The drive to Ben Lomond was very pretty, featuring hills of farmland, and very very very small towns. After an unexpectedly long drive up the mountain — Ben Lomond is the highest peak in Tassie’s Northeast — we reached the bottom of Jacob’s Ladder, which is a windy, ladder-like road up the side of the mountain, to a ski village near the summit.
The view of surrounding mountains from the bottom of Jacob’s Ladder.
The Ladder, complete with a shot of Steffen’s head.
We stepped out of the car to snap some pictures of the view when Ben and I thought we smelled the same thing: gas. Ben stooped down under the gas tank and said the four words I never wanted him to say: “Oh, the gas is leaking.” Ben narrowed it down to a hose clamp that was probably not doing its job very well because of the hardening of the rubber over time. A fix would be another hose clamp further down the hose, but Steffen adjusted the position of the existing clamp and was able to stop the leak, eventually.
The area of the park that housed the ski lodge and other facilities was a ghost town. Only one other person was there, another hiker who had stopped to use the toilets. I was surprised that they didn’t use the area for any summer tourist activities.
We did a walk up to the summit of the mountain, only about 20 – 30 minutes from the road. We all found it hard to believe the area could ever be used as a ski resort, since the mountain top would have to get about 6 – 7 ft. of snow to cover most of the boulders.
An interesting color pallette was found in the bushes that covered the ground. The combination was as striking as autumn New England.
Each climber of Legges Tor (the name of the hill we were on) had left a stone at the summit, resulting in this small rock monument. Ben walks up to place ours at the top.
We spotted several wallabies along the track, foraging for food. I used to think wallabies were so elusive and exotic, and was very excited to see so many of them so close by. As you’ll read later, though, I quickly became sick of them. Real quick.
Lunchtime at Ben Lomond meant we saw plenty of Wallabies foraging around the area. Wallabies are like smaller, rattier versions of Kangaroos.
We left the park in search of suitable campground, and a bottle shop (read: liquor store). Steffen’s map of Tasmania marked campsites and we saw one in Scottsdale. It was the nearest “major” town after Ben Lomond and to our delight, the bottle shop was open. Scottsdale was one street, a couple diners, a gas station and the liquor store.
The camping area just down the street was one of the nicest we’d ever see: there were showers, running drinking water, toilets, a small playground, and a sheltered BBQ area, complete with a electronic grill. And it was all free. We cooked some sausages, combined pasta with red sauce and gulped down the Boag’s Draught bottles (In the North, Boag’s is Launceston’s homebrew, whereas Cascade is Hobart’s in the South).
The next morning, a light rain started to fall on the campground. Before the laminate coating on my tent’s cover was put to the test, I quickly scrambled out of the sleeping bag and packed away the tent. We wolfed down a granola bar courtesy of Steffen and headed out of the campsite, towards a grocer’s in Bridport, the next town en route to the coast. We picked up some breakfast food and more pasta for dinner that night.
Next door to the grocer’s was a bakery that actually turned out to be quite cheap, so Steffen and Jake both ordered a small bite. I kept thinking to myself, it’s a small bakery, I bet they have fantastic pies. I debated with myself whether or not to get one, and in the end I decided not to. As I walked by the storefront, I saw two signs that sank my heart: 2003 Silver Medal for Mince Meat Pie at the National Pie Competition, and 2003 Bronze Medal for Chicken Curry Pie at the National Pie Competition. Damn! They were award-winning pies. To leave them behind in Bridport was a decision that would haunt me for days.
The weather had become overcast during the night, and Bridport’s beach area lost some of it’s allure. We checked out the coastline briefly before heading east towards Mt. William National Park.