Mt Field East, Mt Field National Park.

Where we went: Mt Field East, Mt Field National Park
When we went: Spring, 2022
Proposed time to complete walk: 4-5 hours
Actual time spent on walk: 5 hours
Track rating: Grade 4 (out of 5) – note that this rating seems to be primarily based on navigation needs in this specific instance.

Parks passes are essential on this track.

Sapphire, dressed in a yellow puff jacket and carrying an orange backpack steadies herself on a tree with a reflective marker attached and looks over her shoulder smiling.
The Lake Fenton section of the track. It is less of a boulder scramble and more of a bushwalk, marked occasionally with reflective markers. It is generally very easy to follow this section of track. We would recommend starting at the Lake Fenton carpark if possible.

Our journey begins, as most of our journeys do, with an intense desire for a snack. Certain members of the couple (who are me, Sapphire) saw comically large strawberry macarons on the Agrarian Kitchen kiosk social media and was simply unable to move past them mentally. Sommelier, who is chief in charge of navigations, transport, and keeping Sapphire well fed agreed to make the 30 minute drive to one of Tasmania’s finest eateries on the grounds that we also did a big bushwalk in the nearby Mt Field National Park (he’s in the bridal party of an upcoming wedding, so he’s in the throws of calorie negotiations). As eating and walking are two of my favourite things this was an easy deal to settle; the only hitch was that there was a Sommelier family dinner planned that evening to celebrate a sibling’s birthday. We decided to limit our walk to no more than 5 hours and just arrive at dinner in hiking gear. As the Agrarian Kitchen kiosk doesn’t open until 11am we weren’t walking until 12:30pm, but we were adequately fortified having ordered one of each dessert and a sausage roll.

Our Agrarian Kitchen feast.
Feat. Commically large macaron (a macaronald)

Mt Field East ended up being our walk of choice. We have historically only done Mt Field walks in autumn when the fagus leaves are turning, so a spring adventure promised all new scenery for us. We packed our usual fare of scroggin and homemade fruit leathers and 2 litres of water each, plus plenty of extra layers even though it was a beautiful day in Hobart (this proved expedient as it we walked through a small flurry of snow at the summit), and my trusty collection of bandages in case of snake bite. All Tasmanian snakes are venomous, though some are more deadly than others. The only time I have ever had a snake actually attack me with malicious intent was on Mt Field in autumn on a very cold day so do not assume you are safe just because you are cold….they’ve adapted.

Sapphire, dressed in a yellow puff jacket and dark trousers walks through a boulder field, passing a reflective marker on a stick.
The way is rocky, but not unmanageable if your knees and boots are in good shape.

There are 2 possible ways to start the Mt Field East walk, from the Lake Fenton track, or from the Lake Dobson carpark. Lake Fenton would have been our preferred as we wanted to do the walk as a loop track, but certain strangers had parked so terribly at the carpark that we could not safely stop there, so we carried on to Lake Dobson and started from there. I would very highly recommend anyone in a similar position just walks back to the Fenton entrance and starts from there, or does the Dobson walk as a return journey rather than a loop track. We ended up a little bored on our return bushwalk as all the especially exciting scenery and side quests are around Dobson.

a blue road sign reads Seagers lookout 2 hrs rtn, mt field east 4-5 hrs rtn, parking.
There is parking available, but parks passes are essential and available from the visitor’s centre. You will be fined if you fail to comply.

The Lake Dobson track starts with a small bushwalk that spits you out at the main road which you have to cross. Look out for cars. It then begins immediately to lightly ascend through fagus trees, celery top pines, myrtle and the occasional pandani plant.
In the debate as to whether stairs or rock scrambles are preferable, I’m a rock scrambler, so the alternating rock scree and board walk track is absolutely my wheelhouse. If you are a stairs person you will be disappointed to learn there are very few (though not none) on this course.

Lake Dobson is visible through the trees. White lichen covered rocks dot the foreground.
Lake Dobson. There is a little walk that travels along the waterfront, but we had limited time and it is best enjoyed in fagus season.

Sapphire stands on a flight of stairs that lead across a bridge that crosses a small stream feeding Lake Dobson.
There is a small footbridge over the rocks at the start of the track. Don’t let it fool you into thinking this will be a heavily manicured walk. It isn’t.

Sapphire, dressed in red and carrying an orange backpack walks along a small pathway into the very green bush.
The track starts relatively small, but is easily found in fair visibility.

The path is rocky, wet in many sections, and marked mostly with reflective arrows mounted on trees, and the occasional bright orange stick. Those sticks are not firmly affixed and are primarily intended for use in deep snow so please do not put any weight on them or move them around.

After about 1.5 hours or walking we came upon Windy Moor, which is a long plateau through moor and frog song. It was not as windy today as we have experienced in the past, but I do imagine it often lives up to the name.

Windy Moor is mostly boarded to protect the fragile wetland. Stick to the path here for its own good.
Windy Moor, tread quietly so you can listen to the frogs.

After the moors comes a steep bolder scree, marked almost exclusively with cairns, with a few orange sticks near the beginning. It is here that the reason for the track being classified as a grade 4 is obvious. It is not the physical challenge of the scramble, so much as the navigational challenge of differentiating between the rock pikes that are track markers and the rock piles that are just natural features. We did not struggle on the ascent in beautiful broad daylight, but it would be very difficult in low visibility or snow.

As we scrambled and hopped our way to the top a curious Wedgetailed Eagle circled low overhead a few times before deciding that we posed no threat and also weren’t edible and carried on it’s way. It was at that point that we realised we were completely alone on the mountain and had only seen 2 other people the whole 3 hours we had been walking. We were not expecting such solitude in such a popular park, but it was a welcome surprise.

Sapphire, lightly wind swept, stands just below a cairn accentuated with a stick. The eagle flies just overhead.
The eagle flying over Sapphire’s head

The summit is marked with a small wind crouch made out of rocks. A smattering of snow was still pooled in the shady section, but we happily ate a little snack (we were very full from the Agrarian Kitchen) in the shelter and peaked our heads out occasionally to check for the eagle and admire the views, we also watched the snow flurry rolling off the other peaks in the range blowing towards us on notably icy winds.

Sapphire, dressed in red, walks across a boulder field to the shelter at the summit.
The summit in the distance.

Once snow actually began to fall on us we decided that was our cue to leave the summit. We were perfectly prepared for light snowfall, but we did have dinner plans. We descended in a perfect snow globe without a trace of anyone else, occasionally losing sight of the cairn markers and accidentally following social trails, but easily redirecting ourselves.

Sapphire, dressed in a yellow puff jacket walks across a small boulder field. The snow covered peaks in the distance are blurred by falling snow coming towards us.
Sapphire watching the snow rolling in. There were flakes falling at this point, but we were warm enough and still had very easy visibility.

Once we were back at the fork in the track which splits off to either Lake Dobson or Lake Fenton we had a second debate between returning via Lake Dobson again and maybe exploring the quite steep Seagers Lookout side quest or the lake track side quest, or taking the longer, flatter, Lake Fenton return, which has a collection of small lakes for side quests, with a long section ascending along the main road. We chose Lake Fenton for a change of scenery. If we had started with the Fenton Track and descended via the Dobson track we would have been less underwhelmed by the very calm, but quite long bushwalk through gum trees and bird song. The snow and chilly breeze didn’t even close to penetrate our little sanctuary within the trees, and the frequent sound of running water was very soothing.

It wasn’t until we checked the time at the Lake Fenton carpark that we realised we were running horribly late for dinner and were forced to power- walk the rest of the way, up a moderate incline and along the main road in parts, muttering very darkly about how much we wish there was a shuttle bus service between these two sites, but admitting that is would be absolutely stunning in fagus season as it passes through thickets of them.

Fallen fagus leaves caught in the nooks of the pathway.

We were a little late for dinner, and sweatier than originally intended on account of the power-walk uphill at the end, but we were rewarded with an entire cake made of hazelnut macaron, and that, dear reader, is the story of why Sommelier and I need a break from macarons.

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