Walls of Jerusalem, Tasmania

In late November 2019 I had the chance to add on a quick Tasmanian hike before a conference in Hobart. Walls of Jerusalem had always been on my to-do list, and I was able to fly into Launceston from Sydney, rent a car and be at the trailhead by lunchtime.

The weather report had been a bit variable in the days leading up to my start, but I made sure I was ready to get rained out if it turned bad. As luck would have it, the day I set out was perfect hiking weather – not too hot, but with enough sun to see all the snow covered peaks across the plateau in Cradle Mountain National Park.

The trailhead starts from a newly built car park about 2hrs drive from Launceston, and the initial hike up to the plateau is probably the hardest slog of the route, taking about 1.5hrs to walk the first 3km as you ascend 500m vertical. I’d initially packed in a couple of full water bottles, but once I saw all the streams were running I emptied one bottle to lighten my pack weight. Once you’re just above the Trapper’s Hut, it’s a relatively mellow stroll along a well cut path through alpine lakes on the way to Wild Dog Creek campsite. This is a well established camping area with a pit toilet, camping platforms and plenty of running water nearby.

I’d made it to Wild Dog Creek by about 4pm, so with another 5 hours of daylight I had a quick snack and pushed on through the Vale of Bethesda valley below King David’s Peak and up over Damascus Gate to Dixon’s Kingdom camping area. This also has a pit toilet, running water and lots of great camping spots scattered through the pine trees.

Establishing the first night’s camp at Dixon’s Kingdom, I was asleep before the sun set and woke at dawn the following morning to a howling wind and fast moving clouds. After packing up my tent and eating a quick breakfast, I packed a light bag and took about an hour to get up the peak of Mount Jerusalem. Luckily, the cloud had mainly been lifting fog, so by the time I summited I had a clear view back towards King David’s Peak and a perfect mobile signal to let people know I was still alive.

After descending, I bush bashed along the contour line back to Solomon’s Throne and got to the top just as a more significant rain front approached from the West. This mainly passed to the south of the area, so a few drops of rain quickly cleared back to dappled sunshine as I went to retrieve the rest of my gear at Dixon’s Kingdom.

My initial plan had been to spend the second night at Lake Ball, but with more rain forecast for that evening and finding that the route around the lake was far harder than I’d anticipated, I decided to keep walking to get as much distance back towards the trailhead as possible. This section of track is barely marked, scrambling through dense forest and rocky sections, so it ended up taking about 3hrs to walk 5km down to Lake Adelaide.

I pressed on another couple of kilometres until I found a nice tent pad overlooking one of the smaller lakes, just getting the tent pitched as the rain drops started to fall. Another early night after a long day walking was interrupted a few times through the night as downpours of rain rattled the tent, but by the time I got up at dawn, these had largely dissipated.

Shaking as much water off the tent fly as possible before packing up, I donned all my wet weather gear for a cold (4ºc), soggy walk through the scrub. This section of trail largely felt like you were walking through running streams and muddy bogs, so by the time I got back to Trapper’s Hut I was reasonably drenched with my socks slushing around in wet boots.

The walk back down the hill was about twice as fast as the ascent, so I was back in the carpark by about 10am, only passing a couple of day trippers on the way out. From there it was an easy 4hr drive back to Hobart via the Central Plateau and a good night’s sleep before the conference.

The main section of Walls of Jerusalem could easily be done as a 20km return day hike, but camping out at Dixon’s Hut and ticking off the other peaks was well worth it. It was also great doing the less frequented loop around Lake Ball, which I had entirely to myself on the way out.

All up, the full loop including extra peaks was around 28km over 2 nights out, and while there’s a few tricky sections of the lower track most people of reasonable fitness and experience would easily make it.

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