WEST TO THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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Mileage @ Stanley: 12681
Weather:16 degrees at 10.30, sunny
Journey: Stanley, Smithton, Marrawah, Dismal Swamp, Arthur River
We congratulated ourselves for finding such a lovely free camp at Stanley and thought we would probably be back here on the return trip.
The 22km trip to Smithton was through beef and sheep country and Kath noticed the pastures from which her delicious beef had come!! Smithton had a very nice vibe; it was a service town for the surrounding agricultural areas, set on Duck River, and seemed to have lots of young families and everyone was very friendly and welcoming! We found out later it has the biggest timber mill in Australia operated by Gunns. We discovered some good fresh vegetable outlets there and stocked up.
We had read quite a spiel about "The Dismal Swamp", another Forestry Tasmania adventure development and turned off the highway to check it out. It is situated in the Tarkine Wilderness and features a 110 metre slide down into a blackwood forested sinkhole. There are mountain bike tracks and a modern Information Centre but we were not tempted to pay for the adventure, although Kath did purchase a new cap at half price.
50 kms west, through lush green paddocks, we reached Marrawah, the surfing beach that had stayed in our memories from a previous visit to Tassie.
It is a huge, wide, wild place and surfing championships are held here to separate the men from the boys. There is a tiny camp ground, a shelter shed, toilets and grand beauty; on this day there were some older guys in wet suits catching the surf, which apparently was not too good, and 10+ vehicles of tourists like us ooing and aahing and taking pictures. It was windy and we could see in the distance, about 15kms north, the wind farms of Woolnorth at Point Grim where the Roaring 40s whip up energy for Tasmania. By the way, these winds up to 180km/hr supply the cleanest air in the world to this north/west point. A few kilometres away the busy Marrawah pub would be an attraction after a day in the surf!!
We had thought about camping here but decided to move on to Arthur River. We visited the “Edge of the World” where the Southern Ocean beats the shores and the Arthur River spills into the beach bringing with it masses of dead tree logs. According to some tourist literature, the forests around the Arthur River have never been logged, burned or damned! It feels very remote and the wind adds to the wild ambience. Strangely enough as we got back into the van, a man approached us for 2 tea bags so that he could make his wife a cup of tea. He had brought everything except the tea and we chatted for a while. Sheila commented on the oddness of supplying tea bags at the edge of the world.
It was mid afternoon so we went looking for our overnight site and found a sheltered spacious one at Manuka Camp ground run by Parks and Wildlife Services for $4.50 pn. Toilets and water supplied. The huge camp ground was in different sections, all with gates and most covered with rather permanent looking caravans and paraphernalia- you would not be made welcome in these areas so we stuck to the open field and felt this was the proper thing to do!!!! We did not connect with any other campers because the evening was bitterly cold and everyone was huddled around a fire or else inside.
The town of Arthur River is tiny and seems to be fishermen and tourist operators. Early the next morning we took our daily walk through the town to the beach and then to a ramp on the river and decided we would move on after breakfast.
We did notice with intrigue a stream of men in 4x drives towing quad bikes and fishing gear through town and decided that to avoid risking their cars on the surf washed sand they would change over to the dune buggies when the roads ran out. We also noticed they looked very happy!! We had read a story in last weeks "Weekend Magazine" from the Australian Newspaper about a remote shack on Sandy Cape Bay, south of here where the journalist travelled a hair raising 10 kms along the watery beach to reach the owner's very simple shack for fishing and chilling out. This scene seemed to fit in with that story.