Today was supposed to be a lovely little wander up Mt Mueller, with what had been a forecasted 2-9 degrees and sunny after initial frost. Of course, after having obtained the key from Forestry, the weather forecast progressively deteriorated, to -2 to 3 degrees, snowy, rainy, and windy. Given the exposed nature of the ridge line and some advice from other walkers, a change of plans was in order. So we went to the opposite extreme, chose something close by so as to avoid running into any roads closed due to snow, something short, and something with very little exposure. Brown Mountain in the southeast, just above Runnymede, it was to be. And a brave four of us decided to brave the weather, which ended up 100% better than expected.
A lot of bushwalkers knock some of the easy, short, low southeast peaks like Brown Mountain, and yes, there’s not the same level of challenge, the unknown, and pitting yourself against the elements as there is in some of the harder walks in other more rugged parts of the state, but that’s not so say these kind of mountains don’t have their place. In fact, the last few I’ve been on have been rather enjoyable: great company and conversation, with no urge to rush. They’re short little walks that leave you feeling refreshed but not exhausted.
Anyway, we met up in the city, and drove in one car out past Sorell, heading towards Orford. At Runnymede we turned left down Woodsdale road, and parked the car on the righthand side of the road, maybe 4.5 kms later, opposite a gated road with a sign informing us that there were quarry operations going on and no unauthorised personnel were to enter. So we donned our boots and daypacks, and jumped over the sign, as you do. There was evidence of quarrying in the past, but nothing very recent at all, and we meandered up the road, occasionally just stopping and chatting, almost as if the walking was getting in the way of our talking!
There were two more fences to jump, the second landing us in the reserve and technically off the ‘authorised personnel only’ stuff. From there it was a shortish walk under the southern flank of Brown Mountain and round to the west, where you’re just over 200 metres from the highpoint. There’s a cairn on a chest-high tree stump on the left of the road, and both a cairn and pink tape on the track and a tree nearby on the right of the road. We followed the cairns and tape up the very short walk to the summit and trig marker.
The view on top was better than expected. We could see the weather hanging over Wellington and beyond, and were very grateful we weren’t trudging up Mueller! Instead we enjoyed lunch in the sun, and only decided to move when the clouds threatened to roll in, chilling the air even further. We had more of a hunt around on the way back down for some loggers ruins we’d been told about, but all we succeeded in spotting was what looked like remnants of a wall/boundary/windbreak made out of scree.. it was just a bit too unnatural to be anything else.
As we wandered back down we came across a local on a dirt bike, and had a bit of a friendly chat (nope, no guns were drawn). We were back at the car in 3 hrs and 45 minutes – quite a fair bit more than the expected 2.5 hours, but that might be testimony more to the amount of talking and enjoying we did, than the difficulty or length of the walk! It was 9.7 km, with just under 500m ascent.