Untamed Tasmania inspires a lifetime of bushwalking

JOHN CHAPMAN | With its wild variable weather and huge wilderness areas the western half of Tasmania is the realm of bushwalkers.

Here there is a raw untamed landscape of mountains and cliffs separated by scrubby plains and forests. Progress through this region is ruled by the ever changing weather and it’s not uncommon not to see much for days on end.

However, when the weather does change the effort of surviving here becomes worthwhile and the area changes into a photographer’s paradise. Through photographs we are able to give others a small glimpse of what is hidden in this large wilderness region. ¶


John Chapman started bushwalking in 1971 with friends from the Gordon Institute of Techology in Geelong, Victoria, and when he later joined the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club was able to take up rock climbing, the activity that actually attracted him most at the time.

A later career developed when in 1976 he printed a set of track notes on South West Tasmania, leading in turn to the guide book South West Tasmania, then the guide to Crade Mountain Lake St Clair National Park. These two guides, with their detailed descriptions of each track and what to expect, plus topographic and gradient profiles, are still in print in updated version.

In the ’80s, John worked as a professional walking guide in South West Tasmania before spending more time in the Himalayas.

Today he concentrates on bushwalking, with ski-touring trips in winter. He estimates that over the last 34 years he has averaged about 52 days of year, with walking in Tasmania taking up nearly half that time. His output of books continues, see below, but on a professional level his photography and writing is just a part-time activity. For all his life outdoors, he spends more time in Computer Science at RMIT in Melbourne where he lectures on Computer Architecture, Graphics, Java Programming and Multi-Media.

Be that as it may for his students, for the rest of us John’s energy, discerning eye and expertise with the camera mean he can share with us the remote places he visits. His more recent books include the popular Day Walks in Tasmania — 41 of them and offering walks of all standards right around the state. For extended trips (and some require great tenacity as well as experience!) there is South West Tasmania, and the excellent Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair and Walls of Jerusalem National Parks.


Leatherwood Online Exclusive:
John Chapman's portfolio as a moveable feast

Click here to open the filmstrip
[warning: 1Mb download — about 3min at 56K]


Sunset and Mt Solitary

Lightning Ridge in winter

Lot's Wife and Snowy Range

Sunset from Paradise Lagoon, West Coast