On the 10th March 6 trucks made their way to the Zeehan Caravan Park. This was to be our hub for four wheel driving for the next several days. Chris Boden was looking to check some existing tracks in his guide and to explore others for their suitability.
Saturday night we had a counter meal at the Heemskirk motel along with a few adult beverages.
Sunday morning saw us checking out the Zeehan pioneer cemetery before driving to the site of the old Oceana smelters for a visit. Next we shot down to the turnoff to the Marquis of Queensberry mine. Locked! This track is listed in a Parks quad and trail bike track guide so it was a surprise to find access barred. We moved on to the Henty Dunes to try to find a way down to the beach- to no avail. It was fun driving over these vast dunes anyway and Ray Price had a little more fun than the rest of us!
Monday we set off in drizzle to Trial Harbour area and first stop was the Federation mine concentrating works. Very tight going and the last section on foot. The Cliff mine was next overlooking the ocean and several scrambled down to the sea to find the waterwheel footings. Epic engineering. Lunch was had behind the dunes past Trial then a visit to the museum. Really informative. On then return trip we found the Federation power station footings after a bit of scrub bashing.
Tuesday, still drizzling, (well, it IS the West Coast) we used the South Queenstown road to access Darwin Plateau and the Intercolonial Spur track. This almost didn’t happen due to a shambolic episode with Parks. But, finally gaining the access key to the Spur, we set off. This track was hard but arguably the most satisfying of them all. Stunning rainforest until we broke out in alpine scrub. After viewing the mist and missing the view, we crept back down and continued south until we found the Darwin Plateau track. This used to be rated extreme but has been improved to facilitate drilling rig access so was just a long, steep climb now through delightful forest to (you guessed it) a mist shrouded summit. A satisfying day nonetheless.
Wednesday, some of the party did the Montezuma Falls track before venturing into the depths of the Ring River Track. Plenty of challenge including exercising Chris B’s winch.
The next day the remaining three vehicles visited the Dundas valley and spoke to the only residents, Micheal and Eleonor Phelan, who kindly told us of a stamper hidden away in the bush. This was eventually found after beating about the wet scub and we cleared away from around the machinery and cleared a track to the nearby road. The Razorback Mine located nearby was also visited.
Friday saw Chris B meetup with the Kingston Rotary group and guide them to The Pieman Heads and Pete Maz and Chris J also made the same journey separately, as the Rotary trip was a men-only event, and stayed at the campground at the Heads where there was two men working on the new toilet at the campground. The Rotary group stayed at one of the shacks on the edge of the River although half the 15 venturers had to sleep in tents.
The return trip was made on Saturday and Chris B took the Rotary group to the stampers at Dundas where the 15 men enthusiastically hunted around the site finding the foundations to what appeared to be a building.
A wind storm was experienced Sunday morning resulting in all packing up and heading home.