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Published: March 10th 2010
Day 305 - Travelling down the West Coast from Marawah to Waratah
Aches and pains this morning! We clearly need educating about where to set our tent up, ie not on the only lump for miles around, have we learned nothing over the last 10 months?!
The rest of the campers were sleeping soundly while we packed up and left just before 7am. If you’re intending to visit Marawah then Green Point is a great spot and rumour has it a very good nature tour is run from here, one that takes you to watch Tassie Devils in the wild. We wouldn’t have had time to do it anyway but something for others to think about.
We had our early morning hot drink at Arthur River right next to the ‘Edge of the World’ where we pondered the day ahead of us and what it might bring. We’d been brought here, to do this trip, by my curiosity more than anything else. People talk about the magnificent west coast and how it’s not to be missed so we thought we should make the effort to check it out.
Arthur River seemed a sleepy little place, not least
The Edge of the World
Arthur River - nothing but sea from here to Argentina
because it was early morning and people were still in bed but also because of the apparent lack of glitzy, touristy attractions. These are our favourite places to be, areas where natural beauty (like the surroundings of Mole Creek) or interesting buildings & history (like Queenstown) overshadow any obvious pure tourist attraction effort.
As with Hells Gate yesterday, there was nothing but ocean between us and Argentina while we stood enjoying our drink on ‘the edge of the world’. Not far along the road the bitumen ran out, we presumed it would be gravel for the rest of the day now until we reached Zeehan some 110kms away. The signs reminded us we were driving into a remote and isolated area, no settlements, no fuel stations, no mobile phone coverage, just beautiful wilderness - right up our street!
Using the leaflet ‘Western Explorer’, we started to pick our way along the coast stopping at Sundown Point and checking out the beach shacks and the rather posh beach houses before making a detour up into the forest reserves. There are hidden treasures in these forests and the South Arthur Forest Drive is the route we follow to uncover just
At the Edge of the World in Arthur River
a few of them.
First of all we came to Kunnunah Bridge then we find ourselves at Sumac Lookout gazing across the deep rainforest valley and the bends in the Arthur River. Our next stop is the Julius River Reserve and the campground I’d been heading for yesterday, I knew I’d make it eventually!! The very friendly reserve manager chap was cleaning the bush loo when we rocked up and I giggled inside because they’ve had the foresight to install a blackboard on the wall. You can leave / read messages while you pee! Bless him, he grabs a map from his ute and starts to tell us about the surrounding area encouraging us to make the trip down to Lake Chisholm. We finished our walk looking for the sinkhole in the reserve, we didn’t find it but we did find a Wallaby with a joey in her pouch. That’s a first for this whole trip, believe it or not! It was beautiful to watch and she was very calm considering we were quite close by.
We took the chaps advice and drove on to Lake Chisholm where we couldn’t fail to find the sinkhole - you would
have to have your eyes closed to miss it! Another beautiful forest with huge trees and lots of rustling in the bushes!
There’s little point us driving further on through the forest as the Tayatea Bridge was washed away a few years ago and the huge Tarkine Road project which will fix the bridge and renew many of the roads is yet to get underway. We wouldn’t have been able to complete the loop and would have to have driven back on ourselves. The area is largely managed by Forestry Tasmania. Tree felling is going on today, we can hear the machinery and of course the warning signs are out.
We get back on the road to navigate our way out of the forest, passing logging lorries and a chap on a forklift moving beehives around! I wanted to stop for a photo, it just looked funny, but we really couldn’t have opened the windows to get a shot as the bees were going crazy.
Back we go to the Western Explorer ‘link’ road which between Lindsay River Bridge and Corinna is full of twist and turns, steep climbs and not much bitumen. We take things slowly
and are pleased not to meet much on coming traffic in fact there’s only one other vehicle on the road that we come across. The scenery is interesting and we stop at a couple of spots along the way plus got out to do a walk called the Longback which takes us to a lookout (read ‘top of mountain’)! The area seems to have been part of a burn off or bush fire relatively recently; there are lots of charred blackened trees here.
Corinna is where we have to cross the Pieman River via the ‘fatman’ ferry. This tiny settlement is actually now a tourist resort offering accommodation and cruises up the river. We enjoy a quick walk through the forest looking at the ancient but fallen Huon Pine trees and then queue up to be taken across to the other side. In the words of Chris de Burgh - Should we pay the ferryman or even fix a price? Should we pay the ferryman, before he gets us to the other side? Arrgghhhhhhh! Having read the operating instructions thoroughly (see lead photo) we knew there was no point looking for a bridge!
$20 sees us safely across
Beach shacks at Sundown Point
although our place in the queue was put in jeopardy by the bullshit story that a vehicle carrying urgent medical supplies needed to go on in front of us. We’d seen the driver of the vehicle hanging around in the resort and we ended up sharing the ferry with him - he was just running late and didn’t want to wait behind the queue of tourists and mine workers. Fair enough, no need for the yarn though - we wouldn’t have cared either way.
Off the ferry and back onto dry land we go. We’ve just got the last 12kms of gravel road to navigate now and its probably the worst of the whole day! It’s rough as you like.
At Zeehan we come across one of these unmanned, serve yourself fuel stations and fill up. We’d forgotten how strange it is to use these, we used to have one at home in Cam but just never bothered with it preferring to have a chat with the nice attendant at the Shell station instead! The machine spews out the fuel no problem but refuses to give us a receipt so we take photos of the amount drawn instead!
The sign on one of the beach houses at Sundown Point
We’re sure you’ll all back us up if there’s a question over the amount we’re charged. Ha Ha!
Zeehan looks an interesting place, there’s a Pioneer Museum here with lots of steam locomotives which catch Darryl’s eye. We’ve got one more stop on our wish list today though and if we stand any chance of completing it we need to get moving.
Montezuma Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in Tasmania and is accessed by a fairly level 8km walk. Sounds like music to our ears after such a long day in the car! It took us a while to find our way to the starting point and by the time we set of on the three hour return trek it was twenty to five. You don’t have to be a genius to work out that we didn’t want it to take us 3 hours so our pace was pretty quick. We got held up a couple of times by groups on their way back out, all of them said it had been worth the effort which spurred us on.
The walk follows the old tramline through the forest, that in itself is pretty impressive but
when we get to the waterfall - wow. It’s spectacular and in the afternoon light looks really pretty. There’s a suspension walkway here too so you can walk out above the valley floor to get the best view possible.
Although our visit was short we had a lot of fun; fun setting up the camera for a timer shot, fun swinging around on the bridge all by ourselves and fun doing the route march back to make it to the car in exactly 2 hours. Not bad, not bad at all.
The original idea was that we had dinner out here at Montezuma but there were no BBQs or picnic benches around so we decided to head for home and the comfort of the caravan. Within an hour we were back and Darryl was cooking up a storm as usual.
We even managed a hot shower before bedtime and a quick watch of the platypus playing in the river next to the caravan park. Waratah had been a great choice for the night as was our decision to give another night in the tent a miss, we needed a good nights sleep ready for Cradle Mountain tomorrow!
Dar and Sar
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