Tasmania & New Zealand 2014 travel blog

The waterfront at Strahan

Mahinna (open up full screen to read)

Set for "The Ship That Never Was"

Ocean Beach before sunset

Sunset at Ocean Beach, near Strahan

Before we left Waratah this morning, we went and looked at the waterfall across the street from the hotel, and at the small waterwheel (which isn’t powering anything). It honors a man who made Waratah the first industrial center (in Australia) to be lit by hydropower!

It was supposed to be a little over 2 hours to Strahan, but that was not allowing for multiple sections of roadwork. When we went through Rosebery we looked for petrol, but did not see it. So when we got to Zeehan, that was high on our list (we were down to a quarter tank). There appear to be 2 stations in Zeehan, and both are unmanned (!), requiring the use of a credit card with a PIN. I have a PIN for my debit card, but not for my credit card. Anyway, it was not taking either of my cards and they would not sell us any gas!

So we were on to Strahan. Again, these are all 2-lane winding roads. We had no reservations, but expected we could find something since we were arriving early. And indeed, when we got to Strahan, our first stop was a caravan park. They had a cabin, which cost more than I expected, but we don’t have to sleep on the beach. We are in a reasonable cabin, with a bedroom, bath, 2 bunks in a hallway, and a kitchen/living room. The only free wifi in town is at the town library – from 12:30 to 3:30 on Tuesday. So we will do the hourly bit.

We decided to walk into town, and found the Tourist Info Center. They were very helpful, booking a room for us at Derwent Bridge. So now we had a place for tonight and tomorrow night. I began to relax a little.

We went through their excellent museum, called West Coast Reflections. It had some very thoughtful history of the area, including the native peoples who lived here, their treatment by the Europeans (guess how they were treated), the “piners” (mostly former convicts who made a living timbering out in the wilds), and finally the green movement triggered by plans to build dams on various rivers. A few were built, but then resistance built up and “greens” had a major effect on Australian politics.

Then we found a place to recharge my phone, which seems to be working now. Now I really began to relax. We shared an order of fish and chips (“ocean trout”, which tasted like a mild salmon). The fish was not battered—it was a grilled fillet, and very good. We walked around town a little—it is a very small town, very touristy.

There is a place that does woodworking, mostly with Huon pine. Huon pine is a Tasmanian species that is extremely tough, extremely attractive, extremely slow-growing, and extremely long-lived. Huon pines live for 2000+ years. How do you manage a sustainable forest of Huon pine? Currently the shop sells unfinished slabs and blanks for bowls, etc. from naturally fallen trees. They also sell beautiful finished pieces (at sky-high prices). It was fun looking at them.

Then it was time to go to the show, “The Ship That Never Was.” They claim this is the longest-running show in Tasmania—once a day, every day, for over 10 years. There are 2 actors, and it is very interactive, getting most of the audience members involved. It tells the story of some convicts who worked in a shipyard and basically stole a boat they had just built, and escaped to Chile. It was told in a very humorous way, and enlisted many audience members to play parts in the play.

Our final destination for the day was Ocean Beach, which is 33 km long, very flat beach, with heavy surf. I counted as many as 7 or 8 rows of breaking surf. We stayed for the sunset. A good finish to a day that ended better than it started.

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