TAS day 24: Queenstown to Strahan
January 19, 2016. 42km.
Today started with wandering a few blocks through town to the rail station to get on the tourist railroad for a half day trip. The train actually goes between Queenstown and Strahan in the full day trips, so doing half of that gave me a preview of where I rode later in the day. The railroad doesn’t take quit the same route as the road, but it’s the same general direction.
The train itself uses old steam engines, and I paid a pit extra for the car on the back with a balcony on the end. The train goes up some rather step bits using cogs and a third rail up the middle of the tracks. It was initially built for all the mining operations to get things to Strahan for shipping. Eventually they switched to shipping from Burnie instead because thy couldn’t get big enough ships into the harbor at Strahan.
Overall, the train ride was a nice way to spend a few hours sitting down and seeing things, but the commentary wasn’t great. I’m defintiely glad I did a half day rather than full day trip.
I got back to Queenstown around 2pm and headed out again, this time via bike with all my stuff.
There was a medium sized hill to get out of Queenstown. The annoying part was occasional trucks going by, so I was glad to turn off toward Strahan at the top.
The road undulated along for a while through scrubby land. There was a point near Strahan where I think the road was actually flat for maybe 200 meters. The fact that I noticed that says something about this island. But before I got there I had to go up for a while into the rain forest that the train had gone through earlier.
For the last half of the ride, I got a lot of downhill. There were definitely still uphill bits, but a lot of them were short enough that I could get nearly to the top with momentum from the last downhill. Those are the best kind of hills. Somewhere in there I got bits of the Harry Potter movie soundtrack stuck in my head. I guess biking down hills is a bit like riding broomsticks. Though I don’t think broomsticks run out of momentum 50 feet from the top of hills and slow down to a crawl.
I stopped at the grocery store on the way into Strahan to restock on nut mixes and peanut butter and then headed to the campground. It’s not bad for a commercial campground, even though I ended up with a site right by the road. Tomorrow I’m booked on the Gordon River Cruise, which is supposed to be very good. I liked the last cruise I did so I have high hopes. I also hope that in the couple days I’m here they will get th cradle mountain bushfire under control. The park is open now, but the fire is still going. I think they are putting a lot of effort into controlling this particular fire as Cradle Mountain is one of the state’s top tourist destinations.