A Soft Finish
New Norfolk > Strahan > Stanley > Yolla
The natural magnetic properties of Hobart held us rooted to the New Norfolk area for five nights. Like a satellite held in orbit around the city we tripped around the countryside surrounding Hobart for a few days before diving in to the middle of the city one last time and riding the sling shot effect away to Strahan.
The Salmon Ponds outside Hobart were great. Strangely, they don’t breed salmon here. Only trout. They are all big buggers though. It’s enough to bring an avid but unsuccessful angler to tears. Just a quiet weep in the corner while the monster, captive brown, rainbow, tiger and albino trout writhe and slide through the ponds smashing the fish pellets the kids were throwing in.
For the first time in 9 months of travelling we found ourselves bunkered down inside the interior of the camper trailer tent one night at New Norfolk. Having ridden out the recent freak heat snap in Hobart, we were now in the midst of a freak cold snap. Biting icy winds whipped into the New Norfolk area and forced us inside with heaters and extra sleeping bags on. For two days it was freezing and wet. Snow freshened up the bulk of Mt Wellington and we became excited by reports of good dumps of snow on the road to Strahan.
As we wound our way up the hills away from New Norfolk and over the central highlands of Tasmania, we found the reports of snow were with substance. It’s strange how the kid in all of us comes out when the snow comes down. While we didn’t see any dropping, we crossed the high plains of Tasmania past Lake St Clair with a blanket of white quieting the surrounding landscape. What else could we do but leap out and roll a couple of snowballs and press a few fresh footprints of our own into the virgin white powder.
Strahan is on the west coast of Tasmania where the roaring forties belt into the coastline unimpeded. The result is that not only is the area generally a pretty windy spot, but the moisture held in the air which has crossed the waters from over Antarctica way, is dumped on the coast line. The effect is such that Strahan averages about 60 days of the year with no rain. I guess if you go there, you have about a 1 in 6 chance on any one day of staying dry. We were there for 2 nights and three days and must have improved the chances of the next visitors to the area because we saw rain on every day. On the way down the hills from Lake St Clair it rained. While we set up, it rained. While we toured Macquarie Harbour, Gordon River and Sarah Island, it rained. Well, I could go on….. Anyway, it’s a sleepy place with tons of history featuring convicts, logging and mining. All up, folks here have lived harder than we will ever have to consider.
By way of juxtaposition, picture this; a large comfortable steel hulled, air conditioned catamaran slicing through the tea stained waters of Macquarie Harbour. On board, tourists are sipping chardonnay and dining on a smorgasbord of smoked salmon and brie. And my hard as nails kids? They are busying themselves with their knitting of course. The three of them are now immersed in knitting. Courtney is knitting a scarf, Lachlan is knitting “squares” (which I am told can be sown into lots of stuff) and Hamish is knitting, just knitting. Deb can now cast on and cast off (thanks to You Tube) and conversation is often punctuated with cries of “Oh no, I’ve dropped a stitch!”. I have my order in for a beanie. I hope either the fad lasts long enough for something to come along for me or Lachie works out a way to make one of his squares kinda head shaped.
Stanley is on the North Coast of Tassie, and features a landform known as “the Nut”. It used to be known as Circular Head but “the Nut” seems to have caught on. I agree, it is more catchy. We really enjoyed Stanley. It is sleepy enough that you can park in at the Caravan Park and walk your way around town, up the Nut, across to the beach and into the local pub for an awesome dinner before walking home. There is plenty of character to the town and a few characters amongst the people.
From Stanley, we tested out the Tarkine Forest Wilderness experience. We had talked this up as it has a massive tube slippery slide from the Visitors centre down to the base of a place called Dismal Swamp. While the kids were not too into checking out the swamp, we were all very excited to take on the slide. What a horror story though. We walked in the door and the first sign spotted on the wall said “Only visitors over 8 may ride the slide”. Not even a free blue lollipop could stop the tears of disappointment from flowing. Deb refused to ride in a show of solidarity with our little man but Lachie, Courts and I were not quite the team players and rode anyway. In the end, I think a blue lollipop might have been more rewarding.
“How many sleeps until the cottage?” has been a common question from the back seat over the last couple of weeks. With days of cold and wet fresh in our minds and the end of our trip looming ever closer, we have booked ourselves into a farm cottage at Yolla just south of Burnie. It has everything we need; fireplace, walls, windows, proper beds for the kids, a trout stocked dam (finally I have had some trout angling joy!!) and to Hamish’s delight, it even has an electric toaster. Hamish is so excited by this contraption that he is insisting on cooking toast for anyone who wants some.
Only a few more nights here now and we are on the boat. How can we describe the feelings of dread, anticipation, excitement, sadness and satisfaction we currently hold at the thought of reversing the trailer into our front driveway?