048. Week 5. Where we spend time in the central highlands and move to Hobart and the southlands…
We have been invited to dinner at neighbours Tim & Jacqie. It happened this way…I noticed two Cowboys Rugby League (NRL) flags flying in their yard. Now this is unusual in Tassie as there is only one sport, AFL. So to see an NRL flag in the AFL homeland deserved an investigation. I introduced myself and the rest is history. Tim works for a company working a gold lease on an island off PNG. He crushes rocks using a special machine. He flies from Hobart to the PNG Island, the trip takes three days. After his shift of two weeks he flies home.
We went to New Norfolk for a few shopping items and to pick up wine & cheese for tonight then headed off to a town called Maydena which had a big Saturday Markets advertised on notice boards. The trip involved crossing the Derwent River, Styx River and following the Tyenna River to our destination, passing through little villages including the delightful Westerway and continuing through Tyenna, Fitzgerald and finally Maydena. There were three tables selling local stuff and three protester tables. It seems there has been a logging protest this week. Police were called and the protesters dispersed. They are back again to commence a blockade on Monday. As this is a logging town the protesters are not popular.
Maydena looks like a typical snow country town and sits in the shadow of the imposing Mt. Field which during winter is covered by snow. I understand the town has snow most of the season as well.
As there was no food available, apart from sausage sangas we decided to drive back to a pub in the bush near the National Park entrance. Good golly Miss Molly! Here is yet another pub with no counter lunches. In all our travels in Tassie we have only encountered one pub still doing counter lunches but it was an upmarket new pub with lots of poker machines and meal prices on the high side. Geez, finding a pub doing counter lunches is like trying to win lotto!
We ended up eating at the National Park café. Our plan to visit Junee Caves where the Tyenna River comes out of the cave mouth has now been cancelled. The road in is very narrow, clay wet, steep and winding. Instead we went looking for Marriott Falls. After a half-hour of walking, the path ended at a creek with no easy way across. The path was becoming overgrown and it is obvious the falls are not visited regularly. The number of spider webs across the path gave an indication nobody had trudged the path today.
The Cowboys lost to Gold Coast Titans so it is goodnight from me.
Day 30. Sunday 12th April 2009.
Happy birthday Donnis.
Church at Ouse (pronounced ooze) this morning.
Once more a very old sandstone building, losing the battle against time. It is well appointed inside and is quite cheerful and brighter than, the church at Gretna.
As a birthday treat I took Donnis to the Salmon Ponds near Plenty. As we were at Ouse we got to travel a new road passing through the villages of Ellendale & Fentenbury. We also passed Meadowbank Lake, a popular fishing location with a free campground. This place is built on two levels, the road to the lower level being quite steep for 200m. Both levels included toilet blocks. We were gobsmacked by the number of tent campers; motorhomes caravans and fifth wheelers camped here. The number of boats also attested to its popularity, being less than 2 hours easy drive from Hobart.
Savoury pancakes for lunch at Salmon Ponds. Even on a cold overcast Sunday this place was doing a roaring trade. We chose the smoked salmon with Camembert for me and smoked salmon with sun dried tomatoes and baby spinach for Donnis. Of course we shared. The salad accompanying the pancakes had a sweet and savoury salad dressing. I am normally wary of dressings because they have too much vinegar. When I asked what sort of dressing, all the staff said, “sorry it is a homemade secret family recipe”. They were serious too. The ponds have been operating since 1842 where they raise young trout and salmon to stock the rivers, streams and lakes of Tassie. The largest trout ever caught in the wild was a 13.7kg monster. Looking at the trout and salmon in the ponds with the largest being about 10kg it would be an incredible arm wrestle landing one of these fish. I almost felt like taking up the sport of fly-fishing. The ponds have wonderful gardens with trees from around the world, many over 100 years old. The property is sited on the banks of the plenty river. An old fisherman hut
is on display along with rods n reels from yesteryear. A very interesting place to visit.
Day 31. Monday 13th April 2009.
Hobart has now experienced our company.
Many people have told us to visit Constitution Dock to experience the atmosphere and the seafood. We found a parking spot out of the way, at the docks and walked around taking in the sights before deciding on a place called Fish Frenzy where we had their special – 2 fillets of fish, three scallops, three calamari rings and chips. We also had a Greek salad and a glass of wine. It was all too much for us and the leftovers were packed in a paper bag to eat for dinner. The good ship Steve Irwin
was in port taking people on free ship inspections but with a big push for donations. There was too much else to see so we decided not to stand in the long queue but to spend our time looking at other things. Such as an art exhibition called “10 Days” which artists around the world were invited to submit art about Tassie all to include in the theme part of a map of Tassie and all on art paper no larger than A4.
By now we felt an ice cream was appropriate so visited a floating fishing boat which serves fresh cooked fish. They also sell ice cream. We sat on a side deck overlooking an enclosed port. This port has a swivelling bridge in the middle and is opened to allow boats in and out. While eating our ice cream the first team runners in the Three Peaks Race crossed the finish line across the water from where we were seated.
This race involves boats sailing in a race to two islands near Hobart, two crewmembers then run to the top of a peak on the island. The final leg is a sailing race to Constitution Dock and the two crew run to the top of Mt.Wellington the final peak and return to the dock. The race is held at Easter each year. On the TV news we saw ourselves sitting on the boat in the background while the runners being interviewed!
We had also been told to visit Salamanca Markets which were not operating today but the regular shops selling fresh produce were open. Oh what fun we had buying local fruit, veg, cheeses and wine. We were also directed to the TasSal shop which is an outlet for Tasmanian Salmon products as well as a selection of other fresh Tassie products. We bought salmon patties, smoked salmon slices and a wonderful fresh loaf of rye bread. Bliss! Even more bliss when we make our very own salmon & Camembert and salmon & sun dried tomato pancakes for dinner tomorrow!
Before leaving we took a walk through the old parts of the area through some back streets and little laneways. The old sandstone houses on tiny blocks reminded me of when I lived at Balmain in Sydney and similar houses and narrow streets and lanes. Back then it was where I lived and went to school. It is now historical Heritage listed, as are many of the houses we saw around Battery Point. We also saw the original gun emplacement and underground magazine and the reason this area is called Battery Point.
The whole area around Constitution Docks, Salamanca and Battery Point are so busy and active and dare I say it – clean.
We found our way to Hobart Royal Showgrounds where we are camped for the night.
There has been no Internet access for a week as our mobile phone data pack refuses to connect so we will seek out a Telestra shop in the morning for help. We also plan to link up with a CMCA man later this week who will tweak this blog site so you can have notification each time we post a new entry.
Day 32. Tuesday 14th April 2009.
Woke to a very chilly Hobart morning and set off for a walk. Did not get more than a bus length before a neighbour in a caravan stopped me for a chat. The upshot was he advised the earliest he could get a booking for the ship to return to the mainland was 19th May. We have not booked at all! His comments put the fear of the Tasmanian Devil in us. So later in the morning I called TT line and asked for a booking around 30th April and viola! They gave me 29th April. Next choice was 29th May!
By 10am we were on our way having decided not to go to Southport as our days in Tassie are numbered. Bruny Island is now out of the picture as it is school holidays and the island is packed. So it was off to Port Arthur for us. Once again the trip took us through many small villages, largest of which was Sorrell. We arrived at Port Arthur
and were staggered at the number of tourists already there and the car parks almost full. The complex is now set up so there is no public access unless you pass through the visitor centre and pay a basic $28 each plus $8 per any extra you might want. A trip in a boat to the nearby women’s prison costs $63 and you want to get off and explore it costs an extra $20. We had arrived late so elected to do no tours but instead find somewhere to stay and look at the situation in the morning.
Day 33. Wednesday 15th April 2009.
A beautiful sunny morning so I took a walk to nearby delightful Stewarts Bay.
While there I mentioned to a local fisherman what a great looking day. His reply was “enjoy it, because in two hours we will get hit by a storm including gale force winds.” Hmmm. Hard to believe with such a sunny day. While we were eating breakfast the clouds rolled in, the wind picked up, thunder and lightning started, the rain bucketed down. No Port Arthur tours for us today. The storm which we received was only a small taste of that which tore through parts of Victoria and destroyed houses in Tassie including the town at Stanley in the north west which we left two weeks ago because of the wind.
We had to re-evaluate our re-evaluated plans. We only just remembered we had mail sent to us at Kingston so headed that way. Alas, no mail. As we were now south of Hobart, decided to head down to Hastings Caves and Thermal Pool
one of the places we cut out of our plans. Arriving at 4pm after crossing the highest mountains known to man, (well, it just seemed that way) Donnis was quickly into her swim gear and heading for the thermal pool despite the cold wind and rain. Oops, Thermal pool is only 28 degrees and although steam was rising from the water, it was barely lukewarm so she only stayed in for a few minutes. Then shivered her way across to the change room and a hot shower! Southport is almost as far south as you can drive in Australia. There is a place called Cockle Creek a further 30 Klms along a gravel road. Will have to make a decision if we go there in the morning. Weather permitting.
Day 34. Thursday 16th April 2009.
This morning we did the cave tour at Hastings Caves.
Very well conducted and as we discovered, part of a very large system of caves in the area.
After the tour we made the decision to drive to Cockle Creek,
the southernmost point you can drive to in Australia. There is free camping for up to 30 days along the foreshore.
National Park allows camping as well but has no clearly delineated limits although they do provide modern and clean pit toilets and one water point. What an absolutely delightful, beautiful, calm and relaxing campsite. We established that a further two-hour walk would bring you to the southernmost point in Australia. Travel further south and you bump into Antartica – eventually. In fact this point is closer to Antarctica than it is to Cairns!
It was still raining so while in the car park debating to stay or not I cooked up lunch. Thin pancakes folded over smoked salmon and Camembert cheese, smoked salmon with sun-dried tomatoes and baby spinach and smoked salmon with mushrooms and onions. Yum!
The sun peeked though the clouds, we chose a spot near the toilets and with a view over D’Entrecasteaux Channel / Harbour and walked along the track and beach, rugged up in our warm clothes, wet weather gear, beanies and gloves. The sun came out for a longer period and we carried much of our warm clothes to a bronze statue of a baby whale near the start of the two-hour walk. Day gradually gave way to night allowing us to enjoy the white sandy beaches and crisp clear water of the bay and lagoon.
Day 35. Friday 17th April 2009.
Up early walking the white sand beach and found the old cemetery dating back to about 1860 when three families settled the area. Some houses/shanties still remain, two in particular sited on a low cliff with stunning views across the large bay. The sun was now dominant so took the opportunity to sit on the beach and read for an hour. Regrettably we have to leave today as Donnis mail should be at the post office in Kingston. If we do not collect it today our next chance will be Monday and there are too many other places to visit.
We leave this great place at noon and stop for chicken at a shop called Legs n Breasts ( a franchise popular in Tassie) in the town of Huonville. If this was not the worst chicken ever it must be tying for first place.
The mail has arrived it is 4.30pm and rather than struggle with peak hour traffic through Hobart we have decided to stay in a caravan park in Snug so we can empty grey and black tanks, take on fresh water and do a load of washing.