Tasmania Part II
The Road to Cygnet
A long, long time ago, the Wagyl - also known to some native people in Australia as the rainbow serpent - slithered around the earth, creating many of the landforms. His tracks, dating back to the Aboriginal Dreamtime, can still be seen.
In Tasmania, the Wagyl's handiwork is the road between Strahan and Cygnet. As Adrienne's Civic charged up the road, we could look back on the blacktop the car had been on only minutes earlier. Up ahead, make that overhead, we could see where the road was going. On the passenger (left) side of the car was a rock face. On the other side was an abyss with no guardrail. Ask any Tasmanian if they had ever driven the road and they smile. We think they are smiling because they survived.
Only about twenty minutes after leaving Strahan we took the goat path...err, B24 road...to Queenstown, a community on the western slopes of Mt. Lyell and Mt. Owen. As we zigzagged up the face of the mountains, we admired the pink and gray rocks, only about a foot away from the side of the car. Kathy thought she was looking up at a white picket fence marking a walking trail going up the mountain. But, she soon realized she was seeing the zigzag road reflectors where we were about to ascend. Holy Kangaroo!
There were few trees or shrubs to admire: they had all been hacked away to fuel the copper smelters. What the miners didn't kill, the sulphur fumes did. Heavy annual rainfall caused yet more erosion. What does this all add up to? An amazing man-made moonscape bordered by a sadistic highway.
Once we got to the top, we could have stopped in Queenstown (pop. 1,975), which has lodging and restaurants. But, we needed to keep going because we were due in Cygnet (pop. 1,559 ) that evening. So, we continued on a new road, the A10. We drove past huge hydro-electric generating stations fed by immense pipes dropping down the hillsides of the Nive River Gorge. High tension wires carried the electricity all over the state. There was a lot more Wagyl on the way down. Finally, we left the Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.
The road coursed over the Central Highlands, an area of rolling hills, which were golden, in drought. The late-day sunlight accentuated the folds of the land. We didn't see very many people or even other vehicles. We drove through the small communities of Derwent Bridge, Ouse and New Norfolk. We reached the suburbs of Hobart. A quick trip through the city led us to the road to Huonville, where we stopped to pick up a bottle of wine before everything shut down. It started to rain as we left Hobart. And, the Wagyl returned. Rain, lots of turns. We were relieved when we rolled into Cygnet. The owner of the Cygnet Old Bank Bed & Breakfast greeted us with a cheese platter. We drank some wine. Adrienne's friend, Bob, arrived and drove Adrienne to his place in Petcheys Bay. For the time being we forgot about the Wagyl.
The owner of the B&B had warned us about the bank building being old and making weird noises. That night as the wind picked up, we started to hear a low shrieking noise. The spirit of Tasmania? Probably just the whirlybirds (ventilators) on the roof. Anyway nothing was going to keep us from falling asleep - we weren't driving on the Wagyl anymore.
Tasmania Part II