Mount Field East
Mount Field National Park
Lake Dobson Rd
Directions - Located 1.5hrs west of Hobart, take the Brooker Hwy north and follow the signs for New Norfolk. Pass through the town and follow the signs for Mount Field NP. Drive up the winding road until you reach the signs for Mount Field East and the small car park on the side of the road.
The Hike - After a lovely night in front of the fire enjoying some wine and watching a movie at my AirBnB it was time to begin my penultimate day of hiking in Tasmania. To finish with I had set my eyes on Mount Field National Park and three very excellent hikes taking in the alpine scenery and also the temperate rainforest on the lower slopes. With an unexpected breakfast brought to me by Greg and Patricia consisting of a fresh baked loaf of bread, local leatherwood honey, homemade jam and muesli, I spent a little longer at home enjoying this feast before packing up the Outlander and heading off on the 40 minute drive to Mount Field National Park.
First up on the agenda for today was the 11km Mount Field East circuit taking in some stunning alpine scenery, 360 degree views of Mount Field National Park and a few lovely lakes. Once I arrived at the park it was still a bit of a drive up to the starting point as the main building sits at 200m ASL and the start of the hike was up at 850m ASL. The winding road up the hill is very narrow with lots of blind corners so take care and stick to the speed limit. Making the job of slowing down easier is the lovely scenery as you drive up with a glimpse of the temperate rainforest that is found at the lower altitudes. Lots of big ferns, giant swamp gums and a thick canopy provides a highlight before you even start the hike. Arriving at the car park (a little siding off the gravel road but well signed) I was greeted with the last hurrah of morning mist as I checked my pack for the essentials. Picking an anti-clockwise direction, this meant tackling the bulk of the climbing to start with but I didn't mind that approach so ventured off into the forest of tall Snow Gums and immediately began delighting in the scenes around me.
Moss covered rocks formed most of the trail to start as you ascend past the shiny trunks of the Snow Gums, made more colourful by the diffused light streaming through the morning cloud. A selection of wildflowers and mosses had me stopping frequently to photograph them so it never really felt like a sustained climb. About a kilometre into the journey you are presented with your first little side trip, a short detour to Beatties Tarn. Previously inaccessible because of the damage done to the sensitive landscape, work was completed in 2015 to allow walkers back to Beatties Tarn. Now you can appreciate the tranquil views of the still water and gaze up at the forest as it clings to the hillside leading up to Seagers Lookout. With lovely blue skies I found this to be a very relaxing place to be and very fitting for the tarn to be named after a Tasmanian photographer (John Beattie) who enjoyed the pleasure of "standing on top of some high land and looking out on a wild array of our mountain giants". I share that same love and this is the perfect hike from which to enjoy that simple pleasure.
Heading back along the rocky path to the main track, the climbing ceased and you follow a flat section towards Lake Nicholls. The forest provided many delights with some sections being relatively open, providing views of the ridge that makes this section so cosy and protected, and a mass of tree trunks while other sections had a thicker undergrowth hiding a variety of cool details to revel in. Enjoying both the macro and the micro views of a hike, it was fun to slow down here (a theme for the hike) and spend time just letting my eyes wonder across the landscape to whatever caught their attention. One particularly interesting feature was a white rock with the most amazing lichens creating such detailed patterns. If I was going my usual pace I'm not sure I would have noticed the patterns hidden in the shadows so it was a cool find that had me on all fours trying to photograph it. At one point you come across a few rocky boulders and the views open up ever so slightly for a glimpse of Beatties Tarn from a slightly more elevated position. After a kilometre and half from Beatties Tarn you all of a sudden see a creek crossing that doesn't seem that important at the time.
As you come out onto the rocks you realise this is the main drainage creek of the lake and wow, isn't that lake really pretty in the morning light? Using the rocks as stepping stones you can make your way across or squat awkwardly on them to try and get some better photos (not sure I was successful). The rocks are very helpful if you follow them round the edge of the lake instead of taking the main path up to the Lake Nicholls Hut. This provides much better views of the lake and with the goal of spotting a platypus on my Tasmanian adventures, I thought this might be a good spot to do just that (narrator: it was not a good spot). The clear alpine waters revealed a lot of debris from falling branches that did look cool and the sweeping views across the lake to the Snow Gums lining the banks was a really pretty scene. After reaching the end of the rocks I made my way back to the main trail that was conveniently only a few metres away and checked out the Lake Nicholls Hut. An emergency shelter to be used only when the weather gets really bad, it's a very purposeful building (as you would want in an emergency) and had a cool guest book inside that I signed.