Tassie

We’ve been here a week now after a pleasant sail across on the Spirit of Tasmania last Tuesday night. We drove down to Deloraine the first day, and nine days later are still here.

Deloraine is perfectly located for so many things. How do I start describing Tassie. Goodness, I could write book, a really lovely book, and it’s still only the first week.

Meander River from bridge in Deloraine.

Meander River from bridge in Deloraine.

We’ve been to Launceston several times, we’ve driven up to the North Coast and had a look at Wynyard, we’ve done a quick drive around the Vineyards in the Tamar Valley, we’ve had a look at Mole Creek, we’ve driven down the Great Lake which is around the middle of the Island. Okay, so that’s where we’ve been, but what have we been doing and seeing …..

Firstly, what’s amazing about the above places we’ve visited for a snap shot look is that all those places are within an hour or twos drive at most from Deloraine, and we’ve probably covered close to 1/4 of the Island. Nothing is far away if you base yourself in the right place.

The stand out highlights so far have been firstly, catching up with my sister. Wendy lives in Launceston which is only 45 mins from here, so we’ve managed several catch up visits. Yesterday we hooked up for a trip to Lilydale Falls for a picnic. It was only a short walk into the falls which were very pretty. Then, after we had our picnic lunch Wendy took us to a ‘pick your own’ blueberry orchard. That was amazing and Im sure rural France couldn’t have felt better. We ate our way down the rows of trees whilst at the same time filling our buckets with plump, fresh, sun ripened blueberries. We gathered 6 kgs, at a total cost of $39. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Our freezer has enough to keep us going for many months and we have enough fresh blueberries in the fridge to binge on over the next few days.

Wendy and I at Lilydale Falls.

Wendy and I at Lilydale Falls.

 

Blueberry picking, - how good is that!

Blueberry picking, – how good is that!

Today we took a drive down to the Great Lake which is around the centre of the country and about half way between Deloraine and New Norfolk (near Hobart). We’re going down to a place called Magra, near New Norfolk this Saturday to catch up with our good friends Marina and Terry.

On the way back we visited Liffey Falls again. We first went there in 1995, so nearly 20 years between visits. It’s an easy hike down a walking track shaded with trees and ferns, and brimming with fungi, moss and all the other gorgeous plants you’d expect in a cool rain forest. The falls are gorgeous.

Liffey Falls.

Liffey Falls.

Wasn’t me who needed luck

We did the Zip Line through the tree tops in the Otway National Park yesterday. In my last post I’d said, ‘wish me luck’, perhaps I should have said, ‘wish us luck’.

It was fun, right up until the last landing station. Paul got carried away and forgot to lift his legs high enough to land safely onto the landing station. I think everyone thought his ankle was going to be broken for sure. Luckily it’s not, but it’s very swollen and bruised, and his calf muscle has also sustained some damage.

Currently we’ve extended a couple more days in the camp ground so as to give it a chance to heal. He was given crutchers but isn’t really using them, so we’ll take them back to the hospital tomorrow.

We’re booked on the boat to Tassie on the 20th so we’re hoping it’s healed enough for him to be able to drive by then. It’s his left leg, but as we have a manual ute it’ll get a big work out to manage to tow our rig up and around all the hills and bends in this area. I have towed the rig, and on normal roads I think I’d manage. I wouldn’t try though on these roads. I drove him to the hospital yesterday without the caravan, and that was nerve wracking enough.

The next two days we’re going to be staying at home so as he can ice it, and keep it up. After that, we’ll re-assess. It’s blowing a gale and rainy anyway, so not that appealing for travelling, or doing much of anything else really. So, for the next couple of days at least it’s card games and reading. Fortunately, we enjoy both so it’s no hardship for either of us.

Days two and three on Great Ocean Road

Yesterday was mainly a driving day. We drove from Princetown to Torquay where the Great Ocean Road begins. Everyone has told us the drive is better if you start at the Torquay end, as then your car is on the ocean side for the best views. They’re right. We’re actually moving around this section of the country in the wrong direction for the best car window views of the rugged, wind battered coastline. So, rather than miss out, we’ve driven it in both directions.

It’s awesome. Coming from the Torquay end the first section is mainly views of rugged coastline. Then the road moves away from the coast and rises steeply up into the Ottway national park before again returning down to the coastline for the final section. It’s in the final section where the Twelve Apostles etc are. So we’ve completed the road trip in a bit of a higglety, piggelty fashion, which has meant we’ve driven the road at least twice. By the time we leave here on Tuesday we will have travelled some of the roads five or six times.

Today was the best of the days so far. We went up into the Ottway National park and completed a couple of short walk tracks. Both were approximately an hour long, and easy walks to do, but breathtakingly hard to take as far as spectacular goes. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Firstly a windy road up through the clouds to get there.

Firstly a windy road up through the clouds to get there.

Some wood carved sculptures on the way.

Some wood carved sculptures on the way.

A pretty blue headed wren.

A pretty blue headed wren.

The forest track.

The forest track.

And on to Triplet Falls.

And on to Triplet Falls.

We’re staying a fourth night at Princetown as we’ve booked onto the Zip Fly trip through some of the forest in Ottway tomorrow. Two hours of continual flying fox flights through the trees – wish me luck.

Great Ocean Road

What a wonderful day. It started with a quick walk at our free camp where we sighted and watched a mother koala and her baby (or adolescent, as it was quite well grown). The youngster entertained us by jumping between branches and harassing it’s mother. Mum didn’t look impressed and raised her sleepy head to give us a ‘bugger off’ look, and the same to the youngster, who scampered up the tree to sulk in a higher fork in the the tree. They were so gorgeous.

We then moved onto a camp ground at Princetown Reserve. It’s close to mid way along the Great Ocean Road, so from here we should be able to see most of the sights. At $25 for a powered site, it’s good value for this neck of the woods, and there’s plenty of room and space around us. We’ve booked for three nights.

After a quick lunch we set off in the direction of Port Campbell taking in the famous coastal sights. Wow!!!

Firstly, the Twelve Apostles (now only eight due to the power of the ocean). We’ve seen thousands of pictures of these awesome natural wonders, and our photos just like all of the others, are nothing in comparison to the real life experience of actually seeing them. The sound of the ocean, the wind, the size – photos can’t come close to doing justice to the real life experience of actually seeing them.

Some of the twelve apostles.

Some of the twelve apostles.

And two more on the other side of the viewing platform

And two more on the other side of the viewing platform

Then onto Loch Ard Gorge. The Loch Ard was one of many ships wrecked off this coast, leaving only two survivors and drowning more than 50. The two survivors came to shore through this narrow gorge.

Loch Ard Gorge

Loch Ard Gorge

Next was London Bridge. London Bridge used to span all the way across. Then in 1992 the centre of the structure collapsed and fell into the ocean. At the time four people were out on the bridge, but miraculously two ended up on the land side of the gap, and the other two were left stranded on the ocean side. They were eventually winched to safety by a helicopter.

London Bridge

London Bridge

There were so many look outs each showing the most amazing coastal scenery.

The Arch

The Arch

Perhaps my favourite.

The Grotto

The Grotto

This spectacular coastline is shaped by waves that can reach as high as 30 metres during a storm with nothing between these headlands and the Antartica. The land reduces by approximately 2 cms a year and has been doing so for many thousands of years, leaving behind these monuments in the ocean. The limestone structures eventually get eroded away at the sea line causing them to topple into the ocean. I guess as some fall to the sea, more must get created, but I don’t know which, if any, have only appeared in my life time.

This one really showed some amazing erosion lines

This one really showed some amazing erosion lines

For any overseas visitors to this site, one thing that’s worthy of comment. We stopped at all of these look outs, parked in designated car parks, and walked down safe and well maintained paths and boardwalks (some of which were real engineering feats), and none of it cost a cent. No parking costs, no entry costs – nothing. All completely free, except for an ice cream we bought at the Twelve Apostles.

This amazing day still didn’t end there. We came back to our camp ground which overlooks a beautiful landscape, home to a huge mob of kangaroos. As I was preparing tea two of the males had a full on boxing match. It went on for ages before one of them finally resorted to putting the boot in. He obviously won, because the fight then ended and they both went off then to lick their wounds. I’ve seen Roo fights on TV before, but never for real. It was a humourous note on which to end an amazing day.

Free camping, and Koalas

Our stay in Robe ended up only being a one nighter. We were awoken around 2 this morning by the loudest clap of thunder and the most electric sounding bolt of lightening I’ve ever heard. Both struck at once, so I guess that means the storm was exactly overhead. For the next couple of hours the rain, thunder, lightening and wind was almost constant, and I don’t know how the awning managed to remain attached. The caravan felt like a small boat at sea in a storm, and I lay awake wondering if we were going to be capsized.

Morning came, and everything had remained in tact, apart from some towels which had blown to the ground and were sodden. It looked like the rain was in for the day, in which case we would have either been confined to the inside of the caravan or wandering the retail centre of town. We decided instead to move on a day earlier than planned. Robe is definitely on the agenda though for a return trip.

It was still wet and dismal as we headed through Mount Gambier so we didn’t stop to look at the Blue Lake there. It’s apparently amazing, so another place to see on our next trip to the area.

We’re now free camping in a lovely wooded area near Fitzroy River (Victoria), 25 kms north east of Portland. We pulled in and the rain stopped. After three months of caravan parks, it’s sheer bliss. We can hear the birds, the nearest campers to us are at least 20 metres away, and the nearest to them would be at least couple of hundred metres further away. Theres not a screaming child or scooter in sight. We’re happy. Mental note to myself: We must take advantage of more free camp spots, they’re good for the budget, but even better for the soul.

Free camping - the road less travelled.

Free camping – the road less travelled.

We made ourselves a coffee and then went for a walk. The smell of gums here is amazing. A few hundred metres up the track, a fellow camper told us there are Koalas around, so back we came for our camera. He was right. We found four, each one looking sleepily down in on us as we took some lovely snaps. Apparently it’s mating season, so come night time we’ll likely be kept awake by their mating antics.

What a cutie.

What a cutie.

Sleepyhead.

Sleepyhead.

Being from Western Australia where there aren’t any Koalas in the wild, it’s exciting to finally come across some. We’ve seen road signs warning of their presence, which has had me craning my neck out the car window to try and catch a glimse of one. Apart from one that caused a traffic hold up as it crossed the road a few car lengths in front of us, these are the first we’ve spotted, so we’re thrilled. If they keep us awake at night I don’t think we’ll mind in the least.

Robe, SA. A must on any Aussie bucket list.

We left Adelaide this morning and are now on our way to Melbourne to catch the Ferry to Tassie. We’ve brought our sailing date forward to 20 January, so we have 13 days to enjoy the splendours of the Great Ocean Road.

It’ll be a few days before we reach the Great Ocean Road, so we stopped in Robe, South Australia for our first couple of nights. I had barely heard of Robe, and Paul hadn’t heard of it all. We won’t forget it.

The coastline is spectacular. The waves have a gentle roll, just enough to push a boogie board to shore – damn we gave our boards away. The beach is beautifully level for walking on and hard enough that even two wheel drive vehicles can drive along the shore in search of an idealic spot to spend the day. And a lot of people do just that. We went for a wander down the beach this afternoon after a refreshing swim, and there was at least a hundred cars parked on the sand.

P1030563

There’s two downsides to Robe though – the first is we only have time for a two night stay this times, but we will be back for sure.

The second is the time of year we’re here. We managed to squeeze into the Discovery caravan park right across from the beach. Like all beach side places during school holidays, it’s jam packed with families. All having a great time, which is lovely to see, but for Grey Nomads who support these caravan parks all year, it’s tough to suddenly start paying top dollar and then to have our happy hour accompanied by at least a dozen kids racing up and down on scooters, playing frisbee or cricket, and whatever else kids like to to. Not to mention the parent who pushes their child that little bit too far past bedtime with the inevitable tantrum and/or screaming fit. There’s always at least one. Joy!!!!

Now there’s an idea for booming business for someone. An over 45s caravan park – no kids allowed. No jumping pillows, no play grounds, no games rooms – just clean facilities, perhaps well kept gardens, and a reasonable all year round price that doesn’t go through the roof during school holidays. The insurance would be less, all the ground would be usable and I should imagine most (granted – not all) grey nomads require less cleaning up after. Perhaps, some budding entrepreneur will see a market for such a place. I’m sure it’d be well used, even more so if well behaved pets were also allowed. I’m sure the pets would be considerably less trouble than ankle biters of the human kind.

With or without an over 45s caravan park though, Robe is a place that’s worthy of being on anyone’s ‘bucket list’. Coming back here again is certainly on ours.

Christmas in Adelaide

Being a bit of a Christmas freak every common room in our house has traditionally been decked out with trees, bells, tinsel or some other form of chintzy Christmas ornamentation. Packing up our belongings for the big road trip meant most of the Christmas collection had to go along with everything else. We did manage to find room in our van though for most of my collection of father christmas ornaments that used to adorn our tree, and a treasured table carousel given to me by the grand sons for Christmas one year. A few of my father christmas tree ornaments were too good to risk bringing, so they are safely wrapped up and are stored amongst our two small plastic crates which house the few items we decided to keep.

Our house decorated in Christmas's past.

Our house decorated in Christmas’s past.

Outdoors.

Outdoors.


Even the loo wasn't forgotten.

Even the loo wasn’t forgotten.

This year only our annex is decorated simply with two strings of Father Christmas tree ornaments suspended across the ceiling, a Christmas table cloth, and my Christmas carousel ornament.

It was a pleasure to have Chris, Clare, Luka and Em join us for our first Christmas in our home on wheels away from Perth.

It was a ‘no fuss’ day. Dinner was oysters, a festive roast and an ice-cream bomb. All simple with most of it prepared the day before. We sat around and chatted for most of the afternoon over a drink or two before having an early evening dinner. Of course there were the obligatory Christmas cracker hats and jokes (yes, all heard before, but cause for a chuckle all the same).

After dinner Emma and Luka were tiring from their long day, so we turned TV on in our bedroom and they seemed to enjoy the novelty of watching a well repeated Christmas movie lying on our bed in the van. Chris, Clare and ourselves played a board game. It was a game that involved spacial awareness, and spacial awareness is certainly not one of my stronger attributes. However, I won two out of the three games we played, so either it was beginners luck on my part, or the others really, really suck at spacial awareness. I suspect it was the former!

Now looking forward to New Years Eve. We’re only a couple of kilometres from Brighton Pier, where fireworks are let off. We should get a good view of them from the beach in front of the van park.

Shortly after that we’re going to move on towards Tasmania. A little earlier than planned, but we will have been in Adelaide for about a month by then, and that’s the beauty of this life – as soon as you feel it’s time for a change of scenery, it’s up wheels and off.