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Lake Malbena Pack-Rafting Circuit - Jackson Ck & Moses Ck

Mon 14 Jan, 2019 10:51 am

A mate and I have spent the past four days walking and rafting a circuit to/from Lake Malbena. It was an amazing trip and I reckon that the second day, when we did most of the rafting, was one of my best days out bush of all time.

We walked in via the Moses Creek Track to Chapter Lake and then on to Junction. Yes, we were supposed to turn off before getting to Capter Lake, but I missed the turn off. But Chapter Lake is quite picturesque and worth a visit anyhow. We then scrub bashed from Chapter Lake back up onto the track which we followed past Cloister Lagoon, and on to Junction Lake where we camped near the hut. This first day was about 5 hours of walking.

On the second day, we followed the pad towards Lake Artemis for a short distance before branching off and finding our own way through some moderate scrub to the Ling Roth Lakes. The last ~30-50m or before the first of the Ling Roth Lakes was all Fagus, which of course is quite tricky to push through. I’m not sure why some people call it ‘tangle-foot’ – ‘tangle-head-to-toe’ would be more appropriate.

When we finally broke through the Gunii onto the rocks on the edge of the lake we were greeted with an amazing view of the flat water under a blue sunny sky and we began to feel that we were in for a very special treat to have the opportunity to paddle across here.

We rafted all three of the Ling Roth Lakes being helped along by the gentle North West breeze that I had anticipated would be likely. This morning was one of my favourite few hours of all the time I’ve spent out bush, just very casually paddling across these three lakes in idyllic conditions.

There was some considerable scrub bashing between each of the Ling Roth lakes which meant we had to deflate and inflate the rafts each time, even though the distances were short. We managed to keep them inflated walking from the end of the 3rd Link Roth Lake to Lake Norman.

Lunch was near Lake Norman and we found that the flies were becoming insane – or should I say that we were nearly driven to insanity by the flies – any time that we stopped. They were very efficient at finding us any time we stood still. During our lunch break I took a little video of the flies which I may post later.

By then the wind had picked up to ~15 knots I reckon, and the waves on Lake Norman were getting larger with a lot of white caps. We were quite nervous about rafting this larger lake in our tiny pack rafts going across a strong wind. We debated our options and routes and eventually we decided that instead of rafting directly across it as originally planned, we would allow the wind to blow us to the southern end, where the walk to Eagle Lake would be much shorter and flatter anyhow and then instead of rafting across Eagle Lake, we could walk around it.

It was a more challenging paddle, going across the wind, but once we reached the far side, and navigated around the corner to the eastern extension of Lake Norman, it was sheltered and very pleasant again. All of these lakes are very deep, with crystal clear water, you can see the depth dropping away beneath the rafts and eventually the water just becomes completely dark. In some places, you can see an underwater cliff where the rocks about 10 meters below just drops off to blackness immediately.

Sure enough, by the time we got to Eagle Lake the wind had increased even more and we were happy to walk around it rather than try to paddle across that wind. Although, I’m not sure ‘happy’ is the right word as we were starting to get rather scratched up with all the pushing through the scrub in shorts an T-shirt (yes, I forgot to bring scrub gloves and trousers!).

After walking from Eagle Lake to Lake Malbena, we found that the launch spot was rather muddy, instead of rocky. The easiest way to get into the Klymit LWD rafts we used was to stand with one leg on each side of the raft and then sit down. To get in from one side results in a lot of water getting in. Well, I wanted to test the mud at our Malbena launch before standing on it fully, and I’m glad I did because it was bottomless. The one leg I put into the mud went straight down as though it was just water to mid-thigh level before I was able to arrest my descent with my other leg and hand that were still on the bank.

So I ended up sort of falling/jumping backwards onto the raft instead.

Then we rafted most of the length of Lake Malbena, which for some reason didn't seem to cop the wind as much as Norman and Eagle Lakes. We camped near the South Eastern shore of Lake Malbena after a 10 hour day of walking and rafting.

The third morning started quite cool and the wind blew all night and was even stronger early in the morning than it had been the previous afternoon. I was quite nervous about rafting to the northen side of Malbena across this wind, being already cold before even stepping into the water.

It was a more challenging leg of the trip and I copped several waves over the side of my raft. It was quite difficult to maintain the right heading, being pushed around repeatedly by the wind and waves. I was sitting in quite a pool of water before we got to the calm water behind the headland on the norther side of the lake, where we enjoyed the last few minutes of paddling in the sheltered flat water.

After deflating and packing up the rafts for the last time there was another long, steep, slow scrub bash from Lake Malbena up onto Chinamans Plains. There were a few more bands of scrub here and there, but the further we got from the lake, there less scrub we encountered. Once up on the plains proper, the going was much easier, and we managed to find a very easy route almost all the way to Lake Meston. But again the going became very tough, steep and scrubby, increasing in difficulty the close we got to Lake Meston. It took us 7 hours to paddle and walk from Lake Malbena to Lake Meston where we camped for our last night out.

Then yesterday we did the 3.5 hour walk out from Meston via Lake Myrtle and the Jackson Creek track (which incidentally is MUCH easier to follow at the Myrtle end than it was a few years ago).

I will post a few photos, and maybe a route map soon.
Last edited by Son of a Beach on Thu 17 Jan, 2019 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Lake Malbena Circuit Pack-Rafting Trip

Mon 14 Jan, 2019 10:59 am

Very much looking forward to your photos SOB!
Any flyfishing along the way?

Re: Lake Malbena Circuit Pack-Rafting Trip

Mon 14 Jan, 2019 11:00 am

Here are a few photos. Sorry I don't have any good ones of Lake Malbena or Chinamans Plains.
1 Chapter Lake.png
Chapter Lake, accidentally
1 Chapter Lake.png (1.03 MiB) Viewed 12236 times
2 Tasmanian Tiger.png
Tasmanian Tiger, on the track near Cloister Lagoon
2 Tasmanian Tiger.png (1.04 MiB) Viewed 12236 times
3 Ling Roth I.png
This is the view that greeted us after breaking out of the Fagus on the north shore of the first of the Ling Roth Lakes
3 Ling Roth I.png (797.62 KiB) Viewed 12236 times
4 First Launch - Ling Roth I.png
Launching the rafts on Ling Roth Lake I (north)
4 First Launch - Ling Roth I.png (1016 KiB) Viewed 12236 times
5 Paddling Ling Roth I.png
Paddling Ling Roth I
5 Paddling Ling Roth I.png (723.33 KiB) Viewed 12236 times
6 Paddling Ling Roth III.png
Nearing the far (south) end of Ling Roth III
6 Paddling Ling Roth III.png (745.37 KiB) Viewed 12236 times
9 Meston Early Morning.png
Lake Meston early yesterday morning
9 Meston Early Morning.png (723.35 KiB) Viewed 12236 times
10 Meston Not Quite as Early Morning.png
Lake Meston not quite as early yesterday morning
10 Meston Not Quite as Early Morning.png (801.55 KiB) Viewed 12236 times

Re: Lake Malbena Circuit Pack-Rafting Trip

Mon 14 Jan, 2019 11:03 am

Yes, a few fish were caught - not by me. I'm not into fishing particularly - not freshwater, anyhow. But my mate is an exceptionally talented fly fisherman, and he caught a few at Junction Lake, and one at Lake Meston. He didn't get around to fishing at Lake Malbena unfortunately, because we were rather exhausted when we finally got to our camp site and it was quite late. Similarly the next morning, we just had to get going, because we were concerned that it might not get to Lake Meston before dark (turned out we got there in good time, after all).

I got a couple of good videos too, but not sure if I can compress/crop them enough to upload them here. One of the swarm of flies, and one of a currawong attacking a pair of wedge tail eagles.
Last edited by Son of a Beach on Mon 14 Jan, 2019 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Lake Malbena Circuit Pack-Rafting Trip

Mon 14 Jan, 2019 11:05 am

Here's the route we took...

Malbena Routes.PNG

Re: Lake Malbena Circuit Pack-Rafting Trip

Mon 14 Jan, 2019 6:45 pm

Nice to read your report SOB and the photos.

Pity about the wind, but sounds like it was worth the effort anyway.

Mm!! It wasn't plain sailing up onto Ling Roth then. "moderate (scrub)"

Well done. Thanks for posting

Re: Lake Malbena Circuit Pack-Rafting Trip

Wed 16 Jan, 2019 6:31 am

Great trip SOB, nice write up too. Is the track from Grail falls to Junction along Cloister in reasonable condition

Re: Lake Malbena Circuit Pack-Rafting Trip

Wed 16 Jan, 2019 8:05 am

A walking & paddling circuit...nice variety. 8)

Re: Lake Malbena Circuit Pack-Rafting Trip

Wed 16 Jan, 2019 9:02 am

Very nice! Planning a similar trip for later in the season. Thanks for the post.

Re: Lake Malbena Circuit Pack-Rafting Trip

Wed 16 Jan, 2019 1:42 pm

bluewombat wrote:Great trip SOB, nice write up too. Is the track from Grail falls to Junction along Cloister in reasonable condition

Yes. Unlike last time I walked that track (about 25 years ago) when we found it quite difficult to follow in the vicinity of Cloister Lagoon, it was mostly easy to follow this time.

However, I completely missed the turn off before Junction Lake (ie you turn off BEFORE Grail Falls and Junction Lake when ascending the Moses Creek Track) so I’m not sure how obvious that turn off was (I wasn’t looking for it at the time when I should have been).

The pad gets a bit braided as it veers around Junction Lake towards the hut, so it’s hit and miss as to whether you get lucky enough to catch the right path to the hut at that point.

Re: Lake Malbena Circuit Pack-Rafting Trip

Wed 16 Jan, 2019 1:49 pm

If I was to traverse Chinamans Plains between Malbena and Meston again, I would take a rather different route at the Meston end, now that I know where the difficult terrain is. There appears to be an easier way to the north east of our final approach to Meston according to the map that is less direct, but looks less scrubby and less steep too.

Similarly, it would be worth finding an easier access route in/out of Lake Malbena, as it was quite a mission to climb that steep and scrubby terrain where we left that lake too.

However, the majority of our route across the plain itself was easy going.

Re: Lake Malbena Circuit Pack-Rafting Trip

Sat 19 Jan, 2019 10:09 am

stepbystep wrote:Very nice! Planning a similar trip for later in the season. Thanks for the post.

SBS, please see private message.

Re: Lake Malbena Pack-Rafting Circuit - Jackson Ck & Moses C

Sat 19 Jan, 2019 12:10 pm

When I crossed Chinamans it was from Mikany, after Oana and Layatinna. Hit the track near the eastern side of that little triangular shaped lake around half a km northeast of Meston. Like your route, the drop from the higher country involved some steep,loose rocky ground and a little awkward scrub. From what I could see of the terrain, there isn't really a way to avoid that entirely, it's just a matter of trying to minimise it. It was certainly worse somewhat further north.

Re: Lake Malbena Pack-Rafting Circuit - Jackson Ck & Moses C

Tue 29 Jan, 2019 12:18 pm

One more picture... Here's Halls Hut, close to the geographic centre of Halls Island.

The rainforest area behind the hut is beautifully lush and covers about a quarter of the island. Magnificent green carpet of moss in some areas, and deep sphagnum moss elsewhere.

Honestly, it’s one of the more ugly huts I’ve seen out bush, being clad mostly in metal. But as far as metal huts go, I suppose it’s nicer than some of the other metal ones I’ve seen.
IMG_3931 Halls Hut.jpeg
Halls Hut
Last edited by Son of a Beach on Fri 01 Feb, 2019 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Lake Malbena Pack-Rafting Circuit - Jackson Ck & Moses C

Tue 29 Jan, 2019 9:06 pm

After passing by, i wondered if you stopped in to have a look.... :wink:

Re: Lake Malbena Pack-Rafting Circuit - Jackson Ck & Moses C

Wed 30 Jan, 2019 11:13 am

Yep. That's how I found that the hut was nowhere near where it is marked on the map, and nowhere near the old Halls lease. I went to the exact spot where the hut (and old lease) were marked, and there was nothing there but rainforest and moss. I had a good look around that area, and it simply wasn't there. Then we went back to where we'd landed the boats and found a foot pad going the other direction, and eventually to the hut.

Note that this was before I read that the developer was banning public access to the island. So I don't think I was trespassing. As far as I was concerned, I believed it was like walking across the private land at Lees Paddocks and Wadleys.

Re: Lake Malbena Pack-Rafting Circuit - Jackson Ck & Moses C

Wed 30 Jan, 2019 11:43 am

I've just been sent some photos from my walking buddy on this trip. I get to star in a lot of them...
Much better photo of Chapter Lake than mine
Even with paddles that break down into small sections, getting through scrub and under logs/tree trunks is just that much more awkward
Ling Roth Lakes
Ling Roth Lakes
Finally out of the dense scrub around Lake Malbena and up on top of Chinaman's Plains just north of the East end of Malbena
Chinamans Plains
Sphagnum/Coral fern pool on Chinamans Plains
Chinamans Plains view of the Walls of Jerusalem
Chinamans Plains moderate scrub - got a bit tricky to push through in some places, but was mostly open once on top

Re: Lake Malbena Pack-Rafting Circuit - Jackson Ck & Moses C

Tue 18 Feb, 2020 12:39 pm

Looks like a great idea, the pack rafts. I've often thought how nice it would be to paddle around Meston but decided lugging an inflatable all that way would be too heavy. Any suggestions or advice on the type / brand of vessel / paddles?

Re: Lake Malbena Pack-Rafting Circuit - Jackson Ck & Moses C

Tue 18 Feb, 2020 1:10 pm

We each used a Klymit Litewater Dinghy. At 1.2kg it ain't heavy. I bought mine long before this trip when they happened to be available on Amazon for AUD$150 delivered, which I thought was a bargain.

I can't remember the brand of paddle I got, but it breaks down into 4 pieces and weighs 1kg.

So about 2.2kg combined total. Not bad, considering the extra versatility it gives to your walking routes (ie, every lake and some sections of rivers are now tracks!). This trip is still the only serious pack rafting* trip I've done, but I consider the money to be well spent, even if I never do anything similar again.

NB: This particular pack raft is not suitable for white water. The white water pack rafts do weigh somewhat more. The fabric on my raft would not be tough enough for white water (sharp rocks) and I suspect that the design might be prone to folding in non-flat water, potentially causing entrapment.

* I have done one 14-day white-water rafting trip, but we used tough and heavy inflatable rafts for that, not pack rafts.
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