The southern section of the main Range NP offers NO graded tracks. Private property does little to facilitate access from the east.
The main north-south running watershed and the ridges running westward provide a number of opportunities for more experienced walkers.
Typically one could take one of the ridges from the west to the divide , move along the watershed of the divide and return via another ridge running westward.
The routes aren't without their problems in that clifflines exist in most places above 1000m alt.
Mt.Asplenium 1294m . A major feature on the Main Range traverse appx halfway from Spicers Gap to Teviot Gap. It is a triangular shaped mountain with the watershed of the Main Range reaching it from Mt.Huntley in the north. A route leads off SE toward Panorama Point. Another ridge goes SW toward Mt.Guymer 1204m. Low points in the ridge from Asplenium to Guymer can be accessed from pasture adjacent to Reedy Ck. There is about 150m-200m height gain from the Reedy Ck paddocks. A number of routes could be chosen. It depends on the regrowth after you cross the creek.
Our aim on a hot december day was to complete a circuit from the paddocks to Asplenium, then SE along the Main Range traverse to Panorama Point, Lower Panorama Point and back via Davies Ridge. A duration of about 6-7 hours with breaks. No water on the route so a minimum of 3L each.
The creek crossing was an easy rockhop with dry feet. Long grass with patches of lantanna to be skirted meant a winding route upward. Some cattle tracks do exist. We gained the ridge at about 900m alt and turned right to ascend further.
The ridge is broad. There is evidence in places of a pad of old. It seems little used of late. Treefalls aplenty and vegetation patches require some deviation. The ridge began to narrow and at about 1050m a view extended eastward. We could see our planned descent route from Lower Panorama Point. In the background was Mt.Steamer, the Steamer Range and Lizard Point.
A little higher some easy scrambling was necessary to a cliffline at appx 1120m. It went vertical from here. a quick inspection to the right confirmed no ascent that way. I was curious about a slip which i had determined to be about 50m over to the east but couldn't see anything. One of two landslips which scarred the south side of Mt.Asplenium during cyclone Oswald in 2013. They were easily viewed from a distance to the south. I saw them on google earth too.
An inspection to the west (left) revealed an even less travelled route around the base of the cliffline. I honestly wondered if i had been the last person through. That was in 2005 .
Anyone could reason that if one followed the cliffline for long enough it is likely they would meet the route taken by those who climb Mt.Asplenium from the north. That could be as much as 700-800m. With one early turn in the cliffline, i estimate we went about 400-500m before ascent was possible. Even once above the cliffline, the distance to the summit is a couple of hundred metres.
The top of Mt.Asplenium is heavily rainforested. It is a large area with no specific clearing to designate the summit. The rock strewn floor, and vegetation, coupled with no water availability and limited sunlight, it does not really welcome camping.
Back in 2005 there were two of us who visited here from Teviot Gap in a day via the same route we took on this day. We were just getting above the cliffline when it was apparent we were not going to summit before losing the light. It was that close. Knowing the top was just as *&%$#! for camping as anywhere else, we soon chose to lay where we were. We gathered some leaf litter and got enough flat space to accommodate our sleeping mats only. We could locate our route SE off Asplenium in the morning.
One has to be careful leaving Asplenium to the Southeast. Initially it is flat. It is no doubt in the mind of anyone who has done it, that a drop off east is required at one point. It appears to just drop into nowhere because it is difficult to see Panorama Point. It is easy to keep a path SE on a ever narrowing spur to a dead end. From there you can see Panorama Point. You have to return then. Traversing straight across at that point is horrendous. Steep and thickly wooded. Back toward the top is a big rock cairn. It is at that point you go east. The descent is steep in places and over boulders covered in vegetation. As a result several parallel paths form but soon the ridge narrows and the path improves. A little undulation in the ridgeline and about half an hour after leaving Asplenium you would start rising to Panorama Point.
I recall seeing many a snake in this region. The top of the ridgeline is exposed to alot of sunlight from the north and is more dry sclerophyll forest with a grassy undercover. The rainforest is only a few metres away to the south.
The top of Panorama Point is a clearing that once had views. I've never seen anything from there in my time. It is a rise of 30-50 metres to the top. I believe it was once popular for camping. No water availability.
To descend from the top, you need to go south down steep grassy slopes to the top of a cliff break. A short 8-10 m scramble is necessary. A pack hauling rope is handy.
For a long time now i have sought to go between clifflines to the south of the saddle just before Panorama Pt. It takes you to the base of the scramble down from the summit. A few metres on the cliffline turns to the northeast. It passes through a few overhangs. They are often dry as they are protected from the prevailing weather.
A hundred metres or more along the cliff a slight rise is needed to regain the ridge from Panorama Point to Lower Panorama Point.
The regrowth here can make it difficult. Initially it is steep. Most bluffs can be bypassed on the right. It is good to have a bearing. Lower Panorama Pt can't be seen until further down. The ridge narrows and the path improves. It is possible to stay on the crest of the ridge all the way. Some rocky steps are encountered but these are easy.
A superb, grassy, scenic saddle sits just before the final rise to Lower Panorama Point. On the north facing side is some clean flat rock from which to view the Main Range extending northward. Thirty metres back through the bush, on the south side, some vision of the Steamers and Lizard Pt. can be had. They are better further on.
The last time a fire came through here was in Oct 2004. We were on our first Scenic Rim walk. ie a traverse over Main Range and the Macpherson Range to the coast. The skyline was ablaze between Asplenium and Steamer. We were passing through the foothills to the east on dusk. We had to bypass southern Main Range on that occasion.
Back then views from the Lower Panorama Point above were almost as good as the saddle. The bush has regenerated to completely block anything now.It is only a short rise east from the saddle.
A pad leads down to the south from the top of Lower Panorama Point. Steeply at first. It steers to the right of any obstacle or rock near the cliffline, avoiding any exposure.
It flattens out in places and soon steers right to continue following the cliffline. This is a most interesting part of the route. Fantastic views pop up. Southward and eastward. The route across to Mt.Steamer is clearly visible. There are two major knolls on the route. The first is the ridge we will descend west on.
The final part of the descent from Lower Panorama Point 1119m, is a southward facing slope. You should still be on a pad but the grass is long and the pad often slippery. It is about a 20m steep drop to a flat belt of rainforest 860m. The rainforest belt is rock strewn with a clear understory except for some vines. I hammocked here on my first traverse of the range. Still no water available.
An easy path to the south for about 50m reveals dry sclerophyll forest again. The pad tends to the left, near to the escarpment.
Some treefall and vegetated patches twist the path a little. Once the rise begins again the ground becomes open and grassy.
Above, is another rainforest belt. It covers the first of the major knolls 976m across to Mt.Steamer. That is Davies Ridge.
At about 900m alt. and about halfway up to the rainforest, we go west, away from the pad on the escarpment. It is a contour at about the same altitude and skirting the top of any gullys staying below the rainforest belt. Several hundred metres of this reaches a point with great views of the Steamer Range to the south. The Steamer Range extends west of Mt.Steamer and parallel to Davies Ridge.
The descent of Davies Ridge is straightforward. It is mostly very broad. The pad is clear. Reedy Ck paddocks can be reached earlier by dropping off to the north before a major knoll. Some cattle tracks and farm roads do travel down from low points on the ridge.
Last edited by Aardvark
on Tue 08 May, 2018 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.