It will stop raining soon, right?
Trip Start Apr 14, 2010
96Trip End Apr 16, 2011
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The first day, we picked up our budget hire car (in Tasmania it is cheaper to hire a car for 11 days than buy two 10 day bus passes - crazy) and drove through driving rain out to Freycinet National Park which we had had several recommendations for. It may be beautiful but it wasn't that afternoon, believe us. We couldn’t see very far due to the driving rain and the wind was ferocious. We arrived and parked next to our pre-booked tent site and decided that we had better wait for the rain to ease before putting the tent up. To add insult to injury, we discovered that the campsite only had 2 tiny communual areas (barely sheltered from the rain) which were already full of other people
In a hasty re-arrangement of our plans based on the weather forecast, we decided to head straight up to Cradle Mountain National Park the next day. This necessitated taking a huge detour around much of Tasmania as many of the small roads were closed due to flooding. Luckily, it also took us via a couple of places to taste cheese. It was in one of these places that Sarah spotted one of the more amusing signs of the trip so far: a little sign on the INSIDE of the toilet door saying "Please unlock door before leaving". Hmmmm. Yes, that is the usual technique.
We realised as we laughingly took a photo of the sign that the weather had been so bad in Tasmania that this was actually the 1st photo we had taken
So after a rather chilly night camping in Cradle Mountain (we hadn’t quite twigged to the fact that the campsite was already 700m above sea level) we woke up expecting to find the clear day that had been promised. It wasn’t. In a slightly grumpy mood we decided to head off towards the Cradle Mountain peak the long way around to give the weather a chance to clear. We walked all the way around Dove Lake and across the face of the mountain mostly in cloud and arrived at a shelter hut at the base of the summit path. We sat eating lunch along with some other disgruntled hikers and decided to wait to see if the weather would clear. Most of the others gave up and headed back down to the car park but we decided to stick it out a bit longer. And thank goodness we did because after about an hour of waiting the wind suddenly blew the cloud away and within 20 minutes the sky was completely clear. With a whoop and a skip and a jump (this was, literally, the first blue sky we had seen since leaving the Grampians over a week ago) we hurried up the summit path to the top for some stunning views before walking back along the other side of the lake revelling in the lovely sunshine.
The next day we decided that we had seen the best Cradle Mountain had to offer and besides had realised that with bright blue skies comes a serious drop in the temperature at night: we nearly froze in our tent and later saw that the temperature had gone down to about 2 degrees overnight- our tent is a summer one full of ventilation gaps and our sleeping bags are only recommended for 7 degrees
After thawing out our extremities over a cup of tea we decided to drive on round to the other side of the National Park to Lake St Clair where, despite the lateness of the day, we decided to embark on another mountain climb up to the summit of Mt Rufus on the advice of a German ranger (the Australian ones would not have suggested we set off on an all day walk at 2pm) which turned out to be beautiful. We arrived back at the cabin we had booked at around 8pm absolutely exhausted and thoroughly deserving of the James Boag’s beers we quaffed.
Having only seen the east coast of Tasmania is the driving rain, we decided that we would head back over there for our last 2 nights to see it in better weather. We found a beautiful free campsite by the sea and some lovely pink rocks in the much vaunted “Bay of Fires” area and managed to bake ourselves a dinner using nothing more than charcoal, wood, stones and tin-foil, and were quite surprised and pleased by how well it worked. Unfortunately, we discovered that we weren’t the only denizens of the campsite as when the sun went down, the critters came out to play and we were chased back into the tent by a million biting nasties.
We also decided that we should give Freycinet a second chance and try to see the park and Wineglass Bay in decent weather so stopped on our drive through to Hobart for a walk up to the viewpoint and around the peninsula across two beautiful beaches. It was hard to believe it was the same place we had seen in the rain a week before.
Our final night in Oz was spent in Hobart where Gordon somehow managed to convince Sarah to accompany him on a downhill bike ride from the summit 1000+m of Mt Wellington just outside Hobart to the city centre which despite her protestations was a lot of fun and a nice way to see the city. We can’t believe how quickly our time in Australia has gone. Whilst the exchange rate has made it scarily expensive and we’ve taken great delight laughing at the love of rules & regulations displayed in many places, how utterly empty parts it are and just how bad at Test Cricket they have become (sorry Fi, just one last dig) it’s a beautiful place with amazing scenery, fantastic, friendly people and even some okay wine here and there. We’ve had an absolutely brilliant time and in particular it has been wonderful to catch up with so many friends on our way round. We’ll be back soon we’re sure and hopefully by then the exchange rate will have moved a little in our favour.