In the northeast corner of Tasmania, there is a scattering of sub-alpine peaks, much like the bigger more well known peaks of the Central Plateau, albeit, a little lower and a little less spectacular, yet still worth a visit. South of the South Esk River is the large alpine area of Ben Lomond National Park where we had done a couple of walks before, this time we were set on doing a couple of walks north of the South Esk River - Mount Victoria and Mount Saddleback. Both are accessible off the Mount Albert Road and driving between the two takes only about 15 minutes.
We went first to Mt Victoria (1213 metres), which is actually slightly lower than Mount Saddleback (1256 metres) but looked more interesting in photos we had seen. The track is signed and there is a reasonable sized parking area across the road.
The other peak of Mount Victoria
The walk up is pretty easy, fit people could be on the summit in one hour, it took us a quarter of an hour longer. Initially, the track runs through myrtle and rain forest before emerging into scrubby heath and the first views of the mountain. Mount Victoria has two distinct dolerite columnar lobes and the track runs up to a saddle between the two then loops around to the higher (right or southeast) summit with the trig station.
Once into the heath the track scrambles up large boulders soon arriving at the saddle between the two lobes where it loops around to the north side before the final tunnel like climb through vegetation to a couple of big steps up dolerite columns and the summit. There are expansive views from the summit right out to the coast at St Helens, south to Ben Lomond and the other more scattered peaks to right and left.
Looking across to the other summit
After coming down from Mount Victoria, we drove back along the Mount Albert Road to Mathinna Plains Road and at Chinaman Corner took the signed turn for Mount Saddleback. In about 100 metres, the road forks and the track is up the left hand fork. We parked at the junction but the road is actually quite good and I think most people drive the kilometre and 100 metres of elevation gain up to the actual track.
Mount Saddleback from the Mount Victoria track
Doug decided to pass on Mount Saddleback so I walked up the road to arrive at a hand-lettered sign indicating the track which pretty much goes straight up. Actually, there is a short section of relatively level track through dry forest before the track meets boulders and climbs steeply up boulders, loose dirt and rocks beside dolerite columns to arrive on the gentler summit plateau. From this point, I thought I would be on the summit in about 10 minutes but it probably took me more like 20 to meander along the windy track that seems to loop around on itself to finally arrive at the large summit cairn. There is a good and well marked pad, but, also a fair bit of scratchy vegetation to push through.
The wind at the summit cairn was so strong I was almost getting blown over and I was aware that Doug was waiting patiently below so I stayed only a few moments before heading back down mostly trying to control an extra precipitous descent down the very steep section of track.
Doug near the summit of Mount Victoria
If you wanted a hat trick, apparently Ben Nevis (1368 metres) about 10 kilometres to the west has a similarly steep track which takes about the same amount of time to walk and is accessible via forestry roads that branch off at Chinaman Corner.