Lake Myrtle Track owes it origin partly to Harry Glover and the low
wages paid to stockmen early last century. When Glover took over the
role of resident stockman at Howells Plains in 1916 he hunted on the
property in the winter to supplement his income. But Howells Plains, he
soon realized, wasn’t big enough to sustain a large catch especially
with a couple of sons that would soon be old enough to hunt. He needed
more hunting territory but recognised that he wouldn’t find it in the
valley. The Walters hunted on the eastern side of the river running
snare lines from the Horse Plain down river to Walters Marsh while the
Lees hunted up stream at Pine Hut Plain. So he staked a claim up on the
plateau above Howells Plains and built a hut on the edge of the
escarpment. Few Europeans had preceded him allowing him to name a couple
of the lakes Lake Bill and Myrtle after his son and second wife
A few years later in 1922, brothers
Arthur and Percy Youd built a hut at Lake Meston establishing a large
hunting territory that covered a wide area to the north, east and south
of the lake. The Youds and Glover met to negotiate a boundary between
their respective runs but also to talk business. Glover kept a bullock
team at Howells Plains all year round. He agreed that if the Youds could
get their skins down to Howells Plains at the end of the winter hunting
season, he would freight them out to Mole Creek in his wagon to the
annual skin sales. The system worked well. At the end of every season,
the Youds carried their skins, five dozen at a time, over the shoulder
of Mt Rogoona to Lake Myrtle and then north past Lake Bill to the
Glovers hut where they temporarily stored them. They would then board
with Glover and his family for a week or so while they laboriously
ferried the skins from Glovers hut down to his house at Howells Plains.
The exposed boggy plain from Lake Bill to the edge of the escarpment so
attracted wintry weather they named it Blizzard Plain.
In 1926, Arthur Youd
had cause to value the track he and his brother had helped create.
Percy had gone home to Western Creek for the birth of his daughter Valmae and, in coming back to the Lake Meston
hut, found Arthur on the floor with severe abdominal pain. He helped
him up and, half carrying him, set off for help at Glovers at Howells
Plains. There they mustered some horses and set off on a long journey
that saw Arthur go under the surgeon’s knife at the Devon Hospital to
have his appendix removed. Arthur recovered but perversely Percy became
ill and died in 1928. Bereft of a brother and companion, Arthur
continued to hunt, often alone, from Lake Meston for decades.
Glover allowed others to use the hut from time to time. In May 1925, for example, he allowed Mole Creek men Gloster Richards and Reg
Cubit to hunt from it for the winter. Richards and Cubit, however, had
difficulty finding it, as Cubit indicated in a letter to his wife:
On Friday Gloster
and I set out to find our camp. Well we walked the mountain from one
end to the other and all over the place and walked until it came on
night and had to return home without finding it. So anyhow Harry went
with us today and we found it and got some of our pack up. You talk
about hill climbing we had some. We have got to take a couple of loads
each up tomorrow it will be well towards night I guess, but you talk
about game there is some there and will make a haul if we have luck.
Richards continued to hunt from the hut well after Glover and his family left Howells Plains in 1926. He and Youd
met and they became good friends occasionally hunting with each other.
That friendship was crucially important in the 1945 season when a
large storm dumped well over a metre of snow on the high country. The frosts that normally followed enabling the snow to be walked on failed to appear. That year Youd had been carrying his skins from his to Richard’s hut when he had a load every two or three days. Following the snowfall, Richards waited for Youd
to appear with his skins. Days passed without any sign of him. Richards
began to worry knowing that snow always collected in large drifts at
Lake Meston by virtue of its particular topography. Finally, with very real concerns about Youd’s survival, Richards set off across Blizzard Plain toward Lake Meston hoping to find his friend alive. A kilometre
or so from his hut he saw a dark shape on the snow ahead of time. He
thought it was a wombat until, getting closer, he saw it was Youd,
spent, utterly exhausted and displaying signs of hypothermia. He picked
him up and helped him back to his hut. After he had been warmed and
fed, Youd explained that he been trapped by snow that was over a metre
and a half deep at his hut. Unable to walk on it he waited for a frost
to harden it. After a week or so, when he had run out of food, he was
forced to strike out for help. The only way he could move forward was to
fall in the snow, then walk the length of snow that his body had
flattened, fall forward and do it again, and again, and again. For six hours he battled through the snow and in that time made it to within a kilometre or so of Richard’s hut. Had Richards not come looking for his friend, Youd may well have died.
With the snow showing no sign of melting, Youd abandoned his season at Lake Meston.
When it became clear that he would not be able to get his skins out
within the allotted legal window after the season officially closed, he
applied to the police for a permit to get them out later. It was not
until October that year, that he and a friend were able to get back to
his hut. Even then the hut had snow up to the eaves requiring the men to
cut their way through to get access to the skins inside. Carcasses of
dead wallabies littered the mountain starved by the snow that trapped
them and covered their food.
Richards died unexpectedly in 1948 and Youd left Lake Meston around 1950 to hunt with his friend Basil Lee who, with his son, had leased Howells Plains. It is not known who, if anyone, took over the Lake Bill or Meston runs. If anyone did it was a short tenure. In the mid 1950s the hunting industry virtually collapsed. The huts and the track were abandoned.
Glover's Hut, 1973. Photo Tony Bennell
During the 1960s, the Forestry Commission pushed roads into the Upper Mersey. Bushwalkers
followed hard on the heels of the foresters using the new roads as
springboards for exploration of the surrounding mountain country. In the
early 1960s walkers from the Launceston Walking Club began testing routes from the Mersey to Mount Rogoona.
They rediscovered the route from Lake Myrtle to Lake Bill and then
across Blizzard Plain and down to the Mersey. Some years later,
after Lake Rowallan had
been created, the Mersey Forest Road was extended fully along the
eastern side of the lake. The road intersected the track just south of
Juno Creek. The section of the track above the road became formalized
and was popular for the relatively easy access it gave to the Lake Meston area, especially after Dick Reed built a hut on the site of Youd’s in the summer of 1969/70.
The Lake Myrtle
Track remains in use today although perhaps carries less traffic
following the development of the Chapter Lake Track by Reed in the late 1970s. Harry Glover’s hut stood on the edge of Blizzard Plain for decades. I saw it in the late 1970s
as I was rushing past in a hurry to get down the hill before dark. It
burnt down on 16 February 1982 in that terrible fire that did so much
damage to the vegetation of that side of the escarpment.