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Goodbye Stanley

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Fly Fishing Hellyer River

This morning we said goodbye to beautiful Stanley. I made a last round very early, just as dawn was breaking and before anyone in the town was up and about. The wind was howling through the streets and the sea was wild and, with the towns street lights still on and the lights on the occasional shop window, it made a unique and sort of mesmerising scene. A windblown mist shrouded the summit of “The Nut” causing me to imagine what the track that we had walked around there looked like at this moment. I viewed the town from the lonely windswept ruins of the convict cells at Highfield House, seemingly the only human being interested in the dawn’s offering, or the only one stupid enough to be up that early on such a wild morning.

On my slow trip back into the town I came upon a magnificent eagle feeding on some carion on the side of the road in the watery morning light. We were both surprised to see each other and though I tried to get a photo of the effortless way it hovered on the howling wind I could not get close enough again. A final trip to the deserted port and the slipway and then it was back to consume a quick breakfast and pack up the van. As we pulled out of the town we couldn’t help wondering if we’d ever see it again. We hope we do. Staying in Stanley was a great experience.

We headed off through the misty morning toward our next destination, Waratah, about 70km away. The only attraction for us at Waratah was that it was a stopover on our way to Strahan and since it was a long weekend in Tassie, Strahan was busy. Since we need a couple more items before we start to free camp we need a van park in Strahan and we couldn’t get one before Tuesday. So hence the stopover in Waratah.

View Larger Map of Waratah

The trip was brilliant taking us through hilly, almost mountainous country through magnificent forests of bluegum trees. At one point we crossed a bridge over a river, The Hellyer River, and we just happened to spot a man in the river fly fishing. We pulled over into a conveniently sited rest spot and walked through a bush track to where the fisherman was. As we walked into the thick untouched forest we realised that this chance interlude in the journey had bought us to one of the most magnificent spots imaginable. The river was pristine and the banks on either side were thick with ferns and huge trees. It was like time had completely bypassed this spot. It was untouched, pristine beauty in the landscape that no picture could do justice to. We came upon the fisherman and although trying to be quiet so as not disturb HIS peace, he saw us observing him.

We had the most amazing conversation about trout fishing, caravanning and free camping. This lovely gentleman and his wife were in Tasmania purely to trout fish.

Although we saw virtually no cars on our trip so far the fisherman attracted onlookers who had seen him at his treasured art as we had. We soon had a man from France, and people from all over Australia watching and photographing “our” fisherman. We all chatted as if our common location had enjoined us to some secret club known only to us. It was wonderful. We could have stayed days beside the Hellyer River talking to the fisherman.

We stopped to allow Kerrie to get a small branch of Bluegum. She adores the smell of Bluegum leaves and the car was soon rich with the aroma. We pulled into the supposedly nondescript village of Waratah and found a real delight. So far off the track yet a fascinating place.

The first commercial mining operation in Tasmania began here when tin was discovered by “Philosopher” Smith. Obviously once a bustling community it is now home to just 200 people. The village has a magnificent waterfall right beside the main street. It hurls its pristine water hundreds of feet to a beautiful valley far below the town. We will explore the town properly tomorrow but the stand out of this town for us so far is the people. Ultra friendly and wanting to chat. Kerrie was in her element as chatting is her very favourite pastime as you all know. She talked for hours and, as is usually the case after a serious chat session, she takes a few hours to ease back into “normalcy”. So I get to hear what every inhabitant of the van park is doing and most of the town as well.

I must admit even my usual tendency to back away from people couldn’t stop me from being involved in totally interesting conversations with both the town’s temporary and permanent residents. As we settle in for the night in the warm glow of our little home we can’t help feeling a surge of contentment and thanks to God for the opportunity to spend yet another day Wandering Australia.

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