The Western Arthurs

The Western Arthurs 
by guest blogger Roger Wong
One of the iconic images of Tassie is Peter Dombrovski’s photo of Lake Oberon in the mist. It’s a raw mythical landscape consisting of a lake cupped by a sharp ring of mountains with pristine pandani plants posed in the foreground. I first saw this in the 90’s growing up in Hobart, and always wanted to see this for myself one day. That day was on the first weekend of February this year with a massive high pressure system parked over the island and the promise of stable weather in the south west.

Lake Oberon is in the Western Arthur range, which is a long series of quartzite peaks with elevated lakes on either side of the ridge line. The approach is from Scotts Peak Dam road just below Lake Pedder, a two hour drive from Hobart. It was here myself and two friends left our car and began our trip. We spent the first few hours picking our way through button grass swamp to the Junction Creek campsite which was a good place to stop and conserve energy in anticipation for the next day’s climb.

The next day started off sunny with fleeting clouds, but gradually became more overcast. 

This is one of the earlier photos crossing the Arthur Plain towards the mountains:
From the base of the Arthur Range the path went up Alpha Moraine, a continuously steep incline which brings you around onto the ridge line. We stopped plenty of times, ostensibly to admire the view:
The ridge was a crazy jumble of quartzite peaks moulded by unimaginable forces as evidenced by the twisted rock striations. The vegetation was wind pruned and low to the ground, presumably from the brisk southerly wind we’d been protected from on the other side of the ridge:
After a few more kilometres of up and down, we descended into the sheltered Lake Cygnus for the night. This was a very welcome sight!
We also caught a brief sunset on the rim surrounding the lake:
The next day was very misty with poor visibility and chilly. Here’s the campsite with some experimental matting which I haven’t seen anywhere else:
The first big climb between Lake Cygnus and Lake Oberon was Mt Hayes. Here’s us contemplating the mountain:
We met some Victorians going down the other side who were doing the Eastern Arthurs as well:
Luckily the weather started to clear up and we had great views of the U-shaped glacial valleys either side of the ridge:
The second steep section was going up Mt Sirius from the top of which the classic Lake Oberon vista opened up. We spent a good hour here soaking up the view and congratulating ourselves on our good luck that the sun broke through at the right moment! It looked exactly like the photo and how I imagined it would in my mind. Wow.
To cap off a perfect day the campsite was on the white sand at the edge of Lake Oberon:
We then retraced our steps over the next few days. The weather remained clear and we had some magnificent views of Mt Solitary in Lake Pedder on the way back:
We were very lucky with the weather for this trip and in mist or rain we would not have seen or experienced this amazing landscape. Living in Hobart makes this much easier because we have a bit more luxury picking which weekend to go or where the weather is the best, rather than the interstate visitors who take their chances whilst they are here. So I’m very grateful I got to see Lake Oberon as I’ve always wanted to, and also been to one of the iconic parts of our island.

A very good walking guide is John Chapman’s “South West Tasmania” (5th Edition) which you can get at the Tasmanian Map Centre in Hobart. John is a very experienced bush walker and we took a couple of hours longer than his suggested times.

For us a comfortable way to break the trip up was three days in (camping at Junction Creek, Lake Cygnus and Lake Oberon), and two days out (overnight at Lake Cygnus). The track down into Lake Oberon follows a steep chute. We didn’t need rope, but you need to be comfortable with heights and scrambling with a full pack, and I wouldn’t attempt this walk if you haven’t hiked in Tassie before.

Find an online map here.

About guest blogger Roger Wong
Roger is a fellow member of the Eating Out in Tasmania (EOIT) Facebook page where he likes to post food porn. His real passion however is bushwalking and exploring Tasmania, a hobby which lends itself naturally to landscape photography.

If you like this post you might also like our posts on short walks around Hobart:
Boronia Beach, Kingston 
Snug Falls 
Lenah Valley Walks, The foothills of Kunanyi 
Bushwalking in Hobart’s Suburbs, The Skyline Track 
A Myrtle Forest in Collinsvale