Tasmania 2010-2011 Part 3 - Wilderness Area - Straun

Monday, Jul 04, 2011 at 23:38

Navigator 1 (NSW)

Day 35 Saturday 1st January ... NEW YEAR’S DAY Rosny Hill - SW Wilderness Area – Lake Pedder – Edgar Dam
Saturday – Salamanca Markets ... where do we park? You wouldn’t believe it, we scored the same position on Constitution Dock! Before exploring the markets we took time to walk around the stalls at the ‘Taste Festival’ on Princes Wharf where local businesses were showcasing their foods, many using local products. The area was buzzing with excitement!
Time had come to leave Hobart and make our way out into the SW Wilderness Area. We called into Mt Field National Park to check out the camping area but it was privately owned and the fees were $20 u/p and $28 powered. Not for us! We headed off to Lake Pedder leaving the trip out to Lake Fenton and Lake Dobson in the Mt Field NP for our return.
53km before Gordon Dam we made a 30km deviation south to Edgar Dam on Lake Pedder. On top of the earthfill dam wall the winds were freezing! Fortunately most of the campsites were tucked in behind the bushes and were well sheltered. We were amazed at the number of campers for such an out of the way spot but, after all, it is Tasmania’s Wildnerness Area and the site of the controversial Gordon Dam, Lake Pedder and Lake Gordon.
Distance travelled: 155km
Day 36 Sunday 2nd January ... Lake Pedder, Edgar Dam campsite
After breakfast we walked across the wall and back on the lower level, not enough to be of any fitness value but good on the eyes. The mountain scenery in the area was spectacular! The rest of the day was spent talking to campers and late in the afternoon we lit the fire to cook our roast dinner. Firewood was supplied.
Distance travelled: 0 km
Day 37 Monday 3rd January ... Lake Pedder (Edgar Dam campsite) – Ted’s Beach (Lake Pedder)
After stopping at the impressive Scott’s Peak Dam, with a wall length of 1065m, we arrived at GORDON DAM, some 80km on at the end of the road. What a spectacular dam it was! Length of dam wall,198m and the height, 140m . The thickness at the base is 17.7m and at the crest, 2.8m. Its volume, when full, is 12,450 million cubic metres. The purpose of the dam is to provide hydro electricity.
On the way back we stopped at Ted’s Beach on Lake Peddar, a very picturesque area. The beach has a lovely story to it. Edward (Ted) Hofto, Project Manager of the Gordon River Power Developement 1969-1975, developed a great appreciation of the natural beauty of the area. He conceived the idea of a beach to promote tourism and to provide facilities for swimming, fishing and boating. To develop the beach site employees of the HEC (Hydro Electric Commission) stripped back the buttongrass plain to expose the white rock. Ted believed that the erosive action of the rising waters on the course rock would break it down to a finer state and create a beach like appearance. Since the rising water was some distance away at this time, Ted’s idea was viewed with initial scepticism and the area was dubbed ‘Ted’s Beach’. The name stuck and it later became official when the waters rose and it did indeed become a beach.
Just like Edgar dam campsite, the campers came in. The site facilities included a large camp kitchen with electricity, flushing toilets and garbage bins. We drove out onto the beach which was hard packed, crushed course white rock, and set ourselves up in a prime position. During the afternoon several other vehicles took our lead and ventured onto the beach instead of the camping area behind the bushes. One lady said to Chicka, ‘Don’t you think you may have trouble when the tide comes in?’ Chicka replied, ‘I’ll take a risk on it.’
We had an absolutely fabulous sunset.
Distance travelled: ****



Day 38 Tuesday 4th January ... Lake Pedder (Ted’s Beach)
It was perfect weather and picturesque scenery. We relaxed, walked along the beach and talked to other campers.
Distance travelled: 0 km
Day 39 Wednesday 5th January ... Lake Pedder (Ted’s Beach)
We were up bright and early to walk up the service track to the top of the mountain. Alas, we only made it half way!
An amazing feature of the SW Wilderness Area was the rusting high voltage wire towers, the replacement of which has already begun. Where else do you see towers that are not made of galvanised steel!
The rest of the day was spent enjoying the scenery and talking to anyone who dropped in while on their walk along the beach. It was a beautiful day! Late afternoon a Kedron caravan came out onto the beach to join us. The driver was stressed so we gave him a wide berth.
Distance travelled: 0 km
Day 40 Thursday 6th January ... Lake Pedder (Ted’s Beach)
After a good night’s sleep our neighbour had settled down and was in for a chat. He had towed his caravan up and around the very hilly roads without brakes on his van. It’s a wonder he was still alive! He decided to relax for the day and worry about it the next day. At lunch time we all walked out to one of the fishing platforms and enjoyed our packed lunch. Lovely!
Later in the afternoon a guy we had met back in SA, on The Coorong, arrived. He was very mechanically minded and fixed Brian and Susie’s bakes (or as he thought). With him and other campers, we sat around a fire on the beach till it was time to go to bed.
Distance travelled: 0 km
Day 41 Friday 7th January ... Lake Pedder – Lake Dobson
Brian & Susie pulled out before us but before we got on the road they called up on the UHF and said they were returning, the c/v brakes were not working. As there was no mobile reception, Chicka took Susie to Strathgordon to ring for road assistance. With the tow truck on the way, we left and headed for Mt Field NP.
Half way up the mountain to Lake Dobson at Mt Field, it started to rain. The dirt road was narrow but that did not stop the tourists roaring down the hill and around the tight bends. Fortunately we did not collide. In the car park at Lake Dobson there were 6 cars, all of which belonged to walkers. It was still raining so we just climbed through into the M/H, cooked dinner and watched a movie. How civilized things are these days!
Distance travelled: 102 km
Day 42 Saturday 8th January ... Lake Dobson – New Norfolk
We awoke to a glorious day! Several overnight walks start from the car park but we were satisfied with the walk around the lake. What a beautiful walk it was! The boardwalk led through pine trees, Woolly Tea Trees and Tasmanian Waratahs, all of which looked as though they were manicured. The Pandanii Grove gave a strange tropical feel. These pandanni however were not the tropical variety, they were endemic to the area. The second half of the walk took us away from the lake and back down the ski field’s service track.
Winter in this area is apparently quite bitter!
We travelled down the mountain, this time in fine weather, to the Mt Field NP Information Centre from which we headed off on another loop walk to Russell Falls. It was a short pleasant walk but with many, many tourists.
At New Norfolk we stocked up on fuel and supplies they headed off to the caravan park to catch up with Brian and Susie to hear of their eventful trip into town on the tow truck. To our surprise to builder of our Amesz Design M/H was there in the same park. He had mechanical problems and was awaiting a new gear box for his M.A.N.
New Norfolk is the home of a few antique stores, 4 right in the town centre. One, opposite the park, was the best we had ever seen and apparently it features quite often in a prominent home magazine.
And the rain came down!
Our intention was to head to Lake Binney for the evening but the large park 200m from the caravan park looked too inviting to pass.
Distance travelled: 53km
Day 43 Sunday 9th January ...New Norfolk – Lake Binney
We were now on track for Hamilton, Lake St Claire, Queenstown and eventually Straun.
Hamilton has quite a few historic buildings many of which are B&B’s. At the Hamilton Inn we had a cheese platter, a few drinks and learnt quite a bit from the owner. At the town common, where campers are invited to stay overnight, we pick a bucket of tiny plumbs. All quite legal!
Halfway up a lengthy hill we came across a car/camper trailer broken down. Chicka was not happy to leave them in such an unsafe area so out came to tow ropes and we pulled them up the hill to a clearing where they could wait for tow truck from New Norfolk.
Lake Binney had a few camp spots on just off the main road but they had a few too many tall trees so we crossed over the dam wall. A hundred metres or so up the track we found a cleared area right on the water’s edge. Just brilliant!
Distance travelled: 107 km
Day 44 Monday 10th January ... Lake Binney – Lake Burbury
At Derwent Bridge on the Lyell Highway we visited ‘THE WALL’. Here Artist Greg Duncan has a stunning sculpture in the heart of Tasmania. THE WALL in the Wilderness is Greg’s commemoration of those who helped shape the past and present of the Central Highlands of Tasmania. A work in progress, The Wall is carved from three metre high panels of timber, most of which are of our rare Huon Pine. Together, the carved panels will tell the history of the harsh Central Highlands region – beginning with the indigenous people, to the pioneering timber harvesters, pastoralists, to the Hydro workers and miners. The Wall, when complete, will stand at 100 metres long. Greg Duncan’s sculptures will rank as a major work of art and a Tasmanian tourist attraction. This is a MUST SEE! www.thewalltasmania.com
At Lake St Claire we did a short walk and then moved on to Lake Burbury where we camped right on the waters’ edge.
Distance travelled: 124 KM
Day 45 Tuesday 11th January ... Lake Burbury
Early in the morning, although it was drizzling, we decided to stay. For several hours we sat under the awning with another couple, had morning tea and chatted while taking in the wonderful view.
After lunch the light rain cleared so we did a little washing then sat under the awning of the other campers and watched a movie. A don’t know why some people find camping so tough!
Distance travelled: 0 km

Days 46 Wednesday 12th January ... Lake Burbury
The rain had set in so why move! We had morning tea under the awning of our camping companions and watched a movie. Still raining – we watched another movie and the day was over.
Distance travelled: 0 km
Day 47 Thursday 13th January ...Lake Burbury – QueenstownStrahan
Shortly before Queenstown, we turned off to see the Iron Blow Open Cut Mine from the steel viewing platform. It gave an excellent view down into the cut which is now half full of water. The rock face had brilliant colours in it.
Queenstown was as we remembered it from 7 years ago but the surrounding hills, which were once completely denuded, are now regenerating. If it wasn’t for the Wilderness Railway coming into town, it would be dead.
In Straun we booked a trip on the Gordon River Cruise for the following day, had a quick look around, had a long, hot shower in the public facilities and headed up the hill to Watertank Lookout where we spent the evening. From our bed we could see the lights of the small west coast town.
Distance travelled: 68 km
Day 48 Friday 14th January ... Strahan
At 8.00 we boarded the Lady Jane Franklin 11 for our Gordon River Cruise. This is only one of two very large catamarans that operate cruises out of the town. On our previous visit we took a flight over Macquarie Harbour, Gordon River and the Wilderness Area so this time, we were to see it from another angle.
We first headed across Macquarie Harbour and through Hell’s Gate, the very narrow entrance to the harbour. The weather wasn’t the best – strong winds and rough seas. It wasn’t hard to understand why 16 vessels have been lost over the years trying to enter the harbour. In the early days there wasn’t any road access to the area so ship was the only way.
We landed at Sarah Island, the first penal settlement in Tasmania. As we passed by the ruins of the goal, bakery and penitentiary the guides gave a very ‘real’ versions of life on the island. After 12 years, Port Arthur took the place of Sarah Island as the penal settlement.
The cruise down the Gordon River was peaceful and we were lucky that the rain held off while we had a lovely walk through the rainforest for approximately 30 minutes. On our return a buffet lunch awaited us and then, we returned to port.
Once again, we spent the evening at Waterhouse Lookout.
Distance travelled: 9 km

Total distance travelled in Tasmania thus far: 2818 km

The outback calls
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