Monday, 8 December 2008

Week of Monday 1 December 2008 - Melbourne - Tasmania

Monday 1 December 2008 – We were delighted to see a mother Koala, with a baby on her back climb out of a tree just behind where we were camped. 

Erskine Falls
We drove up to Teddy’s Lookout, for a birdseye view of the Highway. 

It was then back along the road a little to Sheoak Falls, which were actually quite disappointing. We had been planning to leave town then, but unfortunately the road was cut as during the early morning a fuel tanker had rolled, burst into flames and killed the driver. There was an alternative route, but we wanted to stay on ‘The Great Ocean Road’ so decided to drive to Erskine Falls, Victoria’s highest. We were not disappointed, as they were really lovely, although there were lots of steps to the bottom lookout (and of course, the same number coming back up again!). 
Although the road had been due to be reopened at 2pm, it wasn’t ready, so we waited in the car, went for fish and chips, and eventually were on the way at 5.30pm. We found a caravan park 9km from the city centre of Melbourne and settled in.

Tuesday 2 December 2008 – We travelled into the city by tram. We had to do some shopping, especially to get warm clothes. I spent $200 on a Montane jacket (it is extremely light, but waterproof and windproof – but I am still getting over the shock of spending so much on one piece of clothing!), and we bought merino wool thermals at Queen Victoria Markets. We went on the City circle tram tour, on an old tram, where they told us about city sights as we went around. 

Cooks Cottage

Cow in a Tree

Wednesday 3 December 2008 – Another tram into the Melbourne city centre for more shopping, and we looked at Cook's Cottage, Fitzroy gardens, the Victorian Museum (but ran out of time and didn't end up going in), and the Victoria State Library (where I did a little family history research). 

The ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ Ferry departed Melbourne at 8pm, so we put our car on early, and settled in to watch Melbourne disappear in our wake as the sun set. On the cruise we enjoyed a smorgasbord dinner, then Darryl went to the
theatre and watched a movie while I had a nap. He then woke me in time for both of us to head back to the theatre to see ‘Batman - The Black Knight’. We had a twin cabin, which I found comfortable, and slept soundly, but Darryl did not sleep as soundly.

Thursday 4 December 2008 – We got up early, at 5am, to go up on deck to see the ship sailing into Devonport. It was already quite light, and pretty cold, outside. It was around 7am when we docked, and we drove the car off ship, and stopped to collect our thoughts and plan next move. Wandering up the main street/mall of Devonport, reminded me of the Shetland Islands, very clean and crisp. We found AutoPro, to get a replacement torch (we had lost the other at Lorne), and went shopping. Prices were very comparable to mainland except for eggs, bananas and avocados. Our first destination was Port Sorell but there was not much there, so we went on to Narawntapu National Park – a river estuary behind ocean.
We set up camp and I slept while Darryl went for an investigation of the area. A Superb Blue Fairy Wren and his wife came to visit the campsite. We had a campfire, and a Pademelon came quietly by. After dark, a spotlight walk along beach and track, revealed a possum mum and baby.

Friday 5 December 2008 – When we
woke up it had been raining through the night and was still doing so, so we stayed in bed until 10.30am! Finally we got out, fixed up the site to stay another night, and after a hot cooked lunch, Darryl rode the bike back to the office to pay. Darryl decided to make Chinese Sesame Seed/Balls in the afternoon, and they were delicious.
He then suggested we both ride back to the Information Hut area as there was a walk there. Within a few minutes I spotted a wombat, and got some good shots of it at the entrance to the burrow, and the exit. Further on were grazing Bennetts Wallabies, and Pademelons, and it wasn't long before we saw many more wombats.

That night Darryl cooked more of his bread over the campfire. The lovely smell attracted the Pademelon and a couple of possums, one with a baby on is back. In the night they got the lid of the stainless steel billy and drank most of the oil left over from the sesame seed balls.

Saturday 6 December 2008 – We drove down the West Tamar Highway, there were beautiful green valleys, and an excellent lookout over the valley. Closer to Launceston was Tamar Island Wetlands, a waterbird Conservation Park, and we walked on the boardwalk over to the Islands. There was a really cold wind howling up the Tamar. In the middle of Launceston itself, is Cataract Gorge. We climbed to lookouts, and on the way down from one I spotted a russet coloured echidna. 
There is a swing bridge across the gorge (and a chair-lift for those who would rather pay than walk). We took a track up the side of the gorge, it eventually led to a historic powerplant, but we decided not to go all the way, as we still had shopping to do, and some way to our daily destination.

 It rained quite heavily as we drove up the East Tamar Highway, but we were still able to admire the countryside. At the mouth of the Tamar Inlet is George Town which purports to be the oldest settlement in Australia dating to 1804. The town really had nothing to offer us, so next stop was Bridport, which had a lovely sandy beach and crystal blue water. This town was very clean and pretty, but we went South and inland to Scottsdale, to a beautiful park which had free camping.

Sunday 7 December 2008 - About 12km from Scottsdale is the parking spot for Cuckoo Falls. The walk sign said it was a 3 hour return walk, and of course we did it in less, even accounting for obstacles, like fallen trees, and having to clear the track at times. 

The walk was just magic, with huge tree-ferns, and smaller fern under. Rocks covered in mosses and ferns nestled around creeks and soaks coming in. The falls themselves had plenty of water coming over, and were really worthwhile. The only downside was 3 leeches which decided that I obviously have superior blood! 
On the way to Gladstone there is the Blue Lake with vivid light blue water, which initially looked inviting until you read the information sign – the colour is the reflection from the sky, caused by the white kaolin clay beneath, but the water has a high acidity, and is contaminated with aluminium. 
We reached Mount William National Park, on the North-East corner of Tassie, and were initially not particularly impressed. There is a small fishing settlement, Musselroe, at the top, but we headed south to one of the campsites at Stumpys Bay. The wind was fairly howling, and it was quite cool. Darryl went for a walk on the beach. As darkness fell, the wind quietened a little. This campsite had a very quiet and friendly wallaby visiting.

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