Southwest Tasmania Traverse – The West Coast


The traverse of Southwest Tasmania consisted of two major levels – the west coast adopted by the Arthurs Vary. The abstract beneath is from the primary stage, a 17 day stretch from Cape Sorrell to Scotts Peak Dam.

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Cape Sorrell Lighthouse

Observe: For folk which have already learn the preliminary journey overview, a lot of the knowledge discovered within the logistics, maps and resupply sections has beforehand been lined. Be at liberty to scroll all the way down to “Notes & Musings” to take a look at happenings from the West Coast part itself.

Stage 1 – Journey Particulars

Distance:  137 miles (220 km) approx.

Begin:  Hells Gates Jetty / Cape Sorrell (west of Strahan).

End:  Scotts Peak Dam Trailhead

Time:  16.5 days

Every day Common: 8.3 miles (13.4 km)

Maps / Basic Information:

  • For the west coast part of the traverse, I used a dozen topographic maps in complete. These sheets lined the route from Cape Sorrell to the ‘Misplaced World Plateau’, at which level I linked up with the Port Davey Monitor. From north to south, the 1:25,000 maps had been as follows: Kelly, Albina/Desk Head, Meerim/Varna, Hibbs, Endeavour, Montgomery, Mainwaring/Veridian, Lewis, Elliot, Mulcahy, Settlement, Legge.

  • For the ultimate 25 mile (40 km) stretch alongside the Port Davey Monitor to Scotts Peak, I used  the 1:100,000 South Coast Walks map.
  • Observe: Within the Google Map above, the beginning and ending factors of stage 1 and a pair of are signified by the black marker pins.

Climate:

  • Total I used to be lucky with the climate throughout the first stage. Plenty of showers and drizzle, however not an excessive amount of in the way in which of torrential rainfall.

Wildlife:

  • One in every of my favorite issues about this hike was the number of fauna. Tasmanian Devils, wombats, seals, tiger snakes, starfish, sea anemones and yellow-tailed black cockatoos.
  • Not-so-great was the actual fact that there have been additionally leeches, ticks and loads of mosquitos.
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A none-too-happy Tiger snake that I unintentionally awoke from a mid-afternoon siesta.

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Tidal swimming pools teeming with vibrant marine life.

Resupply:

  • As a result of remoteness of the west coast south of Strahan, it’s slim pickings on the resupply entrance. You both suck it up and carry meals all the way in which from Cape Sorrell to Scotts Peak or organise for meals drops by helicopter or seaplane (ballpark value = A$2000 / US$1500).
  • In planning the Southwest Tasmania Traverse, I made a decision from the outset that I might carry all my very own meals for your complete west coast part. Principally as a result of I’ve all the time most popular to do my hikes unsupported. Nonetheless, within the spirit of full disclosure, additionally as a result of I didn’t wish to shell out a few grand simply to avoid wasting me carrying an additional 9 kg (20 lb) from the beginning of my journey.
Food supplies

Meals Luggage on the finish of Day 1 | Would 13 days meals slot in a pack with a 50 litre capability? You betcha………however solely simply. The backpack pictured is the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest mannequin.

  • I initially estimated that it might take me roughly 14 or 15 days (together with an additional couple of days factored in for inclement climate) to achieve Scotts Peak Dam. It ended up taking virtually 17; suffice to say I used to be peckish by the point I arrived. That being mentioned, I knew from concerning the fourth day onwards that I might take longer than initially anticipated, and subsequently rationed accordingly.
  • Please word, I’m under no circumstances recommending that folk involved in mountaineering Tassie’s west coast use my itinerary or resupply technique as a blueprint. While I took 17 days to achieve Scotts Peak, Chapman recommends between 28 and 35 days to do the identical stretch – and that’s for match and skilled hikers.

Water:

  • Aside from a number of of the prolonged bushwhacking sections between Endeavour Bay and Urquhart River, I by no means carried greater than a litre at any given time. As with my three earlier mountaineering journeys to Tassie, I didn’t deal with any of my water all through the journey and had no abdomen points.
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Mid-morning breakfast & hydration break.

Notes & Musings

Prelude Boat Rides, Lighthouses & a person named “Turk”

“Excuse me, mate, are you Robbie?”

“Yeah, I’m Robbie, who the *#!* desires to know?”, mentioned the caretaker of the Macquarie Heads campground, simply west of Strahan, Tasmania.

“Ahhhh……… I’m Cam Honan……..I referred to as you on the cellphone a few journey over to the opposite aspect of the channel.”

“Oh yeah…….sorry, mate……..I’ve had a #*!* of a day. I assumed you had been from the campground. They by no means depart me alone from the time I get up within the morning. I do all the pieces however wipe their arses for em’.”

“No worries. I simply arrived from Strahan. When you’re snowed below, there’s no rush with reference to heading off.”

“Nah………it is going to do me good to get away for a couple of minutes………..give us a number of ticks and I’ll take you over.”

“Thanks, Rob. A lot appreciated. Can I provide you with some money for the journey?”

“Nah. A couple of bucks for petrol when you like. Sorry concerning the harsh phrases. It’s simply been a kind of days.”

“No hurt completed. We’ve all been there. As I mentioned on the cellphone, I’m simply right here to do some mountaineering.”

And with that transient however vibrant trade, started the Southwest Tasmania Traverse.

Robbie and boat

Robbie heading again to Macquarie Heads after dropping me off on the jetty.

Robbie was nearly as good as his phrase. Inside half-hour of our assembly he had dropped me off on the opposite aspect of the channel at a bit used jetty by the identify of “Hells Gates.”

I couldn’t assist however chuckle.

Set to start what promised to be some of the difficult journeys I had ever undertaken at a spot referred to as “Hells Gates”…….southbound, no much less! Nothing for it however to channel my inner-Dante, rename my backpack “Virgil” and enterprise forth.

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Virgil & I at Hells Gates.

I kicked off the hike with a aspect journey to Cape Sorrell lighthouse. Based and first lit in 1899, this 40 m excessive (130 ft) maritime beacon (see photograph above) was automated in 1971 and transformed to solar energy in 1998.

Alongside the way in which, I ran right into a gentleman by the identify of Turk McDermott, who owned one of many 5 or 6 fishing shacks located close to the tip of the cape. Turk and his household had been there for many years. Listening to him wax lyrical concerning the space’s fascinating previous (e.g. the shipwrecks, vibrant characters and biblical storms), gave me a private perception into the area that I by no means may have gotten merely from checking wikipedia or studying textual content books. For a historical past buff like myself, I couldn’t have requested for a greater begin to my journey. As a bonus, the huts owned by Turk and his pals had been repeatedly frequented by the state’s most well-known animal, the Tasmanian Satan!

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Tassie Devils foraging below the fishing shacks (photograph courtesy of Turk McDermott).

Days 1 – 5:  Cape Sorrell to Endeavour Bay

From a terrain perspective, the primary 5 days had been the best of the traverse. A mix of open seashore strolling and rocky shoreline, blended along with the occasional bushwhack and difficult gulch.

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Day 2, Southwest Tasmania Traverse.

That being mentioned, “best” is a relative time period on this a part of Tasmania; I nonetheless solely averaged round 10 miles (17 km) per day. Nonetheless, it wasn’t fairly as intense as a few of the terrain I might be negotiating additional south, and for that I used to be grateful. My pack was heavy (roughly 16.3 kg/36 lbs – 75% of which was meals), I’d been battling a chest an infection for the earlier week and the plan was to just about keep in cruise-control for the preliminary phase to Endeavour Bay.

A mellow half days hike to kick issues off was precisely what I wanted. I adopted that up with a second day that was longer and harder than anticipated, however nonetheless not too strenuous. A really welcome bonus at day’s finish got here within the type of Giles Fishing Hut, a not too long ago restored shack that sported a cabinet stuffed with meals, a fuel range and an empty keg of beer. Two out of three ain’t dangerous:

Gulches

For the primary fifteen days of the traverse, some of the difficult features was negotiating the gulches. Not solely had been these little chasms of enjoyable steep and slippery, however when you occurred to get your timing flawed, the worth could be a freebie journey in Poseidon’s Washing Machine – the super-heavy obligation cycle. Certainly, typically I might sit and watch the units of waves coming in for 10 to fifteen minutes earlier than trying the harder gulches. It’s arduous to over-emphasize the significance of tangible timing in these conditions, however the pictures beneath may provide you with considerably of an concept:

Gulch - After and Before

Identical gulch, one minute between pictures.

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I had crossed this two-tiered gulch on the suitable hand aspect of the picture, no more than 30 seconds previous to taking the shot.

The Comeback 

By the third and fourth days I used to be beginning to really feel myself once more. My pack was getting lighter, my well being was bettering and my mountaineering legs had been returning. The climate gods had been additionally smiling on me. A lot in order that on the finish of day 4, I made a decision to reward myself with a mid-afternoon end, a swim within the Indian ocean and an hour-long siesta. As an added bonus, Mom Nature even handled me to a chic sundown, which I gratefully soaked in from some of the scenic campsites I had loved in a really very long time. Life was good. Little did I notice what was simply across the coastal nook.

Sunset at Evans Creek | SW Tasmania Traverse

Sundown at Evans Creek (My tent for this journey was the Mountain Laurel Designs Solomid)

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Sundown at Evans Creek 2

PLB Blues

From the penthouse of Evans creek to the outhouse of Level Hibbs.

Throughout a Day 5 aspect journey out to a seal colony on Level Hibbs, I took a little bit of a slip and the EPIRB (Private Locator Beacon) I used to be carrying in my hip belt pocket, was submerged in seawater for about 8 to 10 seconds. Virtually instantly afterward I observed it was making a sound. To be able to cease the sound, I broke the seal and adopted the directions on the again of the gadget with a view to disconnect it (i.e. prolong the aerial after which latch/tape it again into place). No worries. There was only one little downside……….the EPIRB continued going off.

“You’ve received to be kidding me; is it disconnected or not?”

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Hibbs Pyramid

For the following eight hours I continued mountaineering, the PLB stored beeping and I periodically gazed as much as the heavens ready to see a Search & Rescue helicopter.

“Absolutely my hike isn’t going to finish due to a malfunctioning #!*! EPIRB?”

I couldn’t assist however have an ironic chuckle. This was actually the primary time I’d carried a PLB of any description in all of my years of mountaineering and the factor malfunctions! (Observe: On a few earlier journeys, my mountaineering companions had toted one).

Lastly, it was time to fall asleep. The EPIRB was nonetheless belting out its Street-Runner like tune, however by this time I knew that no helicopter could be coming. The disconnect will need to have labored. That was a reduction; the one query was, how lengthy wouldn’t it hold making this infernal sound earlier than the battery died?

road-runner

I awoke seven hours later to the sound of wind and waves. However no beeping. Good.

Over breakfast, I weighed up my choices. Both head again to Strahan and set up one other PLB (which might have meant not less than an additional week) or proceed mountaineering alongside one of many world’s most rugged coastlines with no technique of communication if one thing went flawed.

Who was I kidding? There was just one alternative. Onwards.

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Campsite at Endeavour Bay.

Days 6 – 8: Endeavour Bay to Urquhart River

This was the hardest stretch of your complete traverse. Within the three days, it took me to hike between Endeavour Bay and the Urquhart river I lined a grand complete of roughly 11.5 miles (18.5 km). A mean of lower than 4 miles per day.

The part round Christmas & Hartwell Coves, specifically, stood out for its unrelenting nature. A mix of shirt-ripping, leg-gashing, persistence of Job-testing bushwhacking, blended along with some very sketchy climbs out and in of wave-smashed gulches.

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Bushwhacking between Christmas and Hartwell coves. A pair of gloves and lengthy gaiters are value their weight in gold when negotiating one of these terrain.

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Christmas Cove

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Mom Nature’s Infinity Pool | Day 8, SW Tassie Traverse.

It was a difficult stretch by any standards, however I knew all alongside what I’d signed up for. The traverse of southwest Tasmania was a chance to expertise on foot and on my own, one of many wildest coastal environments on the planet.  It was a present. An exhilarating, often maddening, biggest-of-broad-smile-inducing reward. And I liked each second unconditionally. Yep………..even the crappy ones.

Days 9-15: Urquhart River to Settlement Level

This part was considerably simpler than the one which preceded it, as there wasn’t a lot in the way in which of treacherous gulches and the bushwhacks had been typically shortish affairs.

In between the scrub bashing and coastal tip-toeing, there was typically comparatively simple strolling throughout buttongrass plains (a few of which had been burnt) located instantly inland from the seashore. The trick with these stretches was to remain excessive on the ridges each time potential, thus avoiding the denser vegetation and boggier terrain.

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Mountain climbing within the rain alongside one of many ridges that parallel the coast.

A Place with no Footprints

Each time I’d emerge from a bushwhack or a difficult rocky part on to a protracted stretch of white or golden sand, I’d escape into an enormous grin. Principally as a result of it was a welcome respite. But in addition because of the truth that there have been no footprints. A visual reminder that it was simply me, the coast and the ocean. For an individual that has all the time embraced solitude like a long-lost sibling, these moments had been amongst my favourites from your complete journey.

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Day 2, SW Tassie Traverse.

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Modder River meets Indian Ocean | Sundown Day 3, SW Tassie Traverse.

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Dawn at Nye Bay | Day 14, SW Tassie Traverse.

The Mirage

Simply after lunch on Day 14, I skirted round a rocky headland to achieve the beautiful Mulcahy Bay. Gazing out on the golden sands forward of me, I noticed what gave the impression to be a gaggle of roughly 20 figures shifting up and down the shore. I rubbed my eyes, blinked a number of occasions and regarded once more.

Sure, there actually had been a bunch of individuals on the seashore. This was an enormous deal. Aside from a fisherman I had noticed offshore on Day 4, they had been the primary people that I had seen since leaving Cape Sorrell some two weeks earlier than.

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Mulcahy Bay……….see the little figures off within the distance?

It turned out that the group in query was the South West Particles Cleanup Crew, a Tasmanian environmental group that since 1999, has been serving to to wash the state’s distant southwestern seashores. Sure, even in one of many world’s most pristine wilderness areas you possibly can nonetheless discover garbage.

I ended and chatted with the celebration for about an hour. An excellent group of oldsters that had been as stunned to see me as I used to be to see them. After listening to my story concerning the PLB, the pinnacle of the group, Matt Dell, supplied to mortgage me his EPIRB for the rest of my journey.

As an extra bonus, additionally they agreed to ship my household a message from the satellite tv for pc cellphone they’d again on their boats. This gesture meant the world to me. By the point I met the Particles Cleanup crew I used to be already operating a number of days behind my unique schedule, and while from a private perspective it didn’t matter, it had been taking part in on my thoughts that my household may be a bit involved if I was operating greater than a few days late (i.e. As talked about above, I’d initially estimated that the west coast part would take 14 days to finish).

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A moist and windy Wreck Bay 

After parting methods with Matt and his group, I headed inland to keep away from a few of the thick coastal scrub. The subsequent few hours had been comparatively fast going as I made my manner alongside the ridges to Wreck Bay. By the point I arrived, the wind had picked up and it was raining steadily.

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Wreck Bay | Day 14, SW Tassie Traverse.

Wreck Bay was named after the 1914 shipwreck of the “Svenor.” Up till a number of years in the past, this web site was considerably extra spectacular (see photograph beneath). Nonetheless, in current occasions Mom Nature within the type of some very heavy storms, reclaimed most of what was left of the wreckage, leaving solely a fraction of the shell.

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The “Svenor” | Above – what it regarded like in March, 2016, and; beneath, the way it appeared within the early 2000’s (photograph from Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service).

The Paddle

On Day 15 I awoke to the sound of rain on cuben fiber.  Poking my head exterior the tent and scanning the horizon, it regarded just like the climate had set in. It was going to be dampish.

After one closing bushwhack to get by means of the dense scrub band that bordered Wreck Bay, my course lay inland. Particularly, I might parallel after which climb up and over the De Witt Vary earlier than making my manner all the way down to Piners Level. As soon as at Piners, I would want to barter the ultimate main impediment of stage one, specifically a 150-metre extensive crossing of the very chilly and deep Davey River.

The plan was to paddle throughout the channel on my Thermarest NeoAir, with my pack bobbing alongside behind me hooked up to my proper leg with some guyline. It’s not as loopy because it sounds. Earlier than heading all the way down to Tassie, I’d completed a number of profitable take a look at runs with the identical setup again in Queensland. Although within the spirit of full disclosure, I ought to point out that it’s a tad hotter up in my dwelling state and hypothermia will not be actually on the playing cards…………particulars, particulars.

Settlement Point Neoair

Made it……..”you little magnificence”!!!! (i.e. Australian for excited approval).

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Virgil, Thermarest NeoAir (aka. The Mat with No Title) and the Davey River. That’s Piners Level within the background.

Days 16 & 17Settlement Level to Scotts Peak Dam

After a fantastic evening’s sleep, I awoke early the following morning to catch a stunning dawn over the Davey River.

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Sadly, the solar’s look was only a cameo, and as I sat and ate my breakfast, the clouds rolled in and it started to rain. From my campsite it was roughly 50 km to the tip of Stage 1.

For the primary 10 km, I hiked due east within the drizzle and fog throughout scrubby creeks and undulating buttongrass plains. The going was sluggish, however in comparison with what I’d come by means of, it was comparatively simple. I then climbed a 1000 ft to the sting of a plateau generally known as the “Misplaced World.” It was noon once I reached the excessive level, and as if on cue, the clouds lifted and I used to be introduced with an exquisite 360-degree panorama.

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Mountain climbing within the fog, simply inland from Settlement Level.

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The view wanting again in the direction of Settlement Level and the West Coast.

I smiled. Not solely in thanks for the gorgeous vista, but additionally as a result of instantly east from the place I used to be standing, I may see a mountaineering path. Particularly, it was the Port Davey Monitor, and it was on that nicely established (albeit considerably muddy) pathway that I might head north to Scotts Peak Dam.

I ended up masking the ultimate 40 km in in the future. Through the first 16 days I hiked roughly 180 km. It’s wonderful what a distinction a path could make.

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Port Davey Monitor.

At 4.30 pm the next day I completed the primary stage of the Southwest Tasmania Traverse. Nonetheless to return was Stage 2, within the type of the Arthurs Vary, arguably Australia’s most spectacular mountain chain. I couldn’t wait.

There was only one small matter that wanted to be attended to; an out and again resupply hitch to the close by city of Maydena. Which begged the query…………..would anybody decide up a man that regarded like this?

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“No, I wasn’t mauled by a tiger. I simply completed mountaineering down Tasmania’s west coast.” | Photograph taken at Junction Creek, 8 km from the tip of Stage 1.

Observe: Click on right here for the journey report from the second and closing stage of the Southwest Tasmania Traverse.

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