Mt Manson Circuit
2 December 2018
The direct approach to Mt Manson (1859m) is by driving up the Craigieburn skifield road to the locked gate at about 950m, and making the final approach straight up the steep face to the west. But our moderate hard version was the complete works.
Starting at 700m from SH73 around the corner from the Flock Hill gate, it was a full clockwise circumnavigation of Manson Creek. Our intended route was up Coal Pit Spur to point 1249m, then up a long, gentle slope in attractive bush to 1443m on the southern spur of Mt Manson, and then up to the summit. To descend, we were going to follow the ridge above the head of Manson Creek to point 1790m with views straight down into Lake Pearson. Continue to 1660m and 1550m still on mostly easier slopes, then down to the scrub but you can avoid problems by walking west on the powerline track, to a more open face down to the road.
Despite doubts about the start time and the intended route, five of us left Church Corner at 7.00am on a forecast that threatened a change mid-afternoon. This time, we were able to access Coal Pit Spur via the MTB track, although it still took me a bit of casting about to get on to the face that would take us up to 1249m. Once above the bush at 1443m, we stopped for lunch, after which Dan decided he was happy to keep going. No; leave out the happy! So upward we continued, reaching the top at 2.05pm from where, although it was getting cloudier, the views were still great.
Dan looking down at Lake Pearson
Circling around to the east, we dropped to the saddle at the head of Manson Creek and climbed to the ridge again by 3.30pm, just as the weather closed in and steady rain started. Above Lake Pearson, we could see some of our route, but not as we had hoped for. Despite the conditions, Alicia was delighted to find a rare Penwiper plant (Notothlaspi sp.). She had been doing species identification work on the Coast and the Penwiper was high on her wish list for this area.
The final descent was steep, but straightforward until the bottom. Much of the area had changed since my previous trip. The powerline had been rebuilt and the track on the old one was substantially overgrown. But we battled along it anyway, almost despairing before coming to a creek feeding a new water tank which had had an access track bulldozed in from the roadside paddocks to get it there. Hooray! Eleven hours, when we had expected about eight. But we were five happy people anyway. Glad to have been around the circuit and even happier to be down.
We were: Alicia Mason, Bill Hotter, Merv Meredith (leader), Dan Pryce and Peter Umbers.