Days 40-44 in Tassie

28th December, 2017.

Back to our normal routine at Old Macs Farm, it was time to catch up with the washing and generally recover from our trip to Melbourne. Just a few photos from around the campsite.

29th December, 2017.

With nothing much planned for the day, we decided to drive up the eastern side of the Tamar estuary, cross the Batman Bridge and return to Launceston along western side of the waterway. It was not a particularly nice day weatherwise which always makes taking interesting photos a challenge.

Keeping to local roads as much as we could, we came across the historic St Matthias Church at Windermere. Built in 1842, it is claimed to be the oldest continuously used church in Australia.

So many interesting headstones that reinforced what a harsh life it must have been for the early pioneers.

Batman Bridge, the first cable-stayed bridge built in Australia.

The view of St Matthias Church from the opposite bank of the Tamar.

There was not really that much to see as we drove along until we came to the town of Rosevears which clings to the western bank of the river and where the hotel seems to be the only business. It looked promising and as it was lunchtime we decided to give it a try. While not cheap, the food was very good and the outlook over the river was pleasant.

Today’s route. We made a detour to drive through the town of Grindelwald, simply because it was named after a Swiss town and purported to have buildings built in the Swiss style. It was underwhelming to say the least.

30th December, 2017.

One of the reasons for remaining around Launceston for so long was that we were awaiting the arrival of a new battery for Erich’s laptop. As it still had not arrived, there did not seem much point waiting around for another 4 days for the Post Office to open again so we packed up and headed west; this time the town of Waratah was our destination. We hoped to make a day trip from there to Cradle Mountain once the weather brightened a bit.

There is a community Caravan Park right in town with a very pretty outlook over parkland.

This waterwheel channels water from the lake over a waterfall which can be viewed right in the centre of town.

Waratah was once reputed to have been the location of the largest tin mine in the world. A reconstruction of a typical miner’s hut sits alongside the Waratah Museum on the main street. Named the Philosopher’s Hut after James ‘Philosopher’ Smith, who discovered tin at Mt Bischoff in 1871.

Erich was surprised to see this memorial to the Boer War in Waratah.

31st December, 2017.

The weather was still being a little unkind but all the same, we decided to drive out to Philosopher’s Falls, around 10 kilometres from town.

It began to drizzle again just as we arrived but we soldiered on! The rainforest walk was very pretty.

These fungi were so vibrant in the low light.

While most of the track was in good condition, there were some muddy sections.

Then we arrived at the 210 steps down to view the waterfall.

A different fungus.

This time we found a black fungus.

1st January, 2018.

New Year’s Day and it was very quiet in Waratah. Lunch at the pub seemed like a good idea and then a closer look at the Waratah Falls.

Bischoff Hotel, Waratah.

Looking at the falls from the lookout opposite the hotel.

Looking up at the falls from the walk at the bottom.

The roof of the hotel can just be seen from the walk at the base of the falls.

There are lots of abandoned old houses in the town.

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Days 42 – 44 in Melbourne

25th December, 2017.

Christmas Day! Amy had booked Christmas Lunch at a highly recommended pub restaurant in Collingwood, Le Bon Ton. It turned out to be an inspired choice as the atmosphere was just as we like it and the food, while obviously Christmassy, was just that bit different and delicious.

Before lunch.

Amy seated at our table.

The stained glass windows in the pub were beautiful.

Waiting for a tram back to the city.

Amy took this photo of us at dinner.

26th December, 2017.

Boxing Day. We were off to an early start and decided to cross the river and explore Southbank.

Boxing Day & Melbourne mean one thing – the annual Boxing Day Cricket Test Match between England and Australia. There were hordes of folk walking towards the Melbourne Cricket Ground, many wearing their supporters’ Guernseys, including heaps of English people who were enjoying Christmas down under.

We met Amy at lunchtime and had lunch at a restaurant hidden in the trees above the floating restaurant in this picture. It was far too hot to be sitting outside in the sun.

As it was such a beautiful day, a boat trip to Williamstown seemed like a good idea. Viewing the city from the river certainly gives a different perspective.

This crew member needed to be agile and strong, pushing the ferry off from the dock and then leaping aboard.

As expected for a public holiday, Williamstown was very busy with people enjoying the lovely weather and eating at the many alfresco cafes lining the main street.

On our return journey, we noticed a helicopter hovering over this large sailboat. We knew it couldn’t have been one of the Sydney to Hobart entrants and a quick Google revealed it to be an entrant in the Volvo Round-the-World race, with Melbourne being on the route.

An enjoyable but tiring day.

27th December, 2017.

It was back to work for Amy and back to Tasmania for us but our flight was not until late in the afternoon leaving us time for a little more exploring once we checked out of the hotel where we were able to leave our bags to be collected later. We had passed the Immigration Museum a number of times going to and from our hotel and thought it might be a good place to spend an hour or two.

We were a little early for the 10 a.m. opening so looked around for somewhere to have coffee. Surprisingly few places were open but we did find one in an open arcade.

The Immigration Museum is housed in the restored Customs House, a beautiful old building.

The displays and information about immigration to Australia from the arrival of the first fleet until today were very interesting and extremely well done. There were some funny things as well.

In a section devoted to Customs and Excise, I was very excited to see a copy of this book which was written by my Great Uncle, Robert Shaw Close, in 1945 and subsequently banned. Bob was charged with and convicted of “obscene libel” which was later overturned on appeal. I had known the story for many years as told by my mother but to actually see a copy of the book was quite a thrill. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Close

How times have changed!

We spent a couple of hours in the Museum before wandering off in search of lunch. Promptly at 3pm our airport shuttle collected us from our hotel and delivered us in good time to catch our 5pm flight back to Launceston. We were pleased to have the convenience of hopping in our car and heading back to Old Macs Farm where our caravan had survived our absence without incident.

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Days 39 – 41 in Melbourne

22nd December, 2017.

As it is just a short hop from Tasmania to Melbourne, we decided to spend the Christmas period visiting our youngest daughter, Amy, leaving our caravan at Old Macs Farm which is only a 15 minute drive from Launceston Airport where we could park our vehicle in the long term car park for the duration of our time away.

All went to plan and we were dropped off by shuttle at our Hotel by 11 a.m. After settling in, we caught a tram which would take us to Richmond where Amy works. She met us at the tram stop and took us to her workplace to show us around and meet her boss and co-workers before taking us to lunch at a local restaurant. As she had to work till 3 p.m., we entertained ourselves for the rest of the afternoon wandering the streets of the inner city and taking in the sights, though the shopping crowds were a bit hard to take.

The Town Hall was festively decorated.

Flinders Street Station was just as I remembered it.

While Erich was taking photos, these two young guys decided they would be perfect subjects. No idea who they were but it was nice to see people being friendly and happy.

St Pauls Cathedral.

The laneway eateries were doing great business.

Lots of interesting graffiti in some of the quieter lanes.

23rd December, 2017.

We had arranged to meet Amy after lunch so spent the morning wandering the city streets and soaking up the Christmas atmosphere.

St Pauls Cathedral from a different angle.

We hopped on the free City Circle tram outside Flinders Street Station and headed on the western loop.

We got off at a stop close to the Victoria Markets and wandered through the various food emporiums packed with shoppers buying their Christmas goodies.

However, as we weren’t buying anything and the crowds were getting a bit much, we headed down Elizabeth Street in search of some lunch. We found a Vietnamese style baguette cafe where we had a quick lunch of Bahn Mi, then more sightseeing around the inner city streets.

We loved the old arcades with their quaint shops and beautiful decorations.

This Team Room was so popular that people were lining up outside for a table.

Erich had decided that his mobile phone was on its last legs so we spent 45 minutes waiting to be served at the biggest Telstra Shop in Melbourne.

24th December, 2017.

Christmas Eve and we travelled out to Prahran, where Amy lives, to meet her for lunch and have a look at her local markets before checking out the house she shares with two other girls.

I have no idea who posed for this but he looks a bit shocked.

The girls share a typical Melbourne house with the original pressed metal ceiling in the dining area.

Opening onto a small private courtyard at the rear.

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Days 36-38 in Tassie

19th December, 2017.

We headed back to Launceston where we planned to leave the van at Old Macs Farm while we spent 5 days in Melbourne over Christmas. After getting set up on the same site we had occupied on our previous visit, Erich went for his customary walk around the property looking for things to photograph. He came back so excited after seeing and photographing his very first Australian snake in the wild. It’s hard to believe he has never seen one in all the years he has lived here. We were able to identify it as a Lowland Copperhead, a venomous variety.

Sadly, that photo and all the photos taken that day were mistakenly deleted from his memory card. He is devastated to have lost the snake photo.

So, the only photo for the day is one that I took with my iPad from under the awning in the early evening. Not very exciting but a photograph nonetheless.

20th December, 2017.

Another quiet day around the camp and only a couple of photos for the day.

21st December, 2017.

The last time we were in Launceston the weather was not the best but today was sunny and warm so the decision was made to go to Cataract Gorge and do some of the walks.

But first we made time for a late breakfast at Stonesthrow Cafe on site at Old Macs. The new terrace dining area had been finished since our last visit so it was lovely to sit in the warm sunshine looking over the beautiful view.

There were plenty of walking options at the Gorge and instead of taking the chairlift to the other side of the gorge, we walked across the suspension bridge and up to Alexandra Lookout.

This little fellow was identified as a Tasmanian Mountain Dragon, the only native dragon in Tasmania.

The view from another Lookout.

Looking downriver towards Kings Bridge.

One of the Tamar River Cruise boats – this is as far as it can navigate up the Gorge and was in the process of turning around here.

A Dusky Woodswallow.

We didn’t get the intent of this artwork.

Feeling a little weary, we took the chairlift back across the Gorge.

The Suspension Bridge as seen from the chairlift.

Welcome swallows.

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Days 34 & 35 in Tassie

17th December, 2017.

Erich was out early to capture the morning light on the adjoining paddocks before we had a visit from the local farmer who had collected our donation the previous afternoon. He came bearing a stack of fresh bread and rolls which the local bakery almost gives away to him and then as we were packing up he sent down his son with a bag of cherries and raspberries freshly picked off their trees.

Our drive today was only about 20 minutes to the town of Westbury, part of the Meander Valley council area which is controversially trying to ban free camping. At the moment the camping area at the sports grounds is still available until Council can reconcile its use with satisfying the Government’s Competitive Neutrality legislation. I don’t understand how there is a conflict for this town as there is no Caravan Park, the nearest is in Deloraine. In any case, most campers would be happy to pay a nominal amount of $5 or $10 per night for a place to park their rig overnight.

After setting up, we walked in to town to have a look around. Almost every shop and business that we passed had posters in their windows saying they support free camping. They will be the losers if the ban is enforced because travellers simply will not stop and spend money in the town. In just 2 nights in Deloraine and 2 nights in Westbury, we spent over $350 at local businesses.

We came across the first of a silhouette trail featuring notable people from the town’s rich past.

We wandered down towards the Village Green and obviously must have looked like tourists as a chap who had just parked his car, asked if we would like to see inside the RSL building which had started life as a barracks and jail. Volunteers were working away inside setting up for a community Christmas lunch when our guide took us into the kitchen to show us one of the old cells now being used as pantry space.

An old cell door displayed in the foyer of the club.

The village green is a lovely space where more silhouettes are displayed.

There is a very impressive war memorial on the edge of the green facing the RSL.

Beautifully preserved old buildings are a feature of the town centre.

There are some stunning old trees on the village green, most of which I couldn’t identify.

An interesting topiary hedge.

I loved the quaint English style cottage garden plants.

These wickets are a feature at the sports ground where we camped and the bonus was that there was a cricket match on that day which I could watch from my chair beside the van.

18th December, 2017.

Having seen the sights of Westbury, we decided to take a drive to see some of the surrounding countryside and towns. We stayed on minor roads for most of the drive, heading east from Westbury through Hagley to Carrick and then down to Longford and Cressy then across to the Midland Highway north to Perth and then to Evandale before returning via Hadspen.

We had previously seen many poppy fields and learnt from our stop at the Deloraine Visitor Centre that Tasmania produces around 50% of the world’s legal opium supply. I was keen to get a picture because I had never seen white poppies on the mainland before.

On a back road in Perth we came across this interesting Baptist Tabernacle.

We stopped in the historic town of Evandale and had lunch at a bakery with a very pretty alfresco area. Sadly they were out of scallop pies so we shared a Ploughman’s lunch instead.

Heading back in to Westbury, we stopped for a photo of this beautifully maintained old Inn.

Clouds over the cricket grounds made for an interesting sunset.

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Day 33 in Tassie

16th December, 2017.

We had been in two minds about where to camp next as we wanted to explore Liffey Falls south of Deloraine. In the end, we decided to try the donation camp at the old Liffey School which had been recommended by a friend. It was a relatively short but pleasant drive along country roads where we saw only a few other vehicles. The former school grounds are quite spacious but not very level so we spent some time trying to get ourselves into the best position with regard to sun on our solar panels and not rolling out of bed overnight.

The old schoolhouse is used for community functions.

We had the whole place to ourselves during our stay.

There is a camping area at the lower car park, on the way to the upper falls, which we had a look at. It is not really suitable for caravans and was mostly occupied by tents, camper trailers and small camper vans. We were happy with our decision to camp at the old school house. The drive to the upper car park was quite steep and in places, very narrow, but opened up to a large parking and picnic area being well utilised when we arrived.

We came across another sculpture which was part of the trail that we started in Deloraine.

The leafy walk was very pleasant as the path was well maintained and mostly a gentle gradient which gave way to steps on the steeper sections.

This is the first cascade on our descent.

The second cascade.

The last fall where it is possible to have a paddle in the river bed but it was a bit too cold for that.

Back at the car park, we walked up to the Big Tree, which is indeed very big.

Our return drive turned into a bit of an adventure when roads that were clearly marked as through roads on my map app proved to be impassable. In the end, we retraced our road in and made it back to camp unscathed.

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Day 32 in Tassie

15th December, 2017.

Having seen what interested us in Deloraine itself, we decided to take a scenic drive in a loop north to Railton, west past Mount Roland and back east through Mole Creek.

As with many small towns, Railton is attempting to carve a niche for itself on the camping trail. In this case, it is referred to as the Topiary Town with many of the businesses and property owners getting behind the idea and growing topiary shapes in their yards and gardens.

Rudolph adorned the local garage.

While Skippy was guarding another business.

This elephant was in a private yard.

While this lion adorned the Lions Park.

The twisted topiaries lined both sides of the main street.

There were also some very good murals decorating the buildings on the main street.

We had a very good coffee in the bakery come coffee shop and checked out the two camping areas provided for travellers. One was free and looked very good and the other, right next door, was for CMCA members only for a $3 nightly fee. It didn’t make much sense to us but we were just passing through.

As we were leaving town, we spotted these “servicemen” at the War Memorial.

Travelling on, we passed through Sheffield, a town we had visited previously so we did not stop again. Through Gowrie Park where there is a very good camping area overlooked by Mount Roland. From here we began to climb the road that would take us around Mount Roland and then eastwards to Mole Creek and eventually return us to Deloraine. We stopped along the road for Erich to take some photos of Mount Roland.

Once we were quite high along this route, we stopped at a lookout for a few photos.

On our descent, we stopped at a pull off area for another photo opportunity. There was a council truck parked there and the driver came over for a chat. He recommended we take the road to Lake Mackenzie just a few kilometers further along and stop at Devils Gullet where he said the views were spectacular.

It was quite a detour but the dirt road was mostly in good condition with almost no other traffic. The higher we climbed the more the landscape resembled a moonscape with mostly stunted vegetation.

At the carpark at Devils Gullet, we were at 1156 metres above sea level.

The sign said it was a 40 minute return walk to the viewing platform but it didn’t say what the terrain was like. There had been a major bushfire through the area around 18 months previously and the walking track and boardwalks had been recently replaced. While it was quite a steep walk with a lot of steps, it was very enjoyable.

The view from the lookout was indeed spectacular

We got back to Mole Creek in time to have lunch at the pub. A bit pricey but delicious. Driving back through Chudleigh we spotted our friends’ motorhome at the showgrounds so we stopped for a quick chat before continuing back to our campsite at Deloraine.

Just to prove that I do occasionally cook dinner, this is our smoked chicken Caesar salad prepared by me.

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Day 31 in Tassie

14th December, 2017.

Moving on from Gunns Plains, we retraced our journey north and then south-east as we headed to the town of Deloraine which, along with the rest of the towns offering free camping in the Meander Valley Council area, had recently been the target of those trying to close down free camping in the area. Initially, all the camping areas were closed but an outcry from local businesses and the travelling public saw the Council reopen the camping areas while they re-examine the Government’s Competitive Neutrality legislation. This legislation aims to stop Councils “unfairly” competing with commercial Caravan Parks by offering free camping. What those who oppose free camping cannot seem to accept, is that closing free or low-cost camps will not force people into Caravan Parks, they will simply bypass these towns and all businesses will suffer. So we parked up at the 48 hour free camp in town and spent our time checking out places of interest locally and in the surrounding areas.

The Deloraine Visitor Centre is one of the best we have been to with a very interesting folk museum attached as well as the Yarns exhibit, a fascinating community project on permanent display with a 15 minute video explaining the individual scenes on the wall hangings.

The four panels. Unfortunately, Erich did not have his camera with him so I took these photos with my iPhone so the quality is not great.

The property attached to the visitors center has been converted into a Folk Museum had been donated by the former owner and is a step back in time. It was a bit too dark inside for picture taking but I took a few photos of the magnificent gardens.

A fellow visitor recommended that we have lunch at the 50s diner which was located not far from our camping area. Another step back in time but to a much more recent era.

I was also advised to check out the toilets.

The meals were generous and very tasty and Erich’s seafood platter was served in a hub cap.

After lunch, we walked along both sides of the river checking out some of the Sculpture Trail.

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Days 28 – 30 in Tassie

11th December, 2017.

Our short stay in suburbia behind us, we headed for the hills – literally!! Our destination was the Wings Wildlife Park which offers low cost camping beside the Leven River and a chance to do some sightseeing in the area surrounding Gunns Plains.

What an idyllic spot and there were only two other campers when we arrived.

A family of Pacific Black Ducks.

This female Superb Fairy-Wren posed nicely on a stalk of grass near our campsite.

Lots of thistle growing wild.

As it was such a beautiful day and the weather can be so changeable here, we decided to drive to Leven Canyon to do the circuit walk. Along the way, we came across a short walk to a waterfall.

We crossed this small creek which seemed to go nowhere.

Disappearing over the edge.

To become this.

It was a very pretty drive to Leven Canyon. There is a small but very pretty camping area at the start of the walk but we were pleased we didn’t chance finding a spot to camp as all the suitable places were occupied.

The walk consists of three parts, two of which can be done as stand alone return walks. The first is to a spectacular lookout high above the canyon floor. Short but steep.

This is a panorama taken with my iPhone.

The second stage of the circuit involves descending 697 steps, known as the Forest Stairs. Fortunately, there is a very sturdy rope to hold onto.

At the bottom of the steps is a 200 metre walk to another lookout.

Another iPhone panorama taken from the lower lookout showing the flow of the Leven River through the canyon.

The final stage of the loop walk is through Fern Glade. Very beautiful with stunning tree ferns. Again it was a short but steep walk.

Back at camp we enjoyed a rest overlooking the river in the stunning afternoon light.

Mrs Fairy-wren was back on her grass stalk again.

12th December, 2017.

The next day the weather gods again were kind to us so we explored further to the west intending to make a loop out to Waratah to check out the camping area, through Hellyer Gorge on the Murchison Highway to Burnie and then back to camp via the road from Penguin.

But first Erich was out early to take advantage of the morning light and the mist over the river.

On our drive, not far from camp, we came to a spot overlooking the valley where we could pull off the steep road.

A final resting place.

At Hellyer Gorge there is a short but pretty walk to and along the river.

In Burnie we stopped at the Visitor Information Centre to check out the Makers Workshop which had been recommended to us. All kinds of Artisans display and sell their work there and depending on the day, it is sometimes possible to chat with the artists.

This is the view from the cafe at the Visitor Centre. The little white blobs between the boardwalk and the railway track on the far right are concrete penguin burrows similar to those we saw at Lillico Beach near Devonport. This is a popular penguin viewing spot.

Back at camp we spent a peaceful evening beside the river watching the water birds and hoping for a platypus sighting.

13th December, 2017.

Another glorious day and time to catch up with the washing.

Our peaceful idyll was somewhat disturbed by logging trucks constantly passing by as they transported the prepared logs from a nearby forest.

There were scores of Tasmanian Native Hens and chicks. They can be quite noisy but funny to watch as they scurry to and fro.

Finally we spotted a platypus. Not a good photo but evidence nonetheless.

The ever present European Goldfinch.

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Days 25 – 27 in Tassie

8th December, 2017.

We planned to spend the weekend in Ulverstone getting together with a group of like-minded travellers who are members of a Facebook group, The Very Best of Caravan and Camping in Tassie which has proved invaluable for planning our Tassie adventure. We had never met any of these people before but we hoped to spend an enjoyable time with them. As it happened one couple turned out to be the brother and sister-in-law of our friends and fellow residents at RVHB, Narelle and Bob.

Erich was out with his camera before we left camp.

Looking towards the appropriately named Table Cape in the distance.

Just love the European Goldfinch that is very common in Tassie but which we have never seen on the mainland.

As we only had to travel around 20 kms from our camp at Preservation Bay, we were early arrivals at the Ulverstone Big 4 Caravan Park but there was no problem checking in early.

9th December, 2017.

We had a good day chatting with group members and had a great Happy Hour and early evening. I even won a raffle prize – a pair of powder coated camp oven lifters made by one of the group members who is a metal fabricator. They will come in very handy as our Bedourie camp oven is a bit of a pain to lift. We usually use tent peg pullers to grab hold of the triangular shaped handles.

Not sure why, but no photos at all for the day.

10th December, 2017.

Many of the group members were Tasmanians and had to return home for work or other commitments so the caravan park emptied quite quickly. We decided to walk in to town to have a closer look at the many lovely buildings and parks that are a feature of Ulverstone.

We came across this pair of Rainbow Lorikeets nesting in a tree in the public park adjoining the caravan park. I was surprised to see them as I believed they weren’t found in Tasmania. When we got back from our walk, Erich did a bit of investigation and found that they are regarded as a pest here and sightings are asked to be reported to the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. Erich emailed the department with GPS coordinates for the nest and received a reply that the email would be forwarded to the “invasive species enforcement group”. Sorry birds!

Sadly, this beautiful old building seemed to be falling into disrepair.

This garish signage certainly detracts from this stately old building.

A monochrome shot of the hotel faҫade.

We walked down to the riverfront and checked out a small farmers’ market before continuing on through a Naval Memorial Park.

Looking towards the mouth of the Leven River with the Leven Yachting Club.

There are some stunning old homes bordering the park.

The memorial park is huge and links up with other parklands along the foreshore so that we were able to complete our walk away from the hustle and bustle of traffic.

These century-old palms were relocated to the same part of the park where the ill-fated Rainbow Lorikeets have their nest.

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Days 22 – 24 in Tassie

5th December, 2017.

We spent a quiet day mostly around camp but drove in to Smithton to see the view from a lookout above the town, look for a windproof jacket for Erich and pick up some fresh oysters from Tarkine Oysters which had been recommended to us by a fellow camper.

After buying the oysters, we stopped in a nearby park so that Erich could take a couple of photos of the fishing boats.

6th December, 2017.

Having completed our 3 night stay at Tall Timbers, we arranged to meet up with the friend who had recommended it to us. We made an early trip in to town to empty our grey and black water, stock up with groceries and refuel the car before returning to hitch up and head east to our agreed campsite at Preservation Bay, just east of Penguin. Picture shows our friend’s motorhome below the sign and the awning of our van to the right. What a view!

I had shucked the 18 Tarkine oysters that we bought in Smithton and which formed part of our happy hour repast. They were absolutely delicious and so fresh. We had a great afternoon catching up and talking about our planned joint barge trip in Belgium next year.

7th December, 2017.

Having completed her 2 night stay, our friend headed off in the morning westward bound. As we were not due in Ulverstone until the next day, we stayed where we were but the wind was so strong, straight off the ocean, that we had to take down the awning and mostly shelter inside the van.

Erich ventured out a couple of times to take these photos of an immature Pacific Gull.

The skies were looking threatening later in the day.

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Day 21 in Tassie – A day trip to Stanley

4th December, 2017.

While the weather was good, we decided to make a day trip to the nearby town of Stanley, located at the end of a peninsula jutting into Bass Strait. As we approached the main part of the town, we came across a scenic drive which would take us in a loop and bring us back in to town from the north.

First stop was at the Jimmy Lane Memorial Lookout which gave marvellous views over the rural landscape and out to sea.

The view of The Nut clearly shows the walking path to the top.

Next we stopped near Highfield House, an historic site dating from 1832 and regarded as the birthplace of European settlement in north-west Tasmania, however the ruins of the Convict Barracks held more attraction for the photographer.

Erich took a photo of a Japanese tourist in front of the ruins and she insisted on returning the favour with The Nut in the background.

There are two ways to reach the top of The Nut, a 143 metre high massif rising above the town; a short but steep walk or a leisurely ride on a chairlift. No prizes for guessing what we chose. It was a little windy, so I was a bit apprehensive about the ride but we were mostly sheltered by the rock for the majority of the ride.

The views from the top were spectacular but, true to form, I chose the wrong direction for the circuit so we were climbing up quite a lot of steps on the eastern side as we walked anti-clockwise.

Looking back towards Highfield House from the top.

Zoomed in.

Looking down on the town.

There were lots of Pademelons scurrying around in the undergrowth.

Some of the steps I mentioned.

This Echidna was busily nosing around just beside the path.

Riding back down on the chairlift.

We walked around part of the town near the wharf. These interesting carvings were in a memorial park.

Some of the beautiful old homes in Stanley.

Hursey Seafoods had been recommended by the same friend who told us about Tall Timbers so we were happy to trust her judgment for our lunch venue.

An outstanding tasting plate of local produce.

On our way back to Smithton, we took a detour to look for a Geocache at this massive tree.

For once it was an easy find.

I thought I had a new bird find but sadly it was just a juvenile Common Blackbird.

Gorgeous Banksia flower.

A quiet afternoon back at Tall Timbers.

Adult Common Blackbird.

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Days 18, 19 & 20 in Tassie

1st December, 2017.

Our two nights at Arthur River were over and we set off to find a campsite along the “Tarkine Drive” where we could leave the van and complete the circuit in our vehicle. The skipper on our Arthur River cruise had marked the “must see” spots along the route and recommended we camp at the Motorhome campground at Julius River.

We headed south from Arthur River until we came to the intersection with the road heading down to Corrinna and the Pieman River. This would have been an interesting drive but as our rig is too big for the Pieman River Ferry, there was no point venturing down there on the dirt road especially as rain was threatening.

On arrival, there was only one small motorhome occupying a site at the campground which realistically only has 4 sites that would accommodate a caravan. We managed to tuck ourselves away so that we had a very private spot not that there were any more arrivals during the time we were there.

Once we were set up the rain began in earnest so we decided to stay in the van for the day in the hope that the weather would improve the next day.

Just a couple of photos taken when the rain eased.

2nd December, 2017.

The day dawned overcast and drizzling but we decided to do the drive regardless. Our first stop was at the Lake Constance rest area where there was a recommended walk to view the Lake. Unfortunately, it was raining very heavily when we arrived and even though we had rain gear the signs said it was a slippery walk when wet, so we abandoned that idea and continued the drive. The scenery is quite beautiful, the road surface was good but very hilly and winding so we were happy not to be towing the van. There were a few points of interest marked on our map but it was sometimes difficult to find a place to park.

Trowutta Arch was recommended as the one spot we shouldn’t miss and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The rain had eased by the time we arrived and we had a very pleasant walk through the lovely temperate rainforest.

Next stop was at Sumac Lookout which we had passed on our way to the campsite the previous day but had not stopped.

The misty clouds added some atmosphere to the view over the Arthur River.

Although our campground was called Julius River, it was some 600 metres past the day use area where a walk to a sinkhole starts. The weather was still very damp but we set off on the walk nevertheless. However, it wasn’t long before I decided it was too slippery for me clambering over tree roots so I returned to the car while Erich continued on. He was back in fairly quick time having been to the sinkhole and returned. Apparently we had originally gone off the track which was why I had so much trouble staying on my feet! Once he found the track again, it was fairly easy going.

These Superb Fairy-Wrens are so quick it is difficult to get a good photo.

3rd December, 2017.

Getting into our camp site at Julius River was a breeze but getting out again required a fair amount of manoeuvring as the turn right from our site back to the road was too tight but eventually we were heading back down to Kunannah Bridge and retracing part of yesterday’s loop back past the Trowutta turnoff and heading to Smithton.

Camping at the Tall Timbers Hotel on the outskirts of Smithton had been highly recommended by a friend and was well reviewed on WikiCamps. What an absolute gem of a spot. The camping area was like a well-tended park.

 

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Days 16 & 17 in Tassie

29th November, 2017.

The weather forecast for late in the week was not looking promising but Thursday seemed a possibility for us to do an Arthur River cruise which was highly recommended so the decision was made to drive directly to Arthur River from Ulverstone. I am still amazed by the relatively short distances we cover getting around this State but at 174 kms this was the longest drive we had had moving from one campsite to another.

We arrived around lunchtime and checked in at the Ranger station to book for 2 nights. The adjoining campground was really only suitable for small rigs but the Manuka Campground a few hundred metres back along the road is huge with almost 80 sites. As the wind was howling we looked for a sheltered site and chose 52 – we were the only campers in this section.

Once set up, we drove out to the Edge of the World lookout. The access road is dirt but curiously this is where the dump point is located. Not a place to take a caravan as there would be no room to turn around if there were cars in the car park. The views from the lookout were stunning; made all the more so because of the wind whipping up the seas.

Looking back to the mouth of the Arthur River with the town and one lane bridge spanning the river in the distance.

Heading back to the van, we stopped at the car park from which the two Arthur River cruise boats depart. As we were still unsure of the next day’s weather, we were reluctant to make a booking. Everyone we had asked for a recommendation had said the red boat was the one to take and reading the notice at the boatshed that we could pay as we boarded reassured us that we could wait till the next morning to decide if the weather was suitable.

We returned later in the afternoon to have a look at the boat itself and were happy that there was enough outside space for Erich to be able to get good photos.

The photo below is not very good quality but I’m including it as I believe this is a Green Rosella which occurs only in Tasmania, King Island and Flinders Island.

30th November, 2017.

There was a 5% chance of rain but the next day was forecast to have 95% chance of rain, so our decision was made to take the chance and do the boat cruise.

On arrival at the boat, we had a quick chat with one of the owners and found that there were only 4 passengers booked so no problem for us to go along as they always cater lunch for a few extras.

It was still very windy when we left the jetty but as we motored further upriver the force of the wind abated somewhat. Along the way we were given great commentary about the history of the river and the adjoining forests. As we rounded a bend, we were greeted by the sight of a huge male White-bellied Sea Eagle sitting high in a tree waiting for his breakfast.

Each morning the Captain prepares a sizable fish by injecting it with air so that it will float when he throws it into the water. The bird swoops down and carries his prize back to the nest to feed his two hungry chicks. The female bird has not been seen now for some weeks and the crew believes that she has met with an accident and probably drowned. So the chore of feeding the chicks rests solely with the male bird.

Circling to come in for the fish.

He must have been having an off day as it took several passes before he got hold of the fish.

After this bit of entertainment, we were circled by a huge Wedge-tailed Eagle, apparently a different strain from the mainland bird.

The Arthur River system is one of seven major river systems in Tasmania but is the only one that has never been logged or dammed so what we were seeing is exactly how it has been for thousands of years.

The exception to this ancient landscape is the tracts of Foxgloves growing here and there along the river. These plants have become a weed but are not invasive and should pose no risk to the pristine temperate rainforest. The plants were introduced by Chinese miners working in the area of Balfour on the Frankland River (which feeds into the Arthur River) who extracted digitalis which they used to regulate their heart rate giving them more stamina to work long hours in the mines.

Little Black Cormorants.

The hollow at the water line is the entry to a Platypus burrow.

Moored at our lunch stop.

The fine leaves of the Myrtle Beech tree which is so abundant along this river.

Our lunch venue.

This little Pademelon joined us for lunch.

While waiting for our BBQ lunch to cook, our skipper took us on a short walk through the rainforest and imparted some of his many years knowledge of the area.

A Black Currawong, another exclusively Tasmanian and Bass Strait Island bird, keeping an eye on us.

A Yellow-throated Honeyeater, also confined to Tasmania and the Bass Strait Islands.

We had a wonderful day and were very lucky with the weather as light rain only started around 5 pm once we were back at the van.

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Days 11 – 15 in Tassie

24th November, 2017.

As we would have had to hitch up and move from our riverside site at Myrtle Park because the site was booked for the weekend, we decided we might as well move on to Old Macs Farm on the outskirts of Launceston for a few days.

We arrived fairly early and found plenty of suitable campsites, some bordering the lake and others in more of a paddock setting. We chose a site where we backed on to the lake without of clear view of the water due to some high growing shrubs and grasses but we could see enough to make it a pleasant spot.

It was a nice sunny day so after setting up our camp we went for a walk around the two lakes which abounded with birdlife and busy insects.

A family of Chestnut Teals.

Pacific Black Duck and chicks.

A pair of Black Swans that had a sizable cygnet.

A White-faced Heron.

There were lots of Tasmanian Native Hens rushing about followed by their chicks.

A Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike.

A European Goldfinch.

25th November, 2017.

It was a little overcast and drizzly so we just stayed around the caravan for the day. As usual Erich was out with his camera to capture the local wildlife.

The black swans wandered around very close to our camp, seemingly unperturbed by our presence.

A Eurasian Coot or Taucherli as they are known in Switzerland.

The nearby Bottlebrush (Callistemon) shrub was a magnet for all kinds of birds including this Silvereye.

A female Superb Fairy-Wren.

26th November, 2017.

Unfortunately our plans to visit Cataract Gorge were thwarted due to persistent rain so we just did our grocery shopping and headed back to Old Macs. With not much else to do, we decided to have lunch at the adjoining restaurant. The Stonesthrow Restaurant seems very popular with the locals with long tables filled with family groups but they managed to find a spot for us.

The view from the restaurant looking over the first lake towards the campground.

Lunch was really nice but I don’t understand the idea of serving the meal on a plank of wood. It is just so impractical for the diner.

It appears that a covered alfresco dining area is being completed to the far right of the main restaurant building.

Erich came across this huge White-bellied Sea-eagle on his afternoon walk.

These Little Black Cormorants enjoyed the lake.

27th November, 2017.

Monday morning and time to move on again as we have decided to explore some of the north-west coast before a gathering in Ulverstone commencing on December 7. Our destination was the Blue Wren RV Park several kilometres to the west of Ulverstone. What a surprise we got when we arrived to find our friends, Rick and Lea, already set up there.

Set among 5 acres of beautifully maintained gardens, the campsite was delightful. As it was a lovely warm, sunny day and we really needed to do some laundry, we spent the afternoon doing our chores. However, there is always time for a stroll and some photography.

The Proteas in this garden were nothing short of stunning.

This Little Wattlebird made the most of the floral offerings.

And the occasional caterpillar.

A Grey Fantail.

The view out to Bass Strait was spectacular.