FOLLOWERS ON THE ROAD TO STRAHAN…
Part 1: Hobart to Strahan
Here they were, a tour group, stuck like us at the crossing of the Nive River. Some truck just had to take up the whole road loading a shipping container. Well, it was near enough to lunch-time, so easy to convince the K-Team to exit the conga-line of unmoving traffic, do a U-turn and park ourselves by the picnic huts back near the bridge.
As we ate our cheese and pickle sandwiches, the tour group lobbed into the hut occupying the room next to ours. Talk about free-tour-guide information. We sat, hiding behind the stone wall and unlit fireplace (told my beloved we should’ve bought matches), and feasted our ears on tasty morsels of Tasmanian history. Although we were sheltered, the biting cold took its toll and I excused myself for the ladies.
When I returned, my husband said, ‘The way’s clear.’
I tracked the truck with its over-sized green box of a load as it lumbered over the bridge Hobart-bound. ‘At last!’
‘You know what’s funny,’ husband chuckled, ‘the guide recommended they go see your uncle’s play, The Ship That Never Was. I was so tempted to go up to them and say, ‘And Richard Davey’s niece is in the room right next door’.’
‘I was in the ladies, actually. But you could’ve gone up to the guide and said, ‘We’ve seen it several times and really enjoyed it.’’
‘Too late now, but I guess they’re headed in the same direction.’
We drove on to Lake St Clair. Hail and sleet lashed our windscreen. Still, the K-Team agreed to have a cappuccino at the Lake St Clair Restaurant-Café; a reward for braving the freezing wind of the highlands over lunch.
The tour group had the same idea and sat at a long table just behind us. While I waited for the manager, of European origin, make our coffees, one of the women from the tour group shared with those around her, including me, how she’d hiked the Overland trail from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair and how, on their journey, they’d seen a quoll (a spotted native cat). Ah, the Overland Trail, it’s on my husband’s bucket list. But it’s a challenging trek taking around six days tramping through marsh, mud and snow. Even in summer, this highland track can have snow and blizzards.
With our coffee finished, so had the rain. We took the opportunity to explore around Lake St Clair. First we had to disinfect our footwear. Disease had depleted the native plant life, so to revive it, care must be taken to eradicate the bacteria from our boots.
Keeping to the track, we hiked, pausing to admire the lofty eucalypt and pine trees, ferns and native laurel in flower, and white coral-like growth on the ground that looked like snow. Blackened stumps reminded us that this part of the world had been ravaged by fire not so long ago. Fallen trunks were a sign of recent floods.
At Platypus Bay, we peered through the slatted windows of the wooden façade, hoping to see a platypus.
‘We have to come at dawn or dusk to see platypus,’ husband explained to the two P’s. ‘They’re very shy creatures.’
We rounded the bend of the path leading back to the Visitors’ Centre. P1 stopped and raised his camera. P2 halted. Husband froze in his tracks. I walked up to them. ‘Wha—? Oh.’
I stopped and looked in the direction P1 pointed his camera. A pademelon, a small type of wallaby foraged in the acacia bushes. It continued the business of hunting for food until we’d taken our shots, and then it hopped away, disappearing into the scrub.
The rain set in just as we trod the path returning to our trusty Toyota Kluger. Then, we battled the rain, hail and sleet of the wild West of Tasmania, winding our way west along the highlands, then down the barren mountains of the mining town Queenstown, and finally south and then west to the wilderness frontier town of Strahan.
….to be continued.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016
Photo: Three K-Amigos Admiring Lake St Clair © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016