Mt Wedge

Eliza Plateau, Southwest NP

08/11/2015 7:26:00 am

A quick trip into Tasmanias Southwest NP to Strathordon/Lake Pedder region, to go and check out some of the amazing terrain that forms Tassies rugged Southwest, home to some of the most remote and untouched areas on this planet.

As the road winds on past the township of Maydena, you start to notice that areas of human congregation are getting less and less the further you drive. Its one of those roads that allows you think that maybe you'll fall off the edge of the Earth if you just keep driving..

But soon enough you'll start getting a few glimpses of Lake Pedder and if you keep a keen eye on your surroundings, you'll notice a few spots where you can stop the car and take a short hike through low scrub to discover views like these...

frankland range across pedder
  • view across Lake Pedder to the Frankland Range

I arrived at Strathgordon and pulled into the Pedder Wilderness Lodge with just enough time left in the day to scoot up a local access road onto the nearby TwelveTree Range, in the hopes of catching a nice sunset. My friend Chris has recently taken over management of the lodge, with plans to make it a very impressive base camp for travellers in the region. check them out if youre heading to Tassie, i highly recommend visiting the southwest region and staying with Chris, Jess, Sarah and the rest of the crew at Pedder Wilderness Lodge -

I was fortunate enough to make it up to the top of the nearby Twelvetree Range just in time to catch a gorgeous sunset, witnessing golden rays of sunlight filter through the clouds and lighting up the surrounding ranges. I shot a few images and captured a timelapse of the setting sun, before retreating back down to the lodge for a meal and to rest up before the rather long day that i had planned for the next day - climbing up Mt Sprent early, to catch the sunrise, then back down Sprent and around to the Mt Elza/Mt Anne range, to hike hike up to the plateau before sunset and camp the night.

preaching over the precambrian
  • Golden rays of sunset from atop the Twelvetree Range
Pedder wilderness lodge
  • Lake Pedder Wilderness Lodge sits right on the edge of the lake, a great place for some R&R.

The next day i was up at 5am to find a thick layer of fog had settled over the lake overnight, and very calm conditions, with little or no wind. This made me rather excited and keen to get hiking, hoping that i could manage to hike up through the fog and emerge above the blanket of cloud to witness the sunrise. I headed off and made my way to the starting point of the hike up Mt Sprent. The first hour of the hike is quite steep and muddy as it winds its way up through the forested lower section before opening out into low scrub and buttongrass a bit higher up.

I was pushing myself physically, as i didnt have much time to climb before the sunrise and i really needed to rise above the fog to see the view that i wanted to photograph, of the suns first rays as it came up over the horizon. So i went hard at it, smashing along with my camera gear on my back, keeping one eye on the time and the other on the prize...

the fog

Then it happened; I had suddenly reached an elevation that was above the layer of fog and i came out of the scrub and into a clearing, with a great view east towards the rising sun.

I barely had enough time to catch my breath when i saw the orange ball of sun start to emerge on the distant horizon. I quickly pulled out the camera and got it onto the tripod just in the nick of time, to capture those first rays, the vista was breathtaking, (or perhaps i was just out of breath from the high-speed hike) ...

southwest soup

After watching the sunrise and shooting a couple of timelapse scenes of the fog as it ebbed and flowed around the foothills, i headed back down the the lakes edge, which was a picture of perfect calm, which prompted me to pause for a while on the waters edge and soak up the stillness.

mirror mirror on the walk
perfect morning

After spending an hour or so just sitting on the waters edge admiring the near-perfect mirror reflections on the lakes surface, it was time to drive the 30-odd km around to Condominium Creek to take on the hike up Mt Eliza to the plateau. The day was perfect, with temps in the low 20's, no wind, and only light scattered cloud. This made for pleasant hiking conditions and as i climbed up the western ridge of Eliza i couldnt help stopping quite often to turn around and admire the views back over Lake Pedder, Scotts peak and Mt Solitary. The vista that this hike affords is nice and wide, taking in the Arthur and Frankland Ranges beyond the lake. The final ascent up Eliza takes you up through an impressive mass of strewn Dolerite (think car-sized boulders) which was a little tricky in places when loaded up with a 25kg pack. Reaching the fairly easy-walking plateau atop Eliza was a welcome relief, as being up since 5am and already hiking up and down Mt Sprent for the sunrise had made it a pretty long day! As the day was getting late and fast moving into that "golden hour" of light for shooting landscapes, i quickly set about finding a good spot to camp and set the tent up before getting out the camera gear and immersing myself in the incredibly beautiful sub-alpine surroundings. On a clear day, the plateau offers fantastic views in all directions and this afternoons weather was about as good as it gets! With a few snow drifts still around after one of the snowiest winters we had experienced in years, the ambiance was a mix of receding winter and emerging spring, pandani poking their heads out of the melting snowpack and the freshest of water trickling through every crevice. The gurgling sound of the snow melt run-off was the soundtrack behind a wonderful afternoon of exploring the plateau, as i carefully picked my way between and around the sensitive alpine vegetation, taking photos and reveling in the feeling of sheer vastness you get from gazing out across the seemingly endless mountain ranges that are stacked towards the horizon. Its an amazing feeling that i can find nowhere else in life.

eliza in spring
pure pandanis
  • snowbound pandani
view to schnell ridge from Mt Eliza
  • looking south from the plateau, across Schnells Ridge to the Arthur Range.
  • seemingly endless mountain ranges
  • The late afternoon sun, as it sets beyond Mt Eliza and Lake Pedder
Mt Wedge
  • looking north towards the Gordon dam in the distance, across the very defined shape of Mt Wedge. Beautiful fresh water is abundant in spring on the plateau.
pushing on
  • The track leading towards Eve peak with the summit of Mt Anne on the left.
slip away
  • the last of the sun disappears behind a thick bed of cloud along the horizon.

After the day had given way to nightfall, i retreated to my tent and quickly fell asleep, tired from the days adventures. I awoke early (my usual waking hour is sometime between 4 and 5am) and clambered out of the tent to discover that clouds had come rolling in overnight, marking the start of the change that was forecast to arrive today. I packed up my campsite and wandered off to explore the area and hopefully find some nice morning shots before i headed for home. The thick clouds were fobbing most of the sunlight, but occasionally this turned on a great display of crepuscular rays as the sun found little gaps in the cloud to come beaming through.

Lake Judd_

After shooting a few timelapse scenes of the sunrays and rolling cloud, i sat for a while and gazed at the views across lake Judd from atop the dolerite cliffs on the edge of the Eliza plateau.

As i made my way back along the track towards the descent down Mt Eliza i took notice of some of the dense alpine vegetation that forms a thick carpet between the boulders. The detail is beautiful, and i find it rather amazing that these plants survive through the winter AND summer, as through the winter months they are buried under snow, then also survive the hot windy days of summer. Pretty hardy little plants!

natures garden
the fallen
  • Not all living things can survive the Tassie winter, this little battler is one that didnt make it!
micro cascade_
  • So long Eliza plateau, you've been awesome! seeya next time.