Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lake Pedder - day 3

This morning we actually saw the sun for a while, and I was able to take a few pictures featuring it. These were taken at Ted's Beach.

We got on the road and headed back east. There is something called the Creepy Crawly Walk marked on maps. We looked for it and failed to find it. A man (who Elf calls "the Twinkly Man") in Maydena later told us that a) it's awful and b) it's closed. We did go on another dirt road adventure to try to see the Big Tree Reserve in the Florentine Valley. Elf painstakingly crawled about 10km in on soft and slippy logging roads (it was raining by now) before giving up and retreating to the highway. We did see plenty of huge straight mountain ash trees, but the very very large ones have been preserved in a particular spot that was beyond us in this weather. It was worth it to see this amazing mixed bushland that's being logged. I can't tell if what we were looking at was old growth of regrowth, but if it was regrowth the variety was very impressive.

When we got into Maydena we loaded up at the Twinkly Man's with coffee and hot pastry-in-plastic. Then we went off for one last off-road adventure, to find Junee Cave. The drive there was not far but it was incredible. We drove over a little bridge and somehow back forty years into the 1930s. (That was a little joke because the rest of Maydena is stuck in about 1975. Well, anyway the Twinkly Man's TV was playing a footy match that I'm pretty sure was the 2007 Geelong/Collingwood semi-final. Explain that!)

So - here we are on the 1930 side of the river.

Just by here a man was fishing with his kids. A little ginger wiry guy, he was in the water with his rod. He had a little one in a stroller about a foot back from the riverbank, and three or maybe four others all under 8, prancing about, some with their own rods. His Commodore was about ten feet from the riverbank. It was wild. The road was about as wide as the car and Elf once again showed why she is the only one who should drive our car when the going gets tough.

The Junee River comes roaring out of the cave of the same name, after travelling underground for miles from the west. The water starts out stained brown with tannin from the bracken fern (like all western Tasmanian rivers) but it is filtered by the limestone of the cave system, and comes out clear or sometimes slightly blue-green. It was only a short walk from the road and really beautiful.

I insisted on a drive around Maydena before we got seriously on the road home. It's got some things in common with Queenstown - a very inventive vernacular style of building, with anything at all used as materials. And the rain obviously. Saw one house with vertical board lower storey and horizontal upper - nice.

We had lunch at Westerway. Its an interesting small town with the river, road and railway all running parallel through it. This is the west end of the hop-growing country of the Derwent Valley. Hop fields look a little as though they are set up for some strange complicated ballgame, with regular rows of high poles joined by ropes. Hop headquarters is a town called Bushy Park, and I finally got a photo of a building there that I love, the Masonic Hall.

And that was it. I would love to be able to throw in a good anecdote about the kids saying or doing something hilarious, but none spring to mind. They behaved pretty well but not without a fairly constant effort by Elf and I to threaten/bribe. School goes back tomorrow. In place of a genuine travelling story, I will give you this: while Elf read the bedtime story tonight Michael (who never listens) interrupted at one stage to say "my testicles have got smaller!"

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