Saturday, November 15, 2014

Barn Bluff, Tas, Australia

2014 November: One day climb of Barn Bluff, the nipple, in "Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park" of Tasmania, Australia


Three years ago in 2011, I was in Tasmania for a week of hiking. In the end, the only mountains I climbed were Mt Ossa and Mt Pelion East.  A foot injury plus bad weather grounded me for the rest of the week. I am now back to finish the unfinished business:

Cradle Mountain was ticked off yesterday ... Photos and a write up of the trip are in:

• Today is to Barn Bluff.

• Tomorrow will be to climb Legges Tor ... Photos and write up of the trip are in:

• The day after will be to climb The Temple in Walls of Jerusalem National Park ... Photos and write up of the trip are in:

Barn Bluff

Barn Bluff is a very prominent peak in the Cradle Mt - Lake St Clair National Park, because it stands on its own, well away from other mountains, and thus visible from most area. And as such, at its summit, you have a fantastic panoramic view over a large part of Tasmania's vast World Heritage area.

The mountain is a popular side trip for hikers taking the Overland Track. At 1559 meters (5115 ft), fourth highest mountain in Tasmania, it exceeds the height of the more famous Cradle Mountain by 14 metres.

Route & GPS file

The most common route to Barn Bluff is via the Overland Track. As the weather is like yesterday, windy and slightly wet in the morning, we decide to go via a more sheltered route:
- Start at Dove Lake Carpark.
- Take east side of Dove Lake circuit.
- Near southern end of Dove Lake, take an un-maintained trail to cut through to Lake Rodway Track.
- Keep on Lake Rodway Track, pass Scott-Kilvert Memorial Hut, and keep going. (This bypasses the more exposed part of the Overland Track.)
- Then go on Overland Track.
- Then take Barn Bluff Track to Barn Bluff.

As I've walked on the early part of the Overland track both in 2011 and yesterday, it suites me perfectly that we take this alternate route to Barn Bluff.

Return trip is:
- Barn Bluff Track.
- Overland Track to Marion Lookout.
- Another 200 meters further, turn right (ie east) for a steep descent to west side of Dove Lake Circuit.
- To Dove Lake Carpark.

All together it is a 9.5-hour day. And because the to and from routes are different from each other, hence as a bonus, we will see all 4 sides (north east south and west) of Cradle Mountain.

Our GPX file can be downloaded from:


I only have the 1:100,000 scaled Sophia 8014 map. The un-maintained trail which cuts through from Dove Lake Circuit to Lake Rodway Track is not on that map.

Timeline & Distance

09:33   0.0 km  Start at Dove Lake Carpark
11:32   5.4 km  at Scott-Kilvert Memorial Hut

Morning Tea

11:48   5.5 km  Leave Scott-Kilvert Memorial Hut
12:52   7.7 km  at junction of Lake Rodway Track and Overland Track
13:01   8.4 km  at junction of Overland Track and Barn Bluff Track
13:19   9.6 km  lunch


13:31   9.6 km  Start walking
14:41  11.5 km  at summit of Barn Buff

15:08  11.5 km  Leave summit
16:32  14.7 km  at junction of Barn Bluff Track and Overland Track
16:42  15.4 km  at junction of Overland Track and Lake Rodway Track
18:14  20.3 km  at Marions Lookout

18:18  20.4 km  Leave Marions Lookout
18:23  20.6 km  at junction of Overland Track and steep track to Lake Dove
18:55  22.2 km  at Dove Lake Carpark


Total  22.2 km, 9 hrs 22 mins
(Above distance is from Google Earth. My Garmin Montana GPS gives 22.9 km)


1)  5 of us start at Dove Lake Carpark. These 4 here are members of Boots N’ All Bushwalking Club - Jock, Kent, Ruth and Philip.

2)  Walking on the east side of Dove Lake Circuit - unfortunately, the morning's weather is not too good and Cradle Mountain is shrouded in clouds. Otherwise this scene would be really beautiful.

3)  Plenty of these Richea Scoparia along the trail. It is a species of flowering plant in the family Ericaceae, and endemic to Tasmania.

4)  These are Richea Pandanifolia (Pandani or Giant Grass Tree), another species of flowering plant in the family Ericaceae.

5)  Near southern end of Dove Lake, we take an un-maintained trail to cut through to Lake Rodway Track. As it is un-maintained, the trail is almost obscured by vegetation. It is like bushbashing to get through it.

6)  It is somewhere along the un-maintained trail that I had a finger cut deeply by a blade of grass. For the rest of the day, it does not stop bleeding   :-(

7)  We are off the un-maintained trail and are now on Lake Rodway Track. My hand is still bleeding !
There are a few permanent pools along the way. This one is Artists Pool. Behind me is Cradle Mountain, still shrouded in clouds.

8)  Now at Flynns Tarn. The round hill is Benson Peak, part of the Cradle Mountain complex.

9)  Approaching Lake Rodway. The mountain behind the lake is Mt Emmett.

10)  We pass by the shore of Lake Rodway.

11)  Finally the sky clears up. Here is the east side of Cradle Mountain - a sight that you don't see often. Usually the public pictures of Cradle Mountain are from the north and north west side where hikers walk towards the mountain on the Overland Track.

12)  Arrive at Scott-Kilvert Memorial Hut for morning tea.

13)  Continue on the Lake Rodway Track (to meet up with Overland Track). Here is another view of the beauty ... hhmmm ... I mean Cradle Mountain, although Ruth is equally beautiful. She is looking at ...

14)  ... looking at Lake Rodway, the bigger lake - we passed by its shore earlier on (Photo #10). I don't know the name of the smaller lake. The valley behind the smaller lake is where Rodway Creek flows.

15)  Almost at the junction of Overland Track. The camel hump mountain is Mt Emmett. The mountain in front is unnamed in my 1:100,000 scaled Sofia 8014 map.

16)  At last we are on the Overland Track. More importantly we finally get to see Barn Bluff. Doesn't this mountain elicit the primal sexual urge in you to want to climb it?

17)  I love the nipple ... ooops, slip of the tongue ... I mean Barn Bluff !!!

18)  By the side of the pool of water of previous pic is this green Cushion Plant and Chionogentias diemensis (Tasmanian mountain gentian).

19)  Looks unclimbable - all the more reason for wanting to climb it.

20)  The trick of climbing Barn Bluff is to first go slightly to the right side. Barn Bluff has an elongated shape - the view you see on the Overland Track is the short side - hence the nipple-like look.

21)  We are no longer seeing Barn Bluff's short side head on, hence it no longer looks like a nipple.

22)  The serious climbing starts now

23)  Climbing

24)  and climbing

25)  and climbing

26)  and climbing ... this is more fun than walking

27)  Upward we go

28)  Nice view ... no, not me ... Cradle Mountain behind me

29)  Nice view ... no, not me ... Ruth

30)  The higher we go, the steeper it becomes.

31)  We need to climb to the top of this !

32)  Almost there

33)  The summit is the pile of rocks

34)  Group photo at the summit

35)  My hand is still bleeding. But it is worth all the blood to get here.
For the reward of reaching the summit: each of us receives a fresh strawberry from Ruth. Now, when is the last time you had a fresh strawberry at the top of Barn Bluff !?!

36)  Ruth and Jock are having fun with the strawberries. Jock is 74 years old. If he can do a solid 9.5-hour walk, why can't you?

37)  Needless to say, the view from the summit is fantastic. In the following pic, the large lake is Lake Will.
Many of the peaks in the Cradle Mt - Lake St Clair National Park are visible. I have marked out 3 of them; the first two I have climbed ... good to see these old friends again.
• The left arrow points to Mt Pelion East - see my blog:
• The middle arrow points to Mt Ossa, highest mountain in Tasmania - see my blog:
• The right arrow points to Mt Pelion West - would love to climb it one day. (Mt Pelion West is 3rd highest mountain in Tasmania. At 1560m, it beats Barn Bluff by a mere 1 metre !)

38)  View from the summit towards northwest is Fury Gorge - Australia's deepest gorge.

39)  Looking at Cradle Mountain from the summit

40)  Time to descend ... it is steep.

41)  We found drops of my blood left on many rocks on the way up. Here is an example!
As I've shed a fair amount of blood all the way, we can almost find our way home just by following the blood trail - sort of like Hansel and Gretel able to find their way home by the a trail of white pebbles they left behind.

42)  The return trail can be seen in this photo. We'll go pass the left (west) side of Cradle Mountain. (This morning, we came from the right (east) side of the mountain.)

43)  Closer to Cradle Mountain now. The dome-shaped hill is Benson Peak, part of the Cradle Mountain complex.

44)  Passing the southwest side of Cradle Mountain. Benson Peak is on the right. The summit of Cradle Mountain is on the left.

45)  Approaching the west side of Cradle Mountain.

46)  Passing the west side of Cradle Mountain.
This morning, we went pass its east side.

47)  Cradle Mountain

48)  The many faces of Cradle Mountain, here is the view from the northwest side.

49)  Cradle Mountain and the far away Barn Bluff - sheer magic scenery!!!
And we've walked a long way today.

50)  Near Marions Lookout - The lake is Crater Lake.

51)  Near Marions Lookout - Shadow of the 5 of us.

52)  At Marions Lookout - Southern part of Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain

53)  Near Marions Lookout - Crater Lake

54)  We are at the start of a steep track going down to Dove Lake. In the photo, Lake Lilla is on the left, Dove Lake is on the right, and rising above the bank of Dove Lake is Mt Cambell.

55)  We are on the steep track going down to Dove Lake. This is the gentle section. I don't have a picture of the steep section because I would be holding onto the chains!

56)  Almost at Dove Lake Carpark where our car is parked ... a finaly view of the beautiful Dove Lake and the majestic Cradle Mountain, a fitting end to a fantastic walk.

1 comment:

  1. Good work - very helpful. Thank you re distances and photos of the track.


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