Launceston (pronounced Lon-ceston) is in the North of Tasmania and is the second largest city after Hobart. We arrived on our flight from Melbourne just before midday, collected our hire car, and after stopping for coffee began our long drive down to Strahan (rhymes with corn) on the western coast. Tasmania is a state with many differing landscapes, and we travelled through some very beautiful but amazingly varied natural environments. We drove across country, sometimes on bumpy dirt tracks, sometimes along narrow twisting roads, with steep hairpin bends that almost turned back on themselves, and at other times we travelled on roads with long, gently rising curves snaking into the distance. Some areas we traversed were thickly wooded, with deep, dark-green tightly woven and impenetrable undergrowth, and gum trees with bark unwinding in twisty shreds. Other areas were like open moor-land, with stunted bushes and sparse, tall spiky trees, and dead gum trees, jutting up stark and white into the cloudy blue sky. There were rolling hills with rough grass, dotted with trees and small bushes, that were flowering in white and yellow and cream; and tree-lined hills, with row upon row of trees with puffy tops, and ranges of dark green mountains in the distance. Then there were mountain slopes with dark-green stubby bushes, opening out into rocky crags rising steeply to deeply striated summits. Then we snaked up steep hairpin bends into the Central Highlands, and drove between long, up-land lakes, some with glassy blue-grey water, others deep blue-green, and a shallow lake where the water was light-beige. Above were rocky slopes, with thickly wooded mountains in the distance, blue and hazy with vapour from the gums trees. Then we moved down into Queenstown, no longer natural beauty, but deeply scarred and marked by the greed of men. But more about Queenstown in my next post…….