Trip Start Sep 13, 2010
Trip End Feb 02, 2011

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Conservation Park

Flag of Australia  , Tasmania,
Sunday, January 9, 2011

Leaving Davenport after our overnight ferry from Melbourne, we drove along the north coast on a beautiful day with moderate temperatures.  “Gunkholing” out to the coast from the main road we enjoyed gorgeous views from various promontories and beach areas.  Usually, we would see a sign for a national park area, lookout or beach and drive out the road, returning back the same way .  This is when we coined the description, “Australia, land of interesting road kill”.  You don’t see cats, dogs or rabbits along the roadside.  You see (mainly) wallabees, possums, bandicoots, Tasmanian devils and wombats.  Interesting looking critters, usually fresh as the birds don’t let anything go to waste.  The first Tasmanian devil we saw was being dissected by an eagle, entrails stretched across the road.  It was at this point that we decided not to take photos of road kill, no matter how interesting or rare….you can thank us later.

We had breakfast in Burnie at a café on a really quiet mainstreet.  The local bookstore was the only business open, but promised that everyone would be going full blast in time for the arrival of a few thousand cruise ship passengers later in the morning.  Time to hit the road….

This area of Australia is known for its production of poppies.  There are fields of poppies growing everywhere for the production of medicinal opiates.  Every field has a hazmat type sign prohibiting trespass and warning about illicit harvesting.  Why don’t we pay the Australians to grow something else and buy the opium from the farmers in Afganistan who can’t grow anything else?  Maybe we could undercut the production of illicit heroin?  Sorry, too much coffee this morning, my brain is working overtime.

Sisters Beach, Rocky Cape National Park, Table Cape with its historic lighthouse and Boat Harbor Beach were all scenic stopping points along the coast.  Stanley was the main destination with “The Nut” towering over the town and coastline.  The Nut is a volcanic dome that dominates the area.  You can hike up 150 meters or the town offers a chairlift for the “old, infirm or just lazy” people.  Guess how we got to the top? Yep, Barb limped and I tried to look even older than I do.  The view was spectacular and we had the bonus of seeing a live wallaby!  Other than the trip up The Nut, we passed on the other tourist trap activities, simply stopping to stock up on food supplies at the local store.

We left the North Coast at Smithton and drove up through the Tarkine Forest.  Tall pines and eucalyptus line the roads, (which have lots of interesting road kill).  It is national park area with limited development and population.  The road eventually lead to the Northwest Coast of Tasmania and the town of Marrawah.

Marrawah had a primitive campground that was our intended stop for the evening.  The campground ended up being quite crowded and not very scenic.  The main draw here was the surf break off of the beach.  Surfboards were scattered around the tents and vans and some hearty souls were out in the chilly water trying to catch some sets.  It was cool and windy, no sun at this point of the day.  I noticed that the preferred apparel was heavy wetsuit.

Onward to the Arthur Pieman Conservation Area.  This is a large section of the Northwest coast, undeveloped and wild.  We stopped at Arthur River and booked a site from the park in a primitive campground.  Barb and I had an entire section to ourselves….no surf break here.  Later in the evening after supper, we were rewarded for our extra drive with a wallaby outside our back door.  We sat and watched this odd creature grazing for about an hour.  Wallabies are smaller versions of kangaroos, I am really not sure of the differences between the two, other than wallabies seem more prevalent in woodland areas.

Sleep came easy after this long day of driving across northern Tassie…..
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