Monday 8th February 2016
When we got up this morning, we discovered we might have a problem when it was time to leave. Somebody had parked their car on our site, nose to nose with our camper van. We couldn’t believe anyone could be so stupid, or thoughtless, to completely block us in. Steve found a staff member and explained the situation. She got on her radio to the office, and the Boss came down to take a look. He said he’d never seen this before, and went off to find the owner. He came back scratching his head. No luck. The driver’s door was unlocked, but he couldn’t take the handbrake off to try pushing it out of the way. Only one thing for it – set off the alarm. Within a minute the owner appeared, apparently unaware that he had caused any problem, and moved it. No apology.
Er, this is not a car park, it is our site!
Anyway, our exit now clear, we got back on the road for the drive south. With only two days left till the camper van had to be returned to Hobart, we had a fair few miles to cover. We did try to extend the hire, but unfortunately the van is fully booked and therefore must be back on Wednesday. Nor is there anything else available. We’re definitely not ready to leave Tassie yet though, so have booked a car which we will pick up at the same time as dropping off the van.
As we drove along the mountain road, we saw more of the dead trees we had noticed on the way in. We thought perhaps some disease had killed them, but one of the rangers had explained that glacial action had resulted in the area having a thin layer of soil which could not support the trees beyond a certain size. So these trees had died a natural death, and they apparently take eighty years to fall down and rot away.
Sad to see so many trees dying or dead.
We actually headed west from Cradle Mountain before picking up the A5 Highlands Lakes Road south towards Great Lake. We planned to explore the west coast in the car later, so we chose a route south that would take us through the centre of the island rather down the west coast, in order to see as much of it as we could. The A5 cuts through the Central Highland Lakes area, and we were happy to find one of Tassie’s 60 Great Short Walks along the way at Pine Lake.
An easy walk to Pine Lake along a boardwalk. The sign tells us that the pencil pine is one of Tasmania’s rarest trees.
Interesting shapes made by dead or almost dead trees.
Pencil pines line the edge of the lake.
Boulder streams form when water in cracks in rocks freezes and pieces break off, then make their way downhill.
An impressive boulder stream.
The boardwalk protects the plants below. One last look at Pine Lake before setting off again.
Back at the van after an enjoyable stroll in the sunshine, we continued the journey south. We hadn’t organised an overnight stop yet, so were glad to come upon an information board listing camping sites in the area. It was by now getting on for 4 p.m. so we decided to try the Great Lakes Hotel caravan park on the southern edge of Great Lake at Miena. Our map showed it to be about 30 kms away, so less than half an hour. Except that we didn’t allow for the fact that, although this is an ‘A’ class main road, for two-thirds of the stretch from here to Miena it is unsealed. The fact that it is shown yellow on the map is a bit of a give-away, and we did notice it, but thought it couldn’t be so on a main route such as this. Wrong. It can and it was.
The Aussies are very good at providing helpful information boards, showing where you are (in case you don’t know!) and nearby facilities.
So it was rather slow going and noisy for much of the drive, and a relief when we got back onto the tarred road at Miena. Except now we seemed to have passed right through Miena and not seen a campsite along the way. Steve did one of his excellent U-turns and as we picked up a cellphone signal in the town we looked up the campsite on Google maps. Sure enough we had sailed past it way before we even reached the town, so off we went back in the direction we had come. With Google satnav we found the hotel which had a huge gravel car park behind, and over on the side of this next to some motel buildings were six powered campervan sites, only one of which was taken. Not the most appealing of places to stop, but once in our slot our back windows looked out over bush, we had use of the motel showers and loos, power, and a pub just two minutes walk away. Not all bad then.
Once settled, we wandered over to the pub for a drink and a look at their menu. It had lovely views from the veranda over Great Lake, and the interior of the pub made it obvious that this was a haunt of people who came to fish or boat, or both, on the lake. We decided to stay for a fish supper, which was very good, and then went for a short stroll before heading back to the van to make plans for tomorrow.
Looking over the lake from the front of Great Lake Hotel.