Western Arthurs Traverse Planning Information

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The Western Arthurs Traverse (WAT) is one among Australia’s most spectacular and difficult treks. Located within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Space, it’s a lollipop-shaped route that negotiates the western part of the famously rugged and inclement Arthur Vary. Encapsulating a dramatic assortment of jagged quartzite peaks, hanging valleys and glacier-carved lakes, the route is appropriate for knowledgeable hikers armed with good scrambling abilities, storm-worthy shelters, and a stoic’s disregard for mud and driving rain. The planning information under options map suggestions, logistical info, suggestions and trekking notes, and final however not least, some unimaginable pictures from Viktor Posnov.

Lake Uranus | Western Arthurs Traverse (picture by Viktor Posnov).

Notice: Since 2002 I’ve trekked the western part of the Arthurs on three events. Throughout my most up-to-date go to in 2016, the complete Arthur vary represented the ultimate stage of what was a 24-day traverse of Tasmania’s Southwest Wilderness. 

At a Look

Distance: 49 miles (79 km) approx.

Issue Stage: Difficult

Begin / End:  Scotts Peak Dam (aka Port Davey Observe Northern Trailhead).

Permits: As of December 2018, no particular allow is required to hike the WAT, nevertheless,  all hikers would require a Tasmanian Nationwide Parks Go. These will be bought on-line, at Nationwide Park Customer Centres, Service Tasmania Outlets, and most accredited Tasmanian Journey Info Centres.

Western Arthurs Traverse Overview Map (From the primary e book in my Wanderlust collection of mountain climbing books: “Wanderlust: Mountaineering on Legendary Trails“)

Common Time 5 – 8 days

  • The time wanted to do that hike can fluctuate significantly relying on the circumstances, in addition to the health and expertise of the hiker in query. As a normal reference, John Chapman, the writer of the superb South West Tasmania mountain climbing guidebook, suggests between 10 to 12 days. Personally, I believe this can be a conservative estimate. I’d say 5 to eight days can be a extra applicable timeframe for many aspirants, given a comparatively mild pack weight (i.e. not more than 7 kg base weight), stage of health and expertise, and a blended bag with the climate.


  • December to March. Snow, excessive winds and heavy rain are attainable at any time of 12 months.

Route of Journey:

  • Though the hike will be finished in both path, I’d advocate getting in a counter-clockwise path. This locations the prevailing winds at your again when you’re up on the crest, no small factor when the Roaring Forties (see under for particulars) are coming via, rain is pelting down at a forty five° angle, and also you’re scrambling up and down an uncovered knife edge.

Yours really about to make the descent to Lake Oberon in uncommonly high-quality circumstances.

Getting There and Away:

Scott Peak Dam is located about three to 4 hours drive from Hobart. As of December 2018, there aren’t any public transport choices to the Scott Peak Dam trailhead.

Shuttle: When you don’t have a automotive, Tasmanian Wilderness Experiences run on-demand shuttles, which require a minimal of two individuals.

Bus & Hitching: If you’re by your self and searching to avoid wasting money, contemplate catching a bus to Westerway from Hobart (approx. 2hrs). From this level, you’ll want to stay your thumb out. It’s roughly 50 km from Westerway to the turn-off to Scotts Peak, after which one other 33 km alongside the properly maintained Scotts Peak Dam Highway to the trailhead. It has been my expertise through the years that so long as you look semi-presentable and have a smile in your face, hitching remains to be fairly simple in Tassie when you’re out of the larger cities.

Lake Oberon (picture by Viktor Posnov).

Maps & Basic Info

  • TASMAP 1:25,000 – Three topographic maps cowl the complete route. They’re Crossing, Razorback and Glovers. TASMAP’s topographic maps can be found for digital obtain (A$2 every as of December 2018).
  • TASMAP 1:100,000 Previous River.  Helpful for overview functions, nevertheless, when the climate turns nasty, you can be glad you’re carrying the 1:25,000 maps.
  • John Chapman’s South West Tasmania contains maps and trekking notes. Now in its sixth version (2017).
  • Do I actually need to take all of that?: At the present time more and more extra persons are leaving paper maps and compass at house, and having all their navigational eggs within the one digital basket (i.e. their smartphone). I don’t advocate doing this for the Western Arthur Traverse. The terrain and climate on this space is not any joke, and if one thing occurs to your telephone through the trek, it’s possible you’ll properly end up stranded up poo creek with out a technological paddle. My recommendation is as follows: 1. Obtain all three of the 1:25,000 maps and the 2 1:100,000 maps. Have them in your telephone and print them out as properly. Preserve all info in sealable plastic luggage; 2. Purchase Chapman’s e book, and take photographs of the trekking notes to maintain in your telephone for reference functions; 3. Take a compass and maintain observe of the place you’re in your maps always.

The view from Mount Scorpio | Western Arthurs Traverse (Picture by Viktor Posnov).

  • Meals:  This can be a wilderness trek and there’s nowhere to purchase meals alongside the way in which. You will have to hold all the pieces you want from go to whoa. Whereas I’d by no means advocate dashing throughout a hike, because of the rugged nature of the terrain, I’d recommend attempting to complete the Western Arthurs Traverse in eight days or much less. This may increasingly imply barely longer mountain climbing hours than ordinary, however the payoff is much less weight in your again whereas out on the path.
  • Water: For essentially the most half, H2O will be present in abundance. That mentioned, there’s a high-level stretch or two – the Beggary Bumps involves thoughts – by which aspirants might want to carry enough water for 4 to 5 hours of powerful mountain climbing. See Chapman’s information for particulars.

Yours really wanting again over the Beggary Bumps.

Trekking Notes

The Rollercoaster The spotlight of the Western Arthurs Traverse is the 30 km (18 mi) plus stretch alongside the vary’s undulating crest. Throughout this part just about the entire trekking shall be both steeply up or precipitously down. When you’re searching for a hike in which you’ll stretch out and canopy large distances, it might be finest to look elsewhere. Within the Arthurs 1 to 1.5 km per hour is mostly excellent going. That being mentioned, the payoff for all of your exertions comes within the type of constantly jaw-dropping vistas, and the satisfaction that comes with assembly and adapting to the rigours of unforgiving environments.

Cloud creeping via the jagged quartzite ridge line (Mount Hayes aspect journey / Viktor Posnov).

The Muddy Plains and Staying on Observe:  With all of the precipitation it receives (see Climate under), it’s no shock that there’s fairly a little bit of mud within the low-lying areas across the Arthur Vary. In the course of the WAT hikers will probably encounter boggy circumstances just about in every single place besides the crest. Essentially the most sustained part of mud-slogging will probably be the 19 km (11 mi) stretch from Cracroft Crossing to Junction Creek. Please resist the urge to “lavatory skirt”, as this may contribute to erosion, broken vegetation, altered hydrology and a widening of trails. Suck it up, settle for the circumstances for what they’re, and wade on via.

Kiwi Dave on the Arthurs Plains throughout our 2002 Western Arthurs Traverse.

The opening/closing stretch from Scotts Peak Dam to Junction Creek will not be with out its boggy moments as properly.

Overgrown Terrain: Fairly just a few elements of the path between the Moraine Okay junction and Lake Roseanne are overgrown as a result of a comparative lack of use (see Alternates under). Many hikers will really feel extra snug carrying an extended sleeve shirt and pants throughout this part.

The Climate: One can not speak about mountain climbing in Tasmania’s southwest wilderness with out making particular point out of the climate. On common it rains 250 days per 12 months on this a part of the world. And I’m not speaking drizzly Seattle or UK-type precipitation. The Arthurs performs host to among the wildest and most unpredictable circumstances on the planet. Thanks in no small half to the Roaring Forties – gale-force westerly winds discovered within the Southern Hemisphere, usually between 40° and 50° latitude – backcountry journeys on this vary are a barometrical roll of the cube at any time of 12 months. Along with a storm-worthy shelter and good moist climate gear, an ironic sense of humour is very beneficial.

TIP: Make miles whereas the solar shines –  The chances are excellent that you’ll encounter dodgy climate sooner or later throughout your hike. That mentioned, storms typically cross as shortly as they arrive on this a part of South West Tassie. That being the case, when you’re offered with a transparent meteorological window, remember to benefit from it. This often could translate to mountain climbing longer hours, as a way to compensate for the opposite occasions by which you will want to chop your days quick as a result of inclement circumstances.

‘Watching the storm roll in, after which I watch roll away once more’; an Otis Redding second within the Arthurs (Picture by Viktor Posnov).

Pack Weight: I can not over-emphasise the significance of conserving your pack weight at an affordable stage for the Western Arthurs Traverse. In any kind of terrain, a lighter pack will translate to a extra pleasing on-trail expertise. Nevertheless, in a rugged atmosphere such because the Arthurs it makes a good greater distinction, not solely by way of mountain climbing consolation but in addition with regard to security. For instance, when you’re scrambling up and down slippery rocks and root-laden cliffs within the pouring rain, a lighter pack will translate to not solely enhanced agility but in addition free your thoughts of the burden of a heavy load, so you’ll be able to focus solely on the job at hand.

This planning information will not be the place for an in-depth gear weight dialogue. If you’re focused on dropping your base weight with out compromising security (in precise reality you can be growing it), try the Gear and Going Gentle sections of the web site (see prime navigation bar), or check out “Ideas for Mountaineering in Chilly and Moist Climate”, for environment-specific strategies.

Sq. lake (picture by Viktor Posnov).


The difficult nature of mountain climbing within the Arthurs is considerably mitigated by the truth that there are a collection of established campsites located at common intervals alongside the route. Most of those are positioned in “comparatively” sheltered spots with water sources shut by. In different phrases, when the weather have taken an inclement flip and/or your power ranges are low, you’ll by no means must go too far earlier than you’ll be able to doubtlessly name it a day.

On the crest, the primary tenting areas sport timber platforms. Additionally they have modular bogs, which will be flown out by helicopter when full. Neither of those options are aesthetically pleasing, nevertheless, they play an vital function in serving to to minimise the injury to the Arthurs fragile alpine atmosphere. No small matter, contemplating the rise in mountain climbing numbers lately. 

With regard to tenting on these timber platforms, most of them have nails and pre-tied items of rope alongside the sides which can assist to make pitching simpler. Nevertheless, that is in no way assured. Simply in case, remember to convey alongside some additional guyline as a way to tie-out your tent.

Wild campsite on the West Portal (picture by Viktor Posnov).


Because of the typically inclement nature of the climate within the Arthurs, many (most?) hikers select to do abbreviated variations of the WAT. The 2 most important bailout factors are Epsilon Moraine (located just a little NW of Mount Orion) and Kappa Moraine (aka Moraine Okay). The latter represents the commonest alternate and cuts off roughly 30 km (18 mi) from the general distance. Each of those alternate routes hyperlink as much as the Mackaye Observe, which leads again to Junction Creek and the Scott Peak Dam trailhead.

Kiwi Dave gazing out in the direction of Promontory Lake from simply above the Moraine Kappa Junction |  Western Arthurs Traverse, 2002.

Six Advisable Aspect Journeys

Most of the finest views through the Western Arthurs Traverse come from doing aspect journeys alongside the route. Beneath are six of essentially the most extremely beneficial excursions:

  • Mount HayesStage 2 – Lake Cygnus to Lake Oberon) – 600 m / 40 minutes return
  • Dorado Peak: Stage 3 – Lake Oberon and Excessive Moor – 1.2 km / 2 hrs return
  • Mount Columba: Stage 3 – Lake Oberon to Excessive Moor – 500 m / quarter-hour return
  • Mount Aldebaran: Stage 4 – between Excessive Moor to Haven Lake – 2.2 km / 2 hours return.
  • Mount Scorpio: Stage 5 – Haven Lake to Kappa Moraine Jct –  100 m / 10 min return.
  • West Portal: Stage 7 – Promontory Lake to Lake Rosanne) – 800 m / 40 min return.

Aspect journey to Dorado Peak, in Western Arthurs Vary. In Viktor’s phrases: “It was loopy climate all day; it was sunny on the western aspect of the vary, however the Southern aspect of the mountains was coated in a blanket of very thick fog.” (Picture by Viktor Posnov).

Experiencing a gorgeous sundown in a spot famend for stormy climate is just a little like kissing a lady you’ve got lengthy admired from afar, however by no means thought you had an opportunity with. You’ll be able to’t fairly consider it’s taking place, however when it really does you don’t need it to finish | Sundown from the West Portal (picture by Viktor Posnov).


I’m undecided if I’ve the expertise to do the Western Arthurs traverse of the Arthurs. Are you able to advocate simpler and shorter choices in SW Tassie?

Sure, the South Coast Observe and Mount Anne Circuit characterize shorter and mellower options. Chapman’s e book accommodates all the data you will want.

Do I have to convey rope?  

In his information e book, Chapman recommends bringing 20 meters of rope for pack reducing functions. I respectfully disagree. When you’re in fine condition, have respectable scrambling capacity, and your pack doesn’t weigh the proverbial tonne (and actually you must tick all of those packing containers in case you are planning on doing this hike), rope isn’t essential. Certainly, for my part, it is going to solely add extra weight to your pack, making an already difficult hike even more durable than it must be.

I’ve heard it mentioned that the Western Arthurs is superior to the Japanese part; is that this true?

No. The western a part of the vary is less complicated to entry, and aside from Federation peak, it’s the extra in style a part of the mountain chain. Nevertheless, having hiked the complete vary in each instructions, for my part, the entire chain is equally stunning, equally difficult, and hikers are equally prone to really feel the brunt of the weather, no matter whereabouts they’re located between Scotts Peak Dam and Farmhouse Creek (the eastern-most terminus). For these focused on a traverse of the complete vary, see the Arthur Vary Traverse Planning Information.

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Mountaineering within the Arthur Vary is an train in endurance, perseverance and meteorological religion. If you’re afforded an prolonged stretch of high-quality circumstances, contemplate your self lucky to have witnessed among the finest mountain surroundings in Australasia. Alternatively, if an enormous storm entrance rumbles via and all you see is horizontal rain and thick fog for 3 straight days, merely shrug your shoulders, have an ironic chuckle and attempt to keep in mind that Mom Nature doesn’t have a replica of your mountain climbing itinerary. Both manner, mountain climbing the Western Arthurs Traverse shall be a visit you’ll always remember.

Postscript: For extra superb pictures from the Western Arthurs Traverse, see Viktor Posnov’s Western Arthurs compilation. It’s also possible to comply with him on instagram, fb and Flickr

(L to R) Cam Honan and Viktor Posnov | For the lowdown on how Viktor and I met in 2016, see The Ukrainian from Cincinnati.




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