North and then West

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April 8th 2014
Published: April 8th 2014
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As promised in the last posting, we headed into the Franklin – Gordon Wild Rivers National Park and slipped into a ‘free’ camp (there is always a camping fee in National Parks) know as the Land of the Giants. It was a pretty little spot with a stream babbling away at the back of the camping area, and boasting showers, flushing toilets and even a laundry! It was also the start point for the road into the Mount Mawson ski field, so we expected a chilly start the next day. Putting that aside, we headed off for the 90 km trip to Lake Pedder and the Gordon dam. After my little diatribe in the last blog, I have to say that the road to Lake Pedder was one of the best we have experienced in Tas. so far. It was a drivers road with plenty of twists and turns and (as I expected) Marg offered to drive on the way back…No way, I was having too much fun!

Lake Pedder did not disappoint and after passing through the hamlet of Strathgordon, we found an elevated spot where we could see most of the lake. It was only another
Sheffield muralsSheffield muralsSheffield murals

They are on every vertical wall!
12 kms to the Gordon Dam and after a little debate we decided that 12 out of 100 kms was not a big deal and headed off to the Gordon Dam. As you can imagine, this is (relatively) high country and the damming of the Gordon was an engineering feat. The dam wall was placed in a very narrow chasm between the hills, and employs 2 different arcs in the wall that give it great strength. Apparently it is a spot sought out by abseilers as there is a 100 mtr vertical drop from the top of the wall down the face. Geoff is very happy for them! There were apparently stairs down from the info rotunda to the top of the dam wall, but as Geoff could not even stand at the edge of the balcony, he must have missed seeing them…

Ever onward with the next stop being a place in the Highland Lakes area. A spot called the Pumphouse campground at Arthur’s Lake beckoned. En route we were flagged down by a (the only) passing motorist who advised us that one of the stabiliser legs on the van was still down. We pulled over
Tazmazia village of Lower Crackpot Tazmazia village of Lower Crackpot Tazmazia village of Lower Crackpot

Official postcode 7306. Sorry Shirley, Marg made me do it.
in a farmers driveway to assess the situation, and sadly it was found to have come in contact with the ground – probably one of the speed humps at the Land of the Giants camp, and was somewhat bent. It was certainly not going to swing up as it should and Geoff had to unbolt it to remove it altogether before we could move on. We had 2 nights at the Pumphouse and on day 2 we went touring over to a town called Derwent Bridge. Near here is an attraction called “The Wall”. This is a phenomenal work by an artist who sculpts in wood. The Wall stretches over 100 mts (2 sided) and is a series of Huon pine panels approx 1 mtr wide, that have images carved into them. Due to the project being completely self funded (by entry fees and the sale of a photo-book of the work), amateur photographs are strictly forbidden, so we can not show any here, but this link will give you an idea of the project. It is a work in progress and most of the pieces are in various stages of completion; that in itself adds
Peggs Beach near Stanley Peggs Beach near Stanley Peggs Beach near Stanley

We paid too much for this...
a dimension that stimulates the appreciation for the work. The attention to detail is breath-taking and there are several examples of articles of clothing that need close inspection to realise that they are carved in wood.

Sooner or later, in our travels we get a day/morning when it is raining when it is time to leave. Pumphouse campground was that time for us, and it bucketed down. Geoff ran around outside between the worst of it pulling up stabilisers (yes, all four of them!), getting the weight distribution arms ready etc. while Marg put the inside of the van into travel lock-down. Rain-coats are great, but they invariably run off onto your legs and we could argue at length whether that is better than being wet all over or not. Nevertheless we got underway, but there was more to come as we travelled along the Poatina Rd and shortly found the Poatina Pass, still in the rain. Margaret says that she has never seen me drive as cautiously and I have to say it is true. This pass leaves any of the other passes that we have encountered a long way in its wake. This is the
Views of Stanley wharf Views of Stanley wharf Views of Stanley wharf

Bass Strait just kept rolling in.
first road I have come across with a “15 KPH” advisory sign on one of its hair-pins – or should I say hairy-pins!

That done it was not long before we reached the Bass Hwy. Ah, bliss as the road was at least a proper ‘A’ road. We had planned to stop at a town called Westbury, and duly made the detour off the hwy. to find “Andy’s Café” behind which there was to be a camp ground. Unfortunately the directions were a bit ambiguous and we turned down a driveway that led to a little old lady’s house. The possibility of reversing the van back onto the main road loomed large. It was a long drive and we stopped halfway along, knowing in our hearts that this was not the right place. Said little old lady appeared and explained that we were right and that it was the wrong place. It turns out that she was originally from Frankston (she saw the numberplate surrounds on our car) and much to Geoff’s relief she said we could use the driveway to turn our van around.

We moved on, as far away as we thought
Lake Chisholm sinkhole Lake Chisholm sinkhole Lake Chisholm sinkhole

we were the only ones there.
our reputation would not find us, and found a great spot at the recreation reserve at Sheffield. This is a town that has taken the theme thing one step too far. It is known for its murals, but they adorn every vertical space in the town. There are so many, that it is possible not to see some as you get what I call “mural blindness”. However it was fortuitous that we stopped there as we had been told of a place called Tasmazia nearby, and we saw the sign to it as we moved about the town. Tasmazia is a quaint mixture of serious maze (there are several to challenge the maze enthusiast) and a miniature village of Lower Crackpot where the houses of all 1/5th scale. Lower Crackpot is actually officially recognised by Australia Post so stop laughing! It was very entertaining, although we did not try the maze.

We hit the North coast and headed east and after failing to find a free camp that was in the bible, and we have later learned does not exist, we found a place just short of Stanley. It was right on the beach, mainly sheltered from the winds and in sight of the Port Latta jetty where they process and ship iron ore mined a little further south of here. We used this place to investigate Stanley and the Nut, and the bigger town of Smithton. Stanley and its Nut are another interesting feature of this North western corner of the state. The Nut is a volcanic core that dominates the horizon for miles around, and due to its placement relative to the surrounding land mass provides a sheltered harbour. A small town became established here and a lot of the buildings date from its early settlement. We took the chairlift up the 172 mtr Nut and, bracing against the wind, walked around the top taking in the views of the town, wharf area (which you literally stand on top of) and the surrounding countryside.

We could now by-pass Stanley and Smithton on the way to our final destination at the edge of the world. Arthur River is the western most town in Tassie, and the point where we would base for ourselves the next couple of days.

Additional photos below
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Gordon River DamGordon River Dam
Gordon River Dam

Down stream side is vertical

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