Tuesday 12 October 2021

Penguin Cradle Trail- October 2021. Tasmania. 78km.


THE PENGUIN CRADLE TRAIL: is a much lesser walked Northern extension of it's more famous bro, the Overland Track.

Bumping along the Dial Range near Tasmania's North Coast and then chasing the churning Leven River as it snakes Southward, the PCT rolls over the soggy High Plains between Black Bluff and Cradle Mountain Village, taking you through a mish mash of landscapes and rugged track.

It's wild, it's committing and the great news is that the track is in far better shape than when I last gallivanted along the entire 75+km length nearly 5 years ago.

The North West Walking Club volunteers have really smashed the blow downs and chucked a fuck ton of time and effort into maintaining this uncelebrated, sequestered trail.
Thank you kind folks. 👍💪

Map sourced from Google Maps.


Penguin is a small coastal town 130km West from Launceston on the Bass Highway or 300km from Hobart straight up the middle of the island.

Your aiming for Montgomery Road which is 3km South on the left hand side along Ironside Road.  If you arrive by bus then this 3km is easily knocked on foot over from Penguin.  
If you are dropped off in an automobile by a kind soul like I was then just head straight for the Northern Terminus on Montgomery Road and save the road bash.

Getting ready for the 2021 version of the PCT sufferfest,.


This time around I opted to use the official Wildcare map and information booklet set.
The notes were pre 2016 but still mostly solid.  Available for purchase here. $28

Signage and trail markers are abundant.  Exposure is a constant South of Paddy's Lake and thankfully tall snow poles guide the way along lumpy hillsides and through clumps of scorparia. 

The North West Walking Club based in Ulverstone has a fantastic run down of the PCT and anything you need to be clued up about including recent re routes. Website.
This is their baby.

Wildcare map set.


I faffed about and got a late start on a Friday afternoon after a 3:30pm drop off at the Northern Trackhead.
The forecast was so so for the first few days and absolute rubbish later on when I expected to be crossing the high, exposed alpine area before Cradle Mountain Village.  
But forecasts can be wrong, right?  Yeah, maybe.  Not this time though.  

I rolled the dice and I got mighty nailed.  Belting winds and constant soaking icy rain.   
It was spicy and definitely Type 2 fun in parts.

Friday     1 October.   12km.  Wild campsite on old vehicular track near Mt Lorymer.

Saturday  2 October.   25km.  8km from camp to Wings Wildlife Park via the new re route, 
                                                then 17km from Wings to Blackwood Camp.  

Sunday    3 October.   8km.    Blackwood to Taylor Flat. 
                                               *I camped a little way up the track, not in the vicinity of Taylor Flat or                                                      the Cabins where camping is not allowed.

Monday   4 October.   24km.  Taylor Flat to Fourways Campsite.

Tuesday   5 October.   8km.    Fourways to Cradle Mountain Village.

The new logbook on the re-route heading into Wings.

It's only 12km of easy walking on quiet roads between Wings and the Leven.  No moaning or whining, get it done.

Road bash residents.

Blackwood Camp.

After the overnight rain at Blackwood Camp I awoke to a bluebird day and chose the dry river bed beside the island to yank everything that was saturated by condensation out and draw on free, abundant solar power to chase away the damp nasties.  Dry quilt!


  • A new re route that cuts out Walloa Creek and the Pine plantation pushes you down a crazy slippery hill straight into Wings Wildlife Park.  This worked out quite well for me as I was rolling past at exactly 10am when the cafe opens. 
  • The track alongside the Leven River is unrecognisable thinking back to the impediments the 2016 flood dumped on the trail.   Smooth and fun wandering next to that lovely river.
  • The dense scrub leading into and out of Four Ways campsite has been chopped back allowing far easier access.  Kudos to the likeable volunteers and there was no ripping off fistfuls of ticks and leeches from my torso this time.
  • Stripping off and going for a dunk in the River with all that green, so green forest and bewitching solitude is up there at the top of my list of this year's memorable moments.
  • No huts meant no people and another raw experience. 

Signage at Taylor's Flat.


Lunchtime at Bare Mountain campsite.

This dude is rejoicing in the after glow of warm tea and not succumbing to hypothermia and having his balls drop off.

Heading across the Steeler Plains via the River PCT.

The water was pumping and my crop of photos take during the last 2 days are slim and of dubious quality.  I rarely reached for my phone (which is my camera these days) during the constant inundation of rain.

Friday 24 September 2021

Heysen Trail. Cape Jervis to Mt Lofty- 200km, 8 days. South Australia.

The Heysen Trail: currently the longest marked footpath in Australia at around 1100 kilometres.

Wholly within South Australia, it waggles it's way up from the Southern Ocean to the mountain desert of the Flinder's Ranges. 

Diversity is the buzz word for this trail and you get the whole shooting match; 

  • windswept coast
  • vineyards 
  • lush green paddocks full of fat cows and fatter sheep
  • steep sided pockets of protected rocky natural areas complete with twisted eucalyptus trees and bouncing fauna 
  • trail towns for resupply just when you need them 
  • and quiet country lanes to connect it all up.

The Heysen is oft derided and overlooked in favour of 'proper trails' such as the Bibbulmun and the Larapinta, but, ah, not really so much over the past 2 years.  Traffic is increasing.

The 'thing' and the hiatus on international - and indeed at times, interstate travel- has prompted a sizable contingent of thru hikers and section walkers (like myself) to swing in to Adelaide and check it out bro.

"Too much road walking!" I've heard.  "It's just bloody farmland." More negativity.

"You live in Tasmania!  Why would you want to go hike that trail?"  

Well, you see; I'm stimulated by the unknown and just a wee bit bored of busy, bogan soaked Tasmania and I had the idea buried somewhere in the back of my monkey brain to knock off sections of the Heysen a chunk at a time over a few years.

I've stumbled over the Heysen a few times in the past 2 decades whilst wandering around South Australia and I ran some of the Northern section a few years ago during a 100 mile Ultramarathon in the Flinders Ranges.  

Virgin announced direct flights from Launceston to Adelaide for $59 for September (hell yeah!) and I grabbed a seat on the inaugural flight out.  

Fuckin after it.

Map sourced from Google maps.

The Southern Terminus of the Heysen Trail, located just North of the ferry dock on the East side. 

Map showing the wiggly 200 kilometre section from Cape Jervis to Mt Lofty East of Adelaide.
Map sourced from www.heysentrail.asn.au

Getting to Cape Jervis:

Cape Jervis is the kick off point for the Kangaroo Island ferry and Sealink is the company that operates the big boat that services the sea route between the mainland and the island.  I've been told it's very swish over there, I shall have to check it out one day very soon and wander around and make myself known to the locals and take pretty pictures and shit.  

Anyhow, Sealink nudges a bus up and down the road between Cape Jervis and Adelaide daily to drop off and collect passengers.  
I rode the 3:30pm coach South toggle down for timetable, it costs $27 cash to the driver, departs at the Adelaide Central Bus Station and takes around 1 hour, 40 minutes of stop-start traffic-light induced fun times to get you to the ferry terminal.

Navigation and Information:

I ordered the first 2 maps of the 8 sheet series from the excellent  Friends of the Heysen Trail.  site here

They were mostly solid.  There have been a few reroutes here and there and at times the signage can be a tad vague but for the most part I bumbled along fine.  The Gaia app was of immense help once or twice when I was a tad uncertain.

Many hikers purchase the Guthook App download for the Heysen which includes user feedback concerning water availability and track notes.

The Heysen Trail Thru Hiker Facebook Group is handy for up to date tips too.

Daily Mileage:

Arrival from Adelaide to Cape Jervis: 2km?  Wild campsite before Fishery Beach

  • Day 1: 30km Wild Campsite on Hillside before Boat Harbor Beach
  • Day 2: 30km Wild Campsite Ridgeway Hill Cliffs
  • Day 3: 41km Heysen's Rest B&B
  • Day 4: 26km Mt Compass Caravan Park
  • Day 5: 31km Wild Campsite Kuipto Forest
  • Day 6: 36km Wild Campsite Mylor Conservation Park
  • Day 7: 9km   Stirling Golf Club Motel
  • Day 8: 7km   Mt Lofty

Total: 212km

These are just my slightly hazy, indefinite estimates.  Not to be taken seriously or as gospel.  
I really don't care.  😃

It's about what you see and how you feel not how far you go, isn't it.

I tripped over dozens of Stumpy Tail lizards on the coastal section of the Heysen.

Inman Valley General Store, highly recommend the Fish & Chips you legends.  Water is available over the road from the small water tanks on the right, behind the hall.

Mt Cone water tank was a welcome lunch stop to pull up for a bit and cook up a meal so I didn't roar into Mt Compass village filthy hungry.

General Observations:

The first 3 days on the coastal section heading due East wind along clifftop trail to drop onto pristine isolated beaches and climb back up again.  I encountered far too many school kids on day 1 and then not a soul thereafter.  The wind was unreal at times and Kangaroo Island is always somewhere in your field of vision until you head North and leave the beach for good.

Water is easily obtained from the various car camping and hiker walk in sites.
A fair chunk of the Heysen traverses private land and it is big up's and gracious thanks to these generous folk that allow Heysen walkers to access their properties and cross their fence stiles, otherwise the trail would be one big long boring road bash.
Resupply is possible at: 
  • Kilometre 70;     (+ 7km side trail) Victor Harbor 
  • Kilometre 90;     Inman Valley (meals only) 
  • Kilometre 105;   (+ short road walk) Myponga 
  • Kilometre 128;   (+ short sketchy highway walk) Mt Compass 
  • Kilometre 187;   Mylor (meals only) 
  • Kilometre 195;   Bridgewater
  • Kilometre 206;   Mt Lofty (meals only)


  • I slowed down and rested up on the last 2 days knowing I was bailing out on Mt Lofty.  Regular bus services North of Norton Summit can be a bit erratic so I chose to exit on Lofty, walking down to Burnside and the knot of cafes and shops via the Long Ridge Track, spotting a koala on the way. 😉

  • There is a plethora of trails leading off Mt Lofty and a whole bunch of sweaty, lycra clad bodies running and riding them most of the time.  Take your pick.

  • The sheer variety of vegetation and landscapes really rocked my interest during this walk.  The Fleurieu Peninsula is a truly appealing and interesting region and deserving of slow, pedestrian exploration.

  • Mobile reception is kind of available for most of the trail, handy when phoning ahead to book a room or call a cab.

  • I stealth camped far away from people.  When the weather was stable the star watching was fuckin amazing and the natural silence incredible.

  • Already looking forward to jumping back on the trail next year and heading North for another 2 or 3 hundred kilometres.

The pictures from my shitty phone camera don't convey the views from Mt Lofty in all their glory however I reckon they are worth a few minutes of your time on a fine day.

Map showing the entire 1100 kilometre route of the Heysen Trail from Cape Jervis to Parachilna Gorge. 
Map sourced from www.heysentrail.asn.au and Google Maps.

Tuesday 21 September 2021

3 Capes Track, Tasman National Park, Tasmania. NO STUPID $500 FEE... GRATIS... KOSTENLOS



Tasman National Park is a seriously magnificent chunk of seashore bound rock and flora over on the South East coast of Tasmania.  Love it, it's definitely worth the drive to get there. 

Within Tasman National Park is the infamous and decisive 3 Capes Track, a Parks and Wildlife fundraising initiative designed to extract coin from comfort seeking punters who pony up silly money for a bunk bed and a colourbond roof over their heads.  

Established walking tracks have been cleaned up, pounded into submission and made as smooth, inoffensive and mud free as possible to keep the kind of people who don't usually wander 50 metres away from their vehicles, secure and anxiety free.

To be fair the Parks Service has had to come up with schemes to generate much needed funding and the dumbing down of Tasmania's wild places is one that has proved exceptionally popular, attracting cashed punters who just wanna see four walls around them whilst in the woods.  Each to their own I s'pose.  But nah.

Hang on, shut up for a second Safari you judgy purist curmudgeon.  Rant, rant, rant... what about the positives this track 'upgrade' could be bringing about?

Well, how about this ABC News article that shows the 3 Capes Track can be utilised by people with physical barriers that prevent them from hiking on regular crappy Tasmania trails.  So there dude. 😉

Anyway, enough bickering with myself, what's important is that the scenic ranking of this area is right up there.  It's really pretty and I definitely recommend walking the sections of the 3 Capes Track that can be done for free (which is most of it).   A solid year round option near sea level and a swish over-graded path, you would be hard pressed to lose the way or feel seriously exerted.

It's simple and full of serene outlooks and overlooks, so go get it.

And yeah, I am once again writing up another one of my Tasmanian hikes.  

I'm still stuck on the island!  Fuckin Covid...

Map sourced from Google maps.

I walked anti-clockwise from the YOU ARE HERE red dot to Cape Pillar and then back to Wughalee Falls Campground and up the track to the Cape Huay intersection and Fortescue Bay.
Due to the threat of Phytophthora Root Rot Disease you are requested to walk the circuit anti clockwise. 


You are required to have or purchase a Tasmania National Parks Pass displayed on your vehicle and on your person while in Tasman National Park.  Sigh.  That's the rules.


From Launceston, Hobart or the East Coast head South to Dunalley on the A9 Highway.  Keep rolling South for 34.5 kilometres until you hang a left on Fortescue Road and 11 kilometres further on, Fortescue Bay is located at the end of this sometimes sketchy road.  When the rain is chucking down it can get slippery and the potholes will keep you interested.

No public transport available.  Hitching may be doable.

The actual start of the walk is located a few hundred metres back from the car park on the left up the road you drive in on.  
There is water, undercover bbq's and basic camping with showers and toilets near the car park.


Day 1: 

Trackhead to Wughalee Falls Campsite. 8km

The first smidgen of the trail is a 'proper' muddy pad that chomps through tussock, open forest and along wooden duckboards.  The campsite is signposted to the left down a steep track and there are about 7 tent platforms.  Water from the nearby stream and a composting toilet.

Bare Knoll Campsite is another half kilometre along the trail after the Wughalee Campsite turnoff.
I heard it is quite the popular spot to camp and being a Saturday evening, staying there seemed like a dumb idea.  I had no company at Wughalee. 😊

Day 2:

Wughalee Falls Campsite to Cape Pillar and back again.  17km

I left my tent and kit and set off on the path to Cape Pillar.  You roll through the Munro Hut complex and then the trail turns into a wide, cruisey,  bicycle rail trail type path that seemed a very runable to me.  In fact I met quite a few lanky dudes and ladies with hydration vests looping the trail that morning.
Miles of duckboarding and heady ocean views lead to Cape Pillar where I plonked down for a feed.

Wughalee Falls Campsite to Fortescue Bay.  12km

After returning to Wughalee I packed up and grinded out the climb along the inland, seldom used track for a couple of kilometres to meet the new 'highway' and bowled along to the Cape Huay turnoff.  Even at a fairly late stage of the afternoon the popular out and back day hike track was full of traffic so I called it good and made my way back to Fortescue and my vehicle.