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Lake Esperance and Ladies Tarn (Hartz Plateau)

A quite easy walk across an alpine plateau to attractive small lakes.

Images - click to enlarge

Features

Alpine lakes, mountain views, alpine vegetation, wildflowers in season.

Difficulty

Easy

Distance

Altitude

Climb/Fall

Time

Gear Code

5km

850m - 970m

120m/120m

1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hrs

B>C

Access from

Geeveston

Distance from
Geeveston/Hobart/Huonville

26/90/47 km

Road Directions

Travel to Geeveston, and upon entering the township (travelling from Hobart) immediately turn right (West) into Arve Road, heading for the Tahune Airwalk. Shortly after passing the Arve River picnic area, turn left uphill on a dirt road, Hartz Mts Rd, clearly signed as the route to the Hartz Mts National Park. Drive to the end of this road, avoiding turnoffs and spur roads (all signed properly). Park in the circular parking area at the road-end. A visitor/registration shelter is here, and has water, toilets, visitor information, tables and chairs, and walker registration facilities.

Road Types

Sealed to bottom of Hartz Mts Rd, then moderate dirt roads for bulk of remainder. Some rough/soft patches, care required. Some narrow sections, and sharp, unexpected corners. Look out for other vehicles, especially log trucks. There is new forestry activity up Hartz Mountains Road, so large vehicles may be encountered. Sharp dolerite pebbles can cause punctures on these roads.

Description

The track is clearly signposted and leaves from the southern end of the car park next to the visitor shelter. Remember to register your walk! The track then winds roughly southwards through low alpine trees. Cordwood and duckboarding have been used on much of this walk to reduce erosion and wet feet. Within a few minutes walkers will pass the Geeves memorial, mounted on a rock to the left of the track.

After a while, the way becomes more open, and views of Hartz Peak and Mt Snowy can be had ahead.The track curves westwards towards Lake Esperance, and this side track should be taken to visit the glacial lake nestled below the Devil's Backbone. There are seats at the lake on timber platforms raised above the ground. Keep to the boardwalks, as feet damage the sensitive alpine vegetation.

After enjoying Lake Esperance, retrace the short walk back to the main tracdk, and continue to Ladies Tarn. The track undulates gradually across the alpine plateau, past areas where wildlife may be seen at the beginning and end of the day, or in the dark. Look out for Wallabies at near the band of small trees just past the ake Esperance junction. Ladies Tarn will be reached after a short rise. Stone paths have been laid near it to protect the vegetation. Some people have been known to swim in here in summer. The water is often too cold however.

Beyond Ladies Tarn the tracks head to Hartz Pass, Peak and Lake, and to Mt Snowy.

Safety

As for the whole of South-West Tasmania, the Hartz mountains are subject to sudden changes of weather - even in summer a sunny day can change to fog, rain, icy wind and even snow. If this occurred while walkers were at the far end of the walk, then the return would be most uncomfortable, if not dangerous. Children especially could easily become hypothermic in the time it takes to return. Carry clothing adequate to keep you warm and dry for an hour's walk in the rain, including jumpers and good raincoats.

Due to the position of these lakes, poor weather approaching from the west is sometimes concealed from walkers on the eastern flanks of the mountains until just before the rain arrives. You may not be able to predict the arrival of poor weather.

The track is well marked, and is unlikely to be lost. However, were walkers to lose the track in fog, then navigation could be very difficult for those not familiar with the area.

Maps

1:25,000 Waterloo (4821) sheet; Hartz Mt National Park Map 1;50,000; 1:100,000 Huon (8211) sheet

Facilities

Large visitor shelter with composting toilets, water, seats etc, spacious barbecue shelter hut with free gas barbecue, fireplace, composting toilet, seats and tables (Waratah shelter).

Nearby items of interest

In the park: Arve Falls, Lakes Perry and Osborne, Waratah Lookout, Mt Snowy, Arthur and Emily Tarns, Hartz Peak and Lake.

History

The Hartz mountains was one of the first popular bushwalking areas in Tasmania, already attracting people from Hobart in the 1920s.

In the 1820s however, it was valued for timber by carpenters and ship-builders. Timber-getters cut tracks westward from the Huon valley into the mountains in search of both timber and minerals. Others reached the Hartz Mountains from Macquarie Harbour on the west coast, cutting tracks along the Huon River.

The Geeves family, who founded Geeveston, cut the first track to the Hartz Mountains from that town, and then extended it westward to the base of Federation Peak. On November 27, 1897, Osborne Geeves, his three sons and his nephew were returning from a prospecting expedition, and were overtaken by a severe snow storm while crossing the Hartz range. One son and his nephew died of exposure, the nephew doing so minutes after reaching Hartz Hut. A memorial is located near where they perished, and can be seen by walkers.

In the early 1900s, an industry sprang up around the extraction of eucalyptus oil from the varnished gum (Eucalyptus vernicosa), the smallest eucalypt in Australia.

The Hartz mountains were set aside as a scenic reserve in 1939, however some parts have been revoked for logging. In 1989, the 7226ha of the Hartz Mountains National Park was included in the Tasmanian World Heritage Area.

(ref. Hartz Mountains National Park Day Walk Map. TASMAP. 1992)

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