Mr 4X4 and a Most Unexpected Storm

Mr 4X4 and a Most Unexpected Storm

We had a shocking sleep in Fink Gorge, it was muggy and hot which turns one of us into a star fish resulting in the other being squashed against a window all night. Trying to make the most of the cooler start in the morning we fired up Egg early and attempted to put a dint in the track before it warmed up too much. By 9am it was 35 degrees, by 11am it was easily pushing 40 and rather than setting up at our planned campsite for the night we decided to continue our drive and enjoy the air-conditioned comfort the inside of the van offered us. I’m a bit ashamed to admit we literally drove all day until 130km later in the afternoon we pulled up at the Henbury Meteorite Craters. If you think 130km in a day seems like the slowest drive ever please remember we were on a 4WD track for half of that where I think we averaged 10km/h and then spent the rest of the day on a sandy, corrugated, nightmare of a road where the speedo crept over 40km/h maybe once. I hope I’m painting an accurate picture of how grim it was. Needless to say, until the sun dipped over the horizon we hid under a picnic shelter and did a fantastic job of sweating everywhere and trying not to move.

If we slept poorly in the Fink it had nothing on Henbury, with the back of the van open to the non-existent breeze the inside didn’t get cooler than 32 degrees. It was less than ideal. Both completely shattered from two nights with next to no kip we decided to drive straight to Rainbow Valley to sit back and do nothing for the better part of the day. We were that exhausted we even stopped and had a coffee at a less than salubrious roadhouse. Yummy. It all wasn’t doom and gloom though because the dramatic landscape of Rainbow Valley woke us both back up with multicoloured spires of sandstone arching across the horizon. We claimed our spot, set up a bit of a camp under a picnic shelter and went for a walk through the dunes and amongst the stone formations. Back at camp we completed our goal of doing nothing, I lay around in my hammock, Matt sat in his chair reading and occasionally ran off to catch a lizard or two. The area was very quiet with maybe two or three cars visiting during the entire afternoon. Around 4pm, just as dramatic dark clouds were rolling in, 3 groups rocked up in flash 4WDs. Matt and I watched on in amusement as they set up 2 cameras (one proper TV camera and one expensive DSLR) and busted out a drone. Matt loudly said to me “do you think they’re shooting an episode of Neighbours out here?” which the guys seemed to find very amusing. One came over and explained they were filming a 4WD show.

We spent the entire afternoon watching the team run around getting shots of a bloke in a fancy hat and a button-down shirt while making snide comments. As the clouds rolled in further the light clearly got too bad to shoot so they all came back into camp. I’d started on dinner and noticed some rain on the horizon so also brought all our belongings in undercover. To our surprise instead of driving back out to Alice Springs the guys started setting up swags and cooking dinner on the fire, that’s when it started to rain properly. Because of the rain they all came under the shelter and asked if they could sit with us for dinner, we were more than happy to shuffle over and had a great chat with them all. Turns out the show they were filming for has been running for 14 seasons on channel 10 (whoops) that the main guy Pat Callinan is known as Mr. 4X4 and is a bit of a four-wheel-driving celebrity (also whoops). They were a great bunch and didn’t mind in the slightest we didn’t have a clue who they were. Conversation flowed easily about their plans, our plans, whether they’d been to Tassie, things about our van and their cars, camping set up, all while watching a thunderstorm roll over the desert and pouring rain wash the dust off Egg. What a great night.

The rain continued into the evening and brought the temperature back into the low teens so needless to say we slept like logs. We said goodbye to Pat and his crew, promised to start watching his show (at the time of writing this we’ve seen 2 episodes and they’re great) then got back on the road heading North East.

Campsite Reviews

Henbury Meteorite Craters – Hot, dry, minimal shade and not particularly exciting but it had picnic areas and a nice loo. The walk around the craters would have been amazing if we hadn’t seen the Tnorala site the day before but because they were so much smaller it was a bit underwhelming. Do Henbury first and it’ll be much more excting – $4pp/pn – 6/10.

Rainbow Valley – Even without the excitement of a film crew this was a beautiful spot and had possibly the nicest smelling drop toilet in the NT. $4pp/pn – 8/10.

Day 6 – The takayna/Tarkine Drive

Day 6 – The takayna/Tarkine Drive

Takayna/The Tarkine is such a strange part of Tasmania, it feels totally wild and unspoiled but in reality it is littered with the impact from industry such as logging, mining and fishing. Made up of over 1 million acres of land it is the location of the largest temperate rainforest in Australia. It is a contradiction where you don’t know if you’re going to come around a corner and see a Tasmanian Tiger or a bulldozer. Today we did the Tarkine Drive.

Lose yourself in Tasmania's Tarkine rainforest - InDaily

The road is roughly 130km so we left our spot at Marrawah early driving south into some horrendous weather, perfect for the West Coast of Tasmania. I’ve always felt out of sorts in the West of Tasmania, the wind, isolation, and lack of people makes me nervous. It’s a hostile environment where you are reminded how insignificant you are in nature, and how quickly you would be forgotten if you left. Some parts of the coast recieve 3500mm of rainfall each year making it one of the wettest places in Tasmania. If you plan to visit, pack your umbrella.

Our first stop of the trip was West Point Reserve, a significant aboriginal site and known for its massive surf and rock formations. We then drove into Bluff Hill Point where we had a drink, checked out the asbestos and bee riddled lighthouse, and watched the weather roll in (from inside the van). After driving over the extraordinary narrow bridge that crosses the Arthur River, and the town of the same name we came to the Edge of the World, next stop Argentina.

The wind was blowing an absolute gale which forced us back into the van quick smart and down to Couta Rocks but we were uninspired which encouraged us to drive back inland to the Sumac Lookout, a viewing point across the Arthur River. The vista was absolutely magical, standing in lush rainforest and looking across mist covered hills and down into the valley where the river sat. We swung by the Julius River Campsite where we’d initially planned to stay the night on our way back towards the Western Explorer but honestly it was that wet the thought of sleeping there was pretty unappealing.

As luck would have it the weather eased off just enough for us to hike up to the lookout at the Dempster Plains and across the button grass that appeared to go for miles. We’re both very fond of the button grass landscape which Tasmania has 1,000,000 hectares of (see our wedding photo in “About Us” and you’ll notice the button grass tussocks). The plains were created by Aboriginal people using controlled burning to promote new growth and even expand the plain, this provided them with improved hunting and made travel easier.

We got back in the van and found a spot for lunch next to Rapid River. Matt cooked up some noodles under the dripping ferns while I looked around for interesting rocks and took photos of the stunning scenery. With full stomachs we continued on stopping briefly to check out the sinkhole and to take a small walk around the disappointing Milkshake Hills which was not only ruined by fire but judging by the landscape also forestry.

Our final stop for the day was the one I was most excited about, Trowutta Arch. I think I may have seen photos of this place on another travellers Instagram and the second I saw the magical sinkhole I had to go. We were lucky again that the rain held off for the 30 minute walk down into the cave. The pool at the bottom was covered in aquatic plants to the point where it nearly looked solid and we were dwarfed by the enormity of the arch. Looking back up was a window of ancient tree ferns. By far the highlight of the drive.

The rest of the afternoon turned into a bit of a shit show as we realised that we’d run out of water so we had an unplanned trip back up to Smithton where we filled up the tank properly and then, nearing dark, we hightailed it back to Marrawah. It wasn’t all bad in the end, the pub that we’d so wanted to visit was open and I ate an amazing local steak while Matt tucked into a parmi (while looking enviously at my steak). We listened to one of the locals yarn about how Marrawah was “the most Tasmanian place in Tasmania” and how cats were just “claws and bad attitudes”. Good to know.

On a more serious note the Tarkine is constantly under threat from logging and mining leases. It is an area of huge importance not only ecologically but also culturally for Tasmanian Aborigines. The destruction already caused is nothing short of criminal. If you would like to support protection of this area please check out the Bob Brown Foundation for more information and ways you can help #savethetarkine.

Day 5 – Climbing the Knob

Day 5 – Climbing the Knob

We decided that it had probably been long enough since our trek down to Wineglass Bay that the excuse of not being able to do any long walks due to having sore legs had probably run its course. So we laced up our boots and headed off to conquer the mighty summit of Archer’s Knob.

Our luck with the weather continued and we set out into a sunny still day. We began our walk along the sandy track towards the paperbark swamp and the bird hide. The swamp was amazing but the hide was disappointing, I’m certain there are heaps of interesting birds there normally however all we saw was a couple of ducks. Oh well. The climb up the 114m knob was not particularly strenuous and the views were absolutely incredible. We were even greeted by a friendly roo at the top.

On the way back to our campsite we decided to go across Springlawn rather than completely back tracking. This was not a clever plan, the track was poorly marked, we lost it within minutes and ended up sloshing our way over the soggy grass and getting swooped by plovers. There were kangaroo bones scattered everywhere which gave the entire thing a very eerie feel. After some bush bashing we managed to refind the track and following that successfully back to the van.

Matt was keen to reach Marrawah for the night so we hit the road and hightailed it to Turners Beach where we briefly stopped to have a coffee and some cake. I found it weird being so close to Burnie and just burning through without seeing Matt’s parents but they were both busy and we needed to speed through.

I had been really keen to stay in Stanley for the night tonight so as a compromise we stopped in for lunch. It is one of my favourite towns in Tasmania and I just love the historical houses, The Nut and the beaches. We had lunch at Hursey Seafoods as there was literally nothing else open. I had fresh crumbed scallops and Matt had salmon. Yum.

We briefly stopped in ‘mifton (Smithton) to fill up our water tank, empty the grey water and the loo and then continued West until we reached the coastal town of Marrawah. On a national and international stage Marrawah is known for its outstanding surf but locally it is more renowned for a murder that occured in the pub in 2013 that hasn’t been solved and it is generally believed that whomever did it is still a part of the community. We were hoping to visit the pub but it was closed so we went for a walk on the beach and parked up in the car park/campground.

Campground Review

The Marrawah free camping area is effectively a flat bit of carpark near the beach. I think you were able to park on the grass previously but that was shut when we were there. It’s a nice spot, the toilets down the hill are great and there is a cold shower if you are feeling brave 7/10.