Tarn Shelf Circuit, Tasmania
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
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
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
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
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
Path winding along the shores of the tarns
Tarn shelf - beautiful summer flowers of the mountain rocket
More Tarn Shelf Alpine Flora - click on the thumbnails to see the pictures enlargedClick thumbnail to view full-size
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 FoliageClick thumbnail to view full-size
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
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
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
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.
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!
Back on the Tarn Shelf circuit walking track
Secluded Twilight Tarn hut
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
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