FRIDAY 25 FEBRUARY CYNTHIA BAY TO QUEENSTOWN 98kms
I got up about 8am. There was some mist and cloud just rising off the lake and I took my mug of coffee down to sit and watch it. It really is a beautiful place here, despite the deficiencies of the campground.
We were slow packing up and getting away – John adjusted both van brakes before we left and that involved some fiddling about. It was 11am when we left the campground.
Out on the highway, John thought the van brakes were working better.
The run to Queenstown was straightforward enough, quite winding for much of the way. We had seen almost all of it yesterday.
Since we were last in these parts, the HEC had dammed the upper King River and created the very large Lake Burbury. The highway follows the shores of this in parts, and one gets interesting glimpses of water through the trees. A long bridge takes the highway across the lake and gives very scenic views both ways of the lake and surrounding mountains.
The final 6km downhill section was not as difficult as I had feared. It was a steady downhill run, but not as steep as the road down into Tarraleah had been. But it was quite winding. We did not end up with smoking brakes this time, though they smelled a bit warm!
That Gormanston Hill descent has some vertiginous drop-offs and being a passenger going down is not much fun.
I was amazed at how much the vegetation has grown back on the once bare hills surrounding Queenstown since the copper smelter closed down in 1969. The early miners cut down the timber on the surrounding hills, for quite a distance. Then the fumes from the sulphuric acid treatment in the smelter poisoned off any remaining vegetation. I first came to Queenstown in 1962 and it was like I envisioned the moon would look – bare and crater like.
On the way through town, to the caravan park, we saw where the new ABT railway station was being built, as part of the project to restore the railway. This was of real interest to me, because the reason I came here in 1962, was to ride on the original train to Strahan, and back, on one of its last journeys.
We had decided to have a look at the Queenstown Cabin and Tourist Park and, if it was reasonable, to use this as our base in this area. Back in 1993, we’d camped at the caravan park in Strahan and it was not a pleasant memory. We really did not want to go there unless there was no alternative.
As it turned out, the park was pleasant enough. The surface of the sites was gravel, but one would expect that here, where even the football oval is gravel! With the high rainfall levels of these parts, even if grass would grow, it would get horribly soggy! There has been an effort to grow shrubs in tubs to screen sites, and the amenities are clean and adequate. $15 a night, with the seventh night free.
It had become quite a warm day in Queenstown. We were sweating, doing the camp set up.
After setting up and having lunch, we drove to the central shopping area. The town is in the valley of the Queen River, so is long and narrow, following the valley.
At the town centre, we encountered the 4WD Radio Network lady again. She is staying in Queenstown too, having investigated and found Strahan too awful. She and friends are driving the Mt McCall Track tomorrow. John decided we should join them and, after unloading the shopping and me back at camp, went off to get the required key and permit from the National Parks Office, and to wash the underside of Truck – also required – to prevent the spread of root rot. He refuelled Truck – 94cpl.
While John was gone, I did two loads of washing. Put the socks and jocks through the dryer. Hung T shirts and the like outside the van, on lines under the awning. Thought I might need to put them through the dryer tomorrow, to finish them off. It was good to have the dirty wash bucket somewhat reduced.
We found that the mobile phone worked here. There were two messages – one from the bookshop about the ordered book. One from K, whose job at the hotel has changed; in the flurry of his new sales role he’d forgotten to send the mail. For once this was good, because we’d earlier asked him to send it to Strahan. His message said he’d send it Monday if we let him know where to.
TV reception, apart from SBS, was excellent here, which rather surprised me, with the hills all round.
The water is not drinkable. The park has a rainwater tank.
Tea was bought fish and chips. They were rather greasy, but huge servings.
After tea, John phoned daughter R, as it was her birthday.
A big huntsman spider came into the van, through the partly open pressure hatch, where John had brought the TV aerial cable through. The spider sat on the ceiling of the van – John had to capture and remove it to the outside garden. It was a surprising visitor for this area – I wondered if it had been tucked away somewhere under the poptop roof, since the treed camps of Cynthia Bay or Mt Field. If so, would certainly be out of its comfort zone here!