The air was still, finally calm. The recent storms have left their signatures on the landscape; a thin dusting of snow covered the dramatic cliffs of the Du Cane Range as they spread out in front of me in a titanic amphitheatre.
These mountains are wild, that much is certain.
This World Heritage Listed landscape assumed its most recent and rather handsome shape during the last ice age, about 20 000 years ago, when giant glaciers scoured the slopes of these mountains. The glaciers originating from here would slowly grind their way down the valley and meet in a deep rift that now forms Australia’s deepest lake: Lake St Clair.
When the last ice age ended, the glaciers disappeared, but they left clues to their existence. The glacial valleys and moraines left behind as relics of the last ice age now accommodate an amazing abundance of life that thrives in Tasmania’s harsh alpine conditions.
The mountains here often stand with their head in the clouds. The deeper snow drifts on their slopes that build up during the winter can last quite late into the spring. The sun is only visible for about 10 hours a day in mid winter. It sits at a low angle in the sky, creating longer shadows and a picturesque effect. Snow covers the peaks and adds to the challenge of ascent. The changeable weather is part of the charm and the challenge of this area that bushwalkers refer to simply as ‘The Reserve’.
In ‘The Reserve’, wilderness still exists. The crumbling dolerite peaks stand like ancient guardians over wild river valleys thick with impenetrable scrub. Bus sized boulders are scattered on ridge lines above the tree line, like a million broken dinosaur eggs.
Out here, solitude can be embraced and the worries of the world are left behind. Freedom ensues.
I climbed up here into these mountains to understand Winter: to feel the cold, as it slowly crept under my skin numbing my fingers and toes. I saw the frozen kiss of night settle on the surface of glacial tarns as a delicate layer of ice. In the morning, I saw the sun fighting to climb above the clouds.
Some moments are best captured with a photograph.
The value of wilderness isn’t measured in currency; it’s measured in freedom.
I can only hope that ‘The Reserve’ will continue to exist in its relatively unaltered form for many more generations. Here, we can escape and imagine a world that is more than ordinary.