Travelling Tasmania with caravan, hiking boots & tinnie - a work in progress

Tuesday, Feb 01, 2011 at 11:23

Member-Heather MG NSW

A record of our eight weeks exploring Tasmania

Day 1.
Our trip began on the 22nd of January when we set out from our home on the South Coast NSW for Melbourne where we were to board the Spirit of Tasmania the following evening.
We overnighted at Murrungower Picnic area on the Princes Highway some 20 kms east of Orbost in Victoria, arriving there mid afternoon. There were limited level areas for caravans and we were closer to the road than we would have preferred however it had good clean composting toilets which is our main requirement for such a stay.
We joined the other travellers for happy hour and discovered that we had all met on a previous trip in Queensland some years ago, before misty rain sent us all indoors.Our night was somewhat disrupted by a noisy thunderstorm and heavy rain around midnight and the occasional semi trailer thundering past but its a place we would stay again if the need arises.

Day 2
We had a good run through to Melbourne and arrived at the Port around 2pm, finding it very busy and with no chance of finding parking close by. We drove a round a bit and eventually discovered a level place underneath a road overpass which provided shelter from the sun. I checked our tickets for the ferry and realised that I had mistakenly been reading the 2100 hr departure time as 7pm! Don;t ask me why as I must have looked at them at least a dozen times before then! Anyway I don't think I will ever be allowed to forget this mistake and it is sure to be repeated by my better half to many travellers we meet along the way!!
So...what to do for the 4 hours wait until we could start boarding. John turned the fridge to gas, put the tv on and watched the cricket while I read and had coffee.
Around 6 we packed up and joined the queue for the ferry. Our security vehicle check was over pretty quickly and we discovered we could have carried fuel in both the generator and boat fuel tank quite legally instead of leaving them empty. This is a handy fact to know for the return trip.
I packed the fridge with packs of ice I had prepared to keep the few contents cold overnight and it worked very efficiently, as of course the gas has to be left off.
We waited some time for the ferry to arrive from Devonport with great views of it as it motored past,
We were parked and upstairs to level 7 by just after 7.30 and immediately visited the Leatherwood Restaurant to make a table booking for 8 as we had heard that it could be busy and we may have to wait for a table. After a quick visit to our cabin, also on Level 7, to drop our overnight bags, we returned to the restaurant which was unoccupied. So much for booking!
Our dinner was delicious and of good quality, although somewhat pricey at $56 pp for two courses. I enjoyed the smoked trout entrée and Atlantic salmon main while John had a Tasmania tasting plate and beef fillet. It was so good we plan on eating there on our return journey in March.
After a visit to the Tourist Information shop to buy National Park Pass and fishing licence, we had a quick walk outside on the decks and then retired to our cabin as we know it would be an early start in the morning.

Day 3
John slept very soundly and was snoring before we left the Bay but I took some time to drift off, listening to the creaking and other sounds of the boat. It was a calm sailing and before we knew it we were woken by the intercom at 5.20am. We sat and watched the lights of the Northern Tasmanian coast getting closer before the sky lightened and after leaving the cabin, were soon downstairs to our vehicles and waiting to disembark on a dark and cloudy morning.
The quarantine check was swift and we had parked the van in a carpark for breakfast by 7am, along with at least half a dozen other like-minded travellers. From here we decided to drive out to Latrobe, some 10 minutes south of Devonport, to enquire about a powered site for a couple of nights.
My first priority was to find someone to repair my internet connection and/or laptop before we travelled further afield as my wireless mobile broadband stopped working on Friday night (the last night at home) and being the sad person I am, I was missing the email and internet very much.
The van park at Latrobe was only too happy to have us check in at 8am as travellers had left to board the ferry earlier in the morning so we were soon parked and set up. I was on the phone to Bigpond tech help soon after 9am and spent close to 80 minutes being talked through re-installation of my device and troubleshooting tactics without success. I was told to turn it all off, wait an hour and try again so we visited Devonport and shopped for basic fruit and vegetables, meat etc and familiarised ourselves with the place.
On our return, after lunch, I tried again to connect without success so it was another phone call and 40 more minutes with Tech help, again without success, before I was told to have both the laptop and my USB device checked.
We took another trip to Devonport and walked kms up and down the hill from Telstra shop to Telstra dealer to computer repair business to Dick Smith, before I was given the name of a Computer business in William St.
Finally I found someone who was prepared to check it out, at around 4pm. We were both quite exhausted by this stage so I left it there and hoped that I would hear back before too long.
It was a quick visit to the Cherry shed for fresh cherries and raspberry both of which were delicious before returning to the van and happy hour at our place with the neighbours who happened to be members of ExplorOz. We enjoyed swapping travelling experiences and their company very much. Unfortunately they left the following morning however we are hoping to meet them somewhere along the track and if not, we are both catching the same boat back to Melbourne.

Day 4.
I left the laptop overnight and before 9am I was phoned and told it had virus related issues and was given a quote to have it all up and running again. This entailed a new operating system (Windows 7 in place of Vista) and increased RAM, and I was assured that my files would all be saved. I ok'd it and by Thursday morning 9am it was returned to me in working order.
The young man even phoned me on Australia day to let me know the progress, which I thought was pretty amazing service.
After breakfast we did a walk around Bells Park on the banks of the Mersey River and then into Latrobe's shops along the street, returning via a leafy tree lined walkway.

We spent the morning doing a drive out to Port Sorell and surrounding places. returning to East Devonport to buy salmon kebabs from Petuna Seafoods.
Our afternoon was a quiet one, relaxing around the van, apart from a visit to Anvers chocolate factory to taste and buy delicious truffles. They were gone in a flash! Just yummy!

Day 5 - Australia Day.
After breakfast we did a walk up the hill and through a forested area for a few kms which wound back down the hill and to main shopping area. It was steep enough to make us breathe a bit, a nice change after the previous few days gentle walks.
We returned to the Park and then spent most of the day across the road at the Henley on the Mersey Regatta which was held in Bells Park. It was the 100th anniversary of this Regatta and extemely well attended. The entry fee was $5 pp and we enjoyed watching champion woodchoppers and ferret racing amongst other events.

John gave the pies and steak sandwiches a taste test and we both enjoyed a raspberries and cream icecream. If we keep up this level of tasting local produce we will need to start loking for clothes in a bigger size!
Later in the afternoon we took a drive to a forest reserve where we thought we may be able to do a walk and see platypus however there was much damage caused by recent flooding so we were soon back in town and headed for the Cherry shed for more icecream and cherries!

Day 6.
We packed the van up and drove to Devonport to pick up the laptop and top up fuel before returning to hitch up, before 10 am. Our plan was to travel to wherever south we could comfortably get to as well as stopping at Ashgrove cheese and Raspberry Hills berry farm on the way. We bought various products from each place - cheeses, milk, fresh raspberries, chocolate coated raspberries, raspberry icecreams, raspberry jam.... Suddenly the fridge was packed full!
We continued south past Deloraine and onto the Midland Highway through Campbell Town and lunched in the rest area at St Peters Pass, 28kms South of Ross and just 8kms north of Oatlands. This would be an ok overnight stop.
We decided to push on and try to make Dover in the far south of the state where we have a friend from our working days and arrived there around 4pm, checking into the van park for two nights. The park was quite busy with family groups, lots of very small children riding bikes and playing unsupervised on the roads, and other travellers but we had a great site with plenty of room. $27.50 per night and good amenities, close to the shops and RSL club.
We got set up without running over small children, phoned our friend then spent the evening at his place catching up on news and munching on cheeses and crackers bought earlier in the day. Dinner that night was fresh raspberries and yogurt - no preparation and no washing up.

Day 7.
We called in at Pete's place around 9 before setting out with our lunch packed to visit the settlements to the south of Dover; Southport some three kms off the road, then Lune River and Ida Bay where there is a tourist railway, Catamaran with lots of free camping across the road from the water and finally Cockle Creek where the road ends. The last half of the road, probably 20kms or so is good dirt. We parked in the car park and set out along the walk to Fishers Point to the remains of the old Pilot Station and lighthouse. This was an easy walk along the white sand beaches and across rocky little headlands as well as some heathland. We stopped often to admire the views over the clear aqua water and coast to Bruny Island. It is a beautiful part of Tassie despite the weather being mostly cloudy, with icy winds.
On our return we lunched ravenously on ham, cheese and chutney sandwiches before starting back towards Dover. We had planned on taking the rail trip at Ida bay but arrived 10 minutes after it left so had to leave it for another day.
It was back to the van and then John took the car to pick up Pete and they retired to the RSL club for the raffles and beers. I joined them a while later and we enjoyed dinner in the dining room overlooking the water with beautiful views. The food was surprisingly good, especially the chocolate, home made and big enough to satisfy even me!
Pete talked us into parking the van on a vacant block a couple of doors from his place and staying there for a few days unpowered, as it is owned by friends of his so we decided to take him up on the offer.

Day 8 Saturday
We moved and parked the van by 9.30 - with wonderful waterfront views. John launched the boat onto the beach which is just across the road. The two men set out for a few hours fishing and I took the walk into town and back, around 35 minutes each way. It's mainly along tracks but there's a short distance along the road and some walking along the beach,a nice little walk.
The weather has still been mainly cloudy, windy and at times showers pass over quickly. I am so glad that I packed many winter clothes as they are being put to good use.

Our afternoon was spent at Petes place and the men resumed their beer drinking competition! Well thats what it appeared to be to me!! We shared the meal preparation and ingredients eating together, enjoying listening to his many interesting tales of travelling both overseas and in Australia before returning to the van to shower and sleep.

Day 9 Sunday.
Today we drove north to Geeveston and then out to Hartz Mountains National Park to walk to Hartz Peak. I packed lunch and water and we set out before 9. The day was cloudy and cool once again however they have all been pretty much the same since we drove south, and we decided not to wait for a better one as there may not be any.
We parked the car and donned our heavy duty waterproof and windproof jackets, grabbed our small day packs and registered our walking intentions at the shelter. It was very cold and I wished I had remembered to bring along my thermal leggings but was so glad to have a merino beanie in my pocket.[gi]33736,250,175,L
The walk was 8kms return and started with a gentle descent through scrubby forest to cross a creek. For the next 200 or so metres it rose into heathland. Apparently there is a memorial plaque around 400 metres along the walk to Athur and Sidney Geeves who died there in 1897 but we didn't find it. We followed the good boarded track across low heathland and started to catch glimpses of views across the D'Entrecasteaux Channel to Bruny Island, although this was partly obscured by cloud and occasionall squally showers.
Around 1.5 kms there was a sidetrack to Lake Esperance however we continued along the main track mainly due to the weather starting to close in. I didn't want to miss out on getting to the summit. The track led us across alpine moors towards Ladies Tarn where the good timbered track ended. Past here it climbed steeply up a rocky hillside to Hartz Pass.[/gi] We thought it was cold and windy at this point but it was relatively sheltered as we were soon to discover! I had to stop and blow my nose very often as it ran like a tap!
The track from there was well defined, marked by many cairns and it climbed steadily. Near the summit it sidled around to the west and there was a short scree slope to the base of the final tower, then a final scramble up to the summit and trig marker.
The wind gusts during the last half hour or more of the walk had been so strong that they kept blowing me off balance and it was pretty unpleasant. However on top the 360 degree views made it all worthwhile. There was quite a big group of friendly noisy people on top but before long they departed leaving us to enjoy it all by ourselves.
We had our lunch quickly and after taking many photos, started back as it was too cold to stay still.
The same wind gusts made the return journey very unpleasant but we pushed on, making the short detour to Ladies tarn on the way. I took photos of the many wildflowers and the landforms on both the walk to and from the summit and stopped frquently for short periods to pause and look around.
We returned to the carpark around 1.45 having completed the walk in under 4 hours so felt happy with our efforts. I signed us off in the register and we were soon back in the warmth of the car.
Some 15kms north of Dover we bought huge juicy cherries for $8 kg and then strawberries (2 huge punnets for $6 total) blueberries and small red sweet tomatoes from road side stalls. I was looking for raspberries but there were none today.

It was my turn to cook dinner so after coffee and a catch up online, I prepared a chicken and vegetable curry, steamed rice and tomato and onion sambal and cucumber raita for us all, and we carried it to Pete's place to share. We shared more stories and memories, the men drank beers and we marvelled at our good fortune.

Day 10 Monday. 31st January
John was up early and fishing for flathead. He returned empty handed but said he must have caught a hundred small ones so he wasn't bored. If we can't eat them be throws them back.

Today we had Pete accompany us on a drive through the forest near the Esperance River to the South of Dover. He showed us some beautiful camping areas off the main road and then we stopped at the remains of an old tramway which was once used to transport timber to the coast. There were massive tree stumps and moss covered huge logs lying around in a lush green tree fern lined gully, evidence of human habitation long long ago.
Then it was on to Southport tavern where we enjoyed lunch in the modern brick building, looking out over the campground. It would be a great quiet place to stay and has powered and unpowered sites. There were very few occupants compared to Dover however maybe the peak season is over by now as children will soon be returning to school.
I drove back to Dover and John and Pete both needed a nap after their beers with the meal so I had another walk into Dover and the jetty to walk off some of the food we have been consuming.
The weather once again was not summer as we know it at home with wind, clouds, light showers and for maybe five seconds sun!

The remainder of the day passed as usual - a meal shared with Pete.

Day 11 Tuesday 1st February.
Our last day in Dover.
It rained for much of the night so our plans to take the Ida Bay railway won't go ahead. John spent many hours fishing in rain and came back about two o'clock with enough flathead for dinner plus some of the biggest oysters I have ever seen. I drove to the town laundromat to get some washing done and while the clothes were drying, visited the small bakery/cafe for delicious coffee and almond shortbread. Apparently the baker is a former pastrychef from Melbourne and the pastries and cakes are very good. I bought a couple of other items - a lemon tart and chocolate brownie as well as a scallop pie for John and returned to find my clothes ready to fold and take back to the van. Perfect timing.
Dover had good facilities for travellers with an IGA supermarket, cafes and a restaurant (The Post Office) a pharmacy, hardware, service station and is the biggest town south of Huonville.

The rain has continued for much of the day but the weather is supposed to clear for tomorrow. If it does then it will be some of the first blue sky we have seen in over a week!

Day 12 Wednesday 2nd february
Snug Caravan Park ($30 p night for powered site).
We are here for three nights and have a big flat site with views across the water and lots of space to park the car. We will use it as our base to explore the surrounding country over the next two full days.
On our way south from Dover we pulled in at the same roadside stall we visited a few days ago. I bought raspberries for $5 for a chinese take away sized container and the stall holder apologised for having to charge that much but it would only cover his costs. The wet weather isn't good for them and they will deteriorate quickly. (No chance of that happening. One of the two punnets is already eaten!)
The Wooden Boat centre at Franklin ($5 entry for seniors) to view students and teacher building a superb craft for Tetsuya Wakada from huon pine, as well as another partly built craft. It was very interesting and well worth a visit as it also houses interesting information about Tasmanian timbers and facts pertaining to boat building, souvenirs made from timber. We spent around half an hour there with the van parked on a level place.

Day 13 Thursday 3rd february
I packed lunch and we set out to drive and then walk to Snug Falls, a few kms inland from the township. It was a short walk down to the base of these very pretty falls and took us about 4 minutes to return to the car, walking at a very leisurely pace.
From there we drove north from Snug, taking the road to sandfly and then Pelvereta, a dot on the map. The road was narrow and winding with small farms dotted along the way. The small carpark for the falls walk is about 1km off the road.
Leaving lunch in the car, we started out on the walk to Pelvereta falls. This track climbed steadily through wooded country along a fence line before a turn took us right and along the side of a gully. It was a clearly defined track becoming narrow and uneven as it skirted the hillside. There were views across to the other side of the valley and 'the Cascades' which became visible before Pelvereta Falls. Some of the track was loose and very close to the edge which made me recall a couple of our walks in the Stirling Ranges in WA a couple of years ago.
The final hundred metres or so was very steeply downhill and took us to a timber viewing platform with good views of the water cascading off the rocks above.
We decided to climb down to the base, another scramble over rocks and tree roots, and were soon standing on rocks around which the water splashed and gurgled as it made its way further down the valley.
After pausing for photographs and morning tea, we started back up and it was much easier than the downward trip as is usual for me. The return walk took around half the time (all downhill) and we were back at the car in mot much more than two hours, ravenous and ready for lunch.
Our trip back to Snug detoured into Huonville where we bought groceries, beer and diesel as it has good shopping facilities, and seems to be the main centre in the area.
The cloudy weather of the morning cleared and the afternoon was sunny although a strong wind blew up late in the afternoon and made being outside unpleasant.

Friday 4th Feb.Day 14

Today we took a drive south, hugging the coastline and enjoying spectacular views, and stopped in Cygnet for a wander around the shops. Its a place full of old buildings and arty-crafty shops, very appealing. The man in my life didn't share my feelings and was reluctant to stay and enjoy them so we were soon back in the car and looking for more road side fruit stalls.
A few kms south of the town we bought 2kg huge fat juicy cherries for $16 and most were eaten before dinner time!
We took the road back across to Woodbridge, calling in at a Handweaving studio. I couldn't convince John to come in and have a look so I went alone and thoroughly enjoyed the exxperience. The quality of the woven products was wonderful - shawls, walll hangings, cushions and much more - and there was a student learning the craft. I left without purchasing anything however it would be a great place to find a special gift as the weather cools.

Next it was a visit to the GrandVewe sheeps cheesery for tastings and then purchases of the delicious produce; ice creams, yogurt, cheeses, pinot paste and mutton sausages kransky style. They aren't cheap but it is somewhere we arent likely to visit again.
A few kms from there we called at a cherry orchard, hoping to buy some of the chocolate coated variety however they had just sold out so we had to be content with more cherries!

Back to the caravan park, we had lunch then I took a stroll along the beachfront to take photographs. Theres a memorial in a park beside the caravan park in memory of Black Tuesday fires in the district back in the 1960's which claimed over 60 lives and I wandered around it reading the informative signs.

The afternoon was calm and sunny. I took advantage of it sat outside and wrote postcards then took a short walk to the PO to get them in the mail before the weekend.
The awning and shadecloth were packed up after dinner so we can get away in the morning with a minimum of fuss.

Saturday 5th February, Day 15

The Neck campground. Bruny Island $10 per night, self registration, N Parks Pass also required.

This morning we packed up and left the Caravan Park at Snug around 8.30 am to line up to catch the 9.30 ferry from Kettering, about 10 minutes to the south. The cost is $60 return for both the car and van, and that's with a concession for DVA pensioners for the vehucle only.
We filled the water tanks, emptied the toilet and are all set for some unpowered places.
After driving off the ferry we headed firstly towards Adventure Bay but took the road to the north to drive around the north part 0f Bruny, in case we saw somewhere which would suit us to stay for a few days. It was new territory for us. The main road soon turned to good dirt and wound its way around and higher up the hills, providing panoramic views across the water to the North and East and we took it steadily because of infrequent oncoming traffic.
There seemed to be very limited possibilities to stay anywhere and after stopping briefly at Dennes point to visit toilets and take a few photos we continued and eventually rejoined the road to the south.
By this time it was nearing mid day so we pulled into this campground a couple of kms to the south of the lookout and Penguin rookery for a look. It is a bit off the road and sheltered by trees, with good sites for all types of travellers. We found a great site on a rise and managed eventually to reverse the van into a flat place. There's room to have a fire and park the Navara and we are well away from anyone else, at least for the moment.

After setting up and having lunch, we drove out to have a look at the lighthouse at Cape Bruny, and also the campground at Jetty beach nearby. The clouds thickened and we were lucky to complete the short walk from the carpark to the lighthouse, take some photos, and return to the car before it began to rain. It was very windy and exposed and not at all inviting but there were magnificent views in all directions. The road is mostly unsealed but is good condition, although because of the corners it's not a fast road.
THe campground was pretty busy with big family groups and not really any room for us so we will probably not venture down there with the van. We may have three or four nights here (have paid for two) and see whether we need any more time. There are a couple of walks and the boat trip that we want to do, and John has plans to fish.
On our return trip the rain really set in. We stopped and collected firewood but it is pretty damp and miserable outdoors tonight and 'he who must be obeyed' says he is not interested!It looks as though tomorrow night will be our first camp fire for the trip and we are almost two weeks into it.

Sunday 6rh February
We spent all morning walking to Cape Queen Elizabeth, the carpark for which is a few kms north of here, past the Penguin rookery and lookout. We started the walk at 9.50 rather late for us and it was close to three and a half hours before we returned. The weather varied from minute to minute almost - from clear and sunny to cloudy, even very light showers but always windy.
The track led us along level gravel to begin with and then uphill and down again a couple of times, providing some good views across across the water and back along the beach to Adventure Bay. There was a steep downhill to the beach and then walking through dunes and along the sand until we found a very rudimentary sign made from driftwood and a yellow plastic bag tied together which pointed us back up the hill and along the wooded track leading to the cape.
We walked through what looked like a rabbit warren although now think it was a shearwater (mutton bird) rookery because there were feathers at the entrances of many of the burrows also stopped to let a tiger snake make its way across the track in a leisurely fashion. He was in the same place on our return journey coiled up in the sun.
There were great views from the cape and we had morning tea there because it was protected from the cold winds and I took photographs.
We returned via the same track and were pleased to see the car as the walking on sand had made our feet tired and sore.

Our afternoon passed with a drive to Adventure Bay and a stop at the Chocolate fudge shop as well as the berry farm on the way. Apart from strawberries, the season is pretty much finished but we enjoyed berry icecreams with chopped strawberries, also chocolate fudges and pretty much negated the beneficial effects of the long walk I guess! lol
We also booked a wildlife adventure tour with Peppermint Bay cruises for tomorrow while we were at the chocolate factory shop. Its not cheap, at $110 per person but it comes highly recommended to us by friends.

Dinner was a camp oven beef and vegetable curry cooked over the fire. We met another couple from NSW who had pulled in to the campground with their van and enjoyed their company. Not so enjoyable were the carloads of back packers who arrived close to dark and set up noisy camps, then proceeded to collect mostly green firewood and make lots of smoky fires.
They only quietened down when spoken to by another caravanner well after 11pm.

Monday 7th February
Paid for another two nights at the Neck campground and set out with waterproof jackets, beanies and warm clothing around 9.30 to drive to the carpark to join the bus for the cruise.
We were issued with ankle length polar fleece lined jackets.

The boat was big and powerful and because there were only 11 of us, we were able to sit towards the front in comfortable seats and protected from wind and water spray by glass.
It was such an enjoyable experience - we were given ample photographic opportunites at a number of places along the rugged cliffs and coastline, thrills and plenty of bumps as we approached the southern ocean and a 3 to 4 metre swell.

At Friars rocks we pulled up close to a large group of male fur seals who were sunning themselves and bickering onthe rock ledges. It was great to see them.
Squally showers passed over us, we felt the force of the gusty strong winds and viewed the exposed barren cliffs of the southern coastline of Bruny Island.

The return journey took us further away from the coastline, through feeding shearwaters, albatross, even a penguin as well as a few dolphins and was much faster than the trip down the coast.

We returned to the van for lunch and spent most of the afternoon indoors because of a nasty cold strong wind.I had time to edit photos and organise files on the laptop.
We decided a fire was going to have to wait and instead had a roast veal and vegetables cooked in the van oven for dinner.
Our evening was even more disrupted by noisy backpackers than the previous one. A larg group of maybe 20 arrived, set up tents, played very loud music and shouted and yelled over the top of it. By 11pm John had had enough and went to have a word with them. The noise level dropped immediately amidst giggles and he returned to tell me he had warned them that they would be woken this morning at 5am with loud country music if they continued to make a noise!

Tuesday 8th february
The back packers were all still asleep when we left to drive into Adventure bay this morning around 10. I emailed National Parks Tasmania with details of our problems with noisy campers, leaving our email and phone contacts and really hope we hear back.

We took two hours to complete the Fluted Rocks circuit walk which starts at the eastern end of the beach. It was steadily uphill for some distance along a well defined track to the top of the cliffs where we had morning tea and tried to be brave enough to get close to the edge to look down to the ocean below.
From there it followed the cliff edges down to Grassy Point, providing many great views over the water and coastline. We took our time and enjoyed the downhill, pausing to photograph the scenery.
Back in the car, we just couldn't go past the berry farm without buying one more icecream!

We detoured to Simpson's bay for a look and then arrived back at the camp to find the ranger here. I took the opportunity to speak to him about our experiences here at night with noisy campers and he said he was having difficulty getting people to pay their fees, thanking me for taking the time to email N Parks.

A family with many small children was setting up camp below us and they have been so inconsiderate - the father has opened his car doors and played heavy metal music for hours, until around 8pm as well as running a generator all afternoon! All of the children and the mother screeched and yelled a one another, no doubt trying to make themselves heard above the 'music'! I cant blame the children when they are only behaving like their parents.
Thank goodness it has quietened down and also that we are going back to the mainland tomorrow morning! It has made us realise benefits of staying in van parks if nothing else!

We had a campfire and sat outside eating our meal tonight but I can't say it was a pleasurable experience and yet this could, and should, be such a lovely place to stay. I guess there will be many other travellers who have similar experiences.

Day 19 Wednesday 9th february.
The day dawned clear, sunny and still. Pretty much what we can expect it to be on the day we are leaving! Such is life.Had the van packed and hitched up before 9am and were out of the campground soon afterwards. We were first in line to catch the ferry and had plenty of time to buy a great coffee from the little shop. We pulled into van park in Snug well before 11 and managed to get a powered site for just the one night, as it is booked out due we think to the Wooden boat festival which is on in Hobart over the weekend.
I had the laundry washed and on the line in lightning quick time and we went for a drive to get fuel, gas, and then fruit and vegetables from the shop at Kettering. We were disappointed to find that the cherry place at Birch's Bay was no longer open and had to be content with some (local) shop bought ones.
Back to the van for lunch, then caught up with people we met in Latrobe a couple of weeks ago and swapped experiences, also sharing happy hour at their campsite. We now have directions and phone numbers for crayfish on the east coast.
Dinner was fresh atlantic salmon purchased from the great Snug butchery.

Day 20 Thursday 10th February

We were out of the park a little after 9am, stopped in Snug to buy meat to freeze from the butchery and post mail, and at this point were undecided about whether to try to get into the Hobart showgorunds at Glenorchy. John filled the water tanks in case we decided to free camp somewhere.
By the time we reached Hobart we decided to keep moving so headed for the Derwent Valley and New Norfolk caravan park. The road follows the river and was a lovely scenic drive. Once in New Norfolk, our trusty Tom Tom GPS took us up a street which ended up being a dead end. Luckily there was room to turn the van around! We decided to turn it off and follow the blue and white caravan signs and soon found our way!
Powered sites were all full or pre booked so we took an unpowered one for a couple of nights out in a big flat grassy area, between two huge willow trees. It is great really, cost us $20 per night and we have plenty of water and are so used to being without power that its not a problem. (although I can't have a nespresso coffee!)
We got set up and then drove up to the shops to visit Woolworths for groceries as we intend going to Mt Field National Park from here and then towards the central lakes and highlands, and a small supermarket was not going to fit the bill.
Back to pack away the groceries, have lunch and relax for a short while.
Around mid afternoon we put on the hiking boots, collected the camera and set out for a walk along the river, discovering a nice little track with quite a few steps leading to a couple of good lookouts along the river. It is a very picturesque town.
Along the banks and track there were many blackberry bushes with fruit in various colours from green to red to black and we decided on the return journey that we would pick some. I had two sandwich sized snap-lock bags with me so we filled those to the point where they wouldn't take any more, and started back. I also managed to taste quite a few and they brought back memories of my childhood, growing up on a farm on NSW South coast and feasting on blackberry pie and fresh whipped cream when they were in season.
On our return, I cooked them up with icing sugar and a small amount of cornflour to thicken and there are some now frozen for later as well as enough for sweets with ice cream or yogurt for the next few days. They are still every bit as good as I remember them!
We enjoyed our dinner of chicken laksa while sitting outside tonight, after spending just about the entire hour between 5 and 6 on the phone catching up with friends and family.The weather is warmer, with less wind however that may be because it is raining lightly.

Day 21 Friday 11th February
Our morning activities began with an early drive to Hobart with the intention of finding somewhere to park for a few hours. We were fortunate to find a vacant metred parking space on the street across from Constitution Dock and made our way to Elizabeth St to locate the MacPac and other adventure wear outlets to buy new hiking boots for John.
It took less than half an hour to return to the car with them (being so pushed for time ensured that we didn't spend any other money but I would have loved to have a better look around!) and then we went across the road to have a look at some of the almost 600 wooden boats which are on display for the biannual festival. Many of the displays were still being set up, as were the food and other stalls but it was already very busy with sightseers like ourselves. John returned to put more coins in the meter and we spent another hour wandering, taking photographs and enjoying the spectacle. Hobart is such a beautiful place with the dock, waterway, and Mt Wellington rising just behind the city. And the variety of the boats was just amazing - from small dinghys to huge multi million dollar craft, sailing vessels and ferries.
There were so many other places we could have visited - Mona the new controversial art gallery which only had its official opening a couple of weeks ago (John is definitely NOT an art afficionado and I knew he would leave me to wander it alone so I passed on the offer to go there), the botanical gardens, the Museum.... however we decided we had had enough of traffic and people and returned to New Norfolk after a quick visit to the shops at Glenorchy.
The unpowered part of the van park had begun to fill up with overflow vehicles waiting for powered sites and we were glad to be moving on.
After lunch we drove to the lookout at Pulpit Rock up a narrow dirt road and were rewarded with expansive views across the town and river. We then took the short walk along the river to the bridge and back and whiled away the remaining few hours at the van, reading and resting.
Day 22 Saturday 12 February
Although we took our time getting packed up this morning, we were out of the park before 9am and had reached Mt Field National Park by about 9.30, stopping along the road at Westerway to buy a paper and (frozen) raspberries.
We had been told by Visitor information in New Norfolk that the campground does not take bookings and that it was 'first in, best dressed' so knew our best chance was to get here early.
We were fortunate to have a choice of three sites in the powered part of the campground as there are only 14 in all I think. The deal here is to choose any vacant site, fill in the details on an envelope provided and place the correct money inside, tear off the slip on the back, place the envelope in the slot and put the slip on the vehicle in a prominent position. The fee is $28 for powered sites, $20 for unpowered.
The two berth sites are only just big enough to fit 2 vehicles with awnings out but I guess the advantages of power and water outweigh the lack of privacy. We put up the side shadecloth so we aren't looking into the neighbouring vans windows and don't feel as though we are on full view either.
I was very happy to be able to have a good coffee while John set up the outside stuff. It was sunny yet more like a winter's day in temperature, with a chill in the air and a cool breeze.
The campground is set in a grassy, flat area along the Tyenna River and behind it is a hill with tall gums.It is a short walk of a couple of hundred metres across to the Visitor Information centre which houses a cafe and gift shop, toilets and good information about the geology and history of the area. A number of walks of varying lengths start from here so we set out to do the short, easy walk to Russell Falls, apparently one of Tasmania's most popular walks, returning via the nature walk instead of continuing as I hadn't taken the camera. We came across a few small pademelon feeding along the track and they weren't too shy so must be frequent visitors. There is a good view of the three step waterfall from a viewing platform and it is very picturesque with large green tree ferns lining the banks and small ferns growing from ledges.
Returning to the campground we found all the vacant powered sites roped off.Despite no bookings being taken, apparently it is a case of who you know as it looks like they are booked to me!
After lunch we returned and retraced our steps to the falls, continuing on and up steps leading to Horseshoe falls which was accessed via a short track to the right. We rejoined the main track and continued approximately 700 metres to meet the Tall trees walk, a short loop which meanders through the tall forest to a viewing platform, (this platform has a clinometer, a device which measures the height of trees) then continues passing more tall trees before meeting the main track just before the Lake Dobson Road.
We were pretty amazed at the girth of the Tall trees, as well as their height. Apparently the talles measured was something like 97 metres...just incredible..and the only other trees which are taller in the world are the redwoods? in Canada.
After the road crossing we headed along the track to Lady Barron falls on the way crossing many small watercourses lined with green tree ferns, via wooden bridges. From there we walked down to a ferny creek and followed it for some distance which was easy walking. A final creek crosing led us to a series of staircases which must have been around 100 meters up. We stook the opportunity twice to sit on the wooden seats and regain our breath before we reached the top of the stairs and then there was a gentle slope up to the top of the hill.From there it was a welcome downhill to the campground and we were back to the van within two hours.
The campgound has filled up - in both powered and unpowered areas - and yes, the roped off sites were apparently booked last night by one party of a group of 8 vans all travelling together who have driven from Strahan today. Slightly unfair if you ask me. Maybe it is a case of 'who you know'.
John spent a couple of hours this evening before dark fishing for trout and although he came home empty handed had plenty of bites, hooked more than a dozen undersize ones and brought one good sized one to the bank before it jumped and threw the hook. He said he also had something very big on so it has whetted his appetite and I know he will return tomorrow evening.
Did I say we are staying four nights? Planning to do two good longish (4 - 6 hour) day walks and also spend a day driving to Strathgordon and surrounds for a look, and maybe to fish somewhere. Will pack lunch on all three days.
Day 23 Sunday 13th February
It was grey and cool when we woke. I packed us snacks and lunch, water and we started up the road to Lake Dobson. It climbed for 15kms through ever increasing fog and winds and by the time we arrived at the car park, we were having serious thoughts about abandoning our plans.
Outside the car fierce icy winds lashed us and we donned as many layers of clothing as we could find topped with our Macpac jackets. I added beanie and gloves and was thankful to be wearing my merino heavy weight thermal leggings. John found his waterproof pants and put them on. We made our way to the hut to register our intentions, visited the toilet and started out.
My little map soon became a soggy mess and my nose ran continuously, adding to the discomfort. We could see glimpses of Lake Dobson in the mist as we made our way around the track at its perimeter. We missed the turn to the track and intsead walked approximately an extra km along the Pandani Grove which at least provided some protection from the wind and was very picturesque with dripping tall spiky leaves. To take a photo I had to remove a glove, remove the camera from its case and then carefully return it afterwards so as to avoid getting it wet....very tiresome! (I was to repeat this many times during the walk.)
We turned left up the road and walked uphill to the ski lodges, already breathing heavily because of the steady climb and wondering just when we would reach the 'start' of the walk! The views were non existant due to the fog and rain. Past the lodges, we found a track and climbed steadily up dolerite scree then across boardwalk to a four way track junction. The look out to Lake Seal didnt seem worth because the visibility was around 10 metres so we continued towards the Rodway day shelter with a Canadian couple of similar age who were endeavouring to find their way.
There was a short descent to the hut and we were glad to take refuge and pull out the book with more explicit track notes. John and I had planned on going further into the Rodway range however at this stage we considered turning back and abandoning our walk altogether.
Instead we decided to press on with the Canadians across Tarn shelf and returned to the outside. The track was marked by cairns and crossed rocks, meandering along the eastern side of the shelf, passing close to many tarns. It was so breathtakingly beautiful with mist rising and the plants and lichen covered rocks glistening with moisture. The camera was pulled out many times.
We seemed to walk for ages along rocky track, maked by poles or cairns and finally arrived at the largest lake on the shelf, Lake Newdegate. The bridge over the lake outlet took us to a junction and we walked 50 metres toNewdegate Hut to eat our lunch, take photographs and refer to track notes with our Canadian friends before returning to the boardwalk track.
By this time, around 1pm, the weather began to clear and I managed to take some photographs without having to worry about the camera getting wet. There were some rocky crossings over running water, one of which made me hesitate and confront my fears for a few minutes. Finally I made myself rock hop across.
The landscape was so stunning...large rocks splotched with whites and ochre coloured lichens, spiky stunted plants with dots and flashes of bright colours, small pools of water and Twisted tarn with its rocky crossing; light scrubby forest and a descent to the Twilight tarn hut situated on the edge of the tarn.
We took the 200 metre side track to Twilight trn hut believed to be the first ski lodge built in Tasmania in 1927. It contained many photographs, skis, stocks and boots and other relics of the early days and was well worth the short walk.
Returning to the junction we headed north east to Lake webster, descending steadily through mixed forest for a km or so before the lake came into view. The track crossed river flats and then a steel bridge crossing Broad river. From here it was walking through forest with some views of the lake before a steady climb through mixed alpine scrub. By this time it was quite hot and sunny, we had shed our layers of clothing and were foot sore and weary. The uphill seemed to be endless and I couldnt wait to get to the road leading back to the car park!
We returned to the car via Pandani grove and now it was clear and fine across the Lake, meeting many people out for a short walk. I was so glad to be able to drop my small pack and camera in the car, sign off the register and sit in comfort. My back ached and Johns feet were very sore because he wore his old boots. It was 4 pm and the walk had taken us six long hard hours.
Our evening was occupied with phone calls, and I made a scone dough and topped it with pizza ingredients: salami, olives, onion and cheeses and we ate it ravenously with a side salad.
Day 24 Monday 14th February.
An easier day physically, we packed lunch and drove to Strathgordon, stopping to enjoy the views of spectacular lountain ranges along the way. There is an anti logging protest set up to prevent trucks in to remove old growth forest which I found interesting too.
Arrived at the lookout over Lake Pedder to find it packed with cars and a big group travelling together. I took photos here..beautiful looking over the water.
Continued to the dam wall at Lake Gordon which is a very tall wall, many metal staircases which took us onto and across the dam and then an exhausting climb back up. We met a friend from our days in Newcastle late 60's and early 70's - Theo - and discovered we are staying in the same campground. He is travelling with a 4WD group. We arranged to meet up in the evening.
On the return trip, we took a dirt track down to a boat 'ramp' to Lake Gordon, launched the boat and spent an hour on the water. It was clear fine and sunny, a glorious Summers day. John hooked a few small redfin then a 48cm brown trout. Luckily I had the camera along as there was much excitement!
Back to the van around 5 pm, we organised dinner, made phone calls and then caught up with Theo, swapping phone numbers and finding out about the last almost 40 years! It was a busy evening.
Day 25 Tuesday 15th February.
Packed lunch and set off up the mountain again to do the Mt Field East circuit walk, some 10.4 kms (plus return along the road 2 km).
It was a clear fine morning when we left the car on the road side parking area. The rocky track took us uphill for some distance and we found the walking easy in such great weather. On our way we passed Lake Nicholls and a hut and then began to climb steadily. There were several scree slopes to cross and climb but it was good to be going up and not down them, despite the exertion it took. As we climbed higher there were many great views.
Before long, we wer on a flat plateau and could see the summit of Mt Field east, a rocky boulder scree outcrop. We caught up to a young couple at the track junction, dropped out jackets and pack and set off to scramble up the scree slopes, the track being marked by cairns. From on top there were 360 degree views over the Mt Field plateau and of the higher peaks of the south west.
We had morning tea, took photos and made our way back down, being careful to place our boots on the flatter surfaces of the rock scree.After some fruit and collecting our gear we started off a flat and sometimes boggy track across Windy moor, picking our way and hopping across the mud and patches of cushion grass? which is a very delicate plant and takes gererations to re grow if damaged by boots.
We made our way gently up, heading south over on a broad high ridge before beginning to drop across some boulder fields. We looked for track markers so as not to lose our way and caught glimpses of Lake Fenton below. Luch was eaten sitting on large rocks with magnificent views across to the area where we had walked in the fog and rain a couple of days before.
The remaining walk was mostly downhill through srubby alpine forest along a very rocky and uneven track, made more difficult by tree roots. We had planned on doing the side trip up Seagers lookout however decided instead to head on back to re join the road, crossing the spillway below lake Fenton. It was another approximately 2kms walk downhill along Lake Dobson road, a welcome gravel surface and we arrived at the car at 1.20.
After returning to the van briefly, we drove the 40 kms back to New Norfolk to re-stock the groceries at the big Woolworths supermarket and get diesel. We returned to the van before 5 and unpacked then phoned to arrange to meet a couple we haven't seen since we were at teachers college in Newcastle (and friends of Theo we had met the day before). We have made plans to meet on Thursday at Arthurs Lake campground and are very excited about making their reaquaintance.
A camper trailer and 4WD pulled in at a site across from us emblazoned with ExplorOz stickers and wheel cover and we just had to go and say 'G'day'! It turned out to be Oldbaz who I know from forum posts and replies, and his lovely wife Ros, and we sat and enjoyed a talk with them for the next couple of hours. What lovely people! we had so much in common and had so many laughs!
I baked the brown trout for our dinner, stuffed with herbs, but unfortunately overdid the tarragon and it wasn't all that good! Next time I will do a cajun spice pan fried recipe and see what we think of it. The flesh is a pale pink and quite delicately flavoured.
What a busy night it was...we were late getting to bed and quite exhausted after the big walk in the morning then the activity packed afternoon.
Day 26 Wednesday 16th February
Our route today took us through the little village of Hamilton on the Lyell Highway, chiefly to empty the van toilet. There is a great rest area there on the river bank, with clean toilets shower and even a laundry if a deposit is paid for the key.
We continued towards Hobart a few kms then turned left towards Bothwell. I am so glad that we made the effort to visit New Nrfolk yesterday as the Supermarket cum newsagents cum general store was poorly stocked and reeked of dirty stale hot cooking oil! I bought a papre there and we continued towards Arthurs Lake on The Central Plateau area. The terrain became rockier and drier looking the further north we travelled.
We took the turn to Arthurs Lake at the fuel store and travelled down a dirt road for approximately 5 kms before we realised we must be on the wrong road so turned around, headed out and then down another (wrong) road for a km beofre I asked a woman for directions to the camp areas. We had arranged to meet our old friends at Pumphouse campground because it has showers and toilets however when we arrived it was packed with vans like in a caravan park with little space between sites and we were not impressed!
We turned around with some difficulty and went back to the Poatina road, driving north a few more kms before turning right into the dirt road leading to ................ some 6 kms from the bitumen on good dirt road.

This campground has a couple of portable toilets, unfortunatley close to full, but the sites are more like a bush campground scattered around under trees and along the edge of the lake and much more to our liking. We chose a place where we could put out the 'little wombat' (portable fireplace/BBQ) and plenty of space, flat enough for the van and set up. The place is inhabited by large buzzing stinging flies but otherwise quite nice.
We organised some lunch, and finished setting up outside and then decided to take a drive back to the shop/fuel place where there is a 3G phone signal and sent text messages to let our friends know our whereabouts for tomorrow, also let family know where we will be for the next couple of nights. John was a bit concerned about our diesel supplies so we took a drive north to Poatina, driving through heavy rain as we made our way across the plateau and then down the steep drop. Poatina was tiny but did have fuel, a shop or two and toilets.
By the time we drove back up the mountain, the wather hadcleared and there were great views out over the landscape below. We pulled over at one of the bends and collected firewood for the next few nights then made our way back to the campground.
John spent the afternoon out in the boat and came home around 7 with one trout which he proudly showed off, complaining that it was all too easy! I had the fire going and lamb shank casserole bubbling away and we ate dinner sitting around the fire as the evening lengthened and flies disappeared.
To our amazement, we have TV reception including ABC which is a bit of a bonus.

Day 27 Thursday 17th February.
It was a very quiet night and we slept well. The other campers are dotted around with a good distance between us all..very nice.
I am having a few problems adjusting to life with no internet and mobile phone but will try to resist the urge to drive to the shop to check emails etc! I will no doubt give in later in the day.
John is out fishing for an hour or two and I have had a 40 minute walk around the lake to explore a little. The weather is not good and I have returned as it looks like raining now and I didnt have jacket with me. Will catch up on writing email and editing photos taken during the past week so that I can send when we get back to civilization.
It turned very cold and damp so we lit the fire (little wombat) around lunch time and had it roaring all afternoon. Our friends Cheryl and Kloris arrived with their T-van and set up a campsite right on the waters edge. It was almost as though the forty year gap had never happened and we resumed a conversation! Amazing. Cheryl and I had so much to catch up on and spent hours sitting around the fire, talking. It was truly wonderful to reconnect after all these years and to realise that what had made us friends as art students is still there.
We had a camp oven meal together and eventually retired to our respective places as the evening was very cool and cloudy.
Day 28 Friday 18th February
Quite a late start to the day with the others driving to the Pumphouse campsite for hot showers and we took a drive to try to get phone and internet connection. Had to drive some distance to a rise in the road to be able to connect.
Cheryl and I spent an hour or two wandering the edges of the lake, talking and taking photographs while the men fished. They arrived back without success and we hadn't even thought of lunch!
During the afternoon they returned to the water and Kloris returned triumphant with one trout. Our afternoon was spent with more talking before I prepared a meal of damper, pan fried trout, jacket potoatoes cooked in foil and vegetables which was enjoyed sitting around the fire once again. We talked long into the night and it was after 11 before we went inside.
Day 29 Saturday 19th february.
The day began with heavy persistent rain on the roof; not good for packing up. However John put on the jacket and old boots and went to work, first helping the others to pack up and then starting on our gear. There were fond farewells and a promise to see one another soon, probably at the end of March for my 60th birthday dinner.
We managed to get the van hitched up without a problem despite the rain and having many other campers in the sites nearby. It rained heavily all morning as we made our way along the edge of the Great Lake and then the lonh downhill towards Deloraine, the van and car becoming covered in mud as we droveover the unsealed sections of road. It is a very scenic route with lookout points and interesting landscape but too wet to stop and enjoy in such weather conditions.
We called at the dump point in town, bought diesel and headed towards Mole Creek and the van park arriving during a drenching downpour. The park was awash with puddles but we were given a site not completely under water and set up camp in pouring rain and winds! So much wet gear..but at least we had power and somewhere to wash it all. The powered site cost $25 per night and we paid for two nights. Water pressure is so low, John decided to fill our tanks and we used the pump instead of trying to use the dribble which came out of the taps when connected to mains 'pressure'!
I spent much of the afternoon doing our laundry and was happy to use the dryer as we had just so many wet things. John wasn't happy to discover the showers use 3 x 20c coins! And the phone and internet reception was very poor and weak unfortunately.
Lissy returned from a week hiking in NZ this afternoon and I managed to speak to her briefly as she was getting off the plane.
Day 30 Sunday 20th February
We had a lazy day, driving from place to place around the Sheffield district and visited Lake Barrington, Latrobe, Railton returning through Chudleigh and Mole Creek. It was very cold and so windy..quite unpleasant out of the car and too dangerous to do any walks through forrested areas. We continued on our Tasmanian tasting tour buying and eating cherries, icecreams, raspberries, honey (and honey icecream) from the Honey shop and smoked salmon and ginseng from 41 0 south and decided that lunch just wasnt necessary!
Day 31 Monday 21st February
Paid for a 3rd night in Mole Creek and after packing lunch we set out for Gowrie Park where the walk to the summit of Mount Roland begins. I have looked longingly at this mountain every time we have visited Tasmania and it has long been on my 'bucket' list.
After filling in the register with our details, we set out at 9.05 in cool conditions with waterproof jackets and other protective clothing. The track notes which I obtained from Sheffield Visitors centre describe this walk as ' initially passing through private land but after about 20 minutes of steady climbing the forest is reached. From here it is 30 to 45 minutes of uphill but poeasant walking to reach the saddle at 900 m elevation. From this point a left turn (N) is taken across the plateau. The track only rises gently from here and the summit is about an hours steady walking away.

The trig point at the summit affords spectacular views in all directions, incluing Cradle Mtn and Barn Bluff to the south, Sheffield township below, as well as the coastline stretching from the Tamar River to beyond Wynyard.'
We found it a long and none too easy slog on track which was uneven and rocky especially on the plateau, with wet and sometimes muddy in places. The last 100 metres or so was a rock scramble over large boulders, with the track very poorly marked. They need to be replaced as the yellow paint is almost invisible.
The weather was very changeable with some clouds and light showers and when we were sitting huddled on the top, a light drift of snow flakes blew past horizontally! It was very cold and we only stayed there to hurriedly eat lunch and take photographs, noticing that some of the higher peaks had patches of snow on the slopes. As promised the views were wonderful.
We retraced our steps and by the time we reached the car park it was 3.35pm (6.5 hrs later) and we were foot sore and had tired muscles. I had read that it was 10kms but on reading the more comprehensive notes in 'Day walks Tasmania' have discovered it is 15.6kms and is rated medium, 6 hrs. No wonder it felt so long!
Day 32 22nd February.
Today we have moved on to Riana Pioneer Park, a community run campground servced by volunteers with coin operated hot showers ($1), clean flush toilets, 4 powered and many unpowered sites and a short walk up to a lookout over the park. We arrived early enough to get one of the powered sites, and at $11 they are amazing value. We will stay two nights.
We stopped on the way at the Cherry shed in Latrobe for yet more cherries and another icecream, then in Penguin for groceries, having taken the scenic coastal route from Ulverstone.
It was warm and sunny near the coast but as we drove the 13 or so kms inland (south) from Penguin towards Riana, the wind got stronger and it was necessary to put up end shadecloth to protect us a little.
We spent the afternoon driving to Gunns Plains where we hoped to do a cave tour however they are closed. The drive down to the plains affords some great vistas across the fertile valley.
We continued to Leven Canyon where John jumped out of the car and headed down the nearest track without reading any signage. I followed and we soon discovered we were doing the walk in reverse and had 697 steps to climb on our way out of the canyon! Good exercise after yesterdays Mt Roland walk! I muttered many obscenities as I made my way up some distance behind John but all was forgotton when we reached the lookout over the canyon and the wonderful views in both directions.
Day 33 Wednesday 23rd January.
Today we drove to Burnie via the minor roads and visited Guide falls along the way. These are only a few kms off the road and well worth a look and the short walk it takes to view them. We climbed the steps up to the viewing platform and then returned to the car via the road.
In Burnie we visited the Cheese factory for tastings and of course left with yet more cheeses....the fridge will be half full if we keep on stocking up and don't eat too much. They will form an impressive cheeese platter on our return.
As well, we shopped for a camp oven lifter as John had left our other one at the campsite at Arthurs Lake, and it turned into a rather more expensive mistake as I also found a new pair of new hiking boots. The store gave us the camp oven lifter free beacuse of the price of the boots!
Afterwards I enjoyed a visit to the new looking building housing the Information centre and 'Makers of Burnie', which provides studio space and products for sale for many of the local artists and crafts people of the district. I came away with some paper products and other small souvenirs, most impressed with the place.
In fact we were impressed with the appearance of the city in general, having last visited here almost ten years ago. The foreshore area and shopping centre looks to have been given a make over.
Our afternoon was spent picking and cooking blackberries and then mixing them through the ice cream mix I make up for us. We also did the hair cuts for one another, sitting behind the shadecloth out of site!
Day 34 Thursday 24th February.
Stanley Caravan Park. $27 powered site
Our morning was spent driving along the picturesque coast road from Penguin to Stanley. We have paid for our site for three nights, all that was available powered. Its a small cramped site on the waterfront however sheltered from the beach a little by shrubs and our shadecloth pieces.
The afternoon included a short walk around the town and up to the Nut carpark from where we elected to do the steep walk to the top then a circuit track around the top, and back down. It was steep enough to require me to hold the metal railing on the way down, so as to prevent myself form moving too fast. We bought scallops for dinner, ($35 kg) unfortunately not fresh as they aren't in season but they were very good seared quickly in a frypan and served with stir fried vegetables. We did take a look at the live crayfish in the tanks but decided we will buy ours on the east coast somewhere towards the end of our trip.
I managed to do a software update for my kindle via usb and copied all my precious photos anddocuments to my external HD so it was a busy evening.
Day 35 Friday 25th February.
Chores done this morning before setting out to explore the west coast included laundry which was hung under the awning in case of bad weather. We packed lunch and called in at Smithton to get fuel then took the road towards Marawah, calling in to take pics at Greens beach which was very picturesque and has a good rest area.
Then it was on to Arthur river, a short detour off the road to see 'The Edge of the World' viewing platform, looking out over the entrance of the Arthur River and south to Couta Rocks along the Western Explorer, the dirt road which runs down the coast to Corinna. Couta Rocks was a collection of fishing huts but very pretty.
We ventured along the Arthur River forest drive on mostly dirt road visiting Sumac Lookout, Julius River forest reserve where we did a short but interesting walk along the creek and through forest which was green ferny and mossy, and Lake Chisholm a short walk to a water filled sinkhole of still dark water with perfect reflections past huge trees.
Returned to the park and Stanley mid afternoon after around 200kms of driving and had a quiet afternoon.
Day 36 Saturday 26th February
It was another short deviation to Smithton to get groceries before we set out to do some walks in Rocky Cape National Park on the coast to the east of Crayfish Creek. We did a couple of short walks there, onne to the top of a stony hill which provided great views over the coastline and surrounding countryside, and another to an aboriginal cave. We drove to the lighthouse and then decided to visit Dip Falls and the big tree, around half an hour from Stanley and inland a little. Dip Falls were quite impressive and there was a steep walk down staircases to the base which exercised our legs a bit on the way down and our lungs on the return. We viewed the falls from the platform across the bridge, a couple of hundred metres from the carpark and then drove the one km to the 'Big tree' where I photographed some interesting tree fern growths and patterns.
Day 37 Sunday 27th February.
We moved south to Waratah this morning, staying in the small van park with unusual amenities housed in two small tanks. $22 powered. We arrived to find it busy and were lucky to get a level site. The Bass Highway was closed for lengthy periods because of a car rally so we had to back track and take an alternative route.
Its an interesting little place which used to have a very rich tin mine at the nearby Mount Bischoff and claims to have a 'waterfall in the main street', true enough as we found out when we took a walk across to the Bischoff Hotel. There was a good viewing area in the park across the road and back towards the falls.
We wandered back across towards the van park and walked the short track to the base of the falls for an alternative view and some exercise and then called in at the Tin Stamping exhibit and 'Philosopher Smiths Hut'. This afternoon was warm and sunny and I managed to get an hour or so sitting out of the wind, enjoying the warmth.
Day 38. Monday 28th February
It was an early start to the day with lunch and hiking gear packed and a drive some 65 kms to Cradle Mountain National Park to do a day walk. We were hoping for clear skies and had decided on the Crater Lake Circuit walk, approximately 10 kms return. We parked at the Ronnie Creek carpark some 5kms past the visitor centre and filled in the walker's registration at . This walk took us past Crater Lake and up to Marions Lookout with great views over Dove and Lilla Lakes and unlike our previous visit when we started out on the Overland Track 7 years ago there were great views.
The smallest of clouds cleared from the summit of Cradle Mountain and we decided it was the chance of a lifetime and we should try to get to the top. At the track junction we turned towards the small Kitchen Hut which provides shelter when the weather turns bad and then took the track to the summit of this most photographed mountain in Tasmania. The sign said 2 1/2 hours return.
It looked daunting. Steeply uphill over rocky terrain and then along the side and up over increasingly larger boulders, some of which seemed impossible to negotiate and almost vertical. We followed the track markers, tall metal poles, and were spurred on by other climbers, many much younger than ourselves. There was one particularly challenging section and we almost turned back however after a short rest we decided to try again and were successful.
Suddenly we were to the top of a very rocky place and discovered there was still more effort and trauma involved before the summit was reached. It was a short steep downhill and very short steep uphill and more unseen around the corner but I had challenged myself enough and knew I would slow us down if I went too, so we ate lunch and I sent John on alone with the camera. We had already taken close to two and a half hours to get to this point and I didn't want to be walking too late in the evening. Also the return down the mountain side was a bit too terrifying to even contemplate as I am usually far better going up than down.
I watched various young international travellers climb past me dressed in jeans, light tops and joggers and make their way onwards and waited for John to return hoping he was safe.When he did we set out to to ascend over the awkward rocky obstacles and a few times I gave in to my fears and panicked until John or someone else close by coaxed me on. It was a slow and painful trip back to the hut and both of us had very sore knees,each step down making us feel our not so youthful age!
We returned via Crater peak and it was a gentler walk, mostly along old rotting wooden track with some dirt and rocky sections. The short 5 minute deviation to the top of Crater peak was worth the pain, rewarding us with good views, and we continued with the distant Ronnie Creek carpark suddenly visible as a small dot in the landscape below. It spurred us on and we were back at the car by 4.45, around an hour earlier than we had expected.
I signed our safe return off in the registration book and with great relief we took off our boots and sank into the soft comfortable seats of the car. It was a short stop at the visitor centre for well earned ice creams and then back to the van in Waratah and a welcome hot long shower.
We expected to sleep well but both of us felt every movement as we turned over in bed and feel very tired today.
Day 38 Tuesday 1st March
Woken by rain on the roof we decided to have a leisurely start to the day and put our plans to drive to Corinna and do a river cruise on hold. We are glad to have power and the fan heater and it has run almost continuously when we have been in the van today.
We took a drive to Rosebury this morning chiefly to get scripts filled at the Chemist as it is the only one close by (some 60 kms from Waratah) but arrived to be told that they didnt have supplies and couldnt fill them. We had also intended getting basic grocery needs to take us through the next few days but have decided now to move on in a completely new direction for the next few days because of bad weather predicted for Lake St Clair National Park until next week end, and will shop in a bigger centre.
We returned to the van having purchased diesel, newspapers and a lukewarm pie for John, encountering very bad weather including fine flakes of snow falling on the return journey.
The remainder of today has been spent in editing photos and writing up my diary which had been neglected during the past few week. We are warm and dry inside and its been a cozy afternoon.
Day 38 Tuesday 1st March
Woken by rain on the roof we decided to have a leisurely start to the day and put our plans to drive to Corinna and do a river cruise on hold. We are glad to have power and the fan heater and it has run almost continuously when we have been in the van today.
We took a drive to Rosebury this morning chiefly to get scripts filled at the Chemist as it is the only one close by (some 60 kms from Waratah) but arrived to be told that they didnt have supplies and couldnt fill them. We had also intended getting basic grocery needs to take us through the next few days but have decided now to move on in a completely new direction for the next few days because of bad weather predicted for Lake St Clair National Park until next week end, and will shop in a bigger centre.
We returned to the van having purchased diesel, newspapers and a lukewarm pie for John, encountering very bad weather including fine flakes of snow falling on the return journey.
The remainder of today has been spent in editing photos and writing up my diary which had been neglected during the past few week. We are warm and dry inside and its been a cozy afternoon.
Day 39 Wednesday 2nd March
We woke to horrible wet cold and windy weather this morning...Waratah was not so inviting a place to linger in so we packed up and went in search of better weather!
It was a big driving day, our route taking us along winding roads to Sheffield where we stopped for fruit and vegetables in the green grocers which supports small Tassie growers, the local Supermarket and the Pharmacy. We continued through Deloraine, having lunch there and purchasing beer to replenish supplies which had run out last night. Even this close to Waratah there was a marked improvement in the weather, although it was still overcast.
I typed Bridport into the GPS and we were soon driving north along the Tamar river, taking the slower more scenic route through Deviot and other little villages and then across the river via Batman Bridge. We continued toward Georgetown and then turned east, arriving in Bridport mid afternoon. its a pretty little town on the North east coast.
We checked into the van park ($25 powered site) which is situated on the foreshore and meanders around for ages, with access to sites via dirt tracks and most with some water views. Its quite a big park but we could only get a site for two nights which was all we required, so we were soon set up, laundry was done and we took a drive around the small shopping centre. There are two supermarkets, a pharmacy a Pub or two and a number of restaurants and cafes...very typical of a holiday destination and bigger than we had expected.

Day 40 Thursday 4th March
A two hour walk along the foreshore, through Granite Point Nature and Wildflower reserve and back through town in the morning.
The afternoon was quiet...reading, photo editing and printing and writing postcards for family and friends who don't have internet access.
The weather was sunny although a cool wind blew all day.
Day 41 Friday 5th march.
After packing up again this morning we took the scenic road across to Scottsdale and then Derby, Weldsborough and to Pyengana home of excellent cheddar cheeses. We stopped and had a walk around Scottsdale, then the impressive building housing the Visitor Centre and timber display provided by Forestry Tasmania. I wanted to stop in Derby which looked so interesting; a former tin mining town and steeped in history however the driver put his foot down and then casually said to me five minutes down the track 'did you want to stop back there? I can turn around.' We kept going so I do hope we get back there on our way to the boat.
At St Helens we took the road towards Binalong Bay and decided to stay in the Moulting Bay campground at Humbug Point Nature Reserve, some 10 to 15kms north of the town. It was a lovely timbered camp ground with spacious cleared areas a good distance from the few other campers and very peaceful, only a short distance along good dirt road. We found a great place and set up, at this point intending to stay a few days. The facilities there are basic; a pit toilet which was ok and didnt look to be over used, but obviously not the preferred kind for many campers.
Took a drive through the Nature reserve visiting the other campground (which has showers and better looking toilet block, although we didnt visit it, and was much busier) and to the village of Binalong Bay where the orange red lichen covers rocks lapped by clear aqua water. It was very pretty coastline and just begged for photos to be taken!
Tonight we made a decision to do the long drive to lake St Clair tomorrow as the weather looks good for the next few days. it has been a big dash around almost the whole island to get better weather and to get back to Lake St Clair!
Day 43. Saturday 5th March
A longish drive again today - to Hamilton approximately 250 kms from St Helens. We travelled inland and up the steep pass to St Marys, then Avoca to the Bass Highway where we turned south. A right hand turn south of Oatlands took us up to Bothwell and then from there to the Lyell Highway just to the east of Hamilton. We lunched on the road side near Bothwell.
The rest area in Hamilton is great: $5 per vehicle overnight with a limit of three days, and has clean toilets, shower, garbage bins and a dump point, set along the Clyde river in flat grassy area a little off the highway.
We took a walk up to the shops and very interesting old historic buildings and were amused to read a sign in the doorway of 'Jacksons Emporium' which read 'Only Looking and Just Browsing Not welcome..thankyou'. It made us decide not to go in so we will never know what was actually for sale there, and suspect it may turn many others off too! Not a good way to get customers into a small business!
The driver/mechanic/fisherman spent some time checking wheel nuts on the van and car this afternoon...routine stuff so we don't get a nasty surprise and have a wheel overtaking us sometime! All was good.
Day 44 Sunday 6th March
It was a clear night and very cool - 0.2 degrees and felt colder, aroung -3.3 according to the weather online. Despit this we were out of the cmapground before 9am and on our way to Lake St Clair, hoping to get a powered site in case it was even cooler there.
We were in luck, probably because of our early arrival time, and managed to get one of the two emergency sites near the bunkhouse accommodation. It required us to reverse between two trees but was nothing we haven't done before and we were all set up before lunch.
The campground is on the shores of the lake with shady sites many of which aren't very level. There are some new more level ones being added with water as well as power, unlike the exisiting ones which don't have water. Luckily we have enough on board to last us three nights but at $35 per night we expected water to be provided. I guess if sites are in high demand then they can charge as much as they wish and will still be full!
Our afternoon was occupied with a loop walk to Platypus pool, the cultural walk and Watersmeet which took around 1 1/2 hours.
On our return we booked the 9am boat to take us to Narcissus Bay tomorrow ($38 pp one way).
Today has been the second fine clear and sunny day in a row. Unusual!
Day 45 Monday 7th March
With lunch and snacks packed in the day pack and plenty of warm and weatherproof clothing we boarded the boat in chilly conditions. A half hour trip saw us at the wharf at Narcissus Bay where we disembarked to do the 16.5 km walk along the Overland track back to the Visitor centre at Cynthia Bay. There were good views over the lake and to Mt Olympus and Pine Valley from the wharf and at the beginning of the walk which took us over button grass on boardwalk and sections of sometimes boggy or muddy eroded track.
We found the walking rather tedious with variable track conditions; some rocky or uneven because of tree roots, some boggy or wet and muddy, some with boardwalk or other older tracks, across small water crossings and past waterfalls, up and down small rises, through enchanted forests where fallen trees and other landforms were overgrown with green lichens, ferns and mosses but it was all beautiful.

There were a few places where we could walk to the waters edge and had views across the lake, and we called in at Echo Point hut and looked inside, visited the jetty, and were soon back on the track. it took us 5.5 hours with a couple of short meal breaks so we were back at the visitors centre around 3.15. I decided to treat myself and bought a chocolate brownie which I enjoyed with my afternoon coffee while John had an ice cream.
We decided to use the showers in the amenities ($1 for 6 minutes) and enjoyed just letting the hot water wash over our tired bodies!
Day 46 Tiesday 8th March.
I was up earlier than usual and had a load of washing on the line by 7.30. Packed lunches and snacks, put on the hiking gear including warm and waterproof jackets and set out to do the Mt Rufus summit some 1400 metres high and 15kms return, despite cool and slightly damp conditions.
The walk was interesting and took us through such different types of landscapes and vegetation as we climbed ever higher and there were some good views back over the lake.As we climbed to the plateau and the alpine area, we started to feel the force of the winds. It was a steady climb although not difficult however the wind pushed us sideways and we kept being blown off our feet...sideways a few steps with the stronger gusts.
I managed to hold the camera steady enough to get a few photos of the breathtaking vistas over the country and mountain peaks which stretched in all directions nut with a couple of hundred metres to go, we decided it was getting dangerous and made a decision to turn around and get out of there. The clouds tore past, getting ever thicker lower and more ominously dark looking and with small hail hitting us we started back down to less exposed country. It was so beautiful up there..small stunted shrubs and colourful hardy plants, big rocks covered with inky black velvet spots and other lichens and I am so glad we made the effort to get there.
On the return walk, I and a big tiger snake scared one another as we passed each other with just centimetres to spare, and then John spotted a half grown echidna forraging for food just in front of us on the track.
My right heel developed a blister well before we had walked half way to the summit due to thin worn socks which I had decided against my better judgement to wear, and I limped back, feeling pain every step of the way! We were both aching in places already over exercised the previous day and wished we had left a day between walks to recover! I have never been so glad to see the Visitor centre come into view...but managed to get the extra 100 metres or so into the campground and to the van before pulling off the boots and experiencing instant relief! The socks were binned!
We have decided we are probaly to an age when we should rest a bit between walks of this length or difficulty but did not want to leave this walk and find the weather stop us doing it !
Day 47 Wednesday 9th March.
This morning looked to be sunny and still..typical we thought as we packed up and drove out of Lake St Clair!
We took the highway back towards New Norfolk, stopping briefly at the Nive River rest area to take photos and view the big hydro power station and then doing the short detour through the township of Tarraleah. We grocery shopped in New Norfolk, chiefly because we knew the layout of the town and parked in a flat place not far from the supermarket.
Lunch was had on the road side beside the Derwent River and we made our way across to the east coast where we hoped to stay at Triabunna for a couple of nights so we could do a day trip to Maria Island. By the time we arrived there were no sites which could fit us in so we found water at a picnic table in a park near the Information centre and continued up the coast towards Swansea.
We found a lovely little campground at Mayfield Beach with sites tiered down the hillside and sandwiched between the road and the oceanfront. It was very picturesque despite rain falling as we were setting up and then overnight and we had a comfortable night. Had the weather been sunny and clear the following morning we may have stayed as it was tempting however we packed up in the mud and managed to tow the van back out of there onto the highway before 9am.
It was a short stop in Swansea for diesel, newspapers and then on towards Lake Leake some 39kms NW (inland). As we climbed ever higher, we drove into cloud or fog as seems to often be present in the higher parts of tassie. At Lake Leake we were pleasantly surprised to find a very quiet little campground with 5 powered sites, 4 of which were free. We chose one all by itself where we had little problem setting up with room to put out the awning, and with waterfront views. It is lovely - clean flushing toilets for both men and women (1 of each) a hot shower for 20c coin (womens not working and drain in Mens not draining quickly enough but for $10 per night we hardly dare complain!)
I was very happy to discover a strong 3G signal for phone and internet, although there are few opportunities for walking - probably good considering my blistered heel. A caretaker who cleans the amenities and collects the fees lives just up the road in the cottage and theres a 'Lake Leake Inn' just a few hundred metres away.

The boat was off the car in no time and is staying in the water across the road and John was out fishing for most of the afternoon despite cool windy conditions. he arrived back with a good sized redfin, which was filleted and will be dinner tonight. These are pest fish in Tassie waters so we are doing the correct thing in not releasing it back into the water!
I guess the place will be busier over the coming long weekend however we have paid for 4 nights and will take our chances. The lakes edge further down the dirt road is lined with old fishing shacks in various states of repair and constructed from an amazing variety of building materials.

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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