Aus Update 28 - Tasmania

<Chris> Firstly an apology to all our regular readers. There have been no technical hitches preventing us publishing an update - I guess we just got really deep into the relaxing part of our trip and it just never seemed to get done. We've just spent 5 weeks or so at Paula's parents place in Tasmania and now we're back on the mainland starting our trip up the east coast. We'll try and get back to at least weekly updates.

<Paula> 16-Dec. We boarded 'The Spirit of Tasmania' at the port of Melbourne. We drove on the ferry through an opening in the front of the boat, it did look rather weird. 

16-Dec-2007.  <Chris>.  I'm sure the guy directing us where to park hadn't looked at the height of our roofrack as he was insisting I moved over faster. Not to worry, I went around the protruding ceiling obstruction and still ended up where he directed us.

We had a look around the boat and decided to sit in our assigned chairs and try to sleep. Paula was very unfortunate. 3 children were placed to her right and the small boy directly next to her fidgeted and fidgeted trying to get his blanket right. Then he took his shoes off (phew!), then he finally snuggled down and kept leaning on Paula. Needless to say, Paula didn't get much sleep. I sort of managed to doze, but was concious enough to notice some swaying sometime during the night when we must have been right out in the middle of Bass Straight. I kept thinking I must go up on deck and see how big the waves were, but I obviously wasn't that awake. 

17-Dec-2007. When we arrived in Devonport around 7am, we stopped in at McDonalds for breakfast - what a treat, we hadn't done that in a long time. We drove west along the northern coast of Tassie,  via the town of Penguin where we stopped and looked at their Sunday markets. By the time we arrived in Burnie, neither of us were feeling alert enough to either keep driving or shop for lunch, so we simply pulled over in a carpark and went to sleep. Paula in the back on the bed, but I foolishly didn't bother to climb into bed and sort of dozed off in the drivers seat, waking up with a rather stiff neck. Anyway, it helped catch up on the previous nights sleep. After buying some groceries, we picked a route towards the south and headed off to see what we could see.

When we reached the town of  Waratah we decided we had found a place to stay for the night. It was a tiny town. They had a rest stop at the back of the council buildings and you picked up a key for the ablutions block from the petrol station/takeaway/TAB/bank which seemed to be the only shop left in this rather beautiful but pretty deserted town. Apparently it was one of the first places in Tassie to capture hydro electric power, but the only remains of that seem to be some lakes and ruins.

18-Dec-2007.We woke late'ish and decided we'd better get going. We drove south towards the coast via Savage River and Corrinin where we had to use  a car ferry. The weather wasn't the most wonderful and we got lots of pictures of clouds as we traveled through some quite remote logging/mining country. When we reached the car ferry we saw a sign that said the following:


1) Drive up and down Car Park looking for Bridge
2) Park at Information Centre
3) Then park in Car Park
4) Drive to Kiosk and ask is Barge Operator still in Bed or how do you get across on Barge if there is no Operator?
5) The Quickest and Easiest way is when you are ready Park on road at STOP SIGN and a Barge Operator will come.

So we stopped at the sign, and the barge which was probably a 1/4 of the way across the river with another car stopped and came back for us. We were a little worried because we didn't have enough cash with us, but as we boarded the barge we saw a Visa/Mastercard sign on the window and thought that would be ok. The operator started off across the river again and Paula hopped out to arrange payment. As soon as he saw her card he stopped the barge again and went back to the bank. He apologised and said that the sticker was a little mis-leading. You actually had to make credit card payments at the tiny general store. I'm sure the other people on the barge were thrilled with us by this time. It turns out that the barge is actually quite slow, so unless he is more than half way across, he always returns.

We continued on through the historic town of Zeehan to Strahan which is right on the west coast. <Paula> It is hard to believe that Zeehan was once a town of 11,ooo boasting some 29 hotels, now it is just a sleepy little mining town.</Paula>

Main street of Zeehan. Note the fancy facades. Most are still 100% functioning shops.

<Chris> We called in at the visitor center at Strahan. We were interested in going on one of the boat cruises up the Gordon River, but rather balked at the $120-$180 each fares for a 4 hour cruise, so decided to pass. We instead opted for looking through the $4 display at the visitor center which gave us a very good history of the area, the background on the historic challenge to prevent the hydro damming of the Gordon River and some info about the Huon Pine loggers. As I backed out of the visitor center I met something with a rather loud bang. I just couldn't figure what I had done, I could see a pole out the back window and it was still at least 3 feet away. Turns out that said pole was mounted in a very large rock that I couldn't see out the back window. Fortunately it just made a little dent in the bumper, missing cracking the light by about 2 cm. I was annoyed but relieved it wasn't any worse.

Looking down on Strahan. I'm sure it looks much better when the sun is out.

We hadn't seen many fuel stations, and as we were leaving Strahan we saw one that offered LPG. It was raining and there was somebody else already using the bowser, so we skipped it, figuring that we'd be able to get some at the slightly larger town of  Queenstown. That turned out to be incorrect. Although there were two service stations in Queenstown, neither supplied LPG. Not to worry, we would just have to keep stopping every couple of hundred km's and get more petrol.

We stayed the night at a place called Lake Burbury. Although it's almost Christmas, the camping area was pretty deserted. It was raining, but fortunately that was obviously the expected norm, and they provided a very nice large shelter where we were easily able to cook without getting wet.

Lake Burbury

19-Dec-2007.As is often the way, we found a group of national parks all together and ended up walking Nelson Falls, Franklin River (both a mountainous lookout and the river itself)  and Lake St Clair all on the one day.  <Paula>  I find the south west of Tasmania a very beautiful place with it's  rugged mountains and amazing rivers.  The Southwest is a heritage listed national park, which came about probably partially as a response to the actions of the Hydro Electric Commison in damming rivers.  Which was to supply the state with an abundance of electricity to entice industry to set up in the state.  Good and noble intentions however, in the late 70's the Franklin River became world famous in an endevour to stop the damming of this last wild river in the state.  The Gordon River and Lake Pedder had already been flooded but plans for the Franklin were stopped.

Franklin River (down the bottom, we climbed a very large hill to look down at it)

Lake St Clair - this is the start (or finish) of the famous overland track.

<Chris> We continued on through Derwent Bridge and south toward Lake Pedder where we were planning to stay the night.  We were using petrol because we hadn't found anywhere after Strahan to fill up with LPG, and after asking at a couple of places found that New Norfolk (just south of the turn off towards Lake Pedder) was the next place. Well we started to have a few problems with the car running rough, particularly up hills. I thought it seemed like it was starving of fuel and I thought maybe the float was sticking from rubbish that might have dried out in there due to the fact that we rarely use petrol. I stopped and ensured the fuel filter wasn't blocked, and after blowing it out, the car seemed to run again for a bit but eventually we decided as it was getting late, we just didn't want to end up stuck on one of these steep hills in the dark, so turned round to head toward New Norfolk. Well we got within about 3km's of New Norfolk and it just finally staggered to a stop. Sitting there trying to decide what I would try next I just tried cranking one more time and the jolly thing just started and ran all the way into town. When we got there, Paula went into the first service station and asked where we could get LPG (autogas). Seriously the service station attendant didn't seem to have ever heard of the stuff, but we found it at the Woolworths store (and even got our shopper docket discount). Given that we were now only about an hour from Paula's parents place, we decided we would return to Lake Pedder another day and headed straight for their place. Paula's dad had actually gone to the airport to pick up her mum who was just returning from the music conference she'd been to Melbourne for, so we had actually let ourself in and had a shower before they turned up - talk about making ourselves at home - I felt a bit cheeky :-)

We had a number of family Christmas events. On Christmas Eve we all went for a meal up at Aunty Dawns place.  Jill & Kerry were home for Christmas and Cheryl & Brian were there as well. On Christmas day, Kevin & Monica had Craig, Madeline, Allison, Matthew, Kim, Rachel, Grace & Claire over for lunch. Warren & Emisha joined us all for tea, and afterwards a few games of fast scrabble and a fun game of pictionary.

Clockwise from front: Chris, Paula (hidden), Madeline (hidden) Matthew, Grace, Craig, Rachel, Allison, Kim, Claire

Clockwise from front: Grace, Craig, Rachel, Allison, Kim, Claire, Chris (hidden), Paula, Madeline

On Boxing Day, we went to Aunty Carmels to join the  extended Rosevear family.

Somewhere just before Christmas the washing machine decided to die a horrible death. It was making some horrible noises and leaking. It turned out that one of the bearings had collapsed. I was able to get replacements from a store in Hobart and Kevin & I spent some time outside bashing the old ones out with screwdriver and hammer. We thought we had it all sorted out, but once we had it all back in the laundry again we discovered that the leak was actually due to a crack that had appeared in the perished front rubber so we had to take it all outside again and replace that too. Not to worry, it's all repaired now and will hopefully do another 15 years of service.

Kevin supervising the washing machine running a test cycle outside.

30-Dec-2007. We went to church at Margate with Jill & Kerry and afterwards went and had a picnic lunch then walked down a very long hill to Snug Falls.

Snug Falls

1-Jan-2007. We decided to revisit Lake Pedder (remember we didn't get there on the way) as a family day trip. Lake Pedder was vastly expanded from it's natural state & the Gordon River was created by several dams to form a massive hydro storage area. The levels are actually starting to fall to worrying lows with the current drought situation. 

The mountains behind Scotts Peak dam

The Gordon dam. I actually walked down on top of this. It was fairly vertigo inducing, the dam is actually an overhang.

Looking out over Lake Pedder

<Paula> Lake Gordon has a massive power station under the ground and it is fed from both Lake Gordon and Lake Pedder.  Lake Gordon was formed from the damming of the Gordon River, and Lake Pedder was expanded immensely in size by the damming of the Serpentine River and the Huon River (Scotts Peak Dam).  The Gordon Dam is the largest in Australia and a very immpressive sight. To give you an indication of size the white dot in the photo above  at the edge of the dam is a person on the stairs.  I don't have the actual figures with me at the moment but it took many years to build.  While we were there a couple of the workmen that worked on it were there visiting for the first time since they finished it.  It was interesting listening to their stories.

<Chris> On our return trip we stopped in at the Salmon Farm. It produces many of the fry that are released into rivers across Australia & NZ for recreational fishing.

Paula feeding the salmon

Some pictures from our time in and around Huonville:

One day we had been up to Hobart and we stopped off on Mt Nelson and took this picture of the city.  Mt Nelson was used as a signal station.

<Paula> This is looking out over Huonville and the Huon River from Scenic Hill south of town. Take away 50% of the houses and it would look like it did 20 years ago. The house I grew up in is in this photo  but a little hard to point out.

Jan-2007. <Paula> While we were relaxing at mum and dad's we went for a couple of more day trips; one to  Cockle Creek and another to Bruny Island.  Cockle Creek is the end of the road heading south.  It was  a really good day.  Bruny Island was another great day.  We drove around the whole island, learning a little of the history and enjoying the fabulous views.

Cockle Creek

Ferry to Bruny Island

It was really good to spend some time at home with mum and dad and not have to worry about rushing off again to get back to work.  We really enjoyed it.