Farewell Tasmania

Nov 17  What great memories of a beautiful part of Australia – Tasmania. We have had a wonderful 48 days and seen and done lots of interesting things. We cannot believe that we did not see all there is to see in 7 weeks but we didn’t. We will be back. If only the temperature was 15 or 20 degs higher !! Our fondest memories revolve around the incredible history of the state, the true beauty and variety of scenery and the very friendly locals.

So we board the Spirit Of Tasmania for the overnight trip back to Melbourne. Next stop the Mornington Peninsula …

  

Liffey Falls

Nov 17  Liffey Falls are nestled in the Great Western Tiers about an hours drive from Launceston and 1 1/2 hours from Devonport.  For many years the falls were only accessible by track an hours walk from below the falls.  The track still exists.  There is now a reserve only a short distance from above the falls.  A narrow winding steep gravel road links each end of the track.  The walk is very much worth the trip.  The track from the upper car park is relatively steep in parts – particularly the final descent to the bottom of the falls. There are 3 cascades in total : well worth the trip.

     

 

Woolmers Estate, Longford, Launceston

Nov 15  5 Generations of the Archer Family established and developed this estate starting in 1817 with the last Thomas (they were all named Thomas !) who died in 1994. He never married and left the estate to the Archer Historical Foundation. The estate has also recently been heritage listed. Many of the family’s personal possessions are still available to view, including some priceless dinner services, imported from England. Our tour guide was actually a relation of the family. Convict built original structures remain on the property such as the wool shed, the apple packing shed and the coach house.

The estate contains the National Rose Garden, opened to the public in 2001, with over 5,000 roses. We were lucky to arrive when the roses were in bloom.   

        

Gordon River Cruise

Nov 13  Across the harbour at Strahan which is twice the size of Sydney Harbour, we exit through the smallest entrance of all major harbours at Hells Gates, barely 75 metres wide, into the southern ocean. Hells Gates was named by the early convicts who were destined for Sarah Island which they regarded as a living hell. We return into the harbour passing fish farms that produced 15 tonnes of salmon and trout in 2010.

We stop at Sarah Island, open as a penal convict settlement from 1822 to 1833. It was known for its hard labour and cruel and vicious punishments. They cut the famous Huon Pine and created a very successful shipbuilding yard.

Next stop on the itinerary is the beautiful Gordon River where ancient rainforest is mirrored in the river’s dark waters which are stained amber by tannins in the local flora. At Heritage Landing we walk ashore into the rainforest to see a 2,000 year old Huon Pine plus its younger descendant at 70 years old. In 1964 the felling of Huon Pine was prohibited due to the fact that it is the longest growing tree. This does not effect the local timber industry as they simply collect old logs that were felled by the convicts hundreds of years ago and are perfectly preserved due to the high natural oil content.

        

A Sad Day

Nov 12  Ocean Beach is the longest beach in Tasmania stretching for 40 kms facing the great southern ocean. It is home to mutton birds from October to April. On our way to the beach we notice some strange boat activity in the Macquarie Harbour. When we arrived we could see 4 whales stranded on shallow sand banks. Later, we learn that 22 sperm whales were beached on Ocean Beach and 4 hump back whales were also stranded inside the harbour. Sadly, only 2 of the whales were able to be saved and guided back out to sea. Apparently these whale strandings are not uncommon around the Strahan area.

West Coast Wilderness Railway

Nov 11  The West Coast Wilderness Railway was one of the major highlights of the Tasmania adventure. The original steam railway from Strahan to Queenstown has been fully retored for a journey through dense rainforests and past cavernous gorges and rushing rivers. When the railway was built in Tasmania, it was considered one of the engineering marvels of Australia, using the unique ABT (named after the German inventor) rack and pinnion system for the steep up and down grades.

The West Coast pioneers who built the original railway in 1896 accomplished a great feat of labour. For many miles along the King River the railway line was hewn with pick and shovel out of the steep side of the gorge. Forty two bridges were built over the 22-mile long stretch of wilderness; for the ‘quarter mile’ bridge below the gorge, pylons had to be driven 60 feet into the silt with men constantly up to their waists in the cold water.

We chose a little luxury and travelled in the Premier carriage (with only 2 other passengers) to include local gourmet refreshments and wine served all day.

On one of the stops along the way, we experienced how the old gold miners used to pan for their fortunes and Siobhan actually found a nugget (note the photo is somewhat enlarged for effect).