Day 82 – Monday, 24 May 2021

I woke up at 4:00am this morning and sneezed silently five times, got up and took a pain killer then dozed until the alarm went off at 8:30am. The nose was running freely, and I took a Zyrtec in the hopes that it was a bout of hay fever, and the tablet would help with the nose. However, it did for only a short time so I may have picked up a head cold. I have no idea where and am not feeling too bad as yet. I spent the rest of the day with the tissues close at hand and sneezing intermittently. 

I was feeling so miserable by the time we were on the way back to the van that we rang ahead for takeout and picked up two bowls of seafood chowder at the Pondering Frog as we went past. Lester was still in fine form and asked how our adventures were coming along. 

The day was fine, and it was 15 degrees when we left the van this morning. We travelled 259 kilometres around the countryside and went from 7 metres above sea level to 717 metres as we travelled through the Elephant Pass, which is 27 kilometres north of Bicheno. The temperature dropped down to 9 degrees when we were at the heights. Thanks heavens we don’t have to travel the Elephant Pass to get to St Helen’s. It is a torturous and narrow winding road without any chance of it being made better because it is carved out of the rocky mountainside. 

We had made plans from our tourist maps to see several waterfalls in the area along with some 4WD tracks. It was a very frustrating time as several of the tracks were closed, or in such horrible condition that we turned around and left them alone. 

We came through the little village of Royal George which had once been a minor mining site but interesting as it was on the Old Coach Road, a gravel road through the hills. At either end of the section through the hills there’s a sign stating, ‘Built by convicts, re-opened by residents 1959’. 

In 1845 Charles Meridith, husband of Louise Meridith, moved his family from Swansea to Port Sorell and took this route which was then described as a bridle path. In his wife’s 1852 recount of her time in Tasmania (“My Home in Tasmania”, still in print) she noted the presence of a probation station along the way. There is, however, no actual record of any convict work actually being done on the road, and apparently the probation station mentioned in her book is described as abandoned before it was occupied. There was a convict outpost at Avoca and a sub-post at Fingal but no record of them working out past Mt Henry on this road. 

The town has a population of 28 people and is on the St Paul’s River. The village and mine were named after the Royal Navy vessel HMS Royal George, which was under the command of Captain Robert Hepburn during the Napoleonic Wars, and the captain settled nearby at Roy’s Hill in 1828. The scenery along the way was marvellous. 

Once we reached the highway at Cranbrook, we turned towards Rawlinna on the B34 road. We didn’t get to Rawlinna as our objective was to see Meetus Falls on a 4WD track which turned off before the township itself. This road was in fairly good condition, much like other 4WD tracks we have taking before today. 

However, the track takes a turn off the main 4WD area to get to the falls themselves, and this track was full of potholes brimming with water. It was a very uncomfortable and slow journey to the carpark. 

The track to the falls was a Grade 3 walk, but we didn’t find that out until we were well on the way home. Both of us handled it pretty well, and we commented that we could not have handled it when we first arrived in Tasmania all those weeks ago. It was very rocky with steep ascent/descent sections, but the view at the end was worthwhile.  

The Meetus Falls is a 35-metre cascade from Lake Leake to the Cygnet River. It had quite a volume of water pouring over the edge considering that it is autumn and there has been no significant rainfall in the area for a while. 

I was glad to make it back and have a cuppa before Russ had his SCAN. The seafood chowder was every bit as good as it had been two days ago.