Located in the remote alpine section of Mount Field National Park, the Rodway Range Circuit is a multifaceted hiking experience across many different terrains. This difficult, 7 hours 15km hike traverses through lush subalpine pandani forests, expansive boulder fields and idyllic glacial alpine tarns.
Walking within the alpine sections of the Mount Field National Park is an
exposed and isolated wilderness experience. It is essential that hikers are suitably equipped for all weather conditions, even in summer months.
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|The Pandani Grove walk is located 90km northwest of Hobart, within the upper section of the Mount Field National Park, near Lake Dobson. From Hobart, head northwest on the Brooker Highway (A10) to New Norfolk. Once at New Norfolk, follow the winding road of B61/B62, turning right into the Mount Field National Park after 18km. After reaching the National Park, continue past the visitors centre on Lake Dobson Road for 16.5km. The Rodway Range Circuit walk begins from the large car park at the edge of Lake Dobson.
Starting from the Lake Dobson carpark, The Rodway Range Circuit begins with a gentle stroll around the picturesque lake via the Pandani Grove Nature Walk. The trail is beautiful from the get-go, with vibrant snowguns and pencil pines lining the gravel track.
After a few minutes, the trail forks to the left and starts climbing uphill via Urquhart Track. This section is some of the most spectacular of the day’s walking, with lush sub-alpine forest filled with towering Pandanis crowding around you. The Lake Dobson road is met 10 minutes later, and the trail continues steeply uphill via the road to the Mount Mawson and Oldina Ski Clubs.
Walk past the front of the ski clubs and continue climbing via the short Snow Gum Track. You are quickly reimmersed in the wilderness with twisted snow guns overhanging the trail as it steps uphill via stone steps. Views north across Lake Seal also present themselves as you climb.
The track junction between the ski fields, Lake Seal Lookout and the Tarn Shelf are met next. Here, the landscape opens up before you shows the significant scale of the Rodway Range and the Tarn Shelf ahead. After taking a few minutes to enjoy the Lake Seal Lookout view across the many tarns and lakes, continue via the boardwalk Tarn Shelf Track towards the Mount Field West Track. Eventually, the turn-off to the Rodway Tow ski area and Tarn Shelf are met. Take the left-hand fork past this onto the Mount Field West Track and start the steeper climb upwards under the tow lines.
For the next hour or so, the trail dodges its way through the remarkable dolerite bolder fields of the Lion’s Den, dotted with pockets of dense alpine vegetation. Walking is surprisingly easy underfoot, but navigation can be challenging even in clear weather. Take your time and pay attention to the red-painted markers on the boulders indicating the path. Forty-five minutes into the climb, the ridge summit of Rodway Range (1377m) is reached. In clear weather, panoramic views across Mount Field and the mountainous ridges of the southwest peaks are achieved.
The climb down from the highest point on the Rodway Range to K Col is the most technically challenging section of the hike, with some large bounders requiring care to navigate. Eventually, the trail flattens out, and the cushion plants and duckboards reappear. The junction between Mount Field West and the Watcher (via the K Col Track) is met shortly after. The Peterson Memorial Hut, visible on the opposite hill a few minutes away, is an excellent place to have lunch before continuing. Surrounded by meadows of mountain rocket, pineapple grass and cushion plants, the hut is one of the most picturesque picnic spots as you look out into the K Col valley below.
Returning to the walk, the trail heads towards The Watcher on the K Col track via intermittent sections of duckboard. To the west, the impressive face of Mount Field West guards your flank as you continue above the K Col valley below. Eventually, after one last short climb, the Watcher is passed, and the trail continues along the vast plateau towards Newdegate Pass.
For the next few kilometres, raised boardwalks and established stone steps guide you across the expansive tarn-filled terrain before a brief descent through the boulder field of Newdegate Pass down onto the tarn shelf. Of the many lakes and tarns on the shelf, the largest, Lake Newdegate is met first. At the edge of the lake, follow the track junction to the right and continue via the Tarn Shelf Track. The alternative, Lake Newdegate Track, is longer and less awe-inspiring and isn’t recommended as the first option.
For the next hour, the trail gently undulates and contorts through the many scenic glacial tarns and lakes on the shelf. Walking here can be meditative, with the challenges of the earlier steep climbs replaced with countless idyllic views of tarns edged by snow gums, pandani and ancient pencil pines. Deciduous fagus also provide a breathtaking burst of surreal autumn colour in April and May.
After guiding your way across the Tarn Shelf, the Rodway Tow ski area and day-use hut are remet. From here, the trail retraces its steps along the Snow Gun Track, Urquhart Track and Pandani Grove Nature Walk to the trailhead.
Map for illustrative purposes only. Base map supplied by Land Information System Tasmania
Hazards and Warnings
As with any alpine walking in Tasmania, it can get extremely cold on this walk, so be sure to pack appropriately. For more information on the conditions within Mount Field, please see the information provided by Parks and Wildlife.