One of the things I love most about travelling with Matt is how I can rely on him and he on me. If one of us is having an off day 99% of the time the other can pick up the slack so things work out. Well today we both had an off day and while the consequences weren’t disastrous it made for a bit of a messy last day on the road.
After breakfast and a quick side trip for me to take some photos of the morning mist sitting on the mountains around the lake we popped into Queenstown and had a coffee at the very cute Tracks Cafe. There were two things I wanted to do in/around town before we moved on. 1. Visit the town of East Pillinger via the Kellys Basin track which is another of Tasmania 60 great short walks and 2. Go to the museum and look at the rocks. We decided to go hiking first and check out the museum after lunch.
The drive out to the track head was a short 42km that nearly took an hour, we did not anticipate the road quality was as poor as it turned out to be or that to get to the start of the walk we’d need to navigate another “4WD only track” which was completely achievable in a massive 2WD van. I’m starting to think these 4WD track only signs are attempts to stop unprepared tourists getting stuck in the middle of nowhere rather than actually needing a 4WD to do them. Anyway, conspiracy theories aside we reached the start of the walk close to lunch on to find that is was in fact not a short walk, but instead a 4h return hike. Whoops. Completely unprepared in winter to hike 4h into a place with no phone signal instead we walked maybe 20 minutes along the track, turned around, and made some noodles for lunch in the car park. From what we did see it looks like an amazing walk and we’ll definitely come back and do it another time.
After lunch and driving back into town we checked out the museum. Entry was $5 a head (cash only) which was great value. The best part by far was looking at the mineral specimens but there were some very cool photos of the mines being constructed and the railways. I also picked up one of the original core samples from Iron Blow that some old mate found while he was walking around the Queenstown hills.
Our planned stop for the night was the Derwent Bridge Wilderness Hotel. As we drove into the highlands spots of snow began to appear on the road and we started to lose light. We reached Derwent Bridge with mounting excitement for a hot meal and a beer but found nothing but a closed building with a for sale sign out the front. I tried to call a mobile number on the door with no response. Hungry, cold and getting tired we decided to keep going and see if we could find somewhere to stay in one of the hydro towns. It was pretty creepy driving through fog, snow, and nearly complete darkness as town after empty town rolled by. At 7pm we’d driven through the entire highland lakes area and found ourselves outside a pub in Ouse.
We could not be more grateful to the lovely woman at the Lachlan Hotel that took pity on us, poured us some beers, cooked us a couple of awesome steaks (which were served on fried bread for some reason) and then sent us up the road to the Bethune Camping Area where we had a very peaceful sleep. A complete mess of a last day but still a lot of fun.
What a great holiday.
Bethune Camping Area – We arrived after dark and left before we’d even had breakfast so I’m not in a position to review this one. Nice large grassy area next to a river.