Hartz Peak – the view from the top
Hartz Peak has been described as providing the ‘best view for effort’ of all the mountain walks in southern Tasmania, and while I haven’t been up enough other peaks yet to compare, I have to agree that the view is stunning. Seemingly endless rows of rugged peaks in Tasmania’s south west wilderness area stretch along the horizon.
Hartz Mountains National Park is 85km south west of Hobart. Follow the signs to Huonville and Geeveston, then turn right into the Arve Road towards the Tahune Airwalk and look out for the left hand turn uphill to the national park. The last part of the road is unsealed and may be closed if there’s snow. You will need a National Parks pass to visit, which you can buy online from the Parks and Wildlife Service website, at their shop on the main street in Huonville or at the Huon Valley Visitors Centre on the way.
It’s not a difficult walk for anyone of average fitness, and takes around 3-4 hours return, allowing for breaks. From the car park and registration hut, it is a 400 metre climb to the top. Much of the first part of the walk is on boardwalks, keeping your feet safely above the water flowing all around you. Towards the end it is steep in parts and there’s a short section of scrambling over loose rocks to the summit.
A short way along the track lies the memorial to Arthur Geeves and his cousin Sidney who perished here from hypothermia in 1897 in harsh blizzard conditions. They were only a short distance from the shelter hut. Let this be a warning – the Hartz area is particularly prone to sudden thick fog and snow. The track is well marked but in those conditions navigation may become difficult. I have seen several people walking up in light pants and a sleeveless top with just a water bottle in hand. This might be fine in summer, but even then the weather can turn very quickly. Wear sturdy shoes or boots and take warm clothing, food, water, compass and map just in case.
The glacial landscape and alpine vegetation in the Hartz Mountains National Park is beautiful. Dolerite rocks sport bright orange and white lichen. Bright green cushion plants, mountain pinkberry, snowgums, pandani and King Billy Pines abound. From the number of cube shaped wombat droppings it seems that many live here, but you’d have to be lucky to spot one. Platypus, echidna and wallabies live here too.
There are several nice spots to stop along the way. First is Lake Esperance, a glacial lake overlooked by a jagged ridge. The boardwalk and bench seats make for a comfortable rest, provided the wind is kind. Last time I visited the water was calm, clear and glassy, but on a previous visit the wind whipped up white peaks on the lake’s surface and waves broke on the shore. A little further on lies Ladies Tarn, which also has a path to protect the surrounding vegetation.
From the top of Hartz Peak, you can see down into the surrounding valleys dotted with tarns and for many miles into the distance on a clear day. For the more adventurous, nearby Mount Snowy is a great side-trip to add to this walk.
For more information: www.parks.tas.gov.au
Image: Dames via Flickr – The South-Western Silhouette (ie: the back) of Mt Wellington from Hartz Peak, Hartz National Park Tasmania
Susan Moore lives in the Huon Valley of Tasmania. She shares a glimpse of daily life in, as written by a “blow in” from the mainland, on her terrific site Houn View. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive her regular articles, they are great fun.