A different kind of travelogue. As an avid young traveller I often wondered what would it would be like when I got older, gathered commitments, created children and accrued debt. This is what it's like.
Yes, you can.
Of course you can. But this series of articles is not about just doing the walk using a hammock as a shelter it is about doing the walk with people that don’t use hammocks. This article answers the question; can I find a decent or passable hammock camping spot near where all the hut sleepers and tent sleepers will want to/need to stop.
If you’re doing the walk on your own or with other hammock campers there are huge lengths of the track that give passable to excellent trees. The usual issues of how safe those trees might be remain. While I was up at Frenchmans Cap we had some fairly typical late Autumn weather and a lot of trees came down. Also remember that in places like Tasmania getting off track can damage some very fragile ecosystems. You know the story, touch the earth lightly. Be responsible, be safe.
Back to the task in hand.
Are there places to hang near the huts and campsites?
Trailhead Campsite; there are a few tent sites at the trail head which have reasonable trees. If these few sites are full then a walk across the excellent bridge over the Franklin river leads to another section with even better trees that stretches for over 1000 metres. If your group plans to stop at the trailhead you can find a decent spot by the trail even if its dark.
Loddon River Suspension Bridge; The new track built by Dick Smith is a huge improvement on the Legendary “Sodden Loddens”. If you are starting late and don’t have time to make it to the Lake Vera Hut you might make it to the river Loddon less than half way. Tent sites are in among trees. Hammock sites are plentiful.
Two klms further along: There is a small wooden bridge. After this on the right there is a small unmarked tent platform to the right. I think this may have been for the track builders, it is not a typical tent platform but it is a beautiful spot with views and has decent trees for a slightly more exposed hammock hang.
Lake Vera Hut; This is one of the two spots that almost everyone will consider staying at. There are many new and excellent tent pads beside the hut before you cross the Vera Creek. None are good for Hammocks. If you cross the creek there are many reasonable sites in among the trees a 100 metres or so away from the hut. They look like they were the old tent campsites.
I got there after dark and left before sunrise and my hammock was hung over ankle deep mud but still a good spot and there were many more. Temperate rainforest surrounds the track all the way to below Sharlands peak. It has many spots but it would be a shame to damage the beautiful moss and lichen.
Magical Rock Bivy; Once you pop out at Barron Pass there isn’t far to go but there is an awesome rock bivy that the ground sleepers will be tempted by with incredible views over lakes Gertrude, Magdalen and Millicent. I would stay there! I would encourage a ground sleeper to stay there because around this magical spot there are plenty of trees. You will have to sleep on a serious slope but that’s no bother. Say hello to the King Billy pines for me. Love those trees. I don’t have any good photos, the rain was pouring when I went past it both directions.
Lake Tahune Hut and Tent Pads; The new hut is a triumph of sustainable energy efficient design by the guys at GreenDesigns in Hobart. It’s warm, dry and beautiful. I stayed outside in the downpour. There are very few spots around the hut for a hammock. The best is the nearest Tent pad. This is actually pretty good but of course you will be competing with tent users. I survived gale force winds and >200mls of rain over a few hours in there. The vegetation around lake Tahune looks promising but I didn’t get to walk around it, in fact the weather was so bad I rarely saw the lake and I never saw the mountain.
It was a great walk. Thank you to Hammockgear for my long-suffering tarp and my ridiculously warm underquilt. Thanks to 2QZQ for my absolutely essential underquilt protector. Thanks to Dutchware for my Chameleon Hammock with its winter cover.
Excitingly I also have found a new small cottage manufacturer from Deloraine Tasmania called TierGear. They are hammock people! I hope to support them. If you are a hammockeer and you live in Australia please check them out.