After arriving at Devonport on the Spirit of Tasmania II we stopped in for a bite of breakfast at the Edgewater Hotel, last minute shopping in town and made our way through the Mural town of Sheffield where we stopped for a quick toilet break. While we were here there was Australia Day celebrations in the park with music, free breakfast and free Australian Flags which we were given one each of. You will see photos with these flags in them, we will carry them for the entire hike.
Leaving Sheffield we headed towards Mole Creek then made our way down the Mersey Forest Road, past Lake Rowallan then to a car park which is only signed with a 'Car Park' sign. There are around 20kms of gravel road which gets quite rough at times and the signs to the car park are very far and few between.
On arrival at the car park it was time to secure the car, changes the shoes and set the packs then off we go, following the Walls of Jerusalem access track, it was just as I had been told, a constant, not steep, just constant climb up. It could be considered a little steep but i found the 'constant' factor the hardest part, not far from the start of the track there is a 'Walkers Registration Shed' which hadn't been checked for a while though still a vital party of walkers safety if something was to go wrong.
Continuing the constant climb with a few photo stop on the way through the trees to this point were basically the same, we made it to Trappers Hut. This hut is the second on the site. The original hut was built by Mole Creek Local legends, Dick & Ray 'Boy' Miles and Roy & Alistar 'Shot' Walters. These two sets of brothers built the hut in 1946 and used by snarers to get shelter from the winter snow and also to dry their skins by the fire and smoke.
After 18 Months of hard work by a dedicated team of volunteers, the original hut was removed and the new one built in its place by December 1990. All tools required to build the hut were walked in, local timbers were sourced around the site and the shingles for the roof were split in Mole Creek and dropped into the area by a helicopter, I commend the volunteers for building this hut, very well done.
Moving on from the hut we continued to climb a little more, eventually the track starts to plateau out and you are greeted with some beautiful sights, the famous Pencil Pines are scattered throughout the area as well as the unique cushion plants inter linked with grasslands of tussock grass and Tasmanian Snow Grass. Back dropped by the Pencil Pines, you come across some beautiful water holes and the Solomons Jewels before coming out at a long board walk (two boards next to each other, lots of these on this side of the park) leading us to our first stop for the hike.
Wild Dog Campsite has 10 platforms of varying sizes, the one we chose easily fitted the 3 tents and had space for cooking and relaxing. There is also a long drop toilet and water taps, this water is not treated so you need to be prepared to treat the water.
We cooked up some dinner on the platform and I must admit, I am a real fan of the dehydrated food I buy. Strive Food, based in Tasmania, is where I get my dehydrated food sent in from and it is quite tasty for that sort of food and very filling as well as being decently priced. This is the second trip that I have had this food on and I’ll be consuming it for many trips to come.
The weather has been amazing all day and it still is though when the sun dropped down behind the trees the temperature did the same thing, the jumpers came out which was enough to keep us warm, it didn’t get super cold. Although we only walked 6kms, a lack of sleep in the ship due to rough seas and an early morning wake up said this would be enough walking for the day, we had also tackled the access track too.
Waking up toasty after a good night sleep (I’m thinking the -10 sleeping bag may’ve been a little over kill) we started packing up the mess that we had made in our tents with pretty much nothing left in the packs, I’m starting to get this packing packs caper thing down pat. A quick pack up we then cooked up some breakfast, coffee and hot chocolate for me before setting off for the days walk.
Continuing along the board walk through Herods Gate, which is an easy walk, mostly boarded up until Damascus Gate. Walking through the Gate you will see the West Wall leading off to the right with King Davids Peak being on top of that and Lake Salome and Vale of Bethesda to the left. With the sun reflecting off the lake, only experiencing it for yourself can show the true beauty of this place, doesn’t matter how many photos you see or how I explain it, it never comes out the same as being there.
Moving on a track goes off the left, it’s literally a couple minute walk so take it. Arriving at the Pool of Bethesda, it is a hidden location which can’t be seen from the main track and a nice spot for a sit down and to take in the beauty.
Back on the Walls of Jerusalem Track we continued walking for no more than 500metres coming up to Damascus Gate and two tracks going off to the sides. The one to the right heads up to the Solomons Throne; we opted not to walk this one though we decide to head to the left which goes up to The Temple. This walk is mostly climbing on rocks, we left our bags down at the intersection and headed up to the top. On the way up you get too see even more of the magical area that is the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. Arriving at the first peak we saw many people on the actual peak so we decided to stay here and take in the area. Take a moment up here to look out into the distance and not see anything but national park for as far as the eye can see.
Climbing back down, picking up the packs at the intersection, we jumped on the main track again and headed for the Dixons Kingdom Hut which is around 1km from here and quite an easy walk as you pass through more of the Pencil Pines that are scattered throughout the area.
Arriving at Dixons Kingdom Hut on the right, the area now has two long drops to the left and some open areas which is frequented by hikers.
Dixons Kingdom Hut was built by Reg Dixon, his son Bobby and Harry Donohue during the early 1950s for use by Reg and other Cattleman who passed through the area while droving. The land was leased by Reg until 1972 when he handed it over to be part of the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. This log hut is low but cosy; it was made using local pine logs assisted by horses and also has a shingle roof and a stone and timber chimney. Please Note: please don’t use these for sleeping in and lighting fires anywhere in the park including the huts is prohibited. This will continue to protect and care for this wonderful place. Also, camping is not permitted within 15 metres of the hut.
We dropped our packs here and loaded our pockets and belt loops with water and other essential items for the walk up to Mt Jerusalem, there is a sign pointing to the direction of the track. This track is an easy one to follow for the most until it gets to the rocks on the East Wall where you have to keep an eye out for the track. On the way up, past Jaffa Gate you will seem some beautiful pools and with the weather we were having, they looked so inviting though we were good and continued walking. Mt Jerusalem is on the East Wall of the park and although it isn’t the highest peak of the park, it did give some amazing views; I believe we stayed up here for over half an hour and could’ve stayed a lot longer.
Making our way back down the same track we arrived back at the packs at Dixons Kingdom Hut, had a break as we are doing good time for our next night’s camp which is only a few kilometres away. This track is not marked on any approved maps for the area though there is a track which is easily found from Dixons Kingdom Hut provided someone hasn’t set their tent up right at the start of the track as they had today, made the task of finding the track a little harder. The track does become harder to follow as you track further down Jaffa Vale. A lot of the track is in grassland though it does come to a group of trees where you have to take a bit more care in getting through, a few little creeks also run through this area. Our trick was to maintain the hills Walls on either side and Lake Ball ahead of us, Lake Ball is visible for much of the walk making it a relatively easy task. When you pull out of the tree line, follow the wetland line around to the West and you will soon pick up the track that skirts along Lake Ball. This track soon becomes harder under foot, by this I mean, you have to watch your footing around rocks and tree roots. You will lose sight of the lake at times and eventually come across Lake Ball Hut.
The pine timber constructed Lake Ball Hut sits in a bushy area and has a stone fire place with a wooden chimney. It was built in 1968 by Ray ‘Boy’ Miles for use while he undertook fishing trips to the area. The hut was facing bad times with thanks to rot and decay so a team came together to repair the hut.
Boy Miles has a fascinating and at times, horrible history. Developed an early love for the high country though the Army call came through and he joined up where he was taken as a prisoner of war in 1942 and faced torture regularly along with other unimaginable experiences while in the hands of the Japanese.
On return to Australia, he took to the peace and comfort of the country he basically grew up in, accompanied by his dog and gun , he built huts as still can be seen today as well as hunting and snaring, A true legend of the Tasmanian High Country.
There is nowhere to camp immediately around the hut though if you trek to the Lake, from the hut, about a 10metre walk south, you will find some cosy camping locations as we did. After an approx. 15km trip for the day we set up camp and decided it would be nice afternoon for a dip, which it was.
Dinner was cooked and we relaxed for the night under the clear nights stars before calling it a day and climbing back into our tents.
Awaking a lot later than yesterday, around 3 hours later, I actually took the time to take in the sun rising over Lake Ball and seeing two Black Swans swimming back from wherever they went last night, yes I saw them last night too. The water was extremely still, the sky was blue and the sun was reflecting off the lake it was a truly lovely experience.
After breakfast it was time to hit the track again heading for the car park. The track is very similar for the next kilometre, rocks scrambling, roots to step over, you really need to watch your footing on this track. We soon came out to an open area where the track was easy to follow though there have been several tracks made either side due to hikers avoiding the mud that has accumulated in the main track.
Arriving to another hill, this one, with a heavy pack, takes time so watch your footing; it is steep and requires concentration and your hands at times too. This track comes out near the top end of Lake Adelaide where another track heads down the east side of the Lake, from all reports this track is similar to the Lake Ball Track.
We turned right and headed back towards the car park, following Junction track we passed many small water holes in open grasslands as well as Lake Loane. This park of the track is relatively basic and in open grasslands, the orange arrows that have guided us around the park start to thin out here though the track is still pretty easily followed.
Approaching a hill, after approximately 8kilometres from the Lake Ball Hut, it is now time to start back tracking along the first hill that greeted us on arrival to the park. A short ascent and a blue familiar sign later we are heading down the constant hill passing trappers hut it can feel like a long track. going down puts pressure on your legs and with rocks on the tracks at times it’s worth taking your time although the motivation to the carpark can sometimes speed you up.
The weather today was quite warm with the mercury reaching the low 30’s so the trees blocking the scorching sun was a relief though still warm, ensuring to sign off at the registration shed we arrived back at the car to end a magnificent trip in a beautiful national park. I would recommend it to anyone.
Walls of Jerusalem, Mt Jerusalem, Damascus Gate, Herods Gate, Trappers Hut, Dixons Kingdom Hut, Lake Ball Hut, Lake Ball, The Temple