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Mount Field West

Mount Field West

Mount Field National Park

Directions - Located 90 minutes west of Hobart, take the Brooker Hwy north and follow the signs for New Norfolk. Pass through the town and follow the signs for Westerway and then Mount Field National Park. Pass the visitor centre and drive up the winding Lake Dobson Road all the way to the car park at Lake Dobson. The trail starts near the day-use hut.

The Hike - Ever since my first visit to Mount Field National Park in 2018, there was one hike that I looked at and really wanted to do. Having tackled the Tarn Shelf Circuit and enjoyed that immensely, my thoughts after that were towards the Rodway Range and Mount Field West, the highest point of the park. Having loved my first taste of Tassie, there would be no doubt that I'd be back to experience the great hiking that is on offer here. The opportunity to return for a third time in three years presented itself with a self-drive holiday proposed by my partners Aunt and Uncle, instead of a wine and cheese hike that we'd been on before (see the Three Capes and Bay of Fires posts to read all about them).

After a relaxed start to the day that included a nice home cooked breakfast at our accommodation, we made our way up to the Lake Dobson car park and tackled the Pandani Grove Nature Walk first. It was a nice warm-up and one I was happy to finally put on the website given it provides an accessible walk to those that maybe don't have the fitness or time to tackle the more strenuous alpine walks that start from Lake Dobson. With the Pandani Grove walk finished we set about repeating the first section of that walk to get onto the Urquhart Track that leads up the hill towards the Mount Mawson Ski Field. No one else was keen to tackle the 20km return trip to the summit of Mount Field West but I had convinced them that hiking up to the Rodway Hut was a great chance to see the Tarn Shelf in the distance and perhaps get to see the changing colours of the fagus that this part of Tassie is famous for. Even though it was a bit of a climb (Caris isn't a fan of big climbs), they all agreed and would join me on this first part up the mountain. 

Finding the Urquhart Track a short distance into the walk along Lake Dobson, I was familiar with this one after coming back down it on the Tarn Shelf Circuit. I was looking forward to doing it in the reverse direction, even if that meant hiking up the somewhat mundane vehicle track leading to the ski clubs. The Urquhart Track was magnificent though with a narrow path leading through the Snow Gums and Pandanis containing a wealth of interesting life. The pace was slow going and it wasn't due to the increased gradient, we were all having a good look around at the various berries, moss, fungi and lichen. I was having a blast stopping every few steps and taking a photo of something that caught my eye or a new view of the lake below. The single track lasts about 600m before you reach the zig zag of the vehicle track and begin a bit of a slog up the wide road. Around this time we were passed by a few groups and not wanting to push my luck with my group, decided that a slow pace would be a good thing. While everyone made their way up to the various ski clubs that are built at the top, I took great pleasure in photographing the Snow Gums and the moody scenes looking back the track towards Platypus Tarn and Lake Seal.

Making it to the top where the Oldina Ski Club and Mount Mawson Ski Lodge are located, I regaled everyone with a tale about how my Tarn Shelf Circuit post was shared by a popular page on Facebook and some old man tried to have a go at me for taking a closer look at the ski clubs because they were private property. I'm sorry but you build your private properties in the middle of a national park and people will have a look, I wasn't breaking in but was curious as to what they were on my first visit. I had a bit of a brain blank here and was sure the climbing was mostly out of the way so when we joined the Snow Gum Track, Caris wasn't a happy bunny given the terrain was still going up. Luckily this is the start of some pretty terrain that would last all the way to the summit of Mount Field West. It had started to mist over again as we climbed up the rocky path and through the Snow Gums so I was a bit wary I might have dragged everyone up here just to get white-out conditions. Reaching the first of many lookouts along this stretch, the views down to Lake Seal were excellent and worth the journey up here for.

We kept going and on towards the official Lake Seal Lookout where the Tarn Shelf Track and the Snow Gum Track meet. Boardwalk through this section helped pick up the pace and the terrain had now flattened out relative to what we had just done. Lake Seal Lookout is a short detour off the main track but provides the best views along this stretch looking out over the lake and across the valley to the beginnings of the Tarn Shelf. The mist was sweeping in and out of the valley, creating some fantastic scenes where parts were hidden one second and then revealed in all their glory the next. Moving along the boardwalk heading towards Rodway Hut, the moody conditions continued and I was slightly worried that this would be what I'd experience at higher altitudes later on in my hike. For now though it was a case of admiring the stunning views looking across to the Tarn Shelf that was very inviting but not what I was here for today. I searched in the distance for the orange hues of the Fagus changing colours in autumn but could not see a hint of it yet.