The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere


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Wildflowers to Wild Weather – WA has it All

With my new tyre fitted I had a very quick whizz around Mt Magnet and then headed further south to wildflower country. Poor Brutus! He looks like he’s got Blundstones on 3 wheels and a sandshoe on the other, but we’re mobile again at fairly minimal expense. I’ve now stayed in a few excellent camp sites but my first night of Spring I was in Paynes Find, behind the roadhouse – not the most exciting place to be but the showers were hot, the toilets clean – and it was only $10 for an unpowered site. If you’re like me you are wondering why it’s called Paynes Find, so here’s the answer!

The map following shows my journey as I made my way south and then west towards the coast. I was ready for some salt air, sand and the sound of the waves.

Mt Magnet to Cliff Head

I made an early getaway the next day and headed to Wubin where I met some fellow travellers in the information centre who told me that Buntine Rocks was a nice free camp so I made my way there and set up camp for a couple of days. I parked amongst the everlasting daisies and then wandered along the bush track to the main rock which I clambered up to get a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside.

Buntine Rocks

Buntine Rocks

Coorow (pronounced Cooroo) was my next stop and the council caravan park had a special deal on for Wildflower Season. $22 a night but pay for one then get one free. Great showers and toilets and a good laundry, too. I ended up staying for four nights as the weather turned foul with driving rain and gale force winds but before that I was able to wash most of the curtains in my van and get them dried and rehung. I had put my awning up when I arrived and then it got too windy for me to manage to take it down so it buffeted my van around as the wind caught it until at 2.30 in the morning it got the better of me and I decided to drop the ropes from it and just leave it hanging down the side of the van. Imagine my surprise the next day when it had disappeared! The wind had lifted my heavy canvas awning right out of its track and blown it 50 metres away. I quickly salvaged it, folded it up and tucked it away before the rain came down again. Then I rang Les and Wilma at Three Springs, not far down the track, and they invited me to escape the windy weather and park in their front yard – a most welcome invitation.

Coorow Camp Ground

Coorow Camp Ground

Les was a great tourist guide when I arrived and we jumped in his ute and he took us out to the Talc Mine and then to see the amazing wreath flowers which grow in this area. The Talc Mine is the oldest and most productive talc mine in the southern hemisphere, and the second-most productive talc mine in the world, with recent annual production of 240,000 tonnes. If you want to know what talc is used for, and it’s not just talcum powder, click here.

Three Springs Talc Mine

Three Springs Talc Mine

Three Springs Talc Mine

Three Springs Talc Mine

Three Springs Talc Mine

Three Springs Talc Mine

The information centre gave us a map showing how to find the wreath flowers and even though they had been described to me it is hard to imagine flowers growing in such an unusual shape…really quite lovely!

Wreath Flower

Wreath Flower

Wreath Flower

Wreath Flower

I only spent one night with Les and Wilma before I headed off to Lake Indoon. I had overheard a gentleman in the bank at Carnamah talking about this camp site so I asked him about it and he inspired me to go there. It was such a lovely spot I would have stayed more than the two nights I did except my gas bottle ran out overnight and I needed it for my little fridge to keep working. I was shown where some beautiful spider orchids and cowslips were growing by a motorhome couple, Pat & Jim and then had great pleasure sharing their location with some of the other campers.

Orchids Lake Indoon Orchids Lake Indoon

One of the other couples, Phil and Dallas, had been at Yalgoo when I limped in with my flat tyre and that night we had happy hour in the barbecue shed with a few other couples. I tested out my latest poem, The Finger, (after a couple of drinks), and it got the nod of approval from the Happy Hour crowd too. A couple of wines can make anything sound good!

Lake Indoon

Lake Indoon

Lake Indoon

Lake Indoon

This is a camp site I would be happy to come back to.

Lake Indoon was not far from Leeman, on the Coast, so I headed in that direction, filled the gas bottle, did a bit of shopping in Jurien Bay and then headed to Point Louise, which I had found details of on WikiCamps.

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Camp at Point Louise

Point Louise

Point Louise

Fabulous dunes at Point Louise

Fabulous dunes at Point Louise

A couple of nights there was enough, the beach was full of weed and we were literally camped in the car park, so I thought I’d go to Cliff Head which I had heard good things about. What a great choice that turned out to be! It was a lovely grassy camp, the other campers were friendly, the cliff gave us some protection from the southerly wind, and Happy Hour was fun every night – for the whole six nights I stayed there.

Cliff Head

Cliff Head

Cliff Head

Cliff Head

I discovered that Ron & Cathie, who were my closest neighbours in the camp, came from Runaway Bay, my old stomping ground, and actually lived in a house that I had sold to the previous owners. They had also been neighbours with one of the salespeople from Ray White that I had worked with, George Bobolos. Talk about a small world! Ron and Cathie, with their Staffy Jake, were just some of the people that made my stay here so pleasant. Everyone was so friendly and we all got on really well together.

Ron, Cathie & Jake

Ron, Cathie & Jake

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Sunset Happy Hour at Cliff Head

It was sad today when most of us packed up to move on, although I think I might have been the only one heading north, while everyone else was heading south to begin the long trek home to the east coast.

I will definitely go back to Cliff Head – it would be one of my favourite stops. I wonder if it was the people or the campsite that made it a favourite?


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Heading North for Winter Warmth

With my house-sit in Secret Harbour coming to an end it was time to pack Brutus, my little campervan, and head for warmer weather. The day I left Perth it rained so hard I couldn’t even get to my van at times so my departure was delayed until everything was transferred from house to van and I was ready to hit the road again. I had first planned to travel with Wilma, a Western Willie Wagtail I had met, but she postponed her departure. Then Jose, who I had travelled with in Tasmania, was going to leave that day but she developed bronchitis and just wasn’t well enough to leave home. So off I went – a Solo! It was a terrible day for driving – cold, windy and raining all day. I was heading to Sandy Cape, just north of Jurien Bay.

Secret Harbour to Seven Mile Beach

Well, my GPS led me up the garden path and I passed the turn off to Sandy Cape thinking there was another one further ahead. That proved not to be the case so I checked out my map and decided to head to a roadside stop out of Dongara, which is about 60kms south of Geraldton. I didn’t like the look of that and there was no-one else there so off I went again in search of Seven Mile Beach, which had been recommended to me. The wind was blowing so hard I didn’t even put up my pop top when I arrived there so I had a very cramped night and couldn’t wait to leave the next day. The map above shows my trip from Secret Harbour to Seven Mile Beach. It was a big day’s drive!

As I had made it a lot further north than I intended it threw out all my planning so back to the drawing board! Richard, who I had met in Lucky Bay earlier this year was in Carnarvon so I thought ‘Hang it, I’m going for it’. The rain had stopped, I got an early start, stopped in Geraldton for breakfast and then I was off again. For my east coast friends, Carnarvon is roughly the same latitude as Hervey Bay.

Seven Mile Beach to Carnarvon

I arrived in Carnarvon about 3.15pm….over 500kms….another big day! Richard had arranged for me to stay in the same caravan park that night and then we headed off to Rocky Pools, on the Gascoyne River, where we had three lovely days. The weather had cleared to bright sunshine, the setting was beautiful even though quite harsh, and despite it being school holidays there weren’t many people there at all. With some encouragement I even found my bathers and plunged into the freezing cold water… I thought I was going to die!!! It was soooo cold it took my breath away.

Rocky Pools

Rocky Pools from opposite our camp

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What a spot!

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Stunning Aussie colours

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The Gascoyne River at Rocky Pools

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Sunrise colours

We came back into Carnarvon on Saturday morning to stock up on supplies and then headed to Quobba, staying at Quobba Station the first night then Quobba Blowholes where we once again caught up with some of the Western Willie Wagtails – Jean, Barry, Leo, Jenn and finally Jose joined us after a couple of days.

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Blowholes

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Thar she blows!

At Quobba there are about 40 or so shacks that people have leases over – and I mean shacks! They looked like something out of a Third World slum, but you can judge for yourself!

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Quobba shacks

Although windy, most of the days were fine and on Tuesday Richard and I tested out my 4 wheel drive capabilities and travelled the 70 odd kms of rough corrugated and sandy road to Red Bluff, where we stayed overnight. What a magic day! It was so warm and sunny and we sat looking out over the Indian Ocean watching the whales migrating north. We lost count of how many breaches and blows we saw that day.

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Life’s tough – but someone’s gotta do it!

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Red Bluff looking North

The swell was huge the next day and we drove onto a cliff head south of Quobba Station and watched these enormous, probably 30ft waves, crashing onto the shore. Once again, a spectacular day on this rugged, rocky coastline.

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Brutus the Beast took us places cars couldn’t go!

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The rugged coastline at Quobba

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The pounding surf at Quobba

On returning to our camp at Quobba the day grew cool and windy so I decided to head back to Carnarvon the following day to once again stock up on supplies before I head further north. I was out of food, water and gas so had a busy day today and I’ll be heading off early tomorrow. I’m expecting most of the crew from Quobba will catch up with me at Warroora Station, about 200kms north of here on the way to Coral Bay and Exmouth.

Needless to say the phone and internet coverage is almost non-existent, so I’m not sure when my next post will be. I am sure though that it will be from somewhere warmer than it is here at the moment.

 


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Wearing Wobbly Boots at Cape Riche

After leaving Lucky Bay I headed back to Esperance to find a Laundromat, and washing done and dried I travelled towards Ravensthorpe. I hadn’t really thought about where I would stay tonight, but checked out my Camps Book and settled on Munglinup Beach.(NO phone, NO internet!) I hated it! Not fair, I suppose, to make such a judgement because I only stayed overnight, but the road in for about 19kms was rough and dusty corrugation, I wasn’t feeling 100%, the beach was covered in weed, and it was late in the afternooon when I got there and I kept thinking about that horrible road that I had to go out on the next day. I couldn’t wait to leave and get it over with so I was up early the next morning and headed back along that bone-shattering red dust road.

WikiCamps came up with my next overnighter – Tozers Bush Camp on the way to Bremer Bay. I am so sorry I didn’t take any photos here to show you the fanastic set up here.

Funny how something makes you lean favourably toward one thing or another. As a kid we had camping friends by the name of Tozer, and as the reviews in WikiCamps were ok I rang ahead and Robert Tozer assured me there was a spot for me. There was a spot alright – I was the only one there! What a shame this place isn’t better known. Robert has done a great job levelling a lot of sites and has built one of the best amenities blocks I have ever seen. Fantastic hot showers and toilets – luxury – and you should see the Happy Hour/Camp Kitchen he has there. It’s massive, with a huge deck that overlooks his land, and great facilities inside. I finally had internet access here, basically for the first time at a place I had stayed since the start of my journey about two weeks ago . That alone was worth the $20 a night fee – which is probably a bit over the top for what is there. I wish there had been more campers here to enjoy the Camp Kitchen and Happy Hour with, but Robert left to go back to his home in Bremer Bay and I was left with the internet and a brilliant night sky for company. He did say, though, that when the wildflowers are in bloom, he expects his camp to fill up and he has made walk trails over the property for his guests to make the most of what he has to offer here.

I must admit I was a little nervous for the first time ever as I really was in the middle of no-where, and alone! That is, except for the big green frog in the toilet! I left Robert a copy of my Green Frog poem when I departed the next day.

I decided to head to Cape Riche for a few days, and what a good choice that turned out to be.  (apart from NO phone and NO internet again).

Cape Riche

 

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The little birds were really friendly here and hopped all around me – they were kind enough to let me take a couple of photos, too. The one on the left is a White Browed Scrub Wren and the one on the right is a Splendid Blue Wren that becomes a vivid all over blue when it is mating – little show off!

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Found this photo on the internet to show the colour that little fellow becomes when he is breeding. Now, what female could resist him!

blue wren breeding

I spent a couple of quiet days here and on my last night I was invited to Happy Hour at a neighbouring camp. When I got there I discovered there were three guys on a fishing trip – and me! I drank far too much red wine and staggered back to my camp in my wobbly boots after Noel, Peter and Nigel had cooked up a storm for dinner, which they shared with me. Feeling much the worse for wear the next day I started the day with Panadol and a bottle of water but think I probably should have had it the night before instead of all that wine! The fellas cooked me bacon and eggs for breakfast the next day and while they headed off with their boat to catch some fish I packed up and I was ‘on the road again’!

The amount I am spending on petrol is killing my budget – I need to find a place and just prop for a while. I decided to go to Parry Beach.

 


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Hot! Damn hot! And flies! Damn flies – Crossing the Nullabor

I wonder if it’s like what they say about child birth – once it’s over you forget the pain…..

The heat and the flies made my journey across the Nullabor painful. I have been shut up in my little campervan before because of wind and rain and now I can add to that – FLIES! They drove me insane! So looking my glamorous best I bought a fly net and took a ‘selfie’ to share with you. It was impossible to be outside without it – the flies got in your eyes, ears and nose, and mouth if you opened it at the wrong time!
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So here’s my trip across the Nullabor.

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I was so lucky that Grahame & Judy travelled about the same pace as me so even though we hadn’t planned it we spent most nights at the same camping spot. I left Koonibba on March 31 and stopped at Nundroo that night and then the 10km Peg camp just before the WA border. Like everyone else there we were cooking up our vegetables so we didn’t have to declare them at the border.
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I did some of the ‘must see’ things and gladly paid my $7 to use the walkways at the Head of the Bight.

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It was so hot this day that I had rivers of perspiration running down my face – and every other part of my body – and used my air-con for about the 3rd time since I had owned Brutus. About an hour later though there was a cooler change and it made travelling a lot more pleasant.
I also drove out to the Bunda Cliffs – blowing a gale off the sea but at least it blew the flies away!
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This is the view from Madura Pass and is a perfect illustration of the Nullabor being a ‘vast, treeless plain’.
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On April 2, I finally crossed the border into Western Australia and camped the night near Cocklebiddy. Grahame and Judy were going to stay on at the 10km peg camp for another couple of days so we bid a fond farewell. Their company had been so appreciated on this trip.

Here’s a couple more pics of sights along the way.
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I felt like I had finally ‘arrived’ when I got to Norseman on April 3, yet I know there is still a long way to go before I reach Secret Harbour at the end of April – and I want to see as much as I can of the South-East corner of WA while I am here.

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Welcome to Norseman

 


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From East to West – Crossing the Nullabor

I can’t believe how lucky I am to be asked to house sit for people who are going travelling. Last year it took me to Mt Isa and now I am on my way to Secret Harbour, south of Perth in Western Australia. That’s a pretty good reason to head west!

After a couple of days rest and recovery following the Solos Rally in Balranald I set off on my next adventure.

I left the Nyah Recreation Grounds on March 26, waving a fond farewell to Rosanna, who I had met just out of Boulia in Western Queensland last year and caught up with again at the Solos Rally. Also sharing our camp were two West Australians, Glenys Mitchell and Glenyce Mills. I had spent some time in Tasmania travelling with Glenyce and now here I am heading off to her home State of WA!

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Happy Hour at Nyah Free Camp

I camped the night at Psyche Pump, just out of Mildura. (free camp, lots of different spots along the river)

 

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View from Psyche Pump Free Camp

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Psyche Pump Free Camp

It turned out to be not such a great choice as there was an amazing thunderstorm in the evening and I woke to mud, mud, mud! The next morning it was a slippery drive out to the road and I couldn’t wait to get to a high pressure car wash and get rid of the mud I had collected under the van, in the van, and all over me!

Mildura to Cadell

Once I had Brutus – and me – sparkling clean I headed towards Cadell Recreation Ground for the night.
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I didn’t realise, but the way I had chosen to go meant that I had to cross over the Murray River by ferry to get to the campground. It was a free trip and goes on demand, and it was a bit of a buzz travelling this way.
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Michael and Margaret, the caretakers at Cadell welcomed me warmly and set me up on a nice clean level spot. The amenities here are first class and beautifully clean and well cared for. It was $12 a night for an unpowered site but I didn’t object as the facilities were so good – and the caretakers so friendly. The sunset was amazing, too!

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Sunset at Cadell Recreation Ground Camp

Before I left the next day Margaret gave me some of her home made tomato sauce that she had just finished cooking and Michael gave me a mud map of an interesting way to go to my next stop which they recommended to me.

Cadell to Melrose
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Once again I camped at the Recreation Grounds, which weren’t as nice as the previous night at Cadell but it was only $8 for an unpowered site and once again, great hot showers. I could get used to this luxury!

On the way there was a huge wind farm near Hallett. It seemed to go on forever and although this photo doesn’t show the extent of it I just loved the sky in this one!

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Wind Farm at Hallett

Melrose to Minnipa

I made a wrong call today and probably should have stayed in Kimba, which is the home of the Big Galah. Felt a bit of a galah myself for not stopping when I should have but the upside was the lovely people I met at my next stop.

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The Big Galah, Kimba

Kimba has a big sign declaring it is half way across Australia. I drove down to the Recreation Grounds which was the camping area in town but it looked like it had just been graded and a large area was closed off. I stopped long enough to have one of the best coffees I’ve ever had at The Cafe – yes, that’s what it’s called – in the main street, a pretty little place with lace curtains in the window and the coffee was soooo good. Fuelled with caffeine I decided to keep driving and eventually found a camp spot at the Apex Park in Minnipa.

Another couple, Judy and Grahame, pulled in with their caravan so I wasn’t camping alone – and I was sick of driving so the thought of having to go any further wasn’t at all appealing. I must say the toilet block had me a bit worried about the locals though! The next morning Judy was saying how noisy it was with other vans and trucks pulling in and out all night but I slept through it all!

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Minnipa Free Camp

This was the route I travelled today.
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You’ll see I went through Iron Knob, which I drove into but there was absolutely nothing there – or if there was I couldn’t find it!

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Looking towards Iron Knob

Minnipa to Koonibba

I was really looking forward to today as I was going into Streaky Bay, a place I had picked out on the map before I started this journey. I think I built it up too much because when I got there it was crowded and there was no free camp – but I had another beautiful coffee at Mocean, right on the waterfront.
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Grahame & Judy had been told that Smoky Bay was even better so I headed off there but it was jam packed – the caravan park looked like a supermarket car park – and once again, no free camps that I could find. This was my fifth day of travel to cross from the East of Australia to West Australia. My next stop was Koonibba for the night – I’m on my way to WA!
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Strahan – Hells Gates, Huon Pines and Sunsets

I loved my visit to Strahan! Perhaps it was the relief of arriving there after driving the steep winding roads of western Tasmania but I am drawn to the sea and here I was, on the ocean at last. It was hot when we arrived and one of the locals suggested we take a rainforest walk to Hogarth Falls. What a beautiful cool spot to be!
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After that we headed straight out to Ocean Beach to set up camp for the night. There were a couple of level spots after the day trippers went home so I thought I was clever and claimed one right on the cliff top overlooking the beach. Not so clever!! The wind blew a gale and I had to put my pop-top down for the night in fear of it being blown away. The magic sunset over the sea compensated for the discomfort though. Broome might have the stairway to the moon but Strahan has a stairway to the sun!
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The next day we went back in to town to book our river boat trip through Macquarie Harbour, out to Hell’s Gates and up river to Sarah Island. There are two boats that do basically the same trip but we chose the red and white one which is a 5th generation family owned business.  Another Solo, Glenyce, was arriving in town so we settled into a great little coffee shop and waited for her. Once she arrived we found a spot to camp just out of town for the night and were soon joined by another campervan looking for a stop-over, too. It was an early start the next day for our boat trip, which we were all looking forward to.
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When we booked we paid a bit extra to have window seats but it really wasn’t necessary as the boat wasn’t full so we could sit where we liked. A fabulous smorgasbord lunch was included with loads of Tasmanian smoked salmon and lovely salads. The captain gave a running commentary of what we were seeing and the history of the area. We headed through Macquarie Harbour, which is twice the area of Sydney Harbour but accessible only through the smallest entrance of all major harbours, Hells Gates. The entry is a mere 75 metres wide.
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It was given the name of Hells Gates by the convicts who were sent to Sarah Island for punishment – they thought they were going through these gates to  Hell. For 12 years, 1822-1833 Sarah Island was a dreaded convict penal settlement. Only the worst of the convicts were sent there. As we travelled into Macquarie Harbour the captain pointed out the cliffs where crayfish can be caught and we stopped at the commercial fish farms that breed Tasmanian Salmon and Ocean Trout.
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In a little blast from the past, the old Combie Trader that plied the waters off the Queensland Coast has been reborn as a fish processing vessel in Tasmania!
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We disembarked at Sarah Island and formed 2 groups with our own guides to explain the history of the island. Disco Dave was our guide and he really brought the history alive.
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Sarah Island had the reputation of being the bloodiest and most brutal penal settlement in Tasmania. It was used to “root out moral depravity of the criminal classes. Hard labour, cruel and vicious punishment, and the deprivation of all comforts in a harsh and fearful landscape … made Sarah Island a place to be dreaded.” (from the World Heritage brochure on Macquarie Harbour & the Gordon River)

Up to 380 convicts, including some women, were held here guarded by 95 military. Other civilian officials included 14 women and 27 children. To keep the convicts busy their first task was to cut down every tree on the island, so what you see now has grown in the last 190 years.
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When we left Sarah Island we travelled up the Gordon River to Heritage Landing. The Gordon has the largest flow of all Tasmanian rivers and Heritage Landing is a walkway, built in 1989 through river-flat rainforest. Here we were given some amazing information about the famous Huon Pines. It is incredible to think that they only grow 1mm in diameter every year so you can imagine how old some of those trees were when they were harvested. There is a section of a tree on display that shows major world events that occurred throughout the trees lifetime.
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Huon Pines have a very high oil content so they are now harvesting pines that had been felled hundreds, even thousands, of years ago that have been lying in the rivers. They are still in perfect condition to be milled today.

The timber contains quantities of a natural preserving oil called methyl eugenol which allows it to survive on or under the forest floor for centuries. A buried Huon pine log was documented by scientists to have been lying there for 38,000 years! As well as being a preservative, the methyl eugenol provides the timber with natural lubrication, so it can be bent, shaped or sculpted without splitting. It is also waterproof and insect resistant, making it prized as a boat building timber.
Quote from http://huonpine.com/pages/huon-pine-timber.html

As we were walking to the display of the Huon Pine log this fellow was lurking nearby – a pretty big tiger snake. He wasn’t at all interested in us tourists and stayed around for us to get some good photos.
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These are the some of the photos I took of the forest walk. I loved all the lichen on the trees – everything had an ‘other world’ look about it. Some said it reminded them of Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings movies.
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Back on board after a wonderfully full day – so many amazing sights, so much information, so much history – we enjoyed the cruise back to Strahan and after a visit to a Morrisons Huon Pine Saw Mill, Jose, Glenyce and I headed back to our RV’s and camped up for the night at the boat ramp just on the edge of town. We expected to be moved on but the police boat came and went and no-one said a word to us so we bunkered down for the night to get ready for our drive to Queenstown the next day.


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Destination Deloraine – Silk Art and Smashed Steps

We were off to a rally in Bridport with Auswide – at the invitation of fellow motorhomers, Richard and Janis. It was held at a private property and Mick, the owner, had everything set up for a comfortable weekend. I loved his Happy Hour Shed, and couldn’t help but be impressed with his woodpile!  I know it’s cold in Tasmania, but I’m hoping this stack of wood will see him through a few winters!

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Jose and I stayed 2 nights and then decided to move on to make sure we saw as much of Tasmania as we could in the time we had available. We headed back to Scottsdale, and while Jose did some shopping I found the black water dump point. While there I noticed some public toilets and thought I’d take advantage of them, so I started Brutus up and drove up the hill. As I was leaving I saw this lump of red & white plastic near the dump point – and as I got closer I realised it was MY STEP. I had tried to leave it behind, unintentionally, on sooo many occasions and now I had finally demolished it totally! No longer would fellow campers have to call out “You’ve left your step behind!”  I dragged out a broken, not totally demolished one, that I carried for emergencies and trod very carefully on it until that, too, became unusable. The first Rays Outdoors I came to I upgraded to a ‘grown up’ grey Fiamma step, and now that I have it I don’t know why I didn’t get one of those in the first place!

We had planned to stay at Myrtle Park on the way to Launceston but although it looked like a great spot to camp it was jammed pack with a rally group and heaps of children, being school holidays. So we motored on, through Launceston and up the western side of the Tamar River to a free camp called Paper Beach.

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When we left the next day we treated ourselves to a visit to the Ninth Island Winery, had a few tastings, admired the view, and yes, came away with some lovely wine. One of my favourites is the Ninth Island Pinot Noir which my friend Carol had introduced me to many years ago, so what better place to buy it than at the Cellar Door.

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The view from their function centre was beautiful.

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And I loved this poster on their wall!

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This is the route we took from Bridport to Deloraine.

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I know, you’re looking at the map and wondering why we went such a round about way. Well, Jose decided to lead the way when we left Paper Beach and for some reason, known only to her, she turned east when we got to Launceston instead of west – and she kept saying she didn’t need a GPS!  When she realised we were heading in the wrong direction she used the excuse that she’d never been to Evandale, so off we went. Instead of turning back to the highway we drove through Evandale – and kept driving. ( My fault – I looked at the map and thought the road came back on to the highway pretty quick). About 90kms of dirt road later, and having skirted around the base of Ben Lomond, we came out south east of Evandale and pointed towards Launceston again. Finally we are going in the right direction.

Destination Deloraine! Finally we arrive! We stayed at the free Deloraine East Overnight Park, glad to stop driving, have a drink and unwind. The next day we set off to the Information Centre and I was absolutely blown away by their Art in Silk Display. It’s a must see if you are in the area! Here’s a few photos I took of the massive silk panels, but if your’e interested in this sort of thing click on the link above, which gives you the story of the fantastic community cooperation over  many hundreds of hours, to put create this. Jose took my photo in front of one of the panels to give you an idea of the size of them. There were 4 panels representing the four seasons.

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We were definitely having an ‘arty’ day because as we wandered down the street we came across an artist’s co-op called Deloraine Creative Studios, strolled in, and met one of the artists, Steve Howells. He has some striking street scenes of Deloraine on display, vibrantly coloured, and done in water colours. If you’d like to see some his work his website is just a click away, Steve Howells.

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You’ve probably guessed by now I loved Deloraine!

Ooops! Correction needed!
Before I begin on the next stage of my journey I need to get my Tassie towns in the correct order! In my blog The Trail of the Tin Dragon, our stop at Weldborough was before we got to Derby, not after, and the miners blockade to stop the Chinese miners occurred at Branxholm, not Weldborough as I said. Ooops, should write these blogs with a map in front of me. Or perhaps if I wrote them as I went, rather than on reflection, my short term memory would be closer to reality!


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Treading the Tahune Air Walk

After a chilly start to the day – only 4deg C when I woke up at my camp in Geeveston this morning – Brutus the Beast and I slowly made our way up the 29kms of winding road to begin my walk.

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Walking up hills/stairs and heights are probably two of my least favorite activities so I approached the day as a challenge. It was well rewarded!

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112 steps later (hey, who’s counting) I reached the track to the air walk which wound its way around massive stringy bark gum trees, myrtles, leatherwoods and celery top pines.

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The Air Walk is about 40 metres above the ground amongst the tree tops and finishes in a cantilevered section that hangs out over the Huon River. I asked a fellow tourist to take my picture as proof that I went right to the end, but he took about 6 of his thumb but I managed to sneak into this one.

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As I left the air walk there was an option to walk back via the Swinging Bridges. I’m up for another challenge so that’s the path I took. Now there’s only selfies to prove my achievement!

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The walking track is well maintained although steep and a bit slippery in places. You can see where nature tries to take over and block the tourists but fortunately for us someone comes along and clears the way.

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I’m so glad I had the opportunity to experience this beautiful place. I don’t think these are magic mushrooms growing in this magic forest, but who needs them when you can get high on nature!

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Derby – On the Trail of the Tin Dragon

Tasmania is the most amazing place to travel. There is so much history and at every turn in the road there is so much evidence of this history still to see. Jose and I left Swimcart Beach to travel to a rally in Bridport that we had been invited to, and I was really interested to visit Derby, where my sister had lived in the early 1980’s. She used to live in the old Bank House and I had visited her there for a very cold Christmas one year.

The house Marion used to live in is now a Gift Shop in the rooms that were the bank chambers.

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I knew Derby was an old tin mining town but since my last visit they have developed this side of its history into more of a tourist attraction.We really only stumbled across this because of my interest in going to Derby as it is not well promoted as a Tourist Attraction.

The Tin Interpretation Centre at Derby is a ‘must see’ experience if you are travelling that way.It is a beautiful building with an wonderful wall of theatre that tells the story of the discovery of tin in the area and how the early miners harnessed the power of the water to successfully mine the tin. The climax is the devastating flood in 1929, which broke the banks of the dam and spilled billions of litres of water through the town. You can find out a bit more about it here.

There is also a tribute to the contribution of the Chinese miners, and I loved this part of the Centre, as you will see by the number of photos I took of the wall murals!

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There is free camping at the river on the outskirts of town – a nice grassy area with shady trees and toilet facilities – and it’s close enough to walk into the little town.

We left Derby and our next stop was following a track beside the Ringarooma River which led to an old Chinese miners hut. Inside were story panels of the life of a Chinese tin miner. I found this really interesting, too, and was happy to leave my donation in the tin at the door.

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By the time we got to Weldborough we were ready to sample the Tasmanian Boutique beers on tap – they also had ciders available.

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While enjoying our ‘coldies’ in the beer garden we met a couple who were camped at the back of the pub and they told us of a couple of good camping spots to try as we headed west.

Weldborough is on the Trail of the Tin Dragon as it was the site of the confrontation between the Chinese miners and the ‘whites’. The Chinese had walked from Bridport and were on the way to Derby when they were stopped from going any further by an angry mob. They turned around and trudged all the way back to Bridport and came back with a police escort that quietened the mob and gave them safe passage to Derby.

We had planned to stay at Scottsdale that night but the free camp was very crowded so we did our shopping, fueled up our motorhomes, and headed off to Bridport to enter the rally early. It was hot, the roads had been winding and steep, and the roadworks everywhere had contributed to a tiring day. We were ready to stop!

This little map will show you the area I have been talking about and the route we took over the last couple of days. It will also give you an idea of the long walks the miners had when they were landed by boat at Bridport and had to get to Derby! When I think about that I realise that we have got it soooo good these days!

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Camping the Tasmanian Coast

I’ve been so busy finding all these wonderful camp sites that I’m having blog withdrawals – as some of you must be judging by the messages I’ve had about the lack of blogs. So here goes my attempt at blogging on my iPhone
Rather than tell you lots of stories in this blog I’m going to concentrate on the camps! Hope you enjoy the pics.
Mayfield Bay
Great little campsite. Donation box. Long drop toilet. No showers.
The first pic is of a convict built arched bridge and the second of my sister, Marion, on the beach.

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Lagoons Beach
Right on the beach. Heaps of campsites with level ground and trees between the camps so although there was a lot of people there the camps were quite private.

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Binalong Bay
Day visit only. Lovely clean beach

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Swimcart Beach
Another lovely free camp right on the beach. It was quite windy when we were there but there were more protected sites back off the water.

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Paper Beach
On the western side of the Tamar River. Toilets, water, camping between 5pm & 9am for about 6 vans.

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Jose and I both managed to wash our vans here as they were covered in white mud from all the roadworks we’d been through.
Preservation Bay
Nice grassy free camp near Penguin. No facilities but a lovely beach.

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Detention River
Not listed in Camp 6. Heading west on Bass Highway turn right before the Detention River bridge almost opposite service station. Big open area by the road but drive down the track and there are lovely protected and private sites along the river and towards the river mouth. No facilities. This is what this lifestyle is all about!

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This next photo was taken as we left the next day and the tide was out. Taken from a similar spot as the first pic.

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Boat Harbour Beach
Another one not in Camp 6. Free. Good clean toilets. Water (recommended to boil). Grassy site for about 10 vans. A local couple came around to welcome us and give us an info leaflet. Sisters Beach is now closed for camping and this is the closest spot to there. Beautiful clean beach. Kiosk open during the day.

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Today, Jose is off to rodeo in Ulverstone (not Galveston!) and we’ll catch up again tonight to head towards Queenstown and Strahan. She’s looking the part, don’t you think?

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