After leaving Nant Distilling we ventured westwards, through the southern part of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park to Derwent Bridge. There we visited The Wall in the Wilderness, one of various places in Tasmania which sound like they could be in Game of Thrones. The Wall is an incredible sculpture in the process of being carved from wood panels, depicting the history of the Tasmanian Highlands. Still a work in progress, it appears that the artist skips between different sections as fancies, meaning that between the various points you can see his entire process – a reference photo sticky-taped to a wood panel with a pencil sketch, roughly chiselled sections, all the way up to the smoothed and extremely detailed finished panels. Unfortunately photographs are not allowed inside the exhibit – understandably, to ensure that the artwork is seen as intended and not through a random tourist’s smartphone’s interpretation.
Afterwards we walked the short hike to Derwent Bridge, where we encountered a tiger snake! It was a warm and sunny day and apparently they like to bask on the conveniently cleared pathways; there were signs all around warning of the danger so thankfully we treaded carefully and stopped a metre short of the sleeping snake. As it slithered off into the bush we just froze, and my reciting of “it’s more scared of us than we are of it!” was somewhat undercut when it (or another tiger snake?) lazily slithered back across our path to the other side. Thanks ‘Straya!
We continued driving onwards through the national park to Strahan on the west coast. This drive took us through and around mountains and valleys, with some parts feeling like we were literally driving through clouds. This was both thrilling and terrifying, especially as the windy mountain roads are often very tight and full of blind turns and exits – more than once I thought we were going to collide with an oncoming truck.
In Strahan we embarked on a nature cruise along the Gordon River, which took us across the huge Macquarie Harbour, through Hell’s Gates, and on down the lower reaches of the river. The area around Gordon River is part of the World Heritage-listed Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, which covers about one fifth of Tasmania’s land river. It actually satisfies more natural and cultural criteria for listing than any other place in the world.
As part of the cruise, we stopped along the river to walk on boardwalks amongst the temperate rainforest – one of the largest remaining in the world – which is home to the Huon Pine. Huon was prized for its natural oils which prevent rotting – perfect for building ships in Tasmania’s penal colony days. The trees grow incredibly slowly but live incredibly long – we saw one tree which is believed to be 2000 years old! Besides growing small pinecones g postmessage propecia guest post, Huon pines can grow out of a fallen older tree, new life growing literally out of the old.
Now having seen Tasmania’s forests, it’s hard to understand the current government’s bid to be the first ever country to ask that part of it be de-listed in order to be logged. I don’t really get political on this blog, but there is no question in my mind that it is an area worthy of protection.
The next day we left Strahan for Cradle Mountain, where the pademelons (not panda-melons as I first read it, but small wallaby-like marsupials) are very curious and friendly.
Known for its beauty, we had planned to spend a good bit of time hiking around the Cradle Mountain National Park – but bitterly cold winds and rain is also something that the area is known for, and unfortunately we didn’t manage to get far before giving up and turning back. Apparently snow was falling not too far from where we were, despite it being almost summer. Hardcore retirees passed us on the paths and put us to shame with their endurance in the awful weather. Still, the area is very beautiful – I just wish I could have seen more of it!
Having given up on hiking, we went for a (mostly) drier visit to [email protected], a sanctuary for the Tasmanian Devil and a few other related species. The devils are actually rather adorable, although their aggression, powerful teeth and loud screams showed at feeding time, with some rivals fighting over the choicest pieces of meat.
Indoors we got to meet and pat one of the little guys – surprisingly calm for an animal with such a reputation, although this is because he was hand-raised from when he was a baby, and has become used to humans. Their fur is extremely soft, not wiry like I imagined. The Tasmanian Devil is endangered due to devil facial tumour disease, a cure for which has not yet been found. These guys at the sanctuary are safe as they don’t come into contact with infected Tasmanian Devils, a safeguard as more studies continue on how to prevent the disease from spreading.
Last bit for now – after leaving Cradle Country we drove on towards Launceston, and on the way stopped by Melita Honey Farm, which generously provides about 50 different tasters of honeys, creamed honey, honey chocolate sauce, honey nut mixes, relishes and jams. I went a but nuts and tasted pretty much all of them. Then bought a honey ice-cream. I would have bought some bottles to take home, but due to WA’s strict quarantine laws, honey can’t be brought into the state. It’s a perfect stopover on the long drive between Cradle Mountain and Launceston.
Next up: Launceston and then the eastern coast of Tasmania. You can read part one here.