Jacob’s Ladder is the name of the sharply winding and precipitous ascent in a a steep and narrow zig-zag road in Ben Lomond Ranges, Tasmania. The road climbs up to Ben Lomond Mountain, at an elevation of 1.570m (5,150ft) above the sea level. The road is unsealed and the final climb up Jacob’s Ladder to the plateau is steep. It’s one of the famous hairpinned roads in the world.
If you dare take the risk and travel along this dusty and bumpy route, then make sure to be driven by someone who has experience of the road. A lookout platform has been built at the top of the ladder providing superb views. The turn off to Ben Lomond is 42 kilometres from Launceston via St Leonards on the Blessington Road. 14 kilometres along a well made gravel road, Jacobs Ladder is reached under towering dolerite cliffs. A spectacular drive then ascends Jacobs Ladder.
To get there, drive east from Launceston following St Leonards and Blessington Roads (C401) and then turn right to Ben Lomond Road. The hairpin bends of the road known as Jacobs Ladder and the sweeping views from its lookout make the drive to the plateau an experience in itself. The views and lofty driving experience deserves to be savoured - rushing through it would defeat the point of going there. For safety’s sake, there is a 30 km speed limit. Vehicles travelling uphill should give way to those descending. In conditions of snow and ice the road may be closed without notice at the barrier 4.5 km from the alpine village. Wheel chains and anti-freeze must be carried between June and September. During the skiing season a shuttle bus service operates from the snowline. Maximum size for passenger vehicles is a 22 seat bus and bus drivers must have an alpine licence to travel the Jacobs Ladder section of the road. There’s a 30 kilometre per hour speed limit on the unsealed road, with vehicles ascending encouraged to give way to oncoming traffic as they veer around the cascading hairpin turns.
The weather on this zone is harsh and highly unpredictable and it does not take much time for the bright sun shine to change over to moderate to heavy snow fall. If you decide to go there during the winter season, keep in mind that your car should be equipped with chains. There are some warnings about carrying chains in winter, and checking road conditions in dodgy weather. If you are planning to bushwalk or ski, be sure to have windproof and rainproof gear - the weather can change rapidly, whatever the season. It remains one of Launceston’s hidden gems. Located 60 kilometres from Launceston in the Northern Tasmania, this place would be a death trap in the event of an earth tremor or rock fall which purportedly occurs now and then. Top of the mountain has a nice lookout with an excellent view to Jacobs Ladder and Ben Lomond National Park. Ben Lomond National Park is a large plateau atop precipitous cliffs that dominate the plains of rural north-eastern Tasmania.
The park covers an area of 16,527 hectares and includes the island's second-highest peak, Legges Tor, at an elevation of 1,572 metres (5,147 feet) above sea level. The surface of the road is gravel and sand, and chains or snow tyres can be required anytime. Just 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Launceston, Ben Lomond is Tasmania's principal downhill ski field.
Pic: Dane Lennon