NOW: TASMANIA’S NORTH COAST
Cape Grim is a huge beef producing area in the northwest corner of Tasmania. We actually bought some superb Cape Grim beef from the butcher in Nhulunbuy in Arnhem Land last year! A pretty north facing beach near Grim Point is at Green Point which we visited on our way to Smithton. Smithton has dairy and fish processing plants, a large oyster farm and a car wash. The perfect spot to shop and then wash off the white, cement dirt from the car and Tvan that we collected in the Arthur Pieman Conservation Area.
Stanley presented us with wild windy (gale force) weather with accompanying rain so we weren’t too keen to climb the famous Nut that is a 143 metre extinct volcanic plug you can see for miles sitting above the ocean. Luckily we’d ridden the chair lift and explored The Nut on a previous visit to Tassie so this time we went indoors to historic Highfield House which is preserved by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife. Stanley is a beautiful town full of historic buildings and great fresh seafood.
The early pioneers of Highfield started the cattle industry in Tasmania and attempted to live a gentrified life on the hill over looking Stanley. Furniture from the 1800’s sets the scene along with the stories of those who lived in the homestead. It took a lot of convicts and soldiers to keep the property going and ruins of the convict barracks sit nearby.
Dip River Forest Reserve is a pleasant drive from Stanley. Huge forest trees and rainforest blend into mossy green hills and valleys. The Dip River Falls cascade over volcanic rock while the rivers meander through valleys with fertile volcanic soils.
The Tarkine is named after is named after one of the three Aboriginal clans that lived in north-west Tasmania. Volcanic sinkholes have created interesting landforms with arches, sunken forests and deep ponds. The greens were almost glowing despite the low forest light. Mosses, lichen, tree ferns and raindrops created an indescribable picture.
We spent several days walking the tracks in Cradle Mountain National Park. The short walks near the Visitor Interpretive Centre set the scene with heathland, waterfalls and wombats. The wombats left calling cards all over the boardwalks. These boardwalks protected the vulnerable vegetation and kept us out of the many streams trickling into the creeks.
The views around Dove Lake kept us wondering what was around the next bend as we wandered the lake on the 3 hour trail taking lots of photos. Our lunch stop had views across the water and back to the boat house. Even though we’d done this walk before, we really enjoyed our walk and were dressed warmly for the ever changing weather.
The famous Overland Track takes walkers through the ranges to Lake St Claire. We’d seen the other end of this walking track when we’d stayed at Lake St Claire and saw jubilant walkers who had left Cradle Mountain 6 days earlier to start their trek. We climbed to Marion’s Peak with many of these walkers but we were out for the day not a week. Our part of The Overland Track took us past Crater Lake, Lake Lilla, Wombat Lake and back to Dove Lake where we caught the shuttle bus back to the ranger station.
Having been at both ends of The Overland Track we thought we’d visit both ends of the Arthur River as well. The Arthur River starts as a spring cascading over a waterfall in the historic gold mining village of Waratah, meanders through the wilderness and meets the sea near the fishing village of Arthur River.
From Stanley we continued our coastal wandering heading to Boat Harbour, Wynyard, Burnie and Penguin on our way back to Devonport for our ferry back to the mainland. In Burnie we enjoyed the paper sculptures and craft workshops which have changed this pulp mill town into a creative hub.
We spent our last Tasmanian day in Devonport watching the river, strolling the shops and dining in a waterfront pub before boarding the Spirit of Tasmania for our overnight sailing. Our first visit to Tasmania was 4 weeks but this 3 month visit left us feeling we’d seen and experienced all of the island state and completed our journey on the emu track.
FROM THE END OF THE EMU TRACK
Cheryl and David