This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2000 Travels February 19


Today was very hot, and a total fire ban day.

We drove back towards Lake Pedder, thinking to go to the old town ruins at Adamsfield, once a very remote, early 20th century, osmiridium mining area, then accessible only by pack trail. But the Ranger at the entry gate said we needed a key to get there – obtainable from back at the Mt Field Base! We did not want to drive back there. The Ranger also said that where there were open gates on the tracks around here, Forestry people may come along later in the day and lock them, because of the fire ban. This seemed rather counter-intuitive to me – to lock gates and perhaps close people into areas where there may be fire!

I had a look at my map and found the Clear Hill Track, a bit further on, which went north to within a few kms of Adamsfield. When we got to it, though, it was a gated track, which I hadn’t realized. John decided to follow it anyway, as the gate was open, and chance it being closed later. Hmmm….

02-19-2000 01 Lake Gordon from Adamsfield Tk.jpg

Lake Gordon from the Clear Hill Track

The unsealed track took us generally north, through the forests and in parts, close to Lake Gordon. The lake looked well down in level, because of the drought.

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Drought level – Lake Gordon

Unlike Lake Pedder that we saw yesterday, where what was drowned was  scrub country, there is much dead timber evident in Lake Gordon. From the 1960’s, into the 70’s, there was intensive logging of the area that was due to be flooded by the damming – but, obviously, a lot of trees were left behind.

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Information board about tree removal before the dam flooding

After maybe about 15kms, we came to the other end of the Adamsfield track, which had a locked gate across it, so we had no choice but to turn back the way we’d come. It was only about a 4km walk from this corner, to the old mining area, but this was not the right day to go exploring on foot in the forest!

On the track back, for the sake of exploring, John took a side track towards the lake. It ended at the lake edge, or where the edge would have been if it were not so low. At one point, the track was badly undermined by previous high water levels, so much that I considered it risky to drive over, but John made it over and then back. I stayed out of Truck on the excuse of photography!

02-19-2000 04 undercut track edge Lk Gordon

Under cut track. When Lake Gordon is full, the water level is up to the track.

Whilst wandering about by the edge area, and taking photos, we disturbed a very large tiger snake, which – luckily – decided to go the other way from us.

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A large and well fed tiger snake!

I became increasingly concerned, as we dallied in this area, and the day got hotter, that we might get locked in, but the gate was still open when we got back to it. Whew! This concern, for me, rather detracted from the enjoyment of exploring.

We saw lots of apiary sites along Clear Hill Track. The bees were very busy around some sets of hives. On some hives, there were great clusters of bees on the outside of the boxes – we were not sure why. The heat? Or were they full of honey? We could certainly smell the honey as we went past. I think this area may be a prime one for leatherwood honey gathering.

Back on the main Strathgordon road, we continued on in that direction, to find a picnic spot. Just over the bridge across the McPartlans Canal a side track took us to a parking area overlooking Lake Pedder and we ate lunch there.

02-19-2000 06 lk pedder near mcpartlan pass

Lake Pedder near McPartlans Canal

Then we back tracked and went up a side track to a boat ramp on Lake Gordon. John tried to fish there, but lost his lure – then found one. It was quite an eerie area – all dead trees and desolation.

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Lake Gordon – a desolate place

But after a short time of that, we decided to head back to the van. At the entry station, dropped off a pair of motor cycle trousers that we’d earlier found lying by the side of the road. We did wonder what the story was, there!

On the way back through Maydena, I was able to buy a Saturday Mercury newspaper. The letter that John had written, about enabling better access to the southern most point of the island, was in the paper. We wondered if it would stir up any response.

We topped up the fuel at Maydena, with $20 worth of fuel. It was 91cpl there!

We drove 189kms today.

Tea was left over chow mein and rice for John, stir fried veggies for me.

We had some spots of rain around dusk, then proper rain during the night. That should help to ease the quite serious bushfire problems in some parts of the state, we thought. It was very pleasant, hearing the rain on the roof during the night.

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Our explorations whilst based at National Park

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2000 Travels February 18


This was to be a driving day, not one for walking – theoretically, at least! We set out to drive to Scotts Peak Dam, at the southern end of Lake Pedder.

The original Lake Pedder – a small one by comparison with the present lake – was the subject of a significant environmental protest movement, before its damming in 1972. At that time, The Hydro Electric Commission of Tasmania had enormous influence in the State, to the point where it was seen as controlling governments – both Labor and Liberal. Many Tasmanians believed that the ongoing welfare of the state was dependent on HEC activity. The HEC in the late 60’s wanted to expand electricity generation by creating more and larger dams.

Lake Pedder was a glacially formed lake, with a beautiful quartzite sand beach. It was inaccessible, except by foot, and was a half way point on the challenging extended walk from Port Davey to Maydena – which took, on average, three weeks to complete. The lake was the focal point of a National Park.

The HEC proposed building three dams that would create a huge impoundment of water, drowning Lake Pedder in the process. Despite protests and the rapid growth of a movement to Save Lake Pedder, and the attempted intervention of the new ALP Whitlam Government in Canberra, the Tasmanian Premier revoked Lake Pedder’s National Park status and the dams were built, creating Lake Gordon and a huge “new” Lake Pedder, linked by the McPartlan Canal.

02-18-2000 12  original Lake Pedder around the corner.jpg

Lake Pedder as it is after the dams were built. The original lake was around the corner of the narrow channel

Although Lake Pedder was lost,  awareness of the values of the Tasmanian wilderness was well and truly raised. The Lake Pedder protest groups evolved into the Tasmanian Wilderness Society and eventually Green political parties. By the time, a decade later,  that the HEC proposed damming the Lower Gordon and Franklin Rivers, the environmental movement was able to prevent this happening.

The dams construction and the building of the hydro electricity generating plant meant that a road was built from Maydena – previously the end of the road – to the generating plant at Strathgordon, and another – unsealed  though – south to Scotts Peak Dam, creating access by vehicle to parts of the south west wilderness where none had been.

The scenery on the way to Scotts Peak Dam was magnificent, particularly the views of the Frankland Range and the Arthurs. The road ran beside Lake Pedder at times; reflections of surrounding peaks, in the water, were great.

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Mt Anne from the Scotts Peak Dam road

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Lake Pedder and the Frankland Range

We stopped briefly at Edgar Dam, where there was a pleasant bush campground which we later decided was nicer than the Huon campground at the end of the road south.

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Reflections in Lake Pedder at Edgar Dam

We also stopped at Scotts Peak Dam lookout.

02-18-2000 07 lake pedder at scotts pk lo

Lake Pedder at Scotts Peak Dam Lookout


The road ended at the Red Knoll Lookout. We ate lunch there, soaking in the view across Lake Pedder to the valley that led to where the original lake was.

02-18-2000 11 truck and Lake Pedder

Hard to beat this for a scenic lunch spot

After lunch, the temptation of the distant vista of the Arthurs was too great to resist, and we decided to go for a walk towards them, along the track to Port Davey.

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The Western Arthurs and the Port Davey Track

We walked south for about 80 minutes, probably getting some 5kms along the track. I think we almost reached Junction Creek, before we turned around and backtracked. It was easy walking, in plain and marsh country, with a lot of board walked track. It was quite hot. Ahead of us there was an absolutely superb panorama across to the Arthurs. looming not that far away. We met a couple of groups of walkers coming in from walks in the Arthurs.

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Boardwalks prevent track deterioration – and wet feet!

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As far as we went – last creek before Junction Creek

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Interesting fungi by the walking track

The walking activity got rid of most of the stiffness from yesterday, without being too strenuous.

We got back to the van at a reasonable time, having driven 179 kms today, and sat outside having a couple of beers and watching the campground activity. There were four Dutch people camped next door and they were very intrusive, sitting right under our open van window and talking loudly. Despite the people, this was a pleasant place to be.

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Camp and wild life

The resident pademelons were not shy, quite happily browsing round our camp, despite the noisy neighbours. We discovered that some species of wildlife left its calling card on the camp seat we were using. Not sure that pademelons jump up on such things – it may have been a possum.

02-18-2000 02 nocturnal leavings Mt Field camp.jpg

Something was marking out its territory!

Tea was fried potato slices with fish; John had fish from the freezer that he caught at Nubeena. I had a piece of frozen oven-bake fish, cooked in the frypan too.

John had found that he got better TV here by bringing the aerial in through the roof vent – along with any bug that wants to come in that way! However, there was only SBS and Southern Cross available here. So we played cd’s instead of watching TV – lovely! It is a too rare treat for me to be able to have music in the van.

It was a hot night.