Winter in Tassie

Just for a change we’ve taken only our 2nd trip to Tasmania in winter. It’s the season to chase waterfalls and we found there was almost too much water as 75mm fell the night before we arrived. In the north we visited our favourite Liffey Falls which was roaring. The Honeycomb Caves we have explored in the past could not be entered due to the water flowing through. We joined with Robin, a local who chases unknown waterfalls, to visit Montana Falls and to revisit the very impressive Sensation Gorge.

A trip to Meander Falls that we had previously seen trickling over in summer had us climbing up into the snow. The falls were flowing well but we didn’t linger in the cold. We had to wade the cold Mother Cummings rivulet to visit Chasm falls but it was as always worth it.

We headed south to base ourselves in Kingston and chase more waterfalls and peaks. Snug falls were flowing well and Pelverata falls were an unexpected delight as they dropped down an impressively stepped mountainside. A glorious day had us heading south to climb Hartz Peak. The clear night had all the pools covered with ice and the snow on the peak being hard and slippery. We took it carefully and were rewarded with grand 360 degree views.

As Jessica and Nick returned home we headed to more waterfalls on Mt Wellington. Myrtle Gully falls look much better with a decent fall of water and Secret Falls are very mysterious. Dark Mofo was on so we had dinner at the midwinter feast with a great variety of food stalls to choose from.

We were booked in to stay at Government Huts on Mt Field but made a stop at Russell Falls on the way. There was a very impressive display of fungi and as usual it was Horseshoe falls that captured all out attention.

We were lucky to have a blue sky day to climb up to Tarn Shelf as the others in the huts had had days of drizzle. It meant the snow was again treacherous (at least to we cautious oldies!) but we made it safely to Rodway Hut. It was then fairly easy to head to the tarns, the first one of which had a layer of ice on top. After lots of photos we headed back down.

We were lucky enough to have a visit from a quoll who enjoyed the milk that had been left out in the cold. The possums here are very dark and have a thick coating of winter fur. The setting of the huts by a valley with tarns and pencil pines had us making numerous trips outside to capture it in various lights including a frost on the last morning.

We headed up the east coast for our trip home stopping at Swansea to enjoy sunrise and sunset over the Hazards on Freycinet Peninsula.

Our final night was at St Helens with a visit to the Bay of Fires then a couple more waterfalls on the way to Devenport.

Advertisements

Walking to The Labyrinth

IMG_56907 IMG_3136While we were in Tasmania we joined with two of our children to revisit the Labyrinth, a trip we had done previously with all the family in 2005. We had limited time so decided to walk into Pine Valley Hut and do day walks from there. Ray and I walked in to Echo Point Hut carrying all the food because the boat was too expensive with only two of us on the afternoon run. As usual it was harder than we remembered but that was because of heavy packs and September snow that had knocked over many trees. We had to go over, under and around them until we finally arrived at the hut in its unique setting,  hidden in the trees but opening to a lake view.

We went on to Narcissus Hut and then Pine Valley, passing a very still snake that could well have been dead except it was gone on the way out. We reminisced about our first trip in when many of the rivers were crossed on logs rather than bridges. The logs are still there but no longer used. Our children finally caught up with us after they set off a day and a half after us.

We visited Cephissus Falls and climbed to the Acropolis plateau in the afternoon. The snow detered us from climbing to the top.

The next day was a picture perfect day to climb to the Labyrinth. The track no longer went through the bog our friend was caught in years ago but it still had the same big steps near the plateau that took an effort to get up with a full pack. We wandered on to Lake Elysia and enjoyed the vistas of snow dappled mountains. We missed out on the sunset views over the mountains as seen from our camp in 2005. We revisited the falls on the way out.

We headed on out the next day, Ray and I taking the boat after Jessica and Shaun had walked all the way out the previous day.

The weather was too good to waste so Ray and I  completed the circuit walk to Mt Rufus and discovered what we’d missed out on all these years. It was well worth the big effort.

The Colours of Spring

Spring saw us in Tasmania to see the tulip display at Table Cape with the waterfalls being a bonus. We started by visiting the bathing boxes in Brighton, Victoria while we waited to board the Spirit of Tasmania. They are certainly very colourful and bring lots of people to see them.

We went straight to visit the tulips but we were too early and so spent a week chasing waterfalls before returning to an amazing display of colour and well worth taking a special trip to Tassie.

The Tasmanian coast provides lots of opportunities to create colourful photos with rocks covered with vivid orange lichen or bright green algae or just beautiful patterns. Sunsets and rises are often special when there is nothing to block your view and you can never beat blue water and coloured rocks.

Springtime brings out the blossom and unsettled weather especially on the west coast. We took some walks in the fresh, green forest and discovered the magical Japanese garden at the Hobart botanic gardens.

The Sound of Falling Water

For a change of season we headed to Tasmania in Spring instead of our usual Summer trip. This gave us the opportunity to revisit favourite waterfalls with good flows and also find some new ones. The tiers along the northern coast produce many of them. We went back to Guide Falls, an easy walk, and Champagne and Bridal Veil Falls near Lemonthyme Lodge. Upper Cam Falls are a photographers delight and the Castra circuit gave us a number of falls.

A website, Waterfalls of Tasmania, was our gateway to many new falls as well as reminding us how to get to ones we’d seen before. Sensation Gorge had only a rough track but was well worth visiting. Another new one to us was Bastion Cascades in a very pretty setting. We revisited Smoko Creek with its many lovely falls and cascades though we were disappointed that the rickety log that enabled you to see Chasm Falls had been removed (it was very dangerous!). Hopefully a bridge will replace it in future. Dip Falls were amazing as the water cascaded over the basalt columns.

Every trip to Tasmania seems to see us at Liffey Falls, possibly my favourite of all.

We also headed down the west and back to Hobart. This took us past the delightful small but colourful Nelson Bay Falls in the Tarkine, the ever reliable Nelson Falls, Tarraleah Falls near the town and the popular Russell Falls and the photographers’ favourite – Horseshoe Falls.

Sailing the Whitsundays

The whole reason for us returning to Queensland after only visiting last year was to join my sister and her husband on their yacht in the Whitsundays. They are returning from an epic adventure sailing from Fremantle to South-East Asia and returning to the the east coast of Australia over five years and this was our chance to experience the life style before the yacht was sold.

We joined them in Airlie Beach and immediately had a wonderful sail across to Cid Harbour. This turned out to be the best sail of our whole trip as the wind direction and strength forced us to motor or motor sail the rest of the time. We watched the sun drop into the ocean and then woke to a beautiful still day. Unfortunately it was too still as we laboured up Whitsunday Peak wishing for a breeze to cool us. It was worth the effort as it gave a magnificent view in both directions.

We had a rough motor to Hamilton Island to collect our daughter and her husband after they had flown up from Hobart, stripping off layers as they headed north. We then headed back to anchor in Nara Inlet, a popular, narrow sheltered inlet. The dinghy delivered us to shore to see the cave art painted by the first inhabitants and learn about it from the well put together display. We also saw the results of Cyclone Debbie, seeing a second boat pushed up on  the rocks.

It was a short trip around the corner the next day to try snorkelling off Langford Island. We were also treated to the power of the recent cyclone here too as much of the hard coral was broken and scattered about. However it did mean that each remaining patch of live coral was host to a great accumulation of fish. We also learned about spring and neap tides. We were here on a spring tide with the greatest height difference and creating murky water which we got for the rest of the trip. We saw a number of large commercial vessels including one with a slide for the entertainment of guests – we made do with simpler pleasures. The night was spent at Stonehaven.

We motored down the outside of the islands the next day to Whitehaven Beach where a seaplane took off right behind our yacht. We joined the daytrippers and yachties on the beach where the highlight was the tame goannas. Four of us stretched our legs on the walk across the headland.

One of the trees blown off the dunes managed to get tied around our anchor chain and had to be sawn off the next morning before we could leave. We motored up to the other end of the white sand beach and joined another group of people all having fun on the beach. We walked up the ridge on Tongue Point to see the reason for going to Whitehaven Beach – the view over the sweeping curve of Hill Inlet with the contrast of aquamarine water and white sand. We popped around the corner to anchor in Tongue Bay where we were thrilled to see dugongs.

We snokelled some more with better coral but still murky water. We returned to Cid Harbour to let Jessica and Nick climb Whitsunday Peak (which they did much more quickly than us) while Ray and I strolled around to Dugong Bay and back in the same time. They paddled around the harbour and then we settled back to enjoy the light show as the sun set.

After we dropped Jessica and Nick at Hamilton Island we enjoyed the comforts of a marina before heading back to Airlie Beach and the end of our sail after a wonderful time. It was back to our trusty camper and heading inland of Mackay to Mt Britten. This is the site of a short lived gold rush – only 10 years – and not much left to show but a wonderful location to camp.

Lake Elphinstoke was the next nearby destination. It is a very popular spot with lots of caravans setting up for an extended stay on the natural lake. There was lots of bird life to keep us entertained but I can see the advantage of having a canoe.

We headed south down the inland road seeing very little traffic. Lunch was shared at Marlborough with the local rainbow lorikeets who arrived at our table after their previous targets had left. We drove out to Byfield State Forest, north of Yeppoon, but on arrival Ray realised the camper did not look right. Looking underneath we discovered the weld joining the drawbar to the chassis had broken and knew that joining up to RACV Total Care had been a great idea. We had the camper trucked to Rockhampton where were put up for three nights while the damage was assessed. It was then decided the camper would be trucked home and we would have to head home a little earlier than we had planned. Four uneventful days later we were home and sure that staying in motels and cabins was not our favoured way to travel. The unexpected highlight of the trip home was finding the Sandstone Cave walk in Pilliga Nature reserve where the powers of wind and water were once again on display though this time over millenia.

For another viewpoint of our trip and to see some of the underwater action head to Jessica’s blog.

https://wordsandwilds.wordpress.com/2017/08/12/100-days-later-the-whitsundays-after-debbie

 

 

 

The Wet Tropics

From desert like countryside to rain and mist was a bit of a shock. After brilliant sunshine every day we now had constant cloud but it is called the wet tropics for a reason. We started in the Atherton Tablelands and visited lots of waterfalls so we couldn’t complain about the wet. We revisited all out favourites from previous visits. A highlight was being shown a Lumholz tree kangaroo high in a tree at Millaa Millaa caravan park – it was a long way away but it was in the wild!

We next visited Paronella Park after having recommendations from everyone who has been to this part of Queensland. Built by Spanish immigrant Jose Paronella in 1929-35 it was a popular pleasure garden and the site of the first power plant in North Queensland. It thrived until setbacks saw it closed in 1979 until being revived by the present owners in 1993. It is once again a thriving tourist attraction and very well presented with camping available and tours provided with entry.

We took a couple of inland deviations to Tully Gorge and Blencoe Falls. Tully Gorge was up an easy bitumen road to a campsite where we watched the parade of rafters and kayakers who come to this river every day. Blencoe Falls was over the ranges on a rough dirt road to an amazing waterfall and peaceful campsite by the creek.

Jourama Creek was another favourite campsite that had to be revisited and then we found our way to Broadwater camp in Abergowrie forest with only one wrong turn. It has a huge camping area that we had almost to ourselves apart from visits by goannas. A night at Taylor’s Creek amongst all the fishermen camped there long term allowed us to enjoy modern amenities.

Outback Queensland

After missing Lawn Hill on every trip to Queensland because it was too far out of the way, this trip we made sure we got there. First stop in Queensland however was Camooweal where we stayed on the waterhole with all the other caravanners. Everyone had their water view and the bird life was great with resident brolgas. We drove out to the caves in the national park which turned out to be sink holes and the caves could not be accessed. It was still worth a visit with Great Nowranie cave in particular being impressive.

On the way to Lawn Hill (Boodjamulla NP) we passed through Riversleigh, the site of the first fossils found in Queensland. The information centre is in a man made rock and a walk takes you around the site with some rocks with fossils on display.

We couldn’t book into the national park campsite due to school holidays but Adel’s Grove is not far away and has more services. On our first day we hired a canoe and paddled up the middle and upper gorges. It was a great introduction to the gorge. The hardest part was the portaging of Indarri falls as we maneuvered ourselves in and out of the canoe and then hauled it overland. The next day we helped a large man who was having trouble getting back in and kept swamping the canoe.

Walking gives a different perspective as we peered down on the water from above. It made us hotter too so I had a swim at Indarri Falls.

We headed to Karumba, the winter hangout of fishermen, and quickly left again. At Normanton we visited the empty station and then caught up with the Gulflander as we drove along the road to Croydon. Cumberland Chimney was an unexpected highlight. We stopped for one night and stayed two as we enjoyed the birds brought in by the dam, a relic of mining days.