047. Week 4. More mountains, more rain, then the sun breaks through…
Day 22. Saturday 4th April 2009. Today we drove
through Queenstown heading toward Hamilton but planning to stop at Derwent Bridge. The road out of Queenstown was very steep and winding and gave a good view of the desecrated ground left by the copper mining. Derwent Bridge. Hmmm! A small freedom campground on the highway but what’s this? Another 5Klms from the turnoff is Lake St. Clair Cradle Mountain National Park.
Wow! We get a lake front site, with power and hot showers only 30 metres away.
Well, it is cloudy, windy and raining off and on but we can have our reverse cycle air con operating against the 4 degrees temperature expected overnight. The majority of the people here are all rugged up with quilted parkas, gloves, waterproof pants, gaiters, hiking boots, ear warmers and or beanies and huge back packs. We felt a bit underdressed with long pants, lightweight jacket and walking boots. Then we stepped outside the bus. Boy it was a lot cooler outside. Where can I get me some of those gloves and ear warmers? There are great views across the lake and there are two boats: one is more of a one way delivery ferry which takes hikers to a start point while the other is a fast tourist boat with guide. The weather is too cold, wet and windy to encourage us out onto the lake. Perhaps tomorrow the sun will make an appearance and we can go for a longer walk or boat trip. All the walks require registration before you leave and sign off on your return. The lake, the deepest in Australia at 167m was formed by glaciation some 2,000,000 years ago. The mountain ranges around the lake are variously rounded or sharp and craggy. This is a World Heritage Wilderness classified area and is part of the Gordon Franklin Wild Rivers area. It seems visitors from all over the world flock here and at all other places within the greater National Park. This visitor centre is different from Cradle Mountain in that it has a commercial entity within the park that operates the campground and a very nice chalet complete with bar and dining area.
Day 23. Sunday 5th April 2009. The day dawns with a nice appearance by the sun but alas it is brief and infrequent. A bitter wind is blowing. We stay inside for a few hours with the comfort of the AC. It is a good chance to catch up on our notes and photos. When we do venture outside it becomes clear we need gloves and something to keep our ears warm. Donnis solves that problem by pulling her jumper arms over her hands and wearing a scarf over her head. I need to buy gloves and pull the hood on my jacket and then hood on my raincoat over my head and pull them tight. My ears are still cold but no longer painfully so. Geez! What a woos! In the afternoon we decide on a walk to a place called Waters Meet and another called Platypus Creek.
Great views of the lake and mountain. As we trudged back to camp along the beach, something started to make a noise on our hoods and little beads of ice bounced off us onto the ground and instantly melted.
Soon it was snowing and beginning to build up in crevices and on rocks and logs. It stopped before we got back to the bus and turned on the AC. Oops! It made some funny noises and no longer pumps out any air. Darn! Bugger! @#$%! It snowed overnight.
Perhaps 2 or 3 inches. Our doona kept us warm. It is clear if the AC no longer works we will need a small fan heater to survive when on shore power.
Day 24.Monday 6th April 2009. Today is the end of Daylight Savings. Now all clocks will be the same again. Yahoo! We are due in Hamilton today.
Most of the caravans and rigs are already leaving. As we drive out of the park and along the highway it is clear there has been good falls of snow overnight. Although the ground is not totally covered, most rocks and fallen logs are coated with 2 or 3 inches of snow. I am driving a great deal slower than normal today. The roads are icy and damp after the snow and I do not want to get into a situation where driving skills get tested to my limits. Thank you to Maria and Des for the use of the cottage in Hamilton. It is a delightful original stone built (around 1830) residence with some alterations in the last 100 years and recently restored in the last 5 years. The modern conveniences fit in well with the retained charm of almost 200 years of existence. The Clyde River runs through town so council has set up a riverside walk through a series of spring loaded gates in a number of paddocks. A good idea from council. Regrettably the walk is now in need of a good deal of maintenance and there is only one sign at the beginning of the walk and none at all at any of the gates or even at the end. We have no idea if we completed the walk or not. It was still chilly late in the afternoon and we wore our gloves and hoodies. It was while on this walk a thought occurred to me. I always believed Tassie does not have snakes. (Probably confusing it with NZ) Tassie has three species of snake, all venomous. The most venomous and aggressive is the Tiger Snake. Its habitat is along wooded river, lake and creek beds. We were walking in the snakes preferred territory. Shelley, our neighbour, confirms she has Tiger Snakes on her property near the creek but has never seen them around the house. Comforting thought!
Day 25. Tuesday 7th April 2009. Today we took a drive to Glenorchy for shopping. First we needed a Bunnings Hardware store. There was more staff than customers. The store is undergoing renovations and stock was being counted in preparation for moving. We needed a replacement grey water discharge on/off tap. Somewhere along the way the original tap has been hit by a rock and broken the bottom half of the fitting. On or off it leaks. Bunnings did not have anything suitable and I do not have the tools to remodel any changes. We also needed a brass door catch fitting for our bathroom door. Over the years the lug shoulders on the fitting have almost worn away so the catch no longer keeps the door closed while travelling. We also “dined” at Maccas so I could use their free wi fi. What a laugh. An hour and a half and a flattened battery only achieved two photos uploaded onto our blog. Perhaps because it was lunchtime all us geeks are on-line at Maccas but all I could get was 15kbps. Our little phone data pack delivers 120 KBPS. I am going to have a serious talk with the “voice” inside our GPS. On the return trip to Hamilton I followed the directions even when it told me to turn off the main highway. A half-hour out of our way and some heart stopping steep and twisting curves later we were back on the highway. Much of the hillside driving was in third gear, some in second, going up incredibly steep hills and coming down was also in third with exhaust brake engaged and brakes on most corners, some had 25Kph signposted and the road had no centre line and a shear drop off. This was a scary drive. Donnis has left finger indentations in the dashboard. Hmmm. Perhaps this was a cosmic way of 1. Showing us something different or 2. Testing my driving skills. We achieved both.
Day 26. Wednesday 8th April 2009. Today was a visit Mount Field National Park. Some spectacularly tall gum trees, tree ferns and moss, moss, moss growing on everything. At the end of one walking trail was a tripled tiered waterfall called Russell Falls.
Donnis said the trees and moss and muddy ground reminded her of National Parks on Vancouver island, Canada.
Having been there myself I agree with her, especially about the muddy paths. The drive to the park, although only 47 Klms took us an hour. The drive was generally along narrow steep and winding roads. One section of road dropped away to the Derwent River way below us. It was hard to concentrate on the road and the scenery. Once down in the valley we passed through hops growing properties and raspberry fields. Unfortunately we just missed the harvest for both. The drive to the National Park was mostly through the Derwent Valley
and included some interesting towns such as, Bushy Park, Glenora and Westerway; the latter was really cute being built on the banks of the Tyenna. On our return we drove through Plenty where there is a trout farm. We continued on to New Norfolk and stopped for a walk around town. Much of this town is quite pretty with many houses being built on the hillside overlooking the Derwent River. Once back on the highway we passed through a town called Gretna Green.
I was amused by the name because when I was a child my Nana had a biscuit tin in which she kept her knick-knacks. She gave it to my dad who in turn gave it to me, by which time the original paintwork was much obliterated by creeping rust. Anyway… the biscuit tin had a painting of a blacksmith at a place called Gretna Green – obviously in the UK – and a poem was written around the sides of the tin. So as we drove through the town consisting of only a few buildings a small smile of remembrance arranged itself on my face.
Day 27. 9th April 2009. We decided on a lay day today. No driving at all. We would just stay at the cottage, read, clean up a few things on the bus, and do a load of washing. We mostly got those things done except the bus did not get started until the afternoon. When visiting Mount Field we had tracked a lot of mud into the carpet so it had to be thoroughly dry, vacuumed, then washed. The fridge was defrosted and I took the worn door latch off the bathroom door. The person who put the latch on in the first place drilled too many holes so in fact the lugs were worn because it was not fitted correctly. @#$#%! I cannot fit the new latch without some more drilling so will leave that job until we get home. In the meantime I will fit a few tabs of velcro.
I went for a walk down to the river and took some photos then wandered to the old church on the highway and took photos of the church & cemetery.
From the highway the church looks sort of a new building. Up close it is evident that age has taken a toll and cracks in the stonework and mortar reveal a building badly in need of work. There were no signs declaring services and in fact on the town notice board several church services are mentioned in nearby smaller towns but none for Hamilton. We met a neighbour, Justin, today. He is a keen hunter and fisher. He showed us the head and neck of a deer he shot two years ago. It is mounted on a wall along with several antlers from other kills. This specimen was good enough to be stuffed by a taxidermist. Justin does not shoot for the sake of killing. He has permits and enjoys the venison. He hangs, butchers, dresses and prepares all the cuts of meat himself. As the season is only a few weeks and his permit allows only two “kills” his time in February and March are tied up in this process. He is also a keen fisherman and proudly shows a photo of a 12.5 Kg trout he caught last year. Day 28. 10th April 2009. Good Friday. Today we had two widely and wildly different events. Donnis wanted to attend a church service at nearby Gretna. The church was built about 1842. 12 Work commenced after the church at Hamilton was completed. This church also requires a good deal of work but it still stands and performs the function it was built for, so many years ago. All conversation on the way in was performed in hushed whispers. It was requested that once inside, silence be maintained until exiting through the church doors. The service was different. It was called a “TENEBRAE” (Tenebrae is Latin for shadows or darkness) service intended to be conducted in silence except for the various passages being read by members of the congregation and interspersed with hymns. Thirteen candles are lit; the Pastor extinguishes each after each passage is read. Finally only one candle remains and it too is extinguished after a few moments silence and the church is in darkness. Well, not really, light still came in through the stained glass windows. In the churchyard a bell tolls, a lonely forlorn sound. Then the congregation leaves the church in silence. We drove to New Norfolk expecting a counter lunch. Nup. None of the pubs were doing lunch today but the poker machine players were in full swing. No other drinkers were in any of the pubs – just the gamblers. After a hearty Subway lunch we went for a ride on the Devil Jet Boat. This was a wild thirty-minute ride along the Derwent River in water sometimes only 18 inches deep. We performed 360 turns around rocks; tiny islets and zig zagged among the willow trees. I lost my land legs but Donnis felt mighty uncomfortable with seasickness! It was also a good thing they supplied wet weather gear to wear as I got very wet in the face and hair. Donnis wisely wore her hood. Donnis cooked up a hearty chicken and vegetable soup for dinner.