Walls of Jerusalem. Rebecca Donaldson photo
I was excited when my niece Rebecca suggested we do some bushwalking in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park on my yearly trip home to Tasmania to visit family. I grew up in Launceston and had done lots of walking down there, but had never been up to the Walls.
Ancient Pencil Pines
Becca at our campsite at Wild Dog Creek
Becca booked our trip through National Parks. We only had a couple of days to spend up there on this trip, but it was so beautiful I want to go back and stay at least three or four days next time.
Wallaby in the Walls. Rebecca Donaldson photo
National Parks advises all walkers to purchase and carry the TASMAP 1:25,000 Walls of Jerusalem National Park Map and Notes. As with all walks in Tasmania, the weather can change dramatically in hours so people need to be prepared. This is an alpine region and it can snow and have blizzards even in summer. Snow can cover the track and make it difficult to follow. We checked the weather report before heading off and it looked fine, apart from a short rain burst.
Ancient Pencil Pines
Raingear and gaiters
A few days after I arrived from Brisbane, Becca and I set off for our overnight camping trip. I had taken my backpack, tent, sleeping bag, clothes and cooking gear with me on the plane. I also had my old gortex rain jacket and gaiters, which I hardly ever wear on walks in Queensland. I did need the rain jacket for a short time on one of the days, but we mostly had good weather, although it was freezing at night and I needed all my layers.
On the way with full pack
I bought some gas for my stove at a hardware shop in Westbury and some food for the trip in Deloraine.
The Walls of Jerusalem National Park is located in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area in the Central Highlands. The National Park is a 1hr 40 min drive (120km) southwest of Launceston.
The walking track starts from a car park off the gravel Mersey Forest Road (C171) near Lake Rowallan via Mole Creek.
Just after crossing the Fish River, there is a turn-off to the left onto a gravel road. Follow this road for 1.5km to the Walls of Jerusalem car park. The walking track starts at the registration booth in the main car park.
Becca on the track
Most walkers take 3-4 days to explore the Walls of Jerusalem, undertaking the 23km Central walls circuit walk that encompasses Wild Dog Creek, Dixons Kingdom and Lake Adelaide camping areas. We only had two days so we only explored the area around Wild Dog Creek and Dixon's Kingdom on this trip.
Wild Dog Creek Campsite
I had heard it was a hard slog up to the plateau with a full pack, and I was a bit nervous about my fitness level, but it wasn't as bad as I was expecting as we went slow. After signing the registration book we set off. We walked up the steep uphill for about 3 kilometres through the Eucalypt forest to the Plateau, then another 3.1 kilometres to the Wild Dog Creek campsite through beautiful high country terrain where we decided to spend the night. There were a few streams running beside the track. The first 3 km involved a steep climb of 600-metre elevation.
Trees and mountains
On the way, we stopped at the historic Trapper's Hut. This hut and the other couple of huts at the Walls are only to be used in emergencies.
Beautiful pink flowers
A special breed of hard-working, resourceful and inventive people lived and survived by grazing their cattle and sheep up in the high country. Others made a meagre living by trapping and snaring animals for their skins, cutting exotic timbers and prospecting for minerals. Kangaroo, wallaby and possum skins were auctioned.
We had lunch on the way to our campsite. After arriving at Wild Dog Creek, we set up our tents, had a cup of tea and walked to Dixon's Kingdom to explore that area. The campsite had a toilet, two water taps and tent platforms. We stopped at the first campsite. There were some others a bit further up the track and closer to the toilet, which were more sheltered.
After we reached the plateau, we had spectacular views of lots of colourful plants, dolerite peaks and clumps of rocks.
The tracks were well-marked and consisted of boardwalks and stony paths.
We saw lots of square wombat poo all over the ground but didn't see any wombats. We did see lots of gorgeous very fluffy Bennett's wallabies and an interesting skink. I got it identified on the Australian Reptile Identification site and found out it was a Metallic Cool Skink (Carinascincus metallicus
). It only lives in Southern Victoria, Tasmania and the Bass Strait Islands.
Metallic Cool Skink
It was a beautiful walk, which took us longer than we expected because we stopped a lot on the way to admire the fantastic scenery, plants and wildlife. It was only a distance of 3 kilometres from Wild Dog Creek campsite to Dixon's Kingdom.
Wallaby and trees
There were gorgeous cushion plants and flowering Scoparia. There were interesting boulders, which looked like bushranger hideouts. The boulder debris was left over from glaciation in the last ice age.
I loved all the tarns, lakes and Dolerite Peaks. We walked through ancient thousand-year-old Pencil Pines forests. These trees are an endemic Tasmanian tree species and are found only on the Central Plateau. A lot of the track was on raised boards to protect the vulnerable cushion plants and marshes, twisted snow gums and lots of beautiful alpine plants.
Along the way, I reached down and touched a bit of Scoparia for old times' sake to remember how prickly it was. It was just as painful as I remembered from many bush-bashing bushwalking trips years ago. The Richea Scoparia produces white, pink and red flowers in spring and wallabies love it. There were numerous tarns and lakes along the way and huge Dolerite cliffs all around us.
Square wombat poo
On the way, we walked through Herods Gate into the interior Walls and out through Damascus Gate to the historic Dixon's Kingdom. We passed sidetracks to the summits of Solomon's Throne, the Temple and Mount Jerusalem. The track to the smaller Temple walk was on our left and the Solomon's Thrones walk was on our right as we walked towards Dixon's Kingdom.
We had planned to climb either The Temple or Solomon's Throne on the way there or back, but we would have run out of daylight before we got back to our campsite.
Pink berry plant
Becca had done the full walk on a previous trip. It did start to rain heavily along the way, but we were prepared with our rain gear. The rain only lasted a short time.
Track and Pencil Pines
After arriving at Dixon's Kingdom, we looked around the old hut. There used to be a campsite near the hut where Becca had camped previously, but a new campsite has now been made further away. You do still go past the old hut on the way to climb Mt Jerusalem.
Dixon's Kingdom Hut
This hut overlooks a beautiful grassy area. Reg Dixon built the hut many years ago when sheep and cattle were taken to the pasture on the Plains during the summer months.
Inside Dixon's Kingdom hut
My brother-in-law showed me an interesting book about the early graziers and trappers, and the old Walls of Jerusalem stock route. Simon Cubit, the author of Mountain Stories, Echoes from the Tasmanian High Country
Volume 1. interviewed Reg Dixon at Meander in November 1986.
Reg Dixon. photo in Simon Cubit book
Reg told Simon he drove his first mob of cattle from Meander to the Walls via Ritter's Track to graze for the summer in 1948. He built a hut at Dixon's Kingdom in 1949 and actively used the run until 1972 when the lease was cancelled. Reg was a farmer at Meander. He died in July 1989.
Mountain Stories by Simon Cubit
The route the early graziers found is perhaps the only possible route down the plateau's Western Escarpment accessible to stock. This was likely an Aboriginal route and remains in use today as the major access track to the Walls.
Wallaby in the Wilderness
The graziers were willing to invest in the development of outstations in the Walls and accept the risks of the stock route because they were receiving high prices for their wool in Europe. When prices fell there were difficult economic conditions in the late 1850s and graziers withdrew by about 1860. Grazing resumed in the 1890s when improved economic conditions made it financially viable again.
Water and rocks
We got back to camp at about 7.30pm, made our dinner and went to bed. There were only two lots of other people at the campsite. There was a warning sign in the toilet at Wild Dog campsite about possums ripping into tents to get to food. It was recommended to double bag food and put it in your pack inside your tent.
We could hear creatures outside our tents during the night, but luckily they didn't try and get in. I did hear stories of other people who had pademelons trying to get into their tents and damaging them, and I read online about lots of people getting their tents ripped by possums.
One man woke to find a large possum sitting on his feet trying to undo his pack. At one point during the night, I could hear a noise right behind my head and thought a possum might have got in, but it must have been outside.
Flowers beside the track
The next morning we got up, had breakfast and slowly packed up. We chatted with the other campers for a while and then headed down the track towards our car. Over the two days, we only walked about 18.4 kilometres, 12.3 kilometres on the first day and 6.1 kilometres on the second day. It felt longer to me because there was so much to see and enjoy.
Tarns and lakes
I loved my visit to The Walls of Jerusalem National Park and hope to return one day. It is a spectacular, remote high country, sculpted by glaciers thousands of years ago.
Dixon's Kingdom hut in a clearing
On the way back to Westbury where we were staying we did a detour to visit the Devil's Gullet, which was very interesting and dramatic. I will write about that in another article.
Trappers hut heading down