing upward, at a bifurcation of the track two further signs appeared at 12.48 p.m.: "Mt. Dial" on left and "Gnomon" on right. I took the latter steeply up through low tea tree to reach the ragged crest of Gnomon (1509' - 460m. - 12.55 p.m.).
The summit was very exposed to the N.E. wind, and with the sky semi-overcast I soon cooled down. Eucalypts were still just as plentiful around the summit and there was an abundance of variety in the underscrub. I had a good view of The Dial to the north and the Gunns Plains district to the east.
I left the top at 1.5 p.m., retraced my route back to the bifurcation at 1.9 p.m., and set off along the Mt. Dial track. This curved around the western shoulder of The Gnomon and at 1.13 p.m. I passed another branch leading to the top of The Gnomon. The track continued on northward and was becoming rather overgrows by 2-3 metre high growth. It alternated up and down through a wide variety of light tree growth below the omnipresent eucalypts. Glimpses of the farmland in the Pine Road area often appeared.
The trees and rocks eventually were replaced by bracken on a flat plain as the track curved around to reach the summit of Mt. Dial in a maze of rock and jumbled scrub (1443’ - 440m. - 2.15 p.m.), where the eucalypts kept visibility rather restricted.
I returned a short distance to the edge of the bracken where a track turned off near a red triangle marker on a tree (2.20 p.m.). I decided to follow this in the hope it would take me to where I could see the cliff wall of the Dial. It ran through a mixture of fern and small trees, curving around and slowly descending and at 2.40 p.m. it seemed to be heading directly at Mt. Montgomery with seascapes to the north. Consequently I abandoned it.
At 2.55 p.m. I regained the red triangle junction and started back for the van. At 3.40 p.m. I passed the second turnoff to the Gnomon summit and regained the Dial-Gnomon bifurcation at 3.46 p.m.. It was then steeply downhill to reach the Tall Trees track at 3.55 p.m., the horse trail section at 4.8 p.m., the Dial Road at 4.34 p.m. and the van at 4.36 p.m..
After dinner, a change and a rest, I drove back to Penguin and on to Riana. I sought information about Mt. Riana from the postmaster and one of the locals and learned that Cookes Road, which turned off on the left about 200 metres west of the post office, was the best access route, there was no foot track but the peak would be best approached from anywhere between 2 & 3 km. along the road. I accepted their suggestion to spend the night at their local caravan park.
After a pleasant night, Saturday arrived with a cloudless sky and I was away at 8 a.m. along Cookes Road. I passed through a broken gate after about 2 km. and parked the van half a km. farther on past a bend in the road. I began my walk at 8.25 a.m. and decided to walk a little farther along the road beyond the creek crossing where I sighted the sign "Hales Road". This was not a branch road but a name change for the road.
As it started off steeply uphill, I chose to follow it with the thought that a hundred feet higher elevation should make the course a little easier. At its top I entered the bush at 8.40 a.m. heading N.W., with Mt. Duncan near at hand in the N.E..
The mountain was covered by a eucalypt forest with generally dense undergrowth consisting of practically every variety of small tree or shrub or fern that a preponderant eucalyptus forest could contain. My entry was into a five metres high copse including tea trees mingled with healthy bracken and closely compacted shrubs, and my progress was slow and tedious from the start.
The early ascent was gradual and rock soon appeared. At times larger trees would lessen the incessant obstruction of the tangled undergrowth but such respites were of short duration. Rock outcrops suddenly would occur and further hinder progress. My course was directly upward, and as I progressed farther westward I reached a higher rock outcrop which engendered hope that the summit was near.
Upon gaining its top I was able to see a higher rocky outcrop some distance westward and I was obliged to descend considerably before starting to climb up through thick scrub and rock to the next height. The crest of that rocky crag just led to a still further replica and from that I was able to see a higher wooded elevation still further westward. Even when this was gained and I could see nothing higher ahead I found no obvious outcrop with which to pin-point an absolute summit. I clambered around searching vainly through the whole maze of vegetation clustered below the eucalypts and had no alternative but to accept that I must be occupying the true summit of Mt. Riana (1706’ - 520m. - 10.55 a.m.).
At 11 a.m. I began my retreat. My journey up had shown me the mountain was heavily wooded all over, completely trackless and of an east-west ridge formation. A return via my ascent route did not appeal. I planned to descend diagonally on the southern side to get below the upper rock wall and keep edging to the east.
This policy seemed to pay dividends for I was able to get below the rock wall easier than expected, and I could handle the forest growth better as I was making a gradual descent most of the time. I encountered a creek about noon and its cool water was most refreshing on such a hot day. However, it created a gully which had to be outmaneuvered, but it found a way later of reappearing armed with healthy cutting grass and ferns. After a skirmish I managed to cross the gully and soon after entered an old logging track at 12.30 p.m..
I followed this down to where there was a recent gravel pit, a derelict hut and a dump of wrecked vehicles at 12.40 p.m.. About 200 metres away was a house and a good road. I called at the house at 12.50 p.m., had a long chat with the occupier who said I was within a mile of my van. Leaving him at 1.10 p.m. I trudged along farther eastward to regain the van at 1.30 p.m. tired but satisfied.
Copious drinks of coffee and cordial followed as liquid was far more urgent than food. The drive homeward was leisurely and journey's end was gained at 5 p.m..
|Home to Index|
If you would like more information on Keith Lancaster's diaries, please feel free to send me an email.