There are 2 main routes to travel between St Helens and Hobart.
1. Up the Midlands Highway and across on either the Fingall/Avoca... more » road or through Scottsdale and the Sidling.
2. Up the East Coast Highway (A3) through the coastal towns of Orford, Bicheno, Scamanda etc.
Looking on maps and Google Earth, it was clear that there was much more interesting country/forest etc being straddled by these two main routes and that it would be fun to explore the back roads weaving in and out and around the quite rugged country lying in the middle.
Not all the roads we found are marked on maps. We used maps as a guide, and found unmarked roads on Google Earth that linked marked roads that petered out into tracks or just stopped.
This is just the Southern end of the route between Richmond and Bicheno. There are plenty of cross roads that should get you back to main roads and towns if you need to.
We fuelled up at the small historic town of Richmond, taking the opportunity chat with the owner about some of the roads in the area we wanted to go. He knew the area reasonably well, but his directions had me a bit confused for a while, till he mentioned Hungry Flats Rd. Ah ha, so it did join Brown Mountain Rd. Great news - none of the maps indicated this, but a track was visible on Google, so we set off in high spirits to our first turnoff (Brown Mountain Road) on the Colebrook Rd.
Once past the local waste transfer station we found a good gravel road heading North over Dawsons Hill.
This lead down to an Eastern entrance to the Craigbourne dam, which is obviously well known to the local fisher folk.
There was a fairly cool Easterly wind coming off the water, so we nosed into the wind, and set up for a bite to eat and a cuppa.
There is 'No Camping' indicated, but by the looks of some of the ground, I dare say the odd fish has been caught in the first hours of dawn by some one who didn't travel very far from a tent.
We were now on mapped roads leading towards the Swanport River on Inglewood road, and I had been on parts of this road before on a previous club trip up to Tooms lake. The country was mostly agriculture with some forest reserves of very nice timber.
The next unknown was getting East from this road across South of Lake Tooms. On the club trip we had used another road North of the lake, to which the trip leader had the key to the boom gate.
I had spotted some other possible roads on Google Earth which looked like they should be viable.
One turn off, marked as The Snug Road on the map, had disappeared into the undergrowth, in spite of still being lined with tall Macrocarpa pines.
No dramas, the next road should be only a few km North.
This was a rock solid Forestry Rd, with rock being the key word. What a bone shaker it was. It lead East across just South of Tooms Lake, and then headed North up to the Lake Leak (B34) Rd.
We stopped in a beautiful piece of forest for an after-noon cuppa and a leg stretch before heading off towards Lost Falls, which are just South of the Lake Leak Rd.
We turned down the road marked on the map to Lost Falls, a very nice, little used track in the forest. Just a little bit too nice I was thinking. I had read about Lost Falls on a Forestry web site, and this track just didn't look like any thing that would have been promoted as suitable for the odd hire car. Then we met the log. This time we did have the chain saw and a winch, but a tourist road shouldn't need heroics.
So a bit more exploring from the main road was called for.
That looked a bit more like it, the turn-off was well sign posted,and it joined the other road we were on originally, just a bit further on.
The Tasmanian maps are not inaccurate; they are just out of date with what is now on the ground.
I have a sneaking suspicion that it is to discourage casual tourism on working Forestry roads.
One big advantage of the our camper is that we can use any levelish spot for the night. The carpark was empty; it was about to rain, so we positioned the Landie on a suitable spot with no threatening overhead limbs and set off to have a look at the falls and the indicated coastal lookout nearby.
The forest around the carpark was more scenic than the view from the lookout straight into the inside of a low cloud base, but from glimpses through the occasional breaks it should be worth returning to.
It was an easy track down to Lost Falls creek, not much water flowing in it at all.
The lack of water over the falls made the falls very hard to pick out from a vantage point a little further down the valley, so we decided to leave them lost and head back to the van for the night.
It was getting a tad chilly, so we ran the diesel heater for a while before dinner and settled down for the night.
A damp cool morning saw us heading North again, shortly crossing the Lake Leak Rd and going up past the Meetus Falls which we had visited on our trip South previously.
There were some other falls we had heard about called Hardings Falls further up the road, and we had been told they could be very spectacular.
The 'normal' way to these falls is to go up the Royal George Rd from Cranbrook and then turn right into the falls at a cross road, but we were going to come in to the junction from the left already on the road to the falls.
The car park had a picnic table and a long drop with a broken down pipe from the roof to a water tank.
It was a tad early for lunch, so we wandered down the track to the lookout over the falls and then down the goat track to the falls them selves.
Although there was not a lot of water flowing, these falls are in the most spectacular amphitheatre I have seen.
We had it all to our selves.
This is one set of falls to get back to after some heavy rain, the water must just roar through the chasm and over the edges. The set of falls continues down stream some 200m, with other big drops, but these are more difficult to get a vantage point to view. The car park and a goat track are all the development that has happened here. Nice. I like that.
It warmed up a bit for lunch at the car park, so we used the picnic table for our lunch and a cuppa before venturing down the last few roads to Bicheno.
A sign post to our destination was some what unexpected. We were a bit doubtful about this road, and had been told that there was a bridge down, and the crossing was difficult.
Well the crossing was a regular ford, dead easy with the little water flowing down the Swan River, and there was no sign of a bridge, so the information must have been about the other track going North to St Marys.
The road out was easy going and passed through more nice east coast forest
With sign posts pointing the way to the Tasman Highway I got distracted and missed a turn off that should have taken me to North of the Coles Bay turn off, and I wasn't paying all that much attention to the map.
When we exited to the Tasman Hwy, I knew immediately what I had done, dammit.
Not to worry, the one I missed was another of those tracks that may not exit at all and end up on private property or behind a boom gate.
It will be easy enough to back track some day from the highway and see if it goes through.
We did check out a couple of the exits, and one definitely has dissipated under cultivation and a plantation on the other side of a fence.
The other two were easy enough to find, and look hopeful.
We turned North on the East Coast Highway, past the lookout to the Freycinet National Park and on to Bicheno where we were staying with friends for a few days. less «