This Track takes you into one or more parks/reserves that we have information on:
- Wild Rivers National Park
- Length (hours): 120:00:00
- Rating: Expert
- Region: Western Tasmania
This track leads to the summit of the magnificent white quartzite dome of Frenchmans Cap (1443 m), the most prominent mountain peak in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. The track is considerably more arduous than many other Tasmanian walks, including the Overland Track, so it is recommended that you gain experience on other Tasmanian walking tracks before attempting Frenchmans Cap. This is a T2 track which means that the surface may be rough and muddy over extended sections, especially across the Loddon Plains, and it may be steep in places. Most walkers spend between three and five days completing the return trip, a distance of about 23 km each way. Around 700 people walk this track each year, with about 600 visiting from December to March. The track starts at the signpost beside the Lyell Highway about 200 km from Hobart and 55 km from Queenstown.
The track starts at the signpost beside the Lyell Highway about 200 km from Hobart and 55 km from Queenstown.
Warm waterproof clothing, proper equipment and adequate preparation are essential. It is beyond the scope of these notes to cover all the appropriate gear and procedures necessary to walk Tasmania’s high country; so it is important that you read our Essential Bushwalking Guide and Trip Planner. A map is also essential, the Frenchmans Cap Map and Notes is recommended.
Walker Registration For your safety please record your trip intentions in the registration book at the Franklin River (near the start of the walk) and also in the logbook at each hut. Your entries may save your life should you become lost or overdue. However, the books are not checked regularly and a search will only be mounted if someone reports you as being overdue. Leave details of your trip with a reliable friend or relative. Be sure to advise this person when you have completed your trip. Accurate logbook information also provides the statistical basis for proper management of the area. Please remember to sign out at the end of your walk. If you are from overseas you may wish to register and de-register your trip at a Tasmanian Police Station.
Safety The weather in Tasmania’s high country can change rapidly. The track beyond Barron Pass is entirely above 900 metres and may be subject to high winds, mist, rain, hail and snow – even in summer. Rain normally falls on 15 to 20 days each month during summer and more often in other seasons. Huts and Camping There are two unattended huts along the track which have bunks (without mattresses) but no cooking stoves or utensils. Lake Vera hut accommodates 20 people; and Lake Tahune hut accommodates 16 people. It is preferable to use the huts when possible, to reduce trampling of vegetation around campsites. However, it is essential that a tent be carried as the huts may be full when you arrive.
Carrying a tent will also allow you to stop when it is unwise to proceed, due to poor weather, injury or tiredness. You will also require fuel stoves for cooking as the entire track is within a Fuel Stove Only Area (FSOA). Heavy fines can be imposed for lighting of fires in these areas.The recommended camping locations are: Franklin River – a number of sites can be found just before crossing the river; Loddon River; Philps Creek – first crossing; Lake Vera – a number of suitable sites are located along the track a short distance after crossing the bridge near the hut; and Lake Tahune – take an overgrown track that leads from the hut towards the lake which veers a little to the left. Coal Stoves Supplying coal to Vera Hut is expensive.
As well, the stove generates a considerable amount of ash waste which degrades the environment around the hut. Think conservation – don’t light the stove if the thermometer in the hut reads 10º C or more. Putting on extra clothing is a non-polluting way of getting warm. Please note that there is no stove or heating source at Tahune Hut. Water All water along the track is safe to drink. Take special care to keep water supplies clean, particularly around the huts. Always wash 50 m away from streams and lakes, avoiding soaps and detergents. Don’t throw food scraps into streams or lakes.
Both huts have tanks for collection of rainwater.
Toilets Modern composting toilets have been installed near both huts. To ensure efficient operation of the toilets, please follow the instructions provided. In areas away from the toilets, fecal waste must be buried 100 m away from any watercourses or campsites. Carry a lightweight trowel in your pack, dig a hole 15 cm deep and bury your waste and toilet paper. Cover it well to deter animals. Fires Devastating wildfires have ravaged the Frenchmans Cap area twice in recent decades.
In 1966 much of the area around Artichoke Valley and Lake Tahune was burnt.
Regeneration of alpine plants is extremely slow and, in the case of the King Billy pines, 25 years later, there are still no young seedlings in localities where all the parent trees were killed. More recently, in 1980 a campfire at Lake Vera caused more than 6000 ha of the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park to be burnt. Both of these wildfires were the result of carelessness and could have been avoided. A Fuel Stove Only Area has been declared for the whole of the Frenchmans Cap Area. Heavy fines can be imposed for lighting fires in this area. Fires are permitted only in the heating stove at Lake Vera Hut.