It’s been a long time since I last posted. All my free time was sucked up by a huge interstate project over late Oct – early Dec; gotta love those 18-hour days (see my post “Being Shafted by the Man” to read my whinge on working stupid hours)! So, now that I’ve had a chance to catch up on some photo uploads, it’s time to blog about our trip to Tassie in Oct 09.
My sister, Nina, announced early last year that she and Colin would get married in Oct 09 in Launceston. We decided to make a family trip out of it; loading up the car and taking the ferry down for ten days. The following post is a summary of the trip. All of the photo’s can be found in my Gallery.
We got off the boat in Devonport on a sunny Saturday morning. It was chilly but looked like a fine day ahead. After brief stops in Devonport and Sheffield, we spent some time in the mazes at Tazmazia. The pancakes were great! Then it was up to Cradle Mountain. As we approached we could see the snow capped peaks; woo-hoo!
After checking into the lodge we headed down to Dove Lake to take in the views. We were blessed with great weather as we did the short walk around to Suicide Rock (now renamed to something I can’t recall). That evening we returned to find Wombats wandering all over the hillside, including one with a baby in it’s pouch. The girls were impressed.
Day two, Sunday, and we had a half-day walk planned. The shuttle bus dropped us off at Ronny Creek and we headed up to Cradle Lake. The weather was more like I had been expecting; low cloud and miserable looking, but not raining. There are some amazing little waterfalls hidden in the rainforest as you approach the lake. The lake itself is nestled in a crater with snow-capped peaks rising behind it.
From there we headed back down to Dove Lake via Wombat Lake and Lake Lilla. Along the way we picked up some friends in the form of black birds nicknames Tubby and Moe (both scavenging our apples). Lisa and the girls continued on the bus to the lodge and I walked back along the new track between Ronny Creek and the ranger station.
Our last morning in Cradle Mountain was also overcast. To prolong our departure, we did a short walk on the Dove Canyon track. This walk joins some small waterfalls on the Dove River as well as passing through some beautiful rainforest with bright green moss everywhere.
Delay as I could, we eventually had to head back to the car and off to Strahan. As is often the case on the west coast, the trip was drizzly and slow due to trucks on the narrow road. Maddie struggles with the long road trips, so it was a good excuse for a stop or two, including the West Coast Pioneers Museum in Zeehan.
We had booked into Risby Cove, new waterfront accommodation in Strahan. We had a downstairs suite with two bedrooms that was well presented and had all the facilities it needed. Pity about the elephants upstairs! It’s only a few hundred metre walk to the shops, but the view out over the harbour was great.
On arrival we had tried to book a trip on the new West Coast Wilderness Railway that runs between Queenstown and Strahan. The trip only includes one direction by train, with the other leg covered by a minibus. All of the Strahan to Queenstown train trips were booked, so we chose the reverse trip; bus to Queenstown first up followed by the train down to Strahan.
At 8:30 we were on the bus and heading to Queenstown. After a sweltering trip (the aircon seemed stuck on hot) we arrived at the Queenstown station and killed time till the train departed. The train itself was beautifully restored, particularly the wooden carriages. The trip itself was broken into sections, with stops to refill the water tank on the engine and interesting things for the punters to do. The first was all about gold panning near Queenstown, with Lisa and the girls having a go. Next was lunch on the King River and the third was honey tasting.
The scenery you pass through is magnificent; tall pines and other natives, rainforest gullies with treeferns and steep river gorges. The only thing letting it down was the colour of the Queen and King rivers, polluted by the tailings from the mines in Queenstown over the many years. Apparently nature is fixing it, the tannen in the water acts as a detergent, but it will take a long time to return to it’s original state.
This was the highlight of our time in Strahan, and I’d love to explore around Macquarie Harbour. There’s another tour, the Piners and Miners tour, that uses a four wheel drive and rides on part of the railway, but also goes bush. Perhaps next time.
The drizzle that we’d had since Cradle Mtn became rain that evening. I set the tripod up on the deck to take some photo’s as the sun set. Some of the night shots turned out well.
The third phase of our trip was a few days in Hobart. I managed to lose my sunnies somewhere between the train and leaving Strahan, so of course the weather started to clear up as we headed east.
We stopped at Nelson Falls along the road between Queenstown and Derwent Bridge. It used to have a “Dinosaur Walk” to interest the kids, but it appears that making it more accessible, this has gone. It’s still a great place to stop and take in the best of Tasmanian nature. Photography of the falls is quite a challenge on a sunny day due to the contrast between the falls (in the open) and the ferns and creek (in the shadows).
Our fine weather was short-lived. We’d decided to stop for lunch at the bakery in Hamilton. However as we headed west and into the Derwent Valley, great bands of black clouds and veils of rain approached us up the valley. By the time we’d hit Hamilton we got drenched just bolting to the public toilets. Oh, and the bakery doesn’t seem to be there anymore. Lunch was in an average bakery in New Norfolk before continuing to the big smoke of Hobart.
The next day, Thursday, was spent in Port Arthur. Lisa and I had been there a few times in the past, including on our bikes on the BMW Safari, but this was for the girls. The weather was fine and we took lots of photos. The girls enjoyed the Isle of the Dead, and wanted to stay around for the ghost tour. But we had arranged to meet my brother Paul and his family for dinner back in Hobart.
We seemed to shortchange ourselves with this trip; two nights in Hobart really only meant one day when you include a large day driving from the west coast, and another big day heading up the east coast to Launceston. It reminded me that you really need two full weeks there to see a reasonable amount of stuff.
Our final leg of the trip was to Launceston. Lisa and I both wanted to visit the Elephant Pass Pancake Parlour, so we took the coast road rather than the more direct inland road. Unfortunately the girls weren’t that impressed with the menu (Lisa and I enjoyed it). We promised to find them something further up the road.
Many years ago I’d visited the St Columba Falls and wanted to see them again. Lisa and the girls were all “waterfall’d out” so I grabbed the camera and tripod and headed down the path. I’m glad I did as I got some of favourite photos of the whole trip in the secluded fern glades by the creek. The falls themselves were overflowing, but hard to photograph.
Coming back out of the falls to the main road, we decided to stop at the Pyengana Dairy Company to see if we could get the girls some lunch. They served what must have been the best tasting cheese toastie I’ve ever eaten (as Maddy couldn’t finish hers). They used thick bread and their own tasty cheese and it was brilliant.
The next few days in Launceston was spent with family and at the wedding. We spent a few hours in the Cataract Gorge on the Sunday and the girls were able to do a bit of rock hopping in the boulders there.
On Monday we left Launceston for the boat in Devonport. We didn’t have to board until the evening, so we had a whole day to kill. We decided on the Mole Creek wildlife sanctuary (Trowunna Wildlife Park) and we weren’t disappointed. They had heaps of Tassie Devils and we arrived just at feeding time. I’d hate to be on the wrong end of those jaws! There was also a baby Wombat in one of the enclosures.
The last stop of the day was the Mole Creek Caves, specifically Marakoopa Cave. As usual, one daughter was keen on exploring (including the cave spiders) and the other was freaking out. But we enjoyed it and made for a good ending to the holiday.