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14 day fly/drive winter trip

Brisbane
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14 day fly/drive winter trip

I'm in the early stages of planning our (wife and I) first trip to Tasmania, hopefully at the end of June, beginning of July. Our holiday is for 14 days, but that includes the flight days (Brisbane to Hobart, Hobart to Brisbane), so effectively we have 12 days to explore. It is likely we'd be flying in on a Monday, then leaving on the Sunday week.

I've been reading a lot of the material here and on various websites to get ideas on what to expect, what to do, etc.

My main specific question is about needing to pre-book accommodation. I know some nights I will pre-book. e.g. in Hobart for the last Friday and Saturday night so we can go to Salamanca Markets, plus the day(s) we spend at Cradle Mountain. Normally when we fly drive we wing most of the accommodation, booking the next night at the beginning of the day based on where we think we might end up. Is this an option for us, or are we better off with a more structured itinerary/accommodation plan for this time of year, first visit, etc?

My main reasoning for this approach is to have the flexibility to go somewhere completely different if the weather in a particular area is not ideal. However I am unsure if this is realistic. Any thoughts?

Cradle...
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1. Re: 14 day fly/drive winter trip

Hi lazjen,

July is the right time to wing it, as weather condition can vary, weather can change at a moments notice, and there's a lot less people on the roads. This will allow you to alter your destinations according to the weather. We usually take a week off in August to travel Tas, we watch the weather and plot our course from there, and just wing it, we always get good accommodation at a better price.

Booking your last days in Hobart is a great idea, the only snag I see is pre-booking Cradle Mountain. Even in winter you may have to pre-book, usually if it's been snowing, it can get busy.

Many who go to Cradle Mt like it snowing, and on the other hand many don't, so watch the Tas weather warnings for the conditions you like, and how you would like to see certain places.

http://www.bom.gov.au/tas/warnings/

The end of July is normally the coldest time of the year, where morning temps usually start in the minuses, so layering your clothing is a great idea, and bring a good water resistant jacket made of Gortex or similar, gloves, beanies and water proof/resistant footwear, and if you really feel the cold, thermals are a good idea as well.

I would wing it, you have 12 full days and 2 partials, with this you'll see a good chunk of Tasmania.

Safe travels - Robert

Brisbane
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2. Re: 14 day fly/drive winter trip

Thanks Rob. Looking at the dates, it's likely our trip will start on the 23 June and return on the 6 July.

I think I will just take a punt with Cradle Mountain, pick some specific date(s) and pre-book those and work the rest of the trip around that. I won't mind if there's snow - maybe that might make it more picturesque? The only interesting thing might be driving conditions, but we're planning on hiring an AWD/SUV type vehicle anyway that should help.

When doing last minute bookings - any tips? Is it best to phone or use the internet? Or no real difference these days?

As for cold weather gear - we're already planning the shopping trip. It should be interesting since the concept of layers here in Brisbane is chucking on a jumper when it gets cold. :)

Cradle...
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3. Re: 14 day fly/drive winter trip

Hi,

I'm an expat Brisbanite, born and raised there, so I know what you mean about layering, whole new ball game down here.

With watching and booking, we take a tablet with us, with TA loaded. The night before each new destination we pick a selection of accommodation places we like along the route we'll take, we then look at Wotif to see how booked they are. We head of the next day, if we like where we are, we'll ring a few of those places at that location to see if they have a room and a stand-by rate, which many do, then we book our favourite.

For Cradle Mountain, here's another link which will show you Cradle Mt's current conditions.

www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=28485

AWD/SUV, personally I don't see the need, unless it has been snowing heavily, but if it makes you feel more comfortable with driving in certain conditions, do it.

It was very cold this morning, minus 3 at where I live, with a heavy frost.

>> 23 June and return on the 6 July << yep that will be cold, probably snowy and frosty in some areas, well many areas.

As you've probably read, your daylight hours will be shorter, and try not to drive at night , and around sunrise and sunset, lots of wildlife.

If you need anymore help, let us know.

Safe travels - Robert

Brisbane
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4. Re: 14 day fly/drive winter trip

I think we'll make our final decision on the next nights booking in the morning before we leave based on the weather forecasts at that time and live with the decision for the day. I don't have to think about it during the day then.

Cradle Mountain link: Had a couple of looks at the webcam. Looks nice there today. :)

The AWD/SUV is mostly because I drive one now (Forester) and it's not that much difference in cost to a standard car.

Minus 3 - woot. :) I found a site with a long range forecast for Hobart of 3 - 12 during that time. However, I'm going to assume far worse and prepare for that instead. Besides wind chill can rip that temperature right down.

Daylight hours. Yes. At that time, sunrise is about 7:30am, sunset at 4:45pm and that's going to be very bizarre. However, it's not too bad. About the only real reason we're likely to do driving at night is for aurora (if we're super lucky) or other night photography. I don't plan to do significant distances at night at all.

I'll update here when I proceed further, as I'll probably have other questions then. Thanks again for your help so far.

Cradle...
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5. Re: 14 day fly/drive winter trip

>> I found a site with a long range forecast for Hobart of 3 - 12 during that time.<< I love this statement LOL. I have come to learn in Tasmania, you maybe lucky with a reasonable 48 hour forecast, but don't count on it.

Another good link is the Mt Wellington peak web cam, gives you a better idea if there's a reasonable view before you drive up, but then again, it could change in minutes.

hobartcity.com.au/Recreation/kunanyi_Mount_W…

In the last week there's been a few Aurora light shows, I missed them all, I'd rather sleep, but I've seen the photos, pretty good. Just go outside, and look south is usually the best bet, you never know your luck.

With wind chill, it was minus 20 at the top of Mt Wellington this week, I've seen it well below minus 30.

Brisbane
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6. Re: 14 day fly/drive winter trip

Flights booked (15 days now, not 14), travel insurance sorted, and a big cold weather gear shop (almost complete) over the weekend. Car hire and some accommodation bookings to go.

I'm keeping an eye on the weather and temps now and love the webcams. I assure you I was just using the forecast temps are broad guidelines and am preparing for worse conditions.

I'm still preparing a list of activities that we'd like to do, but I've been thinking more about the accommodation/driving. I'm wondering if it might be better to pick a few places as hubs and range out each day in various directions, e.g. perhaps Hobart, Launceston and Cradle Mountain for instance to reduce the pack/unpack/checkin/checkout cycle each day.

Cradle...
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7. Re: 14 day fly/drive winter trip

I look at the forecast every day, then slap myself. Although I find when the 2 web sites below agree, the forecast will be pretty close -

ski.com.au/weather/cola/mslp/index.html

bom.gov.au/australia/charts/4day_col.shtml

Basing, is a good idea if you're not keen on unpacking and packing everyday, as long as you're not back tracking to much.

I believe the must places to base yourself are your first and last nights, with then basing yourself when you find a spot you like and feel there are only short distances to places of interests, like Cradle Mt etc. And if the weather looks good, head to the east coast, some sites like The Gardens, Friendly Beaches, and the Tasman Peninsula look stunning, as does the north west. There's lovely drive from Ulverstone to just short of Burnie, it's the Old Bass Highway, then on to Wynyard and Stanley, great drive - http://goo.gl/maps/UuzmA

With your 15 days, you will have plenty of time to do a full circuit, with relaxing stops along the way.

If you have anymore questions, come and we'll see if we can answer them.

So far we've had some pretty low temps - 4 at my house the other morning, but stunning days, and Cradle Mt is a picture postcard today, couldn't see it Saturday just gone.

Safe travels - Robert

Brisbane
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8. Re: 14 day fly/drive winter trip

I'll add those details and links to my growing collection. I'm trying out "planapple" to see how that will go for organising things.

I just got the car hire sorted, so now I'll start working on some accommodation.

Working backwards, for at least the last 2 nights we want to be in the Hobart area. Since we've got a car, we've got some freedom for places to stay. My question is about the Salamanca Markets. Are we likely to be able to get parking nearby? Even a few blocks away is not a problem, so it doesn't have to be right next to it. I did some searches that indicated some parking, but I couldn't tell how realistic it would be to expect a spot.

Our arrival in Hobart is late morning, so we've got a lot of freedom for the first night accommodation. Our current thoughts are to progress anti-clockwise around the island, so we'll probably look at more north or east side based accommodation in order to get an early start the next morning.

On the road questions:

How's the mobile coverage between towns? Am I likely to be able to use the internet from my phone if I need to look things up, etc?

Can google maps driving times be believed? I know in our region, if you're just going from point A to B, they're usually generous on time.

Off to do some more reading and research.

Cradle...
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9. Re: 14 day fly/drive winter trip

Hi,

If you arrive early, and turn off Sandy Bay Road in to Gladstone Road, then into Kirksway Place, on the left you'll find some vacant blocks, these are used for parking, if you get a spot, which you should if you arrive early, you're only 50 metres from the markets, I find these the easiest, and we always get a spot, there are others over near the docks, and of course further away in the back streets.

Google map drive times, are not correct, they don't take in account the terrain and local conditions. If they say an hour to get from A to B, allow 70 to 75 minutes, a 5 hour trip can have a difference of close to an hour extra.

Mobile coverage can be limited in the rural areas, and although most say they have great coverage, IMO Telstra is way above the rest. All towns you settle in for the night, will have some coverage.

With the amount of time you have, travelling clockwise or anti-clockwise is up to you guys, really doesn't make much difference, the only spot I would say it makes a little difference is Strahan and if you want to do a cruise. If you were travelling anti-clockwise it will make you stay there another night due to sailing times and daylight, by going clockwise, after a cruise, you will have enough time to make it to Cradle Mt before sunset.

Also don't forget the Midlands Highway, also known as the Heritage Highway, great history, and beautiful towns -

http://www.heritagehighway.com.au/

Cheers

Robert

Brisbane
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10. Re: 14 day fly/drive winter trip

Great - noted the parking and google maps statements - can plan accordingly now.

Mobile - typical, I'm on an optus network carrier. :)

We won't be doing any water/cruises/ferries type stuff at all, so no cruise at Strahan . Due to an inner ear infection many years ago, I only have to look at water to become sea-sick. :( I feel there will still be more than enough for us to see and do anyway.

It strikes me that a lot of the mid, north and east parts were prime targets for basing, as there's lots of opportunities to do loops without backtracking. So, hitting the Midlands highway should be pretty easy.

Our priorities for this trip will be nature based more than anything else: National Parks, caves, waterfalls, forests, gorges, coastlines, mountains, etc. Seeing snow and aurora are hopeful bonuses. Interesting food as well, but no wineries, etc (we don't drink). While we will be doing walks/hikes, it will all be small day trip style, no multi day hikes, etc.