On a Clear Day You Can See…..

You’ve got to choose the right time and day for it. A visit to the summit of Mount Wellington, the powerful mountain which embraces Hobart, needs to be carefully planned to take full advantage of the walks and stunning views from its peak. There’s something magnificent about the place and as I drove up the narrow road to the peak while listening to Beethoven’s fifth in my trusty steed, (ute) which I had named Erik’ after the famous Viking who loved to fearlessly explore new worlds, I caught glimpses of the Lilliputian world from which I had come. Although it is named after the famed English Duke who trounced Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo, it is also known today as Kunanyi due to a dual naming system to reflect both Indigenous and European history.

Depending on the weather, a factor to be seriously considered for all Tasmanian expeditions, its possible to see almost to Antarctica on a clear day (ok some poetic license has been thrown in) or looking west, you can see the beautiful wilderness areas of the island. On an unclear day, you get to see the vibrant green moss at your feet and pure white mist encircling the trees and dolomite rocks.

It was the English explorers Matthew Flinders and George Bass who circumnavigated the island in 1798, with Flinders noting a distinct similarity to Table Top mountain in South Africa, calling it Table Mountain. Not long after the French explorer, Nicholas Baudin also referred to the mountain as ‘Montagne du Plateau’ (also named by d’Entrecasteaux). However, the British first settled in the Hobart area in 1804, resulting in Flinders’ name of Table Mountain being the most commonly used. In 1832 it was decided to rename the mountain in honour of the Duke of Wellington.

In February 1836, Charles Darwin visited Hobart Town and climbed Mount Wellington. In his book “The Voyage of the Beagle”, Darwin described the mountain;

“… In many parts the Eucalypti grew to a great size, and composed a noble forest. In some of the dampest ravines, tree-ferns flourished in an extraordinary manner; I saw one which must have been at least twenty feet high to the base of the fronds, and was in girth exactly six feet. The fronds forming the most elegant parasols, produced a gloomy shade, like that of the first hour of the night. The summit of the mountain is broad and flat, and is composed of huge angular masses of naked green-stone. Its elevation is 3,100 feet [940 m] above the level of the sea. The day was splendidly clear, and we enjoyed a most extensive view; to the north, the country appeared a mass of wooded mountains, of about the same height with that on which we were standing, and with an equally tame outline: to the south the broken land and water, forming many intricate bays, was mapped with clearness before us. …”

The author of “The Origin of the Species” chose a good day to visit! The mountain has a rich history of use and occupation, home to bushrangers and eccentrics as well as keen bushwalkers and cyclists.Like any other part of the Australian bush, the mountain has been subjected to bushfires the worst being in 1967 when many of the huts built by naturalists, hikers and lovers of the Mountain.
It was my first visit in over thirty years, but wont be my last.

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