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Glenrowan to Strahan

...and finally we get to Tassie

sunny 31 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

When we lived in Perth, we were told so often that we had to visit Tasmania but could never include it in any of our holiday plans, so in planning this trip we made absolutely sure that we could see as much as we could fit in of the "Apple Isle".

In order to get to Tassie we had to book the ferry from Port Melbourne but had to include an overnight stop in Glenrowan. Before leaving our cabin, we had visits from superb blue wrens and kangaroos. Once in the town, we felt obliged to visit the Ned Kelly museum and learn more about the legend, which is fascinating indeed. I can't quite subscribe to the hero status that is accorded to Kelly but it was a rough and tough era by all accounts. Certainly, Ned, has been, and continues to be, good for Glenrowan! The town itself, aside from a bit more commercialism, struck us as yet another very attractive and friendly small country town.

Superb blue wren

Superb blue wren

Two eastern grey kangaroos

Two eastern grey kangaroos

Ned Kelly - more than life-size!

Ned Kelly - more than life-size!

Replica of Ned Kelly's armour

Replica of Ned Kelly's armour

Replica of the Kelly family's house

Replica of the Kelly family's house

As we had time to kill before our ferry sailed, we enjoyed a pleasant detour to Gisborne where we were just in time to try out one of the many coffee shops in town. Thus refreshed, we continued on our way to Port Melbourne where we boarded the Spirit of Tasmania - after waiting in a long queue to board. Port Melbourne takes its name from the city of Melbourne which was named in 1837 after the British Prime Minister of the day, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne. Lord Melbourne is probably equally known nowadays for his role in advising and mentoring the young Queen Victoria.

The crossing was fine and we arrived early enough in Devonport to have a great breakfast in town. Devonport's name has rather prosaic origins.
It is a port in the Tasmanian county of Devon, named after the English county of the same name. Originally we had planned to drive straight from Devonport to Mole Creek but then switched to Waratah but in order to do so, had to spend one night in Devonport. As a result we had a full day for an exploratory trip, through some fairly minor, but very attractive, country roads roughly south-west, then back up to Penguin (named in 1861 due to the observation of large numbers of little penguins) for a small shop. After shopping, we decided to take another scenic loop, down towards South Riana and back up to Burnie where we checked out penguin watching times and places. We returned to Devonport via the Bass Highway and checked into our very comfortable Discovery Parks cabin which was situated very close to the sea.

Our Discovery Parks cabin

Our Discovery Parks cabin

View of sea within about 30 metres of our cabin

View of sea within about 30 metres of our cabin

Tasmanian rural scenery

Tasmanian rural scenery

Tasmanian rural scenery

Tasmanian rural scenery

In order to get to Waratah, as we had found the driving quite easy, we took a 'scenic' (i.e., not per Gladys' instructions!) route to get there. We spotted an echidna by the roadside but it vanished after only a couple of photos. Still, great to see as our sightings of these creatures have been rather few. On the way, we found a magnificent lookout at Mount Roland.

Echidna

Echidna

Approaching the Central Highlands

Approaching the Central Highlands

Our trusty steed in the Central Highlands

Our trusty steed in the Central Highlands

View from Mount Roland Lookout

View from Mount Roland Lookout

View from Mount Roland Lookout

View from Mount Roland Lookout

A little further on we stopped at the lovely Cradle Forest Inn, near Moina, for some refreshment before continuing to Iris Creek for an amble by the water and to inspect the flowers which were verging on alpine types. We pressed on and stopped at Cradle Mountain and bought passes so as to save time on our return visit. Further along the road we found another lookout which gave superb views over the buttongrass plains of the Vale of Belvoir. Buttongrass is a form of sedge which forms tussocks which look very attractive but are not so hot to walk through.

Cradle Forest Inn

Cradle Forest Inn

Iris Creek

Iris Creek

Everlasting flower at Iris Creek

Everlasting flower at Iris Creek

White (alpine?) flower by Iris Creek

White (alpine?) flower by Iris Creek

Red seed pods on small shrub by Iris Creek

Red seed pods on small shrub by Iris Creek

Tilly at viewpoint over the Vale of Belvoir

Tilly at viewpoint over the Vale of Belvoir

View over buttongrass plains in Vale of Belvoir

View over buttongrass plains in Vale of Belvoir

Iris-type flower at Vale of Belvoir lookout

Iris-type flower at Vale of Belvoir lookout

At Waratah we had rented a house which had ample room for the three of us and was in a good position. The town itself is a former zinc mining town and is sited on the edge of Lake Waratah, with a waterfall right in the middle of town - a bit unusual. Waratah has been claimed to have been home to the largest tin mine in the world. Its name was probably given by the Van Diemen's Land Company after the Waratah River, a tributary of the Arthur River. The river itself was named after the wild flower and had Aboriginal origins. It is a quaint village and, to our surprise, was one which we felt would have merited a longer stay, in spite of having a rather damp climate. There is a lot to see for such a small and fairly isolated town with many other places of interest being within fairly easy reach. In the early evening we went to Burnie hoping to see little penguins coming to feed their young. On the waterfront we enjoyed a fish & chips meal and strolled around until dusk. At the observation area, we saw several of the young penguins, in and out of burrows, but unfortunately the parent birds did not arrive before it became too dark to see them - clever little birds!

Burnie was named in 1842 after the then director of the Van Diemen's Land Company, William Burnie.

Waratah waterfall

Waratah waterfall

Fun features on Burnie waterfront

Fun features on Burnie waterfront

Two little penguins in their burrow

Two little penguins in their burrow

Little penguin looking for food

Little penguin looking for food

Waratah was chosen primarily to serve as a base for a trip to Cradle Mountain as we were too late to book any accommodation at or closer to the mountain. Cradle Mountain itself is part of the Central Highlands and is comprised of dolomite columns. From the National Park Visitor Centre a shuttle bus took us to Dove Lake with its quartzite beaches and the magnificent backdrop of Cradle Mountain itself. We started to walk round towards Glacier Rock, with hopes of going further. Unfortunately, Tilly's sciatica was playing up and my knees and hip did not enjoy the deep and uneven steps so that is as far as we got (the joys of aging bodies!). Judith clambered up onto the rock (spry youngster that she is) and queued behind a forest of selfie sticks to get a photo or two. Dove Lake is truly beautiful and it would have been great if we had been able to either get there early in the morning or stay to late afternoon to enjoy the best light and obtain better photos - maybe we'll have to come back!

Dove Lake

Dove Lake

Cradle Mountain beyond Dove Lake

Cradle Mountain beyond Dove Lake

Glacier Rock beside Dove Lake

Glacier Rock beside Dove Lake

The Old Boathouse from Glacier Rock

The Old Boathouse from Glacier Rock

Dove Lake

Dove Lake

From Dove Lake we took the shuttle down to Ronny Creek and then set out on the Overland Track. This continues for over 80km to Lake St Clair so, as we didn't really have time for the return journey, we took a side route to the Waldheim chalets where we were lucky to see a couple of Tasmanian wombats in the open country. We had also seen a Tasmanian native hen, one of our first, although later we were to see many more. The track then headed uphill into a forested area where we had a short stop for a picnic lunch, closely observed by a couple of beady-eyed black currawongs. We then found Weindorfer's Forest Walk which took us through a wonderful area of rainforest of King Billy pines, pandani and beech trees, all rather like a fairyland or something out of 'Lord of the Rings'. Gustav Weindorfer had lived in the area and it was his and his wife's vision that led to the creation of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. His chalet was near the Waldheim chalets, at the beginning of the Forest Walk and gave an interesting insight into the lives of the early settlers, much hardier than most of us are today.

View from Overland Track - buttongrass plains and pandani

View from Overland Track - buttongrass plains and pandani

Tasmanian native hen

Tasmanian native hen

Tasmanian wombat

Tasmanian wombat

Tasmanian wombat amid buttongrass tussocks

Tasmanian wombat amid buttongrass tussocks

Tilly and Judith leaving the Overland Track and heading to Waldheim

Tilly and Judith leaving the Overland Track and heading to Waldheim

Black currawong

Black currawong

Tilly inside Weindorfer's Hut replica

Tilly inside Weindorfer's Hut replica

Weindorfer's Forest Walk

Weindorfer's Forest Walk

Twisted branches on Weindorfer's Forest Walk

Twisted branches on Weindorfer's Forest Walk

View from Waldheim over lake and buttongrass plains

View from Waldheim over lake and buttongrass plains

Strange fruiting bodies on small tree near Ronny Creek

Strange fruiting bodies on small tree near Ronny Creek

Once back at Ronny Creek, we took the shuttle back to the Ranger Station where we walked round the Pencil Pine Falls walk, through a mature rainforest of pencil pines and majestic myrtle trees among which I was delighted to find a pink robin, although the shadows were too heavy for a decent photograph. We felt that we had managed to fit quite a lot into the day and only wished for one more fine day to come back but this was not to be - we encountered some of Waratah's more typical weather and decided on an 'admin' day - we are fair weather walkers (or plodders!).

Pencil Pine Falls

Pencil Pine Falls

Pencil Pine Falls

Pencil Pine Falls

I had hoped to travel to Strahan by driving to Corinna, taking the cruise on the Pieman River into the Tarkine Forest and then using the ferry across the Pieman to get us back on the road through. However, the weather again dictated that this would be rather a wasted journey, so we took the more direct route via Zeehan after taking a few views of Waratah. We managed to dodge the showers to drive to and walk through the Spray Tunnel (an old mine tunnel) which is apparently home to glow worms, although we didn't see them, but as we came out the other side, a pink robin posed very nicely for me.

Zeehan gains its name from Mount Zeehan which was named in 1642 by Abel Tasman after his brig the Zeahan. In 1802, Bass and Flinders confirmed the naming.

Waterwheel by waterfall

Waterwheel by waterfall

Old bridge across Lake Waratah

Old bridge across Lake Waratah

Rosebery Lake en route for Zeehan

Rosebery Lake en route for Zeehan

Main street through Zeehan

Main street through Zeehan

Former School of Mines and Metallurgy in Zeehan

Former School of Mines and Metallurgy in Zeehan

Steve and Tilly near Spray Tunnel entrance

Steve and Tilly near Spray Tunnel entrance

Into the darkness

Into the darkness

And out the other end

And out the other end

Pink robin

Pink robin

Spider under cocoon-like web on tunnel ceiling

Spider under cocoon-like web on tunnel ceiling

Our journey continued to Strahan where we checked into some rather tired accommodation. Among the options we had discussed for our time in Strahan was a cruise which went through Hell's Gates into the open sea, back into the bay and on to Sarah's Island, of which more later, and then to the Gordon River. Having agreed this, we went into town and booked our tickets then went round to the other side of Macquarie Harbour and enjoyed a walk alongside the water, among trees in which we saw a good variety of birds.

Strahan was a latecomer in the naming stakes. It was established as a settlement in 1877 but only gained its name in 1892, after Major George Strahan who became Governor of Tasmania from 1881-86.

Out of the forest into scrubby land near Strahan

Out of the forest into scrubby land near Strahan

Old church in Strahan, now accommodation

Old church in Strahan, now accommodation

View across Macquarie Harbour to Strahan township

View across Macquarie Harbour to Strahan township

Waiting patiently for fish to be caught

Waiting patiently for fish to be caught

Grey shrike-thrush

Grey shrike-thrush

Yellow-throated honeyeater

Yellow-throated honeyeater

Posted by SteveJD 07:23 Archived in Australia

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