Thursday, 24 April 2008

Day 7: Bicheno & Freycinet National Park, Tasmania (24th April 2008)

Today was the last day of our travels before heading back to Hobart tomorrow. Sigh, wish I could continue travelling...(dream!). Was up at 7am and by 7.30am, the rest of the gang started to turn up at our cabin for breakfast. Photo of our cabin:



I felt really sorry for Christy. See looked worse than yesterday and was not well enough to join us for another day of activities. At 8.45am, we left the cabin in search of a local health centre - she needed medical attention. Managed to find one nearby and we left Christy there to wait her turn while John quickly drop the rest of us off at East Coast Natureworld before returning back to check on Christy. I hope she's ok and gets well soon. Wouldn't like to be in her shoes, paying for a trip but not being able to enjoy it. Photo (secretly taken) of a very ill-looking Christy:


Bicheno is a town in the east coast of Tasmania primarily a fishing port and beach resort. Lots to do and see here, including scuba diving, fishing, tracking, night tours to see penguins etc. And our itinerary today is PACKED with stuff to do!

John dropped us of at East Coast Natureworld where we had the opportunity to see the Tasmanian devils - oh, goody! Set amongst 150 acres of natural parkland and lagoons, this is a place to experience Tasmania’s unique and amazing animals, birds, reptiles and plant life. I got to feed the animals too and boy where the kangaroos bold - they came up close and put their paws on my palm so they could better reach of the food! Eeks, my palm was covered with kangaroo slobber!!

The Tasmanian Devils are carnivorous marsupials now found in the wild only in Tasmania. Tasmanian Devils may look like cute little dogs but these fellows eliminate all traces of a carcass, devouring the bones and fur in addition to the meat and internal organs. No kidding, really, just listen to the sound of bone crushing during feeding time and true enough, the devils ate everything - EVERYTHING!

Wratty, me, Niek and Ilse were walking around taking photos of tiger snakes when we were all caught by surprise at the 'show' - snakes having sex. How, you ask? Well, you'll know when you see it yourself, the whole orgasm thing, uh-huh, yep. Was REALLY obvious. I think all 4 of us were gobsmacked, eyes wide open watching the snakes go on and on. Phew, someone's in heat! What made us cracked up was when another male snake tried to get in between the couple doing their deed and after several attempts and still having no luck, it decided to pee all over the other 2 - a stream of yellowish liquid. Hahaha...Photos taken at Natureworld: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157605346671786/detail/

Around 11am, John came to pick us up and we went back to our cabin to grab our packed lunch and Christy's camera. There was no way she could join us so will be resting in bed for the rest of the afternoon. Hmm, I wonder what was worse - being sick or seeing photos taken with her camera of us having fun and not being part of it. Poor thing...

Headed off to Freycinet National Park for the afternoon. A quick photo stop of an interesting road sign:


Kind of looked like "hit wildlife at 65 km/h from dusk to dawn" - hehe :P

Wratty had his wish granted - he had requested a stop on our trip to an oyster farm to sample the local fresh oysters and this was where we would be going to one! Cool! Made a stop at an oyster farm and Wratty ordered his dozen of fresh oysters. Was nice of him to share it with us - it was so fresh and tasted so good! Just fresh oysters with some sea water and lemon juice. Yum! Might get a plate for myself if we stop by again on our way back :) Photos of us enjoying the oysters: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157605385277010/detail/


Back on the bus and our journey continued on at the national park. We could choose to hike up Mt Amos or walk to Wineglass Bay. Everyone chose the latter since Wineglass Bay was rated one of the top 10 beaches in the world. That has to be something worth seeing :) It was a challenging hike to the lookout point. Damn, I should have worn shorts and my bikini - worked up a sweat just walking up the steps and path to the lookout!

John accompanied us on the walk to the lookout but stayed behind with Kate while the rest of the bunch headed down to the beach. Took us approximately 30 minutes but boy was I not looking forward hiking back up...

Hmm, I have to agree that this has to be one of the most beautiful beaches I've seen to date. A pristine, white, fine-grained sandy beach. Wow - it was so quiet and peaceful. Nothing but the sound of crashing waves. There were no amenities on site but thankfully we came prepared with our packed lunch. We didn't stay at the beach as long as we would have liked to as the wind picked up and it got somewhat unbearable to be there. I think it would be really nice coming here in nice summer's day with a bunch of friends/family for a picnic and tan. Photos taken here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157605614586512/detail/

I STILL couldn't quite work out the 'wineglass' view...is it supposed to be a half full wine glass shape???

Our whole walk took 3 hours return and by 4pm, we were back on the bus and headed to Cape Tourville for a quick photo stop of the lighthouse. Photos taken here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157605621691031/detail/

Have you heard of Sex Wax? Louise had some in her bag...hmm, Louise, aren't you a little devil? Well, well, it ain't something you use for 'that' department...hehe...Sex Wax is a brand of wax you use for surfboards :) Photo of Louise and her Sex Wax:


If you haven't quite noticed how crazy our group is, I think the next photo will top it off for you. Louise had John pull up by the side of the road so that we could go take a photo of a wombat she had seen earlier today. Photo of the roadkill:


Eww, this is just disgusting! And makes me feel sick - bleah!

Back on the bus and headed to the cabin to catch up with Christy. Poor thing, she was still feeling sick :( Had a cup of coffee with her and Louise, and around 6.15pm, we (minus Christy) left for the Bicheno Penguin Tours. Cost me AUD20 for the optional tour to see little penguins in their natural environment. They looked cute but sure were noisy little creatures. And they'll nip your fingers if you try to touch them so don't even think of doing so. We had a guide who took us around answering any questions we had about the penguins. The downside though I have to say was that the tour was very popular so there were about 20 people to 1 guide (John wasn't there with us) and we had to shuffle around to see the penguins. Still, it was cool because we could see the penguins close up i.e. just next to your feet. Photos taken tonight: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157605622169099/detail/

The tour took an hour all up and by 7.30pm, we were back at the pick up/drop off point where John was waiting for us with Christy in the bus. Headed over to Delmares Cafe & Bar around the corner where we had our pizza/pasta dinner tonight. I opted for pasta since I'm not a huge fan of pizza. A bit too much for me and besides, I still can't quite get the roadkill image out of my mind - Louise, this is your fault!

I'm feeling so sleepy and tired. Yawn...I'm kind of glad that I'm going home soon - I miss my shower and bed!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Day 6: Launceston to Bicheno, Tasmania (23rd April 2008)

Was up at 7am and headed downstairs where we had our continental breakfast. Hmm, I'm craving a full cooked brekkie but that would be at extra cost...Photo of my motel room:


At 7.45am, we were all packed and loaded onto the bus. John had been asked to continue on with the tour (we were supposed to be picked up by another tour guide in Launceston). Yippee! We love to have John around :) Poor him, he just couldn't get rid of us!


Today, we had a new traveller join us. Christy (another Brit) was starting her 7-day tour from Launceston so we will be travelling together for the next few days till we return to Hobart. Though I'm not too sure if she will be able to enjoy the trip - she was sick and feeling restless. Feel sorry for her...

Launceston is Tasmania's 2nd largest city (and 3rd oldest in Australia) and known as the 'Garden City' because of its exquisite public parks and gardens. Launceston's most striking feature is the Cataract Gorge Reserve, a nature reserve with walking trails and wildlife just minutes from the city centre, which was exactly where we were heading to this morning! A quick stop up the hill of the Zig Zag Track for photos:




I don't think I would feel safe living in THAT house...

Back on the bus and we were dropped off at the First Basin on the southern side of the Cataract Gorge. Christy wasn't feeling up for the walk this morning so Wratty took her camera to snap photos on her behalf. The rest of the bunch took the walk along the face of the cliff all the way to King's Bridge where John will pick us up.

Ooo, you could take a chairlift across the gorge too!! Launceston's Basin Chairlift is the world's longest single chairlift span, with the centre span at 308 metres. Unfortunately we were there before they were open so I couldn't give it a go :( Bummer...

We began our walk on the Bridge Walk track through Alexandra Suspension Bridge - yikes! No, Niek, don't you even THINK about swinging it!! Oh no, now Louise saw that gleeful smile of Niek's and is holding on to the sides of the bridge...No, stop, STOP IT!

We continued on the Cataract Walk towards King's Bridge. It was a really lovely walk through manicured gardens (and wildlife sighting) which reminded me of the Botanical Gardens in Wellington. Hmm, I like Launceston much better than Hobart. Not sure what it is but there's just something unique about Launceston...Photo taken during the walk this morning: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157605242090931/detail/


Hey Wratty, where are you going?? John had the bus parked at Penny Royal World and Wratty had 'disappeared' to the Penny Royal Gunpowder Mill, a mill recreated depicting colonial mills as in the early 19th century. And sure enough, the rest of the bunch followed suit (minus Christy, who was sleeping in the bus). It was closed for renovations so we could only take some photos.

John then brought us around the corner to Gourlay's Sweets, another attraction at Penny Royal World. I'm not really big on lollies so didn't buy anything. Photos taken here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157605274417564/detail/

We will be staying the night at Bicheno, approximately 234 kms away from Launceston. Yep, you've guessed it - lots of stops along the way! First stop, Pipers Brook Vineyard where we had the opportunity to sample the local wine. The lovely lady who was serving us was from NZ - what a small world! The gang chipped in to buy a gift set of wines for John. A small token of appreciation from us :) Had to get Louise to pretend she was buying it as a gift for a friend back in Sydney...shhh...Photos taken at the vineyard: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157605274965506/detail/

At 12pm, we stopped at Bridestowe Estate Lavender Farm, the largest and oldest lavender plantation in the southern hemisphere. I didn't see any lavender in bloom in the farm which was pretty disappointing (it wasn't the right season). Photos taken here:




Stopped for lunch at Cottage Bakery in Scottsdale. But before we did so, we ganged up and grouped around John to present him our thank you gift. Enjoy!

This small bakery was so busy and I could see why - their pies were SO YUMMY! Oh, I enjoyed my steak and mushroom pie. Louise had a Guinness pie (I think she would go for anything Guinness - it was the only thing she would have at drinks). Hmm, wonder what that tasted like...definitely recommend you stop by this small town for a pie when travelling through :) Photos taken here:





Aww, isn't the dog just adorable...

Back on the bus and off we went to Legerwood for a photo stop at Legerwood Memorial Trees. The trees were planted in honour of the World War I soldiers who came from the area but they grew to a dangerous height and needed to be lopped. The solution? The community of Legerwood asked chainsaw sculptor, Eddie Freeman, to carve each of the remaining trunks to represent the men they honoured. Note keyword 'chainsaw' - how on earth did he managed to carve such intricate designs with a chainsaw???! Check it out yourself:





Random photo of wild mushrooms growing (Wratty and John had wild ideas about climbing over the electric fence to get it):



We continued on our journey to St Helens and through to Binalong Bay for a walk on the pristine white beaches and orange lichen covered rocks of the Bay of Fires. Yay, beach! I took off my shoes and socks and ran to the beach - oo, oo, cold! The sand was very fine but it felt like walking on ice. Brr! John accompanied us on a walk along the beach and climbed over the orange rocks to see some interesting rock formations.

I couldn't get up to the Toilet Bowl (yes, one of the rock formations look similar to the household facility)! My short legs at fault, again! So Niek and Wratty had to help haul me up after much convincing - I couldn't stop laughing when the boys got me to use Wratty's shoulder as a step and Niek to pull me up. Oh, we should have gotten this on video because it was hilarious!

Hey, hey, don't leave me up here! The 2 boys started to walk away and there was no way I could get down - come back, please...I had to be carried like a kid down by Wratty (embarassing!). Photos taken at the Bay of Fires: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157605281081473/detail/


At 5pm, we were back on the bus and by 6pm, arrived at Bicheno for fish 'n' chips dinner in our cabins. Checked in to Bicheno Caravan Park where we would be staying for 2 nights (hey, weren't we supposed to be in Silver Sands Motel? John told us it was not in his itinerary...) and unloaded our stuff into our cabins. Eee, we got downgraded this time...

Hmm, dinner was nice but I was really hoping it wasn't fish 'n' chips - I don't think it was the best sample of the local seafood though. Most of the group hung around after dinner in the cabin I shared with Louise and Christy for drinks and chatted till late, laughing at Wratty's and John's jokes. Photo of us at drinks:


Yawn...another late night (but in a good way!)...

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Day 5: Cradle Mountain to Launceston, Tasmania (22nd April 2008)

(...swish, swosh, swish, swosh...) Bloody hell, who WAS THAT rummaging through the bags at freaking 5 or 6 am in the morning??! Turned out to be Kate and I seriously have no idea what she was doing - we all knew she was an early riser (even earlier than me) but going in and out of the room and going through her bags several times, that really irritated me. And after several attempts of hunting for whatever she was looking for, she turned on the lights! I just couldn't sleep after that. Sure hope I have enough energy to climb Cradle Mountain today...


After breakfast, we checked out of our accommodation and headed to the mountains. Some photos taken before we took off (our accommodation and a black pepper berry plant):




Stopped at the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre briefly and John gave us 2 minutes to check out Pencil Pine Falls nearby - run, people, run! Photos of the 10m waterfall:



There had been sightings of a platypus at Ronny Creek the week before by previous visitors so of course we had to make a stop and try our luck:





Still no sighting of any platypus...but it sure is cold out here!


There are many walks you can do here at Cradle Mountain. The mountain is 1545m high and is one of the favourite features in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, surrounded by native beech, rainforest, alpine heath lands and button grass. John recommended we take a track up Hansons Peak or take an easy walk around Dove Lake, both with a return time of approximately 3 hours. Everyone (including John despite his recent knee surgery) went for option 1 except for Kate (and honestly, I think she made the right choice and perhaps I should have followed her) - the track up to Hansons Peak was truly a challenge. Rocky paths and steps, even steep slopes which you had to get on all four to haul yourself to the next boulder. Wratty and Louise were way ahead of me! Didn't help much that I had short legs - wait up!!

Finally, I'm at the 1,121m summit of Hansons Peak and wow, the view here is AMAZING! Though I don't think I would like to climb this peak again - that last section was a bit too much to handle. Way too steep that we had to hold on to the steel poles pinned into the rubble. I'm not looking forward heading back that way but we don't have much choice. It was the easiest and shortest way back. Oh well, wish me luck! Photos taken during our hike: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157605015606957/detail/

Despite the challenge faced during my climb, I actually felt really good. It was a sense of achievement being able to accomplish something difficult :) I can DO IT!


Stopped for lunch at Cradle Mountain Cafe - hmm, sausage roll and ice-cream ain't good lunch...yuck...I'm so bad to myself...


No sure whose suggestion it was to head back to the mountain to this famous photo spot so at 2pm, we headed back where we were earlier. Took the 15 minute Lake Lilla Walk to the photo spot and sure enough, it was well worth it :) Photos taken: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157605113574399/detail/

Time for us to get back onto the bus and head to Launceston with plenty of distractions along the way! First stop, Ashgrove Cheese Factory to sample the numerous varieties of cheese, including the exotic Wild Wasabi (I like!) and Lavender cheese (hmm, interesting...my tastebud can't quite make sense of the taste). Lots of old people around though. Guess it was some tour group or something. Photos taken at Ashgrove Cheese Factory:





Another brief stop was at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe. Hmm, nothing too interesting, just everything raspberry sold in the cafe. Well, it got interesting when my eyes went up the board and asked aloud what Lust Dust was. A few of us got a sampling of the Lust Dust (which was like sprinkled raspberry flavoured candy). Hmm, John will have to watch us from his back mirror to see if me, Wratty, Kate and Louise were feeling 'lusty'...hehe...Photos taken at the cafe (have to photo the Lust Dust of course!):




At 5pm, we piled onto the bus and headed for the drive to Launceston. John had us all laughing in stitches listening to his selection of local country music. Oh, I laughed so hard! I'm really having a great time on this trip :)


Around 6pm, we arrived in Launceston and was dropped off at Balmoral on York. Nice place - we've gone upmarket again :) I shared the room with Louise tonight and we had the whole family room to ourselves. Plus, breakfast was included - how great is that! John wasn't staying with us but headed home instead (he lives in Launceston).

A quick shower later, the gang (minus Kate) got together at the motel lobby and headed into town for dinner and drinks. Niek and Ilse were still getting ready so Wratty, Louise and I got a drink at the bar downstairs while we waited. Wratty was so naughty - he told the waitress that the first drink was free as part of our stay. The poor waitress was quite confused and had to go through documents, verifying it with another staff member. Oh Wratty, look what you've done!


The 5 of us headed into town in search for a place for dinner and ended up in Izakaya Japanese restaurant in Yorktown Square. Hmm, I love Japanese food! My Asahi beer and unagi (BBQ eel) set meal for AUD31 was so yummy!! And can you believe that Niek and Isle both can handle chopsticks better than me? Their 3 week tour in China taught them well :)

After dinner, we headed to the pub near our accommodation, O'Keefe's Hotel bar for drinks. It was rather quite in town and about 11pm, the bar was closed. We walked around town in search for another bar. It was so quiet and everything was closed. Gee, this is worse than in Wellington (and I already think Wellington lacks nightlife)...Oh well, guess we should call it a night then...NOT! Louise and I found that the drinks in the minibar in our rooms worked out cheaper than sold at the bar (strangely enough) and rung up the others to join us for drinks in our room. We chatted and laughed at our travel stories till about 1am! Photos taken tonight: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157605116710923/detail/

I have the word 'brilliant' repeating in my head for the last few days - it seemed to be the word of the week for Niek in most of his sentences. Brilliant!

Monday, 21 April 2008

Day 4: Strahan to Cradle Mountain, Tasmania (21st April 2008)

Another early start for us this morning starting with breakfast at the girls' cabin at 7am. I just had to go out and check the temperature - brr, cold! I'm going back into the cabin where it's warmer :) Looked somewhat cloudy today though. Hmm, that ain't a good sign because we were going on a cruise today. Hopefully the sky will clear up soon...

I've slept well the past few nights - this is not the backpacking trip I expected! The places we've stayed were posh!

Strahan (pronounced "straw-n") is a small town and main tourist centre in west coast of Tasmania. Strahan shores the beautiful, unspoiled Macquarie Harbour, the gateway to the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park and Southwest National Park, one of the world's last true wild river systems. Also where we will be heading to today!

Around 8.20am, we packed up our stuff onto the shuttle bus and headed into Strahan township where me, Louise, Kate and Wratty bought our tickets for the World Heritage Cruises. Niek and Ilse didn't join us for the cruise - Niek wasn't feeling too well from the wallaby steak he had last night (oh-o) so they stayed behind to do a leisurely tour around Strahan with John. The cruise was an optional tour on this trip which costed me AUD76.50. You could also opt for West Coast Wilderness Railway, or the 4 Wheelers Bike Tour but John strongly recommended we go for the river cruise (and he also advised us to stick close a guy named Richard??).

We did the Heritage Morning Cruise which departs daily at 9am, returning at 2.45pm. Quick stop for me and Louise at the local Banjo's bakery to grab some lunch. You could go for the gourmet buffet lunch on board for an extra AUD15 (they serve local salmon) if you wish but we wanted to save some money (so we can buy more booze - haha!).

ALL ABOARD!! Louise, Kate, Wratty and I hopped on board the catamaran cruise vessel and waved goodbye to John, Niek and Ilse who sent us off. Our journey started with a ride through Hells Gates, a notoriously shallow and dangerous channel entrance to the harbour. I love cruising - something about being on the waters and having wind breeze against my face. Though there were moments where my hair were lashing against my face!

Yay, the sky is clearing up! After our trip to Hells Gates, we cruised back and stopped by to see the Tasmanian aquaculture fish farms - several huge pods filled with salmon. Hmm, salmon...(I'm thinking of food already). You know, surprisingly, I didn't see lots of seagulls or water birds here at Macquarie Harbour. The dark waters from the tannin leaching out of buttongrass plains makes it quite difficult for these birds to feed – even the tap water in Strahan is brown (though perfectly fine to drink). Photos taken this morning: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604862641656/detail/

We next made a stop to explore Sarah Island, one of the oldest convict settlements in Australia. Now I understand how this Richard guy fits in! Richard Innes Davey, is the founder of The Round Earth Company and advocate for the understanding of the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station on Sarah Island. He works on Sarah Island as a guide and I definitely recommend that you follow him on the island tour. You can self-tour the island but Richard brings the tale of the lives of the inmates who once lived on the island to life! Lots of humour and us visitors got dobbed in playing the different roles of the inmates - oh, it was so fun :) He was such a fabulous story-teller! Remains of the early settlement are still visible on the island. Photos taken at Sarah Island: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604873993879/detail/

You know, Richard reminded me a lot of Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings movie - his height, and mainly, his deep, forceful voice. And for those of you who are keen to read on more about the life on Sarah Island, Richard has written a book titled The Sarah Island Conspiracies (I should look it up when I get home).

We had our lunches as we slowly cruise down the serene Gordon River. The river is one of the major rivers in Tasmania. It rises in the centre of the island and flows westward. So peacefully quiet and tranquil. Photos taken at Gordon River: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604870668912/detail/

Our last stop before heading back to Strahan was at Heritage Landing, a walkway built so that visitors have a chance to get a glimpse of what the forests along the river are like. We also had the opportunity to see some fallen, gigantic Huon Pine trees. No sighting of wildlife except lots of black caterpillars!

The catamaran began its journey back to Strahan and about 3pm, we were back where we started this morning. John, Niek and Ilse were already there waiting for us :) We gathered at Morrison's Huon Pine Sawmill to see a demonstration of a 100 year old working vertical frame saw which coincides with the return of the cruise. Didn't stay very long as we had to get some food for tonight's BBQ and head over to Cradle Mountain, about 130km away. Chop, chop - let's go, people! Photos taken: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604994894577/detail/

I wasn't sure if we had to cook tonight or what the deal was - everyone had to get something to put on the BBQ (this was paid for as part of the trip). Hmm...

Back on the bus and off we went to Cradle Mountain. A quick photo stop of the mountain:


I wonder if the mountain got its name because it looks like a cradle (the "U" shape)...

About 6pm, we arrived at Cosy Cabins Cradle Mountain and I have to admit, I was a little taken aback when we checked into our rooms (wonder if the others felt the same). We were given sleeping bags to sleep in tonight on our bunks. This was more of what I expected for the trip, backpacker accommodation but since we've had our own bathrooms and kitchen the past 2 nights, this was different. And it was cold here - the communal bathroom/toilets were outside! :''(

I wasn't looking forward to an outdoor BBQ but thankfully, dinner was indoors on a stove BBQ. We sure smoked up the whole kitchen and stunk like BBQ from head to toe! Everyone pitched in to cook and clean while John took a step back and just enjoyed dinner with his bottle of wine. We had to be the best group you've had by far, aren't we John? Hehe, we didn't mind doing the work and let John have a rest from all the driving :)

There were wild possums outside and they were lingering by the windows - obviously smelt the food! I still prefer a normal BBQ than the stove one. Burnt too easily! Photos taken at dinner:






Sunday, 20 April 2008

Day 3: Tarraleah to Strahan, Tasmania (20th April 2008)

Got up at 6.30am for breakfast and packed up all our stuff. Breakfast was provided as part of the tour and we just helped ourselves to the cereal, bread, spreads, yoghurt, fruit juice, milk etc. that John had brought along. I decided to go take some photos outside - brr, it has to be like 10 degrees outside! Cold!!


Tried the locally produce golden leatherwood honey - has its own unique and distinct flavour...hmm...


Around 8.30am, we loaded our bags onto the trailer, pitched in to help pack up brekkie stuff for John and started our day stopping at the hydro-dam to see what makes this township so well-known. By the way, Tarraleah's aboriginal meaning is "Forrester Kangaroo". Photos taken this morning: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604809820993/detail/


Today we leave Tarraleah to Strahan, situated on the west coast of Tasmania. Again, plenty to see and do along the way!

John made us all hop down the bus to see this monument. What was so special about it? Ah, turns out to be a monument located near the geographical centre of Tasmania. Photos taken at the monument:




Hopped back on the shuttle bus and headed to Lake St Clair, Australia's deepest freshwater lake at a depth of 200m. Woah, I'm just going to stay a wee bit further away from the lake...It was meant to be a short walk but we were stuck here due to road closure for Targa Tasmania (5-day tarmac-based rally event held in the island of Tasmania) so took our time and did a 3-hour long walk through the Aboriginal cultural walk, Watersmeet and Platypus Bay Circuit. Didn't see any platypus though (Louise was quite disappointed) but guess what we found instead - a tiger snake! The snake was enjoying some sun at the rocks by the beach only to be interrupted by keen tourists taking its photo :P Oh and this fella was venomous too...Photos taken at Lake St Clair: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604820287927/detail/

Had lunch in the area at Hungry Wombat Cafe - I had a chicken salad burger with fries and flat white for AUD11. The rally was over (yay!) so we could continue on our journey with no further delays. Found this interesting sign outside the cafe's toilets:



It states: OUT OF ORDER, out of water. Tree across road to use. We all cracked up laughing reading the sign!

Hey, if you take a look at Tasmania on the map, it does look like a shape of a bull - how devillish!

Around 2pm, we arrived at Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park where we did a few more short walks (great to stretch the legs!). 20 minutes return Franklin River walk - still no platypus in sight. Perhaps the water was too cold? Was cold to me! Photos taken on the walk: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604843102847/detail/

Some trivia questions for you about the platypus:
1) do you know what animal it is closely related to?
ANSWER: echidna (I heard you say the duck or beaver - wrong!)
2) is it a mammal?
ANSWER: yes, even though it lays eggs instead of giving birth (I saw you scratching your head in uncertainty)

The platypus is one strange-looking animal - a combination of a duck and beaver and an otter and believe it or not, it is even venomous (the male platypus has a spur on the hind foot that delivers a venom capable of causing severe pain to humans)!

Next walk, a hike up to Donaghys Lookout. John gave us a challenge - no talking and 15 minutes return on this normally 40-minute return walk. Ready, set, go! We probably stop and chat too often that short walks became long walks...hehe...This was probably the most difficult walk of the day and the gang managed to complete it in 14 minutes! Great job, gang! Photos taken: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604843866085/detail/

The final walk before we shoot off to Strahan was at Nelson Falls. Rather humid in the forest (can see a lot of dew on plants) compared to the previous few. Still no platypus, Louise! Photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604850968775/detail/

Quick photo stop on the way to Strahan at Bradshaw Bridge, Lake Burberry:




Arrived in Queenstown (yes, Tasmania has a Queenstown too but nothing like the one in NZ) around 5.30pm for a brief sunset photo stop and to stock up on our food supply. Queenstown was historically a mining town with a population of about 3000 today. Photos taken here:





At 7pm, we finally arrived at Strahan and checked in to Cosy Cabins for the night. Did I book myself on a backpack tour or a flash, expensive tour??? The accommodation we've had so far just looked too expensive for a backpacking tour...It was such a lovely cabin with 2 rooms (one for 4 bunks and another, a master bedroom), bathroom, kitchen with cooking facilities, TV, lounge/dining area all in one! Hmm, I could live in one of these to save $$$ paying rent at my current place...Tonight, I'll be sharing the bunk room with Louise - we've decided to give Kate the master bedroom as she's an early riser (we need more beauty sleep :P). Photo of the cabin:


Dropped our bags and back onto the shuttle bus - John took us into the township of Strahan where we had dinner tonight (pay our own this time). Wratty and Kate went their own ways while the rest of the gang headed to Hamer's Pub for our meal. John had fresh oysters with an asian dipping sauce as an entree which he shared with the group. Yum!! Very fresh though somewhat small. I had a very delicious scallop fettucine for AUD22 (there were lots of scallops in my fettucine!). Niek was very courageous to try the wallaby steak (wonder what it tasted like). It was another fabulous dinner with loads to laugh about, including teasing Niek to talk less because he wouldn't want a repeat of last night's incident. Hehe...

Back in our cabins at 10pm. Wow, another day has gone so quickly!