Monday 8th December
This is my last day in Tasmania and I decided to start by visiting another first ……
In my room at the hotel the owners had left a small history of the local area. There were a number of places which seemed interesting to visit but one that stood out to me as a must.
A short distance from New Norfolk is the small village of Lawitta in whose church yard is the grave of Elizabeth (Thackery) King. Betty, as she was known, died in 1856 at the age of 90 and has gone down in history as the first white women to step foot in Australia. Although there is no documentary evidence to prove this statement, she always told the story that by the time the convict ship Charlotte, on which she was travelling, arrived in Botany Bay she was working as a maid to the officers wives. It was the wives who were to leave the ship first but they didn’t like the look of the rough surf and so sent Betty out to make sure it was safe.
So far during my trip to Tasmania I have spent my time visiting the built environment, now I thought I should see some of the natural and so headed north west to Mount Field National Park and the Russell Falls.
Having parked up at the visitors centre I follow the leisurely path to the base of the falls. The path is lined by some incredible trees and tree ferns. Where a tree has fallen you can almost see it rotting back into the earth, covered in moss it begins to blend into the surrounding plants.
At one point on the path there are signs to say if you are walking through at night, turn off your torch, allow your eyes to adjust and then enjoy the glow worms which will light the way for you.
At the end of the path are the Russell Falls which are truly wonderful to see. The pictures I took really don’t do them justice.
From the bottom of Russell Falls I followed a very steep path to the top. For most of the climb you follow a boardwalk which staircases to take you up the side of the rock face. The walk was tough but I found myself thanking the people who had built the path and wondering how they managed to do so.
The view from the top was amazing; watching the water disappearing into the abyss.
A little further on the path are the Horseshoe Falls, which if anything are even more beautiful.
Having returned to the Visitors Centre I decided to jump back in the car and take the gravel road up the mountain. I drove higher and higher for about 45 minutes with the landscape changing considerably the higher I went. At the highest point I drove, time didn’t allow me to go further although I would certainly have liked too, was Lake Fenton. The river had been damned off to form the lake which was part of the drinking water catchment for Hobart and the surrounding areas.
The road, called the Lake Dobson Road, was built as part of a job creation scheme during the depression of the 1930’s. It is hard to imagine just how difficult it was to constructed, but still easier than it would have been in years gone by for convict labour in their heavy chains.
Time was beginning to run short as I needed to get to the airport for my flight back to Sydney. However, there was one further building I wanted to take a look at before leaving. I had read about the Willow Court Asylum, New Norfolk, in the information pack at the hotel and it was on my way. Although not currently open to the public due to a major renovation project I was pleased to have a look, albeit a very limited view. Maybe during a future visit I may be able to stay there as they are turning some of the rooms into hotel accommodation.
I have really enjoyed my visit to Tasmania, with the time flying by. Although I have crammed loads in there is still a huge amount to see and so I find it hard to think that I wont be back at some time in the future.