Friday, May 27, 2016

Platypus Bay circuit walk

From the Lake St Clair Visitors Centre, there is a good selection of short walks you can do. There are facilities for picnics, coffee, lunch and overnight accommodation. It's also the start/end of longer walks including the Overland Track. That's why we were surprised to see so few cars in the car park when we visited one Sunday earlier this month. It wasn't sunny, but it didn't rain all day and the cool temperatures (around 10-15 degrees) made perfect walking conditions. After our longer walk the day before and our drive to Nelson Falls in the morning, a Sunday afternoon stroll to Platypus Bay was just what I needed to justify that evening's dinner. We didn't see a platypus from the viewing area on the walk but we had seen one the night before swimming out on the lake at Pumphouse Point anyway. It's such a beautiful piece of the Tasmanian great outdoors. Don't let winter put you off.

Lake St Clair

Monday, May 23, 2016

From the water

Taking advantage of a warm late Autumn day, yesterday we took Gwendoline (a.k.a. Tinnie McTinface) for a spin on the Huon River. I say "spin", but she goes at a relatively sedate space with her small outboard motor. Sporting our new red and yellow life vests, we headed out from Franklin, through the Egg Island Canal (startling a pademelon living on the island), around the top of the island, then south towards Castle Forbes Bay before turning for home. It was a seriously pleasant way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny morning. From the water, you get a completely different perspective on our village and the surrounding hills. We're both keen to do more exploring next time favourable conditions arise. Today would not fit into that category. We're back to the wind and rain of last week again at our place.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Heading west? Take a side trip

On the drive to the west coast of Tasmania, you pass several opportunities to stop along the Lyell Highway, to stretch your legs on a short walk and breathe in the fresh air of the surrounding wilderness. The first few times I drove out that way, I didn't stop anywhere but a couple of roadside lookouts. On last weekend's stay at Lake St Clair, we took a special drive along the windy road heading west to Nelson Falls, a beautiful cascade waterfall 20 minutes from Queenstown. It's an easy 20 minute return stroll from the main road.

On the way there, we stopped for a look at the world famous Franklin River with beautiful rainforest lining its banks. Interpretive signs tell the story of the conservation battle to save the river from being dammed and the importance of wilderness to humanity.

On the way back, we did the first 10 minutes or so of the 3-5 day return walk to Frenchmans Cap, to a swinging bridge over classic Tasmanian tea-coloured water. I'd like to think I'm fit and hardcore enough to do the whole walk, the reality I suspect is quite different. Time to start trek training again.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Shadow Lake circuit walk

The weather forecast for Saturday was looking good. Grey and cool, but no rain until evening. It proved accurate, and our 13km walk to Shadow Lake took a little under five hours return in good hiking conditions. It really is a great short walk, as you pass through such a variety of landscapes and vegetation, from rainforest to highland eucalypts, sub-alpine scrub and buttongrass and a vast collection of fungi. We were first to walk the trail on the way up in the morning. We knew this thanks to the spider webs we walked through and all the animal prints in the mud on the trail. There was a bit of water on the trail and it was slippery on the way down, but worth it to get up close and personal with this incredible piece of Tasmania.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Cruising the Huon River

Early this morning we got a different view of the Huon, at a business breakfast hosted by Franklin Eco Cruises and the local Business Enterprise Centre. After a very wet and windy night, the river was amazingly calm. Living here, we still haven't tried out all the experiences a tourist might and it was our first trip up the river on the Lady Jane II. While we enjoyed the view, munched bacon and egg rolls and warmed up with a coffee, business owner and Huon Valley councillor Mike Wilson gave us a short potted history of his life in business mixed in with history of the local area and the waterways. We are looking forward to getting out there soon in our little tinnie.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Pumphouse Point

 In January last year, I thought I might book a night or two at Pumphouse Point as a special splurge for our wedding anniversary in May, but it was not to be - already booked out. This time I booked in October and have been looking forward to it ever since. It lived up to the hype. After a weekend of walks in the beautiful Lake St Clair National Park and surrounds (more on that later), gazing at the stillness of the lake, wildlife spotting (not one, but two close-up wombat encounters), eating good food and drinking lovely Tasmanian wines, my shoulders have dropped and I am relaxed and refreshed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Ever since we moved to Franklin, a river town full of mad keen boaties and fisherfolk, David has been keen to take a tinnie* for a potter about on the Huon River. After finding out how rubbish I am at rowing, I thought it would be a nice idea too. The waterways around here are begging to be explored, picnicked on and camped along. So here she is: Gwendoline. Picked up on Gumtree from a nice chap on the other side of Hobart. Next job: acquire a small outboard motor.

* Small aluminium boat [Aust. Coll.]

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Too miserable to climb Mount Misery

Today's plan was to walk from Huon Bush Retreats to Mount Misery, a lovely walk to do in autumn because there is usually a fine collection of colourful fungi on display. But the weather forecast wasn't looking good - 95 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms - so we abandoned the idea. Sure enough we had thunder, heavy rain, fog and then steady rain all morning, so it would indeed have been quite miserable up there. So here are some photos taken a few weeks ago when I checked out the walk with some friends. The track is very well maintained and has interpretive signs along the way, explaining everything except why it is called Mount Misery! I'll have to borrow a Tasmanian place names book and look it up.