Tag Archives: tasmania

The Road to Strathgordon and Gordon Dam

View from Gordon Dam

View from Gordon Dam

I own a guidebook, which essentially says don’t bother going to Strathgordon unless you have the time. Having visited, I disagree wholeheartedly.

A: Strathgordon in Tasmania's wild west.

A: Strathgordon in Tasmania’s wild west.

Sentinel Range, on the way to Strathgordon

Sentinel Range, on the way to Strathgordon

The trip to Strathgordon is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The 89km road from Maydenda to Strathgordon snakes through some of the most stunning and stark scenery I’ve ever witnessed. It weaves through rainforest, mountains, cliffs of rock, shrubby trees, curls around the headlands of the lakes, flat planes wholly encircled with ranges, and all without a house insight.

The drive takes about 1-2 hours, you would think that 89 kms isn’t much, but when you’re sitting on between 30km and 60km per hour due to the condition of the roads, the weather, other drivers, steep inclines, declines and sharp turns, you would understand why it takes a couple of hours. The benefit to travelling at a slower pace is you do get to enjoy the scenery a little, as long as you don’t take your eyes off the road for too long. For such a remote area I was very surprised as the number of cars we saw along the way, probably about 10 in total and watch the ones with caravans going too fast around the corners, one came inches from taking us out.

View from the Chalet, Strathgordon

View from the Chalet, Strathgordon

We had planned on camping along the way to Strathgordon; however, once we arrived at Lake Pedder Chalet, the only accommodation in Strathgordon, and had lunch in the food hall, we became a lot less inclined to leave. On finding out that the motel style rooms were cheap, but basic, we decided to stay overnight in a room rather than a campground for the first time since we left Adelaide.

Strathgordon isn’t much, a few houses and a kick ass indoor heated pool. It was constructed in the 1960’s to house the workers building the Gordon Dam. Now, only a few families remain in the town, usually of workers maintaining the plant or working in the Chalet.

We spent the afternoon lounging and having a few beers, the life, before retiring to bed for a movie and an early night. We are very glad that we stayed in the Chalet as when we awoke in the morning there was a very heavy rain; also it was nice to be able to go to the toilet without getting cold.

Shot from the Dam to the viewing area.

Shot from the Dam to the viewing area.

Once we checked out of the Chalet we drove another 10 minutes west to the Gordon Dam. The dam was built in the 1960’s and 1970’s it is the largest dam in Tasmania and 5th largest in Australia.

Gordon Dam, Strathgordon

Gordon Dam, Strathgordon

It was cold and wet when we arrived. However, the scenery in the area was stunning, all mountains, mist and it felt oddly peaceful, I guess that’s from being so remote. In short it was breathtaking! I’m glad we decided to go out of our way to visit Strathgordon and the Gordon Dam.

Mount Field, The National Park of Waterfalls

On the way from Strahan to Strathgordon we decided to stay overnight in the campground section of the Mount Field National Park. Mount Field National Park is considered to be the most loved national parks in Tasmania.  Some of the activities undertaken here include walking, camping & skiing! No skiing for us this time though 🙂

We hadn’t planned on stopping here specifically; however, our drive to Strathgordon was taking longer than anticipated due to a 4WDing track diversion. This meant that we weren’t going to make Strathgordon without really pushing it so we decided to stop for the night.

Thankfully Mount Field National Park contains a number of waterfalls that I’d planned on visiting so we took the morning to go for a hike.

Mount Field National Park Russell Falls/ Horseshoe Falls/ Tall Trees Walk/ Lady Barren Falls Circuit

Mount Field National Park Russell Falls/ Horseshoe Falls/ Tall Trees Walk/ Lady Barren Falls Circuit

Waterfall 1: Russell Falls – an easy 10 minute or so stroll from the visitors centre.

Russell Falls, Mount Field National Park

Russell Falls, Mount Field National Park

Waterfall 2: Horseshoe Falls – another 10 mins or so from Russell Falls. These falls when flowing freely resemble an upside down horseshoe. Unfortunately only one side of the horseshoe was flowing for us today!

Horseshoe Falls, Mount Field National Park

Horseshoe Falls, Mount Field National Park

Giants Walk – a lovely stroll through forest that features some of the the world’s tallest and oldest trees.

Waterfall 3: Lady Barren Falls – Like Russell and Horseshoe Falls, Lady Barren Falls is composed of marine Permian siltstone, faced by retreating sandstone layers. All three falls provide a glimpse of the underlying geology in a heavily forested area where the geology is otherwise hidden beneath vegetation and soils (Tas parks and wildlife website).

Lady Barren Falls, Mount Field National Park

Lady Barren Falls, Mount Field National Park

All up about 2 hours, give or take and is a stunning, and surprisingly easy, walk. There was a set of stairs right at the end that really took it out of us.

The park and the campground was lovely, clean and well set up for day use visitors and overnight travellers, we really enjoyed it!

Hogarth Falls, Strahan

Hogarth Falls, Strahan

Hogarth Falls, Strahan

On the way out of Strahan today we stopped in to do the Hogarth Falls walk. A short 40mins-ish return walk was a lovely way to start the day. The walk itself is very easy as you wander through lovely alpine rainforest with lots of ferns and a little creek that flows next to the walk way. This walk is also part of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.

Hogarth Falls, Strahan

Hogarth Falls, Strahan

Hiking Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain, Dove Lake Circuit

Cradle Mountain, Dove Lake Circuit

We were disappointed that we weren’t able to four wheel drive in western Tas as we had planned; however, our next stop, Cradle Mountain, made up for it. We decided to splurge out and pay a steep $36 for an unpowered site at the Cradle Mountain Holiday Park, the only campgrounds nearby. You do get what you pay for, lovely wooden hot showers, huge wood fires in the stunning camp kitchens and even wood fire pizza ovens!

As we arrived late, we decided not to attempt any hiking, instead we sat ourselves down in front of the wood fires, made pizza and had an early night. The temperature was predicted to drop to 6 degrees, I don’t know how low it got but, nonetheless we didn’t take any chances, a hot shower, thermals and our extra sleeping bag. Thankfully we did as it rained and stormed all night.

We awoke the next morning and unfortunately the weather hadn’t abated; but, I wasn’t going to let a little thing like freezing cold rain get in the way of hiking. We donned our wet weather/ freezing cold weather gear after a nice warm breaky, decided to extend our stay by another night so we could have another hot shower and made our way to the information centre to catch the shuttle.

Cradle Mountain_A Girl A 4WD And A Trailer-2

TIP: thankfully someone advised us the vehicle pass we purchased for entry into the National Parks also acts as shuttle bus tickets so we didn’t need to pay more for the shuttle.

The Boat Shed

The Boat Shed

We hopped on the shuttle and were dropped off at the Dove Lake Circuit carpark. The Dove Lake Circuit is approx 6kms long and was to take approx 2-2.5 hours. The track itself is actually more of a boardwalk, all wooden planks and chicken wire (as non slip) so the circuit is in great condition. We were warned that as Cradle Mountain is in an alpine area we should expect 4 seasons in one hour and we weren’t disappointed. In the two hours we were there it rained, hailed, sunshined and was foggy, we got the full spectrum.

Waterfall, Dove Lake Circuit

Waterfall, Dove Lake Circuit

The walk itself was stunning though. Even hubby, who isn’t a great walker, really enjoyed himself! The lake is gorgeous and the views of Cradle Mountain were fantastic. The rain was also a bit of a blessing as they haven’t had rain here since late December and so the rain got the waterfalls flowing, great for pictures.

Once we completed the Dove Lake Circuit, I really wanted to check out Waldheim Chalet. Back in 1912 – 1920 an Austrian / Australian couple Gustav and Kate Weindorfer took a shine to the area, bought some land (stopping it from getting logged completely) and built the chalet. It is due to Gustav’s vision and passion that the area became a National Park.

Waldheim Chalet - Replica

Waldheim Chalet – Replica

After we checked out the replica chalet and Gustav’s grave, we headed back to the comfort of the wood fire in the kitchen for lunch and afternoon drinks. The end to a lovely day!

Nothing is Perfect & You Can’t Win Them all

We have just stayed in Arthur River a couple of nights in the Prickly Wattle campground and had planned to take off 4wding through the Arthur Pieman Reserve. We headed into town, just to check the long range weather forecast for the area and to make sure one specific track we wanted to visit would be accessible.

Unfortunately it was bad news. The rain had started today and the forecast predicted it would continue for the rest of the week. The track we wanted to go down was filling with water and shouldn’t be attempted without a group, we only had us, and the track down to the next town we wanted to visit was closed.

What did this mean? Refund of our 4wd pass and backtracking all the way back to Burnie to be able to get to Rosebery, via Cradle Mountain.

Needless to say we are very disappointed! I guess you can’t win them all!

View from Arthur River

View from Arthur River

From Stanley to Arthur River

The next morning I went for a run, Hubby decided to stay in the nice warm bed while I headed out. Previously I’d mentioned that climbing The Nut really took it out of me so I’ve vowed to TRY and run every morning if possible. The caravan park we stayed in overnight backed onto a semi circular beach with a boardwalk, I started a light jog one way, not much there so I jogged back and headed the other way. This took me to the old wharf at the base of The Nut and to some historic buildings we hadn’t visited yesterday so I stopped jogging and went for a look around.

It was really interesting, a few more historic buildings with information points, a strange random rock carving and of course the wharf. All up I took about an hour and really enjoyed my jog / sightseeing trip. If jogging is like this everyday I might actually start to enjoy it!

Come Holy Spirit Carving

Come Holy Spirit Carving

I came back to the car, gathered hubby for breakfast, packed up the car, grrrrrr I really hate packing the car when we have so many plans for the day!!!! And we took off.

We drove through Smithton, really not much there, and headed west to another potential campground and according to the map the furthest northwestern campground there is before heading down west. When we arrived we were surprised, or shocked, whatever. People seemed to be living there, which really isn’t that odd usually; however, people had set up fences, boundaries, around huge patches of land with mesh and made semi permanent structures in these patches. It reminded me of trailer trash meets US cult camp crossed with boat people refugee camps. We politely advised the caretaker, who had come out to greet us, that we weren’t sure of what we were doing and would come back to him. We very quickly drove out.

The drive to the next campground was stunning with more rolling green hills spotted with cows and as we were coastal we kept getting quick peeks of stunning isolated and empty beaches. The free camp we were heading to was in Marrawah and was gorgeous, it was on the beach nice camp area, toilets (bonus!) and showers albeit cold ones. Hubby for some reason didn’t like it so we kept going until we reached Dismal Swamp.

View near Marrawah, stunning right?

View near Marrawah, stunning right?

I’m really not sure why its called Dismal Swamp, but basically it’s the only blackwood sinkhole in the world, quite a pretty sinkhole I might add, in the middle of a rainforest. All the land around the swamp has been cleared for farming but they managed to preserve this little area and they’ve built an information and education centre in it. $20 per person to get in, steep I know but I really wanted to check this out, and $2 each for a slide ride down into the sinkhole. We could have walked down for free, but $2 for a slide was ok.

Random Door

Random Door

We slid to the bottom and had a look around. They have built raised platform paths, you are given a map, and along the path are information points and random items that have been placed in growth. For example, apparently there are crayfish in the swamp so they made giant crayfish mounds, complete with giant crayfish statues and stuck them into the growth. There was also a giant wooden door, a couple of random chairs; bones of an extinct creature and a fake cow just to name a few.

So we walked around, got lost a couple of times and headed back up to the information centre for a massive slice of chocolate cake.

Hopping back into the car we drove some more to Arthur River. This is the point leading into the Arthur Piemen Reserve where we plan on four-wheel driving. We purchased our 4wd pass  and picked a campground where we can set up for a couple of days.

On the way to the campground we had a quick stop at the Edge of The Work Lookout, the west coast of Tasmania is apparently the longest uninterrupted expanse of ocean on the globe. I tell ya what, it’s bloody scary! I would not be hopping into that surf anytime soon! Anyway after absorbing the beauty, taking some pics, we headed off to the campground for a couple of days of R&R

The Edge of The World Arthur River

The Edge of The World Arthur River

The Historic Town of Stanley

I’m going to say upfront and without having seen too much of Tas yet, Stanley is one of my favourite places in Tas to visit. The quaint town is set on a peninsula in Northwest Tasmania and its star attraction, other than being super quaint, is The Nut. The Nut is a rather large volcanic plug that looks like someone took one big hill and stuck it down right on the edge of a peninsula.

The Nut, Stanley

The Nut, Stanley

We drove into Stanley, after having a great homemade pie at the roadhouse, parked and set up Herc (the 4WD). Setting up camp is soooooo boring when you have so much to see and do, but we got it out of the way and finally started our ascent of The Nut.

There are two ways of getting to the top of The Nut, one by taking a paid chair lift to the top, and two by climbing an incredible steep 430mt stretch, which is of course what we took. I hadn’t realised how unfit I am until this point and now have vowed to run every morning.

View of the chair lifts from The Nut

View of the chair lifts from The Nut

Once at the top of The Nut, there is a km or so walk around the summit, super windy and cold, but stunning views of the town, ocean and farm land surrounding the area. Quite unexpectedly on various sides of the summit were different types of flora and fauna. On the less windy side was a strange little forest filled with butterflies. From The Nut I’d also spotted an old cemetery, I know this is a little freakish but I really like old cemeteries, there’s something about the history and the quiet that I really enjoy. So we started the descent down The Nut via the really steep path, rather than the comfy chair lift, and walked off to investigate the cemetery.

Another picture of The Nut because it's so pretty!

Another picture of The Nut because it’s so pretty!

Of the list of cemeteries that I’ve visited (don’t judge!) I’d say this is probably the second loveliest cemetery I’ve ever visited after Waverley Cemetery in Sydney. The Circular Head cemetery in Stanley had the most stunning views overlooking the ocean and The Nut. Lots of old graves with stories, lovely!

Circular Heads Cemetery_Stanley_A Girl A 4WD and A Trailer

As Stanley’s main street was just around the corner, it’s a very small town, we strolled down and read the historic trail information points. Stanley was opened in 1827 as a port and so there are many beautifully restored historic buildings in the town. The historic information points lead us straight into the historic pub with an old cellar, not much there so we made our way to the Pirate Oyster Bar where we ordered oysters and chips of lunch. The oysters were Pacific oysters grown locally in the next town over on an oyster farm. Unfortunately the farm is private and can’t be visited, but the oysters were lovely yum!

By this time is was getting to mid arvo so we headed back to the caravan park. As we were parked in a caravan park with washing machines, we had some domestics to do; however, I won’t bore you with that right now.