Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Absolutely filthy

The car, that is.

There are very few driving experiences I've had to beat the likes of a RBRR or 10CR experience. Exhausting as they may be, it's a real buzz to travel such long distances, and as for the camaraderie ... superb! However, last weekend Ella and I headed off to see a bit more of Tassie, and that was really, really, really good.

There are regional public holidays in Australia, and last Thursday we had "Show Day" in the south of Tassie. A great excuse to get out of town. We've already seen a fair bit of the south, some of the east, and a bit of the west. So we decided to do a road trip up the guts of the island to the north end of the state, then out to the wild west.

As we left town on Thursday I decided the clutch was definitely getting worse - so after half an hour, we pulled over and bled the clutch. I think when I changed the slave cylinder a month ago the realignment must have let some air in somewhere, because it's been great again since bleeding and hasn't got worse again ... touch wood.

The drive north down the Midland Highway is nothing special, fast but pretty boring. After lunch in Launceston we headed west to Devonport, where the fragments of dual carriageway finally peter out. So after 3.5 hours the intersting driving began, along sweeping coastal roads that took us to Boat Harbour, where the sea is most definitely blue!
BOB at Boat Harbour
A bit further west along the coast is Rocky Cape National Park - complete with Aboriginal caves nicely built into the quartzite.
BOB at Rocky Cape
I also spotted a "stupid sign" ... which way's the beach?
Rocky Cape NP 2 ... where's the beach?
We camped by the sea at Black River, and had the whole place to ourselves ... except for some pademelons and wombats.

Next day we got to the first of the dirt roads! We tried to do the South Arthur Forest Drive - it's supposed to be a loop in amongst some impressive forests, with lots of windy roads and tracks and very little traffic about. Unfortunately though the loop was, erm, broken. Floods in August wiped out the bridge - look at these photos and see if you can spot the huge chunk of dolerite that was ripped up.
Tayatea Bridge ... broken! 1
Tayatea Bridge ... broken! 4
Tayatea Bridge ... broken! 3

Never mind, we made our own way back around the loop, crossing lots of other interesting bridges:

Then we pushed out to the tiny town of Arthur River on the west coast for the night. Now you're talking - these roads were pretty rough, but solid.
The road to Arthur River

Unfortunately it was extremely dusty too, and the boot was filling up with dust!
Dusty boot!
At Arthur River we had one of those very lucky moments, though. We were just about to eat our dinner (kangaroo stew cooked on the barbeque!) when Ella noticed fluid leaking from the car. We had driven 15km up the coast to get a full tank of petrol, and the full tank was trying to run out all over the campground. Amazingly, it was spotted before more than a litre had run out. It wouldn't have been fun to be stranded this far out with no fuel I can tell you!

The next day I got to drive the best road I've ever driven in my life. For over 100km we didn't see a single other vehicle as we ventured down the Western Explorer road. It was all dirt, loads of mountains, lots of variety from open plains to forests. Totally idyllic and a real treat to get to know how to handle BOB, on dirt, at speed, round corners. Even Ella seemed happy with this as you can see from the photos:
Views on the Western Explorer
BOB in the forest on the Western Explorer
Ella and BOB
The Western Explorer Road
We arrived in Corrina - an amazing old frontier place - with big smiles on our faces, and after a coffee break, headed back inland, along more dirt roads, to Waratah, and then to Cradle Mountain for the night. I got a video of a Wombat from BOB too ...

After a night at Cradle Mountain it was time to head back to Hobart - via lot more great roads, of course. Here we are above Great Lake in the Central Highlands (at about 1,400m - which is high in Australia!).
BOB in front of Great Lake

All up we did about 1,100km, much of it on slow roads and all within the hours of daylight... it's not recommended to hit Wombats (colloquial term "Badger") as they're pretty hefty.
So what about the subject of this entry ... well that's about the state the car is in now - filthy. It's caked on like concrete, actually, could be fun trying to clean it.

Really filthy!

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