The Wild West Country

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Tasmania,
Thursday, March 8, 2012

The west coast of Tasmania has yet another change of scenery. The area is very mountainous and has a number of lakes giving some amazing views along our route as we begin to head South in Tasmania. 

This region reminded us most of some of the areas in New Zealand's South Island where we drove around steep winding roads through mountainous countryside and alongside rivers which was absolutely beautiful. The only exception to this beauty was a mining town called Queenstown which didn't have a particularly nice vibe and couldn't have been more different to the stunning Queenstown in New Zealand. It looks like it's a town which has been thrown together quite quickly to service the miners and it's very separated from anywhere else and it just had the feel of a creepy, dodgy ghost town so we just moved on quite quickly to our camping spot next to Lake Burberry. This was a cheap camping spot in the middle of a field and it was freezing.

I think the area must be at a higher elevation because at night we were freezing in our van and we hadn't found other areas anywhere near as cold. When we woke up there was even frost on the ground, just to prove that we weren't just being pathetic in feeling cold. We got setup pretty quickly and headed out but it had rained in the night making the field quite muddy and we got completely stuck. Every attempt to get out of the hole just dug more, making the hole even bigger and us even more stuck. It was clear we'd have to push, so Katy jumped into the drivers seat and I pushed from the back. Fortunately a kind old Australian man came and helped me push. We pushed and pushed for ages, initially trying to push it forward and then deciding to push back out of the hole first and try to get some momentum moving forwards. Eventually we got over the mound I had made and we were out of the mud and over onto the gravel road. I thanked the man and jumped into the van where Katy whispered...
 "Uhh... I had the handbrake on the whole time. Sorry! Don't tell the old man!"

Anyway, all I cared about was that we survived the cold night and were back on the road, and in the day the sun did a good job of warming things up so we drove through Strahan to see Macquarie harbour. It's a beautiful area and a beautiful harbour with a few lighthouses, miles of beach and nobody there. We spent a bit of time on the beach and walked up towards the peninsular to see the lighthouses and the harbour entrance which was pretty spectacular. The sea water was a strange dark brown colour (like coke) very much like the water at Dove Lake and in the middle of the harbour we could see sand bar's forming, so I just can't understand how boats can come in and out of that harbour. It's so weird to be on an amazing sandy beach and for there not to be anyone within sight at all, and we didn't see anyone else on the beach the whole time we were there so had it all to ourselves.

Then it was through the wild Rivers National Park as we headed towards Hobart. This national park reminded us a lot of the Haast Pass in New Zealand as it had loads of stops along the way with walks to waterfalls and places with amazing views. Every few kilometres you could stop and explore a bit. One of the more unusual stops we made was to a 'work in progress' piece of Art called the 'Wall in the wilderness.' In the middle of the national park is a big warehouse with a 100m sculpture wall made out of wood and is being carved into to represent the Central highlands of Tasmania and the people who made it what it is. Although a bit random, it is very impressive and an epic amount of work. It is not even half way done but the detail of the carvings is amazing and you can't believe how lifelike the characters are when they have just been carved into a wall. My only complaint was that it was a bit expensive given that it's nowhere near finished and the rules there are very strict not allowing any photography of any kind. There are signs everywhere warning that if a camera is seen you'll be kicked out. I think we'll have to make a plan to go back some time in the future once it's finished because it's going to be very impressive!
 Our final stop before getting back to Hobart was to Mount Field National Park. We were lucky enough to actually camp in the national park so we had wildlife all around us where we were staying and spent most of our time there trying hard to find Platypus and stop the Possum's from getting our food. Platypus do live there and people had seen them recently but at this time of year they aren't too active so you have to be really lucky to see them. We tried our best, even waking up early to get to the stream in time to see them but with no luck! We can't really complain too much though as we have seen tons of other wildlife!

Tassie has been great. It's very different to the rest of Australia and in some ways feels like it is it's own Country being detached as it is. We have had an awesome time and done a lot in the time we've had and have to confess that all in all, the van was OK. It was never going to live up to our Escape van in New Zealand but it got us all around Tasmania and we had a pretty awesome adventure!
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