TOURING IN THE RAIN
January 27-29, 2016
East coast of Tasmania – Swansea, Lagoon Beach Nature Reserve, Launceston
Our luck with great weather in Tasmania has run out. Rain has arrived on the east coast just as the holiday season was ending and most of the mainland visitors were leaving the island. We had planned to do a leisurely tour of the East coast in this period and then head over to hike in the Walls of Jerusalem NP. But out of control bush fires are still burning in areas of the north and northwest of the state so the Walls of Jerusalem park is closed to visitors. And in the beachy east coast of the state it is raining and will continue to do so for at least a week.
So we have decided to end our Tasmanian adventuring and have booked our departure for Monday morning 1st February from Davenport. This gave us 5 days to drive from Hobart, up the east coast to Davenport where the Spirit of Tasmania ferry terminal is located.
Day 1 – Our last stop in Hobart before leaving was a haircut for Hammer and a drive to the top of Mt Wellington. The sun was still sunshine for the haircut but by the time we reached Mt Wellington a heavy black cloud had started to descend and we saw the last of the sunshine down in the distance. The views from the top would be stunning on a good day but today we were racing the descending clouds to see anything. The clouds seem to filled with icicles and not rain.
A steady rain on leaving Hobart turned into a downpour as we headed north to Tribunna. Any thoughts of going out to Maria Island were quickly abandoned once we got there. The rain was now accompanied by strong coastal winds. We got as far as Swansea for the day.
Day 2 – Next morning the sun was shining. Great we thought, perfect for visiting Freycinet National Park. But the sunshine was short-lived and before we even entered the park, the grey clouds which were hovering in the distance, descended and started a downpour. We sat in the car and waited for the rain to ease. When it did, we walked out to the Wineglass Bay lookout and then the lighthouse. The view we had did not match the tourist postcards. But it’s not hard to imagine that it would on a clear sunny day.
After a brief lunch in Bicheno we stopped to camp at Lagoon Beach Nature Reserve to the north. The rain had cleared we went for a walk on the beach which stretched out a long way into the misty distance. It was beautiful, deserted and desolate. The salty sea air was so dense it tasted like dashi stock. The grey clouds in the distance looked threatening. And sure enough by the time we got back to camp and had dinner, the sky has opened up again.
Day 3 – we survived a scary night camping out by the beach. We were woken at 2 am by a thunder clap and lightening that was so close we could smell the electrical charge. This went on for almost 2 hours. We packed up at first light while there was a break in the rain. A steady rain began to fall almost as soon as we headed out. We were feeling lucky to have survived the night, staying dry and that we managed to pack up before the rain started. By the time we reached Scamander the rain was so strong, it was a torrential downpour, the streets were flooded and you could not see through the windscreen of the car. It was frightening as there was nowhere to stop. Hammer saw a side street going uphill and drove across a raging flow of water to get uphill and to higher ground to wait for the rain to ease. Again just lucky not have been flooded in the car.
As the rain eased we went to St Helens hoping to get breakfast. Unfortunately the whole town was without power so no breakfast or coffee. We waited for a while for power to be restored. Great to walk around the huge harbour and relax after our scary night and morning drive. We decided to head out to Launceston and stay there for the rest of our time in Tassie. The weather has gone crazy. I read an interesting article about the impact of the fires on Tasmania’s Wilderness areas (At Risk of Being Lost Forever ). I did not fully appreciate the difference fire makes to vegetation here compared to other Australian landscapes where adaptation to fire had occurred. It is truly heartbrakingly sad.