Thursday 6 May 2021

Twelve Days in Tassie and 2,100 km's in a van

From the Tarkine Drive it was on towards Stanley – The Nut! We went up on the chairlift and I dragged Matt around the 2km summit walk, where we had amazing views, and saw a Paddymelon. 

Then we checked into the RV park, where they rang the pub for us but couldn’t get us in for dinner until 7:30. So we went to the pub for some well earned beers, and had a small pizza. We were chatting to a lovely guy there, who was recommending the seafood place down the road, so we decided we had enough room for some – I had the crumbed scallops and Matt had the 1/2 lobster mornay – dericious! We rolled down the hill and straight into the shower and bed.

The next morning I put the laundry on and went to Moby Dick’s to get a coffee, and walked along the beach on the other side of The Nut, came back and planned some of the days stops before making scrambled eggs. Next stop – Burnie, where we met Lyndal Thorne at the Makers Place for a coffee and checking out of the International paper exhibition and chat before checking out the paper/print prize at Burnie Regional Gallery – both great shows. 

This is the work of amazing leather sculptor Garry Greenwood, whose work you'll see more of when I get to the Queen Victoria Art Gallery at Launceston. This piece belongs to the Burnie Reginal Gallery - I was horrified to hear on the radio a few days later that all of Burnie's creative spaces would be closing down as part of a council decision. I feel lucky to have seen them.

We then headed to both galleries in Penguin, where I saw amazing kelp sculpture lights and wonderful paintings of lichen covered rocks – quite abstracted, so very inspiring. From here we navigated to Mole Creek, where we parked behind the pub and enjoyed a few drinks both in the bar and by the van, watching bunnehs, before a feast of scallops. Great pub and locals. Bedtime 8pm, full as googs!!

Saturday dawned cold and misty, with few bunnehs to be seen. With the morning cry of ‘chocks away!’ we set off for pretty Deloraine to go to the markets, where Matt nearly bought a guage. 

Onwards to Westbury to Pearn’s Steam World for Matt, next stop Launceston Gallery for me. After turning up at the Museum instead of the gallery – sorry Matt – I got to see the amazingly skilled creations of Gary Greenwood. Then we checked out a very disappointing maker’s expo before leaving Launceston for Georgetown. It was after booking a table for a seafood platter at Beauty Point that we realised it was actually on the other side of the water, so cancelled and ended up at the pub where I had some lovely garlic prawns. 

Next stop was Bridport, at a sprawling caravan park along the rocky shore. We walked to the pub and imbibed whisky and bourbon whilst engaging with the locals and watching the fog roll in by 4pm! We walked down the street to the Bridport Bunker, hoping for scallop gratin and duck mezze, but they were booked out, as per usual! Amazingly, we have found this a lot as we have travelled, even though it is off season. Disappointed, with Matt moaning about the walk for nothing we went to the other pub which was full of diners – much busier than the other – where we had crumbed scallops and duck spring rolls. Full of drink and food we made our way back to base with the aid of the torch as the fog was so thick. It created a really magical atmosphere for me, unused to it as I am.


Coffee was enjoyed just sitting by the lapping bay reading.We were off around 9 to look for breakfast – we had homemade pie and pastie at Scottsdale. Then it was a windy road (which I of course slept through) before a stop off at Pyengenah Dairy for a caramelised fig ice-cream – delicious. Onto St Helen’s where we picked up a pot of scallops and some garlic at the IGA before heading out to camp at Diana’s Basin, pulling up right beside the water which has many swans on it. We had a little walk out to the beach where I watched kelp moving in the water for a while. I had to change out of my skivvy in the afternoon – it was the warmest I’ve been! At camp we read, drank, prepared our fire and enjoyed the water. Fire lit, scallops on, visitors to the fire, a bit of tv – a nice night.

After coffee I munged into a scallop sandwich – it was so rich I felt a little sick! Drove up to Binalong Bay to try and do the cruise, which is no longer running on Mondays…. continued down to Bicheno sleeping half the way, where Matt had a beautifully presented bagel, with the smoked salmon done in a rose. 

Onto Coles Bay with some spectacular cliffs and on to Freycinet Park to visit Wineglass Bay. Unfortunately, the weather turned quite miserable and our views disappeared. Finding our final camp spot, we hooked up and bailed down to the pub – the only show in town – the fish and chippery is shut on Monday! It’s all pretty well timed – I am ready to go home and see the girls! In the morning on returning from the ablutions block, I managed to open the door to the wrong van - stunned, I froze as some poor man shouted 'hello? hello?', before I managed to get out that 'I'm sorry, I've chosen the wrong van'! Hilarity. Shoulda locked ya door, mate!

Here's what we did:

Wednesday 5 May 2021

Twelve Days in Tasmania - Part 1

It seemed surreal to be heading off to the airport! On arrival in Hobart, we got a surly taxi driver to take us the short distance to the motorhome pickup, where we were starting to get a bit excited! 

Matt took to the bus quite well, although the auto transmission was a bit rubbish, and we nearly ended up squished in a bridge as many lanes converged,but we survived. We ended up at Snug Caravan Park, where we got a powered site for the night – I think the woman was quite astounded by my appearance. We enjoyed a walk along the river before we got pizzled with rain, then had roast chook in the bus for dinner! (We’d stopped at the IGA and the pub for the necessaries.) Making the bed was an adventure – as Matt lifted the mattress from inside to tuck the sheets in, he biffed me out the back barn doors! The camp kitchen had a fire and was alive with people, so of course Matt went to talk to folk after dinner whilst I had a nice hot shower – the shower on the van is tiny, and the toilet is a bit daunting! We finally got the tv working but there was nothing to watch and bed called – not the most wonderful of sleeps and it was a long night – I’m sure it will get better.

Snug seaside
We went for a short walk in the morning before heading off in search of coffee (winning – saw a bunneh and a possibly feral kitteh). We found a wonderful cafĂ© in Woodbridge with a warm fire, welcoming environment and lovely things, and a menu that tempted us past our own eggs and salmon!
House in Cygnet
Onwards to Huonville, where we had our parks pass validated, then we continued on to Southport, and decided to keep going to Cockle Creek – the furthest you can go. The road became unsealed for 19km about which we were a bit uncertain – it was a slightly tortuous trip over corrugations at low speeds, but it did get better and we settled in to a camp at Catamaran Bay. We walked along the beach (took kelp photos) and gathered fire wood to have a fire in the grotto by the creek behind our van, drinks in hand. It became cold and we retired at 5 o’clock! No tv, no signal, glad I brought a book! By 6:30pm we were snuggled up in bed.

Kelp 'crab'
Catamaran Bay Camp

Despite the early downs it was late ups at 7am for plunger coffee in the pizzle across the road before heading back up to Hobart. Most things were still closed so it was until Kingston that we had a curried scallop pie and excellent coffee at Banjo’s – a bakery very much a dead ringer for Brumby’s. We navigated through Hobart and then onto unchartered waters where Matt had never travelled before as we headed to New Norfolk. We stopped there and refuelled, and checked out the local street market which wasn’t too bad. From here it was on the road to Queenstown with a detour to the National Park to visit the spectacular Russell Falls – a double bunger! 

Russell Falls

The rainforest was so dank, with moss covering everything up to half way, and some fungi spotted. I enjoyed being a passenger looking down on to the river, which was also very dark. Back at Westaway we stopped off at the Raspberry Farm to get some of Frank’s Raspberry and Pear cider, a box of raspberries, and a taste of raspberry sorbet – not as good as Mum’s! 

It was then a long drive to Queenstown through a variety of environments – I did get the nods for while – but I loved seeing the green moss verges. The final stretch through to Queenstown was pretty taxing for Matt with some hairpin curves (99) and I’m sure he was grateful to stop in Queenstown. The lovely Caravan Park owner (one of the best we stayed at – beautiful bathrooms with bathmats!) dropped us in to the pub where they had run out of specials and vegetables!

Woke in time to cook scrambled eggs with chicken before heading down to see if we could jag it on the train – so close! A couple were happy to adopt me in their carriage, but there wasn’t room for two – capacity reduced due to Covid – we nearly got in…....! I was quite disappointed. We visited the bizarre, random, type-written notes Queenstown Museum before driving through yet more curves which put me to sleep again on the way to Strahan. Which was quite disappointing in not being the bustling harbourside town – I know, it’s Sunday and ANZAC day but….. We decided we didn’t want to spend a few days here so shifted the river cruise to tomorrow. We drove out around the Gordon River to visit Hogarth Falls – a nice 40min return walk.

Hogarth Falls

We checked into the Strahan Holiday Park and went over the road (which looks a lot like Lota) to enjoy a drink before the chill started to come down.

We were up in plenty of time for the river cruise – it was an enjoyable day, with a tour to Hells Gates, then a stop off at Sarah Island for a tour, where I learned that what I had been calling pizzle is known as mizzle! It was so dank and cold.

I tried to stay outside on the deck as much as possible to experience the forest along the river, with trips inside to warm up. Lunch was some lovely salmon, cheeses, bread roll and some meats, which unfortunately later affected our tummies – not good in a camper van! Cruising down the river we learned the history of the protests against the Franklin River Dam which I vaguely remember from  my childhood. We had a wine on deck, Matt went to chat to the captain, then as the weather closed in we had a little snoozle in the seats! On our return – dropped off further down the dock at the tourist trap – we headed out to Macquarie Heads Campground, and set up camp in a grotto with a fireplace and pile of wood – very handy. 

Macquarie Heads Camp

Magical pine forest on the way out

Matt worked very hard in the damp to get it and keep it going- lots of dried bracken was sacrificed. We spent several hours by the fire even though it was dank and cold, before turning in to have our BBQ sausages on bread, then bed. We were up when it was still dark, had coffee and got the hot water going for Matt’s shower. We left camp to check out the dead whale on the beach, but it was mizzling hard, so we didn’t…..

We headed of for Zeehan, which was pretty no-where – an old silver mine. On the way we stopped to see the Henty Dunes – well, we’ve all seen sand before? After a wee trek along a path I ran up the side of the dune to confirm that it was indeed sand, and we turned around, not knowing how far it was to Ocean Beach (signage in Tassie is minimal!) In Zeehan we attempted to get to the main attraction – the Spray Tunnel – but the track was unsuitable for our vehicle and we were disinclined to walk the 3 k’s there. 

So onwards to Rosebery, which our re-jigging of plans had become our next overnight stay in order to go to Cradle Mountain the following day. On arrival in Rosebery early afternoon we decided to keep going, stopping in Wynyard for supplies  - mmmmm, wallaby and lamb! - before heading to Boat Harbour Beach. The drive in was lovely – quite like Maleny Roads with a view down to the shining blue sea. Camp is set with a wonderful view. It was wallaby steaks, asparagus and coleslaw with some cooking shows before bedtime.

Wallaby steaks
Boat Harbour Beach Camp

We awoke as usual for proper ups around 7am, had coffee, then I went for a walk around the harbour.

On return we headed off to Smithton for an excellent breakfast and coffee at an Indian takeaway as well as restocking coffee. Travelled through to Marrewah, stopped at the Parks office to register, stopped to view 'The Edge of the World' and checked in at Nelson Bay camp grounds by 1. Went for a walk, Matt chatted to folk, later we met local Tiger and riding-around-Tasmania-Tyla. Lit a fire around 3pm – it was deadest cold - Tyla came and cooked her veges in it, we stayed by the fire until 8pm.
'The Edge of the World'

Morning coffee, and the only penguin I saw...
Camp in the wilderness at Nelson Bay
Morning coffee on the beach, it was then off to the Tarkine Drive  - first stop the Sumac Lookout. Then the Julius River small walk, then a very muddy walk to Lake Chisolm which was magical in its green moss-ness. We stopped at Milkshake Hills for a snack of sausage, lamb and wallaby, then Tayatea Bridge and Trowutta Arch, which was quite spectacular. A guy fell over here but we missed that entertainment! Really interesting rock textures.  
Sumac Lookout

Trowutta Arch