Ahh Tasmania, lush and green with rain forests filled with ferns and mosses, there are some fantastic walks through varied scenery ranging from sparse open dry forests, through to mountain heaths and deep lush areas, as well as rugged coastal cliffs and beautiful beaches. It really is a land of extremes down here with the only constant being that it remains cool most of the time. Though even the weather has it’s extremes, when it’s cloudy it’s cold, but then within seconds the cloud can clear and the sun is scorching hot. This means that you seem to be constantly putting on and taking off layers of clothes.
Following along with this theme of extremes, I suspect these cruise ship passengers are here to see the magnificent Tasmanian forests.
How considerate of the locals to chop the forest up so neatly and deposit it right on the foreshore near the cruise ship, the tourists don’t even need to leave the ship to see the forests.
I’ve been here for 12 days now and it’s my first night staying in a caravan park, up until now I’ve managed to free camp it most nights with a few nights staying in National park campsites. The only reason I’m staying in a caravan park tonight is because I need to charge the laptop, I should have bought a small inverter then I’d have no excuses. Though I must admit, it was rather luxurious to have a nice long hot shower. I’ve had a wash every day though these washes have varied between a swim in the ocean and my black bag camp shower. Last night I was camped down on the southern most point of Tasmania, I was on Australia’s most southern road and staying in the southern most camp site available, so camping as south as you legally can anywhere in Australia and boy it was cold.
After a 20km sweaty hike, to the most southern point you can reach, I tried to have a swim back at camp but the water was freezing and there wasn’t enough sun to heat my shower bag so I had to boil some water. Still, there were others in the camp site who had just finished an 8 day hike along the coast, so I had it pretty good.
While I was here in Tassie I’d planned to visit as many public fossicking sites as I could. I think there’s about 10 around the state where you can find numerous different pretty rocks but I was soon to discover that the fossicking areas around Tasmania are different to most other states because you really have no idea where they are unless you have done some serious research before hand.
In the picture above, there is a public fossicking area about 200m up the road on the beach just the other side of the railway line. But, the only spot to park is right where I am, you could just fit 2 cars here, any more and you will be blocking a private driveway.
Then you have to walk along the railway line for a few hundred metres trying to find a way down to the beach. The vegetation is thick and it’s not easy to get down, plus the railway line is definitely in use, I’d followed a train while driving along here earlier. After a few hundred metres you can slide down a concrete wall onto the rocky foreshore.
What for you might ask? For the collection of colourful rocks. Well sort of, in among the numerous rocks are bits of Jasper. What is Jasper? Without getting into specifics, it’s a pretty rock… When I arrived here I really had no idea what I was looking for and it took a while fossicking around looking closely at all the rocks to realize exactly what I was looking for.
I guess what makes jasper collection difficult for a newbie like me is that unlike many other things you may fossick for, jasper doesn’t all look the same, perhaps this is part of the joy for jasper collectors with the sheer variety of colours and patterns. The beauty of the rocks above isn’t so obvious in this picture, I ran out to the car just now to take the photo, still it gives you an idea of the variety of patterns and colours. I look forward to polishing these up at some stage in the future, especially the large one with veins through it.
Why this picture you might ask? It’s an example of one thing I love about Tasmania, the variety of crops grown here, these are opium poppies and they’re grown in many areas through the north of Tasmania. Through my travels I’ve seen a vast array of crops, potatoes, grains, hops, flowers, numerous vegetables, and fruit. Fruit is everywhere down in the southern areas where I am now. Lately I’ve eaten some massive sweet blueberries and this afternoon I called into a farm and bought 2kg of cherries which are the size of ping pong balls, they are enormous, very sweet and only $12 a kilo. I love cherries and during previous seasons on the mainland I’ve bought 1kg boxes of special premium cherries for highly inflated prices but they weren’t close to the class of these cherries.
I guess I should try to follow some order of how my travels have progressed rather than this random jumping backwards and forwards, so I’ll go back a bit. I caught the ferry early in the morning, stopping on the way along the waters edge in Melbourne to get some photos before joining the boarding queue.
Only to find while waiting in the queue that the boat I’d taken photos of was some other cruise ship, the Spirit of Tasmania boat is bright red and it was just pulling up out of the fog as I drove onto the wharf. Great, I was in the queue already and they still had to tie up and unload everybody before we get on. I had a text message saying the boats departure would be delayed by an hour.
Still the trip was good, the ocean was very calm and I managed to read a whole book “the happiest refugee by Anh Do”, my first book in a long time and I found it a great way to pass the hours. I made the mistake of eating too much, a set price per plate means that you tend to pile things on and the food looked reasonable, though eating it I realized it was closer to high quality “shopping mall food” rather than poor “restaurant quality”, yet they charged good restaurant prices. Still I was an amateur, I ate two full meals over the course of the 9 hour trip, probably partly through boredom. I saw others with immensely piled plates, I imagine they were just having the one meal for the trip.
After my quick trip west across to Penguin to collect the jasper I headed east across the top of Tassie to the Weld river fossicking area. There is a magnificent free camping spot here only about 30m from the river.
This following clip is the actual river that I was fossicking in, standing in this river digging and sieving the gravelly rock could hardly be considered hard work. Nothing at all like fossicking for sapphires up in central QLD out in the dry desolate areas hacking at the dusty ground with a pick.
I spent three nights camped here by the river and probably two full days actually working in the river. I managed to get about 4 or 5 topaz which could be cutters of about 2-6 carats, a few small chips of sapphire and perhaps one or two zircon that can be cut, not bad for 2 days work. Met a few people camped here and others just visiting for day trips, though no one seemed to be getting any good sapphire.
From the Weld river I headed further east, there was another fossicking area up here in the north east of Tassie and then it was going to be walks and general tourist adventures down the east coast.