We’ve Been Busy

So we are in Tasmania now and have been for around 2 weeks with 2 more to go.

Two words – beautiful and cold!

It’s very much as imagined – hilly, green and rugged. We have been really enjoying seeing the various parts of the island. I haven’t written much as we have been really busy trying to get around as much as we can in the month.

Last time I updated we were in Kingston SA, which actually feels like a lifetime ago! From Kingston we hit Victoria where we were really just passing through and waiting for a ferry to Tassie.

Along the way we enjoyed catching friends Gary & Ev as well as Jake in Torquay. I managed to sneak in a couple of surfs at Narrawomg and Port Fairy but weather was against us for most of that period so it was slim pickings.

We drove on the ferry late on May 6th and slept our way thru to Devonport where we arrived 6.30am the next morning. Fortunately we had gentle seas and Danelle who has crazy motion sickness slept thru the night with no trouble.

We spent the morning in cold and damp Devonport doing some shopping before setting up camp at the local berry farm – a free camp and really well set up. It seems a bunch of Tassie’s free camps close at the start of winter as the grassed areas becomes mud so our decision to bump the trip forward from August was probably a good one.

On day 2 we headed off to have lunch with old friends Greg and Rebecca who were also holidaying in Tassie and were nearby. It was wonderful to catch up and hear where life has taken them the last 15 years or so…Crazy how long you can go without seeing people…

Then we went for a drive up the coast and I happened to notice what looked like a left hand point break – small but possibly rideable… Sure enough the one guy in the water was getting up and going so I couldn’t drive past and miss the opportunity. As I suited up the other local on the beach let me know it was a once in 10-20 year occurrence that this spot actually broke so I celebrated my good fortune with a couple of hours in the water on a stunning day. Felt pretty blessed after that!

We cruised along the top where we visited Stanley – cool town – and then headed back to make our way to Cradle Mountain. On the journey there we managed to take a road with a sign like this one.

I usually bow to my ‘law abider’ wife and do as I am told, but the redirect was about an hour of extra driving. I was about to turn the van around when she said ‘That’s not like you!’ So upon the invitation to give a shot we checked with a local who reckoned we would be fine and then we made the descent. It was no big deal really, although the caravan brakes were pretty hot by the time we hit the bottom. Of more concern was the climb back up, as 6 tonnes of car and caravan lumbered its way to the top. I almost ran out of gears but we made it.

As beautiful as Tassie is the winding roads are a strain for caravan drivers. You really have to stay on the ball and I found an hour of driving Tassie roads felt like half a day of driving back home. We camped in a beautiful spot near Cradle Mountain and parked up for two nights. We managed to get in to walk around Dove lake on the first day – it was icy! And then Danelle did some walking on day 2 while I did some writing. From there we had planned to head west to Strahan but the ‘100% chance of snow’ meant that the roads weren’t gonna be fun at all – and that’s if we could even drive on them.

So plan B was to head for Launceston and then the east coast. Launceston is another pretty city and we hung there for two nights and enjoyed sunny days again. We did a couple of touristy things – Cataract gorge and the board walk and then started the journey east.

Before leaving Launceston we did something we never thought we would do – we bought a generator… Now we are ‘those people!’… The shame… Unfortunately our one solar panel and one 120ah lithium battery just couldn’t keep up with the lack of sunlight so we bit the bullet and bought the gennie. The up side is now I can crank the coffee machine anywhere we go! And because it has bluetooth operation we can kick it into gear , or shut it down without having to leave the van.

Anyway we left Launceston and decided to mosey slowly along stopping at whatever took our interest. The highlight of that jaunt was an overnighter in Pyengana where we had lunch at the cheese factory. Amazing!! Being a sucker for sweet stuff (and it being my birthday) I had scones and cream followed by cheesecake and cream – and real heavy duty cream made on site, not that tinned sugary air that get sprayed on the side of your plate in most cafes. We woke to frost one morning here – it was chilly!

From there the next day we headed for St Helens – cool place. We did the caravan park thing that night as there was washing to be done and we needed to have access to enough water for that. While there we drove up the headland to Beer Barrel beach and discovered waves, something I didn’t expect… We checked one other spot and then I hit the water for an hour or so and enjoyed some really glassy lefthand beachies. Another surprising but welcome surf. And the water was cold but not crazy. I managed 90 minutes before the toes started to freeze up.

We headed further up the Bay of Fires on the next day – again equally beautiful – and these free camp sites are awesome! It’s been 2 months now and our accommodation spend is around $700 as we have managed to camp free or low cost for about 80% of it.

We cruised down the east coast looking for waves, but the swell seemed to drop the further south we went. Scamander was our hope and it was tiny, then on to our campsite in the ‘chain of lagoons’. We walked over the sand dune where we were camped to find some tiny waves, but the seabreeze blew in before I could even consider it.

I have surfed 6 times in 7 weeks so its not an outstanding effort. By contrast I have done a lot of bushwalking – Danelle’s passion. We moved from the east coast down to Freycinet National Park where the famous ‘Wineglass Bay’ is. The weather has been very kind to us with sunshine for most of our trip and the two days here were magic. We did the Wineglass bay walk and the extra part of the loop to make it an 11km journey. Wineglass Bay is nice and the view from the top is pretty speccy, but I still think Little Beach in Albany is more stunning, as well as Wharton in Esperance. Maybe I’ve been spoilt…

Walking with Danelle is interesting because we walk differently. I walk as exercise and with the purpose of getting to where we are going. I stop infrequently and only briefly, while she likes to linger and suck up the vibe. Having once been a runner, walking just feels kinda lame. I’d rather be running… I’ve done a lot of walking now though so maybe my opinion will change over this holiday. It is something we can do together, even if we don’t do it with quite the same spirit. Funny story – we decided to buy some shoes for walking / hiking while here so we went to Anaconda in Devonport on day 1 and bought two pairs. Did you know that ladies shoes are $60 cheaper than mens and I can fit into them?… So I am now the proud owner of ladies hiking shoes identical to my wife’s. We really are those people!

While Freycinet we bumped into Greg and Bec again so we enjoyed coffee with the most spectacular view of the mountains. While Wineglass Bay didn’t knock me dead these mountains certainly did. Spectacular!

We left Freycinet bound for Port Arthur and spent one night in Sorrell. The high point was a great budget RV site, but the rest was fairly forgettable. The drive to Port Arthur was like every other drive we have done – steep hills and winding roads meaning we struggled to get over 80kph for most of it. I know – there is no rush – such is the price of enjoying beauty.

So we are currently in Port Arthur , where we have ‘done the stuff’ – visited the historic site and taken it all in. It really is pretty cool to see the extent to which the site has been preserved and accentuated to help you get an understanding of what took place there. Yes – it is a really sad commentary on both who we were as a society (that 9 year old boys could be transported across the world for a minor offence), but also how religion – more particularly Christianity has been abused in trying to use it as a tool of reform. I sense another post will come on that subject, but if you weren’t aware ‘church’ was compulsory for all in the Port Arthur Penal Colony so Tasmania’s first megachurch started right there with 1100 people every week. Of course forcing people to attend church comes with its own issues…

This morning Danelle convinced me to go on a hike with her. ‘Want to go to Shipstern’s Bluff?’ she asked, not knowing of its fearsome reputation as one of the world’s most terrifying big waves. ‘I’m in’, I said not knowing much of what it involved. Turned out to be a lot of very steep hills!… But it was pretty spectacular again and now I can say I have been there. I can’t imagine anyone would ever hike in with a surfboard though – it took us 70 minutes and the terrain was hard going.

From here we are headed to Hobart for a bit to catch friends and sniff around there for a few days, followed by… not sure… weather will determine. Maybe a trip to Bruny island if it stays fine, otherwise up thru the middle and back to Devonport. The plan is to hop on the ferry on the Sunday night. drive off at 6.30am and then I will have two hours of surfing at Urbnsurf wave pool in Melbourne – where good waves are a guarantee!

Tassie has been awesome – and we are only half way thru 🙂

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