Bushwalking/ Hiking – Organ Pipes Circuit

Today I trudged around the Organ Pipes Circuit on Mt Wellington. The Organ Pipes Circuit comprises of three trails, and can be done as a much shorter trudge if you just want to see the impressive walls of rock.

If you’re in Hobart and haven’t noticed Mt Wellington, here it is…

Mount Wellington

Mount Wellington

(From Wikipedia)

Go on, take a closer look. That mountain in the background…? Yeah, that’s it.

The pinnacle of the mountain is a touch under 1,300 metres above sea level.

The Organ Pipes are the distinctive rocky feature just underneath the big white transmission tower.

Here’s a picture I took from the Sphinx Rock lookout that should eliminate any confusion about what we’re talking about.

Organ Pipes

Organ Pipes

I must thank Erin who hosts Bush Treks Tasmania who planted the seed of an idea for me to do this walk.

So, right… now that you can see where it is, I bet you’re wondering how to get there? Best way is by helicopter. But if you’re like me and don’t have one, you will have to make your own way up to a place called The Springs, a little over halfway up the mountain. (In case you’ve forgotten which mountain, please see the first few paragraphs again).

From Hobart, head up Davey Street. Keep in the right hand lane, and continue upwards along Huon Road to Fern Tree. Make the sharp right hand turn to Pinnacle Road and drive another 6 or so kilometres until you get to The Springs.

Both Huon Road and Pinnacle Road are windy (as in, there are lots of curves), and frequented by cyclists, so please drive with care. Pinnacle Road is a little narrow, and is full of touristy-type people who don’t know where they are going, and locals who don’t know how to keep left.

Once at The Springs, park your car and head off. There is a small side road that leads to the old Springs Hotel (and another car park). Head up that way. Or, if you’re like me and the car park is full when you get there, drive up and park here.

The Old Springs Hotel burned down in 1967, and is now a popular picnic spot.

Here it is; viewed from my ute.

The Old Springs Hotel

The Old Springs Hotel

I did the track in a clockwise direction. If you wish to go the opposite way, turn the page upside down, and read from the bottom…

Follow the signs to the Zig Zag Track, and you’re on your way.

Signs

Signs

I did this trudge on a warm summer’s day. The weather up here is quite variable, even in summer. In winter, it is regularly covered in snow.

The start of the trail is pretty easy. A very gradual incline heading north and west toward the Organ Pipes.

To your right throughout this part of the trek are fantastic views of Hobart and surrounds.

View

View

Like a lot of tracks, the further you go in, the rougher they become. So you will need to keep your eyes on your feet as the trail grows its obligatory rocks and tree roots.

I found this rock. Well, stumbled across it.

Rock. And Roll

Rock. And Roll

It seems it used to be up here somewhere.

Whence it came

Whence it came

You will get to a junction in the trail where we abandon the Zig Zag/ Pinnacle track and take the right hand fork toward the Organ Pipes. I’ll probably come back another day to do the Pinnacle one.

Junction

Junction

The trail gets a fair bit rockier past this point, and soon you will trudge past the bottom of the magnificent Organ Pipes.

Organ Pipes

Organ Pipes

The trail does not go right underneath the bottom of the Organ Pipes; but if you’re feeling really adventurous (like I was), there are little side treks where you can climb up to the Organ Pipes, and climb halfway (or more) up them.

A word of warning: The signs are not making fun of the fact that climbers wear funny hats and need ropes to climb. It’s dangerous to go past unless you are a moron, or reasonably comfortable with climbing. As a mixture of both, I felt safe enough. Otherwise, do not leave the main trail.

Don't go, unless you're really careful...

Don’t go, unless you’re really careful…

So anyway, I think I ended up somewhere called ‘Great Tier’ (according to the signs).

I did come across a couple of abseiling people, who looked at me as if I was a bit strange.

I got a bit over halfway up, where it became simply impossible to go further without experience, climbing gear, and a climbing mate. As I had none of those, I stopped to take a few pictures.

The climb

The climb

 

Up here

Up here

 

Whence I came...

Whence I came…

Organ Pipes

Organ Pipes

Organ Pipes again

Organ Pipes again

And here’s what Hobart looks like from afar.

Hobart

Hobart

So carefully make your way back to the main trail and then keep going roughly north.

Again some rocky terrain, but you will come out at The Chalet, which is really just a stone shelter on Pinnacle Road. If you want to do the entire circuit, proceed (with care – remember, cars, traffic…) downwards on Pinnacle Rod for a short way until you come to Hunters Track.

Walk this way...

Walk this way…

Head downward on this track for a way. It’s quite steep-ish. When you get to this junction, make sure you keep following Hunters Track (turn right). Otherwise you will end up in Lenah Valley. This is cool, because I’m sure Lenah Valley is a nice suburb… but you left your car at The Springs, remember…?

 

Turn right

Turn right

Hunters Track is a bit rougher in places, with a couple of rock scree crossings. They’re not unsafe, but you do have to pay attention.

Rocky. Not Balboa

Rocky. Not Balboa

You will (hopefully) arrive at Junction Cabin, which is a good place to rest if needs be. I think I covered it in my North South Track post.

From here, follow the Lenah Valley Track back to The Springs. This trail is relatively easy. Some bumpy and rocky bits, including going past Rock Cabin.

I sadly never saw Metal Cabin or Hard Rock Cabin. Oh well…

Sphinx Rock lookout is worth the visit. It’s about a 1 minute side trudge off the main trail. It is a sheer drop though, so be careful.

Lookout!

Lookout!

Keep walking along Lenah Valley Trail until you re-join the world at The Springs. If you parked at the old Springs Hotel, you can take a little shortcut back onto Pinnacle Road a little before the end. Remember, road/ be careful…

All up my GPS said the trudge was 12.12km, and took me a touch over three and a half hours. But that does include some fairly slow climbing, and stopping for a chat with a nice family at Sphinx Rock for a while.

Here’s a link to my Endomondo workout.

Thanks for reading!

Pete

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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