LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY > SOUTHWEST NATIONAL PARK – WESTERN ARTHURS RANGE – TASMANIA > Western Arthurs Sunset Panorama from Junction Creek (Arthur Plains, Southwest National Park)
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The Western Arthurs are renowned for being one of Australia’s most beautiful mountain ranges as well as one of its most dangerous due to its treacherous rock climbing sections and full exposure to the wild weather coming off the Southern Ocean.
Situated in Tasmania’s Southwest National Park World Heritage Area, the trek to the Western Arthurs begins at Scott’s Peak Dam. A full traverse of the Western Arthur Range takes about a week, but many people, including myself, only venture as far as Lake Oberon and then turn around, avoiding the most dangerous and technically difficult rock climbing sections. Tasmania’s renowned wilderness photographer, Peter Dombrovskis, died on Mt. Hayes, the highest peak of the Western Arthur Range.
Junction Creek is the first camp site on the Western Arthurs traverse. It is situated on the Arthur Plains and provides a spectacular view of the whole Western Arthur Range.
“I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us–yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses…In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them…” (Isaiah 63:7,9)
The track through the Western Arthurs Range in Southwest National Park is known as the most difficult track in Tasmania, and by some, the most difficult in all of Australia.
But for all its difficulty, it is also one of the most beautiful natural places in Australia with its jagged mountain peaks, alpine lakes and ethereal mist.
It was the rugged beauty of this wild, remote Tasmanian mountain range that compelled me to venture out there on a solo backpacking trip.
The first trial backpackers must face on their way to the Western Arthurs is 3-4 hours of constant M-U-D. Nobody knows the meaning of MUD until he or she has hiked in southwest Tasmania. It is unfathomable. In many places, it was up to my knees and higher.
The track is also hemmed in by impenetrable scrub overhanging the virtually unmaintained track, so in between getting scratched to pieces and sunken in the mud by my 29 kg (64 lb) backpack (over half my body weight), the journey to just the base of the Western Arthur Range quickly became arduous and miserable.
Quite fittingly, I just so happened to be feeling a bit down at the time due to a few personal circumstances, and the long slog through the mud certainly wasn’t helping me any. In a depressing yet comical sort of way, I started to wonder how I got stuck in The Neverending Story and became Atreyu in the Swamps of Sadness, 10,000 miles away from my destination.
I was alone on this multi-day trip, and several times I wondered if I should just give up and turn around.
As always, my natural circumstances led me into spiritual contemplation, and I was vividly reminded of the Scripture:
“I consider that our present sufferings and are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
God gives us believers this Scripture to encourage us during the difficult times. The hope of being with Jesus, the hope of heaven, the hope of being finally freed from the capacity to sin and the hope of finally having the character of Christ outweighs all of our earthly troubles.
I knew that the breathtaking beauty of God’s Creation lay beyond my present trials and there would be great reward if I persevered, so I cried out to the Lord in prayer that he would strengthen me, encourage me and help me to continue on, just as I must do spiritually.
God answered my prayer and did strengthen me physically, emotionally and spiritually. Not only that, but he also showered me with blessing upon blessing in every way throughout the entire duration of my trip.
This photograph, which is actually a panorama of 5 photos stitched together, was one of the first of these blessings.
I made it through the MUD to Junction Creek campground just before nightfall. I was very thankful when another party of walkers arrived from the opposite direction, in answer to more of my prayers, otherwise I would have been camped there totally alone. As we were talking, I looked up through the trees and could see some beautiful sunset colors.
“Wow, I wish I was up on the range tonight. Look at this gorgeous sky”, I said to one walker.
She replied, “Well, why don’t you just go up to the track junction a few minutes away and take a picture from there? Don’t you know that past these trees it opens up to the Arthurs Plains and you get a full view of the entire mountain range?”
I had no idea.
This was my first trip to the Western Arthurs, and aside from a few partial glimpses of the range, my whole trip thus far had only featured mud and scratchy branches. With no time to lose, I grabbed my camera and ran to the junction. When I made my way through the last of the trees and stepped out onto the plains my jaw dropped…
The vastness of the Western Arthurs mountain range opened up before me, spanning from horizon to horizon, along with the most beautiful sunset at its peak, which no one could ever adequately capture in a photograph.
As I stood there and shot this lovely sight I felt amazingly blessed and satisfied by God. After all the trials of the day, here God had rewarded me with something far greater than I deserved for my efforts. I stood there awed and humbled at God’s overwhelming goodness to me, and this was only one of his many blessings on this trip.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)
(Here is a short article about some highly adventurous people scaling Federation Peak in the neighboring Eastern Arthurs Range. While my short adventure into the Western Arthurs nowhere neared the technical difficulty these climbers faced, one can certainly get a sense of the difficulties involved in climbing these ranges…not in the least the mud and scrub…)