We spent most of today in the van, traveling from Dover to Strahan where we will stay 2 nights to see something of the west coast. Our plan had been to get away at about 8:30 am but, thanks to most of us being ‘early to bed and early to rise’ types, we managed to beat that by about 30 minutes.
I was awake at 6:00 am, but by the time I had showered and dressed, Jim had already been out to enjoy the colourful sunrise over the water and capture some of it on his iPad. I grabbed my camera and got some late sunrise shots before breakfast.
After breakfast we packed and drove to the other house to collect the rest of the group. Although we were earlier than expected they were soon packed into the van and we headed for New Norfolk, our first targeted stop. The GPS directed us on the winding scenic route out of Dover toward Franklin. Sometime after Franklin it sent us up a side road that we found was closed at the top of a hill, requiring a return to the main road. That caused some loss of confidence in its directions, understandable given the map had not been updated since 2008, but problematic the next time it suggested a turn away from the main road before we reached Hobart. We’ll never know how much better or worse that alternative would have been in the Hobart morning snarl. We ground through the traffic into the familiar harbour area and out on the northern road. We were surprised to find the road out just as congested but eventually we reached the roadworks that seemed to be responsible and found clearer passage.
It was approaching 10:30 when we reached New Norfolk. On the way into town we had spotted a sign for The Cake Lady. Majella found the address and navigated us to it. There was easy parking around the corner so we made that our coffee stop. We also picked up the makings for a simple lunch of ham and tomato on bread rolls. We stopped briefly at Tarraleah where some of us needed refreshment and spent a few minutes on the lookout above the hydro station to look down the gorge and wonder at the speed of the water rushing down the pipes. According to the signage it reaches 270 km/hr at the turbines.
Our next stop was at The Wall in the Wilderness just short of Derwent Bridge. We had heard it described as a wall of wood carving 100 m long but were not sure what to expect there. Some apparently imagined trees carved into shapes and I was expecting an outdoor exhibit. It was a large timber gallery building which housed the relief carvings on panels of mostly Huon Pine. The panels are made by laminating planks that are about 40 mm x 150 mm to produce panels that are more than a metre wide, 150 mm thick, and 2 m or so tall. They are held some distance above the floor on stands and are placed back to back down the middle of the gallery. The carvings are in various stages of completion from bare panel with preliminary sketching to fully carved. The level of detail is astounding.
We drove out toward Derwent Bridge, stopped briefly for fuel, and then took the turn to the Lake St Clair National Park. We didn’t have time to do any walks though we did speak briefly with a couple who had just completed a 7 day walk in the wilderness when they asked me to take their photo by the sign. We walked as far as the viewing platform to overlook the lake and then back for ice cream at the lodge before getting back on the road.
Just before we reached Queenstown we pulled off on a short side track to access a lookout above an abandoned mine. We were able to look down into the hole filled with water and across the landscape to the hillsides that had been bare but are now recovering with new vegetation appearing where there had been just dead sticks when Russell and Norma visited 20 years ago.
At about 5:30 pm we rolled into Queenstown where Majella and friends had decided they wanted to shop at the IGA because the proprietor had impressed them with his appearance on the ABC Back Roads program with Heather Ewart when he talked about promoting the local community. He wasn’t there but his staff promised to pass on their messages and assured our group that he would be very pleased.
Our accommodation at Strahan Holiday Retreat is comfortable cabins with WiFi. Those of us without 3G/4G Internet access have been hanging out for Internet after the past couple of nights without it but the connection has been a bit flaky. We are here for 2 nights so that we can take a cruise across Macquarie Harbour and up the Gordon River tomorrow. Dinner tonight was at Hamer’s Bar and Grill, one of a few local eateries recommended by the woman who greeted us at the park. The food was good but after a long day of driving we were happy to eat early and get back to do some laundry and relax.