Hiking Penguin Cradle Trail (Section 4&5)

Kristy suggested to meet again at Leven Canyon on Tuesday 9th March 2021. I hadn’t been there before, so I thought why not exploring this area a bit after I just did Rysavy Ridge with Will a few days earlier. I headed off from Sheffield and drove via Lower Barrington and Sprent towards Nietta. First we did the Fern Walk and headed downhill to the Edge Lookout, which provides a fantastic view of the bend of the Leven Canyon. The weather was fine, and some other locals also enjoyed the view. Afterwards we headed uphill again, and took the stairs to Cruickshanks lookout. Here we met a young women doing her photos and videos for her travel blog. She just started exploring Tasmania a few days earlier. We also had a nice view from there before heading back to the car park.

View into the Leven Canyon from Edge Lookout…
…and from Cruickshanks lookout…I climbed the mountain ridge on the other side during section 3, wand was walking along the Leven River to the right also during my Section 3 hike.

I saw on the map that there’s a track down to the river, and potentially we could do a loop by walking back on the road. Kristy hasn’t been there before. So we drove another kilometre to another carpark, and from there started walking down the track to the river. The track was well maintained, and the bridge over the Leven river provided a convenient access to the other side. We followed the river upstream. This was already out first part of the Penguin Cradle Trail. It was less used and in parts a bit overgrown. Kristy developed a panic fear against snakes, in particular when we went through some high bushes. After a bit of an ascent over a small mountain ridge, we slowly descended towards Webbs Flat, and met soon Loongana road. On the road it was an easy but still long walk back. There were maybe two cars in that hour who drove past us before we arrived back at the cars.

Crossing the Leven River at the floor of the Leven Canyon
Webbs Flat at Loongana Rd
GPX Track

On Sunday 31st October 2021 we wanted to finish the last sections of the PCT. This was Kristy’s first multi-day hike. We got a larger tent from Paul, as I only had a single person tent. The first day would be quite short, as we would only walk to Paddy’s lake underneath Black Bluff. So in the morning we drove with both cars via Wilmot to Cradle Mountain and dropped off Kristy’s car at the Ranger Station (the old visitor centre) in Pencil Pine. You could do the section from Webbs Flats to the Cradle Valley Lookout at Belvoir Rd in a long day hike, just with a lightweight backpack. But the drive is as long as to Cradle mountain. And if you want to finish the PCT, you also could do the last section in a long day hike. But then again, you need to drive again to Cradle with two cars. Thus, we opted for a two nights/three days hike. On the way back, after we dropped Kristy’s car, we stopped in Moina to have a coffee, as we weren’t in a rush, and enjoyed the view over the forest. After Wilmot we turned left into the Back Rd. towards Spellmans Reserve. We stopped at Burton’s Lookout, which provides nice views of the Mount Roland range.

Again Mount Roland…this time seen from Burton’s Lookout

As we still had time we continued driving on the Loongana Rd. After passing the turnoff to Alstergren Rd, we saw a few people camping at Dempster Creek close to the old buildings of the forestry operations. Now we were deep in the forestry plantations, and shortly afterwards we also hit a closed gate, and as such there’s no way through towards Talbot Lagoon, where we hit another gate with Paul a few weeks earlier. All the roads in the plantation seemed to be closed to public access. Thus, I doubt that you’re even allowed to walk through the forest. We drove back along the Loongana Road, and parked my car in Webbs Flats in front of the bridge over the Leven River, basically were we dropped out of the forest on our walk in March.

Final end of the Loongana Rd, deep inside the forestry plantations

After all the distraction during the morning, we had a lunch at the car before we started hiking. So at least we didn’t need to carry that meal with us. Kristy said that you hardly see Black Bluff, as its constantly in the clouds. Well let’s see, the weather was still OK once we started walking at about 14:00 o’clock. The first two kilometres you just follow the Loongana Road, and then take the left turn towards Taylors Flat. There’s another carpark, but we wanted to walk the whole PCT, so we opted not to park my car there. From here the Brookes Track starts. You first follow the Leven river a bit, before the uphill climb starts. It’s not hard to follow, nor extremely muddy, it just goes uphill for quite a bit. It’s about 700m in elevation gain, and with our big backpacks we took our time.

Start of our hike from Webbs Flat with Black Bluff in sight
Kristy enjoying her first day…with on slightly muddy track
That’s the only clear view back…towards the various forest plantations on the other side of the Leven River
Crossing Black Bluff underneath

In the upper sections the trees cleared a bit, and we got some views around us. We had a short break about halfway up, and then continued to Paddys Lake. Shortly before we arrived there the clouds got thicker, and our visibility reduced. It took us less than 4h to get up there, and also we weren’t in a hurry, but instead took our time. We opted for the southern campsite at Paddys Lake as it looked a bit more sheltered, and not as muddy as the Northern one. Nevertheless, in case the southern one is full, then there’s still a backup to the North.

Muddy track at Paddys Lake
We found a nice campspot at the southern end of Paddys Lake

We pitched up the tent quickly as the weather got quickly worse. Afterwards I opted to explore a bit and headed to Black Bluff. Kristy decided to stay dry in the sheltered tent. The wind picked up on the top, and as predicted by Kristy before, the summit was shrouded in clouds. There was a bivy place next to the summit, and I was hiding from the wind a bit and hoped it would clear. But after maybe 30min I gave up. On the way down, I reached the base of the clouds and could see some sunshine in the distance. But for the rest of the day, we didn’t had any visibility left.

Summit of Black Bluff
As you can see, you can’t see anything. (And yes, there’s actually no point to wear glasses in this kind of weather, but I had them with me and the case was in the tent)
Paddys Lake from a semi-lokout from above
That sunshine in the distance was the last of the day

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