Tuesday, 9 December 2014

2 - 4 December 2014 - Queenstown, Strahan, The Wall, Macquarie Harbour, Gordon River

We left Huonville on a glorious day and had to drive through Hobart to head west. We drove into the central plains and had a Devonshire Tea in Hamilton at a cafe and art gallery called Glen Clyde House. The gallery was stunning with all sorts of things made from Tasmanian wood. The four most popular wood are: Huon Pine, Myrtle, Sassafras and Blackwood. We purchased some items and continued out journey to The Wall.

The Wall is a personal gallery of the most spectacular wood carving you could ever see. Greg Duncan is in the process of carving a wall 100 metres long and 3 metres high illustrating the story of the land. The carvings should be completed in 2015 and is a stunning piece of art. There are additional free-standing wooden sculptures scattered aroung the beautiful hall in the forrest. You cannot take any photos so you won't see anythong here but we did purchase the book so you will have to wait for us to get home before you can see it.

Continuing our journey we headed for Queenstown and went over one mountain pass after the next with the last one in mist and drizzle before dropping down a long steep and winding pass into Queenstown. The area is beatiful and will have to be explored so we checked into the only caravan park in Queenstown. The weather is not looking good for the rest of our stay in Tasmania so we will have to make the best of it as we can.

Well the weather turned out really good so we retraced our route to see some of the scenery we missed comming in. We drove out along the pass to a lookout over the old mines that started the settlement in the 1800's. We met some other tourists and had a good chat and exchanged info on what to visit and see. Next we visited Lake Burbury which is huge and has brown and rainbow trout - much to Vlasta's delight. We the turned around and headed for Strahan via Queenstown. The road from Queenstown is 40 kms long but has 99 turns and takes 45 minutes to drive - another winding road over the mountains. The scenery is wonderful and Strahan is a cute town where we booked a cruise on the Gordon River. We had fish and chips for lunch and took a look at the Wilderness Woodworks which makes wooden items from Huon Pine and other wood. You can actually see the craftsmen making items which is fascinating. Vlasta then drove us home for drinks and supper.

We headed out to Stahan early to get on the cruise at 8:30. The weather was grey and drizzly. We bought a cup of coffee and boarded the catamaran cruiser and dropped our jackets in our seats which were on the top deck right at the front with panoramic views in front of us. This boat holds the record for towing the most skiers, 145, on the 27th January 2012 thus becoming the largest skiboat in the world! We visited the captain on the bridge and we departed out into Macquarie Harbour which is twice the area of Sydney Harbour. Our first point of interest was the entrance to the harbour known as Hells Gate. Although the weather was grey and drizzly there was no wind so the sea was very calm so we could cruise through and out to Cape Sorell with its lighthouse and fishing huts. We turned around and cruised back into the harbour and headed for the fish farms where they farm salmon and trout in the waters which are not as salty as the sea due to the fresh water from the Gordon River. After a close-up view of the fish pens and commentary from the captain we headed for Sarah Island which was a penal colony for 12 years preceding the building of Port Arthur. We had a magnificent tour made all that better by a brilliant guide who really got you involved in the history of the Island. Next was lunch as we cruised towards the Gordon River. Once in the river we cruised for about 14 kms up the river to the Heritage Landing where we took a guided walk throigh the temperate rain forest along a boardwalk. We saw a fallen Huon Pine that is 2000 years old. We were told that the oldest Huon Pine ever dated is 10 000 years old which is the second oldest tree in the world with the oldest being the Bristlecone Pine in the USA which is 12 000 years old. Google has different figures so this information is subject to correction but these trees may be considered 'composite' organisms because they fall over and then sprout new trees which also fall over and the cycle repeats for about 12 000 years, the original tree was found to still be growing. We then cruised back to Strahan for a talk on the different timbers in the saw mill in town followed by the drive back to Queenstown.

The cafe in Hamilton

Having a Devonshire Tea

Exploring the gallery
The Wall - sorry no other pictures as no cameras allowed inside
A hydro-electric power station in central Tasmania
One of the water pipes

Queenstown from the pass into town
The Eagle
On the bridge of the Eagle
The lighthouse guarding Hells Gates, the 70m wide entrance to Macquarie Harbour
Cape Sorell lighthouse
Fish farming
We got close to the fish farms
Our tour guide on Sarah Island
Our seats on the boat
The view from our seats
Cruising up the Gordon River
Huon Pine rings
A 100 year old Huon Pine next to a ?? year old human
The last person on the boat!
Amasing reflections on the Gordon River
The temperate rain forest along the Gordon river
Exiting the Gordon river into Macquarie Harbour

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