Another travel day! Carolyn got us fairly well packed before going to bed last night and we set our breakfast time for 7:30AM. The food was consistently good and we settled our bill for three nights at $470AUD or about $370USD an absolute seal for what we have had. We are off by 9AM.
First stop is a park in Launceston to see the Tamar River Gorge and the cast iron Victorian bridge over the river. We first head up stream to the chair lift area, while a pretty park area with swimming pool and café, you can't see much of the gorge above there. Dick discovered when looking for coins with which to pay the parking fee that he has walked off with the key to our room so before going to the bridge, we drive back to return the key to Janie. By the way, our $1AUD parking ticket is good until 11AM and has lots of time left on it and Dick gives it to a couple just pulling into park. More on this later.
Back at the B&B Janie gives us directions on how to get to the bridge since we couldn't figure that out. The bridge is actually two different spans that have been connected to make a wider bridge. The first arched span of this river was installed in1864 and the second one in 1904. Now we are off for real.
There is some debate as to how we are to make the trip to Hobart but we finally decide on the route down through the Great Western Tiers and take a less traveled road south out of Exton which is west of Launceston off of Hwy 1. We have splendid views of the mountains that make up the Walls of Jerusalem, Cradle Mountain and Lake Claire National Parks as it is beautifully clear morning. The original plan was to go by way of Cradle Mountain, but it is too late for that long of a drive and we don't want to take the short way down Hwy 1. So once again we do our own thing.
This route takes us south through pastoral country to Golden Valley where we pick up the A5, the “main road” south in this area. This “Primary Route” is no wider than most of the less traveled Farm to Market Roads in Texas. It immediately begins to climb “The Great Western Tiers.” It is a nice, winding mountain drive reminiscent of many we have done in the American West. We top out at 1,100 meters or 3,600 ft. above sea level. We get out at this point to take a look at Great Lake. There is a wind blowing and it is in the mid-50s so we do not tarry too long. This is a huge lake and is the first of many we will see on this route.
From here the road is not paved but is well maintained gravel and is usually smoother than the chip sealed hard top. The speed limit is 80kph or 50mph and we sail right along enjoying the scenery and the drive. This is known as the Highland Lakes Road.
Just before Miena, where we turn off A5 to head to Lake Claire, we see a general Store/Café and a gas station. It is the first we have seen since turning down to connect to A5. Dick decides he wants to at least see how much gas is in this remote area. Well, you better need gas only between 5 and 8PM on Friday because that is the only time the pumps are open and then only if power is available!!!
Here we turn west toward Derwent and Lake St. Claire National Park where we limit ourselves to a look at the lake and a walk through the visitor center. This is a hiking and backpacking park and that is no longer in our deck of cards. The Overland Track is a 6 to 7 day experience from Lake Claire to Cradle Mountain and there were a number of people gearing up to go or coming off the trail tired, dusty and happy!
We then stop for a look at “The Wall,” wood sculptures done by one man depicting the history of the region. They are amazing to see and his skill is truly amazing. He has a full size carving of a coat hanging on a peg just inside the door and it looks like a real coat!! We are not sure it is worth $24AUD for the privilege, but it had been recommended to us. Been there, done that and bought a post card since no camera are allowed; another $2AUD.
The gas tank is getting down below a quarter full and this is empty country; sort of like Alaska and British Columbia. Dick buys $20AUD of very expensive gas for peace of mind and we head on down the road toward Hobart.
We have now backtracked on Hwy. A10 and stop near Tarraleah to view part of the hydroelectric system started in the late 1930s and completed in the 1950s. Seeing the huge array of feedstock pipelines heading downhill to the generating plants is quite a sight and gives one an appreciation for the engineering involved.
By now it is getting on toward 5PM and we need to check into our new hotel before 6PM so no long stops....well just one for a desolate church and graveyard guarded by the sheep in the middle of nowhere!
The A10 into Hobart is bumpy and loping the last 50 or so miles and that is getting old but we make good time and check into the Zero Davey Apartment Hotel about 5:40PM. We are in room 23 on the second floor with a balcony overlooking the harbor. And, we have good internet for the first time on the trip!!!
We enjoy a drink and get unpacked and ready for dinner. There is a recommended seafood place across the harbor from us and we go there after a stop at a grocery store for some breakfast food for the next three mornings. We have fish and chips plus a beer for Dick and bottled water for Carolyn. Note the prices on the seafood below. Especially the lobster!
Remember the parking ticket Dick gave away this morning? Well, he does not have the right change to park at the restaurant and an Aussie couple buy our ticket and wish us a good evening. What goes around, comes around!!
Back to our room, hot showers and into bed by 9:30PM!
Back to our room, hot showers and into bed by 9:30PM!