Last Saturday, mid-morning my friend and I set out for a calm and unmeasured drive into western Tasmania – to a location way north of the relatively inaccessible Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour, and south east from the west coast mining towns of Queenstown and more. We knew the soft grey skies of Hobart would change incrementally to heavier grey as we travelled west but we hoped the roads would remain dry for our passage. With the exception of a rare couple of drops of rain, we were lucky to have unimpeded views of the increasingly mountainous landscape and enjoy the move from agricultural land to wet forest vegetation the further we travelled.
After a fuelling stopover in New Norfolk our next stop was the (once tiny) town of Maydena. Almost three years ago a dedicated and specialist mountain biking track was built above the town. We saw cars parked along both sides of all the Maydena streets and in the grounds of their ex-school ‘home base’ for this cycling opportunity, as more vehicles with bikes on their backs or the roofs entered town. Kids and adults wheeled around either ready to tackle the track or recently returned. In 2017, on my last visit, only two people were seen; Saturday’s mass of activity and volume of people was astounding.
On main roads around Tasmania, new signage has been erected – puzzlingly without a source. Yesterday I saw our road badged as the ‘Western Wilds’.
Later, at our accommodation, I noted one of the staff wearing a T-Shirt bearing this new logo.
Out from Maydena and beside the road, a large bright yellow sign indicated care was needed because of the effects of fire on forests further ahead; we thought of the possibility of dead trees falling across the road. The last wave of massive bushfires in Tasmania occurred at the end of 2018 and into 2019 – time passes and it is easy to forget the conflagrations that engulf so much. On Saturday the reminder took the form of hectares of burnt forests. Thankfully many of the trees did not die and the evidence of their life was the new growth around their limbless trunks. Lime green native grass shoots punctuated the blackened ground.
A stunningly sharp view of the Sentinels were easy to see through the near naked plants.
Nearby we stopped to feel the scale of the landscape, and marvel at the grandeur despite the burnt vegetation.
I remained awed by the prominences in the landscape.
And then, suddenly, a flash of silver alerted me to one part of the eastern end of the very large Lake Pedder, an expanse of water embroiled in political turmoil in the 1970s.
The water surface was calm, almost mystical.
At the Pedder Wilderness Lodge we moved into our rooms and unpacked before settling into the comfortable public lounges overlooking Lake Pedder. I was delighted to see a colourful parrot looking in the window, obviously at ease with the comings and goings of visitors. Seemed to me to be a learned habit perhaps from being fed.
The view was expansive and grand.
This part of Tasmania is one of the wettest with few totally dry days. Soon after our arrival a substantial cloud burst cleaned the air. Through the night I woke often to the comforting sound of torrential rain on the roof which reminded me of growing up on Tasmania’s north west coast where the tin rooves were the drum for rain.