Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Last week in Tassie……..

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on April 25, 2011

Hi Everyone,

Well we’re on to the final countdown and were seriously considering changing our Ferry dates, to add another 2 weeks or so as there is still so much to see.  Unfortunately I think the weather has worn us down so we’ll keep to the original schedule and leave some stuff to see when we come back minus the children!

View of Cradle Mtn

Zeehan CP

We headed off from Gowrie Park towards Zeehan.  We stopped on the way back to camp yesterday at a little road side cafe/servo and got some fuel in a place called Moina.  The guy there was very chatty and recognised our Roebourne plates on the car – wow no-one usually guesses that and it turns out he has just come back from working up in Karratha for the last 2 years.  He owns the place and runs a catering business out of there as well and is heading back to Karratha for another job shortly.  It’s quite amazing the people we have met on the road:) Oh and today is just the most amazingly sunny day – not hot sunny but it is sunny and the sky is cloudless! Yeah!!!! Although we didn’t get an early start as we were all a little bushed from the walks yesterday, so we all ended up sleeping in till 9:30am!  It wasn’t so bad as the sun didn’t hit the camp until about then anyway and it’s just too freakin’ cold to get up earlier – like 6 and 8 degrees cold!

Start of walk

Small fall along track

Swing bridge

The west coast is a little different to the rest of Tassie, with so much more old-growth forest around.  Joel did a great job of driving up and down these mountains with the van on as some of the roads are just not that wide.  At one stage we came across a support vehicle for an over-sized load, thinking it would be at least 500m – 1km away but no – it was right around the corner, on our side of the road and he was massive.  It was lucky for us that this particular corner had a bit of a gravel shoulder on it or we would have been toast! So after that heart-starter we continued on to Zeehan but thankfully no more over-sized loads, just a few logging trucks trying to break the world’s land speed records!  The Zeehan Caravan Park is lovely and you feel like you are camping in the bush as it is just so scenic.  We decided to base ourselves here and tour a few parts of the area.

Montezuma Falls

Old tram track

After we set up camp, our first stop was to back-track to Roseberry and onto the Montezuma Falls track.  The trail follows the route of the former North East Dundas Tramway which ran from Zeehan to Williamsford. Williamsford was once a busy mining town but is

Fungi on tree

now slowly being reclaimed by the bush.  We thought the tack to the falls was about 5-6 kms, it was in fact 9.6kms, return.  The kids were great and didn’t arc up at all!  We hiked in and even though the day was still very sunny, the rainforest was so thick in places it was quite dark and the ground very wet and muddy!  For some reason Daniel and Wade both thought it would be really funny to jump around and spray mud all up their white sports socks – until I told them that they were now going to scrub them clean with a brush and soak them! as I wasn’t going to clean them!  Ha ha not so funny now huh! (they did clean them too when we got back to camp that night, hee hee)  The walk through the forrest was unbelievable.  There were tree ferns, lush rainforest with leatherwood, myrtle and sassafras everywhere and the most amazing fungi were growing on the sides of the trees.  Some were so huge that you could have stepped on them, like steps on a  ladder going up the side of the tree.  We walked across the swing bridge to get a glimpse of the falls from some height.  Then we kept walking a little further to the actual falls!  They were huge and are 105m high and they don’t fall into a huge pool but feed a river system.  It was way too cold for the boys to swim anyway as the water was like ice! We stayed for a while admiring the beauty of the falls, having some snacks and water before trekking back to the car.  There are some abandoned mine shafts along the way which you can stick your heads in to have a look at but they have sealed them off so you cannot enter them, which is a good thing. We finished our walks and got back to camp about 6pm and had our seasonal favourite Chicken parmas, mash and peas – yum yum!  We have booked in to do the Gordon River cruise and we have to be in Strahan by 8am so we have to be up by 6am to eat, dress and drive there.  OMG this is going to kill us! – well me anyway:)

Fog in morning

The Eagle

Sun over the water

Well we all managed to get up and dressed without too much fuss even though it was freezing cold again! The morning indicated that it was going to be another beautiful and sunny day, however we were in a huge fog cloud in the van and the kids were amazed at us driving through the fog, especially around the mountains.  Some patches we couldn’t even see 1 m in front of the car!  We made it with heaps of time to spare and the boat looked amazing.  The cruise goes from 9am until 3pm . We are travelling on the “Eagle” one of the World Heritage Cruisesboats which is  a locally run company.  The “Eagle” is an all-aluminium 35m catamaran launched in late 2007, purpose-built for the

Hells Gate


Gordon River cruise to minimise the impact on the River’s embankments.  We bought standard tickets but you can have premium seats on the window sides of the boat but then the price goes up and up and we just wanted to do the cruise and see

Fish Farms

the river.  We had a great view and took some good photos too from where we were sitting as the windows are huge.  There was a kids area downstairs where they played movies so the kids thought that was great.  They were in there for a lot of the cruise and in the end they were happy being there and we were happy to have some time

Sarah Island

Ruins on Sarah Island

to ourselves.  We were seated at a table in groups of 8 and we met another couple, Sandy and Grant, from Pinjarra and another couple from Sydney. They were a great bunch of people and the cruise was fantastic.  The weather was sunny but it was freezing cold out on the front deck.  As usual I

was looking for some good photos so I ventured out onto the front deck a  number of times, each time I had my scarf and my beanie on as well, and it was still cold – the things we do for art!.  The boat left Macquarie Harbour and headed towards Hells Gates.  It is a tiny passage way into the headlands and was so named by the convicts bound for Sarah Island.  On our way back into the harbour we passed Liberty Point which is home to a number of aquaculture pens stocked with thousands of Atlantic salmon and Ocean trout. They look like huge circular contraptions in the

Captain's cabin

Gordon River

Strahan Lolly Shop

sea and we have seen a great many of them on our travels around the southern parts of Tassie.  Next stop was Sarah Island and we were separated into smaller groups with a guide each.  Each of the guides is an actor/actress and they not only passionately tell the story of Sarah Island but act out bits of it as well and incorporate several of the unsuspecting public into their routines as well.  Sarah Islandwas a Penal Settlement between 1822 and 1833, established before the more well-known Port Arthur, as a place of ‘secondary’ punishment, an attempt to control the uncontrollable.  The stories of Sarah Island were made just that more poignant because of the story telling of

Track to Hogarth Falls

Hogarth Falls

these very gifted and passionate guides.  Even the boys got a lot out of it and remembered so much more than if we had just roamed the island reading plaques.  It took about 45 mins then we were back onto the boat and heading towards the Gordon River.  There was a bit of a breeze today so I couldn’t get any of those picture-perfect postcard shots you see of the Gordon River but it was still pretty nice.  The river is such a dark blue colour and the countryside is just amazing – you feel like you are the only people on the planet here.  We headed a fair way up the river to a place called Heritage Landing.  We got out here to do a bit of a walk around and see some of the trees and flora of this place.  They have a boardwalk set up to view the different trees and timbers with boards telling you all about the history, uses, etc of these trees.  We boarded the boat again and then a delicious buffet lunch was served.  The kids went back for seconds and possibly thirds for Dan and it was all very yummy.  We chatted with our table guests and before we knew it we were back at the harbour.  We disembarked from the boat straight into a lair of woodworking – there were some beautiful pieces in the make-shift shop and they were demonstrating the old way of cutting the huon pine timber into slabs for table tops and cutting boards.

Sandy and Grant had been to the lolly shop in Strahan and had mentioned that fact in front of the boys so off we went with them to have a look.  4 bags and lots of laughter later we bid farewell to our new friends and headed off to do the Hogarth Falls walk.  It was right in town and only a 2.5km return walk so we thought we’d give it a bash. The walk was quite easy and the falls were very nice.  We headed back to camp for an early dinner, the kids to wash their sox(:)) and an early bed as we’re all bushed.

Wynyard CP view

Beach at Wynyard CP

Table Cape LH

We would loved to have stayed another few days here to explore Queenstown and Derwent River to see “The Wall” but we just don’t have enough time.  We headed out-of-town back towards the  north.  We were going to free camp it but it’s no longer available so we decided to go to Wynyard and stay for a couple of days.  We stayed at the Beach Retreat Tourist Park which is right on the beach – it is a lovely park and the owners seem very nice and helpful.  We didn’t do too much for the rest of the day, just shopped, relaxed and enjoyed the beach and sunny weather.  There were several walkways down to the beachfront and a great boardwalk that you could take a very long walk along.  It made for some very nice photos as the colours in the sky were magnificent on sunset.

Next day we decided on an early start and off towards Stanley.  When we left Wynyard it was sunny and a little cloudy.  We stopped at Table Cape Lighthouse on the way for some magnificent views and the land around here is so rich – we saw the change in the colour of the soil and pictures of the tulips farms and the mosaic of colours they form.  An aerial shot of this area in springtime shows the ‘patchwork quilt’ of colours when everything is in bloom and season – I would love to be here then, it looks so spectacular just in the photo, imagine it in person!

View from Lookout

Poppy-opium fields

Fog-mist rolling in

Onward we pressed and just around the corner we ran into a storm front, literally.  We stopped the car and watched this cloud of rain and fog pass over/through us on the side of a hill.  We stopped opposite another poppy/opium field – there are heaps of these farms here and we saw these signs everywhere.  We got out of the car and you could feel the moisture in the air, that and the fact that it had dropped about 10 degrees from a few moments earlier!  The fog seemed to follow us as we headed to Stanley but after about 30kms we finally got back to the sunshine – was a bit freaky though.

Stanley would have to be one of the most picturesque places I

Walking up The Nut

have ever been.  The town is sooo tidy and clean and we didn’t see one scrap of graffiti or litter anywhere.  We drove up to ‘The Nut” which you can see from many kms away from the town.   The Nut is the stump of an old volcano discovered by the explorers Bass and Flinders in 1798, who officially named it Circular Head. It has steep sides and rises to 143 metres with a flat top.  In 1935 a submarine cable was laid between Stanley and Victoria, which was Tassie’s first interstate communications link.  The cable station was situated at the top of the nut.  It is quite a steep climb to the top, but there is a chairlift. Dan and I walked up the

Stanley Township - cute

steep incline and Joel took Wade on the chairlift as he’d hurt his leg and didn’t want to walk up.  When I finally made it to the top I took off to have a look around, with Joel joining me at one of the lookouts.  It was really cold and overcast when we arrived at the base of The Nut but it was hot and sunny at the top.  The views were spectacular and you have 360 degree views at the top.  There are heaps of walk paths at the top and some signage describing some of the history of the

View from the top

place which was very interesting.  It is so worthwhile doing the walk up at the top as the views are awesome.  Joel and Dan decided to walk down and I accompanied Wade on the chairlift down.  The view from the chairlift is pretty spekky as well.  We thought we’d get a bite to eat in town at a cafe and ordered 4 burgers.  50 minutes later we finally got our lunch which was nearly afternoon tea as it was after 1:30PM when we ordered them.  We headed down to a rest area/park area to eat and the wait was definitely worth it – the burgers were very yummy (or was it that we were

View for lunch

The Nut

just so starving?).  The council have created a lovely seating area and parkland right on the beachfront which we sat at and ate our burgers and the kids had a bit of a run around. Nice beach area and I imagine it would be very busy when they actually have a summer with some sunshine and warmth!

Cantilever at Tarkine

We took a bit of a drive out to the Tarkine Forest Adventureswhich is located at Dismal Swamp, which contrary to its name, is a place of beauty. It is the site of the largest sinkhole in the Southern Hemisphere and is surrounded by incredible scenery and an ancient blackwood forest that is home to some especially adapted animals. They have a 110m slide that is enclosed but with clear perspex on the top of the slide.  We all jumped on a couple of times and had a go.  You have to get into what is essentially a really big, leather satchel and slide down in that, oh and with the ever so stunning bike helmets on too!  It was good for a laugh and you do pick up a bit of speed going down too. The guy warned us that the last person has the fastest ride as the previous riders have warmed up the slide.  There is a forest maze at the bottom of the slide which has information about lots of the different trees which we found quite interesting, even the kids did too.

Tarkine Slide- very sexy

Slide under cover

There were carvings in the actual trees and lots of unusual sculptures relating to the environment, like the lobsters in the pots. I think we all enjoyed looking for all of the different things to find, sort of like an educational treasure hunt!

Sunset 1

We headed back to Wynyard and going through the main town we had this car in front of us keep putting their hands out and tooting – we figured out it was Sandy and Grant from Pinjarra that we had met on the boat cruise in Strahan.  They followed us to our van and we arranged to have some drinks after dinner.  It was great to catch up

Sunset 2

with them again – and if you’re reading this guys I have lost your address so could you email us please. We watched a most magnificent sunset with glorious colours and marvelled at how beautiful this place is.

Lobsters in pots

Next day we headed back to Devonport as we need to collect our mail from the PO as we are on the ferry to Melb on Sunday.  We went back to the same park, the Discovery Holiday Park in Devonport and treated ourselves to an ensuite site again as we are in for some more rain!! just for something different!  We also met up with the Cantwells again as they have arrived here a day early too and are out on Monday on the ferry.  We spent the next few days reliving our travels and many other stories while the kids all played and watched movies.  Even though it was freezing and we got some great shots of Joel with his wine cask looking like a homeless person we still had a fantastic time.  We all agreed that Tassie is such a beautiful place and even though it has been wet, we have seen some amazing places and met some wonderful people – that and lots of other mad ravings after way too much alcohol:)) We had an absolute blast with you guys and we will see you again around Chrissy time for sure!

Kids movie night

We bid a fond farewell again to the Cantwells and boarded the Spirit of Tasmania on Sunday.  We have had a great time in Tassie and we will definitely be back.  We had a pretty ordinary day going back and unfortunately the weather was very rough and we all got sea-sick – the boys were very ill and didn’t manage to keep anything down while I was very sick too but just stayed in the foetal position on my bunk.  Even Joel who is a seasoned sailor was very queasy too.  I have never wished away more hours of my life than those 9 hours of the trip!  Back on the mainland once again:) Yeah solid dry land – yipee.

Till next time



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