Day 149 – Rainy Day Blues

20131009_RCH_3951Although we had clear, starry skies as we fell asleep, by the time we awoke it was overcast with high grey clouds. Today, beside this lake, it really felt like we were back in Hokkaido. With dark skies and our tired bodies (we’re not very fit) it was all too easy to sleep in until 9AM.

We continued south, making a tourist loop out towards Strahan, which is the mouth of the mighty Franklin and Gordon rivers, but more on that later.

20131009_RCH_3954 20131009_RCH_3955An hour or so after we’d left Mackintosh Dam, and after driving through some rather serious pine plantations (and some rather barren hills) we saw a turn off for Henty Dunes. It caught my attention, so we went to investigate. I could see from our satellite navigation that we were near the shore, but I was still surprised to see such large, yellow sand dunes in what felt like the middle of a forest. It was odd looking around – in one direction all you could see were the sand dunes, the other way forests and mountains.

Lots and lots of small mountain passes, with narrow winding roads, which in fair weather would be a blast in a sports car (or motorbike). You’d be hard pressed to find more than 100m of straight road. It’s not to say they’re not enjoyable in Deli-chan, it’s just that she’s not the most manoeuvrable vehicle.

20131009_RCH_3961We passed through numerous small towns before reaching Strahan. I couldn’t remember why, but there was something I’d read about Macquarie Heads, so we took the 12km road out of town. I wasn’t sure what we were expecting, but there wasn’t much out there, just an extremely windy river mouth, complete with seabirds that were struggling to walk forwards into the wind. I remembered later that it was also known by the name of Hells Gate, which I can imagine would be appropriate in weather like this on old wind powered ships.

Strahan looked like a nice little town, but other than the free hot shower that we found (score!) we didn’t venture out of the car due to the rain that had been threatening all day and had now finally begun. We sat in the car trying to wait it out for a while, but it only seemed to be getting heavier.

It was a hard decision to make, to stay and wait for improved weather, or to push on and accept that we’ll be passing through places that we will basically miss due to the weather.

20131009_RCH_3963 20131009_RCH_3965We pushed on through, and as soon as Queenstown came in to view, I was shocked. It instantly reminded me of Mount Isa in Queensland, with a small town built right at the foot of an enormous mine site. The area was almost completely barren, with huge rocky hills all around the town. It turns out that the lack of trees is partially due to the contamination from mining, and partially due to the minerals just existing in these rocks. There was widespread leeching of acid into the river system, which then caused acid rain, killing much of the trees in the area.

20131009_RCH_3968 20131009_RCH_3970There is still a copper mine site operating in the area. A lookout at Iron Blow (which funnily enough was originally a gold mine, and now a copper mine, but never an iron mine) gave a rather dizzying view down into one of the deep open cut pits.

The rains didn’t cease, and we had another discussion on whether we stay or go. This time we decided we’d stay and hope that the weather forecast for tomorrow was true – cloudy/showers, instead of todays ‘rain’ forecast. There are some beautiful mountains in this area that I’m very keen to see. Fingers are crossed, and in the mean time, it’s time to catch up on Arrested Development.

149日目  10月 9日(水)

今日は朝から雨模様。 しかも時間が経てば立つ程雨が強くなってゆく。。。
ドライブをしていると、森の中なのに突然、砂丘が現れたー。

砂丘好きの私たちは、ちょっと寒いし、風は強いけど、雨はやんでいたのでちょっと砂丘をダッシュで登ってきました。   たしかに海はここから見えるものも、こんな森の中に砂丘があるのがすごく不思議でした。

その後は、いくつか美しい山並みの峠を通り過ぎるものも、あいにくの雨のせいで、ぜんぜん景色が見えない。。。

他には、マーキューリヘッドという岬へ。 風がものすんごくて、カモメ達が前進しようとするも、風の勢いでマイケルジャクソンのようにムーンウォーク状態に後ろに飛ばされているのがかわいそうだけど、おもしろすぎてしばらく眺めていました。  木のように巨大な昆布も流されていた。。 タスマニアで昆布業始めるか、、

途中金鉱山として発見された鉱山へ立ち寄り、ロスは写真をちょっと撮ってきましたが、私は車で待機。   現在は、銅の鉱山をしてまだ採掘されているようです。

一昔前には、採掘の方法と元々の地形のせいで、この辺りは強い酸性の雨が降っていたようで、この辺りの低い山々の木は、全て枯れてしまい禿げ山になったようですが、現在はほんの少しそれが回復し、すこし木が生えてはいますが、荒々しいゴツゴツした岩肌かほぼむき出しの山がぐるっと町を囲んでいます。

植樹をして森を再建する話がいつも持ち上がるそうですが、地元の人々はこのハゲた荒れた景色が好きな様で、いつも反対するそうです、、、、

その後もいくつかの峠を越えても雨はやまず、今日は早めに切り上げました。

ちょっと残念な1日でした。。

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