Ben Lomond National Park

The magnificent mountain of Ben Lomond with its imposing and precipitous cliffs is visible over much of the northern midlands of Tasmania. The plateau is roughly 14 kilometres in length, 6 kilometres wide and is in excess of 1300 metres in height. A summit on the plateau named Legges Tor is the second highest point in Tasmania (1572 metres).

 

Ben Lomond is the main focus of downhill skiing in Tasmania. The skifield on Ben Lomond is Tasmania's only downhill skiing area which offers some of the facilities expected of a contemporary skifield. For the latest snow reports during the ski season.

 

The Ben Lomond National Park is invaluable for the conservation of the flora communities and species diversity of Tasmania's alpine areas. The area consists of an outstanding variety of glacial and periglacial features which are considered of national significance.

 

Access

 

Located 50km south-east of Launceston, Ben Lomond National Park is reached by back roads via White Hills or Evandale onto the Blessington Road (C401). About 3.5 km before Upper Blessington, turn right onto the Ben Lomond Road, the only road within the park. This road is unsealed, and between June and Septmber, the upper section of this road is subject to ice and snow. The park boundary is 8 kilometres from the turnoff and the alpine village is 18 kilometres. Along this road you will reach a camping area to the left, marked by a sign, and shortly after you will reach a Y-intersection. One kilometre to the right is Carr Villa, from where there are walking tracks which lead to the summit and the Ski Village (both 1.5 km).

 

To the left, the final acent to the alpine village is via the steep and winding "Jacobs Ladder". Jacobs Ladder has recently been extensively upgraded to increase safety. Motorists are asked to observe the 30 kilometre per hour speed limit on this section of road. Vehicles travelling up the road should give way to oncoming traffic.

 

In conditions of snow and ice, the road may be closed without notice at the barrier 4.5 kilometres from the alpine village. Wheel chains must be carried between June and September - they are not available on the mountain, but can be rented or purchased from outlets in major centres. Antifreeze is needed to ensure your motor is not damaged. During the ski season, a shuttle bus operates from below Jacobs Ladders. Travel times are 1 hour from Launceston, 2.5 hours from Burnie and 3 to 3.5 hours from Hobart. No petrol is available on the mountain.

 

Facilities

 

Camping
There is a small camping area one kilometre inside the park boundary and several kilometres below the summit. There are 6 un-powered sites that are suitable for tents or campervans, flush toilet, drinking water and a lookout. A shelter shed provides relief from rain.

 

There are no other camping facilities in the national park. Remote bush camping is permitted anywhere in the park but not within 500 metres of any road. Fuel stoves should be used by campers.

 

Alpine Village
The Alpine Village is located at the foot of the ski slopes, about 4.5 kilometres from the top of Jacobs ladder. There is a car park and public toilet facilities at the village and a public day shelter on the ski fields. This shelter has heating but there are no cooking facilities. There are a number of other facilities at the Alpine Village, as outlined below.

 

There are 6 ski lifts on the down hill slopes - 3 T-Bars and 3 Poma lifts. There is ski, snowboard and toboggan hire, as well as instruction and sales and a kiosk at the alpine village. These facilities only operate in the snow season.

 

First aid and locker storage facilities are available in the village. First aid is administered from the Ski Patrol Building at the base of the summit ski run.

 

Accommodation
The Creek Inn on Ben Lomond operates a licensed restaurant and 6 accommodation units (one suitable for disabled). These are generally heavily booked when there are suitable weekend skiing conditions. Bookings for other tourist accommodation can also be made through the Creek Inn - for bookings please telephone 6390 6199. The Inn is open 365 days a year.

 

There are several lodges in the alpine village area and these are owned either privately or by alpine clubs. Usage is generally restricted to members and their guests.

 

Activities

 

Skiing
The ski season generally starts early July and closes late September. However, the extent of the season is variable. Snow falls on average one day in four during July and August.

 

While part of the national park, the ski fields are managed by a separate management authority. For further information contact the Ben Lomond Skifield Management Authority:

 

Day Walks
Important! Before planning any walks, check the weather.

 

A good map is essential

 

While skiing is the activity that attracts most visitors to this national park, there are a variety of other activities that can be enjoyed.

 

Being able to drive to the plateau, visitors can readily enjoy striking mountain top features such as dolerite columns and scree slopes. The vegetation of Ben Lomond is different to other parts of Tasmania and, in the summer months, the alpine wildflowers are a delight.

 

There are two cross country ski routes which are also used as walking routes. They are not formed trails but are marked by snow poles:

 

Carr Villa to Alpine Village
This walk takes approximately 1.5 hours one way with steep gradients up the side of the plateau. The route takes you up onto the plateau and then along the plateau to the highest point.

 

Alpine Village to Little Hell
This walk takes about 1.5 hours return. From the top of Little Hell there are views across the southern part of the plateau to Stacks Bluff.

 

Safety
The weather can change readily at any time of the year and low cloud can make it impossible to see more than an arms-length ahead. Be prepared. Always carry a water and windproof coat. If venturing off-track, a map, compass and navigation skills are essential.

 

All walkers and cross-country skiers should register details of their trip at the alpine village, where there is a self-registration booth. Make sure to de-register on your return.

 

Highlights

 

Geoheritage

 

Ben Lomond National Park is dominated by an alpine plateau over 1500 metres high and surrounded on all sides by precipitous escarpments. The basement rocks comprise slates, siltstones, greywackes and quartzite. These were intruded by granite and, later, by dolerite during the Jurassic Period. Dolerite predominates on the plateau. The only exception is a highly localised area under Coalmine Crag and around the flanks of the Ben Lomond Plateau. This exposure includes a narrow coal sequence, which was once worked commercially.

 

During the Pleistocene Ice Age, a small ice-cap existed on Ben Lomond, which was the only plateau in the north-east to be glaciated. The effects of these glaciers account for much of the contrast between the alpine scenery of Ben Lomond and that of the other mountains in the north-east. The most notable relict periglacial depositional features are the blockfields, which cover over a quarter of the Ben Lomond plateau.

 

Much of the plateau is devoid of soils. Organic soils (peats), including deep peats, are most extensively developed on the western side of Rodway Valley. Mineral soils are also found, particularly in the better drained sites.

 

Vegetation
Ben Lomond National Park protects a representative cross-section of Tasmania's north-east alpine plant communities. Although much of the plateau is stony with areas of low and often stunted forms of vegetation, the remainder of the mountain contains a wide variety of habitats ranging from alpine moorland to dense forest.

 

A total of 222 plant species have been recorded on the Ben Lomond plateau, represented by 152 dicotyledons, 62 monocotyledons, 1 gymnosperm and 7 fern and fern ally families. The five most common families (Asteraceae, Poaceae, Epacridaceae, Cyperaceae and Proteaceae) account for about half the total number of species recorded. Most families, however, are only represented by one or two species. Some introduced plants have naturalised on the plateau from introduced grasses, clovers and straw used to stabilise soil and revegetate areas affected by slope grooming, road works and other site disturbances.

 

The most common native species recorded on the plateau are the herbs Poa gunnii (tussock grass) and Gentianella diemensis, the shrubs, Richea scoparia, Orites acicularis and Pentachondra pumila, Baeckea gunniana and Epacris serpyllifolia.

 

Cushion plants are abundant throughout the plateau. One species, the rock cushion plant Chionohebe ciliolata, is known only from a small localised area within the Park.

 

Other rare and threatened species include the rare endemic Oreomyrrhis sessiliflora, and the endangered Colobanthus curtisiae.

 

Below the escarpment edge, the shrubs Tasmannia lanceolata (mountain pepper) Westringia rubiaefolia, and Orites revolutaare abundant and also occur in the higher forests. A narrow band of Eucalyptus archeri forms the upper limit of tree growth at altitudes varying from 1175 to 1300m. Just below, nearly pure stands of E. delegatensis (gummed-topped stringy bark) occur. Below these, extensive E. amygdalina (black peppermint) forests occur.

 

Fauna
Because of the decreasing area of natural habitat available in north-eastern Tasmania, the national park plays an invaluable role in regional wildlife conservation.

 

Of the larger mammals, Bennett's wallabies and wombats are common, and are regularly seen in the ski village during summer and winter, even under blizzard conditions. Pademelons are abundant in the wet gullies and areas with thick undergrowth. Forester kangaroos have been recorded along the south-west edge of the park.

 

Eastern quolls inhabit the ski village during winter, and are sometimes sighted during daylight hours. Dusky antechinus occasionally visit lodges. The echidna has been recorded and the platypus has been sighted in the Upper Ford River

 

Various other species, including the long-nosed potoroo, Tasmanian bettong, brushtail possum, ringtail possum , sugar glider, native rodents such as the velvet-furred rat and the long-tailed mouse, and six species of bat have all been recorded in the park.

 

Among the birds, no systematic study has been made. Wedge-tailed eagles are regularly reported, as is the noisy yellow-tailed black cockatoo. Among the endemic species recorded are the green rosella, scrubtit, brown thornbill, yellow wattlebird, yellow-throated honeyeater, black-headed honeyeater, strong-billed honeyeater and the black currawong.

 

Little is known of the reptiles from Ben Lomond. Of particular interest is the endemic northern snow skink Niveoscincus greeni which is an alpine species restricted to several other mountain top areas in the State.

 

Amphibians recorded from Ben Lomond include the brown tree frog, common eastern froglet and the endemic Tasmanian froglet.

 

In 1988, research by the Inland Fisheries Commission found no fish in Lake Youl or Lake Baker. Trout are likely in streams below the plateau.

 

There has been some study of the limited range of invertebrate animals in the Park. An undescribed stone fly Austropentura sp. occurs in the park and is restricted to the highland regions of north-east Tasmania. Another undescribed stone fly Cardioperla n. sp. is considered rare.

 

Aboriginal History
The Ben Lomond National Park lies within the territory of the Ben Lomond tribe, which occupied some 260 square kilometres of terrain around Ben Lomond. It is estimated that the Ben Lomond tribe comprised some three of four bands with an estimated total population of between 150 to 200 people.

 

A notable member of the Ben Lomond tribe was Walter George Arthur, son of Rolepa, a leading man of the tribe. Walter Arthur was an activist for the rights of Aboriginal people at Wybalenna on Flinders Island. At one time, with seven others, he petitioned Queen Victoria noting that they were free people who had defended themselves before giving up their country and making an agreement with Governor Arthur.

 

European Exploration, Recreation and Skifield Development
Ben Lomond was named after the Scottish mountain of the same name by Colonel Patterson, the founder, in 1804, of the first settlement in northern Tasmania. Although a fair amount of rural development took place in the surrounding country side, the mountain itself remained comparatively unknown till the summer of 1805-6, when Colonel Legge explored the plateau five times, and assessed the heights of the principal crags. He regarded the Ben Lomond Plateau as "the most remarkable physiographical feature in the State", and accordingly bestowed historically significant names for many of the features of the plateau - names which mainly relate to the exploration of the Nile River in Africa, governors, officials and surveyors in Tasmania, and the Colonel's fellow explorers in the survey.

 

After its formation in 1929, the Northern Tasmanian Alpine Club pioneered trips to the mountain. Club members began improving a track, formerly used by landowners, trappers and others, which ran from the Upper Blessington road through Satan's Gully to Carr Villa.

 

In the autumn of 1932, a chalet was built at Carr Villa, and in the following summer members began construction of a road from Upper Blessington to Carr Villa, which was finally completed in 1953.

 

In 1950 a Parlimentary Standing Committee recommended that Ben Lomond should be developed as a ski resort. In 1955 the Australian National Championships were held on the mountain and Ben Bullen, the last of the lodges in the summit area was built to accommodate competitors. In 1963 the road was extended to the top of the plateau via the steep "Jacobs Ladder".

 

There have been considerable subsequent developments in the park. New ski lifts, visitor facilities including a public shelter, a licenced inn and accommodation, sewerage system, road and access improvements. and other developments have been undertaken. The Ben Lomond Skifield Management Authority was established in 1995 to manage the Skifield Development Area.

Ben Lomond National Park
via Prospect Office
Prospect Office
PO Box 46
Kings Meadows TAS 7249
Phone:03 6336 5312
Fax:(03) 6344 8109

 

Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania

 

 

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