The Silica Road
All good things come to an end….
Here is the final instalment in my Tour de Tassie series of travel blogs.
Moving on from West Coast to North West Coast
Strahan – Zeehan – Corinna – Smithton – Stanley
After our 2 day stay in beautiful Strahan on the West Coast of Tasmania, we decided to head towards Stanley on the North West coast. To do that we had a few choices of roads and we chose the road less travelled. The white road through the wilderness. It doesn’t even appear on the map I’ve included below!!
We must admit to being a bit underwhelmed with the town of Zeehan but we were pleased to visit the Spray Tunnel which was just out of town. The Spray Tunnel is a 100-metre long abandoned train tunnel that leads to what was the Spray Silver Mine. The tunnel was carved through the hill so that ore could be moved from the mine. The tunnel is unusually shaped like a keyhole, approximately 3 metres high and 2.2 metres wide and 100 metres long. It’s a real relic of the West’s mining history. We also saw glow worms inside the tunnel as we walked through it – very cool!
After Zeehan, we took the road to Corinna which was mainly unsealed, scenic and a bit lonely, with very few cars travelling either way. There was no phone reception at all and it felt like we were in the middle of the wilderness at times – I’m not complaining, it was a great feeling!
The road around Corinna is sometimes called the “silica road”, an all weather surface using the tailings from the nearby silica mine. The locals say that this beautiful white road on either side of Corinna provides a better driving experience than the sealed sections.
Pieman River Barge
We knew from the signs that there was a ferry/barge crossing the Pieman River but until we landed at the river we didn’t know the fee of $25 per vehicle, luckily we had cash on us as I’m not sure if the barge took cards as a payment. We stopped at the edge of the river and my husband rang the Fatman barge phone (sounds like something from Get Smart). Apparently the barge ran at half hour intervals so we weren’t sure how long we would have to wait. In the meantime we saw a sign pointing to historical graves off to the side of the road and we headed over to have a look. Very interesting!
It wasn’t very long until we saw the barge heading over towards us and then we were loaded and on our way. The young guy running the barge was interesting and gave us information about the road ahead. He was from Byron Bay and knew someone in Tumbarumba – it’s a small world! He didn’t have much longer to work the barge and was looking forward to moving on, although he enjoyed his work at Corinna immensely.
Corinna is a very small community which was once a remote historic mining town. It’s now an eco-tourism area surrounded by rainforest and natural wilderness. It’s well known for its river cruises, boating, fishing and bird watching.
Corinna was once a thriving gold mining town and is now an oasis for nature lovers wanting a genuine wilderness experience. Stay in self-contained retreats, historic miners’ cottages, backpackers or camp sites and the local hotel serves up Tasmanian produce with a healthy dose of Tasmanian hospitality. Source
We drove for approximately 2-3 hours without seeing anything except the vast and beautiful scenery of the Tarkine wilderness, and the odd vehicle. It was a lovely drive and we eventually arrived at Smithton and our first stop was at a bakery for a late lunch as we were starving!
We knew Stanley was just a bit further on and decided to stop for the night there and finally getting some phone reception started looking for accommodation. We were fortunate to find a delightful Bed and Breakfast called The Ark with wonderful hosts Rhonda and Christer.
We settled into our Anderson Suite before heading out for a wander around this quaint little town which was featured in the movie ‘Light Between Oceans’. In fact our B&B was a star in the movie with its prime position. I have to go back and re-watch the movie now!
The whole town was involved in the filming a few years ago and there were photo boards showing the town’s transformation throughout the village. They are justifiably proud of their beautiful little village.
The historic village of Stanley is nestled at the base of the Nut, a sheer-sided bluff – all that remains of an ancient volcanic plug. It was once the headquarters of the Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) Company which was formed in 1824 during the reign of George IV.
The Nut is a prominent landmark and a formidable walk up and down, but well worth it for the views. In the summer season there is a chairlift which you can take, as seriously, it is an almost vertical track in places. We of course walked up and down – here’s a few shots of the views from the top, (the chairlift had closed for the season the day before anyway).
Highfield Historic House
Highfield House is an imposing Georgian house set on a magnificent site and was once the VDL Managers’ residence. It had fantastic views and we enjoyed our self guided tour throughout the site.
I think this quote from the tourist brochure says it all – Highfield may be made from brisks and mortar, but it means much more than that. Highfield represents both the capacity of human endeavour towards both enterprise and disaster. Curiously the house was built at a time when the Company was on the verge of ruin. On this most spectacular site at the edge of the world, this is the story of either enterprise or folly, success or tragedy. You decide!
Leaving Stanley: Wynyard – Burnie – Penguin – Devonport
After leaving Stanley, we made our way along the coast as much as we could, through the centres of Wynyard, Burnie and onto Devonport where we were to catch the boat the Spirit of Tasmania for our night sailing back to Melbourne.
We stopped at the popular beach-side town of Penguin along the way and had a delicious late lunch watching people take photos of the real Penguin of Penguin. I featured the Penguin in my Not so Wordless Wednesday post on 21 June – and I told a funny (and true) story.
All in all, it was a great two week trip and we enjoyed every minute of it. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing a little about Tasmania through my posts and I’ve maybe whetted your appetite for a visit. It’s beautiful, historical and picturesque place for a holiday.
I could tell you so much more about these amazing places but you’ll just have to go and visit for yourself!
This is the final segment of our Tour de Tassie – you can find the other posts here:
Travel safely. Until next time!
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A tragic accident at age 17, resulting in a Bravery Award from the Queen, didn’t deter Debbie from travelling the world. A young retiree, after being made redundant from her 22 year career managing education programs in a men’s correctional centre, she now loves reading, blogging, riding her ebike and a good cup of tea! Also known as Granny Debs to her 4 grandchildren.
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