Wednesday Feb 19 2014 Tasmania
guest writer Meg Holmes
At the public library in Ulverstone, east of Penguin TZ, with 30 minutes free access. Briefly arrived in Hobart Feb.14, picked up Britz campervan Feb 15. Nice day in Hobart at Salamanca Market and the contemporary edgy provocative love/hate museum called MONA. Experiential multi-media art and installations at its most challenging. Sensory overload and, just as museum is mostly meandering in the dark, some of the artwork left the observer pondering in the dark.
Sunday Feb 16, a quick back to Britz because power for appliances didn’t seem to be working (remind you of MightyVan?!!!).
Then up the A10 to Mt. Field National Park and a walk into the falls. Very beautiful rainforest. Suddenly I felt something crawling up the inside of my pants legs – the attack of the leeches! I probably pulled off a dozen. The leeches and our first view of a pandemelon (kangaroo like critter) introduced us to Tasmanian fauna.
Up the road to Lake Saint Clair National Park with a stop at the Wall in the Wilderness – a 300 feet long woodcarving mural of Tasmanian Highland history. By then Jack had had enough windy mounatineous driving for the day so we stayed at Catherine Bay at the park. This gave us an opportunity to walk, and we saw either more pandemelon or a wallaby crossing the road as well as an echidna feeding. We walked to platypus Bay and saw patterns in the lake water – could have been platypus, fish, or water rats. I am going to think platypus!
Monday Feb 17 up the A10 called the Lyell Highway through the Franklin and Gordon Rivers National park.
We took time at the viewpoints and short hikes including one that led to a one person suspension bridge over the Franklin River. Stop to view the oldest open pit copper mine in Queenstown — a platform extends out above the pit!
Then, because a call determined the power campsites at Cradle Mountain were full, we made the fateful decision to camp at Rosebery, the location of Montezuma Falls, the highest in Tasmania. The caravan park owner urged us to do the 3 hour hike to the falls, so we did. We parked at the parking area for the hike, noting several vehicles and a family picnicking. Feeling very proud to have done the hike in 2 hours 15 minutes we returned to the campervan and — disaster. Someone had smashed the passenger side window, broken in, and stolen my Ipad mini.
So Monday to Tuesday, we were involved in police reports, calls to Britz for window repair, and feeling down right angry and miserable. I felt especially angry because I had been carrying that Ipad everywhere, but I was lulled into a false security by the laid back feel of Tasmania. Britz determined they would drive a replacement van from Hobart to Rosebery for us, a 5-6 hour drive. Tuesday at 1:45pm, the campervan arrived – Harley the driver must have been driving very fast!
On the road again by 2:30pm with a decision to drive up to just the viewpoint for Cradle Mountain and forgo a stay. We would drive to Burnie on the north coast and on the Bass Strait for the night. Our caravan park was right on the shore, which was lovely and there were penguins! Yes, the Blue Penguins of NZ are the Fairy Penguins of Australia, and over 200 pairs are in a colony along the shores at Burnie. So at night, we went to the Penguin Viewing Center, and I was able to see several — they were at the stage where most young were about 8 weeks and ready to be sent out to sea for the first time while parents, gorged and stuffed, were settling in for 2 weeks beach vacation while their feathers moulted and they could not swim. I have seen more penguins on this trip than I had even thought about when planning the trip.
This morning, we stopped at Burnie’s Makers Workshop, an artist studio complex. Jack bought specialty paper made here, and I got bookmarks made of — get ready– kangaroo poop and wombat poop! To whom should I give those? There is also the beachtown of Penguin, another colony lives there, and now Ulverstone on the way to Launceston.
Clearly we have had some bad luck this trip. Considering how much we have traveled, we have had very little problems and never thievery before. The negative or yin side of travel has to appear along the way, and it could have been much worse. Losing another day of sightseeing is very frustrating as we now only have 2 days in Tasmania. However, Tasmania is still beautiful, its people (mostly) friendly and helpful, its diverse natural world strange and incredible for a New Englander, and maybe we shall come back.
Not sure when we get internet again. Are you weathering the winter well? Hope the snow melts before we get home. The snows have even been a topic on the news here in Australia and New Zealand.
Regards, Meg Holmes