Mount Field National Park - Tarn Shelf, 2020
Mount Field National Park (MFNP) is one of Tasmania's most popular
parks, partly due to its
proximity to Hobart (a 90-minute drive), and partly due to the variety of walks available.
It lies within the national park network managed by the
Wildlife Service (PWS), so you need a Parks Pass.
As Google Earth sees Tasmania.
Above: a map from the PWS MFNP brochure.
The Tarn Shelf walk starts from the Lake Dobson car-park (see the map above).
The Tarn Shelf is just as the name implies: a pronounced flattish shelf on the northeast side of Rodway Range.
The Shelf collects water on flat terrain; hence the many tarns, both small and large. Alpine frogs just love it.
It's an area of outstanding beauty.
On the day of my visit (October 14, 2020) I had the track almost entirely to myself (the only other walkers were a young couple, walking in the opposite direction). I walked in a clockwise direction, thus hiking the higher and prettier section first.
The park brochure said that the Tarn Shelf circuit via Lake Webster takes about six hours. It took me eight hours of walking, plus two hours in four rest stops. I left the car-park at 6 am EADST, a half-hour before sunrise.
The moon rose just ahead of the sun.
Bringing the morning to Eagle Tarn, just north of Lake Dobson.
Also bringing morning sunshine to the forest... above and below, the same forest, separated by only a few minutes of the rising sun.
As I walked higher the forest changed in character; the tall trees were replaced by shorter, more compact forms.
Looking down on Lake Seal.
With an increasing presence of rock and its associated lichen and moss.
There was thin ice on the pools, the boardwalks, and some of the rocks. Slippery....
These images, above and below, show how the shelf extends along the northeast side of the range.
Walkers need to be prepared for a very rocky track. Having said that, the grade is mostly 'easy', and generally well signed.
The white patches on the hills are all that remains of last winter's snow.
The interplay of the rocks, pools and vegetation, together with the morning light and the sky's reflections, is endlessly beautiful and intriguing...
It looks like ice or snow, but it's the reflection of the sky.
As I got closer to Lake Newdegate, trees made a re-appearance: here snow-gum and native pine.
There have clearly been tough times for the area's plants, especially the trees. I'm guessing the trees died in dry El Nino years... They would have been many years old when they died.
Rain falling from a sunny sky....
Below left: the emergency shelter hut at Lake Newdegate.
Above right: I'm used to seeing boulderfields on slopes, but here's one (just east of Lake Newdegate) on flat land.
At Lake Newdegate the track turns towards the northeast, with the terrain lower and less exposed.
The above image was taken just east of Twisted Tarn, looking back (southwest) to the Rodway Range.
Much beauty in the vegetation is at a very fine scale...
Like these moss and lichen.
The track gradually descends, and the alpine vegetation starts to disappear.
Above: Twilight Tarn.
To visit Twilight Tarn Hut is to step back in time... I spent some quiet time imagining life in the hut long ago...
It's not being preserved, and so this priceless window into the past will disappear...
the emergency stretcher at the left of this image.
The eastern side of Lake Webster, with the high alpine range visible through the gap between the two hills. Very different but also very beautiful...
The forest of course is scattered with tarns, similar to the high hills.
These tarns seem just as popular with frogs... which, although noisy, are small and VERY hard to see.
Once the track reaches Lake Dobson, it branches both east and west, with both tracks leading to the car-park.
which gave me the chance to re-visit Pandani Grove.
At the end of the walk I returned to the nearby Government Huts.
These are perfectly located for hikers interested in the park's alpine tracks.
hut has six bunks, a water tap over a sink, and a toilet block is nearby. No showers and no
electricity (and no cell-phone reception).