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Sunday, May 02, 2004

Tiger Trails Tarkine Hike - Day 1 - to Wombat Flat

[image]Today was the start of the Tarkine guided walk with Tiger Trails. I got up at 6:15am (ouch), and quickly packed my sleeping gear and headed for the Tiger Trails office, which was just a block from the Pickled Frog Hostel. Out the front of the office was a 12 seater minivan, with trailer. I went up to the office, and there were several people inside busily packing and checking gear.
I was given a fabric bag with some group food in it, a bag of scrogin, a bag of muesli bars, and a block of chocolate. I was considering taking my own one man tent, mainly so I would know I'd get good sleep, but the guide convinced me to use theirs.
We dumped the packs in the trailer, and soon set off – there were 9 people in the minibus, with our guide (Darvis) driving, and Jarrah as the alternate driver, who would return the van to Hobart.

As we drove north toward Launceston, it became apparent that the weather was not terrific – there was a very strong wind which was throwing the bus all over the road, and the occasional rain squall. I was hoping that my pack wouldn't get too wet as the trailer didn't have a tarp over it.
At Launceston, we picked up another passenger, and near Devonport, we stopped for fuel and some food, then again to pick up more passengers. On the way, everyone was fairly quiet, which was probably due to not knowing each other, being tired from the early start, and from the warm air in the bus.

Turning inland near Burnie, we went past the Gunns woodchipping mill, which is the largest in the southern hemisphere, yet only employs 12 people full time. It is the one pushing ahead the logging of Tasmania's old growth forests, like the Tarkine. After the mill came Tasmanias largest private landholding – a Gunns plantation forest.
At Waratah, we stopped at a park with a shelter shed which we used to pack all the extra gear which hadn't been packed yet, e.g. stoves, pots / billies, fuel, extra food. There was a view of a pretty waterfall from the park, and the decaying remains of mining equipment from last century in the valley below.

While we were packing, the wind was very cold, and when we were nearly finished, it suddenly started hailing. In the tin roofed shelter shed, it was very noisy, but the hail soon changed to rain.
About 10 minutes drive from Waratah, we came to the trail head – just an unmarked dirt 4WD track off the sealed main road.
After putting our packs on, we said bye to Jarrah. It was about 12:30 when we started walking. The track lead off into low eucalypt forest, and then went past the only piece of buttongrass on the track.

After less than two kilometres, we came to a creek. It had a very dodgy bridge consisting of a pair of slippery logs. I asked Darvis (our guide) whether we'd be getting wet feet later, and he said we would, so I just forded the creek, which was about thigh deep, quite deep and fast flowing.
Paul slipped, and almost went for a swim whilst fording the creek and got a little wet. Natalie slipped on the logs of the bridge and landed on her bum on one of the logs but didn’t go into the water.
Immediately we had to cross another creek to the first night's campsite. Everyone who had used the bridge took time to take off their boots and pants to ford the creek.
The campsite was where an old house had been from the mining era, and was called Wombat Flat.

It had been sprinkling rain, and just after we got our tents up, it started hailing again. We put up a tarp to cook under, and Darvis proceeded to organise dinner. Whilst dinner was happening, we did an introduction session, then a "pass the avocado" game to help us remember everyone's names.
Apart from me, there was:

Darvis (Mark Davis)

Guide and Co-founder of Tiger Trails.


A nurse from South Australia

Ben, Paul & Natalie

Have been working on the streets of Hobart for The Wilderness Society. Paul and Natalie are from the UK, Ben is Australian

Brendon, Zinta

Learning to be Tiger Trails guides for the next season. Brendon is a musician, Zinta has been travelling and cycling in Tasmania.


Not your average Japanese tourist, has been travelling / protesting for quite a while, and did a peace walk from Perth to Melbourne with Ben

Chelsea & Rob

Activists for Tasmania's forests Chelsea has a radio show.

It is interesting that virtually everyone is in their 20's, which is different from the usual clients of Tiger Trails, who are around 50. Also interesting is that several of the group already know each other, and almost everyone has been recently active in the fight to save the tarkine. Hopefully I can make a difference too, possibly with photographs.

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