Monday 29 December 2008 – We found a nice lookout at
Thinking that we would return in the morning, if the weather was better, we then drove on little way to Lake King William to camp. What a contrast to the pretty
We arrived at the beautiful place of dead trees...but it was the only available camping ground. This was the first time that we have had to set up our camp in the rain, and it rained on and off all night.
The ranger was doing some work along the track, and Darryl assisted him by carrying some wire back up to the carpark. Because of the rain overnight Nelson's Falls were in a torrid flow, and it was not possible to get too close as the water spray was very cold, but they were very beautiful.
A sheltered shed at Lake Burbury was our chosen place for lunch, but the rain stopped anyway, so we were also able to get down to the shore, and admire the circling mountains.
I think everyone finds it a shock the first time they see the bare desolate hills (stripped by years of copper mining), around Queenstown, but they had a strangely attractive quality. In the centre of town is Mine Siding which has interesting sculptures documenting the history of the town, and the lookout gave spectacular views of the town and the mining area.
Due to the rain we decided not to venture onto any of the unsealed tracks to the south, and instead continued to Strahan. This township seems very commercialised, so we continued past down to Macquarie Heads, the entrance to
Wednesday 31 December 2008 – It was raining when we woke, so once again we had to pack up in the wet – luckily there was a lull while we folded up the tarpaulin, but it came pelting down again before we had finished putting away the ropes and poles. North of Macquarie Heads is the long
Zeehan is a historic silver mining town, and just before reaching it we drove up to the abandoned smelters, which also offered great views of
The other attraction to us was the Spray Tunnel, also a relic of the silver mining days, which is 100m long, 3m high and only 2.2m wide. Darryl drove through this one-way railway remnant very skillfully, but was pleased to get safely to the other end, where there was a shaft and other relics of the mine.
This was really amazing, with layers of fossils being constantly eroded away by the waters of the
West along the coast is the quaint historic town of
There were quite a few beach shacks (now in National Park land), and lots of logs caught up in the sand. The cruise was quite informative, with lots of information given about the various trees, Huon Pine, Sassafras, Stringy Bark (also known as Tasmanian Oak), Myrtle and
From here there is a free shuttle bus service to the start of the walks (we heard later that the carparks are so tight that there was a two hour wait to get your car up). We alighted at Ronny Creek carpark, and started our walk on the Cradle Valley Boardwalk, where we came on a wombat happily grazing just beside the track, oblivious to interest from passing photographers. Snow was visible on the high mountain peaks from here. At an intersection we left the boardwalk and started on the Overland Track which had some slushy bits.
At on point the vegetation got denser and taller and we were treated to the delightful
We then descended to Wombat Pool, which was characteristically stained black from the surrounding Button Grass, around to
Darryl's walk had taken him over part of the same track we had covered the previous day, but he continued on from Wombat saddle up to Marion Lookout (passing small pockets of snow), to get spectacular views; and along the Overland Track, which had a fair snow cover. In parts the trail was very muddy, especially where the timbers were rotten, and it took considerable care for him to keep his precious K26s clean and dry!
He passed the Kitchen Hut and the recently installed, but smelly toilet, 2 hours return from the summit. Just before here a lot of work had recently been done improving the boardwalk.
Darryl had a couple of slips on ice on the way down and ended up with a wet tail. He took a longer track on his return from the summit, passing beneath the face of it, and also took a longer side route past Twisted Lakes and Hanson Lake (this turned out to be the worst part of the track – wet, muddy and slippery), and he was very relieved to see the sign indicating 45 minutes to the Dove Lake carpark (especially as he had started getting cramps). He did not get back to the camp until around , and said it was a pretty hard day, and was quite tired, but still managed to bake bread for me.