Lake Pedder and Gordon Dam

We decided to leave the motorhome at the Mt Field camp grounds and drive the 80 odd kilometres to the picturesque town of Strathgordon and the nearby Gordon Dam.

The day started promising with some early sun peeking through the clouds, so we packed a picnic lunch and took off. Sadly it started to rain lightly just 15 minutes into our trip. We ummmed and aaahed and decided to bash on in anyway. If we turned back every time it rained here in Tassie, we'd hardly ever get to see anything. As it was the misty rain came intermittently and the weak sun tried to play peek a boo a few times, causing us to react in a silly made up game just between the two of us. You just have to make fun whenever you can sometimes. We had fun though I suppose anyone if they had seen us would have wondered at our sanity! (Chuckle)

Whitish Quartzite found around Lake Gordon and Lake Pedder.
The road is in good nick but it is a very twisting, windy road, going up and down a lot but always slowly ascending. Lake Pedder is the first lake you see and drive along. It is quite beautiful with lots of places where the mountain meets the lake. I later find out that there was a lake here originally but the large lake we have today is the result of damming for Hydro Electricity. Lake Gordon was also dammed for Hydro Electricity. I am not against dams in general, but it would be good to see some natural lakes and rivers that are dam free.

Actually the story of Lake Pedder is pivotal to the way the Australian people think about the environment. The original Lake Pedder was a pretty little lake, however it was mostly only accessible bushwalkers of the hardy kind, as it was deep in the wilderness without nearby roads or even tracks. The government of the time decided that Lake Pedder and its immediate surroundings would be an ideal place for the Hydro Elecricity Station. Although it went ahead, there was enough outrage that when the damming of the Franklin-Gordon Rivers was planned, there were many organised environmental protests that eventually swayed and halted the damming of the Franklin and Gordon Rivers and the surrounding wilderness. Even people on the mainland who have never visited Tasmania and the Franklin-Gordon River were aware of the protests and the way the governments of the time had to consider what the people of Australia wanted.
Lake Pedder
The forests around here are totally different to what I have seen elsewhere. There is very little grass, a lot of ferns especially tree ferns, (which add a sort of tropical air to the forests in my mind) and some very tall trees on the lower levels, but generally I think they are much smaller, thinner trees especially as you get higher up to the tree lines. I was quite fascinated to see the distinct difference of a certain height above sea level (or is it the effects of the cold/snow) has upon the tree line where only in small pockets will you see some trees or bushes above a certain line.

Heath like and almost bare of trees the higher up you go

We first stopped at the Visitor Centre in Strathgordon, which we found basically unmanned: a child of about 8-10 was sitting at the desk. There is a little information that can be gathered from the displays but no maps or information about the national park that we could take with us. I was keen to find out what makes the Franklin-Gordon Rivers National Parks unique & special enough to warrant World Heritage classification especially considering the lakes are not 'natural' and thus have altered the ecology of the area. I couldn't work it out from the displays and there was no rangers or otherwise to talk to. I did enjoy reading about some of the history and I was surprised to find that the dammed lakes combined to have a capacity equal to 27 times that of Sydney Harbour. The dam is a very skinny dam, 140m high, 192m long, the tallest dam in Tasmania and the fifth tallest in Australia. Its strength is in its shape and its double curve design, being curved side to side and top to bottom, the top overhanging the bottom by several metres. Its an arch dam, the weight of the water being transferred by dispersement to the rock walls and the dam abutments which makes it very strong and being thinner it so cheaper to build. It was dammed to create a huge fresh water reservoir that it is today.

This tree was just a 'teen' at the time of Jesus' birth

A cross cup of a Huon Log and just some of the approximate times of history

We would have loved to stop and have a warming coffee and hot chocolate with a cake or two for our morning tea at the coffee shop there but upon placing our order, we were told that they have run out of milk and they can only offer us black coffee & tea. It was still morning time and there was only one other couple in the joint. We were quite disappointed and surprised at the lack of management skills. I can only imagine how it is for the people who have paid to stay at the Chalets there if they can't even get a decent hot cuppa. I can understand that having fresh milk in a remote area might be difficult but there's no excuse when long life milk can be kept almost indefinitely.

Gordon Dam
Oh well we have our picnic lunch with us. We head off to see the Gordon Dam. The water levels are so low that the lake looks quite ugly along the water line. There was something like 20 feet of exposed timber that was cut down but just left to rot where they were cut or fallen all along the lake. The dam wall itself was much smaller or rather thinner than I had expected, yet it is very high. At the dam wall site there is no information regarding height, concrete or such which would have made it more interesting. There is nothing about the hydro electric station nor can you drive to see it. There is so much more that could be done to make it more attractive at the dam wall and encourage picnickers. Maybe I expected too much but I did not think much of the dam or the wall.

Low water levels exposes the ugliness of the trees that are 'buried' under the water

We decided to drive back to Ted's Beach, which was sign posted that we saw on the way up. Ted's Beach is also a camp ground with a covered picnic and BBQ area and good flushing toilets but there are no showers available there. The beach is a area that has been cleared of vegetation thus simulating a sandy beach type area for water side play or even swimming for the cold hardy. A boat ramp is incorporated as part of the beach. We certainly appreciated the covered picnic area that is fairly wind proof too and would have toasted our lunch had we had something that could have been heated, fried or cooked with us for the additional warmth.

Ted's Beach
If you wanted to camp in the area, I reckon you are better off camping at Wedge River Picnic Area. There is no sign saying "No Camping". The ground is level and there are toilets, a covered picnic area complete with a fire place and some wood. You can't see the lake from here  - but hey,you can't have everything! I found out later that there is at least one walking track that leads out from this picnic ground.

Wedge River Picnic Area's shelter

Just remember that though you may be lucky to have the Tasmanian sun come out, that it not only can burn your skin fiercely with the thin ozone layer up above, it can be mighty cold, so ensure you have enough layers for your activity.

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