Sunday, 17 June 2018

Quamby Bluff


While travelling, I often see a section of coastline, odd point on a map, mountain in the distance, or something that just looks cool that I want to explore. Quamby Bluff was one such location. We were passing through the town of Deloraine, contemplating our next move. Seeing the bluff in the distance, I decided it would be there. A good decision; the walk is stunning!

We camped close to the base of the bluff at a place called Quamby Corner. This is a tidy little campground with beaut amenities and a great open camp kitchen. It's close enough to town for those who need to resupply, but far enough away to make you feel in the bush. At time of writing, camp fees were $9 a person. A bargain for the quality of the place, and we stayed again towards the end of our trip!

The walk itself was amazing! It takes about two hours up to the top, and another two back down. It involves a bit of boulder climbing, but the rocks aren't all that large or difficult to scramble over in dry weather.

During this hike, I discovered the macro function on my new camera. I became slightly obsessive with it, but ended up taking some really unique photos of little critters during the rest of our Tassie trip! We saw some bizarre fungus during our climb, plenty of small lizards catching early rays, and breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys.

The plateau at the top offers panoramic views of mountains, valleys, bush, lakes, plus Deloraine and the nearby farm land. While we were up top, clouds meandered through the valleys, making the peaks and plateaus appear as islands in a sea of clouds. At one point, I almost thought I was standing atop a Kalinga from Necrosanguin!

Being above everything, and seeing such vastness, can be quite tranquil. It's easy to just kick back and relax as you take everything in. Bring a picnic for this walk, as the top is a sweet place to just enjoy the serenity.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Mole Creek, Limestone Caves

When planning our trip around Tassie, a mate of ours suggested we visit the caves at Mole Creek. It is 1 hour south of Devonport, and 25 minutes West of Deloraine. There are plenty of caves around Tasmania. We went to some of the lookouts and walks around town and the mountains at Allum Cliffs State Reserve. It was nice but we found no caves.

We went to the information centre. As it turns out they are limestone caves, the really pretty ones, like at Jenolan Caves, Katoomba, NSW. If you want to see them you join a tour. Tours run every half hour and last for an average of 45minutes, so the website says but I'm sure that ours ran longer. There are 3 underground caves accessible for tours, Marakoopa Cave, Great Cathedral Cave, and King Solomon's Cave.

We went in the Great Cathedral Cave. It wouldn't really matter which tour you do, they would all be spectacular. Beautiful colours, sparkling crystals, glow worms, at times complete darkness, (not while walking), under ground creeks and running water, shimmering stalactites, and stalagmites.

Back before the land became a national park, it was privately owned. The Great Cathedral Cave was sometimes used for church. There is a lot of symbolism. Some stalagmites represent the 12 apostles, and Lot's wife who was turned to a pillar of salt and there are other biblical stories. Pretty cool place for Sunday School. Other events have been held in the caves too over time. Music would have superb acoustics!

Happy Travels
- Jeni

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Topiary Town: Railton

Not far south of Devonport lies the unique town of Railton. The local pub offers a place to set up camp for the night, so we decided to crash out here and enjoy a few beers. Other than a place to park up for the night, we had no idea what to expect. It was topiary.

Topiary, for those who don't know, is the art of sculpting plant-life to resemble non-plant life. The folks of this town really take it seriously! The main street looks like a zoo had unleashed its residents, then turned them into shrubberies!

It's not just animals either, trains, people, wizards and dragons, plus much more can be found while exploring this tiny town. There's even a shop set up where anyone bitten by the bug can purchase frames to start their own topiary creation.

For the super-enthusiastic individual, there is a map in the town park that informs you where all the hidden topiary creations lurk. For those who aren't up for a topiary-hunt, a simple stroll down the main road will offer plenty leafy monuments to enjoy the art.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Hellyers Road Distillery

How good is whisky? Alright, that's a rhetorical question. The golden spirit is a fantastic substance enjoyed all around the world. And, Tasmania holds some of the purest water sources on our beautiful planet. That means it's also home to some of the best beer and whisky!

We had enjoyed Hellyers Road whiskys a number of times during our year in Tassie. So, when the opportunity arose for us to visit the distillery, we couldn't possibly let it pass!

There's a few Hellyers in Tassie: Hellyer Gorge, Hellyer River, and, of course, Hellyers Road. The name comes from a bloke named Henry Hellyer, one of the early explorers of Tasmania.

While Hellyers Distillery is in Burnie, the gorge and river can be found southwest of the town. If you want to explore that area, it is full of the delightful rainforests, mountains, and walking tracks one might expect to find in Tasmania's west coast.

Now, back to the distillery! The place gives off a premium vibe that reflects that of the whisky. You can order some top quality grub from their cafe, which offers tranquil views of Emu Valley while you dine. There's a whisky tour, which is quite informative, involves sampling, and offers special-grade whisky. Or you can just pop in for a drink or pick up some of the good stuff!

Hellyers Road Distillery's whisky is all made here in Aus, with almost all Tassie ingredients. I say almost as their peated whisky—which I highly rate—contains peat imported from Scotland.

If you're in the area, and feeling a bit thirsty, an afternoon visit to Hellyers Distillery can't be beat!

Friday, 1 June 2018

Tarkine Wilderness

Today's post is brought to you from Tasmania's North West, the Arthur-Pieman Conservation area, and the Tarkine Wilderness.

So we'd packed up the house we were living in for a year. We visited Pillenger, something we should have done much earlier in the year as it was enchanting and beautiful. We had finally climbed Murchinson's Track near Lake Plimsoll. Now it was time to head up the West Coast. We started making our way towards the Tarkine Wilderness – 450 000 hectares of wilderness, eucalypt and cool temperate rain forests. It was getting towards the time of the last ferry across for the day so decided to camp up for the night. Reece Dam, at the boat ramp, was a nice place to call it a day.
The next morning we were back on the road. We caught the ferry across the Pieman River. The Pieman River is the southern boarder of the Tarkine, Arthur River marks the north, the Murchinson Highway marks the eastern boarder, and the ocean marks the west. Having lived in Tasmania for a year we had things we wanted to check off in our two weeks of travel before catching the Spirit of Tasmania back. We heard two of the best cruises in Tasmania were the Pieman River that departs from Corinna, and the Arthur River that departs from the town of Arthur River in the North-West. After crossing the ferry across to Corinna we learnt the cruise had just departed. It then started raining. That made our choice easy for which cruise to do as we didn't want to waste a day waiting around for it. We had a look through the historic mining town now surrounded by rainforest. A place to truly relax, get away from it all, bush walks, kayaking, boating, fishing, bird watching, eco retreats, and wonderful, locally sourced food, but alas we decided to keep moving and head for Arthur River, to stay the night and catch the Arthur River cruise instead.
The weather turned wild as we drove up the West Coast towards Arthur River. Fitting, considering there is a lookout at the mouth of Arthur River called The Edge of the World, sometimes rough and wild, as it was when we visited, sometimes beautiful and peaceful. The 'Roaring Forties' hits the west coast of Tasmania with great force. It is the wind that develops on the Indian Ocean between South Africa and Australia. There is no great land mass to stop it before it reaches Tasmania, so the West Coast is rugged and wild. We took shelter in a cabin for the night instead of the Troopy. I have never heard such heavy rain! Thankfully the system cleared the following day. For the time we were on the cruise, we had beautiful, flat, calm weather. The wind didn't pick up again until we got back. That was the last of the rain we had for the remainder of our trip around Tassie. Two weeks of sunshine in Tas, I think that was a record!
There are now two cruises on the Arthur River. The original red boat is the one we went on, the other is white. The cruise was definitely worth it. A small boat, run by husband and wife team. Due to the amount of rain and the river level in winter the cruise does not run. We had a great day cruising the only river in Tasmania that has not been logged at any time. Just to clarify, there are areas in the Tarkine that are logged, but not along Arthur River. The only 'logging' that you see is natural, occuring mostly in winter when the water level is up, the weather is wilder, and logs are picked up and thrown about as if they were matchsticks. We also saw a pair of white-bellied sea eagles! Lunch and wine was provided at a lovely sheltered area where Arthur and Franklin Rivers meet called Turk's landing.
After the boat cruise that finished at 3 we started our journey through the forests of Tarkine, not before discovering a place called Nelson Bay. Being from the Hunter Valley we found this amusing so stopped in for a photo. The 'Roaring Forties' started picking up again, so it was quite blowy. We were there long enough to take a few quick snaps before we took shelter back in Rocky.

A nice way to see the Tarkine is to do the driving loop. There are many lookouts of rivers, mountains, forests, walks, and a couple of camping spots too. The beauty of Tasmania in summer is the very long daylight hours. After the cruise, we went to a few of these walks and lookouts. We camped at Julius River, then finished the loop the following day. My highlights of the Tarkine was the cruise, and Trowutta Arch. Trowutta Arch had a Jurassic feel to it. A cave / arch in the forest, and a giant pond underneath. Not many people visit the North-West Tasmania. If you do make the journey, one brochure I would recommend getting is 'The Tarkine Drive'. The map is great and helps you to plan your stops.

Happy Travels
- Jeni