February 2018
  • Day11

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    March 3, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    We were on a 10am flight out of Hobart so we were up and moving early. One last trip in the Beast before we dropped it at the airport and the Virgin flight was on time.

    A few thoughts and comments about the trip:

    - Travelling in a manual transmission Yaris was hard work at times but actually it wasn’t too bad overall. We travelled over a thousand kilometres and spent a grand total of $130 on petrol at around $1.45 a litre so there were some benefits!
    - Tasmania is beautiful. The scenery is really stunning especially Cradle Mountain and the Gordon River
    - I was really amazed at the amount of convict history, just about every town had convict built buildings or bridges
    - It really would have been the end of the earth for the convicts, especially the west coast
    - Cradle Mountain and Port Arthur were my favourites
    - It’s a great place to celebrate a wedding anniversary!

    T and I had a great time, see you next time!!!
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  • Day10

    Last day in Tassie

    March 2, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Our last full day in Tassie was spent on a big dose of culture. One of the top tourist attractions in town is the privately owned Museum of Old and New Art or MONA.

    The best way to get there is by ferry from Hobart docks so we scored our tickets and headed over. Right from the start this Museum is a bit different ... OK it is just plain weird. The ferries are camouflage painted and you can sit on sheep or stools or normal chairs - seriously! See the photos.

    The Museum is up the river from Hobart under the Tasman bridge and past the Incat ship yards (we were on an Incat built ferry, our third for the trip) so was about a 30 min trip and it was rather full.

    Mona is owned by a Hobart local called David Walsh who is described as a professional gambler, art collector, and businessman. It reminded me of the art galleries on Naoshima Island in that and lot of it was underground and very modern but MONA was far bigger than anything in Naoshima.

    From the ferry dock there are 99 steps to the top where you enter the museum and head underground. MONA has won various awards for tourism and you can see the appeal. Yes it is very weird but it also had a lot of really old things like an Egyptian mummy, old pots from the Middle East as well as more modern paintings by Brett Whitely and Sydney Nolan.

    Suffice to say it is well worth a look if you ever make it to Hobart but some of the exhibits are very confronting.

    We headed back into town hopped in the Beast and headed out to the Cascade Brewery which is on the edge of Hobart. We didn’t get to do a tour but had a look around and sampled some of the wares.

    Dinner was at a neat Japanese establishment on the restaurant strip of Elizabeth Street, a short walk from the Hotel.

    Tomorrow it is back to Sydney.
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  • Day9

    The big drive

    March 1, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    On Thursday we finished the big anti-clockwise loop of Tasmania with a final leg from Strahan to Hobart. It was a wet start again with light drizzle falling but that didn’t faze The Beast. The west coast does get a lot of rain so we were quite lucky the weather was as good as it was, a few light falls but nothing to slow us down. Glad we didn’t go to Queensland for these 2 weeks!

    The road out of Strahan to the next big town of Queenstown was very windy through dense rainforest so speed was limited to about 60kph. It was a really nice drive and next to no traffic.

    Queenstown was a real surprise. A century of mining and logging has taken a big toll on the environment with the hills around the town cleared of vegetation and huge tailings mounds dotting the landscape. Very different to the lush rainforest we had been driving through.

    The rest of the drive from Queenstown across to Hobart was pretty uneventful. Closer to Hobart the land became more farming focussed with cows and sheep lazing around in paddocks.

    After about 6 hours of pretty easy driving and including a few rests we made it to Hobart. We are staying at the same hotel we stayed at on the first night but this time they put us up in the Presidential Suite! We had a massive room with antique furniture, a 4 poster bed and views across the city. Dinner was a fancy restaurant in the City.
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  • Day8

    Trains and boats

    February 28, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Today was a full day. First up was a trip on the West Coast Wilderness Railway. This is a narrow gauge line that was built in the late 1890s to take zinc and lead ore from Queenstown to Strahan so it can be loaded on ships and taken for processing.

    It stopped running years ago and now takes tourists on full day and half day tours through the rainforest. We were booked on the half day tour that runs along the King River Valley to Dubbil Barrill and back again.

    The little steam engine was built in Glasgow and sent out in crates so it was a nightmare to get it together and running but they did it. All up there were 5 engines running on the line and in its peak it was a very busy line.

    We cruised up away from Strahan and into the temperate rainforest. It was drizzling lightly which actually suited the trip. The train climbed steadily and crossed a number of rivers and creeks after a while the rainforest became very thick. It is amazing they built this as it was after they had convicts so it was all paid labour.

    We arrived at Dubbill Barrill which is essentially just a station hacked into the middle of the forest. They had a turntable and a second line so the engine was decoupled, turned around by hand, and driven up to the front of the train for the trip back.

    All up the trip took about 4 hours so we were back in Strahan by 1pm in time for a quick lunch and to get ready for our next activity - a tour of Macquarie Harbour and cruise up the Gordon River.

    We boarded a big Tassie built Incat catamaran and took off for the Gordon River which is at the southern end of the Harbour (Strahan is at the northern end). Macquarie Harbour is 5 times bigger than Sydney Harbour and only slightly smaller than Port Phillip Bay. The boat really moved, hitting 28 knots so we were there in about 30 mins or so, it would have taken hours to row in the early days.

    The Gordon River is really beautiful. It was logged pretty heavily in the early 1900s but now there is little evidence of this. It is part of the Word Heritage area which makes up about 20% of Tasmania and you can understand why people say the Tassie Tiger is still alive as this rainforest is huge, very dense, and very rugged there would be things living in there that are unknown to man.

    We cruised up to where the river flowed through a gorge and it was beautiful. This is of course where the protests happened in the 70s against damming the river.

    After a while we turned around and headed back to Macquarie Harbour and headed up to Sarah Island. Like everywhere else Strahan was a convict settlement and Sarah Island is an island in Macquarie Harbour where they used to send the problem convicts. Now days there are a few ruined buildings and not much else.

    Next stop were the fish farms. They farm trout and salmon in giant sock-shaped nets with about 20,000 fish in each and there are about 40 or 50 of these nets in the Harbour.

    Lastly we went through Hells Gates which are at the entrance to Macquarie Harbour and so named because the convicts believed the west coast convict settlements were hell on earth. The channel is very narrow between the gates so we went out into the Southern Ocean turned around and came back in, lots of ships were wrecked in this area. Looking west the next stop would be Argentina (we are below South Africa) and the roaring 40s were really blowing.

    Finally we headed back to Strahan and had dinner at the local Club.

    Tomorrow we leave Strahan and head east towards Hobart.
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  • Day7

    Strahan on Tassie's west coast

    February 27, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We fired up the Beast and headed towards Strahan on Tassie’s west coast. Once again we were lucky with the weather as there was a bit of cloud around but no rain.

    Of course Cradle Mountain is quite high so we had to go down some pretty steep hills complete with logging trucks but the Beast handled it with no problems.

    First stop was the very small town of Tullah for a bite and a coffee. Lucky the weather was good as the coffee shop was the smallest I had ever seen. It was at the front of someone’s house and had enough room for a coffee machine, fridge, a small bench, and 2 people. We sat outside with the alpaca watching us.

    Next was the town of Rosebury which was a bit bigger followed by the town of Zeehan - named after one of Abel Tasman’s ships. All of these towns are mainly mining towns with zinc, lead, and silver the main things mined. We went past some big tailing heaps and some mine sites.

    Finally we reached our destination, the town of Strahan on the west coast.

    This is a really neat little town with a strong convict past. This used to be the place they sent all the really bad convicts from places like Port Arthur. Having driven through the forests around here there was no way of escape overland, this would be a perfect natural prison as Strahan is very isolated.

    We spent the day looking around Strahan. There is a nice walk up to Hogarth Falls not far from the middle of town and we drove out to the entrance to Macquarie Harbour, which is the second largest Harbour in the Southern Hemisphere after Port Phillip.

    We are booked in for a heritage railway trip tomorrow and a cruise on Macquarie Harbour down to the Gordon River.

    To celebrate our 25 year anniversary we had a sensational dinner at one of the better restaurants in town.
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  • Day6

    Cradle Mountain day 2!

    February 26, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    There are a number of walks you can do around Cradle Mountain ranging from 20 mins long to multiple days. Yesterday we did the Dove Lake loop which was a 2 hour walk so today we stepped up and went for a 4 hour walk up to the top of one of the peaks overlooking Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain.

    The paths are all very well set out with boardwalks and gravel paths to follow so it is pretty easy. We started from Ronny Creek where the Overland Track starts, this is a long track that takes a few days to do we were only walking a section of it.

    The track took us past some water falls and up to Crater Lake which is near Dove Lake. Then the climbing really started. It was pretty steep and in one point they had chains to pull yourself up.

    We eventually made it to Marion’s Lookout and the views were stunning.

    After a bit of a rest we started down. There were lots of people doing the walk but it wasn’t overly crowded.

    The walk down took us down a different way past a smaller lake called Lake Lilla and a small pool called the Wombat Pool before coming out at Dove Lake.

    We headed back to the entrance to the park and did a small 20 min walk called the Enchanted Forest walk through a grove of trees alongside a stream. On the way an Echidna was digging for food just next to the path.

    Talking about wildlife there is lots of it! Wombats are everywhere, there are echidnas and small wallabies all very tame though not looking for food from people they pretty much ignore you and go about their business.

    By then it was time for a rest and dinner at the Tavern attached to the Peppers Resort - actually very nice.

    Tomorrow is our Anniversary!! We will be heading on to Strahan on the west coast of Tasmania.
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  • Day5

    Cradle Mountain

    February 25, 2018 in Australia ⋅ 🌙 9 °C

    We were up and about early and on our way to Cradle Mountain.

    There is a nice big freeway from Launceston to Davenport as that’s where the Spirit of Tasmania comes in but we decided to stick to the smaller back roads. We passed through a number of small towns and arrived in Sheffield, where we stopped for a bite.

    Sheffield is overshadowed by Mt Roland which is a massive mountain with very rugged slopes. Sheffield is also known for its town murals. These are painted on the sides of buildings, fences, and special mural stands in the park. They depict people from the town, the history of the area, and anything else of interest to the artist.

    After a break we were on to Cradle Mountain which was about an hour or so away.

    Cradle Mountain is seriously stunning. We were lucky in that it was a cloudless day so the blue sky and the blue of Dove Lake framed the Mountain itself perfectly. T and I did a lap of Dove Lake which is listed as one of the top short walks to do in Tasmania, it took us about two and a half hours.

    When we arrived the car park was full and they run a shuttle bus to the key points in the park. There were a lot of people around but it was not crowded, we managed to get most photos without people in them. Surprisingly there are a huge number of Chinese tourists travelling around Tasmania.

    We are staying in a rather spacious cabin on the edge of the park all very comfortable.

    We are in Cradle Mountain for tomorrow as well so we plan to do another walk and take more photos to add to the 100 I took today!
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  • Day4

    Launceston

    February 24, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Today we headed from Swansea to Launceston. This is only a couple of hours drive straight through but we took our time and found a few interesting things on the way.

    First stop was a small town called Campbell Town. One thing I have noticed about Tasmania is there is a lot of convict history and Campbell Town was a prime example. Originally there was a creek running through the town but they decided they wanted to change the direction so they had the convicts build a bridge and then dig a channel to reroute the creek so it ran under the bridge.

    More recently the town established a convict trail of bricks that showed the name, ship, and crime of Tasmanian convicts. The trail ran up and down the Main Street. There were a number of convict era buildings in the town some with cells in the basement.

    After Campbell Town we headed on to Evandale. This is a classified historic town and we just happened to be there when the Evandale town fair was on which meant they had penny farthing bike races around the town. Classic! They had speed races, slow races, slalom races, biathlon races, novice races, and lots more. There was a Japanese bloke there who is apparently a TV star in Japan so he had an entourage of camera people filming him in a couple of races.

    The other thing to note was there were a lot of people with the surname McClintock who obviously live in the town as they were competing and seemed well known.

    We then headed up to Launceston. Once again lots of old buildings and lots of hills. We quickly found our Hotel, had lunch, and went to find the big attraction in Town - the Boags Brewery. They run tours of the brewery with tastings so we were keen. It was an interesting tour and some nice beers with cheese.

    After the tour we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant and headed back to the hotel.

    We only have one night in Launceston, tomorrow we are on to Cradle Mountain.
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  • Day3

    Freycinet

    February 23, 2018 in Australia ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    Hamptons on the Bay turned out to be a group of about 7 cottages located across the bay from Freycinet Peninsular hence the great views and amazing sunrise. We were up and rolling towards Swansea and on to Coles Bay.

    Unfortunately the weather was not great. Low cloud and some light rain but that didn’t stop us it just meant some of the views were a bit restricted. Our first stop was at a local convict built landmark, the Spiky Bridge! So called because it has sharp rocks sunk into the cement on either side of the bridge supposedly to deter animals from getting too close to the edge then they were being moved. The cement for the bridge actually came from Aboriginal middens around the Freycinet Peninsular

    At Coles Bay we booked in to do a cruise around the Freycinet Peninsular to Wine Glass Bay and back. The coast in this area is stunning. The rock is mostly red granite and lots of it and the vegetation is typical coastal trees and scrub. You can see in the photos there is an orange stripe on the rocks just above the high tide mark, this is a lichen that grows all around Tasmania.

    The cruise down the Peninsular was very easy and comfortable but once we turned the corner and headed out through Schouten Passage into the Tasman Sea and up to Wine Glass Bay it became really rough. The crew were prepared and moved those feeling unwell to the back of the boat and fed them ginger tea.

    We made it to Wine Glass Bay OK and it was very impressive. It is called Wine Glass Bay because it used to look like a glass of claret when they were processing whales on the beach - yes it used to be a whaling station.

    The granite rocks were amazing.

    On the trip back we were followed by a pod of dolphins and a number of birds including Albatros and Mutton Birds.

    We parked inside the Passage and had a good lunch before heading back to the dock. we were going to walk up to the Wine Glass Bay lookout but the weather wasn’t the best so we decided to head back to the cottage. Dinner was in Swansea followed by a walk around the town.

    Tomorrow we head to Launceston.
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  • Day2

    Port Arthur

    February 22, 2018 in Australia ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    Today we took the highway out of Hobart heading north to Port Arthur. Despite what you might think Hobart traffic can be quite bad and there was a lovely traffic jam of cars heading into the City, luckily we were heading in the other direction.

    We are trying to take more scenic roads where time allows so we took the coastal road past some amazing scenery with smooth water and big trees. At the entrance to the Port Arthur peninsula there are some interesting rock formations called the Tessellated Pavement, a blow hole, Tasman Arch, and The Devils Kitchen. See some photos below.

    After that it was on to Port Arthur itself.

    Port Arthur is really well set up and a great place to spend a day. The buildings are amazing and the history fascinating. We had a 20 min boat cruise followed by a 40 min walking tour of the main points. The buildings have been well restored where possible and where not what’s left has been well preserved.

    Essentially Port Arthur was a very unpleasant place to be for everyone, prisoner as gaoler alike. Very remote and inhospitable with tough conditions.

    Its more recent history has been tastefully recognised as well.

    After hanging out at Port Arthur for most of the day we headed back to Sorrell and then North to our accommodation for the next couple of nights, Hamptons on the Bay just near Swansea.

    Tomorrow we are visiting Freycinet National Park.
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