Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Overland Track: day 5

Day 5 was a day of waterfalls and forests.

Initially the track passed through button grass before entering forest. This was interrupted by a clearing which contained the Du Cane Hut. This is the oldest hut in the area and was built by a trapper, Paddy Hartnett. His  wife is credited with creating a native garden around the hut during her long stints in the bush.

The Du Cane Hut

The next section of forest is some of the oldest in the National Park with King Billy Pines as old as 200 years. We were encouraged to walk through this majestic forest solo so that we could appreciate its grandeur and the peaceful environment.

The depth of topsoil throughout this region is generally quite shallow. Even these very tall trees are shallow rooted. As a community the trees use each others roots to support themselves. When one tree falls it often results in others becoming vulnerable and they, too, may lose their tenuous grip and fall. Below is the photo of the roots of a fallen tree. The root ball, if it qualifies as such, is no more than about 30cm thick.

We gathered at the track junction marking the track down to the first of the waterfalls. Mossies were very evident and for the first time in the trip insect repellent came to the fore.

Note the tangle of roots running across the surface in this photo
The falls are on the Mersey River which has cut a deep gorge through softer layers and tumbles over harder sections, hence the falls.

The first of the falls was D'Alton Falls.

Part of the wall of the chasm adjacent to D'Alton Falls

Next came Ferguson Falls ...

It was impossible to capture the full height of either of these falls from the vantage points available to us.

From the junction we continued along the Overland Track for a short distance and then diverted to the top of
the Hartnett Falls. These are the highest of the three falls. We lunched above the falls next to the river and some of the group took the plunge and swam in the pools in the river.

Our peaceful lunch spot
Kat contemplating a swim
After lunch most of the group headed off to Windy Ridge and our overnight stop. Four of us opted to go to the bottom of the Hartnett Falls with Kat.

For the best photo opportunity it was necessary to cross the river and return. 

At least this cleaned my still muddy boots and gaiters.

Back on the Overland Track, the track climbed up to Du Cane gap where I waited for the rest of the group to catch up. The gap was heavily infested with mosquitoes. I was pleased to be given the OK to go on and leave the mosquitoes behind.

One of the many peaks visible from the track
At Bert Nicholls Hut, the public Windy Ridge Hut, there is a terrific viewing platform with views across to the Du Cane Range. The peaks have some great descriptive names: Falling Mountain and The Acropolis being just two. 

Our hut was just a short distance beyond the Bert Nicholls Hut and we had great views over the Du Cane Range, too. As the sun went down the colour of the mountains changed to a golden hue.

This was our final night on the Track and after another lovely meal and some guitar playing it was time to turn in.

The distance today was 9km plus the side trips to the waterfalls.

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