Finalising our stay in Launceston on Monday we did a few mundane practical things; we caught a Metro bus into town and did some shopping, filled prescriptions and had our flu shots at a local medical centre. After a light lunch in town we returned to the Caravan Park to prepare the van for our relocation to Deloraine. The next morning we travelled the 48 kms to Deloraine and set up camp adjacent to the Meander River.
Deloraine is quite a nice town, large enough for a Woolworth’s grocery store, with most of the facilities necessary for modern living. Our camp site by the river is quite nice, fully grassed with the usual contingent of ducks, water fowl and a pair of black swans. We have been lucky enough to also spot the resident platypus who seems to live in the banks of the river just below our site.
After setting up our camp we proceeded to the Information Centre for details of what to see and do in Deloraine and then headed out to see the Great Lake. Deloraine is on the pathway to the Great Western Tiers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Western_Tiers) and the Highland Lake country and we decided we would like to take a look at the Great Lake (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Lake_%28Tasmania%29).
Into the car we headed for place called Breona which is on the shore of Great Lake; we travelled south of Deloraine on the A5 (this road goes all the way through to Bothwell and from there one can branch off to the Midlands Highway and Hobart or join the Lyell Highway and travel to the west coast). The road travels through farm land and forestry and passes through some very pretty country. The road itself is full of twists and turns and hairpin bends as it winds its way higher and higher into the mountains. The scenery is quite breathtaking and our amateur photography does not do it justice.
We drove through Golden Valley and passed landmarks such as Quamby Bluff and Projection Bluff; at its highest point the road is 1210 metres above sea level. There are a number of areas where motorists can pull off the road and take in the magnificent views of the Great Western Tiers and at one point a timber platform lookout has been constructed for the convenience of visitors. The road has a number of points from which bush walks, requiring varying degrees of fitness, can be commenced; Pine Lake has a short walk and a constructed boardwalk for walkers to use.
Just south of Pine Lake we reached a point where the Great Lake comes into view. At this point the bitumen ends and a short stretch of gravel road down a steep hill needs to be negotiated; there is also an information board erected at this juncture describing the Highland Lakes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Highlands_%28Tasmania%29) and the fish that can be found in these lakes. We stopped and took photographs then drove down the hill to Breona and on to Doctors Point and Brandum. These settlements are not marked by any recognizable town centre but are mainly gatherings of shacks (many of which are quite substantial in nature and well-constructed). At Brandum a public telephone box has been installed and at this point we turned around and drove back to Pine Lake where we ate our lunch sandwiches then returned to Deloraine.
The villages of Chudleigh and Mole Creek are located west of Deloraine; Chudleigh is home to the Melita Honey Farm (http://www.thehoneyfarm.com.au/acatalog/melita.html) and a little further west from Mole Creek lie the Mole Creek Caves – Marakoopa Cave and King Solomon’s Cave (http://molecreek.info/natures-wonders/mole-creek-caves/marakoopa-cave/). We drove out to the Marakoopa Cave and decided to take the two tours available at this cave. The first tour explored the lower levels of the cave while the second tour explored the upper reaches or Great Cathedral of the cave. Both tours have a common entrance and explore an area of the cave inhabited by glow worms. To see the glow worms all lights in the cave are extinguished and in the total blackness the glow worms are very visible and appear to be like a starry sky on a dark night.
After the cave tours we drove back into Chudleigh with a dual purpose in mind – lunch and a visit to the Honey Farm. The visit to the Honey Farm was most interesting and the variety of honey available was almost mind boggling. We sampled honey and nougat, bypassed the ice cream and other products and purchased several varieties of the honey for later consumption. Sadly the availability of lunch was not to be so we left in search of substantial food elsewhere.
A short distance north of Deloraine on the Bass Highway sits the small town of Elizabeth Town; just before the town travelling from the south one can find the Christmas Hills Berry Farm. This farm has a licensed café that operates daily between 7:00am and 5:00pm (www.raspberryfarmcafe.com.au) – just the spot for lunch. We parked entered the café and selected from the menu – we chose something called “Morning Craving” – a large pancake topped with cheese, bacon, a fried caramelised banana and lots of raspberries – it was unusual but delicious.
From the Berry Farm we drove 8 kilometres up the road to Ashgrove Cheese factory (www.ashgrovecheese.com.au) where we sampled some great cheese (and bought several varieties) then we had one of their ice creams – huge servings – made at the factory and very reasonably priced. The factory features a large number of painted life size fiberglass cows. These beasts must have been the subject of a competition at some stage as many are autographed by the painters. The factory also sells milk, butter and cream as well as a variety of sauces, jams, wines and other items manufactured by others.
From the cheese factory it was back to the camp to take photos of the resident platypus who resides in the river near our camp site.