Feature Story

An Aussie Roadtrip Adventure - PT VIII

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Day 8 – Kingston Beach – Strachan

I open my eyes. Warm, bright sunshine filters through the window. Well, that's a better start than yesterday. I swing out of my warm and cosy bed, open the door of the motel, look right....glorious sunshine shining onto a serene beach. I look left.....snow covered mountain peaking from a shroud of fluffy, white clouds. Contrast is an understatement!

Breakfast eaten, car packed we decide to head to Mt Wellington to check out the view and play in the snow. We wind up through the foothills and stop at a crowded lookout to take in a view of Hobart and the Derwent River. Alli grabs a handful of snow, and the first of the days snow fights has began. Once we are thoroughly cold, we pile into the car and continue up the mountain. Before much longer we come across boom gate and a sign announcing that the road to the summit is closed. We pull over and start the second snow fight of the day. After about half an hour Alli starts to cry, her hands are cold. We pile into the car, putting snow everywhere, much to Dad's disgust, head down the mountain and towards the Cadbury Chocolate factory. When we arrive at chocolate heaven, another sign announces that the factory is closed for the day. The news leaves this little chocoholic devastated.

Now what to do today? We consult the map and decide to push West to Strahan. The drive will take most of the day. The countryside is green, rolling mountains with snowy peaks in the distance. We follow the Dewent River and slowly wind our way up into the central highlands area. The snow gets deeper as we go. By the time we reach Derwent Bridge it is several inches thick. We stop at roadside rest area, wipe the snow off a few rocks and have a picnic lunch. The weather is surprisingly mild up here, sun reflecting of snow and very little wind. During lunch Alli up ends a container of yogurt into her lap, that's 3 pairs of snowy, dirty, or yogurt-ed pants in less than 24 hours. I will need to find a Laundromat soon.

We continue on through the snowy peaks, stopping to take in the Tullelah Hydro-Electric Plant. From here we slowly get lower. Winding down into the bare, Luna landscape that surrounds Queenstown. Formerly the world's richest mining town, it is now a smallish village surrounded by denuded and scarred mountains.

Strahan is only a 40 minute drive further on. We do a quick lap around the town before heading out to Macquarie Heads campsite. We wind through the state forest and eventual find the caretaker, a chatty old guy, who gives us his opinion on several topics, from politics to the weather, before informing us that it costs $6 to camp and advising the best places to park. We pull into a lush campsite between the tree ferns and set up camp for the night. Before camp is erected a light drizzle sets in. We hurry to finish putting up our tents, cook a rushed dinner on a smoky fire and start contemplating bed. Alli asks for bed, I wander to the tent to tuck her in, there is water everywhere. The tent has leaked, and in a major fashion. I salvage what dry bedding I can and we shift into my parent's tent. Four people in a 2 man tent, it's going to be cosy.

Strange noises start coming from the surrounding forest. I shine the torch about but can't see anything. From the squeals and chattering sounds I surmise that it is a Tassie Devil. It is certainly not like anything I have ever encountered on the mainland. We all retire to the dry warmth of the one non-leaky tent and attempt to sleep, rain falling on the roof. I hear noises outside, it is still dark and raining, I peak out of the tent to investigate. A small, dark and furry creature is right beside the tent. I can't make out what it is, but it looks like a small roo, down on all fours. Then I spot movement beside the car, it's another of the weird southern critters. As my eyes adjust I see the campground has several more, grazing on the lush grass. Back in bed, I ponder what they might be, I settle on Pademelons, a small native wallaby, then mind at rest, drift back to sleep.

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