Enjoying fine weather on the west coast before heading east
22.11.2013 15 °C
Sunday morning was another beautiful day in Arthur River. We were on the road early and enjoyed the beautiful drive back to Smithton.
We drove east to Burnie and then took the main road down past Cradle Mountain to Strahan. This part of Tasmania relies on logging as the main economic driver. Here are some pictures of the areas.
Zeehan was our lunch stop on Sunday. We had plenty of time to visit the superb West Coast Heritage Centre incorporating the West Coast Pioneers' Museum in the Main Street of Zeehan.
King O'Malley, an American, called Zeehan home when he was the Member for West Tasmania. King O'Malley was instrumental in forming "the people's bank", the Commonwealth and in establishing Canberra as the site of the new capital of Australia.
Strahan is 41 km south of Zeehan on the West Coast. Strahan is built on the foreshore of Macquarie Harbour. Macquarie Harbour is a large, shallow, but navigable by shallow draft vessels inlet on the West Coast of Tasmania, Australia. The harbour is named after Scottish Major General Lachlan Macquarie, 5th Governor of New South Wales. The harbour is six times the size of Sydney Harbour And half as big a Port Phillip Bay. Seven large fish farms grow salmon and trout.
As Monday was a clear sunny day, we boarded the Lady Jane Franklin 11 for the cruise. Our journey was to take us out to Hell's Gates (the very narrow entrance to Macquarie Harbour) and out into the open sea. The cruise continued on up the Gordon River which empties into Macquarie Harbour. Upstream of the Gordon, it is joined by the Franklin River. We stopped upriver at Heritage Landing.
After a nice buffet lunch on board the boat as it returned down the Gordon, we stopped off at Sarah Island. The Macquarie Harbour Penal Station was established on Sarah Island, Macquarie Harbour in the former colony of Van Diemen's Land, now Tasmania, Australia, operated between 1822 and 1833. The settlement housed mainly male convicts, with a small number of women. During its 11 years of operation, the penal colony achieved a reputation as one of the harshest penal settlements in the Australian colonies.
The penal station was established as a place of banishment within the Australian colonies. It took the worst convicts and those who had escaped from other settlements. The isolated land was ideally suited for its purpose. It was separated from the mainland by treacherous seas, surrounded by a mountainous wilderness and was hundreds of miles away from the colony's other settled areas. The only seaward access was through a treacherous narrow channel known as Hell's Gates.
Despite its isolated location, a considerable number of convicts attempted to escape from the island. Bushranger Matthew Brady was among a party that successfully escaped to Hobart in 1824 after tying up their overseer and seizing a boat. James Goodwin was pardoned after his 1828 escape and was subsequently employed to make official surveys of the wilderness he had passed through. Sarah Island's most infamous escapee was Alexander Pearce who managed to get away twice. On both occasions, he cannibalized his fellow escapees.
A shipbuilding industry which produced 131 ships was established on the island. Convicts were employed in the shipbuilding industry. For a short period, it was the largest shipbuilding operation in the Australian colonies. Chained convicts had the task of cutting down Huon Pine trees and rafting the logs down the river. Eventually the heavily forested island was cleared by the convicts. A tall wall was then built along the windward side of the island to provide shelter for the shipyards from the roaring forties blowing up the harbour.
In the afternoon, we went for a drive down an 11km gravel road to see Macquarie Heads from the shore. Just around the Heads is Ocean Beach. Ocean Beach, at Strahan on the wild west coast of Tasmania, is the highest energy beach in Australia and has recorded the country’s biggest waves, averaging 3 metres. The biggest recorded wave here was over 21 metres. With its dangerous rips and sweeps, this is a beach to admire, not to swim at.
Late in the afternoon, we attended a performance of "The Ship That Never Was" in Strahan. The Round Earth Theatre Company, founded by Richard Davey, performs in Strahan, West Coast, Tasmania. Each night the company performs Australia's longest-running play, The Ship That Never Was. During the day the actors work as tour guides on Sarah Island explaining the history and unique story of this Tasmanian penal settlement. The play is built around the construction of the ship and ingeniously uses audience members including children to provide additional cast.
Wednesday was overcast as we packed up for our next destination, Queenstown then travelling on the Lyell Highway down to Hamilton. Queenstown is still a thriving mining community. The mountains around the town still show the scars of many decades of mining. The hillsides are still denuded of trees although some rehabilitation has taken place.
Our next stop was at Nelson Falls in the World Heritage Gordon-Franklin Wild Rivers National Park. These falls were a short 20 minute return trip off the road and were well worth the effort.
We called into Lake St Clair but decided not to stay overnight? The walks around the lake looked inviting apart from 9 degree Celsius temperatures in the middle of the day.
Just to the east of Derwent Bridge is The Wall in the Wilderness. Primarily made from rare Huon pine, creator/designer Greg Duncan is carving 100 metres of Central Highland history. The Wall is being carved from three-metre high wooden panels is estimated to be complete by 2015. . The carved panels will tell the history of the harsh Central Highlands region - beginning with the indigenous people, then to the pioneering timber harvesters, pastoralists, miners and Hydro workers.
Further down the Lyell highway! We made a short stop at the Franklin River for a photo stop with Colleen beside the sign just as we did seven years ago when we visited Tassie.
We had another brief stop at Tarraleah to see the hydro electric Station on the Nive River and the associated plant in Tarraleah. this is a beautiful little town with park like gardens.
Our overnight stop was at the Hamilton Common. These campgrounds had a number of Queensland travellers. The grounds are provided by the council and have hot showers, laundry facilities and are situated beside the Clyde River. It was surprisingly cheap at $5 a night per vehicle.
Our last camp stop for the week was at Bothwell, the home of the first golf course in Australia.
We stayed at the council run Bothwell Camping and Caravan park. It was well set up with hot showers and free washer and dryer and only $15 per night. We had the place almost to ourselves. The grounds were behind the Australiasian Golf Museum (Bothwell had the first golf course in Australia) and is accommodated in the old school house. The building housed the two teacher school from 1887 to 1956.
Last night we had very generous Lamb Shanks and beef Schnitzel at the Castle Hotel, one of Australia's oldest hotels with a continuous licence since 1829.
This afternoon we drove out to the Nant Distillery. The property was settled in 1821 and buildings date from that year. The newer building that forms part of the restaurant dates from 1857.
I recognised a Bentley parked in a shed at Nant. It was brought to Tasmania for Princess Mary's visit to Tasmania and was the vehicle used previously by GG Quentin Bryce.
In the morning we are travelling to Oatlands (about 80km north of Hobart on the Midland Highway) to have lunch with Kerry and Marie and then drive up to Launceston.