Where we went: Mt Amos, Freycinet National Park
When we went: Early spring 2022
Proposed time for walk: 3-5 hours
Time spent on walk: 4 hours
Walk difficulty: Grade 5 (very difficult)
Having woken up at Piermont Retreat, one of our all time favourite places for a romantic getaway in Tasmania, a tiny bit worse for wear because we overindulged at dinner the night before we agreed to do a “picnic” walk in Freycinet National Park. Our concept for a picnic walk is really anything around a grade 3 or lower; if it is easy enough to carry a cheese platter through and has nice views at the end then it is classified as a picnic walk (because we eat a picnic there). The Isthmus Track looked to be just the thing, we even told all the staff at checkout that that’s what we were up to for the rest of the day. We fully intended to have a calm, cheese-fuelled stroll around the beaches and wooded areas of Freycinet (we had even packed the cheese!). Our plans were utterly derailed when we drove past a sign for the ice creamery, which we knew would be closed by the time we were travelling back from the Isthmus Track (it takes about 5 hours). Not keen to risk underfeeding a mildly hungover Sapphire while on a romantic getaway Sommelier suggested we pay homage to our roots and traverse Mt Amos instead. The suggestion was met with the following: “By what possible metric could Mt Amos be considered a picnic walk?!” to which he triumphantly responded with, “It’s only 2 kilometres.”
Reader, please be advised that it is 2km directly up a series of very slippery granite rock faces.
The term “picnic walk” has been expanded to include walks that sufficient cheese can be carried in on to appease me, Sapphire — luckily Sommelier had the good sense to shop at Hill Street Sandy Bay, which has an excellent cheese selection and found a collection that included a smoked blue cheese which, in itself, keeps even the crankiest of Sapphires very chipper.
Mt Amos is a very special walk to us personally, as I proposed to Sommelier from its peak (we were already engaged, he just didn’t get to do his dream proposal to me through a series of unfortunate events that were completely out of his control so I planned a second surprise proposal, it’s actually a very cute story, it just isn’t relevant to this article but you can read more here), but it is absolutely not a walk that you should enter into without adequate preparation. As there had been a lot of rainfall the day before we had a lot of trepidation about attempting the climb at all, but were now determined to spend our wedding anniversary weekend revisiting our old friend Amos.
The walk begins, as most Freycinet walks do, from the visitor centre carpark. Parks passes are essential and you absolutely will be fined if you fail to display one. it is heavily signed from the carpark, but infrastructure peters out quickly the further along the track you travel. It starts out as a very moderate woodland stroll, briefly interrupted by a small swamped area that is full of chirping frogs. Kindly leave the frogs alone and stick to the walking track.
A very small slope starts to form just after the swamp. This slope is to trick you into thinking this walk might be easier than everyone led you to believe. It might even trick you into thinking that all the warning signs about not attempting the walk during or too close to just after the rain are just there to scare people. They aren’t. Take warnings seriously. If rain is predicted on the day you plan to walk up Amos then just turn around and try the Wineglass Bay lookout instead. The mountain will still be there on a dry day. We were walking on a hot, dry day just after rains and it was still dangerously slick in many places.
One final warning sign will alert you to the same information that I just conveyed before you are left to your own devices, hopefully having heeded a bit of the advice put forward by the signs. Do not attempt Amos in the rain, don’t even do it in the drizzle. This isn’t one of those walks where the warnings are hyperbolic.
The steep part starts abruptly with a very smooth pink granite rock. Sommelier and I were both walking in our trusty Blundstone boots. I do all my walks in Blundstones, I even wore Blundstones last time I came up Amos, but somewhere between the carpark and this rock the boots had redefined ‘adequate grip’ to mean the exact opposite of that. “ah!” I said as I slid back down to the beginning, “oh dear!” I said (only I didn’t say “dear”). I was fully ready to turn around as I know that the first rock is not the worst rock, before Sommelier suggested I just take the shoes off. This was indeed the solution that I never would have thought of (and I only had to do it on one other section).
The whole way is steep. The whole way is a rock scramble. Most of the way up is casually robed in a sheer drop, with lovely views out across Honeymoon Bay (where we had our wedding ceremony!) and the sprawling shacks and hotels of Freycinet. Little boats chug along below, keep an eye out for the Pennicott boat especially, that is a great little thing to do in the area if you have time, especially if you want to see a seal and possibly a lot of whales. The whole thing is idyllic provided you don’t have a fear of heights. If nothing else, this is a great walk to do if you don’t feel like talking to too many people. We were heading out at 11am so we expected a lunch rush up the mountain, but only caught up to 2 other parties and only saw about 8 all together (for an area popular with tourists and locals this is a very quiet distribution of other hikers).
There isn’t much to specifically describe the track by other than ‘steep rock scramble’, it is marked with some permanent light reflective yellow arrows, and some faded spray painted arrows. Occasionally the arrows suggest that some sections have separate paths for people travelling up, and for people travelling down. It is, otherwise, a fairly lawless place, at least as far as navigation is concerned. There are 3 distinctly difficult sections that will have you questioning every decision you made that brought you to the moment you find yourself in now. These feelings will pass (at least until you have to attempt those same sections in reverse).
We made fairly respectable time given that Sommelier has not been on a hike, picnic or otherwise, in over a year. We spent a long time waiting for traffic to clear around ‘the chimney’ (not its official title, but sometimes called that by bushwalkers who are me. It is a narrow section that funnels everyone up) as the arrows seem to lead the people seeking to go up through an area that would better serve the people going down, and vice versa. There was also a small party of adults struggling to climb up so we had a long water break and gave them some time to get through the section while we advised some parents with young (incredibly brave) children of safe ways down as we could see footholds from below that were not visible from above. Everyone helped the group stuck in the chimney. I will say that the vibe on Amos is generally more wholesome and charming than I generally come across in the world below.
After the chimney there is about another 30 minutes of walking before the summit, but it could reasonably be considered easy (relatively). There is even a section where there is a plateau (with more frogs and swamp!). If you can get through the chimney you can get to the summit. The plateau is short-lived before the rock-scrambling begins anew. Walkers on their way down advised us of a big puddle on the way up. As wet/muddy boots can be a literal killer in these conditions we followed their advice and took a small social trail through the trees around the puddle. I do not condone leaving the path unless it is necessary. The social trail required us to crouch down most of the way and popped us out at some rocks just on the other side of the puddle and we were back on our way onwards and upwards, sparing a moment to apologise to the National Park for leaving the path.
The summit arrives suddenly, the last big rock sort of takes you by surprise. All the bumps, bruises, swear words and hangovers of the rest of the journey are immediately forgotten in the face of the Freycinet Peninsula.
We ate our cheese platter on the flat rock at the summit with 2 other parties, the crackers lost some of their structural integrity, but the smoked blue travelled happily enough. Homemade rhubarb and strawberry fruit leather was also gratefully scoffed, before we ambled across the summit to explore a little more.
If you thought the way up had you questioning your bush walking experience and all the decisions that you made that brought you to the moment you found yourself in, then the way down will have you shook on a whole other level. I favour the sit on your bum and slide method (the noble chariot, the derriere stairs, pundu bashing, the say ‘AHHHHHHHH’), especially given that the way the humans go down the mountain and the way that water goes down the mountain are very similar (at times its even the exact same way!). We both got exceedingly damp on and around the buttocks (“butt chugging mountain dew” as Sommelier called it; immediately seeing himself banned from the bum jokes game I started), but we did all arrive safely at the base of the mountain in time to get a double scoop from the ice creamery AND a plate of oysters and fish and chips from the Freycinet Marine Farm, which is the best fish and chips in Tasmania.