Mount Arthur is one of several high mountains near Launceston, in northern Tasmania, which I've mentioned in a previous post. I've been thinking about climbing Mount Arthur for a long time, since my house-sit here two years ago; and this time I've got around to doing it.
You can see Mt Arthur from all around Launceston, so I knew from regular observation that it commonly has its head in the clouds.
As I wanted to climb Mount Arthur to experience more than just the exhilarating cold of being at 1200 metres in Tasmania in the middle of winter while in a cloud, I needed to make sure that I picked a clear day. I've been watching the weather for a good day for a few weeks – today had been predicted to be good for a while now, and it was! I had a clear sky and just a light wind which gave me great views from the top, and which made it quite comfortable on the alpine plateau – unlike a previous climb to Hartz Peak, in southern Tasmania, when the wind was blowing at about 50 kph – that was a great walk, but bordering on a bit too exhilarating!
The climb up the mountain
The first few kilometres of the walk were through typical Tasmanian temperate rainforest, with everything wet and dripping, and tree ferns and bright green moss growing everywhere.
As you can see in this picture there are very few large trees in the forest; although there were some large rotting logs like the one in the foreground, indicating that there were once large trees here. Many of the trees grow with multiple trunks from the same base, so I would say that the area had been clear felled a few decades ago.
I came across this strange fungus on a dead tree in the forest. When I first saw it I thought it was ice (actually, I don’t know what it is; I’m assuming it’s fungus.)
After one and a half hours of steadily climbing through the damp and gloomy (but beautiful) forest, I came to a more open and steeper rocky scree areas, and eventually popped out of the forest to the stunning views from the summit plateau.
The views from the top of Mount Arthur
As expected on such a beautiful day on the top of a 1200 metre mountain, the views were spectacular.
Mount Barrow and Ben Lomond are two of the other large mountains near Launceston; here they are with a coating of snow on them.
The mountain in the foreground is Mount Barrow with Ben Lomond behind. You can drive almost to the top of both of these mountains. Ben Lomond is the second highest peak in Tasmania at 1570 metres.
This is the view to the north, with Bass Strait, which separates Tasmania from mainland Australia, in the distance:
This is the view to the north west, with the town of Lilydale and the surrounding farmland:
This is the view to the west, with Launceston in the mid-ground and the Tasmanian Central Highlands in the distance.
Just to the right of the centre of the picture there's a dark patch, which is Cataract Gorge.
This is the view to the north east, with lines of forested hills disappearing into the distance:
This is Bass Strait again, with the sunlight reflecting off the surface of the water and illuminating the haze:
In this picture, in the distance you can see the Tamar River, which flows from Launceston to Bass Strait:
This is another view towards Launceston:
Crossing the alpine plateau
Once you get up onto the plateau it's still a good walk of about a kilometre to get to the summit above the western escarpment. Where the track doesn't catch the low winter sunlight the ground is freezing, and it gets covered in ice and snow.
Parts of the walk along the plateau are on raised boardwalks to protect the alpine wetlands. Ice and snow cover parts of the boardwalk, making it very slippery.
Here's the summit, with the usual cairn on top:
There are lots of eroded dolerite column rock formations on the plateau.
In the forest the track was conspicuous, but it on the bare rocks it became a bit indistinct in places. While I always manage to find the path, I was glad that I had my Tasmanian-bushwalking mate Denis's GPX route in the Handy GPS app on my phone, so I couldn't go too far wrong. At one point on the way down I did completely loose the track and had to backtrack to get back onto it; then the GPX route in Handy GPS made it easy for me to find the correct route.
I climbed Mount Arthur on my own which slightly increases the risk of the walk, especially when there is a bit of scrambling over slippery icy rocks involved, with the possibility of a serious fall if you're not careful.
To ensure that I could call for help if necessary, I checked the phone coverage map before I left, which indicated that I would have coverage all the way. In practice, they were just a couple of short sections where I lost coverage with my own network provider, although I still had emergency coverage. I also ran Graticule phone app, which continually transmits my location to a webpage as long as there's mobile data coverage.
Doing this walk
The walk wasn’t too long at 9.4 kilometres; and the ascent was moderate at 773 metres, but it was very steep in places, with lots of scrambling over icy rocks and along low cliffs, so great care is required in those places.
It's a great walk with great views, but hard on the knees!
Here's a Google Earth aerial view of my route:
On advice from my bushwalking mate Denis, who walked this track a couple of years ago, I parked my car here for the walk, although I found that a new car park has been constructed at the beginning of the track, here.
I met another bushwalker, Kate, from Hobart, on the summit; she had taken a partially different route to mine from a different starting point. It sounded like her route may have been shorter and easier, but misses out on the walk through the temperate forest. I don't know exactly where she started, but it could have been where Google Maps shows a parked car, here. If you want to try a variation on the beginning of the route, you could try to find your way to this point.
This was a very satisfying bush walk, with stupendous views and a visit to a marvellous alpine environment.
If you want to do this walk, you can download my KML file for your GPS app. or GPS unit here, to help you to find your way.
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