Cycle Tour of Tasmania – February 2015
Day 16 - Rest Day in Launceston
|Looking downstream near the mouth of Cataract Gorge|
Friday 20 February was to be a non-cycling day, and why not? There's plenty to see and do in Tasmania's second city, including an amazing river gorge which has a real wilderness feel about it despite being so near the bustling centre. So, as the sky was blue and the day promised warmth and comfort, four of us (me, RIchard, Tony and Deborah) made our way by walking about 100 metres from the hotel to the path at the entrance of Cataract Gorge. A steep climb soon warmed us up as we reached the 'First Basin' where there were cafes and a chairlift which is almost horizontal and is in fact the longest single-span chairlift in the entire world.
|On the way up to First Basin|
|First Basin is there behind the suspension bridge|
|On the way up to Sentinel Point Richard tries to dislodge this chock-stone|
A little further on, not yet crossing the pretty suspension bridge, the path climbed again above the gorge to Sentinel Point. Looking down on the river, it was a bit reminiscent of the River Tees in the Low Force area, and indeed the underlying rock of both Cataract Gorge and the River Tees is hard, igneous dolerite. Skinks, brightly-coloured beetles and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos drew our attention before we reached the viewing platform and then headed back, crossing the suspension bridge to our first cafe stop.
|If this beetle has a name, I don't know it!|
|One of many skinks|
Here were Peacocks, Peahens, and baby peacocks (Chickpeas?), and also a group of local Rotarians who were hosting a group of fellow Rotarians from Sweden, so we had a chat with them and discussed our respective clubs before having the compulsory coffee and vanilla slice. We were sitting under a Ginkgo biloba tree, which - if you didn't already know - is like a living fossil, a tree with no close living relatives anywhere in the world. The Ginkgo belongs to an Order all on its own - the Ginkgoales - most of which appeared in the Cretaceous period and became extinct long before the Palaeocene. There were also Sequoias and other specimen trees here.
|Ginkgo leaf (Google images)|
|Ginkgo tree (Google images)|
After getting back to the road and checking out the start of tomorrow's route, we wandered through the waterside area, had lunch at a cheap restaurant and then went back to the city centre. The Launceston Design Centre was a bit disappointing, being more of a showcase for furniture on sale, although there were a few rather clever ideas there.
|They even have river cruises here!|
|As you can imagine these two machines caught Richard's eye|
|One of Launceston's colonial-style buildings|
However, we decided to move on to the motor museum for a bit of (a) nostalgia and (b) a sauna. The museum is housed in a basic industrial unit: the reception area/shop is air-conditioned but the main exhibition hall isn't, and today the sun had been high in the sky for some time, so it was a sweat box. And the motorcycle mezzanine was even hotter! So after a wallow amongst the motor cars of yesteryear, we headed through the park into the town centre for a large ice-cream.
|A Spotted Dove in the park|
I also bought some factor 50 sun cream. The lady who served me said she currently had visitors from Hull who had brought some factor 15 with them. She was surprised because it isn't possible to buy factor 15 in Tasmania on the basis that it's effectively useless!
Once more we found restaurants pretty well booked up in the evening, although after splitting up we did all manage to get a table. We went to 'Sails' and Richard had the duck. When he went to pay on the way out, the girl couldn't understand his accent and only managed to grasp what he'd eaten when he said 'DACK'!
Back to the room, pack ready for a longish day tomorrow and a 7.30 start. A hot day today.