Late last year, after having finally completed five solid years of uni hell, I had a go at my first serious solo walk – a four day, off-track adventure from Lake MacKenzie in the Central Plateau Conservation Area, through to the ‘Trappers Hut’ in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
I’ve walked the first section of Lake MacKenzie Track a bunch of times since childhood, so made good time up the fisherman’s pad to Middle Lake, below the Blue Peaks, running into some salty old fly-fishermen on the way. I’d initially planned to spend the night at the lovely Middle Lake Campsite, but having got an early start (thanks Ed for driving me up) and still having tons of daylight I decided to push on.
I struck west through the gap between Middle Lake and Lake Little Throne and left the defined pad, making my own way through the rocky and open alpine plateau. I’d spotted a small tarn on the map, located at about 1300m on the side of Turrana Bluff, and I was hoping there’d be decent camping somewhere around that.
I made the tarn with plenty of time to spare, having found easy walking through collection of unnamed tarns and lakes, and found a series of beautiful little grassy clearings amongst the Pencil Pines – perfect camping! I quickly pitched my tent and wandered up a wide gully to check out the Bluff for sunset. Excellent way to end an excellent day!
Day two dawned with average weather – low cloud, a cold breeze from the southwest and odd bouts of mizzle… I packed up the camp and headed off, making my way first to the Turrana Bluff high-point, before following the ridge-line south in the direction of Long Tarns.
At the southern extremity of Turrana Bluff I came across a series of deep Pine-shrouded tarns and lakes that sat nestled between small folded ridges of dolerite. This was a stark and lonely landscape in the mist, but very beautiful and with several small but decent campsites. I think I’ll refer to them as the Lost Tarns from now on, unless anyone knows of a proper name!
I crossed the Long Tarns at their northern end, and followed the fisherman’s pad along their western edge. Once again, a very beautiful but lonely landscape, with lots of Pencil Pine and massive dolerite boulders (I’m assuming they were probably Glacial Erratics…). Lots of fairly established camping sites too, which I’m guessing are mainly used by fishing parties.
At about the half-way point of Long Tarns I struck west across the Richea Ridge, aiming for the gap between Daisy Lake and Lake Nutting. Despite having to rely mainly on compass due to very low visibility, I found the gap easily enough and then picked up a solid lead through the pine forest on the north-western bank of Nutting (there’s also a few established campsites here). I then headed south through some quite boggy land (lots of spagnum moss) before picking up the pad to Zion Gate and into the Walls of Jerusalem.
From here everything was quite straight forward. I continued up the East Wall of Mt Jerusalem and soon made it to Dixons Kingdom Hut – my spot for the night. There doesn’t seem to be a fixed track through this valley but there’s lots of decent pads, so it’s easy enough walking!
Except for a visit from a friendly possum, the night passed in comfort and without drama and I headed off the next morning for a few mountains! I dumped by pack at the base of Solomans Throne and wandered up the beautifully made dolerite staircase to the summit, before continuing along the plateau toward King Davids Peak. From here I thought it’d be an ‘interesting’ idea to try one of the gully’s that drop down into the main WoJ valley as my escape route… Well, much scratched and slightly miffed I made it down and headed back up the track to collect my pack, before heading on the Wild Dog Creek, my last camp of the trip.
From here it was a quick and easy trip out over Solomans Jewels for my lift back to the real world!
All shot with the GH2, Lumix 7-14/f4 ASPH, Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f0.95 and SMC Pentax-M 50/f1.4 (Fotodiox PK-MFT adapter)