APT Royal Tasman Tour
October, 2006

Strahan to Smithton

10th October, 2006
11th October, 2006

Tuesday 10th October, 2006

Pademelon photograph?

Pademelon (small wallaby) at Cradle Mountain

Drop Cap hat a great day! It was overcast and misty (or cloudy) as we set off from Strahan but Tony promised that the weather would clear. (He is a dedicated reader of the weather pages) We drove through the mining towns of Zeehan and Renison Bell and through low cloud until we arrived at Cradle Mountain Visitors' Centre where John the driver organised morning tea and biscuits. We went for a couple of very short walks to lovely waterfalls and encountered two pademelons and a wombat grazing and scratching. It was great.

Cradle Mt. Chateau photograph

Verandah at Cradle Mountain Chateau

Drop Cap e then drove to our hotel, the Cradle Mountain Chateau, no less, where, as expected, the rooms were not ready. We were quite early in. The others had lunch but Mac and I sat on a sunny verandah and ate the lovely double Brie cheese and crackers left over from the train lunch box. Then we went to the Wilderness Gallery across the forecourt where we saw about half the collection of mind blowing photographs. It was superb, an inspiration to us aspiring photographers who occasionally get lucky with our point and clicks.

Drop Cap fter this we got our key and found our room. Another spiffy split-level, like at Strahan, with a spa in the bathroom! Down four steps to mini-bar, lounge, desk, plunger pot and pack of real coffee as well as instant. Very nice indeed, although I had been looking forward to the Pencil Pine Cabins of the Cradle Mountain Lodge, where the tour had originally stayed. They have rejigged the itinerary this trip and we are the dogs they are trying it out on.

Waldheim Chalet photograph

Waldheim Chalet near Dove Lake

Drop Cap hen our local bus and guide arrived. (Our coach is too big for the National Park trails.) The driver, nicknamed Dennis the Menace, was a loud, unreconstructed Aussie male chauvinist, about 74 (he said) but cheerful, and needing no microphones or megaphones to be heard. He took us first to Waldheim Chalet, built in the early 1900s by an Austrian immigrant and his English wife who lived in this remote and beautiful spot until their deaths in the 1930s. It was backed by more tulgy rainforest.

Cradle Mountain photograph

Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake

Drop Cap hen we bussed down to Dove Lake and there was Cradle Mountain, sharp and clear against the clear blue of the sky with the remains of yesterday's snow dotting the slopes. It was perfect. The lake, the mountain, the weather all came together in one gorgeous whole. It was really magic. We were so lucky! Apparently yesterday they had a foot of snow and the view was misted out all day. Down at sea level at Strahan it fell as rain.

Cradle Mountain photograph

Lovely Cradle Mountain

Drop Cap hen we got back to the hotel we had some coffee and Old Jamaica chocolate from Cadbury's then went for a nature stroll with Greg, who was a real character. He knew all the plants, lichens, mosses and trees by name, but didn't try to dazzle us with science. It was easy and fun, a good option, although I would quite like to go on his spotlighting tour tonight. It is by 4WD, not on foot, and has even been brought forward to 8 p.m. instead of 9:15. (We were given three options to choose from, our nature stroll, the spotlighting animal search, and a Tasmanian wine and cheese tasting)

Drop Cap nother buffet dinner to come, should be good, I am hungry this time.

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Wednesday 11th October, 2006

Drop Cap ut and away from Cradle Mountain Chateau with a slight amount of bad feeling owing to the Receptionist's attitude. We have been told all along to leave our keys in the room or in the door, so we had all done that, and she was bitching about needing to check on whether we had used the mini-bars. We had had mini-bars before! I don't believe in using them, the prices are so inflated.

Tulip farm photograph

Table Cape Tulip Farm

Drop Cap nyway, out we went, along the Murchison Highway to Burnie, where we had a comfort stop and chance of morning tea if needed. Then off again to Table Cape where we had a photo op of Table Cape Tulip Farm. The colours were amazingly vivid, although it seemed rather a pity that the flowers were stripped off and not used because the money is in the bulbs. Would you believe that they export tulip bulbs to Holland? That's up there with exporting rice to Japan!

The Nut photograph

"The Nut" Stanley

Drop Cap fter a few photos we went on, via Wynyard and Smithton to Stanley, home of the Nut. We went up the hill opposite the Nut, through an historic homestead to a terrific lookout view over the Nut and the beach.

The Nut photograph

Nuts at the Nut

Stanley Village photograph

Main Street, Stanley

Drop Cap hen we dropped half a dozen people who wanted to do the chairlift up to the top (been there, done that, don't want to do it ever again) then proceeded to the main street of Stanley to find lunch. We found it in a nice little coffee shop called "The Stranded Whale" complete with photos of whales stranded on local beaches. Mac had pancakes, I had bacon, tomato, onion and cheese melt, very good and not too filling, being only one slice and no salad garnish.

Windfarm photograph

Woolnorth Wind Farm

Drop Cap ack on the coach and off again to the very north west tip of the island to Woolnorth Wind Farm on the site of the original Van Diemen's Land Company Lease. The wind farm was very interesting.

Set in a very windy area, indeed sometimes it is so windy they have to close them down, are the 30 odd windmills generating electricity, enough apparently to power the town of Smithton. They are quite elegant, so much so that you really don't realise how big they are. Many people think they are noisy but we did not think so, and we were right underneath them. We drove through the sheep and cattle fields to the historic homestead of Woolnorth, where we enjoyed a complimentary devonshire tea.

Wind vane photograph

Those Wind Vanes are Very Big

Wind farm photograph

View of the Wind Farm from Cape Grim

Drop Cap fter this, we went on through the property to Cape Grim where is sited the Air Monitoring Station, collecting and monitoring air samples from air which has travelled thousands of kilometres across the Southern Ocean without crossing a land mass. Next stop South America. Tony told us that even having cows around the station causes a blip from methane, so I don't know what size the blip would be with the smoke haze from the bushfires in the air.

Drop Cap hen we came back to Smithton and our motel, Tall Timbers. A very attractive property, a stream runs through it. We had an a la carte meal which was very nice, but filling.

I think Tony must have taken my words to heart about steps and bad knees because we have been allocated a "disabled" room. The shower has grab rails, a seat and hand held shower and all the doors are wide enough for a wheelchair. The toilet has a grab rail and the wardrobe has a hanging rack at waist height for the chairbound. Very good, but not really necessary for us!

Drop Cap omorrow we head back to Launceston and we lose at least six of the group. On Friday we lose a couple more, so there won't be many of us left to have a farewell dinner. Still, we shall see.

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