Walls of Jerusalem
We welcomed 2019 with a four day trip to the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. This isolated alpine national park in central Tasmania is home to a remote collection of alpine tarns, fragile forests and unique vegetation. There are a number of walking options when visiting the Walls of Jerusalem, all require a good degree of preparation given the isolation and exposure to the elements can be a challenging, even dangerous, combination at any time of year for the unprepared. There are no facilities anywhere in the park, aside from camping platforms and toilets at the Wild Dog Creek campground, around three hours walk from the carpark located just outside the park.
Day One - Mersey Forest to Lake Adelaide
After a steep climb from the Mersey Forest car park the track passes Trappers Hut, built in the early 20th century as a shelter for fur trappers. This is a wonderful place to catch a breath before reaching the junction to Lake Adelaide, our destination for the first night. If walking the circuit anticlockwise, or opting for a shorter return walk, Wild Dog Creek is reached via the main trail. After around six hours of walking and revelling in the alpine scenery we arrived at Lake Adelaide and set up camp by the lakeshore and made dinner as we watched the sunset. Clear skies made for a beautiful view, especially around the lake shore lined by wildflowers and also meant a cold, frosty night, despite being the middle of summer.
Day 2 - Lake Adelaide to Dixons Kingdom
The second day of our circuit was a relatively short walk from Lake Adelaide to Dixons Kingdom, taking around three hours in total. This is a really enjoyable day of walking and involves traversing some poorly defined, and at times non-existent trail sections making it only suitable for people with experience in navigation. After a steady climb from Lake Adelaide the trail is relatively flat, with some delightful scoparia gardens and cushion plants intersected by creek crossings along the way which might require careful navigation after rain or snow. The Lake Ball hut is a great place to stop for lunch, nestled in forest a few metres from the lake shore. Continuing further east from Lake Ball, much of the next section is untracked and visitors are asked to fan out to minimise erosion and damage to the sensitive alpine vegetation in the area.
Dixons Kingdom was our camp for the night and is a magnificent sight, forming one of the largest remaining Pencil Pine forests on Earth. Many other forests have been decimated by fire in recent decades and are likely to never recover, so a total fire ban is always in effect in the Walls of Jerusalem to help protect these beautiful gondwanan relics. After setting up camp we wandered to Jaffa Gate for the final sunset of 2018, a natural light show on Mount Jerusalem marking a fine way to end the year.
Day 3 - Dixons Kingdom to Wild Dog Creek
We awoke early to catch sunrise and spend the morning in the central Walls of Jerusalem. Departing Dixons Kingdom, we walked around 30 minutes from our campsite at and watched as first light emerged on the dolerite cliffs of the west wall. With scoparia close to full bloom, this landscape was one of colour as the remnants of an early shower persisted as clouds around the mountain peaks. Camping is not recommended in the inner Walls of Jerusalem between Dixons Kingdom and Wild Dog Creek for environmental reasons - sensitive vegetation and poor drainage make this area subject to degradation even from very small visitor numbers.
Day 4 - Wild Dog Creek to Mersey Valley
Our final day of the trip started early and was over quickly, a relatively straightforward walk along the main trail back to the Mersey Forest car park traverses the beautiful area around Solomons Jewels, a series of alpine tarns lined with pencil and king billy pines. Along the trail there are also spectacular views of Clumner Bluff to the north and Mount Ossa to the west. After reaching the Lake Adelaide junction, we retraced our earlier trail via a steep descent through woodlands back to the car park.
Like many parts of Tasmania, the Walls of Jerusalem is prone to sudden changes of weather at any time of year, so it is essential to come prepared with warm clothes and good wet weather gear - rescue can be days away in bad weather. There is virtually no shelter from the elements in most of the park, and the entire area is under snow during winter. The entire Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area is a fuel stove only area and this includes the Walls of Jerusalem - escaped campfires have done irreparable damage to sensitive vegetation over recent decades and this area is especially fragile with some of the world’s most significant remaining Pencil Pine forests. Please follow Leave No Trace principles whenever visiting the Walls of Jerusalem, or any of Tasmania’s wild lands.