Tasmania stole our
We took some time off at the end of 2016 to explored Tasmania. After our amazing trip, friends and family asked what our number one most favourite experience was – well, to be honest, the entire trip was absolutely amazing.
Tasmania is definitely a destination to put on your bucket list. Rich in wildlife, wilderness reserves, stunning landscapes and of course fantastic food and wines, Tasmania took a part of us and each and every day, we wish to be back on its shores to experience our trip all over again.
6 weeks wasn’t anywhere near enough to explore the beautiful island that is Tasmania. Between the natural landscapes, tours, cafes, vineyards, pubs, restaurants, markets, little shops, hiking and endless wandering around, the more time that you could spend in this beautiful place, the better your experience would be.
Take your time and plan your trip. From our experience, 10 months of planning gave us the best advantage to enjoy as much as we possibly could in the 6 week period that we had.
- Compare prices!
- Make a list of what you want to see
- Create an itinerary
- Do Google searches
- read blogs
- purchase travel books
… and ensure that you capture the best information wherever you possibly can.
Once you get to Tasmania, visit information centres and ask as many questions from the locals as you possibly can. They might tell you where they like to hang out over the weekend.
We chose to travel with the Spirit of Tasmania. We wanted to take our vehicle and camping gear across the Bass Strait as this option was cheaper for us and this gave us the freedom to alter our booking at any time. Booking tickets was a breeze, even when we purchased a trailer in Hobart and had to alter our return trip. We enjoyed the trip across the Bass Straight and chose to travel overnight, giving us the following day to travel to our first destination. The crossing can be a bit rough, but we enjoyed it.
Plan your routes ahead. As we took our own vehicle, we ensured that we got our vehicle serviced before our trip down to Melbourne and our adventure. That to say, we still got our car serviced in Hobart. A couple of months leading up to our trip, we purchased roof racks, roof top basket and also made a water tank out of PVC piping. We also tested our fuel tank to see how many kilometres we could get out of a tank and budgeted around the kilometres we would be travelling and the dollar amount we needed to save for the petrol alone.
- Cradle Mountain 3rd to 6th November 2016
- Strahan 6th November 2016
- Huon Valley 7th to 14th November 2016
- Port Arthur 14th to 18th November 2016
- Freycinet 18th to 22nd November 2016
- St Helens 22nd to 26th November 2016
- Kelso 26th to 1st December 2016
- Stanley 1st to 2nd December 2016
- Cradle Mountain
- West Coast Wilderness Railway
- Tahune Airwalk
- Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs
- Salamanca Markets
- Mawson’s Hut
- Bruny Island
- Richmond (Bridge and Gaol)
- Port Arthur Historic Site & Ghost Tour
- Peter Rabbit Garden
- Tasman Island Cruises
- Mt Amos & Wineglass Bay
- Cape Tourville Lighthouse
- Wineglass Bay Cruise
- Maria Island 1/2 Day Trip
- St Columba Falls
- Bay of Fires
- Beaconsfield Heritage Centre (Mine)
- Platypus House
- Seahorse World
- Cataract Gorge & Tamar River Cruises
- Bridestowe Lavender Farm
- The Nut
Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries.
- Cascade Brewery
- Willie Smith’s Apple Shed
- Lark Distillery
- Bruny Island Premium Wines
- House of Whisky
- Devils Corner Winery
- Bay of Fires Winery
- Loira Wines
- Goaty Hill Wines
- Holm Oak Wines
- James Boags Brewery
- Hellyers Road Distillery
Pubs, Food & Cheese.
- Cheese Co.
- Pub in the Paddock
- Pyengana Dairy
- Hursey Seafood
- Spirit of Tasmania
- Parks & Wildlife Services
- Discover Tasmania
- Tourism Australia
- Tailored Tasmania
- Lonely Planet
- Bureau of Meteorology
- Explore Australia
- Tasmanian Walking Co.
- Tasmanian Waterfalls
- 60 Great Short Walks (Parks & Wildlife Services)
Brisbane to Dubbo.
It took us 9.5 hours to get to Dubbo. We left Aramac Court at 6am. Our first stop was Toowoomba for breakfast and our first fuel up. We stopped in Goondiwindi, Moree and Narrabri before reaching our overnight destination Dubbo.
Dubbo to Fawkner.
We left Dubbo and set our eyes to the 9 hour drive to Fawkner just outside of Melbourne. Our first stop was Parkes for breakfast and passed The Dish. We had a minor detour from Forbes to near Cowra and we passed through West Wyalong, Leeton and stopped in Grong Grong just before Nerrandera. We enjoyed the Earth Garden at Grong Grong and saw the Big Guitar at Nerrandera. We stopped for lunch at Jerilderie and crossed the border passing through Shepparton and turning off before Seymore to join the Hume Highway into Melbourne. We reached Fawkner mid-afternoon and checked into our overnight accommodation. We had dinner at the First and Last Hotel and went to bed early as the next night we would be on the Spirit of Tasmania.
Our first stop of the day was Pentridge prison in Coburg. We had a lot of time on our hands and explored a couple of blocks in the city before heading towards the Port of Melbourne. We arrived at the Pier and the Spirit of Tasmania was docked ready to be boarded. We got more excited knowing that we were a couple of hours away before we would be sailing out of the port and crossing the Bass Strait. We parked the X-Trail and walked along the boardwalk and had lunch at Station Pier.
As we arrived early, the wait at the terminal was long and we watching truck after truck drive on to the Spirit of Tasmania. Once the gates were opened, the X-Trail got inspected. We handed over our butane canisters and our gas bottles. The X-Trail got cleared and we drove to the next check point. The wait was long but the closer we got to the ship the more excited we became. Eventually the line started moving and we received our boarding passes and drove on to the Spirit of Tasmania.
Spirit of Tasmania.
Photos: Spirit of Tasmania
Once on board we grabbed the necessary gear we made our way to our cabin for the night. Tip: Take a photo of the sign which indicates which level you are on. This will help when you disembark the following day.
We stayed in a four bed cabin which had an ensuite bathroom. This option was cheaper for us compared to a twin or deluxe cabin. The Spirit of Tasmania’s facilities include a tourism hub where you can purchase the National Park Passes; cinemas; game zone; gaming station; reading room; bars and dining; and entertainment.
We enjoyed our journey and explored the ship. Sheyana performed on the upper deck as we sailed over the Bass Strait. The following morning we watched the Spirt of Tasmania pull into Devonport. We grabbed breakfast and by that time our level number was called. We grabbed our gear and disembarked from the ship. We collected our butane and gas bottles and made our way to Sheffield.
Devonport to Cradle Mountain.
Sheffield “Town of Murals”
Sheffield is a town 23 km inland from Devonport on then north-west coast of Tasmania. It is known as the Town of Murals. While Nathan was filling up the water tank and fuel up, I took the time and wandered through the streets to admire the artwork.
Drive to Cradle Mountain
We left Sheffield and took the road to Mole Creek to get to Cradle Mountain. As we got closer to Mole Creek Caves, signs indicated that the road to Cradle Mountain was blocked and that we had to divert back to Sheffield. This was no bother to us as we had the entire day to get to Cradle Mountain. We headed back to Mole Creek from the caves and passed through Paradise, Mount Roland back to Sheffield where we had breakfast.
As we approached our destination the landscape changed from green to white. The temperature dropped and our excitement increased. We’ve wanted to see Cradle Mountain for months and we could believe that in a couple of kilometres we will be seeing the mountain in person.
Accommodation: Discovery Cradle Mountain Park
Cradle Mountain is situated in the Central Highlands region of Tasmania and is situated in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. It is 1,545 meters above sea level and is the fifth highest mountain in Tasmania.
We stayed at the Discovery Cradle Mountain Park just across from the Visitors Centre. The Visitors Centre provides national park entry passes; information on walks and activities; and is the departure point of the shuttle bus services to Dove Lake.
We arrived at the Discovery Park mid-morning and started setting up our camp. We drove to the Visitors Centre to find out the shuttle bus times and what activities are in the area. The Visitors Centre has a gift shop which had beautiful gifts and warm gear which would assist us with our trip as we grossly underestimated how cold Cradle Mountain would be. We also found out that the shuttle bus service stops at the Cradle Mountain Rangers Station and Interpretation Centre daily.
Morning broke and we prepared our Osprey backpacks ready for our hike up Cradle Mountain. We bought our shuttle bus tickets from the Visitors Centre along with socks, head cover, jackets, and lunch and boarded the shuttle bus to the iconic Cradle Mountain.
Dove Lake, the boat house, Marions lookout and halfway to Kitchen Hut, was all surreal. Marions lookout trek was the most hardest climb we’ve done and we’ve been up Mount Warning. The views were amazing and the further up we climbed, the better the scenery became.
Cradle Mountain, at least the basic tracks is something worth doing. They have options for beginners to experts and I am sure we will be doing the Overland Track in the near future. The upside to this hike, Nathan got to see snow for the first time. We got to experience Cradle Mountain, all its lakes and beautiful, crazy and ridiculous amount of snow.
Devils@Cradle is a unique Tasmanian conservation facility focusing on the Tasmanian devil, Eastern and Spotted – tail Quoll.
The facility is amazing as you get to see these animals up and close. The tour includes an information session, the conservation program and an opportunity to adopt a devil or Quoll. We adopted ‘Chopper’ a devil and ‘Bellatrix’ a Quoll.
While we were in the area, we visited the Cradle Mountain Rangers Station and Interpretation Centre, Peppers Lodge for lunch, Cradle Mountain Hotel for dinner and loitered around the Visitors Centre.
We had a camp disaster. As we have never camped in snow before, our dome gazebo collapsed under the weight of the snow. As it was the night before we had to leave for our next destination, we started packing up our camp while tapping off as much snow from our tarp and gazebo as we possibly could. This created a problem with packing our camp up as everything returned into the car wet. We vowed to buy a trailer at our next major camp site.
West Coast Wilderness Railway
The West Coast Wilderness Railway is steam train rail experience through the west coast wilderness rain forest in a fully restored heritage carriages while discovering the region’s fascinating history and experiencing ancient Huon pine only accessible via this journey. We opted for the River and Rainforest tour and the balcony carriage where we received a complementary drink, canapes and lunch which included a couple of chocolate locomotives. This trip was a 4 hour day journey that departs from Regatta Point Station along the Macquarie Harbour and the King River Gorge for Dubbil Barrill and return. Our first few stops included Lowana, Lower Landing and Dubbil Barrill. The train journey crossed many bridges including the formidable iron bridge. The railway was built in the 1800’s through the Gondwana rainforest and gives you an awe inspiring idea what the men and women of that time did to construct this beautiful railway and live out in the rainforest.
This was a wonderful experience. We fell in love with the idea that just around the corner and over the bend, there is a magnificent journey to be had. Thank you West Coast Wilderness Railway for having us participate in this wonderful experience!
Accommodation: Strahan Holiday Retreat
Dinner: Hammers Bar & Grill
We stayed in one of the cabins at the Strahan Holiday Retreat. The cabin was modern with a bedroom, ensuite, small lounge and kitchen. This was a relief as it gave us the opportunity to recoup after our snow camp disaster at Cradle Mountain. We dried as much of our equipment as we could, had a magnificent shower and went out for the night.
We came across the Hammers Bar & Grill where Nathan had the Steak and I had the Petuna Ocean Trout with Salmon Roe. It was amazing. Best thing off all, we topped the night off with lavender ice-cream and lemon and lime ice-cream.
Next time we head over to Tasmania, I would like to stay in Strahan for an extra night to explore the area.
Strahan to Hobart and Ranelagh.
Strahan to Hobart is a 4.5 hour scenic drive through Queenstown, Derwent Bridge near Lake St Clair, Brady’s Lake, Hamilton, New Norfolk and Glenorchy.
We repacked the car and left our warm cabin for Queenstown stopping at West Coast Wilderness Railway station Queenstown for breakfast. Queenstown was once a rich and rugged mining town and is the largest town on Tasmania’s West Coast. The station was beautiful with old equipment scattered on both platforms. The hanger radiates with history and you just had to walk through the wooden carriage that is the gift shop.
Queenstown is surrounded by dramatic hills and mountains. The scenic drive takes you up a spiralling road with over 90 bends and the lookout over Queenstown is a testament to the brutal mining past. The views were stunning and we stopped at Donaghys Hill lookout before stopping in at Lake St Clair.
While we were on the road, we changed our accommodation at Huon Bush Retreat for two nights in a cabin. Paul recommended that we stop at Salamanca Fresh at Hobart for fresh fruit and veg. The drive from Lake St Clair to Hobart was spectacular. We passed numerous small cottages, beautiful hills with magnificent views. We got closer to Hobart and the traffic increased. The contrast between country and city is evident once you hit the outskirts of Hobart. The drive however was still spectacular.
Hobart and Ranelagh.
Accommodation: Huon Bush Retreat
Huon Bush Retreat is a carbon positive retreat situated 44km south from Hobart and is part of the Huon Valley. What makes this accommodation fantastic is the eco-friendly facilities which includes carbon neutral wood heating, natural water and composting toilets. Rooms are free from technology and you are surrounded by wildlife of all sorts. We stayed in a self-contained cabin for two nights and 5 nights within the Retreat campgrounds. The drive up to the Retreat was a 4km uphill, 4wd, spectacular, with views over the Huon/Ranelagh. The cabin itself was really basic, with a bed, couches, little kitchen and a toilet separated by a wet room shower with a sliding door. The self-containing cabin included an outdoor bath and our own brush tailed possum we called Marcus. The nights were cold but our camp fire kept us warm, making it cosy and romantic.
Photos: Mount Wellington
Mount Wellington is situation 20km from Hobart and is part of the Wellington Range and Wellington Park reserve. Mount Wellington is 1,271m above sea level and provides a backdrop to Hobart. A sealed road takes you up the summit and this road can be closed throughout the year due to severe weather.
We drove up Pinnacle Road early Tuesday morning to watch the sun rise over Hobart but due to bad weather the night before, the road was closed up kunanyi/ Mount Wellington’s summit. This didn’t deter us from watching the sun rise over Hobart down the road from The Springs day area. The morning was chilly but the colours over Hobart were breathtaking reminding us how spectacular nature can be early in the morning.
Once the sun was up, we drove down the mountain and out to South Arm. We had breakfast from a local café and enjoyed the mountain from a different view, just across the bay.
We bought a trailer from Glenorchy after our camp disaster in Cradle Mountain and took it back up Mount Wellington hoping that the road up to the lookout was open. The view over Hobart was spectacular and we were happy that we drove back up the mountain, even with the trailer.
Photos: Cascade Brewery
The day was spent at the Cascade Brewery. The brewery was established in 1824 at the foot of Mount Wellington. It is Australia’s oldest operating brewery and offers tours for guests to experience the heritage and its brewing crafts. Tours depart from the Cascade Visitors Centre and the heritage tour is 45 minutes in duration. Allow an hour as it includes tasting time. The tour was spectacular as we went behind the sandstone façade to view the working of the brewery. Photos aren’t allowed so ensure you retain the information booklet you receive at the tour. The tour gives you an insight of the rich history behind Cascade Brewery and the tour guide explains the different type of grains and malt they use to produce the beer. We spent the entire day at the brewery enjoying the food from the restaurant and beer and cider from the bar. The bar hosts a Beer Pulling Champion competition and both Nathan and I participated. Nathan won two rounds and was named Champion of the day. I came second in my heat and would have been fun competing against him for the winning certificate. We spent a fair bit of cash in the gift show. Tip: TAKE EXTRA CASH!!
Photos: Longley – The Longley Hotel
The Longley International Hotel opened in 1861 and is the longest Huon Pine Bar in the world and is situated in the Huon Valley. A large axe and wood stump accompanies the bar and the publican drives a Datsun. It was the first Datsun we saw in Tasmania and I was in awe. A beautiful pub with a magnificent car what else could a girl wish for? Oh yes, lunch! We’ve been enjoying wonderful meals throughout our trip and the Longley had another meal worth mentioning.
Photos: Tahune Airwalk
The Tahune Airwalk is a steel walkway footbridge located in the Tahune Forest area 29km from Geeveston and sits over the banks of the Huon River. The treetop walk overlooks the Huon and Picton Rivers joining in the far distance. The Tahune Airwalk site offers three walks onsite plus a guided tour 20-30m above the forest floor and a cantilever sitting at a height of 50m above the river. This is where the tour ends. Our tour guide was amazing and as we were the only two people on tour with him, we showed us one of Tasmania’s deadliest snakes (in nature) among a 350 year old fallen tree. He covered the history of the Airwalk and talked about the conservation work they do within the Tahune Forest. He also told us gruesome stories which made me cringed once or twice.
Photos: Hartz Mountain
Hartz Mountain National Park is a 23km drive from Tahune Airwalk. The Park was included in Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area in 1989 and is a spectacular wonder in cold weather. Hartz Mountain offers tumbling waterfalls off the dolerite range and this runs through the centre of the park. Hartz Peak is 1,254m above sea level which offers panoramic views into the heart of the southwest. With a number of different walks in the area, we chose the path directly to one gushing waterfall. It was surreal watching the water flow down the mountain into the abyss. The misty weather made the experience ever more romantic and the rain drenching us in the process.
Bruny Island is a 362 km2 island separated from the Tasmanian mainland by the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, and its east coast lies within the Tasman Sea. Bruny Island has two land masses, North Bruny and South Bruny and is joined by a long, narrow sandy isthmus best known as The Neck. Bruny Island is 38km from Hobart and is accessible by the Bruny Island Ferry.
We caught the 7.30am ferry across the channel and spent our day on the South Island. We made our way through The Neck onto Adventure Bay. We visited Captain Cook’s Landing and enjoyed a cookie with Cookie. We walked the Grass Point track and watched Penguin Island in awe. Walking between tall trees and the coast line and stopping here and there for a look. We observed a young echidna on our walk back to the car and we couldn’t believe our luck. We stopped in at Captain Cook’s tree which is now located in the Bruny Island museum and made our way to Bruny Island Providore for some fudge. Our next stop was the Berry Farm for a quick coffee and made our way to the Lighthouse.
Bruny Island Lighthouse
Cape Bruny Lighthouse is the only Southern Tasmanian lighthouse open for inspection. The historic 1836 lighthouse towers 114m over dramatic cliff tops and coves that form Cape Bruny. A short tour takes you up the original wrought iron spiral staircase to the tower balcony which overlooks the southern views of the wild Tasman Sea, South East Cape, Whale Head and small islands which are situated in the coastline. The tour includes the history of the lighthouse and stories of the lighthouse keepers who operated the lighthouse when it was in operational.
Our Bruny Island exploration saw us experience delicious food at Bruny Island Premium Wines where Nathan had Wallaby and I had Salmon for lunch, Bruny Island Cheese Company for cheese tasting and unique beer and the House of Whisky for tasty whiskies before we caught the ferry back to Kettering.
The best part of this day trip was The Neck. We climbed the staircase to the lookout and experience the iconic view for ourselves. The timber stairs leads from the dunes to the Neck Lookout, offering stunning 360 degree views. The staircase killed us a bit but it was totally worth the climb.
The Apple Shed
Photos: Grove – The Apple Shed
Willie Smith’s Apple Shed is located down the road from Huon Bush Retreat on the Huon Highway at Grove and is part of the Huon Valley. The Apple Shed is 35 minutes south of Hobart. The Apple Shed produces their ciders at the orchard meaning that the fruit travels the shortest distance from tree to bottle. What makes this place fantastic is that they are open one night a week, a Friday, which brings masses of people to its doors, enjoying cider, dinner and live music.
After our Bruny Island day trip, we stopped at the Apple Shed for dinner. The place was well packed and we sat at the only open table. We started the night with a cider paddle taster and enjoyed locally sourced produce. Nathan had the Pork Belly and I had a Cheese Plater. There was a chill in the air and so was the rain but the heaters were on high which made the night even more spectacular.
Salamanca Markets & Bellerive Oval, Blundstone Arena
Salamanca Markets is a must do when you visit Hobart. The iconic market celebrates Tasmania’s unique culture, creative arts, musicians and produces and is a weekly outdoor market which is held every Saturday. The historic Georgian sandstone buildings of Salamanca Place acts as a backdrop and yachts and fishing boats are moored nearby. The markets are held between 8.30am to 3pm, rain or shine.
The markets hosts up to 300 different stalls ranging from original, hand-made Tasmanian pieces, woodwork, jewellery, fashion and homeware. It is one of the busiest markets we’ve ever been to and we were impressed by the amount of Huon Pine wood items available. The next time we are in Hobart, we will be bringing home a lot of Huon Pine items.
After the markets, we went to the cricket at Bellerive Oval. This was a pre-booked event and what made it special was Australia was playing against South Africa. Nathan always wanted to watch a game/test between Australia and South Africa and the opportunity arise while we were on holiday and in Hobart!
The first day test was incredible as South Africa bowled out Australia for 85. South Africa went in for a bat and as we all know, South Africa won the series. We left the stadium half way through the test as the weather started to turn and we didn’t want to get caught in the rain.
Cockle Creek ‘End of the World’
Cockle Creek sits on the beautiful Recherche Bay at the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and is the furthest point south that you can drive in Australia. Cockle Creek is a 2 hour drive (148km) south of Hobart via Geeveston. We saw the ‘End of the World’ from the viewing platform and took photos with the whale sculpture.
Hasting Cave and Thermal Springs
Hasting Cave and Thermal Springs is a 90 minute drive south of Hobart and was formed millions of years ago from dolomite. A 45 minute guided tour takes you into the heart of the Newdegate Caves where spectacular subterranean formations including flow stone, stalactites, columns, shawls, straws, stalagmites and helictites are dressed by well-lit light. The cave has 500 stairs in total making the experience taxing but so worth it. The tour guide covers the formation of the cave, the discovery of the cave and the history behind the cave. Remember to grab a coffee table book to remind you of the beauty that is the Newdegate Caves.
We walked through the Hasting Caves State Reserve and had a look at the thermal pools. As the day was wet, the water wasn’t hot and we decided not to swim. If only the weather throughout our trip was a bit better. Next time!
Port Arthur is a small town and former convict settlement on the Tasman Peninsula. Port Arthur is one of Australia’s most significant heritage areas and has an open-air museum consisting of eleven penal sites originally build within the British Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries. It is located 60km south east of Hobart.
But before I go any further with Port Arthur, we packed our camp and made our way into Hobart and the Lark Distillery. A good look and a quick taste, we purchased a couple of bottles as gifts and crossed the lawn to Mawson’s Hut and discovered the history and achievements of the men of the 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition led by Douglas Mason.
The time came and we left Hobart on to our next destination Port Arthur. On our way, we stopped in at Richmond, observing the heritage listed Richmond Bridge. The arch bridge is 25km north of Hobart and is the oldest stone span bridge in Australia. The foundation stone for the Richmond Bridge was laid on 11th December 1823 and construction continued using convict labour until completion in 1825. The bridge is a must see alongside Richmond Gaol and numerous stores along the main strip.
After a quick snack and endless amount of chocolates and lollies purchased, we left Richmond for Sorrell and Port Arthur. On the way to Port Arthur is The Neck, a narrow 30m wide isthmus that joins the peninsula to the rest of Tasmania. The narrow entrance to the Tasman Peninsula was once guarded by the dog line, a line of dogs chained together to prevent convicts from escaping the prison. The peninsula is a 70 minute drive from Hobart. The Neck is a natural geological wonder with striking rock formations like the Tessellated Pavement, and nearby Tasman’s Arch, Blowhole and Devil’s Kitchen.
Accommodation: Port Arthur Holiday Park
We arrived at Port Arthur Holiday Park late Monday afternoon and checked into another cabin. Like we did with Huon Bush Retreat, we called ahead and alter our booking to include a night’s stay in a cabin. Most of the evening was spent doing laundry and enjoying the night sky over Port Arthur.
Port Arthur Historic Site
Port Arthur Historic Site is the best preserved convict site in Australia. All site entry passes are valid for daytime entry for two consecutive days. Our 40 minute introductory tour started at 9:30am and takes you on a guided walking tour through numerous buildings and gardens. A 25 minute harbour cruise on the MC Marana explains the history of the bay and drops passengers off at the Isle of the Dead and Point Puer Boys’ Prison (if you purchased the additional passes). The tour guides on both the islands were fantastic, explaining the history of prisoners being buried and boys getting up to mischief. Arriving back on the main site, we took our time and strolled through the historic site. We walked through the Broad Arrow Café ruins and stood at the Memorial for the 35 people who lost their lives at the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre. On our way out of the site, we booked a Ghost Tour for the following evening. It was a long day discovering ruins, listening to stories and exploring the gardens. We left the historic site with knowledge and experiences of the history of Port Arthur.
Camp Disaster #2
Arriving at our camp (which we set up early in the morning) our tarp and poles were all over the place. The day got severely windy and the wind took our tarp and poles as its prize. We had to rethink our camp setup as the dome gazebo was the next thing to go up in the air. Re-securing the dome with extra pens, we moved the tarp around and draped it over the dome gazebo. It was a long evening trying to hold the tarp down and securing it. Tomorrow was another day.
Back to Hobart
We made our way back to Hobart as the X-Trail was booked in for a service and a wheel alignment.
The day was spent walking through Hobart and discovering hidden places and interesting treasures. Somehow we came across every pub in Hobart and had lunch at the Shamrock Hotel. We heard back from ABS Hobart and drove the X-Trail to Bob Jane for the wheel alignment. Another opportunity for a walk and we ended up at the New Sydney Hotel, the best little pub in town! A few pints later (Nathan), we picked up the X-Trail and travelled to Cambridge to the Peter Rabbit Gardens.
Peter Rabbit Gardens
Peter Rabbit Gardens is located 20km from Hobart at Riversdale Estate, in the Cole River Valley. The Estate fronts the picturesque Pittwater – which is a magnificent backdrop for the Estate. The gardens was inspired by many of Beatrix Potter’s illustration and the original Peter Rabbit books, sketches, letters and journals. As you walk through the doors of the visitors centre, you are greeted by a large cardboard cut-out of Peter Rabbit. The visitors centre’s walls are covered in Peter Rabbit wallpaper and is quite unique in its own way. This is the only place in the southern hemisphere where you can purchased authentic Peter Rabbit merchandise. Once you purchase your tickets, you can wander through the garden and explore the story of Peter Rabbit. What I loved about this experience is the animation. As soon as you walk pass some of the beautiful displays the figures come to life. It enhances the experience tenfold which coincides by the storyboards which are scattered throughout the garden. You will see familiar characters such as Peter Rabbit, his sister Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail along with Old Mother Rabbit and Mr McGregor and his garden. These characters aren’t the only ones you will see but you will need to visit the estate and see it for yourself. Garden entry is $15 per adult and $10 per child (3 to 12 years).
While I was spending my life savings in the visitors centre, Nathan organised a lovely surprise from the cellar door. Just outside of the visitors centre and on the veranda sat Nathan with a cheeky smile on his face. He told me to take my new purchases to the car and to come back and enjoy the beautiful view. So, I took the parcels to the car and walked back to the table on the veranda just in front of the main doors. He handed me a freshly picked Daisy and mentioned that he ordered us something. The server came out with a bottle of Merlot and two wine glasses. It was really unexpected. We had our glasses of wine and enjoyed the beautiful view of the Valley.
Port Arthur Ghost Tour
The Port Arthur Ghost Tour is a 90 minute lantern-lit night tour through the historic site. The Ghost Tour’s tour guide focuses on vivid recounts of real people’s documented stories of sightings and engages in storytelling of more than 2 centuries which baffled and alarmed convicts, free settlers and soldiers
The tour starts outside the visitors centre and moves through the historic site’s gardens, church, cottages, and the separate prison. The lights were turned off when we were under one building and they suspected that surgeons dissected the human body using cadavers… but that is just a theory, no records were ever found.
Pennicott Wilderness Journey – Tasman Peninsula
The Tasman Island Cruises provided us with an unforgettable three hour wilderness experience between Eaglehawk Neck and Port Arthur. The cruise travels beneath the highest vertical sea cliffs and explore waterfalls, rock formation, archways and deep-sea caves. The coastline is part of the Tasman National Park and home to various wildlife including hundreds of seals, migrating whales and abundant sea birds. We saw magnificent albatrosses swooping in for a feed and seals bathing in the sun. The experience was amazing and the guides on-board were very informative explaining the different types of rocks that created Tasmania and the transformation of these cliffs into what we see them as today. The experience was majestic and a definite must do when you are around Port Arthur.
Dinner: Fox and Hound
Freycinet National Park
Situated on the East Coast of Tasmania, Freycinet National Park occupies most of the Freycinet Peninsula and looks out the Tasman Sea. To get the Freycinet from Port Arthur, you take the Great Southern Drive North until you reach a turn off to Coles Bay road, 12 km before Bicheno. The national park includes the glorious Hazards Range and the iconic Wineglass Bay and provides numerous short walks including Mount Amos.
Accommodation: Freycinet National Park coastal strip.
Mount Amos is one of the three granite mountains collectively known as the Hazards nearby Coles Bay. The mountain provides a 360 degree view including Wineglass Bay. This summit of Mount Amos is a must do for able climbers. The track itself is a 3 hour return trip. The first section of the walk is quite easy until you reach the uphill incline. The entire track up the mountain was quite difficult as the rocks continuously change from granular to sleek, which is quite hard to keep your footing. The rock formations were brilliant and the views became more spectacular the further you went up the track. Like most of our trip, the area received a lot of rain and although it was a magnificent day, parts of the track was wet and slippery which meant Karen went bum up and nearly slid off the mountain. The last segment of the mountain was quite easy to navigate and once you reach the lookout the 360 degree views are amazing. The bruises, scrapes and sweat made the climb was rewarding. The decent was quite nerve wrecking especially a section as you leave the lookout. The entire decent made my body nervous and I felt like if I placed my foot wrong or place my hand in a wrong spot, I would roll down the mountain and you wouldn’t have been able to read this blog.
Cape Tourville Lighthouse
Cape Tourville Lighthouse is an unmanned, automatic lighthouse built in 1971. The road to the lighthouse unsealed and takes you straight to the lighthouse car park .The 20 minute walk (600m) gives you magnificent views of the Peninsula and gives you the opportunity to spot a whale or two.
Dinner: Freycinet Lodge (bistro)
Wineglass Bay Cruise
On-board the Schouten Passage II, the yacht takes you on a 4 hour journey of the Freycinet Peninsula and the Hazard Range before anchoring at the beach at Wineglass Bay. Departing from Coles Bay, the journey takes you pass beautiful vertical cliffs where a large white-bellied sea-eagle’s nest is situated high above the tree canopy. It is a unique perspective of the Freycinet Peninsula and the cruise provides magnificent views of incredible sheer granite cliffs, sea caves and hidden coves. A Ploughman’s lunch of delicious Tasmanian produce is prepared and enjoyed when you are anchored at the beach. The experience takes you around the peninsula where abundant of wildlife are sighted including seals, dolphins and whales.
Bluestone Bay is a small bay on the eastern side of Freycinet Peninsula, a few kilometres north of Cape Tourville. Bluestone Bay is accessible by a four-wheel track where blue and pink boulders are scattered across the inlet. The bay is spectacular and it definitely worth going on a four-wheel adventure. To access Bluestone Bay, follow Cape Tourville road and turn left before you get to Cape Tourville Lighthouse and lookout. Follow the four-wheel track where you get to a T intersection. Turn right and follow the track to another T section. Turn left for Bluestone Bay and right to a car park. If you turn right and get to the end of the road, park your car and take a stroll to the cliff edge. If you are lucky, you might see someone abseil down the cliff.
Just off the East Coast of Tasmania is Maria Island. Maria Island is part of the Maria Island National Park, a natural wildlife sanctuary with historic ruins, sweeping bays, and dramatic cliffs. Accessible by the passenger ferry, the journey departs from Triabunna and arrives at Darlington 30 minutes later. Just 150 meters from the jetty is the island’s oldest building and visitors centre. National park entry fees apply and passes are available at the Commissariat Store at Maria Island. Cycling is permitted on the island and we hired 2 bikes for our half day adventure. We cycled around the island stopping at the Painted Cliffs and Fossil Cliffs. We pushed our bikes up the hill and cycled back down to Darlington, passing numerous ruins and Cape Barren geese.
Binalong Bay, Bay of Fires and Cherry Orchid Mini Golf
St Helens is situated on Tasmania’s North-East Coast and is a few kilometres away from Binalong Bay. St Helens is the state’s second largest fishing port and is the gateway to Bay of Fires’ beautiful crystal clear waters and lichen-covered granite boulders.
Accommodation: Big 4 St Helens
Numerous walking tracks are around Binalong Bay including Skeleton Point, Grants Point, Dora Point and Skeleton Bay and our days were spent walking to Grants Point, Skeleton Point and Skeleton Bay. The rest of the time was spent watching the waves crashing into the beautiful red and orange boulders along the coastline of Binalong Bay and mini golf at a Cherry Orchid.
Located near Narawntapu National Park and west from George Town is Kelso, a small town on the Tamar River. Based at Big 4 Kelso Sands Holiday and Native Wildlife Park, we travelled to Beauty Point and Launceston daily. Travelling from St Helens, we stopped at Bay of Fires Winery for lunch and had a quick tour through Beaconsfield Heritage Centre before travelling over the Batman Bridge to Kelso.
Accommodation: Big 4 Kelso Sands Holiday and Native Wildlife Park
Dinner: Riviera Beachfront Hotel and Beauty Point Waterfront Hotel
Beaconsfield Heritage Centre
Beaconsfield Heritage Centre is located in Beaconsfield where you can visit the mine yard and the iconic headframe and miners cage. The site showcase treasures from the past and the interpretive displays showcase the Mine Rescue of Brant Webb and Todd Russell. Many of the pieces in the centre can be touched and you can push buttons and leavers to activate some of the displays. You can crawl through a tunnel and experience different light in the 3D digitalised model of the Beaconsfield Mine. What make the site beautiful is the history of the site and the preservation and conservation of the site.
Beauty Point is a small riverside town located 10 minutes north of Beaconsfield and 47km north of Launceston. The town is home of Seahorse World a working seahorse farm and Platypus House, an education centre that is open to the public.
Seahorse World was magnificent. The seahorse farms gives you unique access to seahorses and provide an educational tour though the Cave, working Farm and Aquarium. What made this tour amazing was the fact that we held a seahorse! This was a dream come true and both Nathan and I was in awe of their beauty. After the 45 minute tour, we headed over to the Platypus House for another guided tour. The Platypus House offers the opportunity to watch Tasmanian Platypus and Echidnas. The interpretation centre explains the biology of both platypuses and echidnas and you have the opportunity to view platypuses in their ponds and walk through the echidna garden. We had an echidna walk between our legs and it was surreal.
Tamar Valley Wine Route
The Tamar Valley Wine Route is a cool climate wine region located in the Northern part of Tasmania and along the Tamar Valley. The wineries that we visited are listed below.
- Bay of Fires *enjoyed lunch at the winery
- Goaty Hill Winery *enjoyed lunch at the winery
- Holm Oak
- Loira Vineyard
Tamar River Cruises – Batman Bridge Luncheon Cruise
Tamar River Cruises offers a 4 hour cruise on the Tamar River. Departing from Home Point Cruise Terminal, the cruise takes you on a magical journey to Cataract Gorge and through Launceston’s riverfront precinct and north past Tamar Island to the Batman Bridge. The cruise highlights historical buildings, churches, hotels and homesteads along the riverside. The cruise includes morning tea, a light lunch and beer and wine tasting.
While we were in Launceston, we stopped at James Boag. Established in 1881, James Boag Brewery Bar is housed in Launceston’s historic Tamar Hotel, which dates back to 1826 and enjoyed a schooner or two.
1,570 metres above sea level is Ben Lomond, east of Launceston in the Ben Lomond National Park. Access to the village and summit can be made via a zig-zag road known as Jacob’s Ladder. As the road was covered in snow, we made our way up Jacob’s ladder. Misty and wet, the trip up the ladder was slow. The road comes with a warning and we took our time up the mountain. The views were amazing, even through the mist and we stopped and enjoyed the iconic view of Jacob’s Ladder. Once we reached the Alpine Village, it was deserted and we got an eerie sense that it would be a perfect scene for a horror movie. The day was cold, misty and snowy and we left the plateau as quickly as we arrived.
Bridestowe Lavender Farm
Open all year round, Bridestowe Lavender Farm is a must do when you are in Tasmania. 60km east from George Town, Bridestowe Lavender Farm gives you the opportunity to stroll through its wonderful farm and enjoy lavender products within their visitors centre and cafe. While you are there, you might even get the opportunity to take a photo with a gigantic Bobbie the Bear. What I loved about the farm was the Lavender Latte and Lavender Ice Cream that I was able to consume and the wonderful products on offer in the shop. I would like to visit the farm again where the lavender is in full bloom to witness the magnificent that is the Lavender fields.
5km north of George Town is Low Head, a small town on the eastern side of the Tamar River and is Australia’s oldest continuous operating pilot station. At the mouth of the Tamar River is Low Head Foghorn and Lighthouse, restored and operated by volunteers. The Foghorn was installed in 1929 and decommissioned in 1973. The lighthouse was built in 1888 and replaced the original convict built structure in 1833 with an elevation of 43 metres. What made this spot special was the impromptu tour we received from a volunteer through the headland on search of penguins. Knowing where to go, the gentleman and his torch pointed at numerous burrows where penguins either nest in the past or currently occupying. It was amazing as it was unexpected to find not just penguins but to be shown around burrows at Low Head for free.
Nathan’s Highlight: wombats