Subscribe!Get all the best of On Walkabout by subscribing.

On Walkabout To: Tasmania’s Southwest & Lake Pedder

Next Posting: To the Summit of Mt. Wellington

___________________________________________________

After spending a day checking out Hobart and driving to the top of Mt. Wellington my wife and I continued our Tasmanian journey by driving up the Derwent River and to Tasmania’s incredible Southwest National Park, which is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Map from here.

The Derwent River that we drove along was first explored by Europeans when British Commodore John Hayes explored the river in 1793.  He gave the river the name Derwent which was Celtic for “valley thick with oaks”.   The highway we were traveling on followed the Derwent River and was lined with small towns and bridges connecting communities on each side of the river:

2008_0106australia20261

However, once we made the turn off the main highway on to the road leading to Tasmania’s remote Southwest the terrain around the river quickly became more rugged with fewer and smaller communities along it:

2008_0106australia20263

Eventually the road left the Derwent River all together and we were surrounded by the incredibly dramatic scenery of Tasmania’s interior such as this picture of beautiful Mt. Fields:

Beautiful Mt. Fields, Tasmania

As we traveled past Mt. Fields National Park on the two lane road B61, we lost all signs of civilization.  The only thing to remind us that we were in modern Australia was this highway we were traveling on.  All around us was the remote wilderness of the Southwest National Park:

2008_0106australia20268

We found ourselves stopping our vehicle constantly to take pictures of the incredible scenery we were surrounded by such as these rocky spires that loomed over us:

2008_0106australia20270

Eventually we reached the 651 meter summit of the highway before it drops down towards the only village in the park, Strathgordon:

2008_0106australia20271

Despite this region’s infamous level of rain fall every year; when my wife and I visited the area we were lucky enough to enjoy incredibly beautiful weather with the bluest skies imaginable.  From the 651 meter summit of the road my wife and I found ourselves on a wind swept mountain saddle with a beautiful view of a mountain lying to the west of us:

2008_0106australia20273

While driving along this remote two-lane road I couldn’t help, but appreciate what a wild place this was.  This view looking out across the dense Tasmanian forests would be identical to what the early British explorers would have saw over 200 years ago when they landed on Tasmania:

2008_0106australia20275

Eventually the highway reached Mt. Mueller, which was back dropped by the incredible blue skies that Tasmania has to offer:

2008_0106australia20278

As we continued down the road we continued to be dazzled by the stunning vistas that surrounded us:

2008_0106australia20282

The highway eventually reached the shores of Lake Pedder:

2008_0106australia20283

This lake was named after Sir John Pedder, the first Chief Justice of Tasmania and I guess since it was only fitting that since the lake was named after a legal figure that it would be the subject of much legal controversy later on.

Lake Pedder used to be a much smaller natural lake that was a premier Tasmanian National Park.  However, in 1967 the Tasmanian government revoked the lake’s National Park status and designated it to be the site of a hydroelectric dam.  Despite protests and legal actions by environmental groups the damming project was completed in 1972 and greatly increased the size of the lake.   Lake Pedder is so large now that it is considered Australia’s largest fresh water lake.  It in fact holds 27 times the amount of water that is found in Sydney Harbor.

Despite its controversial damming the lake is incredibly beautiful with its rugged mountain backdrop:

2008_0106australia20287

This photo below is a view of Lake Pedder looking down from Mt. Eliza that really shows the dramatic and stunning scenery that is the Southwest National Park:

After pulling over and admiring this controversial, but undoubtedly scenic lake we them continued our drive through this isolated frontier towards the village of Strathgordon.

Next Posting: Strathgordon, Tasmania

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *