Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lake Pedder - day 1

Elf heard that the Lake Pedder Chalet was closing its doors to visitors. It is owned by the Hydro-Electric Commission, and from now on its a staff-only deal. It's the only accommodation in that whole area, so it seemed like we would have to grab the chance now if we wanted to go there. So this weekend we did.

Elf and the boys picked me up from work at 3 on Friday afternoon, and we were west of Maydena by the time it got dark. It took us about three hours driving, as the road is winding and narrow and it was raining pretty solidly. There was much wildlife about, including a possum on the road who did not notice us until Elf slowed down to walking pace, rolled up to him and honked.

Lake Pedder gets 3 metres of rain a year. We have had buckets of rain over the last 3 weeks down in Hobart, so we were well acclimatised. Its the kind of place where fenceposts have grass growing out of the top of them. The Chalet is in the virtual ghost town of Strathgordon - the end of the road, from civilisation into the South West wilderness. Most of the population, along with their demountable houses, shops, school, church and supermarket, moved on to the next dam project once this one was built.

What we now call Lake Pedder is a man-made lake that was formed in 1974 when the Huon and Serpentine rivers were dammed. A huge area was flooded, including a beautiful small lake with an amazing white beach. This was the original Lake Pedder - what is there now bears no resemblance, and really should have been given some other name I think. I have just checked Wikipedia and some people are keen to call it the "Huon-Serpentine impoundment" - but I can tell you I have never heard anyone call it that. The dam controversy is fascinating but I will actually stick to describing our trip.

We arrived just in time for dinner. Our unit was newish, very nicely set up with everything you could want, (including tumbledryer in the laundry) but with one thing we did not want - a horrid smell of damp. I got used to it (Elf didn't) but each time I came in from outside it got me again. When Elf asked if we could move into one of the other vacant units the manager admitted that they all smell just as bad, due to some stuff-up when they were built. There was a queen size in the bedroom, and a couple of single mattresses to plonk on the living room floor.

We strolled (in light rain) down to the Chalet itself for dinner. Its basically a mess hall with a civilised recreation room off one end and a lounge bar up the other end. Through the wall is the blokes bar - you would imagine things got pretty lively in there in the old days. The side of the building facing the lake is practically all glass, and the view is pretty amazing.

There is a menu, but most people seemed to have the buffet and we did too. The food was pretty good, considering how far we were from anything.

Back at the unit (quick stroll through medium drizzle) the boys watched the first quarter of the footy on TV with us then we put them in the big bed. We watched the the rest of it and read then zonked out. Wallabies hopped about outside.

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