Square Tarn - South Picton Range

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Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby Ordex » Mon 26 Sep, 2011 10:25 am

Hi all - just got back from Square Tarn in the South Picton Ranges. Did quite a bit of research for the walk on here so thought I would do a write-up.

Access:
We drove in via West Picton Road - this has a single gate on it but it is unlikely to be locked as there is an emergency meeting point further down the road. Turned right onto West Picton Road Spur 1, and then right again onto Spur 1-2. This spur road was a bit washed out. Clearance was okay but a car with a low range gears would have made crawling up a bit easier - my clutch was quite smelly!
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Carpark:
We parked the car here and walked the remainder of the hill.
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The Track: (A post here says it starts at 469730E, 5217620N)
The track leaves on the right from where the road takes a left turn and starts to level out. It follows an old snig track through plenty of cutting grass. There are pink tape markers but it is easy enough to follow.

The cutting grass and snig track end and the track gets steeper as it leaves the coup. The track is well marked for the rest of this forest section with pink tap and yellow tags. There are numerous fallen trees/branches/etc which you have to clamber over/under. Towards the top of this section the vegetation gets a bit slimy until you leave the dense forest and the track levels out a bit. It took us approximately 2:30 to reach here.

The track then enters into a scrubby section. Again it is easy enough to follow, however it was also quite a deep creek and the waist high scrub makes it difficult to avoid. Once the track gains a bit more elevation it dries out a little and the scrub thins out. From the top of the ridge in front you get good views to the South Picton Range.
Image
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From here to Square Tarn the going is easier. The track heads for the next ridge-line but the pad thins out and the pink tape markers can be harder to find. We started the walk at about 9:30 and arrived at Square Tarn at around 3:30. This was a fair bit longer than we expected. My girlfriend who is less experienced in over-night walks found it quite tough.

Campsite:
As indicated by Wello here there are limited 'good' spots at Square Tarn. It was difficult to find anywhere that wasn't lumpy or very wet! We ended up setting up on the western side of the Tarn.
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The night was quite chilly - fortunately we both had sleeping bags able to cope with sub-zero temps. We awoke to find our wet boots, gaiters, etc. and our water bottles had frozen solid!
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We had a late start and headed off back down the track at about 10:30. Found the going quicker on the way back. Stopped for lunch on the ridge-line before the scrub band at about 12:00. We made it back to the car for about 2:30 and cautiously tackled the washed out road again.

Summary:
Great views, however we spent more time trying to avoid the creeks/bog than enjoying the scenery. I would do this walk again (and head out to Burgess Bluff or Mt Chapman) but only at the end of summer once everything had a chance to dry out!
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Re: Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby stepbystep » Mon 26 Sep, 2011 11:35 am

Nice report,

I've done this walk twice, once with a mate from interstate that struggled with the track/creek and it took ages to get him up there. It is well worth having another go, the views from the range are stunning. I camped in the same spot as you, it was difficult to find more than 2 acceptable spots, good(exposed)camping on the range.

With a daypack it took around 2.5 hrs to get to the tarn.
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Re: Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby abowen » Wed 28 Sep, 2011 3:43 pm

Ditto Dan,
Been in three times. I camped over near the edge of the escarpment - seemed to be a wee bit drier over that way. Anywhere near the tarn is on sodden ground. I suspect that this area is just a very thick raft of vegetation floating on a shallow water table. All seemed very springy as you walked across it.
Would highly recommend a revisit - Mts Andersons, Chapman and Burgess are all good vantage points for views towards Federation and further south to PB.
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Re: Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby Ordex » Mon 03 Oct, 2011 11:51 am

abowen did you camp over towards where the creek exits the tarn?
we took a walk over there before we left. the creek follows the square cuts made in the rock before it drops off the edge. quite interesting, however if you camped over there you would want to be careful not to wander around in the dark or you could easily plunge several metres to a wet landing!
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Re: Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby abowen » Thu 06 Oct, 2011 9:49 am

It was over in that direction but a tad towards Andersons Bluff. We were right on the edge and yes you had to be careful in the night not to step too far. However, the spot we used din't have any of those deep channels which spill the outlet creek. It wouldn't be funny to step into one of those!
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Re: Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby wander » Thu 17 Jan, 2013 11:20 am

Having done the circuit clockwise and twice (the 2nd time going into Pine Tree Saddle) losing the trail in forest / scrub I'm interested in where the trail from the Forestry road up the plateau and onto Square Tran really goes. I followed a good trail to start with from the Road which then turned to just tapes which then stopped. After an hour of searching I gave up, had lunch, had another search then headed uphill on a compass bearing. How hard could it be? It took a 5 hours to cover the 1km climb to the plateau area and snow gums and clearer country and recovered to the pad and marked trail. I took a few way points just to check progress and where I was on the map (and to mark an excellent gushing spring / creek) but did not have the GPS on tracking. With the advantage of hindsight I should have done this and did for all the subsequent wandering sessions after Square Tarn.

The point of all this muttering is to ask if anyone has a gpx file of the real track from the Forestry Road up / down to Square Tarn? I would interested to know where the trail really goes. And I will repeat the circuit someday.

As an aside Square Tarn is one of the nicest places I have camped in Tas, it is superb.
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Re: Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby Ordex » Thu 17 Jan, 2013 8:11 pm

wander: ouch!!! You are much more dedicated than us to bush-bash up the hill for five hours!

At the time I did this walk I had access to maps produced by the tas fire service. They had the tracks marked on them. Unfortunately I neither have access any more, or kept the copy I made for the walk. Also I don't think they are publicly available. This is to prevent people thinking the track is maintained and to discourage all but the most dedicated of us. Perhaps you know someone who may be able to get hold of them for you?

Sorry I can't be of any more help!
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Re: Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby north-north-west » Sat 19 Jan, 2013 7:58 pm

I had a GPX file of the whole circuit, but it got accidentally wiped (lost everything I did on last year's visit :( )
Having done the thing, I must say I'd hate to try to pick up the route through Pine Tree Saddle from Chapman. It's bad enough from Hewardia, but would be twice as hard the other way around.
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Re: Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby plasticman » Mon 28 Jan, 2013 8:03 am

Don't have a GPX file of the area but did almost the exact same thing half way up onto the South Picton Range. Was trying to climb Picton but went on the wrong path - I missed the very obvious cairn 30 metres from the car park on Western Spur 1/2 but managed to find the also fairly obvious cairn for the south picton range track 500m further up the road next to some bee hives. After some cutting grass on a old forestry track the climb begins. After 15 mins of walking the moderately obvious track has a log across it that you have to climb under. Unfortunately some else has taped a "track" (I use the term very loosely) that leads off to the left. My walking partner and I dutifully followed this track thinking it might be going around an area of tree fall. After 45 mins the tapes stop - in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by some very impressive gum trees. I think this may be the reason the tapes are there - showing this stand but don't quote me on this. I can't think of any other reason this taped section exists. Fortunately I didn't decide to bushbash up the hill and backtracked. Finding the track again after 30 mins we went under the log and followed the track up another 10 metres to find the correct route - again taped and a lot easier going. This track was quite easily followed onto the plateau. Excluding the little sidetrip it took around 3 hours to get to square tarn with day packs. I'd allow another 30-45 mins with big packs as there are a few tricky logs to climb under/over/around/through.

Despite missing the route we were supposed to take the views from the top of the range are truly impressive - looking across to the Western and Eastern Arthurs was magnificent. You also get great views of Mt Picton - the irony was not lost on me.
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Re: Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby wander » Mon 28 Jan, 2013 10:24 am

yep, sounds like we followed the same side trip plasticman, but you were clearly more sensible. I do not remember the fallen log you went under to find the correct route. I was probably moving too fast tape to tape.

Someone has been kind enough to give me a gpx of the correct track and weirdly enough I must have crossed over the correct track higher up the ridge without seeing it. I went wrong by going South of correct track but found it to my South when I topped out. But my wayoints and the gpx track do not show it this way. Something to look into next time I do this circuit.
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Re: Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby DanR » Thu 15 Nov, 2018 9:47 am

Hi, I'm planning a trip this weekend up to Mt Chapman and have read that it can ne easy to get off track. Does anyone have a gpx file to square tarn or further to make the trip a bit easier?
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Re: Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby north-north-west » Thu 15 Nov, 2018 10:05 am

Not one that follows the track all the way between Square Tarn and Abrotanella, because I was going downhill and picked it up about halfway down. Generally, when going up, the track/pad is easy to stick with; it's coming down where it can be very difficult to pick up the upper end of it.

Also, if you don't have a 4WD, you may have to park at the base of the Spur 1.2 road, as there are a couple of very nasty washouts low down on it. Once above those it's good all the way to the Square Tarn carpark.
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Re: Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby Ordex » Thu 15 Nov, 2018 10:10 am

Hi Dan,

I don't have a GPX file, but I went up to Anderson Bluff about a month ago. The spur road in has degraded to the point that a car without a bit of clearance would struggle. We drove the whole way to the "car park" in a Suzuki Ignis. The track to Square Tarn is easy enough to find and starts at the coordinates in my first post.

Follow with tapes up an old snig track overgrown with cutting grass through an old forestry coupe. Towards the top of the coupe the track deviates to the right up a steep gravelly area and exits the coupe. There are plenty of tapes to follow up through the forest.
Once you're out of the forest and into the scrub on the first rise it is impossible to leave the track. The scrub is so thick it pushes you along a wet muddy section of track. As the scrub thins out you'll start to see cairns and a pad that lead to Square Tarn.

From Square Tarn onto Abrotanella Rise the pad got faint and we lost it. Keeping left as heading up seemed the easiest path. I can't say if you could follow this lead all the way to the saddle. Once we spied a less scrubby route up onto the rise on the right we took it! There was a little bit of scoparia, but it wasn't too tall or thick.
Once on top of Abrotanella Rise it was easy going to Anderson Bluff, and the terrain over towards Mt Chapman looked the same. We spied the odd cairn or two, but in good conditions, like we had, you wouldn't need them.

Please post back and let us know how you go. I'd like to get to Chapman one day! The views from the range are fantastic!
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Re: Square Tarn - South Picton Range

Postby CasualNerd » Thu 15 Nov, 2018 5:00 pm

I have a KML file of the whole circuit from early 2016 if you want it ? From memory I was off any track once up on the ridge so my track recording might be more misleading than helpful.

IIRC Getting to square tarn was pretty simple, Getting higher onto the ridge was reasonable, and any further was a bit faint. I followed Chapman's book directions.
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