Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Great Ocean Road

12 Apostles Great Ocean Road Australia

Torquay 22nd – 24th March

Unbeknown to us Torquay is the surfing capital of the world, with both Ripcurl and Quicksilver being established in this small town, the wet suit (and boardies) were even invented here. (And we could see why, the water was freezing!) We found ourselves a campsite and just chilled for a couple of days, watched a couple of surfers catching waves, did a bit of shopping (needed some thongs (flip-flops) as somehow I managed to loose one, yes just the one, still a mystery.) We also bumped into the girls who brought our station wagon back in December (what a small world) luckily they informed us the wagon had taken them to Perth as planned and they had sold it on. How freaky to bump into them in this small town.

On our way out of Torquay we headed over to bells beach where the Rip Curl World Surfing Championships are held at Easter. We watched a few surfers catching waves, they make it look so easy. Torquay is also the start of the Great Ocean Road and this was our next adventure.

The Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
From The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road 24th – 28th March

We have always wanted to do this drive and to see the fascinating sandstone landmarks that litter the south eastern Australian coast. It is world renowned and we so wanted some good weather for our few days spent here. So in rolled the clouds as we left Torquay!!
We were headed for Wye River as we knew there was a free camp there. We took our time and wondered around Airey’s Inlet before hitting hit the main sign for the Great Ocean Road. We didn’t realise that this road was built by World War I veterans - 3000 of them - as a government initiative for employment after the war. The road is now the longest war memorial in the world! They even built it with just pick, shovels and local materials.
After taking a few staged pictures of Carl driving OJ under the sign we continued on to our intended camp spot of Wye River. This took us through the town of Lorne, apparently a playground for the rich and famous. Whilst in Lorne we took a drive out to the allegedly impressive Erskine Falls. This turned into a bit of a damp squib as there had obviously not been much rain recently and the falls were just a trickle. We were clearly spoiled in Tasmania and didn’t even bother to get the camera out let along complete the walk down to the foot of the falls.

Wye River Koala
Wye River Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
From The Great Ocean Road

Continuing on, our next stop was to be the Wye River camp area. Now this may sound straight forward, however the camp ground was not sign posted from the Great Ocean Road and we did at least 4 U-turns before we stumbled upon the correct track to camp.
When we arrived there was one other person. We set up the tent and Heidi noticed a Koala high in the tree next to us. As she pulled out the camera the nice chap from the other camp kindly came down and informed us that there were 2 Koalas here and that they had been fighting on the morning. He described a viscous battle which left one of the bears swinging by his claws from the thin top branches for half an hour! The guy also pointed out a much lower and closer Koala for us to photograph. During the night we heard lots of grunting and hilarious sounds from the Koalas, this had us in stitches at 2am lead in bed.

The Great Ocean Road - Coastline
The Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
From The Great Ocean Road

Next morning we planned to get up and on our way, however the weather had other ideas and continued to rain through the morning. We decided to stick around for the weather to clear and headed back to Lorne to see if we could get some internet access. We managed to park outside a hotel and log on to their wireless connection (obviously having to pay) we spent most of the day updating ourselves and doing some much needed internet stuff. About 3pm the weather cleared and we headed on our way, glad that we had waited as the sun just made the scenery stunning with the turquoise waters and the green of the Otways. As we drove on the forrest turned to rolling green hills as we entered Apollo Bay. We stopped for fish and chips looking out to the hills as the sun was going down in the afternoon, giving them a rather romantic feel to the place and then headed on to Parkers Hill (another free camp on the Great Ocean walk track.) We spent the night with a bunch of school aged girls doing the walk, we hoped we had run into a school group and not Australia’s brat camp! It was funny listening to the girls chatter and took us back to our school camp days.

Parkers Hill - Sunrise
Parkers Hill Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
From The Great Ocean Road

After a beautiful sunrise another grey morning followed, so we took our time and hoped it would brighten up in the afternoon, which it did. We headed down to Cape Otway and then on to Gables overlooking the southern ocean seeing another snake but at a much safer distance this time.
Here the coast started to become more rugged. We decided to head down to ‘Wrecks Beach’ where a couple of anchors were still left from shipwrecks many years ago. After 366 steps down we hit the beach and the wild southern ocean. We had a nice walk along the deserted beach just the 2 of us, looking up at the sandstone cliffs towering above us.
On we drove to Princetown and the stretch of famous sandstone landmarks. It was getting late in the afternoon so we decided to stay at Princetown and head out to the 12 apostles as the sun was setting.

The 12 Apostles - Sunset
12 Apostles Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
From The Great Ocean Road

After taking what seemed like 1,000 pictures Carl waited for Heidi to pick up something from the car. When she finally came back she blurted out that she had made a mistake that was going to cost a lot of money. She continued to explain that our car door had been blown by the wind and had slammed into the car next to us leaving a nice white paint mark down their door. She said that she did the right thing and waited for the owners to get back and owned up to her little mishap. The owners turned out to be renters of this ‘hire’ car – it suddenly got a whole lot worse!! They were very sympathetic and said that they would do all that they could to get the paint off before they dropped off the car and flew out on Sunday – We now await the outcome with baited breath!
As you have all probably heard the 12 Apostles are worth seeing. We thought they were stunning, our pictures do not do them justice. When you first lay eyes on these giants standing in the ocean you are truly amazed. You feel like you are looking at a movie screen. There are truly a wonder and you really need to see them with your own eyes to appreciate them.

Gibson Steps
Gibson Steps Great Ocean Road Victoria Australia
From The Great Ocean Road

The next morning we carried on our way with a lovely beach walk down Gibson steps, I (Heidi) had to go for a paddle in the Southern Ocean and was surprised that the water wasn’t that cold. We returned to the 12 apostles for some day shots and took in the famous sandstone monuments of ‘The arch’, ‘London Bridge’ and ‘The Grotto’ ending up in Portland where we stayed for the next couple of days.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Melbourne Again

Melbourne - 21st March

Melbourne Flinders Street Station at night
Melbourne Flinders Street Station Victoria Australia
From Melbourne

After a long 9 hours on the boat which we managed to pass the time by eating, playing cards, trying to sleep in the on board cinema, we arrived in Melbourne. We had pre booked a hotel for tonight as we were catching up with Gary & Mel who were in Melbourne for a few days. We programmed nuvi with the address of the hotel and followed the route until we came across a right hand turn we needed to take and a big sign saying no right hand turn, so inevitably we got lost! After a little detour we arrived at the hotel, with a quick change we were out on our way to the pub. We had such an enjoyable evening, it was great to catch up with Gary, Mel and Alison and see some familiar faces. Thanks again guys for catching up with us.
The next morning was not so pleasant for me (Heidi) as I was feeling a little hung over and couldn’t even manage breakfast as Carl wondered off downstairs for his breaky.

After checking out, we headed around Port Phillip Bay to Torquay. Leaving Melbourne was a bit of a mission as we tried to navigate the city centre, but every road we went down was closed or had a detour in the wrong direction, eventually after getting the paper map out (thanks Heidi) we detoured ourselves from east to west and out of the city.

Cradle Mountain & The North coast

Cradle Mountain - 15th – 16th March

Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain Tasmania Australia
From Cradle Mountain & The North coast

The next day the weather had slightly improved and we headed off to the famous Cradle Mountain. The drive was lengthy and we left Strahan a little late as we had wandered around some nice crafty type shops. We got into the Cradle Mountain area a little late and just popped into Tourist Info before going over to the only campsite there for an expensive un-powered pitch. (They have a monopoly on the market!)
We moaned about the price of the place for a while in the drizzling cold mountain weather that was until we ventured into the campers kitchen. OMG this place was awesome! It had 2 fireplaces with huge logs burning away – so nice and warm. The cooking facilities were great and we had bangers and mash with veggies – yum yum.
Whilst eating we got chatting to a couple called Terry and Di. They were so funny and we had a great laugh with them. Carl finally got talking about some football to an English guy!! We exchanged numbers as they live in Adelaide and invited us over. (we will be there soon).
The tent was not up yet and it was 11pm! The rain was falling and we were paddling in mud! Not happy campers! We got there in the end and we clambered into our icy cold tent. Mountain air is dam cold.
After sleeping with all my clothes on (Carl still didn’t, that sleeping bag he has is a miracle! Thanks Maz!) we awoke to an equally cold & wet morning and the prospect of our 2hr walk around Dove Lake.

About to start the Dove Lake walk
Dove Lake Cradle Mountain Tasmania Australia
From Cradle Mountain & The North coast

We took the shuttle bus down to the Lake as recommended and on the way we saw our first wild Wombat. He was much bigger than we expected and just sauntered across the road in front of the bus without a care in the world.
We got to the Lake walk in fine weather, however just as we got off the bus some one that had already walked and was leaving on the bus said out loud “The weathers coming in”. As we went into the shelter to register for the walk the rain started to come down sideways – lucky we had the rain jackets on us!
We waited a while before heading off on the walk. Cradle Mountain is very distinctive and we waited for ages to get a photo of it without mist shrouding it. The walk was good fun and the rain held off for the most part. The forest and views were great and well worth the visit.

Tasmania's Mid North Coast 16th – 21st March

Stanley Tasmania Australia
From Cradle Mountain & The North coast

Tired and cold we headed north towards the small fishing town of Stanley. The daylight was waning and Stanley was just out of reach so we stopped off at a beach camp. Just an overnighter.
We headed to Stanley in the morning and the famous ‘Nut’. ‘The Nut’ is a large rock plateau that juts into the sea from the mainland. We drove halfway up but decided not to walk up due to bad weather. The views were nice though.
We then headed east for Devonport as we needed to catch the ferry back to Melbourne later in the week. We stayed 2 nights in a town called Wynyard, just relaxed and wandered into town. The stop in Wynyard turned into a little reunion party for us as we bumped into Astrid (One half of the 2 people we wildlife watched with at Ted’s Beach) and also our caravan friends Ron and Cath.
It was all very strange really as when we pulled up into the park we were just behind Astrid and Bella (also booking in) and when we got to out pitch there was a very familiar looking caravan across from us. There was no car or owners with the caravan and Heidi and I were like ‘It couldn’t be could it?’ and ‘It sure looks like theirs’
Sure enough Ron and Cath pulled in and we caught up with them once more comparing trips.

Dip Falls
Dip Falls Tasmania Australia
From Cradle Mountain & The North coast

As we left Wynyard and (for sure this time) Ron and Cath, we bid them farewell and exchanged e-mail addresses. (We may yet meet again! – in Bris this time) We headed for Dip falls a surprise stop for Heidi and then the plan was to go to Latrobe to wait for the ferry. Dip Falls was particularly spectacular as we had had recent rain and the power of it was amazing. We took the obligatory pics and headed on out via (What Carl thought to be a shortcutting dirt road.) Even the Sat Nav said that we were going in the right direction. Turns out they were both wrong and that we had driven 40 mins down a winding, fast deteriorating dirt road in completely the wrong direction!!
So we headed out and onto another better sign posted dirt road, definitely in the right direction this time. 10ks down this road there was a tree across the road. With no chainsaw! On board we headed back and passed a 3rd short cutting dirt road. We decided not to take it as our luck had been bad so far! So we went 40ks round further on the sealed roads only to pull out behind a car that we passed back by the falls!! Obviously that 3rd road was fine – bugger!
On to Latrobe we went and a pleasant campsite where we did the washing and freshened up before the long 9 hour day crossing back to Melbourne.

We had a wonderful time in Tasmania, it completely surprised us with its natural beauty, wildness and how stunning the scenery is. We found everybody so friendly and willing to help, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and we’re so glad we decided to go to Tassie.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Queenstown & Strahan

Queenstown & Strahan 12th – 15th March

Lake King William
Lake King William Tasmania Australia
From The West coast Tasmania

With our trip to the end of ‘the road to nowhere’ complete, we headed out and eventually north west towards Queenstown and Strahan. We were unable to complete that trip all in one day and had a quick ‘overnighter’ at Lake King William just outside Derwent Bridge. We had not planned on staying here originally and had looked at a paid camp site on Lake St Clair. This site was very busy and we would have been unable to squeeze in. This as it happened was fine with us as we didn’t really like the look of this place and staying at Lake King William (free camp) gave us the opportunity to meet Ron and Cath (also from Brisbane). As we pulled onto the Lake camp area it looked very busy and we thought we would continue down the track to see whether there was anywhere suitable for us (flat in other words!).
There was not and we headed back up to where everyone else was. There was a very tight spot between 2 caravaners and we did the right thing and asked one couple (Ron and Cath as it turned out) if they minded. They said it was fine – “We were Queenslanders” and we parked up and set up the rooftop tent. Meanwhile the guy in the caravan on the other side of us had been informed (Not seen himself – he was watching TV!) of our arrival and proceeded to moan and curse about our close proximity. We were a little worried that we may have encroached. Ron and Cath kindly said to us that we could pull up closer (basically on top of!!) them. We moved over, all but blocking their view of the river and got chatting about travelling and where we had been and where we were going. They had some great recommendations for later on in our trip. Ron got a fire going and we watched the sun go down and fish jump in the river. It was a good night.

Queenstown Tasmania Australia
From The West coast Tasmania

Next morning we headed on over to Queenstown via Nelson falls (a nice little stop), we have heard this was a barren landscape and were quite intrigued to see this, hearing that it was like living on the moon with no trees. As we approached Queenstown it was very strange seeing the landscape with hardly any trees and it looked pretty dead. All this was due to the sulpha mining, where they cut down the trees to provide fuel. The rain would wash away the nutrients in the soil thereafter. We headed down the winding road into the town where we picked up some supplies and decided to continue on passing a river on our way out which was a milky pale orange colour. We later found out from some people who stayed in the town that they showered in that colour water!

Queenstown River
Quunstown River Tasmania Australia
From The West coast Tasmania

We headed on up to Strahan a pretty town on the Gordon river and the edge of the World Heritage Wilderness Area. This town was bustling and no campsites available in the 2 parks. Luckily we were told that there were several areas around that we could stay and would not be moved on and as a bonus there were free hot showers on the esplanade! We were itching for a shower so headed on over. As we jumped in under the “hot” water it was very apparent that these were not hot showers!! After a invigorating wash, we headed on up to Regatta Point which we thought was a park but turned out to be a car park. We obviously weren’t the only ones with this info as there were plenty other campers and caravans and low and behold as we pulled up we saw Ron & Cath tucked up in the corner surrounded by others. We decided it couldn’t be that bad in the car park so parked up and waited for darkness to fall before pulling over the tent.

Strahan - Camp spot in a carpark!
Strahan Tasmania Australia
From The West coast Tasmania

The weather wasn’t great and had been drizzling on and off all day. With a pub over the road we had a moment of weakness and headed over for a meal. (Thought it would be a bit much to drag out our cooker, gas bottle, table etc in the parking lot) We had a lovely roast dinner (it has been a long time) and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves with cheese and biscuits for afters! So back to the car park and off to bed.
The weather wasn’t much better the next day and we managed to just get the tent away before a thunderstorm came through. A day of washing and tumble drying followed. With the chores done we found an undercover bbq area to spend the afternoon as the rain didn’t seem like it wanted to disappear. We had the best steak sandwiches as we watched the rain. It did clear up in the afternoon and Carl decided it would be a good idea to head to the showers again, something I was not looking forward to doing ever again, however not knowing when the next shower would be I put on a brave face. I could not believe my luck when I turned on the hot tap and piping hot water came out. I was in there like a flash having the quickest shower ever in case the hot water ran out. As I came out Carl had a big smile on his face and it was clearly apparent he had had a hot shower too. Another night followed in the car park and we had a night in (the car) as the rain returned.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Russell Falls & Gordon Dam (Strathgordon)

Russell Falls & Gordon Dam - 11th-12th Mar 2009

Russell Falls
Russell Falls Tasmania Australia
From Russell Falls & Strathgordon

We left Hobart with a drive through Battery Hill the older part of Hobart and then headed northwest to Russell Falls. We didn’t want to miss these as we saw a picture of them when we were in the Hunter Valley and they looked gorgeous. We weren’t disappointed, after a shot walk through some luscious rainforest we arrived at the base of the falls. We were lucky to have the lookout all to ourselves so took some time to take lots of piccies. (We’ll let you be the judge) We continued on our walk to the top of Russell falls and on to Horseshoe Falls.

Horseshoe Falls
Horseshoe Falls Tasmania Australia
From Russell Falls & Strathgordon

These were officially closed but luckily the workmen building the new boardwalk allowed us to jump their tools to see the falls. We were thoroughly impressed and we could rock hop right up to the falls. Horseshoe Falls were my (Heidi) favourite. After taking loads more piccies we set off on the tall trees walk. On our leisurely walk we heard a rustling in the undergrowth and as we both looked to the right we saw a tiger snake. Our first sight of a wild snake! Luckily it had seen us first and was heading off into the undergrowth faster than we could whip out the camera. Suitable scared we headed off nervously on our walk but both pleased we had seen a snake now. The tall trees were some of the tallest in Australia at about 79 meters and are the tallest flowering plants in the world. After a short wander around the standing trees we got to see one that had fallen over years ago. That really helped put their size into perspective.

Tall Trees Walk
Tall Trees Tasmania Australia
From Russell Falls & Strathgordon

After our walk we headed off down the road we called “The road to nowhere”. So called because you could drive for nearly 100ks and the only way out was all the way back the way you came – The road just came to an end at Gordon Dam. We had heard there were some great views on the route and over the lakes. It had gotten pretty late by the time we got going down the ‘road to nowhere’ and we still had a little way to go. About 40ks into the drive we noticed a lot of smoke coming from a small part of the forest. As the smoke passed between us and the sun it made the light very red, almost warming. As we still had 50ks to go and the smoke looked like a controlled burning off and we were staying by a lake, we decided to carry on.

Lake Pedder
Lake Pedder Tasmania Australia
From Russell Falls & Strathgordon

As night was drawing in we arrived at a free camp called Ted’s Beach on the edge of Lake Pedder. The spot was nice and had good facilities for a freebie. We put the tent up, had a quick dinner and settled for the night. During the evening we spent our time with another pair of campers watching the wildlife and saw our first Pademelon (which is like a small Wallaby) and a Quoll (which is like a cross between a Possum and a Cat). The Quoll is apparently quite rare and shy, this one however was not, he came right up to Carl’s boot and gave it a sniff before sauntering off on its way. It was a very cold night, something we were getting use to quickly in Tasmania and a far cry from the 38C we were having in Canberra. In the morning our car’s temperature gauge was showing 7C in the car and we later heard that it got down to 3C that night.

Pademelon Tasmania Australia
From Russell Falls & Strathgordon
Quoll Tasmania Australia
From Russell Falls & Strathgordon

After an interesting night we headed off to the end of the road and Gordon Dam. The dam produces hydro electricity and was very impressive. We were told that it holds back more fresh water than all of the water in Sydney Harbour! The dam itself was built into a giant gorge and considering where it is, it is an engineering marvel!
The guys that put this thing up would have needed nerves of steel at such heights and on such steep cliff faces.
We were lucky to visit on a day with no wind and the water was so still. It reflected all the surrounding scenery perfectly.

Gordon Dam - Strathgordon
Gordon Dam Strathgordon Tasmania Australia
From Russell Falls & Strathgordon


More Russell Falls & the serene waters of Gordon Dam pics

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hobart and on the way

Hobart - 8th – 11th Mar 2009

Mt Wellington Lookout
Mount Wellington Hobart Tasmania
From Hobart

The next day we headed for Port Arthur and its historic buildings. We weren’t quite sure what to expect and didn’t realise Port Arthur is basically the historic buildings in a park. We decided not to go in today as it was quite late in the day and obvious you really needed the whole day to look around so looked for a campsite. On further inspection both campsites in the area were quite expensive and we decided to push on and forgo seeing the buildings. But it was quite interesting that these building were built by convicts in the 1800’s and it was like a little town that had been preserved and now made into a park.
We headed for Hobart as there wasn’t anywhere to stay in between. It was quite late by now and luckily we managed to find a campsite on the edge of town that had some space (it was a public holiday w/end in Tassie) We set up and went to bed.

Hobart Tasmania Australia
From Hobart

Hobart is like a large country town more so than a city. No high rises and no hoards of people. Quite nice actually. We spent the next day wandering around the wharf, having fish and chips and looking at some of the local artist galleries in Salamanca square. Unfortunately we won’t be here on Saturday when the famous Salamanca markets are on.

Mt Wellington Lookout
Mount Wellington Hobart Tasmania Australia
From Hobart

In the afternoon we ventured up Mt Wellington that overlooks Hobart. The views over the city and the peninsulas/islands around the area were fantastic. We are having some lovely day weather just nice for walking, but it gets quite cold at night so we are rugging up as soon as the sun goes down!

Richmond Tasmania Australia
From Hobart

Today we had a wander around Richmond which reminded us so much of England, quite green with old looking buildings and parks. On the way back we had a walk though Hobart’s botanical gardens, again so green with proper grass, clovers and daisies! I (Heidi) just had to run bare foot though the lush green grass under the giant fir trees! It’s so strange how you forget what you haven’t seen for ages! There was even an English oak tree grown from an acorn from Sir Winston Churchill’s Garden.
Tomorrow we head on from Hobart probably towards the west but see how we feel in the morning!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

South East Tasmania

St Columba Falls & Bicheno – 6th -8th Mar 2009

St Columba Falls
St Columba Falls Tasmania Australia
From South East Coast Tasmania

It was very hard to leave the next day and almost stayed another day, considering a dip in the inviting water. We had planned to go to St Columba falls so we decided to push on knowing time is of the essence for us in Tassie.
After an enjoyable walk through the rainforest we saw the highest falls in Tasmania, unfortunately we had timed it wrong with the sun being just above us so were unable to see them properly through the glare and unable to take any decent pics, but they were still pretty impressive as the water came tumbling down, apparently much more so after a decent rainfall.
We pushed on to a coastal town, Bicheno and found a cheap campsite. Bicheno was a great base for our next port of call, Freycinet NP and Wine Glass Bay.

Wine Glass Bay - Freycinet National Park
Wine Glass Bay - Freycinet National Park Tasmania Australia
From South East Coast Tasmania

We headed for Wine Glass Bay the next morning and the walk to the lookout. We decided to walk down to the beach too. On further investigation this was not going to be the easyish walk we first thought! The first 1.5ks were a steep incline to the lookout. So we huffed and puffed to the top and were rewarded with superb views of Wine Glass Bay so called for its shape. Another steep 1.5ks downhill (not looking forward to the return leg we thought) and we were down on the beach. Again the water was crystal clear and just willing you to take a dip. Carl had taken his swimmers and just couldn’t resist but after a little paddling it was very apparent this was some very cold water, colder than the English Channel (which Heidi has never got in to again since living in Brisbane!) So off he went, the crazy man just dived in!

Braving the cold!
Wine Glass Bay - Freycinet National Park Tasmania Australia
From South East Coast Tasmania

It didn’t last for long though as he got out saying he couldn’t breathe as it was so cold! – I just laughed!
After some lunch we headed back up the route we came down. It wasn’t as bad as we thought but were both glad to see the top and knew it was all downhill from there. We were both going to sleep well tonight!

Bicheno - Blowhole
Bicheno Blowhole Tasmania Australia
From South East Coast Tasmania

On the way back we checked out the Blowhole in Bicheno. We were lucky, the swell was in our favour and the water was just exploding out of the rock. The waves were some of the highest I’ve seen and Mother Nature was just battering the coast. The blowhole was pretty impressive and we could get quite close to it, it was a little scary as the waves came crashing in, but quite exciting at the same time.

Friday, March 6, 2009

North East Coast Tasmania – Greens Beach to Bay of Fires

North East Coast Tasmania - 1st – 6th March 2009

Greens Beach
Greens Beach Tasmania Australia
From NE Coast Tasmania

After a great night’s sleep as predicted, we decided to hang around another day to get some washing done and plan our trip around Tassie. This was a thoroughly lazy day and there is nothing to report!!

The next day we headed off to Launceston (which to Carl will always be a place in Cornwall – we have noticed many places here are named the same as Cornish/Devon towns. Tamar, Falmouth, Exeter, Launceston, Swanpool)

Port Sorell
Port Sorell Tasmania Australia
From NE Coast Tasmania

We headed in the direction of Launceston over Batman Bridge. Launceston is a really nice big town everything there for us to stock up – Coles, Servo and Dan’s!! (Gary)
Here we did some shopping, bought fuel and then headed off to the famous gorge.

Launceston - Chair Lift
Launceston Chair Lift Tasmania Australia
From NE Coast Tasmania

As we arrived at the gorge we could see a chair lift crossing a valley to the other side over a pool and a lake. Turns out the chair lift has the longest single unsupported span in the world!! Yes I know you are all excited! But in my excitement I lost the facts and figures, it was over 300m though (I think? – I checked our pics and found it was 308m). The view was pretty good from the gorge and we climbed up to a lookout on the other side, it was steep and pretty hard going. At least it only lasted for 10 mins!!

Friends for Lunch
Scottsdale Tasmania Australia
From NE Coast Tasmania

After our visit to ‘Launie’ we headed off towards the North East Coast. On our way we stopped off at a picnic area to make a budget lunch (sandwiches). Whilst we were making them we were surrounded by a local chicken population! This was great, we both think chickens are cool and we gave them our crumbs. There were baby chicks and all, just running around by the road and in the rest area! It made for an interesting lunch.
The drive over to the coast went over a mountain which was shrouded in low cloud. It was very calm and eerie. As the day wore on we decided to look for somewhere to stop and hopefully for free. We have a book and they recommended a spot in Scottsdale, turns out this place is clearly famous as it was covered in motor homes. We struggled our way over to a clear spot near the back and looked for a flat spot to set up. We parked up in the drizzle and left the car as it was and cooked up some bargain rissoles we bought earlier. We got talking to a nice guy there who had done a lot of travelling and he gave us lots of advice and handy tips. A few beers later – 11pm! – we set about putting the rooftop up in the drizzly dark.

Misty Mountains
Misty Mountains Tasmania Australia
From NE Coast Tasmania

We slept ok to start with – think that may have been the drinks! But then it became apparent that the road we have camped next to is a main route for logging trucks! It felt like they were in our tent with us! It was so loud I could have shouted and Heidi would not have heard me! Anyway we got up and it was still drizzling and any of you that camp will know that a ‘wet pack up’ is not a barrel of laughs!! Still we did as required and put our wet tent away between showers, still wet, and then proceeded to worry that all the stuff we store up would get wet.

After drying out we headed off to Mt William NP and their white beaches and clear water. The sun was out and we strolled off to the beach with the camera to take some pics. We could see this black cloud coming our way and dashed on to the beach to take some pics thinking we had loads of time. As we got about 250 meters away from the car and decided we better head back, the heavens opened and we got drenched, it didn’t help that the wind was blowing a gale and the rain was coming down sideways at us as we tried to run back to the car and as we did the rain stopped, typically! After drying out again we headed off down the coast through the NP towards St Helens taking in Anson’s Bay. We found a place to stay the night at St Helens which also had a car wash, a blessing for OJ as she was filthy! The nights are cold and windy in Tas so we spent it in the camp kitchen drinking more wine and chatting to some fellow travellers from England and Germany.

Dirty 4x4
From NE Coast Tasmania

Clean 4x4
From NE Coast Tasmania

The next morning we headed back up the coast a bit to Binalong Bay and the Bay of Fires which are just gorgeous. White sand and crystal clear water. Binalong Bay was voted the 2nd best beach in the world and we can see why. I never knew Tasmania had such beautiful beaches! This was like something you would expect to see in the north of Australia. We were a little gutted when we arrived as the cloud started to gather, the wind started up and the turquoise water started to disappear, so we decided to walk to the other end of the beach which had big boulders covered in orange lichen spread along the edge of the bay. Luckily for us the sun came out and the colours returned, out came the camera and we snapped away, it would have been difficult to get a bad picture, with red rocks, white sand, blue skies and turquoise shading to blue waters - Such a beautiful place!

Binalong Bay - Bay of fires
Binalong Bay Bay of fires Tasmania Australia
From NE Coast Tasmania

Binalong Bay Bay of fires Tasmania Australia
From NE Coast Tasmania

We had decided to spend the night at a free camping area just north of Binalong bay called ‘The Gardens’ so called for all the wild flowers that bloom there in summer, we were a little late and no flowers for us to see but the coastal scenery was just amazing. We had lunch up there over looking the sea and then headed to our campsite. We managed to get a great spot overlooking our very own little bay. As we set up for the night we just both looked out over our view and thought it was the perfect end to a wonderful day.

Bay of Fires - Camp spot
Bay of Fires Camping Tasmania Australia
From NE Coast Tasmania

All North Coast Tas Pics

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ferry to Tasmania

Tasmania - 1st March 2009

Spirit of Tasmania Ferry
Spirit of Tasmania Australia
From To Tasmania

Before we arrived at the Port of Melbourne for our crossing to Devonport - Tasmania, we had a day driving around the Mornington Peninsula (South East of Melbourne). We had a really nice jacket potato in Mt Martha, topped with roast beef, cheese, onion, mushrooms and gravy - Yum. We browsed a few galleries before heading back up to Melbourne and the port. Before we got in the line up for the ship (Spirit of Tasmania) we prepared our bags with a few essentials for the voyage. Once in line (around 6:30pm) we thought that we would be on the ship by around 8pm as it was due to leave port at 9pm. Well we didn’t actually get the go ahead to drive on to the ship until 9:30 and there were loads (and I mean loads) of cars still waiting behind us. So many cars in fact that we parked, climbed 6 flights of stairs, dropped our bags at the recliners, got a beer and wine and finished them, whilst people were still driving on board!!

The Line Up
Spirit of Tasmania Australia Queue
From To Tasmania

After the first drinks went down so well we decided to try our luck on another!! After the second drink we went over to the buffet (10:15pm) and had a couple of large plates of food – we were starving by now! The food was very good and they had a nice big selection. Needless to say we stuffed ourselves to the point of feeling a bit rough! Carl had a couple more beers (to help him sleep in a lounge full of strangers, in a chair that was sure to be uncomfortable!) and Heidi had one little Malibu and Diet Coke. Still feeling the effects of the food we trudged off to the recliners and struggled to get comfortable. The leg room was not quite enough and Carl struggles to sleep lying back (he is a on his side sleeper). We grabbed a couple of hours here and there whilst the ship bobbed quite badly in what must have been fairly rough seas.
We got up at 6am before the sun rose, grabbed a coffee and went up on deck to watch the morning glow. Bleary eyed we gradually woke up with the power of caffeine, and went off for a buffet brekkie. As we ate we could see land coming into view and we heard an announcement over the tannoy that we would be docking around 7:45am (1hr and 45 mins late). We got the call to go down to the garage and the car around 30 mins after we docked and were off the ship 10 mins later – Shame we had to wait another 20 mins to be reunited with our LPG gas bottles that had to travel separately outside the ship!!

Sunrise near Devonport
Devonport Tasmania Australia
From To Tasmania

Off we went to tourist info and then on to Macca’s for a healthy 2nd brekkie and some free internet time. (We’ll soon be eating as many meals as Ali! ;-)
Tired and with many brochures to read we decided to go clockwise around the island and headed out of Devonport over to a little place called Greens Beach. This was via a shortcut on dirt road and we welcomed the site of the camp and a much needed sleep!
What we have seen of Tassie so far is (not much) nice and the beaches look lovely. Right off to bed for that sleep! Night Night.

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