Sunday, 7 November 2010
It was a slightly nerve racking negotiating the caravan onto the Spirit of Tasmania 2, they don’t give you much space on the wharf and very little instruction as to where to go, or what the procedure is.
Once onboard i wandered around the rabbit warren of corridors and stairwells that is the inside of the Ferry.
It takes approx 11 hours to travel the 450kms to Devonport. and seems to take hours just to get out of Port Phillip Bay.
Monday, 8 November 2010
I would like to say that i woke refreshed today but it is far from the truth with only 1.5 hours sleep which I managed to snatch on one of the couches in the bar from 3:00am to 4:30am. Sleeping on these is strictly forbidden but security decided it wasn’t worth the argument and they left me in peace. The ocean recliners are appalling to sleep on and what I don’t understand is why they cram them in so close together when there is so much space available on the ship.
Disembarking was nightmarish, with quarantine needing to be passed through for trailers, caravans and boats, with cars needing to be in a different lane to the others but everything coming off the ferry together.
Once clear of customs i made my way to our caravan park in St Helens 250kms away. Negotiating out of Devonport was a breeze and soon i was on the 110km/h Bass Hwy and then onto the equally fast Midland Hwy. From the Esk Hwy onwards the road was narrow and winding, with a section through St Marys Pass being so narrow that vehicles cannot pass without almost coming to a complete stop and trucks and buses communicate via UHF to negotiate the pass.
Once at booked into the Big4 caravan park at St Helens and setup the minimum requirements for the van i promptly slept for the next 7 hours.
Tuesday, 9 November 2010
Waking early and with the sun shining i was keen to do a bit of exploring today after the non productive day yesterday.
I headed out south towards St Helens Pt through the St Helens Conservation area turning off where ever took my fancy. From here i made my way towards town for a bite to eat and the required National Park Permit.
Making my way along the northern side of Georges Bay and towards the Bay of Fires and then I followed the coast through Mt William National Park and finishing at Eddystone Pt Lighthouse..
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Up early again today for the 2 hour drive to pick up the girls from Launceston airport at 8am, the girls were tired but excited after being in their first plane.
On the way towards the airport i had spotted a sign for the Great Lakes, so this seemed like a good detour for the start of today. It is a steep climb to the lakes which are a 1000m above sea level in the sparsely populated Central Highlands. The landscape is quite extraordinary as there isn’t actually any soil is just made up football size rocks.
After the barren highlands we visited the lush Liffey Falls, where the water flows over a series of steps which look man made.
Thursday, 11 November 2010
With the weather good we are off towards Freycinet National Park but not before visiting Bicheno, in the search of crayfish. We were disappointed to find out crayfish season wasn’t open until the following Monday. Exploring around Bicheno and the Blow Hole before making our way towards Freycinet National Park.
We stopped at the beautiful Coles Bay with the towering mountains just before Freycinet National Park.
The carpark at Freycinet National Park was inhabited by a couple of very tame Wallabies with baby in pouch, Meg would have happily stayed there all day but the obligatory walk to Wineglass bay look-out was calling and the weather was fast turning.
Friday, 12 November 2010
On our way yesterday we had seen a turn off for the Douglas Apsley National Park Waterhole, so this seemed like a good destination this morning, the water was amazing clear and with the strangest tint of green.
After lunch the weather was fantastic, so we headed down to a beach i had found on my exploring a few days earlier for the rest of the afternoon.
Saturday, 13 November 2010
The weather is cool and over cast today so a perfect day to have a look at the Historic Township of Ross.
Stopping on the way at Campbell town information centre where Meg looked at home in the stocks and a quick browse through the antique shops, (i found plenty of beautiful furniture at reasonable prices) before moving onto Ross.
Sunday, 14 November 2010
A chill day today with the day spent around the caravan park to recharge before moving the caravan tomorrow.
Monday, 15 November 2010
Today it’s time to pack up the caravan and tow it down south.
We had booked into a caravan park in Richmond because it had a heated swimming pool, but on arrival and an inspection we quickly changed our minds and went hunting for somewhere else to stay. We also gave the Big4 a miss at Hobart before settling on the caravan park just south of Hobart in Snug which i had heard was good from someone else camping in St Helens.
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
With a new location comes new places to visit, the intention was to go to Port Arthur, but we got distracted by things on the way there.
Our first detour was Pirates Bay, then the Tessellated Pavement, then the Blowhole, Tasmans Arch and finally the Devils Kitchen.
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Port Arthur today, with a stop for brunch at the blowhole for calamari and scallops at the food van we had spotted yesterday.
It was a huge day walking around Port Arthur looking at the buildings. Cath had purchased a book on the history of Port Arthur prior to our visit and had been reading it out loud in the car so we had a clear understanding of the place before we visited.
Cait has been unwell for the last few days so after we left Port Arthur we went in search of a doctor, who put her on antibiotics.
Thursday, 18 November 2010
We are off to the west coast today for a couple of days and have booked in overnight at a cabin in Strahan for the night.
Getting away nice and early we stopped at our first place of interest, Russell Falls at Mount Field National Park where we saw Pademelons (they look like fat wallabies)
There are Hydro electric power stations dotted all over the place in Tasmania and so when a sign came up for Tarraleah it seemed like a good space to stop and have a look. Tarraleah is the most bizarre place, but more about it later when we visit on the return trip.
The further west we travel the more unpredictable the weather is becoming, its changing every 20 mins from sunny and warm to cold and raining.
Just below the township of Tarraleah on the river we found a picnic ground with a shelter for our lunch.
Speaking to our neighbours Keith and Pam at the Snug caravan park they told us about a place called “The Wall in the Wilderness” The Wall is being carved from Huon Pine panels, each panel is 3 metres high and when completed the wall will be 100 metres long. No cameras were allowed inside the gallery and i can’t even begin to describe how life like the carvings are.
A very quick stop at Lake St Clair the wind has arctic qualities about it now and its 4 degrees outside now.
We start our way through the Franklin-Gordon National Park, its raining sleet now and foggy, with low level clouds which in turn gives the landscape a surreal quality.
The strange bare hills of Queenstown are an extraordinary insight into mining gone mad. Vegetation was cleared for fuel and acid rain caused from smelting has hampered any chances of revegetation of the landscape.
Friday, 19 November 2010
After spending the night in our cabin in Strahan we are off for our most extravagant activity of the trip, a river cruise in Maquarie Harbourand along the Gordon River. There are 2 cruise operators in Strahan a family owned operator and another run by a conglomerate company that owns the majority of the tourist attractions in Strahan.
The cruise travels out through Maquarie Heads, across to Sarah Island a Penal settlement where the Round Earth tour guide gives an insight into the interesting history of the island and from here you travel up the Gordon River.
After the cruise we are heading back towards the caravan in Snug, back through Queenstown where pictures just cant capture the landscape.
A stop and walk at Nelson Falls, which we didn’t stop at on the way through prior due to the rain and cold.
Franklin-Gordon National Park looks very different on a fine sunny day and we are glad we saw it in both weather conditions.
We once again stopped at the eerie township of Tarraleah in search of dinner. I say Tarraleah was eerie because it was like a Ghost town, except more beautifully maintained than any town could possibly be.
It wasn’t until we read the history of town in the deserted pub that it all became clear.
“Work began in the 1920's and the land was heavily forested. The Lodge was built in the 1930s by the Hydro Electric Commission (HEC) at a time when money and craftsmanship was no object. It was the centrepiece of the Tarraleah settlement and was originally built for the visiting engineers and directors. At the same time the HEC needed to attract quality engineering staff to Tasmania and Tarraleah and the cottages were constructed.”
“Well built and with every modern convenience of the time, housing was provided to some of the worlds elite hydro electric engineers. At its peak in the 1980s the town boasted the cottages, 3 pubs, 2 churches, extensive workshops, sports ovals, a post office, butcher, police station, supermarket and school.”
“In 1996 the town officially closed and the majority of the housing was sold. Houses were literally cut up and loaded onto trucks and relocated around Tasmania. The land slowly reverted back to scrub and by 2005 the population had sunk from 1600 to 4. The current owners acquired the property in 2005 and the renovation and relaunch of Tarraleah began.”
I had hoped we would be closer to Hobart before dusk, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way and we made the slow and arduous task of dodging wildlife crossing the road for the next couple of hours until entering the more populated areas.
Saturday, 20 November 2010
An easier day today after the hectic last few day with a visit to Hobart.
Cath has been keen to go to the Salamanca Market but to be honest we weren't very impressed.
With the sky clear we made the trip up Mt Wellington which is 1200 metres above sea level and offers spectacular views over Hobart.
Sunday, 21 November 2010
Today taking the car Ferry to Bruny Island seemed like a good idea.
North Bruny Island and South Bruny Island are separated by a narrow strip of land called The Neck.
After an enjoyable meal at the most unlikely of Cafes we ended up sitting on a beach just North of Adventure Bay for a large part of the day and then caught the last Ferry back again.
Monday, 22 November 2010
We say goodbye to our neighbors Keith and Pam at Snug caravan Park and make our way to Launceston, for the girls flight out tomorrow morning.
We stop at the Township Oatlands for lunch before pushing on towards Launceston.
As we are only staying in Launceston for 1 night it’s a quick setup of the caravan and we head off to look at Cataract Gorge.
Cataract Gorge is a beautiful oasis 15 mins from Launceston and has been a popular destination for over a 100 years.
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
There is a slight change of plans today with only Cath and Meg flying out of Launceston today, Cait is coming across on the Ferry with me.
Cait and I have the day to kill before leaving Devonport later in the day, so after saying goodbye we head for the Tasmanian Automobile Museum.
From here we hitch the caravan up and make our way towards Devonport stopping for a couple of hours on the beach at Port Sorell before boarding the ferry.
On the return leg, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake as I did on the way over so a cabin had been booked, which is why Cait also came back with me.
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
We are returning home on the Spirit of Tasmania 1, which is slightly different to the Spirit of Tasmania 2 which I came over on.