Overland Track Day 2: Barn Bluff to Pine Forest Moor

21 August 2017, Overland Track, Tasmania

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Pine Forest Moor, Tasmania, Travel, Wilderness

This was another long day, not as brutal as the previous one, but the weather had closed in.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Pine Forest Moor, Tasmania, Travel, Wilderness .

It’s not long ago but my memory is hazy (much like the weather).  I remember that this was a day of continuous rain and the next day was snowing all day but from the images it looks as though it were the other way around.

Consequently I took very few photographs on either day because keeping my equipment dry was an issue – just ten on this day and nine on the next.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Pine Forest Moor, Tasmania, Travel, Wilderness

Here we are walking through open eucalypt heathland…

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Pine Forest Moor, Tasmania, Travel, Wilderness

… and this is myrtal beech rainforest with I think a myrtal beech on the right.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Pine Forest Moor, Tasmania, Travel, Wilderness

It looks like rain here and I furtively poked the camera out to try to capture a feel of the context.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Pine Forest Moor, Tasmania, Travel, Wilderness

Lots of snow in many places but the terrain was more gentle and no falling off the boardwalks any more.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Pine Forest Moor, Tasmania, Travel, Wilderness

Plants grow wherever they can in the rainforest…

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Pine Forest Moor, Tasmania, Travel, Wilderness

… and even a clump of lichen may have snow on top of it.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Pine Forest Moor, Tasmania, Travel, Wilderness

Laying down to spend a night at a random place along the trail would not have been the best of ideas, but we had the great luxury of wonderful meals cooked for us, hot showers and a drying room every night.

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Overland Track Day 1: Waldheim to Barn Bluff

20 August 2017, Overland Track, Tasmania

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After Liffey Falls in the last post, I travelled on to meet the rendezvous for the Overland Track walk.  The Overland Track is a 63 kilometre walk through Tasmania’s highland wilderness.  I had done the walk thirty years ago with large format photographic equipment and a pack of 24 kilograms (53 pounds).  I used the public huts then (and you can also camp), but this time I was undertaking a catered trip using private huts offered by the Tasmanian Walking Company.  This meant I didn’t need to carry food because meals are provided and all huts also offer hot showers and drying rooms.

I had opted for the winter tour because I wanted to capture Tasmania’s unique landscape in the snow.  This is much more demanding than the usual summer traverse because trekking through the snow can be harder and slower, and the days are shorter.  As we set off there were ten people in our group plus three guides, although one of our number turned back after an hour because she was feeling unwell.

My clothing weighed 4.5 kg (10lb) including walking poles, and the guidelines for the walk say your pack should weigh 12 to 16 kilograms (26 to 35 pounds).  But with 6.4 kg of camera equipment (14lb), I was carrying 22 kilograms (48 pounds).  This was more than I realised at the time and more than I bargained for.  Based on my previous experiences thirty years earlier, I had assumed I would have lots of time to stop, pull out my tripod and take photos.  However, that was in summer when days are much longer and walking conditions usually much easier (though it can snow here at any time of year).  As it was I generally had to press on with little time to stop for photographs and I was seldom able to use the tripod.  Because my pack was so heavy I was reluctant to take it off too often.  Just as well I had two cameras and four lenses in cases hanging off my shoulder straps and pack belt so I was able to take photographs without removing the pack.  Almost all these images in this and subsequent Overland Track posts are quickly taken on the fly.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Here are some of the group taking off on the walk.  I am still in the carpark and taking this image from there.  We are heading off to the plateau on the snowline at the left.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Crater Falls.

After climbing for three quarters of an hour we got to this small waterfall beside the track, with lots of water flowing through.  You can see it’s a longish exposure but I didn’t pull out my tripod, just braced against a railing.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Boatshed, Crater Lake.

After climbing for an hour and twenty minutes, we stopped for a little while at Crater Lake.  The boatshed was built by the first ranger at Cradle Mountain, Lionell Connell, to ferry visitors around the lake.  There is a similar and better known one at Dove Lake, accessible by road.  Both were built of King Billy Pine, an ancient and slow growing conifer not available as a building material these days.  That’s ice you can see on the surface of the lake, though hardly solid enough to walk on.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife
Crater Lake.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Crater Lake and Boatshed.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Crater Lake.

This one is looking back at Crater Lake as we continue climbing towards Marion’s Lookout.  Still a steep climb to go.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Bennett’s Wallaby.

This is further on from the previous image, with Crater Lake out of sight down below the ridge.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Towards the top, the weather closed in and there was heavy snow.  It had stopped snowing when we got to the top and we stopped for lunch.  According to the time stamps on the images it must have taken us about three hours.  We were close to Marion’s lookout but there was no point going there because there would have been nothing to see.  On a clearer day there would have been a magnificent vista of Dove Lake and the wild country beyond.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Trees on Cradle Plateau.

The weather was clearing and the lack of a view from Marion’s Lookout was more than compensated by magnificent vistas around the Cradle Plateau.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Looking west to Cradle Plateau.

A wonderful vista of distant eucalypts in snow.  Click on the image to see it in a larger size.  I would have liked to stop for an hour or so in this area and explore the possibilities but time was pressing and we had to move on.

In a way this is my Fred Williams image though I wasn’t aware of that Australian painter at that time.  When we got to Geelong, the art gallery had a wonderful exhibition of his semi-abstract landscapes looking down from the You Yang mountains to the arid plains below.  This image reminds me of that though it’s really only the central part with the distant trees in the snow.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Looking east towards the Central Plateau with an angry sky.

Although the weather could be menacing at this point, it was clearing for the rest of the day.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Barn Bluff.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

You might think this shows towering eucalypts beside a tarn but it’s tiny, more like a miniature landscape.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Cradle Mountain.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

A distant view of Barn Bluff.  That’s where we’re headed.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Cradle Mountain.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Quick question:  on which side of a pole does moss grow?

This marker pole provides a metaphor for the weather.  Wind-driven snow is caked on one side of the pole while moss clings resolutely to the other.

Answer: It’s the south side here.  If you live in the northern hemisphere you probably got that wrong.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Cradle Mountain.  We’re getting further away now.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Snow piling up in a sheltered part of the trail in Waterfall Valley.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Eucalypts in snow, still Waterfall Valley.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Barn Bluff in the distance, framed by eucalypts.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Mount Emmett in the late afternoon light.

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Australia, Barn Bluff, Bennett's Wallaby, Cradle Mountain, Crater Lake, Landscape, Nature, Overland Track, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, Waterfall, Wilderness, Wildlife

Mouth Emmett from Cradle Cirque.  Firth River valley in the distance.

At this stage there was only a kilometre or two to go but it was very rugged.  The problem for much of the day, and especially the last section, was the boardwalks.  Often they were two planks wide, say eighteen inches.  This would be fine in summer but they were covered in about two feet of snow (as with everything else).  It was impossible to stay on them all the time and if you missed them, you fell a couple of feet down into the snow.  I fell over dozens of times and probably so did everyone else.  It had taken nine hours before I got to the hut, starting with the brutal three hour climb to Marion’s Lookout and I was totally exhausted.  Totally worth it, though.  The scenery on the way exceeded my expectations.

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