If you missed Getaway last week, Ben Dark was on the first leg of a drive around Tasmania. He is following the course of Targa Tasmania, an International Classic, a tarmac rally with competitive stages on closed roads for the best touring, sports and GT cars in the world. Its inaugural year was 1992 and caters for up to 300 select cars, many from overseas. It covers around 2000km of tarmac roads over a period of six days.
This week he heads out of Strahan after treating a few locals to a Ben Dark Special Barbecue of lobster he caught. He added lots of lime, coriander shallots, chilli and butter and the end result met everyone's approval, and luckily for us, Ben has decided he doesn't want his own cooking program!
Ben headed along the Lyell Highway, the Targa's 5th stage, up Queenstown's legendary hairpin bends. The surrounding area, which resembled a naked purple and gold moonscape, thanks to rain, mining, timber cutting and bushfires, is thankfully being reclaimed by regrowth. Queenstown, the capital of the west, has been a mining centre for over a century. The mine at Mt Lyell has sustained Queenstown since the late 1800s when gold, silver and copper were discovered. More than 20,000kg of gold has been taken from the ground there. Mine tours are available to visitors and a chairlift ride which gives good views of the hills which are quite photogenic.
Bothwell, 205km further on, is in the beautiful Clyde River Valley and has a history dating to 1824. Its fine wide streets were laid out by Scottish settlers who also brought along their favourite sport golf. Bothwell claims to have Australia's oldest course, cut through the scrub in 1820. It has five shops, one post office, three churches and 460 residents.
John Ramsey, the owner of the nine-hole course, runs sheep on it these days so there are a few unique ground rules players need to know. Stock takes precedence over golf; if you hit the fence around the green you have a free shot; if you hit a rabbit warren you have a free drop; if you hit a sheep you have that shot again and gain two.
The Australasian Golf Museum is a feature of the town, founded in 1996 by former Australian champion golfer, Peter Toogood. The Museum is in a sandstone heritage building which was once the state primary school. It has items of national and international significance and is supported by prominent Australians such as Greg Normal, Peter Thompson, Lindy Goggin, Betty Dalgleish, Norman von Nida, the Toogood and Nettlefold families and Ian Baker-Finch who donated his 1991 British Open-winning putter and sand iron.
Bothwell also has excellent trout fishing in its lakes, rivers and streams which are plentiful in the area, and 52 classified buildings which are used as accommodation, retail stores and craftspeople.
Ben landed what could be called one lucky shot, retired from golf just as he did cooking, and headed to the town of Steppes, just 40km away. Each year this tiny town is home to one of Tasmania's biggest rodeos.
It attracts a big crowd and always finishes with a huge party. People take tents, swags or caravans and spend the night after a big day of team roping, bare-back riding, ladies' barrel racing, bull riding, saddle bronco riding and steer wrestling.