An interesting Tableland tour– 15-16 October 2016balloon hut

One carload of five trampers visited the beautiful Tableland for a weekend trip. From Flora carpark it was a quick hop over Flora Saddle to the historic Flora Hut. It is certainly worth a good viewing after being renovated recently by Nelson TC. We tramped further along the wide Flora Track and stopped at Upper Gridiron Hut after a little steep climb up from the main track to under a large limestone rock overhang. We admired the unique little three bunk hut built in 1980 by Forest Service ranger Max Polglase. Further on was a welcome lunch break at the tiny Growler Shelter. Then it was a gradual climb to eventually emerge onto the tussock country and soon to Salisbury Lodge. After this was a climb up Starvation Ridge then a look at Bishops Cave. We tried to imagine the time when the Bishop of Nelson preached here to the gold miners in days gone by. We finally reached Balloon Hut where a couple of other trampers were in residence. We were still keen to climb up Peel Ridge 45 minutes from the hut for some evening views of Lake Peel. That evening we were entertained with Julian giving everyone an insight into the local history and the stories of Billy Lyon from the book No Roll of Drums. Amusingly the novice weekend tramper in our group was looking for a light switch in the hut before realising her mistake! We enjoyed the stay at the hut and although it wasn’t that cold we did light the fire in the new wood burner paid for by the club with good dry wood from the well-stocked woodshed.

On Sunday we left the hut following an old water race which started behind the woodshed and continued just below the bush edge emerging below Balloon Hill. We investigated the Dry Rock Shelter found up above the main track on the edge of the Tableland. A trio of young trampers were only just waking when we arrived having had a long day walking from the Cobb Valley. Our next break was at the Lower Gridiron Rock Shelter – another abode with open air sleeping platforms. We exited back to Flora carpark to round off a very pleasing weekend. There were so many places of interest for a weekend trip on the Tableland especially for those on our trip who were new to the area. The group was Robert, Julian, Anja, Alison and Jacqui.