Breakfast over, bags packed, at 8.30am we board our bus and leave the Wrest Hotel and pass early inner city sandstone buildings close to the Hobart's waterfront, among them Australia's oldest hotel (1807) and the Tasman Bridge curving over the Derwent.


The city behind us we head west passing fields of white opium poppy and hops and our windows offer glimpses of  rural Tasmanian life.

  Santa waves us Goodbye!   




At the 16,265 hectare (40,191 acres) Mount Field National Park we visited the most photographed waterfall in Tasmania - the Russell Falls. We parked by the visitor centre photographing timid wallabys breakfasting close-by, and followed the track through a mixed forest comprising towering swamp gums, dogwood, musk and myrtle.


The falls cascade down in  three tiers framed by lush vegetation, and was said to have attracted visitors for well over a hundred years.  I photographed signs recording the story of the area - they said: 
"Can you make out the horizontal layers in the rock behind the Russell Falls? The layers were composed of silt, sand and clay particles whixh haardened into rock 250 million years ago - around the time when dinosors were wandering the continent. What do the falls look like today - a raging torrent, a delicate trickle or something in between? Whatever the flow, the water cascading over the Russell Falls is constantly eroding the rock backdrop. The products of this erosion - boulders, pebbles and sand, will in time form new rock - it is all part of the never ending cycle.
One thousand generations. Since the beginning of time this area was part of the homelands of the Panganingee people. For more than 30 thousand years the land provided ll of their spiritual and physical needs. The invasion of Europeans resullted in the destruction of these people and their enviroment. There are no living descendants of the Panganingee however the Tasmanian Aboriginal people of today remain custodians of the land on their behalf.
In 1885 Tasmania's first reserve was created around Russell Falls and rail excursions from Hobart to the Falls became popular. The reserve was extended with the formation of the Mount Field National Park in 1976 which along with Freycinet, is the States oldest National Park".
Our next stop was Lake St Clair, carved out by ice during several glaciations over the last two million years, it is the deepest lake in Australia and the headwaters of the Derwent River and part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The Aboriginal people called the lake Leeawuleena meaning "sleeping water" and the vegetation patterns show signs of thousands of years of their burning practices. Situated at the southern end of the Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park, about 2 1/2 hours west of Hobart.

The Lyell Highway to Queenstown now becomes a winding and narrow 1 1/2 hour drive, the road bordered by rain forest and said to occasionally be closed by snow in winter. We wind our way down hills, bare of vegetation - the result of years of mining fumes - a vision likened to a lunar landscape. Our hotel for the next two nights is the Chancellor Inn.

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