Home' Caravanning Australia : Spring 2010 Contents Caravanning Australia • Spring 2010 • 149
Local insights to Tassie's north-west coast
By Greg Clarke
The road balances on the edge of the land. Sneaks along cliff tops. Cruises by
beaches. If you're cruising with the window down, the water, a great palette of limitless
blue, almost laps at your elbow.
When the road twists, the water follows. Faithful as a child
tracking mum through a crowd. You take your foot off the
pedal, but not in deference to the bends. There's time
now to watch the road and gawp fleetingly at the great
Eventually the temptation, the bedroom eyes of the coast,
becomes all too much. You pull over. Sit awhile. Dream a little.
There are some great ocean roads in the world. Parts of the
Pacific Coast Highway in California, and the coast road along
south-west Victoria are two of them. But there is a pocket book
version in Tassie.
The stretch of blacktop between Devonport and Penguin is
one of the best in the state. It's short. No need to hurry. Slow
down. Soak it up.
From Penguin to Stanley, Arthur River, Chudleigh, Corinna
and Marrawah you can feast on some mighty views of
Tasmania's north-west. But follow any of the region's roads and
you'll also be able to
dine out on some
The Water Wheel
Experience opened in
2006 at Mawbanna
near Stanley. There is a
museum with loggers'
old tools of trade, a
bushman's hut, a 1945
truck with as much
shine as the day it was
built, and shingle
cutting displays. There
is a cafe where
the scones and soups
and a bushman's stew
There is also a 300-metre bush tram line with timber and
steel rails that runs over log bridges. "We built the tram line in the
way it would have been built early last century. We copied
pictures and photos to make it look as authentic as we could,"
says John Cotton, who owns and runs Water Wheel with his
Nineteenth and early twentieth century bushmen improvised
to build things they needed. So did Mr Cotton. He built the tram
line's locomotive from an old tractor. According to John, the bush
tram is the only operational example in Tassie.
Of all the displays, Mr Cotton is most proud of the recreated
line, log hauler and bush locomotive, which are central features
of the regular tours. But the fact that the Cottons built Water
Wheel Creek themselves, as a family (John and Sonya have two
boys, both tradesmen, and a daughter still at school) puts a
smile on his face as much as knowing that his dad, who died in
2007, lived to see the Water Wheel Creek Timber Heritage
The tours of Water Wheel Creek are fully guided. John enjoys
talking to people. "We explain how old-time bushmen could
select a certain tree for a certain job. People find it interesting,"
says Mr Cotton. "I get great pleasure out of talking to people
from around the country and other parts of the world."
Penghana and Queenstown
Queenstown and tourism aren't often twinned. But a group of
locals have not only banded together to promote the town, but
they're also at the forefront of a burgeoning artistic community.
The local GP, Zimbabwean-born Alex Stevenson, bought the
art deco Paragon Theatre, and after an extensive renovation he
now screens movies---including one he made himself about the
history of the west coast---daily.
Dr Stevenson is part of the artistic putsch and one of
Queenstown's three galleries is in a shop at the front of the
Paragon. Artist Raymond Arnold, winner of the Glover Art Prize in
2007, has exhibited in Europe and North America and until
recently spent a lot of time working in Paris. He also lives in
"Even in the streets
of Paris, Queenstown
remains a powerful
place," notes Arnold.
"It's absolutely unique."
between the bare hills
and the nearby World
couldn't be greater. Yet
the locals see a
captivating beauty in
their town and they're
ready to tell anyone
who stops by for a
call of the West Coast
can be heard from
Arnold's gallery. Take
an underground mine
tour before you board
Glencoe Rural Retreat
The north-west of Tassie is also renowned for its produce.
Frenchman Remi Bancal's CV includes Paris' Ritz Hotel. He and
wife, Ginette, moved to Tasmania in 1999 and ran Peppers
Calstock in Deloraine before opening a four-room B&B, Glencoe
Rural Retreat, in a converted farmhouse near Sheffield, in 2006.
You don't have to stay at Glencoe to appreciate it. The
cuisine in the café is inspired by Provence. The Bancals are slow-
food advocates and serve up three courses for 50 bucks.
The food's provenance includes the vegetable garden out the
back. The intimate café has a menu that offers lunches including
salad (from the vegie garden) with cold smoked salmon, but
come evening Remi opts for centuries old practice. You eat what
the chef cooks.
In a small place like Glencoe, the ostensible simplicity works
a treat. Remi buys the best local ingredients and cooks them into
dishes he thinks will do the strap of lamb or rump of goat justice.
Cradle Mountain is about a 40-minute drive away. Lake
Barrington and Sheffield are a scoot down the road.
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