Hiking Forth Valley – Walls of Jerusalem (Day 5&6): Never Never

The next I started from Kia Ora hut. A few hundred metres behind is the turn off for the Paddy Hartnett track. Again, there was no visible sign (for me), nor any marking tape. Not even a clear distinguishable track, which you could follow. I continued on the Overland track until I reached Du Cane Hut. This is the oldest hut along the Overland track and was built in 1910 by Paddy Hartnett as one of his bases for snaring possums. This was a valid profession until the end of WWII. I didn’t make a stop, but further continued. I skipped the detour to the Dalton Falls and Fergusson Falls, and eventually went down to Hartnett Falls. Here somewhere the “Never-Never” starts. I reached the Mersey river and was going to find a way, when to hikers just came towards me to my surprise, and I asked them: “Where does the Never-Never start”…, and one of them replied: “Here everywhere”. Ok, it turned out that they just came from Junction Lake hut, and where heading to Cathedral mountain. They had a serious bush bash in front of them, from the Mersey river up onto the plateau. Their plan was to sleep there over night.

Old Du Cane hut…
…is supposed to be only for day use (and emergency cases)

I eventually followed the track on the true left of the Mersey river for about 1km. Then there are several logs over the river, where you can cross the river without getting wet feet. Further on, you just continue on the true right of the river. There’s only a short section, where the track is a bit indistinguishable, but apart from that you can’t miss it. Just don’t go up the mountain, and don’t cross the Mersey river again. After about 2-3km there are even some openings. As the weather was good, I had my lunch at one of the opening plains. I heard horrible things about the “Never-Never”, but I again had perfect weather. The sun was out and about, and it was like walking in a fairytale garden. It was so lush and green. I saw hundreds shades of green at that day, and it’s not even possible to depict that rudimentary on the photos.

Never-Never track along the Mersey river in 100 shades of green
The crossing of the Mersey river without getting wet feet
You pass several other waterfalls along the way
One of the few openings (the track is not always directly along the river)

Shortly before Clarke Falls you may find the odd old marker before it goes a bit steep uphill for a few metres. Then you pass the old Never-Never log book. This was full since 2015, and clearly no longer maintained by Tasmania’s Parks & Wildlife Service. I’ve heard because of funding cuts, they only concentrate on the profitable tracks like the Overland, Three Capes, etc. The last bit from Clarke Falls to Junction Lake Hut is clearly visible. I met another camper who pitched up his tent directly on the lake. But I preferred to be on the hut. Junction Lake Hut is a typically, old Tasmania bus hut. It’s not well maintained, and officially you’re not supposed to make any fires there anymore. Nevertheless, the fire place had been used recently. I decided not to make a fire, as it wasn’t that cold. Maybe in winter, a fire is a warm welcoming. Some hikers had good intentions, and left some food there, like milk powder, etc. But this already started to decompose, so the execution was bad. And it attracts animals. In the night possums were outside the hut waiting in front of door to get some food, and got mice inside. But I hanged my food bags at some nails, so they couldn’t reach it.

Finally reached Junction Lake
…with the cosy Junction Lake hut (the section of the NP is definitely quite remote and off the beaten track)

The next day I continued my walk. There are multiple tracks around and out from Junction Lake Hut. It was a bit confusing, and it wasn’t easy to pick the right track to get out from there. Eventually, I found it and went to Lake Youd before reaching Lake Meston. In middle of the lake I passed Lake Meston hut. It appeared that someone set this hut up for his own fishing hut at the lake. There was a lot of gear stored. Then I continued to the end of Lake Meston and headed over to Lake Adelaide. The outflow of Lake Meston is the spring of the Mersey river. The walk along both lakes was quite a stretch. You can’t miss the track, but there are some many branches in your face, that it gets a bit annoying after a while. After Lake Adelaide I headed up towards Lake Ball. Now you’re in the middle of the Walls of Jerusalem National park. And several other hikers came towards me. I passed Lake Ball and finally went towards Dixon’s Kingdom Hut. The track there is not really clear, and in the end I lost it. But as the area was clean and it was clear where I need to head to, I just went a bit offtrack. Dixon’s Kingdom Hut campsite is a very popular destination for hikers. And actually, if you started from Fish river carpark, you would have needed a permit due to Covid-19 hiker restrictions. But as I didn’t start from there, I was not able to apply for one.

Eventually found the track to Lake Youd
At the northern end of Lake Meston is a nice campsite
A short section through the bush…
…before reaching Lake Adelaide and following its shoreline to the North

Dixon’s Kingdom Hut is basically a ruin. The door is broken and you couldn’t even store your food safely inside. Due to all the hikers, there are many naughty possums around. I was warned from one other hikers, that the night before the possums went into the tent another hiker to get his food. So I decided not to put my food into my tent, as I didn’t want my tent and backpack to be destroyed or damage. I hung my food bags on some branches. Well, this didn’t went well either. Because the possums climbed on top of it over another branch and them jumped down to rip it apart with their claws. I tried it twice the night, and another fellow hiker woke me up once because of the noise they made. In the end I saved some of my food, and as I was grumpy I grabbed one possum at its tail and carried him to the next pond to give him a cold swim. Those possums are not stupid. They know, each evening there will be free dinner for them, because there’s always one “stupid” hiker around. The next morning one of the other hikers who woke me up in the night, was a bit annoyed, and asked me basically, how I could dare to hang my food up. Because it would be much better to store it in the tent, as they did. Well, there’s a bloke in Hobart who’s repairing several hundred tents per year, because they got damaged by possums and mice. He said they never had an issue, and they always put their food in two dry bags and then inside the tent next to their heads. Well, that worked for them so far. But I know people in person who’s got ripped by either possums and mice, and I’m still reluctant to store the food in my tent. I rather have a ripped food bag, than a ripped tent and/or backpack. Lucky me, it was my last night on the track. And I still had spare food for the next day.

Passing Lake Ball…
…before reaching Dixon’s Kingdom Hut (back into civilisation with a bunch of other hikers)

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