Saturday, 10 January 2015

A taste of Western Tassie

Today, the third day of our holiday, we decided to take a long drive to Lake Pedder, the lake famous for its role in environmental protection of South West Tasmania after the Hydro-Electric Commission (now known as Hydro Tasmania) managed to drown the original tarn to create a major power dam.

In contrast to the previous day’s journey to Richmond and Swansea, we knew Pedder would be far from even basic provisions, so after we awakened after a poor sleep due to noise from a fully opened window, we went to the Hobart Market which was open for this Saturday morning. The shops we had visited on Thursday were tough to recognise because of the market (though I eventually did do so) and there was a wide variety of the gourmet food for which Tasmania has become renowned. I did buy a pork and bacon sausage – we cannot have large breakfasts in out small hotel room – and it was very tasty.

We had to embark upon the trip almost immediately after returning to the room, so we boarded the car with provisions of apples, bananas, rolls, paté and cheese, and searched for the road to Pedder. Once Mummy had found the road to Pedder after an early detour in the lower Derwent Valley, we drove steadily across very varied and hilly terrain so typical of Tasmania. At first there was hop-growing country, then dry sclerophyll forest, then wet sclerophyll, areas of rainforest and then plateau moorland as we approached Lake Pedder and the company town of Strathgordon. I had dozed off at times during the trip, but still saw some beehives and flowering shrubs that were different from the vegetation I knew in Victoria. There were some closed beehives for the famous leatherwood honey what I sometimes buy despite its high price in Woolworths.
This is a view of Southwest Tasmania from the company town of Strathgordon.

This is a picture of Southwest Tasmanian scenery – cool, wet and bleak – from the road.
When we reached Lake Pedder and Strathgordon, we had a simple but very tasty lunch and had our first look at the quiet, lonely moorland scenery, which Mummy admired for its silence rather like Sara Maitland did Scotland’s moors (where she has lived for a decade) in her 2008 A Book of Silence. Mummy in fact compared Western Tassie with Scotland, a comparison which I understood because of reading Maitland – whom I knew for a long time beforehand and recognise as a modern heir to the Catholic Decadents of the first two-thirds of the twentieth century. I consequently came to look more closely at the landscape and its cool, wet, windswept moors, as well as the animal life – on a brief look at the forest on the way I had heard a beautiful small bird but could not recognise it.

The trip back – even if I was criticised for talking about topics like stigmata and inedia – was actually more interesting that the outward trip. We had a beautiful afternoon tea of coffee, carrot cake, and an orange and almond cake similar to one I cook frequently at home – only denser with coconut added. An unusual sight was a group of Superb Fairywrens (Malurus cyaneus) on the opposite side of the Derwent, which I knew were fairywrens although I could not see them. As I looked more carefully for birds, I saw another fairywren on the way back to out Hobart hotel, as we saw a number of fruit orchards (especially cherries) that were not visible going to Pedder.
This is a picture of the Derwent River as seen on the highway to Strathgordon.
The trip was extremely enjoyable and the weather, with an easterly flow, unusually fine in the normally hyperhumid southwest of Tasmania. Around midday there was some blue sky for the first time in out stay in Tassie, and the warm sun made the weather – which ranged from 20˚C in Hobart to a mild 14˚C in some of the cool forests – considerably hotter than it felt yesterday.

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