As expected, the seats were only just comfortable enough to pass out in, sleeping was a little harder, but persistence paid off in the end. I think I got about 4.5 reasonable hours of sleep before they woke us at 5:45 to let us know that we have 45 minutes to get ready to leave (5 minutes would have been sufficiently early for me…).
Because dinner last night had been fruit, I was actually really hungry this morning, so we stopped earlier than planned to have a snack at a small town called Penguin. This town really embraced the whole Penguin thing, they adorned everything from the signs to the trash cans. They also had the Big Penguin (which is actually what prompted me to have breakfast here. I’m not going to lie, I was expecting something a little bigger…
I wanted to see a tulip farm at Table Cape, but there was a sign in the entrance saying that it was closed for viewings, even though the recommended time of year is from late-September to mid-October (now). There were still plenty of tourists entering the place. Their tourist brochure claims ‘modest entry fee’, but $8 each was a little too much for us to see some colourful tulips, that may or may not have even been there (we couldn’t see anything). As we were leaving the area, continuing our bearing west, we saw this bright patch of colour in an otherwise dreary/rainy landscape. Sadly, we couldn’t really get all that close to the flowers, but it was raining now, and this was going to have to do.
Further west we could see what looked like a large rocky island in the distance. As we got closer we realised that it was a part of a peninsular. This chunky landmark is called The Nut (I’m not sure if that’s its nickname, or if it’s genuinely what it is called…). It was still dreary, but I knew I had to climb it (fatigue be damned). Risa was exhausted so she caught up on some sleep in the car (we were told that it was about an hour return – took me less than 30 minutes). The trail takes a rather direct route up the side so it was quite a steep climb and it really got my lungs working. There was a small chair lift running, but at $14 I thought they were dreaming – they weren’t, I was one of the few that bothered to walk up it, and walking was faster.
We’ve been seeing lots and lots of these guys dead on the road (and a huge number of possums). They’re quite small, not much larger than a large cat and they were everywhere on The Nut. Oh, and I’m pretty sure that it’s a mother with a baby, not a freakishly fertile male.
The trail looped around the perimeter of The Nut, giving beautiful (near enough to) 360˚ views (the trail doesn’t quite follow the edge). The beaches in town were surprisingly beautiful, and I can only imagine how nice it could be here during summer (still cold in the water though I’d bet).
Lonely Planet made a joke about this town (Stanley), “How do you recognise a poor person in Stanley?” “They’re the one eating a crayfish sandwich.” Supposedly this place is crayfish central, but this was the only place we could find that was selling them, and prices started at $70/kg for frozen, $110 for live and $120 for fresh cooked! I had to take back the offer of crayfish I’d offered to Risa… There was also a big trawler that was unloading large crates of scallops. I told Risa that she should try and sweet-talk the fishermen into getting a few for free/cheap – she didn’t.
We’d nearly reached the west-coast, so we started heading south. This little guy was casually strolling across the road, and if I hadn’t aggressively tried to avoid him, I may have had a puncture in my tyre. We ran after him with cameras in hand, but he’d assumed the defensive position with his head hidden. I gave him a quick pat and let him be.
We came to Arthur River, which is one of the many rivers in the west of Tasmania that is still quite wild/undeveloped. It was really amazing seeing all of the logs that have washed downstream over who knows how many years. And, it wasn’t just in the river, it was all along the coastline, which is apparently ‘The Edge of The World’. They say that if you continue West from here the first thing you hit is Argentina…
We were planning on following this western road down towards Queenstown, even catching a small ferry to cross one of the larger and still undeveloped rivers.
… I say ‘planning’ because the road actually was shut due to a landslide that happened with all the horrible weather last week. Sadly, our only option was to return way back to near where we’d had breakfast and then head south towards Cradle Mountain. It was an incredibly frustrating and time-consuming detour, but we were told that we had no alternatives… At least now with daylight savings we have a little more time each day.
The weather had cleared a little, but I was beginning feel very, very tired, especially now that we were re-travelling the same ground – though it did give me a second chance with some photos, like this large manganite processing plate. My eyelids were heavy, and it was hard to focus, so we had to keep stopping for quick breaks to freshen up. I should have had a sleep in the back, but every time I stopped driving, I perked up and no longer felt tired… At least the drive towards Cradle Mountain was nice and twisty, which really helped with alertness.