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Gone Walkabout – Day 2 Sunshine, Flowers and the Future of Tourism


Not Japan or Korea, but you could almost think so

I’m not sure whether it was all that healthy outdoor exercise the day before or because I’d survived yet another bush drama, but I woke up before sunrise the next morning, feeling quite chirpy. I had been feeling really guilty about this trip and could give you all kinds of excuses for it, but let's just say I needed it for my mental health.  It's hard to be a practising Geographer if you can't go out and look at the terrain.

I usually do like to take a look around the state at this time of the year, but this year I'm concentrating on a fairly small area - the mid North coast - looking at things which might be free and cheap for families to do and which could make nice day trips or could even be accessed by cycling or walking. This part of the state lends itself more readily to the latter, because there are denser road networks and there are still small communities in close proximity. It is also very scenic.

 I’ve also been thinking a lot about the future of Tourism - it was World Tourism Day on September 27th and it is very important to the Tasmanian economy. It brings in around $2.59 billion  and creates employment for 37,000 people. By contrast, Forestry for example, contributes only half as much and employs less than one sixth of the number of people, as well as being more environmentally destructive. Other tourism dependent economies are facing similar challenges.

To reduce tourism's impact on the environment, much more use should be made of electric vehicles, but as yet, aside from some of the National Parks such as Cradle Mountain and Mt. Field, there are very few charging stations outside major centres and few EVs for that matter, other than those which mainland visitors bring over. Better public transport would help, but this is practically non -existent beyond the urban fringes and there is none at all beyond Burnie in the North West. With our dispersed populations, few operators can turn a profit, even with subsidies. It’s a great pity that we’ve let most of our railways lapse for the same reason. 

Like most island economies there’s also the barrier of Bass Strait to overcome, not to mention  the great body of water which surrounds Australia itself, but there’s every reason to become as sustainable as possible now and to plan ahead for the future. We’ll talk more about such things as we go along. 

A Waterfall before Breakfast

 I’d asked the roadside assistance patrolman if he knew where the hidden waterfall was because he lived in the area, but he’d never heard of it. To my delight I found it quite quickly. It was a magnificent waterfall, 20 -30 metres high and not too far off the road, but I can’t tell you too much about it yet because it can't be accessed safely and I just found out that it’s on Forestry land which means you may need permission to go there.

Not easily accessible at present, but who knows?

The bush is dense and the track is rough, steep and not well marked, so this is not recommended for beginners, but how great would it be if, at some time in the not -too -distant future, Forestry would set it aside as a little reserve as they have done with Montana Falls? With a bit of trackwork, some markers and a parking place, it would make another excellent tourist attraction. Although there are die -hard waterfall baggers in Tasmania who believe waterfalls should be left wild, there are enough waterfalls in this state to satisfy everyone including those who want to be immersed in nature. 

 Cherry Blossom Time in Deloraine

 This friendly Vietnamese family has been coming here every spring for seven years

When I stopped in Deloraine for a few supplies, I was very surprised to see cherry trees still flowering and people having picnics under them, just like they did in Korea. It says something about the climate in these upland valleys beneath the Western Tiers, that the trees are still in flower here when the season finished in Hobart weeks ago, but it was lovely to see.

I especially liked the fact that these trees had been planted in naturalistic groups, not regularly spaced and plonked in the straight lines which many councils seem so fond of. Deloraine had certainly boomed and bloomed since the sleepy hollow it was when we came there in the seventies – more houses, more interesting shops, lots of cafes and far too many roundabouts which made it hard to look around, much less find a parking spot. Even its supermarket was bigger and busier than the one near me in Hobart.

I looked around the supermarket to see if there were any familiar faces. Not really, though some could have been the children of those original “Tree Changers.”  I wonder if anyone remembers now, how these ‘refugees’ from mainland cities - the hippies and the back -to -the -landers, changed this town’s fortunes and also those of other busy little towns like Sheffield? Whether here or on the mainland, those rural communities which welcomed strangers into their midst - in the 1970s, if sometimes somewhat reluctantly at first, are the ones which are doing well now – think of Byron, Mullumbimby, the Daintree and so on. 

Among the things which people brought with them, were environmental awareness and the need for conservation - "tree huggers" they were called scornfully,  but that is one of the things which now makes these destinations attractive to both newcomers and tourists. They also restored run -down cottages, barns and stately homes, brought new ideas like health food and cafe culture, put on music, markets and festivals- even Salamanca Market owes its existence to them, and created new industries. 

Instead of potatoes and peas, they inspired local farmers to grow crops like nuts, blueberries and cashmere goats. The Bowerbank Mill became a gallery, Bonney’s Inn became a tearoom and its owner built a jetty and hired punts out on the river. I doubt that many of the original people benefited from their enterprise – most have moved on or passed away, but their successors certainly have.

The Kimberley Warm (not hot) Springs

All stocked up with batteries for the head torch – you can be too minimalist, Wagu Beef sausages, a sixpack of UHT milk and far too many breadrolls, I headed to the Kimberley Warm Springs which I had heard had been greatly improved. They too were at one stage in private hands, but had now been opened to the public as a little picnic area.

The pool isn’t big or swimmable but is a pleasant stopover with a sheltered BBQ, picnic tables and a toilet. [If you want a swimmable hot spring, visit Hastings Caves and Pool in the South of the State].  If you’re wondering why they don’t throw some chlorine in to kill off the algae, it’s because according to Wiki, the springs are home to an endemic snail which lives on this type of algae and which doesn't usually grow South of Sydney. I'm glad we are at least saving a snail.

Though not normally a fan of sausages, these were delicious cooked on the barbecue. I read a bit, made coffee and checked maps for the morning. Despite the now working head torch, my nightlife was starting to catch up with me and I was ready for an early night so I settled down by the mighty Mersey where the fishermen go. Tonight's entertainment was watching insects dart and and hover over the deep black water and the occasional silver flash as a fish rose up to snatch one. It was quite mesmerising and soporific.  I can recommend it to anyone who has trouble sleeping. Nature has its own way of imposing its rhythms on campers. It’s not a bad thing. It’s very relaxing and slower travel is what we need.

Kimberley Warm Springs  in the late afternoon