King Island was in our wake and the waypoint to Three Hummock Island was 65nm away. At 4.45pm that afternoon our path crossed with the one that we had made on the 28/2/2009
at 12 midday. We let out a cheer and congratulations to Us!!!! Yippee!! This was the unofficial/official point that we mark as our Complete Circumnavigation of Australia. From here on we will be crossing our tracks!!!!
Friends, Dannielle and Alyn, Lets Go, had left Lake Macquarie on Boxing Day to come and help us celebrate and cruise Tasmania with us. They were on shore when we rounded the point with the caretakers of Three Hummock Island, Beverley and John and we were given a Hip Hip Hooray!!!! Also another yacht in the bay Bass Voyager, Michael and Caitlan extended their congratulations. Happy Hour was on Opal Lady and all came to celebrate with us. Danny and Beverley gave a speech and we accepted a beautiful certificate from Lets Go! We made our start and finish point Hobart as there would be more opportunity to celebrate! How wrong!!
With winds expected to increase tomorrow we had to do a circumnavigation of Three Hummocks just to stay safe. As the westerly was due early in the morning we shifted around to the east coast and anchored in East Telegraph Bay until the predicted SE came in that afternoon, we shifted early to avoid the 30-40 knt winds. Anchored in Shark Bay, just east of the North West Cape. Lets Go
were near us but they apparently had broken sleep all night as they were watching the anchor. We sheltered here for 2 nights before heading south.
We timed the tide beautifully to enter Hunter Passage and via Bird Island then passed The Doughboys and Cape Grim close enough to see the wind farms high on the cliff. We used the notes from the RYCT Anchorage Guide 2007
. Excellent source of information.
We anchored in Ann Bay for the night, whilst Lets Go continued through the night to Strahan, arriving at 12.30pm. We entered Hells Gates at 6pm and anchored in Strahan at 7.50pm.
Strahan has all the services needed for small provisioning. It's a lovely small fishing port that is really the tourist gateway to the Gordon River. Seaplanes take off and land right in the harbour and the large tourist catamarans depart daily for the trip to Sarah Island (where you can hear the stories of the convicts who logged the Huon Pine for shipbuilding), Hells Gates and up the Gordon River to view the magnificent World Heritage Area wilderness.
Strahan was also the 1980's base for one of the most significant environmental campaigns in history the successful battle to save the Franklin River
We had a crayfish dinner with Danny and Al and spent a few days re-provisioning and preparing for our trip up the Gordon River. Quite a few stories can be told of our antics in Strahan. Ask the boys about Bananas ??? Or Danny and I about our weather briefing????
Danny and I enjoying Cocktails from the bar, high on the hill above Strahan whilst the boys found Bananas!!!!
On the Sunday we arrived inshore by 8am to depart by bus for Queenstown. There we boarded the West Coast Wilderness Railway for the 35k journey that follows the route once travelled by trains carrying copper from rich Queenstown mines to the port at Strahan.
Travelling aboard original steam locomotives and coaches, we crossed high trestle bridges over river gorges thick with rainforest and stopped at restored original stations along the line. Knowledgeable local guides revealed the railway's rich heritage throughout our journey. The faithfully reconstructed line features a unique Abt rack-and-pinion section on the 1:16 inclines and steep grades and is a testimony to the skill of pioneers who hand carved this railway from the wilderness over 100 years ago.
We enjoyed delicious refreshments aboard the train and with tickets for the Premier Carriage, indulged in fine cool-climate wines, fresh local pastries and Tasmanian cheeses accompanied by excellent cabin service. With only 8 people in first class that day we were certainly treated well, this is the second time we have done this trip First Class and it is highly recommended. Mind you we did have a few stares as we rolled off the train at Strahan and walked back around the bay with our bags in hand picking fresh blackberries on the way!! Alan and Alyn were looking forward to fresh Blackberry Pies for dessert!
We purchased our National Park Pass before leaving Strahan and it was a 5 hour trip across Macquarie Harbour and up the Gordon River 5nm to Heritage Landing, timed perfectly to arrive when the tourists boats had left. We knew we would need to depart tomorrow before 10am. We tied to the landing first and Lets Go treated us like a big fender and rafted up. We enjoyed the walk through the rainforest along the boardwalks.
Next day, a further 13nm upstream we tied to the old timbers of Warners Landing. We stayed here for 3 nights, took the tinny up as far as we could go, passing through several sets of rapids all with lines dragging in the water. The Gordon River is well known for it's reflections and it did not disappoint. Danny and Al followed in their tender and we had a beautiful picnic lunch at the junction of the Gordon and Franklin Rivers.
The fishing payed off and we caught several trout as well as a 5lb and 3lb one, Alan also caught a 9lb Atlantic Salmon, he was very happy.
The weather window to head south was opening up for the next weekend, so we reluctantly headed back down the river and anchored at St Ledgers Point. Early next morning we ventured off in the tinny to explore the forgotten settlement of East Pillinger. Here we looked around the remains of the old town and its equipment, including the remains of riveted steam boilers and the skeleton of some brick kilns that supplied not only Pillinger but also Strahan and Queenstown.
On our way back we enjoyed catching small Australian Salmon off the point!
Back to Opal Lady housekeeping and maintenance, since leaving the power lead connection on the wharf at Currie Hbr we have experienced a low battery alarm in the pilothouse at somewhere around 4am each morning, very annoying. I turned the genset on and it stopped! By using our Battery Tester we figured out the Electronics battery was dead! Before we left Strahan Alan bought a new one from the service station and installed it. Problem sorted!