WRITTEN BY: BEN WILKINSON
IMAGE: BEN WILKINSON
TRAIL RUN MAG WOULD LIKE TO WELCOME BEN WILKINSON FOR HIS CONTRIBUTION PIECE TO TRM49
A TALE OF MATES, MOUNTAINS & MUD
Want to hit a spectacular and challenging trek that will take your breath away and allow you to push yourself in an environment that’s sturdy, hardened and vigorous? Tasmania’s got the Western Arthurs Range, which encapsulates quartzite peaks, hanging valleys and glacier-carved lakes with plenty of rocky climbs, mud and rain. Tasmanian Ben Wilkinson, together with mates Jon Minnebo and Francois Fourie, tackled the inspiring trek earlier this year, and he recaps the adventure which will was full excitement, grandeur, inclement weather, and savoury snacks (but only at the end!).
At 7am on 15 April 2023, the GC Running Team which consists of Jon Minnebo, Francois Fourie and myself, set on an adventure into the wild Southwest of Tasmania that would see us start at Scott’s Peak carpark, traverse the Western Arthurs Range from Moraine A-K and finish back at the carpark. All up it should be 60km which we thought would take about 18hrs.
To most people this sounds either dumb, crazy or both. To us, this was the best fun we could have on two legs.
Spirits were high, and with loads of laughs and a dose of nervous tension, we were soon on the trail. A mix of thoughts filled my mind: Am I capable of this? Maybe I’m biting off more than I can chew. This will be awesome, of course I can…round and round the merry go went.
Not long after we started so did the mud. Tasmania’s Southwest is renowned for muddy trails and the Western Arthurs were in force, a week’s worth of consistent rain making things wet and slushy. Kind of like running through mac and cheese all day. However, this just added to the entertainment and there was more slipping and sliding than a day at Wet N Wild.
After passing through Junction Creek campground the range comes into view and there’s an overwhelming sense of the challenge ahead. We arrived at the base of Moraine A, which is the main access to the range, and with 700-800m elevation over 2.4km it’s a juicy little number. The views across Lake Pedder are breathtaking, just like the strong slap in the face from the southerly winds coming straight off the Southern Ocean when you arrive at the top.
The jog past Lake Fortuna through to Lake Cygnus is beautiful, and the landscape changes dramatically. Everything is massive and looks like a scene out of The Lord of the Rings. Glacier lakes, slabs of quartz, and views out to Bathurst Harbor are on the menu for the rest of the day. It’s a real feast for the senses.
After Lake Cygnus there was some up-and-downing before the section between Mt Sirius and Mt Orion comes into view. This is one of my favourite ridgelines in Tasmania. It sticks out like crazy and can be seen for miles.
After a nice bit of huffing and puffing, and the stunning Square Lake, we crested a ridge to behold one of the most spectacular landscapes I have ever witnessed, Lake Oberon – the crown in the Western Arthurs and Tasmania’s Southwest.
It was the perfect spot for a quick bite to eat and the only rest we had that day, apart from taking pics. A mention goes out to Jon here who, with a completely straight face, pulled out his ‘curried egg’ in white bread sandwich. I won’t go into this but for those of you who know what exercising on empty stomachs can do to your digestion, curried egg is an interesting choice. Well played, Jon. Well played.
The rain started during lunch and was now coming down in sideways sheets but we kept moving. The descent into Oberon was a nice little scramble and by now the rain had soaked everything. The section from Oberon to High Moor took a long time. Even though the distance travelled is only +/- 4km it took 3-4hrs (with a heavy pack on this is a full 8-9hr walk).
CONTINUE READING THIS STORY – AND MORE – IN TRAIL RUN MAG #49 (NOV-DEC 2023).