top of page
Mount Sprent

Mount Sprent

Southwest National Park

Directions - Mount Sprent is located just over two hours west of Hobart, taking Brooker Highway north and following the signs for New Norfolk. Pass through the town and follow the signs for Westerway and then Mount Field National Park. Pass through Maydena and continue on Gordon River Road all the way to Strathgordon. Mount Sprent is located further west from Strathgordon at Serpentine Dam. Take the gravel road signed for Serpentine Dam and follow it all the way to the end, parking just before the dam wall. 

The Hike - Mount Sprent was a hike that I had on my list of potential options for Lake Pedder and with the patchy to miserable weather we had experienced on this leg of our trip so far, it wasn't looking likely that I would get the opportunity to summit it (and get views that were worth the effort). On our final full day at Lake Pedder I received a bit of good news with the predicted rain easing off to present a possible window for me to enjoy a hike. As Candy and Hal had not visited Gordon Dam yet, we headed there after breakfast where we made it all the way down to the dam wall before it started to bucket down. It did produce a nice rainbow over the downstream valley and it was a fun experience to see the dam wall up close. 

On the way back to the lodge we stopped off at the lookout near Strathgordon and were treated to more rainbows and what looked like a water spout off in the distance. With the showers rolling through I was beginning to think Mount Sprent would never happen and it gave me a bit of FOMO that Lake Pedder wasn't panning out like I'd hoped. Being autumn and in the highlands, this wasn't entirely unexpected so Caris and I made plans to hang around the lodge, drink hot chocolate and play board games all day. Watching through the long glass windows overlooking Lake Pedder, I kept an eye on conditions and the weather app on my phone. I think you know where this is headed as just after lunch it cleared enough for me to bite the bullet and head out there for a summit attempt. Caris was happy to read her book and have a nap so I quickly gathered my things together and made for Serpentine Dam. Happy to have this small window of opportunity, I would have about four hours of sunlight to get up and back a track that was not described as easy in my research. 

Arriving at the car park, Serpentine Dam has a very cold Soviet style vibe to it with the small concrete dam wall leading towards a hole in the side of the mountain. I was half expecting some guards patrolling the wall with AK-47s and cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, as the hole looks to be a secret entrance to a facility within the mountain. It certainly looked guarded when I arrived but they were just tourists having a look around. The dam itself does not contain any hydro capacity but instead forms a barrier along with two other dams to create Lake Pedder, which then feeds Lake Gordon and the hydro generators there. Reaching the entrance to the secret facility, it is not very deep but provides shelter from the rain as I discovered the previous day when I came for a nosy around. The hike begins by climbing up the concrete steps to the left of the dam wall and pretty soon you are right in the thick of the damp forest where you will find a walkers registration box (please fill it out for safety purposes). This isn't a well advertised walk as it's steep and not on a marked track so be aware of your abilities and the weather conditions before deciding to undertake this hike. 

From the walkers registration box you begin the steepest part of the climb with gradients reaching upward of 50% in places according to my Strava elevation chart. I came across the rest of the tourist party that was at the dam wall with a mother and two sons having a look at what was involved with the climb before deciding not to continue. When I say steep, the track is a series of very small rocky ledges, tree roots or slippery wooden steps requiring big step ups and in most cases, using your hands to pull yourself up. This is where I was thankful I purchased a Peak Design camera clip at the start of the year as my DSLR could easily hang off the front of my backpack straps while my hands were free to climb up the track. Not helping matters was that I was basically hiking up a creek thanks to the amount of rain received over the past few days. Funnily enough the rocky parts were the grippiest and reaching sections of mud was always a guessing game of how deep your step was going to be. There are enough rocks and woody pieces to help negotiate your passage but it's hard work in places and it's certainly a fun introduction to the hike. While most of the time you are enclosed within the small canopy of the undergrowth, occasionally you turn around and the views overlooking the lake and down towards the blocky tower of concrete that I'm sure houses something to do with the spillway controls.


It's certainly reward for effort as you carefully place your feet on solid structures and slowly gain your balance enough to turn around for an appreciative glance around. The super steep section lasts around 600m from the concrete steps and by then you've already gained 200m of elevation, which is really noticeable in places where you can see right down to the tower. As things started to open up, the beauty of this place became next level. Looking to the south and east over Lake Pedder is awe-inspiring, even at this lower altitude and once you're out of the thick vegetation it starts to become a really scenic hike. With the dam and tower now out of sight, there was no man made influence on the surrounding landscape (if you discount the man made nature of this incarnation of Lake Pedder). This is some of the wilderness I was looking forward to seeing on this trip and the mind starts to wander, thinking about what this place looked like before the hydro scheme came along. From what I've read it was pretty wild and inaccessible with the road out here being constructed by literally blowing a path through the mountains with explosives as surveyors then figured out the next step. Speaking of the olden days, Mount Sprent gets its name from James Sprent, former Surveyor General of Tasmania that is said to be the first European to lay his eyes on Federation Peak as part of his expeditions mapping out the wilds of South West Tasmania. He certainly would have had a tough time in the wilderness without modern gear and hats off to him for the work he did mapping out this region.