We wander in and wonder at the beauty of our "Land Down Under".

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Hit the road, Jack!

The day of departure finally arrived. But before we left we had a breakfast engagement at Jackman & McRoss in New Town with our friends David and Margot. Once back home we methodically packed up the camper trailer and headed north towards Devonport. Did we forget anything? Time will tell! Here's our route:

(Isn't it terrific how the mainland doesn't look that much bigger than Tassie in this image?)

As it was such a gorgeous day, we decided to take the Lake Highway so we could enjoy the walk at Pine Lake atop the plateau. This is one of Tasmania’s Great Short Walks and we love stopping by here from time to time. In a broken landscape the lake and its communities of Pencil Pines are a glittering jewel. The pines struggle on: the elder trees - some of them a thousand years old - providing shelter for the younger ones. The thickset trunks of the veterans are testament to the short growing season and harshness of the environment here. But on this beautiful autumn day we stroll in t-shirts and shorts.

Here's a sign to tell you about this cool (pun intended) little place...

... and one of Di on the boardwalk to protect the fragile plants and make walking easier on this river of rocks, a legacy of the last ice age ...

It's called Pine Lake, and the Pencil Pines are truly the attraction. Here's a photo of one of the older survivors:

Another sign, to better tell you about these beauties than I can:

The occasional show of Mountain Rocket adds a splash of colour to this otherwise fairly muted landscape:

Glaciation has really smashed the dolerite cap on this part of the Central Plateau, but the pines find their niche where there is water ...

... and there are lovely, intimate little windows into the landscape ...

... and hills - though broken - seem to beckon one to explore:

But we have a different destination today, and stroll back along the boardwalk ...

... past Cushion Plants and Scoparia to the car and the continuation of our drive to Devonport:

The passage across Bass Strait hardly warrants a mention.  With the calm weather we’d had for the past couple of days, and especially as we were at Pine Lake, we thought the ride would be a smoothy. Once we’d cast off and the captain got on the blower to tell us that he expected swells of half a metre we knew we’d sleep well. Here’s a photo of Di settled into her bunk playing Sudoko on her iPad:

Disembarking and driving out the Western Highway into the Wimmera has become a enjoyable ritual as we know that with every kilometre behind us we are getting closer to Natimuk and Mt Arapiles. We love being in this part of the world, different as it is from our wonderful Tasmania. We’ve been coming here off and on for thirty years, with yearly visits for about the past ten or so years, sometimes in Spring, sometimes Autumn. It’s hard to explain why exactly, apart from the obvious reason that we like to climb and Mt Arapiles is one of the World’s best crags. There are much more beautiful and exotic places to visit, but somehow being here has become part of the rhythm of our lives.

It's wheat farming country and here's a typical view from just across the road from where we're camped:

For the past few visits we’ve camped at the Natimuk Lake Caravan Park. The lake is slowly drying up with the lack of rain, but there is still plenty of bird life around. At the moment we are seeing  galahs, lorikeets, rosellas, white cockatoos, crested pigeons, shovellers and other ducky sorts of birds, black swans, magpies, fairy wrens and mobs swamp hens. Kookaburras wake us up in the morning and laugh us to sleep at night.

Here's what the lake is looking like currently. As you can see, it's much receded but you might be able to see some of the waterfowl that's still about:

If not, this snap takes you a bit closer:

While we were climbing - in the shade as it was twenty-nine degrees - we had a visit from a couple of Scarlet Rosellas.

Here's one of Di's photos ...

... and another, this time of the pair:

We’ve been here for a few days now and will stay on until late in April, hopefully to do a bit of climbing most days. We’ve been on rock each of the three days so far, albeit at a relaxed pace. We'll probably do a walk or two in the Grampians and maybe some climbing there as well.

We've got a great campsite here under the pepper trees. It's pretty dry, but nice and cosy:

Di is playing her tin whistle as a scattering of fairy wrens dance about our campsite looking for tidbits. I’m looking across at a couple of rosellas pecking at grubs under a tree near by. It’s all good. 

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