Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Tue 26 Jan 2016 23:07
We got up this morning and went for the Enchanted Walk, short and more importantly – flat, a lovely start to the day, then it was to Mabel for the journey to Strahan, down on the west coast. We made quite a few stops at various places of interest, a train, a dam, bears and blooms, a mine and had a thoroughly enjoyable day.
No sooner than we had set off than we saw a helicopter.
Yet another long day of filling buckets and dowsing the bushfires that are still raging in the area.
We stopped for fuel, passing a happy play park for the local children.
In front of us a massive coal mine, a first for us was seeing a ‘safest mine’ sign.
Up into the hills, we stopped at an interesting and modern memorial. Getting Bear to mimic the man was a laugh especially when trying to fend off the copious quantities of horseflies. A Tribute to the Hercules Mine Horses. When operations commenced at the Hercules Mine at Williamsford, horses were used for underground trucking. The horses hauled the empty side-tip trucks into the mine and were capable of pulling a rake of ten trucks, weighing about two and a half tons in all, for distances up to one and a quarter miles.
The average working life of a horse was about twelve years although some were worked for as long as fifteen. Records show that some of the horses were named Nugget, Prince, Duke and Robin and have been described as intelligent, needed little direction after their initial training and worked the same hours as the men. Lunch treats would sometimes consist of carrots and bread supplied by the men.
The horses were stabled on the sloping mountain side near the mine and had a permanent attendant. Every Easter and Christmas they were given a spell at Williamsford for about three weeks. During these spells they were known to ‘play up’ and were often seen jumping, rolling and galloping on the grassy flats so different from their sloping paddocks on Mount Read.
The horses at the Hercules mine were retired in 1964 and replaced by three tonne Mancha battery locomotives. The Hercules Mine ceased production at the end of May 1986.
Beside the road there were coal trucks on aerial tramways, identical to those we had seen on South Island in New Zealand. The lines went on for ages, until they disappeared in the forest.
A railway track ran beside us for a time. Then out onto the open road.
A lone cottage. Then we saw the sign for Zeehan, a first for us was seeing the RV Friendly Town. We would see more of these on our travels, but this was the first. We carried on until we saw a sign pointing to a Pioneer Cemetery, we stopped and enjoyed looking through the gravestones, that was until we couldn’t stand the horseflies in herds.
More helicopter dowsing going on. Out toward the hills. Passing open cast mines.
No one but us kids, mile upon mile of Mabel on her own. At one corner we caught a brief glimpse of the sea.
A new one on us was seeing a flood warning complete with measuring sticks to show drivers how deep the puddle is.
By late afternoon we were driving in to Strahan.
A couple of impressive buildings – the first, to the left a Post Office, to the right Customs and Strahan Village reception, holiday apartments.
We found the train station at the far edge of town. We looked around the station, a carriage and the map of the route. Back here first thing in the morning for the Wilderness Train Ride.
A very excited Bear as we explored the area. A handsome tank and engine shed.
Next, we had a walk around the tourist shops – Bear had to buy himself a Bear Made biscuit, then along the quayside, a tour boat and a fishing boat.
The Information Board told us: Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania’s West Coast was explored in 1815 during James Kelly’s circumnavigation of the island. The mining boom of the 1870’s saw Strahan become the busiest port of the West Coast and a thriving fishing industry developed. To increase the navigability of the entrance to the harbour – the notorious Hell’s Gates – extensive works were carried out to construct a series of training walls and breakwaters, but it was still necessary to dredge the channel at regular intervals to allow large ships to clear the bar.
The recreational possibilities of Macquarie Harbour were recognised in the early days. At the turn of the century, a number of operators were advertising their services to tourists wishing to cruise the Gordon River or visit the convict ruins. The cruise operators showcase the Gordon River, and carry in excess of 100,000 people per yer up the river.
In order to ensure that industry and tourists alike continue to enjoy the beauty and abundance of the West Coast, Tasports has recently commenced a rolling four year program of works to remediate the wharf and marine assets at Strahan. To date the navigation aids in the harbour have been upgraded and the lighthouse on Bonnet Island remediated. Over the next two years the retaining wall and main wharf area of Strahan will be renewed, as well as remediation to Entrance Island.
These projects form part of a larger program of work being undertaken by Tasports to remediate significant high-use community waterfront assets around Tasmania. A number of similar projects are taking place at Inspection Head, Stanley, and at Sullivan’s Cove which forms part of Hobart’s iconic waterfront. Good to read so much is being and going to be done, it is really lovely here.
We booked into our camp, and on the way to our site we saw a pretty unique sign. A wonderful surprise was in the pair of toilets nearest Mabel – in one was a bath.
We went to explore and found some simple, but pretty flowers.
Many were getting down to some serious partying to celebrate Australia Day, flags and bunting everywhere. We explored the camp and found the platypus stream in readiness for returning at dusk.
We returned to the stream at dusk and were so excited to see our first wild platypus.
On the way back to Mabel we stopped to look at my favourite fern.
ALL IN ALL AN INTERESTING JOURNEY WITH LOTS TO SEE
LOVELY JOURNEY THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS