Strahan - Queenstown - Lake St Clair

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July 24th 2014
Published: July 25th 2014
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Another beautiful morning in Strahan this morning. We are very lucky that the weather has been so fabulous during our first week in Tassie. The long range forecast for next week is not so great, but that could change between now and then. Fingers crossed.

We packed up again after breakfast and headed off towards Queenstown. Bernie was warned to be careful of ice on the road when he checked out, but we had an ice-free run up to Queenstown and arrived by late-morning. We wanted to pick up a couple of supermarket items and could choose between two IGA supermarkets ... within a block of each other!

The next challenge was to find a bottle shop that was open as neither of the supermarkets was licensed. The pub in the main street had a bottle shop that was supposed to be open from 9.00am, but it was all shut up. The next one, just around the corner from Orr Street was, likewise, not open. We continued out along Driffield Street to take a daggy photo at Gaffney Street. We have seen lots of Gaffney Streets so far this week; it's a common name in these parts!! As luck would have it we found a Thirsty Camel bottle shop on our way to Gaffney Street so stopped to replenish Bernie's beer supply on our way back to the heart of town.

We drove up Bowes Street and parked the car before walking the rest of the way up to Spion Kopf Lookout. From the lookout we had a pretty good 360° view of Queenstown and its surrounds. Bernie last visited Queenstown about 38 years ago when he was just 15 years old and cycled around Tasmania with three friends. Although Mount Lyell to the north of town still looks pretty desolate, Bernie tells me that the regeneration that has occurred in the last four decades is remarkable. To the south of town and in the township itself it is actually quite green. Thank goodness nature is so resilient and the bush once decimated by the mining industry is gradually reasserting itself.

Our next stop was at the Historic Gravel Football Oval. I thought that it was a gravel oval because grass wouldn't grow due to the acid rain caused by the mining but, apparently it was gravel because grass couldn't be maintained due to the sheer volume of rain rather than it's acidity due to mining chemicals. These days the oval is sand rather than gravel. I guess they just don't raise Queenstown footballers to be as tough as they used to be?!

After an early lunch we continued east out of Queenstown on the Lyell Highway. We had one last photo stop on the eastern outskirts of town before leaving Queenstown behind us. After crossing Lake Burbury we stopped at the Nelson Falls Nature Trail to hike into the waterfall for a couple of photographs. We lugged the tripods in with us to take some long exposure shots to 'freeze' the water flowing down the falls. Although not huge the falls were very picturesque.

Back in the car and on to Donaghys Hill Lookout. This involved hiking up a relatively low ridge to the top of the hill where we had a spectacular 360° view of the mountains to the north, south, east and west and the Franklin and Collingwood Rivers below. The panoramic function on the Sony camera is being well-used today!!

We drove past the trailhead for those wanting to take the three to five day hike into Frenchmans Cap and stopped at the Franklin River Nature Trail. At that trailhead we discovered that at the Frenchmans Cap trailhead we could take a short walk to a swing bridge over the Franklin River. Since it was only a few minutes drive back there we decided to go back and see the swing bridge rather than do the Franklin River Nature Trail which we thought would be rather like the nature walk that we did on the Gordon River yesterday. The swing bridge was pretty tame as it was only about two metres above the river!

We both achieved our 10,000 steps for the day on our walk into the bridge so we decided not to stop again to walk the nature trail, but to continue on to Lake St Clair where we are spending the night. We checked in and made our way to our self-contained Wilderness Cottage at the Lake St Clair Lodge. Phew, the cottage is heated with a gas 'log' fire that is very, very efficient. It was sort of like stepping into Hell when we entered the room!! We hunted around desperately looking for a thermostat or a remote control to turn it down a bit. Eventually we found a very small on/off switch and some up/down arrows. After fiddling with those we managed to turn the heating down to the temperature of a blast furnace. We'll have to try sleeping without any heating at all because there is no way we can sleep with it on. I suspect the heater is capable of heating a much larger area than the cottage!!

With the sun about to sink below the peaks of the Cheyne Range we walked down to the lakeside to take a few photos. Down by the shore of the lake we found lots of photogenic water, mountains, driftwood and rocks to snap away at until the failing light had us heading back to our cottage.

During winter the Lodge's dining room closes at 6.00pm unless they have a firm booking in which case they will stay open later. This all sounded a bit painful so we drove back to Derwent Bridge to have dinner at the pub. Our Wilderness Cottage may have been overheated, but the pub was barely heated at all. There was a log fire burning, but it was struggling to make a difference due to the vast size of the Derwent Bridge Hotel. They set up a fan heater beside our table, but even then it was a bit chilly. Their roast beef and vegetables was very good though washed down with a glass of Annie's Lane red and Bernie enjoyed his beef burgundy in a ramekin topped with cheesy mashed potato.

It was too cold to hang around after our meal so we paid our bill and drove back out to our cottage at 45 km/hour, which is the posted dusk to dawn speed limit for the safety of the nocturnal wildlife. On the way to the pub we saw a couple of critters in the headlights, but none right on the road in front of us. Thank goodness that we made the trip there and back without an unfortunate encounter with a marsupial!!

14,285 steps (9.73 km)

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


25th July 2014

Great panoramas
Hi Tracey and Bernie, thanks for the updates, lucky to have such wonderful 'Winter' weather - reflection photos are awesome! I was cringing at the photo of you climbing backwards down that rocky cliff [no way was it a pathway! What a misnomer.] My ankle too started throbbing with the idea of my attempting such a climb. But I have to say that I had no problems climbing up and down to the monasteries in Bhutan recently - my ankle was actually quite stable. But in saying that I have to admit to taking all the strapping required to ensure pain free walking. Have all my photos from Bhutan and Antarctica now in photo books; love to show them to you when you get back home. Call me?? 0468 606 709. Caroline
25th July 2014

Still traveling to some amazing destinations!
Thanks Caroline. It sounds like you are busy traveling and photo booking. I only photo booked our Route 66 adventure from 2012 this year! I will be in touch about catching up to compare photo books.
25th July 2014

Great photos
Hi Bernie and Tracey, we are very envious of your excellent photos, would just love to have these for camera club competitions. It seems you are having another great time, did you manage the trip on the Strahan railway? Enjoy the rest of your trip.
25th July 2014

Thanks Wade and Valerie for your compliments on our photos. Tasmania is so photogenic I don't know if it is possible to take a bad photo!! Cheers, Tracey & Bernie

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