Just some stuff I want to share with you

Monthly archives for April, 2009

Away from the mountains, on to the coast

Yesterday I had all sorts of weather. Blue skies, snow, rain and wind. Last night it rained and while I was sleeping it must have snowed again…

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Therefore I drove back to the car parks this morning to take some more pictures of the mountains hoping they were white on top. And they were.

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Time to leave this place and head on to the west coast. The route isn’t that exciting. Long roads with trees on both sides. And it goes on and on and on. So when I noticed a “scenic lookout” sign, I deviated and stressed Tom Tom again. I ended up at this dam.

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And then it started to rain again. It’s a strange day today. From here the views aren’t getting better. It’s a boring drive to Strahan.

As I got more or less into Strahan, there was another lookout sign. It took me over a long dirt road and eventually I ended up in the middle of nowhere. There’s a camping site here, but it doesn’t look that good. It’s probably the combination of the poor weather and the fact that the season is over. There’s nobody and nothing here. But then, it allowed me to take a picture of the famous lighthouse…

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After all that it was time to move on to Strahan. By the time I got there it was already getting dark. I noticed quite some people walking around the harbor and they were obviously not locals. This place is all about tourism. There are all sorts of cruises and other day trips you can book here. Well, the day is over again. It wasn’t the best day I must say. Again, it’s probably the combination of the not that inspiring route and the poor weather. Well, you can’t have fun every day…

The track of today:

Monday 27 April 2009

Walking, walking and walking

Guess what I did today. Yep you are right: I did a whole lot of walking.

The weather is not too bad this morning. It’s dry, about 10 degrees and the wind is quite strong which makes it really cold. But by adding enough layers of insulation, that problem can be solved. At 9.00 the visitor centre opens and the weather forecast for today is available. It’s as clear as my coffee. It can rain, it can snow, there’s going to be a lot of wind. Okay… Let’s just start walking and when the weather gets bad, I can always turn around.

Based on the information I got from the visitor centre yesterday I will start at the Ronny Creek car park, walk to the Crater Lake, then to Marions Lookout and go to the Dove Lake car park via Wombat Pool and Lake Lilla. This should keep me going for about 3.5 hours and should show me all the high lights of this place.

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As you can see, the first part of the track is a nicely build boardwalk. It’s good to get going and the views are pleasant as well.

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Further on the track you will get more trees, it’s getting a bit steeper and there are some nice small waterfalls.

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The next part of the track will take you above the trees and gives a great overview of the area you have gone through. The colors are fabulous.

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After about 45 minutes I got to Crater Lake. The colors are fantastic. I met some people that come here every year especially during fall because of the colors and the fact that by then there are not too many visitors.

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After a bit more climbing I got to Wombat Peak. From here you have an overview of Crater Lake and you can already see Wombat Pool, Lake Lilla and Dove Lake.

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Now it’s time to get up to Marions Lookout. This is not a nice boardwalk; it’s a steep climb and by now the wind is making it very cold. But up there the views are really good.

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By now there are some clouds coming in; the bad weather is on its way. When I leave Marions Lookout, it’s starting to snow. Yes really: snow. You know: the icy wet stuff. Looks like rain, but isn’t…

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By the time I got to Wombat Pool, the snowing stopped. It’s raining now… This limits the possibilities to take pictures, since my camera is not waterproof and the combination of the wind and the rain doesn’t help either.

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On to Lake Lilla. I am going downhill again and on my way I see more and more trees and bushes coming back into the scenery. After some quick shots at Like Lilla it was time to move on. It’s stopped raining and now it started to RAIN… By the time I got to the car, the temperature dropped to 2 degrees… Well it is 13.00 therefore lunch time.

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The first walking track of today:

After lunch the weather improved. The rain stopped and there was even some sunshine. I got back in the car to drive to the Dove Lake car park. On my way I noticed that some mountaintops were white now…

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It was cold (about 2 degrees) and the wind was much stronger, making it unpleasant out there. But I still had the Dove Lake track on my to do list. I didn’t trust the weather. There were some more clouds building up between the mountain tops. Therefore I thought to wait a bit and see what the weather was going to do. In the meantime I walked to the boat shed of Dove Lake and took some pictures here.

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Then I started to walk back to the start of the Dove Lake track and just wandered up it for about 15 minutes. The weather couldn’t decide. There was sun, the wind was still strong and cold but by now it was dry. I decided to just go for it.

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After 45 minutes it started to rain again. But by now I was walking on a part of the track that was covered by a lot of trees. “Rain Forrest” they call it and today it was absolutely correct.

The rain wasn’t too bad and by now I was at a point where there was hardly any wind. So although it was wet, it wasn’t that cold anymore.

Some impressions further on the track.

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After that it was a nice walk back to the car park. The rainfall was increasing and there were more clouds coming in. So it was time to get a move on.

By the time I got to the car park it wasn’t very pleasant out there anymore.

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There’s only one road in and out of the park. Therefore on my way back to the lodge I passed the Ronny Creek car park where I started this morning. Here are the before and after views.

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The second walking track of today:

Although it looks like I have walked up to Lake Hanson, that’s not the case. It’s just a glitch in the GPS recording. I could try to find the one wrong coordinate, but it’s too much work. So just ignore this little side step…

All in all I have been walking for just over 5 hours I guess and I enjoyed the scenery. Looking back I would rank the parks I have visited like this:

  1. Blue Mountains; here you have it all. You can go for some real bush walks or just be a tourist. There are a lot of tracks out there ranging from easy to extremely difficult.
  2. Cradle Mountain; it’s more limited then Blue Mountains. There are fewer tracks for the average tourist and there are for sure no other things to do out here. It does offer some real extreme walks for those that want to go for several days.
  3. Freycinet National Park; this is more a holiday paradise. It needs sun and a lot of people. There are beaches and there are some walks. It’s more the place you would visit to relax I think.

That’s it for Cradle Mountain. Tomorrow I will leave this place and head to the west coast; to Strahan to be precise.

Sunday 26 April 2009

The day after

As you may have read (if not: scroll down): yesterday was not a good day for me. Especially when I looked at the weather forecast: it’s going to rain for the next days. Add to that: a weather warning forecasting a lot of wind, low temperatures and snow in the places where I go to today.

That did it for me last night. So when I woke up this morning, I expected the worst. And then I looked out the window and guess what?

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Not too bad is it? Okay, let’s do what I would have done yesterday when: walk to the Launceston Cataract Gorge. It’s only 5 minutes away from my hotel and it’s a good start of the day.

It’s still early, but there are a lot of people around here. Most of them are just enjoying the views like I do, some of them are jogging and later on I noticed that some of them are more into the adventures things.

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After that I walked into town and noticed that there are a lot of people here preparing for some sort of parade. Then I found out that it’s ANZAC day. Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who died and served in military operations for the country. As a result all the shops are closed and all the major roads in the city are closed for a parade. No way I can get to the interesting parts here in time. I still have to drive over 200 kilometers to get to my destination for today: Cradle Mountain. Although I did not cover by far what this city has to offer, I just don’t have any more time.

The day started with nice blue skies, but by noon the first clouds came in. And that resulted in some nice views as well.

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Today I have some routing challenges. I ran into closed roads due to maintenance and as a result of ANZAC parades. And for some reason my Tom Tom didn’t want to talk to me anymore…

I guess this box works like this: there’s a Bloke in there that actually has the map. He tries to find the route to the destination I gave him. Then there’s a Sheila in there that will talk me through this route. But since I every now and then don’t follow the route, either because I think I now a better route or because I just can’t go there due to a closed road or whatever, this leads to a discussion between the Bloke and the Sheila. I think that at a certain point in time she states: “I will not talk to him anymore. He just doesn’t do what I tell him. I have had enough of it.”.

It took me some time to discover this because I normally only listen to the Tom Tom and hardly look at the screen. By the time I found out that something was wrong, I was already way of track. And it took me some time to figure out how to convince Sheila to talk to me again. But eventually we were back in business. Sheila was talking to me again and Bloke found the right routes.

By now I was heading to Sheffield. On my way I found some nice views as well.

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Sheffield is “famous” because of the murals… Well I didn’t see a lot of them, except this one:

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Moving on to Cradle Mountain I passed some nice lookouts.

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By now it was time to get a move on. The clouds are thickening and if possible I would like to gather enough information to be prepared to “do” the mountains tomorrow. When getting closer to Cradle Mountain, it looked like the forest just died here. I wonder what happened here.

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I was just in time to get to the Cradle Mountain information centre before they closed. Got some maps and suggestions of walks for tomorrow. And some warnings as well: make sure that you get the weather information tomorrow before you start your walks. We expect heavy rain, snow and wind… That’s going to be a nice day then! Let’s make sure that I am prepared for all that mayhem: there’s a shop at the lodge I am staying. I bought a nice jacket and some additional protection against the rain. Bring it on!

On my way back from the visitor centre I followed one of the easy walking tracks here. Well just enjoy the views.

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Oh by the way, I found the resort where Bugs Bunny goes to when he’s on holiday:

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He wasn’t there by the way (much too cold now I think).

It’s been a pleasant day. My mood is back to “normal”. The weather is not that good by now (it is 22:00 here and it’s pouring…). But perhaps I will be surprised with nice blue skies again like this morning. We will see.

The track of today:

Saturday 25 April 2009

Bad hair day.

After all that walking yesterday, it’s time to do some distance again. Today’s goal: Launceston. It’s the second biggest town in Tasmania (about 90.000 people).

The day didn’t start very well. I am a bit cranky today and nothing goes very smoothly. You know: things fall when they shouldn’t, nothing is where it should be and you forget everything you shouldn’t forget (like where you left your car key)… It’s a good thing I am traveling alone today 😉

Perhaps this is all caused by the fact that the resort doesn’t offer breakfast. I think it is. Therefore first stop: any place that sells coffee. Since there are not a lot of towns here, the first option is Bicheno. I found a nice spot in the Bicheno harbor to have my coffee and my sandwich. Then I noticed that the waves were quite a bit higher then yesterday. And there’s far more wind today as well (hey, perhaps that’s the cause of the higher waves…).

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According to the map I got with my car, there’s a lookout just north of Bicheno. And I got a nice booklet called “60 Great Short Walks” when I got to Freycinet park. According to this booklet, there’s a walk to that lookout. Okay, let’s go. Found it. And guess what?

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Hey that’s a big improvement for my mood… Temperature outside: about 17 degrees. Temperature in the car: higher than the airco can manage 😥

The roadmap of Tasmania is not very complex. There are only a few important highways that basically go around the island and connect all the major towns and cities. It’s not very practical to put more roads in: there are just no more towns and there may be mountains or rivers making it impossible to get to certain places.

The landscape looks very much like what you could see in the UK. Green hills and every now and then a few houses, some trees and rivers. Looking around there are a few things that are quite obvious: they have really black cattle here, there are a lot of sheep and they like to cut down trees as well.

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On my way I noticed that there were more and more clouds coming in. The temperature was dropping as well. The weather is getting worse…

In order to make the trip a bit more interesting, every now and then I challenge my Tom Tom by turning into a road that’s on my map and should bring me (more or less) to the same destination as Tom is bringing me to. Sometimes Tom is very persistently stating “turn around”, “go back”. Most of the times because he doesn’t want me to go on this type of roads:

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But they are far more interesting then the highway…

Well the closer I get to Launceston… just look at the pictures.

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By the time I get there it’s raining and the temperature is down to 12 degrees… Combined with my current mood, that’s not good. Time to find the hotel and just forget this day…

The track of today:

Friday 24 April 2009

Freycinet National Park

When I woke up this morning, I noticed some strange sounds outside. After a few minutes I realized that my neighbor had changed shape. Oh, look: his relatives are also around.

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By the way, this is what I see when I look out of my window today:

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Yesterday when I stopped at the visitor centre, I asked the nice ladies what I could do in one day in this park. Her reply: there’s a 11 kilometer, 5 hour walk that shows you all the high lights. Well, that’s easy: let’s go.

First part of the track leads to Wineglass Bay and on your way to the bay (hey that rimes) you pass the Coles Bay lookout. From there you see this:

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The last one is not standard…

The weather is great for a nice long walk today. It’s about 16 degrees, there’s a bit of sun and the wind is not too strong. On to the next stop: Wineglass Bay lookout. The steps are getting steeper now. But then you have a nice view on the bay. I think these are not the best pictures of this bay. If you are not happy with my interpretation: start Google and find yourself some better views. Or even better: come here and try to come up with better ones.

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Then it’s down a lot of steps and you will end up at the beach of the bay. It’s still early and therefore there are not a lot of people around. For those who don’t want to do all the walking: it’s also possible to get here by boat or if you only want beautiful pictures: there are also scenic flights to this bay.

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Nice isn’t it?

The next stop is the Hazards Beach. It’s an easy stroll; no climbing or steps on this track. On your way you pass Hazards Lagoon.

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And you may make some new friends on route as well.

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Perhaps it’s not as beautiful as the Wineglass Bay, but it’s not a bad place to be.

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From here you have two options: go back the way you came or follow the beach and then there’s quite a long (11 kilometers) track that follows the coastline around the base of Mt Mayson back to the car park. Well I still remember the steps I came down and I don’t like the idea of having to go up all of them again… Therefore I choose the other track. On my way over to Wineglass Bay I met a couple that was familiar with this track. According to them it’s very long and it feels like it never ends. We will see.

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After walking for about 2 hours I got back to the car park. The couple was right: it looks like it never ends and then suddenly you’re there. It’s a nice walk and by far not as difficult as climbing up all the steps from Wineglass Bay. It just takes a bit more time…

That’s enough exercise for today. Back to the room and after a nice shower I “did” the area the “Japanese style”; that is by car and every now and then get out and take picture…

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Although there’s probably far more to see and do here, it’s clear that this is the end of the season. It’s very quiet and when I talked to the lady in the local “super market” she stated that she was bored and wished that winter was over again. It shows. There are only a limited amount of rooms booked in the resort I am in and a lot of activities like canoeing are not open.

Well I have seen a nice piece of Freycinet National Park. If I would have wanted to see more, it would take probably a week of real bushwalking. And since that doesn’t fit in my schedule, it’s time to leave…

The walking track of today:

Thursday 23 April 2009