Wineglass Bay work-out

Kelvin joined us at Deloraine caravan park and we spent almost a week there together. We did a little bit of touring in between his job hunting. On one of the days we took a trip up to Cradle Mountain and did the 2 – 3 hour hike around Dove Lake, a pleasant walk, but unpleasant reminder of how unfit I’ve become.

Kelvin has now found work driving a tractor in an apple orchard in the Tamar Valley, so has settled himself in at the Beauty Point Caravan Park. Having spent the past month or so catching up with friends and family, we’re now ready for some ‘us time’, time to do some touring, hiking and exploring this lovely little Island.

We left Deloraine for the East Coast yesterday and have booked into a caravan park in Bicheno. Bicheno is well situated for us to explore the full East Coast, so we’ll spend the next eight nights here.

The Hazards  at Freycinet National Park (rocky hills)

The Hazards at Freycinet National Park (rocky hills)

We started our exploring today with a repeat of a hike that we did 20 years ago, over the Hazards at Coles Bay to the look out onto Wineglass Bay. My heart and lungs certainly had a good work out, and perhaps my muscles will groan a bit tomorrow. It was worth it. The day was a glorious 20º, and I’m pleased to say we managed the walk in the recommended time of 1 1/2 hours. I’m also pleased to say even though it was tough, it wasn’t as tough as Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain was, even though it was supposed to be a harder walk. We have been walking a bit since then, so I guess it’s paying off. The ambience and the view from the look-out was superb.

View of Wine Glass Bay

View of Wine Glass Bay

 

The most comfortable seat in the middle of nowhere.

The most comfortable seat in the middle of nowhere.

Next was a short walk over the rocks at Honeymoon Bay.

 

Pretty Honeymoon Bay

Pretty Honeymoon Bay

Then a third walk which although short was quite challenging to a little place called Sleepy Bay. Had to call it quits for the day though after this one – I was knackered!

Lichen covered granite at Sleepy Bay

Lichen covered granite at Sleepy Bay

It was a lovely day.

Catching up with friends

It’s been sometime since I’ve written here. We’ve been busy catching up with friends, and I hadn’t realised how long it’s been since I last wrote until a good friend from England let me know yesterday. Apologies to anyone who has been wondering where we are, and what we’re doing.

We spent close to two weeks down at Magra. Our friends from Perth, Marina and Terry’s son, Iain, has a few acres in Magra with their house, and a chalet on it. Marina and Terry are currently staying in the chalet, so we plugged our van in next door to them. We had a great time, eating too much and drinking more than we usually drink – but hey, that’s what happens when you’re catching up with friends.

Iain and Barbara’s place is amazing (but what isn’t amazing on this little Island). Magra is in a valley and is completely surrounded by hills. Although it’s summer, the nights were often cold with mist shrouding the hills in the morning, very, very pretty. Iains property has a vege garden, chooks and abundant fruit trees laden with fruit. We had the sweetest plums picked fresh from the trees each morning on our cereal, feasted on apricots during the day, ate eggs with the most orange yolks I’ve ever seen in eggs, and herbs, squash and zucchini from the garden were frequent additions to our meals.

I hate to prattle on about food, but it seems every where you go on this little island you see fruit trees with branches almost weighed down to the ground  with more fruit than any one family could possibly eat , and lots of people have veges growing in their gardens. We don’t know many people here, but frequently we’re being given fresh produce from someones garden. Even the owners of the caravan park we’re currently staying in invited us to their house for morning tea last week-end and we came home with a big bag of fresh nectarines from their garden. But I digress…. What did we do, and where did we go while we down in Magra.

In the first few days we visited Peta, an old friend from Perth who now lives here in Tassie. Peta re-married a few years ago, and this was the first time we’ve had an opportunity to meet her husband Ron. Peta and Ron left Perth a few years ago in a yacht to sail the seas, which they did for a little over a year. They sailed into a little place at the south of Tassie, loved it, and decided to make a new home for themselves there – not an unusual occurrence here – we hear similar stories from people where ever we go. It seems this place understandably captures many people’s hearts.

Anyway, we had a lovely lunch with Peta and Ron, and enjoyed catching up immensely at their property down in Middleton. Their house is amazing, also on a small acreage. They overlook Middleton Beach, although their view is a little obscured by a few too many trees lining the beach. Peta tells me every time there’s a strong wind she hopes it will take out a couple of the trees.

Marina and Terry took us to Richmond which is one of the many heritage listed villages in Tassie. It’s a lovely place, and we can’t wait to visit it again. It’s sometimes hard to do justice to a new place when you’re visiting with people who have been there before. It’s not easy to get the balance between doing justice to our own visit without it all becoming a total bore for the people with you that have seen it all before. We found the best way was to have a quick look with a mental note to re-visit at another time.

Marina had her birthday while we down there, so we shared the costs of a unit in a little place called Eagle Hawks Neck to celebrate her birthday in style. Eagle Hawks Neck is the narrow strip of land between most of Tasmania and Port Arthur. Port Arthur was a penal colony when Australia was first settled, and is now probably one of the most visited tourist destination in Tassie. As the neck is such a narrow area, they confined the prisoners in Port Arthur with a row of guard dogs across the neck.

Sitting on the balcony of our unit at Eagle Hawks Neck.

Sitting on the balcony of our unit at Eagle Hawks Neck.


We spent a few hours there, and purchased a two year pass to enable further visits. There’s far to much to see on just one visit.

Sadly though, Port Arthur is also the place of the infamous Port Arthur massacre which took place less than two decades ago and made news all over the world. The site of the massacre was a sobering place for silent reflection on the senselessness of it all. There are no words to describe what it felt like to realise we were in the same place dozens of people had been such a short time ago, doing the same things they were doing only to have their lives mercilessly cut short by some crazy gun man. No words at all….

I’m sure Marina and Terry had probably had enough of us by the time we left.We’re now back up in the north of the state staying at a little place called Longford.

Today we picked up my sister Wendy and we went up the Tamar river to a place called Beauty Point and again had lunch with Peta and Ron, who are moored there for a few nights in their yacht. They’re currently on a six week sail around the Island. How celubrious that was, sitting on the deck of their yacht, Finesse, sipping wine and eating lunch moored on the picturesque Tamar River. We’re hoping to catch up with Peta and Ron again in a few weeks when they reach Strahan. Strahan is another favourite place in Tassie for locals and tourists alike, so having a reason to get there soon is something we’re really looking forward to.

More news. Our son Kelv is currently on his way to Tassie. He’s booked onto the ferry to come across on Sunday night, so Monday we’ll be catching up again. How exciting is that!!!  It’s hard to imagine that life could get any better.

Apologies for the lack of photos – we’re having a little trouble dropping photos into the blog. Where is our grand son, Tim when we need him! He’d have it sorted for us in no time at all, and I’m sure he’d also show us how to enlarge the photos we do manage to drop in so as to show them full sized. One day…..

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.