We took a two week trip to Tassie from Melbourne in February 2013. I have been down there once or twice before, one-time to Hobart, Port Arthur and the Franklin River area. This time, we took our car on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Melbourne. We drove from Launceston to Hobart to see the Mona Art Gallery, to the Franklin river area, west to Georgetown and then up to the north-west to the Tarkine wilderness, Stanley and Cradle Mountain.
The ferry ride was interesting, especially leaving Melbourne and arriving at Launceston. The beds were pretty hard and small. It was exciting emerging on the road to Hobart just after dawn. We drove on the road west of the main highway, through Jackeys Marsh, Miena and Bothwell. This took a bit longer of course, but you get lovely views out to the west of the Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
I discussed Mona in a separate post.
The road west from Hobart to Queenstown is called the Lyell Highway. South of that highway of vast areas of wilderness, containing the Gordon and Franklin Rivers. The Franklin river was famously saved by the conservationist Bob Brown and heaps of hippies back in the 1970s. The issue also help bring in the short lived but fascinating rain of Gough Whitlam as Prime Minister. For those of us who can’t bushwalk easily, there is a great road down past the eerily flooded Lake Pedder to the Gordon dam. In a way this is a bit sad but it’s also spectacular and the drive is wonderful. It’s about 100 km or an hour and half drive from the Lyell Highway to the Gordon. You have to retrace your steps to get back out of the wilderness and then continue on the Lyell westward.
We drove the whole way from Hobart to cradle Mountain via Queenstown including the diversion to the Gordon dam in about seven hours. We also stopped off at various lovely little parks. We also stopped off at a tourist joint called The Wall but it wasn’t really our thing. The Franklin River nature trail and Nelson Falls were much more to our liking. These were both about half an hour round trip along gentle wheelchair accessible parts through wonderful rainforest. The water was the colour of tea, but clear, shallow and fast-running in the accessible lookout to the waterfall was fabulous.
Georgetown was ugly but interesting.
We also jumped off the highway here and there for a cup of tea or a sandwich, and it was always beautiful. There are separate posts on our stay at Cradle Mountain, the Tarkine, Stanley and such under the “Tasmania” category.
A few other impressions:
- Around the Gordon dam area there were power towers everywhere, and massive water pipes which reminded me of home on the Murray River.
- You are supposed to buy a National Park pass. It seems to work on an honour system and we felt mildly guilty about skipping this although we didn’t know where to get one and no one seemed to mind.
- Even though it was February, there were few tourists we were lucky because the weather was lovely.
- The road signs often gave times, not distances, which seemed very wise.
- The last time I was in Tassie there was vast amounts of roadkill everywhere. This seemed a bit less this time although still a dead animal every kilometre or so. There were also for sale signs on houses and properties everywhere, a sign of the languishing economy I suppose.