Category Archives: Tasmania
Well you might ask.
Is he Allthego? It might just be. No. Just some other imposter.
We are In Launceston and have enjoyed a short ramble at the James Boag Beer Lovers centre. Plenty of info on who James Boag was but not who he is. So the mystery remains.
Also a bit of a wander around Launceston’s streets and parks.
The trip up from the Bay of Fires through Scotsdale in bright sunshine and blue skies was great. We are enjoying it now, seems some bright sunny spring weather is following us around!. Called in at Ledgerwood were the main attraction is a row of old trees that were planted after WW1. The town lost 7 of its sons and planted 7 trees to remember them by, another 2 trees were added to remember Gallipoli and the ANZACS. A few years back the trees were condemned, getting a bit old it seems. Instead of cutting them down completely a Chainsaw Sculptor was engaged to record the 7’s likenesses in the trunks of the trees. It is a great way of solving this dying tree problem, although there is an ongoing need to preserve the dead timber and prevent rot through the root system.
In Launceston we have also spent some time in Cataract Gorge. The South Esk river flows through this gorge and then mixes with the North Esk River to form the Tamar River, which then flows about 70km to the sea. Launceston sits on this confluence. When we were in the gorge there was a Kayak race going on featuring Michael Klim (our Olympic swimming star). He came last, but we think he was there for event publicity purposes.
ave also driven up the East side of the Tamar and then back down the west side. Why you might ask? The east side of the river is a grazing type usage, sheep and cattle with a few crops. The port at Bell Bay also dominates. On the west bank it is grapes and lots of them and not a lot else.
Well it just needed to be done. This is because we have only completed 12 Great Short Walks from the booklet of 60 Great Short Walks and there was another that could be done on an island in the Tamar River. But alas we didn’t make it. We will have to settle with 12 Great Short Walks and leave the rest for another time.
We have been staying at Hadspen, about 12km south of Launceston. It is nearby the Woolmers Estate. This sheep property had been in the hands of the Archer Family for 6 generations until the last direct line Archer (Thomas VI) died a bachelor. He placed the estate in a Public Trust and it is now World Heritage listed as an example of rural colonial and convict life from the mid 1800s. The main rooms of the house remain as they were in the 1840s (Thomas VI lived ‘out the back’ he died in 1994) indeed the dining room does not have electricity connected. The old family furniture is still there. Its like the people walked out in 1850 and nothing was altered. A must place to go if you get to this part of Tasmania. The gardens are being restored and a very large Rose Garden in the style of the mid 1800s promotes a national rose garden objective. Roses everywhere.
We now head for Devonport and our last stop before joining the Spirit of Tasmania on the voyage back to the Big Island.
We have left Freycinet. A last-minute look at Honeymoon Bay late in the afternoon. This would be a magical place in bright sunshine. Bumped into a couple who were with us on the boat trip to Wineglass Bay. They were sitting on a rug on the sand with a glass of vino and some cheese, taking in the late afternoon. They have been coming here for 40 years to this exact spot.
On the day of leaving, guess what? Rain. Wind as well. It just basically rained all day as we travelled north to St Helens. By the time we arrived it had eased up and we were able to get the van up and organised. Then it started again and the wind howled around. We just got in the car and drove off to the Bay of Fires for a late afternoon look. Skies were black but we got the occasional flash of sun and blue sky as a contrast. The sea was running as well. This is not the usual scene you see in postcards……blue sky, orange rocks, white sand and turquoise water.
Back in camp we settled in and as the night drew on the skies cleared and the stars came out. Much promise for the coming day in this!
Next morning, bright sunshine and blue skies. Off to the Bay of Fires. What a contrast. The sea was flat. The froth was gone. And it looked just like the postcards. The sun not quite hot enough to see through the water and pick up the shades of blue and green. But pretty good nonetheless.
After a few hours here we then went off into the hinterland to the Pub in the Paddock and the Pyengana Dairy farm and cheese factory. Tasted some very tasty cloth wrapped aged cheddar. They had not long released their Christmas Cheddar Rounds, made in May 2013. Alllthego was tempted and acquired one of these rounds, great for a Ploughman’s Lunch. Currently it is sitting in the van’s cheese cellar out of reach.
It was great sunny afternoon as we headed back to St Helens.
We have been at Freycinet National Park in pretty good weather, it has hit 31 and no rain in sight. The decision was made to scale the track leading to the lookout over Wineglass Bay. This is a walk from the Short Walks book! It took us a little over 2 hours there and back. It was basically uphill from the start, lots of steps but a spectacular view from the top. Coming down was a bit demanding on the knees of both of us, but the whole return trip was well worth it. Most people walk to the lookout as we did, a few will continue down the other side to the water’s edge for a swim/picnic or to camp overnight and return the next day. Whilst it was quite warm and at times sunny the was a lot of haze which did not show the Bay at its postcard pic best. I had a lot of goes trying to get the picture just right and did not succeed, need more skills and practice behind the lens.
After descending we set off on a short drive to see some of the side walks and also the Cape Tourville lighthouse, where there is another Short Walk! This one wanders for 600 metres along the cliff top on a boardwalk, bit of a drop off here and there, Leanne stayed back and allowed Allthego to complete the circuit. Great little walk.
After this little drive around we headed off the Kate’s Berry Farm which is near Swansea about 50k south of Freycinet . It is up in the hills and has this wonderful view down a valley and across Great Oyster Bay to the Hazzards which is the group of mountains making up the Freycinet Peninsular. We indulged ourselves here on a French crepe with a berry compote and ice cream, just great could have eaten two of these. Dropped in at a vineyard on the return trip and tasted a few wines. Hmm a rather good Pinot Noir.
Back at camp it was dinner and an early night for the next days boat trip to Wineglass Bay. The day dawned and it was overcast and gloomy but no rain. Thankfully the rain held off and we had a great boat ride around the coastline to Wineglass Bay catching some wildlife along the way, birds, eagles, fur seals and TWO WHALES. It was a little disappointing to be in the Bay with the weather a bit off and not seeing the crystal clear water, against white sand and blue sky. But it was a great trip anyway. Leanne enjoyed the bouncy ride back through the waves and chop, spray going everywhere.
We now head off to St Helens and the Bay of Fires further to the north. We have had 3 reasonable weather days here at Freycinet and it seems that it is improving.
We have moved on from the Huon Valley to the Tasman Peninsular.
The main attraction down here on the Tasman Peninsular has to be the Port Arthur convict site. Others might disagree and say it is the amazing coastal scenery. But who cares both are great things to have a look at. At Port Arthur there is a mix of conservation versus restoration. Much is beyond restoring and is being conserved, but a number of the houses are being carefully restored with much of the furniture dating from the period. A couple of the houses are also largely intact from the period (having in the past being used as hotels for late 1800s and early 1900s tourists).
We had a day here wandering around the site, listening to a couple of presentations and going out on a short cruise on the harbour. Looking back on the site from the water. A very interesting day which gave a new insight into the convict era, it wasn’t all punishment but a far bit of opportunity for those who survived the system.
The Tasman Peninsular coastal scenery didn’t escape us either. We went off on one of those 60 Great Short Walks along the Tasman coastline. Leanne thought this was great fun, another short walk! Well it only took nearly two hours there and back. Some just great scenery along this track to Waterfall Bay (Short Walk No 3 if you have the booklet on hand) and not a strenuous walk either. We have now done 8 of these Short Walks, a few more yet to do, all are looking forward to seeing how many we can do!
We have been staying for 3 nights at a great Van Park at Port Arthur about 5 minutes from the site. It is set amongst bushland on the waterfront. it is also 20 minutes or so from Doo Town where we had some great Fish n Chips for lunch at Doo Lishus, a road side van selling all sorts of sea food delicacies. The weather seems to have turned for the better. The wind has dropped away and no rain. We move on from here and travel further up the east coast to Freycinet National Park and Coles Bay.
Our journey’s in the Huon area continued with a trip to the Tahune Air Walk in the hinterland behind Geevston, an old logging town. On the way up the mountain we passed by many areas of regrowth forests, the originals having been logged n the 1960s and 1970s. There were many tallish trees and thick undergrowth. The Forrestry Commission is very keen to promote its sustainable approach to logging with walks and info boards along the way. Earlier we had dropped into the Geevston Forrest Centre where Leanne took a liking to a new tow vehicle for the van. The sky walk was a neat experience wandering through the tree tops 31 metres above the ground. Leanne did not accompany allthego on this preferring to sit in the café drinking tea.
On the way back we called into the Franklin Wooden Boat Centre which is a training centre for boat building using the ‘old’ techniques and skills. The smell of freshly cut timber filled this place.
The next day we off to Bruny Island for a boat trip down the Bruny coast to the bottom point which is where the Tasman Sea ‘ends’ and the Southern Ocean ‘starts’. It was a chilly and overcast day with a pretty choppy and sloppy sea. But it was really great bouncing along and getting up close to the sea cliffs in amongst all the sea slopping back and forth. We had a few sick fellow passengers and Leanne revelled in the experience. Later on land we travelled to Cape Bruny and took in Australia’s third oldest lighthouse. Opposite here we could see Cockle Creek where we had been a couple of days before. Before leaving Bruny we stopped in at the local cheese place and picked up some washed rind brie wrapped in vine leaves. Allthego has had this before and it is a real wonder of a brie. Goes well with a red! Pungent smell and pinkish skin which comes from the washing in pinot noir. After a couple of days the cheese is really something!
We leave Huonville and our apple orchard for Port Arthur and hopefully some improving weather.
Here we are now after a few days of silence on the blog. Internet has been playing up on us, We must be in some sort of blackspot.
After Bothwell we travelled down to the Huon Valley below Hobart. Stayed in a Caravan Park in the town of Huonville as a base for exploration further south. This was an interesting Park. Not many people there. It was an eco-friendly sort of park. Turkeys, sheep, goats, chooks and geese wandered around amongst apple trees and van sites. The apple trees were watered from the parks effluent as well as the rain which absolutely bucketed down while we were here. Along with the wind which just howled around at times. Stoic! But nonetheless we had bursts of sunshine and blue sky. We were camped by a lovely little creek which meandered through the place. Don’t know why there weren’t more people here to enjoy the ambience.
Major trip here was to travel down to Cockle Creek which is the ‘End of the Road’ in southern Tasmania. This is about 90km south of Huonville, but there is about 30km of rough dirt at the end. After the sculpture of the whale the next stop is Antarctica, we didn’t have the time. Cockle Creek was the base for a large segment of the early whaling and sealing operations in this part of the world. There was quite a community in these parts whose livelihood relied on these activities. It was pretty cold and windy here and we had a brief storm of sago (little balls of ice) snow right here at the whale. Headed back to the car.
On the way back to Huonville we called in at the Ida Bay Railway for a trip on this heritage train. It lasted a couple of hours and travelled over some old railway lines, 2 ft gauge, that used to haul limestone from 1922 to 1975 initially with steam and after WW2 with petrol engines. These were army surplus and originally designed to be dropped off ships at the WW2 front in Japan to supply the advancing allied forces. 2 of these original reconditioned engines are in use on the railway today, but now with ISUZU motors. It was a great little trip through the bush past the mining site down to the bay wehere the ships loaded the limestone. Trucks ultimately replaced the train in 1975.
That’s all for this blog, we will catch up further at our next stop at Port Arthur.
This blog needs to catch up on the last couple of days. Such has been the pace!
Before leaving Deloraine we again visited the Visitor’s Centre to pick up a postcard. Allthego asked the staff there whether they knew any ‘Pedleys’ in Deloraine. After walking around a cemetery the day before and coming across this name it had hit allthego that this was the surname of his maternal grandfather’s sister. The lady in the centre said ‘Yes’ there were lots of ‘Pedleys’ around. After a bit of chat the name ‘Joe’ spurted out and again allthego caught on and recalled this as his grand-uncle, Then later the name ‘Win’ was recalled as his grandfather’s sister and Joe’s wife.
We had these names at home and hadn’t brought them with us.
The lady at the visitor’s centre was then able to point us to this Raspberry place where the day before we had bought the chocolate coated raspberries. It turns out that this raspberry farm together with a largish dairy are owned by a branch of the Pedley family. After getting some directions and a phone call we set off for the dairy farm where we spent a few hours (and lunch) with one of the daughters of Win , My grandfather’s sister, and her husband. It was a really interesting chat and run through my Tasmanian relatives. She had a very detailed family tree of the Thomas clan (my paternal grandfather’s family) of which she gave me a copy. Enough of this stuff though.
This held us up a bit and we were late away from Deloraine, As a result we did not make it to Mt Field National Park and instead set up at Bothwell. Also a bit of luck because as we found out the next day it bucketed down at Mt Field. A lot calmer at Bothwell though where we had a couple of good nights hidden behind the information centre. Still rained a bit but a few sunny patches.
Bothwell’s main claim to fame is that it was established in the 1820’s by a group of Scottish emigrants. One of these family’s established the Ratho Golf course in 1822. It is the oldest recognised course in the Southern Hemisphere. A round of golf is $15. The course layout is apparently much the same as it was in the 1820s. A feature of the greens is that they are surrounded by fences to keep farm animals out and a gate to let the golfers in to sink the putts. Allthego put some time in on the tricky 9th green.
Down at Mt Field NP it just rained and rained and there were torrents of water coming over the Russell Falls. Umbrella’s took away most of the direct wetness, but it just filled the air.
Lucky we hadn’t reached here to camp.
We have moved on and now at Huonville for a few days.
We are now at Deloraine and have been camped here beside the Meander River for 3 nights. Its a great little spot not far from town with plenty of room to spread out.
Yesterday, we tripped around a few of the sights in the region including Liffey Falls. These are reached after a bit of a stroll and then down some moderately steep steps, going back a bit tough. But we made it!
In getting around you travel through the most green pastures and rolling hills broken by small streams and creeks. Sheep and cattle, dairy and beef, are plentiful. Spring lamb is everywhere, We enjoyed a couple of lamb chops on the weber for dinner.
In passing we have been able to call into a cheese establishment, Ashgroves which has a tasting bar. Tasting bars are really worthwhile as one can see, smell and taste what it’s all about. As a consequence a number of cheeses were purchased for later on, including a ‘Wicked’ Camembert. And it was. A rather large Tassie Devil was also spotted along the road somewhere on our travels. Also dropped into a raspberry place which had these rather nice chocolate dipped raspberries, just great with some muscat from Baileys!
Today we awoke to an unimpressive bleak sky with rain! Yesterday it was a very much clear sky and sunshine, what a change! We hit the road anyway to Lake St Clair to also see the Wall in the Wilderness. This is a very impressive sculpture which will ultimately stretch in two 50 meter long rows. It documents in Huon Pine carved wall panels various aspects of life in the SW Region of Tasmania over the last 150 years. Greg Duncan is the sculptor and when asked said he would be finished in two years or so. This would be something to go back and see. Lake St Clair was shrouded in fog and rain and it was cold too! We didn’t stay here long and headed back to Deloraine.
Tomorrow we head south for Mount Field National Park.
This is our last night at the Nut. We have been here at Stanley and surrounds for 3 days taking in the sights. When we arrived from Strahan the rain stopped, the wind died and it got a bit warmer. The sun came out a bit and there was blue sky. Mostly overcast though.
Have been out and about checking out Highfield House, an ‘outpost’ of Britain in NW Tasmania , built by convicts in the 1820s and now being conserved (not restored). Some great stories on this property none the least being that the wife of the administrator of the property gave birth to 15 children, from the mid 1820s, All, apart from one who died at 3 from a farm accident, seem to have survived well into childhood. From here we went onto the Stanley Seaquarium for a look at all things aquatic…..fish , lobsters, sharks, eels ,crabs etc and bits of stuff that have been washed up on the beaches down here. Interesting place. From here we were onto the Seal sight-seeing adventure just offshore. Lashed out later that night at the fish and chip shop with an absolutely fresh rock lobster, done Mornay. Just great.
Down to Arthur River out on the west coast (about 70k west of Stanley). This is along way from nowhere, the Edge of the World. As one stares out into the Southern Ocean, not much land between here and South America. Enjoyed the cruise up the River and BBQ lunch in the rain forest.
Today, climbed up the Nut. This is a pretty steep hill. The less stimulated catch a chair lift. Leanne remained at base while allthego completed the ascent. Some great scenes from on top.
Today the highlight has been the visit to the tulip farm at Table Cape. The tulips are out in full colour ahead of the Tulip festival this coming week. What a display of colour, it is hard to describe. A photo speaks more than words, I’ve got a lot of photos so be warned dear friends.
We head off tomorrow from Stanley to travel down to Deloraine and Derwent Bridge. Althego is going to try his hand at some trout fishing down there.
It is a clear night with stars abright.
We arrived at Strahan after travelling down from Cradle Mountain late on Sunday, came through Roseberry and briefly Queenstown. It was a bit rainy but otherwise ok. Got the van set up along with the annex and settled in for the night. About 9pm a great wind blew up and took out the annex, again no damage, We dropped the Van pop top and rolled up the annex and then crawled into bed looking forward to the new day. Bit of wind and rain during the night.
Monday took us on the boat cruise for most of the day around Macquarie Harbour and up the Gordon River. It was an overcast day with splashes of sunshine and just the odd shower of rain. First call was at the entrance to Macquarie Harbour. I don’t have the statistics to hand but the Harbour is many times larger than Sydney Harbour with a very narrow and treacherous entrance, called Hell’s Gate. The name originates from convict days when transportation brought convicts to Sarah Island, within the Harbour, through the narrow opening. ‘Hell’ being Sarah Island. We later spent some time wandering around Sarah Island learning something of its past. Further up the Gordon river we disembarked and strolled along a board walk through the rain forest, sighting a number of Huon Pine specimens.
Monday night was relatively calm weather wise. Tuesday however resumed the rain and wind pattern and we took in a trip to Queenstown to check out the old copper mining town. Queenstown has been famous or infamous for its moonscape appearance, caused by a number of factors including sulphur fumes from copper smelting in the early and mid 1900s, timber logging to fuel the smelters, fires and general erosion. Today the landscape seems to be slowly recovering with trees and grasses being established on the slopes.
Back in Strahan that night we had further wind and rain.
Today, Wednesday, more rain and wind but after a bit if a lull off we set for Corinna about 80k north of Strahan on the Pieman River, which is the southern boundary of the Tarkine wilderness area. Plenty of rain along the way. But when we arrived it started to clear and we had an interesting time in this former logging town, which is now an eco resort type place, sustainable living lifestyle etc. The Pieman was in flood and it was an interesting ride across on the 2 car ferry. Logs and debris floating down the river at a great pace.
Returning to Strahan we were greeted by more wind and rain. The local grog shop and café was sandbagged up against a great big pool of water. It is now about 9pm and the wind and rain has stopped, a few stars in the sky. Maybe it is clearing up. We leave tomorrow after being here for 4 nights to go north to the Stanley region on the north-east coast for a few days.