Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Ten Minute Rule: Mount Wellington

Mount Wellington is Hobart's signature park, the large summit pinnacle (a TV broadcast tower) is visible from much of Tasmania's southeast area, and, with a paved road to the 1271 metre summit, the mountain is Hobart's biggest tourist attraction.

The whole mountain is criss-crossed with tracks and is very popular with Hobart walkers. Many of the tracks, however, start low on the mountain and stay in the trees for all or much of their distance. Having no inclination to spend another sunny day like blind moles tunneling through dense forest, we chose a loop walk that would take us up onto the open summit plateau via one track, then back down another. 

  Doug at the top of the Ice House Track
overlooking the Tasman Peninsula

There are countless variations, ours went from The Springs picnic area (site of an hotel since burnt in bushfires) along the Milles Track to the Ice House Track. An hour or less from starting out, we were up on the summit plateau where the air was startlingly clear and we could see into the Southwest Wilderness – I think possibly the elusive Precipitous Bluff – and of course, over to the Tasman Peninsula, out to Bruny Island, and all over the suburbs of Hobart and the Derwent River. 

At a junction we detoured to Smith's Memorial having no idea who or what this was. Turns out, John Smith was a doctor with Derwent Water in the mid 1800's who got lost and died on the mountain in January 1858. The memorial is covered with a home-made canvas cover. Someone obviously remembers John Smith.

 John Smith Memorial

Back on the main track, the Ice House Track becomes the South Wellington track and leads over to all the development at the summit area. Various board-walked viewpoints, a trig station, the large TV broadcasting tower that looks eerily like a North Korean nuclear missile and, given the nature of most TV, is likely easily as dangerous. 

There was a biting west wind at the summit. We wandered about the various lookouts and then strolled down the Zig Zag Track passing many inept walkers to the Organ Pipes track. This seems to be a popular route up, at least as far as the junction with the Zig Zag Track, and I can only assume that the Chalet sells pies. We had another detour to look at the climbing areas on the Organ Pipes – shady, cold, burly – is my assessment at a glance. No-one was climbing. 

 Not a bad lunch spot

Back at the junction, the Zig Zag Track becomes the Pinnacle Track (Australians really like to have many different names for the same road or track) and leads back down to the Springs. Soon, we began passing small groups of walkers on the way up. I checked my watch 1.15 pm. I have a theory that the only time you ever meet other walkers on the track is within ten minutes of the parking lot. I arrived at the car at 1.23 pm. Draw your own conclusions.

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