Days 76 & 77 in Tassie

2nd February, 2018.

Next stop Triabunna, a small fishing village which is the gateway to Maria (pronounced Mariah by the locals) Island, another fairly short drive. Two camps to choose from. One behind the pub and one opposite on a vacant block of land owned by the local take away shop. We opted for the vacant block which allows only self-contained vehicles, no whizz bangs, cars or tents, not because we are snobs but we have found these sites to be more peaceful. When we arrived we were pleased to see Stephen and Carol, whom we had first met at Smithton and subsequently at Old Macs Farm and Sorell, plus our neighbours from Sorell both set up there. That was a good enough endorsement for us as Stephen is very particular about where he camps and has been known to pack up and leave if the generators become too much for him. We aren’t quite that selective.

Later in the afternoon, we set off for a walk around the town using a mud map supplied by the Visitor Centre; first along the esplanade and past Dead Island before circling back through the main street.

There are only a couple of noteworthy buildings in the town. This is the Old School House, built in 1925 on Maria Island. When the cement works on the island closed the building was relocated to the District High School.

Magistrate Cottage.

The Colonial Tea Rooms built in the 1880s.

I’m not sure if Erich considered applying me for the job but I don’t have a boat in any case.

Triabunna House was originally built as a hotel, became a family residence in 1875 and operated as a boarding house from 1906 until the 1930s.

The Old Barracks.

The pub architecture left a bit to be desired.

The fish van in Triabunna is reputed to serve the best fish and chips in Tassie so we felt it our duty to check it out. The fish was fabulous (flathead from memory) but their chips left a lot to be desired in my opinion. At that stage, our vote for best fish and chips would go to the van at Eaglehawk neck.

During our visit to the Visitor Centre, we booked the East Coast Cruises Maria Island Cruise for the following day. However we were warned that a minimum of 8 people was required for the cruise to go ahead and they were still short 2 people. A phone call late in the afternoon confirmed that the cruise was cancelled for the next day so we asked to transfer to Sunday with fingers crossed for sufficient numbers.

3rd February, 2018.

So with no plans for the day now, we decided to head north to check out our camping options on the Freycinet Peninsula. Driving without towing the van allows us to venture into out of the way places that we dare not take the van. This lookout point at Spiky Beach was a lovely stop with views across to Freycinet.

The Devil’s Corner Cellar Door was along the route and, luckily for us, we arrived there at lunch time. Unlike most cellar doors we have visited, the actual winery was nowhere to be seen although there were plenty of vines around. However the views across to The Hazards on Freycinet were spectacular.

There are 2 food outlets adjacent to the Cellar Door, one serving delicious looking pizzas and the other selling local seafood. We didn’t need to think much about our choice.

First we shared a dozen plump juicy oysters from the Freycinet Marine Farm on the Peninsula and they rivalled any oysters we had previously had. A couple of glasses of Devils Corner bubbles helped them down.

Followed by Coconut Chili Mussels also from the same farm. They were delicious.

There was a great camping area at Friendly Beach on the surf side of the peninsula but only a couple of sites large enough for a caravan and they were already occupied. However, the beach was stunning.

Coles Bay looking across to The Hazards.

We checked out a few more camping sites. The only one suitable for caravans in the National Park is subject to a ballot so not for us. A couple of others that were recommended just didn’t feel suitable with lots of deep sand which I hate towing on. We had a look at the Golf Club which offers camping for $10 per night and decided that, while there was not much ambiance or sea view, it would suit us for a couple of nights to explore the peninsula.

Returning to Triabunna, we stopped at the aptly named Spiky Bridge, across the road from Spiky Beach, a relic from convict days. No one is sure why the bridge was built this way but it has certainly survived well.

The day’s route.

 

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Day 75 in Tassie

1st February, 2018.

As we had enjoyed our Pennicott cruise at Bruny Island, we decided to take their Tasman Island cruise for another experience. The pickup point was at their office close to Port Arthur, around an hour’s drive from our camp at Sorell so it was an early start to ensure we arrived by 9.15am. The cruise actually leaves from Eaglehawk Neck which would have been more convenient than driving to Port Arthur and then being bussed back to the boat and vice versa but we weren’t aware of that when we booked. This time we chose seats behind the console knowing that the further forward the seats, the rougher the ride.

Once again, the scenery was spectacular but different from that along the east coast of Bruny Island.

Tasman Arch seen from sea level.

We saw another colony of seals, this time Long Nose Fur Seals which were formerly called NZ Fur Seals.

Approaching Tasman Island, the pulley system once used to transfer people and supplies to the lighthouse at the top of the island is still visible. The small rocky island served as the base from which everything was hauled to the top of the much larger Tasman Island using a horse. No one knows how they got the horse up there.

We were joined by schools of dolphins which were wonderful to watch but difficult to capture in a photograph.

At the conclusion of the cruise, we drove back to Eaglehawk Neck to have a look at the Blowhole which wasn’t cooperating at the time. It was interesting to see the cliffs from above.

Our last stop for the day was a the Tessellated Pavement, an amazing natural rock formation.

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Day 73 & 74 in Tassie

30th January, 2018.

As the weather was looking promising for the day we decided to take a loop drive from Sorell down to South Arm and back around through Richmond.

First stop was Seven Mile Beach. Close enough to Hobart for commuters and there was even a bus service to the city.

We continued our drive across quiet country roads and ventured further down onto the peninsula where we took a side road to the little village of Cremorne, tucked away in its own little bay.

There were scores of sea birds – mainly Sooty and Pied Oystercatchers.

Driving across the bottom of the peninsula, we stopped at a lookout point at Goats Bluff which gave fabulous views over the bay with several small islands and a couple of small lighthouses.

At South Arm, we parked and walked to Hope Beach which we had seen from Goats Bluff. A couple of hardy surfers had donned their wetsuits and were heading for the water with their surfboards.

Continuing on through Opossum Bay, we eventually reached the end of the road with views across the bay towards Kingston Beach.

A good shot of Mount Wellington in the distance.

We retraced our route back to the Tasman Highway at Cambridge and then headed north in the direction of Richmond. Frogmore Creek Winery had been highly recommended so we made that our lunch destination. The food and wines were outstanding and the views across the vineyard were lovely.

31st January, 2018.

With rain forecast for the day, we decided not to venture far. Between showers we walked in to town to the bakery, stopped for a visit at the Information Centre and picked up some groceries from the supermarket. There are some nice old buildings in Sorell.

Currently used as a Bed and Breakfast, this lovely building would have an interesting history.

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Day 72 in Tassie

29th January, 2018.

A day trip to the former Port Arthur Penal Colony on the Tasman Peninsula, now a Unesco World Heritage site, is a must do for any visitor to Tasmania. While the site itself has not changed much since my first visit around 35 years ago, which must have been very soon after it was opened to the public, it is now very big business with a huge visitor centre, guided tours and an included harbour cruise past the Isle of the Dead and Point Puer Boys Prison Site. It is now on the itinerary for the many cruise ships that visit Tasmania. We had hoped to avoid a day when a ship was in port but unfortunately that was not to be. Not only was Holland America’s Noordam moored in the bay but busloads of passengers were brought from Ovation of the Seas which was berthed in Hobart. In short, the place was swarming with tourists.

We arrived shortly after opening and were allocated a walking tour 40 minutes later so we strolled through the former Government gardens, a formal design reminiscent of English gardens. It was really lovely even though most of the flowering plants were past their best.

Ruins of the original Church.

A smaller wooden church built in the early 1900s.

The magnificent oak trees brought back great memories of his childhood for Erich.

The Commandant’s House.

The ruins of the Penitentiary.

The Commandant’s House has been well preserved.

The Guard Tower.

Waiting at the dock to board the boat for our harbour cruise, looking back towards the Penitentiary with the Commandant’s House on the left.

Private dock at the Commandant’s House.

Clerk of Works’ Cottage.

Shipwright’s House.

Point Puer, the site of the first purpose-built juvenile reformatory in the British Empire which operated from 1834 to 1849.

Isle of the Dead where around 1100 people were buried between 1833 and 1877.

Senior Military Officer’s quarters.

The Separate Prison, designed to deliver a new method of punishment through isolation and contemplation.

In the chapel, prisoners had to stand in individual cubicles where they could not see each other but only look straight ahead.

A more recent but equally sobering memorial garden commemorating the 35 people killed and many more injured by a lone gunman in 1996, has been constructed at the shell of the cafe where 20 people lost their lives. This atrocity lead to the introduction of Australia’s strict gun laws.

Leaving Port Arthur, we drove the loop road through Nubeena and back to Eaglehawk Neck before returning to camp at Sorell.

 

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Days 68 – 71 in Tassie

25th January, 2018.

Today a visit to MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, was on the agenda. It had been recommended as a ‘must see’ so although we are not great fans of museums we felt we had to experience it. There is not a great deal of parking and by the time we arrived just 45 minutes after opening, we had to join scores of others parking in the overflow area which is quite a walk from the museum itself, so it is hardly surprising that many people take a ferry from close to Salamanca Place. As the museum is free for Tasmanian residents, it’s understandable that it is so popular.

I have to say that the current exhibition, the Museum of Everything, was very well done but the rest of the permanent exhibits left us cold. I especially don’t enjoy wandering around in the semi-darkness which apparently adds to the atmosphere. After wandering around for a couple of hours, we had lunch in the Tapas Restaurant which was excellent though pricey.

These mosaic pieces were one of my favourite exhibits.

Another favourite, these figures appeared to be carved from stone but are actually made from egg cartons.

The view from the restaurant was great.

26th January, 2018.

Australia Day. We had decided to lay low for the day to avoid the crowds and, as the weather was fine, I caught up with the washing. We did have a lamb roast on the BBQ for dinner as our nod to the day.

Just a few photos from around camp.

27th January, 2018.

The Salamanca Markets are held in Hobart every Saturday morning and are a huge tourist drawcard. I had been to them on my first visit to Tasmania some 35 years ago but felt another visit was in order. It was incredibly crowded so we did a quick circuit, picked up a delicious take-away Paella which we enjoyed sitting in the shade of an adjoining park, bought a few vegetables and then beat a hasty retreat.

There were some very nice handmade items for sale. I was looking for a new wallet for myself but was amazed to find that 80% of the stalls offering leather goods had items made overseas yet were asking incredibly high prices. Needless to say, I didn’t buy one.

28th January, 2018.

With the Australia Day holiday behind us, we felt Sunday was a good day to pack up and head out of Hobart to continue our travels. The traffic certainly was the lightest we had encountered during our stay there. It was just a short drive to the town of Sorell and we were fortunate to get the only free spot left in the low cost camp ground provided by the Council. It was probably the best spot too as it was on the end, furthest from the road and with no one on one side of us. Once set up and with a maximum 5 night allowed stay, we decided this would be a good spot to make our base to explore the Tasman Peninsula and the surrounding area, so we paid the princely sum of $25.60 for our 5 nights and relaxed for the rest of the day.

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Day 67 in Tassie

24th January, 2018.

Having reconnoitred the city the previous day, we were in a good position to make the most of the day. For one thing, we found out we could park for free for 6 hours at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens which is also a stop on the Hop On Hop Off bus itinerary. We arrived in good time for the 10.15am bus so we had 45 minutes to take a quick walk around the very impressive gardens.

The sub-Antarctic Plant House was amazing. As we have an interest in travelling to Antarctica, we found this exhibit quite interesting. There was a temperature drop of around 10 degrees on entering the building. And the wind generated was quite “refreshing”. The plant emphasis is on those found on Macquarie Island.

Outside again, this almost black succulent was quite striking.

Then we wandered through the Community food garden.

The Japanese Garden was really spectacular.

The French Connection was a bit obscure.

Alas, we had to cut short our visit to the Gardens as it was time to catch our bus. This time an open top.

Heading back into the city.

Back at the Visitor Information Centre, we now had a 30 minute wait for the scheduled start of the next loop run so we went to the nearby Mawson’s Replica Hut to soak up a bit more Antarctic atmosphere. The replication is very well done and we would have liked a bit more time to soak it all up but alas the bus awaited.

We had a different driver today but he had obviously been to the same driving school as our previous driver because he made negotiating those tight streets look easy.

Our first planned stop was at the Cascade Brewery and from there we planned to walk to the Female Factory not too far away. However, once I told Erich he could not take photos inside, he decided not to bother as neither of us is much interested in beer though I am sure the history aspect would have been of some interest. The outside facade is certainly unique.

This is the start of the Hobart Rivulet where the water runs down from Mount Wellington and apparently is used in the beer making process. The walk along the rivulet is very pleasant, mostly shaded and away from traffic. Unfortunately, we arrived at the Female Factory just 10 minutes after the commencement of a live performance depicting life back in the day. So we contented ourselves with a self-guided tour. Sadly, little remains of the original structures as the whole complex was sold off in 1904, mostly as separate parcels to various individuals who demolished much of the buildings. The only wholly remaining structure is the Matron’s Quarters.

 

Inside the intact Matron’s Cottage we found the record of my great-great-great Grandmother’s incarceration at the Female Factory.

Sophia was transported on the first voyage of the ship Rajah, the voyage where the Rajah Quilt was made by the female convicts to occupy their time. We can only assume Sophia was in some way involved with the quilt which is now in the possession of the National Gallery in Canberra. Although not on permanent display, the quilt is available for viewing once per year and we hope to be able to see it at some time in the future.

This is a metallic representation of the quilt displayed at the Female Factory.

We decided to walk back into Hobart along the rivulet which turned out to be much further than I anticipated but it was pleasant enough. We came across a Memorial to the Korean War, parts of which had not been recorded on the Monument Australia website so Erich documented the missing bits and sent them off for publication.

We hopped on the next red bus that came along to take us back to our car at the Botanical Gardens. As it was such a nice clear day, we decided to head up to Mount Wellington to take in the view over the city and surrounds. The road is narrow, winding and steep but the vistas from the top are well worth the drive.

Clambering over rocks for the highest vantage point was not on our agenda.

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Day 66 in Tassie

23rd January, 2018.

Having settled in to our campsite at The Lea Scout Campground, we set off to explore Hobart and find our way around. We found a parking spot in Salamanca Place with a 2 hour limit but the parking machine only accepted coins which had us scratching around in our wallets for the correct change. We decided just to wander as the whim took us to use up our two hours. There are beautiful historic buildings at every turn in Hobart, all in terrific condition.

It was not long before we found ourselves down at the docks. This cutter, Westward, a former two time Sydney to Hobart Ocean Yacht Race winner is permanently moored as part of the Maritime Museum display. What a beautifully crafted vessel and such a contrast to today’s high tech boats.

Hobart City Hall.

Hobart Post Office.

In the Elizabeth Street Mall, right in the city centre, the Hobart Rivulet, which was once the water supply for the city, can be seen running under the road. The bridge dates back to 1841 and the stone arches still support the road above it.

I think there must have been a T&G Building on a corner site in every capital city of Australia at one time. This one is particularly well preserved.

St David’s Anglican Cathedral.

This gull seemed unimpressed by the importance of the personage it was using as a perch, Sir John Franklin, Lieutenant Governor of Van Dieman’s Land from 1837-1843. An explorer, he later lost his life on an expedition which discovered the North West Passage, in Arctic Canada.

This impressive square rigged Tall Ship, Windeward Bound, is a training vessel on which all aspects of seamanship are taught to youth aged 18 and over. It is also available for private charter.

Some of the lovely old buildings at Salamanca Place.

Our parking limit expired, it was time to move on. Fortunately, we had found another parking area with a 3 hour limit which would give us time to take the Hop On Hop Off bus around the city and this parking machine accepted card payment.

We had time for a quick lunch of fish and chips before catching the 1pm bus from the Visitor Information Centre. Our bus, while a double-decker, was not open roofed so the following photos were taken through glass hence the quality is not ideal.

How the driver managed to manoeuvre that behemoth around the narrow streets of Battery Point amazed us.

As time was a bit tight, we did not hop off the bus at all but, as our tickets were valid for 2 days, we took note of what interested us for our return the next day.

Heading back to camp, we detoured off the Southern Outlet at the exit to the Mount Nelson Signal Station, reputed to have wonderful views. Built in 1811, the descriptive panels give a good insight into the workings of the semaphore signalling which reported shipping movements first for the port of Hobart and later for both Hobart and Port Arthur. In 1958, a base station for ship-to-shore radio-telephone was installed at Mount Nelson and the station ceased operation in 1969.

There is a very nice cafe in the former Signalman’s cottage. Apparently, the food is very good but, already having had lunch, we settled for coffee looking out over the harbour.

The Tasman Bridge as seen from Mount Nelson. On the 5th January, 1975, the bulk carrier, Lake Illawarra, slammed into a pylon of the bridge bringing down a 127m section of the roadway and killing 12 people (7 crew and 5 occupants of 4 vehicles which plunged into the river). More information can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasman_Bridge_disaster

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Day 65 in Tassie

22nd January, 2018.

A day trip to Launceston was necessary to collect a replacement battery for Erich’s laptop so it was an early start from our campground, up the main highway to arrive in Invermay before the depot closed for lunch. We also managed to achieve a few other things while we were there which took us through to lunchtime. I had in mind a place recommended by a friend but sadly it was closed. Not a problem, we will pop across the road to the pub I thought. No, they didn’t open until 3pm. Not in the mood to drive around looking for somewhere to eat, and, due to the roadworks that had slowed down our northbound journey, we decided it was too long to drive to Ross to try out the bakery so we opted instead for the Prince of Wales Pub in Evandale – our third visit there! As usual, the meal didn’t disappoint and soon we were back on the road headed south, but this time we photographed one of the churches in Evandale that we had missed on our previous visits.

The beautiful old rectory.

Once we got to Ross, there was no question of driving straight through. We stopped at the renowned Bakery 31 for a coffee and bought a couple of cold Scallop Pies, reputed to be the best in Tassie, to take home with us.

The town of Ross boasts some significant structures from convict times, one of which is the convict built Ross Bridge.

We love the old dry stone walls in these historic towns.

We made a quick stop in Oatlands. While I was picking up something from the pharmacy, Erich took a couple of photos of some historic buildings and then we drove around to have a look at the camping area on the river.

Travelling on, we turned off the main highway just north of Jericho and travelled a pretty but hilly route to another historic town, Richmond, which is famous for its bridge built in 1825, Australia’s oldest bridge still in use.

Looking up underneath one of the arches.

Richmond’s St John’s Catholic Church, built in 1836, is considered the oldest Catholic Church in Australia.

As this was intended as just a quick day trip to Launceston and return, we did not have time to really explore the many very interesting towns along the way but have noted those that we hope to return to and spend more time in.

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Days 61 – 64 in Tassie

18th January, 2018.

Exploring North Bruny was the plan for the day. When we disembarked the ferry at Roberts Point on North Bruny, we made straight to the campground and apart from the drive, we saw nothing else of the north of the island.

So today, we wanted to explore more of North Bruny. First stop was at Truganini Lookout situated centrally on The Neck, the narrow piece of land that joins North and South Bruny and is named after Truganini the last surviving full-blooded Aboriginal Tasmanian.

The views from the top of the lookout are quite spectacular. Here we are looking south. Our campground is located to the central right of the photo but can’t be seen here.

Looking north.

More steps lead down to a penguin viewing area close to where they come ashore at night. We saw plenty of footprints in the sand very high up on the lookout.

This photo gives a good perspective of the narrowness of The Neck.

We detoured off the main road north to have a look at Barnes Bay. It was very picturesque.

I thought the vehicle we parked behind looked familiar with its Queensland number plates and I soon discovered it belonged to a couple we know from our time as members of the Kedron Owners Group. Rob and Jewel were day-tripping to the island from Jewel’s sister’s home back near Kettering.

Driving further north and keeping as close to the shoreline as possible, we ended up at a dead end but it was still a lovely spot for a couple of pictures.

We arrived at Dennes Point almost at the northern tip of North Bruny at lunchtime and found a lovely little cafe for a light lunch. The views were very pleasant and we enjoyed looking at some of the quirky decorations.

This stone whale’s tail was a reminder of a long past island industry.

19th January. 2018.

It was our wedding anniversary so we planned to have lunch at the highly recommended Hotel Bruny but first, we drove down to East Cloudy Head on the eastern side of Cloudy Bay. There was a howling wind blowing making it very unpleasant to be outside the vehicle. In fact, I could barely open the car door against the wind. So while I sheltered inside, Erich took some photos.

The lighthouse is situated on the headland on the far left but is hidden in the clouds.

A close up of the Cape Bruny headland, barely visible with the low clouds.

A Sooty Oystercatcher.

The pub looks very modest from the outside but the food is reputed to be excellent.

We had a lovely view from our table beside the window.

A bottle of local bubbly to celebrate.

The food certainly lived up to its reputation.

Before we left Erich took a few more photos from outside the hotel.

As it was a special occasion we decided to pick up some local Bruny Island oysters from Get Shucked and have those for a light dinner together with a different brand of local bubbles. I had some Tassie bacon and a locally made plum Worcestershire sauce so I made Oysters Kilpatrick and they were absolutely delicious. I think these oysters were even better than the Tarkine Oysters we bought in Smithton.

20th January, 2018.

With no plans for the day, I caught up with the washing and Erich took just this one photo of the beach across the road from the campground.

21st January, 2018.

We had originally planned to stay another night on Bruny but as we had now seen all that interested us, we decided to pack up and head back to Kettering. It was another quick trip on the ferry and we were soon disembarking and heading to The Lea Scout Campground located between Kingston and Hobart where we planned to wait out the Australia Day long weekend.

Our journey was somewhat longer than we planned as we had to abort our stop at the dump point in Kingston and then had nowhere to turn around. We ended up pulling the van all the way up and over Bonnet Hill, down along Sandy Bay and then back up over Tolmans Hill and south again. My nerves were a bit frayed at this stage but we were very happy it was not a weekday!!

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Days 57 – 59 in Tassie

14th January, 2018.

As it was a reasonable day weatherwise, we set off on a day trip to explore the peninsular we could see opposite our camp in Franklin. We stayed as close to the coastline as the roads would allow and were rewarded with some lovely views.

White-faced Herons seem to be everywhere.

I knew that there was a Folk Festival being held at Cygnet over this weekend and sure enough the place was heaving with people. We made the mistake of driving up the main street for a look but quickly realised our error, found a place to turn around and went out of there as quickly as we could. At Kettering, we drove down to the Bruny Island Ferry departure point to check it out as we were planning to take the van to Bruny after we leave Franklin.

15th January, 2018.

A day spent around camp with me doing the washing and Erich wandering off with his camera to explore Franklin in a bit more detail.

Our washing is under the awning – not on the clothes line at the house behind the camp area.

A local that Erich talked to told him about a boardwalk that we had not seen, so more exploring was in order.

The old St John Anglican Church is perched on the hillside above Franklin. It is a lovely old church with a graveyard attached. Unfortunately, it is in disrepair and it is considered too dangerous to venture inside.

 

Franklin has a strong fishing village feel to it and even boasts a wooden boat building school where one can learn the trade. Erich learned that most people participating are from the mainland, so it must have quite a reputation to attract potential boat builders. A short course costs around $15000 for about 2 weeks of tuition during which time a boat is built by the group. Participants then have about 2 weeks use of the facilities to build their own craft under the supervision of the professional boat builders.

They offer a short tour for anyone who is interested in having a look at their setup.

Later in the afternoon, we made the short trip to Huonville to restock our groceries.

16th January, 2018.

Next morning we had an easy trip across to Kettering to board the ferry for the 15 minute trip to Bruny Island.

We checked out the Neck Beach Camping Area located at the top end of South Bruny and decided it was a good spot to set up camp.

There was so much birdlife around the campground.

Grey Fantail.

We went for a drive to Adventure Bay to book a boat trip with Pennicott Cruises for the following day. Lots of lovely scenery along the way.

Then it was decided to drive down to the Cape Bruny Lighthouse. Most of the road to the southern tip of Bruny is dirt but in fairly good condition as it is constantly being maintained. We came up behind the grader as it was working one section and it was quite a while before we could pass as the road is fairly narrow. The timing of our arrival at the lighthouse was not the best as the small carpark was packed with vehicles meaning we could only park on the side of the narrow access road.

Erich decided to take the tour of the lighthouse.

Back at camp, we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and watching the birds. This is a New Holland Honeyeater looking a little startled.

There were lots of pairs of Superb Fairy-Wrens. They are so entertaining to watch as they flit about looking for insects.

A Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike.

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Day 60 in Tassie

17th January, 2018.

We had booked an afternoon boat cruise so spent the morning quietly around camp before heading back to Adventure Bay.

Each of the 5 boats holds 43 passengers and there are two cruises per day which mostly seem to be booked out at this time of year. That’s over 400 passengers per day! It’s hard to believe that there are so many people on this small island but it seems that many come as day trippers either driving themselves or on organised tours out of Hobart.

The morning cruise returning.

And then it was our turn. Fortunately this time the weather forecast was accurate and we looked to be in for a great afternoon.

The rugged cliffs were magnificent with many caves at the waterline.

Our skipper took us at speed between this dolerite sea column and the dolerite cliffs – not once but twice. Quite a thrilling experience.

We idled close to this blow hole and watched in awe as the spray exploded from the ocean. Thankfully we were supplied with spray jackets as we got quite wet from a couple of particularly large blows.

Down at the very bottom of the island hundreds of male fur seals colonise rock islands. We were warned about the smell but the wind must have been flowing the right way as it did not bother us much at all.

On the return journey we saw a number of seabirds, including this Shy Albatross and what was identified by one of the crew as a Northern Giant-Petrel but unfortunately no photo of that one. Above the seals, a Swamp Harrier was circling, but the photo didn’t turn out. It was quite a challenge to get decent photos from the rocking boat!

It was a great trip and is highly recommended.

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Days 55 and 56 in Tassie

12th January, 2018.

Having completed the sight-seeing we wanted to do in Mount Field National Park, we broke camp and headed further south-east. When we arrived at the historic town of Franklin, there were only a couple of campsites available at the foreshore camping ground. Once we tucked ourselves away at the end of the back row, we had a walk around to look at this small but interesting town situated on the western bank of the Huon River.

13th January, 2018.

We decided on a day trip further south following fairly closely along the river. Geeveston is also a pretty and interesting town with one of the best Visitor Centres we have seen. Rustic carvings of local identities are placed around the town.

Rain soon drove us back to the shelter of our car and we set out to explore the coastline as far south as the bitumen would take us.

It was a very pleasant drive but there is not a lot to say about it.

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A Photographic Tour on Day 54 in Tassie

11th January, 2018.

Having met by coincidence at our lunch break, I organised a photographic tour with Greg Power for 6:00pm. I arrived a bit early and started to take photos at the entrance of the park.

It didn’t take long for Greg to arrive. We discussed what I hoped to achieve in the two hours I was going to spend with him. I explained that I would like him to go for a walk with me and for him to explain the thought process that he goes through when going out to take photos. Greg readily agreed and of we went towards the falls.

Walking along the river we soon came to an area that Greg found interesting. We went off the track and checked out the water, ferns and the fallen tree trunks. He explained to me how he likes to organise elements in the picture and as it was getting dark, we would have the opportunity to take some long exposure shots to smooth the water. It took quite some time to find a frame that pleased Greg. This photo was a first attempt.

We played around with different exposures.

and this was the final result.

 

We  then headed to Russell Falls. Once again we left the boardwalk and set up closer to the falls. Again Greg explained how he would like to incorporate the tree fern into the shot, framing, rather than distracting from the waterfall. A longish exposure time resulted in the smooth look of the water.

We moved around a bit to incorporate the moss covered rocks in the foreground.

This was best achieved by taking the shot from almost  ground level.

From the same spot we looked back and noticed this clump of tree ferns.

A landscape shot gives quite a different feeling to the picture.

It seemed in no time our two hours together was nearing the end. Before wrapping up we took two more photos of the falls.

This one was taken from the board walk. I quite like the dreamy look that the late light created.

I had a great time with Greg and I am sure that his explanations will help me with my photography in the future. I  obviously don’t claim these photos to be my photos, although I pressed the button in most of them. But they aren’t Greg’s photos either. I am sure he would have processed them quite differently.

If you are going to be in the area and have an interest in improving your photography, I certainly can recommend a tour with Greg. He trades under the business name ‘Great Aussie Photo Tour’,  but there isn’t much of a social media presence yet. This may sound like he is not really set up to teach… but I can assure you he is an accomplished professional photographer, willing to share his vast knowledge. At this point in time, the best way to contact him is through this web address. http://www.waterfallscafe.com.au/index.php/photo-tours

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Day 54 in Tassie

11th January, 2018.

We got off to an early start planning to explore some of the Mount Field National Park. We bypassed the Visitor Centre where there is a boardwalk leading to Russell Falls and drove to a parking area further up the hill where we could walk through the Tall Trees Forest and then on to Horseshoe Falls before descending to Russell Falls.

The huge trees were certainly magnificent but it is difficult to get the effect in photographs.

This clinometer has been provided to demonstrate how the height of a tree can be calculated.

Our first sighting of a Bassian Thrush. We saw a few of these birds scratching around on the forest floor unperturbed by our presence.

This Pademelon also seemed used to humans and just stared at us as we walked past.

The very pretty Horseshoe Falls were appropriately named. They would be very impressive after winter rain and snowfall.

We had a couple of hundred steps down to get a good view of Russell Falls but it was worth the effort.

Our host at Left of Field had recommended a visit to Forest Secrets located on the edge of the National Park. This was certainly something a bit out of the ordinary comprising a self-guided walk through the forest, along a sensory trail with a Forest Flavours Tucker Box for tasting various foods relating to plants and trees along the way. We did manage to spot the resident platypus but it quickly disappeared before we could get a photo.

This is one of seven Great Cormorants that were perched in a tree above the river.

The first of the tasting morsels was at this point.

A beautiful Banksia flower.

There were various rustic (and rusty) art works, all constructed from recycled materials, placed along the trails. We thought this representation of a Tasmanian Tiger was particularly good.

A metallic Echidna.

Also recommended to us was a visit to the Styx River to do the Big Tree Walk and also the river walk. Once again, the trees here are massive.

Prior to heading out to do these walks, we stopped in the small town of Maydena to refuel the car and get some lunch at the cafe. Whilst there Erich enquired about the vehicle advertising photographic tours that was parked outside. As it happened, the cafe owner was also a photographer who was starting up a new venture offering photographic tours. Erich arranged to take a 2 hour tour with him that evening and that will be the subject of the next blog.

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Days 51 – 53 in Tassie

8th January, 2018.

Continuing our journey further south and east, we set up camp at the Derwent Bridge Hotel which offers free camping in the grounds.

One of the reasons for the stop here was to visit The Wall, a stunning artwork comprising one hundred hand sculpted timber panels one metre wide by 3 metres high created by one man over a period of ten years. Understandably, no photos are allowed inside the pavilion so a photo of the brochure must suffice to whet the appetite of those who have yet to visit. The hand is an example of the intricate work of the sculptor. With a modest entry fee, the exhibition is a must see for anyone visiting Tasmania.

Driving back towards the turn off to Lake St Claire, we came across this echidna strolling across the bridge. Just like in Canada where they stop to photograph bears on the road, so too did we stop for this photo opportunity – just on a smaller scale.

As well as being the deepest lake in Australia, Lake St Claire is also the end of the Overland Track that we had seen the start of at Cradle Mountain. There were lots of hikers sitting around with their packs presumably recovering from their trek. The lake itself is quite pretty.

We could see the Pumphouse at the end of a long jetty so decided to try to get a closer look.

After meandering down a dirt track we came to a gate allowing entry only to guests. Back at the van, I Googled the Pumphouse Retreat and found it to be quite an exclusive resort for those who travel in a bit more luxury than us.

We stopped off at a dam across the Derwent River and had a chat to a fisherman and his son who had caught a huge brown trout in the shallow waters below the dam.

I had heard good reports about the Sri Lankan Chefs at the Derwent Bridge Hotel so it seemed a good idea to make that our dinner stop. Their authentic chicken curry didn’t disappoint both in flavour and presentation. Finding a bottle of Durif was a bonus.

9th January, 2018.

With nothing else to see in the area, we headed further south intending to spend a few days in the Mount Field National Park. I had read good reports about the Left of Field bush caravan park which is very popular. Had we needed a powered site, we would have been out of luck but we scored a prime grassy spot where we set up for three nights.

As the camp name would suggest, the owner, Adrian, has a quirky sense of humour and has placed all sorts of paraphernalia around the park to add a sense of fun.

This bicycle stands in the middle of one of the ponds.

A visitor who overstayed her welcome?

10th January, 2018.

As it appeared that we would have good weather, the decision was made to drive out to Lake Pedder and the Gordon Dam some 75 kms further west in the National Park.

Nice light on an escarpment.

Lake Pedder was stunning from every direction.

We stopped in at Ted’s Beach to check out the camping area. It was quite full so I was pleased we hadn’t towed the van all the way out there as we would have had difficulty finding a level spot large enough to fit us.

The view of the lake from the lookout was impressive.

At the end of the road, we came to the Gordon Dam, an amazing feat of engineering.

Heading back east, we took a side track to have a look at Serpentine Dam, a much less impressive structure but, I’m sure, equally as important as the Gordon Dam.

Lunch opportunities were scant. In fact, the Lake Pedder Wilderness Resort restaurant was our only choice unless we wanted to wait another hour till we got back to Maydena. Their menu offered a number of light options in a very pretty setting.

Back at Left of Field, Erich spotted this Yellow Wattlebird. Another first for us, this bird is only found in Tasmania and the Bass Strait Islands. He looks like he had been swimming in one of the ponds.

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Days 49 and 50 in Tassie

6th January, 2018.

We spent a quiet day around camp catching up with the washing and not doing very much else.

Agapanthus grow very well in Tasmania. We have seen them everywhere. This white variety was just opening.

7th January, 2018.

The weather was still holding so we decided on a day trip to Nelson Falls as we didn’t like our chances of being able to stop there with the van after we left Zeehan in the morning. We bypassed the centre of Queenstown as we would have a look around there on our return from the falls. The drive up the mountain out of Queenstown is not for the faint-hearted with 5 kms of very steep, hairpin turns but it prepared us well for making the trip with the van the next day.

Sure enough, the car park at Nelson Falls was quite full when we arrived vindicating our decision to make it a separate trip.

The walk to the waterfall is very easy, consisting of compacted dirt and boardwalk in parts, meandering along beside the river.

The falls were lovely.

Back in Queenstown, we went in search of lunch and found ourselves at the old Empire Hotel across the road from the Wilderness Railway Station.

The interior was quite magnificent, especially the grand staircase.

After lunch we wandered across to have a look at the railway station.

Back in Zeehan, we refuelled and began packing up for our move to Mount Field the next day.

For some reason, the map doesn’t show the drive from Queenstown to Nelson Falls.

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Day 48 in Tassie

5th January, 2018.

We woke to a fairly sunny morning and hoped it would remain so for our Gordon River Cruise out of Strahan, 40 kms south of where we were camped at Zeehan. As is usual for us, we made an early start to allow for any delays on the journey so we had plenty of time to stop at a scenic lookout with views to the coast. Unfortunately the distance was too great to get a good photo so we made do with some atmospheric clouds.

The waterfront in Strahan was teeming with people, not only for our cruise but also a similar one on the Lady Jane Franklin. Our ship, Harbourmaster, was certainly a change from my last Gordon River Cruise about 35 years ago. This vessel was commissioned only 2 years ago.

Fishing boats moored nearby gave Erich something to focus on while we awaited our boarding.

Lots of cormorants waiting for their breakfast.

Cruising out to Hells Gates, the entrance to Macquarie Harbour, we passed an old settlement on the southern bank, accessible only by boat even today.

This White-bellied Sea Eagle was unperturbed by our presence.

One of the lighthouses at the entrance to the harbour.

This rock breakwater was built between 1900 and 1902 to provide a safe passage from huge seas whipped up by the “Roaring 40s” for ships entering the harbour. It was an amazing feat of engineering for the time.

We safely crossed the narrow opening and then came about to re-enter the harbour. This photo looks back into the harbour, showing the two lighthouses which mark the safe passage through Hells Gates. There is a much wider expanse of water to the left of the closer lighthouse, but it is too shallow for boats to cross.

Salmon farming is a huge industry in Tasmania and particularly here on Macquarie Harbour. We counted about 20 of these enclosures in this one area.

Here the fish are being fed with a highly nutritious mixture developed over many years to ensure the fish receive the correct balance of nutrients for optimal health and growth.

Our first stop was at the former penal settlement at Sarah Island where we had a guided tour that certainly brought to life the deprivation and hardship that not only the convicts endured but also their captors.

There are still remnants of the old settlement on the island.

After a very entertaining one hour tour, we reboarded Harbourmaster and cruised to the mouth of the Gordon River where the captain slowed the boat to reduce the boat’s wash to prevent damage to the banks of this pristine river.

We enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch as we slowly made our way upriver.

Our next stop was at Heritage Landing which is as far upriver as a boat as large as Harbourmaster is allowed to venture.

This group had been rough camping and kayaking in the area and were hitching a ride with us back to Strahan.

The landing consists of a well-constructed boardwalk circuit through the temperate rainforest.

Cruising back to Strahan, we could only be thankful that public pressure back in the 1980s saved what is now a World Heritage Listed area from being destroyed had the Franklin Dam been built.