The Wild West

Although it’s not a huge distance across to the west coast the road is steep and twisting making for a slow journey so we had an overnight stop at New Norfolk. The name came about because the original free settlers on Norfolk Island had to be re settled because of the huge upkeep costs and so the place was named New Norfolk.

After stopping at some delightfully original towns like Queenstown we eventually arrive at Strahan right on the coast in MacQuairie Harbour, this area being famous for Huon Pine. Huon pine trees were discovered early on when tree trunks covered in mud but not rotting were found. Could this be the answer to boat building and stop the voracious Screw Worm from sinking our sailing ships? And it was and turned out to be the best boatbuilding wood in the world. Today there are only 3 sawmills in the world with a license to cut up Huon pine. These trees take upwards of 1000 years to mature so most that is collected now is reclaimed from stumps that were left in the ground. The Tasmanian Wildnerness Heritage Area has 8000 hectares of Huon pine habitat ensuring that this remarkable giant tree will grace our planet for generations to come.

We camped some 12kms down a rough and dusty road right on the point of MacQuairie Harbour, a council run camping area at just $6 a night. As with all these trips it is the people you meet along the way that makes the trip. On Bruny Island we bumped into 5 Australians travelling around in 3 pretty rugged motorhomes and we spent a few days with them. Here we met David and Barbara, a couple of Brits who had emmigrated to Tasmania 7 years ago along with Kerry and Judy who were native Tasmanians. They fed us fresh salmon that they had caught the day before and insisted on taking us out on their boat to see Hells Gate (a convict built breakwater). Even today passing through Hells Gate in rough weather is pretty hairy.

With time running out it was a quick and very scenic dash to the very north west corner of Tasmania driving through the largest area of cool temperate rainforest in the world. We stayed at a place called Stanley. As you approach Stanley you can see the iconic Nut which is a 152 metre high solidified lava lake from a long extinct volcano. It makes a great backdrop to one of Tassie’s prettiest villages. The north west tip of Tasmania is where the Southern Ocean and the Bass Strait collide. Any convicts who were sent here had a wretched time and named it Cape Grim and you do well to get a day here when the wind isn’t howling. We climbed the Nut, an incredibly steep climb up – there is a chair lift alternative – and then a 2km loop round the top with some super viewing platforms.

Our time in Tasmania was nearly up as it was time to get back to Devenport. We had an early morning ferry to catch.

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