Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Diary of a Wannabe Fungi Hunter - Adventures in the North West - Riana to Wilmot




Cows and rainbows

Day 4 -An encounter of the weird kind. Slept in Riana last night. It was Saturday night. After walking three waterfalls (OK, I admit two of them were easy) and wrestling the car over country roads, I was a bit tired. Riana South still has a real country store stocking everything from birthday cards to stockfeed and hardware. Further up the road in Riana proper, there’s also a nice little campground with hot showers. Yes, you pay here too, but it doesn’t seem quite as mercenary as some, though it too has gone up $6 since the camping book was published. 

There was a barbecue in progress when I got there and a roaring fire. It was a private function – a family reunion, but one of the guests handed me some sausage anyway. We had a bit of a chat by the fire and then I attempted to turn in.  It wasn’t quiet for long. Some of the lads came to check out the van. ‘Wouldn’t mind a set - up like that,” said one. They tested out the bullbar by bouncing up and down on it a bit, checked out the fire extinguisher, opened all the flaps – the water inlet, the power inlet. They were in high spirits -had had a few drinks, but weren’t belligerent or anything - just trying to stir me up. I pretended not to notice assuming that they would get sick of it soon and go away. Suddenly "Sproing!” there’s an unholy racket and the Annexe starts to unravel.  I was now wide awake. I’d never used the Annexe in Tasmania and the one time it was used in Queensland, someone else put it up. I had no idea how to put it back. 

Very sheepish and apologetic, the five young men spent ages trying to put it back together, but somehow the legs kept falling out. It became the night’s entertainment. Soon all the other guests gathered round offering advice. I wouldn’t have minded a bit of company last night, but perhaps not that much. By the time a mini bus came to take everyone home, there was only a small bit of Annexe left sticking out, but it seemed pretty secure. We exchanged addresses in case it caused any further problems. One offered money, another asked “What’s your favourite shop?” so he could send me a gift card, but I was a bit over it by this time and just wished everyone would go away.  I also prayed that I wouldn’t suddenly become airborne in the morning.

Gunn's Plains
 The shower is surprisingly long for a coin -in -the slot one. The hot water is still going when I finish, though I don’t trust these enough to wash my hair.  I pay my dues and fill up and stock up at the South Riana Store.  I like shopping in places like this for several reasons. For a start I want them to be there next time I come and while sixty dollars may not mean much to the big supermarkets, it just might help here. It’s also a way of saying thanks for still offering a bit of hospitality to travellers – amenities, barbecues and picnic tables, when so many places no longer do. You also often find unusual things like jaffle irons in places like this. I’ll bet you could find some sleeve protectors and stays if you looked long enough. I once found two excellent chambray police shirts with detachable collars in Bairnsdale (Vic) and they lasted for years and years – the shirts, I mean, not the collars. Usually country stores can’t compete well with the volume purchasing power of the big supermarkets, but several items here – the coffee and my favourite muesli, are the same price or less than they are in the city. Then it’s off overland again. What a shame that so few tourists get to see this part of Tasmania. They see the major cities and Cradle Mountain and maybe Strahan and Port Arthur and think “been there, done that.”

There's a beautiful waterfall on the way to Preston (small Canon)

There are lovely views going through Gunn’s Plains but I can also see lots of snow on the plateau. Looks like I won’t be returning via the Lakes. Soon I encounter another waterfall right beside the road. It’s of the Class 1 type and very easy to get to – as the sign says, “Preston Falls is one of the most easily accessible Falls in Tasmania 15 mins return, easy walk” How could I refuse. I’ve made a little plastic hoodie for the big camera and take it along too. It’s a beautiful high waterfall that plunges into a deep green gorge. I am now in that nest of roads around Castra, where I was last April.  Castra, Upper Castra and Central Castra and several other small communities are shown as large dots on my map. The signs are faded or missing and the only way to know that you have arrived is because the limit board changes. Seeing signs saying “Speed Limit 100 Kmph” makes me smile. I feel lucky to be achieving 25.

Preston Falls - big camera - better picture but it doesn't fit it all in

Base of the Falls
I wouldn’t mind having another look at those falls now that the rivers are running high, but I’m starting to feel really guilty about not contacting my family.They’ll be sending the troops out soon. Not only have I had no signal anywhere since I left home – phone or computer, but I can’t get anything to charge. Hope I haven’t damaged anything expensive driving over all those rough roads. Without my phone I don’t have anyone’s number. Wilmot isn’t too far away down a little used road. Last time I went through it was an actual town. Maybe someone there will have wifi. 

I can see why this road isn't popular - took me ages to find it. Hope the ban on caravans and trailers doesn't include campervans. Still, it's not as steep as some of the ones at home, like Mellifont Street. Not that I would want to drive up it

There are other hazards too
Uh Oh! Snow on the mountains. Looks like I won't be going home that way
The Wilmot Access Centre isn’t open. No one knows the hours. I read the notice board at the Town Hall listing all the attractions such as the original G.J. Coles store. When I ask about it – it was here last time, I learn that it has burnt down. I also notice that there’s a waterfall in this area too. It is however, of the Class 2 variety requiring a one and a half hour bushwalk. It starts from a campground about 3 km out of town. I find a couple of walks around the edge of the lake but nothing else. It rains again. A man who lives nearby tells me that the walk no longer starts here but up the road and that the track has not been well maintained. As it’s late now, I cook a meal and give up for the night.

No, this picture is not upside down. This is the edge of Lake Barrington at dusk

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