Hiking the Walls of Jerusalem NP TASMANIA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Its wild and remote yet gentle and incredibly peaceful. A high exposed plateau with jagged walls of rock that shelter an alpine valley. A myriad of tarns that glisten like jewels, mounds of button grass, alpine wild flowers, king billy pines, the occasional trickle of tiny streams and then total silence. Its another world where human civilisation ceases to exist. To give us such visual beauty though, nature asks a price. It was cold. So cold. We froze at night, especially Kevin in his wafer thin sleeping bag. Our tent was wet, our sleeping mats insufficient and our bodies had so many aches and pains from hauling heavy packs up wickedly steep inclines, over long distances. However, beyond any doubt the stunning scenery more than compensated us for the discomfort. This is Tasmania in all her glory. We climbed Mt Jerusalem, The Temple and Solomons Throne and the views were sublime. It was quite surreal and I feel incredibly blessed. Sometimes the natural world just blows you away and yes, I had a tear in the eye as we departed through Herods Gate. Special moments are like that.”

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Like a true girl I got the small pack sans tent. 

These were my words straight after completing the three day overnight hike into Tasmania’s Walls of Jerusalem National Park. So what is this place and what made it stir my soul to tears and more specifically why would I include it in a blog about 4WDing in Australia?

The following excerpt is from the Parks and Wildlife website and is bound to get you a little intrigued.

“The Walls of Jerusalem are located in a remote area of the Tasmanian highlands and are part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.  The area is a spectacular labyrinth of alpine lakes and tarns, dolerite peaks, ancient but fragile forests of Pencil Pines and unique alpine vegetation.

There is no road access into the park and entry is only possible by walking. There are no facilities for shortstop visitors other than toilets at Wild Dog Creek. All tracks into the area are steep and rough and are subject to extreme weather conditions that can include heavy rain, hail, snow, freezing temperatures and blazing sun. Low cloud can reduce visibility to a few metres and snow can cover the track making it difficult to follow. There are limited track markers so navigational skills are essential during poor conditions. These conditions can occur in any month of the year and the weather can change dramatically within a few short hours.
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Those cold mists roll in and out. It just adds to the mystique of The Walls
 There is one way and one way only to get to see this amazing place. On foot. With a backpack, a tent and a great pair of hiking boots. Those Coopers 4WD tyres are of absolutely no use up here.
Bushwalkers must walk into the park from the car park located off the gravel Mersey Forest Road near Lake Rowallan. The car park is reached from Deloraine by following the B12 through Mole Creek and taking Mersey Forest Road (C138 then C171) to Lake Rowallan. A gravel road approximately 4.8km past the Lake Rowallan dam wall on the left just after the Fish River leads to the car park. The only infrastructure near the carpark is a registration booth. There are no public phones or toilets. It is not advisable to leave valuables in the car. There is no public transport to this area, although some operators may offer charters.”
Our 4WD with Trayon Camper was parked in the remote car park as it was the only way we could access this National Park. Its part of what makes the Walls of Jerusalem so special. The challenging access means its way less touristy than nearby Cradle Mountain National Park. I admit we were quite concerned about leaving all our worldly possessions sitting unattended for three days after being informed on the website not to leave valuables in the car.  The nearest Camping Park is at Mole Creek.  We stayed here prior and after the walk and could have had the option of leaving our camper set up here over the duration. However we decided to take the risk and it was a good call. Our car was not interfered with at all and there were quite a few other vehicles as well to keep it company. Its popular with the local Taswegans.
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That’s our blue Nissan with the Trayon on its back.

On this Tasmanian 4WD odyssey, although our space was limited, we squeezed in backpacks, the hiking tent, sleeping bags and self inflating mats. It was always our intention to fit this hike into our itinerary, subject to February weather. As luck would have it the weather was forecast to be quite good. Not perfect but overcast is better than sleet, rain and snow. That was how we experienced the famous Overland Track on a previous visit. Now that was an adventure.

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Overland Track. Cold, wet, rain, sleet and snow for seven straight days. Vicious at the time but a great memory now that gets better with each re-telling.

I won’t deny it – the trail up to the Walls is steep. Puffing, wheezing steep for a good couple of hours until we reached Trappers Hut and then another hour beyond that. Kevin had a big pack complete with most of our gear while I managed with a day pack. Yes, that was fair and I really can’t understand why we nearly broke Kevin coming back down. Chuckle. Then finally once up on the thankfully flat plateau we pass a myriad of mesmerising tarns called Solomon’s Jewels, Wild Dog campsite and pass through Herods Gate and into the Walls of Jerusalem. We camp one night inside the Walls at Dixons Kingdom and one night at Wild Dog Campsite.

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Solomons Jewels with the Walls of Jerusalem in the background.
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Our camp at Dixons Kingdom. The ground was spongy and very wet. One of the coldest nights we have ever experienced. Kevin only had a 3/4 mat so had a wet sleeping bag to top it off. However the scenery was stunning.
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Wild Dog Campsite has platforms so you are not quite so exposed , however it is further to walk for exploring the Walls so we stayed here on our way out.  It was still incredibly cold in February.

The pictures below show our time exploring within the Walls.  There are various options and we tried to do as much as we could. The cold mist kept sweeping in and out, sometimes obscuring our views but it was such an incredible experience that we didn’t care.

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Reading THE MAP on the summit of Mt Jerusalem with a view of the whole world.
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Kevin on top of The Walls on Solomons Throne. The reward for a steep climb is always the views.
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A crystal clear Tarn with the Walls in the background. It was overcast but magnificently pristine.
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Ever tried to dry socks and boots over a camp stove while cooking dinner? Tasmania and wet feet kind of go hand in hand.
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Not stylish but definitely loving every moment. We wear gaiters in Tassie for protection from Tiger snakes and they help keep your pants a bit drier.
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The delapidated hut at Dixons Kingdom. Not usable for campers but a nice photo.
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Some of the trails are not for the faint hearted
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But you do what you gotta do to sit up here on top of the world a million lights years from civilisation and mediocrity.

So the Walls of Jerusalem were just wonderful. However, we had to get down again and Kevin felt every bit of that steep trail on his titanium knee.  He nearly didn’t make it and literally hobbled the last few steps back to our car. That car park was the most beautiful sight in the world at that point.

I must mention that on the way down we passed quite a few people going up. The weather forecast for the weekend was perfect so the locals take advantage of the opportunity. Two of these people were hippies. Bare feet and no packs. No shoes, no tent, no jacket, no food, no nothing. The mind boggles. Surprised we didn’t hear on the news about two frozen hippy corpses the next day.

So is it worth going out of your way to explore The Walls of Jerusalem? Absolutely. We wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

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