THURSDAY 6 JANUARY HOBART
John said he was feeling better and that we could tackle something a little more ambitious today. So I packed a picnic lunch and we headed off driving up the Derwent Valley, on the highway, through New Norfolk.
The first stop was at Plenty, at the Salmon Ponds. Despite the name, this is principally a trout hatchery. Dating from the 1860’s, it is the oldest trout hatchery in the southern hemisphere, having its origins in the nostalgia of settlers for the familiar flora and fauna of Britain. There, salmon fishing was a popular pastime, so there was a wish to stock the colonial streams.
In the 1860’s some live salmon and a few trout eggs were successfully transported and the Plenty Salmon Ponds date from then. It was expected that the salmon hatched here would migrate as usual, to sea, then return to the place of their hatching, as is normal. But they had other ideas, so that experiment did not work. However, the few trout eggs hatched and the offspring established themselves very successfully in Tasmanian waterways, so the place became a trout hatchery, eventually supplying trout for stocking of streams over much of Australia and New Zealand.
Grand gardens were established, in the English style, around the trout ponds.
It cost us $5 and $3.75 for entry. John got an “older person’s” discount! Since he was not yet 60, he wasn’t sure whether to be pleased or insulted!
The visit here was absolutely fascinating and worth every cent. We each bought a 20cent container of fish food, from a dispensing machine. This provided us with great entertainment for over an hour!
We were able to walk the paths alongside the ponds and feed huge trout, both rainbow and brown, albino trout – easy to see – and salmon. They do hatch some of the latter now too. These really jumped ferociously out of the water to take the food.
Spent some time browsing in the excellent trout fishing museum, housed in what was the house of the first superintendent of the Ponds, built in 1865.
We drove on further west, to Mt Field National Park. On the way, John had an empty log truck sit right behind us, partially pulled out and just about touching our back corner, trying to push John over so he could pass. It was a two lane road, but the lanes were not all that wide. It was not a pleasant experience – our first encounter with the notorious Tasmanian timber jinker drivers!
There is quite a little settlement at what is called National Park, at the base of the range, where the National Parks headquarters are. It is a popular place, being the start point for the fairly short walk to the iconic Russell Falls.
We ate lunch in the car park there, then set out for a walk. Our first goal was Russell Falls, then we went on to Horseshoe Falls. This first part of the track was quite busy with other day trippers. We are not really used to sharing our walks with numbers of other people!
We continued on the medium grade, two hour circuit track to Lady Barron Falls and then back around to the car park. This section really sorted out the walkers and was much quieter! It was very pleasant walking through the forest, with lots of man ferns beside the track, which followed a creek for much of the way.
All three sets of falls were beautiful, with a reasonable amount of water flowing.
On the way back to the car park where we’d left Truck, we took a detour through the campground. It looked a very pleasant area. It was very busy, but should be less crowded by the time we can come here, so hope we will be able to find a site then.
Drove back to Hobart, the way we’d come. Drove 149kms today.
We got back just too late to catch the Post Office before closing.
We had a phone message from a man from Tourism Tasmania – a researcher – and phoned him back. He wanted to come and see John tomorrow, because he was interested in talking to experienced caravanners! Us? This is in response to the letter John sent about our reactions to Tasmanian facilities for nomads like us. Or rather, lack thereof.
There was also a message from John’s nephew I – he and family are on a trip over here.
Tea was an omelette and potato slices.
Phoned K who assured John the mail had been sent, as asked. We had a pleasant chat.
This was an enjoyable day. Really enjoyed the forest walking.