The Western Arthur Range lies in Southwest National park, in Southwest Tasmania, and is one of the most dramatic mountain ridges in the whole of Australia. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its glaciated landscapes, jagged quartzite crags, spectacular lakes (approximately 30 of them, and along with the peaks and ridges, were named after celestial objects), unpredictable and violent weather, and of course the magnificent views! This of course makes it a wonderful location for not just hiking, but for other activities as well (as seen below).
Hovering your cursor over the image above will show you the names of the prominent peaks of the range as seen from across Edgar Pond
The traverse of the range is a circuit that begins and ends near the Huon Campsite at Scott's Peak Dam that is located at the southern end of Lake Pedder, which is 3-4 hours (by car) South-West of Hobart. The trail head for the Western Arthur Range is also shared with the Port Davey Track, which leads down to Melaleuca and the start of the South Coast Track.To drive to Huon Campsite from Hobart, take the main road North-West up to New Norfolk, then carry on heading West along the B61 road towards and past Maydena. There will be a junction where the road branches off to the left to continue circling around to the Southern end of Lake Pedder and past several apiary sites. The road that leads off to the Huon Campsite (and the trailhead) branches off to the left at Scott's Peak Dam.
The traverse of the Western Arthur Range takes approximately 9-11 days, including the time taken to access and depart the range from Scott's Peak Dam. There are shorter options however if you have limited time. Walking to Lake Oberon and back will take approximately 4-5 days, and the half traverse up Alpha Moraine and back down to the plains via Kappa Moraine will take you between 7-9 days.
*Cick here to learn more about the difficulty rating.
**This route can also be done in 7-9 days instead of 9-11 days by exiting the range via Kappa Moraine. This drops the rating to 5.0 (Class 7 - Challenging) due to a decrease in the total duration, the average daily distance, as well as the average daily ascent.
The Western Arthur Range report from the Bushwalking and Track Review (BATR) Panel to the Parks and Wildlife Service divided the range into three areas and ranked them by difficulty : from Alpha Moraine to Lake Cygnus (including the Lake Cygnus Campsite), designated a class 3 (class 5 with my grading); from the junction down to Lake Cygnus to Kappa Moraine (including the moraine descent), designated a class 4 (class 6 with my grading); and from junction of Kappa Moraine on the range to Strike Creek, designated a class 5 (class 7 with my grading). The report also recommends that party sizes should not exceed 8 people for Lake Cygnus to Kappa Moraine, and should not exceed 6 people for Kappa Moraine to Strike Creek. The reason for this is to minimise erosion and to limit track widening.
"The Western Arthur's - that's where bad weather lives!"
The best months to hike the Western Arthur Range tend to be between November to March. The weather in this region is very unpredictable however and violent storms and complete whiteouts are very common any time of the year. I would recommend checking the climate data of the weeks prior to the start of the hike, and to keep an eye on the weather forecast for the region. The climate data can be checked with the Bureau of Meteorology by inputting '097083' as the station number for Scott's Peak Dam.Due to the extreme weather, the remoteness of the area, and the limited escape routes off the range, EPIRBs/PLBs should be carried with each hiking party. I personally used the SPOT Connect Satellite Communicator and sent check-in messages to my contact list at the beginning and at the end of each day's hike. I also enabled the SPOT tracking option which allowed those at home to keep track of my movements on the range in real time.
A decent, tough tent is absolutely essential on this range. A lot of sites say that 4-season tents are mandatory, but 3-season tents that can hold up to the heavy rain and the strong winds of the Western Arthur's should be fine. A decent waterproof and windproof jacket is essential, and so is a warm sleeping bag. Take care to keep your sleeping bag dry at all times as a wet sleeping bag could drastically shorten your trip. Here is a list of some of the gear that I brought with me:
Please note though, that the image does not include the food and clothes that I brought with me, as well as the camera that was used to take the photo (Nikon D700 with the Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D). The full list of all the equipment that I own and use can be found on my '100 item list'.
Water is fairly abundant along the range. There are however certain sections of the trail that lack sources of water so be sure to bring at least a day's supply of water with you each time you set out. Try and collect your water from streams or from the inlets of the lakes, rather than the lakes themselves. I would also recommend treating the water prior to consumption - I personally use a combination of the Sawyer Water Filter and the Steripen.Open fires are also banned on the range, so fuel stoves are the only way to boil water and cook food. I personally do not like open fires because of the impact that they leave (Leave No Trace), and urge you to try and avoid them elsewhere even if they are allowed.
The map below has sections of the path that I followed hyperlinked and clicking on each section of the route will bring you to its respective page (if the map does not work for any reason, you may also find the links at the top of this page). The GPS routes for each leg of the journey can also be found at the end of the post for each of the respective days.
Interactive Location Map
Western Arthur Range Day 01
Western Arthur Range Day 02
Western Arthur Range Day 03
Western Arthur Range Day 04
Western Arthur Range Day 06
Western Arthur Range Day 07
Western Arthur Range Day 09
Western Arthur Range Day 10
Western Arthur Range Day 10b
Western Arthur Range Day 11
..and the lakes (hovering your cursor over the image below will reveal the names )
Elevation profile for the entire route (hovering your cursor over the image below will reveal highpoints )
For those who also have a Suunto GPS device, the GPX file for each segment can be found at theend of each day's entry. The entire route can also be downloaded here(right click and save link as).
"Ramon is a hiker, climber, and diver who loves to get off the beaten path. His website is a combination of his drive to explore and his passion to capture and share what he sees. Ramon is a bit of a minimalist and is currently torn between his yearning to travel the world and his need to decrease his carbon footprint. Read more here." View all posts by Ramon Fadli