Autumn

We’re now well into Autumn in Tassie. The weather’s cooled considerably and our warmer clothes are becoming ‘well worn’. The trees are a delight to see and the countryside is decked out in the most glorious autumn colours with the golden yellow poplar trees¬†dominating the landscape. I had forgotten how beautiful a true autumn can be.

Autumn trees lining the Derwent River upstream from bridge in New Norfolk

Autumn trees lining the Derwent River upstream from bridge in New Norfolk

After leaving Mt Field we spent almost a week in Middleton opposite Bruny Island staying with an old friend from Perth, Peta and her husband Ron. Sharing their hospitality and meeting their friends was a pleasure and gave us lots of laughs.

After leaving Peta’s we took a few days to explore a couple of convict built villages towards the middle of the Island, Oatlands and Ross. We free camped at Oatlands next to an old, heritage listed windmill, and next to a children’s playground. The children’s playground had made use of an old hollow tree trunk to build a cubby complete with intricate carvings of Australian animals. I’m not sure if children could appreciate the work involved, but it’s certainly impressive to any visiting adults I’m sure.

Tasmania definitely feels like a totally different country than the rest of Australia, and especially like a different country to Perth. Perth hardly retains any heritage seeming to prefer to knock down houses and re-build rather than to preserve and maintain any building that’s not ‘the latest style’. It’s refreshing to find places such as Ross and Oatlands where most of the houses in the villages having survived since early settlement. Some still have permanent residents, but many are now leased as heritage holiday accommodation, and are much sort after. Because so many houses are so very old in these places, the whole village gets heritage listed. They’re not the Cotswalds by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re certainly heading in a similar direction (just a few more centuries to get there yet though).

View from our rear window of the flour mill

View from our rear window of the flour mill

The windmill at night.

The windmill at night.

After Oatlands we headed for Tarraleah, an old hydro town now converted to an ‘art deco’ resort town. The resort has adopted a Highland theme inclusive of Highland cattle.

One of the Highland Cows

One of the Highland Cows

Whilst there we visited Lake St Clair, the deepest lake in the southern hemisphere. Beautiful – with so many walking tracks that we feel at least a week is needed there to do justice to them. One day was just a taster.

One of many walking tracks at Lake St Clair

One of many walking tracks at Lake St Clair

We took a picnic with us, which a possum insisted on sharing. Advice is to never feed the wild life, but this possum obviously hadn’t read that anywhere, and quite literally wouldn’t be deterred. Not only did he pose for us whilst munching through several of our tomatoes and an apple, but I’m sure his portrait will grace many of Japanese tourists albums on their return home. He created quite a stir sitting quietly on our table and helping himself from our picnic basket. Perhaps his name was Yogi…..smarter than your average possum.

Our uninvited lunch guest - good company though all the same

Our uninvited lunch guest – good company though all the same

We’re now in Magra again with Marina and Terry and will fly from here to Sydney on Saturday, where we’ll begin our trip to Europe on Monday. So, this will be the last post for some time for ‘the Life of Riley on Wheels’.

We expect to return to take up the story of our caravan travels again sometime in June, so watch this space.

Mt Field Campground

We’ve spent the past few days in the campground at Mt Field National Park before we head to our friends, Peta and Ron in Middleton.

We’ve stayed in many national parks, but this one is undoubtedly better than any we’ve seen by a country mile. We have power and water, there’s a clean amenity block with hot showers, flush toilets and a laundry. There’s tall trees at our rear and a beautiful babbling brook with platypus at our front (about 30 metres away). That’s the camp area. It gets a bit muddy in the rain, but with all that’s on offer here, a little bit of mud is a minor inconvenience.

Stream in our campground.

Stream in our campground.

Same stream, from a different direction.

Same stream, from a different direction.

The day area – wow, wow and more wow!! Theres more barbecues and shelters than I could count. Some of the barbecues are gas, and some are wood. Some are in the open and some are in stone shelters. All have several picnic tables and bench seats near by. But that’s not all, there’s more (and believe me, the ‘more’ is better than ‘steak knives’), inside several of the shelters there’s also built in stone fireplaces with chimneys and there’s loads of chopped wood supplied.

There’s several gorgeous walks in the park. The first day we took a¬†2 1/2 hour walk which travelled alongside a babbling brook through a rain forest. It was raining for most of the 2 1/2 hours so the ferns looked amazing drooping under the weight of the gentle, consistent rain. We walked past two stunning water falls. There’s so many water falls in Tassie that I fear I’m going to sound like a broken record – they’re all gorgeous and are worthy of mention.

Russell Falls

Russell Falls

Lady Baron Falls

Lady Baron Falls

Yesterday, our friends Marina and Terry joined us and we took a drive to Tassie’s famous Lake Pedder and the Gordon Dam. There’s very little there except stunning scenery reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands. We had lunch in the only place there, but I must say they haven’t taken advantage of having no competition. The lunch was delicious and reasonably priced, and we sat overlooking Lake Pedder with it’s stark, granite mountain surrounds.

Lake Pedder

Lake Pedder

The Gordon Dam.

The Gordon Dam.

Many years ago in New Zealand we came across one of those fairy tale red mushrooms which have fairies under them in the stories. (We looked for the fairies at the time, but they either weren’t there, or had hidden themselves well). We’d heard there are the same mushrooms here, so we’ve been searching high and low in the rain forests for them, but we hadn’t found any. Then, eating our lunch yesterday we couldn’t believe our eyes. Out in the open just outside the lodge was a big group of them. Again though, no fairies.

Fairy story mushrooms (couldn't find any fairies though).

Fairy story mushrooms (couldn’t find any fairies though).

Today, we’re leaving for Peta and Ron’s, but we have put Mt Field National Park at the top of our list for a return visit.Perhaps next time Peta and Ron will join us as I’m sure, like us, they’ll enjoy taking cheese and bread, red wine and candles to one of the huts with the fire places for an evening feast.