The plan was to hike the Port Davey Track to the remote airstrip, hut and old mining area of Melaleuca and continue on the South Coast Track to make a continuous 11-13 day hike of about 160km.
To assist with keeping the weight of the pack to a minimum my hiking partner Valerie and I made up an 11kg package of food to be delivered to the airstrip at Melaleuca by Par Avion. They fly there on a regular basis and also sell fuel for the stove. I organised a litre to be picked up. Oh, and the 11kg included 2 litres of wine and 1kg of fruit cake along with other treats to keep us motivated. It cost us about $40 for the food drop and fuel purchase. I started with a 16kg pack and Valerie with a 14kg backpack, very light and manageable for such an extended hike.
Getting to the start of the trip at Scotts Peak Dam without the aid of my own transport was not easy. Fate intervened when my hiking partner for the trip Valerie met Marcus while hitch-hiking to Hobart to meet me for the start of this trip. As fate would have it he was heading to Scotts Peak Dam to hike part of the Western Arthur Range and would love some company for the drive, so transport organised.
Port Davey Track Day 1
The hike started with light rain and drizzle which was only heavy enough to annoy rather than dampen anything. Within a couple of hours it ceased and the Western Arthur Range came into view. Most people stop at the campsite at Junction Creek but as it was early we forded the creek and kept moving. Soon afterwards Marcus left us as he went on his sojourn into the Western Arthur Range.
We continued through the glacial sculpted valleys of the Crossing Valley with the White Valley Mountains on the right and the Western Arthur Ranges on the left to our first campsite of the trip at Crossing River. At crossing river we had a most interesting meeting with a German couple heading in the other direction. They advised that they had been hiking for about 28 days from Lune river with lots of side trips. The guy started with a pack weight of 40kg and the girls started with a pack weight of 30kg, mostly cookies. They were in great spirits and very positive in their attitude, even if they looked like they needed a good feed and a week in under a hot shower.
19km in 6.5 hours including all rest stops, lunch breaks, photo and/or video stops, siestas etc
Port Davey Track Day 2
From Crossing River camp there had been some recent fire damage that had made an obvious changes to the landscape. It meant that there was easy walking for us as most if not all of the trees and shrubs had been decimated by the fire. The results meant uninhibited views of the surrounding White Monolith Range and its mountains such as Sculpted Mountain, Wombat Peak, Scrubby Peak and Stonehenge Peak. By lunch time we reached another campsite, Watershed Creek, we were somewhat surprised to find a German bloke, Sven. He was late in leaving camp, seems like he was taking his time. We took our time over lunch before heading off to the area known as the Lost World Plateau.
The track was in great condition with easy walking so we decided that we would try and make it to Spring Creek for our overnight camp. As we got closer the area scarred by the fire finished and the track took on a more muddy side. We passed Sven who camped at a small campsite near a flowing creek just off the Lost World Plateau. It was getting late when we reached Spring Creek and we followed the obvious footpaths through the storm damaged area until the footpaths disappeared.
We backtracked and followed the next most obvious track, they too disappeared. Then a third time until we saw the error in our ways and found the track. The river crossing was damaged by a fallen tree. We made it across to find that the marked campsite had been destroyed by trees felled from the storm. Back across the river again to the less than favourable camp. With positive attitudes we laughed the day off as a long tiring day which made our minor but frustrating errors multiply.
26km 10.5 hours including all rest stops, lunch breaks, photo and/or video stops, siestas and time going in circles!! etc
Port Davey Track Day 3
Once again there was fine weather when we left Crossed Spring Creek again for the 3rd time as we set our sites on camping at Bathurst Harbour by the end of the day. The walking was fine and we temporarily set our sites on climbing Mt Rugby, one of the highest mountains in the area which promised great views of the surrounds. As we approached we decided that it would be more prudent to give it a miss for now and continue to Farrell Point on the North Side of Bathurst Harbour.
We were there in perfect weather. It was even warm enough for me to go for a swim and I hate cold water. Bathurst Harbour is huge. There is a narrow channel that needs to be crossed by row boat. National Parks provide the boats for hikers. The winds and tidal flow can make things interesting for some groups. We arrived to tides that appeared to be running out through the Bathurst Narrows at about 2 knots. we waited until late afternoon when the tide slowed to cross the 300 meter crossing. There are supplied row boats on either side of the narrow channel which required us to make 3 trips to ensure there was a boat on either side. The campsite on Joan point was stunning and the afternoon dinner spent watching the setting sun on one of the remotest harbours in Australia was magical.
13km in 8 hours including all rest stops, lunch breaks, photo and/or video stops, swims, boat trips etc
Port Davey Track Day 4
When we set off this morning the weather was grand. Low fog drifting outwards from the harbour onto the surrounding valleys and low lying country. After another brief geographical error we arrived near what appeared to be a track which indicated that it went to Mt Beattie. We checked with the map and decided to give it a crack. And I’m so glad we did. The views from the climb and summit of Mt Beattie were stunning. Bathurst Harbour, Mt Rugby, the narrows and Port Davey were visible as was our ultimate destination for the day, Melaleuca. We lingered at the top for quite a while taking in the vista. We decided to take a short cut down to the remaining sections of the Port Davey track. It was shorter both in time and distance.
It was a very hot day and we ran out of water while at the top of Mt Beattie. Lucky the short cut took us to a small creek to quench the thirst. We sighted Sven again who was busy making a cup of coffee for the afternoon. He invited us to partake in the ritual. It provided the energy to make it to our destination.
Melaleuca, our campsite for the night has a free hut to stay in. Valerie, Sven and myself were the only one staying in the hut. There were posters in the hut of Lake Pedder before the dam was built. The old map showed the original Port Davey Track which crossed the now flooded dam area on route to the small town of Maydeena. Must have been quite a trek back in the 60s and earlier. Friendly and helpful volunteer rangers greeted us at the hut. Our food package had arrived so we opened the box of wine and fruitcake after dinner. Only a small amount of wine and I was somewhat tipsy, my tolerance when hiking was obviously non existent. Suffice to say I slept well.
17km in 7.5 hours including all rest stops, lunch breaks, photo and/or video stops, etc
The Port Davey Track is often overlooked as one of the boring tracks of the South West. I enjoyed the whole thing from Scotts Peak Dam to Melaleuca. There is diversity and the region around Bathurst Harbour is stunning. The great weather on the trip added to the pleasure. Highly recommended. Click on the link for Part II of the trip the South Coast Track.
Total of 75km in 4 days including all side trips etc