Day 7 – Tackling the Western Explorer Road in a 2WD

The Western Explorer road or “The Road to Nowhere” as it is sometimes known is a 120km mostly white-dirt road that runs between Marrawah and Corinna. As with most of these out of the way spots in Tassie there is a fair bit of conflicting information about the road quality and the ability to drive certain cars on it (in our case a massive 2WD van) but let me reassure you that at low speeds it is easily manageable in a normal car but it will take a very long time (in our case close to 3 hours).

We left Marrawah for the 2nd time early in the morning, after shooing a blue wren out of the cabin, and began our drive south backtracking along part of yesterday’s route before turning right rather than continuing on to the Tarkine Drive. The day was cloudy, drizzling, but not too cold and the dreary weather really did just add atmosphere.

The road was incredible. It took us through a huge number of different environments, over rivers, and up mountains. The views along the way were simply breathtaking and there was no one for miles. We felt truly isolated and truly alone on the winding white road. Because the surface quality wasn’t great (think big rocks, big potholes, and an intermittent slipping) we took it very easy (50km/h) but honestly you would be wasting the beauty of the route if you did it any faster.

All too soon we found ourselves descending into the Corrina rainforest. We’d hoped to buy lunch at the Wilderness Lodge but the kitchen wasn’t going to open for another month, oh the joys of the Tasmanian off season. Instead we had some van snacks and went for a short walk in the rainforest before fronting up the $34 fee to cross the Pieman River on the Fatman Barge ($28 for a car). We were disappointed again when the barge operator turned out to be a well dressed 40yo rather than the old mate in a hat that we’d both expected.

We started to get pretty hangry and decided to have lunch in, of all places Zeehan. Matt had been spending a bit of time working in Zeehan earlier in the year but wasn’t able to provide any advice on where to eat. As a first time visitor I didn’t feel very confident about the prospects with slowly rotting houses lining the roads and police trying to set up tyre spikes in the main drag (no really!). We ended up at the Heemskirk Motor Hotel which from a decor perspective was very grim but the food turned out to be really nice, especially the stuffed potato skins.

Before the final push into Strahan we visited the Zeehan spray tunnel and walked through without the hard hat and torch advised by the entry sign. Matt did a bit of bush bashing around the site and found a mine shaft without a safety barrier entertainingly about 30m around from the one that was completely fenced in. We stayed well back.

We decided to spend the night at one of the free camps around Macquarie Heads. The first few we tried were either full or really damp so we ended up at “Scenic Site Water Views” on WikiCamps which is advertised as 4WD only. It took some maneuvering but we managed to get the van in and then set ourselves up. I used the ladder to get down the the pebbly beach and had a little wander around there until I managed to find a freshly killed cat which freaked me out so much I made Matt lock the van up. The views were truly divine.

Campground Review

Scenic Site Water Views was a lovely little free camp spot on the edge of Macquarie Harbour. Someone has obviously been making personal improvements to the site by adding a homemade table and a ladder down to the water. The only downside was a dead cat 7/10.

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