Welcome to Day Seven of the A-Z April Challenge.
Today, we we’re leaving Ferndene in Penguin on Tasmania’s North Coast, and heading South-West to go on a scenic Gordon River Cruise, which will be departing from Strahan on the West Coast. Strahan is 197.5 KM from Penguin and a 2.3 hour drive.
“THE mighty Gordon River flows pure and clear from its source in Lake Richmond, a deep glacial basin way up on the precipitous eastern slopes of the brooding Mt King William.
It plunges down from the high country in a brawling, tumbling torrent, scouring dark tannins from the boggy buttongrass plains to emerge as black as billy tea.
It plummets in foaming cataracts through limestone gorges so impenetrably deep and dark that the river was once thought to vanish into an abyss of underground tunnels and ferocious chasms no man had ever seen.
In its 172km length, the Gordon is swollen by 25 tributary creeks and rivers as it descends almost 600m through a magnificent uninhabited wilderness of towering forests, ferns and emerald mosses.
On the gently sloping lower ground it becomes a sinuous serpent of a river, broad and ponderous yet powerful enough to carry enormous loads of honey-blonde shingle downstream to form the shallow beds of roaring rapids.
The Gordon has a higher catchment yield than any other Tasmanian river and by the time it reaches the sea at Macquarie Harbour it has drained an area of about 5000 sq km.
Unlike lesser rivers that take the course of least resistance and flow around the massive mountain ranges that block their path, the Gordon rips its way through the Permian rocks of the King William Range, literally splitting them apart.
After torrential rain, its awesome power develops a daunting deepthroated roar that reverberates like the thunder of great guns booming through the mist-muffled silence of the wilderness.
The World Heritage-listed South West Wilderness National Park is one of the wettest regions on earth, with an average annual rainfall in excess of 250cm.
On our journey upstream, though, during a dry spell, the river was as placid as a millpond.
Moving as if asleep, the cold, dark water slid past in majestic silence, its mirror surface broken only by the occasional splash of a startled platypus or the rippled rise of a rainbow trout.
From the moment we entered the river’s broad brown mouth, I confess I was in a state of transcendental bliss…”
Before you start getting too comfortable, I have a small confession to make.
We didn’t actually make it to the Gordon River Cruise, even though it was at the top of our Must See List.
Now that we’re back home, that seems like such a travesty. What went wrong? How could we possible miss it? After all, Tasmania isn’t such a big place and even if we didn’t have an itinerary as such, surely we’d at least make sure we crossed off all of the “must-sees”…prioritized.
Moreover, while I’m on the subject of travel planning, I should mention that my father who is a seasoned, independent global traveller, draws his itinerary up on an excel spreadsheet and almost has the trip planned out down to the second. He has all his accommodation booked ahead…the works. He’s got it all sorted.
On the other hand, we fly by the seat of our pants.
Yet, you could also say that we “travel by feel”. That we sensed where we wanted to go, and if we wanted to linger longer, we could without being held hostage by the plan. Since we were in Tasmania for three weeks, it seemed like we had plenty of time to linger without having to rush and cram everything in. As it turned out, I don’t think you could ever spend enough time in Tassie. It might seem small but its layers run deep.
Above: Some of the places we DID experience in Tasmania.
Our plans were also governed by our budget and the fact that we could base ourselves with friends in Devonport for the entire three weeks without paying for accommodation. We had packed our tents and fully intended to go camping, which also didn’t happen. With Geoff coming from Scottsdale in the North-East, we were always going to be focused on the North and East coasts and by the time we’d caught up with multiple lots of family and eaten our way as we went, we didn’t get anywhere near the West Coast.
So, I guess we’ll be spending a chunk of time exploring the West Coast the next time we go to Tassie.
Take it from us, Tasmania is never “done”.
What type of traveller are you? A planner or a pantser?
I’d love to find out more about your philosophies on how to travel.
The featured image was sourced Gordon River Cruises and you can check out their website for further information: http://www.gordonrivercruises.com.au/