2 TREK: Mt Anne Circuit
Best time: November-April More info: www.tasmanianexpeditions.com.au
THE GREAT THING ABOUT Tasmania’s best walks is more than a few of them fit nicely into a weeklong escape for those living on the mainland. The Mt Anne Circuit is an example of this, but it is also a challenging walk that earns its bucket-list nomination for far more than just convenience: it is an absolute cracker of a four-day trek through Tassie’s rugged southwest.
You can fit a lot of adventure into four days if you really try – and the Mt Anne Circuit adheres to that ethos; the circuit throws walkers straight into it on day one, with a long but steady 750m ascent to the first campsite, aptly dubbed High Camp. The views back across Lake Pedder from here are amazing, and only topped by those who are keen enough for an afternoon scramble up higher to the top of Mt Eliza (1189m). We’d thoroughly recommend doing this, though, if you have the time; without your heavy packs on, it is a relatively short (around one hour), steep ascent up and over numerous boulders to the summit. From this lofty viewpoint, the views are incredible, ranging across Lake Pedder and then south toward more of the wild and mountainous terrain that Tassie’s southwest is famous for.
The Mt Anne Circuit’s other claim to fame is, funnily enough, the peaks you traverse during it. It is day two when walkers reach the circuit’s namesake peak; after leaving High Camp in the morning and – again – ascending Mt Eliza, you spend a couple of hours walking across the Mt Eliza Plateau before tackling some boulder scree and then you reach the junction of the track to Mt Anne itself.
The climb up Mt Anne won’t suit those with an aversion to high exposed areas, but for those who are up for it, the climb/scramble up the cliffs at the base of the peak leads to more balanced walking along exposed parts of the mountain to the summit and another epic view.
Once back on the main track it is only another 30 minutes to what this writer rates as one of Tassie’s best campsites: Shelf Camp. Perched up on a massive rock shelf, the campsite looks back across a deep valley to Mt Anne to the north, and the equally majestic Mt Lot and The Notch to the south. The campsite location is gobsmacking and also offers walkers a view of the next day’s epic: traversing Mt Lot and The Notch on the way to the lower-down Judd’s Charm camp.
If there’s one day that can possibly stand out from the others on the Mt Anne Circuit, it is day three and the traverse of The Notch. From Shelf Camp walkers have to traverse a massive scree field (it can take 2.5 hours to cover 1km), which also includes a few pack hauls and short abseils/rope-assisted descents before an even more epic section where you have a 15m exposed climb up the other side of The Notch, onto the dolerite walls of Mt Lot. The terrain is extremely rocky and scree-filled, but once you reach the summit of Mt Lot, the landscape changes once again. Descending Mt Lot, along Lightning Ridge, involves plenty of rock-hopping initially, before walkers are plunged into a landscape of dense rainforest, filled with giant pandanus and ferns, and muddy track sections to keep you on your toes before you reach relatively open ground and another hour of walking to the pretty Judd’s Charm campsite, nestled alongside a huge lake.
As with all Tassie treks, the last day on the Mt Anne Circuit is no stroll, with a lengthy traverse of a low plateau (keep your eye out for freshwater crayfish in the small creeks) before you descend rugged, rocky terrain to the Anne River plains and the ubiquitous button grass and mud-filled track (this writer witnessed a trek guide, who shall remain nameless, disappear nearly to his waist in one boggy section) that takes you to track’s end at Red Tape Creek.
The Mt Anne Circuit, like all multiday jaunts in Tassie, requires you to be fit and carry gear for all conditions, but if there’s ever a walk that fits the bill of “best walking bang for your bucks”, this is it folks. You’ll do it once, and then you’ll want to do it again, and again… – JW