Walls of Jerusalem hike April 14 – 20, 2019Map – Jerusalem TL06 2015 1:50000 Party: Stuart Butler, Neville Kew, Glenn Satchell, David Brown, Stuart Leverton, Colin Moran, Jamie Swane, Jonah Sherry, Naomi McPherson, Pippa McGrath, Oscar Humphreys and James Leverton
Following the success of several previous expeditions (Overland Track in April 2016, the South Coast Track Tasmania in Jan 2018, as well as the Jatbula Trail NT in July 2018), it was decided to again visit the Apple Isle and explore a different part of the country. The rough plan was to hike for 6 days and explore the Walls of Jerusalem area, whilst also adding in some other elements.
Most groups that visit the WoJ, do it as a 3-day round trip starting in the west near Lake Rowallan. Our trip would start from the east on the Central Plateau and head cross country, spend a day exploring the WoJ and then exit to the South and West via Lake Myrtle.
Heading to Tasmania in April means that it is likely to be cold and the week leading up to our hike proved that the group really needed to be prepared as the temperature dropped to -6C and the area we were heading to had some reasonable snow.
So very early on Sunday morning we all arrived at the airport ready to catch our 6am flight (although Colin had arrived two days earlier thinking we were leaving on the 12th so had a nice dress rehearsal, but I must admit that the phone call at 4:30am asking where were we, was not so welcomed. Of course when things aren’t quite right they go wrong in more ways than one when Colin’s car also broke down on the way to the airport on the Friday, so he left his wife with the car on the side of the road and caught a taxi the rest of the way, only to find out he had the day wrong J).
We arrived safely in Tasmania and were met at the airport by Tasmania Wilderness Experience who would transport us to the start of the hike at Lake Ada by mini bus.
Day 1 - Lake Ada to Lake Fanny The Central Plateau of Tasmania is littered with thousands of lakes and pools along with low level scrub, but is relatively flat so navigating to Mt Jerusalem, which is the only significant high point in the west, would hopefully not prove to onerous, providing we had visibility, which can rarely be assured in Tasmania. The first day would be very straight forward as we were following a trail all the way up to Lake Fanny. Today our Navigator would be Naomi, who hadn’t lead a hike before so would enjoy the challenge of working out what all those squiggly lines and blue blobs on the sheet of paper meant.
James was our youngest hiker at 12 y.o. but luckily had the benefit of dad to help lighten his pack load a little. Admittedly he struggled for the first couple of days as he became used to the rigours of his pack weight and being self sufficient for 6 days, but stuck with it and improved significantly each day so by the end of the hike he was no longer “tail-end Charlie”.
The first part of the day was a bit of a trudge as we followed a 4WD trail and the scenery was rather bland, but the weather was spectacular, and it was good being out in the bush.
With 15km to cover, we needed to keep moving fairly steadily as we did not start hiking until about 12:30 pm given the flight & the drive to the start and the daylight hours in are short at that time of year.
We enjoyed a late lunch beside the trail and continued on into much prettier country as the afternoon progressed, following the track through and around the many lakes and pools that dot the plateau region.
We reached Lake Fanny in the late afternoon and set up camp at the southern end. Jamie & Oscar braved the cold & took a very quick swim, whilst the rest of us enjoyed the spectacle of them squealing like stuck pigs at the cold.
Day 2 – Lake Fanny to WoJ We woke up to overcast skies but good visibility as the cloud remained high. Today Jamie would lead us cross country on our off track section of the hike through to the WoJ. We did not know what we would experience today and only needed to hike about 8km but if we encountered heavy heath it would be very slow and painful going and we would be unlikely to make it to the walls.
We headed around the SW corner of Lake Fanny and followed the valley to the NW for a kilometre or so before popping over a small ridge into the next valley & following that most of the way through to the saddle just off Mt Jerusalem.
Jamie did a great job of off-track navigation and always knew exactly where we were. As things turned out the scrub was fairly light, and the majority of it was easily avoided. So aside from some skirting around the edges of pools and picking the best way through the boulder jumbles it was very pleasant hiking in lovely country.
We stopped for morning tea beside a nice little lake and later enjoyed lunch sheltered amongst some trees beside another little lake. This second stop was only about a kilometre before we reached the saddle track up to Mt Jerusalem and gave us plenty of time to compete the summit and get into camp nice & early. As we ascended up to the summit of Mt Jerusalem we passed into the cloud layer and lost visibility for the surrounding countryside, so didn’t spend too long up there, just long enough to get the obligatory group photo.
Our camp that night was at Dixon Kingdom Hut, an old grazing hut, which was originally built in the 1930’s by grazier Reg Dixon. Today it can sleep about 4 – 6 but we set up tents outside and used the hut for cooking and getting out of the cold at night.
Day 3 – Explore WoJ My greatest concern in organising the hike was we would be clouded out on the day that we explored the walls area, however I needn’t have worried as the day dawned bright and clear to give us sensational views all day.
We hiked from our camp in the morning and started by summitting the Temple, which is the mountain in the centre of the WoJ area and affords 360 degree panoramic views of the area. It is the best spot to view Solomons throne and King Davids Peak with the West Wall running between them.
There is a large out-jutting rock 2/3rds of the way up, which provides a spectacular backdrop for photos as it appears that you are standing out on a precipice with hundreds of metres below.
After summitting the Temple we returned to the track & immediately took the opposite track and headed up to Solomons Throne. This ascent follows a track up to the rock scree and then passes around to the east side & up through a cleft in the cliffs. It is a very easy ascent albeit a little steep. Once the group reached the top and had time to take photos and explore a little we continued across the cliff top to King Davids Throne, which is the highest peak in this section of the Park. The traverse across is quite physical as you need to pass through and over several sections of boulder jumble, but the views are very worthwhile. We had lunch on top of King Davids Throne before heading back to Solomons Throne & down the same way we had come up.
Once back at the track junction the kids decided to head back along the track to our campsite, whilst the adults wandered down along the West Wall & back before exploring the Pool of Bethesda & continuing off track around the base of The Temple & back to camp the long way.
This part of Tasmania has a big reputation for its impressive features & there is nothing that we saw that disappointed with every new view a real “wow” moment.
Day 4 – WOJ to Lake Adelaide Our exit from the WOJ the following day was to the south past the Wailing Wall & and then west along the north side of Lake Ball. There is a well-defined track the whole way, so navigation was easy with Oscar leading the day. We stopped for morning tea at an old fishing shack about halfway along Lake Ball & we explored the area a little more closely finding a lovely campsite right on the shores of the lake.
After morning tea, we continued along Lake Ball and descended off the plateau to Lake Adelaide where we ate a lovely lunch on its shores. We then continued along the western side of Lake Adelaide to our campsite at the southern end. After 4 days of hiking it was time for a bath so a couple of us found somewhere secluded to do some well needed (but rather hasty) skinny dipping.
That evening, as we were having dinner, it started to lightly sprinkle, but not enough to interrupt our food preparation/eating, but enough to send us to bed a bit earlier than normal. It continued to rain quite steadily during the night & we woke up to snow on our tents and a light dusting falling from the skies.
Day 5 – Lake Adelaide to Lake Myrtle Due to the overnight rain the first couple of kilometers of the track, for the most part, was underwater, as we followed the creek from Lake Adelaide to Lake Meston. Keeping dry boots was not possible with the simplest and most expedient way forward was to go straight down the path in ankle deep water. It took James a little time to work this out as he struggled to find a dry route down the path, but I must admit that I was have having a ball splashing down the track and we had a hilarious moment when Dave didn’t quite make it fully across one of the many creek crossings and ended up to his waist in the water. He was even less amused by the photo opportunity that his misfortune provided me & Nev.
The North end of Lake Meston provided a lovely photo opportunity with the lake opening up in the background. After a brief stop there we continued along the north western side of Lake Meston to the fishing hut about half way along, where the sun was trying to make a break through. A quick lunch there & we backtracked a small way to pick up the linking track across to Lake Myrtle. Whilst not too difficult to locate & follow, you do need to be paying attention to notice the track junction & remain alert whilst following it (particularly with the rain & the track being a little under water).
The campsite at Lake Myrtle is spectacular with Mt Rogoona in the background looking down over the lake. It afforded some of the most picturesque moments of the trip and we had a chance to dry out some of our gear in the afternoon sun.
As the sun dropped so did the temperature, which would be well below zero overnight.
Day 6 – Lake Myrtle to Lake Rowallan The picturesque setting continued at sunrise, with the edge of the lake frozen over with the sub-zero temperature overnight and frost all over the ground, but a beautiful day had dawned with lovely clear skies for our final day’s hike.
We continued up the valley, north from Lake Myrtle to Lake Bill and across Blizzard Plain enjoying the spectacular scenery and warming sunshine. Morning tea was enjoyed at the north end of Blizzard Plain as we all dragged our heels for the final downhill trek to Lake Rowallan and the end of our hike. Admittedly the kids always seem keener to return to civilization that the adults and they bounded down ahead to await the bus at our prearranged rendezvous point on Mersey Forest Rd.
In usual fashion we arrived early and sat around for the next hour or so before we were picked up by TWE and driven back to Hobart (not without the obligatory stop at the Frog Café in Deloraine).
We were dropped off at Sandy Bay to stay the night at 10th Hobart Scout Hall, where the joy of enjoying a hot shower after 6 days in the wilderness could truly be appreciated. That night we wandered up to the main street of Sandy Bay and had pizza dinner (gotta replace all those lost calories).
Day 7 – Hobart Our flight home was not until 8pm so we had the day to explore Hobart. The kids were given instructions to stay in groups and be back at the hall by 5 pm for our transfer. Us adults took the opportunity to catch up with Rosie & Stuart Barry who we had met on the South Coast track a couple of years back. A lovely afternoon tea with them before being dropped back at the hall & getting ready for the flight home. Another successful hike completed with all kids returned safely with no deaths (or even injuries for that matter) to put claim to