The very first thing I noticed about Tassie this time around was just how dry the landscape was. Making the run from Launceston to Queenstown the bush looked desperate for a drink. Tuning into a local radio station I fluked a report on the conditions and heard that the winter just gone was the worst in some 10 years and that conditions where ideal for a risky and dangerous fire season come summer. The big island really is a land of extremes.
[blockquote cite=”” type=”center”]”Olly a couple of minutes out of queenstown is a track that leads to paradice”[/blockquote]

If you have never driven into Queenstown, pencil it onto your list. Barren hills and every earth colour you can think of make for a scene unlike just about anything you’ll see elsewhere. If you have a chance it’s definitely worth a visit. The boys were already in town smashing a couple of pies after having finished what sounded like one heck of a DVD trip the week before. We all decided to visit the local Queenstown pub for a few beers to finalise the plan for the next few days.

Up at sparrows fart the next morning, we headed only a couple of minutes out of Queenstown before we were on a barely used track that led to the top of a small peak, with unreal views back over the town. That’s what’s so good about Tassie; it’s so damn understated. If that same view had been just minutes outside a major tourist town on the east coast it would have a carpark and viewing platform as well as vending machines and two dollar per view binoculars. In Tassie, breathtaking views are just a 4WD track to the top away. You just can’t beat it.

With the whole arvo ahead of us we decided to crack on and have a go at a track we’d been told about that would take us up over a range, then down toward the spectacular Lake Burbury. Now I’d be lying if I said this was anything near extreme, it wasn’t – but it was bloody scenic. See most tracks I’ve done on the Apple Isle that have any sort of elevation to them at all, are for the most part pretty open with little in the way of tall timber. I’d guess this has a lot to do with crazy weather, where insane winds and extreme storms just don’t allow for the trees to get up nice and high. That’s not all bad though for us 4WDers because it means you only need to get above your surroundings and the views are nothing short of epic.

And I’ll tell ya’ what – this track didn’t disappoint in the scenery department – at the highest point we were rewarded with unforgettable views back over the mountains behind us and right out over Lake Burbury in front. I reckon we were not more than 15 minutes of low range crawling out from hitting the shores of Lake Burbury when the track did something down right odd; it simply stopped. I don’t mean it narrowed down to a goat track or became impassable due to fallen timber, I mean it stopped…Dead.

It was a perfectly formed track that just came to a complete stop in the middle of nowhere. Yep, I too was scratching my head. There was simply nothing for it but to do a 300 point turn for all the trucks (Rocket had to perform a manoeuvre of great skill to get the 50 foot 79 turned around) and retrace our steps. Bit of a bummer too as we had all hoped to camp down on the shore of the lake for the night.

With darkness approaching and now no plan for a place to camp the night we were all stoked to spot an absolute pearler of a bush campsite right on top of the range on our way back towards Queenstown. Nobody needed any convincing to pull in and throw out the swags as Rocket got busy making his trademark steak sanga’s. Pretty quickly we realised that there’s cold – and then there is Tassie cold. Couple that with being absolutely buggered from an awesome day on the tracks we all needed little convincing to call it a night.

[blockquote cite=”type=”center”]”An overgrown track with small river crossings and one mother of a rutted hill climb. sometimes it pays to get lost!”[/blockquote]

The next morning gave us a view from camp down into the valley below which was mind-blowing. Let me tell ya’ there are worse ways to start a morning than with a hot cuppa watching the sun come up from behind the peaks. As 4WDers, we never get over seeing stuff like that. Our plan for today was to hightail it back to Queenstown where we planned to meet with the local Ranger and grab the key to the gates for the Mount McCall Track. Doing this doesn’t cost a cent but you have to arrive with a clean truck so as to minimise the spread of dieback. It’s a small price to pay to be able to drive on the spectacular Mount McCall track.

Again, it’s not a particularly tough track but do they all have to be? It is exposed and remote and does have a few gnarly sections right down the bottom including a couple of steep, rocky climbs that will get the pulse racing. Once again this track finishes with a dead end but this time we expected it as this is where you take to shanks pony and walk down to the famous Franklin River. I’ve read about the Franklin for years and was super keen to see it for the first time. It didn’t disappoint; it’s one bloody speccy sight. Be warned though, the walk down and up is not for the faint hearted, especially if you eat as many camp roasts as Shauno.

We barely had time to catch our breath though as this is a one way track and we were pressed for time to get back out, drop the key off and make our way out towards the Henty River where we had planned to camp for the night. We certainly tend to cover some distance on these trips!

Day three was a double edged sword for Rocket. Despite having a blast punting the big 79 Series up and down the beach all day, rising engine temps had him instantly concerned and rightly so. A massive radiator puncture was the cause and with no chance of a replacement in time to continue filming, the big rig was out of action for the next day or two – spewin!

Of course it takes more than that to put the big fella off so when I suggested he jump in with me I didn’t even get an answer, I just noticed he was sitting up front in the D-MAX grinning like a chimp. It’s very unusual that I ride with anyone in the passenger seat; in fact I’d be able to count the amount of times on one hand. So to be able to talk Rocket’s ear of for the day was downright good fun. We both had a ball.

Something you won’t see on the DVD is a wrong turn we took on the way back to try and avoid what we thought would be a flooded section of beach on the rising tide. Instead we found ourselves in an overgrown Jurassic Park like environment complete with small river crossings and one mother of a rutted hill climb. Sometimes it pays to get lost! A quick run back out to the coast for one last look and to round out the DVD saw us pretty much done and dusted.

For us that was an all too short trip across the ditch.  As a result, a plan was put in place around the campfire and Tassie it was decided, wasn’t yet done. We’d head home but figured we might just head back across while the weather was good. As such, stay tuned for more of what this island of surprises has in store!

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