Tasmania: Northern Central - Day 2

Monday, Dec 27, 2004 at 11:05

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

The crossing of Bass Strait was fairly uneventful, even though the rest of the world was waking to news of the devastating effects of a Tsunami. Our crossing last night was relatively comfortable in our cabins (more so for Sandy & Colin who didn't have kids in their room) after watching a great sunset from the decks as we cruised down the eastern coastline. During the day, which was sunny and warm, we based ourselves upstairs with wonderful views out the back of the boat at the vast ocean of Bass Strait that seemed to stretch in all directions for eternity. Quite an experience for anyone whether you like the open ocean or not. Our arrival in Devonport at 5pm was a few hours later than planned due to the delay in departing Sydney yesterday. We felt a definite change in weather, having left a very hot 30 degrees in Sydney to a breezy, cloudy day of only 19 degrees in Devonport.

The procedure for disembarking the ferry was relatively painless with passengers called to their vehicles in the final stages of docking. There were 3 parking levels used by travellers and we all disembarked in queues and were directed into the Quarantine checkpoint. Gas bottles (which are removed before boarding and stored separately from the main hold) were then collected and our small convoy assembled on a large grassed area to prepare the vehicles (attach aerials etc) before hitting the streets. However, this simple task took us 30 minutes because we dropped the allen-key nut that is required to mount the UHF aerial to its base. All four of us (Colin, Sandy, David and Michelle) crawled around on the grass trying to find this "needle in a haystack" and we eventually did at 6pm.

Due to the Quarantine regulations, we did not have any vegetables or fruit with us so we also needed to stop in Devonport for fresh supplies, further delaying our progress towards Cradle Valley. It proved to be a time consuming stop once packing all the supplies into the vehicle and performing necessary comfort stops for the kids. It was well after 6.30pm before we left Devonport and therefore 8pm before we rolled into Cradle Valley only to find things were not as we expected. There is no camping at the National Park proper - but a commercial caravan park just outside the park entry. We were tired, very cold (it was actually sleeting outside) and the worst news was that they had no vacancies. The weather had suddenly changed (as we soon learned it does frequently in Tasmania) in the final approach to Cradle Valley and we were not prepared for the sub-zero conditions so we were happy to ask for a cabin but of course they didn't have any vacancies of those either. Nor did any of the other lodges in the area. Determined not to accept the advice of the caravan park that we would need to drive back to Devonport, we insisted on some advice for bush camps nearby and found an incredible place.

We were told to drive back towards Moina, take a left track (un marked), and drive along a formed dirt track through paddocks to Lake Gardiner. Look on the left for a gate marked " Camping, but please shut the gate" in a paddock at lake edge. Without our laptop and OziExplorer leading the way on NatMap Raster maps we could not have found it (and yes, the waypoint and information will appear in our new Trek Notes when published).

The most surprising thing of all was that we were not the only campers, with 2 large groups of local campers setup along the lake edge - each with an above ground pool setup as a hot spa using pumps to bring the water up from the lake and generators to heat the water! They had music and all sorts of raucous behaviour including fireworks. It was quite a shock to the system for a 5 degree night but we kept to ourselves and struggled to find some wood in the dark and long grass. David's first priority was to get a fire going and mine was to get the kids to bed.

Chardae was the first to bed but it was already 9pm. Leah was excited to be out camping again and helped build the fire but we got her into her swag at 10pm when we started to cook dinner. We managed to make pasta with fresh ham left over from Xmas Day, fresh mushrooms, uht cream and pesto but by 11pm the lot of us stumbled off to bed confused about where we were and not thinking pleasant thoughts about our visit to Cradle Valley!

It was exceptionally cold and I think this is why Chardae was unsettled during the night. I had to go to her 3 times - each time unzipping myself from the swag, adding additional clothing to enable myself to crawl out without freezing, open her tent and sit with her to settle her.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Always working not enough travelling!
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