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The Rock-itt : October 2010
I was going to write about our trip down to the Floriade in Canberra but as I was still going to be on it whilst your editor's early deadline approached I decided to shelve it for later. Canberra is much maligned, sure it's a bit weird but it has at least one iconic pub; the Wig and Pen and the museums and galleries are excellent. Canberra next month maybe. Another much maligned destination is Tasmania and that's where I'm going to take you this month. We went to visit my wife's Uncle Norm for his 70th Birthday party and bless him didn't he also lend us his ancient Toyota Corona so we could have a trip around the Apple Isle. Uncle Norm's Corona with the Freycinet Peninsula in the distance I've been to Tazzy quite a few times and the North West is always a favourite. We headed for Queenstown which is a fair old treck in a Corona. There were times when we thought the old girl might not get to the top of some hills but she made it and never let us down. Norm lives in Brighton, just north of Hobart and it's 220 km from Norm's to Queenstown, about 2 hrs 45 mins drive unless you are in a Corona, maybe three and half in that case! Tazzy roads are good, not many cars about and great scenery. One of the attractions of Queenstown is actually the drive down the hill into the town. It is a copper mining town, not as active as its heyday about a century ago but the town's population of 2500 still relies heavily on mining for employment. The drive into the town is like entering a moonscape, very few trees and a vista ravaged by rampant open caste mining. The town is also the main terminus for the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company which runs over the mountains to Strahan. In actual fact the railway has had a recent name change to the West Coast Wilderness Railway but you won't miss it, there's only one! The train from Queenstown to Strahan, simmering at a station called Dubbil Barril As a purely mining railway it started operations in 1899 and ceased to operate in 1963 but the Tasmanian Government injected $20.45 million into the restoring of the line as a major tourist destination. It worked, it is a sensational experience. Shame we couldn't get the government to inject similar funds to give the Northern Beaches a rail link!! Check out the 41 kilometre journey over to Strahan takes about 4 hours 30 minutes, it's a slow trip there are some hefty climbs and the railways rack and pinion system makes the endeavour possible. It's also not particularly cheap, about $99 for an adult, $267 for a family of four from Queenstown to Strahan. To do a return trip you have to overnight in Strahan, otherwise the return bus will cost you $15. You can travel Premier Class with lunch and drinks on the train included but that will cost you $185! It's a great trip, amazing scenery; it is well worth the money. Strahan is a cool little town too. http://strahantasmania.com/ Another view of the train, notice the rack between the rails that the engine climbs on You can take a cruise across Macquarie Harbour to Sarah Island upon which in 1821 was built the ultimate penal colony. The entrance to the harbour is known as Hells Gate and it's really wild, it's a massive harbour 275 square Kilometres, six times the size of Sydney harbour and the entrance is very small which is why it's so wild. If you take the cruise you will learn about Alexander Pearce the Cannibal convict! The cruise takes you a little way up into the Gordon River and there is a walkway through a small part of the World Heritage forest from where the boat docks up there. http://www.gordonrivercruises.com.a u There is heaps to do up in Tazzy's North West don't miss Zeehan and The West Coast Pioneer Memorial Museum along with the recently restored Gaiety Theatre where Dame Nelly Melba once performed! The Gaiety Theatre, Zeehan whilst the renovations were going on