It’s time to leave Tasmania now, wow – how that month has flown by! Since our last blog Tasmania’s weather has given us extremes at either end with a snow storm on Mt Wellington and a week later the kids swimming in the Ocean at Stanley.
After leaving Bruny Island we said farewell to the Cullens, although we were to bump into them again on two other occasions. It’s been fantastic travelling with our new friends, we will certainly miss you Cullens… good luck with the rest of your adventure and hopefully we will get to see you again.
From Bruny Island we travelled as far South as it is possible to drive in Australia, to Cockle Creek (population 3, according to the road sign!). There are some great camp spots near here, but with the recent rain and continuing wind we decided to head back to Southport to stay the night. Southport caravan park is right beside the Southport Hotel, the most southerly pub in Australia. With a claim to fame such as that it would have been rude not to have dinner there!
One of the highlights in this area are the thermal pools and caves. As stunning as the caves looked we are really of the opinion that a cave’s a cave and decided not to take a look there, but we weren’t passing up the pool. Arrghhhh, not so tropically thermal though! Coming from the boiling mud pools of Rotorua I definitely have a different idea of what a thermal pool is. The ones at Hastings are 28 degrees, which as you know is less than body temperature, so feel cool getting into. We all braved it though and Mother Nature was kind enough to stop raining while we swam. It’s a beautiful spot at the pools, great picnic area, brilliant showers and a raging fire to warm yourself afterwards.
With a little over a week to go we had to start making tracks north and had a fairly big driving day (by Tasmanian standards) to get to Lake St Clair. Cold! Did I complain of cold before? Well perhaps I shouldn’t have. At Lake St Clair we had overnight lows of –4 and –2; yes MINUS 4 and MINUS 2, not so comfortable in a tent! Just as well the area is so fantastically beautiful, you forgive it somewhat, and we had wonderful clear blue days. A few bush walks, a little (unproductive) trout fishing and plenty of playing by the lake for the kids. We had some interesting night-time creatures here too, in the past we’ve had the night-time scrounging of wallabies and huge possums, but at Lake St Clair we had very cute little Spotted Tail Quolls squeaking and snuffling around our camp, they make a nice change from the big, brave possums that will run towards you rather than scamper off when you shoo them from the rubbish bin. Lake St Clair is an area that you could spend a lot of time at, especially if you’re keen on walking. From here you can walk north on the famous Overland Track to Cradle Mountain, unfortunately the two day walk was a little out of the range that the kids could manage! A return trip with my walking buddies at some stage perhaps?
The beautiful landscape that we’ve come to expect in Tasmania was severely interrupted as we passed through Queenstown. The copper mines in this area have left massive scars across the countryside. Many of the locals love the colours that the exposed rock gives and are dead against the reforestation of the old mine areas. For us we thought it was just ugly and we ended up not even stopping in the town. Each to their own I guess. Further on from Queenstown, in Strahan the forests were back and we had a great campsite at Macquarie Heads for the grand sum of $6 per night. We’d intended to stay a couple of nights here, but after chatting with a couple who had been on a cruise on the Gordon River we decided to stay another day and see what all the fuss was about. Great decision – this cruise was fabulous, although six hours long the children were not itching to jump over at any stage. We had two stop-offs, one to explore the penal history at Sarah Island and the other to investigate the Huon Pine forest, then in between we had a lunch with as much salmon, King Island cheese, salads and cold meats that you can eat and to top it off the kids had a TV room!
What visit to Tasmania would be complete without a visit to Cradle Mountain? Another wonderfully fabulous place and Tassie turned on a great day for us. We took the shuttle bus up as far as you can go on the mountain and walked down a few of the walks. The kids did a great job of trudging along without TOO much whingeing and whining! We saw a wombat, paddymelon and echidna too, so that’s something to spur them along. This is definitely another spot I could spend a lot of time.
With our time until the ferry departs rapidly drawing to a close we made one final camp spot at Stanley on the north-west coast. Stanley’s big feature is “The Nut”, although none of us can work out where the name came from, however impressive, it certainly looks like no nut we’ve seen before!
On a day trip from Stanley we made it to the ‘Edge Of The World’ at Arthur River, not the most Westerly point of Tasmania, but fairly near and a spot that claims the ‘Edge of the World’ title. On the way we slid down a 110m slide at Dimal Swamp to the bottom of the forest floor. Sounds none too inviting – sliding into Dismal Swamp, but the “Swamp” was a dry sink hole and was covered in forest, so the sights at the bottom were really great.
On our way through Burnie we stopped at the Makers Workshop and had a go at making paper, they make all sorts of handmade paper here, including paper made from cotton, denim, grasses and of course roo and wombat poo… naturally, what else would you make paper out of? The papermaking tour was great, we actually made something that looked like paper as opposed to a mushed blob. The last stop on our Tassie tour was supposed to be a quick look through Sheffield – “The Town of Murals”, but we happened upon the Sheffield Steam Fair… bit of a coup for the kids with rides and fairground food galore. Sheffield is a cute town though with really well painted murals on many of the buildings.
Well, it’s all over far too quickly, you hear the same thing from anyone having visited Tasmania and I will say it again… Tassie is a wonderful place, the scenery is so beautiful, everything is so close and the people are so friendly. Our only regret is that we did not plan to spend more time here, but it’s time to move on, we have other great adventures ahead. Farewell beautiful Tasmania, hope to see you again.