Hiking the Mt Anne Circuit
A southwest Tassie hiking gem, this three- to four-day hike offers the ideal ‘week away’ for adventurers. And what a week it is; located around three hours’ drive from Hobart, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve arrived in a different land and time. The Mt Anne Circuit packs in everything an experienced hiker could wish for: towering rocky peaks to ascend, an immense boulder field to traverse, huge alpine lakes to camp beside and the real chance you’ll cop every aspect of Tassie’s renowned wild weather – regardless of the time of year you walk here (we’d recommend spring/summer).
The first day is slightly deceiving, with a gradual (and relatively short, timewise) ascent to High Camp campsite, nestled in the shadow of Mt Eliza, looking over the immensity that is Lake Pedder way down below where the track starts. The second day ramps up the excitement; firstly, climbing up the slopes of Mt Eliza before traversing its namesake plateau. After this, you can drop your pack and tackling the side-trip up to the summit of southwest Tassie’s tallest peak, 1423m Mt Anne. It’s a scramble to the summit, with a bit of exposure along the way, but worth it; the views from here at next-level and, as well as peaks such as Mt Lot in the distance, you also get your first glimpse at what must be one of Tassie’s most spectacular campsites: Shelf Camp. Descending from the summit and then heading back to the track junction to pick up packs, it’s only another half-hour to Shelf Camp and the end of a great day up high in the mountains.
It is day three that will stand out in most trekkers’ memories; from negotiating a giant boulder field not long after leaving Shelf Camp, to then negotiating the infamous Notch (you’ll get to test your climbing skills here; it’s not as scary as it sounds) before ascending Mt Lot’s north face, and negotiating the exposed descent from Lighting Ridge to camp at Judds Charm, beside Lake Judd, you’ll be pumped the entire way. It’s only a short distance overall (not much over 4km) but it will take a full day. And yeah, you will sleep like the proverbial at Judds Charm that night.
The last day in this incredibly wild landscape sees you cross, then descend from, Sarah Jane Plateau before traversing the long and often very muddy Anne River plains before crossing the aforementioned river and arriving at track’s end at Red Tape Creek.
For such a ‘short’ walk in terms of time, the Mt Anne delivers big-time when it comes to offering an entertaining and sometimes challenging sojourn through one of this country’s most remote and spectacular areas.
(Note: at time of writing, the Mt Anne Circuit was closed due to damage incurred in the bushfires earlier this year. Check with Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service for updates.)
Rafting the Franklin River
Touted as the “world’s best river trip” by highly regarded Outside (US) magazine, that claim won’t be disputed by us. This writer journeyed down the Franklin in 2013 – and I still rate it as one of my all-time favourite adventures.
Picture this: Nine days on one of the world’s most exciting rafting rivers; beautiful and pristine terrain surrounding you each day on the water; simply brilliant campsites that tempt you to stay forever; and some of the wildest rapids you will ever encounter.
The Franklin River can be paddled independently, by raft, kayak or canoe (amazingly the first descent was in a canoe), but to even think of this, you must be a highly experienced white-water paddler. The river’s many rapids are seriously unforgiving, and the terrain equally so. Plus, once you’re on the river, there’s no access points for nine days…
Smart people opt for a guided rafting trip, where they can take advantage of experienced river guides and rafts packed full of all the gear – and delicious food – they will need.
The Franklin offers so much to the paddling fanatic. It defines the term ‘epic journey’, in how the landscape – and the river – changes character along the way, and in the way the river reminds paddlers – through its sheer power – just how untamed nature can be, even in today’s constrained world.
From the benign start point on the pretty Collingwood River, through to the savagery that is the unraftable Grade-6 Churn rapids, the Franklin never disappoints. The campsites are remarkably different – some nights you sleep under an eons-old rock overhang, on others you’re under a tarp – but each campsite is nestled right next to the river, allowing you to listen to the water rushing inexorably on. It’s the ultimate lullaby.
The Franklin trip does require reasonable fitness, with at least a modicum of paddling experience. Besides the fantastic rapids-running, you will also get the chance to explore some canyons along the way, such as the magical Lost World. And don’t forget to pack extra swimmers: at the end of each day there’s opportunities to have a dip – and, yeah, it is cold!
Trekking in Walls of Jerusalem National Park
This amazing national park sits in Tassie’s wild and remote southwest and is the Apple Isle’s only alpine national park. “The Walls”, as it is colloquially known, offers a number of trekking options, from day-hikes, to overnighters, through to seven-day circuits that take you deep into the national park’s southern section, with the opportunity to ascend a number of peaks.
For those with limited time, a day-walk (7-8 hours return) up toward the national parks’ campground at Wild Dog Creek, traversing dense native forest (passing an old trapper’s hut in this section) before reaching the Central Plateau and then on to the campground. From here, you ascend for another half-hour and pass through the Golden Gate to reach the beautiful Damascus Vale (the ideal lunch stop), where the park’s namesake cliffs tower over you. The descent back to the track-head is quicker, meaning you have the perfect excuse to stop off at Mole Creek Hotel for a coldie (and dinner) to celebrate.
For the super-keen hikers, a full six days in Walls of Jerusalem NP is a must. There are a few ways to do a circuit walk through here, so it’s worth consulting a map of the park or, if you’d rather, opt for a guided trek, such as the Walls of Jerusalem Circuit offered by World Expeditions. This takes away all the logistical hassles and allows you to soak up this magnificent part of Tassie over seven days. During that time, you’ll camp in some absolutely magic locations (including beside a couple of lakes), ascend a number of the mountains in the park, such as Mt Jerusalem and the West Wall Traverse, and traverse what is claimed to be one of the world’s best examples of a glacial valley (the Adelaide Valley).
Other Walls of Jerusalem hiking highlights include the section through Damascus Vale where you are dwarfed by the West Walls, and also the chance for a side-trip (conditions permitting) up on to the Mt Ragoona Plateau, where you can score views right across southwest Tassie to Cradle Mountain. It’s a busy six days – and you will need a decent level of multiday trek fitness – but you’ll be well rewarded. Walking “The Walls” is close to a full week of wonder, that’s for sure.
See World Expeditions for info on its guided nine-day Franklin River rafting trip, its six-day guided Walls of Jerusalem Circuit and five-day Mt Anne Circuit guided walk.
For national park and track closures, see Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service for all the latest info.