Hartz Mountains National Park
Directions - Hartz Peak is located just over an hour from Hobart, taking the Huon Highway south until you reach Geeveston and turn right onto Arve Road. Follow the signs towards Tahune until you reach the turnoff for Hartz Road. Take this road all the way to the car park at the end of the mountain road.
The Hike - With a small sojourn to Arve Falls in the build-up to my hike up to Hartz Peak, I was ready to undertake one of the best day hikes in the area. Arriving at the car park I noticed a familiar van sitting there. A couple I had been following on Instagram as they travelled around Australia in their van was here at the same time. I knew they were in Tasmania at the same time but the odds of running into them was quite small. Wondering if I would see them on the hike, I was checking out one of the impressive buildings when Robbie and Isabelle rounded the corner and were surprised by this stranger asking if they were indeed Robbie and Isabelle.
After a few pleasantries I left them to head back to their van and had a look around the large wood and glass structure that provides a shelter for hikers and tourists alike. Registering my walk in the book (please do this, especially in inclement weather) and putting on the sunscreen as it was a bright and sunny day, I headed off into the thick undergrowth near the blue trail signs. With this area receiving quite a blanketing of snow a few days prior I was excited to get up to the summit and see if there was any left. I have previously seen snow on a family trip around Australia at Kosciuszko and Thredbo along with a couple of trips to England in the dead of winter but I'd never seen any while hiking. It's not something I was really expecting but it would be cool to see nonetheless.
The first section of walking is on boardwalk to protect the trail and also I'm assuming to provide a less muddy experience for the shorter walks that can be done on the way to Hartz Peak. A working dieback spray station is located just up the trail (you'll be amazed at how many of these in WA aren't in working order) and is vital in protecting this area from fungal diseases. Please spray and wipe you boots before moving on through the undergrowth. The trail leaves the boardwalk every now and then with much wetter and rockier ground underneath your feet. While the lusher feel is nice, you soon get out to the open plains with a small grove of stunted eucalyptus trees providing something interesting to the photos. Passing a small memorial to Arthur and Sidney Geeves who perished on the mountain during a prospecting tour in 1897, the track really opens up and you get some closer views of Devils Backbone that has been a looming presence since the beginning of the hike.
As the boardwalk winds its way through the thick alpine heath you find Hartz Peak comes into view, albeit looking like a tiny hill in the distance. With the Devils Backbone keeping me company I continued on and came across something that intrigued me quite a bit, a bit of wombat poop. The hilarious square shape gave it away and for the rest of the hike I was scanning the terrain for any sign of these iconic critters but alas it wasn't meant to be. At around the 1.5km mark you step off the new boardwalk section and traverse the more rustic and weathered looking boardwalk that was just rolled on the ground but has a better aesthetic appeal to it. With occasional broken or depressed sections leaving mud and water exposed, the trade-off is worth it. Approaching Lake Esperance the trail intersection is particularly muddy and with a couple blocking the way to the lake I decided to press on to Hartz Peak, which was the plan anyway to try and get better photos of the lake without staring directly into the sun.
Continuing on I revelled in the thick carpet of alpine heath filled with wildflowers, barely visible streams (until you passed over one) and the views that were getting better and better. As the landscape continued to open up and delight me, the feeling of isolation and a sense of being thrown back in time increased. This is mainly due to the weathered timber serving as boardwalk providing a visual clue that people have been walking in this area for quite a long time now and I'm just one of countless many that have had the pleasure of being on this track. A few wetter areas provided a chance to capture the stunning backdrop of Hartz Peak and Mount Snowy with an equally stunning foreground so the photographer inside of me was loving this (although a few more fluffy clouds in the distance wouldn't have gone astray).