Wednesday 20 February
Ok, today we set off for the last leg of our Tasmania trip. A dull start to the day, cool -only 10 degrees with rain squalls. Fortunately no tent to pack away! The cabin was a bit spartan, but the bed was comfortable.
We headed north to start our 360 kilometre drive, all the way to Moina before heading east, the road steadily dropping from the cabin at roughly 1,000 metres elevation, all through wilderness forests and fields of button grass. Some pretty spectacular hairpin bends and occasionally, great views. We noticed a lot of hawthorn hedges, heavily laden with their red haws along the roads. We discovered later that these hedges now have official protection. First stop was Sheffield, set in open grasslands, cattle country, and overlooked by the great ridge/wall of Mount Roland (1,231 metres high). A lovely little town, it has hosted a Mural Fest during which over 80 murals were painted in one week. Many murals relate to the buildings on which they are painted, eg a building previously occupied by a blacksmiths in the 1800s and now a sweet shop has a mural of an early blacksmith’s forge. Took a few photos while Ruth investigated the nearby cafe for a coffee. She returned with the coffee and a large blueberry muffin telling me the pies in the cafe smelled absolutely delicious. So we returned and bought a scallop pie and a wagyu beef pie, each cut in half with we scoffed there and then! The muffin had to wait.
We continued east to near Railton where we joined the B13, finally heading south. We joined the Bass Highway, the A1, then switched to the A5 near Deloraine as we wished to drive through the Central Plateau and Great Lakes regions. The road steadily climbed up and throigh the Great Western Tiers, jagged ridges with some spectacular dolerite columns soaring up from the road. Great views back over the Golden Valley and to our right, Quamby Bluff (1,226 metres). Very rock terrain, stunted trees, button grass. We descended slightly to the Central Plateau it was a bleak landscape, lots of tiny lakes and open moorland. No grazing land here! We arrived at the Great Lakes Lookout, and wow, what a fantastic view! We drove down to the lakeside and followed the edge of the lake, through Breona and south to Brandum where the recent forest fires had reached the lake. A desolate sight, blackened trees and ground, no undergrowth remaining, and this went on for miles and miles. Lots of shacks and dwellings here, fortunately, or by dint of good firefighting practice, no buildings were lost.
We drove on south along the Great Lake to Miena, where the fire had been stopped at the road. The fire had destroyed a vast area, and checking the fire service website, the fire, in the west, was still considered ‘going’. We did see fire trucks from time to time along the road. The road swung around the southern end of the Lake before heading south again. We crossed an area called ‘The Steppes’ another vast area of open moorland scattered with tiny lakes and ponds. As we approached Bothwell the road eased down to more productive land, though still only for grazing and we did see large herds of sheep and the occasional herds of cattle. On past Bothwell, we had visited it a couple of weeks ago on our way to Strahan, driving through rolling hills and river valleys, cutting through the Den Hill Ranges and into the Jordan River valley to Melton Mowbray. Here we rejoined the A1, now called the Midland Highway, and a bit more traffic, we had hardly seen anyone on our way south through the high country. Not far to go now, just over 60 kilometres, easy driving on the Highway, but for some major roadbuilding works at Mangalore.
Across the Derwent at Bridgewater on the old lifting bridge, we followed the Derwent all the way into Hobart and our accommodation for the next few days. Unpacked and met with Carolyn who was staying nearby. It was lovely and sunny, and much warmer than Cradle mountain so we took a gentle stroll to historic Salamanca Square, only five minutes from where we were staying. We booked into Portsea Place an 1850s brick-built row of town houses, now converted into ‘boutique’ apartments, right on the edge of the historic Battery Point. We found a little pub on the way back and it did look inviting, so we accepted and enjoyed a couple of drinks.
Dinner, a bit of tv and then bed, well bed for us, Carolyn returned to the pub.
Thursday 21 February
A dull cloudy start to the day and a bit fresh and windy. We sorted ourselves out, trying to judge whether or not to buy extra luggage allowance. Lunch on Salamanca Square before heading off for Ruth to buy a particular shopping bag she had seen on an earlier shopping trip, last time we were in Hobart. We decided to head out to the IGA in Blackmans Bay, if only for the drive and the views across the Derwent River. Found the shop, Hill Street, bought a few things and had them packed into the new bag!
We thought we would revisit the Tinderbox peninsula while we were nearby. It is a lovely winding road giving wonderful views across the Derwent, then the d’Entrecasteaux Channel to North Bruny Island. Still windy, we stopped at Piersons Point, a WW2 gun battery emplacement, with great views over the entrance to the Derwent River and Storm Bay, beyond. Ok, time to return. We headed back along the coast road calling in a pretty beaches at Blackmans Bay, Kingston and Sandy Bay, past Red Chapel Drive, where we stayed last time and back to Portsea Place. A lovely drive.
Washing duties while we caught up with a bit of packing, blog writing and reading. A glass of wine then off to dinner at FISH349. Great seafood platter which we all shared. Excellent.
Friday 22 February
Yet another dull start to the day and still cool. We were off to see MONA - the Museum of Old and New Art - it is alleged to be very quirky. We caught their ferry, a large camouflage- painted catamaran, from Brooke Street Pier just down the hill from us. A lovely 20 minute cruise up river to the Museum.
The museum is built into the river cliff and there are floor to ceiling sandstone ‘walls’, showing the various strata; very pretty. The collection of art is predominantly ‘modern’, some is stunning and some not very interesting and one exhibit, called ‘the cloaca’ which ‘performs’ once a day after being fed a couple of hours before, reproduces the passage of food through the human body. We avoided the voiding!
We had a superb lunch in the Faro restaurant, great views across the Derwent and wonderful food, beautifully cooked and flavoursome. Delicious! So back into the Museum. The exhibit ‘Beside Myself’ by James Turrell drew our attention for some while. It is a tunnel of light to the Faro Restaurant with a black tiled floor and walls that change colour. Ruth was waiting to see the blue; it didn’t happen while we were there, but we did see yellow, a lot, green, orange and red. Apparently the colour changes are random.
We had a lovely day at MONA, it was well worth the trip. Nice and warm sunshine on the boat trip back into town. It was now very warm and we were in need of a rest and a drink, so back to our apartment!
We later went along to the Franklin Square event ‘Street Eats Franko’ for street food and live music. It was great food and great music.
Saturday 23 February
Bright and sunny but very cool. We walked down to Salamanca Square for the Saturday market and it was heaving, so many people, it was difficult to get around. Ruth had a Persian wrap for her breakfast and then we grabbed a coffee and walked back to the apartment. Carolyn joined us a little later and she went down to the market, but wasn’t gone very long, it was still very busy.
So, we drove up to the summit of Mount Washington to show Carolyn the view, and it was amazing. The sky was cloudless and we could see for miles though it was a little hazy in the distance. It was also much cooler, at 13 degrees, than in town, some 1.2 kilometres below us. Back down the mountain as Ruth wanted to find a particular shopping bag she had seen in an IGA supermarket on our last visit to Hobart. We had already bough the dark blue version, but she wanted the grey. Two Hill Street IGAs later no grey, only the blue. We drove on to Richmond, an historic little town we had enjoyed last time in Hobart.
Pleasant enough drive out to Ricmind, just northeast of Hobart about 20-odd kilometres. It had turned into a lovely warm afternoon though still with that sneaky cool breeze from time to time. We walked around, looked in some shops, bought an ice cream, visited the bridge (the oldest bridge in Australia and still in use - built by convicts from Port Arthur). It was lovely down by the river in the warm sunshine.
Back to Hobart, another couple of Hill Street IGAs with the same result as earlier in the day! Back to the apartment for a nice cold beer/glass of wine and to start packing. Off to dinner at a little Nepalese restaurant nearby in Battery Point.
Tomorrow we fly back to Melbourne. Feeling a bit sad that our visit to Tasmania is ending, we have enjoyed our stay and the weather, though mixed has generally been good to us. The awful bushfires have not really affected our plans, so ‘all good’ really.