How to get there?
From Hobart it should only take about an hour to get to Mt Field National Park, driving up the Lyell Highway through New Norfolk and then taking the Gordon River Road (B61). If you haven’t got a Parks Pass, once at the park make sure you drop into the Visitor Centre and buy a pass for the day. From the Visitor Centre take the dirt Lake Dobson Road up the mountains. The loop walk can be started at Lake Fenton itself (about 10.5km from the Visitor Centre) in a clockwise manner, however I prefer to do the loop anti-clockwise, starting the walk from the side of the road about 8km from the visitor centre. There is a small car park there where you can leave your car (if in doubt ,have a close look at the map above as it shows you exactly where to stop).
Important!!! This is an exposed alpine walk, and the weather can get extremely cold, extremely quickly. If you aren’t planning on camping, check all weather reports before you go and make sure you take sufficient food, water and warm clothing just in case. The section of the walk along Windy Moor is not well sign posted, and during foggy or snowing conditions will not be visible.
1. The first stage of the walk takes you up a reasonable slope through tall trees. Depending on the time of year and recent rainfall or ice melt, you may find some sections under a little bit of water, but in most places you can either bypass or rock-hop through these sections. After about 800m (near the closed turn off to Beatties Tarn) the track flattens out and takes you along the ridge for another 1km through snow gums. Along this section you’ll get some good views up to Seagers Lookout and the escarpment below Windy Moor on your left hand side, while on your right you will get glimpses of the Derwent Valley through the trees. A short steep descent at the end of the ridge takes you down to the beautiful Lake Nicholls. In winter this lake will often be frozen over, while in summer it makes for a freshing water bottle top up! If needed, there is a timber hut at Lake Nicholls that can be used to escape the weather.
2. From Lake Nicholls the track climbs up the escarpment past Lake Raynor towards Windy Moor. Some sections require scrambling over large boulders and during winter there can be deep snow drifts. The path is marked by both markers on trees and tall poles and is fairly easy to follow when there is good visibility, however during poor conditions extra care should be taken. From the edge of the escarpment you will be greeted by fantastic views to the south and south east across Lake Nicholls and down the Derwent Valley. After walking for another 400m along the flat moor you will reach the well sign posted junction to Mt Field East.
3. From the junction the walk to the top of Mt Field East is about 400m and requires some steep scrambling up scree slopes (say that three times fast!!). At the top you’ll be rewarded with 360 degree views all the way to some of the larger peaks in the south west of Tasmania, the Derwent Valley and the Mt Field Plateau.
4. Take the same track back down the peak to the edge of Windy Moor. Windy Moor is a flat plateau criss-crossed with rivulets, streams, mossy banks and grasses. If you happen to be up there after a cold snap you’ll find that most of the puddles have frozen over, creating all sorts of strange crystalline shapes and patterns. Very cool! This section of the walk can be very muddy and although discouraged (to protect the fragile plant life) may require skirting around saturated boggy sections. Due to poor marking and the exposed nature of the plateau, this section of the walk should not be attempted if the visibility is poor. At the far side of the moor the track winds back up into the snow gums and then down towards Lake Fenton. After walking for about 2.5km from the junction you will see the turn off to Seagers Lookout. I haven’t done that section yet, but I can imagine the views would be amazing to the east and south.
5. Continue following the track down the hill to Lake Fenton. Along the way there are some really interesting rock formations on both sides of the track that are worth a look if you have the time.
6. From Lake Fenton follow the dirt road for about another 2.3km back down the mountain to where you parked your car.
7. Crack a tinny!
For a bush walker with average fitness this loop walk can be done in about 4hr30min, but as with all walks it depends on how often you want to stop for breaks, photos, lunch etc. Although not difficult, there are rock scrambling sections where a little bit of fitness is required. Personally, I love the walk as it exposes you to such a diverse range of terrain and flora. On a sunny day, particularly after snow falls, this walk is magic!
Reward-to-effort ratio = 8/10
Snake count = 0
Leech count = 0