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Second visit this time, stopovers in picturesque places
Arrived into Launceston Airport (quite small) at 10.30 am and picked up the hire car.We could not book into our accommodation, until about 2pm. We decided to drive the short distance south of the airport to Woolmers Estate at Longford. This estate is spread over 6 generations and has interesting buildings, history and artefacts as well as accommodation.
This filled in our time. We drove out to Rosevears through the northern suburbs of Launceston and stopped for supplies at the supermarket on the outskirts. We spent the afternoon relaxing, sitting on the verandah sipping on a Tasmanian wine and enjoying the magnificent vista down over the wide Tamar River...quite wide at Rosevears.
As I had stayed in Launceston last visit, I decided that accommodation along the picturesque Tamar River would be nice. We stayed at Rosevears which is 20>30 mins north of Launceston on the west bank of the river, in a lovely one bedroom villa on the hill over the Tamar River with great views. Rosevears is very small, only has one tavern overlooking the river, but does have vineyards that are open for tastings. It's hard to believe that just above it's location there is a reasonably busy highway in and out of Launceston.
Early morning I was up to capture some great photos around Rosevears and along the bank of the river.
After breakfast in the villa, we ventured up the west bank which has nice scenery, a historic mining museum at Beaconsfield Mine and Seahorse World at Beauty Point.
We then back tracked and crossed over Batmans Bridge to the east bank and travelled up through Georgetown to Low Head Pilot Station (maritime museum) and Lighthouse.
On the way back to our cabin, we pulled into Brady's Lookout which is on the highway just above Rosevears, for some short walks and great views over the winding Tamar River. There is a fairly large off road parking area, public toilets, picnic areas and BBQ's and also some interesting information about the convict Brady there. The first road to the right heading north from Brady's Lookout takes you back down to Rosevears and the bank of the River.
After lunch, my husband relaxed while I did what women do, headed back to the highway and straight across up the hill to the Aspect Tamar Valley Resort (Once known as Grindelwald Swiss Village) This is an interesting area as the houses are all build swiss style and there is a little shopping village and while not inundated with boutiques it does have a couple of souvenir shops with items of interest(handbags nick nacks), a village bakery and a coffee shop that also sells speciality chocolates,lollies and ice creams. Take some home to appease the husband!
Nice to sit in the coffee shop's window seat, sipping latte and reading one of the magazines provided...also can walk around near the man made lake.
Once again it was out on the verandah in the afternoon, and we watched the beautiful sunsets over the river.
Decided to drive to Coles Bay down the Midlands (Heritage) Highway south of Launceston, turn at Campbelltown and head out to the east coast to the small village of Coles Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula.
A bit of traffic congestion going in through Launceston to head south but then all went well.
Taking the road out through Evandale, we missed the turn off to get back on the Midlands Highway and ended up on a good dirt road from which I captured photos of Clarendon Homestead (has tours) as we skirted around it and came into a pretty little village called Nile. Some of the cottages were pretty and quaint with white roses growing behind the picket fences. A statue of a soldier in a little garden area nearby, was that of the most decorated WW1 Australian soldier. We ended up back on the highway and drove south straight through Campbelltown to Ross.
We had extended our drive south by about 12 km to see the historic town of Ross, which is a well preserved 19th cent. town. See the convict built bridge C1836 and it's great carvings by convict stonemasons. It is one of the oldest bridges still standing and in use, in Australia. I ventured into the old post office building to find an open fire which warmed my heart and soul. The bakery opposite provided us with our morning tea.
Once back at Campbelltown, we went our separate ways, being convenient for our individual needs with mine being shopping, arts crafts, history and the husbands being antiques, machinery, people watching and all those things that don't interest women!
On the road east, we drove through mainly forests but came across an echidna waddling across the road. Grabbed a photo before he/she disappeared into the undergrowth. Coming down a range we had a great view across Moulting Lagoons Reserve and Coles Bay to the village of the same name and The Hazards which are pink and red granite mountains, four in all, that drop down into the bay. Good photo stop. Before we took Coles Bay Road out to Freycinet National Park we decided to drive north to Bicheno a small seaside town. This has a very pretty beach area with red orange rocks big and small where there is a blow hole. We stopped for a walk out along the rocks and beach and then drove up to the Gulch, an old whaling station and now the fishermen's marina to have a look around. Fairy penguins could just be picked up on my camera on a large rock out in the water. Bicheno has fairy penguin tours after sundown. Check if there is a tour though as they are only around at certain times of the year in great numbers.
We walked around the town, looked in a few shops, grabbed a bite to eat and noticed that a half cooked large lobster in a butcher's window cost $84.50. Ouch!
Coles Bay is very small and only has two grocery shops, a tavern and it would probably be better to bring supplies in with you. There is a nice beach near the tavern, and an Esplanade which skirts around the waters edge. The main drawcard here is the Freycinet National Park which has walking tracks that also go out to the famous Wineglass Bay. There is a water taxi that can drop one off on the peninsula and pick one up after a walk over and back to Wineglass Bay. We only had one night here, so the many walks were not on the cards. We moved into our accommodation a house with a deck that looked over The Hazards and we were out on the deck relaxing, watching the great colour changes on the hazards as the sun went down. Lovely atmosphere.
Early morning we were packed to go and we drove up to Tourville Lighthouse on Freycinet Peninsula and is only 5.5km from the turn off on Freycinet Drive. There is a car park and a small pleasant walk up over the cliffs which is partly decking with good rails. The path is also wheelchair friendly. While the lighthouse is not one of the most outstanding I have seen, the views from the area are magnificent and we even just got a partial glimpse of Wineglass Bay. On the way back we pulled into Honeymoon Bay which had a pleasant little beach, great views to The Hazards, a very good amenities block, probably the best in which I had been. We also drove around Coles Bay and took photos of the beach and some of boats, birds and The Hazards. Great photography in the early morning, when the water was like glass. We left Coles Bay behind and as we drove along Great Oyster Bay we noticed a new beachside estate and popped in for a look. Some really nice housing all up over the huge bay. We had a quick stop in at Swansea, and then headed out to the Tasman Peninsula via Sorrell. I had looked into cutting through around Buckland but it was only about 15 mins shorter and a gravel road.
Once we arrived on the Peninsula we drove up towards the tesselled pavement area and got a glimpse of the Tasman Peninsular and Eagle Hawk Neck down below.
We went through Doo town (very small) and saw the Blowhole and did the walk up around the area. We booked into the Fox and Hounds Hotel at Port Arthur and settled in for the night. Dinner in the hotel was delicious. met some other travellers and had a nice evening. We planned to visit the Port Arthur historic site in the morning.
On awakening, the weather was inclement and my husband decided that he didn't want to see Port Arthur Histoical Site. I had already been there 9 years before (I enjoyed it) and we decided to explore the Tasman Peninsula by car in the early morning and head into Hobart earlier.
Hobart was not that far away. We drove around through Nubeena a small quiet fishing village and circled around and out again through Taranna. Once we returned through Sorell we headed to Richmond another very nice little historic town. My favourite. This is a very pretty and interesting village, with it's historic sandstone bridge C1823 and still in use...the ducks come to greet you, St Johns Catholic Church C1837 and still in use is just up the road from the bridge past the school. Richmond Gaol C1825 and last used in 1928. Cost to enter was about $7. There are various other historic cottages and buildings of interest and makes for a pleasant amble around the area. Granny Rhodes Cottage has cultural heritage shows and there is a replica of Hobart in the 1820's at the Old Hobart town model village which is in the back of the Information centre in the main street. The town was a definite stop for morning tea for us and plenty of photos snapped here.
From here we drove into Hobart to our accommodation, which was a two floor apartment overlooking the harbour and Wrest Point Casino and located in Battery Point, which is the historic part of Hobart and in walking distance of the city, wharf areas and even the Casino. Once the luggage was thrown in we decided to drive up to Mt Wellington which we could see not far from town. I had already plotted directions for various places on Google maps and it was simple to follow and get us up this reasonably high mountain by road to the top. The mountain, as it is locally known is 1271 m or 1.27km high or otherwise 4170 ft or .78 of a mile. This is a high mountain to drive but exhilarating. It has cliffs of dolerite at the top called the Organ Pipes and the vegetation and blue coloured distant mountain ranges in the background make for a surreal effect. The day was a bit misty but nevertheless we peered way down over Hobart and the surrounding waterways and south to Kingston. There is an enclosed lookout although we didn't need it as there are stairs down to a platform below for good views. Some had scrambled up some rocks, probably to say thay had reached the highest point. There is a good car park area. There is no cafe. It was fortunate for us that the weather had improved in Hobart and there was no cloud cover on the mountain. We came back down and passed Fern Tree which is Tasmania's highest community at 450m. Once back at our apartment we decided to take a stroll around Battery Point looking at the old but pleasant architecture and views of the harbour.
Snacks and a glass of wine on the verandah before dinner, was indeed pleasant.
Salamanca Markets, drive along Sandy Bay Rd south through Blackmans Beach to Huonville.
We awoke early and instead of walking the short distance to Salamanca Place we drove arriving about 7.30am and were fortunate to get a free car park on the street, just up around the corner from the markets. They do not start really until 8.30am and as some stall holders still had not arrived or set up we decided to walk around past Elizabeth St Pier to Constitution Dock to look at the boats and harbour. This was a great idea as the weather was good, the harbour glass like and the early morning shadows afforded great photo opportunities. I got a lovely panorama of the replica of the Lady Nelson which brought the first settlers to Tasmania at Elizabeth Pier and then caught the old colourful ferries moored and not churning up water in their daily duties.
We ventured back to the markets where we bought various items, had a bite to eat and watched the buskers perform. We really enjoyed the morning wandering around Salamanca Place, in and out of galleries, shops etc.
As we had the car nearby, we drove straight out along Sandy Bay Road dropping into Kingston, Blackmans Beach and stopped at Huonville where we had a nice lunch of Blue Grenadier fish and chips at the small Boat House Cafe on the river. We fed the ducks a $1 bag of food which the cafe supplied and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere.
We decided to have a quiet afternoon in the very nice apartment, as we had a 4> 6hour drive ahead to the west coast and Strahan the next morning.
New Norfolk, alternative route via Plenty, Bushy Park (AUS hop capital), Ellendale and back to highway, consequently missing Hamilton and then onto Queenstown and Strahan
It took us 6 hours as we stopped for photos, snacks and lunch.
Driving the alternate route at this time of the year (mid April) was pleasant as the autumn colours greeted us at each little village along the way. We passed Meadowbrook Lake a man made lake, where a lone fisherman sat in his boat while the fog and mist rolled around him...great photo. After Ellendale and before Tarraleah on the main highway west, we came across a large kangaroo who was high tailling it literally down a forest hill and right across our path over the road. Thank goodness we missed him! At Tarraleah, we drove into the resort and looked down over the power station, one of which supports others for hydroelectricity in the Derwent River Valley.
The road west to me some 9 years back didn't hold the interest as it did this time as I had great opportunities to stop and take in more along the way. The road is very winding and mountainous in places and therefore the kmph does drop. Nevertheless we enjoyed the drive.
At Derwent Bridge which is small, we stopped for lunch in the only cafe. We decided on a hamburger, which we though was quite expensive, but realised in this out of the way area it probably would be! To our surprise it came with some french fries and was probably the best hamburger we have had.
We popped into Lake St Clair, AUS deepest lake at 623ft (190m approx). Hikers were there with their backpacks signing in and waiting to do the Overland Track (some 65km between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair). We however, just wanted a glimpse of this great lake which I missed last time. On the road west, I captured some lovely photos of the King William Range with it's 3 peaks on the left and Mt Rufus on the right. We weren't impressed with Queenstown and it's hills that had been stripped from mining in the past, although I had noticed that some greenery was returning since I last arrived there. The town itself is definitely not a tourist stop over as the buildings are drear( mainly mining houses I have been informed) and the only bright faced building I saw was the newer red building that housed the depot for the Wilderness Train Journey between Strahan and Queenstown. There are mining tours here, but I would not prefer to stay here.
We arrived in Strahan in the afternoon and had a little time to buy in groceries have a look around the harbour and drive up on the hill for views down over the small well kept town. We also booked our boat cruise on World Heritage Cruises for the next morning at the water front. This cruise left about 9am and returned about 3pm and included lunch. On board you can buy snacks and coffee and alcohol.
No verandah tonight, we stayed in a self cont. cabin up on the hill. The manager of the accommodation took us into his shed and showed us a large fish tank full of live lobsters...the going rate in Strahan from the fishermen is about $60 and up a kilo.
We had a nice piece of steak from the butcher instead!
World Heritage Gordon River Cruise
We paid $110 each on a premium seat (window) upstairs on this catamaran which holds about 300 passengers. The thing we noticed was the seats just opposite and not at the window were cheaper and as there wasn't many people on the cruise those who paid less than we did just moved seats. This was a bit unfair in our opinion or does this tell you something!
We cruised down the Macquarie Harbour past mountain views and at some stage caught a glimpse of Frenchman's Cap in Cradle Mountain. We then cruised out to Hells Gate (75m across) near the entrance from the ocean. Out there there are about three lighthouses (which I like to see) a few fishermen's houses and pleasant scenery. We then passed salmon and trout farms, spotted some sea eagles and were fortunate enough to be given an one hour FREE theatrical tour of Sarah Island, an old small penal colony in ruins in the harbour. That was fun. We then went on down into the Gordon River which I believe was only made famous by the Franklin River Dam Project and all the protesting that happened at the time. It is nice to see the lovely reflections in the brackish water and the commentary does add some interest, besides lunch was then served. It was a reasonable buffet with some Tasmania smoked salmon included. We indulged in a wine and sat back and enjoyed the ride. When we arrived back in town storm clouds were brewing and it wasn't long before the heavy rain set in, hence we settled down for the night in the cabin catching up on the news.
Our accommodation for 3 nights and only 3km from Stanley
Pouring rain on leaving Strahan and it continued all the way up practically to our accommodation at Beachside Retreat at West Inlet. As the weather had us in the car for most of the way, we arrived early at the farm and to the eco cabin we booked and were allowed in a little earlier. The rain stopped although it was still overcast and the tide was out. I decided to take a walk along the long beachfront. This was a pleasant and quiet area. See my review of the accommodation. We settled in, sat on the deck overlooking the beach and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.
Sun's out. I got up early and walked forever along the beachfront at West Inlet taking photos in all directions including panoramas and also photos of the many shells and seaweed along the beach. It is better to do this at low tide as the water comes quite close to the accommodation at high tide. After breakfast, we headed into Stanley (pop458) and turned at Dovecote Rd which took us up over the town and gave us great views of the Nut. This is a plateau like volcanic plug at the end of the peninsula. It is about 143 metres/ 469 ft high. We went past Highfield, a property C1828 with it's convict quarters ruin and then down past Gravelly Beach which runs up to the base of the nut. Here there is a fairy penguin rookery and if interested there are tours on dusk. Next was the cemetery which I had a quick look through at the very old tombstones. There is a sign on the fence to close the gate...not sure what or who ventures in unexpected!
We had a quick look around town at the small interesting buildings, chatted with the locals some of whom had moved down to Stanley to live from other states. It is a pleasant little town and I was assured that I could leave the front door unlocked or keys in the car here at any time.
After buying groceries at the small supermarket...I'd buy elsewhere first if you require a bigger variety, although it would suffice if need be..we decided to relax in the eco cabin and take in the water views.
That evening after sunset we had some visitors when the sensor light came on. Through our porthole window, we could see the wallabies hopping around down below.
We enjoyed our stay so much at the Eco Cabin at Beachside retreat we actually tacked on another night. We decided to drive the short distance to Smithton, which is an agricultural area and the town has a cannery which cans vegetables grown in the north. It really is a country town and we just had a look around the shops and came back to West Inlet.
After lunch, I dropped the husband at the hotel in Stanley to have a chat with the locals while I walked around the art and craft shops. I was disappointed that a few were closed due to the fact that linesmen were taking down the overhead powerlines but I guess this would give the historic area more street appeal. Darned it had to be right in front of the Chocolate Shoppe! There are wood turned and glass blown items, souvenirs, local crafters, nick nacks, limited clothes and shoes, jewellery including beading, Tasmania wool products and other items I have seen on the mainland. There is a historic house where a previous prime minister was born and the street is quaint.
I wanted to go up to the top of the Nut but my husband wanted to go back to the eco cabin and have a quiet afternoon. We had lunch, and then I decided to go back in and take the chairlift up to the top of the Nut, something I did not want to miss. There are two options to get to the top, one is the free walking track up or the chairlift. I think the chairlift was about $10 return which I thought was worth it. The top is plateau like and there is an one hour walking track around the top. If you are not extremely fit and would like a more moderate walk take the path to the left as you start off as this will allow you to go down hill at the steepest point, whereas I went the other way and found it quite enduring in the short steep rise to the highest point. There is no well defined path there also and the ground was wet from the previous rain. Before this rise there is a grove of small trees and I found a padymelon resting in the shade. Didn't mind a photo or two either, probably used to tourists. The most daunting thing I found up there was that there is not a lot of good safety fences but they are mainly at the lookouts and some were under repair. I did get some great photos down over Stanley and inland and east across Bass Strait to Rocky Cape. There is a timber platform seat to sit on near the chairlift to rest. I found the descent coming down a bit daunting at first but after I opened my eyes, I quite enjoyed it!
Stanley also has a seal cruise and it is possible to get lobster or crayfish cooked down near the wharf area (still expensive)...check the opening and closing times and perhaps the early bird gets the worm (or fish) so to speak!
Driving east along the north coast in the drizzling rain, I had wanted to see a small beachside area called Boat Harbour Beach. I had tossed up whether to stay here rather than West Inlet. We were pleasantly surprised at this little beach down a hill. It had a nice sandy beach and quite modern beachouses, self contained accommodation and of course no highrises. It was very clean and tidy and I would think a great place to have a small holiday house for summer. There wasn't a shopping area to be seen. We drove the extra distance to Sisters Beach which wasn't as nice but still had a great sandy beach area with a walking area over a small creek which wound it's way out to the ocean.
We passed up Burnie as it was quite industrial looking and had a quick look around Devonport and sighted the Spirit of Tasmania (ferry from Sydney and Melbourne) in port. We headed south from here and it rained all the way down to Sheffield. We had not pre booked any accommodation for the last three days of our journey as we weren't sure where we would end up. I wasn't prepared to book into anywhere around Cradle Mountain in case it was raining and raining it was, so that was out. We decided on Sheffield as it is the Town of Murals and as I paint this held some interest. Besides it is very close to what I consider the most picturesque part of Tasmania.
Places called No Where Else, Promised Land and Paradise...does that say something!
We booked into the motel in town and went across to the old hotel over the road, where I had a basic corned beef and parsley sauce lunch. I was advised by a gentleman who had just left to order this. In the pouring rain and sitting looking out the window to sheer white ( Mt Roland was completely hidden under it) this meal was one of the best I had in Tasmania for a pub meal. Compliments to the cook!
We ventured up the street jumping puddles, ducking rain and popped into the shops and snooped around, for titbits of interest. Lunch was so filling albeit we were late getting in to town, so we spent the night listening to more and more rain and watching TV...what a waste!
The rain had gone and there was wonderful Mt Roland standing proud and sure at the backdrop of town. I love the look of this mountain. It was still early, so we back tracked uo to Railton (about 10km) north, to see the town of topiary. It was small and there was not a lot to be seen and so a bit disappointed. We arrived back in town and we ambled around looking at the multitude of murals on the walls in the town. There had been a Muralfest about a week before we arrived and the competitors murals were still in Mural Park in town. They were for sale and yes we did pick who the winners were. Well we had the tied winners as our best.
Just through town and down the road to the left we drove out through Promised land and Paradise. Really just names of the area and not towns. This is cow country, rich in pasture and sitting right under the striking Mt Roland. Many panoramic photos here. Would have loved a cabin in this area for a night. Oh well!
We headed south through Mole Creek ( caves) and missed Deloraine and stopped in the small town of Westbury for afternoon tea in a quaint corner store, cafe and deli.
We arrived into Launceston, booked into a motel after much to do trying to manouvre the one way streets. I of course went the few streets down town shopping and we had a look through City Park and watched the antics of the Maraquis Monkeys (snow Monkeys of Japan) in their outdoor play area which is only open until 4pm. We ventured out for dinner that night, which I will not mention or could give a good review. Fell into bed early as we were quiet tired and thought about leaving this interesting island behind in the morning.
Our plane was due to leave about 10 am and so we left reasonably early to drop off our hire car (the depot was just up the road from the airport) and decided to go to the airport, check in and have breakfast there, read and wait for the flight. We arrived quite early, got a more roomy seat and a window one to boot, had that hearty breakfast for a reasonable price, looked through the gift shop and read and drank far too much coffee. When we lifted off I thought well Tassie, you are quaint and hauntingly beautiful and perhaps I won't see you again. Onwards and upwards!