Poatina Power Station

Poatina Power Station
Poatina Power Station
Poatina Power Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Poatina Power Station. What an incredible experience! As you approach by road, marvel at the views of the Great Western Tiers. Board a bus. Descend to the power station through an underground tunnel. Find yourself in a 1960s time capsule. Admire the engineering, the monstrous turbines, and the feat of creating electricity.

Artwork
Artwork © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

I was not expecting interior design in a power station. In the mid-1960s, when Poatina Power Station was built, aesthetics was clearly a priority! A myrtle bannister runs the length of the station. A commissioned artwork keeps time on the tiled back wall. The walls of the generators are painted bright red. Brass trim on the floor plates signals a time that was just a little bit classy. Some of the machines even have original control panels.

Traversing Poatina Power Station
Traversing Poatina Power Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

It’s not all about the décor though. Step onto the floor plates near an operational turbine and you’ll feel the power of it as it turns below you. Study the original drawings of the turbines and of the station. Look three floors down to the water beneath you. Ask one of the staff about what it’s like to work on the turbines, just above the water, in a noisy cavern. Admire the parts on display, including a selection of giant spanners and a turbine.

Generators
Generators © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The wonderful thing about Poatina power station is that it takes advantage of the lie of the land. From a 5.6km headrace tunnel in Great Lake above, through 1.8km of giant above-ground pipes, water falls 150m to the Poatina Station Turbines. Gravity does a lot of the work. In simple terms, the water hitting the turbines at speed causes them to spin, which creates electricity through a series of energy conversions (potential to kinetic to mechanical to magnetic to electrical).

What to Bring

Turbine
Turbine © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Safety gear is provided by Hydro Tasmania but you’ll need to wear a long-sleeved top, long pants and sturdy, covered-in shoes. It was quite warm in the power station. When possible, it is kept at a constant temperature in order to keep the machinery running smoothly so you probably won’t need a jacket. You aren’t allowed to bring food, water or other personal belongings. You should bring your phone for photo-taking, however, there’s no phone reception down there.

Getting There

Entry tunnel
Entry tunnel © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Poatina Power Station is about a two-minute drive uphill from Poatina Village. From Launceston, head south through Longford and Cressy. Keep heading south, following signs for Poatina. I absolutely love driving on the road towards the Great Western Tiers. What a view! From Hobart, you can take the highway through Bothwell before descending to Poatina. You’ll have spectacular views of the midlands.

Cost

Control panels
Control panels © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The lovely thing about Tasmania is that there are many free community events. Hydro Tasmania’s tours of Poatina Power Station may only happen occasionally but they are free and good quality. Keep an eye on Hydro Tasmania’s website and social media pages for more information about upcoming open days at power stations across Tasmania.

Read more about my adventures in Tasmania’s midlands, north and south.

Mole Creek Caves

Traversing Tasmania, Mole Creek Caves
King Solomons Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

How do you cool off on a hot summer’s day? Go to a place where the temperature is a cool 9°C year-round, that’s what. A place where straws, stalactites and glow worms are suspended above your head. Go where calcite crystals have grown in the dark over many, many years. Mole Creek Caves provided a magnificent refuge today, but our visit involved much more than just escaping the heat!

Mole Creek Caves

Both King Solomons Cave and Marakoopa Cave were discovered in 1906. King Solomons was found by two men chasing an unlucky wallaby. Marakoopa was found by two boys. A few years later, both caves were open to the public for tours. You can still see the oil burner used to light King Solomons Cave (which has left its inevitable mark on the crystals).

Stalactites, King Solomons Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

King Solomons Cave is a compact gem. When our guide turned on the lights, looking up to see stalactites was a breathtaking experience! King Solomons Cave contains a variety of magnificent calcite crystal formations, winding passageways and a stunning larger chamber. Here, you can see the original entrance to the cave and the oil burner. We even saw a Tasmanian Cave Spider, which is a very intriguing creature!

Marakoopa Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Marakoopa Cave is a much larger cave and has two tours. Both tours include the beautiful glow worms, which are found only in the Eastern states of Australia and in New Zealand. The first Marakoopa Cave tour takes you to its underground rivers and the second takes you up to the “Cathedral” formations. We took the second tour, which requires a higher fitness level due to having to climb a large number of stairs. We passed several magnificent flow stones, a swinging pendulite (perhaps the only one in the world!) and several magnificent shields. All of this was lit up by the brand new lighting system (replaced due to recent flooding). We saw glow worms in almost every chamber of the cave. Five glow worms had even arranged themselves in the shape of the Southern Cross, a very patriotic move on Australia Day!

Getting There

Mole Creek Karst National Park © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The drive to Mole Creek Caves is an amazing experience in and of itself. Driving along the Bass Highway from either Devonport or Launceston takes you past several excellent food establishments and gives you a fabulous view of the Great Western Tiers. This view only improves as you drive along the B12 road to Mole Creek, passing boulder-strewn paddocks that are nestled up against the mountains. Both caves are located in the Mole Creek Karst National Park and both have fern glade walks near their entries (these are short but well worth doing). The turn off to Marapooka Cave and the main ticket office appears first and is clearly signposted. If you follow the B12 a little further, King Solomons Cave is the first turn to the right.

Cost

Marakoopa Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Tickets can be purchased from the ticket office near Marakoopa Cave or, via card only, from King Solomons Cave and you do not need a Parks Pass if you purchase a cave tour ticket. The cost for cave tours is currently $19 per adult ($15.50 concession) and $9.50 per child for one cave tour. See Parks and Wildlife for more information about prices. The cost is well worth it. Facilities have recently been updated (note that the toilets at Marakoopa Cave are now located at the ticket office, which is 500m from the cave) and the caves are such a unique experience! Further to this, extensive work has recently been done due to major flooding (Marakoopa Cave was closed for approximately six months). So, escape from the sun in summer and the wind in winter by going underground!

Read more about my adventures in Tasmania’s north here, or in the north west here.