If you’re someone who pays attention to small details, the short, easy hike to Moorland Mosaic may be for you. This 2/3 of a kilometer round trip hike in Mount Field National Park won’t produce the area’s grandest vistas, but it will give you a good opportunity to examine an interesting mix of vegetation in an alpine meadow. There is only 20 meters of elevation gain on this boardwalk trail, creating an easy outing that can be stretched by continuing up the trail to Lake Belcher and Lake Benton.
Moorland Mosaic Track starts from the left (south) side of Lake Dobson Road, a dirt road that climbs into Mount Field National Park. The trail ventures up a gradual hillside covered in grasses and low brush. A new boardwalk has been built atop the trail to keep your feet dry across this temperamental terrain. The trail is a two plank-wide walkway running up an open meadow with occasional steps.
If it has rained recently, you will cross wet parts of the meadow where water pools and streams along the trail. The trail actually passes through a drinking water catchment area, so don’t do anything to contaminate the water.
After 1/3 of a mile, you will approach a line of eucalyptus trees and arrive at the Moorland Mosaic. A panel on the left side of the trail points out the pineapple grass, an interesting plant with short bunched-together leaves that mix with alpine coral-fern and the other plants in this area to create the mosaic.
There is a sign for Lake Belcher (two hours away) along the trail that continues beyond Moorland Mosaic. A large panel here titled “a forest near its limit” explains how this sub-alpine eucalyptus forest in an ‘inverted treeline’ created by the area’s particular landscape and weather conditions.
For the short 2/3 of a mile round trip hike to Moorland Mosaic, turn back here, enjoying open views across the low vegetation on the short walk back. Aside from the plants, you may not find much else to appreciate on this short hike. While Moorland Mosaic won’t rank as one of Tasmania’s 60 great short walks, it is plenty easy and should be satisfying for those interested in plants. Dogs and bikes are not allowed on this trail. Mount Field National Park has a vehicle entrance fee, but no permit is required to hike to Moorland Mosaic, so get out and enjoy! For a more in-depth explanation of the area’s plants, check out the large sign at the trailhead, which reads:
As the road to Lake Dobson climbs higher, the increasing number of plants reaches its peak in this area. Here, at an altitude of 1,070 meters, weather conditions and poor drainage have created open moorland surrounded by sub-alpine eucalyptus forest. It may look flat and featureless-but in Wombat Moor’s patchwork quilt, more than 30 different species grow. Many of them are members of the Epacridaceae family of health species that occur in abundance at this altitude.
These plants have to tolerate the extremes of alpine weather conditions – bleak and cold, or hot and dry. In winter, the ground often lies beneath a mantle of snow, and icicles hang from the shrubs – in summer, fires or drought can threaten the fragile plant communities. They’ve adapted to the changing conditions in different, specialized ways. Most have very small leaves, reducing the surface area exposed to the cold. The dense tufted mats and stiff, hairy leaves of pineapple grass (Astelia alpina) protect the plant from cold winds. Creeping tea tree (Leptospermum rupestre) doesn’t mind wet feet – it thrives in these waterlogged acid soils. Pruned by the wind, it hugs the ground for protection. Strawberry pine (Microcachrys tetragona) grows in the ice of boulders, tucked away out of the breeze and warmed by the sun’s heat in the rock.
Directions: From Hobart, take Highway 1 north to Granton and head west on Lyell Highway (A10). After 33 kilometers, turn left onto Gordon River Road (B61). Take this road for 23 kilometers and turn right onto Lake Dobson Road. After 500 meters, pass the Mount Field National Park Visitor Center by Russell Falls. The road will become unpaved as you proceed another 13 kilometers to Moorland Mosaic. The start of the trail is on the left side of the road alongside a blue sign that lists Moorland Mosaic as a 15-minute return and Lakes Belton and Belcher as a 5-hour return.
Trailhead address: Lake Dobson Road, Mount Field National Park, Mount Field, TAS 7140, Australia
Trailhead coordinates: -42.682995, 146.611678 (42° 40′ 58.78″S 146° 36′ 42.04″E)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding Australian trails, campgrounds, and lodging.
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