OUR TRIP AROUND TASMANIA
When the time had finally come to get up and hit the road for Tasmania, the tiredness, due to lack of sleep from packing until 11pm the night before was soon overcome with sheer joy and excitement. We had finally come to the beginning of our road trip holiday.
After 1800km, 3 states and almost 2 days of bum numbing driving we had reached the Spirit of Tasmania at the Port of Melbourne. It was at this point the excitement reached new levels as we realised by the following morning after a night sail across the bass strait we would be waking up in VAN DIEMANS LAND (The original name of Tasmania).
We disembarked the Spirit of Tasmania at Devonport, and it wasn’t long until Nikki’s hangryness (being angry due to extreme hunger) was starting to shine which meant our first call of duty would be to get ourselves a good breakfast…….. she just needed to wait until we arrived in Launceston. Once arriving into Launceston after a short drive only saying what was necessary trying to not awaken the hangry demon as I call it, we found ourselves a nice cafe for breakfast.
Launceston is Tasmania’s second largest city after Hobart so we strapped on our walking shoes (thongs) and went for a wander around the township. During our walked we came across an amazing lush green park called City Park, which to our surprise had an enclosure with Japanese Macaque(snow monkeys) in the centre of the park. As strange as this was to us, these monkeys are on display in the park most of the year round. After burning up some time watching the monkeys and exploring some of the town it was time to load up the truck with the essentials and head for our first destination, Bridport.
Bridport is a quiet little town situated on the Northern end of the island heading towards the East. We spent our first night at Bridport Caravan Park where on arrival we were greeted by the manager who was so lovely and helpful. He chatted to us for almost half an hour giving us maps and details of places he recommended to see as well as a few little local tips of his own. We woke up to a slightly wet drizzly morning and decided to pack early and get on the road and head for the Bay of Fires area on the East Coast.
If you have ever considered travelling to Tasmania, read books about, or spoken with someone whose travelled or lived in Tasmania I’m more then certain you would’ve heard the name Bay of Fires. Unfortunately for us that morning drizzle had nothing better to do with its day and hung around, joined by his mate the wind! The rain in this instance wasn’t too bad and was bearable, but the wind was insane. Some gusts felt like they were on the verge of blowing us over. None the less we walked out to the Bay of Fires’ lookout and had a sticky beak around the rocky shore line. Despite the weather, you could certainly see how beautiful this place can be, and the weather was a sure reminder how beautiful yet powerful mother nature can be. We decided not to camp around this area and headed south along the coast checking out many other campsites along the way. Due to it being the Christmas holiday period finding a campsite suitable for our setup was proving a little trickier than originally thought to be. But luckily the sun doesn’t go down till 8:30pm, even 9pm in some places. So eventually we found a campsite and set up at Friendly Beaches.
We continued down the East Coast, stopping along the way at many little towns, sites and beaches. The original decision we made was to head for Freycinet National Park to camp there for a couple of nights. But something that we were unware of until arriving was that over the Christmas holiday period the Freycinet National Park is so popular it becomes a camping via ballet. So, our trip to Freycinet turned into a day trip. Which none the less was an amazing day with a nice walk to the light house overlooking the bay. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the time to do the hike up to the Wineglass Bay look out, so google images will just have to do. When it came time to leave to find a place for the night it was easy to pick the town Bicheno which we had visited earlier that day. There were no camping grounds close to the town so we booked into the Bicheno East Coast Holiday Park.
Bicheno is a lovely old little fishing town situated on the East Coast. It’s only a small town but has all you need in the area to camp for long periods of time comfortably. We spent a large portion of our time in Bicheno at a place called The Gulch. Don’t let the name deter you, but it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen and it also has some awesome squid fishing. The weather had decided to turn on for us during our time at Bicheno, with some of the bluest, clearest skies I’ve seen, water so clear and a beach so white and clean you could mistake yourself being in the Mediterranean, but you soon know you’re in Tasmania once you feel the water temp. After exploring around the beaches and coast line we headed to the Gulch for some fishing. During the daylight hours, it produced some nice sized Wrasse and Barracuda, and by dusk it was a calamari lovers heaven. This wasn’t the only thing Bicheno had to offer at dark, the little Fairy Penguins flock to this area on dark with the numbers being so thick you need to be careful where you walk. Bicheno also has a pretty awesome blowhole, which is easily accessed via a 2-minute walk from the carpark. We experienced the blowhole on a making tide with little swell and it was still putting on a good show. I could only imagine what it would be like during a large swell.
It was hard leaving Bicheno, I could never say enough to give it its full justice. But none the less we had lots more of Tassie we wanted to see, so we headed off again heading South along the coast. It wasn’t long after heading off that we had our first pit stop. It was at Devils Corner Winery which was only 30 minutes South from Bicheno. This was our very first winery experience, and it sure blew us away. Neither of us are big wine drinkers, and in a way thought the whole vineyard scene was one that wasn’t for us. Even though we may have been the roughest looking vineyard visitors in our adventuring get up we felt rather relaxed and comfortable here. We enjoyed a glass of wine and a wood fired pizza on the deck, which looks out over the grass hills into Oyster Bay. Not a bad breakfast I say. From here we headed of South stopping at few little towns along the way until we reached Hobart.
Upon arriving late into Hobart with a game plan to head to Bruny Island the following day, we booked in a hotel room for the night giving us the chance to catch up on that fun activity ‘the laundry’ and also some much-needed sleep.
With an early start, we headed for Kettering, a little town South East of Hobart where we boarded the ferry for a short 10min voyage across to Bruny Island. Our first port of call was always going to be the cheese factory, Bruny Island Cheese Factory. We stocked up on a few goodies to add to our snacks and of course a few special cheeses to go with our Christmas lunch which was only a few days away. We left the cheese factory and headed for the well-known and photographed ‘Neck’ on Bruny Island, where we walked up to the lookout which gives you stunning views of the island. With the weather being almost perfect we decided that it would be a good day to check out what we can of the island before finding ourselves a place to stay. We spent the day driving around South Bruny, checking out the South Bruny Lighthouse and in the opposite direction Cloudy Bay. Both these locations showcase some spectacular views. Also at the lighthouse stop they conduct tours to the top of the lighthouse as well as a small museum showcasing some of the old instruments used and the old logbooks of lighthouse keepers. Visiting this place sure makes you realise just how harsh and isolated the life style would have been back in the day as the lighthouse keeper.
We set up camp at ‘The Neck’ camp grounds, where we stayed for 3 nights. Enjoying the easy walk to the beach, the abundance of wildlife (especially Wallabies and Possums) and the sheer serenity of the island. The beaches around The Neck are renowned for beach fishing, unfortunately the fishing gods were not on our side but we did manage catch some more Squid, with one of them smashing my previous PB.
After spending 3 nights on Bruny we headed back to the mainland to continue the adventure. With the day turning into a cracker we decided it would be a good day to head up to the top of Mount Wellington which overlooks Hobart and surrounding towns, but to make it more interesting and a real adventure we thought it was time to test out my 4wding abilities and take Jeffrey’s Track, a 4wd track which links up Crabtree to Lachlan which is a short cut in kms but not in time. The track is 14km long and took us 1hr 30min to complete, but it was worth every minute. The track is of a medium difficulty and has some awesome views along the way as well as some testing obstacle and track conditions to navigate your way through. Once we emerged from Jeffrey’s Track it wasn’t much further on until we begun the accent to the top of Mount Wellington. The windy narrow road up to the summit takes roughly 15min with plenty of spectacular views along the way, but the real gem is once you reach the summit. Even though the day was reasonably warm once we reached the summit the jumpers soon came on. Only a few weeks before our arrival the peak had received snow and it was the middle of summer.
From Mount Wellington, we set our GPS for Port Arthur on the Tasman peninsula. After arriving late with the light fading fast we decided to stay at the free campsite next to the Dunaley Pub. If my sixth sense had known what this night would have install for us I would’ve stayed somewhere much different. The campsite is an open oval which has no shelter from the wind, and it just so happened that on this night after a long day of driving and adventuring it had decided to give the roof top tent a true test of its strength with each gust of wind that made me think “does Tasmania get cyclones?”. The wind was so strong the roof top tent was acting almost like a sail on the car and the rocking felt like the seas. Not only was the soothing rocking a contender for “KEEP THEM AWAKE AWARD” but the loose parts of the tent where flapping so loud that the only possible way to sleep would be to down a few to many wines mixed with some sleeping tablets. We decided to get out of the roof top tent before we ended up in Antarctica, we somehow managed to pack the tent away and turned to the ever inviting front seats of the car. With a car packed to the brim with gear the seats were not going to recline to an optimum sleeping angle, they were upright and made for one of the worst night’s sleep that I can remember. We woke at the crack of first light and despite the lack of sleep, the now drizzling with rain weather we were super excited for the day ahead. We had decided to head to the Port Arthur Historical Village. Even though the weather was a grey drizzle day I don’t think I can explain how awesome the historical site is. In a strange way, the rainy conditions gave it this eerie feel which only added to thrill. We spent almost 5 hours wandering around in our rain coats checking out what remained of the site and listening to the stories of the tour guide for the first hour. Port Arthur would be one of our must do trips if you ever visit Tasmania.
With the ‘Taste Festival’ on and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race it was time to head on back to Hobart to get amongst the festivities and to check out the beautiful city of Hobart. The Taste Festival boasts a great range of food and drink, all of which is grown and produced in Tasmania. The festival is set up along the harbour just past Elizabeth Pier, with plenty of seating set out along the harbours edge where you can enjoy some of Tasmania’s’ wonderful food and drink whilst watching the yachts sailing in from the Sydney to Hobart. The taste also has a range of live music, buskers, acrobats, and live cooking demos. The taste is also the place for the New Year’s fireworks and celebrations.
With a few days to kill in Hobart we decided that we would try check out as much as we can by foot. Walking around the city you almost feel as if you’re in an old English town, with some spectacular buildings that date back as far as 1800’s. Something that I personally enjoyed was the Maritime Museum. For a modest fee, you can explore the history of the Australian Maritime industry, and especially that of Tasmania’s past. We were lucky enough to have been at the museum whilst they had an amazing and very knowledgeable exhibition on the Royal Australian Navy’s history. This was especially something of my personal interest, with having joined the Navy at a young age for a short time and having an interest in the History of Australia’s defence force.
After a few days checking out Hobart and all the festivities we needed to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and get back out to something more relaxing, or at least a little more remote. We decided to head for the Strahan, a small town on the West Coast of Tasmania. Along the way to Strahan we decided to make take the trip through the central highlands and near some of the fresh water lakes. This drive had to be one of the most spectacular drives. The terrain seemed to change almost every 30 minutes. From open flat plains to large mountain ranges and forest like terrain to parts that feel like you’re driving through a scene from Lord Of The Rings. Unfortunately, with time running short we didn’t get to spend much time around the lakes and Cradle Mountain region, but this is just a good excuse to visit Tasmania again one day.
We didn’t arrive into Strahan until late, and it was New Year’s Eve, so we didn’t muck around and got set-up asap at the Strahan Holiday Retreat Camp ground where we put up our feet and enjoyed some of Tassie’s culinary delights cooked by yours truly and of course we stoked up on some Wine and Cider from Vineyards we visited throughout the trip so far.
January! Another year down. We didn’t want to waste a minute, so we packed up early and headed off to find ourselves a campsite that would provide some fishing and fun for our last couple nights. With a few local tips and hints which we had acquired the night before around the fire we headed for Macquarie Heads as we had been told this was an almost guaranteed spot to catch some Australian Salmon, a fish in which we had long been trying to catch throughout the trip with no success yet. We arrived at Macquarie Heads and headed straight down the beach access to a spot that I thought looked like it would produce the goods of some Salmon. The weather had turned a little grim, with light rain, grey skies, but luckily the wind didn’t get the memo and hadn’t turned up yet. We rigged up the light rods, chucked on our rain jackets and headed to the water’s edge with the expectation and dream of “Salmon first cast” but that would just be to easy apparently. What felt like a couple of hundred casts later and the rain not letting up we had produced nothing but a sour mood. Nikki finally gave up and started making her way back to the campsite, leaving myself and my Taurus born stubbornness still casting away reluctant to except defeat. Sure enough only several more casts later and finally a HIT! Was this going to, be it? With absolute joy, I had finally caught and landed an Australian Salmon. I of course had to run and show Nikki. With the excitement of finally catching one I was ready to tackle another hundred plus casts to get a bigger one. But it wasn’t going to take a hundred, no not even several. I was on again. Nikki came back down and joined in with the total tally for that evening reaching 30 plus Salmon, and the following day we managed to catch another 40 plus within an hour, almost going cast for cast with double hook ups.
During our stay at Macquarie Heads on the west coast we also had one of the most freaky and awesome night’s sleep. Now if you have ever heard Koalas mating, or more likely Possums, then I’m sure your aware of the devil like noise that they make. Well if you have experienced this you know how freaky it is for the first time, when you’re wondering what demonic creature has come to get me during the night. What we heard this night makes them sound like nursery rhymes. When I said it was also awesome it was because it was a wild Tasmanian Devil outside our tent.
After 3 nights at Macquarie Heads it was time to head to head north, making our way closer towards Devonport, where the following evening we would have to say goodbye. We got away from Macquarie Heads early and headed North. Along the way we visited Guide Falls, right next to the Guide Falls Animal Park. The Falls are amazing! And if you have a love for animals, the Guide Falls Animal Park is a lovely friendly place to visit, where yourself and/or your children can get up close and personal with a wide variety of animals. With the final day drawing to an end we headed to Burnie where we got to spend our final night walking along the wonderfully set out boardwalk watching the Fairy Penguins come ashore to feed their chicks which had been waiting on the shore in the burrows for their parents to return.
We had a total of 16 nights in Tasmania, formerly known as Van Diemens land, but I certainly wish I had a lot more. After experiencing on a fraction of what Tasmania has to offer I know one thing for sure, that’s that I’ll be back. Tasmania is truly one of Australia’s best keep secrets, with such an abundance of wildlife, lush healthy landscapes and such a vast array of scenery. Not only is it environmentally lovely, everyone we had the pleasure of meeting along the way where so friendly and helpful, and we cannot forget the wonderful food that comes out of this pristine place. So, if you get the chance to visit Tasmania we highly recommend that you take the opportunity to do so.
Summit 2 Sea Adventures.