NOW: THE CENTRAL WILDERNESS
Driving north we passed fields of trellised hops and vineyards covering the rolling hills. The food and wine industry meets the traveller on every bend and there were lots of bends! So of course there were lots of different things to try.
Mount Field National Park is the closest national park to Hobart and popular all year round. The locals go bush walking and camping and in the winter, skiing is on the agenda. It was cool and wet on our visit with mossy rainforest hiding pademelons and birds. The waterfalls were flowing well as we wandered the walking tracks admiring the green surroundings.
On our way to Lake St Claire we visited The Wall in Derwent Bridge. The sculpture wall in Huon Pine is 100 metres long and was about half completed on our last visit some years ago so we knew what to expect. Some parts have deliberately been left unfinished so that you can see how the “picture” came about. The carving tells Tasmania’s history with the final panel bringing me to tears – what a story! Did I say we knew what to expect?
With fires prohibited in the national park our visit to Lake St Claire was fairly cool but we were at Australia’s deepest lake and that was pretty cool. At 167 metres deep the lake marks the end of the Overland Track which allows walkers to hike to (or from) Cradle Mountain for 6 or 7 days. We camped in the camp ground with another Tvanner and took some local walks preferring our warm dry bed to cold damp nights in a tent or hut.
We did cruise the lake and drop off groups of walkers who were more adventurous. The weather changes rapidly in the highland lake region with the rugged peaks hiding in the clouds and then re-emerging as the clouds roll through. Leeawuleena, the Aboriginal name for the lake means ‘sleeping water’ but we were told there are times when it certainly isn’t sleeping. During our visit the wind was strong and the lake was a little restless.
After a wet pack up and thoughts of the wet hikers out in the wilderness we travelled along the Lyell Highway towards Queenstown. Highway is a fairly loose term in Tassie – I think it means sealed road nearly two lanes in width. Our morning tea stop at Nelson Falls was quiet and capturing in the drizzle. Everything was fresh and glistening in the raindrops and we were dry and warm in our raincoats with the hoods up! We were glad we had a Tvan and our bed would be dry even if the tent was still dripping wet when we opened up for the night!
The Lyell Highway from New Norfolk to Queenstown is a moderately slow, winding road with spectacular scenery of farming, rainforests, lakes, fast flowing streams and imposing misty mountains. It forms the northern boundary of the Southern Wilderness. Spend some time on this road and you will be richly rewarded.
NEXT: THE SOUTH WEST
See you on the Emu Track
Cheryl and David