Monday, May 4, 2009

For those of you who haven't seen our other blog and don't know us, my name is Frank and along with my wife Brenda we toured the lovely island of Tasmania, the first 2 weeks we shared with Brenda's Mum Dorothy, I said in the other blog that it might be our only one, but after the responses we received of the last one we though we would share out Tassie adventure with you. We still have the same old (13) Holden Commodore, she now has over 300,000km on the clock and also the same old caravan, once again this is a day to day account of what we did in our seven week trip, we hope you enjoy the ride.
Tuesday 27th January 2009
We left home south of Adelaide and were going to travel to Melbourne in 2 days so, we left home at 2pm, unfortunately we chose one of the hottest days on record to travel, when we were near Keith, SA, a truckie on the UHF told us his outside thermometer was on 46 degrees, as it was so hot and with towing, the car couldn’t handle the air conditioner running as well so we would only have it on for about 10 minutes an hour just to get some relief, between Kaniva and Nhill it was so hot that the tar on the road was melting and we could see the tracks of the car in front of us, we slowly made our way to Lochiel rest stop, 6km from Dimboola, where we settled for the night with another van in the camp.
Wed. 28th
Luckily the temperature during the night dropped to around 16-18 so after a good comfortable nights sleep we left camp early so as to avoid some of the heat that was to come, didn’t bother with breakfast but stopped at Maccas in Horsham, filled up fuel and off again, by 10am the heat was starting again and got to Lynda’s (Brenda’s sister) at 1pm in 42degrees, thankful to get into the air conditioning.

Thur.29th – Sat. 31st
Melbourne has had 3 days of over 43 degrees temperature, so it’s been too hot to do anything, we did however get to catch up with Annie, Annie and Lance are people I met on Lance unfortunately was working late, I went back later to meet with him, it was like catching up with long lost friends and we chatted till 10pm but it was time to get home.
On Saturday the weather had cooled a little and made packing the car a lot nicer than unpacking it 3 days earlier, then we headed for the ferry, we weren’t expecting such a big ship, she is 185 meters long and has nearly 2.7 km of car lanes, that’s a heck of a lot of cars and trucks when they pack them in almost bumper to bumper and it is all done very efficiently within 1 and ½ hours, the ship can take over a thousand passengers, inside there is a shop with all sorts (comparatively priced with land based shops) a cinema two restaurants (one a la carte) a bar or three and a tourist bureau whose single staff member was very busy, the passage was relatively calm for our awake hours but got a little bouncy at about 3 o’clock in the morning but only just enough to disturb our sleep.

Sunday 1Feb.
We got into Devonport at 5.50 am, and on land at about 6.30 after going through customs (checking for fruit and veg) we went to Maccas for breaky and do some shopping before going to the caravan park I didn’t want to go in there early and wake everybody up, it was about 9.30 when we got there, unhitched, then went touring, started with the Anvers chocolate factory, with a name like that, as you would expect it is Belgian chocolate and I met with the owners father who is visiting from northern Belgium at the moment and we spent quite some time speaking French, the visit was like a long step back in time for me as Dad was a baker, Pastry cook, Chocolatier, in Belgium, a lot of the moulds they have there are from Belgium and the same as Dad had, then onto Latrobe where we were told to go and have a look at a place called Reliquaire, an amazing shop full (to the brim) with dolls, mannequins, clowns, wall decorations, etc, etc, etc you name it, it was there, mind you the prices were amazing too to say the least and though there were many things we liked, we didn’t buy, also had a look around town and a market, then onto Railton, where we went into a shop which was also recommended, it is the biggest display of fibre optics display I have ever seen and it was fantastic, Railton is also known as the town of topiary, a lot of the homes and buildings have at least one topiary out the front, even the war memorial has 3 service men and 1 woman in topiary, then onto Sheffield the town of murals, a lot of buildings here have murals on them, depicting either pioneering life or some of the beautiful scenery of the area, these art works are beautifully done and if they were in art galleries would be worth a lot, we looked around town and took lots of photos, it was getting on so we headed slowly back to Devonport via Devil’s gate dam, part of the hydro electricity grid (it seems funny to see a dam full, after years of seeing ½ empty ones in the southern states.

Monday 2nd
We woke this morning to the sound of rain haven’t heard that in such a long time but here obviously they get a lot more than we do at home there is green everywhere, we Packed up and left the caravan park by 9.30 and headed to a free camp at Gowrie park, O’Neil’s camp ground at the base of Mt Roland, can’t see much of it as it is covered in cloud, we were supposed to go to Cradle Mountain today but it’s 300mt taller than Roland so, we wouldn’t get to see much, we unhitched, met the Neighbours, and headed off for some sight seeing.
Started just back up the road with a craft shop of local rare timbers all nice stuff, the owner told us of some local attractions in the Meander valley (70km radius) so headed towards Mole creek, went through a small town called Paradise, now the difference between a town on the mainland and Tassie, back there, a pub, petrol station and a general store make up a town sometimes all 3 are combined, here if you get a dozen farmhouses in a 1 or 2 km radius it gets a name, very much like Europe, such is paradise, but when you see the place you can see why it was called that, it is set on a hill (DUH the whole island is hills) and in a valley surrounded by forests and farmers dams, our whole day today was like driving through Belgium small villages with houses built right on the foot path, small hamlets like paradise and beautiful lush green forests, though we stopped at some attractions like a honey farm, and saw honey being extracted, to Marakoopa caves, where the temperature is 9 degrees, with water running through them, they were very beautiful but the highlight of the day was the magnificent countryside of rolling hills and deep valleys covered in tall trees, lush green pines, semi to green fields, tree ferns and ferns of all sorts, we also had a quick look around Deloraine, we went back to camp top find Mt Roland almost bare of cloud and bathed in the setting sun, what beautiful photos it made, today was a visual overload, tomorrow we may just need a rest.

Tuesday 3rd
Today we did rest, 2 days of fairly full on sight seeing is a bit much for Brenda and also for Mum, so just hung around the camp all morning and Brenda rested, at about 11.30 we took a walk down O’Neil’s creek nature trail, it starts in the camp and meanders through a rain forest, along the creek which is fed from Mt Roland, although it is only 700m it took us nearly 1 hour to walk this easy trail as we took in the beauty we were surrounded by, white gums and brown top stringybark which reach 20 to 30 m into the air to form the canopy along with Blackwood a prized Tasmanian timber and dogwood then there are tree ferns which reach 3-4 m high along with myrtle and sassafras trees, in the under story ferns of all sorts including fishbone water ferns and grasses as well as all the fallen timber and fungi you would expect to see in a rain forest, all this supports a myriad of insects, frogs, lizards, and birds as well as having the creek itself bubbling along over conglomerate rocks which were laid along here by glaciers some 1.5 million years ago, the trail ends at a track which leads to Mt Roland and we had a choice of returning to camps via this track but took the option of back tracking the same trail, the colours and smells of the rain forest and the sound of the different birds, frogs and breeze blowing through the trees were too tempting, it took us over ½ an hour to return, we then went into Sheffield, only 15 km away, to get some lunch, bread and a good look around. It is only a small town with the murals I mentioned before but has a few nice shops with some colourful characters including a guy who spends his days in town with his pet alpaca, and takes donations for a picture with the alpaca, the one he had when we were there was only 12 day old, we headed back to camp and set up the choofer and bucket to heat the water, the shower tent and christened the lot, before settling down for tea and the night.

Wednesday 4th
Once again the day started out completely overcast, as every day we have had so far, but we decided to head off to Cradle Mountain anyway and we were on the road by 9.30. To say that the road between Gowrie Park and Cradle mountain is steep and windy would be a gross understatement, it took us 35 minutes to cover the first 16km, we were in second most of the way travelling at 30kph and once down to below 20 in first, with the outside temperature at about 16 degrees the car was over ¾ heat, but we took it slow and easy and got there at about 11.30 with the sky clearing and a great view of the mountain, after a cuppa and getting ready for cooler temperatures we caught a shuttle bus and went to the end of the road, by the time we got there, about 20 minutes, the weather was completely clear and about 20 degrees, off came the jackets and back into t-shirts and hats, there are a number of walking trails in the park from 20minutes to 7 days, we took 2 twenty minute walks around the edge of the lake at the base of the mountain, we first walked to Glacier rock where Mum opted out and then to the old boat shed, the lake has clear smooth water with the surrounding stony mountains of grey, white, black and red, the trees and plants with all their different greens, brown, white, silver and grey, flowering in white, yellow, pink and purple and, button grass, which looks like Spinifex without the flower heads, there certainly were many a, postcard perfect, pictures to be taken, we reluctantly left the park with other attractions behind, but at $45 a night for a powered site for 2, it’s just too expensive, and headed off toward Bernie intending to stay in a free camp about 30k out but, took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in Bernie so, went to Cooee, a suburb where there is a camp on the beach, some of the people parked there happened to be Bev, Greg and their son Daniel, people I had met on caravan and motorhome forum a few months ago who are touring Tassie for a couple of months as well, after a good natter and exchanging places to see, we settled for the night with waves crashing in the background, love the sea.

Thursday 5th
We had a slow start today and didn’t get sight seeing till about 10 started at the post office to send the kids and grandkids a postcard and a bit of shopping, then we went off to a cheese factory, there were about 30 different types of cheeses to taste and of course buy, tried them all but bought our 2 favourites camembert for Brenda and blue cheeses for me, then onto a distillery for some whiskey tasting, unfortunately unlike wine in SA it’s not free tasting and costs $4 a taste for 30ml, it is whiskey made here in Tassie and I have never heard of it on the mainland, although it costs $75 for a 700ml bottle it has a fantastic long lasting taste, didn’t part with $75 and headed off to Guide falls.
To reach them there are 2 car parks, the top leads down a steep path to a platform near the top of the falls then 74 steep stairs to the bottom.
In size, at about 8 meters wide and 10 tall, they don’t rival many other falls we have seen, but in beauty they were magnificent, the whole wall behind them is a large piece of solid rock, black in colour with vertical fractures all the way across, about 90% of it is covered in a thick, rich dark green moss which looks like it is made of velvet, there was not a great flow of water over it, it is summer after all, but what did come over, left trails of sparkling silver from top to bottom, in all about 30 of them which raced to bubble the water at the base into a pool about 15mt by 5, some to hit a rock ledge one metre from the bottom and cascade down, from there to run down a creek to another small single fall about 4 metres high and continue down the rocky creek bubbling down along the path to the lower car park, where I met Brenda and Mum with the car.
It was already way past lunch time so went back to camp for a bite and rest after those stairs and steep walk, later went to Bernie Park for a relaxing walk among old buildings, plants, a small lake and water birds.

Friday 6th Feb
We left Cooee at 9.30 and called into Creative paper, a hand made paper place at the edge of town, very interesting with paper made from all sorts of things like, old jeans, cotton, apples and even kangaroo poo, they had life size paper people and even furniture, hand bags, and shoes too, and we spent over an hour there. On the road again and headed to Penguin, with a name like that you’d expect to see penguins and they are everywhere, statues that is, and in shop windows, on rubbish bins, shop counters, shop names, all over this lovely, quaint little town on the sea with old buildings, a Dutch 1/3rd sized windmill in beautiful Hiscutt park and very friendly people, then onto Ulverstone, where we had been invited to park the van on peoples front lawn, I had met Tess on the forum as well, she, and her husband Craig and their Daughter Bethany are also vanners and one day, we may be able to return the favour, after introductions and a cuppa we set up the van and headed off to see the town, walked around the lovely park on the edge of the Leven river and once again noted that all the people are very friendly, Brenda’s back was starting to play up a bit too much so it was time to head back to base and settle for the night, although we have had a near full day we have only travelled about 40km.
There are a few things that differ here compared to the “big island on the other side of the ditch” as some call it here, one is that a lot of the buildings are made of timber, even the old ones like a 150yo church and they are still standing and used in some cases, it’s strange to see complete fences around paddocks made of timber and because it is often raining they are covered in moss, there are also bumble bees here which we don’t have in South Oz and they are quite interesting and about 3-4 times the size of a European bee, then there’s the flies, they do have the normal house fly as we do but not as many but there are a lot more blow flies, man these things are so big you’d be able to use them as shuttle cocks and then we are told the march flies will be out soon and not only are they bigger but they bite, I suppose at least you can see them coming.

Saturday 7th
Out sightseeing by 9.30, heading for Leven (pronounced Liven) canyon, at the suggestion of one of the staff at the tourist Info, I’m still not used to looking at the map here and noticing that it’s only a few kilometres to the next town or attraction and what I assumed would be a 2 hour drive is only about 40km, though it did take us the best part of an hour, as we are once again heading into alpine country, the vegetation changes all the time and any dead branch or tree is covered in moss or lichen some trees are so much covered that they look like they are in full leaf, only it is all lichen, as are the fences, which are all made of wood and also rocks seem to be a good place for it to grow, it is a lighter green than moss, almost milky, and starts off a similar texture but then grows “hairy” and quite thick, that, the pretty hills, the narrow winding roads and stopping to grab some wild blackberries makes for a slow trip.
When we got to Leven canyon, we arrived in a fantastic park like setting surrounded by rain forest, complete with giant tree ferns as much as 200 years old, toilets and a large shelter with BBQ, tables and a pot belly stove with wood supplied, it is also a free camp and someone has taken the opportunity to stay here in this isolated garden of Eden, though it is overcast today and the air up here is cool, you can still fell the warmth of the sun coming through. There are 2 walks up here, both of about 20 minutes and a link between them for the energetic which takes 45 minutes around, but it has steep slippery patches, one is the fern walk, the other to the canyon, it starts with a 50m walk through a guard of honour of 3-4 meter tall tree ferns stretching their fronds over the path and entwining each other to form a canopy which is covered in dew, as you walk through you are lightly sprinkled with cool, fresh, pure water, as you pass this you are met with the most enchanting semi dense, rain forest with tall trees, some which have fallen to form the, lichen, moss and fern covered forest floor among other ferns and grasses, surrounded by myrtle and other shrubs, with a well formed path winding it’s way through and although steep-ish in parts, would only take you 15 minutes to travel but, because we were taking in the beauty around us, took us nearly 30, at the end of the path is the awesome Leven Canyon.
What a sight, the point at which they have put the look out, which leans out over a ledge, is at a sharp bend in the river, which is only about 3 meters wide and approximately 60 meters below you, rumbling it’s way over rocks and small falls, frothing into white water, it comes from in front of you to the right about 3km away and disappears about 8km to your left winding it’s way into the distance like a giant snake, through a dense rain forest in the valley below. 100 metres in front of you, is an arrow head shaped mountain peak which stretches about 50mt in the air above you and is dwarfed by the surrounding mountain range that was lightly covered by broken clouds about 20 meters below us and were unhurriedly floating past as if they themselves were taking is the majesty of the canyon below , as in the rest of the area, most horizontal surfaces of rock and dead wood are covered in lichen, I took photo after photo and a lot of film, the different foliages of green and silver and the myriad of colours making up the rock faces with the grandeur of the whole thing were such a visual hypnosis that I couldn’t stop looking at it and finally Brenda had to drag me away to make room for other visitors to this magnificent sight. This was without a doubt one of the most amazing sights I have seen. From there we went to Preston falls which were lovely, then into Gunn plains and though the beauty of the valley below was great, nothing could not compare with what we had just seen; we had lunch at a nice spot near a wildlife park and drove back to Ulverstone taking in the beautiful scenery. After tea I spent about 2 hours chatting with Tess and Craig about their beautiful Island

Sunday 8th
It was very difficult to leave our wonderful hosts place today, though we only personally met Tess, Craig and Bethany 2 days ago they have been generous with their hospitality and they have become friend in that short space of time, we left with their promise to let us repay the kindness next year. With the short distances here and still forgetting to look at the kilometres between places we went on through Devonport, Latrobe and Deloraine in no time but decided at taking another look around Deloraine, stopped there for lunch and a walk along the Meander river, we were going to go to Liffey falls to spend the night but decided to go through to Launceston, taking a look around Westbury and Carrick on the way through, and book into a caravan park for a couple of days, took a leisurely walk to the local shops about 1,1/2 km away and relaxed for the evening.

Monday 9th
Started today at the Tamar Island wetland, we saw it as we were going into “Lonny” as they call it here, and thought it might take ½ an hour or so. To start off with it’s nice to see wetland with water in them, in SA around our rivers they are all dry and void of birds because of the drought
The boardwalk is about 2km long and takes you right through the wetlands and over 2 small islands before getting to Tamar Island which is in the middle of the Tamar river, Tasmania was settled in the early 1800 and Tamar wetland had been drained and farmed with the Island cleared of vegetation and used for housing and as a picnic spot for the bourgeoning town, there are remnants of human life like a well, the remains of an old building which was used until 1959,and introduced trees such as English elm, radiata pine and oak which were donated by the Hobart botanical gardens in the 1820 and represent some of the original seed stock which was brought out from England, one of the Oak trees has an old plough through the middle of it, apparently when one of the farmers wives of the island died, her husband tied the plough there and the tree has grown around it. The wetlands are reclaiming their own and the bird life here is amazing with black swans, different sorts of ducks, white faced herons, egrets, grey hawks, brown hawks, etc, etc in their hundreds all vying for a place to roost and to be heard creating a natural symphony with the soothing backing sound of the breeze through the reeds, with the weather fine and sunny and at about 22 degrees, it was just perfect to walk along taking in the sights and sounds and before we knew it we had spent 2 hours there.
We then went into town to see Cataract gorge, a natural deep gorge at the edge of town where there are 2 ways to start the walk not being part mountain goat we chose the easier of the 2 and walked along it for 20 minutes, taking in the lovely sights of the canyon walls and vegetation vying for a place to set root among the cracks in the rock and the sound of the water about 15 meters below us, as well as the local daredevils climbing the rock faces to reach the highest point they could in order to make the loudest splash as they jumped into the cool water watched by passers by and tourists in river boats and admired by their girlfriends, after all that walking it was past lunch time so after replenishing our energy we went to look around the pleasant town, still not used to being in a major town with a population of only a few thousand, the population of the whole of Tassie is 500,000, less than ½ that of Adelaide, I recon at the moment, tourists outnumber the locals,
There are beautiful buildings here most made of timber (there are no white ants in Tassie) some, of the gothic style and it was nice to just look around town, unfortunately for me I am with 2 women so many a clothe shop was also checked out, I still says all women’s clothe shop should be next to a café by law. We then checked out the other side of the canyon where a chair lift operates from, but it was not as nice as where we were before and headed for camp to settle for the night.

Tuesday 10th
We headed off by 10 am, and stopped at a look out on the way for some more photos of this amazingly picturesque island, then leisurely made our way to the sports ground at Beaconsfield which is a free camp, to unhook the van, then, after some lunch went to the mine museum next to the infamous mine where, Larry Knight lost his life and Todd Russel and Brant Webb were trapped for 14 days, it is all very interesting with this mine having been closed in 1914 due to the high cost of pumping water out but with new technology available reopened in 1996 and now producing around $1.5 million of gold per week, as well as a display of the accident on ANZAC day 2006 including a reproduction of the cage and rock fall where the boys were trapped, as well as the escape tunnel in which you can climb up and go into the cage area and see just how cramped they were, being there brought back the memories and it was very emotional just thinking of how terrified they must have been, after that we were ready for something a little lighter so went to Beauty point to see Platypus house, where there is a ½ hour guided tour with platypuses and Echidnas, naturally the 5 platypus are in tanks and can’t be handled but do come within a few centimetres of you, but the Echidnas roam free in a large room which is done up like a forest scene and are all hand reared, they do ask you not to touch them but didn’t tell them that, so I put my hand on the floor and they came to me, they are different to the ones on the mainland, in that they have fur between their quills, so are more brown in colour, they are fed some mixture so that you can see how their 20cm tongue works, after that we looked around signal point and headed back to camp to set up and settle in.

Wednesday 11th
Left the camp at 9.30 but not before gathering some fruit for the day, one of the locals, who lives just at the back of the sports ground, who I had talked to yesterday, told me there was a Green gage plum three on vacant land at the entrance to the ground and said to help ourselves, these are green plums, we’d never seen these before they were small because the tree is never trimmed but they look like a standard plum and instead of having yellow or red flesh and red skin they are all green and ready to pick when they come off in your hand, the taste is the same as a plum but quite a bit sweeter, so we picked about 2 dozen and while I was at it also picked a big cup full of blackberries as well.
We then headed east and over Batman Bridge the only single support suspension Bridge in Australia, quite an impressive bridge, stopped at the base, where there is a free camp, to take some photos. The water below it, is the Tamar river and only a few kilometres from the ocean the banks only rock and they were covered in a white matter on a closer look that “matter” were oysters, so arming myself with a sharp, axe head shaped, rock set to work picking oysters for dinner, we then went onto George town, a nice little town with a few attractions including the watch house, the old goal, dating back to the 1800’s where there is a miniature village of the old George town as it was between 1820 and 1850, the lady who made it has put a years work into it and it is magnificent, then onto the Bass and flinders exhibition where there is a full scale replica of the Norfolk, the small ship which circumnavigated Van Diemen’s Land, out of Sydney, to prove that here was a straight between it and the mainland and that it was an Island, we then went on, to a lighthouse and last the old pilot station maritime museum. It was now nearly 3 o’clock and time to head towards Hobart and our stop for the night at Corana where we were set up by 5.15, after a lovely entrée of 19 fresh, green lipped oysters some as big as my palm (the girls don’t eat them, so I was forced to have the lot) we had a lovely meal prepared by Brenda, washed down with a couple of green plums, gee life on the road is hard.

Thursday 12th
We were looking for a shorter way to Pt Arthur without having to backtrack through to Hobart so we got off the midlands highway after Oaklands and it was 11.30 by the time we made it to Richmond, this is the touristy town just outside of Hobart, you know every capital city has at least one it may be up to 80km away, it has charm, character, old world, food and trinket shops, souvenir shops, etc, etc. By the time we got to the other side of town, which is only a few hundred meters it was already 12.45 then we spotted “Old Hobart Town” a miniature village of Hobart (Duh) as it was 2 years after being settled, This was not as small as the George town model and you walk amongst it, the buildings are about 30cm tall and the figurines to match, the owner, builder has put a lot of effort into this and also has a sense of humour which is reflected in his work, there are boys falling out of trees, which are not models but bonsai myrtles, drunks peeing against a wall, a man stepping in the paint pot he is using to paint the house, and his family bent over laughing, a prisoners butt crack showing while he is bending over, and a few others so while the whole thing is educational and interesting it is also fun and amusing, it took about 45 minutes to get through it all, then into another couple of shops and it was 1.30 by the time we made it to the bakery, we then had a quick look at the old goal and also went to St John the Evangelist, having being built in 1835 it is the oldest Catholic Church still in use in Australia, being Micks we offered a prayer for the victims of the Victorian bush fires, a friend who has just passed and thanks for a wonderful holiday, then of towards Pt Arthur. On the Tasman peninsula, we looked at Tasman’s arch, Tasman’s blow hole and devils kitchen, all rock and cliff formations just outside of Doo town, most houses here have been named, with names such as, This’ll doo us, Doo me, Doo nix, Doo F#@k all, Doo drop in, Doodle Doo, and so on, and so on, quirky but good fun. It has been a long day, lots of sitting and Brenda’s back is very sore, we had spotted a camp site when going to Doo town so stopped with 2 other vehicles there, and settled for the night

I know for the superstitious amongst us it’s a bad date, but nothing went wrong, as a matter of fact though it started out as an overcast day the weather turned out just perfect at around 20 degrees. Walking around the Pt Arthur historical site was just fantastic we had first planned to leave there just after lunch and make our way to Hobart, but we soon realised that although we had an early start we weren’t going to keep to our schedule. Pt Arthur is spread over a 40 hectare area and has many, many buildings, some just ruins, which have been secured, others just outlines of where they stood but quite a few restored to their former glory complete with shingles, furniture and fittings of the 1800’s, it is a very impressive site right on Carnarvon bay, with it’s own little bay in a horse shoe shape, surrounded by tree covered hills. We were there by 9.30 and on site at 10, started with the “lottery of life” exhibition where there is a number of life size cut outs of prisoners, it was a good introduction to Pt Arthur as there were many different stories to follow. On entry you are given a playing card representing a particular prisoner, you need to find the card on a box which tells you his story, age and reason for being sent there, then follow his trail, in and around, all the others and read what they, in “his job” did and how they were treated, for the skilled who came here, they were given a job in their trade, and there are rooms set up to show stores, blacksmiths shops, shoe makers, and other trades, but for the unskilled or skills that could not be used in a prison, they ended up on chain gangs to cut limestone blocks and carry them back to camp to be used for the buildings or, what they called millipede gangs where they would go into the forest fell trees and ½ the gang on the left, ½ on the right they would lift the tree onto their shoulders and, in chains, carry it 1 to 3 kilometres back to the camp for use in the buildings or the shipyard.
We then had a 40 minute guided tour of the area which just skims over they history and buildings, then a 25 minute cruise of the harbour which goes past the isle of the dead, which was the cemetery, and is said to have over 900 prisoners buried in unmarked graves and 300 or so settlers though it was never consecrated as there are many different religions buried there including non Christians. Also cruised past Pt Puer, Latin, I think, for boy, which was set up as the penal colony for boys after a couple of years to keep them separated from the men, back in the 1800 at 7 you could be tried for your crimes, at 8 hung and at 9 transported to the colonies, the boys job was to shape the cut stones so they could be used as building blocks, both the guided tour and the cruise were included in the $23 entry fee. That over, it was time for lunch and the cafeteria offered from sandwiches at $5.50, to hot meals at $13, which were good and inexpensive, considering they have a captive audience. We then spent the next 3 and a ½ hour exploring the site at our own leisure, walking in and out of buildings and ruins, our last stop was the memorial to those who lost their lives in the atrocious mass killings of the 28 of April 1996, a beautiful garden around the shell of the building where 20 of the 35 were killed. It was 4.05 by the time we left and headed toward Hobart to find a caravan park for the night

Saturday 14th
We got in too late last night to get to a shop so had no breakfast supplies, the Salamanca markets open at 8.30 so we moved off by 8.45 to get there, and had a bite when we arrived, this is the best known market in Tassie and attracts a lot of people, it is held on Salamanca Place near the wharf and is at least 500mt long by 2 and 3 stalls deep, you can buy anything from art, to food, to drink, to Zen clothing and even be entertained by bands to buskers, some stall owners still know what a market is all about and reflect that in their prices, most though mark their prices up because they have the numbers coming past, there were a few bargains to be had and we took the opportunity to get some fresh vegies for tonight’s tea, still a good look at all the offerings took us nearly 4 hours to cover, on the way there we stopped in at “the big red bus” office to see Ivan, another person I know from the caravanners forum, he drives a double decker tourist bus around the sites of Hobart, for a modest fee you can hop on and off at 20 different tourist locations around Hobart, we got some info about the bus and camp sites, he told us about the Hobart show grounds which offer powered sites for $17, we decided to head there and spend 2 days touring Hobart, get Mum on the plane and head off down south on Tuesday from there, we headed off out of the city centre to the show grounds, set up the van, then to the airport and confirm Mum’s ticket, with all that done and an early start, Brenda’s back has had it, so it was time to get back to the van, while Brenda was in the shower I cooked up some chicken breast and the fresh vegies into a nice stir fry.

Sunday 15th
It’s been quite hectic the last few days with early starts which don’t agree with Brenda’s back so we thought we’d have an easy morning had breakfast and took things slow Brenda and Mum pottered around the van and I washed the car, then leisurely went to the market here at the show grounds, there were a few food stalls but mostly trash and treasure type stuff as well as clothes, electrical and one selling Chinese motor bikes, then we were going to go to Mt wellington but that was now hiding behind some grey cloud so into Hobart for sight seeing unfortunately a lot of the things are closed on Sundays, we did have a look at the lark distillery (whiskey and vodka), other than a few distilling articles it was just an expensive pub, then drove around Battery Point and looked at the amazing architecture of the old buildings, then through to Wrest Point and up to Mt Nelson, no where near as high as Wellington but great scenery, though a little hazy due to the overcast conditions, up that high it was a lot colder and the wind felt like it was coming straight off an iceberg, it was about 6 degrees with the wind chill factor so we didn’t hang around too long, had a look at the ruins of the female factory, on which the film “The potato factory” was based, and went to the penitentiary chapel but that was closed, it was 4 O’clock, so headed to camp for an early day.

Monday 16th
Started the day with French toast for Breakfast, then off to Cadbury’s chocolates for a look around, they used to do a tour of the factory but with new health rules and regulations they had to stop, it costs $7.50 to get in and there is someone handing out chocolates as you walk in, then there is a presentation to tell you all about how chocolate came about and a video as well, ½ an hour later you get let loose in the shop, where you can buy chocolate at less than ½ the price of shops, or seconds for as low as 3, 250gm bars for $3.50 or a 5kg box worth around $200 for $40, we did behave ourselves and only spent $12, still walked out with about 1 and a ½ kg, oh well we’ll worry about the figure tomorrow, maybe. Onto the Penitentiary Chapel which we had missed yesterday, the old goal here in Hobart was built in the early 1800’s, about 3km out of town, so in the 1960 was on very valuable land and was replaced and bulldozed, all that is left is the chapel built in 1831, which was later transformed to court house, high court and chapel, the tour was 1 and a ½ hours and very informative.
Mt Wellington, is still covered in cloud so went into town for some lunch and window shopping, at 3 we headed for the airport and Mum headed off back to Adelaide, went back to the van for a bit of rearranging to living for 2 and went to the shops, by now Mt Wellington, was finally out of the clouds so headed up there first. To give you an idea of how high it is, from the base you still have 15km of narrow windy road built in the early 1930’s to reach the summit, Brenda doesn’t like narrow windy roads! Does that tell you anything, from about ½ way, I had nails dug into my thigh and the pain didn’t ease till we got out of the car, we had forgotten our jackets in the van so the cold soon made me forget, luckily it was sunny, still we took a few photo’s a bit of film and got back into the warm car, and started down just as cloud was moving in again, though Brenda was now on the drop side of the road she felt the trip down was easier,----and less painful for me I must say, after that it was back to the van for tea, a shower and settle in for the evening, and some time alone :) :) :) :)!

Tuesday 17th
We didn’t want to disappoint Mum in the last fortnight so we’ve been doing a lot with not much rest time and it’s all caught up with Brenda’s back so, we’ve decided to stay put for another day and do nothing much, after a lazy start Brenda asked me to set up the washing machine inside the van to save her going up and down the steps all the time so while I cleaned out the car and vacuumed it Brenda did the washing and I hung it for her, all went well until Brenda helped me to put out the second to last load and as soon as our backs were turned the machine decided to go off balance and fall over, BUGGER, after spending the next hour emptying the front storage under the seats, drying everything out, and sponging up all the water and cleaning the floor, we decided that we wouldn’t do the washing inside again, our lazy day turned out busier than we thought but other than that, we didn’t do anything else other than go to Maccas to check the email

Wednesday 18th
We were both awake early and on the road by 9, through Hobart heading south, up over the mountains, man that’s is all there is here, mountains and some of these are enough to drop you back to 30-40kph in second gear then down the next, still in second so we’re not picking up too much speed, the only bits of flattish land there is, was between Launceston and Hobart and then I still had to turn off the cruise every ¼ hour or so, anyway up over the next one again and down into the Huon valley, although it is brown for Tassie standards it is a market garden/orchard area, so that and all the hills covered in natural forests on this undulating (read mountain goat) country it is a wonderful sight of beiges and light and dark greens interspersed with the flashes of reds, blue, grey and whites of the small village roofs and farm houses, after having spent nearly 4 days in a town the openness of this beautiful valley is a sight to behold, all the while following a logging truck down the hill, ironic I guess, with all the controversy about logging. We made our way through to Huonville, where we walked around for about an hour looking at this quaint little town, personally I was disappointed, only because I was expecting more, I don’t know why though, possibly because of all you hear about the Huon pine and the Huon valley, ‘Huonville’ had expectations for me of a bustling town all of 36km away from Hobart, we then followed the Huon river down to Pt Huon where we set up the van for the night on a camp site at the regatta grounds, then went into Geeveston to look around and get some info on the Tahune air walk which we’ll be doing tomorrow that took up another 2 hours including the forest and heritage centre where there is furniture on show and for sale, all made of local timbers, and an art centre then back to the van for an early day.

Thursday 19th
Today we head for Tahune air walk, all we know about it is that there is a board walk type thing in the tree tops, Brenda doesn’t like heights but says she’ll go with me as she knows I’d like to see it and, as she say’s we’re only coming here once so we might as well do it. The drive from Pt Huon takes us into forest area, after all Geeveston is “The forest town of Tasmania”, the road is windy and narrow, just enough to get 2 trucks passing, it was built by the logging company, for 27km we follow this road past some sights we’ll come back to on the way home, Tahune forest reserve is the last stop for tourists, the logging track continues into Tahune forest, the visitor centre is a nice modern building with all the usual facilities, open, airy and built mostly of wood, after paying our $20 we are told of the 3 different walks available from 20 minute to 1hour or 3hours if you want to combine them, naturally we start with the air walk at 50 minutes return. The Tahune air walk starts with some stairs, which follow the contour of the ground taking you through the wonderful Tahune forest reserve past some magnificent, tall, large gum trees some of which are 3 to 4 meters in diameter at the base, these are Eucalyptus Regnans, the world tallest flowering plant, along the path there are plaques explaining this and other trees like the blackheart sassafras, which looses it top in high winds, this allows water in, fungi develops and stains the centre of the trunk a dark brown to black, the horizontal because of the way it grows, and so on, the air walk starts at ground level but you are quickly, 20 meters above the ground as it drops away below you, back over where you just came from looking at the same trees but now in their foliage, you follow this walk entranced at the beauty all around you, you are aware that you are high up and that the all steel structure below you, Which is built to withstand 180kph cyclonic winds, is moving slightly and that you are still climbing up into the tree tops of the pristine eucalypt wet forest, but the visually stunning birds eye view is so captivating that the fact you are 45 meters off the ground by the end of the 597mt walk doesn’t even register, I was proud of Brenda’s courage in overcoming her fear of heights and making it all the way to the end of the walk, where it finishes at a cantilever suspended 48mt above the Huon river giving you a breathtaking view of the Picton and Huon rivers below, and the beautiful forest around you, as you are at the side of a hill the way off the air walk is a mere 50 or 60 meters away. We chose to go back via the suspended bridge walk, Brenda said if she could do the air walk the swinging bridges would be OK, and the one hour walk took us through beautiful rain forest among fantastic trees, ferns and grasses. Tall trees, small shrubs and long dead fallen trees now giving life to moss, lichens and fungi, the sights, sounds of birds and the stillness and the smell of the forest are things that will stay in the mind for a long time to come, then we came to the first of the bridges 10mt above the river, as Brenda approached it I had visions of the heroine, in Indiana Jones coming to the old rope bridge with broken rotting planks and spinning on her heels saying “you’ve got to be joking”, but in the spirit of the moment she said don’t ask me to turn around and smile so you can take a picture, I am not stopping” and with that started to cross the steel cabled, steel planked bridge and didn’t look back till she was across, the second longer, bridge a further 100 meters away was crossed with as much ease, though be it with a little more apprehensiveness.
We strolled back to the visitor centre, almost in a daze, entranced and intoxicated by the spirit of the forest, had some lunch and left this magical place. On the way back we stopped in at the look in, lookout, where the remnants of logging are to be seen including some old machinery, tools cables, and stumps of once majestic trees as we had just seen, an open air museum, you could say, also at another lookout and at the Big Tree, the biggest tree in Australia, it is also a Eucalyptus Regnans, stands 87 meters tall and is 6.7 meters in diameter at the base, it is estimated to be over 200 years old and weigh 405 tonnes, more than twice the weight of a blue whale, and though dying is the largest living thing on earth.
We went back to the van, tomorrow we will move on, further south where we will rest for 2 days.

Friday 20th
Overcast again, we packed up and I was just saying “see ya” to Heinz. Another traveller we’ve met up with twice, when a guy comes over to Brenda and says I’ve just come over to introduce myself “Hi, I’m Luke, You must be Brenda, I’ve read your blog, where’s Kia”, he had seen our van yesterday and had come over but we were out and he came back especially to say “Hi”, through the forum had seen our blog of the 07 trip to Perth, and said he couldn’t put it down, loved it, and just had to come over, it was actually quite a thrill to have a stranger come over and say he had enjoyed the blog.
We left feeling quite good and headed south, the two or three towns still left on the map are nice little towns with not too much to see other than lovely scenery but we have come down here to rest and we just went on through and only stopped at Hastings caves and Thermal springs and pool, not for the caves as we have already seen quite a number of caves, not only here but on the mainland as well, with memories of the thermal springs up north, we went in with great expectations, the ranger at the front desk where we bought our $5 tickets (springs and pool only) told us that unlike up north these are not hot springs but warm “just slightly warmer than a heated pool” she says, so down grade the expectations from Douglas hot springs to say Berry springs in Darwin, still worth it, I suppose. We were expecting a natural pool surrounded by natural park setting, like Berry thermal springs but when we got to the pool it was just that a swimming pool, surrounded by a lawn, and a couple of people in it, but then a sign, warm spring ½ hour return, this way, so we followed it through a swamp forest, eagerly waiting to feel the warm water washing over us, enriching our skin with it’s minerals, leaving it soft and silky smooth, then we get to this little place where you can dip your foot in the water where it comes out of the ground to feel the temperature,!!!!!!! I don’t know where this bird had been to a heated pool that was “Just slightly cooler than this” but it certainly wasn’t the “heated” pool temperature I expected, a little further down the track you come to the junction where warm and cold creeks meet where you can “feel” the difference, there wasn’t any, are they nuts? !!!!! For the first time since arriving on this beautiful island we were extremely disappointed, we walked back to the pool area, at least this side of the walk was through a rain forest setting with the creek running through, the pool was a little warmer than the creek and I think that was only because the sun was out, so we got in, still NOT slightly warmer than a heated pool, had a quick splash about, made use of the shower facilities and left feeling ripped off.
We went on down the track and that is all it is now the road is replaced by a dirt road still OK for 2WD, made our way through Ida Bay, and Catamaran, two little communities by the waters edge by this time the road has down graded to a track but slow is still ok for the car and van, dogging the potholes, to arrive at Cockle creek campground, nothing around for miles but other campers, National park and nothing to have to do for 2 days.

Saturday 21st
As we arrived yesterday we passed at least 4 places where you could park a van, one had space for only one van, others could fit in a number and were full, when we got to where we parked there was room for at least 12, only 4 were there, so we set up, by the evening 2 others had come and we were still not crowded, most seem to be Tasmanians, this is a great fishing spot (if you have a boat) and also a Cray fishing area. This morning, after a lazy start, we decided to go for a walk to the end of the park where there is a whale sculpture, I was wrong there’s not, nothing around for miles, there are 6 or 8 private residences here, as we were not yet on National Park land, it was at least 1km before we reached the boundary of the park and lots more camping spots, then in the park not only more camp spots but also a couple of private homes, it was yet another kilometre before we reached the furthest point south you can drive on in Australia, and another 100m to the sculpture of a life sized 3 month old southern right whale, as a reminder that whaling used to go on in theses waters, it was a lovely place to visit. On the way back it started raining, and though it had threatened all morning we were not prepared and got soaked before making it to the van, but we just changed snuggled under the covers turned the heater on and warmed up. The weather has been overcast for the last 5 days with the sun breaking through for about 50% of the time or more and temperatures around the 20 mark, but today started out cold enough to have to run the heater for about an hour and hasn’t improved all that much, with rain, on and off, most of the day, at the ranger station for the park, there is some information on the place including rain fall, it says that it rains here on average 212 days of the year but since we are here to do nothing it worked out fine and we have just lazed around or read most of the time.

Sunday 22nd
We were well rested, packed up and on our way by 9 am, back tracked to Huonville, did some shopping, got some lunch and fuel, then headed down the other side of the river looking for a place to stay tonight, stopped at Cygnet where there is a caravan park, mentioned in Camps 4, so should be under $20 a night, get there and, other than a toilet block right up at one end, it has less to offer than a free camp, a few cement pads that only give you enough room to squeeze in, power, a bit of half dead grass, overlooking a dry mud creek and the back end of the footy club, for this they want 25 bucks a night, we decide we’re better off in a free camp and head towards Gordon, we’ve got water and a porta loo, all we really need is a shower, we’ll just have a sink wash tonight. On the way we drove passed a lookout overlooking the Huon river and valley so stopped about a kilometre up the road and walked back to get a couple of pickies, the drive on this side of the river is nice, with lots of orchards, stone fruit and apples, the apple orchards look similar to the vineyards around home, just taller, as the trees are espalier, all mixed in with natural bushland and a few communities thrown in, makes for a pleasant drive, of course it is still hilly but not steep, we are in no hurry and drive at 60 -80kph, moving out of the way when possible to let other traffic through, and arrive at Gordon at about 4.30, it is a pleasant little seaside town, have only seen ½ of it so far, and has a free camp on the foreshore just next to the jetty and boat ramp with toilets close by, lovely grassed areas, tall gum trees and a view across the bay to Bruny Island and there are 7 other vans and motor homes here, the sun has been shining all day and has been quite warm, unfortunately now, a lazy wind is blowing fiercely from the east and is as cold as ice, it’s so lazy it doesn’t bother going around, it goes straight through you, out of the wind though it is quite nice and I set up the Choofer and light it, to cook tea, for those of you who don’t know what a choofer is, it is a stove/oven/BBQ I made from an old 9kg gas bottle (if you want a full description and photos, look at that is the caravan and motorhome magazine website, go to the forum, and look under bright ideas, search for the entry “CHOOFERS” by Frank and Brenda) once it got up to heat I put in some marinated chicken mini drumsticks, wrapped in foil, and put the lid on, while that was cooking I got the flan base we had bought today made some thick custard, put it on with some tinned apples, and fresh blackberries I picked yesterday, covered that in foil, and got the vegies ready, while we had tea, I put the pie in the choofer and 40 minutes later desert was ready, it’s just as well we’re doing a lot of walking isn’t it, while we are having desert the water bucket is on the choofer to heat the water for the dishes and our wash, after having a chat by the camp fire with the other campers, we settled in to watch a movie.

Monday 23rd
Adam’s birthday today, it’s great to be here but it would be nice to say Happy Birthday to our son personally; we’ll have to ring him later. After the cold wind last night I woke at 6.30 to a calm, sunny morning, with a fisherman bringing his boat in, he had gone out at 5.20, after making a coffee and turning on the laptop, I went out to see him, and he only had 2 cod, not much for leaving a net out all night! I also spoke to one of the campers, he is from New Zealand and came here to Tassie for a 2 month holiday, 2 years ago, and still hasn’t been all the way around yet, he mainly goes to places where there’s fishing and stays up to a month. Anyway we were on the road by 930 and headed for Keetering, to catch the ferry to Bruny Island. The drive through here is very pleasant again, winding it’s way along the coast through 2 little villages, one with the houses built right on the narrow foot path and the streets too were so narrow, giving you the impression you are about to drive right into the house, the plan of this place hasn’t changed from the days of horse and cart, still a few orchards dotted in and out, the ever present blackberry bushes and all along this road people have put scarecrows in their front yards some elaborately dressed, male and female and even a family in one place, makes the drive more interesting and gives passengers something to look out for, though it is only about 30km. We got there just as the ferry was coming in, we went to the terminal to check out the cost, unlike the Kangaroo Island ferry, they do not require you to sell your first born, it was only $44 return, so booked on, 11am departure, 15 minutes later were on Bruny and we drove straight to the south Island, through “The neck” a narrow bit of land connecting the north and south, about 100mt at it’s narrowest point, we checked out a free camp a bit further up, it is 100mt from the beach, about the same to the road, with another 50 to the other beach, just over a slight rise, well sheltered from the sea breeze which is blowing through the top of the trees about 5mt above us, in the middle of scrub land with about 30 places for vans spread on an area about the size of a footy oval, a couple of loos and some picnic tables dotted around complete the setting, this’ll do us for a couple of nights, we went into Adventure cove, the first town, and filled up with water at the shop, where the council has installed a line for campers to fill up for $2, then back to choose our spot, unhitched, got the choofer going with a full bucket of water on it, and 40 minutes later it was boiling, had the shower tent up and ready and we both enjoyed a nice shower, before having lunch then going back into town with some sight seeing on the way, the beaches here range from mud flats to pale yellow sand to sand so white you need your sunnies to look at it, the coast line from beach to rugged cliffs and from plains to mountains, not bad for an island 70 km long and 30km at its widest, we’ll look around more tomorrow, for now we went back to camp, for an early tea, fried lamb back straps and pasta cooked on the choofer with strawberries and blueberries in champagne jelly with double thick cream, for dessert, bought from a local strawberry farm, (note to self, extra walking tomorrow), and settled into a movie, just as it was finishing we heard the rumble of distant thunder and by the time I had put the generator away we were in a full blown thunder storm, heavy rain and even hail, haven’t had a storm like that for years, it was pitch black outside, and when the lightning flashed the trees were silhouetted against a white sky, it was beautiful, though we didn’t get to sleep till late as it went on for about 2 hours.

Tuesday 24th
We left the van in the camp and headed off to see Bruny Island, our first stop was the history room in Alonnah, the island only has 600 inhabitants, so all towns here are small, this one has the police station, school, medical centre and a few houses some of which have escaped what ever building code may exist but at least they can call it home, and a post office, where the history room is situated, it is about the size of a 4 car garage and has all the history on the island, and was very interesting, I did find out though that there are 3 ways to spell Bruny with a Y, an I and an E with a ^ above it, when I asked the girl at the post office why there were 3 spellings for Bruny and spelled them out, I didn’t get a chance to finish my sentence when she said, gruffly, “We spell it B,r,u,n,Y that’s the way it’s spelled, I don’t know about the others” Maybe we should have come on a week end when the place is run by volunteers! We finished there and went on through Lunawanna, another small town a few kilometres away, this one is houses only and spread out over about 2.5 km, then headed towards south Bruny national park and the light house, 85% of roads here are dirt and mostly well maintained, 60kph is quite OK and 80 wouldn’t be out of the question, you do notice however as soon as you get into national park that they deteriorate, when they charge $20 per car to get in you’d think the roads would be better kept, still at 40kph they are mostly Ok and a good obstacle course, the views from the light house were great, it was quite a climb up there, not many steps but steep, still nice opportunity for more photos to be added to the collection, back to Adventure bay, and a look at the Bligh museum, another small, place about the same size as the history room, BUT, with a very informative person there who told us that Bruni D’Entrecasteaux was a French naval officer whom the town and the straight between here and Tassie take their names from, Brune with a ^ is a French spelling, but he was not sure where it fitted in and finally Bruny is how it has been spelled since the early 1900’s, this too was very interesting, with all the naval history of Bligh, Cook and French sailors, we then went back to “the neck” and up to the lookout, we made the 238 step climb, in 3 goes, and the 360 view was fantastic, back to the van and packed up ready to go tomorrow, had a cuppa then out again, to get a look at some white wallabies, there are a couple of places these can be seen and there are lots of postcards available but I wanted my own photos, the place we were told we would be most likely to see them turned out hopeless, but the other, a drive out to a nature walk, revealed 3 of them, they are part of the wild, usually brown paddymelon wallaby population but there are a number of pure white ones here, they are rare but we were lucky enough to see some and get photos, happy with a full day, we went back to camp by 7.30 for a late tea of left over’s, and a good nights sleep.

Wednesday 25th
Way too much yesterday, climbing up to the light house and the lookout plus a long day has done Brenda’s back in, she wanted to get back to Hobart today so we could contact her doctor as we are out of range here, but she can’t get out of bed, we’ll just have to manage her pain as best we can, head off tomorrow back into Hobart and contact him from there, so we just stay put. While Brenda read I gathered some wood for the fire and made some bread, we are still “experimenting” with the choofer this is the second loaf I’ve made in it, and it came out not fully cooked in the middle, not enough heat beads so I added some wood, woops, too much and it burnt at the bottom, BUGGER, I’ll get it right yet, still cut off the burnt bits, add a bit of butter, yuuuum, in the afternoon we watched some movies and I had plenty of time to prepare some tea, so, after getting the choofer going and putting a bucket of water on the heat, I wrapped some chicken in alfoil with some pepper, soy marinade, tomato paste and a splash of red wine, Brenda doesn’t like wine so it was only a splash, put that in the baking tin put our last few fresh carrots on top wrapped the lot in alfoil and put that in the choofer, over the coals, 45 minutes later it was a fine meal with peas and mashed spud, the dishes and ablutions were done with the hot water from the bucket and another movie before sleep.

Thursday 26th
We headed to north Bruny around 10, we haven’t seen any of this end, except for the road south and I was told that there are nice little places to visit, but who ever it was should have elaborated. We went to Dennes point first, it is only a small fishing village and we didn’t even see a shop, sure it is nice but in all honesty not worth the 14km drive on fine gravel roads that fell like you’re going to slip off them at the first of many, many sharp turns, where the road narrows to less a width than it already is, plus the climb over the hill and down the other side, I must say there was a lovely view of mainland Tassie from the top, we went back through Kilora, which was an even smaller village, and after that didn’t even bother with Barnes bay and headed for the ferry, Our trip to Bruny Island was a little disappointing, the positives were, most of the people we dealt with, especially at the general store in adventure bay were really nice, the white wallabies, lighthouse, beaches, and the free camp where we were, but there is not much to do and although there are many beautiful spots we felt that we wouldn’t have missed out on much if we hadn’t gone there, the drive from Huonville to there, on the island and back to Hobart cost us a full tank of fuel + the $44 for the ferry, really wasn’t worth the trip, back on Tassie by 12 and headed straight to the Hobart show grounds to do some washing, and settled in for the night.

Friday 27th
We have a few things to do today, get a gas bottle filled and replace the regulator, the one I had fixed in Curtain springs on our last trip, has started leaking, there is just a faint smell of gas near the front of the van but, enough to be a concern. We went into town to catch up with Ivan, from the forum, and get on the “Red Decker” with him, unfortunately it’s his day off but we got his phone number and address and will visit him this arvo, while in town we went to a couple of places we hadn’t seen, such as Salamanca square, and a NZ navy ship at the dock, then we went hunting around for the regulator and fittings finally at the 3rd attempt, success plus a decent fly screen for the van door, by this time it was 2.30 and we went to Ivan’s for a cuppa where he an his wife Christine. made us very welcome, caught up on things caravanning and buses, while the ladies spoke about families and Christine’s first grandson. We were going to leave the camp today but it was getting late and by the time we got back, fixed the regulator and filled up with water, it was a bit late plus, someone was parked a bit too close in front of us, due to access to the power, so we decided to stay till tomorrow, had a good chat and a couple of glasses of red with a few of the neighbours while Brenda read, and then decided not to cook but went out to tea, nothing fancy, just KFC, then back for a shower and settled with a movie.

Saturday 28th
When Brenda woke up this morning she was in a lot of pain, she had contacted her specialist yesterday because of the increasing pain and he said that we should go to the hospital, so we thought it would be the best thing we were there by 10 and came out at 3.15 with the doctor having given Brenda a fair bit of pain relief, and telling us we should stay put till at least tomorrow and if the pain hasn’t settled to come and get a script filled, at the hospital on Monday. We went back to camp agreeing with the doctor and wait till the morning, see what happens, if Brenda is better we’ll move to a camp by the beach, about 80km away.

Sunday 1st March
We’ve now been in Tassie 4 weeks, and other than this set back with Brenda’s health it’s been great. Brenda is felling better this morning, though still in pain we know she’ll be OK with some rest, we can’t stay here, even at only $17 night so we are pushing on to find a free camp somewhere on the east coast, between Triabunna and Swansea, mindful of Brenda’s back we won’t travel for long periods, luckily in Tassie you only have to travel 15 – 20 minutes and you’re in the next town, we left Hobart show grounds right on 10 and by 10.20 we were at the botanical gardens, where there is a hot spot and I sent some emails, on to Sorell, there was a market, so used that as an excuse to get out of the car and walk around, it was now 1.30 so onward north. Drove past an old church in Buckland and decided to turn around and go back for a look, it is an Anglican church built in 1846, has a wall surrounding the grounds and cemetery as was done back then, the head stones in a way tell the history of the town, where whole families are buried, one where the mother had mourned the passing of her 2 children at the ages of a few months, the other at 2 a few years later, then her husband at 36, herself passing at 86 in the 1900’s, there were many graves of children and young people dating back to the 1840’s, a testament to the harsh life of Australia’s pioneers, we left Buckland, sad in a way, but in touch with the history of early life in Australia.
The road here is the same as everywhere else in Tassie windy and hilly, not bad mind you but up and down all the same, there are many places in Tassie, and this road is no different, where you wind and twist and turn, then, come across a “windy road next X km” sign, ???? We have come to realise that when we see that sign with its squiggly line, all it means is that the road is windier than usual. Now the road is cut into the side of the hill and follows a river, and it is windy! We stopped next in Orford for a stroll along the edge of the river, and to have afternoon tea then to Triabunna, drove around and it seems a nice little place, we spotted 2 vans and a motorhome by the river so went and had a look, apparently the caravan park is full and this is the overflow park where we can stay for a couple of days, we have travelled all of 86km today it’s 3.30 and this’ll do us till Wednesday, chose a spot and set up, had a chat with the “neighbours” one couple, Jeff and Barb, is originally from Salisbury in SA and had relies living in Aldinga, turns out they are people we know well, small world ain’t it?

Monday 2nd
We woke up to a cold day with showers today just as well we had planned a day of rest, Brenda has read most of the day, the only thing we did was take a walk into town for about 1hour, during a break in the weather, we even wore our dryza-bones it was that cold, and bought some lunch at the fish van, fresh fish off the boat and chips. The town was established in the early 1830’s and a few houses and the pub remain, great old buildings, the houses remind me a lot of the miners cottages in Burra, SA, not much to do here but worth stopping at for a look around, take a break and buy some lunch at a number of places available, though not advertised, this is an RV friendly town, there is a dump point and even though there is a caravan park, there are 2 areas where you can camp, though be it unofficially, behind the pub and across the river where we are, went back to the van and cooked the bread I had prepared before leaving, I did some fishing in the afternoon, caught and released a few small flathead, and just had a relaxing day.

Tuesday 3rd
Woke up this morning at 5 am when we were hit with a wind storm, the van rocked so much I though it was going to roll over and the wind didn’t ease all day. With Brenda, not 100% but better, we headed off at about 10 and slowly made our way to Swansea in a head wind, the scenery trough here has become a bit more changeable, where as before it has remained fairly well the same for the day, today we have gone from open pasture to cliff line, to forest to beaches and has made it more interesting, and with the ever present windy, hilly roads. Our first stop in Swansea was to call in on Stewart and Helen, people who had been in the campsite on Bruny island and had invited us to call in and have a cuppa, we spent about ½ an hour enjoying their hospitality, then into went Swansea to have a look around, it is a nice little sea side town, which survives mainly on logging and a walnut industry, had some lunch in the van and headed off to Freycinet National Park and a little camp site called River and Rocks, this one reminds us of the camps in NT, it is 150mt long and about 60 wide, has little nooks all over the place to fit about 30 vans, sandy soil, gum trees and lots of birds, it is situated at the edge of Moulting lagoon game reserve, we set up the van and after a rest, went for a walk along the beach where the many birds of the lagoon including black swans and cormorants are gracefully gliding in the shallows, it is still overcast but the wind has calmed to almost nothing and the air has warmed to become an almost perfect day, when we got back to the van, I set up the choofer warmed a bucket of water and we both enjoyed a bush shower before cooking tea and settling for the evening.

Wednesday 4th
When we woke this morning the sun was shinning, not a cloud in sight but the wind was blowing a gale keeping the temperature low, we left the van in the camp and went into Coles bay, it is a small town of maybe 100 people in a small bay surrounded by huge granite mountains and it is the gateway to the Freycinet national park, with the sun shining the water in the bay was a lovely blue and the wind was blowing up white caps everywhere, with the mountain back drop there were great photo opportunities which were not missed, a quick look around town, then into the park, the info we got was that there is a walk up to and around the light house, where you can catch sight of wineglass bay, another to sleepy bay, which are both easy and about 20 minutes return, but the one with the best vantage point for wineglass bay, the most famous bay in Tassie, is about 1 and a ½ hours return, steep in places and has 300 steps, after Brenda’s incident last week we though it wise not to try the big walk and started with the lighthouse lookout, is was a nice drive out there surrounded by gum and Banksia trees quite thick scrub in some places, all of it on solid pink granite mountains, which is in places bleached almost white by the sun, others stained black by rain, all making a wondrous natural canvas backed by a beautiful blue sky with wispy white clouds, the lookout was even more spectacular with the cliff dropping to meet the sea 80 meters below us and stretching off to our left in a rugged granite coastline, to reveal the pure white sands of wineglass bay about 2 km away, coming out into Thouin bay again to reach out to Cape Forestier and lemon rock, to our right to Cape Lodi way off in the distance, in front of us the open ocean which was wisped up into white caps by the winds and the sluggish waves crashing onto the cliffs below us with a force that shook the ground and stirred a white froth into the water which lasted till the next wave a minute later, this was turning out to be a great day, next we stopped at Sleepy bay about 2 km from the lighthouse, the walk from the car park to the first landing is easy with a dozen long steps each taking 4 or 5 paces to complete, brings you to a lookout over a small rocky bay with the coastline of red stained granite boulders stretching from the right, the sand in the bay, which stays submerged even at low tide, is the same pure white as that of wineglass bay, and gives the ocean the most amazing azure blue colour, we have ever seen, stretching to the blue and aqua of the open sea, after a time we left this lovely sight to continue on the walk to Sleepy bay, it follows the coast along the forest with all it’s sight and sounds, up and down granite steps to a fantastic little bay all made of granite, even what looked to be sand from above, turns out to be small particles of granite and not one grain of sand, after a few more photos we headed back, to stop and look again at that wondrous azure sea. On the way to the end of the road where the walk to wineglass bay starts, we also stopped in at Honeymoon Bay, not famous for anything, but worth stopping at, it is a tiny mushroom shaped bay also of granite “sand” only about 30mt wide with what looked to be a treacherous rip, it is a day area with toilets and a few picnic tables, we then went on to the end of the road, but other than beautiful mountains nothing else was to be seen, we left thinking we may be back tomorrow to do the longer walk, we’ll have to see how we are. We went back into Coles bay for lunch where I finally tried a scallop pie, it was good but $6.90 for a pie with 2 scallops and a lot of sauce, I won’t be having another one, then back to the van for a relaxing afternoon.

Thursday 5th
Brenda isn’t up to a walk with steps so we decide to move on, pack up say “see ya” to Jeff and Barb, who had made it here last night and hit the road by 10.15, there is a strong wind today, again, from the north-west and bounces the van around a bit so, slow going for 15km till we turn towards Bicheno and a tail wind, it’s hard to understand that this area is under water restrictions, stage 3 critical where we just left, stage 2 where we are now 40km up the coast, and all the paddocks have green grass, some would be the envy of lawn owners in SA, the countryside changes from coastal scrub to forest to open pasture with little communities dotted here and there, with the ever present coast we’re hugging all the way, makes for a pleasant drive, after a leg stretch stop ½ way, we arrive in Bicheno an hour later, and decide to walk around a while it is a pleasant town larger than Swansea and spread out a fair way, lots of beaches with lovely white sand, mixed with others of solid granite, one with a blowhole, which of course we visit, as well as a few other things, such as the Lions park near the beach which has a merchant navy memorial and the grave of Waubadebar an Aboriginal lady who died in 1838 at the age of 40, the grave and headstone erected by “some of her white friends” something unusual for the day, after getting some gas and water we headed off to St Helens, the northernmost town on the east coast, on the way stopping in a roadside stop for lunch, where we met up with a mother and son, touring together from QLD who were beside us at Cockle creek, not long after as we were driving Brenda jumped and yelled, neither of us mind spiders but when you suddenly see a huntsman the size of a bread and butter plate on your lap it does give you a start, little bugger must have jumped in for a ride a the last pit stop, so pulled over and Brenda brushed him off to be on his merry way and us on ours. St Helens is bigger again than Bicheno, and looks to be a nice town we have only stopped to get some info on the place, directions and get a coupe of things, we’ll come back after setting up camp, we drove to the first of 8 camps this side of town and 8k from town, there is room for about 30 RV’s but only 4 here at present so chose a nice little nook by the bay, well sheltered from the wind and set up, after Brenda had a rest and me a long awaited coffee, we went back into town to have a hot shower, which the town provides, FREE, for tourist, man the mainland and especially SA could learn a lot from Tassie, and do some washing, but got to the Laundromat too late, went back to camp, did some of the washing in our little machine and will do towels and linen in town tomorrow when we come back to sight see.

Friday 6th
The water hose I used when we filled up in Bicheno, had tainted water in it and gave the whole tank a funny taste so, the first job this morning, after throwing out the hose, was to empty the tank and rinse it with the water from the jerry can we carry, then went into town to do the washing and look around town. The weather today has cleared to leave nothing but blue skies, light breezes and a warm, 18 or so degrees. St Helens is quite a big town, full of life and tourists with lots of shops, boutiques, cafes and a lovely wharf, where preparations are on the way for a game fishing event this long weekend, after an hour we headed off, filled the jerry can and a 20lt bucket we have, to refill the tank in the van, luckily we are only 8km out of town , we could have had a couple of days of bad tasting food and coffee, we then headed off in the other direction and started in Binalong bay, a small community where the only things for the tourist is a dive shop and a restaurant but, the beaches here are also of pure white sand and with today’s blue skies, giving the sea that amazing azure blue colour, that most of us, think only exists in photographs of deserted tropical islands, we watched and took photos from all possible angles trying to capture the colour, it was amazing to see the colour change from the pure white sand to a pale blue as the clear water lapped at the beach through the whole range of blues to navy and finally midnight blue as it went out into the open ocean, with the white breaks made for the most amazing sight to behold, we just drove on to all the many little coves in town, so that we wouldn’t miss this lovely sight, at one we met a touring couple from Bendigo, in Victoria, and when they asked where we were from, they said they had friends in Aldinga, as it turns out their friends are our son’s best friend’s grandparents, who we know well, what a small world. From there we went to “the Bay of fires” so named after an English Captain, in the late 1700’s, saw many Aboriginal camp fires in the bay, there is nothing much to do out here, other than fish and look at the spectacular scenery of rugged coastline, granite outcrops and pure white sandy beaches, there are a further 7 camps out here, mostly small ones, which seem to be well used, as there are a number of people setting up for the long weekend, with the peace and quiet here and the scenery, I can see why.

Saturday 7th
A day of rest today, After a busy day yesterday, Brenda is sore so we need to regroup so that she doesn’t get into unmanageable pain, so did nothing much till about 11 then went into town, had a shower and bought some orange juice, on the way home spotted some oysters on rocks, and thought they’d be a nice entrée, only got ten but they were the size of my hand, back to the van had lunch and stayed put, the weather is still perfect and it was good to have a siesta day.

Sunday 8th
Brenda has recovered well, so we packed camp and took the van into St Helens, filled up with water and had a shower before leaving, the drive today has been very changeable, as we headed away from the coast, back into forest at first, just 20 minutes out of town there was a brick-a-brack store, advertised as the “best in Tasmania” and called “The store in the bush” a nice looking building made of timber planks and it looked like an old general store, unlike other brick-a brack stores it wasn’t messy and dusty but very clean and orderly, filled with old wares, jewellery, souvenirs, and Tasmanian timber bowls, clocks and the like, it was also the cheapest we have seen in Tassie, it was a great shop and by the time we left there was hardly any room to move for customers, we then went on through into farming land over windy mountains of forest and into beautiful valleys of lush green pastures with farmhouses dotted here and there, every mountain brought more forest and each got higher and windier, each valley was greener and lusher, then we got back into high mountain rain forest with all it’s ferns, tree ferns, lichen, moss and tall trees, till we came upon Weldborough pass rain forest walk, just a small car park on either side of the road and a 15 minute walk into the forest, it was time for a break and a walk so out we got, well it was like stepping back in time about 2 million years, other than the traffic noise, which was muffled by the forest, we could have had been transported back in time, huge fallen trees covered in moss, gigantic tree ferns filling the forest their fronds making a natural canopy trying to block out the sun so that other ferns and moss could live in their shadow, insects scurrying to get out of your way birds calling to each other as if to warn of our intrusion into their world, and magnificent tall trees including some awesome, huge old myrtles which have to be hundreds of years old, one at least 5 meters in diameter at the base where the earth has eroded and left a twisted mess of huge roots, entangled like tentacles, with holes, nooks and crannies, all over it, which look like the holes of some prehistoric insects which you expect to come out at you in defiance of you intrusion, all along this path, little interpretive signs tell of the evolution of the earth, from Gondwana land the present continents, but still at any time you expect to see a dinosaur lurking in the shadows as you are entranced by this magical place, it was only a 15 minute easy walk but as we just strolled along imbibing the atmosphere it felt like we had spent half a day in there and it was almost sad to leave, back on our journey in the present time leaving the lurking dinosaurs for the next visitors, we still drove through rain forest, for quite some time, interspersed with open pasture at one of the bends in the road there was a possum sitting at the edge and he hardly moved when we went passed so we stopped and went back, his nose was level with the edge of the road, on an inside corner where most vehicles cut the corner as we approached him he hardly moved and I could see him bleeding from the nose, I tried to move him with gently with my foot but he was very sore and only turned around, so I gently stroked his back and tried to grab the skin behind his neck, but he moved, by this time Brenda had been slowing traffic and stopped one couple, the man had gotten out of the car and said be careful he’ll spin around and bite, though I doubted the poor animal was capable of spinning, I grabbed a stick and with he other guys help we slowly pushed the possum back to the edge of the bush, where after a couple of minutes he had gathered his bearings and wondered off into it’s safety, we continued our journey hoping the little fella would recover from his ordeal. We had one more place to visit today and that was a lavender farm, one of the biggest in Tassie, and bought some oil for my sister, who had been here last year and needed more, then onto Lilydale falls where we camped for the night.

Monday 9th
We woke early today as the 3 couples in the rooftop campers who were here last night, are packing up, so we had breakfast, cleaned up and started the day with a walk to Lilydale falls, only a 10 minute walk and not much water running, but nice little falls all the same and the walk past some stringy bark gums over 50 meters tall and beaut tree ferns, was enjoyable, back to camp hitched up and into Lilydale, to pay for the camp site, not all are free some have a small charge, this one $6, there are toilets and showers available so, the council charges, not everybody pays, the 3 with the rooftop campers didn’t stop, but you try to do the right thing, then another 22km to Launceston, fuelled up and on towards Devonport, we were going to go to Strahan, through the inland highway over the central tableland but we were told it is very windy and hilly, Brenda’s back doesn’t need that right now and they were also expecting snow up that way a couple of days ago, and we don’t need that right now, besides we don’t have chains, and the 3rd reason Bert and Anneke, whom we had met on our trip in 2007, arrived in Tassie last night and we want to catch up with them, the road to Devonport and then on to Bernie, where we caught up with them, is a good highway with not many twists or hills so we were there in 1 and ¾ hours. We spent about ½ an hour at the information bay with them, then moved on to Cooee point the camp where we had stayed 4 weeks ago and both set up there before spending the rest of the afternoon with them.

Tuesday 10th
Another quiet day, started at about 10 and went to national paper with Bert and Anneke, we hadn’t been there when Mum was here, but the tour doesn’t start till 2 PM so, onto Creative paper with all the paper people and so on, onto Cheese tasting, then after that some shopping and back to the van to get some sturdy shoes on for the national paper tour, as there are about 300 steps on the tour and the floor can be uneven Brenda opted out and stayed in the van to rest, if you, like me, use Reflex paper win your printer, this is the factory that makes it, cuts it and packs it, the tour takes you right through the paper making process and I still can’t work out how a sheet of paper, at the beginning of the process when it is 85% water, can travel in the air from one roller 4 or 5 feet to the other and not disintegrate, right to where it is either rolled in 20km long sheets and plastic wrapped to be sent anywhere in Australia or to one of many destinations world wide to be processed there, or to be cut up here and made into fine quality printing paper for use the world over, it is a free tour which was quite informative and interesting, from there we went back to the van, and spent an easy afternoon,

Wednesday 11th March
I needed to go to a doctor today to get a script, the closest clinic is the hospital so went there and as they were busy, asked if there was another clinic or surgery close by and they said no so, waited for about 2 hours got the script and went to the pharmacy where we waited for another hour and a half, the doctor had only given me a 7 day script, boy was I miffed, the only good thing about this whole visit was that they also filled the script Brenda had been given in Hobart, with half a day wasted there was not much to do and it was too late to head off to Stanley so cleaned up the van and had a down day, went into Bernie and asked at a chemist if we had a script sent from Adelaide, could they fill it and we’d pick it up in a few days, “yes, but there’s a surgery just 200mt from here, you’d be able to see a doctor there” I’m sure the blood pressure rising was visible in my face, got the address and went there, we were asked to come back at 5.30 so wasted more time in Bernie and also sent emails, went to the doctor, filled the script and on the way out met Bert and Anneke who were on their way to the RSL for tea so we joined them, had a good meal, with good company and went back to the van to settle for the night, other than dinner it was a wasted day, and only for one script, BUGGER!

Thursday 12th
With all the mucking around done with yesterday, we were able to head off to Stanley but not before having a shower, we were going to go into town, where there are free showers but, Bert and Anneke invited us to use theirs, there is water supplied here so it was just a matter of turning on the water heater and done. Feeling refreshed, we headed off only stopping once, going through Wynyard, which is a nice largish town and turning off at Murdering creek Rd, love some of the names around here, to Table cape, a raised plateau with magnificent views of the north western coast, where you can see for miles, and we had a walk to the light house, we’ve actually seen enough of theses but we wanted the walk, during which we saw these beautiful, perfectly formed, orange flowers, and I got a photo of one, mind you I had to pick it and hold it in my fingers to get close enough to see it, it is about 5mm in diameter, most people wouldn’t see it but, because of Brenda’s back we always have to be mindful of where we step, so we are always looking at the ground, which is a good thing because not only do we see lovely flowers but, Brenda has found money at least 20 times since getting to Tassie, it’s quite a joke really because it has been 5 cents every time. We then went on westward to Stanley and we went straight to the wharf, where there is an unofficial free camp and unhitched, then back into town to look around. Stanley is a small town of about 500 people, built on the edge of “The nut”, more about that later, most of the towns original wood and stone buildings, shops and houses, of the 1800 still stand and are beautifully kept and painted in pastel colours with contrasting features, it is one of the most beautiful little towns we have been in and as a testament it has won Tasmania’s tidiest town many times, the people here, as in most of Tasmania, are very friendly, we explored the town and a couple of it’s attractions including the nut, why it is called that, we’re not sure, it doesn’t look like any nut I know, it looks more like a knob of butter but, as Brenda said they couldn’t really call it Stanley’s knob, could they J? Anyway, it is an extinct volcano, where the lava solidified, and over the last 160 million years or so the mountain around it has eroded away and left this almost flat topped, straight sided projection sticking about 80 meters into the air, one side of it isn’t straight up and has a walking track, it has been made of concrete, but after looking at the steepness of the track, realising we had left our climbing gear at home, Bugger, and not having suction cups for hands and feet, double bugger; we though it best to give Brenda ½ a dozen valium and catch the chair lift to the top, the ride was only 5 minutes and Brenda handled it well, there is only about 60 meters where you are about 6-8 meters off the ground, at the top there is a 40 minute walk mostly on level ground which takes you around the top to some amazing 360 degree views of the area, near some Shearwater bird nesting sites, and through a small forested picnic area where small Wallabies run riot, this is a sanctuary where there are a number of different birds, calling and I tried to imitate one of the calls, it is just a whistle in 3 short bursts and a longer one at the end which changes pitch 3 times, I get pretty close to the mark because I, was answered quite a few times. We then went back to the van and a walk along the wharf, what is it about a wharf or jetty that you have to walk on it? Spoke to a few of the fishermen, including a couple we had met at Gordon, before going onto Bruny Island, then I spotted some oysters, climbed down the rock but only one was reachable without ending up in the drink, that one didn’t get away though, picked him and down he went right then and there, well! Brenda knew I eat them raw but had never actually seen me eat one just like that and it turned her stomach, funny when I climbed back up she wouldn’t give me a kiss, it was then time to head back to the van and start thinking about what to get for tea and settle for the evening.

Friday 13th
We were on the way by 10, stopped in at Smithton to have a look around, this is a bigger industrialised town spread out over a fairly large area, did some window shopping and headed for Dismal swamp, another anti-triumph for the name makers as well as Cape grim, the landscape here changes in noticeable slices of grazing land mixed with strands of wild forest, from flat to undulating and suddenly to rain forest where we come to Dismal swamp, it is a sink hole about 50 meters deep, covers an area of 360 hectares and the water that falls into it drains internally, so it is like a huge funnel with the base filled with dirt and the water slowly seeps out through the bottom, leaving a lush fertile, always damp forest, there are 2 ways to get to the swamp floor, the walking track which is a gradual incline to the forest below or the helter skelter slide, where you shoot down 110 meters in 15 or so seconds, with warnings that people with back or neck injuries or with heart problems and high blood pressure shouldn’t go on it, we walked down the 250mt track, at the bottom there is a choice of 3 boardwalks to do, the artists walk, the giants and magic paths, we started with the artists walk where a number of artists are represented with small plaques, explaining how they were inspired by the swamp, including an Aboriginal artists who is inspired by the significance of the swamp to the local people as a living, spiritual place with a heart and soul, though we felt no history attached to it as we did at Uluru or the rock carvings of Dampier, there is also some “swamp creatures” looking like a cross between stick insects and the creature from the black lagoon, which were inspired by the shapes of the swamp, we went on to the giants track where the story is told of the giant marsupials which use to roam this land 50,000 years ago, and there is even a replica of the skeleton of a giant “wombat”, then the magic track, where, among other things, some giant plastic crayfish lurk in a few craters, the swamp depends on the crayfish, which in real life are smaller than a yabby, for survival, these play a vital role in the swamps eco system, they unlike their water cousins, do not like to be too wet and burrow into the swamp floor but build a chimney of mud to climb up when the water level rises, these chimneys are clearly visible, about 80mm at the base 50 at the top 100mm high and have a hole of about 30-40 mm and are all over the swamp floor, I’m not sure if these critters are eatable but, you’d need about 50 of ‘em to make a meal and then you’d spend all night shelling them, the whole thing took a leisurely 2 hours to walk around as we were once again entranced in the magic of the rainforest where, with the help of the skeletons, yabbies and creatures, you expect at anytime to come across huge insects and dinosaurs, one lady did have a bit of a fright when she saw the large plastic spider I’ve had on my hat for a few years, and she looked rather pale when she told me it was there, I told her it was OK and it was trained to stay there, but Brenda did say, the next time I should look frightened and say “Please get it off I’m petrified of spiders” and see what happens. We then took the path back to the real world and with Brenda’s encouragement, not that I needed much, I went back to the bottom in the slide, 14.55 seconds of fun, you can do it 3 times for your money, but after walking up twice, I thought it was enough. We then followed the road south west from Dismal swamp the scenery changes once again, from forest to almost the same as when travelling parts of the Nullarbor, where there is only short bushy vegetation, at Arthur River, we followed the road signs to “The end of the world” a beautiful but, eerie place at the mouth of the river, where the rocks are very jagged and covered in logs which have floated down the river and been “beached” over the 2 or 300mt of beach you can see. After a few photos it was time to head off, the road does continue on where you can do a loop back to Stanley but there are some dirt sections that are slow going and can at time be bone jarring so we backtracked to the camp and fish and chips for tea.

Saturday 14th
The weather was overcast all day yesterday but it was still warm and without wind, this morning it has changed in that, a cold wind is blowing fairly well and the cloud base is that low that the nut is only half visible, apparently we are expecting showers today and tomorrow, but since we are meeting up with our Dutch friends in Bernie and heading to Strahan, we move on, neither of us slept terribly well last night and we were up early, having packed away mostly last night, we were on the road by 9, leaving behind this beautiful little seaside hamlet, we had seen what we could on the way up so headed straight for Wynyard to do some shopping before heading south, while we were there, the skies opened up and didn’t let up for about 15 minutes, we had just put the groceries in the van and got back on the road, when it came down again, within minutes it was coming down in buckets and I had to pull off the road, this went on and off, till we reached Bernie and continued for over an hour, we all decided that travelling in this weather was useless and we would wait a couple of days as it is supposed to ease off, we unhitched and Brenda lay down as the early start caught up with her. After we had some lunch Bert asked if we wanted to go to the axeman’s hall of fame, Brenda wasn’t up to it but insisted I go so, we headed off to Latrobe, leaving Brenda reading, we were home 3 hours later, after a very interesting and informative visit, and the sun was breaking through so we put our washing (which we had been trying to dry all day in the van) on the line, and I prepared tea in the dream pot, we went into town for a free shower, to fuel up and went back for tea and settled in for the night.

Sunday 15th
We woke to a mostly blue sky and hardly any wind so we all decided to chance it and head to a camp somewhere near Cradle mountain, about 50km out of Wynyard we stopped at Hellyer gorge, there is a rest area and a 15 minute walk through the rain forest, as a gorge goes, Hellyer isn’t much, more like an accentuated valley really, nice though and a lovely walk, with the usual ferns and such, to the river, and back to end up near the bridge we had crossed 20 minutes earlier, we were about to head back to the car when Bert noticed a rusting sign on a tree, on the other side of the road, which said, 30 minute bush walk, all wanting a longer walk we started on it, within seconds we were plunged into the magnificence that is the Tasmanian cold climate rain forest, the sun was still shinning and through the canopy was dappling the forest floor with rays of warming light breaking the crispness of the forest air, the path led us over a leafy, moss and fungi covered carpet which sprung under foot and felt as thick as a mattress, the trees, due to the constant dampness were covered in moss, lichen and native orchids which thrive in these conditions, unfortunately it is the wrong time of the year to see these in flower, the fishbone ferns are twice the size here than we have seen anywhere else, the many tree ferns reach12 feet into the air to get some sunlight but they are overshadowed by the myriad of trees growing straight and tall, all fighting to reach the sky first in order to get the most sun, only the Eucalyptus Regnans is the winner and stand 40 to 50 metre into the air spreading it’s regal branches over the forest below, as if protecting it from anything that might fall from above, through most of the walk we could hear the river in the background, hurrying over the rocks, and the many birds in the forest calling as if to announce our presence to one another, in many places, some trees have fallen over, where the ground around it has given way under their weight, but they have kept root so, their branches now grow straight and tall trying to achieve where the trunk failed, the walk was so magical that at any time you expect to wake and realise that it is only a dream into which your mind has transported you. The walk is supposed to be 30 minutes but as we admired every aspect of this amazing place we didn’t get back to the vans for another 50 minutes, we then had a cuppa, reliving the experience, before moving on, as we left the rain started, the next camp area was a mere 30 km further and it was still to early to stop and still raining so, we kept going to a small town called Tullah, and headed to a camp at Tullabardine dam, where we set up the vans. The weather has turned and the cloud base is low, Cradle mountain won’t be visible, we’ll wait and see what tomorrow brings, if it fines up we’ll head there, if not we’ll continue onto Strahan. Later we went for a walk and to take some photos of Lake Mackintosh, talked to some other campers, and as we settled for the night the rain started again and didn’t stop all night.

Monday 16th
With heavy rain all night and the caravan having developed a leak at 5am, necessitating me to go out and put a tarp over the back window, it wasn’t exactly a restful night, when the rain finally stopped at 7am I went out dried things off and fixed the leak, it was just due to the amount of rain, and dust having accumulated in the wrong place that allowed water in, I hope, after breakfast the sky was clearing so, we decided to chance seeing Cradle mountain and headed off in Bert’s car. We got there and an icy wind had picked up, by the time we had a cuppa and caught the bus to Dove lake there was a long enough break in the cloud base that Bert and Anneke were able to get a few photos of the mountain, me too of course, for contrasting shots to those we have of it in sunshine. Brenda said she was OK to do the 2 hour walk around the lake so, in the icy wind and with the threat of rain which we were prepared for, we headed off to glacier rock and beyond, it is an absolutely fabulous walk, where the vegetation seems to change as you walk, the first 500 meters or so, is all low shrubs dotted here and there surrounded by button grass, which looks like Spinifex without the feathery flower head, then it turns to rain forest with it’s dark shady, moist surface covered in moss and lichen, then suddenly to an area with button grass, cutting grass and natives palms, then the cutting grass increases as it turns into swamp forest, back to open vegetation again and all this was before we reached ½ way and mostly on a well constructed boardwalk, by the time we reached the base of the mountain we knew that our 2 hour walk was going to be longer as we were being passed by a lot of walkers some who seemed to be on a foot race, where as we were appreciating our surroundings including the marvellous water falls all over the mountain, at about 2/3rd’s of the way though it was all still beautiful, the well constructed track started to deteriorate along with the weather and within a couple hundred meters had become a goat track with steps and although we were still admiring the beauty around us, our concentration was more on where we walked rather than the scenery, for nearly 400 meters it was tough going and I was really worried for Brenda and I don’t remember much of that part of the walk, as we neared the boathouse the track once again improved and we were able to relax, we finished the walk in 3 hours and I was proud of Brenda’s courage to want to do this, Bert and Anneke also said they admired her for doing such a walk, had we done the walk in the other direction, we would have given up after the first 100mt of bad track, as we saw a group do, assuming that the whole walk would be the same and we would have missed out on the wonderful experience that is the Dove Lake walk, we had a leisurely late lunch, in the hut at the lake then caught the shuttle back to the centre, where we had a warming cuppa before heading for camp, where by the looks of things, there hasn’t been any rain, I put the tarp back over the back window, just in case, while Brenda cooked tea, we then accepted Bert and Anneke’s offer of the use of their shower.

Tuesday 17th
Leisurely we cleaned and hooked up and left camp at 10.20, stopped at Tullah which was built as a Hydro village and, unlike Gowrie Park which was mostly dismantled, Tullah stayed as a town but is not very appealing as the houses are all transportable though they are clean and tidy and the few people we met were friendly, just on the outskirts is the tavern/café/museum, and was very interesting with everything from geology to pictures of the dams in the area from creek stage to completed construction, also on display there was from crochet and needlework to steel framed cardboard aeroplanes made by locals, it was complete with a slide show of photos of the area accompanied by some music on an old 8 track player which any museum would be proud to own. Then it was off to Rosebery, where we stopped to do some shopping and also washing and drying, without a Laundromat in town the caravan park allows travellers to use their facilities, at no charge, except the machines, and also allowed us to fill our water tanks, not on the mainland, Bret and Anneke had to get some info from the net, so stopped in town again as we continued on to Queenstown and the camp for the night, the vegetation around here is the same as most other places in Tassie, wild forest, interspersed with planted forest where revegetation is going on, as well as some patches where the button grass reigns supreme and has choked out everything but the hardiest of trees, then suddenly you see in front of you the mountain which is the backdrop of Queenstown, completely devoid of trees, in this green wilderness it really stands out, then as you come into the town itself the whole area is like that and you feel like you have driven into a black hole and come out into another dimension, after 6 weeks of driving into wild beautiful, green wilderness then to be faced with this scar on the landscape with it’s multitude of colours is quite shocking BUT, with a beauty of it’s own, we took in the sites as we drove on through to the other side in search of our camp site, unfortunately the road winds it’s way up the mountain, with it being devoid of trees, it doesn’t shelter the fact that we are climbing up and away from the town and the higher we climb the more nervous Brenda becomes, finally we break free of the edge of the road and are back on flat ground. We found the turn off for the camp site, quite by accident as there are no signs, just the old bitumen road mentioned in the book, I found an old broken white post on the side of the road, on it put an arrow pointing in the direction and wrote Bert and Anneke, and went to the camp at the edge of Lake Burbury, a beautiful little spot with the closest camper at least ½ a kilometre away and started cooking tea, one hour later, still no sign of our friends, thinking they must have missed our sign, we prepared to spend the night on our own, as night was falling they turned up, thankful for our sign, else they would have missed the turn off, we shared tea and settled for the night.

Wednesday 18th
We left our car at the camp and went with Bert and Anneke into Queenstown, firstly we checked out the steam railway to Strahan and it leaves at 10 and 3 wanting to do the whole trip and not get back too late, we decided to go on it on Friday, we then walked around town for about 2 hours looking around and also booked our boat cruise from Strahan for tomorrow, Queenstown is looks similar to a town in an old western, the shops are mostly old, and with the barren hills in the background, you expect the cavalry to come riding in at any moment, the people, as always in Tassie, are very friendly and when we asked someone about an old building we had seen on the way to town he gave us a history of the place and suggested we call into Gormanston on the way back, we then went to a sawmill, where they literally slice up trees, which was interesting in itself, then as suggested we called into Gormanston, it is 6km out of Queenstown and just 40 years ago was a thriving town but now, only has 9 occupied houses and a few fisherman’s shacks, the place is overrun by rabbits and as we drove around, there was an old lady feeding them, we turned around and Brenda asked if she minded if we talked to her about the town which she was pleased to do, she invited us into her home where she has a number of photos of the town she has lived in for 79 years, since she was one. In it’s hay day there were as many as 1000 people living here, with all the shops they needed, she reminisced of the butcher shop, the baker, and even the haberdashery along with the 2 pubs, supermarket and town hall, yet all that is left of it now is the wide main street with a traffic island in the middle, a few of the other streets and about 18 houses and the ruins of many more, some of which were destroyed in a bush fire 9 years ago, this lady shares the house with her husband and their daughter who appears to be in her forties, when asked why they still live here she answered “it’s our home and it’s all we need, we go into town (Queenstown) twice a week for shopping and that’s it” Bert said have you ever left the island, to which she replied “yes, I went to Melbourne once, but I didn’t like it, to busy” she showed us her backyard full of rabbits before we left, thanking her for her hospitality and having shared some of her life with us, we then went back to camp to settle in for the night.

Thursday 19th
The world heritage, Gordon river cruise leaves Strahan at 9am, as our camp is 1 hour from Strahan, we had to set our alarm clock, for 6.45, for the first time since we are on holidays, just in case I sleep in, Ha I wish, 4.20 I’m awake for an hour then dose on and off till 6. We arrived with our friends just after 8.30 and boarded straight away. From Strahan we headed off towards “Hell’s gates” the entrance to Macquarie harbour, at 90 meters wide and 20 deep the water there is turbulent and very choppy, those who didn’t heed the captains many warnings to hang on to something ended up on their bums, after the calm waters of the harbour it was quite amazing to see the difference, then back into the harbour, stopped at a couple of fish farms to see the operations and feeding of fish and then on to Sarah Island, which was the first and worst penal colony in Tassie, before Pt Arthur, where we got off and had a guided, informative tour of around 1 hour, some chose to walk around on their own but the information given on the tour was fantastic and couldn’t have been gained other ways, then it was on, up into the Gordon river, while we sat for lunch, salads, ham, roast beef, smoked salmon, Tasmanian camembert and tasty cheese, bread rolls with butter, and lots of it, they keep calling you back till it’s all gone, in the Harbour the ship cruised at about 25-30 knots but to reduce the damage caused by the wake we slowed right down in the river, which also gave us time to look at the wildness of the forest on the banks and how, when there is a landslide, the forest revegetates itself, all along the trip the captain, has a commentary where he explains the surroundings, to read the info would take at least 4 hours, to listen to it as it happened was invaluable, as we finished lunch, we arrived at a small landing where we get out and walk into a temperate rain forest, we have been in a few of these including Dismal swamp, but we just don’t get sick of them and their beauty, there is everything here that we have seen before but this time we were shown what a Huon pine looks like, we’ve seen them before but didn’t know what they were, the example we were shown is 50 to 60 years old and about 15cm in diameter, these are so slow growing that they are 500yo before they produce seed, one next to it is about 40mm and around 150- 200yo, they are now a totally protected tree, and if an old one comes floating down the river can only be salvaged by a handful of licensed companies. We then headed back to Strahan, during the trip we went to the bridge and spoke with the captain, who leaves the door open to passengers, the trip cost us $85 per person and was worth every cent of it, in the 6 hour long trip we passed “the other” company’s white ship, twice, on there if you are into sipping champagne, and sitting at the captain’s upper deck you can do so for $195, on our ship all tickets are the same price, and nobody seemed to mind, at he end of the journey all the staff greet you of the vessel, as they drop you off at a Huon pine saw mill on the wharf, where you see a log being sliced in half, and of course there is the inevitable chance to purchase Huon and other timbers, including full sized planks, one is from a salvaged tree which when cut was worked out that is was a seedling in around 200 BC, mind you, you’d have to part nearly 6 grand to own a 7 X 1 meter plank, we walked around town for a short while before heading back to camp, soup and bread for tea and an early night.

Friday 20th
Another early start, we are out of camp at 9 am and on the West coast wilderness railway by 9.45. This train goes from Queenstown to Dubbil Barril with a steam train and Dubbil Barril to Strahan with a diesel, takes you through wonderful rain forest, across 38 bridges and through King river canyon, the trip, though only about 50 km, is a slow journey of 4 and a ½ hours, and has stops along the way at old railway stations, this was originally built to carry logs, freight and passengers between the 2 towns. At Dubbil Barril, both the locomotives are turned around on a manual turntable and finish the journey back to where they came from, with passengers doing the trip in the opposite direction, the steam train is the only one able to do the run to and from Queenstown, as it is an ABT railway, in the centre of the narrow gage track, there is a third rail which has cogs on it, in the centre of the train, operated by the driver, is a cogged wheel which when lowered fits onto the track and assists the train getting up the, 1 in 12, steep hills, without this cog the train wheels wouldn’t get enough grip on the tracks and would only slip, the first stop is at what is left of a small gold mining town, we got out for about ½ an hour to give gold panning a go, we were given a pan and bag of dirt and rocks between 2 people and are shown how to pan for gold, they tell us that the piece we are looking for is about the size of a pin head and worth $20, after about 1 minute the first person called out eureka, as she found her little piece of the shinny stuff, within about 15 minutes as the train whistle blew for us to return, a total of 6 people had found a piece including yours truly, Bert was having a difficult time with his panning and I helped him get to the pay dirt we couldn’t see anything so, Brenda took the pan into the sunshine where straight away found the sparkling piece, happy with our little gold rush, we got back on the train to the next stop where we all tasted some different types of honey and had a walk down to the river, ½ an hour later it was of to Dubbil Barril to swap trains and enjoy the lunch provided, it wasn’t as good as yesterdays, but with a Cornish pasty, a ham cheese and salad roll, a piece of camembert and crackers and an apple each, with 2 chocolate truffles from Anvers chocolates as desert, it was certainly a good meal, then a short walk in the forest to aid the digestion and back on the rain to finish the journey which took us along the king river which was so polluted only just 15 years ago it was a dead river and according to the commentator was the consistency of wet cement, the evidence in the dead banks is still evident but nature is slowly winning back the fight, the river is flowing well and grasses and shrubs are returning. The journey ends at Regatta point in Strahan where a bus is waiting to take you into town, but we chose to walk the 3 km, where we spent an hour walking around, then caught the shuttle bus back to Queenstown where we did a little shopping before returning to camp at 6 o’clock, exactly the same time as yesterday While we were in Strahan, we also called The Spirit of Tasmania to move our departure date forward, the only day available this coming week was Sunday night, Tasmania has such short distances that in one day, though you may only travel 80km, you have gone through 3 or 4 towns and have done a lot of walking and getting in and out of the car, we have been so busy in the last 7 weeks that we are both tired and Brenda’s back can’t cope with too much more so, we have decided to call it a day and finish our wonderful holiday in Tassie, 2 weeks early, head back to Melbourne and spend a week or so there, before making our way to Robe for Easter with the kids.

Saturday 21st
A sad morning as we leave our friends to continue on with their holiday and we return towards Devonport for our trip home, Bert and Anneke, though we have only known them for a few short weeks in the 2 years since we met have become good friends and we will miss them, never know they are coming back to Oz in 2010 we might catch up with them then, we hooked up and had one last cuppa with them before saying goodbye and heading off at 9.30, Bernie is 184km away and with these windy roads it’ll be at least 3 hours travelling, we went down the 5.5km long windy road, with it’s 55 turns including 5 hairpin bends, but by now after 3 days of travelling it Brenda is relaxed and her nails no longer dig into my leg while we are on this stretch, we leave the lunar landscape that is Queenstown behind, this is road already travelled and at 2.30 we arrive at Cooee point free camp, we have now not paid for a site since we left Hobart on the 1st of this month, and set up, then go into town to get the permit to stay here and window shop, we return later for a shower before settling in for the our last night on this beautiful island.

Sunday 22nd
With nowhere to be in a hurry we took things easy this morning and packed up at our leisure, even gave the van and car a quick wash, then we headed off at about 10.45, with one last stop in Ulverstone to have a cuppa with Tess, Craig and Bethany before leaving Tassie, they are coming to South Australia next year some time so we will be able to return the favour, with a place to park the van. We then headed of to Devonport, found a place to park the van and did some window shopping, had some lunch and walked around town for a while, Latrobe is not far at all so we went there for a walk around again and get some business cards for a friend, and on the way back called into Anvers chocolates for afternoon tea and, chocolate tasting of course, quality control only you understand J With about 4 hours left till we board the spirit, we found a nice spot near the beach with a view of bass straight, had a cup of coffee, then a snooze in the warm afternoon sun, cooked some tea as The spirit made it’s way into port, did the dishes and headed off to board the ship, at 8.40 pm our Tasmanian holiday finished as we sailed out of Devonport.

Frank’s epilogue
As with our trip to the NT and WA, Brenda asked me, what was the 10 stand out points of this trip? It’s hard to pick ten, when there are so many beautiful places here, but here goes, in no particular order
1. The one thing that does really stand out no matter where you are in Tassie is the people, everyone is friendly, we have only struck one grumpy person in Tassie and in 7 weeks that’s pretty good odds.
2. Anywhere near the coast is nice but the sands of the east coast, being so stark white, give the ocean a beautiful blue, I think my favourite there, was Binalong bay.
3. I love canyons and there, Leven canyon wins hand down its ruggedness and grandeur cannot be surpassed.
4. the views, with so many hills, or should that be with so few flat spots in Tasmania, no matter where you are there are beautiful views,
5. The Gordon river cruise, with World heritage cruises, that was one 6 hour long adventure filled with beauty.
6. The forests clean, fresh and unspoiled, mostly.
7. The rain forests, notably, Weldborough forest walk which was an amazing experience, and also Dismal swamp.
8. The small towns especially Stanley with its old world charm and beauty.
9. The peace and quiet, where ever you go the people are in no hurry and the noise levels are low, especially when you are by a lake or on a forest walk, sometimes you feel like you could be the only person on earth.
10. the willingness of councils, caravan park owners, tourism operators, the tourism industry and everyone in general, to accept that some people either prefer or chose to free camp and the way they cater and provide for us so much.
Of course it goes without saying, it was absolutely wonderful to catch up with our friends Bert and Anneke and be able to share some of our trip with them, our Tasmanian adventure, was a wonderful happy time for us and we have this log and many photos to reminisce with, but most of all it will stay in our minds and in our hearts for a long time to come.

Brenda’s epilogue
Tough it was nice to be able to share our first two weeks with Mum and I wouldn’t change a thing, I felt our holiday only started when we put Mum on the plane, and although I was absolutely terrified going up Mt Wellington the view, just before the cloud came, was wonderful and it was the first thing we did on our own, the others in no particular order are,
1. My favourite thing would have to be the same as frank, Binalong bay, the beauty of the colour of the ocean was just wonderful, and of course the bronze statue of the bikini girl who welcomes you into the town looks just like me :), in my younger days of course :) :) :).
2. Would have to be the 4 or 5 days we spent with Bert and Anneke, the opportunity to spend some time with theses lovely people was a treasure I will hold dear, till next we meet.
3. St Helens and Bicheno, anywhere the sea was really, but particularly the east coast, once again for the beauty of the ocean.
4. What did give me a buzz was meeting Luke, The man who introduced himself in Pt Huon, having someone who only knows us from reading the blog of our last trip, come over to meet us, was really exciting
5. Beaconsfield, not only the attraction of the gold mine but also the museum of mining particularly the room dedicated to the tragedy of the collapse of the 26th of April 2006, the sadness we felt for the 3 men who were involved and their families will stay with us for a long time to come.
6. Stanley, I just loved the old houses and buildings, and the way they are kept, as pristine as they were when first built, the people of the town who, as everywhere else in Tassie, were really friendly, and the setting just at the bottom of the nut, makes it one of my favourite towns.
7. Not forgetting Tess and Craig and their lovely daughter Bethany, life is hard at times but that doesn’t stop them from giving of their generosity, theses people are the salt of the earth and we look forward to next year when they come to SA, and we can return the favour.
8. Dismal swamp, was a nice place to visit, it was great to follow the board walks in such an ancient place, waiting to see what was around the corner, but also when Frank had a turn down the slide, it was just lovely to see him having fun, and I wish I could have had a turn as well, Bugger!
9. The trip on the Spirit of Tasmania, it was nice to be able to have our own cabin for the start of our adventure, because funds are limited we often have to take the cheaper option, to be able to do this and share it with Mum as well was a wonderful experience
10 the Tahune air walk and the swinging bridges, something that if you had told me 5 years ago that I would be doing, I would have said “no way” yet I was able to do all 3 and loved it.
If it could be like this always, no stress, no worries, no hassles, life would be grand, but then again would we know the difference?
For those of you who are interested in cost figures, we travelled 5,346km from Adelaide back to Melbourne and used $564.61 worth of fuel including (874.6lt lpg) $26.50 (21lt) of ULP, that's an average of 5.93lt per km or, 16.83 lt per 100km, or $9.47 per 100km, I recon that's pretty good costs.
PS. Average price of LPG in Tassie was 72c pl