After feeling ripped off we continued on to look at Sisters Beach, all the homes are mainly holiday type and worth a few dollars. We stopped near Smithton at the Tall Timbers resort and rest stop, a beautifully presented area of green grass, tall shady trees and a running creek. Alas the sign said it was only for vans with grey water tanks so after lunch we drove into Smithton itself to the free camp near the river mouth.
We were surprised to see two other Bushtrackers there as they were the only others we had seen so far in five weeks. One of the owners was a BOG member "The Dingo Man" Ken and he knew of us from reading the forum. We had a quick chat with the promise of catching up at happy hour. Another camper Bill was travelling by himself, he had a small Hi-Ace or similar with everything he needed. He called us over as he had caught some fish and wasn't sure how to fillet them, well imagine my surprise when I saw two flathead, one measuring 650mm and the other around 400mm, the largest was a real monster! A quick lesson on how to fillet them and Vick and I walked into town for a look. That evening was spent having a chat and a few red wines.
The next morning we continued on to Marrawah, we couldn't believe that 10 years ago Marrawah was our 1st overnight stop after getting off the boat, why the hell did we drive so far? We must have been zonked out at the time and it was all a blur. This time it wasn't as windy but with the best spots taken we only stopped for coffee, it was nice seeing plenty of small bird life, majority move to fast for my compact camera, I'm kicking myself for leaving the SLR at home.
We almost retraced our steps from our 1st trip, the fields of poppies were in flower, we believe these are harvested for the pharmaceutical companies, the fences had warning signs that trespassers would be prosecuted and that people have died from picking and using the poppies.
Arthur River is a National Park and camping permit is required, as we were just passing through we did not stop. A lot of the road has speed humps and signs warning of Endangered Tassie Devils, we didn't see any and were not sure if the speed humps are to slow drivers down or make a noise to pre-warn the animals to scare them off the road, either way both worked.
The road to Savage River is a well formed dirt road, hilly & windy it has some lovely views. Their is evidence of a large fire burning the area as most was in a regeneration phase. We didn't stop except to take some photos, we were hoping to come across a camp site we stayed at previously and when we did think we had found it we were not quite sure, if it was it had changed but it has been 10 years so we thought maybe it was. We stayed the night, a very quiet part of the country with no traffic coming through after the afternoon.
The next morning we came across the camp site we thought we were at, oh well.
Along the road we had to pull over as there was a wide load coming through, this would be the limit that the roads could take and the semi drivers were doing a skilled job in getting the trailers around the bends.
Arriving at the crossroads for the Murchison highway we turned left and drove another 20klms to finally get to our nights destination Hellyer Gorge. This was one of our favourite spots previously, it was the scene of my 1st trout capture and has a lovely rain forest vegetation. We decided to stay two nights and catch up with the washing. Camping us allowed on either side of the road, one is under a canopy of trees more suited to tents or camper trailers, the other on the high side where it's a choice of bitumen or if your lucky on grass in between some lovely big trees, we were lucky and the only ones there.
After a relaxing two days, we left Hellyer and headed to a camp site that was new to us, Upper Natone Forest Reserve sounded good on the Wikicamps and we were not disappointed. We had many choices of where to camp and we chose to be out in the open on green grassy area to make the most of the solar. We had another van come in, the male driver had suffered a stroke at some stage and his wife did all the van setting up, and got his electric gopher off the ute, they were a friendly couple and after unhitching they went for a drive. In the mean time we had a ute come in with some motorbikes on the back, for the next hour or so we had 3 young boys roaring around and up and down the bitumen road racing each other, no safety gear, no helmets ...
Well it was an accident waiting to happen, and it did, both Vick and I heard the skid followed by a sound that could be described as a watermelon hitting the road from a height, we looked over to see a young boy on the road shaking his arm around. His friends quickly on the scene started screaming hysterically his name and yelling "he's dead" I got over there straightway and proceeded to check the boy was breathing and on his side, he was obviously having a fit as he was convulsing and his eyes had rolled back into his head, blood was pouring out from his head and I put my hand there to slow the flow, he also had blood coming out of his ear. I had to yell at the two other boys to get them to listen, I asked them who they were with and they told me the boy's father, so I sent one off to get him here ASAP. With no phone coverage I thought it best to get the boy into his fathers car and get to the hospital as quick as they could. We lifted him in, hoping that no damage had been done to his spine, but what was the choice? Possibly die on the road whilst someone drove for help or at least get a phone signal, or chance it. The Father was all for getting to the hospital so that's what he did.
I was certain the poor kid would not make it, or if he side would suffer brain damage for the rest of his life, the relief we got later on when phoned by the Dr in emergency telling us the boy was in their care and communicating and in a stable condition. He also mentioned that our quick response most definitely helped save the boys life as shock can be a killer in incidents like this.
We left Upper Natone and a short drive later we found ourselves at Bannon Park, another free camp beside a river. There were 1/2 dozen other campers set up, mostly local getting set up before Christmas, it would have been OK to stay a few days except there was no phone signal and we needed phone signal to speak to our family on the big day. So we stayed a night and then moved on back to Deloraine for two nights before deciding to go back to Campbell Town as it was closer to Hobart and Vickie wanted to go to the Salamanca markets one last time on Boxing Day.
Christmas Day, we had a lovely meal of cold chicken & salad, and ham, Vick also made a mango creamy desert which was very nice. We had a nice couple John & Maralyn whom we had met previously at Smithton camped near us and after lunch we joined them for a few to many drinks.
We Skyped our family and hot to see and speak to them all, it was going to be a good experience for them all getting together without mum & dad but we were there looking down at them as Scotty put a photo of us on top of the tree. Hahaha
With Christmas finally over, we left Campbell town and went to Oatsland, we left the van there and drove into Hobart, it poured rain all day and we both got soaking wet and it wasn't the best fun walking the market especially as we had already been there before, I have the patience of a saint. Back to Oatsland still pouring rain, we cranked up the diesel heater and warmed our bodies up.
We intend to leave here tomorrow and head towards Swansea and visit the girls again and pick up our push bikes, stay a night and then go North again and check out Beaconsfield.