A Travellerspoint blog

Strahan – Pencil Pine Lake

Day 247

sunny 20 °C
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We awoke to enjoy a walk around to the Train Station. They also offer fabulous heritage train trips up through the hills and its supposed to be very good. Its surprising how many of the town’s folk are involved in the tourism industry. We watched the 3 staff getting the passengers on board, followed by the three or 4 engineers involved in driving the train, and then two vans pulled up with a further 5 or 6 people unloading all the food and drink to be consumed on their trip.



We walked back along the old train line back into town. The tracks have been removed and a lovely walk path now exists to walk into town around the bay. Its such a pretty spot, but supposedly it rains all the time! The picture above is of the Piners Punt. The Piners were the Huon Pine collectors who used to go out in one of these little dingies with all their food (two people) for 3 months at a time. Often with their hands frozen to the oars they'd row up the Franklin River to find the trees, cut them down and get them to the waters' edge to get them to barged back to town. It must have been a very hard life. Especially as the trees were harder and harder to find.

We stopped at one of the many cafes along the waterfront for breaky. Then headed off up the road to Queenstown. It was a little more alive since our last visit, but sadly the town was quite run down. There was a pub for sale for $250,000! A bargain in anyone’s language. But desperately in need of repair and a liquor licence to go with it. There was also a cinema for sale, but we didn’t get to find out how much that was.


Unfortunately due to the cheap price of houses the town was overrun with bogans and down and outs. I’m sure there are people trying to make it work, but I don’t think I could buy here as it would be just too hard (even though the cinema is very interesting)…

We then moved back up the rocky mountainside into the national park. We went to Lake Sinclair and did the Figure 8 Loop around Platypus Lake. It was very pretty with many different types of foliage. It was fabulously beautiful.


We then kept going further up the road till we started to see too many animals beside the road and we pulled up beside this untouched beautiful lake. We and Sharon & Wayne had this part of the lake to ourselves. The silence was deafening!


Posted by cssc 23:52 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Rosebery – Strahan

Day 246

sunny 20 °C
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Well it certainly was much warmer last night and we were all the better for a good nights’ sleep. We were all quite burnt from our hike in the mountains yesterday. While we did put a bit of sunscreen on later in the day, it was a bit late!

Headed of to Zeehan which has a great museum, lots of little jewellery shops selling lovely stones that are unique to the area and are mined in towns either side of Zeehan that are nothing more than one house towns now. The main street was well preserved with a fabulous heritage group taking control of the lovely old buildings and getting grants to renovate them and open them to tourists. They were another great little town trying very hard to make their town work for tourism. For those who take this back road to Strahan, they really enjoy the pleasant surprise.


We decided to push on to Strahan as we’d booked on the ferry trip for the afternoon. Strahan was larger than we last remembered it. For a town of just 1,000 people, they really seems so incredibly well set up for tourism.

We checked out the wood turners shop where they still collected Huon Pine as they are allowed to collect fallen logs that drift down the rivers. There seems to be lots of it in these shops. Although a dining room table top that would seat 8-10 was for sale for $5,500 as a slab; unpolished and treated, though it did look fabulous!

We made it to the boat for a slight 5 minutes of drizzle and had the most fabulous trip. We boarded at 3pm. We had bought premium seats @ $99 and they were really worth it. We drove out into the ocean as it was a perfect calm day. The skipper explained the roaring 40s which is the name that King Island has taken for one of their Blue cheeses. It apparently has to do with the seas being so huge and being at the 40o S line that this area sits at. We are convinced that all these beautiful places are telling us all how horrible the weather normally is, but in fact its always beautiful and they just don’t want all the tourists to move there!



On our return from the ocean, our first stop was Sarah Island. We disembarked and enjoyed a fabulous walk around the island with our tour guide. Sarah Island was the first penal settlement of Tasmania, prior to Port Arthur that we all know so well. I wasn’t aware that Sarah Island was first. The prisoners were terribly treated by the first commandant. The last was the worst used in its time. The buildings that remain on the island are mostly ruins. The most interesting one was the bakehouse. They had a particular type of oven that could cook 450 loaves of bread using just one bucket of wood! Quite a feat for nearly 200 years ago!


The island was a horror for many reasons. Firstly because as soon as they setup camp they decimated the tree cover on the island. They then froze when the icy cold winds came up from Antarctica and also had no protection from the rain that also swept across the ocean directly onto the island. They quickly started to replant trees and also laying hundreds of huon pine trees down to start reclaiming land. This allowed them to become the famous boat builders that they were. They could build boats up to 230 tons on the boat building ramps that are still in situ under the water and now covered in silt. The second reason it was horrible was the punishments used during the 12 years of its existence. The cat-o-nine-tails was the worst used in any British colony of the time. It was also preferred by all the prisons than solitary confinement! Amazing. There was one death that I heard of on the tour that was a result of the lash, but I may not have been paying attention. There is also a small island just off Sarah Island that has 70 men buried there. Quite a sad history. Not that Port Arthur is much better!



We then moved on to the fabulous buffet dinner back on board the boat as we headed up the Gordon River into the World Heritage Area. The food was fabulous and we enjoyed some lovely Tasmania wines and cheeses. We then disembarked for our final outing on a walk through the native forest of this region. They were amazing. We saw a 3,000 year old fallen huon pine. As the timber doesn’t rot, it will stay there forever!



We arrived back at the dock just after 9pm. It was surprisingly warm and we found a lovely place to stop on the river just around from the main street.


Posted by cssc 23:41 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cradle Mountain - Rosebery

Day 245

sunny 18 °C
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Awoke after a very cold night at 7am outside temp was showing 3.6o Got a fairly early start up to the mountain carpark. It was hard as it was just so cold. The first leg of the journey involved walking over fabulous mounds of grassy plains riddled with tiny streams running through them. They were so narrow, you could barely see them. All this was accessed via a raised walking platform which made destroying the environment difficult to do. Then some steps were climbed to enter a lovely waterfall.


This place was full of moss laden trees, hanging air ferns and was just full of life in the very cold morning air. Once more climbing was done we arrived at the Boat House and lake at the first level of the climb. Then there was more uphill climbing and even some sections involving chains to climb with and eventually reaching the viewing point that overlooked Dove Lake and the lake we’d just walked past.



Climbing up a rocky climb we were now walking along alpine grasses and rising to the next level of course. Some 2.5 hours in we reached the Camp Kitchen stop. Its an emergency camp site at the foot of Cradle Mountain.


We then started the upwards climb over the rocks to the point where we finally turned off at a 45o angle to the mountain. While the angle was less steep, the rocks started to get larger and larger, and then about 1 hour into this part they were boulders that were requiring anything from wedging through cracks to sliding up on your belly to get over them.


Sharon pulled out about 30 minutes into the walk as she was still recovering from her knee operations from a bike accident. After having both Steve and Wayne assist me on how to get over two tricky spots I decided we’d be here finishing off the last 100m of the climb over the next few days. I managed to climb ¾ of the way up the mountain. Steve said I was just 50m in total height short of the summit, but I think he was just being nice. I told the boys to head on up on their own and leave me to return back down the mountain.



At 1545m high it was a lovely day to enjoy the view. We were told that there are about 200 days a year that you can’t do the climb. If its raining you aren’t allowed to undertake the rock climb section. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were in the weather.

We also met a guy returning from the Overlander Trek. This is the walk from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Claire. A journey that takes anywhere from 4-10 days according to the registration book. This looks like the trip to do. The different environments that you walk through are just spectacular. You really understand how this place has gained its World Heritage Status.

After 8 hours of walking, climbing, rock climbing and lots of sliding on bums and hands, we finally returned to the base. We did see an enormous wombat feverishly munching on all the grass mounds on the return journey, as well as a baby echidna, sand snake, loads of skinks and a few birds. What an experience.


We slinked into the Resort’s bar for a quick drink and then decided to get a warmer nights’ sleep at the bottom of the hill, so stopped at the next town in the direction of Strahan we were heading to; Rosebery.


And here are just some of the flowers we saw on the walk...





Posted by cssc 16:21 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Hobart – Cradle Mountain

Day 244

sunny 20 °C
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Had a wonder around Hobart. Nothing has changed too much. I suppose the renovated harbour buildings are looking good, along with the new apartments behind, and the wheat silos in Salamanca turned into great apartments – that are now selling for $1.6m+!

Took a stroll around the park in Battery Point and chatted to a lady living in a small unit complex that has lived there for a while. They all love the fact they can stroll to the markets and enjoy fresh produce every weekend.

Headed south to just before Kingston and found a Shot Tower that had the best tea rooms we've seen. All home made jams. Huge hot scones and warm tea!


Headed back along the back road via Deloraine to Sheffield to Cradle Mountain. Now it was late and very very cold. Finally got a temperature dual guide to show inside and outside temp.

view to mountains around the central highlands

Posted by cssc 16:16 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Deloraine – Hobart

Day 243

sunny 21 °C
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Walked around Deloraine, down to the lovely park lined water. Full of large trees, manicured lawns and lots of doggy poo bags! Tassie sure likes to clean up after its dogs. They had built a lovely suspension bridge over the river since we were last here, and there was an old mill on the water, a guy mentioned the owner was about to put the old water wheel back in. Property seems well priced in and around this area.


We then drove down the back road to Hobart. Through the lovely World Heritage Area and a Lake (Dam) with only about 20kms of unsealed roads, but they were good stone road base type road with little dust. Along the edges of the lake lines there are hundreds of little holiday huts. Moving along we passed through Bothwell. Home of a lovely looking goats cheese (we couldn’t find the outlet shop).

Sunday 1st March is Clean Up Australia Day – 24,000 volunteers helped clean up Australia’s roads, parks and rivers. Please help by volunteering in your local area this year. We are going to volunteer here in Tassie somewhere.

Another thing you can do, especially if you can’t volunteer, is to write to your local member to get a deposit scheme happening on bottles and cans in your state. Apparently 85% of SA’s bottles and cans are recycled since they re-introduced the deposit. I know the drink companies are very much against this, as it adds to the initial cost of a can of drink, but it is all refundable. They also said that one recycled can takes as much energy to make as 7 new cans. Well worth it!

We arrived at lunch time to the biannual 2009 Wooden Boat Show in Hobart. Found a great spot in the harbour just 50m from the entrance of the show. There were loads of boats. Some could be hardly called wooden – with a wooden toe rail only to its name, but it was really busy. Live music, loads of groups displaying wares from old steam engines, Torres Strait Islander boating transport display, lots of hardware and of course, wood displays of priceless scraps of timber available for repairs and restoration works.

in view is about a quarter of what was on display around the harbour

There was live music, seafood galore, and a fabulous selection of Herreschoff’s for us to look at. There was also a magnificent 1898 Steam Boat. Such luxury like I’ve never seen; including a crystal chandelier; 1790s original coffee urn, that had been hardwired to the steam engine to heat the water for the urn so it can still be used as an urn. All the crockery, cutlery, and linen had the boats name and crest stamped on it.


check out the shine on all the brass - its like nothing i've ever seen

The engine was a work of art. All the stainless steel was shining, the brass all polished to perfection and all on display for a measly gold coin donation. The one berth had a studded red velour V berth and ensuite bathroom with marble shower base, original bakelite toilet seat with brass attachments and brass pump for the flush. The basin was a brass pull down variety like ones I’ve seen on the Titanic that sank. Magnificent! The owner said they were going to invite Princess Mary was going to be invited aboard on her next visit.




The owner also even hand steamed every part of a curved round seat that formed the rear of the boat. All 8 speakers on board were all concealed. All mod-cons including TV screen, computer, alarm system, fridge etc were all hidden and out of the way. It was a work of art and a labour of love.

There were also lovely hand made kayaks, dinghies, model boats and more all made of wood. Just lovely!

Posted by cssc 15:07 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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