January 24, 2005

Mt Byron

 Marian Harradine
Monday 24th January,2005
We were camping at Narcissus Bay and planned to climb Mt Byron, starting out on the Overland Track at 9.30. We had a good look at Mt Byron in the distance before we left, checking out the north face as that was the way we were going up. We filled up our bottles at a small creek 15 minutes later and another 15 minutes later at 10am we took the Byron Gap Track turnoff enjoying the cool rainforest which was undulating but gradually ascending. There were quite a few places for drinking water in the next hour and then the track became steeper for 10 minutes or so before coming out of the forest into the open light bush.
We reached the top of the gap at 11.15 with a great view of Frenchman's Cap, and had a rest and a snack. Mt Byron was quite close by, to the west of us. Then we descended for about a hundred meters where there was a small log across the culvert beside the track, the starting point for going up Byron. It has not got a track officially. I took a bearing with the compass to the northern face of Mt Byron (due west) and we crossed the log and headed off up into the rainforest at 11.25. The beginning had a track visible in the mud, but as we started climbing that disappeared. Following the compass bearing up we followed a route that in parts had obviously been used by others. It was fairly easy to find clear walking in the forest and eventually, as the forest became scrub, at about 11.50 we noticed a definite track with the odd cairn starting to appear. It was warming up and at 12.15 we had a 5 minute rest in a shady spot.
At 12.25. an hour after leaving the main track, we started climbing up boulders, well cairned, no problems there. The views became impessive too, with Lake St Claire and Lake Petrarch on either side of Mt Olympus behind us.
At 12.45 we climbed up through some high columns and were surprised to suddenly reach the summit of Mt Byron at 1pm.
Again the views were spectacular in all directions. Frenchman's Cap looked dramatic to the south west with the Eldons west and the surprisingly close West Coast Range further west. Mt Gould and the DuCane Range and Mt Ossa, Mt Rogoona and Walls of Jerusalem. To the south we could see Lake King William and beyond the south west ranges. It was a perfect day, not a cloud in the sky and no wind. I laid the map on a large square rock and it did not move.
At 1.45, after some lunch we reluctantly left the top and headed back down initially boulder hopping for half and hour, and again using the compass once we got into the rainforest and off track. We got back accurately to the starting point at Byron Gap at 3pm, very surprised at how spot-on the compass was. This was my first time of using the compass and following a bearing.
We descended Byron Gap for 20 minutes before stopping for a snack near a small creek. We continued on after ten minutes and joined the overland track at 4.30. It was quite warm once out of the rainforest.
We got back to Narcissus Bay and our tent at 5pm.

January 12, 2005

Mt Field National Park - Belcher Hut

9 & 10 July 2005 - Kate & Athol Chatfield

The information we had on Belcher Hut led us to believe that the walk might be a pleasant re-introduction to bushwalking, having had a 6 month break from it. 

We headed off along the track at about 12.30 on Saturday. The weather was calm, the water on the track was frozen in fantastic patterns. As we got closer to the tall trees we could see light snow had settled, much to my excitement. The slight incline to this point was gentle and enjoyable, but on descending the track had an almost constant cover of slippery ice which made staying on two feet a challenge. Descending on slippery boulders to a little stream that has a few logs to enable crossing. Whilst walking across the stream I pictured myself on 'Funny home videos' slipping over, landing on my bum then head first in to the icy water.. Thankfully that wasn't to be. After the little stream crossing the track turned unpleasant. I wouldn't recommend this track
for this time of year. Maybe in the middle of summer, or after a heavy snowfall, but not in-between. Lots of water, very boggy with thigh deep bog holes to swallow you up. I'm not a fan of bog at the best of times, especially when I hadn't prepared myself mentally for it. It reminded me of the track in to Federation Peak two years ago after 3 days of rain. Once Belcher hut was in sight I felt much better. Belcher is a wooden
hut with a tin roof. It has a little fireplace, couple of glass windows and 2 bunks. There was no hut book when we were there, although there was a holder for one. Notes written in a novel at the hut would suggest that a couple of people despised the track and were very upset with the condition of it and at it being called a track. That's Tassie bush for you though. Apparently there is good fishing at the lake 500 meters from the hut but it was far too cold for me to even think of having a look. Standing at Belchers hut looking up to the surrounding snow covered mountains made me feel so little and insignificant. The view was breathtaking. Anyway, the sun disappeared and the cold set in, and it was cold. The bottle of water sitting on the hut floor was frozen solid
by morning. The fireplace gave out little heat but was comforting and gave enough light to let us organise the gas stove and set up the bed. After a fantastic curried fish meal and a couple of bourbons we were ready for sleep. It was simply too cold to do anything else. Time: 7.30 pm. The weather stayed calm, the night was long. In the morning it was on with the cold wet socks and saturated muddy boots ready for the walk
out. This time we put our wet weather overalls and rain coats on which kept the bog out much better than just wearing gaiters as we did on the way in. The walk out was long. The ice and snow of the day before had
melted and was now sloppy and mushier.. The snow covered boulders on the incline were slightly better to gain footing on the way out due to the ice melting a little and much of the snow from the day before had gone.
The walk out seemed a long way and on arriving at the car the weather was looking like turning bad. 

All in all it was a great experience, but if you plan on going there, be prepared for very wet, boggy walking and a cold night. You may want to take in some firewood also. 

Ahtol heading to Belcher
Approach to Belcher Mt Field

Belcher Hut

Inside Belcher Hut

Mt Field Hut


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