Ben Lomond (Tasmania)
Ben Lomond Summit Run
|Elevation||1,572 m (5,157 ft)|
Ben Lomond is a mountain in the north of Tasmania composed of a central massif, with an extensive plateau above 1200m, and high outlier peaks projecting from the mountain proper. The highest feature on the plateau is the unimposing summit of Legges Tor, at 1572m, on the northern aspect of the plateau. The southern end of the plateau is dominated by Stacks Bluff, 1527m, which is an imposing feature that drops away to a cliffline 600m above the surrounding foothills. The prominent outlier peaks of Ragged Jack (1369m), Mensa Moor (1358m) and Tower Hill (1122m) surround the plateau.
Its accessibility from Launceston, together with the existence of a ski village on the plateau make Ben Lomond an all year round favourite for tourists and hikers. Access to the village and summit can be made via several walking tracks or via a zig-zag road known as "Jacobs Ladder".
- 1 Nomenclature
- 2 Natural history of the mountain
- 3 History
- 4 Modern History of Ben Lomond
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) name for Ben Lomond was recorded as turbuna, toorbeener or toorerpunner. The meaning of this name is uncertain, although it has been described, perhaps apocryphally, as meaning Rain Tail. This may have an element of truth as the surviving Eastern Tasmanian lexicon records the words 'rain' as toorar and 'tail' as bunner/punner. The lake on the southern aspect of the plateau, now known as Lake Youl, was known to the Aborigines as meenamatta, a name that survives in the Menamatta Tarns on the north-western aspect of the plateau, the prefix Mena/miena being the aboriginal word for lake or lagoon. The region to the south of Ben Lomond's southern aspect encompassing the Fingal Valley was recorded as Troune (meaning Ben Lomond Nation country) Tritterer or Loonder. The name Tudema Tura was recorded for the country around the south to western aspect of Ben Lomond. The South Esk River was known as Mangana Lienta (lienta=river)
The modern name is taken from the eponymous Scottish mountain and was given by Colonel Paterson, who founded the first settlement in northern Tasmania in 1804. There is no isolated peak named Ben Lomond but instead the name may refer to the plateau, massif, region or National Park in which it is situated. In colonial times Ben Lomond referred to both the mountain proper and the surrounding countryside of the South Esk valleys. Features on the mountain have accreted names over the last two centuries as the region has opened up to surveyors and official parties. The prominent peaks were named early by settlers and apparently based on appearance or location, with Stacks Bluff (originally 'the Butts', then 'the Stacks'), Ossians Throne (originally 'The Knuckle') and Ragged Jack (originally Ragged Mountain) appearing in correspondence in the 1800s. Features on the plateau were predominately named after surveyors (Giblin Fells), Government Administrators (Twelvetrees Moor), or contemporary explorers (Grant Cirque). Last to be named is Mensa Moor, which was approved by the state Nomenclature Board in the 1990s
Natural history of the mountain
The basement rocks comprise slates, siltstones, greywackes and quartzite. These were intruded by granite and, later, by dolerite during the Jurassic Period. Dolerite predominates on the plateau. The only exception is a highly localised area under Coalmine Crag and around the flanks of the Ben Lomond Plateau. This exposure includes a narrow coal sequence, which was once worked commercially. During the Pleistocene Ice Age, a small ice-cap existed on Ben Lomond, which was the only plateau in the north-east to be glaciated. The effects of these glaciers account for much of the contrast between the alpine scenery of Ben Lomond and that of the other mountains in the north-east. The most notable relict periglacial depositional features are the blockfields, which cover over a quarter of the Ben Lomond plateau. Much of the plateau is devoid of soils. Organic soils (peats), including deep peats, are most extensively developed on the western side of Rodway Valley. Mineral soils are also found, particularly in the better drained sites.
Ben Lomond National Park protects a representative cross-section of Tasmania's north-east alpine plant communities. Although much of the plateau is stony with areas of low and often stunted forms of vegetation, the remainder of the mountain contains a wide variety of habitats ranging from alpine moorland to dense forest. A total of 222 plant species have been recorded on the Ben Lomond plateau, represented by 152 dicotyledons, 62 monocotyledons, 1 gymnosperm and 7 fern and fern ally families. The five most common families (Asteraceae, Poaceae, Epacridaceae, Cyperaceae and Proteaceae) account for about half the total number of species recorded. Most families, however, are only represented by one or two species. Some introduced plants have naturalised on the plateau from introduced grasses, clovers and straw used to stabilise soil and revegetate areas affected by slope grooming, road works and other site disturbances. The most common native species recorded on the plateau are the herbs Poa gunnii (tussock grass) and Gentianella diemensis, the shrubs, Richea scoparia, Orites acicularis and Pentachondra pumila, Baeckea gunniana and Epacris serpyllifolia. Cushion plants are abundant throughout the plateau. One species, the rock cushion plant Chionohebe ciliolata, is known only from a small localised area within the Park. Other rare and threatened species include the rare endemic Oreomyrrhis sessiliflora, and the endangered Colobanthus curtisiae.
Of the larger mammals, Bennett's wallabies and wombats are common, and are regularly seen in the ski village during summer and winter, even under blizzard conditions. Pademelons are abundant in the wet gullies and areas with thick undergrowth. Forester kangaroos have been recorded along the south-west edge of the park. Eastern quolls inhabit the ski village during winter, and are sometimes sighted during daylight hours. Dusky antechinus occasionally visit lodges. The echidna has been recorded and the platypus has been sighted in the Upper Ford River Various other species, including the long-nosed potoroo, Tasmanian bettong, brushtail possum, ringtail possum, sugar glider, native rodents such as the velvet-furred rat and the long-tailed mouse, and six species of bat have all been recorded in the park. Among the birds, no systematic study has been made. Wedge-tailed eagles are regularly reported, as is the noisy yellow-tailed black cockatoo. Among the endemic species recorded are the green rosella, scrubtit, brown thornbill, yellow wattlebird, yellow-throated honeyeater, black-headed honeyeater, strong-billed honeyeater and the black currawong. Little is known of the reptiles from Ben Lomond. Of particular interest is the endemic northern snow skink Niveoscincus greeni which is an alpine species restricted to several other mountain top areas in the State. Amphibians recorded from Ben Lomond include the brown tree frog, common eastern froglet and the endemic Tasmanian froglet.
Aboriginal land-owners of Ben Lomond
The original inhabitants of the area were the people of the Ben Lomond Nation, which consisted of at least three clans totalling 150–200 people. They occupied the 260 km2 (100 sq mi) of country surrounding the 182 km2 (70 sq mi) Ben Lomond plateau. Three clan names are known but their locations are somewhat conjectural - the clans were recorded as Plangermaireener, Plindermairhemener and Tonenerweenerlarmenne. The Plangermaireener clan is recorded as variously inhabiting the south-east aspect of the Ben Lomond region and also has been associated with the coastal tribes to the south-east. Plangermaireener is sometimes used as a blanket term for the Ben Lomond Nation which reflects the suffix 'mairener', recorded as meaning 'people' or 'tribe'. The Plindermairhemener are recorded in association with the south and south-western aspects of the region and the location of the Tonenerweenerlarmenne is uncertain but were probably centred in the remaining Ben Lomond Nation territory from White Hills to the headwaters of the North and South-Esk rivers and the upper South-Esk Valley. This notwithstanding, the Palawa were a nomadic people and likely occupied these lands seasonally.
The clans of the Ben Lomond Nation were migratory and the Aborigines hunted along the valleys of the South Esk and North Esk rivers, their tributaries and the highlands to the northeast; as well as making forays to the plateau in summer. There are records of aboriginal huts or dwellings around the foothills of Stacks Bluff and around the headwaters of the South Esk River near modern day Mathinna. On the plateau there is evidence of artifacts around Lake Youl that suggests regular occupation of this site by aborigines after the last ice age.
The clans of the Ben Lomond Nation were displaced in the early 1800s by extensive colonial occupation up the South Esk river and its tributaries. This particularly manifested along the mountain's western and northern boundaries, which lay closest to the settled areas of Launceston and Norfolk Plains (now Longford). The presence of farms and stockmen interrupted the migratory tribal life of the Aborigines and, although initial relations were peaceable, displacement was accelerated by continuing intrusion into country, abduction of aboriginal women and violent conflict with both settlers and with rival tribes. In particular, women became scarce due to the abduction by sealers of women in coastal areas, consequently leading to internecine raids for women across the interior. Children, also, were a target for abduction by settlers. For example, the prominent settler James Cox, at Clarendon on the Nile River, raised the Aboriginal William 'Black Bill' Ponsonby from a child The aboriginal people were forced into an ever more marginal existence and; with numbers depleted by disease, murder and abduction, were forced into sustained conflict with occupying settlers. These remnants of the Ben Lomond nation allied with members of the North Midland nation in order to conduct guerilla style raids on remote stock huts and farms along the South Esk into the 1820s and 1830s during the Black War, but by October 1830 they had been reduced to just 10 individuals.
Later in the Black War, the colonial government authorised the employment of Roving Parties (essentially armed bounty hunters) to conciliate the remaining free aboriginal tribesmen. In September 1829, John Batman, with the assistance of two mainland aboriginal men he had brought to Tasmania, and the Tasmanian Aborigine 'Black Bill' Ponsonby, led an attack on an Aboriginal family group together numbering 60–70 men, women and children in the mountain's south east foothills. Waiting until 11pm that night before attacking - killing an estimated 15 people. The next morning, he left the place for his farm, with two badly wounded Tasmanian men, a woman and her two-year-old boy, all of whom he captured. He shot the two wounded when he found that they could not walk back to his homestead. The captured woman, named Luggenemenener, was later sent to Campbell Town gaol and separated from her two-year-old son, Rolepana, "...whom she had faced death to protect."
In late 1830, as the infamous 'Black Line' military operation was being disbanded elsewhere in Tasmania, George Augustus Robinson spent a week in north-east Tasmania, searching without success, for the Ben Lomond people. In December, 1830, with 33 Tasmanian Aborigines having been removed to nearby Swan Island, Robinson sent a party to look for the Ben Lomond people, again unsuccessfully.
The fate of the Ben Lomond people
After the failure of the 'Black Line' in 1830, Colonial Governor George Arthur announced on 14 March 1831 his new policy of the removal of Aborigines from Tasmania. By then, 34 Tasmanian Aborigines were interned on Swan Island. In August, 1831, Robinson "....gave an unequivocal commitment that if hostilities ceased, Aborigines would be protected and have their essential needs met by the government while being able to live and hunt within their own districts."
This was somewhat deceitful and conflicted with Governor Arthur's aims for the Aboriginal people. These concessions, combined with the promised return of their women from the sealers, were the terms under which the chief Mannalargenna joined Robinson's embassy. Mannalargenna was either a Plangermaireener or Oyster Bay Chief (or perhaps a leader of a confederation of the two Nations) - an Aboriginal leader who had organised guerrilla attacks against British forces in Tasmania during the Black War. Mannarlargenna has been praised for attempting to preserve the remnants of his people with his bargain or treaty with Arthur and Robinson. It would ultimately lead to the end of hostilities with the Aboriginal people, although at the expense of exile, as the remnant aboriginal people were moved en masse to Wybalenna ('Black Man's Houses' in the Ben Lomond Nation language) on Flinder's island - where Mannarlargenna died of pneumonia.
Walter George Arthur was born about 1820; the son of Rolepana, a Ben Lomond Nation elder. He became the first Australian Aboriginal activist when he petitioned Queen Victoria in 1846 from Wybalenna, in protest at the treatment of his people. In 1858, he and his wife applied for land in the Huon Valley near Hobart under the Waste Land Act. but soon after, in May 1861, he drowned in a boating accident on the Derwent River as he and another Tasmanian Aborigine, Jack Allen, were returning to Oyster Cove from work on a whaling ship.
The Ben Lomond Nation ceased to exist as a political and cultural entity after the occupation of their country and the subsequent murder, abduction or exile of its people. When the last people of that nation died at Oyster Cove on the Derwent much of the rich history that had persisted for generations died with them. The Palawa did not die out- descendants of the 'tyreelore', Palawa women taken as wives by sealers in Bass Strait, continued to live in a prosperous community on Flinders and Cape Barren Islands. Many of these descendants have cultural and genetic lineage from the Ben Lomond Nation and with the chief Mannarlargenna, in particular.
Modern History of Ben Lomond
Exploration in Colonial Times
The first European to ascend the mountain was likely to have been John Batman, who is recorded to have crossed the plateau in his forays against the Ben Lomond Nation.
The artist John Glover ascended the mountain with John Batman in the 1833 accompanied by the surveyor John Wedge and Batman's mainland aboriginal servants. Glover made sketches that clearly show the bluffs on the south-eastern escarpment, views of Lake Youl and the view of Tranquil Tarn from the eastern face. Although no paintings of the ascent have survived there was at least one painting exhibited in 1835 that portrayed the summit of Ben Lomond.
The first scientific visit to the Ben Lomond plateau was made by the Polish explorer Paul Edmond de Strzelecki on 28 November 1841 and he measured the height of the mountain (incorrectly) by barometry as 5002 feet. In 1852; after the site was surveyed by James Sprent(Government Surveyor), a Trigonometric Point was constructed on Stacks Bluff (the southernmost extremity of Ben Lomond) using convict labour .
Alluvial Gold had been found to the east of Ben Lomond at Tower Hill, Mathinna and Mangana and was mined from 1855 until the 1940s. At its peak Mathinna had a population of 2000 but this dwindled after mining ceased. Tin and tungsten were the other minerals to be obtained in the southern foothills of Ben Lomond and the townships of Rossarden and Storys Creek arose from the 1920s to 1957 around these mines. Coal had been found on, and around, Ben Lomond and the Stanhope Mine, situated on Buffalo Brook about half way between Stacks Bluff and Avoca, was the principal mine. There was a mine on the plateau, at Coalmine Crag, from which some coal has been extracted for local use. Mining interests existed on the north-west of the mountain, around the island peak of Ragged Jack, but they proved to be economically unviable.
Loch Leven trout fry were released into Lake Youl in 1905 in an attempt to establish recreational fishing on the mountain. Recent survey of fauna on the mountain shows no evidence of fish in Lake Youl.
Recreational Walking tracks onto the mountain
Recreational walking on and around the plateau was established from at least the mid 1830s but it was not until the 1880s, when the mines had brought large numbers into the area, that walking on the plateau became popular. At this time the principal track to the plateau lay across the Ben Lomond Marshes ascending the western side of Stacks Bluff. This was the track from Avoca, up Castle Cary Rivulet to the Ben Lomond Marshes, to the plateau on the western side of Stacks Bluff along the headwaters of the Ben Lomond Rivulet. A track from Mangana led up the eastern escarpment and was used later for the survey of the mountain. Another steep track existed from Storys Creek which is still used to ascend via Tranquil Tarn to the summit of Stack's Bluff. The western face of Ben Lomond could be approached from English Town and this track took a course round the northern slopes of Ragged Jack.
Excursions in the late 1880s became popular enough for a landowner to build a two-storey hotel with a store, bakehouse and stables at the northern end of the Ben Lomond Marshes for the use of excursionists and miners. This was the 'Ben Lomond Hotel', built by J.F. Rigney of "Bona Vista", near Fingal - but by 1908 the hotel had been abandoned and fallen into disrepair.
Today, formed tracks exist that access the plateau from the northern, northeastern and south-eastern aspects of the massif. The northern access track is from the Scout hut at Carr Villa, in the northern foothills, to the summit (following the snow pole line of the old ski track) and thence to the ski village. The island peak Ragged Jack has established walking and climbing routes that are accessed via the north west foothills. The southern access is from Storys Creek, past Tranquil Tarn, to the northern slopes of Stacks Bluff. A track leads up to the summit cairn of Stacks Bluff, which affords extensive views of the entire eastern half of Tasmania. The plateau is relatively open walking but no other marked tracks exist, although guide books describe access to various features on the plateau.
Surveying the mountain
A Full survey of Ben Lomond was conducted from September 1905 to 1912 by Colonel W.V. Legge and, later, Lyndhurst Giblin took over the survey. The surveyors climbed to the plateau from Mangana but on some of the later visits they ascended via Avoca and the Ben Lomond Marshes. The nomenclature of features on the mountain were established at this time and were named after members of the survey party and famous explorers of the period. Stacks Bluff had already been named (after the rock formations on the southern extremity of the bluff - the 'Stacks') but the true summit of the mountain was named after the surveyor, Legge.
The Northern Tasmanian Alpine Club formed in 1929 and pioneered trips to the mountain and improved the access track. In July 1929 Fred Smithies, a pioneer of skiing on Ben Lomond, accompanied the Tasmanian government's Tourism Director on a field trip to the plateau with the aim of establishing the feasibility of a skifield. Their route was by way of English Town, Ragged Jack and the headwaters of River O'Plain Creek. This route had the disadvantage that it involved an extended walk to get on to the plateau but was less steep than the alternative access from Blessington. The Northern route was subsequently selected after a suitable route was found through the help of a local farmer, beginning from the Upper Blessington road at Wattle Corner.
In 1932, a chalet was built at Carr Villa, and construction of a road from Upper Blessington to Carr Villa began soon after. It was finally completed in 1953.
In 1950 a Parliamentary Standing Committee recommended that Ben Lomond be developed as a ski resort. The Australian National Championships were held at the site in 1955. In 1963 the access road was extended to the top of the plateau via the steep and scenic "Jacobs Ladder". Subsequent developments have included new ski lifts, visitor facilities, a licenced inn and accommodation, sewerage system, and improved access. The Ben Lomond Skifield Management Authority was formed in 1995 to manage the Skifield Development Area.
Today, Tasmania's premier Alpine skiing operations are located at Ben Lomond, 60 km from Launceston. Located in the Ben Lomond National Park, the village is at 1460m and the top elevation is 1570m. A number of club lodges provide accommodation and the mountain has fine views which stretch to the ocean. In 2010, the Department of Parks and Wildlife released a plan for the Ben Lomond ski area recommending snow making machines, the enhancement of snow play areas and the development of a possible snow board park.
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- Ben Lomond National Park – comprehensive information on the Mountain and National Park.
- ski.com.au snow report – daily snow report for skiers.
- Directory of all lifts to have operated at Ben Lomond