The Tasmanian adventure started by the announcement from Random Books that I had won 8 days in a Maui campervan anywhere in Australia (except Broome). I had entered a competition to suggest where Judy Nunn’s next book should be set.
After thinking about a Red Tent Woman road trip after a retreat experience and floating around the idea of a trip with other friends, the inablilty to co-ordinate a suitable time with everyone made it all too hard.
Never having made it over the ditch to the Apple Isle, and aware of the cost of taking the 4WD & Ultimate by ferry, Tasmania seemed like a good option. I booked the trip for the end of January, hoping for warmth, relatively speaking and settled on a 4 berth van. We booked flights over using frequent flyer points and were set.
Originally, I planned to go a couple of days earlier to spend some time with an old friend, but Dad needed medical tests, so I had to postpone that part of the trip.
Arrival at Hobart was late on the Saturday afternoon, so we missed out on the Salamanca Markets, but not having that shopping gene, it didn’t bother me.Viewing the images on the link is sufficient for me.
We checked into our harbourfront hotel and enjoyed the view, before setting off for a bit of a wander.
The Sea Shepherd catamaran Gojira was in port for some repairs and it was interesting to see how the black hull blended in with the sea and the wharf. An interesting afternoon wandering about and checking out the old buildings. Dinner at the hotel was supposed to be a Tasmanian taste sensation – unfortunately not living up to its description.
Sunday morning was very quiet. We wandered about a bit more and I met with my friend for afternoon tea at the old IXL factory and introduced her to a lovely therapist at a little place tucked away in the complex. Fish and chips for dinner from one of the floating takeaway places on Coronation wharf. Much nicer than some of the pretentiously labeled dishes from the harbourside restaurants!
Monday we headed back to the airport to pick up the camper & found we had been upgraded to a 6 berth camper. Lots of room! After a quick stop to get provisions we headed south. We had lunch in Huonville and stopped at a boat building place, headed off to the Huon River and an airwalk. (powerwalk for me as it was quite breezy and there was a definate sway happening).
We made it down to Southport for our first night in the van and got ourselves comfortable. A chilly evening followed by a brisk morning!
Good thing I packed a warm sleeping bag!
We meandered back up to Hobart with a few detours. To the top of Mt Wellington and the sub alpine environment so close to town and then down again and off in a westerly direction.
We ended up just before dusk at Lake St Clair, which seemed like a good spot to stop. There seemed to be 3 distinct groups of campers here. The serious bushwalkers, in their designated area, the family campers and us mob in the hired campers.
We headed west again the next day and lunched at Queenstown which was sleeping in the Australia Day sunshine. Michael had previously visited here with a mate on a motorbike tour in 1977 around this time of year, whilst I was in Queenstown, New Zealand at about the same time!
After a burger at the cafe with tabletop jukeboxes, we headed off to Strahan, punctuating the trip with stops to see waterfalls and nature walks. Some beautiful places and so much nicer than the towns and tourist “attractions”.
We found a spot to stay in Strahan and organised the next day’s activity, which was to go on the boat up the Gordon River. All very interesting and even headed out through the entrance to the harbour which wasn’t very wide at all. We saw the salmon farms and a tiger snake basking in the sun, whilst out on one of the walks.
Back on dry land, we fired the motor up and headed off for Cradle Mountain. The predicted rain came in, the temperature dropped and by the time we got to Cradle Mountain it was about 5 degrees.
Overnight it dropped further to about 3 degrees and on opening the curtains of the camper we discovered clear blue sky.
The wind was cool, so we took hats and jackets on our walk around Dove Lake. In my element here, taking photos and enjoying the scenery, letting the athletic types leap and bound past in their quest for their PB time around the lake. I got the photos dude!
We got back on the road again and headed for LaTrobe. I dropped Michael off at the Axemans Museum and backtracked to the Quiet Cone to have a look. Very quiet – in between session times, but the owner was accommodating and allowed a peek inside. Would be interesting to spend more time there for a full session.
However, time was short and the days ticking over and we had a mission to make the East Coast that evening. And we did. Bypassed Launceston and down the highway a bit and then a left and off to St Helens. We got there just before 6 and set ourselves up for the night. I was quite weary as I had done most of the driving that day and it was predominately mountain roads.
By now it was Saturday. Only 3 days left and so much more to see. Bay of Fires, Bicheno, Freycinet – we did it all on Saturday and managed to see the woodchop competition in the morning! All places to come back to and spend a bit more time to explore and savour.
Sunday saw us heading south again and we detoured via the Tesselated pavement which was fascinating. A natural rock formation that looked as if the stone had been quarried. The lines were amazingly straight and all kinds of creatures lived in the little rockpools along the beach.
Time got away with us here and we arrived at Port Arthur a little later than expected. Not to worry, as it was open until late,. The ruins also spectacular against the afternoon sky in a curiously morbid way. Friends had suggested that the energy from the convict past would be unsettling, but I didn’t feel it. The site of the Broad Arrow Cafe felt incredibly sad and we paid respects and moved on. Unfortunately the rain came down and while we wandered about for as much as possible it was time to call an end to the day and retire to the camper for a dinner of freshly caught oysters and locally smoked fish.
We travelled around and visited various clifftop viewpoints before heading off to Richmond for our last look at the historic side of Tasmania and lunch.
A nice, easy drive.
Over the bridge at Richmond and into the bakery for fresh bread rolls filled with salad for me and the remnants of the Vegemite for Michael. Finished tidying up the van and gave some perishables to some fellow travellers from Donald and we were off to return the van, and head back to Melbourne.
After a delay of about an hour and a half, the plane was back and ready to board and we were homeward bound.
A different kind of adventure from our usual trips and a pleasant interlude.
And I got to see this!