Friday 8 February
We found the house, down a narrow muddy track and met our host, Louise and her dog Tessa. Unpacked, were shown the ropes and routines for the dog, chicken and goats, and settled down to dinner.
Saturday 9 February
Louise left early, she was undertaking a six/seven day hike in the southwest! Very heavy rain overnight which continued into the morning, much needed here. We set off to the Farmers Market in Launceston and then to the shops to top up on groceries. Ruth had arranged to meet with Leonie, a friend we had made on our last trip, at Shark Bay. We drove an hour up to Christmas Hills, met Leonie and had a great lunchtime catching up and comparing notes on our various travels, plus future plans. Slow drive back enjoying the countryside.
Fixed the water level gauge on the water tank outside, it was totally jammed up with vegetation! Played with Tessa to give her some exercise. Watched Crocodile Dundee, again!
Sunday 10 February
A cooler night than we had experienced before, needed the thicker doona, and a cool morning, but by the time we set off the clouds had lifted and it had warmed a bit, to about 21 degrees. We drove south tot Evandale for yet another market. This one was a mixture of stalls, lots of bric-a-brac. We took Tessa, who was very well behaved, and snuck her past the gateman as there was a large sign saying no dogs. No-one batted an eyelid. Interesting stuff for sale, but nothing we wanted or could carry home so we just wandered around and then headed back home. We took the country route which lead us to Josef Chromy Winery. We had tried their sauvignon blanc at Xanders and liked it, so we thought we should try some others. They were all good and, of course, we bought a few bottles.
Back for lunch and then a very lazy afternoon, just relaxing, reading, blogging etc. Watched ‘The Magical Land of Oz’ narrated by Barry Humphries on ABC. Great photography and voice-over. Noticed it was co-produced by the BBC.
Monday 11 February
Rain, rain, rain. Clouds rolled in, dumped rain then moved on, so our view of the Tamar below came and went. The breaks didn’t seem long enough to go out though we ventured into the garden between showers to feed the chicken and goats. Fixed the hand-held vacuum cleaner - totally clogged up!
The rain eased a bit so we went out. Took Tessa with us to Waverly Lake so she could have a good run, and she did, she charged around like a puppy. The rain came in again so we left and drove back into Launceston. Spotted a sign for the Cataract Gorge Reserve and decided to have a look. Large carpark, pay until 5pm, it was 4.58 so we parked up and wandered in. There is a cable car across the first basin, but we had the dog with us to we walked around the basin loop. Across the Alexander Bridge, a suspension bridge first built in 1904 with views up the gorge and back across the First Basin. Tessa was excited about all the new smells and even more so when we/she spotted a pademelon hop across the path ahead of us. She pulled on the lead like mad but the pademelon disappeared into the undergrowth and we were able to get her back into the car without further incident.
Back home, ironing, dinner, a bit of tv then bed.
Tuesday 12 February
Rain at first but the clouds cleared mid-morning so we decided to head for Georgetown, on the east bank of the Tamar, near the mouth of the River. We headed up the A7, the West Tamar Highway, turning off to look at Gravelly Beach and Deviot, not very interesting, and then crossed the Tamar at Batman Bridge, the lowest crossing of the Tamar. It was only built in 1966, a 206 metre cable-stayed bridge named after the co-founder of Melbourne. No tolls! Quite a spectacular bridge. We headed on up the A8, the East Tamar Highway to Georgetown. Passed a large HEP station and an aluminium smelting works at Bell Bay, not pretty!
Georgetown, allegedly the third oldest settlement in Australia, after Sydney and Hobart had some historic buildings but otherwise was not very interesting. We drove on to Low Head, the outermost point on the east bank of the Tamar and home to several lighthouses/navigational marks due to the number of reefs and rocks at the mouth of the River. There is a pilot station here built in 1805 and still operational, such is the difficulty of passage into the Tamar. The lighthouse has a unique foghorn “sounds like a thousand elephants”! Built in 1929 it is no longer in use but it is still sounded every Sunday. A very picturesque area; beautiful beaches and rocky shoreline, but today it was blowing a gale so we didn’t wander around for very long.
We headed south again and drove along the Bridport Road, but Ruth felt it was all so boring, and she was hungry so we turned off on the Mount Direction Road and headed south again, rejoining the East Tamar Highway and back to Launceston. We called into Dilton, supposedly and historic town, but apart from the war memorial hall we failed to spot anything historic. On now to Launceston and home.
Wednesday 13 February
Bright skies! Beautiful blue skies and sunshine. It was cold in the house and it was only 14 degrees when we ventured out, with a good breeze from the west. We wanted to take a look at the northeast corner, quite a drive, but we planned to start out, see how we fared and how much driving we would actually do.
We drove north on the A7 turning off at Sidmouth for Batman Bridge across the Tamar and then north on the east bank, the A8, for Georgetown. We had visited Georgetown yesterday, so didn’t dwell, we took the Bridport road, B82, just outside Georgetown and headed for Bridport. Lots of forestry here, though we didn’t see any clearcut areas, just lots of roadkill. We emerged from the forest into open farmland, huge herds of cattle, some of which were alleged to be Cape Grim cattle, and the occasional herd of sheep. Pleasant enough driving.
We passed into the Dorset local government area, a huge area, most of the northeast, with a population of only about 7,000, that’s rural! Turned off to Bridport, sort of spread along the coast, population only 1,600 but this increases vastly during the holiday season, and there were good facilities and great beaches for tourists. We walked along the back of the beaches with Tessa, our ‘dog-sit’, no dogs allowed on the beaches, towards Granite Point. The beaches became smaller and smaller, broken up by large and small granite boulders; very pretty. A drink for the dog and a ‘Timtam’ for us then we drove on.
Back to the B82, the Waterhouse Road, heading eastwards again across the Oxberry Plains, sometimes grazing land sometimes heathland. Our next stop was off the Waterhouse Road to the coast and the tiny settlement of Tomahawk, another holiday destination with beautiful beaches and great views of Flinders and Barren Islands to the north and the Mount Cameron Ranges to the southeast. Apparently there is good fishing here, and we did see a couple of guys pulling in fish off the boat ramp at the far end of the village whilst we were having lunch. The ramp was on a rocky point either side of which the beaches ran away for miles. The sea was calm, the sun was shining, what a marvellous day! Tessa and I had a good run along the beach.
After lunch we drove back to the easterly road and made it to Gladstone. This little town is at a crossroads; all roads bar one lead to various points on the coast - Cape Portland, Musselroe Bay and Ansons Bay, and all were gravel roads. Having just driven to Gladstone along 20 km of gravel road we weren’t keen to continue, so we chose the route to Scottsdale, on tarmac. The road climbed into the Mount Cameron Reserve, above the Ringarooma River, with quite dense forest. We stopped at the Little Blue Lake, very pretty, but we discovered it was what was left after tin mining had virtually destroyed the local environment, leaving the long trench now filled with water. The blue colour of the lake was apparently due to dissolved aluminium salts from the spoil.
So on down the road, it wound down through the Reserve passing through tiny settlements, presumably originally built for the miners; South Mount Cameron, Pioneer and Herrick where we joined the A3, the Tasman Highway. Across a wide vale we dropped into Derby, another small town that has built all-terrain bicycle tracks amongst all the old tin mine workings and spoil tips. We certainly saw all the bike hire shops and lots of people on bikes. It is lovely countryside so the cycling must be good. A nice little town, it has some older building including one announcing it is the Bank of Tasmania, founded in 1888. Along the way on were several side roads to what appeared to be active mines. Mining must have been quite a large employer in this area, and maybe still is? Further along the road was Branxholme which was a settlement spread out along the Ringarooma River and a logging centre with a large saw mill.
On through hilly country to Scottsdale, the regional/admin centre for Dorset, a few older buildings otherwise not remarkable. On along the Tasman Highway we gradually climbed then it became steeper up and over the Sideling Ranges. Great lookout at the top of the road looking back towards Scottsdale, Mount Horror and Mount Cameron. A winding road on through the thick forest and down the other side and across gently flattening countryside until we reached Launceston. Home. Dinner. Bed.