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Explore : West Coast Tasmania

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Our tour of the West Coast started at Meadowbank Lake, a hydro recreation lake filled with trout. We had just spent the night at Lake Pedder and had an exciting encounter with some Eastern quolls and our road north would take us through hydropower and mining country.

 

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Hamilton

This town is a lifesaver if you’re as stinky as two day old road kill. There are $1 showers available at the only reserve in town. Don’t worry – $1 goes a long way. You’ll have time to clean your pits and your bits, and wash your hair.

 

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Tarraleah & Tungatinah Power Station

These two power stations are separated by a bridge at the bottom of the valley and are part of the huge hydro generation system in Tasmania.

 

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On the Tarraleah side, there’s a lookout perched right above the huge pipes that deliver water to the power station.  You can see the pipes that feed the Tungatinah Power Station running down the other side of the valley. Each pipe delivers 7000 litres of water per second to a turbine and generator, hitting the turbines at 270km per hour. Tarraleah Power Station has six generators, each producing 15,000 kilowatts at 11,000 volts.

 

At the bottom where the power stations are located is a picnic area. Stay alert because this place is swarming with European wasps. If you need to charge something, there are power points in the toilets – after all, you are next to two power stations!

 

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Lake St Clair

If you are an avid hiker, then you may be familiar with Lake St Clair as the beginning or the end of your epic hike on the Overland Track. This hike runs all the way to Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain and can take between 6 to 8 days to complete, depending on how you want to play the game. You can take less food and go fast, or take more food but go slow.

 

We did not have 8 days, or 6 days to do the Overland Track so we just did the short walk from the Visitor Centre to the Platypus Bay track and back via Fergys Paddock. The walk was easy and energising, and while we didn’t see any platypuses because it was the middle of the day, we did see a pitch black Tiger Snake, who disappeared faster than Dave when it’s time to do the dishes.

 

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Lake Burbury

We were going to spend the night at King William Lake but we had time to continue for another hour to Lake Burbury. This is a proper campground with large picnic areas, plenty of space and a BBQ kitchen shelter. However, like any proper campground, it comes with a $6 fee which is payable to the caretaker on your way in.

 

We didn’t go down to the lake until the morning because we were welcomed with showers when we arrived. On the shores of the lake there are fantastic views of the surrounding mountains, and the sunset was spectacularly pink.

 

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Queenstown

Nestled in the moonscape of the West Coast Ranges, this little town has a copper mining history. It’s also home to the West Coast Wilderness Railway, where you can ride a steam train through the West Coast mountains.

 

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Just outside of town is the Ironblow Lookout atop Gormie Hill. It faces east so it’s great for sunrise, or sun in your eyes. We’d recommend visiting in the afternoon.

 

 

Strahan

This seaside town won the best tourist town in 1995 and it seems to still be riding that wave in 2016. Yes, it’s a pretty little town that is made up of a pub, Banjo’s bakery and IGA, a small cafe and tonnes of accommodation, including Strahan YHA, but we thought the paid parking on the main street was a bit rich.

 

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We drove up to the water tower Lookout for breakfast before going for a short walk to Hogarth’s Falls. The 40 minute stroll through the rainforest was energising and we were treated with a nice conclusion.

 

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On the way out of town are the Henty Dunes. Because Juz is not a fan of sand, and these dunes are essentially 30 metre tall piles of sand, she was having a bad time. In fact, by the time we got back to the Troopy, her shoes were 2 sizes too small from all the sand that had gotten in there!

 

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Zeehan

Zeehan used to be the 3rd biggest town in Tasmania because of their silver mining hitory. But that hasn’t been the case since the early 1900s and while there are still lovely buildings through the main street, its heyday is long gone and the population and quality of population has declined.

 

Our Zeehan experienced began at the park where we made our lunch. The downstanding citizens we shared the BBQ area with gave us an insight into the current culture of the town. The other eye-opening experience was at the Laundromat, where we saw a menu for the local RSL that listed a few ‘On Tray’ items.

 

Be that as it may, they sell good looking cuts of sizzle steak at a good price at the IGA and the bottleshop has a few specials as well. Plus, you can do a load of laundry washed and dried for a total of $6 – that’s a pretty good deal.

 

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Rainbow Valley

Natural Wonders : Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve

Rainbow Valley

 

We were having some issues with the Troopy heating up on long drives, so after Dave had made some repairs and adjustments, we took it for a test drive.  Just 100kms south of Alice Springs, Rainbow Valley was the perfect distance to see if the cooling system problem had been resolved.  A great place to visit or camp for the night, this colourful bluff is part of the James Range and is layered with hard red sandstone and softer white sandstone.

 

While the walking tracks around the valley are great to do during the day, it is best to visit about an hour before sunset.  This will give you enough time to take the track through the valley to see Mushroom Rock and return to the lookout to watch the sandstone bluff transform in the light of the setting sun.

 


There are two camping areas with communal fire pits, picnic tables and pit toilets. Camping fees are payable on site.

 

 

Devils Marbles

Natural Wonders : Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve)

Devils Marbles

 

We were fangin’ down the Stuart Highway, watching everything turn yellow as the sun approached the horizon.  It had been a while since we raced the sun.  This time, it wasn’t to find camp before dark but to get to Devils Marbles before sunset.

 

Needless to say we made it.  We even had time to find a place to park, make dinner and meet our camp neighbours George and Mary who were from Shepparton in Victoria.  We sat down with them and shared the glow of their tea light candle over drinks and travel stories.

 

Devils Marbles

 

The Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve is one of the most iconic places in Australia’s outback and one of the most visited reserves in the NT.  It protects one of the oldest religious sites in the world and is of great cultural and spiritual significance to the traditional owners of the land. Karlu Karlu means ‘round boulders’ and also refers to the surrounding area.  The English name comes from a guy called John Ross, who was part of the 1870 Australian Overland Telegraph Line expedition.  He said, “This is Devil’s country; he’s even emptied his bag of marbles around the place!”

 

The shallow valley that the conservation park protects is covered with large granitic boulders that have been exposed to onion weathering, whereby curved shards of rock are peeled off to create the spherical shape.  Cracks caused by thermal stress weathering can go so deep into the boulders that they split straight in half!

 

 

 

Camping is super cheap – only $3.30 pp/night and the campground is right amongst the boulders.  It was packed out with caravans, campervans and buses but we managed to squeeze into a spot and still enjoy the amazing landscape that surrounded us.  The toilet next to camp was super smelly and scary as hell, but the toilets next to the info booth were quite pleasant.

 

Devils Marbles

 

At about 1am, Juz went for a toilet run.  The moon was waning, the night air was cool and the only sound she could hear was the crunching of gravel under her thongs.  She started to psych herself out, thinking about Bradley Murdoch and Ivan Milat.  “This is how people disappear in the desert”, she thought to herself.

 

In the morning, we listened to kids howling like dingos before getting up to catch the sunrise over Devils Marbles.  It was too cloudy to be spectacular, so we climbed some boulders and did the informative walk next to the information booth.  The split boulder reminded Juz of Monkey Magic – “Born from an egg on a mountain top!”

 

Devils Marbles

 

Wycliffe Well

About 30km south of Devils Marbles is the UFO Centre of Australia.  This hilarious attraction is worth the stop.

 

Wycliff Well

 

We met a cute little kitten at the entrance to the general store, which had a plethora of alien souvenirs.  The walls were covered in newspaper clippings of UFO sightings and they also happened to have an excellent beer selection.

 

 

As we ventured into the caravan park to check out more statues, we were amused by donkeys that were wandering about opening bins and rummaging for scraps.

 

Wycilff Well

Wycliff Well Wycliff Well

 

 

Sunset at Cottesloe

Experience : The Sunset Coast

Crystal clean beaches framed by cafés, restaurants, pubs and fish and chip shops, the sunset coast stretches from Joondalup down to Cottesloe and is the perfect place to watch the sun disappear over the horizon.  The tourist drive runs along the coast and is dotted with lookouts that overlook the ocean, and the massive houses are purposely built to take advantage of the view.

 

Hilarys Boat Harbour

We started our Sunset Coast adventure here – a busy and dynamic space full of activity and colour.  There’s a sheltered beach with calm waters, a shaded beach with a playground, as well as carnival rides and a big gauntlet, an aquarium and marine discovery centre.  Near the marina is a complex of shops, cafés, fast food outlets and restaurants.  The environment was very family orientated, with the beach and grassed areas declared as dry zones.

 

 

Scarborough

Scarborough is another seaside suburb along the coast with great beaches and lots of resorts and apartment blocks that overlook the horizon.  The further south you get, the most ‘party’ orientated the coast gets, with more pubs and alcohol consumption.  There was more of a nightlife scene here, and it seems that it would really get pumping once the sun goes down.

 

Cottesloe

Everyone’s summer favourite!  Affectionately known as ‘The Cott’, this is a great place to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean.  There is plenty of young people having fun on the beach, lots of pubs and cafés that overflow with people (even on a Sunday night!), and of course, there is a line out the door of the fish and chip shop.  We sat on a tiered retaining wall with a BBQ chook and ate while we watched the sky turn gold.

 

While we were in Perth, Cottesloe was hosting the 6th Annual Sculptures by the Sea, which turns the beach and foreshore into a scuplture park.  We drove down after sunset to check out the works by around 70 local and international artists.