April 2018 - Corinna weekend - Part 3

Sunday had been predicted to be wet, which we thought was pretty OK as we were planning to be on the Arcadia II for most of our outing.  After another big breakfast (scrambled eggs and salmon this time!) and the obligatory coffee, we sorted out what we were going to wear (boots or shoes was the main question). Then we ambled down to the river to where the Arcadia was waiting for us.


Our captain was Les Simms, a busy master mariner who operates tourist sailings out of St Helens and also spends three months a year in Antarctica.  Melissa doubled as crew and tea lady.  The lovely old huon pine ship was well preserved and very comfortable.  The "Quessy 9" was the first group on board, so we naturally got the best seats (in our view).

The views of the ancient rainforest, with heaps of huon pine, were enchanting.

Reflections in our wake

A male Huon Pine, left alone by the early piners.

Lovers' Falls.

Les was keen to share the steering, so Di had a go, then Lyn.

Captain Di

Ribbon grass along the banks

The jetty just inside Pieman Heads

We were to have 90 minutes at the Pieman Heads, but that shrunk considerably when the captain instructed us to be back at the boat 20 minutes before departure.  Anyhow we set off expectantly, walking through the remote shacks of the fishing village towards the Southern Ocean.

There were tonnes of logs and driftwood piled up around the mouth of the river, an odd sight.

Log garden

It seemed strange that an easterly wind was blowing sand downriver and across the beach towards the sea.

We had a tailwind!

The beach was pretty wild, with heavy surf and a treacherous bar at the heads.

Pieman Heads

Someone's fort?

We found a sheltered spot to have some of our packed lunch (provided by Melissa) and enjoyed the beach experience for too short a time.

Our lunchspot

Soon it was time to start wending our way back towards the jetty.

Meanwhile, the captain had picked up the group of walkers we'd met yesterday from the other side of the river, and we wound our way back upriver to Corinna.  Now the rain finally arrived, but we were safely under cover, yay!

Been there!

Offloaded back at Corinna, we bade each other farewell.  Bob was off to explore Marrawah.  Wayne and Gerwyn were visiting family at Smithton and Burnie.  Kat, Philip, Lyn and George were heading back to Hobart via Sheffield and the Midlands Highway.  Di and Robert were still undecided but also heading north.

It had been a special experience, spending three days together in this isolated place, sharing amazing beautiful and wild places.  As a wonderful side benefit, we learnt more about our friends' (and our own?) quirks and unique contributions.  In short, we re-discovered why we are friends.  As we prepared to return to civilisation, tired but relaxed, we were plotting more getaways just like this one.

April 2018 - Corinna weekend - Part 2

Day 2 of our Corinna expedition dawned dry and cool, the weather looking hopeful despite the forecast of showers.  Kat, Lyn and helpers cooked up a mountain of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast, which went down well, followed by excellent coffee.

The verdict was unanimous that we would take the four hour option to tackle Mt Donaldson (as opposed to the eight hour option!).  That meant a short drive up the highway to a carpark just past the bridge over the Savage River.  We piled into two cars, and set off northwards, with only one moment of confusion at the turn off onto the Western Explorer C249  :)

We set off from the carpark at 10.10am, crossing the Western Explorer to find the trail.

The track started on a soft leafy path through a quiet and still myrtle forest, very pleasant, especially since we knew we were in for a steady climb up Mt Donaldson.

Soon we emerged from the temperate rainforest onto buttongrass covered hillsides. 

The track was mostly a white Pre-Cambrian calcite gravel, cut into the peat-covered mountainside, but the frequent sections of badly drained peat were pretty splodgy.  Waterproof boots and walking poles were very useful.

 A light drizzle arrived, but didn't last terribly long. Anyway, we were working hard enough to burn off the moisture.

The Pieman River, from the slopes of Mt Donaldson

We toiled upwards, the trail curling around the mountain, and the views changed as we rose and turned.  We could see the Pieman River at times to the south, the Southern Ocean to the west, the white Western Explorer snaking towards the north, and the rolling flanks of the mountain around us were lovely in themselves.

We arrived at the top at 11.55am.  Another (guided) climbing group was already there, but there was plenty of room to spread out on the rocks.  An old trig station had fallen over but there was still a tall pole standing.  Here we got our first and only mobile phone reception of the weekend, so a few emails and photos were exchanged with the world.

The view to the north

After a welcome packed lunch, we headed back down again, walking fast downhill and soon overtaking the guided group.  Di took a tumble off the edge of the path into the buttongrass and rolled a way before working out how to stand up again.  We were back at the cars by 1.50pm, well under the predicted 4 hours, so we felt pretty smug.

We wandered over to the Savage River bridge to take a look at the river, which was flowing strongly, before easing our stiffening bodies back into the cars and returning to Corinna.  Lyn, Gerwyn and Wayne just took time for a cuppa and then headed out again to do the Whyte River walk.  The rest of us cycled through the shower and collapsed in front of the fire with a cuppa and something to read.  The energetic walkers reported back that the Whyte River walk was lovely and well worth it (1.5 hours).

Soon it was beer o'clock again, and another generous nibbles platter appeared.

About 6.30pm we departed to the Tannin Restaurant for dinner.  This couldn't be more convenient - we only had to stagger across the road.  The meal was pretty good, we thought, given the isolation, and a very convivial evening ensued.

Dinner at Tannin Restaurant
Next:  Part 3

April 2018 - Corinna weekend - Part 1

Lyn was the capable organiser of our first overnighter walk for this year.  She suggested Corinna, the remote ex-mining and piners' village on the West coast, and investigated how we could cram the most into a three day (two nights) weekend.   After some shuffling of dates and walkers, we were finally settled for the weekend of Friday 6 - Sunday 8 April.  The "Quessy Nine" was Lyn, Bob, George, Di, Robert, Wayne, Gerwyn, Kat and Philip.  Our basic plan was to drive up on the Friday, do a short walk on arrival, climb Mt Donaldson on the Saturday, and take the river cruise to Pieman Heads on the Sunday, heading home after that.

We set out on Friday morning, in four vehicles, ranging in occupancy from one to four, due to different plans post the weekend.  Our first meetup was to be in Queenstown for lunch, at the Tracks Cafe at 12.30pm.  With immaculate timing, we all arrived very close to 12.30!   For Di and Robert for example, this had involved leaving West Hobart at 8.50am, driving through New Norfolk at 9.30am (where the sign said we should be in Queenstown in 3 hours, perfect!), and crossing the "East West Divide" at King William Saddle at 11.30am.

At King William Saddle


Tracks Cafe turned out to be right at the railway station (fair enough), nicely presented, with good service and large helpings.  Rain arrived while we were still eating, not a good portent, but it had cleared well before we reached Zeehan, where the locals are working hard to retain some lovely old heritage.

Gaiety Theatre and West Coast Heritage Centre

This used to be something interesting, now empty.


We had a bit of fun at the Pieman River, working out how many trips we would need to get across the river on the Fatman Ferry.

Who's got change for the ferry?

Ferries are fun!
  Robert had time to visit the historic gravesite nearby:

Graves of Gameliel Webster and Thomas Davis

No probs, we were across in two shifts, at $25 per vehicle. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the river, it seems the locals get a bit of fun out of the behaviour of visitors arriving at the village and encountering the river:

The pub/reception/shop/restaurant is handily placed just where you arrive coming off the ferry.  We checked in and were sent straight across the road (it's the only road in Corinna) to The Old Pub, which is now converted into visitor accommodation.

The Old Pub, 2018

In discussion, we never came to agreement about whether this was in fact the original pub, as there had definitely been one on the other side of the river too. But the building looks authentic - the rooms had old numbers on them, like a hotel or a boarding house. Even the stylishly decrepit bicycle out the front matches the one in the photo taken in the 1930's which is shown on the interpretation panel outside.

Interestingly, Robert later dug up a photo taken by his Dad in the 1990's - which shows the same building in a renovated state (Mission Brown paint and all).

The Old Pub, 1990s
Now the building has been artfully restored, with original style fence, rough sawn pine linings, original timber floors, historical photos and bush artefacts. The insulation, modern country kitchen, piped heating and cosy wood heater in the large living area made this a perfectly comfy place for us to stay.
From front door to back door


We learned that the film "Jewelled Nights" was filmed at Corinna in 1925, directed by and starring Louise Lovely as Elaine Fleetwood and Gordon Collingridge as Larry Salarno.  Apparently about 20 minutes of the film has been reconstructed and is shown daily at the Gaiety Theatre in Zeehan! 

Jewelled Nights, filmed at Corinna, 1925.
We only found this out after coming home and googling it.  One of the attractive features of Corinna is that there is no internet available.  So conversations can be longwinded and inconclusive.  And everyone is actually Present, not distracted by what's happening today in the outside world.

After we'd sorted out our rooms, and Philip had got the fire going, we were off to check out the Huon Pine Walk, one of Tassie's "60 Great Short Walks", rated at 30 minutes return.  We were joined now by Gerwyn's sister Kim and her partner Mili.

Pieman River from the air

The Huon Pine Walk

Tiny burrowing crayfish (Engaeus genus) make these homes in the forest.
That's quite far enough.
Some of us got carried away and walked for 45 minutes before deciding at the top of the hill that we'd had enough and should turn around. It only took 30 minutes to get back!

Then it was beer o'clock, which also featured champers and vast quantities of nibbles, so we lodged ourselves around the fire to relax and unwind.  Soon it was time for all hands to the gas barbie, cooking our meat to add to the yummy salads we had brought with us.  The meal turned into quite a feast, with huge dessert dishes from Wayne (his Polish neighbour's apple pie) and Lyn (sticky date pudding with caramel sauce).

The jokes and quotable quotes started coming.  Bob had a few, including:  "why do toadstools grow so close together?   Because they don't need mushroom!",  and  "I was a dickhead when I was a kid, more so than I am now" - good to know.

After our first very enjoyable day, we turned into our neat little rooms for the night.  Wayne and Gerwyn slept in their campervan in the caravan park, along with Kim and Mili.  We had been advised that we may encounter a ghost called Lucy, so that added a touch of suspense to our first night.

Arcadia II on the Pieman

Next:  Part 2