TAS2020: Day 06

Misty Tarn

Tarn Shelf Walk

The weather forecast for today was not that great and it certainly lived up to expectations. Looking out of the hut window at 8 o’clock, we were surrounded by thick mist, or, probably more accurately, the cloud base was lower than us. Rain was forecast for later so we decided to tackle the Tarn Shelf walk. We had planned to do this last year when we were here, but the weather got the better of us then.

So, with breakfast out of the way we set off from the Lake Dobson car park heading for the Tarn Shelf in thick mist and a temperature of 7 degrees. (Tarns are small glacial lakes often found at high altitudes.)

The walk out was in four distinct stages:

  1. The Urquhart Track that took us on a steady climb from Lake Dobson. This was a really peaceful stretch through a wide variation of vegetation, including bright crimson Waratahs.

2. We then joined the vehicle track that seemed to climb forever up the ski centre at the base of ski tows to the top of the runs. The ski centre comprised the ticket office, toilets and various other support facilities.

3. The track then levelled out and the route was along lengthy boardwalks. In theory this should have been an easy stage, but every now and again the boards had broken and it would have been easy to twist or break an ankle, so it was eyes down to watch the track.

4. The boardwalk took us to the next stage – a steep rocky descent just before Rodway Hut, an emergency day shelter. The weather at this altitude can turn very quickly and many a walker has been caught out. All notices advise walkers to be prepared for any weather conditions, so it was surprising to see a few in shorts! This last stage included walking along the side of the Tarns and overlooking Lake Seal.

When we left Lake Dobson the mist was rising and swirling over the lake and as we approached the tarns the same thing was happening. On the way up the tracks the mist was closed in with a visibility of around 150m so we were fearing that we would not see much of the surrounding scenery. However, as we approached the first Tarn, the cloud base started to rise and we were presented with some magnificent views. Our walk along the side of the Tarns and back again took us about an hour, including refreshment stops and, as we left the Tarn area, the cloud started to drop again – we could not believe our luck.

On the way back we took a slightly different route for part of the way – down the Snow Gum Track. This track was really rocky and in places quite steep and challenging. To compensate, the patterns and textures in the snow gums were quite inspiring.

We started the walk at about 10:00 and got back to the car at 14:30, covered about 12 km with lots of photo and refreshment stops.

It would be interesting to walk this again in clearer weather, as I am sure it would be totally different. This is one walk I would recommend to anyone in this area. Next time we visit here, as I am sure we will, we plan to complete the whole circuit round Lake Webster and Lake Seal.

Finally, I applaud the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service for the way they maintain these tracks and for the facilities and information they provide for everyone to enjoy the natural environment.

Lake Dobson at the start of our Tarn Shelf walk
One of the many pools along the walk