Tassie Endless Summer
 

15 March 2022

Words and Pictures: Jimmy Ashby

I’ve had a deep connection with Tasmania since I was 14 when I embarked on my first ever multi-day hike with Mum on the Overland Track. Smitten, I’ve returned to Tassie time and time again - revelling in its freedom, peace and awe.


Lake Judd, Mt Anne Circuit 


Sunrise over Western Arthurs Range.

At 16 I did my first solo bike trip, down the east coast over two weeks. Last year I spent three months living and travelling around the island, getting from place to place on my bike. This included 10 days of silent meditation at the Tasmanian Vipassana Centre.


Frenchmans Cap.

So as summer looped around, no one was surprised when I headed back to Tassie. But this time I was in a slightly different mode. I had big aspirations to go deeper and wilder than before. So as a true blue Aussie I bought myself a ute! Four wheel drive obviously, with a diesel engine that roars, and plenty of space out back for my worldly goods.


My ute - Genghis - named after the great conqueror himself.

I found that I had reached the practical limit of how far I could get into the mountains with just my bicycle to access the backcountry. Riding a few days to the trailhead, running for another day or so in the mountains, and then riding back to basecamp was a bit too much of a mission. Not any more. I packed my bike, running and hiking gear into the ute for a summer of adventure. I even had a fridge… lush!

On arrival in Tassie I found myself doing a lot of MTB’ing, like singletrack stuff with scary drops. That’s not what I normally do… but suddenly I found myself flying down mountain tracks yelling ‘Yeowww’ after every turn, seeking the adrenaline speed rush.


Derby trails. 

With endurance riding my main love and passion, all this MTB'ing felt like I was having a secret affair - cheating on my usual style. I knew it probably wouldn’t end well but yet I kept going back for more. Luckily I escaped with a few scratches and a smashed hanger, no broken bones.

I rode the Wild Mersey and Derby trails for days and whilst I wasn’t on a top of the line dually, I was having a hoot. My three inch tyre fully rigid Curve Cycling GMX+ was eating up the trails. I’d race the shuttle buses up and then fly down the singletrack next to the bouncy bikes.


Shelf Camp, Mt Anne Circuit.

Whilst I raged around the MTB trails and rode the beautiful gravel roads, I was scheming of walking and running  adventures into the mountains - my primary objective for the summer. Tassie's mountains are unique. While they're not thousands of meters high, they are dramatic, raw and beyond stunning.


Tarns on the Mt Anne Circuit. 


Camped above Lake Oberon. 

 

I was fortunate to have some close friends, my Mum and partner Allie fly in and out over the summer. With them I got to explore peaks and ranges that had been on my list for years - the Mount Anne Circuit, Federation Peak and the Ducane Range.

  
Allie, Sam & Mum.

 
Walking along Mt Field West Plateau.

A highlight was summiting Mt Acropolis. When I was 14 years old on my first proper hike in Tassie, or ever really. I sat with Mum near the end of the Overland Track and looked up to the Acropolis at sunset, watched it glow in the last bit of sunshine and felt such awe towards it.
 8 years later we finally reached the top together. It is definitely one of my more special Tassie trips, camping at Pine Valley, reliving old stories and memories while being able to share it with Mum and Allie.


Mt Anne.

However it was in classic Jimmy style that I sought out a ‘big one’ to finish my 3 month summer of adventure. I found my calling in Tassie's Southwest corner. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a runner. I like to think of myself as a cyclist that runs a bit on the side for fun. Nevertheless, after running the 85km South Coast Track the year prior, my sights were now firmly set on The Western Arthurs.

The Western Arthurs are regarded as one of the most challenging and wild hikes in Tasmania and Australia, so naturally I couldn’t resist the urge to try to run the 55km loop in a day. Now 55km doesn’t sound too far - only a nudge further then a marathon right?

Well the elevation and terrain exaggerates  the challenge. Over the 55km there’s 3600m+ of elevation and descent, which all happens in the middle 25km. If you do the math you’ll quickly realise how steep, gnarly and dramatic the trail is.


Running the Western Arthurs.

I had scouted it out on a three day hike earlier in my trip. So when the sun began to shine during my final week in Tassie, I laced up my runners, filled my pockets with hot cross buns and went for it. Starting early, getting a stunning sunrise atop the range and returning to the car park 12.5hrs later with a grin that wouldn’t leave my face for days. It was one of the best day's adventuring I’ve ever had. I felt free, calm and present.

Until next time Tassie.


Western Arthurs' Sunset.


3 Responses

Martin Dudley
Martin Dudley

17 March 2022

This brought back a few memories from the mid 80’s!! One time on the Mount Anne circuit I followed a couple up to Mt Eliza plateau where they both pulled out paragliders and flew back down to Lake Pedder! And then I also spent 36 hours in a tent in pouring rain at Lake Oberon when I did the Western Arthurs traverse. Spectacularly remote countryside! Loved your write-up

Charlie Hall
Charlie Hall

16 March 2022

Wish I had you lungs and fitness – probably 40 years too late for me to consider following in your footsteps and tyre tracks

Di Elliffe
Di Elliffe

16 March 2022

Glad you had a great time here, Jimmy. I’m in awe of your fitness!

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