Frenchmans Cap, Franklin – Gordon Wild Rivers National Park

Frenchman’s Cap (1446m) is one of the classic four peaks of the Tasmanian Southwest, the others being Federation Peak, Mt Anne and Precipitous Bluff. They’re not necessarily the biggest, but they all have an undeniable presence within the landscape – Federation for it’s downright nasty knife-blade form and fearsome access, Anne for it’s sheer mass, PB for it’s lonely position as the last bastion before the Southern Ocean, and Frenchman’s for it’s magnificent white quartzite dome, towering, sheer eastern face and the fact that’s it’s visible from, well, everywhere…

The Frenchman’s massif sits as a huge castle, protected on three sides by the equally legendary Franklin River. The two primary access routes being across the ‘Sodden’ Lodden River Plains, or up from the deep, dark Irenabyss by those rafting the Franklin. Our group came across the Loddens which, while bloody wet, weren’t quite the horror story that bushwalking legend makes out. I believe a substantial donation by Dick Smith towards track work in the area has had quite a lot to do with the improvements.

Day one was a classic for Tasmanian weather – at times amazing and/or downright horrible. Heavy rain and mud across the plains, followed by sunshine and a nice swim at the Lake Vera Hut… Day two was more of the same, with an emphasis towards the ‘horrible’ side of things. Our time at the stunning Barren Pass was cut short by a brutal breeze, while our views of the Cap itself were almost non-existant. On arriving at the Lake Tahune Hut we decided to have a crack at the summit straight away, fearing that the weather would only deteriorate the next day. We were greeted at the top by sweeping cloudbanks, giving us intermittent snatches of the surrounding landscape. And what a landscape it is! It was far from ideal conditions for a view, but amazing nonetheless…

The weather for the return leg continued on it’s erratic way… Rain on day three followed by 30deg+ for the walkout on day four! Tasmania does that… We eventually concluded the trip with a (brisk) dip in a young Franklin River, well buggered and well satisfied with a taste of the Southwest.

Across the Labyrinth with Frenchmans in the centre distance

Fairy’s Aprons in full bloom across the Loddons

The ‘slightly less’ Sodden Loddons

Tea tree

Tasmanian Waratah

Looking back to Barren Pass with a pine carcass from the 1966 bushfires

Native laurel

Ascending to the summit

Looking west towards Lake Burbury and the West Coast Range

Back to Barren Pass from the summit

 

Wildflower on the summit

Descending, looking towards the Irenabyss Track

Butterfly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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