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  • Shelley Dark

#8 Falmouth to Launceston

After a very happy week at Falmouth we were excited to be on our way. I have three rules for a happy road trip: make sure there's a cricket test match on the radio, don't comment on John's driving style, and take a valium.

Our route from Falmouth to Launceston last Thursday had all the signs of a perfect dawdle. This charming route winds and meanders over mountains, down into valleys, through dense temperate rainforests and tall timbers, across fertile dairy farming plateaux, past old tin mining towns.

I had some stops planned. Six and half kilometres out of St Helens, before Pyengana, there's a great antique place called The Shop in the Bush. John was happy to stay in the car listening to the cricket.

It's a great mix - antique shop, book shop, vintage jewellery shop.

And it's BIG. The brainchild of Margaret and Allan Woodberry, it began life in 1982 as the Georges Trading company.

They've retired now, but the shop is powering on - I could have done a lot more damage than I did!

A few thousand more windy bends in the road later, we turned left towards Pyengana into this lovely dairying valley.

Past the cheese place and the Pub in the Paddock and then a quick walk through a tree fern forest to St Columba Falls - an easy 600 metres.

We skipped the Pub in the Paddock where there's a beer-drinking pig and settled for taking a photo of these happy campers in a paddock next to the driveway.

It was a hottish day for Tassie, and as many of these glossy friesian cows as could fit were contentedly standing in the water of the steep-sided creek running through the paddock.

Then for the famous Pyengana Farm Gate Café, where buses and cars were already beginning to fill the available parking. John said 'Please don't be too long.'

I wasn't too long - I just did a little taste-testing and some shopping. The family took up cheese-making when dairying became unprofitable, and now they even grow wasabi.

We moseyed on.

Haymaking is in full swing whereever we go, getting ready for the hard winter. We stopped a couple of times to take photos.

The radio reception by now full of static. Eeek.

John wondered why I wanted to photograph these naturalised foxgloves on a shady bend in the road - after all, I'd taken one the other day. One man's flower is another man's weed.

The scale of the trees and tree ferns is quite breath-taking. More bends! Sometimes I asked to stop to photograph them. I think John was doing deep breathing exercises in the cool mountain air.

​I took photos from the window of the car.

Although John found it difficult to find a safe park, we stopped at this field of opium poppies - a sign warned that people have died from experimenting with the roadside plants... there was probably just as much potential for harm in stopping to photograph them. Especially from the driver.

We were in full cruise mode when the serpent heralded the little town of Derby.

But the street was full of bicycles, people unloading them from cars, riding them, pushing them, helping children onto them, buying cycling equipment from two shops in town. Our tyres only made a little squeal as we came to a halt.

Derby was once a tin-mining town and when tin-mining died, so did the town. That is, until 2015 when the Blue Derby Trail Network began, a joint initiative between two local governments and the federal government. Bicycling trails were designed by professionals, and cyclists have been beating a path to the door ever since. Buses take them up into the mountains.

This is the Derby Schoolhouse Museum.