Date: 4th October 2019 – Summit: 1248m
Ben and I had floated the idea of a quick Mt Campbell trip numerous times over the last few months. Given it is such a short and easy Abel we always thought we would leave it for an after-work trip in Summer. However, the opportunity arose for me to climb it with a couple of friends and I couldn’t resist! Given the ease of this Abel we decided I should do it with my friends, and Ben would trail run it at a later date when also trail running Mt Kate which I have previously ascended.
Distance: 5km return.
Time taken: Under 2 hours walking slowly and enjoying the views.
Difficulty: Very easy but could be a little slippery in some spots in very wet weather.
Type of track: Formed and for the most part very obvious single track with some small sections of shale to negotiate. Marked infrequently with poles.
Access from: The car park at Dove Lake.
The track begins at the car park for Dove Lake. As Haydyn, Natty and I were starting relatively late in the day (lunch time) we caught the bus from the tourist center into Dove Lake. In order to drive your own car into the Dove Lake or Ronny Creek areas you need to be in before 8am which we certainly weren’t! We left the car park crossing the Dove River using the small footbridge to the left of the main car park. This trail would be the one we would follow directly to the summit with only two left hand branches to negotiate off the main track.
The track initially followed the Dove Lake Circuit and was well formed with only gentle rises in elevation. With Haydyn still recovering from a torn hamstring we were walking at a gentle but steady pace and making the most of the views. The weather wasn’t terrible, but nor was it clear. Cradle Mountain to the far south of Campbell was shrouded in mist. No matter the weather though this is a truly spectacular part of the world. We followed the Dove Lake Circuit Track until the junction branching off onto the Lake Rodway Track on our left.
The elevation continued to increase gradually as we continued along the Lake Rodway Track, the dome like Mt Campbell rising above us on our left. Even though we were deliberately taking our time it was amazing how quickly we reached the junction for the Mt Campbell Track.
The first part of the Mt Campbell track winds through low lying alpine vegetation including buttongrass, small snow gums and deciduous beech. The elevation was now climbing a little steeper than the initial part of the walk. Under foot we had a mixture of padded paths and quartzite scree.
Some minor sections of the track required a little more concentration than others and were quite exposed. There were many off shoots of tracks leading back to the main track and we suspected that Parks & Wildlife may be doing track maintenance for that exact reason – to keep numerous and intrusive pads from being formed.
After a slight climb we reached a small exposed plateau and changed from a southern direction to a more north easterly bearing as we were now hiking along the ridge that leads directly to the summit. The path was still easy to follow but had changed from low alpine vegetation to almost entirely quartzite and shale scree of tiny proportions. Here the exposure was more obvious due to the mountains rounded form and the wind had picked up considerably combined with a light drizzle.
About 1.5km from the summit the ground cover changed to almost entirely miniature scree. Some was naturally formed scree but Parks appear to have added shale in an attempt at track maintenance. This added scree path was thick and designed to allow for better grip which was very handy as by this stage the steepness of the ground and weather was making for slightly harder climbing. Poles marked the way directly to the summit plateau. We briefly made mention to each other that given the exposure, the wet weather and the steepness that section would be an almost bum-sliding necessity on return!
As we stepped onto the rim of the summit plateau the scree gave way to weather ravaged alpine scrub, and a slim path across the plateau to the summit cairn. Whilst visibility on the plateau itself was clear, the skyline of mountains around us was shrouded in mist so no summit photos today! We were glad that we had been blessed with a small sunlit window of opportunity whilst climbing up, that had allowed us views of Cradle Mountain, Dove Lake, Hansons Peak, Marions lookout and as far off as Mt Inglis.
The summit cairn itself was pretty underwhelming compared to other mountains we have climbed but our summit selfies were taken nevertheless! Given the cold and wind we didn’t spend too much time on the plateau as we were eager to drop down off the exposed edge in case the mist settled.
Halfway down the Mt Campbell Track we were once again spoilt with a little sunshine and offered some protection from the wind. The steep shale path we had all been a concerned about descending turned out to be relatively simple. There were some minor tricky sections (due to the wet) but on a dry day this path would be fine.
Back on the Lake Rodway Track we began our return to the Dove Lake Circuit Track. Our return journey was quick and not physically taxing in any way. We were back at the car park within about 40 minutes and waiting for the bus back to the Visitors Center. Thank you to Haydyn and Natty for keeping me company (yet again!) on my wanders through our Tasmanian backyard.
Mt Campbell definitely deserves its reputation as a short and quick mountain to climb. What most blogs fail to mention is that for a small climb it is big on uninterrupted views.