Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Archive for April, 2011

Last week in Tassie……..

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on April 25, 2011

Hi Everyone,

Well we’re on to the final countdown and were seriously considering changing our Ferry dates, to add another 2 weeks or so as there is still so much to see.  Unfortunately I think the weather has worn us down so we’ll keep to the original schedule and leave some stuff to see when we come back minus the children!

View of Cradle Mtn

Zeehan CP

We headed off from Gowrie Park towards Zeehan.  We stopped on the way back to camp yesterday at a little road side cafe/servo and got some fuel in a place called Moina.  The guy there was very chatty and recognised our Roebourne plates on the car – wow no-one usually guesses that and it turns out he has just come back from working up in Karratha for the last 2 years.  He owns the place and runs a catering business out of there as well and is heading back to Karratha for another job shortly.  It’s quite amazing the people we have met on the road:) Oh and today is just the most amazingly sunny day – not hot sunny but it is sunny and the sky is cloudless! Yeah!!!! Although we didn’t get an early start as we were all a little bushed from the walks yesterday, so we all ended up sleeping in till 9:30am!  It wasn’t so bad as the sun didn’t hit the camp until about then anyway and it’s just too freakin’ cold to get up earlier – like 6 and 8 degrees cold!

Start of walk

Small fall along track

Swing bridge

The west coast is a little different to the rest of Tassie, with so much more old-growth forest around.  Joel did a great job of driving up and down these mountains with the van on as some of the roads are just not that wide.  At one stage we came across a support vehicle for an over-sized load, thinking it would be at least 500m – 1km away but no – it was right around the corner, on our side of the road and he was massive.  It was lucky for us that this particular corner had a bit of a gravel shoulder on it or we would have been toast! So after that heart-starter we continued on to Zeehan but thankfully no more over-sized loads, just a few logging trucks trying to break the world’s land speed records!  The Zeehan Caravan Park is lovely and you feel like you are camping in the bush as it is just so scenic.  We decided to base ourselves here and tour a few parts of the area.

Montezuma Falls

Old tram track

After we set up camp, our first stop was to back-track to Roseberry and onto the Montezuma Falls track.  The trail follows the route of the former North East Dundas Tramway which ran from Zeehan to Williamsford. Williamsford was once a busy mining town but is

Fungi on tree

now slowly being reclaimed by the bush.  We thought the tack to the falls was about 5-6 kms, it was in fact 9.6kms, return.  The kids were great and didn’t arc up at all!  We hiked in and even though the day was still very sunny, the rainforest was so thick in places it was quite dark and the ground very wet and muddy!  For some reason Daniel and Wade both thought it would be really funny to jump around and spray mud all up their white sports socks – until I told them that they were now going to scrub them clean with a brush and soak them! as I wasn’t going to clean them!  Ha ha not so funny now huh! (they did clean them too when we got back to camp that night, hee hee)  The walk through the forrest was unbelievable.  There were tree ferns, lush rainforest with leatherwood, myrtle and sassafras everywhere and the most amazing fungi were growing on the sides of the trees.  Some were so huge that you could have stepped on them, like steps on a  ladder going up the side of the tree.  We walked across the swing bridge to get a glimpse of the falls from some height.  Then we kept walking a little further to the actual falls!  They were huge and are 105m high and they don’t fall into a huge pool but feed a river system.  It was way too cold for the boys to swim anyway as the water was like ice! We stayed for a while admiring the beauty of the falls, having some snacks and water before trekking back to the car.  There are some abandoned mine shafts along the way which you can stick your heads in to have a look at but they have sealed them off so you cannot enter them, which is a good thing. We finished our walks and got back to camp about 6pm and had our seasonal favourite Chicken parmas, mash and peas – yum yum!  We have booked in to do the Gordon River cruise and we have to be in Strahan by 8am so we have to be up by 6am to eat, dress and drive there.  OMG this is going to kill us! – well me anyway:)

Fog in morning

The Eagle

Sun over the water

Well we all managed to get up and dressed without too much fuss even though it was freezing cold again! The morning indicated that it was going to be another beautiful and sunny day, however we were in a huge fog cloud in the van and the kids were amazed at us driving through the fog, especially around the mountains.  Some patches we couldn’t even see 1 m in front of the car!  We made it with heaps of time to spare and the boat looked amazing.  The cruise goes from 9am until 3pm . We are travelling on the “Eagle” one of the World Heritage Cruisesboats which is  a locally run company.  The “Eagle” is an all-aluminium 35m catamaran launched in late 2007, purpose-built for the

Hells Gate


Gordon River cruise to minimise the impact on the River’s embankments.  We bought standard tickets but you can have premium seats on the window sides of the boat but then the price goes up and up and we just wanted to do the cruise and see

Fish Farms

the river.  We had a great view and took some good photos too from where we were sitting as the windows are huge.  There was a kids area downstairs where they played movies so the kids thought that was great.  They were in there for a lot of the cruise and in the end they were happy being there and we were happy to have some time

Sarah Island

Ruins on Sarah Island

to ourselves.  We were seated at a table in groups of 8 and we met another couple, Sandy and Grant, from Pinjarra and another couple from Sydney. They were a great bunch of people and the cruise was fantastic.  The weather was sunny but it was freezing cold out on the front deck.  As usual I

was looking for some good photos so I ventured out onto the front deck a  number of times, each time I had my scarf and my beanie on as well, and it was still cold – the things we do for art!.  The boat left Macquarie Harbour and headed towards Hells Gates.  It is a tiny passage way into the headlands and was so named by the convicts bound for Sarah Island.  On our way back into the harbour we passed Liberty Point which is home to a number of aquaculture pens stocked with thousands of Atlantic salmon and Ocean trout. They look like huge circular contraptions in the

Captain's cabin

Gordon River

Strahan Lolly Shop

sea and we have seen a great many of them on our travels around the southern parts of Tassie.  Next stop was Sarah Island and we were separated into smaller groups with a guide each.  Each of the guides is an actor/actress and they not only passionately tell the story of Sarah Island but act out bits of it as well and incorporate several of the unsuspecting public into their routines as well.  Sarah Islandwas a Penal Settlement between 1822 and 1833, established before the more well-known Port Arthur, as a place of ‘secondary’ punishment, an attempt to control the uncontrollable.  The stories of Sarah Island were made just that more poignant because of the story telling of

Track to Hogarth Falls

Hogarth Falls

these very gifted and passionate guides.  Even the boys got a lot out of it and remembered so much more than if we had just roamed the island reading plaques.  It took about 45 mins then we were back onto the boat and heading towards the Gordon River.  There was a bit of a breeze today so I couldn’t get any of those picture-perfect postcard shots you see of the Gordon River but it was still pretty nice.  The river is such a dark blue colour and the countryside is just amazing – you feel like you are the only people on the planet here.  We headed a fair way up the river to a place called Heritage Landing.  We got out here to do a bit of a walk around and see some of the trees and flora of this place.  They have a boardwalk set up to view the different trees and timbers with boards telling you all about the history, uses, etc of these trees.  We boarded the boat again and then a delicious buffet lunch was served.  The kids went back for seconds and possibly thirds for Dan and it was all very yummy.  We chatted with our table guests and before we knew it we were back at the harbour.  We disembarked from the boat straight into a lair of woodworking – there were some beautiful pieces in the make-shift shop and they were demonstrating the old way of cutting the huon pine timber into slabs for table tops and cutting boards.

Sandy and Grant had been to the lolly shop in Strahan and had mentioned that fact in front of the boys so off we went with them to have a look.  4 bags and lots of laughter later we bid farewell to our new friends and headed off to do the Hogarth Falls walk.  It was right in town and only a 2.5km return walk so we thought we’d give it a bash. The walk was quite easy and the falls were very nice.  We headed back to camp for an early dinner, the kids to wash their sox(:)) and an early bed as we’re all bushed.

Wynyard CP view

Beach at Wynyard CP

Table Cape LH

We would loved to have stayed another few days here to explore Queenstown and Derwent River to see “The Wall” but we just don’t have enough time.  We headed out-of-town back towards the  north.  We were going to free camp it but it’s no longer available so we decided to go to Wynyard and stay for a couple of days.  We stayed at the Beach Retreat Tourist Park which is right on the beach – it is a lovely park and the owners seem very nice and helpful.  We didn’t do too much for the rest of the day, just shopped, relaxed and enjoyed the beach and sunny weather.  There were several walkways down to the beachfront and a great boardwalk that you could take a very long walk along.  It made for some very nice photos as the colours in the sky were magnificent on sunset.

Next day we decided on an early start and off towards Stanley.  When we left Wynyard it was sunny and a little cloudy.  We stopped at Table Cape Lighthouse on the way for some magnificent views and the land around here is so rich – we saw the change in the colour of the soil and pictures of the tulips farms and the mosaic of colours they form.  An aerial shot of this area in springtime shows the ‘patchwork quilt’ of colours when everything is in bloom and season – I would love to be here then, it looks so spectacular just in the photo, imagine it in person!

View from Lookout

Poppy-opium fields

Fog-mist rolling in

Onward we pressed and just around the corner we ran into a storm front, literally.  We stopped the car and watched this cloud of rain and fog pass over/through us on the side of a hill.  We stopped opposite another poppy/opium field – there are heaps of these farms here and we saw these signs everywhere.  We got out of the car and you could feel the moisture in the air, that and the fact that it had dropped about 10 degrees from a few moments earlier!  The fog seemed to follow us as we headed to Stanley but after about 30kms we finally got back to the sunshine – was a bit freaky though.

Stanley would have to be one of the most picturesque places I

Walking up The Nut

have ever been.  The town is sooo tidy and clean and we didn’t see one scrap of graffiti or litter anywhere.  We drove up to ‘The Nut” which you can see from many kms away from the town.   The Nut is the stump of an old volcano discovered by the explorers Bass and Flinders in 1798, who officially named it Circular Head. It has steep sides and rises to 143 metres with a flat top.  In 1935 a submarine cable was laid between Stanley and Victoria, which was Tassie’s first interstate communications link.  The cable station was situated at the top of the nut.  It is quite a steep climb to the top, but there is a chairlift. Dan and I walked up the

Stanley Township - cute

steep incline and Joel took Wade on the chairlift as he’d hurt his leg and didn’t want to walk up.  When I finally made it to the top I took off to have a look around, with Joel joining me at one of the lookouts.  It was really cold and overcast when we arrived at the base of The Nut but it was hot and sunny at the top.  The views were spectacular and you have 360 degree views at the top.  There are heaps of walk paths at the top and some signage describing some of the history of the

View from the top

place which was very interesting.  It is so worthwhile doing the walk up at the top as the views are awesome.  Joel and Dan decided to walk down and I accompanied Wade on the chairlift down.  The view from the chairlift is pretty spekky as well.  We thought we’d get a bite to eat in town at a cafe and ordered 4 burgers.  50 minutes later we finally got our lunch which was nearly afternoon tea as it was after 1:30PM when we ordered them.  We headed down to a rest area/park area to eat and the wait was definitely worth it – the burgers were very yummy (or was it that we were

View for lunch

The Nut

just so starving?).  The council have created a lovely seating area and parkland right on the beachfront which we sat at and ate our burgers and the kids had a bit of a run around. Nice beach area and I imagine it would be very busy when they actually have a summer with some sunshine and warmth!

Cantilever at Tarkine

We took a bit of a drive out to the Tarkine Forest Adventureswhich is located at Dismal Swamp, which contrary to its name, is a place of beauty. It is the site of the largest sinkhole in the Southern Hemisphere and is surrounded by incredible scenery and an ancient blackwood forest that is home to some especially adapted animals. They have a 110m slide that is enclosed but with clear perspex on the top of the slide.  We all jumped on a couple of times and had a go.  You have to get into what is essentially a really big, leather satchel and slide down in that, oh and with the ever so stunning bike helmets on too!  It was good for a laugh and you do pick up a bit of speed going down too. The guy warned us that the last person has the fastest ride as the previous riders have warmed up the slide.  There is a forest maze at the bottom of the slide which has information about lots of the different trees which we found quite interesting, even the kids did too.

Tarkine Slide- very sexy

Slide under cover

There were carvings in the actual trees and lots of unusual sculptures relating to the environment, like the lobsters in the pots. I think we all enjoyed looking for all of the different things to find, sort of like an educational treasure hunt!

Sunset 1

We headed back to Wynyard and going through the main town we had this car in front of us keep putting their hands out and tooting – we figured out it was Sandy and Grant from Pinjarra that we had met on the boat cruise in Strahan.  They followed us to our van and we arranged to have some drinks after dinner.  It was great to catch up

Sunset 2

with them again – and if you’re reading this guys I have lost your address so could you email us please. We watched a most magnificent sunset with glorious colours and marvelled at how beautiful this place is.

Lobsters in pots

Next day we headed back to Devonport as we need to collect our mail from the PO as we are on the ferry to Melb on Sunday.  We went back to the same park, the Discovery Holiday Park in Devonport and treated ourselves to an ensuite site again as we are in for some more rain!! just for something different!  We also met up with the Cantwells again as they have arrived here a day early too and are out on Monday on the ferry.  We spent the next few days reliving our travels and many other stories while the kids all played and watched movies.  Even though it was freezing and we got some great shots of Joel with his wine cask looking like a homeless person we still had a fantastic time.  We all agreed that Tassie is such a beautiful place and even though it has been wet, we have seen some amazing places and met some wonderful people – that and lots of other mad ravings after way too much alcohol:)) We had an absolute blast with you guys and we will see you again around Chrissy time for sure!

Kids movie night

We bid a fond farewell again to the Cantwells and boarded the Spirit of Tasmania on Sunday.  We have had a great time in Tassie and we will definitely be back.  We had a pretty ordinary day going back and unfortunately the weather was very rough and we all got sea-sick – the boys were very ill and didn’t manage to keep anything down while I was very sick too but just stayed in the foetal position on my bunk.  Even Joel who is a seasoned sailor was very queasy too.  I have never wished away more hours of my life than those 9 hours of the trip!  Back on the mainland once again:) Yeah solid dry land – yipee.

Till next time



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Tassie…..week 5

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on April 10, 2011

Hi everyone,

Wombat and his toy

Cape Barron Geese

We left Freycinet National Park and headed further up the east coast, past Bicheno to another free camp at Lagoons Beach, (#39 Camps 5). However when we got there the Ranger told us they were about to do a small burn-off in the area but that it would only be for an hour or so.  We set up away from the burn areas, closed the van up tight and headed back to Bicheno for some lunch.  We visited a place called Natureworld.  Wade had seen the signs when we passed through earlier so we stopped in for a look.  It is set on over  150 acres of bushland and lagoons so there were heaps of animals here and we finally got to see the Tasmania Devil as well.  It is a great place for the kids and there are signs with loads of information about each of the different types of animals, reptiles and birds. We listened to a few talks about the Tassie Devils and watched them feed them also.  Quite amazing little critters they are.  There was even a family of fallow deer loose in the park and they ventured close enough for some photos but not to be touched.  There was also a very young wombat who lost his mother in a car accident who has a stuffed toy to keep him company and to play with – it was so very cute, but a bit sad also:( We also saw some Cape Barron Geese for the first time, which are a grey colour and have a bright, lime-green colour on their beaks which was quite striking. The kids and Joel also got to hand feed the kangaroos as well. They also have some farm animals with a few boars, sheep, goats and a pony. We headed back to camp but it was still quite smoky so we decided on only one night here.

Fallow deer

Joel feeding roos

Wade feeding roos

Tassie Devil feeding

Sun ring and jet stream

Swimcart Beach Camp

Red rocks

Bay of Fires 1

We headed further up the coast to St Helens and stayed at the Big 4 caravan park as we need to do some serious clothes washing and some shopping.  We went for a squizz out to Binalong Bay which looks very nice and like a real sea-side village place.  The homes that have been built up on the hills wouldn’t give you much change from a million dollars I’ll bet. We headed out to the Bay of Fires camping areas to do a re-con to see where we might get the van in for a few days of free camping.  We found a nice spot so we’ll check it out tomorrow morning and see if it’s still there. Uh oh, Joel was emptying out the Thetford toilet when he accidentally dropped the cap for the toilet down the dump hole. Doh, we’ll have to wait until Launceston to see if we can get a new one.  St Helens is a lovely little town and there is a tap not far from the free camps where you can fill up your water tanks on the van.  Very handy!!

Bay of Fires 2

Eddystone Point Light House

Eddystone Point

We made sure the water tanks and the pantry were full and headed out to Swimcart Beach camping area (#26 Camps 5). It is one of many free camping areas in the area known as the Bay of Fires.  I’m pretty sure it gets this name from the amazingly bright orange/red colour of lichen that grows on the rocks in the bay. It is absolutely gorgeous.  We managed to snag a camp spot right along the beachfront and not too far from a loo either.  It was a magnificent day, sunny with just a little wind so we spent the day here at the beach.  I went for a walk up the beach for some pictures, Wade tried his hand at beach fishing (no luck again) and then the boys just played in the sand.  It is such a beautiful place here and I took lots of photos.  There is a red/orange lichen that grows on the sandstone rocks, with white beaches and turquoise waters it truly is a gorgeous place.  The kids spun me out by going for a swim, at 8pm when the temperature was only 18 degrees also.  They jumped in for a quick hot shower after that – not quite sure what got into them as usually we need to drag Daniel into the sea water kicking and screaming, whereas Wade IS normally that crazy!:)

Boat ramp Eddystone Point

The weather is wet once again so we decided to do some 4WDriving up towards Eddystone Point where the light house is.  We took a look in at Policeman’s Point and Anson’s Bay along the way and made it to Eddystone Point for lunch.  We had a short break

GPS shot

in the weather so we could walk up to the light house and have a look around. The light house is one of the most stunning we’ve seen as it is made from carved sandstones.  The coastline all up along here seems to have these rocks with the red lichen on them and it is just so striking. We decided to take a coastal 4WD track back to Anson’s bay and encountered a lot of black sand/mud holes.  There are a few sign posts but not too many so I’m glad we had the GPS.  We stopped in at a small boat ramp and met a couple from Bussellton who were also travelling. Small world:) We headed back to camp for an early dinner and for some reason the boys didn’t feel like swimming tonight – go figure!



Kids on swing they made

Jetty at Bridport

We headed westward toward Scottsdale to another free camping site, Northeast Park (#3 in Camps 5).  OMG these would have to be the worst roads we have driven on so far over here.  They are quite narrow and so windy – this is the first time the kids couldn’t actually do any schoolwork in the car as they were feeling so sick.  There were a lot of vans at Scottsdale already at 1pm and I think the crappy weather has made people stop earlier on the road!  We set up camp, unhooked the car and went for a drive out to Bridport.  The rain had stopped by the time we got out there and the town has a definite sea-side village feel to it.  We walked down along the beach and down to the jetty.  I can see why this would be a popular place for school holidays. We headed back to camp and found a trail walk up the back of the park.  It wasn’t very long so Joel and I went for a walk and left the kids to amuse themselves.  Joel bought Wade a long length of rope and the kids used it, with a piece of wood, to build a swing on a huge gum tree.  We came back from our walk to see them entertaining the oldies in the park with their antics on the swing.  They did a good job getting the rope high enough on the tree to make the swing.  Some of the old fellas watching were laughing their heads off as they watched the boys.  It’s great to see that they can still be boys and make some fun without it being in electronic form!:) We met another guy here who had also had his landcruiser converted like ours – they are a little unusual so Joel and he were chatting about the cars, what they have found works, etc. We have found that the towns in Tassie that don’t have a caravan park usually have an area or parkland set up for free camping with at least toilets in them.  We were particularly lucky with this one as you could also pay $3 (coin operated) and have a hot shower in the new amenities block.  There were a lot of backpackers in tents here, doing the just that.  There was also a resident platypus who made a visit just after the sun had set.  The kids got to see another one in the wild.

Scottsdale Camp

A Pademelon

Elephant Rock Bridport

More orange lichen rocks

Cool mailbox

Camp at Gowrie Park

We headed off the next day through Launceston and stopped in for a new toilet cap and do some more shopping. There is a food festival on in Launceston at the moment and everyone says we should stop but we still have so much more to see so we pressed on to a place called Gowrie Park.  It’s not far from Cradle Mountain where we hope to go to tomorrow.  It was another free camping area called O’Neill’s Creek Picnic Reserve (#220 in Camps 5 book) and it was so lovely.  It was next to a recreation reserve so there was a toilet block and right along the river bank too.  Wade, Daniel and I went for a bit of a scout to find some firewood as we’re going to have a roast dinner tonight.  It was only 2pm but it was already so cold so a fire would be very nice tonight! We walked a little ways into town and walked up the back of another reserve and found heaps of old wood and timbers, piled up.  We grabbed a few pieces for ourselves and had a beauty of a fire.  The roast beef with potatoes, pumpking peas and gravy was very yummy as was the hot pudding we had afterwards too.  My god we are eating a lot of stodgy food just to try to stay warm.  I can’t remember the last time we had a salad? We’ve been having a lot of home-made soups too!  There is a great mailbox right near the camp for the people across the road made out of welded bits’n’pieces from the farm.  It was pretty cool so we took a photo.

Before Dove Lake walk..brrr

Where's the mountain


We headed up to Cradle Mountain to see what walks we might like to do.  The weather was certainly not the best, as we did the 6km walk around Dove lake dressed in jumpers, rain coats and beanies because it was so cold and wet.  Oh did I mention that it is a chilly 6 degrees and it only managed to get to 9 degrees all day, even with the sun shinning! There are a number of walks you can do up on the mountain but the weather is so cold we decided to start with the Dove Lake Circuit.  It is in our little booklet of 60 Great Short Walks in Tassie.  I must have been feeling particularly creative last night as we had a combination of wraps for lunch and I

Ninja mamma

Pencil Pines Falls

Cradle Mountain Park

had drawn pictures of either a bull or a chicken on the wraps to denote its contents.  At least it made us all laugh for a bit as the day was a shocker.  The walk was steep in some areas and with being so rugged up as well we were working up quite a sweat but it was still too cold to take our jumpers off – bizarre weather and sooo foggy.  We couldn’t actually see Cradle Mountain as it was covered in fog.  The kids were laughing at me because I was so cold I had my scarf wrapped around my face and with my beanie on they thought I looked like a Ninja. Ha ha  maybe they were pretty close after all. We finished up the walk and caught the shuttle bus back down the hill.  It is recommended that you park at the Visitors Centre and catch the shuttle buses to the stops you want to go.  We were so glad we did as the roads are really only wide enough for a single vehicle and we are especially longer than normal now so it would have been a pain in the butt.  The shuttle buses have two-way radios fitted so they can call each other to let them know when they are approaching particularly blind corners so they know where each other is.  Unfortunately cars that don’t heed the warning and drive up to the top don’t have that warning and are often caught on the hop as they have to give way to the shuttle buses. We stopped at the old rangers station and did some of the shorter walks which were really beautiful.  We started with the Pencil Pines Falls and Rainforest walk,

Enchanted Walk Falls

Hey there it is

then the Enchanted Walk, then the Knyvet Falls walk.  There were some gorgeous falls and the rainforest flora was certainly different to that out around Dove Lake which is scrubby, low trees and bush. There were so many different types of mosses on these walks, it was amazing.  The sun had come out for a bit so I conned the kids and Joel to ride the shuttle to Dove Lake so I could actually get a picture of Cradle Mountain as it had been covered in fog all the morning.  The kids were so tired so we left them in the bus station while we went for a short walk to get some photos of the Lake and mountain with some sun and blue sky!  We travelled back down on the shuttle bus and each time we had a different driver but they were all really friendly and knew lots about the park and the walks.  The driver missed running over a Copperhead snake, but managed to pull up alongside it for people to take photos of it as it was sunning itself on the road.  Back at the visitors Centre we thought we’d get a cup of hot chocolate and have a sit down but the cafe was

Mural at Gowrie Park

Sunset at camp

closed between 4 and 5 (WTF?) so we jumped in the car and headed back to camp.  We started another fire and had a game of monopoly with the kids on the table near the fire.  It was a great family night after quite an exhausting day.  Joel and I were a little disappointed in Cradle Mountain, mostly because it is so hyped up but maybe we were expecting too much and also the weather wasn’t the best but we thought Mt Field National Park and even around Geeveston was much prettier.  Still I’m glad we did go and maybe next time we’ll be able to go with better weather.

Back to camp and Mt Roland is a beautiful backdrop to the camp site,especially on sunset.  Gowrie Park is an old town site for an old Hydro Electricity plant.  There is a huge mural painted on the side of some old sheds which depicts various aspects of the Mersey Valley Power Development they are absolutely fabulous.

Till next time


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Tassie…….week 4

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on April 9, 2011

Hi Everyone,

Lake Peddar

Gordon Dam

New Norfolk caravan park

Well we caught the ferry back to Kettering and left Bruny Island.  It’s still raining which is starting to dampen our spirits somewhat:(  Joel has an appointment with ARB in  Hobart with some questions regarding the air-bags in the rear suspension, as apparently they are the wrong ones. We decided to head up towards New Norfolk as we wanted to head out to Mt FIeld National Park and the Strathgordon Dam.  We stayed at the New Norfolk Caravan Park which is right along the river and in a beautiful spot. However, when we arrived it was raining cats and dogs so we just unhooked the van and Joel went into Hobart to see the guys at ARB while the kids and I made some lunch and tried to set up the van as best as possible in-between massive downpours of rain.  Thankfully the rain had almost stopped by late afternoon so the boys went for a ride on their bikes.  Luckily I didn’t watch them as they showed me the hill (read mountain) that they went down, with Daniel dinking Wade on the front handle bars.  How we didn’t get a hospital visit out of that I’ll never know, but am so grateful that we didn’t:) The hill was up behind the caravan park.

Kids on Gordon Dam wall

Dan, Amelia, Bridget, Mel and Joel

Bridget doing Daniel's hair

I went to fetch the boys for dinner and as I was walking back through the park I saw this scruffy, bearded bloke and thought, I know that face – lo and behold it was Shaun Cantwell and his son James.  We knew Shaun and Mel were in Tassie as well but weren’t sure we were going to meet up.  Shaun and I used to work together at St Luke’s College – seems like a million years ago!  We arranged to meet up with Joel, Mel and all the kids after everyone was showered and fed.  We had a great night catching up and the kids got on like a house-on-fire!  Daniel became the babysitter extraordinaire and all the kids came over to our van, bunked on our bed to watch a DVD while the adults stayed outside for some drinks and a chat.  Did I mention that Shaun and Mel have four beautiful kids, Maddie, James, Amelia and Bridget, who with Dan and Wade had like a slumber party on the bed with popcorn.  I know our kids loved having some other kids to play with other than themselves for a change.

Most of the crew

Which speed?

The next day we headed out to Strathgordon to see the Gordon Dam and Lake Peddar with the Cantwells.  The weather today is sunny and gorgeous. The dam is magnificent and the kids had a blast running across the wall and yelling out and listening for the echoes.   The

Landcruisers Rule

Gordon Dam is a double curvature, concrete arch dam on the Gordon River. The dam has a length of 192 m (630 ft), and a height of 140 m (459 ft), making it the tallest dam in Tasmania and the fifth-tallest in Australia. Water from the dam drops 183 m (600 ft) underground into its power station, where three turbines of 144MW generates up to 432 MW of power, covering about 13% of the electricity demand of Tasmania. We climbed down a lot of steps to get onto the wall and Daniel was ever so gallant by offering to carry Amelia up the stairs after she hurt her foot.  We set up a mini camp in the car park and had some BBQ sausages in bread, which were delicious. As we were driving away from Strathgordon I spotted some speed signs, which I had to take a photo of as they both had a different speed limit on them!  One said 60 and the other 80. Then there were cries of having a “boys car” and a “girls car” so Shaun and James jumped in with Joel, Daniel and Wade and I jumped in with Mel, Maddie, Amelia and Bridget.  We girls led the way as both Mel and I do most of the navigating on our trips and we didn’t want the boys to get lost:)) hee hee.

Russell Falls

Russell Falls thru tree ferns

Falls along track

We stopped in at Mt Field National Park on the way home to look at the Russell Falls.  It is a lovely short walk into these falls and they were glorious.  Mel decided to stay and let Amelia and Bridget play on the swings while the rest of us hiked in to the falls.  The walk in is through a magnificent rain forest area and the tree ferns were enormous.  On the way out we stopped to watch a platypus swimming in a small lagoon.  The kids were amazing in that they stayed still for so long while we were watching it.  We all headed back to camp, where we all did some washing, had dinner and the kids watched another movie while the adults had a few beverages:)

Next day was a catch up day with washing, shopping and homework on the agenda.  Wade and James took their rods down to the river to try their luck – no fish but they had a blast.  Daniel has a new fan in Bridget, who likes to be by his side, telling him what to do – we just laughed and laughed.  We were treated to a fine dinner of burritos at the Cantwell diner, then the kids headed off for another movie night in our van, while we stayed and drank and chatted over at Shaun and Mel’s.  What a fantastic few days we have had with the Cantwells.  They are travelling around Oz as well so we have had some amazing stories and adventures to share over a few beers/wines/ciders.

Another beautiful falls

Platypus playing

Kids fishing New Norfolk

The next day we bid our fond farewells to our friends the Cantwells, as we were heading eastwards and they are headed southwards.

We stopped for lunch in Triabunna, where we tasted the most amazing pies once again.  They certainly know how to make some yummy pies down here!:) We kept heading up along the coast as we hoped to stop at a free camp site at Mayfield.  Well the gazetted campground was chock-a-block full, so we thought we’d stop at the next lookout, just a few kms down the road and

Mayfield Bay camp

Wade rinsing off

Fire and sunset Mayfield Bay

re-check the Camps 5 free camp book.  We were so glad we did as the Mayfield Bay Lookout has a large open area so we set up camp in one corner, near the edge of the water.  (Camps 5 #45)What a magnificent spot – and it was totally free.  The temperature was 28 degrees today, the hottest we have had, so with that Wade, Joel and I jumped in for a swim.  It was mighty cold but we stayed in for a while and Wade and I even tried a bit of a snorkel but the water was a bit too murky.  The view of the bay and especially at sunset were just glorious.  The kids collected some driftwood and we managed another superb fire, while we watched the stars twinkling in the sky. It’s such a hard life………not!

We headed up towards Freycinet National Park to another free camp site at River and Rocks Campground (#42 in Camps 5 ).  Another great pick although it seems a lot of locals like to camp here on

Rocks and River Campground

Rocks and River Beach

the weekends.  We found a spot in the black sand but just back from the beach

Red sea creature

front.  There is a huge amount of bird life here and we saw heaps of penguins out on the water, especially around sunset.  They look so magnificent when they are gliding in onto the water.  We set up camp then drove out to see Friendly Beaches on the eastern side of the peninsula. It was beautiful but quite windy.  There were a lot of campsites along the edge of the beach here but it also incurred National Park fees.  It did seem more suited to tent camping as the sites were very small.  We got out to explore the

Orange and blue starfish

Sunset at R and R campground

beach and heaps of rockpools, with lots of muscles, orange and blue starfish and anemones.  We also

Dan's driving lessons

found this little red creature(?) in the rockpools but I’m not quite sure what it is but it’s a very, dark crimson red.  We collected some more firewood on the way home for another great fire and met our neighbours for a few drinks, Pam and Hans.  The rain has come back tonight but it is forecast to be a nice and sunny day tomorrow.  The camp has thinned out a bit now and Joel is giving Dan another driving lesson which he is enjoying immensely.  I can’t believe he has grown so much he can really reach the pedals and quite easily see over the steering wheel.


Wineglass Bay from lookout

Wineglass Bay beach

Dan and wallaby

Wade kicking back

Coles Bay almost finished

Well it was indeed nice and sunny so we headed off to Wineglass Bay.  The hype about it is very well deserved as it is a most beautiful place.  The walk into the bay is about 3 kms, with the first 1.5 kms straight up a mountain side to the lookout, with a gradient of about 2:1.  It was hard work

Hiking along Hazard Beach

but the view of the bay from the lookout was magnificent.  The walk down to the bay was steep also but better to be going down than back up this way.  The bay is shaped like a wine glass with white sand and turquoise water.  Wade and I explored along the rocks while Joel and Daniel watched a very friendly wallaby up on the beach trying to scavenge food from passers-by.  We decided to keep hiking on the track around to Hazards Beach.  The hike itself was a little strenuous but gave us some fantastic views of the eastern, western and southern side of Coles Bay. We could look out across Coles bay and see Mayfield Bay where we had stayed a few nights ago. We only did 11.5kms this time but we all agreed we felt more tired from this hike than the 17kms we had done down at South Cape Bay. We headed back to camp, made another fire, met some more neighbours then crashed relatively early as we were all a bit bushed.  The backpackers camped just nearby asked if they could use our fire – they were pretty good and didn’t keep us awake at all!  The sunset tonight was pretty awesome too so I hurried away just after dinner to catch some pics.

Till next time


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Tassie……week 3

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on April 4, 2011

Hi Everyone,

Camp at Gordon

Sunset at Gordon

Dan the fire builder

We left White Beach and headed for Hobart as we needed to have the wheel studs replaced on one wheel of the van.  After much stuffing around we finally headed on down towards Gordon, where we were hoping to free camp for a few nights.  Gordon is a magnificent place.  The toilet block is very new and the camping area is right alongside the river.  Daniel got to work building us a fantastic fireplace (thanks for the inspiration Dave!) and we needed it as the weather is still very cold! We arrived quite late in the afternoon but still managed to get a nice spot right down near the water.

The next day Wade convinced Joel to tag along while he fished

Wade in cave

Joel & Dan in cave

Amazing formations

off the jetty just down the road in the morning but nothing was biting. Dan did some school work and I worked on the blog. We took a drive around the peninsula to Cygnet and found a butcher there so it was a yummy roast beef dinner for tea tonight.  Dan and Wade built a cracking fire and we chatted to our neighbours who were from Sorrell, up near Hobart, where we had just come through.  Lovely people who gave us lots of tips on places to go and things to see and do.

Flowstone floor

The next day we moved camp around to Franklin, a lovely little township, just south of Huonville. You can stay for up to four weeks here and it’s only $8 a nite.  There is a toilet block and you can also fill up your water tanks with potable water here too.  With solar panels and a gennie you could stay here quite easily for four weeks. After setting up we took a drive down to Hastings Cave and the Thermal Pool. The Caves have been forming in the area for hundreds of millions of years. Named after Sir Francis Newdegate, the Governor of Tasmania from 1917-1920, Newdegate Cave is the largest tourist cave in Australia which occurs in dolomite, rather than limestone. Hastings Newdegate Cave is one of only two Dolomite Caves on show in Australia and the rock is believed to be 600 million years old (Pre Cambrian Age). We needed to dress warmly as the temperature always sits around 9 degrees in the caves, all year round.  The caves were originally found by 3 loggers in the area in 1917. The caves were opened to the public in about 1939. They have the most spectacular subterranean formations including flowstone, stalactites, columns, shawls, straws and stalagmites. The cave is well-lit and much more open than we expected. In one section the flowstone has created a floor of dolomite and it looks incredible. The flowstone and the other formations were amazing and a little different to the ones we saw at Cutta Cutta caves in NT.  The limestone caves have a more sparkling appearance than dolomite caves but they were still quite spectacular.  The thermal spring was a little disappointing as it was an actual swimming pool that is fed by the spring and all the locals come to have a swim – that didn’t surprise us in the slightest as there isn’t many places to swim that would be warm enough!! There is also a short walk through the rainforest, that is totally on a boardwalk, which is also quite interesting.  We took a drive down to Southport and Dover to have a bit of a look around. An early dinner and bed as we plan to do the South Cape Bay walk tomorrow which is 16-17kms long.

South Cape Bay Walk start

Rainforest section

Bush section

Marshland section

Stone work

South Cape Bay

Family pic before arctic blast

We started off early the next morning and kept an eye on the weather.  We drove to the most southern part of Tassie that you can drive to at Cockle Creek, parked up and packed the backpacks with lunch, snacks, water and our rain coats as the weather didn’t look that flash at all. The walk is described as a moderate level walk and a lot of it is on board walks and pathways.  The change in vegetation was amazing but all of it was quite beautiful.  The start of the walk is on the edge of some rainforest, then we passed through the marshlands, then back through the bush and onto the coastline.  We did see a few echidnas along the track and some of their burrows as well.  Wade and I kept stopping to see them, with their quills up and down. The South West Bay coastline is the most southern coastline of Tassie and it is indeed breathtaking – oh yeah and absolutely bloody freezing.  As soon as we made it to the bay, we sat down to eat lunch with another couple who were hiking as well. When we finished we thought we’d walk on down to the beach and as soon as we were away from the protection of the rocks the arctic blast that greeted us was unbelievable. Even though the day was very windy and overcast in patches, the views were still superb. As there are no roads down to this section, the landscape is quite untouched and pristine. It was just beautiful.  We spent some time down at the water’s edge but at no time did any of us feel the slightest

South West Cape 2

Rainbow in Southport

inclination to jump in and test the waters! We headed back to the car, with Joel deciding that 17kms wasn’t enough so he did an extra km or so as he’d left his jumper on a tree when we stopped for one of our breaks and he had to go back and get it:) The walk took us about 5 hours in total and the boys did really well.  We just made it back to the car when the heavens opened up and let us have it!  It absolutely poured down and we kept saying how lucky we were to have gotten back just in time! As we were driving back we saw about three different rainbows – they were quite exquisite too. We stopped in Southport to take another photo as the rainbow was right across the skyline. We decided to dine out at our favourite little cafe we had found last week with my sister Dianna, as we were too buggered to cook and the Thai curries were very yummy indeed.  A quiet night tonight and the kids must have been tired as they didn’t whinge about going to sleep!

Boat cruise

Big motors

We realised yesterday while out doing some 4WDriving that the suspension was a bit ordinary and Joel was pretty sure that one (or both) of the rear shokkies was gone. Sure enough we had the car checked out in Huonville and they managed to get some replacement ones sent up that day and the car was almost as good as new again.  It took a few hours so we had a veg day, caught up on some homework and the blog and cleaning of the van!

Next day we headed back to Gordon for a night of free camping before we head off to catch the ferry, with the caravan, at Kettering across to Bruny Island tomorrow.

Up early to catch the ferry, which took a whole 15minutes to get us from Kettering to Bruny Island!  We were quite looking forward to Bruny but the weather forecast is for rain for the three days we are to be here. Ah well, seems we must be rain gods at the moment – ah yes we’re hearing you over there in Perth and the West and if we could send it over there, we would!

Dan makes red look ok

Red suits mmmm.....

The Monument

The first day at Bruny we just set up and then the kids and I made Joel a birthday cake (chocolate his favourite) as tomorrow is his birthday! We are hoping the weather stops raining for us tomorrow too as we are booked on a boat tour of the island.

Well the weather wasn’t fantastic but at least the rain was holding off for us for the boat cruise.  We booked with Bruny Island Cruises, the yellow boats, and had a fan-bloody-tastic day.  There were four boats that went out and each boat is powered by 3 x 300hp Mercury Engines – man could they fly! Our guides for the day were awesome, very charming and hilarious.  They were so well-informed about the history of the

Fur seals so cute

island and both the flora and fauna as well.  They also give you a red parka to wear, which has a hood and comes down to your feet.  They are amazing and kept us very dry and warm.  Everyone on the boat was wanting to know where we could get one and if they came in other colours besides bright red!! They drove us around to the south of the island passing lots of caves, blowholes and magnificent coastlines.  Then we went right down south

Red teletubbies yeah

and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees. Then there they were – fur seals everywhere, I’ve never seen so many.  The guys took the boats right up to the rocks so we could see (and peewhew) smell them. Imagine the strongest, most pungent uncleaned toilet smell ever and you’d be getting close! OMG! However they were just amazing to watch.  Some were just lazing in the snippets of sunshine, some jumped into the water and swam around the boat and some had a little fight just to let us know who’s the boss! It was an awesome day and the rain stayed away for most of the trip. The guys took the boat out a little further from the coast on the way back to see if we could see any dolphins, fish or birds but not much luck there.  The swell was getting quite big and as we couldn’t see any other animals we headed back in towards the coast again.  They took us through the rock formation called “The Monument” again and had another look at some of the caves and blowholes too.  The tour took 3 hours and was one of the absolute highlights of our trip. We headed back to the van for a late lunch of soup and cake and sang Happy Birthday to Joel.  We spent the arvo playing monopoly with the kids, but it’s not the old one but a newer version in which the properties are different and there are other things to buy besides hotels and motels.  It was fun but you forget that a game can last several hours……….Still it was a nice way to spend the day with the kids:) especially when it’s raining cats and dogs outside.

Cloudy Bay

Cape Bruny

Lookout Penguin Rookery

The next day we thought we’d explore the island a bit more and just packed our rain coats just in case.  We did some 4WDriving taking some back roads from Adventure Bay across to Lunnawanna.  There was a general store there that had a sign out the front boasting of having the best pies in Tassie.  By now it was lunchtime and we thought we’d give them a go.  When we walked in there were heaps of show ribbons hung on the walls, mostly firsts!, for their pies.  Okay now we definitely have to try some.  Joel had a venison pie, Daniel and bacon and egg, Wade a chunky beef and I tried a chicken and mushroom pie.  They were a bit expensive but OMG they were so delicious!  Nearly

Yummy Pies

every place we have been sells the famous Tassie scallop pie, so Joel thought he’d get one to try.  They all have the scallops in a curry sauce and Joel thought it was very yummy.  I quite liked the taste of the scallops but couldn’t quite get my head around it being wrapped in pastry – thought they’d be better on a bed of rice! ha ha. We chatted to the people inside and remarked at how tasty their pies were and they told us they had been on the tv show Getaway and lots of other great awards they had won – we were not the least bit surprised as they did taste so yummy. We continued on down to the Cape Bruny Lighthouse for a squizz.  Such beautiful views even though the day was very overcast!  I imagine it would be even more beautiful with some sunshine! Another time perhaps for us. We also took a drive out to Cloudy Bay which also was quite pretty but hard to fully appreciate with the wind and rain.  We decided to head up to North Bruny Island and drive around for a squizz also.  The land has been more cleared on the north island but it was still quite beautiful too.  We stopped at the neck of the two islands, where there is a penguin rookery and lookout.  There is a great view of the neck of the islands from the top of the lookout. We never did make it back to a night-time viewing of the penguins, mostly because it starts to rain in the afternoon and we can’t be bothered to wait around in the rain.

Next we are heading off to Hobart, as Joel needs to get the air bags looked at in the rear shokkies.  Hopefully we can make it to New Norfolk.

TIll next time


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