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Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Trowunna, Devils Gullet, Walls of Jerusalem National Park

(First day of Winter) [image]
I awoke to discover that the Great Western Tiers had dissappeared into the bad weather that had come in. It wasn't yet raining, but looked like it would. The paper said it was bad weather for the next three days, with snow to low levels on Wednesday and Thursday. It didn't sound good for the hike, but I'd planned to go to the nearby Trowunna Wildlife park to see a Tassie devil anyway, so I headed off that way. Part way there, it started raining. When I arrived, it was raining heavily, so I sat in the car, deciding what to do, and after a while, the rain eased a little, so I got out my rain gear and went into the entry building. While I was paying, the rain stopped, which was nice.

I wandered around for a little while looking at some orphaned wallabies and wombats, and some free range kangaroos and wallabies. I then checked out the Tassie Devils. They were smaller than I'd imagined, only a little bigger than a possum. While I watched, they trotted around their enclosure with a stiff legged gait, and at one point chased one another whilst making their distinctive growl/whine/squeal.

A tour was scheduled for 11:00, so I tagged along with the rest - a bunch of Japanese tourists. First we checked out the koalas, which were cute and soft. Then we were shown a young wombat orphan which was pretty heavy even though it wasn't fully grown yet. Finally the keeper showed us the devils up close, and we all made sure to keep away from the jaws. He then gave the devils a piece of wallaby meat, and two of them proceeded to have a very long tug of war over one piece, whilst snarling at each other. After that, they all settled down to eating, and you could hear the crunching of bones as they ate.

After the guide left, I had a look in the nocturnal house, then the bird cages, where they had some injured birds of prey, including the truly massive Wedge Tail Eagle. There was a dam which was home to lots of waterbirds, and one black swan came right up to me (probably looking for food). After wandering around for a while longer, checking out the quolls,and more devils, I left, and headed toward Mole Creek, as I now had a good view of the Tiers after the passing of the rain.

I got some lunch at the small village of Mole Creek, then continued on toward the lookout of Devils Gullet, which is on the plateau of the Tiers, overlooking the Fisher valley. Going onto gravel again, the road wound its way up and up into the Tiers, and near the top, there were amazing views from the road, which was distracting whilst driving. I eventually reached the carpark, which is on an alpine plateau with low vegetation.

A track headed off into a sparse snowgum area, and after about 10 minutes, came to the lookout. Upon nearing the lookout, I could hear a whooshing sound like a waterfall, but soon found it was wind blasting through the metal structure of the lookout platform. The view was awesome - there were rocky crags, a huge valley, and in the distance, the peaks of the Cradle Mountain - Lake St. Clair National Park. The wind was absolutely icy. Looking down the cliff face, my eyes watered in only a second or so. Taking photos, my hands were almost numb after only a minute. Back a little from the cliff edge was a little warmer, but not much.

My hands returned to their normal temperature after using my body heat on them all the way back to the car. The area near the carpark was pretty bleak, and would be very bleak indeed with snow. I drove back to the bitumen road, and continued toward the Walls of Jerusalem. I passed a hydro dam, with a fairly pretty lake (Lake Parangana), then continuing up the Mersey River, came to a little park, which was on the river and was apparently used by whitewater kayakers, since there were gates set up over the river, and signs saying the river levels could change suddenly. (It was low when I was there)

The road changed to gravel again, and passed the Lake Rowallan dam. I stopped by the lake, as it was one of the most ugly and tragic lakes I've seen. The lake was down in level, revealing bare dirt and rock down the banks, and there were thousands of dead drowned trees sticking up through the water. I drove on a short way, and came to the carpark of the Walls. I pitched my tent as it sprinkled rain, bending several pegs in the rock hard dirt. I had some burritos again for dinner then went to sleep early.

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