This will be a roving report for the next three months commencing 12th February.
Loading the car and caravan on the ferry was an adventure in itself with only millimetres to spare each side (or so it seemed). Jude took a seasick pill, the doggies were tranquilised and I had a few beers before sleep. It was a smooth sail by all accounts and a happy event although there are some small negatives. The staff of the Spirit of Tasmania were very attentive and helpful. The service runs twice daily between Melbourne and Devonport for a 12 hour journey in the tourist season.
Day one and we visited the Bass Strait Maritime Museum which has an excellent historical display of things maritime. Of special interest is a deep sea diving suit worn by Judith’s Grandfather, J.E (Johnno) Johnstone. In 1938 Johnno walked 43km underwater on the floor of the ocean in Bass Strait looking for a break in the telecommunications cable. He had radio contact with the ship above, the ‘Julie Burgess’ and when he found the fault he said that he could not describe the problem and would need a camera. He and others then set about designing and making what is believed to be the first underwater camera in Australia.
Devonport is a quaint little town in the style of the 1950’s to 70’s housing with some very ornate large houses obviously built by those who made it good in this pioneering town. Set either side of the Mersey River it is the focal point of the Bass Straight Ferry connecting tourists, travellers and business with the mainland of Australia. The business centre is spread over the steep hills on the western bank of the Mersey River. Traffic lights and parking meters are the order of the council. We were miffed, however, at the $1.80 hour parking cost. Either you carry a lot of change with you or lose 20% of your $2 coin. Parking areas close to the city precinct also carry a charge but there is always Maccas for a free park next to the Information Centre!
We ventured out to various touristy venues making chocolates, cheese, berries and ice cream. The businesses are very well organised to cater for tourism and we only drove about 80km there and back. The countryside is very green and undulating, with produce fields, cattle, sheep and timber forests. Wild Blackberries grow by the side of the road.
Railton is a town where the residents excel in Topiary and some stunning examples are seen here
The town of Sheffield sports the name of Mural Capital as there are dozens of great murals depicting various country scenes. When the town was in decline the residents came up with the idea of creating murals on the walls of buildings. The result was stunning.
The Promised Land Maze and Village is a hoot and the wit displayed is very good. After walking around and looking at most of the creations we settled for Pancakes and topping and ate too much.
The road then took us around Mount Rolland and a twisty drive to Trowunna Wildlife Park where we saw our first ever Tasmanian Devil. Cute little things they are but can bite you severely.
Overcast, windy with lashings of rain. That was today 15th February.
In an attempt to get to Point Sorrel I had to reverse the caravan about 500 metres to be able to turn around as I found 3 locked gates and nowhere to go. The upside to this was Jude picking Blackberries whilst I was twisting and turning in reverse mode…Ha!
What looked like small hamlets on the map turned out to be the ultimate beach side properties and home to the wealthy citizens of the north.
We visited Hawley Beach, Port Sorrel and Squeaking Point. Then we took a backroad to Beaconsfield and the MUX was chugging away in 2nd gear to get over the hills. At almost every end point today I had to negotiate a very tight U turn. On top of that the roads are narrow!
We called in at Clarence Point and Beauty Point in the Tamar Valley and ended up in a caravan park at Green Beach at $22pn.
At Beauty Point on the Tamar Estuary, a special wharf houses two buildings. In one building is a commercial enterprises breeding Sea Horses which are exported world wide. The other building houses live displays of Monotremes, being the Platypus and the Echidna. Tours of both delighted us both.
The following day Jude did some shopping at Beaconsfield while I minded the dogs. We parked in an open area on the grass. I had the back of the car open and the next minute a voice called out Sir, please take control pf your dog!” An elderly lady walked past with her beautiful Samoyed dog and Blaise was bristled up protecting me! I took control and had a nice chat to her
Then we drove towards Georgetown over the Batman Bridge which spans the Tamar River. We had prearranged to meet a young bloke along the way to deliver a painting to him from our neighbour up the road in Peterborough. This happened and while we were waiting at the pre-arranged meeting place Jude picked some Blackberries. Then we drove on to George Town and as far as Lower Head Lighthouse and looked at the pretty houses and scenery along the riverbanks.
I had noticed that the MU-X had used a little bit of oil and called into the only service station I could find and asked if they had one litre to sell me. They only had 5 litre containers or a 20 litre drum. They agreed to sell me a litre but only had an old milk bottle for a container and so it happened. Then we went on to visit old friends who had moved to George Town and had a cuppa with them and spent an hour or so nattering to them.
Our camp for the night was at Blacks Lagoon which wasn’t all that lash but we managed to find a flat spot at the base of a sandy rise. It was an excellent ball game ground and Blaise drove me nuts. I eventually had to hide the ball as I grew tired. Some locals drove up and around us in a Suzuki and then up a sandy track to the beach. It unsettled me as I thought that they might have been up to no good but we slept well that night after watching MKR on TV
The next morning we went out to look for Waterhouse Lagoon but missed the turn-off. At the entrance to Waterhouse Conservation Park I chatted with a bloke from Queensland who said that there was good camping at Waterhouse Point. The signage was not good and in places non-existent. Some parks workers were on the job fixing signs. I chatted to them about me being able to turn the van around at the end of the track. They said we could. We looked at west Waterhouse Point, Ransom Beach and had a tight turn around in one. All the camp sites are fenced and not all close to the beach. Judith had to walk ahead with the two way radio to see if sites were suitable. Eventually we found an ideal site at east Waterhouse Point (Casuarina Hill) that was close to the beach and made camp for a few days.
It was an excellent camp. We had privacy along the fence line and had neighbours for two of the three days but only overnighters. Someone had left a pile of wood along the fence and that and a little bit of our wood saw us through for three nights.
We had endless ball games on the beach with Blaise and even old Jeddah became more lively and came down to the beach a few times. Jude played with her adult colouring in books and we both read books acquired from somewhere. A local wallaby grazed along the fence but Blaise chased it a few times but could not proceed beyond the fence. I struggled up and down to the beach with the walker and eventually found out that if I pushed it in reverse where the front wheels are rigid I could negotiate the sand much better. My left Achilles heel still giving me trouble and is painful. The weather was good around 24 each day but we did have a little bit of wind one day. No TV and no phone so we watched DVD’s and listened to mood music. We packed up on Saturday arvo late and with the dogs tucked into bed we went down to the beach for half an hour just two watch the evening colours change and some sea birds flying hastily to their night roosting place
On the road by 8am. Used Low Range 2nd to get up the hills. We had a look at Tomahawk on the beach. Then we refuelled and bought pies at Gladstone before setting off for Petal Point. Pretty green country with lots of cattle kept Blaise going. We stopped to take photos of the wind generators and saw a wombat scurry back to his hole. We got to Petal Point and found a beachfront site. Trouble was the beach was about 500 metres away. We had a snack for lunch, read and coloured in and the dogs wandered around. I noticed that Jeddah fell once whilst walking. We had a snooze and at 5pm doggies got fed. Jeddah’s back legs gave way when she went to eat her supper. After that she kept wandering off. Then she became ill and went and hid in the bushes. We managed to get her out of there and under the van. Then we saw that she was dying and that the end was near. It was cold outside and so we carried her into the van and set her down on her bed and blanket. She died at ten minutes past eight in the evening having lived for 15 years and 83 days. A sad time for us.
The following morning we drove to Scottsdale to the Vet and they took care of having Jeddah cremated. Then we pushed on to Launceston. I put the necessary address in to Tom Tom but it indicated a different route. Not trusting that route I decided to keep to the highway. Wow! What a ride over the ranges. 16km of narrow twists and turns. It took some steady concentration.
We camped at Old Mac’s RV Farm. A pretty spot. $10 per night with water available but no power. Probably 60 sites next to water the headwaters of the Tamar River. Lots of bird-life around. W
Judith went for a ride on the Chairlift over Cataract Gorge and also had close encounter with a Pademelon and some Fairy Wrens
Then we went shopping for stuff and did a heap of washing at a very modern and fancy Laundomat at a price. Jude was unpreturbed but I thought it was excessive. That took up most of the day. Our run of good weather came to an end when in started raining in the late afternoon.
We managed to hook up before the rain started in earnest. We drove out to Evandale which is a historic town dating back to 1811. We gathered lots of information at the Visitor Centre and then headed to the Tasmanian Gourmet Sauce Company in Evandale where Jude acquired some nice foods.
We had a phone call to say that Jeddah’s ashes were available and so we made for Scottsdale via Lilydale this time and collected them. There was a cost involved. Then we went looking for lunch and found a cafe that had Scallop Pies. We wolfed those down and then took to the road in the rain again. We managed to find a place to stop to boil the billy for a cuppa and discovered that we had left out plastic step up behind somewhere. Oh well, will have to find a Bunnings somewhere.
We visited Legerwood by accident as I wanted to see if we could get through some mountain roads in the Ringarooma area. Legerwood has the famous chainsaw carvings by Eddie Freeman depicting World War 1 scenes. The trees were going to be detroyed by the council and the small community rallied around and brought the soldiers of that time back to life again through Eddie’s brilliant artistry. We stopped to gather information and to take photos.
At Ringarooma there were No Dogs signs and so we beat a retreat from there. I asked the Postmaster about the mountain roads for caravans and he reckoned it would not be an issue but that there were rough places. As it was raining I thought it better not to attempt the roads today and we started to make our way to Weldborough on the highway, to camp there for the night. At Derby however we saw some vans parked down by the Cascade River and discovered a Free Camp and dogs allowed. And so here we are camped right on the river. The rain continues and we are parked on hard grass. Tomorrow we won’t be in a hurry, though, as we hope to look around Derby which is the capital of The Tin Dragon Trail
Nothing much happened today. It was a cold, misty, rainy day. Jude went for a walk through town. I did some computer work and played with Blaise, the dog. Late afternoon we had lots of laughs during Happy Hour with neighbours.
St Helens on the east coast of Tasmania is a beautiful place with a nice bay, irridescent waters and pure white beaches. A twisty road leads from Derby to this place and you have to keep your wits about you whilst snaking around the corners’. A fallen tree across the highway livened things up for a bit with Jude up front on a walkie-talkie directing traffic
We had a good camp at Policeman’s Point but the weather turned on us. After two nights we moved to Swimcart Beach on the Bay of Fires coast and managed to get an absolute beachfront site with the surf crashing on the beach less that 50 metres from us.
After routine shopping, washing and gas refills in St Helens we checked out some of the beaches to the south. Our destination was Upper Scamander Forest though and this was a beautiful mountain forest camp at Trout Creek Camp on the Scamander River. Getting in and out was quite hairy towing the van up and down some very steep inclines. The forest tracks were in good repair however.
Saturday saw us drive to St Marys where we ate Fudge from the Mt Elephant Fudge and Chocolate Shop and parked with others in a Free Camp at the Golf Course. Judith visited two markets and variety shops in town and found some treasures. Then we drove to the Evercreech Forest north of Fingal and visited the White Knight old growth White Gums which reach up to 90 metres in height
It was a privilege to stand among the 4 remaining White Knights of an old growth forest
We left the van at St Marys and took the short journey to the Pancake Barn at the top of Mt Elephant Pass. The road was very narrow and twisty and we were glad the van wasn’t lugging behind. Back at St Marys we packed up, hooked on and tackled St Marys Pass down the range which is just as narrow with many twists and turns. We found a free campsite at Lagoon Beach where we could hear the sea but have no close access to it.
After nine days Free Camping and with four of those days being over cast we ran out of battery power on the morning of the 10th day. We made for Bicheno Caravan Park for a couple of days to wash clothes, replenish supplies and charge all the batteries. Bicheno is a cute little town with a pretty harbour in Waubs Bay. It is known for its Penguin Tours of Little Blue Penguins who come ashore at night to do what Penguins do…whatever that is
We did a day trip out to Coles Bay to see what we could without entering a National Park as our furry child is prohibited from entering them. The best part was buying seafood from Freycinet Seafood Farm where we bought a good supply of food.
The following day we did a ‘mammoth’ 175km drive to Primrose Sands where we camped out in the grounds of the RSL for three nights. Along the way we visited Kates Berry Farm just out of Swansea and had scrumptious Scones and Tea at her Just Desserts Cafe which overlooks part of the berry growing pads and the stunning views of Freycinet National Park in the distance.
Just a little distance further south we had a good look at Spiky Bridge which was built by convicts in 1843.
The roads continue to be very narrow and a great deal of concentration is required especially when passing large trucks. I felt pretty drained by the time we arrived at Primrose Sands. Although the name evokes pleasant thoughts we were unimpressed with the shanty town of unregulated building sites
We decided to visit Port Arthur and the Tasman Peninsula without the van and we were glad we did so, as the roads were once again, a challenge. Port Arthur itself was a disappointment for us with their ‘canned’ tourism approach….too organised with queues of people waiting to buy tickets, and frankly, tourism promoting the misery of Port Arthur and its subsequent notoriety is not for me and so we left, but not before being told off for parking in the ‘wrong’ Disabled Parking Bay
A visit to the Port Arthur Lavender Farm was a delight and whilst I sampled a Lavender Milkshake together with scones, Jude bought Lavender Bags to make the cvar and van smell nice.
Saturday was a non driving day and we read books, worked on the internet and enjoyed fresh Mussels in white wine and thyme over savoury rice, all prepared by Judith, in the van.
In Hobart we camped at the Showgrounds for a couple of nights. A rather bleak place with all manner of RV’s parked in rowa, We caught up with friends in Hobart who gave us a short tour of the inner city.
In Hobart we discovered that all traffic north or southbound have to pass through the centre of the city.
Judith went to see the art displays of the world renowned gallery MONA (Modern Old and New Art) and she came away with mixed feelings.
We were then invited to camp at Oyster Cove by new friends and we ended up in the middle of a mowed 50 acre property. As we had made a service appointment for our car for the following Monday, this place suited us. From there we explored the region including Bruny Island and Mount Wellington. We did the menial jobs such as shopping and washing and also had the wheels fotated on the car. Then there were Fétes and Markets to attend.
To our great delight we were able to see wild Tasmanian Devils in the early mornings close to our caravan. We could also hear them growling the forest in the day time
We took the ferry to Bruny Island and drove most of the tracks. The highlight of the day was seeing an Echidna close-up on the side of the road and driving the forest track from Leenawanna to Adventure Bay. We bought fresh honey, garlic and chocolates on the island
We had a 10,000km wheel rotation done on the car in Kingston and a full service by Jackson Isuzu in Hobart. We drove the Channel Hwy around the Snug Tiers Ranges, visited Flowerpot, Grandvewe Sheep Cheese Farm, Verona Sands, Egg and Bacon Junction, and had lunch in Cygnet at The Old Schoolhouse Tea Shoppe. Drove back home along Nicholls Rivulet Road and decided it will be too difficult with van to come this way to Huonville.
The next day it was rainy, cold and windy……shopping…bought clothes, refuelled and measured 8.6/100km.
Jude had a haircut, we had an arvo snooze and then went Woodbridge Fair where Jude bought treasures and some hot food which we ate down at the Marine Discovery Centre, with Blaise looking over our shoulders.
Cold outside today. I had 3 falls today…not good.
We drove up Mt Wellington after Tom Tom took us on a journey via wet roads. After coming down off the mount we visited friends and took Jude to Salamanca Markets. Jude left her phone in our car and asked Security if she could borrow a phone to ring Brigitte to convey a message to me. I picked Jude up and drove home after getting lost again!
We visited the Kingston Markets, a Car Boot Sale and drove up the Snug Falls Road….drove the top way but found a 45 min walk which was out of the question….drove on with the road until a dead end…..bought Hamburgers at Snug Takeaway and ate them at Snug Beach…then drove ocean road of Oyster Cove to Kettering Harbour then home
After leaving Oyster Cove we made our way to Huonville via Sandfly (love these names). Then Geeveston and Dover via Police Point and then on to the Hastings Thermal Springs.When we got there we found a very small space to turn our rig around but managed after driving over parking bollards. The springs were a let down but we had a nice hot shower after coming out of the waters. We continued driving south and found a good camp site at Gilhams Campground in the Southern Forest Reserve. We only had the road in front of us and then the beach.
The next day we drove as far as Cockle Creek and then into the eastern side of the Southwest National Park after getting permission to take Blaise, the dog, in there.
I walked to the to the Whale Sculpture with great difficulty and then found the camera batteries were flat. So Jude walked back to the car to get the spares and some of them were also flat! I fiddled with them and swapped some around and we managed to get photos of the sculpture.
Driving to the sculpture we reached the southernmost vehicle access in Tasmania and Australia
43 degrees 34 minutes 43.7 seconds SOUTH
146 degrees 54 minutes 04.0 seconds EAST
Back at the van the day turned cold and it started spitting rain…. so we hitched up and left. We called in at the communities of Southport, and then Dover, but their campsites did not attract us. We stopped on Geeveston Town Common for $5 per night with lots of Ball Throwing space……Jude visited the Lolly Shop, I fell over unhitching and grazed some skin off my arm. The van’s batteries were a tad low so we went to bed early and slept like logs
Today we drove to Huonville and did shopping and looking at things and then I went for a ride on the Huon River Jet Boat…What a blast…another one off the bucket list
Easter Friday was a rest day and we lay about reading and Jude cooked a roast
Saturday we went exploring the Tahune Forest and some tracks mentioned in a 4wd Tasmania booklet. Trouble is the booklet is about 10 years out of date. And needless to say we got a tad lost and after taking the Brackenridge Fire Trail which had some extreme washout our adrenalin rush for the day was over and we made for our camp again. Sunday saw us back on the road and after clearing the city traffic in Hobart we motored on to Oatlands where Judith visited the restored Mill and I made camp on the banks of Lake Dulverton. We also caught up with some friends from home who are travelling in Tassie for the next month. The next day we made for Ross which has an Australian Wool Centre and Wool Museum. We bought some quality clothing at a price !
From Ross we took the back roads through Cressy to Deloraine to miss the Easter home traffic. It was a nice sunny day and the road, which was narrow as usual, wended its way across the green pastures of the midlands
Once in Deloraine we made camp on the banks of the Meander River in this picturesque town. The next day we caught up with a long lost cousin for coffees, cakes and lots of chatting
Having found out from our cousin Susan that another cousin lives in the area we went hunting the following day and found where he lives. We will catch up with him on the way back. Then we went to the Honey Shop at Chudleigh. Got in just before a busload of Japanese Tourists arrived.
Then Tom Tom decided to take us on a deviated course to the town of Sheffield. No signage and no name to this mini pass but I was down to 1st gear chugging over the top. It was long and very steep. Whew!!
The Sheffield Mural Painting Competition was on and we had a tour of the wonderful art that the artists portrayed. Had lunch at the Blacksmith Gallery Café
We were going to stay in the Free Camp at Sheffield but as the sun was shining so nicely we kept on heading north and found a caravan park at $23 per night right on the beachfront
Turners Beach is our home for a few days. We will explore the area and then slowly keep on heading west until we run out of road