The land around the township of Sheffield and the Kentish municipality is an ever-changing landscape, of which Mount Roland forms a magnificent, dominating backdrop. Rising 1234 metres above sea-level, Mount Roland is located within the Mount Roland Conservation Area & Regional Reserve, a reserve consisting of 7600 hectares surrounding the mountain range.
Mount Roland Conservation Area and Regional Reserve
Mount Roland was part of the land of the Six Rivers aboriginal community. They called this land Ta Neem Er Ra (big grass plain). According to Aboriginal cultural lore, this area of land contains ceremonial women’s areas at the foot of the mountain, mainly birthing areas by creeks and rivers. Caves, rock shelters and cultural/ceremonial areas were on top of and on the faces of the mountain. The Six Rivers Band hunted on the mountain, and the mountain was a major landmark of the region, being used as a lookout and as a high point for distance communication with neighbouring aboriginal bands.
Mount Roland is a spectacular conglomerate peak, giving magical hues of pinks and oranges in the early morning sunrise and late afternoon sunset, it was originally named Rollands Repulse after Captain John Rolland who traversed the high country between both Mount Roland and Mt Vandyke in 1823.
The first ascent of Mount Roland was in 1826, by Henry Hellyer (1790-1832) and Joseph Fossey (1788-1851), along with a Van Dieman’s Land Company party. They named the neighbouring peaks of the Mount Roland massif (a group of connecting mountains) ‘Claude’ and ‘Vandyke’ after 17th century landscape painters.
Gustav Weindorfer (1874–1932), of Cradle Mountain fame, also had connections to Mount Roland. Born in Austria in 1874, Weindorfer came to Australia in 1900. In Victoria he met Kate Cowle (1863–1916), after which they both moved to Tasmania where they married in 1906, and spent their honeymoon camped on Mount Roland with the aim of making an extensive botany collection.
Bushwalking Mount Roland
Two well-marked bushwalking tracks can be found today from both Claude Road and Gowrie Park, crossing both plains and the plateau leading to the summit. Spectacular 360° views to Bass Strait, Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff can be viewed from the summit. Access to part of the mountain can be gained from a track leading from Round Mountain Lookout on the western end of the mountain.
For the experienced/serious bushwalker, Mount Roland via Kings Road (Face Track), starts from Kings Road, Claude Road Village off the C136. This track leads to a steep mountain climb, and takes from 3–5 hours return.
The second walking track starts at Gowrie Park Village and takes O’Neill’s Road off the C136. This is the easiest track to walk to the summit and only has a moderately steep incline. This walk takes from 4-6 hours return. From Gowrie Park Village, travel towards Sheffield. When you come to O’Neill’s Road make a right turn into and drive for approximately one kilometre to the car park. From the start the walk follows a 4WD track for a few kilometres, passing a couple of waterfalls and creeks. About 45-60 minutes later you will come to a log bridge crossing O’Neill’s Creek.
From here the track becomes a narrow trail and begins to get steeper. The track continues for a further 30-40 minutes before reaching the saddle at 900m elevation. From here a left turn is necessary to trek towards the Mount Roland summit. The track then takes a gentle ascent across the plateau from where the summit is about an hour away. The trig point (triangulation station at the top of the summit) provides spectacular 360 degree views to Bass Strait, Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff.
All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography.
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