Slept well, but then kept waking up very early while it was still dark out. Then someone knocked on my door to say it was eleven - and it was still dark out, I hadn't realized there was no windows, and the room was a lot darker than I though! Got out of there as quickly as possible and was driving in the rain twenty minutes later. Backtracked a little further to Sommerset and then turned onto the southbound highway. It was a narrow twisty road down and up through the Hellyer Gorge - it was a little stressful in the rain, but stunning in its beauty.
Drove through some fantastic forest and around some stunning mountains and ridges. Finally a part of Australia with real mountains. They're actually not that tall (I'd guess less than five thousand feet), but they look like proper mountains.
The drive into the mining town of Queenstown is shocking. You're driving through dense rainforest - then suddenly you're on the moon. The ground is almost entirely barren and bleached. Then as you drive into the hills it gets worse - the hills are stained. Most of them a nicotine yellow, others a rusty red, none have any growth and they are all deeply eroded valleys. Apparently all this was rainforest that was cut down to feed the mine's furnaces. The pollution from the copper smelters killed the remaining vegetation and the heavy rainfall stripped the top soil away. The bare rocky earth was stained by the tailings of mines, and the pollution of the smelters. The smelters were shut down more than thirty years ago and still there is barely any life.
The sun had come out so I got out of the car and wandered through some of the yellow hills, but the sulfur smell and the destruction weren't very enjoyable. Luckily a short drive brought me out of the blight and into the wonderful greens of Wild Rivers National Park. I stopped here and purified myself with an hour plus hike. The valleys, mountains, and colors were incredible. From a view point I felt like I was in the Cascade Mountains in spring.
As I finished up the hike the weather turned drizzly again and I decided to make a dash all the way to Hobart instead of camping in the somewhere in the park or the surrounding Cradle Mountains. The drive was a little on the long side, but Tasmania really is beautiful and mountainous. maybe it's just the contrast to the mainland, but it really was enjoyable to be driving through the mountains.
Got in to Hobart around seven and found a place to stay right downtown. No parking so I'll have to et up before eight to go move the car, but a great location otherwise. Watched TV for awhile and had a couple beers in the hostel bar. Tried Cascade Export Stout - excellent, now my second favorite Australian beer (after Matilda Bay Bitter).