Time to reminisce – Tasmania 2006 adventure part 2

Welcome to part 2 of our Tasmania adventure from way back in 2006. It seems like a lifetime ago and it certainly is time to reminisce about what a fantastic trip this was and what an amazing place Tasmania is. At the end of part 1 we were leaving the incredible Hastings Caves in the far south of the state and about to board the vehicle ferry to Bruny Island for a night. Located adjacent to the coast south of Hobart, Bruny Island is a small slither of land accessible via a short (about 20 minutes) ferry ride from the town of Kettering. Once on the island we made our way to the far south of South Bruny Island  and our camp for the night at the picturesque Jetty Beach in South Bruny Island National Park. We set up camp as dark storm clouds rolled in, somehow making this beautiful place even more beautiful. A stroll along the deserted beach at dusk was a great way to end the day. Fortunately apart from some drizzle rain held off until late that night when it came down in buckets. We heard through the night a group of young campers not far from us diving for tarps and when we awoke the next morning, found they had abandoned camp to sleep in their cars. We fortunately were nice and dry in our Shippshape Rooftop Tent and Sandra’s mum in the good old Oztrail tent.

After a rather relaxed start we slowly made our way back to the ferry and onto the “big smoke” or at least Hobart for a few days. Staying in a cabin on the outskirts of the city we spent some time exploring this nautical city, shouting ourselves one night to a nice restaurant dinner before deciding to take a drive up to Mount Wellington and see the twinkling city lights. There was a bit of a chill to the air when we left the restaurant and as we ascended the mountain we watched as the temperature gauge in the car went down, down, down and as it approached the minuses white began to appear on the roadside. After a comment by Sandra’s mum of “is that snow ?” we arrived at the summit in a blizzard with zero visibility. No wonder there was a nip to the air in town.

hobart from mount wellington
Clouds cleared from our blizzard atop Mount Wellington giving a picturesque view of Hobart

Whilst in Hobart we also took a tour of the Cadbury factory and what a great idea that was. Of course we couldn’t leave without visiting the gift shop and stocking up for our trip up the wild west coast.

All too soon our time in Hobart was over but with so much yet to come it was a bitter sweet moment. Not far out of Hobart we began to wind our way deep into the south west wilderness. A short stop and stretch of the legs along the aptly named Creepy Crawley walk was had before finally ending at Lake Gordon and the impressive Gordon Dam, a sight to behold here in the middle of the pristine wilderness.

We then retraced our route back out to our camp for the night at Land of the Giants camping area near the awe inspiring Russell Falls in Mount Field National Park. These falls, although popular are a must see and a stroll along the walking track to the falls after dark is also a must as glow worms light the way along some sections. Simply a magical place. It was also along this walking track earlier in the day we spotted a shy platypus darting across. Too quick to get the camera out.

Leaving Mount Field we ventured further north up the main highway bound for the seaside village of Strahan with a quick stop along the way to view another gem, Nelson Falls.

nelson falls
Another gem, Nelson Falls

Here we were booked on a Heritage Cruise taking in Macquarie Harbour, out to Sarah Island with its historical ruins and cemetery from the convict days and up the pristine Gordon River to the Heritage Landing with a stroll through ancient rainforest. Although the day was overcast and drizzling the scenery more than made up for it.

Back at Strahan it was a dash to get Sandra and her mum to another must when in these parts. The West Coast Wilderness Railway runs a heritage steam train from Strahan through some of the best untouched wilderness on offer ending at the old mining town of Queenstown. Chris would drive to Queenstown as this was our overnight accommodation spot. Do yourself a favour and make sure this train trip is on your itinerary if you are coming here, you will not be disappointed even if the weather is not the best.

Next morning we take in the views over town and its bare almost moon like surrounding hills that are slowly coming back to life after being decimated by many years of tree removals and fumes from copper smelters around town in the past.

Views over Queenstown show the slow rehabilitation of the surrounding hills

Departing Queenstown we made our way further north via another old mining town of Zeehan before tracing the wild west coast as close as possible.

zeehan tunnel
Entering the historic Zeehan Spray Tunnel en-route to the silver mining ruins site, now closed to vehicles

This is a wild, rugged landscape and one of our favourite areas of Tasi. We cross the Pieman River on the Fatman Barge that boasts stickers of  “I rode the Fatman over the Pieman” before emerging at the hamlet of Marrawah.

fatman over pieman
The famous “Fatman over the Pieman”
edge of the world
This aptly named spot on the wild west coast is the “edge of the world”

Leaving Marrawah and back on the highway we take a slight diversion to Dismal Swamp. A giant sink hole, Dismal Swamp is a place like no other where once at the bottom either via stairs or take the slippery slide down from the visitor centre at the top you can meander through the unique forest along walkways and marvel at the many sculptures that are scattered throughout. It is definitely a worthwhile stop.

Further along we call into Stanley and of course take the chairlift up the famous “nut” before strolling around taking in the 360 degree views of the coast and surrounds.

From Stanley we head south and inland calling into yet another “big tree” and beautiful waterfall at Dip Falls en-route to our final destination for this amazing adventure, the not to be missed Cradle Mountain.

dip falls
Enchanting Dip Falls

There is a reason this place attracts so many visitors and even though it can be busy it still does not detract from the sheer beauty and raw ruggedness. Staying overnight here we get to attend the very special Devil Park and get an up close and personal look at these creatures as well as learn about their plight and struggle for survival. It was yet another highlight of what we consider to be one of our best trips.

All too soon it was time to head for the boat back to the mainland and start the planning of our next big adventure. Of course we still had one more place to explore on the way back to Devonport for our night sailing. High up on the Great Western Tiers is the rugged escarpment known as Devils Gullet and the highland lake of Lake Mackenzie, a very fitting way to end our very special trip of the Apple Isle and having Sandra’s mum along for this journey made it even more special. Tassi, you have stolen our heart once again and we will be back.

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