This story starts back when I was still working part time as a maintenance technician and part time slugging away developing the tourism activities business. I was one of the people assigned with the task of maintaining the remote backup power generators for the various communications assets stationed on Mt Owen. A task that was not always easy. For instance, I remember fearing that electrician Shane Pitt and myself working up there one day on a breakdown would become stricken with hypothermia. Ordinarily we would carry out our tasks in a planned manner in more pleasant conditions whilst taking in jaw droppingly spectacular views and always with a sense of adventure.
As mobile phones got better at being cameras and immediately sharing images became the norm Joy suggested that we should do a Mt Owen 4x4 tour onto the mountain. I thought Yeah, that would be cool, and busily went on with tours of the Mt Lyell mine, also getting on with developing the Lost Mines-Ancient Pines tour, Lake Margaret Hydro power site tours and the NO DAMS adventure into TWWHA. Needless to say I wasn't thinking too much about an exhilarating Mt Owen 4x4 excursion but when Joy has an idea there will be instigation. Even her unrivalled tenacity was tested with obtaining the necessary license from PWS to operate, even though we more than satisfied every criteria. She kept at it, relentlessly, as she does, until two and a half years later, yes you read that right, after 30 months Mr Greg Wall took on the applicable office role at PWS and after that it all happened rather quickly. He even called us, yes, keyed our number and spoke directly with us! Amazing.
Greg Wall recognised the inadequacy and stepped forward to champion our case. If you are a CEO type reading this and he applies for a job, employ him immediately and give him whatever he wants.
The Mt Owen 4x4 experience became a hit right off the bat. One day the then CEO of Tourism Tas, John Fitzgerald, came by with two other TT representatives who remarked that they had experienced some wonderful activities whilst visiting the far flung Western Wilds and were duly impressed by the River Cruises, The Wilderness Railway and 'The Ship that Never was' theatre performance at the Strahan Amphitheatre.
Well yes, rightly so.
Before heading back to Tourism Central City they visited Queenstown and were surprised by
The Paragon Theatre, the number and choice of restaurants and the many other fledgling tourism related things in Queenstown. As they left The Paragon to go find some Thai cuisine for dinner Joy suggested that they come back for a sundowners trip onto Mt Owen with a complimentary bottle of red. I believe it was the offer of a good Cab Sav that snared them and now they were obliged to take the trip.
That night, the tourism Gods were smiling.
As I drove up what is now referred to in tourism circles as the 99 bends (there's not and it is still known locally as Gormy Hill) some colour of the sun getting low became apparent and the waterfall had some nice flow.
Turning off the highway and selecting low as you can go 4x4 gear we proceeded up the access track. A short time thereafter it was pleasing to hear murmurings about the great views prompting me to think 'well if this is getting you excited you all better prepare yourselves for some Epicness.'
The track is properly steep and so quickly becomes elevated. Anxiety levels rise in line with the elevation, boys tend to deflect this by getting all talkative, girls just blurt OMG! and yes, there has been tears. Then, we hit the final climb, a super steep little section we call 'The Ramp' that presents a 600 metre abyss to the left and a rock face on the right.
The awesome vista evokes silence, except for the whimpering little sobs of the totally freaked. Then we drive out onto a huge plateau expanse and everyone is suddenly OK again. We drive around the plateau behind the summit and park on the Mt Owen spur where it is always WOW before the obligatory pics, selfies, panos and video.
Our guests from Tourism Tas experienced this and when we leave the spur it's time for the Grand Finale.
We arrive back on the Western side of the mountain about 15 minutes before the sun, a blazing orange orb now, touches the Southern Ocean horizon. There is a natural rock shelf forming an ideal seated viewpoint where the three from TT sit with a Tassie red and take in nature's magnificent show. Just to add something extra to what is always a massively spectacular display a weather front bumps in from the NW triggering an electrical storm far off to the right of this panoramic cracker orange sun setting into the Southern ocean view.
We sit in silence, words cannot do enough, we just sit and stare......whilst sipping a nice red.
Here is the only image, albeit poor, I managed to capture that night.
As the sun disappears and the light fades there is apprehension before descending The Ramp. Not as much as the mad 4x4 episode of getting up there as everyone is now awash with euphoria, still dazzled by the show, and by now it's getting dark.
A sense of accomplishment becomes apparent too and when we get back down to Karlsons gap the 99 bends is comparatively nothing now. We commonly hear the comment, 'I'm so glad I did that'.
John said, 'we came over here for the renown cruises and train experiences but this',
'this just blew me away!'
Mere weeks later he came back to show his wife this epic but sadly the weather wasn't favorable for a repeat mountain spectacular. We went up anyway but couldn't see through the cloud cover.
So I said, 'never mind, keep that bottle of red handy.' When the Mountain is clouded in the consolation prize is a spooky night Huon Pine and King Billy pine rainforest tour spotting wildlife, checking out an abandoned underground mine and ending back in the forest sipping Shiraz with glow worms around us. We talk of the ghost of Warnake the prospector who was lost in this forest and was never found.
Well, they sipped wine while I had to settle for hot chocolate and cake. I was working Y'know!
RoamWild Tasmania are so much more than your average tour guides, yes we are guides but we quickly engage with you, learn your points of interest and then proceed to ensure you have the most memorable experience.