We left Rocky Cape surrounded by thick smoke only to find just a few kms down the road, beautiful clear sunshine. Although not as bad as this place, we have since come across a few smoky areas. We've had many concerned calls from people on the mainland, checking on us as the bush fires seem to be making big news over there. We have been lucky though, not being effected by the fires or floods as some people we have met.
We continued on from Nth West Tasmania down to Strahan via Hellyer Gorge, Rosebery and Zeehan, stopping on route to complete a few of the walks as mentioned in the Tasmania's 60 short walks booklet. Chris is keen to complete as many of these walks as possible. One memorable walk is to Montezuma Falls, an 8km return to the base of the falls and a swing bridge over the deep revine. I lost my sunglasses on that walk while swatting flies away from my head. They fell off and down a steep bank. Chris tried to rescue them for me but they went way down out of sight, never to be seen again. What was funny though was, as we walked back to the start of the walk, Chris went to explore a tunnel and while I stood at the entrance I looked down and found another pair of sunnies that someone else had lost. What were the chances of that?! They looked like they had been there a while so I gave them a good wash and a new home.
When we got to Strahan we headed out to the golf club and made use of the free camp there and surprise surprise! Chris also made use of the golf club. We decided to stay in Strahan for a few days to do the Wilderness Train Journey from Strahan to Queenstown, an all day trip on a old original steam train travelling back through time and history. We also saw hundreds of bee hives in the bush, apparently accounting for around 8 tons of Leatherwood honey each year.
We travelled up and down the Track and Pinion sections with grades of 1/20 and 1/40. Chris got to stand up front at the engine with the driver for part of the return journey, something not many get a chance to do!
After we left Strahan we drove back through Queenstown along the steepest, most winding roads that Tasmania has to offer, heading for Derwent Bridge and Lake St Claire. Lake St Claire was magnificent and another walk ticked off the list. Next we called to see "The Wall" This is where one man, Greg Duncan, has made it his mission to carve Tasmanian history on huge wooden boards, all continuing on to make up the wall. It's still a work in progress and the carvings are incredible with so much fine detail. Not being allowed to take photos, we bought one of the books as we were so impressed with the carvings.
We found a lovely spot at Brady's lake to spend a couple of nights, enjoying the company of fellow campers and some local cattle that wandered down to say hello. The weather was so good we even managed a swim in the beautiful clear water.
Next stop, New Norfolk where we stayed behind Tynwald Park. We had been told that Sloes berries grow around this area and we set out to find some which apparently only grow in Tasmania. Remembering how dad used to make Sloe Gin back in the UK, I wanted to have a go. We did found the sloes and lots of blackberries. Now as we rumble along the roads we have both Sloe Gin and Blackberry Vodka brewing under the bed.
After we had the car Serviced in Hobart we head down towards Cockle Creek, stopping to do the Tahune Air Walk. We walked among the huge trees and about 50 metres above ground for a distance of nearly 700 meters and out onto the cantilever to see where both the Huon and Picton rivers meet.
Now we are here at Cockle Creek, the most southern point in Australia by car. A beautiful remote area and popular with fishermen. It used to be a thriving Whaling area years ago with 5 Whaling stations and 2000 people calling it home. Chris did the walk out to south cape bay, a 15 kms walk and the furthest south on foot.