Tassie Trip Winter 2018 Day 5 – Mt Campbell & Hansons Peak

Originally when I was researching for this trip I planned to do a long walk on the trails above Dove Lake. The exact route I planned to take was as follows: Dove Lake car park, Mount Campbell, Hansons Peak, Twisted Lakes, Artists Pool, Face Track, Marions Lookout, Wombat Pool, Lake Lilla, Dove Lake car park.

The map below shows my intended route:

My intended walking route at Cradle Mountain.

As is often the case I was overly ambitious, particularly given that I only started walking at 12 pm. Given that the last shuttle bus left at 4 pm I only had about 3.5 hours of walking time (factoring in time for taking photos and lunch). Consequently I decided on the following route instead: Dove Lake car park, Mount Campbell, Hansons Peak, Face Track, Lake Wilks, Dove Lake car park. The map below shows my actual route:

My actual walking route at Cradle Mountain.

When I started the walk I was a little concerned because the weather looked very similar to the previous day where I ended up walking in heavy rain. Nevertheless I left the car park and headed in a clockwise direction towards the Lake Rodway track. As I made my way past the junction at Glacier Rock towards Hansons Peak I was immediately struck by the snow gums on the slopes of Mount Campbell. They are such a distinctively Australian tree and I particularly like the interesting shapes they make as they twist up from the ground.

Snow gums on the slopes of Mount Campbell.

Knowing that I was on a tight time schedule I kept a quick pace as I made my way to the saddle between Mount Campbell and Hansons Peak. From here there are a number of obvious paths to the top of Mount Campbell. After only climbing for a couple of minutes I already had fantastic views over Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain.

The view from the saddle between Mount Campbell and Hansons Peak.

Even though Mount Campbell is not an official walk (you will not find any information about it from Tasmania Parks & Wildlife) it is a relatively straightforward walk to the top. There is just a short section of scree to climb before you reach an alpine plateau.

The short section of scree on Mount Campbell.

The alpine plateau at the top of Mount Campbell is relatively large. When I reached the area I headed straight for the cairn at the summit. On my way there I passed a number of quartzite formations where sharp, jagged rocks clustered together into all sorts of interesting shapes.

The rock cairn at the summit of Mount Campbell.
Quartzite rock formations at the summit of Mount Campbell.

As I explored the alpine plateau I was struck by the magnitude and beauty of the landscape in front of me. An endless collection of mountains and valleys that stretched into the distance. Clouds that slowly rolled over ridge lines before disappearing into thin air. It was magical!

Looking south-east towards Hansons Lake and Hansons River.
Mount Oakleigh far off in the distance.
Clouds rolling over ridge lines.
Mount Emmett, Pelion West, and Achilles.

Then the clouds which had been completely covering the summit of Cradle Mountain slowly began to lift. Within minutes the entire summit was visible and I could see that fresh snow had fallen all over the mountain. The combination of soft afternoon light, fresh snow and the remaining cloud resulted in the most dramatic landscape. I remember feeling so truly blessed to be able to just sit and enjoy this moment.

It’s one of the things I love most about getting out into nature, particularly to places that literally take your breath away. In those moments it’s like my mind and soul are given a chance to stop and reset. I have a better appreciation of my own smallness in such a vast world and I always walk away feeling so grateful for the gift of life. Maybe that’s why I enjoy walking so much.

A close-up of the Little Horn.
A close-up of Weindorfers Tower.
The summit of Cradle Mountain.
A close-up of Smithies Peak.

Even though I was on a tight time schedule I decided to start walking more slowly and to just enjoy this part of the walk. The clouds were really starting to disperse now and I was getting increasingly better views of Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain on the descent from Mount Campbell.

Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake from the top of Mount Campbell.
A panoramic of Hansons Lake, Hansons Peak, Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake.
A panoramic of Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake.
From just above the saddle between Mount Campbell and Hansons Peak.

Once I reached the saddle I rejoined the Lake Rodway track and started the ascent to Hansons Peak. I really enjoyed this section of the walk, particularly because of the sweeping views across Lake Hanson. In a strange way the softness of the colour and light of this area reminded me of a painting. There were all sorts of interesting lines and shapes, as though all the features of the landscape; the trees, the lake, the clouds, the ridges, the mountains, were all working together in harmony. It was really beautiful.

Lake Hanson from the saddle between Mount Campbell and Hansons Peak.
The northern tip of Hansons Peak.
Lake Hanson on the ascent to Hansons Peak.
Lake Hanson and Mount Campbell.
A panorama of Lake Hanson.

The final section of the ascent to Hansons Peak is very steep. The peak rises suddenly from the surrounding area and some climbing is required to reach the top. Fortunately, poles and chains have been installed to assist walkers in this section. There are also great views of Cradle Mountain on the way up.

The track to Hansons Peak.
The final climb to the top of Hansons Peak.
Cradle Mountain from the final ascent of Hansons Peak.

At the summit of Hansons Peak there are more great views of the surrounding area. Particularly of Cradle Mountain and of the landscape to the south.

Cradle Mountain from Hansons Peak.
Just south of Hansons Peak on the Lake Rodway track.

From here I headed west along the Face Track and then towards Lake Wilks. If I had more time I would have definitely traversed the entire Face Track and headed to Marions Lookout but I would have to save that adventure for another day.

At this point in the walk some fatigue and cramping had started to set in. I think it was a combination of not enough water, uncomfortable boots and being a bit out of shape. As a result my progress slowed to a crawl. Even though it was a tough slog I appreciated seeing Dove Lake, Lake Wilks and Cradle Mountain from a unique perspective.

A per its name, the Face track runs directly along the face of Cradle Mountain.
Dove Lake from above Lake Wilks.
Dove Lake from the Lake Wilks track.
Cradle Mountain from Lake Wilks.

I was really starting to run short on time now so I picked up the pace again as I rejoined the Dove Lake Circuit. As I had completed the Dove Lake Circuit yesterday I only stopped to take a handful of photos before reaching the car park.

The late afternoon sun on Cradle Mountain.
My last view of Cradle Mountain.

Unlike yesterday I had made it with plenty of time to spare, 3:45 pm. After signing out of the walkers registration logbook I boarded the second last shuttle bus for the day. I was exhausted but so completely satisfied at the same time.

As we made our way back to the Visitors Centre we came across a group of tourist whose companions had left for Marions Lookout at 3:30 pm. Marions Lookout is usually a 3 hour return walk and these inexperienced walkers were definitely going to miss the last shuttle bus. They would be walking in the dark for hours with temperatures below freezing. The frustrated driver called the rangers and they had to send a search party for them. It’s hard to believe that anybody could be so foolish.

Our bus then continued on to the visitor centre and I spent the return journey speaking with a young couple from Sydney who had spent the last two days in the area. We swapped stories of the walks we had done before wishing each other the best of luck for the rest of our respective trips throughout Tasmania.

By far the two most popular walks at Cradle Mountain are the Dove Lake Circuit and the walk to Marions Lookout. While both of these walks are very beautiful in their own right I have to say that I think the walk to Mount Campbell and Hansons Peak is definitely worth considering as an alternative. You are guaranteed to see less people and there are so many beautiful highlights on this walk. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. In fact, it has inspired me to complete the Overland Track with my brother in 2020. It really is an amazing place.

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