Swamp tales

While our big adventure in 2016 was as much a trip of a lifetime with my kids as it was a time of healing for me, I’m thinking that this latest adventure might be a journey of self discovery.

We spent the first day of the New Year on a day trip to the North West of Tasmania to Tarkine and the dismal swamp. Not sure what I thought I’d discover in a swamp about myself but I was reminded just how much the mozzies love me!

To get into the ‘swamp’ (aka the largest draining sinkhole in the Southern Hemisphere) you get to don a helmet and hair net, lay down on a mat and slide down a 110 metre slide in just 15 seconds! The ride did advise that those with neck or back injuries shouldn’t go down the slide but I loathe the idea that the action of one aggressive drunk have left me with a lifelong injury and chronic pain so I ignored this and followed the kids down the slide (it was just a slide after all – what could be the harm?). Needless to say, I paid the price (and I’m not just talking about the rather exorbitant entry fee to walk around 1.2km of swamp pathways).

After some cursing, deep breathing and stretching, the kids and I meandered around a series of pathways learning ore about the sinkhole, and now state forest, and meeting the very cute pademelon – a small wallaby-looking native.

Being stuck in a sinkhole and surviving ‘off the land’ might not be so bad though – there were a lot of crayfish holes dotted all throughout the forest – I could think of worse to have to dine on to survive.

After a bite to eat we headed back via Stanley – a picturesque seaside town. As we approached we could see a giant sized lego looking block looming large in the distance. This turned out to be the ‘Nut’ (owing to a one time attempt to drill through the ancient volcano core only to find it was a ‘hard nut to crack’).

We drove to the base of the Nut and took a chairlift to the top to take in some of the 360 degrees views from the top. I think Melbourne might have some competition for the title of ‘four seasons in one day’ – we went from freezing winds that made your eyes water, to balmy breezes and then blazing hot sun as we walked the 2km track taking in multiple viewing platforms.

Other than the breathtaking views of the town, Bass Strait and surrounding national park, the Nut seemed to have a very large and very friendly population of beautiful butterflies and the odd unique tree for hiding under or climbing along the way.

Back to camp for a swim in the pool after dinner – not a bad first day of the year.

To help prepare us for our pending Overland Track hike, I’d booked Master 17 and I into massages the next day to help loosen any tight muscles.

We took advantage of these appointments to grab a few things from the shops and check out the Information Centre and Makers Workshops where we got to try our hand at making some denim paper with subtle Tasmanian icon animals embossed into the paper.

Fish Frenzy was recommended for lunch so we headed there for a yummy lunch overlooking the foreshore before the kids enjoyed a swim in the ocean and I got my calves wet – despite it being a pretty hot 25 degree day, it felt more like a 35 degree day in Melbourne).

After a few hours we headed back to camp for some chill time and dinner. After dinner, we headed back to the Makers Workshop car park to join some lovely volunteers for a talk on little penguins (formerly fairy penguins) and some penguin spotting after dark. The fluffy babies looked very cute until mum or dad arrive back from a day at sea eating and they pounced on their parents for dinner. It was pretty amazing to see a colony of penguins so close to the CBD – something I thought only Melbourne/St Kilda had to offer.

Off to bed for our final night in Burnie drifting off to the sounds of the ocean.

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