Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Tasmania Day 8 - Mt Field NP

We woke up early today hoping to catch a break with the weather that would allow us to walk the grounds a little bit, but no such luck.  Since we had to catch the 9AM ferry Inala Karen picked us up before 7:30AM for the drive north.

The ferry ride and drive to Hobart airport went by very quickly.  At the airport we said our goodbyes to Inala Karen. Boy we sure had a good time with her.  Not only is she a really good guide but we also got along very well.  Our whole trip to Bruny Island with Inala went very well and we highly recommend using them and even staying at one of their cottages.

We got dropped off at the airport because that is where we would pick up our rental car for the rest of the trip.  We rented from EuropCar and had a good experience with them but it was expensive when you add in the extra $200+ we spent on insurance.  Since we didn't know how well our cell phone coverage would be with the Optus SIM card I purchased, we paid for a GPS unit with the car. Since my cell phone coverage ended up being pretty bad, the GPS unit was money well spent.

Since I would be driving on the left in a right hand drive car for the first time, I took extra time to get to know the car before pulling out of our parking spot.  The car they gave us was a Mitsubishi Outlander and it worked out well.  However, it did take some getting used to with the blinkers on the right of the steering wheel and the wipers on the left.  I am sure there are a quite a few Tassie drivers out there still wondering why that silver Outlander kept turning on its wipers before making a turn...

Anyway, I was a bit nervous about driving on the left and did two things before the trip that I hoped would make me more comfortable.

The first was playing a driving game that actually took place in Australia where you drive on the left in right hand wheel cars.  When you change the view to inside, it was really realistic and allowed me to drive through some roundabouts and do some turning virtually which actually did help from a visualization standpoint.

The second was that I used Google street view to "walk through" our initial drive from the airport to our first stop at a grocery store to our lodging for the night.

Both of these ended up helping out a lot and it wasn't long on that first drive until I felt pretty comfortable although I did make sure I concentrated behind the wheel at all times during the entire trip.

In fact, the only thing I struggled with a bit (besides the wipers instead of the blinkers) was hugging the center line on my right.  At times, I was a bit too close to the left side of the lane but a blood curdling scream from Karen would usually cause me to slowly correct that.

We had about an hour drive to our first stop which was a Woolworths grocery store in New Norfolk where we picked up some supplies.  After that, it was another half hour or so through the pretty Tassie country side until we reached Hamlet Downs just outside of Mt Field National Park where we would be staying for two nights.

We had a nice big place at Hamlet Downs but we did share walls with the owners and other guests so it wasn't perfectly secluded but it worked out fine.

Here is the living area:
Hamlet Downs living area

And here is the bedroom:
Hamlet Downs bedroom

After settling in for a little bit, we headed out to explore Mt Field NP.

The sign is self explanatory...

We ended up hiking the waterfall loop trail.  But, Inala Karen had given us some advice to do it in reverse so that we would be going down most of the stairs instead of up them.  That was a great piece of advice as it turned out.  Going in reverse meant starting off at the trail head for Lady Barron Falls.

Nice loop hike

Mt Field is known for big trees and I must say that the forest along the loop trail was very impressive.

Mt Field NP Forest

Eucalyptus Grove

Here are those stairs that we went down, instead of up:
Easier going down

The forest got thicker and greener at the bottom.
A river runs through it

Bright green forest


The fern trees were huge:
Huge fern trees

Giants to be

The view of Lady Barron Falls wasn't great so I am not including that picture, but Horsetail Falls which was next was very pretty.  I managed to hold the camera steady enough to slow down the shutter speed a bit.

Horseshoe Falls

Looking back at stairs we came down...and not up thanks to Inala Karen.
Lots and lots of stairs

The final waterfall on the loop trail was Russell Falls which is absolutely spectacular.  The recent rain meant there was some good flow but not too much.  Outside of Yosemite, these are the most spectacular falls I have ever seen.

Obscured Russell Falls

Russell Falls

The trail finished with a nice paved section back to the visitor center that was lined by more huge fern trees.

The trail

While we didn't see much wildlife on this walk, it was a fantastic 2 hour hike.

Originally, we had thought that we might go back to New Norfolk for dinner and pick up a pizza that would make great night two leftovers.  But, since we just had pizza, we changed the plan.  We wanted to do some night hikes in the park so a sit down restaurant was pretty much out.  Instead we opted to go to New Norfolk for Chinese food at a highly rated (according to Google) restaurant called...wait for it...Ding Dings.  Well, if their food was half as good as their name, we would be satisfied.

Unfortunately, it really wasn't.  It was just so-so and we ordered enough so that we could take leftovers with us for the next night.  So, we would get to eat this again.  How nice...

We did about a 2 hour night hike around the visitor center in Mt Field NP.  I had read that this was a good spot for nocturnal mammals and that we had a chance at seeing an eastern barred bandicoot here.

Including the drive back to Hamlet Downs, we saw 25+ brushies but most were during our walk.


Brush-tailed Possums

We also saw 2 eastern quolls and zillions of pademelons.  But, the highlight was when we saw a different type of eye shine.  Once we got a flashlight on the animal we could tell that it was something new.  However, it was quite lively and would zip around the field, stop and nibble on something, and then zip off again. So, it was next to impossible to positively identify it.  Finally, it held still long enough to not only confirm that it was an eastern barred bandicoot, but I also managed to get a proof picture.

Brief glimpse of a Bandicoot

To end the night, we walked back to Russell Falls to check out the glow worms that are visible at night there.  While it wasn't as good as seeing them in a cave, they were pretty cool to see and worth the short hike.

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