About a week before buggering off to Europe last winter me and a mate (Will) decided to have a go at Mt Murchison (1240m), the highest peak in the West Coast Range (which is, oddly, on the west coast of Tasmania). Wikipedia tells us that the taller mountains in this Range were named after critics of Charles Darwin while the littler ones were named after his supporters. So, um, there… Anyway, I’ve variously heard Murchison described as ‘Tasmania’s best day walk’ and the ‘Western Arthurs in a day’ so needless to say I was pretty keen to get up there!
Access is easy enough – If you’re driving from up north head down the Murchison Hwy to Tullah. Grab a coffee and scone at the pub (lovely folk) and then continue out of the town southwards. Follow the Highway over the Murchison River and shortly after turn left onto Anthony Main Rd (sealed). Follow this for a few km till you see the signposted track starting on your right – there’s a carpark on the left 100m up the road.
The track itself begins by heading up a steep, forested spur, before opening into thick scrub and finally traversing north across the face of several craggy cliffs towards the summit. It is steep, rough and very exposed in sections, but there’s no technical climbing involved and it’s fairly straight-forward to follow. It’s worth noting that there’s nothing taller than Mt Murchison to the west, so if any weather systems come sweeping in from the Southern Ocean you will cop the full brunt of them. We had sunshine, rain, snow and rainbows within a few hours. Pack accordingly!
The main feature of the massif – the huge glacial ‘bowl’ in its centre – is viewed briefly from the initial spur, and is then hidden until you begin to approach the summit itself. There’s also several amazing ‘hanging’ lakes (Western Arthurs style!) along the eastern side of the massif and a ton of fagus around the bowl if you’re there during April.
Will and I completed the track as a return trip, but it is also possible to do a circuit that finished several km further up Anthony Main Rd. I have no experience of this but I’ve seen a few trip reports around – google is your friend! There’s also a lake up there somewhere with a small beach that allows camping without eroding the thin alpine soil.
All in all, I haven’t done the Western Arthurs but I can definitely say that the Mt Murchison walk compares favourably to the Southern Traverse section of the Eastern Arthur Range. If you want a taste of genuinely wild Tassie hiking this is about as good as it gets, and all within a 10min drive of a decent pint!
Shot with a Panasonic GH2, Lumix 7-14mm, Voigtlander Nokton 25mm and m.ZD 45mm.