A highlight of our Tassie trip was a night spent on the Gordon River, which together with the Franklin is most famous of the west coast’s wild rivers thanks to the 1970’s protests against construction of a dam on its headwaters. To add even more charm to the experience we journeyed on the sailing ketch Stormbreaker, skippered by Trevor who is a walking encyclopaedia on the area and sailing generally.
After grabbing some yummo toasties and coffee for lunch from The Coffee Shack on Strahan’s foreshore we boarded Stormbreaker and readied ourselves to cast off. As well as Trevor we were welcomed by deckie Rob, then soon met another couple and a local council rep who were also taking the trip with us.
We had excellent weather and once out of port we were under sail for the run across Macquarie Harbour, passed the convict settlement of Sarah Island and into mouth of the Gordon River. Heading up river brought us close to its banks, each bend revealing a different post card worthy view of lush vegetation reflected on inky dark waters of the river. Trevor pointed out the changes in vegetation as the shade, soil and lay of the land modified the environment, including highlighting to us the area’s famous Huon Pine trees.
Stormbreaker is the only boat licenced to go so far into the river thanks to its design which produces very little wash or disturbance to the river banks. We motored upstream until just on dark we reach Sir John Falls, a beautiful little cascade hidden behind the tree lined bank.
Night on the river was so quiet and dark, with the sky reflecting onto the water making so that it almost seemed like we were floating in space rather than on water. It made for a great night’s sleep, though a little too black inky dark below decks in the cabin for Suze’s liking.
Next morning we were up at dawn for the run back down stream, enjoying breakfast as the water slipped effortlessly under Stormbreaker’s hull. Before too long we were back on the open waters of the harbour, then Trevor let me take the helm for the final leg as we headed to Strahan.
After disembarking in Strahan we loaded our gear back into the car and drove through more of the west coast’s infamous twisting roads to Queenstown for some supplies. The old mining town looked every bit like the Rocky Mountain mining towns I’ve visited in Colorado, with beautiful old buildings on a main street and the whole town walled in by mountain peaks.
Next stop was the iconic Cradle Mountain where we stayed for a couple of nights at the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village in a great self contained cabin that was very cosy. That night we were entertained by some of Tassie’s super sized possums rummaging around on our deck and could hear other animals moving around in the nearby bush.
We hiked the Dove Lake trail on a cool clear day which made the scene post card perfect from any angle. The walk took a couple of hours but went easily, other than a couple of steep little climbs. The changes in vegetation as we rounded the lake showcased the area’s natural beauty and diversity, each bend presenting something different to marvel at.
At end of the hike we were rewarded with the iconic postcard image, Dove Lake’s famous boat shed…
Next destination was the east coast and to get there we chose a route across middle of the state via Deloraine, Scottsdale, Derby, St Helens and finally our home for a couple of nights at a renovated beach shack at Bicheno.
The forests of central and north eastern Tasmania were different than the areas we’d been through, more open yet still full of beautiful tall eucalypts, and interspersed with more farmlands and townships. Deloraine entertained us with galleries and the type of stores only found in country towns while we arrived at Scottsdale in time for a great café lunch.
Derby showed plenty of signs of its recent resurgence as a mountain biking destination with dozens of shuttle buses and utes towing bike transiting trailers adorned by expensive alloy and carbon bicycles. From there we dropped onto the coast for the beautiful drive south from St Helens, behind sand dunes and with the occasional ocean vista as we rounded a headland or topped a hill.
The sky was growing dark and stormy as we reached Bicheno to resupply with groceries and head to our accommodation, but only after first exploring the town and it pretty little boat harbour.
With a day’s exploring planned before heading to Hobart we’ll wrap up this blog, check back in a few days to find out how we wrap up our Tassie road trip. 🙂