And so to the final leg of our journey - from Strahan on the west coast, through Queenstown to Pumphouse Point, then on to Hobart to fly home.
It was a wrench to leave Lettes Bay.
There's something very magical about that timeless little inlet that will stay with me forever. By the way don't you love the weather-protective improvised post caps?
Each morning when we woke, John would say, I'll just go and check the ducks. The day we left, the two mothers were sitting at the waters edge under the apple tree with their babies between them, looking the perfect picture of domestic bliss.
But we're always ready for a new adventure. Next stop, Pumphouse Point near the little town of Derwent Bridge, via Queenstown! Somewhere over those hills!
I've always associated Queenstown in Tasmania with that dreadful photo which used to circulate of a totally denuded mountain behind the mining town, glowering like a malevolent harbinger of evil. I wondered if it would still look the same.
Parts of it still do.
The town itself is at the bottom of a valley with mountains all around. But vegetation is gradually returning.
The tourist rail from Strahan terminates here in an impressive railway station.
Although there are a few well-maintained heritage buildings and a mining museum the town has an air of abandonment common to boom towns past their prime.
This old hotel in the centre of the mains street is being renovated as a B & B.
Through the dusty window I could see the old bar, slops drain at the base. I could almost hear the noisy laughter of miners who'd just finished their shift.... and the woman publican bustling behind the bar, pulling on the beer tap as she smiled at a customer, froth running down the sides of the glass on to her hand....
The road out of the valley is dramatic in its steepness.
This derelict building on the side of the road was once the Royal Hotel in Linda where miners were housed back in the early twentieth century. Sadly the neighbouring café has closed too. A victim of bureaucracy.
Close to Derwent Bridge, the road is lined with snow gums (eucalyptus pauciflora) following the edges of low-growing golden heathlands. I was desperate to stop for a photo session but there wasn't anywhere on the side of the road to park. This was from the car window.
I just loved the magnificent stands of mountain white gum (eucalyptus dalrympleana).
This is the tiny town of Derwent Bridge.
We were looking forward to lunch. There's a choice between the Hungry Wombat Café or the pub. I'm so glad we chose the café because their hamburgers were the best we've ever eaten.
The must-see here is The Wall and frankly while I thought it would be interesting I was sceptical about the extravagant reviews.
It's the brain child of Greg Duncan who is carving a 100 metre long 3 metre high tableau of the history of the highlands of Tasmania in Huon pine inside this very long building. An impressive construction by itself. But I had no idea that it contained the work of a total genius.
Greg is a sculptor in wood. His understanding of the physiology of humans and animals and his ability to represent their muscle, their sinew, their strength along with the softness of skin, fur, feathers, leather and fabric is simply masterful. I haven't the slightest hesitation in saying that his carving skill in wood equals Michelangelo’s in marble. His son Daniel is just as talented. I'm sorry that photos are not allowed inside.
This gate is part of the outdoor space for the café, so photos were allowed here. The symmetry speaks straight to my soul! He’s a metalworker too - can you believe the praying mantis?
You might like to buy a wine to sip as you wander the building - the bar is made from a very handsome old huon pine water pipe, held together by iron hoops. Or buy a giclée print from the mezzanine gallery. Whatever you do, don’t miss it, and allow enough time.
It wasn't far to the hotel called Pumphouse Point. It had been given quite a buildup too, so we had high expectations. It's at the southern end of Lake St Clair and the Cradle Mountain wilderness area.
photo courtesy of Pumphouse website
The pumphouse itself was built in the lake in 1940 for the Tasmanian hydro-electric scheme. It was decommissioned before it was ever used for that purpose.
There are twelve rooms at the end of the 250 metre bridge, six in the building onshore, plus a self-contained retreat.
There's nothing pretentious about the low-key casual atmosphere here - internally it's modern with an industrial edge.
Rooms are plainly furnished and quietly modern, breakfast is included in the tariff, dinners are optional communal affairs with large share platters. It's rather like being a guest at a dinner party in someone's home with the host missing - including all the fun of meeting new and interesting people.
All alcohol is on an honesty system and if you'd like a wine, you must buy a whole bottle.
We loved the complimentary sourdough loaf system! It takes 15 minutes to be baked and delivered crunchy and steaming to your door, where you can eat it just slathered with butter or with any of the extensive range of Tasmanian deli items in your frig. Perfect for a snack. Or lunch. Or dinner.
There are very short walks around the hotel, with longer ones a few kilometres away in the national park.
If you'd like to go on a longer walk, order a sourdough and take a picnic in the knapsack provided in your room.
Or ride one of the hotel bicycles, row a boat.
The buildings externally have not been touched - peeling and mildewed paint, swallows nesting, a few cobwebs from long long ago on our window. It's rather nice to go to sleep at night looking at the water. Provided you don't feel seasick!
I was amused to see the taps in the shower.
Loved Louise Olsen's Dinosaur Design platters and serving spoons.
Our first morning began fine and a little chilly.
With very pretty light on the trees around the lake.
Before long it was drizzling. We rather enjoyed watching it, especially knowing how dreadfully hot and steamy it was at home in Queensland. And dry.
We walked a little in the rain, relaxed a little, ordered sourdough.
The following morning I looked out the window to see a mist curling off the water, drifting across the lake, the sun casting a pink glow. As I watched, it thinned for a moment, then closed in again.
We raced downstairs, me with my phone, John with his camera. The temperature was 4 degrees C and after five minutes my fingers were hurting from the cold. But the photo opportunities were worth it.
Gradually it lifted. What a magic last morning!
But we'd reached the end of our seven week holiday in Tassie. It was time to leave. We loaded our bags into our little hire car, drove back to Hobart, and flew home to the heat.
Now, a couple of weeks later, it's already like a distant memory.
If you're wondering, I didn't write as much as I had hoped in Tassie. I was having too much fun. But now it's time to knuckle down in the peace of my office at home. There won't be much travel this year, although I do have a little surprise for you in a couple of weeks.....
I'll leave you with another photo of the mist that last morning.
Stay tuned... And of course you know my travelling buddies, as always, I wait you.