Thursday, October 13, 2016

Queenstown to Eaglehawk Neck

It's not often that you get to drive virtually all the way across a readily identifiable feature of the map of the world, but we would do it this day.

Ideally we should have started at Strahan (pronouced Strawn) but I was anxious to start heading east.

Another view of the Empire Hotel.

The local economy is in the doldrums and it shows. Overcast, rainy weather does not help.

Queenstown is home to the West Coast Wilderness Railway. They offer various train rides, one of which uses a rack and pinion engine. The rides are somewhat expensive at $100 or more and take half a day. We needed to head off to the east coast and I suspect we would not see too much in the mist so we gave the train a miss. There is always a next time.

The train shed.

So we headed east up into the desolate looking mountains.

I think it was in grade four when my teacher, Jack Petitt told us about the dreadful conditions in Queenstown. I can only imagine what it must have looked like with the smelters in action pouring out all sorts of pollution onto the town and nearby hills.

Looking back down the mountainside to Queenstown.

The mines in the area produced over a million tonnes of copper, 750 tonnes of silver and 45 tonnes of gold. A tonne is 1000 kilograms or 2204.6 pounds.

We headed up into the mist.

A bush-fire had passed through at some stage.

I should imagine it would not be too pleasant up on the mountain tops.

We started to see snow. We were probably well over 3000' up.

A family happily throwing snowballs at each other.

The last day of the walk was supposed to feature a lovely boat ride from the north end of Lake St Clair to the south end. We went into the visitors center at the south end for some breakfast and a cup of coffee.

Interesting roof.

It was a very nice visitors center.

Although it was raining, we decided to walk down to the jetty to see what we would be missing the following day when our group was due to finish.

The path to the lake.

Behold the jetty and the boat.

Doesn't it make you want to venture out for a cruise.

By chance, when we arrived at Sydney airport the following night, we met two of the ladies who continued on with the walk. They told us that conditions were atrocious most of the time including the final day for the boat ride. One of the ladies told us she got a bit sea-sick.

Robin huddled under an umbrella.

I really admire the courage and determination of those in the group and the guides who finished the walk. They would have felt a great sense of accomplishment and relief to walk along this path up to the visitors center.

We continued on in the car. The rivers were all full of fast flowing water.

There are quite a few lakes created by dams.

Pipes coming down to a hydro-electric plant.

More pipes coming down to the plant from a different direction.

Earlier this year, Tasmania experienced drought conditions. Virtually all electricity in Tasmania is generated by hydro-power so with dropping water levels in the dams, sufficient electricity for normal needs could not be generated. There are power links to Victoria across Bass Strait but one of them had failed. Murphy's law in action. Huge diesel power generators had to be brought in. You can read more about it here.

Some sheep who were trying to get some shelter from the wind and rain.

Eventually we emerged from the mountains, but the clouds remained.

Eventually we arrived at New Norfolk which is situated about 20 miles west of Hobart on the River Derwent. It's one of the oldest towns in Australia.

The Toll House was built in 1841 to charge for crossing the first bridge over the Derwent built at the same time.

The old bridge is gone.

The new bridge.

Instead of following the main road on the southern side of the river, we took a lovely road on the northern side with virtually no traffic.

In this area, wild flowers grew on each side of the road.

We arrived in Richmond to be greeted by some rare sun.

Many tourists come to Richmond to view the old buildings. 

Richmond is most famous for this bridge which was built between 1823 and 1825 and is the oldest bridge in Australia still in use. We drove over it after lunch.

Cauliflower soup for lunch at a small cafe. Robin had a Devonshire Tea.

Robin couldn't resist and had to go into the lolly shop and buy some.

The rain returned and we continued on to Eaglehawk Neck where we stayed in a very nice motel overlooking the ocean.

When we arrived it was raining so I had my usual nap.

When the rain ended we ventured out and it all looked beautiful.

A shadow. We had not seen too many of those during our week in Tasmania.

We walked down to take a look at one of the natural features of the area, the Tessellated Pavement. It is right beside the motel.

A tessellated pavement is a flat rock surface that is subdivided into rectangular blocks.

Island off shore. A few minutes later, it was raining out there again.

It was quite odd to travel with somebody who wanted to take a photo of me.

The dining room. Later that evening after a few more batches of rain had passed through, we had dinner by one of the windows. We placed our food order and started to talk and after about an hour, the waitress turned up and told us that their new electronic ordering system had failed and our order had not been placed. They gave us a free glass of wine and a beer and shortly the food appeared. We didn't mind because we had really enjoyed our long discussion.

Later that night there was a really good thunderstorm. The next morning, Robin mentioned that she looked out of the window when it was not raining and saw one of the best displays of stars she had ever seen.

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