Regarded by many as Australia’s most magnificent and challenging peak, a trip to Federation Peak remains one of life’s great adventures
Federation Peak stands above the rugged Eastern Arthurs Range, 30 kilometres from Tasmania’s south coast. The summit is 1300 meters high, just over 4000 feet, with steep grey rocky cliffs on all sides. Images of Federation Peak are common throughout Richard’s archive of photographs over the last 60 years. Whether taken from a plane on the way to the South Coast Track, from a helicopter on the way back from photographing yachts off Tasmania’s south coast or from the walking tracks crossing the southwest wilderness. Richard’s lens has always been drawn to this mountain.
Richard has climbed the peak “about 12 times” in all seasons and weather conditions. He has approached the mountain from the South Picton Range, from Farmhouse Creek, over the Yo-yo track, via the Cracroft and from the pink beaches of the original Lake Pedder. One of his favourite routes is going in from the Huon Track to Blakes Opening, up the Redrag Scarp to the South Picton range as you can see ‘Feder’ all the way. When asked why he has spent so many years climbing and photographing this iconic peak, Richard said:
“When I first climbed Hartz Mountain in February 1960, I looked south and saw a jagged silhouette that dominated the skyline. I later learned that it was Federation Peak, at the southern end of the Eastern Arthur Range. I recognised it again in December 1963 from Mt. Orion, high above Lake Oberon in the Western Arthur Range. Federation Peak commanded attention from so far away. Climbing Federation became a long-term goal.
In the early 60’s, a walking track was made from the Picton River all the way to the Cracroft River. I took advantage of the new track and led my first trip to Feder in 1967. Back then, it was an epic two-week expedition. It was a twelve-hour walk to the Cracroft. The track crossed every ridge and gully along the way and became known as the Yo-yo track because it seemed to go up and down forever.
That first trip was in winter, in June 1967, with 2 girls I met at a mountaineering school in New Zealand and Ross Nicholas, a childhood friend. When we got to camp that first night, we were on the edge of the Arthur Plains, a button grass plain that seemed to go on forever with the dramatic backdrop of the Western Arthur Range, one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world. We camped by the river with ancient Huon Pines hanging around us. I still love nothing more than camping by a creek in the mountains.
Ever since it was first climbed in January 1949, Federation Peak has become a mecca for walkers and climbers worldwide. It is regarded by many as Australia’s most magnificent and challenging mountain peak.
Since that first trip, I have climbed the mountain many times. Whenever I felt a bushwalk coming on, it has always called me back. With its hanging lake, the tough climbing, spectacular views and the fact that it used to take 2 weeks made the experience all the richer. The amount of time it took amplified the wilderness experience. The weather determined the outcome of your endeavours. On one trip in the 1970’s we didn’t make the summit as we were snowed in. Each time we went was completely different, and it was this diversity that always called me back. Climbing Federation Peak is always memorable.
A trip to Feder remains one of life’s great adventures.
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