A few weeks ago we managed to tick off another three Abels, bringing me to the verge of double digits while getting to see some beautiful new sights in Tassie. The plan was to camp in Fingal as our base before climbing up Stack’s Bluff and then doing East Tower and Legges Tor the following day. We drove up past Campbell Town (home of the busiest Banjos in the Universe no doubt) and then turned onto the A4 towards Fingal but took a wee detour up Storys Creek Road on the way passing through the rather quaint village of Mangana complete with chickens running wild, alpacas, an odd fire station and a cool looking church.
The next morning we packed up our tent and headed back up Storys Creek Road to the start of the Stacks Bluff Trail. The early stages of the hike pass through some nice dry forest with plenty of red triangles marking the way up onto the main rock scree to the top. I love a bit of rock scrambling so the climb up onto the plateau was very enjoyable indeed.
On our way back to Fingal we both were overcome with that desire that comes after a good climb, a nice cold beer. We knew Fingal didn’t have a pub (sort that out lads) so we made our way to St. Marys on the East Coast. Not only does St. Marys have a lovely pub, it’s also home to a rather spiffy campground which we promptly upgraded ourselves to instead of staying at Fingal another night. Some delicious wedges and possibly a second beer later and we set up camp and even enjoyed a shower which was a luxury we hadn’t expected. Car camping is such a great way to explore Tassie, especially when you get lovely campsites like the one at St. Marys.
The next morning we got up and had a lovely breakfast before hitting the road again for our next summit, East Tower. We knew it was possible to drive fairly close to the top but that most likely a gate would be closed preventing us getting to near the summit. As luck would have it, the gate was open and Gemma was able to wrestle the Corolla to the summit parking area. There was a Landrover parked up as we arrived so we assumed someone was there to fix a weather antenna or something. What we didn’t expect was the Bond villain hideout that’s been built at the top!
Access is via some rather steep metal stairs and walkways and as we reached the top, we were greeted by a friendly voice. That voice belonged to Bob, whose job it is to watch out for fires and warn the fire service and thus save lives. From his office atop East Tower, you have full 360 degree views which on a clear day stretch as far as the mountains on Flinders Island to the North and Mount Wellington all the way back in Hobart to the South. On the day we paid a visit, it was rather pleasant but Bob told us he’s had to climb up those steep metal stairs in howling icy winds which have blown in the windows and just been genuinely frightening. MUCH respect to Bob and his fellow watchers keeping us all safe.
Following on from the unexpected delights of East Tower, we got back onto the road (if you can call endless kilometres of gravel a road, although we still had fun) and made our way towards Ben Lomond from the northern end. Anyone who’s been that way before will of course know all about Jacob’s Ladder, the awesome entrance to Ben Lomond National Park. It’s a series of super tight switchbacks that wind their way steeply up the side of the mountain, the kind you usually only see in the Alps. Certainly makes for a cool photo! We parked up shortly after reaching the top and enjoyed a lovey short stroll……..to the second highest mountain in Tasmania, Legges Tor. Sure, Mount Wellington is even more taking the piss with its easiness of getting to the top, but to be able to stroll to the top of a 1,572m mountain is kinda nice. The view from the top is pretty nice and we were able to look back across to East Tower and give a wave to Bob (who would have required his binoculars to see us).
So there you have it, two days, three summits and a pretty damn lovely road trip. Ben Lomond is famous for its skiing but that doesn’t mean that’s the only time you should visit as it makes for a rather spectacular visit in the Summer months also. Looking forward to getting back up there and ticking off the other Abels in the area.