Dec 27th - Dec 31st 2008
The mighty Mersey River is born in the button grass swamp at the southwest end of Lake Meston at an altitude of just over one kilometre (1018m). Mt. Rogoona towers to the north, Convent Hill is due west and the Mts of Jupiter are to the southwest. Here gentle alpine brooks are born to wind their way through the low alpine scrub and button grass, merging into one west-ward bound stream that finds its way into tiny Lake Youd, about 1.4 kilometres from Lake Meston. From Lake Youd the young river flows a further 1.3 kilometres west to Junction Lake. The Moses Creek and Junction Lake Tracks (which take one to the Walls of Jerusalem track) meet here. Another track heads down the Never-Never to the Overland Track and a small track heads up to Lake Artemis and Lake Eros. Lees Creek flows down from Lake Artemis to Junction Lake.
My plan was to follow the Mersey, as best I could, as it made its way to Lake Rowallan. My first day would be via Moses Creek track past Chapter Lake and Grail falls to Junction Lake. Day two would take me down the Never-Never to the Overland Track. Day three would be a day for photographing falls and making my way to Kia Ora. Day four via Kia Ora Falls to Lees Paddock and home on Day 5.
As it leaves Junction Lake the Mersey falls over Clarke Falls into the Never-Never valley and continues its westward journey behind Cathedral Mountain. Mountain streams continue to join the Mersey. One, flowing off Cathedral Mountain, forms the Feather Falls. This stream joins the Mersey about 1.4 kilometres below Clark Falls. About 2.8 kilometres below Clarke Falls and still heading west, the Mersey drops again over McCoy Falls. A further 1.5 kilometres on it is joined by Campfire Creek which flows down from Du Cane Cap. Here the Du Cane Range forces the Mersey to turn northwest and it flows for 3 kilometres between Falling Mountain and Cathedral Mountain. As it does so it tumbles over Hartnett Falls, Ferguson Falls, D’Alton Falls and Boulder Falls in a short distance of 1.3 kilometres. Just after Boulder Falls a stream flowing off Cathedral Mountain joins the Mersey falling over the spectacular Cathedral Falls. Each of these falls are only a short side trip from the Overland track.
As it leaves the Boulder Falls the Mersey has already fallen 200 metres. A kilometre downstream it begins to turn north around Cathedral Mountain. Du Cane hut sits on the Overland Track only a short distance away, but at an elevation 250 metres above the river. About 3.5 kilometres below Boulder Falls the river is joined by Kia Ora Creek. The creek runs down off the Du Cane Range from Lake McFarlane, in the shadow of Mount Ossa, past the Kia Ora hut on the overland track, tumbling over the Kia Ora Falls and then descending two hundred metres into the valley. There is a small unnamed fall in the Mersey just above the junction with Kia Ora Creek.
A little over a kilometre further downstream the Mersey is joined by another creek (unsure of name) which flows down from Mt. Ossa across Pinestone Valley. Now the Mersey turns slightly to the east winding roughly north-northeast down to Lees Paddocks. It passes under the Twin Spires, Bishop Peak, Curate Bluff, Vicar Bluff and Deans Peak which are all high points along the edge of the Cathedral Plateau. Just before of Lees Paddock, 3.5 kilometres from Kia Ora Creek, the river is joined by Wadleys Creek, flowing down from Mt. Pelion. The Reg Wadley Memorial Hut sits in the paddocks above the junction. Another 2.1 kilometres downstream the river is joined by Ladder Creek. The small creek descends 250 metres (elevation) into the river valley over a couple of waterfalls. Ladder Falls is worth a quick visit and is only a short walk from Lee Hut.
A kilometre from Ladder creek the river is joined by Wurragarra Creek which flows down off the February Plains between Mt. Oakleigh and Mt. Pillinger. The Arm River track crosses the Wurragarra just after Lake Price. The Lees Paddock track crosses the Wurragarra via a foot bridge not far from where it joins the Mersey. Here Mt. Pillinger forces the river to turn east around Deans Bluff and past Premier Peak. It continues 4 kilometres to the amazing whirlpool of Oxley Falls and then another 600 metres to Lewis Falls. The Lees Paddock track runs parallel to the river, and Pine Hut sits on the edge of the river 1.4 kilometres below Lewis Falls. Lees Paddock track crosses the Mersey via a suspension bridge and ends another 800 metres on at the Mersey River Road.
At Pine Hut, the Mersey again begins to turn to the north and 2 kilometres downstream it begins to swell out into the man made Hydro dam of Lake Rowallan. The wild Mersey ends. The Dam wall for Lake Rowallan is 13 kilometres from Pine Hut and almost directly north. On the western side of the lake, Howell Bluff overlooks the southern end of the lake, and Clumner Bluff the northern end. The track to the Walls of Jerusalem begins between these two Bluffs.
The walk went pretty much to plan. The first day I spent a long time at Grail Falls and slept at the end of Cloister Lagoon near a patch of Pencil Pine. The second day it started raining. I walked to Junction Lake, filled out the log book and climb down to the bottom of Clarke Falls. I climbed down to the bottom of McCoy falls, forded the Mersey and slept at Hartnett Falls. The track through the Never-Never was better than expected. The last 600 meters from Campfire creek to Hartnett Falls was a very unpleasant, snake infested, black mud endurance. Day three I photographed Hartnett Falls, walked onto Ferguson and D'Alton and then went looking for Boulder Falls. This track is not maintained, slippery in the rain, hazardously close to the cliff edge at times, covered in fallen trees and finishes abruptly at a tall drop. Looking across the river you see Cathedral Falls. These falls are on a side stream that joins the Mersey, not in the Mersey itself. I looked in vain for a way down to Boulder Falls, an although there were a couple of possibilities, they didn't look overly safe for a lone walker. I had a late afternoon dinner at Du Cane Hut, and I slept this night on a wooden platform near Kia Ora Hut (never again). Day four I headed down to the private tour huts not far from Kia Ora Hut, and then due west across the button grass in search of Kia Ora Falls. I soon picked up the creek and a little bit further on I could hear the falls. Kia Ora Falls start with a couple of sizable cascades and then the big drop. The climb down to the two small drops was very fast - a twenty metre slide on my búm. The climb out with my full pack was much slower. I skirted around some thick bush to get below the falls and then climbed into the bottom of the falls with a bit more grace and composure this time.
The drizzle and at times heavy rain had hardly relented since I'd left Cloister Lagoon. After climbing out of the falls I cast around in a circle looking for any sign of a track before beginning a bush bash towards Lee's Paddocks. I came across impassable patches of Sassafras, tangled piles of fallen tress and dense bush which I had to skirt around. The going was tough. Finally I picked up a track that took me to the creek that comes down from Pinestone Valley. With all the rain this was a swollen torrent. I walked up and down looking for a crossing. Finally I found a fallen log that hardly looked like it would hold my weight. I found an seven foot stick to help balance me and stepped gingerly onto the log. I poked my stick in the creek and the first five feet disappeared into the water. On the second try with a ten foot stick I ever so slowly crossed the creek. The climbs into and out of the falls, the bush bash and the creek crossing had all wasted way too much time. It was seven and I figured I was a fair way from Wadleys Hut. And now I couldn't find the bl--dy track either. More bush bashing and button grass swap crossing for an hour and then finally a bit of open ground on the edge of some tea tree. I was very wet and very tired and very cold, so I pitch the tent, put on my dry clothes and crawled into the sleeping bag.
In the morning Cathedral, Twin Spires and Bishops were dusted with snow. I put the dry clothes away in their plastic bag, dressed in a light shirt, thermals and water proof outers, packed up and headed to Lee's. Ten minutes later I picked up the track. An hour later I had breakfast at Reg Wadley Memorial Hut. I hadn't eaten since Du Cane Hut. Last night's dinner just wouldn't go down and the brackish water had made me feel ill. Despite the knowledge of the long trudge ahead, I was very very happy with my current location. Because of the rain and swollen rivers, the Kia Ora Falls bit had been hard, but the whole walk had been spectacular.
Edit: I posted a few photos in the Gallery
. The never ending rain, wet lens and poor light made photography pretty hard after day 1.
Last edited by walkinTas
on Sat 03 Jan, 2009 1:13 am, edited 1 time in total.