(January 7, 2021 – written by Dave)
Camp was surprisingly quiet overnight. I guess the kiddos wore themselves out at the playground. Our little tent was surrounded by big tents and lots of families. We went to bed at 8:30 and it the playground was still in full swing, but by 9PM everything got quiet – phew.
I was awake at 5:30 but played opossum until 6 for fear of upsetting my tent mate. She was awake also but laid silently in hopes that I didn’t wake. This goes on most mornings – funny after all these years. Anyway, this morning we had blue skies and sunshine and it was easy getting up. We had the tent hanging on a fence in the sun and even threw the sleeping bag in the clothes dryer for 10 minutes to take the moisture out – luxury. All this efficiency had us departing camp at 8:15 – by which time the playground was already chockers with kiddos – kids having holiday fun are the same everywhere.
The ride from Strahan to Queenstown was very scenic – a twisty turny road with lots of climbing and some descending at the end near Queenstown. There was a lot of traffic or at least a lot more than we’ve seen in days. But still it was more than polite. The climbing was never overly hard, just steady. We thought we’d get a viewpoint out towards Macquarie Harbour but instead got one up towards the mountains around Queenstown and beyond. We are heading east now, towards the central highlands of Tassie.
We stopped for morning tea in Queenstown and ended up being there long enough to call it lunch. We found a café and ordered egg and bacon rolls, plus a coffee. Several folks stopped to talk us, some local, some tourists. We met an older couple who lived in Gormanton – just 7k up the road from Queenstown. They moved there becoming the 5th and 6th people to live there. Later while climbing the big hill out of Queenstown we stopped at a lookout and met Peter, who was the 9th person to move to Gormanton – we talked to him for a half hour – he was a kick. Both of the Gormanton parties mentioned a chap from California who lived in Gormanton (everyone talked about his long beard). We never met said Californian but the three folks we met from Gormanton were so full of stories and energy, all of them had us completely entertained. It was really fun and completely different from our wilderness riding where we saw hardly any people at all.
Riding out of Queenstown there is big climb over an infamous hill. All of the vegetation on the hill was lost through years of sulphur dioxide smoke pollution from the copper smelting done here. For locals in the mining days, the smoke billowing out of the stacks and the barren hills used to be seen as a sign of wealth and “getting ahead”. My, how times have changed. There is no active smelting these days and the vegetation is coming back on some of the surrounding hills – perhaps costing the town a macabre tourist attraction.
Nearing the top of the climb we met Kathryn, a cyclist who lives in Hobart but is originally from Seattle. She’s doing much of our trip in reverse so we traded notes. She’s been off the grid for a few days and had not heard about the craziness in Washington DC, nor the senate elections in Georgia. We had a little whoop-West Coast-lefty celebration on the side of the road sharing the news with her. But honestly, the best days of this trip are those where we’ve been off-grid ourselves – maybe getting off the news cycle is good for all of us.
We finished the climb, then zoomed down the back of it through Gormanton and onwards to Linda. We looked for the Californian dude in Gormanton but didn’t spot him. Linda supposedly has three residents so it wasn’t much to look at either but we pulled up at the “Leaving Linda” sign for a photo – shout out to Nancy’s sister, Linda.
The next stop was Lake Burbury, a manmade lake and part of the Tassie Hydro power system. The lake is quite scenic for a being a reservoir. We are about 3/4s the way around the lake, staying at the Lake Burbury Camping Grounds for the night. We arrived mid-afternoon and had the place to ourselves. We even managed skinny-dip showers in the lake. We figured we were going to be in for a quiet night.
This evening the place has started to really fill up. We learned from another couple staying here that there is a serious accident 20 minutes up the road from here and they have closed it to traffic for the at least 6 hours – which explains why so many cars are pulling in and checking out the funky little campground. It’s not much, everything needs a good clean but I guess if you are stuck, it’s better than the side of the road.
After we settled in and got dinner on, two groups of travelers came in, it would almost seem purely for our entertainment. The first group, three cars containing multiple families from India. The second group, three classic Aussie 4×4 Toyotas, full of blokes in camping gear. For a while we had dueling music, but eventually the 4×4 types relented and turned their music off – 1-Nil, India. Later both groups got their own cricket matches going. The quality of play was not high but we gave the 4×4 types the mark because they used their cattle dogs as fielders. With scores leveled at 1-1, parties retired for the night.
Tomorrow we head more inland – to Lake St Clair. That is, if the road is open – it’s a major thoroughfare so it should be fine (spare a thought for those involved in the accident of course as well). We have more climbing and more twisty road tomorrow – and from what we’ve read, some great scenery.