We set the alarm for 6 with the hope of leaving by 7am, on the long drive to Milford Sound, we got out by 7.20am so that was a victory. And so we set off on the four hour drive to Milford Sound via Te Anau hoping that the good weather forecast for Queenstown would carry over to Milford Sound. Silly me, I really should’ve checked the forecast for Milford Sound as it turned out to be a miserable afternoon there while beautiful weather cloaked Queenstown and surrounds all day. I didn’t even manage to capture any of the beauty of the pink sunrise (the Remarkables were looking especially photogenic) due to not wanting to cost us any travel time.
We stopped in Te Anau to have a snack and also pick up some food for lunch, we went with a bakery at the end of the main street near the lake, but it was quite over priced and turned out to be not great. The sandwiches we go were really average and the sauce that was inside made everything soggy, it is called Miles Better Pies, the pies were okay if expensive, but stay away from the sandwiches.
On we drove, and while we stopped at a couple of the viewing spots, I didn’t deem them worthy of a photo, it was mainly due to the time, bright morning light is not my favourite. One stop, Mirror Lakes was good according to Emmy but there were so many tourist buses there it kind of defeated the purpose. At this point the weather was still reasonable, but just before we got to Homer Tunnel it started to rain, and didn’t stop until we were well on our way back to Queenstown.
Even so (for me anyway), Milford Sound is still worth the visit, the landscape and waterfalls are beautiful and flowing fast in this kind of weather, although we barely even caught a glimpse of Mitre Peak. We did see some silly fat seals lying on the rocks (one even splashing in the water a bit), but no penguins this time. We went with the cheapest cruise that we could find, Jucy Cruise, which was fine, they’re all pretty much the same although I think some others might go a bit closer to the cliffs and waterfalls.
It was a bit unfortunate that we spent eight hours driving for the day, and then two hours on the cruise sitting inside avoiding the rain mostly, but live and learn, check the forecast for Milford Sound properly next time! I’ve been lucky enough to see it in sunny and rainy conditions now but for Emmy it was not to be, maybe next time we will stay nearby to avoid the long drive. It was a bit late when we got back so we just had dinner at the Hotel. My pork belly (with kumara rosti) was okay but Emmy said her fish and potatoes was bland.
Next up, a visit to Glenorchy.
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We went to Hobart over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend last week, we had a rough itinerary planned, we arrived on a Saturday, so the plan was to hit the Salamanca Market in the morning, and then head up to Mount Field National Park in the afternoon to see some waterfalls. Day two was our only full day so we would spend it at Port Arthur Historical Site (about 95km from Hobart), and day three we would drive up to Mount Wellington to get a view of Hobart. We arrived a bit before 9am and got into our rented car and headed for Hobart city centre.
I’m not sure if it was because it was a public holiday weekend, but there was no traffic heading into Hobart, and none really to speak of in town either. We hit the market but didn’t buy anything, it was quite good but souvenirs in Australia are just as tacky as they are anywhere around the world, maybe the local gourmet foods and condiments might have been good to buy, but we decided against it. After that we headed up to Mount Field National Park, mainly to see Russell Falls, but I guess also to see what else was in the national park. About two-thirds of the way there (65km drive) we noticed this most beautiful of hills, it was green with deciduous trees lining half of it, the sun was shining and clouds were hovering, the scenery was fantastic, too bad we couldn’t find anywhere to stop and take a picture. At the park we found a nice 2.5 hour walk around that would take in three waterfalls, Russell Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Lady Barron Falls, as well as some comfortable walking through lush forest.
Russell Falls seemed a bit dry, whereas Horseshoe Falls and Lady Barron Falls looked really good to me. After that we headed back to Hobart for dinner, we went to Blue Eyes where we both had fish, which was yummy.
Day two consisted of the 95km drive to Port Arthur, taking in the Tessellated Pavement, Tasman Arch, the Devil’s Kitchen, and the Blowhole, three naturally occurring geological formations of similar descriptions, basically they all were caves that eroded away and now ocean water smashes through into a small enclosed area. They were a little underwhelming to be honest, but perhaps it was low tide, one of them (I think it was Tasman Arch) had a really nice lookout next to it where you could see the pretty coastline with high cliffs. I thought the Tessellated Pavement was quite nice, the weather was quite dreary all day with periods of drizzle and some very short bursts of sunshine.
Port Arthur is obviously a significant historical site but if you know me, you probably know I found it a little boring, nothing especially photogenic there. Again, we went back to Hobart for dinner, this time at the Customs House Hotel, which just seemed like a standard pub in terms of the seafood.
Our final day in which we were to drive up to (the peak of) Mount Wellington, and also have some fresh oysters for lunch at Barilla Oyster Farm, and fit in whatever else we could be bothered doing. First we went to the oyster farm for lunch where we shared a 30 oyster platter which was yummy (except there were too many cooked cheesy oysters and not enough uncooked pear ones). After that we went back to Hobart to pick up a couple things before heading up to Mount Wellington. it was a bit of an overcast day and driving up I don’t think either of us held out much hope for a nice clear view at the top. By about midway the mist started creeping in and by the time we were pretty much at the top it was clear (not!) that the cloud cover was well and truly in and we would not be seeing anything. Visibility was about ten metres and the temperature was about three degrees, we didn’t hang around for long and headed back down and looked for any other lookout points of note, not really finding anything in the grey afternoon. After that we headed back to Barilla Oyster Farm to get some fresh oysters to take back to Melbourne. And that ends our three day trip to Hobart, we fit in quite a bit, saw the main things to see in (and around) Hobart, although we didn’t really wander around the CBD at all (not that there seemed to be much to see from what we saw driving through there), and didn’t stay out at night, neither of us can drink much so not much point by ourselves. I didn’t take any photos of it, but I did notice that there is a lot of road kill on the Tasmanian highways, not just small possums either, I reckon there were just as many wallabies and bigger animals on the side of the road too.
Good thing for me we didn’t hit any, the excess on the car was a whopping $3K. Overall happy with what we did, but we had hoped for a bit better weather (out of pure luck I guess) but it was not to be, it was the start of Winter I guess, amazing scenery down there, similar to New Zealand I would think, on a smaller scale, but would be amazing in any other season although you’d have to deal with a lot more people like me (tourists) then. I was actually surprised, I’d heard a lot about the two-headed Tasmanians expecting to see them around every corner, but in the end I only saw a couple, I guess they’re not as numerous as the sayings say they are.
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Good Friday was a warm day down here in Melbourne so we decided to use the day to go for another training walk around the Dandenong Ranges National Park. This week we went for the Olinda Falls and Cascade Track walk, it’s not a long walk by any stretch of the imagination, a bit less than 3km, but it does go through some bushy forest where the trail is quite narrow and the ferns and other plants encroach all over the path. There were even a couple of trees that fell down and blocked the path, the falls aren’t really a part of the trail, but that’s where the Cascade Track starts so we had a look at the falls as well as I’m always interested in taking photos of waterfalls.
The waterfalls themselves aren’t particularly big or spectacular but with a bit of work, any running water can be made to look quite beautiful. We spent about half an hour admiring the falls from both the upper and lower viewing platforms before venturing on to the trail. It’s probably only about 2km, half of it being downhill, but it’s not the friendliest trail I’ve ever walked on. I guess the threat of leeches was the main issue during our walk, and with two girls and one guy (the other one hah!) carrying on about the cockatoos screeching and the horrible leeches, it probably took a while longer than it needed to :D. I didn’t stop and take any photos of the dense bush that inhabits the trail but rest assured, the trail is not wide enough to walk two abreast (especially with the fear of leeches attaching to your body if you come into contact with any of the vegetation). After you finish going down hill and leave the Cascade Trail, it’s a short up hill walk along the road back to the Olinda Falls Picnic Ground, the trail is pretty much exactly as described in the link above just follow Doughty’s Road when returning to the picnic grounds. With knowledge of the leeches it’s probably a good idea to wear pants when walking this trail, especially if it might be wet at all, we went when it was probably at it’s driest (without there being a drought) and saw a few tiny leeches, but the down hill trail and amount of vegetation would make me think that a very treacherous and slippery walk would be waiting after some rain.
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