Ah the Walls of Jerusalem, a spectacular National Park in the Central Plateau of Tasmania. It lies to the East of its better known cousin, the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park A.K.A. The Overland Track bit. In fact, you get pretty epic views of much of the Overland peaks but we’ll get to that. Also, this is a bit of a long post so put the kettle on I guess 🙂
To get to the Walls of Jerusalem National Park, make your way towards Mole Creek and get onto the Mole Creek Main Road (B12) and continue along past all the signs for the various caves and you’ll take the left fork onto the Mersey Forest Road. Continue along Mersey Forest Road and follow that down, crossing the Mersey River a couple of times before it ends up back on your right. You’ll come to another fork at the Fish River Road, take the right one and stay on the Mersey River Road and follow the signs to the car park. Hannah and I hung out at the car park for a bit while Gemma went off to pick up Jim and Paul, two of her former colleagues who were joining us on the walk and had parked their car in another location that they were going to be walking into after our little stroll.
And so it begins, the long looooooooonnnnnng slog uphill to get up onto the plateau. After what feels like hours you reach Trappers Hut and you can start to relax, the worst of it is over. If you’ve made it this far, the rest of the hike is a walk in the park…..quite literally in fact. Continue along, taking the left fork and you’ll start making your way into the park proper and its wonder will slowly start to reveal themselves. You’ll spot your first pencil pines, the magnificent trees that make Walls of Jerusalem so special as well as the beginnings of Solomons Jewels, a series of tarns that are just so damn tranquil you’ll be pinching yourself to see if it’s even real.
After ooing and aahing at Solomons Jewels we eventually reached our base for the evening, Wild Dog campsite. It’s a series of large wooden platforms and even has a toilet….luxury! We set up our tents after a bit of a struggle with the metal wires and had to use some additional rope to reach all the way but we got there in the end. We chilled at the campsite the rest of the afternoon, eating some snacks and having a chat. One of our party came back from the toilet saying he had spotted a big snake on the way. Naturally I had to go have a look! I grabbed my camera and started up the hill towards the toilet and sure enough, there it was. A big shiny black Tiger Snake chilling in the bushes to the side of the track. Beautiful! My heart was pumping a little faster of course but I love seeing snakes, it’s such a rush!
We chatted for another while, despite a “noise” complaint from our neighbours. Yes, a couple went to one of the most popular National Parks in Tasmania on a long bank holiday weekend and expected…….I don’t know…..everyone to be sitting around quietly not saying a word to one another? Lying on the ground in complete silence contemplating our existence? It was the middle of the day, not 10pm at night…..be reasonable.
Anyhoo, it was soon dinner time and Gemma and I had one of our delicious dehydrated meals (thankfully not devoured by the dog this time haha). We were finishing up dinner and cleaning up when I noticed something, the sun was almost below the horizon. Here we were in this stunningly beautiful place and the light was about to be at its finest. Cue me grabbing my camera and literally running back to Solomons Jewels to try and capture it. I’ve only ever been up on Mount Wellington for sunset before and the majority of our hikes happen in the middle of the day so I rarely get that perfect light we photographers love to experience. It was exquisite and something I’ll never forget, just being there in this incredible place basked in the golden light of sunset. Magic.
I made my way back to camp, catching up with another photographer on the way who was just as giddy with what he’d seen as myself. The rest of our group had been having a lovely evening also, playing card games and having a bit of banter and it was a perfect end to a great first day.
The following day was set to be a big one with a mountain to climb. We were headed for King David’s Peak, the highest in the park and also destined to be my 10th Abel. Let’s get up there! We packed up camp after a tasty breakfast and hit the boardwalk with the sun beating down on our heads. We caught up with Jim and Paul who had headed off before us and had stopped at the start of the short detour to the Pool of Bethesda, which is a beautiful little tarn at the base of King David’s Peak, surrounded by pines and gumtrees.
We then strolled up to Damascus Gate which lies between Solomons Throne and The Temple and set our packs down. There’s not many feelings in the world better then taking off a heavy pack. We put on our lovely light day packs and started the climb up to Solomons Throne. The ascent is awesome with the highlight being a really fun section through a steep narrow gully which opens up onto the plateau of Solomons Throne with King David’s peak lying further along the edge of the mountain.
It wasn’t until we reached this summit that I realised the mountains I had seen the evening before we the peaks on the Overland Track. I had been looking at Mount Pelion West, cool! Gemma, Hannah and Jim had done the Overland together last year and it was lovely to watch them beam with excitement as they recognised the mountains and features from a different vantage point. There was great debate as to which peak was which and it was wonderful, what hiking is all about 🙂 We continued along the edge (well near enough to it) for what felt like ages before we reached the cairned summit of King Davids Peak. It’s easy to get lost along the way but there’s a couple of routes so it’s not too hard to get yourself back on track. The view from the top is like a bonus round as Cradle Mountain makes an appearance! It looks completely different to the picture postcard scenes from Dove Lake but it was my first ever glimpse of it which was awesome. It was my first glimpse of many mountains in fact. And when you see a distant mountain you just want to climb it, it’s an irresistible urge and I love it!
We made our way back down to Damascus Gate and enjoyed a lovely lunch in the sun next to our packs. We weren’t done with climbing for the day though and proceeded up to the top of The Temple after lunch. It’s a short jaunt up a well marked and impressively engineered track and offers impressive views of the valley below with Lake Salome at the end.
We walked back down to our packs and reluctantly put them back on, although we knew it wouldn’t be for long as we were only a short walk away from Dixons Kingdom, our home for the second night. There was a bit of deja vu about the evening as once again I got all excited about the setting sun and ran off with my camera in tow. There was a LOT of people at Dixons Kingdom, at least 20 tents and many of our fellow hikers had the same plan as me. Everyone was heading up to Solomon’s Throne to catch the sunset up there so I decided to ignore the masses and made my way to the Pool of Bethesda. I haven’t seen any of the pics from Solomons but all I can say is….Good call me! The light at the Pool was beautiful. I sat atop a rock for several minutes just taking it all in and eh….contemplating my place in the Universe…..guess that couple at Wild Dog had a point after all 🙂
I got back to camp, a huge smile beaming across my face and joined the others for the last few rounds of cards. Before we hit the hay for the night we were treated to a special treat. A Spotted Quoll wandered into camp and ran around all our tents before disappearing into the night. That night I was woken a couple of times by the sound of rustling outside and plastic wrattling….uh oh. Sure enough we awoke to hear that Jim had been struck by the Possum bandits. One bag of scroggin and one bag of muesli lost. When I say awoke, it was 5am and still pitch black. We were going to climb Mount Jerusalem in the dark so we could be on the summit for sunrise. Hell to the yes!
As we set off in the dark, we noticed a large shape next to one of the other tents. It was a HUGE possum, the fattest piece of shit I’ve ever seen and it had munched a hole in the tent and was chomping away on the poor hiker’s food. We then started to imagine that this one was the gang leader, the big boss who runs the show. We hypothesised that the Quoll was in fact his bitch and he orders it to do a little dance for hikers in the evening to distract them, while he casually eats everyone’s food. What an asshole.
Any concerns about that or anything really were soon to be all but forgotten as we reached the summit. Before us stretched the Land of a thousand lakes and each one was lit up like a jewel as the sun came up. The sky was aglow with all manners of oranges, yellows, purples, pinks and blues. It was stunning, spectacular….humbling.
As we had ascended in the dark, we’d missed the beautiful scenery around us. We’d also missed the fantastic views behind us as the mist rolled through the Overland Track beyond and the DuCane range was enveloped in clouds with just the highest pillars jutting out. The view out over the Central Plateau was incredible and I had an urge to just walk out onto it and get amongst all those lakes.
We returned to camp and took it nice and easy packing up for the next leg of our journey. We were scheduled to keep going around the circuit towards Lakes Ball and Adelaide where we’d say goodbye to Jim and Paul who were continuing on all the way into the Overland Track to attempt Ossa once more. We said our goodbyes to them on the Sunday, they finished up got out on Friday, what an epic trip! Alas they didn’t get to Ossa once again 😦 So gutted for them about that as anyone who walks that distance deserves to climb every summit available. Next time lads.
Before we went our separate ways we enjoyed a really really nice walk around to Lake Adelaide, passing by Lake Ball and through some beautiful forest along the way. There’s one stretch of this section that is honestly the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen. A carpet of green and white Pineapple plants dotted with red Mountain Rocket with blue waters around them. I actually almost teared up a bit as we walked past it. Such an incredible sight, so grateful to have seen it.
We reached Lake Adelaide and stopped for a last lunch as a group. Jim and Paul put their packs back on and started on their way to Lake Meston, the next stop on their journey. We decided we’d cut our own journey a little short. We were going to set up camp at Lake Adelaide for the third night but decided we’d actually quite like to sleep in our own beds that night haha. Decision made, we were walking out that day. We hoisted our packs onto our backs one more time and started the walk out along the plains on the other side of King David’s peak. It was a hot day and 99% of the walk is out in the open so it was a bit of a gruelling hike back to Trappers Hut at the top of the plateau.
Walking back down the hill we had slogged up on the first day was far more pleasant and soon enough we were back at the car. Happy to be that bit closer to a warm bed but also pretty damn sad the adventure had come to an end and definitely a little jealous of Jim and Paul and their ongoing journey into those epic peaks we had seen the day before. All up I think we did close to 40km of walking in the three days with all the side trails. Not a hugely gruelling trip in the long run but certainly one of the most rewarding. I’ll be thinking about these special moments for a long time and they were just what the doctor ordered after a very busy couple of weeks at the start of the Uni year. Where to next?!? I love this island!