Blazing a historic trail
As a ferocious wind whipped newly ploughed paddocks into clouds of red dust, I sent up a silent prayer of thanks for the great hunk of metal we were travelling in.
The Holden Trailblazer has a presence on the road that makes it ideal for towing big stuff – caravans, horse floats, motor boats. And while we didn’t have any of these hooked up during our Sunday Drive, I could easily see how it would handle any of these with quiet confidence.
Indeed, the stance and presence of the Trailblazer on the road filled me with a security that our regular daily drive wouldn’t have in these conditions.
I knew when I climbed into this substantial beast that – at close to 4.9m in length and 1.9m width – it would be solid on the road. And with the wind-whipping frenzy that was going on around us as we travelled through the Derwent Valley, I was right.
Combine this with the full raft of safety features you would expect, and need, in this adventure-style vehicle and you have an all-round safe and comfortable drive.
Pulling up to our ‘home’ for the next three nights – the historic Rathmore House at Hollow Tree – I felt our vehicle fitted into the backdrop perfectly. Amongst the rolling green hills and paddocks dotted with sheep and ducks the only thing out of place was me – the city girl who stumbled out of the driver’s seat, not yet au fait with the use of side steps.
We had the car packed to the hilt with everything we thought we would need – coats, gumboots, walking shoes, sunhats and shorts – for a long weekend away in Tassie’s mid-October weather. Turned out we needed them all during our stay – at times all within the space of an hour.
But we needn’t have been too concerned about sustenance for the trip. Our hosts Cally and Richard were more than generous with their hospitality. We feasted nightly on hearty farm fare, and each morning were treated to the option of eggs fresh from the henhouse. Accustomed to feeding the wind farm workers who were staying in the aptly named ‘Shearer’s Quarters’ on the property, Cally and Richard make the most of the local produce to hand to whip up delicious meals in their beautiful country kitchen.
For those wanting a farmstay experience, this is as authentic as it gets, while still maintaining a high quality experience reminiscent of the gentry of old.
The property has been reinvigorated, rather than restored, with select pieces reflecting Cally’s taste for history meeting modern convenience.
Originally established as a sheep farm by Henry Torlesse in 1828, the original shearing shed is still in operation, and you can watch (and lend a hand) as the local livestock lose their winter coats. A quiet paddle on the dam is also in order, where you are likely to come across one (or more) of the resident platypus population.
We also ventured further afield, taking the Trailblazer alongside the disused railway tracks on either side of the Derwent up to Mt Field National Park. While the full loop walk to see Russell, Horseshoe and Lady Barron waterfalls was partially closed, we enjoyed the short stroll and stunning backdrop of Russell Falls provided. It’s amazing that such a beautiful natural feature is right on our doorstep.
Hopping back in our drive we travelled on to Maydena, where you can walk in the Styx Big Tree Reserve, pedal the disused railway with Railtrack Riders, or get your adrenaline pumping with the Maydena Bike Park. Only a little further afield is Junee Caves, where you can explore Australia’s deepest cave.
Stops at the Possum Shed and Agrarian Kitchen were also recommended, but we chose to picnic by the side of the road at Ellendale, another historic hamlet boasting green fields as far as the eye can see.
Our final stop on the trek home was Glen Derwent tearooms, where the resident pea hens provided much amusement while we enjoyed a delicious traditional Devonshire Tea. A long conversation ensued about the difference between peacocks and pea hens, including a wish to see a peacock up close. This was quickly granted as we ran back to the car through the rain and I went to duck under a low-hanging branch – only to discover it was in fact the majestic tail of a peacock in all his glory. After much admiring and photos we decided he was more important than our wet feet, and took the long way around back to the car.
Dropping the Trailblazer off it occurred to me our whole journey could easily have been done with a caravan on the back, stopping at the many parks and camp grounds in the area. One for next time, that’s for sure.