Egg in the Snow

Egg in the Snow

It has been a long time coming but Matt finally got his wish to muck around in the Delica in the snow. With a promising forecast we headed off to the closest most accessible snow at Mt Field NP (kunanyi is closer but the road always ends up closed way before the snow).

On our way up the road towards Lake Dobson it really did look like we weren’t going to get anything but rain and then suddenly around a corner it turned into…

We kept heading up the mountain and reached Lake Dobson where we parked and met a few other adventurous people. The snow was absolutely incredible and by far the best I’ve ever seen in Tasmania, it was a dry white power and bizarrely not especially cold. We mucked around, went on a walk, built a snowman and then attempted to head off. Unfortunately this is where things started to get a bit complicated as the entry to the car park was getting clogged with traffic, mostly AWDs that really shouldn’t have been there. On our way out of the car park we had to move 3 people and dig out one of them. In the process of stopping we also got “stuck”, I say stuck in inverted commas because had we not needed to stop we wouldn’t have become stuck and also it took me 2 minutes to dig us out which is very different to the 3 hours in a clay bog hole we had last weekend.

Anyway, we continued to make our way down the mountain freeing a few more people and advising others to turn around as we went. Once we were out of the snowline it was much more easy going and were next to the fire in the National Park Hotel in time for lunch.

I felt a bit frustrated when we were on social media a couple of hours later and the local news pages had started reporting on the story of people getting stuck. The articles were all directed towards anyone going up into the snow and needing to be rescued was an idiot rather than; someone should have been policing the road and making sure only high clearance 4WDs were going up there, that the awesome 4WDers were spending a good portion of their day rescuing people without the correct gear and, that everyone got home safe and sound. I really hope there isn’t any kind of generalised consequence eg. shutting the access road, because some people didn’t think their actions through.

Enough of that rant. On the way home we stopped at the raspberry farm and got some syrups for our soda water. We were both really happy with how The Egg performed in the snow, as it seems with most 4WD obstacles it managed it was ease and we can tick off another terrain we have experience in. Matt is already working out the itinerary for the next snow day.

Day 9 – Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Day 9 – Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

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.

Campsite Review

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.

Day 2 – Freycinet to Bay of Fires

Day 2 – Freycinet to Bay of Fires

There are few things that are good in this pandemic but I’m happy to say that Matt and I found a positive this morning when we got the entirety of Wineglass Bay to ourselves for an hour. Absolute bliss, and particularly special as it was Matt’s first visit. Since Tasmania has become a hot spot for tourism it has become harder and harder for locals to find a quiet slice of the island that we are used to. For us to get the beach to ourselves we needed to have an early start, in a pandemic, in winter.

Our day started in the usual way, instant coffee with a marshmallow, beans, eggs, and packing up the van. As I mentioned Matt had never been to Wineglass Bay which is just so strange to me as not only is it one of the most stunning spots in Tasmania it regularly appears on lists of the best beaches in the world. The hike starts in the car park at the end of the national park road. There are quite a few options from here, you can hike up Mount Amos for a high and less populated view of Wineglass Bay (3.6km 3 hours return), the lookout (2.6km 1-1.5 hours return), or what we did which was the lookout and the beach (6km 2.5-3.5 hours return). Our walk includes 1000 steps which are a mix of uneven rocks and nicely made and groomed stairs. It is a tough hike but absolutely worth it.

We stopped at the lookout and caught up with one of our fellow campers who had the same idea as us and got out early to enjoy the view on her own. There was a very cute scrub wren hopping about and we took some time to take in the vista before starting the nightmare stairs. Entertainly about half way down we came upon a guy who was running back up who turned out to be one of Matt’s friends from high school, typical Tasmanian occurrence.

Down on the beach we sat on some rocks and ate the gingerbread men we bought in Orford. I used this as an opportunity to spruke the Jetboil I want to take on our trip, but Matt argued that a thermos would work just as well and be easier…I do see his point. After an hour or so of exploring the pure white sand and watching the turquoise surf we were joined by some more hikers and decided that was our cue to leave and make our way back up the 1000 stairs.

On our way out of the national park we turned right and went to have a look at the Cape Tourville lighthouse. Unlike a lot of the lighthouses in Tasmania this one was not very historically interesting as it was built in the 1970s to provide guidance to the ships bringing wood chips up from the mill in Triabunna. The walk around it was just fantastic with views back into Wineglass Bay and across the water.

I had a surprise lunch arranged for Matt in Bicheno so I convinced him to pop into town and pull up in front of a nondescript house where I picked up a beautiful box of local goodies put together by Pop-Up Picnics Bicheno. We try and do a date night for each other on alternative weeks and this one was mine for him. We sat on a beach and ate our way through a feast of cheese, meats, fruit, dips, and sweets.

I’d originally planned to take the box up to the Iron House Brewery and eat it there but we were both too hungry to wait and ended up going to Iron House post lunch. I’m not a huge fan of their beers but gave them the benefit of the doubt and had the tasting paddle. Unfortunately the only one I liked was the Milk Stout, Matt wasn’t particularly keen on any of them. It’s a bit weird because we both normally like most beers. Oh well.

The final stop before finding our site for the night was the cheerful seaside town of St Helens (or Sn’Ellens) as the locals call it. We checked out the recently opened mountain bike trails, making a mental note that we would need to come back and enjoy it in person soon and visited the Peron Sand Dunes.

After an absolutely amazing day we topped it off by finding a perfect site at the free camping are in Cosy Corner South. Sandwiched between the surf and the lagoon we settled down outside the van and watched the sun set and the birds bounce about.

Campground Review

Cosy Corner is one of the most popular free campsites in Tasmania and it is very clear why. The sites are either sheltered or right on the beach with stunning views. They are beautifully separated to the point where you could be alone. There aren’t many facilities but you wouldn’t want there to be 9/10.

Back on the Cold Island

Back on the Cold Island

It’s been a lot of work catching up but we’re nearly there. I can’t believe it’s been 12 months since we bought Egg and how much the world has changed since. I’m writing this from the couch in my cosy house in Glenorchy Tasmania where we are hiding out from COVID-19 and doing our best to save up for our trip.

In October 2019 Matt and I visited Tassie to have a look at the houses we’d been building and I decided to do a couple of speedy job interviews. I’d had enough of Brisbane and two good opportunities presented themselves in the same time frame. Of course fate dropped one of the jobs in my lap and the lure of an increased household income of $30,000 tempted Matt away from his Brisbane life. Finally we were moving back home to Tasmania!

Since getting back we haven’t done very much to be honest. Matt lost his job thanks to the Rona and then Tasmania shut down until last week when we were finally allowed to travel around our beautiful state again. Yas! I knew that the first place I wanted to visit was either Hartz or Mt Field and we ended up deciding that Mt Field would be a better option as it was also in the same direction as the best potato cakes in the world. So we forked out the $123 for a two year Parks Pass (https://parks.tas.gov.au/explore-our-parks/know-before-you-go/entry-fees) and jumped in the car.

Because Tasmania is so small it only took us 27 minutes to reach The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery which turned out to be located in the notorious Willow Court Asylum, a place that I managed to successfully avoid in the 20 years I previously inhabited Hobart. Oh boy if you are even remotely inclined to spook I wouldn’t recommend this place. Matt and I spent an hour walking around it and then exploring the numerous rusting cars and a creepy closed antique shop . It really gave me the prickles, particularly the women’s building for some reason. If you like haunted buildings definitely check it out.

After working up an appetite by scaring myself silly we wandered over to the Bronte Building where the Agrarian Kitchen were running their takeaway set up, complete with the fire pits that should have been used at the cancelled Dark MoFo Festival. I’m a big foodie and I’d been hearing a lot of good things about the Sourdough Potato Cakes so we grabbed a serving of those ($12) a couple of hot drinks, and a plum jam roll ($8) to finish off. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves but I don’t think it is possible for a better potato cake to exist.

We got back in the car and kept heading west towards Mt Field National Park. We were both very keen for some snow and the forecast was looking good. On the road up to Lake Dobson I was a little bit concerned about how the car would handle the incredibly steep road as a front wheel drive with icy gravel but it went ok. As we climbed the temperature plummeted from 8 degrees to 0 by the time we got to the lake. It was no surprise that the lake was nearly frozen over, it was cold but unbelievably beautiful.

We were quite well prepared for the weather as it was (lightly snowing) but we didn’t have a space blanket, enough food or wet weather pants so we decided that the risk of becoming an idiot needing to be helicoptered off a mountain was too high to keep going.

On the way back down the hill we pulled over at two spots the first was just down the road from the lake. I’ve forgot the exact name but it was something like Patchwork Walk or Marshy Meander. It was beautiful whatever it was called with the snow falling around us in flurries coating the incredible variation of flora with icy drops that shone in the light.

The second walk we did was to Lady Barron Falls, which was a comparatively warm 6 degree stroll through the rainforest. I enjoyed stopping every couple of minutes to take a photo of the huge variety of fungi lining the track. It was quite muddy but I managed in my runners without too much grief. The tiered waterfall was flowing well and the viewing platform provided the perfect makeshift tripod for my camera. I took some nice photos and we made our way back to the car and out towards civilisation.

I have got to say with the exception of our van now being stuck 2000km away in Brisbane. It’s great to be home.