Wednesday 11 January 2023

Wandering the Little Fisher 3: Surprises

One thing has surprised me this entire walk. Tim D brings it into the open when we’re at Rinadena Falls. Knowing I’d walked up this valley long ago, and had reached Long Tarns on the plateau, presumably via the falls, he asks: So do you remember the falls now?

There’s no doubt Rinadena is memorable. And yet I have to tell him I don’t have a single memory of being here. Of course that previous walk was nearly 40 years ago, and memory’s net is both flimsy and fickle. Nevertheless I find it strange that either (a) we by-passed the falls, or (b) I’ve simply forgotten them. After returning home, I dig out some old photos from that walk. I can’t find any of Rinadena Falls, but there’s one – included here – that has a young me walking in the kind of forest we’d walked through to get to the falls on our current trip. The puzzle remains unsolved.

[Me on the Little Fisher Track, 1983]


Tim has one more surprise in store. At the end of our second day, we agreed we’d probably achieved most of what we wanted to from this walk. We’d found a great off-track campsite; located an abandoned hut site; and visited the legendary Rinadena Falls. Yes, we hadn’t gone up to the plateau as originally planned. But we were happy to forego that, given it would mean going back over yesterday’s walk WITH a full pack, AND into unfavourable weather. 


So I’ve gone to bed on the understanding that we’ll have a lazy morning, a slow pack up, and then we’ll walk out. But when I get to breakfast, Tim smiles and starts talking about a potential change of plans. It sounds ominous! He explains that Merran is feeling slothful after not joining us in our falls walk yesterday. So they suggest that before leaving we first have a bit of a “wander”. That’s a Tim word I’ve come to treat with some suspicion over the years, so my ears prick up. The “wander” will be up through trackless rainforest straight behind our camp, and towards the nearest high point. It’s an outlier of the Central Plateau that’s appropriately called Deception Point. What could possibly go wrong?

[Onward and Upward through rainforest]


With daypacks on, and a promise that we’ll be back before lunch, we “wander” up, steeply up, through what I must admit is delightful forest. But did I say it was steep?! Upward we toil, gaining some 450 metres in altitude in around 90 minutes. That altitude gain is marked by considerable huffing on our part; plus a gradual stunting of the trees, and a marked increase in the thickness of the scrub. We finally reach rock, some of Tasmania’s ever-familiar dolerite. After a bit of scrambling and route finding, we break out onto a promontory beneath Deception Point.

[Our high point beneath Deception Point]


Reading both his watch and the mood, Tim suggests this rock shelf, rather than the actual summit, might be enough for our morning wander. We enjoy a scroggin and drink break, and the chance to gain an overview of the country we’ve traversed – or planned to traverse – on this walk. Beneath us we see the clearings at the edge of which we’ve camped. And we make out the line of the Little Fisher Track, marked by a band of shorter, greyish regrowth. I realise that 40 years ago we’d have driven a long way up that track in a 4WD, before undertaking the much shorter walk up to the plateau. No wonder my memories are a little hazy.

[Looking down on the Little Fisher valley]


Straight across the valley from our perch is Fisher Bluff, with its sharp drop-offs and abundant scree slopes. Further south-east are Turrana Bluff and Mersey Crag. I’ve been to these high points before, though not usually up the Little Fisher valley. It’s like running into old friends out of their usual context. We sit around for a while enjoying the elevation, and the memories of past walks. 

[Spot the three walkers on our scrubby descent]

But what goes up must come down. Our knees don’t thank us for the relentlessness of the stumbling, sliding walk back to camp. But we arrive there remarkably close to the time Tim had said we would. (There’s a first time for everything.)

[Back at our campsite]


One advantage of a late pack-up in warm weather is a dry tent. One disadvantage of a late departure, especially after a steep “wander”, is weariness. But by now we’re ready to leave, so we simply put our heads down and keep walking. Of course there’s one more nasty surprise. On the way in, concentrating as we were on getting going, and surviving the heat, we hadn’t noticed that the first 2km leading to the bridge over the Little Fisher River were downhill. And that means that the final 2km of our return walk are uphill. And since we’re now heading almost west, we’re also walking straight into the hot afternoon sun. 

In my fevered mind I become Manuel from Fawlty Towers, muttering I no complain! Perhaps Ken, who is trudging along beside me, might tell it differently. But what happens on the walk, stays on the walk!


north-north-west said...

In case you were wondering, it's even scrubbier getting to the Deception Point summit from the top. One of those spots with no easy access route, although it's worth the effort.

Nature Scribe said...

Thanks nnw - I think you've convinced me I've got as close as I ever will. However I am curious about the plateau country between Deception and Mersey Crag. It looks like some of the pools/tarns up there might have good camping in the right weather. (And no, I wouldn't approach them from where we got to!)