FRENCHMANS CAP is a truly awesome peak in south western Tasmania. It is a massive 1443 metres high, so it towers over the area. It has a face of bare rock, which shines brightly when the sun hits in from certain angles. This makes it a truly awesome sight. It can be seen from 20 kilometres away and reaching it is a must do for intrepid bush walkers. However, there are many other beautiful easy to access places in this area and other places from where the unfit can see the mighty Frenchmans Cap. These sights are in the Franklin - Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, which is a very beautiful and rugged wilderness area. There are no facilities or accommodation in this area, the nearest are at Derwent Bridge.
The Frenchmans Cap is accessed from a track off the A10 Lyell Highway from a point about 30 km west of Derwent Bridge. Since Frenchmans Cap is out in the wilderness, the orientation references will be given from the nearest settlement, Derwent Bridge.
TOURIST information is at the entrance to the LAKE St CLAIR VISITOR CENTRE. The telephone number is (03) 6289 1172 or the Internet contact is www.parks.tas.gov.au/natparks/stclair
SIGHT: Frenchmans Cap is a rare, half dome, shape peak, which makes it look like a cap from some angles. It is made of quartzite, which gives it a light color, even when it is not covered with snow. When snow covered, it is a truly brilliant site. In summer, it has long been a popular target for experienced walkers.
Walking all the way to the Cap is a 4 day return trip covering 46 kilometres of difficult terrain. This is suitable only for experienced walkers, but a 4 kilometre walk will get you to a good vista point of the Frenchmans Cap from the Franklin Hills. A much easier place to see the Frenchmans Cap is from the Donaghys Lookout, which is near the road. The attractions in this area include the;
FRENCHMANS CAP is accessed from a trail leading south from the A10 Lyell Highway at a point about 30 kilometres west of Derwent Bridge. You only need to walk the first 4 kilometres to the Franklin Hills to see the Cap. A further 2 kilometres takes you to the beautiful Loddon River. This makes a good turn around point. For information telephone (03) 6471 2511 The trail goes on to the Cap, but this is for experienced 20/20 walkers only.
LAKE WHITHAM SPUR CIRCUIT is an off trail option for those visiting the Frenchmans Cap. To access it, you must diverge south from near Lake Vera to follow the spur line back to the main trail. You get to see magnificent views of a number of glacial lakes. This route traverses very steep and exposed terrain, so it is strictly for experienced walkers.
DONAGHYS HILL Lookout is the easiest way to see the Frenchmans Cap. It is just off the A10 Lyell Highway and is only 3 km west of the start of the Frenchmans Cap Trail described above. For information telephone (03) 6289 1172 From the Donaghys Lookout there is the best view of the Frenchman's Cap that a non walker is ever going to see.
FRANKLIN RIVER Nature Trail will take you on an easy walk through a lovely piece of forest. For information telephone (03) 6289 1172 It is located only about 3 kilometres east of the Frenchmans Cap Trail.
The DONAGHYS HILL Lookout is located about 8 kilometres west of the Frenchmans Cap Trail on the A10 Lyell Highway.
The FRANKLIN RIVER Nature Trail is located about 5 kilometres east of the Frenchmans Cap Trail on the A10.
- FRENCHMANS CAP
- Lake Whitham
- Donaghys Hill
1/ The Frenchmans Cap is a large mountain in central western Tasmania. This photo shows the beautiful vista of the well named Enchanted Valley. It was taken from the lookout on the A10 Lyell Highway on the way to the Frenchmans Cap trail. It shows you how mysterious the area really is.
2/ This shows the Mount King William Saddle covered by cloud. Low clouds are fairly common in the area around the Frenchmans Cap.
3/ This photo shows the same King William Saddle later on the same day, when it was cloud free.
4/ The closest mountain is the King William Saddle. From here you can get a good view of the Frenchmans Cap.
5/ From one point on the A10 Lyell Highway, you can see this distant view of the Frenchmans Cap on the left.
6/ The Frenchmans Cap is located in the Franklin Gordon National Park. It is a difficult 4 day walk to the Cap.
7/ The Frenchmans Cap trail begins by crossing the swift flowing Franklin River.
8/ This photo shows the Franklin River in high summer.
9/ The long trail to the Frenchmans Cap is through dense forest. Often the trail becomes muddy.
10/ The Frenchmans Cap Trail also passes through some button grass meadows, where you see good views of the surrounding mountains.
11/ This photo shows Mount Alma. It was taken from near the top of Mount Mullen.
12/ This is a telephoto view of the Frenchmans Cap taken from Mount Mullen. It was over 17 kilometres away.
13/ This photo shows the Frenchmans Cap from about 10 kilometres away. Note the strange ethereal atmosphere of the nearby mountains.
14/ This photo shows another view from even closer to the Frenchmans Cap.
1/ This gallery shows a trip that our club made to Lake Whitham in the summer of 2013. They journeyed most of the way to the Frenchmans Cap, then diverged south on the spur line of Mt Agamemnon and Mt Philps to view Lake Whitham and other lakes. Their journey took three days. This gallery should give you some idea both of the challenges and the rewards of visiting the remote wilderness of Tasmania. The image above shows the bridge across the Franklin River, which was the first obstacle, they crossed.
2/ The next obstacle they crossed was the Franklin Hills. From here you get your first view of the mighty Frenchmans Cap. It is a half domed shaped peak that rises 600 metres above the surrounding terrain. The exposed white quartzite gives the Cap a strange white glow that makes it a truly magnificent sight.
3/ In the next stage of their journey they traversed the Loddon Plains. These are referred to as the "sodden Loddon", as rain frequently turns the track into mud. This section has recently been upgraded, but there is still plenty of mud.
4/ They journeyed south east along the Frenchmans Cap Trail. This image looks back to the north at Mt Mullens, which was one of the mountains they passed beneath. They then crossed the Loddon River to reach Lake Vera, where they camped. There is an emergency shelter at Lake Vera and there is another emergency hut north of the Cap at Lake Tahune.
5/ The next morning they left the Frenchmans Cap Trail and diverged south to follow the spur line of Mt Agamemnon and Mt Philps. This image shows the rugged terrain that they were climbing. It looks back to the east at Mt Mullens.
6/ This image looks back to the north east at Lake Vera. I had to enhance the original image, as much of it was in a deep shadow. The emergency shelter is at the top right of the lake. The trail to the Frenchmans Cap follows the further shore line.
7/ This image looks south towards Mt Agamemnon, which was the highest point that they had to reach. It shows the steep terrain that they had to climb to reach the spur line. There was no trail to follow, but, fortunately, much of the spur line was devoid of vegetation.
8/ This image shows the spur line that they had just traversed. You can see how the vegetation cover is either sparse or non existent. This makes walking easier, but the negative side is that you are exposed to freezing winds.
9/ This view looks south towards the summit of Mt Agamemnon, which is on the distant left of this image. In the valley ahead was Lake Marilyn. Unfortunately, the cloud that you can see in the distance soon engulfed us and severely limited our vision.
10/ This image shows our group looking down at Lake Marilyn, unfortunately, it was now totally obscured by cloud.
11/ Our group now passed Mt Agamemnon and trekked south to Lake Whitham. The cloud now lifted to reveal this lovely, glacial lake. The spur line now headed to the west.
12/ The cloud now returned to create these ethereal views of the distant peaks.
13/ This image shows the types of vegetation that managed to grow on the less exposed sides of the peaks. This vegetation must be able to survive howling winds, heavy rain, snow and sleet.
14/ This image shows a close up of one of the distant rock column.
15/ This image shows two of our group walking along the spur line. We were now heading west. The closer walker has draped his rain coat over his pack. The cold wind and the rain make this a very dangerous place to linger in.
16/ This image was taken only minutes after the image above. It shows how rapidly the clouds can come and go. Fortunately, our group was following a spur line and they had precise GPS coordinates to navigate by.
17/ At this point the spur line turns north towards Mt Philps. They could now look south towards the distant lakes Magdalen and Millicent.
18/ This image looks east along the spur line that they were following. You can see how sparse is the vegetation cover on the spur. Spur lines are also relatively easy to follow as you have obvious drops to your left and right.
19/ This image show the leader pointing north along the spur line towards our next objective. Beyond this visible peak was Mt Philps. The distant rock face you can see is about one kilometer away. Beyond Mt Philps the group would rejoin the trail to the Frenchmans Cap.
20/ This image was taken on the way up Mt Philps. It looks towards the west towards lakes Gertrude and Cecily. These lakes were 600 metres below this vantage point.
21/ This image shows the spur line they were following north towards Mt Philps. It is the highest peak on the right. To give you some perspective as to the size of the rocks and the cliffs, you should note that the trees you can see here are about ten metres high.
22/ One of the surprises of the journey was that at this point, when they looked back towards the south, they could still see Lake Whitham.
23/ This image looks towards the west through the terrain that we were traversing.
24/ The final approach to Mt Philps is over a barren, alpine plateau. The strong winds blasting over the summit prevent any trees from growing here.
25/ This image looks towards the summit of Mt Philps. The desolation is caused by the freezing winds.
26/ This image shows the vast panoramic view that one enjoys from the summit of Mt Philps. It looks towards the north west. One of our more intrepid walkers climbed the rock pillar to the right.
27/ This image shows our leader enjoying the awesome view from the pillar at Mt Philps.
28/ The spur line now diverged towards the north east and we again approached Lake Marilyn, which we had failed to see earlier in the day.
29/ This image looks down from the spur line at the beginnings of a mountain stream.
30/ Our journey along the spur line was relatively short in length, but the ruggedness of the terrain made it a strenuous, all day journey. This view was taken looking towards the west, as the sun was setting.
31/ This view looks south down at Lake Marilyn. The original image was in deep shadow, so I had to enhance it to show you the details. Earlier in the day they had journey along the cliff line to the left, but they had failed to see anything due to the cloud. They now camped in a protected area north east of Lake Marilyn.
32/ Mike got up early to capture these magnificent views. The rugged landscape was now lit by the rising sun. This view looks west towards the mighty Frenchmans Cap, which was only six kilometres away.
33/ This view shows the god like view that you get as the sun rises. The orange colour and low lying clouds are typical for this part of Tasmania.
34/ As the sun rises the colours change dramatically. This view was taken as they left the spur line and approached the Frenchmans Cap Trail.
35/ They now had a long journey back to their bus. Fortunately, it was now all on the Frenchmans Cap Trail. I took this photo as the Frenchmans Cap receded into the distance.
36/ This image shows an interesting rocky outcrop east of the Loddon River.
37/ This was the last photo Mike took before they reached the Loddon Plains. It looks back at the rugged terrain near the Frenchmans Cap.
1/ This is a photo of the King William Range. It was taken from a field just off the A10 Lyell Highway west of Derwent Bridge. There are a series of lookouts on this road and all are well worth a stop.
2/ This photo shows part of the Franklin Hills. It was taken from a field just off the A10 Lyell Highway. Beyond these hills are some of the most spectacular peaks in Central Tasmania.
3/ This photo shows a break in the Franklin Hills. It was taken from a field just off the A10 Lyell Highway. Beyond the Hills is the spectacular sight of the Frenchmans Cap.
4/ This is part of the Donaghys Hill Lookout walk. It is graded at level 2 and the return time is 40 minutes. The spectacular views from the lookout are shown below.
5/ This is the awesome view across the Franklin River Valley. The very high peak on the right is the famous Frenchmans Cap, shown in close up below.
6/ This is a telephoto view of the Frenchmans Cap. It was taken from 17 kilometres away at Donaghys Hill. The Frenchmans Cap is a rare half dome shaped peak that glows in the sunlight. It is a massive 1440 metres high.
7/ This is the view to the north of the Donaghys Hill Lookout. The valley is covered with button grass.
8/ This is a view to the North East of Donaghys Hill. It shows Mount Alma, which is 890 metres high. Peeping over the top of it is Mount Gell.
9/ This photo looks towards the north and shows Goulds Sugarloaf and to the left Pyramid Mountain, which is 1260 metres high.