Sunday, 11 January 2009

Week of Monday 5 January 2009 - Mole Creek

Monday 5 January 2009 – From the visitor's centre there were a few short walks, 'The Enchanted  Walk', Pencil Pine Falls and Knyvet Falls, and the 'Rainforest Walk' – while all of these were interesting, they would be really exciting to someone new to the area, after our other walks they did not live up to our expectations.  A slow leak in one of our back tyres necessitated a trip to Devonport for a repair. This also gave us an opportunity to stock up on groceries. Our search for a park, in the city to have lunch, yielded a strange one with houses backing onto it, no toilets or water facilities, apart from a stagnant pond, and the howling wind meant that we ate as quickly as possible then headed back to the warmth of the car. 

Heading south to Lake Barrington, we found Devil's Gate Dam – a very interesting construction curved horizontally and vertically as well. Darryl then took me to Paradise, which didn't take long, but the district is quite scenic with rich red farming soils, and beautiful mountain backdrops. Back when we were in Hobart, I had received an email from one of my cousins, Donna (on the Smith side), to tell me that she and her husband, Michael, had shifted from Ipswich in Qld to Tasmania. They wanted to catch up and we headed for their new home near Mole Creek.
This is in the Meander Valley and is a really beautiful location. They have a few acres with a historic homestead, are surrounded by beautiful mountains, and have a lovely creek with brown trout and platypus. We had a very pleasant evening, catching up on family news, admiring all the work they have done in the few weeks they have been there (only since the end of November), and hearing their plans for the future.

Tuesday 6 January 2009 – Apart from poor Michael, who had to go to work at 5.30am, we all had quite a sleep-in, and a leisurely breakfast. Eventually we had packed up and drove into Mole Creek, where I got information on some of the local walks. While driving towards Marakoopa Caves, I noticed that my maps said the gorge beside us was called 'Sensation Gorge'. Darryl headed off to investigate, while I enjoyed a coffee, but he was soon back with the news that a short way downstream was an interesting dry creek, gorge, dry waterfalls, and pools, so I returned with him, and found it quite lovely (this is not mentioned anywhere as being a feature or walk). Fern Glade walk at the caves was supposed to be 20 mins, and may have been that, but it was a delightful walk, well described by its name, and we had lunch there at the picnic area. 
We the drove up to more that 1100m to Devil's Gullet which afforded spectacular views across to Cradle Mountain, and many others, and had wonderful dolerite columns, and a steel lookout perched on top of a sheer cliff up which the wind blew and howled. Next destination was past Lake Polanganga, and Lake Rowallan, where there had obviously been some sort of canoeing event (we later discovered this was the World Kayaking Championships..we think), and up to the base of 'The Walls of Jerusalem National Park'. At least a dozen vehicles were in the carpark, including a bus, and a taxi (with driver) waiting for two girls due back after 5 days, who were a bit overdue. So this as obviously a popular place, despite the lack op information from National Parks and Tourist Info on the area and walks. We found a spot at the end of the road to set up camp.

Wednesday 7 January 2009 – Darryl took off early for ‘The Walls of Jerusalem’ walk. I eventually got organised and followed up the track. This National Park is very hard to get any information about, but my plan was to walk for an hour and then walk back. 

It took me ¾ of an hour to get to the ‘Trappers Hut’ so I continued up onto the plateau. I came to a fork in the road, and knowing that Darryl had gone the other way, left a note telling him that I had taken the Lake Adelaide track. I was hoping to get some views, but after continuing on over the plains for another ½ an hour it became apparent that the track was not going near the edge (and it was so indistinctly marked I was reticent to venture off it), so I turned back. My walk took just over 3 hours in total, and Darryl arrived back at the campsite an hour later, and thinks he got as far as ‘The Wailing Wall’ (but we will have to wait until we return home to check it on Google Earth). The temperature dropped rapidly so we opted for an early retirement to bed.

Thursday 8 January 2009 – During the night the rain came in and it poured on and off. In the morning it was cold and wet so we took our time getting up. The rain eased enough for us to pack up, but after we had hit the road, the skies cleared and the sun came out. The first walk, on our way was Alum Cliffs. This was a gentle uphill walk, just past Mole Creek. The cliffs were certainly spectacular, and there was an adjacent red ochre cliff. Further east we passed a sign which said Lobster Falls. The was not mentioned in any information, and there was no indication of distance or time, but we turned back and drove in a short way before Darryl decided the road was too rough and parked the car. We walked in the rest of the way, and the whole walk took a little over an hour. The falls were quite lovely, and well worth the walk with the surrounding rock formations looking very interesting. A turn to the south took us to the Salmon and Ginkgo Farm where tastings were free, and based on that we purchased some 'hot-smoked' salmon for lunch, and a little tub of Rillette for later. We also bought some dried Ginseng. In Deloraine we had lunch at the 'Railway Park' which had a historic municipal hydro power station on the river. 

South of Deloraine is Liffey Falls, and we felt that there were one of the prettiest falls we have seen. There were 3 cascades, and 'shoot', and then the falls over tiers of rock. Some of the rocks also had marine fossils. The road was a bit scary, being quite windy and narrow. Darryl decided that he wanted to see 'The Great Lakes' so we headed up onto 'The Great Western Tiers'. Pine Lake walk was interesting, but being alpine was absolutely freezing cold! We drove pretty much around 'The Great Lake' and passed Lake Arthur. We had initially thought we might stay in a van park at Miena, but that area is nearly 1100m above sea level, and was freezing, so we drove down off the tiers to find a warmer spot for the night at Longford.
Friday 9 January 2009 – It as a beautiful morning, and we headed down the Midland Highway to Ross. This historic town was the site of a convict-built bridge with carvings of the faces of locals, as well as 'The Women's Prison'. We spent some time wandering around admiring the sandstone buildings, and looking at what as left of the prison (really only the Commandant's House which is now the museum).

 As the weather was so good, and we had the time, we then decided to go to Ben Lomond National Park (although this is in the North-East, on our way down, it had been cold and raining) – we could not have had a better day for it. 

The road up is famous for a section called 'Jacob's Ladder' which was truly scary – very narrow, steep, and windy. Luckily, we did not meet any other cars on the way. In the winter, this is a ski resort, and has chalets and chair-lifts, but was currently pretty-much abandoned. 

We found the walking track and made it to the highest peak 'Legges Tor' 1536m high. At last I can say I have made it to the top of one of the highest mountains in Tassie! We camped that night in the National Park, and although there were a few spits of rain, it was dry, but at 995m quite cold (although Darryl's fire certainly helped).

Saturday 10 January 2009 – Unfortunately, while packing up I hurt my back while putting Darryl's bike on the car. This put a bit of a limit on me, but as this was he last day in Tasmania, it was good to have an easy one. 

First port of call was Ashgrove Cheese Factory. This as in a lovely rural location just north of Elizabeth Town. We were able to try all their varieties, and we then bought some Double Gloucester and another lovely variety. I wanted to try and see the platypus at Latrobe so we went further north. As we were driving down the road to the reserve, Darryl said “that person is riding their bike just like Helen – oh – it IS Helen!” As we drove past I yelled at her for Queenslanders to get off the road, and we stopped and had a chat. Although we knew she was also in Tassie, her schedule and ours did not coincide, and I didn't think we would see her,  but unfortunately her other was suddenly taken ill and she was heading back to Melbourne at night (for an emergency flight back to Rocky). We arrived at the reserve, and Helen soon after, but did not see any platypus (possibly due to a couple of locals who turned up to swim their dogs). Just north of Latrobe is Anvers Chocolate factory, and I was determined to visit after missing Cadbury's in Hobart. We bought delicious dark and white chocolate and truffles, and I got a cup of Chilli Hot Chocolate....mmmmm! The caravan park in Devonport had an ensuite site, and this was quite a treat as it had a spa. This meant I as able to have soothing hot water on my sore back. The evening was really warm and pleasant.
Sunday 11 January 2009 – The ship started boarding an hour earlier than scheduled, and left late due to the large number of passengers. We had decided on a day return, and it didn't require a cabin. Sailing back to the mainland on Spirit of Tasmania was very smooth and calm. We passed the other Spirit around 2pm, and arrived back in Melbourne around 7pm. We wanted to get out of Melbourne as soon as possible, but weren’t quite sure where we were heading. We unsuccessfully tried a couple of National Parks..only to be confronted with locked gates. We also tried Kinglake National Park, and eventually, (at 10.30pm) found an old forestry road to set up on, and went straight to bed.

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