Being 1271 metres above sea Mt Wellington/Kunanyi looms dominantly over the city of Hobart creating a picturesque backdrop at any time of year. The snow fall, cloud cover, clear views, gloomy views whatever the case there’s always a spectacular sight of the mountain above from the valley below.
Gazing from the valley we were not only excited to have a clear view of the mountain but also the sun was shining, being winter how lucky to score such a day. Scurrying off to the Kunanyi/Mt Wellington Explorer Bus terminal we boarded with many others. The driver delivered an informative talk as the bus moved through the streets of Hobart before weaving along the narrow road up the mountain. Part way up we disembarked at an observation point where our eyes feasted on views extending over the bay to the distant mountains ranges. Something I wasn’t aware of, there are no native koalas or crows in all of Tasmania, well there you go.
As the road was free of snow and ice the road gates would be open giving us a guaranteed ride to the summit. Our plan was to travel by bus to the summit then walk back down along the Zig Zag track to The Springs and perhaps continue back into Lenah Valley otherwise we would catch the afternoon bus at The Springs. Disembarking the bus at the summit we were caught up in a gust of cold wind that almost had us at a trot. At the summit it is 8 or so degrees lower than Hobart’s temperature and today was no exception.
After a quick walk around the summit enjoying the 360 degree views we made our way to the Zig Zag track. Stepping onto a well defined compacted surface didn’t have us fooled for one minute, we knew the rocks and rough track awaited us. Starting the descent we were anticipating the possibility of ice over the rocks which would create a slippery surface but to our relief there was no evidence of ice.
The track of rocks of varying sizes was rough and uneven but a huge amount of track work has obviously been completed with rock steps and chain hand rails strategically placed to ensure a level of safety.
Regardless sure footing was essential as was not being distracted by the spectacular views of the bay and Hobart that lay below. Making our way down the mountain we stopped frequently to appreciate the views. It was surreal to be looking down into the valley from the mountain rather than looking up from the valley.
Having left the summit alpine vegetation the snow gums and bushy shrubs featured in amongst the rocks. The rocky track extended until reaching the junction of the Pinnacles and Organ Pipes tracks. Veering left the compacted gravel track lead us to a viewing opportunity of the Organ pipes. The spectacular rock formations aptly named unfortunately was obscured by the trees with only one spot giving a snapshot of their grandeur.
Returning to the track junction we surged forward along the Pinnacles track. Moss covered the rocks and fallen tree trunks. The track took on a rough uneven cobblestone effect and with the water trickling across the path made for a very slippery surface. Water seeping from the mountain formed beautiful miniature waterfalls, listening to the babbling water was incredibly tranquil.
Having not seen many other people on the Zig Zag track the number of walkers certainly had increased as we continued to descend. Arriving at The Springs we were glad of a break and enjoyed lunch and a cuppa at the very busy cafe. Looking back up, cloud was drifting over the face of the mountain and with that a sudden fall in temperature was obvious. Many walking tracks of different distances and gradients radiate out from this area making it a very popular spot to wander through the forest. A map is available outlining the various tracks. With still plenty of time in our favor we opted to follow the Lenah Valley Track back into town.
Another change in vegetation had us admiring the huge looming tree trunks. The dense foliage above formed a canopy only allowing a slim filter of sun to penetrate through. Obviously being the reason for the damp undergrowth. The track was well defined and easy to transverse along with sections of fallen rock that we had to negotiate over and being damp the rocks were slippery. Stopping to view a fungi protruding from a tree trunk we chatted to a small family group all aged 70 plus. They said they grew up in this area and as children spent endless hours roaming the forest before structured tracks had been thought of. Now every Tuesday they gather to walk one of the many tracks. As they said, ‘once we had this all to ourselves now we share it with many’.
Taking the short diversion to the Spinx Rock we were entertained to a magnificent full view of the Organ Pipes. They appeared to be suspended in mid air.
Continuing on we passed the first stone cabin before engaging in some serious rock hopping along the track. Arriving at Junction Cabin, another stone cabin we took a break and studied the numerous tracks that lead off from this area. With the forest opening up a bit more the undergrowth and atmosphere was much drier as we continued on the Lenah Valley Track.
Walking along a narrow ridge the vegetation was of gum trees and scrubby bushes scattered in amongst huge rocks with great views of the city and bay. Heading back into ferns, moss and dampness under foot we descended to the New Town waterfall with just a trickle of water spilling over.
Continuing on the well defined track we eventually made our way to the Hobart Rivulet which we have walked many times. Arriving back in Lenah Valley we gazed back up to the summit to where we had started our adventure for the day and felt very content with our journey.
Until next yarn, happy hiking
Bernadette and Ian