A Travellerspoint blog

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Pre tour

Getting ready


Been building new shelves so everything fits in the car. DSC00648.jpg
Preparing to leave early Wednesday morning for Melbourne.

Note, this blog is our trip to Tassie in 2011. We returned to Tassie in 2013 and recorded our trip at

Posted by peterjday 03:56 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 1

Holgate to Melbourne


Day 1 Total distance 971kms

September 7
Holgate 6.10 am
Berrima cuppa & pie
Holbrook lunch
Euroa snack stop
Williamstown 5.50 pm - with John, Marianne & Elisa

Feeling weary but excited.

Lunch at Holbrook

Lunch at Holbrook

John, Marianne and Elisa's place

John, Marianne and Elisa's place

Posted by peterjday 03:27 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 2

Williamstown to Port Melbourne to Bass Strait.

Day 2 total car distance - 14km

September 8

Feeling tired, excited and a little nervous - just read the shipping weather report.

Sunny spring day with a bit of a nip in the air. A day in Melbourne. Day tickets for the trains/trams ($7 each) and leave Williamstown station for St Kilda for morning coffee. Why can’t Sydney have a ticketing system like Melbourne has had for years! Walk to St Kilda Pier, check out community vegie garden and then Tram back to CBD and make our way to Vic Markets for lunch. Back in arvo to collect car and over to Beacon Cove to line up for ferry.
Vegies - Community garden in St Kilda

Vegies - Community garden in St Kilda

St Kilda beach

St Kilda beach

Reconstruction of historical St Kilda Pier building

Reconstruction of historical St Kilda Pier building

Around little Bourke Lane - Favourite part of Melbourne CBD.

Around little Bourke Lane - Favourite part of Melbourne CBD.

Arrived around 4pm to wait for gates to open at 5pm. Stuffed ourselves full of our remaining fresh food as we were told we couldn’t take it. Apples, Kiwi fruit, avocado, tomato and an orange. Finally lined up at 5pm for security check and Pat was on her last apple – only to be told that it was OK to take the food on board as long as we didn’t take it into Tasmania. Long wait in queue as boarding didn’t begin till 6pm. Finally got on and parked on the most ridiculous tight parking spot. Struggled to get ourselves and gear out of car. Cabin level 8, 249 – inside without port hole. Comfy and basic.

Spirit of Tasmania loading through the front. We drove up this ramp

Spirit of Tasmania loading through the front. We drove up this ramp

Calm on Port Phillip Bay

Calm on Port Phillip Bay

Spirit of Tasmania I departed around 7.20 pm at a speed of 25 knots for the 440 km journey. Took 2 ½ hours to get out of Port Phillip Bay. Bad weather predicted but apart from some rain squalls a pretty smooth crossing.

At night, at sea

At night, at sea

Posted by peterjday 03:45 Archived in Australia Tagged bass strait Comments (2)

Day 3

Bass Strait to Devenport to Launceston

Day 3
September 9
Bass Strait to Devonport to Launceston
440km by ship
99km by car
Sunny and very cold.

Feeling really tired – need sleep.

Overnight sleep was OK but short. A little rough in places - although the ship had this really bad out of balance thing happening about every 20 seconds which sent strong vibration through ... everything.

I woke around 5.15am and ship berthed around 5.30. We were called to our cars around 6.30 and we were off the ship and through quarantine by 7. The cars were so tightly parked – 3 abreast – that most people had difficulty getting back in their cars.

Devonport breakfast 7am and cold!!!!!

Devonport breakfast 7am and cold!!!!!

Cornflakes for breakfast by the river and off to find a hardware to buy butane canisters for the stove - (as we weren’t allowed to have them on the ship). They had single cans selling for $2 each, or by the pack of 4 for $10.75, ... must be in Tasmania! Pulled in to the service station and a young girl came out and filled the car. A long time since I have seen driveway service when getting fuel.

Leisurely drive from Devonport to Launceston using all the back roads and stopping at most of the towns. Bought cheese, salami and pate at Ashgrove Cheese Factory.

A beautiful morning cappuccino with raspberries dipped in chocolate while warming my feet by an open fire at the Christmas Hill Raspberry farm.

A beautiful morning cappuccino with raspberries dipped in chocolate while warming my feet by an open fire at the Christmas Hill Raspberry farm.


Lake walk

Lake walk

The old farmhouse built in 1842

The old farmhouse built in 1842

The farm was named after first discovery/settlement by white farmers on Christmas Day, 1820. We followed coffee with a little walk around the farm lake

This is the first time we have used a GPS on a trip and it is so good. Especially navigating or finding specific addresses in country towns and for when you divert down interesting roads and getting you back in the right direction.

Arrived Launceston at 11.30am, looking forward to settling in to accommodation at Launceston Backpackers, which was booked for 12.00, only to find the office was closed till 3pm.

Arrived Launceston at 11.30am, looking forward to settling in to accommodation at Launceston Backpackers, which was booked for 12.00, only to find the office was closed till 3pm.

3 hours to explore the town. Checked out City Park and the monkeys. So many beautiful old buildings with historical significance. Found a music shop and it had a lot of the Kala range of ukuleles. They haven’t been available on ‘the mainland’ for about a year. Loved playing them. I want another one or two! Also got the RM Williams deal that I couldn’t get in Sydney or Melbourne – and it was $50 cheaper. Returned to find that our room – the only double with ensuite - had no running hot water. After some negotiation, we were given another very basic room at reduced rate. $95 for 2 nights. Such is life.

I was on a lounge getting some sun in the common room while using the laptop when the hostel cat, (very big) attacked me after I was patting it. Turned out I was sitting in its favourite spot. And it was the only place with a power point!

Daffodils are everywhere

Daffodils are everywhere

Posted by peterjday 02:57 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 4

Launceston - Tamar Valley - Launceston

September 10
Sunny and cold. 2 – 14 degrees

Feeling well rested.

After sleep in and relaxing breakfast, headed up the western side of the Tamar valley, Bradeys Lookout, Exeter, crossing Batman Bridge to east and up to George town. Very historical town, but not such a great stop.
Tamar river from Bradeys Lookout

Tamar river from Bradeys Lookout

Cuppa at Port Dalrymple entrance where an 'interesting local' came to have a chat!!!!!

Cuppa at Port Dalrymple entrance where an 'interesting local' came to have a chat!!!!!

DSC00666.jpgDay 4

Continued up to the heads at Low Head Lighthouse.  Flinders discovered the port, Port Dalrymple, in 1798 and recommended the need for a light house to identify the entrance.  First one began operation in 1805.

Continued up to the heads at Low Head Lighthouse. Flinders discovered the port, Port Dalrymple, in 1798 and recommended the need for a light house to identify the entrance. First one began operation in 1805.

There is a dangerous reef with strong tides and through the centuries many ships have hit the reef despite all the markers and pilots services. Last one in 1995 which spilt oil and hurt many of the penguins. Some of the penguins were rescued, tagged and released elsewhere. Some were released in Bicheno and somehow navigated back to the area in a day.

Returned to Launceston after driving to the coast to Beechford and back along the eastern side of the Tamar.

After lunch we headed off on foot to the Cataract Gorge circuit. From the hostel we went down to the Kings bridge, climbed really rough and steep ‘Zig Zag Track’ with great views of the gorge and bridge. Across the Alexandra Swing Bridge and return along the well formed Cliff grounds walk.

The Kings Bridge

The Kings Bridge



The Zig Zag Hike

The Zig Zag Hike


Alexandra Swing Bridge

Alexandra Swing Bridge

At the beginning of the walk into the gorge there are a lot of buildings associated with the early mill works. These are near the original Penny Royal Mill and are used as modern accommodation.

And there are daffodils everywhere. In general, peoples' gardens are amazing and houses really well cared for.

Posted by peterjday 04:35 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 5

Launceston - Evandale - Scottsdale - St Helens

Day 5
September 11
Launceston to St Helens
Sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy, sometimes windy and always nippy. 2 – 14 degrees

Feeling ready to move on.

There can be some very unreliable types in these backpackers!

Some initial impressions of Tasmania.

The population consists of really dedicated gardeners and enthusiastic home restoration experts.
Speed limit on major roads of 110 but it only takes 30 seconds to get to each town????
All the beautiful people have moved to Denmark to marry a prince – including TV presenters.
Antique dealers spend more time going to Sydney than staying in Tas.
No one knows how to make a good coffee.
My bike magazine claimed that Tasmania has no roads just corners. I didn’t believe this driving from Devonport to Launceston .... but after driving to the East Coast my stomach knows what they mean.
I could happily tour Tassie in the Mini or on the motorbike. Even a scooter would be OK.

Why do people always scribble on maps when you ask directions?

First stop, another really quaint town, Evandale for the Sunday Markets. Beautiful buildings and gardens.

This is just your everyday, normal garden. So house proud.

Next, the Tasmanian Gourmet Sauce Company near Perth where I patted a friendly Labrador, – missing my animals – tasted some nice things and Pat bought some fancy sauces. Then on to Longford for a coffee, (which tasted like chocolate soup?????, and a chicken, camembert and asparagus quiche. A quick call in to Brickendon historic farm and checked out accommodation that we may stay later in the trip and a brief look at Woolmer Estate.

On the road heading North East for the coast via Scottsdale, through Targa which I think has something to do with car rallying/racing. The mountain road was really slow and windy with a 100km/h speed limit??? We were overtaken by some pretty fast moving exotic cars and motorbikes. This is the view from our cuppa stop at Sidling Lookout at the top of the pass, looking East towards Scottdale and St Helens.

Along the Tasman Highway we noticed these life-sized wood carving in tree trunks. Drove into Legerwood to see more carvings dedicated to those locals who died during the war.

Arrived in St Helens to check in to backpackers after it was recommended only to find it was closed because the guy had gone on holidays!!!!!! After a bit of looking around found a really comfortable and warm cabin/cottage overlooking the bay, Queechy Cottages -$85.

Posted by peterjday 02:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 6

St Helens to Bay of Fires to Freycinet NP to Bicheno


Day 6
September 12
St Helens to Bay of Fires to Freycinet NP to Bicheno
Sometimes cloudy and sometimes sunny 7 degrees to 15 but mainly 12degrees

(I must be getting used to Tasmania because I feel hot once it reaches 12 degrees)

Feeling great that it is Monday morning and I don’t have to go to work.

Heading to Bay of Fires
Sam Stosur just won first set.
Question of the day – Will we camp tonight????

Yes!!!! Sam Stosur did win the US open.

Up to Binalong Bay and then driving along the coast to The Gardens with a southern view of the Bay of Fires. Classic white sands, clear blue and green water, and rock formations with an orange coloured moss on them. I think it is a bit of a shame that the foreshore is being cut up into blocks for coastal development. It will change the nature of the place. Love the way the farms with cattle comes right down to the beach.


Morning Cuppa looking north along Bay of Fires.

Heading south along the coast and a brief diversion up mountain pass to St Marys, and then diving back down to the coast to Bicheno. Now, our plan was to make camp with our tent at Freycinet NP for two nights so that we could do the big Wine Glass Bay walk on Tuesday ..... but ....when we called into Bicheno Info Centre they informed us that they had just decided to close the whole park due to the use of helicopters to do up the lookout. Big change of plans. We also noticed this really good accommodation next to the old Bicheno Gaol - www.bichenogaolcottages.com – so we decided to splurge ($125) on the Stables Cottage rather than camp, checked in and head straight out to the NP.

The only way we could see the view of Wine Glass Bay, (as the lookout was closed), was to do the most arduous and dangerous walk to Mt Amos – “For highly experienced and fit walkers only”. We arrived at 2.45 and set straight off as it had a recommended time of 3 hours return. It was so steep, rough and slippery. The track was only marked with little painted arrows on the rocks, and most of it was scrambling up rock faces. We passed a French family who were coming down and she later rang me, (we had to leave our number at the sign in/out walking log book) as she was concerned that it was too dangerous for us and that we did not have enough time. We pushed really hard and made it to the top in 65 minutes. Feel so lucky that we made the effort. Took us about an hour to descend.

Back to Bicheno to enjoy dinner by the fire in our little cottage.

Originally when we planned this trip I was bit concerned that it was Tasmanian school holidays and that things would be crowded. The opposite applies as apparently Tasmanians all go to the ‘mainland’ for their holidays. That is why the St Helens backpackers was closed. Everything is so quiet. I also heard an interesting discussion on the radio of how some mental giant decided to sell seeds of some of the exclusive Tasmanian Plantation Trees to Chile – like Tassie blackwood, etc – and now Chile is under cutting Tasmanian exports of these timbers. Same as how they are cutting up a lot the tourist attracting pristine areas, like Bay of Fires, and developing into building blocks Gold Coast style. Anything to make a short term quid. Anyway, better put the soap box away and relax by the fire.

Posted by peterjday 14:24 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

Day 7

Bicheno to Freycinet NP to Swansea

semi-overcast 18 °C

Day 7
September 13
Bicheno to Freycinet NP to Swansea

Cloudy and extremely windy 7 degrees to 18 (T-shirt stuff)

Feeling fit after yesterday’s walk/climb

Cosy sleep in the cottage with the fire going all night.

Explore around Bicheno taking in the natural fishing harbour and the blowhole.

Back to Freycinet NP and coastal lookouts and walks.
The Friendly Beaches.

Tourville Lighthouse walk.

Sleepy Bay walk. Amazing coastal scenery.

And This is what makes the rocks look orange.

Back to NP info centre and down to Coles Bay. Camping area is tempting except sites are all on compacted gravel and the wind is coming in with 45km storm predicted. We are warned that it is difficult to use pegs so we decide to move on to Swansea.

Check in to Swansea Backpackers at get the $85 dollar double for $68. We have the whole thing to ourselves.

Out for an afternoon walk to the beach and around the headland. Looking across The Great Oyster Bay to Freycinet. Lovely views but it is now blowing a gale. Glad we decided not to camp. Out to dinner at the ‘Ugly Duck Out’. Pat’s Seafood Gumbo was inedible with hardly any seafood. After a little discussion the chef gave her a side plate of mixed grilled seafood. I had ‘Seafood Combo’ – fish, calamari, a couple of scallops with chips. OK. Overall, not a very nice dining experience.

Everything is empty. I am starting to feel a bit weird – like we are the only ones left on the planet. This backpackers is huge – and we are here all on our own. We have to turn off all the lights and lock up etc. I am starting to crave people. We are watching TV in an empty hall!

Goodnight world .... if you are out there .... anyone?????????

Posted by peterjday 03:34 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Day 8

Swansea to Richmond to Eaglehawk Neck

overcast 14 °C

Day 8
September 14
Swansea to Richmond to Eaglehawk Neck
Cloudy and super windy with a little rain 9 degrees to 14

Feeling like I need to see some people

Bye, bye empty Swansea.

First stop ‘Kate’s Berry Farm’ which is closed – even though we can see the people in the shop – but we still get the great view of the Great Oyster Bay and the distant Freycinet area.

Then on to the convict built Spiky Bridge.

Next stop, Richmond. Great place. Strolling around town checking out the old buildings and shops. Settled in 1803 has the oldest church and intact gaol in Australia. This shot is looking through the one of the arches of the historic Richmond bridge to the 1837 Catholic church.

This cemetery is amazing. Most of the headstones are on the side of a steep hill. Not sure how they dug the graves. We found a headstone dated 1804.

The pie shop was crowded – always a good sign. Pat had a very filling curried scallop pie and I had a lamb, pea and potato pie. Yum, yum, yum.

We arrived at Eaglehawk Neck and checked into the historic Lufra hotel. We were quoted $145 for self-contained unit or $110 for a room. After we told them that we were going to go and camp or go to the backpackers they offered us a room for $60 – and it is great. Lovely hotel with a great feel. Big comfy lounge area overlooking the bay with warm fire. This is the view from the front of the hotel.

Shame, Shame, Shame!!!!!!
My big gripe about Tassie is how we keep seeing these pristine or historical areas getting cut up for cheap development. This is the area just next to the oldest remaining military building in Australia and the Isthmus which was the site for ‘The Dog Line’. So they divide the foreshore into these blocks surrounded by the ugliest of colourbond fences.

The dog line had 18 savage dogs permanently chained across the narrow isthmus between the two pieces of land. Each dog had a barrel to sleep in and a light above so that guards could observe them. If convicts escaped from Port Arthur this was their only path of escape from the southern peninsular and they couldn’t get passed the dogs without detection.

Out to Pirate Bay to see yet another blow hole and Tasman Arch.

I love the graphic. Don’t hold back.

Back to the hotel and dinner by the fire. Chicken and corn soup and Escalloped pork pan fried with mustard and gherkin sauce, vegies and chips.

And today we found that there are people still left in the world. We are not alone.

Posted by peterjday 03:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 9

Eaglehawk Neck to Port Arthur to Kooyna

14 °C

Day 9
September 15
Eaglehawk Neck to Port Arthur to Kooyna
Cloudy and windy with 8 to 14 degrees
Feeling like we have a big day ahead of us.

After leaving the Lufra we head down for a quick look at the Tessellated Pavement geological formations on the rock platform.

Drive down to Port Arthur and a quick breakfast in the picnic area. My toast on the butane stove is a little tricky with the strong wind blowing but we get there in the end. Time to buy our tickets for Port Arthur Historical Site and first up, a 40 minute very informative guided tour around the site. A quick cappuccino from the ‘Asylum’ cafe – so much coffee down here taste like mild hot chocolate. And then the camera fest began. We took so many photos. Couldn’t stop. And so much video – beware if I ask you to watch it. After lunch we went on the harbour tour which lead to our option of the Point Puer tour – where a special boys prison was built in late 1830s. I can only post a fraction of the photos.

Mixed feelings about Port Arthur. Such a beautiful and amazing place. I found it interesting that the site, after closing as a penal colony in the late 1800s, just became a town. All the buildings became used for normal things like houses, hotels, post office, shops etc. Then a big bushfire destroyed many of the buildings. The village then fell into decay through the 1900s where there seem to be little respect for its historical significance. People were asked to buy property on the condition that buildings were knocked down????? In the latter part of the 1900s the white shoe brigade of developers just knocked stuff down and there is a horrible motel on site - which is going to be rebuilt into something even more inappropriate. Then there is the whole Martin Bryant thing which is not mentioned much at all.

I know that people are very moved by the violence and conditions endured as a penal settlement but I was most angered by the historical vandalism, greed and lack of respect shown by various developers and government authorities in the late 20th century – which still exists today. I found it such a great experience to visit the site and felt it was a peaceful and beautiful place to be.

To round off such a wonderful day we made our way to our pre-booked accommodation at Koonya. Pat did a great job with this one. We are staying in the ‘Officers Quarters’ which is in some of the best preserved buildings of the convict era. The Cascades, (originally known as Newman’s Bottom), is a former convict outstation of Port Arthur and was established in 1841. It became the property of the Clark family in 1915 and they have restored some of the buildings.

Lovely fire to spend the evening writing this blog and relaxing.

See you in Hobart - big smoke - looking forward to see some beautiful people.


Posted by peterjday 02:24 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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