Melaleuca to New Harbour
We decided to rename this track the Soggy Sock Scout out to Far Away Bay. The return trip took us 11 hours to complete. The people who know the area well seem to think that it is a short relaxing trek that will see you return in under 8 hours. Well this may be true in favourable conditions and I’ll believe it when I see it but not when it has been raining for days and you are touring with 2 naturalists keen to stop and identify orphotograph every minute life form along the way.
The crew was packed and ready by 10am to undertake the walk out to new harbour from the hiker’s huts at Melaleuca. Given the advice from many others who are more accustomed to the south west wilderness we believed this would leave us plenty of time to return for dinner. Camera gear and daypacks all sorted the crew were off. By 10.10am everyone’s feet were saturated.
Flushing a ground parrot within the first 30 minutes from Melaleuca amped everyone for the big trip ahead and soon dreams were being told of animals and plants everyone wished to encounter along the way. Jason had his fingers crossed for a big Tiger Snake which he spotted not long after at about an hour into the trip.
Tiger snakes are highly venomous but unlikely to bite, they would rather get out of your way.
We trudged on through ankle deep mud along the tracks. It’s important to stick to the tracks no matter how bad the conditions may be. When everyone takes the high ground new tracks are formed and over time this can create all sorts of problems for the local environment.
The track for most of the way was boarded by long planks of wood which would have helped keep us dry if they were not already underwater. The boardwalk veered through thickets of heath plants such as Melaleucas and Leptospermums where Southern-emu Wrens were plentiful. These beautiful little wrens with their striking blue and chestnut plumage proved to be too cryptic for a photo opportunity and much to Brendys’ dismay the crew were forced to push on.
The waterlogged track bended towards the southern coastline past the half wooded hill. This mount aptly named due to the fact there is trees growing on only one side. This is due to the direction of the prevailing winds sweeping over the exposed side of the mountain. Forest trees are able to grow within the sheltered confines of the opposite side making for an interesting spectacle along the journey.
Wading through the mud and water along the track made for hungry work so the crew decided to stop for a lunch break. Avocado, mushroom and tomato wraps. A flurry of silly puns was to then follow, I won’t mention the one about the fun-guy because that wouldn’t leave mush-room for other tales from this trek, but what I will say is that the crew were wrapped in the spot they had chosen to stop for lunch.
All refreshed from a quick break we started out towards New Harbour and began to climb in altitude. Brendy alerted the crew to the yapping of a Peregrine Falcon. Of course no one believed him as there was no birds in sight but before anyone could say anything a Wedge Tailed Eagle shot up over the nearby mountain riding fast on a gusty wind blast and sure enough hot on her tail was a Peregrine Falcon dwarfed in size by the soaring giant. We watched in awe at the overhead battle between the two raptors. To think that the Wedge Tailed Eagle was almost lost from the Tasmanian wilderness is a worrying thought.
With time rapidly ticking away we were realising that the trip to new harbour may not be possible. The crew climbed to the top of a nearby mountain to gain bearings where the guys discovered some very interesting sub-alpine plant species such as the Tasmanian Purplestar and the Alpine Sundew.
The Tasmanian Purplestar is endemic to Tasmania and the only member of its genus in existence. It is a primitive form of lilly like plants.
The Alpine sundew is an insectivorous plant. It catches tiny insects with the sticky substance on its foliage. The sundew uses the added nutrients gained from catching insects to survive in nutrient poor soils.
The view from atop the mountain we had just climbed was incredible. Everyone had to sit down as breath had been taken away by not only the steep hill climb but the views over Melaleuca. Wilderness as far as the eye can see in any direction gave us the feeling of insignificance. It was agreed that this was the perfect spot for the opening scene to the south west wilderness area. However, the tremendous westerly winds reaped havoc with the sound guy but we managed to get there in the end.
After realising we were not going to make it to the beach at new harbour we set off home to the warm and dryness of our hikers hut. At least we had seen it from the mountain top we had climbed. We all had a sense of accomplishment to have gotten so far in the one day under the conditions and will put it on the list of things to do in the future.