Fagus groves on Tarn Shelf Click to Enlarge
As mentioned in a previous post, attempting the capture the turning of the Fagus is a annual event for many Tasmanian photographers, and can lead to them doing things they would not otherwise normally do. In my case it was making the steep ascent of the slopes of Mt Mawson to walk along the plateau and take photos of the Tarn Shelf that is flanked by this deciduous tree.
The Tarn Shelf as it is known is located on the eastern slope of the Rodway Ranges in Mt Field National Park. Mount Field National Park is perhaps Tasmania’s most well known national park with it’s waterfalls and accessibility.
Myself and a walking friend arrived at the Lake Dobson car park around 11:30am. Based on earlier weather reports that morning, I came prepared with multiple layers of clothing. The first and perhaps the hardest part of the walk was from the car park to the ski fields, where a well formed gravel road rises some 150m over 1km. It didn’t take me long to start stripping off the layers of jumpers. At the top we were rewarded with a view of Lake Dobson, with a patten of holes where the local platypus has broken the ice for air.
Lake Dobson. The platypus had formed a figure-eight of air holes in the thing ice. Click to Enlarge.
When reaching the ski fields, my visions of a ski village akin to Ben Lomond were quickly shattered. A couple of shipping containers and some huts was a little less to what I had in my head. I did finally get to see the Mawson tow snowcam (located on brown hut, centre) that I have used often to assess weather conditions at Mt Field.
Mt Mawson ski fields. click to enlarge.
Having reached the ski fields, I was surprised to find that the ascent had taken over an hour. At this point I was looking around for the Tarn Shelf track with the thought that I’d go to Seal Lake Lookout and see how passable the track was. Luckily someone had thoughtfully written on a block of wood and placed in an obvious position.
50m to Tarn Shelf Track. iPhone Photo. Click to Enlarge
After climbing again to the track, I started to get excited seeing that the track was mostly level, even better that crushed rock had been used to form the track and better still that where swampy, duckboards made for really easy walking. It didn’t take long to traverse the 20o metres of so to Seal Lake lookout where I got my first view of the Tarn Shelf and Fagus.
Tarn Shelf from Lake Seal Lookout. Click to Enlarge
With the walk looking rather easy along the duck boards, progress was rapid, slowed occasionally by rock hopping over areas that were two steep and rocky for the duck boards to traverse. We reached a junction in the track where we could either follow a track up and over the Rodway Range (the Lions Den), or go down to the tarn shelf. With no obvious track to get down, slippery conditions and footwear not designed for rock hopping, we made a choice to not proceed down to the actual shelf, but rather spend time taking photos from where we stood on higher ground. It also allows us to look back on where we came from.
Mawson Plateau. Click to Enlarge
With the time already creeping away past mid-afternoon, and knowing that it was going to take at least an hour to 90 mins to return to the car, we started making our way back to the car park. The late afternoon sun was providing software lights, and the colours really started to saturate. It made me wish I could have spent more time there. The snow melt and crystal clear pools were spectacular.
Snow Melt around the Mawson Plateau. Click to Enlarge
Back at the ski fields, there was a need to attend the toilet. One of the nice/amusing things about toilets in Tasmanian national parks is that it would seems the twisted humour of the rangers/construction teams ensures that they have the most spectacular outlooks on the parks. A Loo with a view, and this one was no different:
Loo with a View. Click to Enlarge
We made it back to the car around 4.10pm, and 20mins later were back at the Mt Field Parks office. Some valuable lessons were taken away from this day, including the need for appropriate footwear and to ensure a more plentiful supply of snacks (we were ravenous upon returning, having eaten nothing but a block of old gold chocolate between us during the walk).
In all a fantastic day in the wilderness that I hope to repeat again soon.