21-28/02/2005 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay
From Rachel Grindlay
Fly into Tassie at 11:30pm. Wander hopelessly around Hobart Airport trying to find car hire place. 11:40pm succeed. Pick up very ugly "gold" coloured 2004 Toyota Camry, however it has done less than 9,000km so I'm not really complaining.
After breakfast in the hotel's restaurant (in which I think we dropped the average age by about 10 years) we set out on our driving adventure. The plan was to drive to Deloraine and then onwards to Marakoopa Cave. After driving for a couple of hours I say to Tom (the navigator) "weren't we supposed to have turned off by now?". We decide we have missed the turn-off, oh well, Tassie isn't very big we'll just go to Launceston instead. Important shopping to be done as Tom has managed to forget to bring any thermals with him at all (he gets a lovely light blue, dark blue & white striped set) and we need to get gas canisters for the stove. Success, so we grab a milkshake and hit the road again. This time actually making it to Deloraine and then onward to the caves. The caves were spectacular if over-commercialised, it seems to be a common story with many of the natural attractions that in order to protect them from overuse there has to have been significant development in the way of paths, rails etc. We were going to go further exploring but I started feeling sick so we decided to just go straight to Devonport. After a nap I feel a bit better so we have to go shopping for perishable supplies for the next 7 days. We managed to spend over an hour in the supermarket with a shopping list of about 6 items. Hmmm. Dinner in nice little pizza & pasta place then drop off the hire car and off to bed.
Walk the 2km to the bus depot with our already far-too-heavy packs, unsure how going to survive walking 13km today! Hang out in the happening mall of Devonport until the bus is ready to depart. Two buses later and we arrive in Cradle Valley, we are pushed for time and so want to get started ASAP. At this point Tom discovers his wallet is no longer in his pocket, fortunately the bus is still there so he can go get it, except it isn't on the bus. To date wallet is still AWOL. (just as well I was planning on paying for most of the trip anyway!)
Walk to Marion's Lookout, up very steep bastard of hill, thought I was going to throw-up by time I got to top, but view was excellent and that was definitely the worst part of the entire track. We then had to make the decision on whether to climb Cradle Mountain, because of the bus scheduling we didn't start on the trail till 3pm. We calculate that if we climb it we should reach the hut as it is getting dark, so ditch packs and set off up the Mountain. Make it to the top to be slightly disappointed by the view, but we did it, so hurry down and push on. We stopped for one further rest just before we dropped off the plateau to watch the sun set, then just a short walk later we arrived at the hut (about 10 minutes before it got dark). Our lamb curry for dinner provided many envious looks from our fellow hut companions, then straight to bed.
The scheduled leg was very short today (9km), so after getting to where we were going before lunchtime we decided to push on. Unfortunately the place we had hoped to camp was being regenerated so there were no camp sites which we did another 4km we hadn't planned on. I think all up we ended up walking over 20km today, however we were rewarded with an isolated campsite (the only night in the trip you couldn't see/hear anyone else). It was a lovely evening, however I failed to go to sleep due to scuffling noises of wild animals outside. Tom had fallen straight to sleep so I was left imagining all kinds of things going on, but it was only once I could hear something trying to get into his pack did I wake him up. He sticks his head out the tent and says in a way only Tom could, "What are you doing, you wretched creature?". The possum was relatively non-plussed and retreated about as far as our pots so we pulled the packs in under the vestibules, and I stayed awake listening to the possum having a merry old time with the billy, and then later having the cheek to try and get into Tom's pack again. Needless to say I'm not a fan of possums.
Having knocked off most of the scheduled leg yesterday this was a welcome easy day. We just had a 4km stroll up to a great hut (only 3 years old, sleeps 60 people), of course not having far to go we had the place to ourselves for a few hours. We had a swim, (that could be stretching it - I got wet..) and then spent the afternoon napping & reading & trying to eat at least some of the 1kg of cashews Tom decided it would be a good idea to bring.
We both woke up feeling flu-ey so were hoping things didn't get any worse. First 5km of the day under our belts and we were at the base for climbing Mt Ossa (Tasmania's highest peak). Feeling a bit better and no clouds around to obscure the view we decided to do the climb. It was awesome getting to the summit, we were there quite early so missed the hordes making the ascent (saw them all on our way down). One of the commercial guides said it was the best day he's ever had on Ossa so we were pretty glad we decided to climb it! Another 4km later we arrived at our overnight destination. We had given up on staying in the huts by this point (too noisy) so went with the tent which meant a much better nights sleep. (Though I had developed a bit of a possum-phobia which did mean falling asleep was a little difficult).
An easy day, only 9km, plus two side-trips to see waterfalls on the Mersey River. Had lunch in the sun at the base of one. Managed to secure the best tent platform at the next campsite with great views of the mountains and sunset. The Irish girl who started walking on the same day as us (in a denim mini-skirt no less) runs out of food... only the Irish.
Hadn't quite decided whether we were going to finish today or go off on a side trip. We waited till we got to the junction in the road to make the decision. The weather was unpleasant for the first time in the whole trip (lightly spitting and bitterly cold), we decided to make the side trip, mainly so we didn't have a whole day twiddling our thumbs. Arriving at Pine Valley we found the hut to be full but some nice older guys we'd met from Victoria were vacating their prime tent site and offered it to us. Nice. At this point I'm wearing almost every item of clothing I've brought with me since I'm so cold, but we figured we should eat lunch with them outside since they were doing us a favour. It warmed up a little and we went and climbed another hill (to the Labyrinth) which is always good for heating you up. Dinner in the hut, we have good chats with 2 US & 1 Swedish exchange students studying at UTas who were just up overnight.
Last day of walking (as long as we can get on the ferry), so we make the best time we have all trip, covering the final 9km in just over 2 hours. Booked on the 2pm ferry we sit back and enjoy the sunshine (and eat some more of those cashews). Dropped off at the Lake St Clair Visitors Centre we catch up with the 2 Aussie guys, 2 German guys & 1 girl (all of whom we walked with since the beginning - yet we don't know any of their names). We still had another night camping so I was a little disappointed at how commercialised it all was, everyone else had booked into accommodation and had showers and was eating from the bistro, whereas we were still going to be stinky for another day and were cooking on the gas stove for another night. We ended up having the nicest campsite of the trip - right on the edge of the Lake with only a couple of others around. We went platypus hunting but didn't see any and we weren't bothered by possums at all during the night. Bonus.
It was a little chilly so we were happy to hang out in the cafe and wait for the bus. The bus trip to Hobart was 3 hours, we then checked into the 4-star boutique hotel I had booked for the last night away. It was a National Heritage property and everything was great. They even had complimentary port so Tom was particularly happy. Even after showers the dirt line which came up in the spa was quite scary, I'm still not sure I've got all of the ingrained dirt off. Very happy to be sleeping in a bed, with clean sheets.
We visited the Cadbury Factory, via a cruise on the Derwent. Plenty of free samples and the chance to buy 'seconds' chocolate (nice). Not such a nice day in Hobart - we used our raincoats for the first time in the whole trip that afternoon! Our hosts at the hotel were fantastic, looking after our luggage all day and welcoming us back to the guest lounge (& port) to hang out until it was time to get our plane. We finished off the last of the cashews while waiting to board the plane.