Well it was a quick trip so to speak with only two weeks available. The missus and kids were lucky enough to be down for nearly three weeks! During that time it was mainly been catching up with friends and family that we haven’t seen for quite a few years.
However we have managed to slip away on a couple of occasions!
On Monday just gone we bade goodbye to my mother and headed up the east coast. The kids haven’t been through here before, and there are still a few areas that the missus and I haven’t seen yet either. So it seemed a good destination.
The original plan was to move everyday and set up camp in different areas. However with the weather being typically Tasmanian we decided to find a decent base camp and to explore from there.
With that sorted it was time to relax and enjoy the scenery. And that we did. The east coast is the exact opposite to the west coast – where the west is wild; the east is quite sedate and beautiful.
We worked our way from Forcett through Sorell and up to Orford where we stopped to let the kids have a play and a walk on the beach.
On from there it was up through Swansea, the Freycinet Peninsula and Bicheno stopping at Scamander where we had a late lunch.
With a short run into St Helens for some supplies we turned down towards the Bay of Fires and started checking different camp sites.
We ended up setting up at Cosy Corner Campground No 1 (or signposted as South). A few metres of the beach and just behind a sand dune it was close enough to be great and protected enough that the gale force winds that were forecasted (and came) weren’t able to annoy us that much.
The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent setting up, cooking dinner, wandering around the beach and generally relaxing.
We also got to catch up with Rob Pepper and his family and organised the following day’s activities.
All in all a very nice day, but one that was frustrating a little bit – basically because every town/place that I mentioned above I could have quite easily spent a day or two in each location. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time……
Tuesday came and we slept in a little. Thankfully we had already organised a late start so that wasn’t a concern. Rob and his family came over and joined us in their nice D3 (and fella’s it didn’t break down!).
We continued along the Bay of Fires through to The Gardens for a look at the coast line. From there we cut inland on an old Forestry track towards Ansons River and then on to Ansons Bay.
Following the off-road Tasmania book from Chris Boden (what a great book) we took a nice little track from Ansons Bay up to Eddystone Point. It was listed as medium and from what I saw it was a pretty damn accurate description.
A bit more pin-striping on the Prado and quite a few water crossings/mud holes due to the recent wet weather saw it challenging enough to keep your mind on the job.
Rob got a little stuck in a mud hole that we managed to work our way through with a quick snatch and the Maxtracks thrown down. What a handy piece of kit – however I do tend to agree with Rob that they are better using 4 than only using 2.
Coming out at Eddystone Point with a couple of muddy vehicles we stopped and had some lunch right on the rocks.
After lunch we headed off towards Mt William National Park. I stopped to have a look at the prices for admission to the area, and to say that it shocked me was an understatement. Here I am camping in one of the most scenic beautiful places in the state for free – and here they are not even ½ hour away trying to charge that amount. My comments were basically that they could go screw themselves!
Anyway we went out to Great Musselroe Bay and had a good look around and let the kids have a play in the water. They were told only to let their feet get wet! Yeah right – 2 soaked to the bones kids later and the missus was in need of a rum! 🙂
After that we bade goodbye to Rob and his family who are continuing on with their holiday around that state and headed on to Gladstone. Grabbing a couple of drinks we made our way back through St Helens to our camp, stopping at the obligatory tourist areas for some great scenic photos.
The rest of the day was again spent at the beach relaxing and cooking dinner (Lamb casserole).
Wednesday and we decided that we weren’t going anywhere. Today was a day at camp and a lazy day it was – and god damn it was nice!
The kids spent nearly the whole day on the beach, I had a swim and the missus got sunburnt 🙂
Along the way I got a few other things sorted on the trailer – mainly little items like remembering how the shower/toilet tent went up, giving the Coleman HWOD a run etc.
All in all a very boring day and just the day we needed.
Thursday and the dreaded day began! Dreaded why? Because we had to go back to civilisation and we didn’t want to!
With the trailer packed up, kids in the car and on the road we were in St Helens just after 1000h. We continued on up the Tasman Hwy before I got bored of bitumen around about Weldborough.
I saw a sign stating Mt Paris Dam and it sounded familiar, so of on a dirt track I go. Arriving at the Dam I remembered why it was familiar and I dived into the Prado and grabbed Chris Bodens book out (the Off-road Tassie one).
Listed in there was the Dam plus a couple of other tracks in the area. Well temptation was too much so I started heading down towards Cascade Dam on a track called ‘Carnac ROAD’. Road my ass!
About a km into this so called road I ended up in low range. Keep in mind that I’m towing by the way. It started getting harder and harder the further I went. It was mainly rocky – all about wheel placement basically, but the edges of the track were really wet and boggy due to all of the rain.
The book did say that it was a medium track – but this was a little harder. I was wishing I was in the Landy about then, but to the Prado’s credit it kept going all the way without stopping.
Anyway I got to a river crossing and there was no exit. Nothing at all. I went for a wander and be stuffed if I could find it.
Left with no other choice I had to reverse the trailer back up this track about 500m before I could do a 12 point turn to face the right direction.
The purler of this story – as I got back onto the main road I found the other side of the track – with a great big ‘road closed’ sign on it……
Getting back onto the Tasman Highway at Branxholm we continued on to Scottsdale where we grabbed some lunch. The highway is a nice twisty climb out of Scottsdale headed towards Launceston. At the top I stopped and grabbed some photos of the view.
The rest of the trip was bloody boring – stopping at Launceston for some Christmas presents and then on to Meander to the in-laws for the night. There is nothing worse than a dual lane highway when you’ve spent the last three days on some of the best roads in the state.
Well Christmas was great catching up with family and generally sitting back relaxing. But I kept looking at the mountain and getting itchy feet.
Thankfully Boxing Day came around quick enough so I got over to Mole Creek to catch up with Danny and Ian (Overlander forum). Although I was 20 minutes late by the time I got there…….
The plan for the day was to take it nice and easy and generally have a look around somewhere I haven’t spent much time at before.
We headed off and climbed slowly up the Devils Gullet lookout. The lookout is a short walk from the track and is situated approximately 200m above the valley – with a wire mesh cage you can see that drop below you too!
The weather was certainly starting to cool down and the wind chill factor wasn’t much better (actually it snowed at the Lakes and Mt Wellington that night!).
From Devils Gullet we continued around to Lake Mackenzie to take a quick look, where I took the opportunity to throw a line in. Unfortunately no luck but it was worth a go.
Climbing back down from the mountain (approx 1100m) we turned left and headed along the western flank of Lake Rowallan following the Mersey River.
From here we followed the ‘Borradaile Plains’ track in Chris Boden’s ‘Off-road Tasmania’ book.
Upon turning on to Bare Hill Rd we came across a little black (or baby tiger) snake – actually I nearly hit the bloody thing as it was right on the right-hand wheel track. Obligatory photos were taken with the cautious footsteps happening as everyone got closer and closer (idiot here was in thongs!).
Continuing up the hill we turned onto the track itself and started seeing a lot of signs of the recent rain. Numerous small bog holes were traversed which were quite soft in a couple of areas.
At the end of the first part of the track there was a lot of foliage around that gave the paintwork a good going over. I wouldn’t suggest doing this track if you’re concerned at scratches.
The other factor that came into the climb down to Borradaile Plains Rd was the damage to the track caused by the rain. The water winds it’s way down the hill right on the track, so it gave the Prado a good articulation test (it bottomed out a few times).
Not long after the quarry we turned left down another little track towards the Lemonthyme Power Station (instead of following the road down). Both Ian and I had trouble with sticks caught under our vehicles, the one under Ian’s taking him nearly 20 minutes to clear out – it was wedged that good.
Right at the end of the track there was signs stating that chainsaws were in operation etc etc. Being that it was Boxing Day and not a damn thing could be heard it was quite obvious that they were too lazy to pull the signs down!
Either way we stopped at the power station and had a bit of lunch. From there we decided to go onto the ‘Lorinna Track’ also in Chris Boden’s book. Can you tell I like his book!
The track is nice and slow as it winds it’s way along the river to Lake Cethana. We were coming across a lot of nice little waterfalls in the valley of the hills so we stopped and got a few photos where we could.
The old cemetery has been cleaned up of late (which is good to see) however there was evidence of past neglect (shame to see). Climbing out of Lorinna we came across a bloody locked gate.
Upon further study when I got home it seems that there is some sort of argument between the council and the residents. Without going into it, I can say truthfully that I was pretty pissed at the time, and it was a pain in the ass backtracking.
Reflecting on it later I was concerned that Lorinna is basically a death trap now. There is one way in and one way out, and a simple fire anywhere along that track would cut them off as there’s no other way out of the valley!
Either way we turned around and made our way back to the Lemonthyme Power Station. From there it was a climb out on the bitumen road to Olivers Rd where we turned right and down to the lookout.
We bade goodbye to Ian who was heading the other direction, and Danny and I continued down and turned into Gads Hill Rd. This is a nice little gravel road down into the valley at Liena tracking down along the Mersey River.
Climbing out of Liena it’s on past the King Solomon Caves and through to Mole Creek, where I said goodbye to Danny. From Mole Creek I took the back roads through Caveside and Western Creek to Meander where the trip ended.
Overall a very enjoying day that was wrecked by bloody track closures! The Prado went well, although the bulbar and the gas tank cover are now both dented.
The new Navman I received for Christmas (MY75T) with the Hema 4WD maps loaded onto it did ok. It recognised a fair few of the tracks that we went on which actually surprised me a lot. I wasn’t expecting it to recognise many at all.
I will see how it goes through the VIC High Country next week.