Pine Valley: The Labyrinth and Mt Acropolis

February 2018

Leaving Hobart in gloomy weather we drove to Lake St Clair staying overnight in the backpackers quarters which was very comfortable. There is a variety of accommodation available from luxury units, basic units, backpackers and tourist park, something for everyone. Our hike intentions included a 10km hike into Pine Valley which is over relatively flat terrain following the last few kms of the Overland Track to the Pine Valley junction, set up camp at Pine Valley then over the next couple of days head off exploring the Labyrinth and Mt. Acropolis.

In the morning we obtained the national parks pass, entered our hike intentions in the hikers log book and booked our seat on the early morning ferry. Along with day tourists and other hikers we boarded the ferry to be ferried across Cynthia Bay with skipper Brent at the helm. During peak season the ferry operates 3 times a day. Whilst in the winter months its best to check the ferry availability. Tours of Cynthia Bay and transferring hikers across the bay are available. Bookings can be made at the Lake St Clair Resort reception and for hikers coming off the track a 2 way radio is located in Narcissus Hut.

Stopping at Echo Point a few people disembarked to walk along the well defined and marked track of 10 kms back to Lake St Clair. This is a lovely area of temperate rain forest that transitions into eucalypt forest.

Many Overland hikers, as we did when we walked the Overland Track walk this section rather than catching the ferry at Narcissus Hut. With Echo Point campsite positioned on the edge of the bay makes for a magical spot to pull upand set up camp.

Arriving at Narcissus jetty everyone disembarked whilst the hikers who had finished the Overland Track eagerly awaited boarding to be ferried back across the Bay.

Unfortunately the past week had been torrid weather with hikers confronted with rain, hail and wind!!! Fortunately there was a four day break in the weather, lucky us. In the past we have been in this area immersed in inclement weather and its not fun. In saying that, weather in Tasmania is unpredictable and hikers need to be aware and prepared for this.

In light misty showers and with a spring in our step we headed off from Narcissus camp along the Overland Track towards the Pine Valley junction. The track is well defined but muddy sections and tree roots over the track can be challenging. Boardwalk sections cover the marsh areas as these areas are prone to flooding, swing bridges have been erected to cross over the river, so much infrastructure is ongoing. The 10km walk from Narcissus to Pine Valley over gentle undulating terrain is far from challenging considering it’s Tasmania.

As we made our way along a steady stream of Overland hikers were making their way to Narcissus camp. A guided group came through with one guide stating the weather had been horrendous making it a miserable week for hiking. Back when we hiked the Overland Track we had a week of 30c plus, what a contrast. By the time we arrived at the Overland Track and Pine Valley junction the sun was making an appearance with the clouds dispersing.

Walking through eucalyptus forest and marsh areas  the path is obvious but once in the rainforest area tree roots cross the track and the path can be hard to pick at times but track markers are located on trees. The rainforest is mystical with moss covering the trees, everything is damp with minimal light filtering through the dense canopy of the trees. A real hobbit like feel that has you expecting ‘Frodo Baggins’ to jump out from behind a mossy tree and start walking with you!!!

On arriving at Pine Valley there were more people than we expected scattered around  but we were in luck as there was a vacant tent platform. Chatted to others who had been walking the Overland Track and they were certainly enjoying the day without rain.

With dinner enjoyed it was off to bed early as being amongst the forest and surrounding mountains the daylight disappears very quickly, not to mention the chill in the air moves in once the sun slips behind the mountains.

Drifting off to sleep a commotion disturbed us and as Ian peered into the tent vestibule his backpack was on the move. As he pulled his backpack a tug of war started. On further investigation a fat black possum was on the other end and required a far bit of encouragement to release its hold. Sadly for the possum all efforts were in vain as we had hung our food bag well out of any possums reach. Obviously the smell of food had enticed the possum to see if he could snag a feast from an unsuspecting hiker.

Waking to a beautiful sunny morning we eagerly headed off to walk into the Labyrinth. The track was obvious with the occasional marker that reassured we were heading in the right direction.

Moss covered everything in the dark damp forest as we negotiated our way along the tree rooted path. The serious climb began and we were going straight up with sections of loose stones with water trickling down, this was actually the track. It was like a mini waterfall, a slippery one at that.

 

As we climbed out of the rainforest into native bush there were great views of surrounding mountains and over to Cynthia Bay, we actually sighted the ferry on the bay. At times its a hard slog climbing but the views always reward.

Stepping out onto the Parthenon we were in alpine vegetation and very exposed as we traversed along the plateau which showcased the distance mountains. The sun was shining brightly and throwing some hot rays as cloud drifted over the mountain peaks. A clearing sky indicated we would be entertained with great views, after all that’s what we had come for.

Walking to the end of the plateau our gaze fell on the most beautiful sight down in the valley, we stood spellbound by this natural beauty.

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Following the cairns we made our way down the steep decent into the valley known as the Labyrinth. The pool of water was so blue with the green pines creating a picture perfect backdrop with the mountains in the distance. A showcase of how stunning nature is, simply breathtaking

We lulled on the rocks basking in this raw creation before discovering more of the area, what a haven.

Time to retrace our steps and make the climb back up onto the plateau followed by the descent through the rainforest back to Pine Valley.

What a wonderful day. We had both been stretched physically and awe struck by the beauty of this wilderness.

Back at camp and with chores done, evening meal enjoyed we tucked down into our sleeping bags for a good nights sleep. Once again the resident possum was on the prowl and was in luck as it raided other hikers packs, they had forgotten to hang their food. Well it was on between the guys and possum but this possum wasn’t giving up easily and was determined to steal some food. Eventually the possum retreated and the guys gathered what had been scattered around and hung their packs in a tree.

Ooops we slept in, not a good start to the day. Once sorted we headed off in the direction of Mt Acropolis which was through dense damp dark rainforest with Cephissus creek babbling away.

It was so quiet and still in fact a bit eerie as we walked along climbing steeply (again) over tree roots and through lots of mud to the plateau.

Stepping out of the rainforest onto the plateau revealed a beautiful sunny day with clear skies, perfect for views. Walking across the plateau we enjoyed gazing upon the grandeur of distant mountain ranges before starting the climb up to Mt Acropolis.

Amongst native bush the pandanis vegetation is featured and flourishes in a temperate rainforest environment.

The path was easy to follow with boardwalk sections, plenty of rocks to scramble over  along with spectacular views. Gazing back and seeing the track on the plateau indicated just how high we had climbed.

With clear skies this entire area was well showcased especially the mountains hovering in the distance. As a result of our late start(very annoying) we realised we weren’t going to make the climb to the very top of the Acropolis as we yet had to return to Pine Valley, pack up camp and make the 10km walk back to Narcissus camp. Regardless of not reaching the summit we enjoyed the climb and the views.

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The walk back to Narcissus camp was pleasant in the late afternoon sunshine. A few people were making their way into Pine Valley and stopped to chat, we all have an adventure to share.

Arriving at Narcissus camp there were quite a few hikers already set up and feisty mossies buzzing around and very eager to welcome us to camp as we attempted to flick  them away. Managing to squeeze our tent in we set about enjoying dinner before snuggling down into our sleeping bags. No possum to contend with tonight!!

Up bright and early to book our spot on the ferry. In Narcissus hut is a two way radio for this purpose. With camp packed up we made our way down to the jetty, boarded the ferry and headed back to Lake St Clair enjoying the bay views. Another wonderful hike enjoyed.

Until next yarn, happy hiking

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