I swear that our GPS made a snickering sound.
We were stuck in the beast.
Diagonally obstructing a one way street in Launceston.
A street that narrowed down to a ‘no through road’ sign and then appeared to curve off down to the right behind a row of newly renovated units. All sandstone and stainless steel.
“Turn right in 50 meters” the husky satin-sheet voice beckoned.
And then this little electronic sound. A snicker. I swear.
The right turn may as well have been 50 universes away for all the good it would do us.
We (and when I say ‘we’ I mean ‘I’) had made the mistake of relying on our GPS to navigate our way through the city. As it directed us to make a left turn off the main road, Kelly warned me.
“Ian, I don’t think we should go down here…it looks a little narrow.”
“Its OK”, I blathered. “They pack a lot of technology into these babies….I’m sure she is just plotting us a short cut.”
“Ian…DO NOT TURN INTO THIS STRu..” The sharpness of the turn cut Kelly off mid sentence as she flailed for a hand-hold.
A few meters on and the road narrowed into a pinch point between two concrete pillars that we had absolutely no chance of getting through. With a sinking feeling in my stomach I realised we did not have enough room to turn, and worse, there was no way that I could reverse back out into the traffic of the main street.
“Turn right in 50 meters”
Kelly said some bad words and suggested I do something with satin-sheet girl that was quite anatomically unfeasible.
Thankfully, at this exact moment a lady came out of one of the units and dragged her bins in from the street, quite oblivious to the fact that she may no longer have a street.
But this new tiny rectangle of space gave me a long shot at making a turn.
I nosed the beast in as far as I dare, geared her into reverse and crept backwards. Steering wheel to full lock.
It was not pretty. In fact the whole time it looked hopeless…but I persisted and eventually after setting some sort of record ( I stopped counting after 20) for a point turn, we were released from the curse of the GPS and could continue on our way.
Using a map.
Originally, we had planned to make our way up to the north-western peninsula, to a town called Stanley. But on a whim, we changed our plans over coffee and decided to make the trip inland to Cradle Mountain.
Stopping to resupply and get some directions from the information centre at Deloriane (a town definitely worth a visit), we wound our way along a series of tortuous ‘B’ and ‘C’ roads into the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
The scenery was simply stunning.
One road lead down a long fertile valley floor dotted with funky farms and cottages that smelt of burning wood-stoves and wildflowers, before dropping into a roller-coaster wake up of climbs, drops and switchbacks.
It was a little hairy passing some of the oncoming trucks at times. But it was a lot of fun.
So. Here is our tip when traveling in Tasmania.
When considering your route to a destination: always take the ‘B’ road.
And always consider the ‘C’ road.
We arrived at Cradle Mountain Discovery campground in the early afternoon. The weather had closed in by now and it was all drizzle and bleak. After parking the beast in its secluded spot we added some thermal layers, donned our raincoats, before walking down to the visitor centre to have a coffee and check details on the Dove-Lake walk we wanted to do in the morning.
Er, I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but we did have this slightly embarrassing moment when we became lost in the campground and couldn’t find our way back to the main entrance. No. On second thoughts, I won’t tell.
The campground is very well set out with fantastic communal shower blocks and large dining areas with big open fireplaces.
We decided to cook our dinner in the dining room which we had entirely to ourselves, and then settled in to a luxurious evening, sleepily reading in front of an open fire before retiring late back to the beast.
And here, the nightmare began.
If ever you consider taking a camper-van to the Cradle Mountain discovery campsite…. do NOT accept site number 5.
For that site is directly under a huge tree.
A tree that over hundreds of years of botanical scheming, has engineered its branches into a perfect series of water catch and dispatch constructions.
Rain would collect on the leaves and be funneled into catchment nooks where it would accumulate and form fiendish, golfball sized superdrops of water.
Every time the wind would blow, the bough would lean directly out over the roof where we were sleeping some 10 metres below, and discharge its ballast.
We were sleeping in a double bed directly above the driving cabin of the beast.
Once snuggled into this area the roof is only a few inches above our heads…..and all night long it was water-bombed from above.
Like a loud drum.
Donkdonkdonkdonk. PLONK. DONK-DONK.
Then it would ease, and just as I was about to drop off to sleep the wind would blow and it would start again.
Tasmanian water torture.
[Next: Dove Lake and beyond.]