Twelvetrees Range, Southwest National Park

Where we went: Twelvetrees Walk, Southwest National Park.
When we went: Spring 2022
Time spent on walk: 2 hours
Grade of walk: high 2, low 3
As this track passes through Tas Networks property it would be best to do this walk on a weekend or public holiday so as not to disturb any site works.

Sapphire, dressed in dark clothing, stands on a grey rock overlooking a series of lochs and mountain ranges.
Sapphire, admiring the views

The Twelvetrees walk (named after a geologist), located in the Southwest National Park, is something of a secret. It can be described as firmly “midrange” in terms of difficulty; even by Southwest standards. In fact, it is the perfect “picnic walk” as the track is not particularly difficult, but the views from the top are stunning. I would go so far as to recommend it as a great walk for fit children.

A grey gravel road dissappers over the edge of a hill and around a corner. Lakes and mountains are visible in the distance. A yellow warning sign reading "engage 4WD" is in the foreground.
The view from the path, looking back. Unauthorised vehicles are not permitted in this area.

The walk is best reached by parking at the Ted’s Beach caravan park (a National parks pass is required) and walking for around 5 minutes along the road. It should be noted that we learned of this walk’s existence from one of those “things to do in the area” flyers that the Lake Pedder Lodge provided us on a stay many months before, so we took some time to find the start of the track ourselves. Twelvetrees has been my Moby Dick of a hike, in the sense that I have searched for it many times and failed to find it. It captured my imagination and I have been unable to locate it or let it go.

All the information we had to go off was this very blurry photo I took several months before embarkation.

This was our third attempt at finding the trail after multiple failed missions and numerous false starts that led us along social trails to random power poles and other things that were not in keeping with our search for nature.

a grid of intersecting electricity poles stand in the foreground and ruin the view of beautiful rolling hills and the broad lakes of the Southwest National Park.
There is A LOT of electricity related activity in this area, we accidently followed roads that brought us here, but we also experienced very similar aesthetic when we did eventually find the proper entrance, don’t let it deter you.

Progress was severely hindered by the big gate marked with a firmly worded notice to the effect of the area belonging to Tas Networks and only approved traffic being allowed. Being an extremely law-abiding citizen myself I insisted that we phone the number on the gate and get ourselves the necessary approvals. I did make Sommelier do the phone-calling though, being a true millennial who is rendered completely incapacitated with social anxiety at the very thought of making a phone call myself. The conversation with phone-operator Jake (not his real name) went as follows:
Sommelier: “G’day Jake, we’re 2 bushwalkers looking to get permission to access the Twelvetrees track…”
Jake: “The what???”
Sommelier: “The walking track that’s on land owned by Tas Networks…”
Jake: “How did you get this number??”
Sommelier: “it’s…..written on the gate…..”
Jake: “Where are you?”
Sommelier: “Southwest National Park….”
(It was at this point that we started to doubt the validity of our navigation skills and thought perhaps we had blundered our way into a poorly disguised government secret).
Jake: “I’m going to have to check with my manager. I’ll call you back.”
(It is worth noting that he did not take our phone number so we were deeply sceptical that we would be called back)
Not being totally sure how long government management takes to get back to people, but being unwilling to wander onto government property without approval we took an early break and plonked ourselves down on the side of the road to discuss plan B, should our access be denied.

a gate with a small sign reading "authorised access only" blocks the broad gravel road.
Hopefully Jake and his manager were the proper authorities….

We were frantically throwing together a very untidy plan for a picnic at the Sentinel Range picnic area when Jake called back, having confirmed with his manager that “2 bushwalkers ‘probably’ wouldn’t be an issue.” The use of the word ‘probably’ in this context being deeply unsettling.

Sapphire, dressed in dark clothing and carrying a bright orange backpack walks along the broad gravel road. A steep rocky outcrop stands to the right of her, trees and a cliff are to the left. the road rounds a corner ahead of her.
Sapphire, scurrying ahead to sus out all the views.

We hurriedly jumped the gate and were merrily on our way making sure to look like the innocent walkers that we were, lest any government officials stop us along the way.
The way is steep, but travels along a very broad, truck friendly road. It is extremely easy to follow, though it makes no effort to establish any kind of natural setting. There were power-lines overhead that audibly buzzed and we truly questioned whether following hotel brochures from many months ago was a good idea. We took comfort in the fact that we were able to walk side by side, which is a rare blessing in many national parks in Tasmania, especially the Southwest which is particularly rugged and generally designed with single file walking in mind.

an electricity pole stands sentry over the sprawling wilderness below. Grey clouds fill the sky.
A much maligned pole which very slightly blocked the view from the road.

Views of the Lochs and peaks of the Park showed themselves as we continued our upwards trudge, offering some validation into our foray. Even if the very wide road was the walking track, and we failed to plunge ourselves into nature to our satisfaction, we could be sure there would be wonderful scenery from the top.

After over an hour of steep uphill walking our deep scepticism about the existence of the Twelvetrees hiking trail deepened when we started to come across various structures marked with very dire warnings about radiation and death.

a yellow warning sign reads "warning, radio frequency radiation within. DO NOT ENTER. Site under surveillance.
Seems like the kind of warning label that should be taken very seriously.

Determined to find my white whale we simply pressed on, not venturing into the areas the signs very specifically asked us not to venture into. Suddenly the big, wide, truck road ended in a series of weather stations and lovely views.

This is not the end of the track! Look down on the ground for the cairn!

Convinced that this was ‘probably’ not the end of the line we explored a little further eventually finding some cairns marking a very narrow path through the grass in the general direction of some very impressive rocks.

Less than 5 minutes of narrow path walking sees the track spit you out into a field of low plants, jagged rock formations, and stunning views across the valley. Had we known that this was such a perfect picnic location earlier we would have brought a feast, instead we explored the rocks, ate our scroggin, fruit leathers and biltong, and swore to come back another day with all the cheese we can carry.

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