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Tarn Shelf Circuit, Tasmania

Updated on September 16, 2014

Tarn Shelf Walk, Mount Field National Park, Tasmania

Tarn Shelf, Tasmania is a plateau dotted with spectacular tarns (small mountain lakes) situated in the Mount Field National Park. In the Summer of 2011 my family and I went on the Tarn Shelf Circuit Walk - a 13 kilometre (8 mile) circuit walk which is supposed to take about 6 hours. However, because of our frequent photo stops (I took 500 photos!) and the detour we took up K Col to see the cushion plants, we took 9 hours.

Mount Field National Park was established in 1916 and is one of Tasmania's oldest national parks. It is situated about 70 kilometres from Hobart, Tasmania, making it an easy day trip from the state's capital.

Satellite view of Tarn Shelf

Zoom in on this map and you'll be able to see Lake Dobson with Lake Seal to the north and Tarn Shelf to the north west.

Boardwalk on the shores of Lake Dobson

Boardwalk on the shores of Lake Dobson
Boardwalk on the shores of Lake Dobson

The walk started at the carpark at Lake Dobson, following the shore of the lake. Quite a few people have seen a platypus in this lake at dawn or dusk, but unfortunately we did not have the time to see if we could spot any.

Boardwalk on the way to Tarn Shelf

Boardwalk on the way to Tarn Shelf
Boardwalk on the way to Tarn Shelf

The track then branched off climbing to a vehicular track and then onto boardwalk.

View of the ski village, some tarns, and Lake Seal on the right

View of the ski village, some tarns, and Lake Seal on the right
View of the ski village, some tarns, and Lake Seal on the right

We followed this path until we reached some ski huts and a ski tow. From the ski village we descended to Tarn Shelf. In the distance you can see Robert Tarn and Mackenzie Tarn.

Morning tea on the side of a tarn

Morning tea on the side of a tarn
Morning tea on the side of a tarn

Beautiful coloured waters of the tarns

Beautiful coloured waters of the tarns
Beautiful coloured waters of the tarns

The tarns made a beautiful patchwork of colours on the plateau, ranging from blues, to greens, to yellows. There is absolutely no colour editting on the above photo. This was the actual colour of the water. Compare the different colours of the two tarns you can see in the photo below.

Tarns nestled between rocky hills and alpine flora

Tarns nestled between rocky hills and alpine flora
Tarns nestled between rocky hills and alpine flora

Path winding along the shores of the tarns

Path winding along the shores of the tarns
Path winding along the shores of the tarns

Tarn shelf - beautiful summer flowers of the mountain rocket

Tarn shelf - beautiful summer flowers of the mountain rocket
Tarn shelf - beautiful summer flowers of the mountain rocket

More Tarn Shelf Alpine Flora - click on the thumbnails to see the pictures enlarged

Click thumbnail to view full-size
carnivorous sundewcarnivorous sundewDeciduous beech - fagus - turns beautiful gold and red in AutumnTasmanian waratahDracophyllum milliganii
carnivorous sundew
carnivorous sundew
carnivorous sundew
carnivorous sundew
Deciduous beech - fagus - turns beautiful gold and red in Autumn
Deciduous beech - fagus - turns beautiful gold and red in Autumn
Tasmanian waratah
Tasmanian waratah
Dracophyllum milliganii
Dracophyllum milliganii

Because we did this bushwalk in Summer, we missed out on seeing the spectacular Autumn / Fall foliage of the deciduous beech, or Nothofagus Gunnii. Apparently the best time to see the turning of the Fagus is on Anzac Day (25th of April). My father had done this walk a few years ago in Autumn, so I have included links to some of his photos.

Click to enlarge these photos.

Autumn / Fall Foliage

Click thumbnail to view full-size
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Rock cairn marking the track

Rock cairn marking the track
Rock cairn marking the track

The Tarn Shelf track was well marked. Sometimes there was boardwalk track, sometimes a rock path, sometimes wooden sign posts, sometimes metal stakes, and sometimes rock cairns.

Twisted pencil pine along the track

Twisted pencil pine along the track
Twisted pencil pine along the track

The pencil pine is a native Tasmanian conifer, but is not actually a pine tree. It is generally found in sub-alpine areas above 800 metres and can live to the ripe old age of 1200 years.

Skeletons of pencil pines

Skeletons of pencil pines
Skeletons of pencil pines

The track wound its way through a pencil pine graveyard - most likely the victim of bush fires many years prior - now bleached white with the rain and sun.

Lake Newdegate hut

Lake Newdegate hut
Lake Newdegate hut

There are a couple of old rustic ski huts along the route. We had glorious weather on the day of our walk, but these huts could prove a God-send in the unpredictable alpine weather.

Cushion plants

Cushion plants
Cushion plants

On our walk around Tarn Shelf, we met another walker who told us of a spectacular detour to some cushion plant meadows. We had to climb a very rocky slope and the detour added over an hour to our trip. But I must say it was well worth it!

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Back on the Tarn Shelf circuit walking track

Back on the Tarn Shelf circuit walking track
Back on the Tarn Shelf circuit walking track

Secluded Twilight Tarn hut

Secluded Twilight Tarn hut
Secluded Twilight Tarn hut

Twilight Tarn hut supplies

Twilight Tarn hut supplies
Twilight Tarn hut supplies

This old ski hut had relics from yesteryear - boots, skis, forks, spoons, tins of food (sugar, cornflakes, split peas, bread, and more) and an assortment of indescribable tools. What more could you want?

Pathway after Twilight Tarn

Pathway after Twilight Tarn
Pathway after Twilight Tarn

After Twilight Tarn (the last tarn on the plateau), the track swings to east and begins the descent to Lake Dobson carpark.

All these photos were taken by me on my Canon PowerShot SX200 IS camera

a fabulous point and shoot camera

Winter on Tarn Shelf

Mount Field National Park in Tasmania is home to many more spectacular sights, including Russell Falls. It is also the area where the last known wild Tasmanian tiger was caught in 1933.

Have you ever visited Mount Field National Park in Tasmania?

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Tarn Shelf Guestbook

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    • profile image

      nifwlseirff 4 years ago

      This is on my list of places to visit when next in Tassie. Such a beautiful alpine region - gorgeous photos! Thanks for sharing them with us!

    • profile image

      Gail47 5 years ago

      What beautiful images! Sounds like a fantastic place to visit and to enjoy the great outdoors.

    • GonnaFly profile image
      Author

      Jeanette 5 years ago from Australia

      @anonymous: I've got a photo of it too - just didn't include it here :-)

    • MayaIxchel profile image

      MayaIxchel 5 years ago

      What a fascinating place! And I can imagine it is wonderful for homeschooling lessons on so many things. Great photos and great lens. Thanks for sharing! Greetings from 'the land of eternal spring'!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I thought there's tarn named after me ... called Amy tarn. I took a photo with it.

    • nicks44 profile image

      nicks44 5 years ago

      Beautiful, I would so much love to visit this place once, before I die! :)

    • djh4yla profile image

      djh4yla 5 years ago

      Awesome pictures, always makes me smile watching such beautiful landscapes, thanks for sharing!

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 5 years ago from Kent, UK

      Absolutely beautiful! The cushion plants look wonderful so I'm glad you took that detour. I'd love to visit Tasmania but I'll have to make do with looking at pictures. :)

    • Snowsprite profile image

      Fay 5 years ago from Cornwall, UK

      Tasmania is on my to visit list. Great lens congratulations on your purple star.

    • Kae Yo profile image

      Kae Yo 5 years ago

      I haven't been to Tasmania, but I've been close. The pictures are beautiful and I would love to go someday :) Congratulations on making the front page :)

    • Karli McClane profile image

      Psycho Free Zone 5 years ago from USA

      Beautiful!

    • RawBill1 profile image

      Bill 5 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      What an amazing place and awesome photos! It reminds me a little of my time climbing Mount Kosciusko (I have a Lens on that trip) only there is more vegetation at Tarn Shelf by the looks of it. Tassie is definitely on my list of places to visit. There is so much on the island that I want to see. Great job with the lens too. :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice stuff!

    • thememorybooksh1 profile image

      thememorybooksh1 5 years ago

      Sounds great. Nice Shots

    • profile image

      AlienwareCoupons 5 years ago

      Very interesting plants!

    • profile image

      tamstone 5 years ago

      Those snapshots are incredible!

    • RestlessKnights profile image

      RestlessKnights 5 years ago

      Ah! The land down under. I must visit someday. Thanks for a good lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Beautiful lens just like it's subject. I have been to Tasmania 4 times and I still have not seen it all. Thanks for sharing - blessed by Mainlander Aussie lol

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Beautiful images. I've traveled some through Australia and New Zealand, but never visited Tasmania. You make me want to!

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      Very interesting place. Thanks for sharing all the great photos.

    • Monica Ranstrom profile image

      Monica Ranstrom 5 years ago

      What interesting looking countryside! Great pictures, well done!

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed your Lens and photography (can't believe it's from a PowerShot). Awesome!

    • profile image

      vaigavenugopal 5 years ago

      ..love the village..hope i can visit and stay for some days,,,also itz a peaceful place i think..:)

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Looks like a really great place to visit. Great photo presentation.

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 5 years ago

      I'm just armchair travelling today, but hopefully I'll visit Tasmania in real life some day!

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Very lovely photos! Thanks for sharing with us all. Blessings!