On our fifth day into touring Tasmania we left St Helens in the morning for Launceston and decided to make short detours and stop for any attractions that would present to us.
This was totally unplanned.
But the opportunities presented in droves.
In hindsight there's stuff we wish we had seen but didn't because we hadn't done our homework and didn't know what else to see and learn about where we stopped.
For example the story behind the Chinese community back in the 19th century.
They came to Tasmania to work in the gold and tin mines.
The story starts at St Helens and you can follow its trail to Launceston.
Mural at St Helens
But as we didn't know about the story all we did was take a picture of the dragon at St Helens wondering why it was there.
St Helens' dragon
About 30 minutes drive from St Helens a sign directed us to Columba Falls. We took the road for what was a worthy and very pleasant experience into beautiful rainforest.
Myrtle, sassafras and blackwood are some of the rainforest trees growing to 30 - 50 metres tall in the fertile soils, humid and sheltered environment. The sassafras can sometimes grow with its roots upside down. It happens when its seed finds a good germinating ground in the trunk of a fern. It then sends its roots down to find the soil and its nutrients.
Ferns and mosses are attached to the branches of other trees. They find a good home and stick to their host without damaging it.
Looking like a tree spirit?
We even spotted a tree spirit. Well, something that looked like it...with a bit of imagination.
A 10 minute very friendly and easy walking track took us to the spectacular waterfall flowing over granites and into the rainforest.
Columba Falls is a 90 m waterfall in the South George river. It is one of the tallest in Tasmania. And mighty - 42,000 litres of water per minute reaching over 200,000 litres in winter. It flows into the ocean at St Helens in St George Bay.
Rock looking like a fish
Back on the way to Launceston we passed the town of Derby and the rock painted to look like a fish.
We searched the net to find a bit of information about the fish look-alike boulder but couldn't find anything about who has done the work, when and why.
It's just there and a good opportunity to take a picture and remember the name of the nearby town. Otherwise it would have just been one of the many little places that are forgotten within minutes. With the "fish" there we also know more about Derby - it is a former tin mining town and it has a tin mine museum.
At second thought it was probably the work of a marketing genius who knew how to make their place memorable.
If you stop at Derby you can visit the tin museum and the Tin Dragon interpretation centre to learn about Chinese miners who came to Tasmania when word went out that 'there's gold in them thar hills'. Actually more tin than gold. But the story is captivating.
Wood carvings along Tasman Highway
Here's what you can see driving along the Tasman Highway. Cool!. We later learned there's a whole avenue of carved memorial trees at Legerwood dedicated to WW1 soldiers. They are just five minutes drive off the highway. But as we didn't plan we didn't divert off the road to see them.
17 km west of Scottsdale and 46 km before Launceston we stopped at the Sideling Lookout. If you squint your eyes you'll see the Flinders Island and the Bass Strait far in the horizon. Or maybe not. But that's where they are.
Don't squint your eyes. Look at the signage board and imagine you can actually see what the arrows point to.
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