Sunday, October 10, 2010
Tasmania Part 6: in which the scenery continues to be awesome and we go back in time
Not having anything planned allowed us the luxury of a sleep in. Once up and about we thought we’d go to Queenstown.
The drive itself is more of the spectacular variety that is common place in Tasmania. There’s one section that is rather eerie. It’s a button grass plain with forests of white trees. They have no leaves, but as the majority of trees here are evergreens, and it’s spring anyway, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s a relatively windy area, but most of the other trees have kept their foliage, so I couldn’t figure these ones out. Fire is another hazard that could do this to trees, but fire isn’t that selective and the trees didn’t look blackened. I can only assume that the activity at the nearby mines has somehow affected the soil that these trees grow in, the way it’s also affected the rivers.
We drove through Queenstown and were surprised that it seemed to be a good deal larger than the nearby Zeehan and appeared to be much more lively. We kept going through and took a high road to Lake Burbury. We stopped off at a couple of lookout points on the way up to the lake for photo opportunities. They were all impressive, but the best one was at a place called Mt Huxley. We never actually found Lake Burbury itself, but Crotty Dam was beautiful and I think it utilises Lake Burbury. Following the road we found ourselves on a narrow unsealed road that led into the Franklin River National Park. This is great territory, God’s own country.
On the way back to Queenstown I reflected that we hadn’t seen a lot of roadkill. You may not get much traffic on Tasmania’s roads, but you do get roadkill. It’s mostly possums, although we have seen one kangaroo, it may have been a wallaby, it was a pretty small roo. The dead wildlife attracts a wild example; a big crowlike bird called a currawong, they’re largely indistinguishable from crows, except for one thing; the eyes. Crows have glittering black eyes, currawongs have shining silver eyes.
Queenstown is best known on the mainland for one thing. The football ground. Due to mine activity Queenstown at one point had not a blade of grass in the place. It was a blasted hell in a heavenly landscape. It was described as a moonscape, and old pictures of the place really do give it an alien appearance. Despite this they still loved their footy, so they built a ground, completely comprised of gravel. It’s still there and it’s still like that. They still play football on it, which leads me to the conclusion that they breed bloody tough footballers down here. I can only imagine the pain that tackling someone to the ground on a gravel field could cause. The ground is a tourist attraction these days, I think if any grass did ever grow on it they’d kill it.
We had lunch at a cafe in Queenstown. There’s an unreal feel about the place. I didn’t pin it down until we were driving to a lookout above the town. It’s like it’s still in the 1950’s. Take away the modern cars and this is a 1950’s Australian town.
The lookout gives you a view of the entire town and some of the surrounding area. After many years the area around the mine is starting to come back and green up, that is except for the hills immediately surrounding the mine, they are still these featureless, bare mounds with that weird orange tint to them. It’s strange that something so ugly can exist amongst all of nature’s beauty.
We got back to the village in the mid afternoon. We didn’t have anything booked. We had tried to get on the Bonnet Island tour, but that had been cancelled due to it being the little penguins breeding time. Apparently they’re somewhat shy about being observed at it. I can’t think why. We were able to relax a bit and go up to the View 42 Bar for a cocktail and some late afternoon views over the harbour, we had dinner at the Fish Cafe, some of those beautiful fresh Tasmanian scallops. Yum.