04-Dec-2001 -- My Dad and I made plans to visit some of the
Tasmanian confluences while I was down here for a visit. After
borrowing a GPS, and obtaining some maps of the area, we felt ready
for action. The confluence was located in an area of state forest, on
a ridge line near Smithton (pronounced Smifton). We had a 1:25000
scale map of the immediate area, and a 1:100000 scale map of the
approach from the north east. The weather was great, sunny and not too
Smithton and Irishtown are on the NW tip of Tasmania and are among
the first places that the wind hits after leaving the Antarctic. The
main industry is dairy farming (Pic #7); on our approach we were surrounded by
Fresian and Jersey cows.
In hindsight, we would have done well to obtain the 1:25000 map of
the area to the north of the confluence. After finding a bridge over a
creek had been washed out, we parked the car and set off on foot, up a
steep and muddy track. As it turned out, the track was one turnoff too
The track took us uphill and into dense Eucalyptus and Nothofagus
(Southern Beech) bush. The forest was logged around 20-30 years ago,
the foresters leaving a few massive trees. These were old stags trees,
with leaves only on the top braches. They had rainforest buttress
roots and some were approaching 80 plus metres tall and had parts of
their tops missing.
Reaching a point where the road diverged to the west, we decided to
head on straight through the dense scrubland. We slogged over a series
of steep hills followed by equally step descents into the creek
bottoms. Often we could scramble up onto a fallen tree and walk 50 or
so metres along it, avoiding the thick understory bush. All this
scrambling over fallen or sawn-through logs, trudging through stream
beds had me thanking dad for remembering to pack his spare wellington
Although we didn't see much wildlife, there was evidence of it
everywhere; the constant cries of birds in the air, the diggings of
Bandicoots in the soil, and yabbie holes in the creek beds.
After bashing through the bush for a couple of hours for a less
than impressive 1.2km, we stumbled across the old disused logging
trail which we had intended to travel on from the start. This track
became progressively more overgrown, eventually leading to a point
where a fallen log cut across, ending it 200m from the confluence.
Setting off through the bush again, we descended into a valley,
through a stream, and up another hill again into a small clearing
around the confluence. To the west of the clearing was a particularly
large tree (Pic #2), which we decided marked the 41°S 145°E pole. We also saw
some native bees (Pic #5) with a nest in the ground.
Dad sat on a log while I wandered around with the GPS attempting to
locate the line of zeros we were seeking. The surrounding dense forest
obscured some of the satellites from the view of the GPS, and caused
the confluence point to wander around somewhat. I eventually decided
that 0.1 of a second was close enough and shot the all important GPS
photo (Pic #6), although as I was wandering all over the area I'm sure I would have walked right over the confluence point.
Our return from the confluence was made considerably easier by
returning to and following the overgrown logging track and walking
along it via several junctions to the track on which we had left the
car. The trip out crashing through the bush took around three hours of
slog. The trip back, once we had found the log track with the aid of
the GPS, involved a casual saunter along the track and took somewhat
less than an hour.