Tasmania - day 1 Arrived Friday afternoon and got a cab to our accommodation in North Hobart, Rydges'. It's a little out of town but realized a couple of the other AFFers were also staying there. We decided to head off into Hobart to 'Dark Mofo', an annual arts festival of local art, food and wine. We had no idea this was on but loads of people, outdoor open fires, music and a few drink. A great night out. Saturday am Collected at 9.30am and along with 5 others we set off for a weekend of visiting vineyards and wining and dining. Visited Moorilla Winery, lunch and more tasting at Devils Corner, Freycinet Vineyard and finished up Saturday at Malcolm's place on Coles Bay. Set up the open fire and had another couple of drinks before heading out to dinner at Freycinet Lodge. Sunday Headed out from Coles Bay and basically headed straight to Hobart and to Frogmore Creek Vineyard. Had the most amazing lunch there with the dishes being Tapas style but presented beautifully and tasting wonderful as well. Picked up a couple of bits of fudge, cheese and chocolate (as we do) and had a poke around the shop. Headed from there to Pooley Wines but none of us overly impressed there. From there it was back to the Rydges and after such a big weekend, the last thing we needed was more food or wine so it was a night in. Monday Today was a full day driving to get across to Strahan on the west coast. Stops included a cafe at Hamilton, a visit to The Wall near Derwent Bridge. A quick drive out for a photo stop to Pumphouse Point then it was on to Queenstown and Strahan. Queenstown amazed us, totally unexpected but it used to be the main copper mining region in its day and the whole landscape is barren and ugly! There is no topsoil left so vegetation regeneration will take many years even from now. A very windy road from Derwent Bridge to Queenstown and the same again to Strahan where we finally arrived about 5pm at 'Strahan Village'. Tuesday A bright clear and cold morning ready for our trip up the Gordon River. Only a group of about 45 today as this is the middle of winter so tourist season is well and truly off. The cruise took us out through Macquarie Harbour to view the Training wall, a long length of man made rock wall built by convicts now mostly covered over. Also traversed through 'Hells Gate' a narrow point being the only access into Macquarie Harbour. The wider point of entry is shallow and treacherous so allows only the narrow entry via Hells Gate. From there we headed back up Macquarie Harbour and into the Gordon River. The boat slowed to about 3-4 knots for the remainder of our trip in the river. What a spectacular visit. The day was crystal clear and the water could not have been more still. It was beautiful! Took plenty of photos of course. Fabulous day! Wednesday Oh so happy we took the cruise yesterday! It's blowing a gale and the waters are choppy and minimal visibility - what a difference. Today we took the Wilderness Express Railway up past the King River part way towards Queenstown. Very much a damp day but then that's what rainforests are - damp! Lovely old single carriage train as there were only 20 of us on this mid winter solstice trip. Fools all! Still, we were fed smoked Tasmanian canapes to begin with a sparkling Tassie white, followed up not long after with scones, jam and cream - then pumkin soup, then a ham and salad wrap then 2 cake slices. And it was only a 4 hr trip!!! But apart from the food the railway was originally built by labourers as a means of getting the copper from Queenstown out to Strahan in the 1800's. We never passed the 'Dubbil Barril' station put beyond that the track climbs a high gradient using the rack and pinion method of track laying with a chain like rack and pinion line up the middle of the track allowing for the train passing over to 'grip' the pinions and move on to the next one without slipping back down the track. All very complicated but something like that!!! After our train journey we had decided to head straight up the west coast towards Wynyard, just out of Burnie where we had booked our next 2 nights accommodation. The first part of the trip was up and over stuff, past Roseberry, a mining settlement still in operation and minig minerals such as zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold but today mainly zinc. As much as we only zoomed past the tiny place, it was memorable in that it was ugly, muddy and visually not the nicest place to settle. But I guess some areas where minerals are mined, sacrifice their surroundings for the minerals. On over the maountains, through the sleet and hail we struck up higher and on to Tasmanian roads better than any we seem to have in Queensand. Hardly a soul on the roads and large wide, wel maintained stretches of road allowed for a little 'put the foot down' travel. Made it to Burnie in 2 hrs 15 - predicted travel time 2hrs 30. Burnie is actually a largish city it appears but was not our final destination so out along the coast to Wynyard. Not sure why we booked here but we were fine, right on the coast next to the best fish n chip shohp in the area and the lcoal pub serving up huge meals. Thursday We have a full day here in Wynyard but the rain has been peting down all night with a giant weather 'low' across much of eastern Australia. Literally a cold, wet miserable day so just a day out in the car and headed towards Stanley, a small township right out on the outcrop we could see in the distance from Wynyard (when the rain cleared we could see it ayway!!). Stanley is only 50kms from Wynyard but s sleepy little wintery town (pop 480) which actually had a gift and coffee shop open! I think we were the only tourists in the whole town! One sometimes wonders how a small business can support itself mid winter in these small out of the way towns but I guess the summer brings in the cash. Stanley sits right under a HUGE rocky landmark known as The Nut, an old volcanic plug discovered by the explorers Bass and Flinders in 1798, who named it Circular Head. It has steep sides and rises to 143 metres with a flat top. Spent the afternoon in our motel room me catching up on some past due work and Kemm doing a little reading and nanna-napping. What else were we to do on such a crappy day outside! Friday
Travel down towards Hobart as we are heading back home tomorrow.