Friday, 25 December 2015

A Hartz Christmas

Hartz Peak

Of all the 60 Great Short Walks in Tasmania - and we've done most of them - our favourite by a long way is the hike to Hartz Peak. We've lost count of how many times we've been there, from taking our own kids when they were little tackers, to guiding students, to strolling out with overseas visitors. A short distance but with nicely varied terrain and views into the heart of Southwest Tasmania, the Hartz Peak walk always rewards. To get there one travels through historic Geeveston, the spiritual home of old-time timber harvesting in southern Tasmania.

Today is Christmas Day, and there is a heat wave in Hobart. It got to 36 degrees and the wind is blowing up outside. Not ideal conditions for a ride, but almost perfect for a short walk in the southwest. After dropping in on Di's mum to wish her a Merry Christmas we headed south. It was already 27 degrees in the city when we left a little after 9:00 a.m., and had heated up another three degrees by the time we finished our visit with Beryl. True to form though, it cooled off a bit as we headed into the forests west of Geeveston.

There were a few cars in the parking lot when we set out. Here's part of a sign that marks the start of the old track ...

A precious heritage


With the construction of a large shelter, the start of the track has been moved twenty metres or so to the left ...

New flash facilities

Just along the track there is a boot cleaning station to try to keep Phytopthera in check ...

Boot cleaning station


Initially the track winds through scrub on a modern section of duck-boards ...

Typical southwest scrub

... but emerges shortly into beautiful heath, where the track consists of old  wooden billets held in place with fence wire and staples ...

Hartz in the distance

... but then more modern duck-boarding continues for most of the rest of the way along the flats ...

Getting closer

Surprising us in the middle of the plateau was a lone Tasmanian waratah. It was past its best but still not looking too bad ...

Tasmania Waratah


It's quite a lot smaller and much more delicate, intricate - and beautiful! - than its mainland cousin.

Along the way one passes a nice variety of vegetation, including the odd bit of cushion plant ...

Cushion Plant
Along the route ...

Walking route to Hartz Peak

... you can detour via Lake Esperance and Ladies Tarn, where there are nice spots for a picnic.

The climb up Hartz Pass involves a bit of easy scrambling, then once up on to the col the track consists of nice rock work ...

Rock slabs lead through sub alpine vegetation 


Rock steps lead up to the shoulder below Hartz Peak

Once on the shoulder wonderful views suddenly appear. The next image shows Federation Peak in the distance ...

Federation Peak beckons


The slopes at this point face northwest and are clad with hardy, ground-hugging shrubbery ...

Follow the track!

At  this point there is a nice view back over Hartz Lake towards Mount Picton directly behind and Mount Anne (seen as the small, classic arrowhead towards the middle right background) ...

View over Hartz Lake


... before a more rudimentary track picks its way through a dolerite boulder ...

Summit boulder field
... which in turn leads to the summit, with views across to the Southern Ranges - including the impressive Precipitous Bluff which looms above New River Lagoon - and the Southern Ocean behind ...

On top of Hartz Peak
You can see why we refer to this gorgeous walk as a window into the secret southwest wilderness, where there are no roads to disrupt the landscape.

We stopped for lunch and to enjoy the views south towards Snowy Peak and the southern end of D'Entrecasteaux Channel to the southeast  ...


Snowy Peak


There was a quite a lot of Mountain Rocket out along the track, including this specimen right at the top of the peak ...

Mountain Rocket


Know that if you want to see this beauty, you will have to come to Tasmania and visit the alpine environment, as it is endemic to our little island outpost.


I will leave you with a Google Earth image of the route to the peak. It imparts another perspective on the terrain covered ...


Hartz under snow
(Although it is Christmas Day, we didn't have snow on our walk. However, this being Tasmania, that is not  impossible! In fact a cold front is on its way that could well drop a dusting of white stuff on the higher peaks. Anything is possible on this far-flung island, perched at it is at the edge of the Southern Ocean!)

Joyeux Noel from Doug and Dianne

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