Week 9 Hobart to Strahan

Saturday, Nov 17, 2012 at 22:18


You know when you have a perfect hot shower, the water pressure is just right, the hot water is on gas and won’t go cold, it’s not precious tank water, nobody is worrying about the bill and it is impossible to get out before you turn into a prune? Leaving Hobart was a bit like that. Being around great friends, good food and all the comforts of ordinary life was hard to pull away from. If I wasn’t doing this for a cause I would be right back in Hobart paying rent now.

It was worth leaving though. Once I was back on the road, walking through the countryside into the hills again I was back with nature, listening to the birds calling to each other, smelling the grasses, sweet haylage, wet dirt and flowers, standing out in the rain chatting with farmers, waving and smiling to passing cars and singing silly songs in my head.

Local businesses have been overwhelmingly generous as I’ve been crossing to the west coast. Starting at Hamilton Inn with a 40% discount for a loft room for 2 nights with breakfasts. Hamilton Inn is run by a lovely lady with lots of very friendly pets, it is an eclectic place with lots of old antiques in a very old pub in the town that was going to be Tasmania’s capital city. Hamilton Inn does great gourmet vegetarian pizzas too.

On the way up I avoided the hairpin bends near Tarraleah by catching a ride with 4 women from Hobart taking a trip up to Derwent Bridge. At Ouse I discovered they are choralists when they started singing in the old church at the graveyard. They sang a song for me and I was so moved by the beautiful sound of their voices inside the church and their thoughtfulness I couldn’t help crying.

That afternoon I met Cynthia at Bronte Lagoon and we stayed the night at Bronte Park Village who donated a 2 room chalet unit and breakfast and 20% off dinner. When you first arrive at Bronte Park you get the feeling that it is a rough kinda place where the men are tough and the women tougher. It is isolated, they get some real challenging weather up there and almost everyone works on the land, in forestry or hunts. No place for a princess. So it was surprising when we arrived at the Village to be welcomed with beautiful smiles and given a clean well equipped room next to a gorgeous stone lounge with a fire place, veranda looking out over the villas into the forest and a very warm ambient public bar where we had a yummy dinner. Beware the pepper gravy is really hot.

Cynthia is an experienced Tassie bushwalker and search and rescue volunteer and she came all the way down to meet me and share her track notes, maps and photos to help me prepare for next week’s walk up the west coast from Strahan to Marrawah. I was feeling quite a bit nervous about the prospect of walking the coastline and was playing with the idea of following the major 4WD tracks through that section but her stories of walking through there have boosted my confidence enough to really get off the roads and experience Australia’s wildest stretch of coastline.

The walk to Derwent Bridge was beautiful with lots of sunshine and rain. I took lots of photos of more wildflowers. I must have a photo of almost every Tasmanian wildflower now. The day before I saw and chased a few snakes and echidnas for photos but failed to get anything good but this day I at least came across a young echidna who walked right up to me. After finding out the red belly black snakes I had been chasing through the bush are the Tassie tiger snake I won’t be doing any more of that.

Derwent Bridge Chalets and Studios helped me out with nearly 50% off a studio for the night. It was a cosy, clean and very comfortable studio and they gave me a gift basket with chocolates, ground coffee and port wine and free breakfast. I had one of those sleeps when your head hits the pillow you’re out and don’t move or dream until you snap awake at 7am ready for another awesome day.

I had travelled the section of road to Queenstown about 32 years ago and remembered it to be windy and on this trip I was advised to skip it so I don’t create a traffic hazard. After visiting The Wall in the Wilderness where Greg Duncan is carving a 100m wall over 10 years to record the local history of Derwent Bridge I tried hitching but became tired of standing out in the rain and slushy snow. 2 hours of the cold and wet was enough so I settled into The Hotel for the afternoon and caught the bus down to Queenstown where the Motor Lodge surprised me with an very generous discount for a room for the night. They let me stay for just $50 which works out to be almost 70% off. I had another warm, quiet and comfortable night thanks to the owners and staff at Queenstown Motor Lodge.

This morning I accidentally slept in so this blog includes all the excitement of today’s adventure on the West Coast Wilderness Railway. This is a world class rail experience. Not only is it the steepest rail line in the southern hemisphere through some the most rugged rainforest terrain but it is both steam and ABT rack and rail. There is a lot of history attached to the rail and it’s nothing to be proud of. The long term damage from copper mine tailings and aggressive logging have left ugly scars but it is encouraging to see nature reclaiming the region with a little help from the national parks.

Today I had the pleasure to sit with a couple from Melbourne who are having their last big adventure together. The wife has retired early to spend all her time with her husband in his last days. Today they fulfilled a dream and he rode in the engine cabin. You should have seen their faces. She was full of joy for him and he suddenly looked 20 years younger with a huge smile on his face and in his eyes. It was a very beautiful moment and I was lucky to be there to share it.

Life is valuable so treasure it. Each day is another opportunity to have fun, bringing joy to someone else and make this world a better place to live when we love and care for each other.

Take care of yourselves and each other


P.S. I'll put some photos up in the morning before I head up the west coast but after i have a good night's sleep :)
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