28-Oct-2012 -- The story continues from 43°S 147°E.
I had been keeping an eye on this fascinating confluence point: located in the South-West National Park of Tasmania, deep in the wilderness 25 km beeline away from any civilization.
This trip was by far the longest journey for visiting (or more precisely to attempt) a confluence point.
I started on the other side of the Earth on Sunday, 21 October 2013 in Zurich, Switzerland. I flew the route Zurich – Dubai – Melbourne – Hobart, reaching Tasmania’s capital city on 23 October. These flights covered 99.3% of the total distance to the point. In Hobart, I bought a bicycle and visited the nearby 43°S 147°E for a test ride.
The day of my departure from Hobart (25 October) was a rainy day with 6° Celsius and unpleasant wind. Nevertheless I hit the road with my bicycle and reached the campsite “National Park” located 70 km beeline from the confluence. This was the last opportunity to get stocked-up on food, before leaving civilization. Brandon, a very experienced park ranger at the visitor center discussed with me my confluence plan. Prior to my visit in the visitor center he had written via email:
A very interesting request! You are correct in thinking that the Huon campground is the closest point to the confluence that you are wanting to get to. The area is not somewhere where many (if any) people walk to. There are no tracks, trails or signage and it is a wilderness area. There is no mobile phone coverage.
Travel times are very variable. On […] Google Earth […], the very light coloured areas on the top of the ranges are almost bare of vegetation, and would be quite quick to travel through (for example the range just to the east of your position). In the valleys, the light grey/green areas are what’s called Button Grass, about hip high, and also relatively easy to get through. The darker green that you see, particularly along the creek lines and bottom of the valleys can be extremely dense vegetation. In some cases travel time can be as low as 100 metres an hour!
Possibly your best option would be to walk from Huon campground, and follow the road to its end at Lake Pedder. Follow the lake edge west till you get to the end of the Folded Range, then traverse along the top of the range to the west. Then descend west off the Folded Range then ascend the range that runs North West from this point. This is the pale coloured range that should be reasonably good walking. This will then get you into the area you want. I think by staying on the top of the ranges, will keep you out of the very dense vegetation in the creeks. The suggested route is approximately 50 km return. A bit hard to give you a trip time, but I would allow 6 days.
Weather in the Southwest can be highly variable and snow can be expected at any time of year. If you are looking at going in at the end of October, I would expect that there would be water along the way, but you may need to carry some along the top of the ranges.
I packed my food supplies accordingly for 6 days.
On 26 October, I rode my bicycle up to the last bit of gravel road in the Southwest Wilderness National Park. The Huon Campground where I stayed for the night offered very basic camp site without facilities. But at least there was a shelter for protection from the everlasting rain at a temperature of less than 6° Celsius. There were no other people in the campground under these weather conditions, causing an eerie atmosphere during the dusk. The remaining distance to the CP was now 0.2 %, which is an equivalent of 25 km.
On 27 October, rain kept me in the tent until 10 o’clock. After a breakfast with 500 g of oats mixed with one can of condensed milk, I had enough calories for the day’s hike. I went down to Lake Padder and followed its coastal line. Going was more difficult than I had expected. I knew that there was no footpath at all, but the rainy conditions made me slip and fall several times. Most of the time I had to wade through water and my feet got very cold. I was very surprised to see this Walker Registration Station Box, but opening the logbook, I realized that the last hikers had come across almost one year ago. I set my tent up near the lake shore. It was a cold and wet night. My mood was so-so, because my sleeping-bag was wet and I still had 20 km beeline to reach my target.
On 28 October a rainy storm kept me in the tent again. Even though my one-man-tent was tiny, I had to have breakfast inside the tent under cramped conditions. Later, the rain lessened, but the soil was soaked with water. I had to cross several swamps and deep rivers that required risky traverses. Since I was alone with two or more days away from people, I had to be extremely cautious. Most delays however were not caused by swamps, but by thickets. Thick, dense vegetation sometimes slowed my progress down to 200 m per hour! Without bush knife and gloves, my hands were soon wounded. Then, I began the ascent upwards to the top of the Folding Range (900 m). The hike upwards was extremely difficult and exhausting. At a height of 400 m, I came into very thick vegetation again. It was still 17 km to go, i.e. my progress had only been 7 km within 1.5 days. I realized that I wouldn’t make it within 6 days to the confluence and back. So I turned around. After turning around and heading back towards civilization, I came into a good mood. Soon the sun would shine and I had a pleasant camp right at the edge of the lake. Since there were no tides, I could camp right at the beach.
On 29 October I returned back to Camp Huon and continued by bicycle to the civilization at the campground National Park.
CP Visit Details:
- Distance to an asphalt road: 38 km
- Distance to a public road: 24 km
- Distance to a track: 24 km
- Distance of bicycle parking: 25 km
- Time at turn around: noon, Oct 28
- Measured height at turn around: 433 m
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 17 km
- Position accuracy at turn around: 7 m
- Topography: mountainous
- Vegetation: dense shrubs
- Weather: cloudy, light rain, 8° C (felt temperature)
- Given Name: The Lonely Hike Confluence
More pictures of the trip can found at mautz.net.
The story continues at confluence 38°S 146°E.
Here is an overview of the tour in table form: