I checked out of my motel in Queenstown, Tasmania, and grabbed a delicious toastie from a nearby restaurant before hitting the road. The road leaving the small town climbed up the mountain that is on the edge of town. A road sign warned, “Rest Survive The Drive.” The roads in Tasmania are very curvy, making it challenging. The sign listed how long it would take to get to nearby destinations because you can’t use mileage as a gauge with the constant zig-zagging on the roads.
I drove up the mountain and stopped at the top. There was a “Welcome to Queenstown” sign which overlooked the whole town. It was still cold outside, with clouds turning the sky white. There were green trees and bushes, but also a lot of brown dirt and rocks.
Shortly after that stop, I pulled over to see an old mine filled with water. The rock walls had layers that had been cut as it got deeper. In the middle of the circle was an emerald green pool of water. The edges of the water were yellow. It was beautiful!
In the distance, I could see an abandoned town. The sign read, “The settlement you see in the distance is Gormanston. It is living proof that our destiny can unravel in an instant.”
There were a few towns that were created with the mining, but not all survived. The sign explained, “They were the product of a bitter feud between two mining men and their rival companies. The men, James Crotty and Bowes Kelly, had by the end of the 1880s each built their own major mine, smelters, railway, port and series of towns, housing a total of 10,000 people.”
The sign continued, “Crotty had the richest mine, North Lyell, which suffered from poor management and financial blunders. Kelly’s Mount Lyell Mining Company had astute leadership but diminished ore reserves. A merger was inevitable.”
They reached an agreement in 1903, and it went against the North Lyell Company. The sign described what happened next, “The town of Darwin, south of here, was abandoned almost overnight. Crotty was soon deserted – its site is now below man-made Lake Burbury. Pillinger, at Kelly Basin, with brand new wharves, houses, shops and brickworks, lingered for a few years. Gormanston and its sister town, Linda, despite much adversity, have managed to survive with a permanent population of around 50 people. New recreation opportunities rather than mining are now the life blood of the communities.”
It was wild to see how fast towns could be created and destroyed. Life on the island was remote, and I could see why people gravitated to where other people were.
I continued driving, and the views were incredible! At one point, trees were to my right, and water was to my left. Mountains surrounded the water. Even though it was cloudy and misty, it was still beautiful.
I stopped at a hiking trail at Franklin River and walked along the path for an hour. It was peaceful and reminded me of the Pacific Northwest (USA). It was wet, raining off and on. It was also cold.
I continued driving past green farmland and rolling hills. The road took me up and down various mountains. There were virtually no cars around.
I arrived at The Wall and pulled over. It’s a building in the forest that has wooden sculptures in a gallery. Pictures aren’t allowed, and a sign warned, “Badly behaved children will not be tolerated. Please think about the supervision of your child before entering to avoid any unpleasant repercussions. By order of the Artist.”
Once I was inside, I understood why the artist was so concerned. His artwork is incredible! There were panels of wood with various stories of people, animals, and the landscape. It told the story of Australia. Some panels were smooth, and others were 3D. They were all very detailed and realistic. The beginning of Australia was a hard life for those who ventured there.
There was a sign from the artist explaining that he didn’t intend his work to be political like most contemporary art does these days. He just started working and let it unfold.
The artist, Greg Duncan, uses Huon Pine to create the masterpieces. Some of the pieces were incomplete and were still being worked on. Greg said he’ll work on it until it feels complete. There wasn’t much about aboriginal culture because they wouldn’t participate. The artist has said he realized it’s their story to tell. You can view glimpses of his work here.
Once I was finished browsing the gallery, I went into the cafe. I ordered soup and tasty biscuits with jam and cream. I browsed Airbnb for a place to stay that night. I found a homestead, and I couldn’t wait to get there!
I continued driving, and the landscape became a little drier and browner. Some of the roads weren’t paved, and it felt remote. I stopped at Little Pine Lagoon Lakeside Reserve. I walked around a grassy area, and kangaroos were out eating. If I got too close, they’d hop off into the distance.
It was time to keep driving, and the road took me up a mountain with views for miles. Once I was at the bottom again, I drove past sheep and cow farms with bright green grass. The clouds started to dissipate, and the blue sky peeked through.
I arrived at Belmont Homestead at 6:00 pm, just before dark. The owner came out to greet me. She was in her late 50s to early 60s. She was tall and was wearing modern city-type clothes. Her hair was pulled back in a sophisticated way, and she wore glasses and nice makeup. She was fit and pretty. Her look didn’t seem to fit the homestead and country vibe.
The woman told me that she and her husband bought the property two years before, but he passed away at the beginning of the year. She couldn’t handle the property independently because it was too much work, so she was selling it.
The woman walked me around the outside of the property. She rented the main house and lived in a separate wing. There was a small cottage that she also rented out. I was staying in the converted truck!
The landscaping was beautiful around the house! There were chickens and mini-goats in two different pens. When we arrived at the mini-goats, the woman let me feed them through the fence. They looked like stuffed animals and loved when I scratched their heads!
The woman walked me to the converted truck where I’d be staying. She explained that they took the large truck bed and put an arched ceiling, bathroom, and balcony on it. The previous owners started it, but she finished it and decked it all out. The truck cab was still attached to the front. Stairs and a small porch were leading to the front door.
I walked inside, and the design looked like a gypsy. There were a lot of purple items and crystal designs. The bathroom was by the front door, and the main room had a full-sized bed, a couch, and a little kitchenette. There was a sliding glass door leading to a porch on the backside with views of the property. The sunset was a pretty purple-pinkish color.
The truck was cozy and comfortable. I ate dinner in my room and watched some T.V. This was one of the most unique stays that I’ve ever been to. The more unique stays that I found, the more I wanted to own/host something like that.
The following day, I walked around the property because I wanted to pet the goats again. As I approached their fence, I noticed two of them were outside of the pen! One of them walked over to me, sniffed my shoe, and then lightly bit my big toe! Then he tried to eat my jeans.
I grabbed some grass and fed the mini-goats inside and outside the pen. They really loved it when I scratched their head, and I loved petting them. Their eyes were so beautiful with unique pupils.
Next, I walked over to the chicken pen and called them over. They all came running and were curious about me. The whole property was peaceful, and I didn’t want to leave.
I had more to see, so I drove to Wineglass Bay. On the way, I saw a winery called Devil’s Corner. There were beautiful views, so I pulled over. I climbed into a structure they had onsite and was rewarded with views of the fields, ocean, and mountains in the distance. I ordered a coffee for take-away and continued my drive.
When I arrived at Freycinet National Park, I went inside a building to buy a permit for the area. I walked around a beach where boats were parked in the ocean and houses were on the hillside.
When I arrived at the hike that would take me to Wineglass Bay, I quickly realized it would be a steep incline. Sometimes the path was just dirt with a steep slope, and other times it was a never-ending staircase of rock steps.
It was chilly outside, but the sun came out, providing some warmth. The steps were a workout, so I had that cold sweat going on.
There were a lot of people climbing up and down the path. Once I arrived at the top, there was an incredible view of the ocean. The mountains surrounded the ocean that was a circle, with a smaller opening to the rest of the ocean.
As I pondered why it was called Wineglass Bay, I overheard a tour guide telling his group how it got the name. When they used to have a lot of whaling, the water turned blood red from the creatures being murdered, making it appear that it was a glass of red wine.
That was a horrible image, and I was glad the water was now a pretty blue. There were longer hikes available that would take you to the beach, but I didn’t have time to go farther.
I turned back towards my car and started the long descent down. The mountains had many shrubs and greenery, and it reminded me of parts of southern California hiking.
I drove back across the peninsula to Cole’s Bay, and there was a small town there. I grabbed lunch and sat outside at a cafe overlooking the ocean. I couldn’t help but hear a guy around 20 years old talking with his mother. He had spent a few months in the U.S. When the server brought his coffee out to him, he told his mom, “That’s another thing that’s different in the U.S. Their coffee is extremely hot, almost boiling. I suppose it’s because they sip on it for hours, so they need it to stay warmer longer.”
I was amused by the conversation and realized that we do drink our coffee over a period of time, sipping it. Australians drink many cups a day, often smaller than the U.S. cups, but they drink it fast.
I continued driving to Port Arthur. I was treated to views of the ocean, trees, and farms.
I pulled over a couple of times when I saw a lookout spot or a sign. One sign read, “Spiky Bridge,” so I pulled over. Sure enough, it was a spiky bridge. It was a small, old bridge that had concrete on the sides. Buried into the concrete were uneven, sharp metal bars sticking up.
The drive often provided views of the ocean, and I did my best to view it while driving. Thankfully, there weren’t many cars around.
I stopped for gas, and it cost $164.9 per liter ($6.21 per gallon). While I pumped my gas at the small station, the guy (Adam) next to me asked about my travels. I explained that I had driven around the entire country, and Tasmania was my last section, and I was almost done with it too.
Adam was impressed with my trip and said, “Good on ya!” He said that he hadn’t seen Western Australia and he was from Melbourne. I told him that W.A. is a wonderful and unique place. He was so excited to hear about my travels that it made me even more excited!
I continued driving and took a longer, less-traveled route. It was a bumpy, dirt road, and it reminded me of the outback. I passed farms and climbed up and down hills.
I arrived at my motel, which was small cottages, just before dark. It was just outside of Port Arthur, and the owner met me in the lobby. She walked me to my room and explained that she and her husband lived there. She was really friendly and said that she turned the heat on for me so that it would be warm when I arrived.
The woman and her husband bought the property two years earlier. They gutted the rooms and made them larger. Everything was new inside. The woman said she was so nervous when they ripped everything apart, and she wondered what she was doing.
The woman was from Tasmania but left decades ago. She realized that she kept coming back, so she decided to stay. I could tell that she was nervous that their enormous investment would work out, so I gave her a good review.
My room was huge! There was a queen-sized and a twin bed. It was brand new, but the kitchenette had basic fixtures. It was a comfortable room, and I slept well. This seemed to be a common theme in Tasmania – people in their 50-60s buying accommodations and hoping that it would set them up nicely for retirement. I was happy to stay with them. Not only did I get to support small businesses, but I also got to stay in many unique places with personal touches.
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