Thursday, 24 May 2018

Mount Murchison

The drive from Queenstown to Burnie, Lake Plimsoll Drive in particular, is full of scenic beauty. Lake Plimsoll itself is a high-altitude lake surrounded by mountains. No matter how many times I did this drive, the scenery never grew bland. Driving back to Queenstown in the late afternoon lit the sky, lake, and mountains with all sorts of constantly changing reds and purples. I noted a walking track that went up one of the mountains along this road, Mt Murchison Track, and when Jeni and I finally got around to embarking upon it, we were far from disappointed!

The walk itself takes about 3 hours and is a little more on the harder side. As stated, Mt Murchison Track is on Lake Plimsoll Drive. It starts through cool forests, but quickly rises up and the flora thins out as you hike up this conglomerate mountain. The walk is quite rocky, requiring some boulder climbing and scrambles; dry weather is recommended.

We were fortunate to have a crystal clear skies and fantastic weather during our climb. This always enhances a good mountain hike. There were some interesting fungi and plants growing along the path, but it's the views of the region that really take your breath away. Like always, we've got some photos to share with those who don't have the opportunity to explore this amazing area. Unfortunately, photos don't give the panoramic views justice.

It felt as though there was no end to beautiful mountains and amazing walks through Tasmania. If you have the opportunity to climb up Mt Murchison Track, it's definitely worth the effort. Views from the peak will make you feel like a god overlooking creation. The visible vastness of the rugged landscape is an experience in itself!

I do hope that our Tasmanian posts are conveying the rugged beauty of Australia's island state. It's a magical place, and definitely worth a visit.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Lake St Clair

Lake St Clair is the deepest fresh water lake in Tasmania, 170m at its deepest. It was formed by glacial movements, hence the ruggedness of the surrounding mountains. It certainly puts on a show with sunrises and sunsets!

There are many beautiful walks to do at Lake St Clair in the National Park. Actually there are many spectacular walks all over Tasmania! The Overland Track is the most famous. It is a 6 day, 65km hike that starts at Cradle Mountain and finishes at Lake St Clair.

I have done my fair share of multi-day hikes around Australia. All beautiful. Initially when I started working I wanted to do the track. After living in Tasmania for a couple of months I had quickly changed my mind. The weather is very unpredictable in the mountains and changes quickly. From the information centre at Lake St Clair, located at Cynthia Bay, there are many day walks ranging from 20 minutes to 7 hours. Most of these overlap the last section of the overland track. You can catch the ferry from Cynthia Bay up to Narcissus or Echo Point and walk the final leg of the track back to Cynthia Bay.

The first walk I did at the park was a 7 hour return trek to Little Hugel. This walk also passes Shadow Lake and Forgotten Lake, but choosing to go all the way to Little Hugel. My breath was taken away by the insane amount of beauty up here! I could even see the Pumphouse! There is much rock scrambling in the last hour of this walk/ climb. I would only recommend if you have rock climbing experience. I would also recommend doing it with someone. Cameron was not yet in Tasmania at this time, and I did it by myself. I regretted it. Going up was a challenge, but coming down was even harder as there is not many markers indicating the path. There are many boulders and they all look very similar. If you have someone with you it is easier to scout.

In March we climbed Mount Rufus. Again, the views were insane! Imagine 360° views of mountains, rivers, valleys, clouds, lakes. 100% nature. It was a 7 hour walk as we did the full circuit, but you can do it in 5 if you just go to the summit and back.

There is food available from the information centre, Lake St Clair Lodge, they decent pizzas, and pub food, which is really appreciated after a long walk. There is also the Derwent Bridge Hotel 5kms down the road that specialise in Sri Lankin currries.

At Derwent Bridge is an interesting place called 'The Wall in the Wilderness'. We have no photos from here as photos are not allowed, but if you are interested in woodwork and woodcarving it's worth checking out, even if you're not all that interested it is wonderful. It is incredible how much detail is in the woodcarvings. The wall itself is 100m. You can view both sides. Each panel is 3m tall, and the panels tell the story of Tasmania. Made from Huon Pine. 
Happy Travels 
 - Jeni 

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Pumphouse Point

How did we sunshine and warmth lovers end up in Tasmania you ask? Well, despite what we had heard, WA is NOT an easy place for travellers to find work. We were in Bunbury six months and nothing. It was a little saddening. We moved to Esperance, and we had a little work, but not much. Cameron had just released his 2nd book, Silvaste's Spear, and he had decided at this point that he wanted to write more. I said I would work full time while he focussed on writing for the year. We ended up in Tasmania for simple reasons. I found work, and it is cheap to rent. Cameron spent the year in Queenstown where he focussed on writing and later picked up work at the Library, (by the end of 2017 he had 5 books published total, and in March this year released his 6th). I lived there too when I wasn't working, but I had a 10 on 4 off roster, working at Lake St Clair, Pumphouse Point. I lived at work as Queenstown was 90 minutes away, the closest proper town.

Lake St Clair is a beautiful and rugged part of Tasmania. It is at the southern end of the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National park. The weather was a little bit unpredictable in Summer, and very wet in winter with the odd bit of snow. I arrived in December 2016. It snowed a week before Christmas, then, a week later on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day it was the hottest days we had all summer, hitting 30°C. Summer disappeared again after this, and went back to spring weather. It showed itself again on February 28. The last official day of Summer. 

The changing weather meant beautiful photos could be captured at any time of the day, and any day of the year. No two days were the same. A moving painting. 

Pumphouse Point is a Boutique Resort. It was once a pump station to pump water from Lake St Clair to the Tarraleah hydro power station. It was decommissioned in the 1990s. The land was handed back to the National Park, and consequently got caught up in being heritage listed. There were a few developers who had their eyes on it too. One of those was Simon Currant, who eventually obtained the lease in 2004. It was a long 11 years turning the pumphouse and substation, (now known as the shorehouse), into the beautiful hotel it is today. There are 12 hotel suites in the pumphouse 250m out on the lake. At this point the water is about 10m deep, dropping off not far past the pumphouse. There are a further 6 suites in the shorehouse looking out to the lake and the pumphouse. The dining room is on the ground floor of the shorehouse.
Things to do at Pumphouse Point:
  • Walking around the property you can see all different angles of the pump and shore house, the beauty of the lake, the ruggedness of the mountains.
  • You may see a variety of Australian animals. Wombats. Wallabies. Echidnas. Platypus.
  • Go fishing, specifically trout fishing.
  • Take a row boat out on the water.
  • Take the pushies for a spin.
  • If the weather is not so nice outside, snuggle up by one of the cosy fire places in the lounge areas with a blanket and book, or perhaps challenge your other half to a board game. Get back to the simple things ey! There is lounging areas in both the pump and shorehouses. Guests are not restricted to the building they are staying in.
  • Order complimentary loaves of hot sour dough bread, delivered to your room, or wherever you are relaxing, and enjoy with some tasty tassie wine or food from the fully stocked larders in the rooms.
  • Enjoy beer, cider, wine, or spirits from the self-help bars.
  • Enjoy a continental breakfast and evening dinner. If you are a hobbit, you can arrive at 7:30 have your first breakfast including bacon, beans, and eggs, come back at 9 for your second breakfast, (quick, it finishes at 9:30), then order a loaf of hot sour dough bread for your third breakfast at 10:30, (or whatever time), then dinner as a three course meal in the evening!

If you really want to live it up with a bit of fancy VIP relaxing instead of the regular cosy variety, at the end of 2017 the newest addition to Pumphouse Point was a new, all inclusive, exclusive use, retreat. How does a private spa sound to you? Good? How about 2 private spas? One inside, one outside. Oh Man! During winter it would be the perfect place to hide away, watch the snow falling, from the cosiness of the retreat, eat some chocolate, drink some red wine, enjoying the beauty of winter without feeling the harsh and bitter wind from Antarctica...

 - Happy travels, Jeni

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Lost Town of Pillinger


Today's blog post marks number one-hundred for the Trooprock Aussies! We've had a great five years travelling around this beautiful country, enjoyed sharing our stories with the world, and keen to share many more! To celebrate, I'll be sharing a very special location: Pillinger.

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about the train line from Queenstown to Strahan. I also mentioned that Lyell and Crotty had a bit of a competition for the resources of the south west. Well, Crotty had his own train line. His line also travelled out towards Macquarie Harbour. Not to Strahan, though. Once upon a time a little town named Pillinger existed south-east of Strahan.

Today, Strahan thrives as a little harbour town and tourist destination. Pillinger, however, was abandoned many years ago. Consumed by the relentless rainforests and harsh conditions of the West Coast, all that remains of the old town are ruins. An interesting concept to think about, as you compare Pillinger and Strahan, is if the power between Lyell and Crotty turned in Crotty's favour, the reality of today would be very different. Pillinger would be the thriving tourist-hub and harbour town, whilst Strahan would be nothing but overgrown ruins.

Now, it may seem as though the start of this post is rather gloomy. Do not stress, as Pillinger today is an exciting place to explore! By simply travelling south west from Queenstown, where in the previous post I said you can find beautiful views of mountains and lakes, and continuing down an unsealed road, you can find the Bird River Track.

The final leg of the drive involves five kilometres that feels like a narrow slice through a cliff. Don't drive too fast, and keep a lookout for locations where two cars can fit side-by-side (there aren't many), because if you come across another vehicle, you may need to reverse to that spot! To get an idea of the width, think about the way train lines run through the edge of mountains. Yep, that old line is now your road!

After the drive, the trek begins! It's eleven kilometres on foot to reach the old ruins. Jeni and I found the beauty of this stroll something amazing. The best word I could use to describe the location is enchanted. Seriously, if a fairy-tale character was ever going to pop up and say g'day, I'd expect it to happen here!

The ruins themselves really blow you away. They're not even all that old, compared to many other ruins over the world. The mess of vines and verdant growth of the rainforests, however, permeates an ancient ambience. This place feels like the remains of a long lost civilisation, not a town that fell apart less than one-hundred years ago.

An information plaque shows an aerial view of the area, completely cleared of vegetation, with the town on display. Standing amidst the ruins, I could hear the forest growing around me, a chill ran up my spine, and the power of nature hit me like the caress of a spitfire. Actually, due to the warm weather—straight after heavy rain—during our visit to the area, I found myself experiencing many spitfire kisses, leech sucks, and spider webbings. Definitely keep yourself well covered while walking the Bird River Track! As I was stating before, this place offers an eerie clarity to the absolute power nature holds over man!

Not much of the old town remains today. A few beams of wood are all that remains of the old train station. The jetty leaves much to the imagination. Although, a new one has been constructed by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. A handful of brick buildings still remain, far from in tact, covered in the creeping green of the forest.

Exploring Pillinger was, without a doubt, my favourite day trip from Queenstown. Definitely worth checking out, and compliments the train ride out to Dubbil Barril better than anything I can imagine. If you're in the area, and a twenty-two kilometre walk feels too much, you may be able to hire a boat from Strahan. At the time of writing, there are no tours that go out to Pillinger.