It began over a cuppa. “You should come with us,” said Cody taking a sip from his tea cup. “Okay,” I replied, wondering what I’d just said yes to. With Cody and Lou from Wild Pedder, it’s best just to say yes straight away because it’s guaranteed to be wildly good fun. And the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest Pilgrimage I’d just been told about, seemed a terribly good cause.
Before my cuppa was over, I’d committed to a 40 kilometre trek over kunnayi/Mt Wellington from Hobart to the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival to raise dollars and awareness for the Hobart Women’s Shelter and Bethlehem House crisis and emergency accommodation in Hobart. I was well aware too many people have it hard in winter, so spending a night in icy conditions on the side of a mountain seemed a fitting way to the raise profile of their plight.
We departed from Wild Pedder HQ, which is almost next door to Bethlehem House. Twelve of us (looking rather like we were lost in the city) took to the CBD streets with walking poles and backpacks – the mountain as our evening destination.
We wandered past the mighty Cascade Brewery and in little time were enveloped by the wilderness on our city doorstep. Some 17 kilometres and a few pretty waterfalls later we were setting up camp at The Springs. By a crackling fire in the Spring’s stone hut we shared dinner before settling in for a freezing night in our little cocoons.
Few slept well and 5am came round abruptly as we crawled out with head torches ready for the 23 kilometres ahead. Many hands made light work when Andy and Ciara (of impending venture Walks on Wellington) busied themselves helping out with pack up.
We slipped on spikes and I must admit walking in snow, in pitch black darkness en route to the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival I found a touch exciting. I think each of us had every layer we could muster on – I had a thermal, a jumper, a polar fleece, a jacket, another jacket, two pairs of gloves and was looking decidedly like a Michelin woman but spirits were high. The banter between representatives of Bethlehem house, Parks, the midwinter festival and new friends remained jovial for the entire trip despite weary legs.
At the morning tea stop, coffee was served the Wild Pedder way. Crouched precariously on a rock in the middle of a stream, hot drink orders were taken. I was equally taken by the pure waters thundering past us and over the 40 metre drop that is Wellington Falls. Many kilometres stood between us and the festival but we soldiered on happily and ate lunch near Norris/Thurstons Hut on the shoulder of Mount Montague where we were able to capture our first glimpse of Willie Smith’s Apple Shed.
It was a downhill pursuit from here, traversing private land and entering the main street of Mountain River. This is where locals pulled open their front doors, much to our surprise and delight. We had our photo snapped, we had dollars handed to our cause and friendly waves from a tractor. Smiles spread across rosy winter faces. It was all we needed to continue to the finish line. There at the Midwinter Feast we were welcomed into much merriment, toasty fire pots, warm cider, hearty food and the lighting of Willie, aka Burning Man.
Never have I walked a distance driven by such a worthy cause and with such enthusiasm and cheery comrades. If you have a moment head to the My Cause page that will remain open about 2 more weeks for donations.
Other thank yous extend to: Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival Hill Street Grocer Drive Car Hire Tasmanian Walking Company Wild Island Adventure HireHobart & Beyond Hype tv Osborne Images FIND YOUR FEET Walk on Wellington ABC Hobart Triple M Hobart
Images and words: Alice Hansen (unless otherwise captioned on images)
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