Friday, 31 October 2014

Taffs and Poulters Hills

Thursday 30th October 2014

Track at start of walk
I had been thinking of going on a longer than normal walk for a while and decided that today would be the day. The walk I chose was to be in the state forest west of Levendale and would incorporate both Taffs and Poulters Hills. I expected  quite an easy walk, mainly on forestry roads and tracks with little or no views, and that is about how it turned out.
To reach the walk start I drove out of Hobart to Sorrell and turned left on the A3 and headed to Runnymede where I turned onto the Woodsdale Road and then after some time onto New Country Marsh Road. The walk start was about 5.1 kms. down this road at a locked gate with just enough room to park one car.
Spring colour beside the track
I had an early start from home so I began walking at 0735, around the locked gate and uphill on an old seldom used track. It was easy walking and once I came to a spot where the track did not seem to go in the direction I was expecting, I took to the bush and found it once again. I realized my mistake on the way back, as the track was not where it was shown on the map. Just after regaining the track I left it and scrub bashed down a slope to pick up a good forestry road.
Good forestry road
 There was a myriad of roads and tracks to pick from, some on the map and some not, but I chose to walk in a southwesterly direction on an excellent road. There were wild flowers everywhere and it was very pleasant walking along and listening to all the birds. After a time the road headed east and then finally petered out. I made a decision to scrub bash across country to pick up another track. I was soon regretting this as I struggled through a cutting grass swamp, with grass above my head, but it didn't last too long and I was soon back on a decent track.
Echidna beside the road
I came across an echidna beside the road and this was the first of two that I spotted on the day. I also saw countless wallabies and pademelons and birds and this was the most wildlife I had seen in ages. I continued on along the road through some nice forest which had regenerated since being logged. There were many tall trees.
Tall trees

More spring colour
Soon I reached the turn off and walked up to the top of Taffs Hill and then along further to see where the track went. It came to a T intersection and this is where I turned around and walked back to the top of the hill for a snack. Taffs Hill is rather a disappointment as a hill and doesn't even warrant a summit cairn, so I set about making one at what I determined to be the highest point, although that could be somewhat debatable.
Taffs Hill summit cairn

Taffs Hill
I soon headed back down and walked in a easterly direction past a large quarry to the headwaters of the Prosser River, where there was a bridge crossing.
Quarry beside the road

Start of the Prosser River
After this I walked north up to the summit of Poulters Hill. There were fleeting views of the surrounding hills as I ascended, but nothing spectacular.
Track towards Poulters Hill
Poulters Hill was more of a hill than Taffs but nothing spectacular, and again no summit cairn, although it has one now. I stopped for lunch before heading back down.
Poulters Hill summit cairn

Poulters Hill
I followed various tracks on my return to the car, all the time staying inside the State Forest boundary. I corrected my mistake on the outward leg and stayed on the track which didn't follow the track on the map, although that is not unusual.
This was an easy walk through a typical forestry area, and although most of it has been logged in the past, it is regenerating and providing a good habitat for various animals. I did see Tasmanian Devil scats as well. Most of the walk could be ridden on a mountain bike except for the scrub bash sections, but there are plenty of tracks to choose from and the lack of evidence of vehicular traffic is pleasing.
Distance: 21.6 kms.
Time: 6'02"
Ascent: 640 metres
Click here to download GPX file.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Handsome Caves

Wednesday 22nd October 2014

Handsome Caves
To access the start of the walk drive out from New Norfolk on Back River Road until Handsome Caves Road is reached on the right. Park on the corner either in Back River Road or on the left in Handsome Caves Road. The road could be driven in a high clearance 4WD but it is not far to walk and a locked gate is soon encountered, although this has been destroyed by a large tree that now sits on top of it.
Handsome Caves Road
I set off just after 0800 and walked up Handsome Caves Road past some houses and after the last house the road started to deteriorate somewhat and became 4WD only. At the top of the first hill I took the left hand track and kept going uphill. The right hand track goes round a sweeping bend and meets up with the left hand track again. The track continued on past a shack and eventually arrived at the locked gate.
The gate is now under the tree
Just past the gate I walked up the left hand track which soon became just a foot pad and continued on to cross a dry creek and then arrived at Handsome Caves. The caves are sandstone structures known as Tafoni and they provide homes for the Striated Pardalote. There were plenty of these small birds flying around.
Tafoni at Handsome Caves
I spent some time admiring the cave structures and then decided to walk to the right around under the caves to see how far I could get. It was a bit hairy in places as there was a steep drop off below, but I went as far as I felt safe. I climbed up to get some photos of caves above. I probably could have kept going but I chose to retrace my steeps back to the caves proper.
Cave around to the right
There were shallow caves a plenty and it certainly was an interesting place. My aim now was to walk up to Handsome Crag where people go bouldering and rock climbing. The old track continued on past the caves to the left and went up hill to a point where a faint pad turned off to the right. There were no tapes and only one cairn that I saw, but it was fairly easy to follow this up to an old track and then on to another pad that went up to meet a good forestry road.
Good Forestry Road
There were great views along this road of the surrounding countryside.
Platform Peak from Forestry Road
I walked down the road to the point where the road met private property which was marked by rock cairns on either side. From here I headed up to one of the rock climbing areas and walked along under the cliffs for a while before going back to the road.
Climbers Rocks

Climbers Rocks
Small spring in the rock

Climbers Rock

Climbers Rock
Just as I was about to reach the road I came across a bee hive in a crevice of a large tree.
I then walked back up the road and deviated over to the left where I was on top of handsome caves and walked along here for a short while before heading back to the road. There were great views from along the top of these cliffs. Feeling that I had not done enough walking I decided to head back up hill to another rock climbing spot and then up to the top of the hill to see what was over there. At the top was an open paddock, but still forestry land , so I walked over to the boundary fence and along this to another fence and then back to find a spot for lunch. I enjoyed my lunch sitting on a large rock in some nice forest. There were some views over to the Wellington Range area.
After a relaxing break I headed back to the road and tracked back to the car.
This was a most enjoyable walk with great views of the caves and surrounding country. It was much better than I was expecting. The walk to the actual caves and return would probably be only 2 hours.
Distance: 10 kms.
Time: 4'42"
Ascent: 580 metres
Click here to download GPX file.
Handsome Caves

Handsome Caves

Handsome Caves

Handsome Caves

Inside a Cave

Inside a Cave

Handsome Caves

Mount Dromedary

Looking towards Back River

Paddock up top

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Bluff River Gorge

Saturday 18th October 2014

Sandstone Cliffs
Having visited Bluff River Gorge a couple of months ago and enjoyed the experience immensely, I decided that another trip to the area was required to walk some more of the tracks. See here for access directions and previous post.
We set off early from home and drove to the starting point which took about 1'40" and began walking at 0840. The sandy track was much drier than last time with no evidence of water or mud and we soon reached the section of track where it began the descent to the gorge. After climbing down for a short period we took the track that branches off to the left with the aim of walking along the western side of the gorge first.
Sandstone Cliffs
The track meandered along the cliff line below the top of the cliffs and gradually descended to a deep hole in the river where we stopped for morning tea. All along this section were tracks of  small animals in the sand and one small cave showed evidence of being inhabited by Tasmanian Devils, which was quite pleasing.
Looking across to eastern side of gorge
We also spotted the tracks of a large snake, presumably a Tiger, but we did not see any, although we kept a good lookout. The sandstone formations and caves along this side of the gorge were equal to or possibly better than the other side. After our break we climbed up steeply to the wide ledge above the river and then down to the river crossing. The water level was much lower than last time I was here. After crossing the river we walked along the faint pad to meet up with the track proper a little further on and walked back along the eastern side of the gorge. We found a convenient log and had lunch and then walked down to the southern river crossing and then up steeply to join the outward track and then back to the car.
This was a great walk with spectacular scenery of sandstone cliffs. caves and formations.
Distance: 9.2 kms.
Time: 4'30"
Ascent: 380 metres
Click here to download GPX file.
Sandstone Cliffs

Sandstone Cliffs

Sandstone Cliffs

Sandstone Patterns

Sandstone Cliffs

Deep hole in the river

The river from eastern side

Looking across to western side

Eastern side cave