Our summary of Tassie – Wk 3

Last one, I promise! This is the final post about our three week trip to Tasmania!

Port Arthur

New Year’s Day! After a relatively quiet night, and despite the grey and overcast day, we decided to head out to Port Arthur. Port Arthur was intriguing and one day I’ll read about the history a little more because it really is fascinating (and unfortunately, I just never get the chance to read everything when touring with a 2 and 4 year old!).

Port Arthur was also a secondary penal colony which ultimately flourished to become its own community and industrial estate. In modern times, it is a stunning place with gorgeous manicured lawns and beautiful ruins dotted over acres and acres of land… I imagine it did not look anything like this back in its day.

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We decided not to focus on the more recent history there, and I was glad to see that the Trust that runs Port Arthur has taken that approach too, so we walked around and absorbed the convict history and tried to picture what it would have been like, back in the day.

The Port Arthur precinct was also home to the Point Puer boy’s prison which was built on  an island just off Port Arthur was interesting too having been described as an early model of TAFE where boys who had committed a second offence, or who were of no use to anyone in Hobart (either due to age or lack of strength) were sent to the boy’s prison to learn a trade. The tour guide on the boat cruise told us that one of the boys learnt to build ships and became a prominent shipwright and his family still own a ship building business in Hobart to this very day.

 

In the end they ceased operations at the prison because they realised that they didn’t need to send these boys all the way to Australia to rehabilitate them, they could do that in England and save on the costs… and so they did.  It was so grey and misty outside, the pics I took from inside the boat weren’t worth posting.

But despite the rain, Port Arthur was definitely a beautiful place to visit.

Richmond and the Coal River region

We’d had it on very good authority that the scallop pies from the Richmond bakery were the bomb, so with a day up our sleeve, we decided to head out to Richmond via the Coal River region so we could stop at Coal River Farm to buy some cheese (which we’d tasted at the Salamanca Markets).

Coal River Farm was an unexpected highlight, with pigs, chickens and goats for the girls to visit.

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We stopped for a coffee, bought our cheeses and some chocolate and after saying goodbye to the goats and chickens, we headed over to Richmond. With more miserable weather brewing, we grabbed our pies at the bakery and took them down to the river to eat them (in the car!).

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With lunch sorted, we took the scenic route home to have a rest before we had to head back into Hobart to watch the Hurricanes and Strikers in the Big Bash League!

We met up with an old work colleague of Corey’s and had a great time at the cricket – despite the snow drifts that were blowing off the Antarctic! It was sooooo cold! Second of January, middle of Summer and here we are in jeans, jumpers and big-arse bloody snow jackets!

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Still, it was good to see the home team get a win and the girls loved the fireworks (which might not have been as forthcoming had the Hurricanes not been winning!).

img_6967Another late night and the girls were asleep by the time we got out of the city! We were really lucky to have had those couple of extra days based out of New Norfolk as it allowed us to explore a few extra things that we probably wouldn’t have done, like the Tahune Airwalk or Richmond/Coal River.

But, after our week it was time to keep moving and so it was on to North East Coast.

Freycinet Peninsula

We had grand plans of camping in the Freycinet National Park and walking to Wineglass Bay whilst we were there. But, after speaking to the National Park staff it turned out they ran a ballot system for camping at this time of year and there were no spots available. But they suggested free camping up on the Friendly Beaches, about 18km away instead. So with a plan in place, we headed off to Friendly Beaches to find ourselves a spot. As soon as we got there we could see it was busy, but we kept driving along the dirt track before, whaddya know… you guessed it, we bumped into Terry and Julie who were also trying to find a spot there.

We ended up finding ourselves a spot big enough for their van and our tent and spent a fabulous afternoon and evening camping together. We even befriended two Bennetts Wallabies whom we promptly named Warwick and Wally (this one is Warwick!).

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Julie and Terry were off again the next day, but we stayed around and headed into Coles Bay and the Freycinet National Park to do the Wineglass Bay lookout walk. We were advised that the track to the beach would be too challenging with littlies and as it turned out, Wineglass Bay was the hardest walk we’ve done – mainly because we had to carry Miss A ALL . THE. WAY. TO. THE. TOP. She’s going through a phase of not wanting to walk at all, so after about 100m in, she dug her heels in and demanded to be carried (it’s actually quite amusing to watch, she literally stops in front of Corey’s legs and puts her hands in the air.If he moves to the left, she moves to the left, if he tries to step around her, she runs around in front and plants herself in front of him again – funny, but not!). No amount of bribery, cajoling, threathening or encouraging worked, so we took turns to carry her up what amounted to over 300 steps and over a couple of kms of steep tracks to the top. Definitely a work out!

But it was beautiful and we’re glad we did it! But we probably wouldn’t have survived the rest of the trip to the actual beach!

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Bay of Fires and Pyengana

It has made it into our top three and was our favourite spot in all of Tasmania. Sadly, three nights just wasn’t enough. We were super lucky to get an awesome spot right on the beach and sheltered from the wind. We got into the info centre in town mid-morning and they told us it was really busy, but another couple gave us the heads up that they’d just left from Swimcart Beach, as had a couple of other campers, so we decided to ditch our plans to go grocery shopping and get lunch and hightail it out there to nab a spot.

And what a spot we nabbed.

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After setting up camp, we headed back into town for a bite to eat and to restock supplies before coming back and going for a swim. Our beach wasn’t ideal for swimming, with a very steep drop off from the sloping beach which created big dumping waves and an ocean that had a very strong undercurrent.

Having been free camping for a few days in Freycinet with no showers, I needed to get clean so even I went in for a swim – a rare occurrence – and surprisingly the water was quite warm. I got clean, but I did go A over T after getting got dumped by the waves and now have a little momento of the Bay of Fires in the form of a sore knee.

 

16237365_10155671326706808_57425511_nThat night we sat out and watched a pod of dolphins surf the waves and jump out of the water showcasing better tricks than what you see at Seaworld – the whole beach was filled with people watching their performance.

The next day we decided to follow Number 100 of the top 100 tracks and drives in our 4WD book and that was to check out the Pyengana region.

Pyengana is a hinterland near the Bay of Fires which was just awesome. We stopped in to visit the Pyengana Cheese Factory for a milkshake and to check out their dairy cows. We then stopped to have a beer at the Pub in the Paddock and to by Priscilla the pig a beer.

 

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We checked out St Columbas Falls which was a short walk down and involved an anti-walking Miss A demanding a lift not only back up, but down as well.

 

The route then took us into some dirt tracks in the mountains which were just beautiful before stopping at the abandoned Anchor Tin Mine to check out some old stampers nestled literally in the middle of a rainforest which had grown all around it.

We finished the day with a swim!

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Such a fabulous day.

Finally, our last day trip was to go up to the area known as ‘The Gardens’ and the views were just magnificent.

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And when it was time to pack up, we didn’t want to go. It would have been an amazing place to spend a week just relaxing.

But alas, it was time to move on.

Launceston and the Tamar Valley

And so that was the end of our tenting adventures in Tasmania, and our backs were glad for it. I love ‘bush’ camping but our new inflatable mattresses aren’t the comfiest so I was looking forward to a bed and even more so a hot shower! So as soon as we arrived at our Discovery Park cabin in Hadspen, I threw the girls in the bath and scrubbed bodies and washed hair before jumping in myself. Best. Feeling. Ever.

After that we went and checked out Launceston town, but given it was a Sunday, there wasn’t too much happening, so we grabbed some groceries and headed back.

The next day we went out to Beauty Point to explore Seahorse World and the Platypus House which the girls loved. It was actually quite fascinating with thousands of seahorses from newly born little seahorses the size of a fingernail through to fully grown ones all clinging to their plastic seaweed.

 

They also had a range of other fish, sharks and animals, but this little guy captured my heart.

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He is a a Giant Cuttlefish who reminded me of those big dreadlocked hair dogs (Komondors as Google told me)… in fish form.

The platypus were fun to watch although there were only four there. Apparently it is super hard to breed platypus in captivity and in the many years they’d been operating, they’d only had something like seven successful seasons.

The Echidna Garden was next and it was amazing! Three little echidna all scurrying around free range. They would run into your legs and over your feet. I loved them. The girls were a little bit scared, but it was so awesome to see them up close!

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After a morning of animals, we grabbed some lunch and headed over to the Beaconsfield Mine. Made up of the historical aspect of the mine and of course the rescue that occurred there in 2002 it was quite an interesting afternoon. I found the rescue section really quite emotional and eyeopening as we were able to get a behind the scenes look into what it took to a) not only survive as the boys did, but b) the courage, tenancity and ingenuity of the rescuers, and the input from around the world to figure out a way to get them out.

 

The girls enjoyed the interactive displays and all the olden day things and after being able to operate the waterwheel and pulling an old gold rail cart, it was time to head for home.

The following day was spent at Cataract Gorge which is an awesome spot smack bang in the middle of town! It’s free to go and spend the day there, and even use the pool (which if we’d known about, we would have thrown the girls togs in!). We paid to go on the chair lift, which gave a great vantage point, although I had to have Miss A on my lap and midway through she decided she wanted to get off and climb into the seat next to me (only about 25m above the river!). Thankfully she was strapped to me and I wrapped my arms around her down until she changed her mind and settled down!

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After Cataract Gorge, we headed back for a cruisy afternoon. Corey went to check out the Harley shop down the road whilst the girls had a rest. Another load of washing and we were up to date with domestic duties and ready for the final leg of our trip.

Devonport via Tasmazia

The trip from Launceston to Tasmazia near Sheffield was a beautiful drive and we arrived late morning, ready to explore the attraction we’d heard so many good things about.

To be honest, Tasmazia was a real highlight. Featuring 8 mazes including a massive maze containing 3 little mazes inside, as well as a little concrete village of Lower Crackpot, it is clear that the originator of Tasmazia has the most wicked sense of humour.

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Offering an awesome perspective on all things social, government and uniquely Aussie, Lower Crackpot was a laugh, and the time and effort put into creating the village was clearly evident.

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We then spent about half an hour lost in a maze, but we eventually got to our goal in the end!

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We also checked out the Embassy Gardens, which is another concrete concoction of various ‘embassies’ from around the world. Sooooo funny!

We grabbed some lunch and then headed back into the big maze to conqurer all the other little ones, and after a fun family day, we were exhausted and ready to head for Devonport and our hotel room!

Back on the boat

And so, after another early morning start, we found ourselves back on the boat. We were lucky to have found ourselves a table near the playground and planted ourselves there for a few hours. The girls also got to participate in some juggling and plate twirling with on-board performers entertaining the kids.

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When it was time for Miss A to have a nap, we headed back to our cabin for a lunch of bacon and cheese rolls before settling the girls into their beds (one last tight-arse move before we got back to the mainland!). Miss A drifted off immediately, but Miss B refused to settle, so much so that her face painting treat, which had been scheduled for after her nap was revoked (much to her absolute mortification) and so when Miss A woke, Corey took her to get her face painting done, and I stayed back to suffer the wrath, and follow through with the delivery of consequences of poor behaviour like the good mummy-pig that I am.

So Miss A came back with her face painted.

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And Miss B finally wore herself out and slept pretty much until we docked. We got off the boat and so ended our Tasmanian leg of our trip. We drove back down towards Geelong and our van which I had been missing, and with the girls in bed, we readied ourselves for the next phase of our trip… which was to start early the next morning as we prepared ourselves for a weekend trip to Robe with our friends Vanessa and Zoran!

Have you had the opportunity to visit Tasmania? What was the highlight of your trip?

Missed our earlier posts about Tassie? Click here for Week 1 & Week 2

Our summary of Tassie – Wk 2

They get shorter, I promise you!!!

Base at New Norfolk

So, in my last post, you would have seen us just finish up our Christmas sojourn to Strahan (and the comfort of a hotel room!). But of course, when on a trip like ours, it was time to get moving again. We left Strahan thinking that we’d stop the night at the moody Lake St Clair.  But as we neared in consultation with Wikicamps, we were discovering that there weren’t a lot of easy options if we didn’t want to stop for one night, unpack and set up and then get going again the next day.

So, we promptly pretended like we didn’t need to worry about it and concentrated on the fun stuff.  Like this fabulous little rainforest bushwalk!

We also stopped at the Wall in the Wilderness, which is a big mural made from carved huon pine.  We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, so here’s a couple I grabbed from the internet (credit: think-tasmania.com.au).  It was stunning – artist Greg Duncan clearly so much talent, and much time and effort that has gone into telling the story of Tasmania in carving.  The detail in each piece is extraordinary!

We finally got to Lake St Clair on a miserable grey afternoon.  It was gorgeous despite the misty weather. It’s also the finish line for those who attempt the Overland Track from Cradle Mountain. We actually had some friends doing the Overland Track with their three pre-teen children (I think they’re all pre-teen – sorry Kell if I have that wrong!). Regardless of their age, it was a pretty magnificent feat to walk 80km+ starting in a blizzard and ending in a heatwave (they left a week before Christmas – SUMMER!!!). Anyhoo, my point was that Lake St Clair is the end of the Overland Track, and we saw a lot of weary travellers returning from their walks.

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We wanted to do some of the bush walks along the lake, but it’d been a long morning and we had a cranky little girl who refused to walk (read: who really needed a nap!), so after sussing out our hotel options (we didn’t really want to go to the effort of setting up the tent for one quick overnight stop) and discovering that all accommodation outlets were either fully booked or came at ridiculous cost we called our caravan park in New Norfolk to see if we could check in early. Thankfully we could and so we pushed on, made it there before dark and made it our home base for the next week.

Hobart

An early morning shower heralded the start of a new day, and whilst none ended up on my head, we did end up with a little lake pooling under Miss A’s bed.

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So Corey headed to Mitre 10 to buy a big tarp and some poles and rope ($100+ later!!!) and with our makeshift cover sorted, we got ready for our day.

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Given the dodgy weather, we decided to explore Hobart and particularly Constitution Dock and the museum. Checking out the Dock, we were able to see a couple of the big Maxi boats that had already made it to Hobart, including Perpetual Loyal.

 

We also stopped for Fish and Chips for lunch and ran into Terry & Julie who had been out on a tour. After a quick catch up, we headed to the Hobart Museum, which not only was free (inner tight-arse rejoice!) but was designed for kids with interactive displays and lots of things to touch (great for the girls). And apart from Miss A climbing all over some antique chair in the art room housing over $7m of artwork (or so Corey was informed after a security guard came racing over to reprimand – although with every other room filled with tactile, touchable things, a little rope or barrier around the things that are off limits wouldn’t go astray – just sayin’), the girls had a great time at the museum.

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We then headed to the information centre to find out what else there was to do with young children, and also to see what the city did for New Year’s Eve. Hot tip, don’t expect too much from the Hobart information centre. Perhaps it was just officer I got, but it would appear that no one really brings their family/kids to Hobart because she could not list one single thing for families to do, including on New Year’s Day and even with some pretty heavy prodding and suggestions of what I knew I got nothing, nada, *crickets*. If it wasn’t so busy I would have spoken to someone else but after waiting in line for 20 minutes to get served and with the girls getting bored and antsy, to get such crap advice just annoyed me and I just wanted to get out of there.

There’s quite a lot I would have liked to have checked out regarding the historical side of Hobart, but the girls make it a bit challenging and get bored really quickly, and when you’re paying family prices, it seems a waste to spend the money and not get to absorb and read about the goings on there. Will have to save that for the retirement trip to Tassie!

Bruny Island

With slightly better weather the next day, we headed down the coast and over on the ferry to Bruny Island. What started out as a grey and miserable day, broke into some sunshine as we made our way to the bottom of the island to the Bruny Island Lighthouse.

It was nice to see some sun and shed the jumpers, but once we head back up the coast, the grey came back and the jumpers back on. We stopped at the Bruny Island Pub for lunch which was jam packed, and whilst we waited over two hours for a table and our food (they kinda forgot about us!), it was a nice lunch.

Having lost time over lunch, we only had a short amount of time to check out the Bruny Island Cheese Company (gutted!!) and the Get Shucked oyster bar where I ran in, bought a dozen fresh oysters for $16 (hello dinner!), and we were back on the Ferry and heading home again.

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Tahune Airwalk

We hadn’t really heard anything about the Walk through the tree tops near the Hartz Mountains until we were flicking through some tourism brochures.

With the few extra days up our sleeves given our express drive from Strahan, we decided to go and check it out. I love trees and the reviews were really great so it seemed like something we’d all enjoy.

We headed to Geeveston and into the mountains until we finally arrived. Unfortunately we had some tired and grumpy kids who weren’t up for big walks, so we didn’t get to do the big loop walk or check out the suspension bridges, however, we did get to do the airwalk which was awesome, as well as a short walk through the rainforest which was even better!

The airwalk really let you see the size of some of the trees there, many of which were only planted in the 1960s but had grown quite tall over the past 50-60 years. Some of the older growth trees (1000+ years old) were amazing and beautiful, and it really makes you think about how progression of society has really cost us some magnificent environments. Corey and I have remarked quite a lot on this trip, about the views and the thoughts that the first explorers must have had when they first cut a path through some of these forests. Not to mention what the indigenous population in the area would have had as their home. It’s really quite profound when you start thinking a little deeper.

The rainforest walk was awesome – so lush and green with my favourite tree ferns everywhere. You could really get in and around the trees on this walk. You could even try to hug them!!!

Salamanca Markets and New Year’s Eve

Everyone who goes to Tasmania inevitably says that you have to include Salamanca Markets on the itinerary. So when Saturday rolled around, we headed back to Hobart to tick it off the list (even Corey who isn’t much of a market fan). The crowds were massive, no doubt due to the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the Taste of Tasmania festival which was running adjacent to the markets and NYE activities, but we got to have a good explore and I think had it been a different kind of holiday, where the money was flowing a little more freely, I would have definitely walked away with many more bags than I did. As it was, we picked up few bits and pieces, strawberries and some nuts and sampled some cheese (Coal River Farms – delicious!) and salmon before picking myself up a little pair of Tasmania Blackwood earrings to replace the silver pair I’d lost somewhere in the caravan.

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Oh, and we literally bumped into Julie in the park, who had left Terry sampling Beers at the Taste of Tasmania festival enroute to check out the markets.

There were a ton of kids activities in the park, so the girls had fun jumping and painting and playing whilst we sat and just soaked in the atmosphere before heading up to Mount Wellington to let the girls have a rest.  We didn’t even get out on top it was so busy so we turned around and drove back down!

Our initial plan was to head back to camp for a rest and then return to Hobart to watch the family fireworks, however, once we got back to camp, another family had set up next to ours with two children in addition to three year old Jack who was camped on the other side and we’d met the day before.

So after chatting away (turns out this new family was the twin brother of a guy Corey used to work with – go figure hey!), we decided to ditch our plan to return to Hobart, and enjoy a few drinks and some awesome cheeses with our neighbours and leave the kids playing and enjoying themselves.

 

How did you spend your New Year’s Eve? Have you ever met people and then bumped into them unexpectedly later?

Missed our other posts about Tassie? Click here for Week 1 & Week 3

Our summary of Tassie – Wk 1

So I’m sitting here at Lake Bonney, near Barmera in South Australia, lamenting the fact that I’ve left writing about our three weeks in Tasmania all in one go. Note to self: When you leave writing three weeks worth of posts until the end of a trip instead of posting them during that time (even though it was lack of wifi etc that cause it to happen), it becomes an overwhelming chore!

But, it’s a nice problem to have as we’ve just spent three awesome weeks in Tassie and so I’ve attempted to break down our trip in a way that will be easily digestable. Initially, I was going to do a big summary post but when I hit 6000 words (without pics!), I kinda figured that no one loves reading my fluff that much that they’re going to sit through 6000 words in one post!!! So I’ve broken it down week by week instead!

But first, a bit of backstory…

Tasmania was always going to be an inclusion in our trip around the country, and during one late night itinerary planning session, we decided we wanted to find a spot that we could create an awesome Christmas memory, especially as it would be the first time in over a decade that we weren’t spending Christmas with Corey’s family.

As we worked through the options and factored in the fixed dates of places we had to be at certain times, it seemed an obvious option to make Tassie our Christmas destination.

We allowed ourselves three weeks, which in hindsight was a gross under estimation on what we should have allowed. At least a month but ideally six weeks would have allowed us to really stop and have a good look around, but as it was, we had three weeks and so we stuffed as much of it as we could into that time.

We decided against taking the van pretty early on in our planning, as it was just way too expensive to justify for a three week trip – had we gone for six weeks or more, it would have definitely been more worthwhile. That said, given the size of our van we now know that the windy, narrow Tasmanian roads would not have been kind to our big, heavy setup so it was a blessing not to have it in the end (Although our backs mightn’t agree having spent two of our three weeks sleeping on inflatable mattresses!)

So here we go, our summary of Tassie – Week 1:

The Boat

Having left booking our tickets a little too late, we paid an additional $400 on the original researched price for our vehicle and a cabin for the girls. A lot of people who had been over to Tasmania on the boat with small children recommended getting a cabin and whilst it certainly adds to the cost, it definitely made the trip a lot more comfortable (especially in dealing with a bout of seasickness for poor Miss B on the way over, and an EPIC meltdown (by Miss B) on the way back).

We ended up doing a day sailing, mainly because I’ve become such a tight arse I wouldn’t spend the extra $400 return for a night sailing. Would the extra $400 have been worth it? Yeah, it probably would have as it was challenging to find any space up on the decks during the day (due to people who didn’t buy a cabin sleeping on every horizontal surface!) and sleeping during the day was just about impossible for everyone except Miss A.

Penguin and Burnie

We splurged on a hotel for the night once we got off the boat, and the next morning we headed west. Our original plan was to head to Stanley and then take an off-road 4WD track down the west coast to Strahan, our Christmas destination. But recent rain, and wanting to ensure we covered Cradle Mountain properly, we ditched those plans and decided to head to Cradle Mountain first via Burnie. We stopped at a little town called Penguin where we grabbed a coffee and checked out the foreshore whilst the girls counted the number of penguins they could see that decorated the town.

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We then headed to Burnie to check out the Maker’s centre. After the golden years of manufacturing were over, Burnie reinvented itself as a place of tourism, capitalising on their strong history of being ‘Makers’ paying homage to the industry forebearers in the forestry (paper), manufacturing and farming.

With our cultural cups full, we headed up to the top of a hill overlooking the Burnie coast and the docks and had some lunch before we making our way to Cradle Mountain.

 

Cradle Mountain

It’s so hard to describe just how beautiful the country around Cradle Mountain is. We stayed at a caravan park just opposite the Visitor Information Centre and squeezed ourselves into a tiny little campsite which did the job for a couple of nights.

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After waking up to feeling of condensation dripping on my head, we decided to make the most of the shuttle bus that takes you up into the National Park and start our day with the 6.2km walk around Lake Dove. When I say start the day, by the time we get up, dressed, breakfast and kid-wrangling, it was well past 10am and starting to warm up. That notwithstanding, we headed off with water and enthusiasm and made it around the lake – which by the way, Miss B did all by herself – she was so proud as were we.  And how’s the view!

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Miss A bailed about half way, and demanded a lift for the rest (and the hardest, mostly uphill) component of the track!  But we had an awesome day!

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After such a huge walk, we stopped in at the interpretation centre to learn a little more about Cradle Mountain, and learned that early explorers were so impressed and enamoured with the area that they advocated for it to become a National Park so that future generations would be able to enjoy it in the future.

After dinner, we went back up to do the Enchanted Walk in the hope of seeing some platypus and other wildlife and were lucky enough to see three wombats, our first in the wild, including this fella who was happy for me to get up close to take his picture.

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We headed back to camp on dark and got the girls settled who were excited to be sleeping in the tent. There was heaps of wildlife around our campsite including some Bennetts wallabies, pademelons, echidnas and lizards which the girls loved.

When it was time to head to Strahan, we packed up the tents, the mattresses and the sleeping bags and arranged them in a roof rack bag to put up on the roof rack. Being heave, it took a bit for me to lift it, and Corey’s suggestion of 3-2-1 throw it on the roof ended up with a broken weather shield on his side. Oops!

 

Christmas at Strahan

The little seaside village of Strahan was such a great place to spend Christmas and we were lucky to get an awesome deal to spend three nights at Strahan Village in a family hotel room (only $95 per night!). Arriving on Christmas Eve, we decided to go and watch a local production called “The Ship that Never Was”.

 

Running every single day (except Christmas Day) for over 20 years by the Round Earth Theatre Company it definitely exceeded all expectations, having seen it on TV and adding it to our ‘Must-do’ list.  With only 2 regular actors, it relies on audience participation to make it work.  And Corey was cast as the mastermind behind the whole adventure.

 

We spent Christmas Day on a river cruise which was an awesome experience.

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The seven hour cruise took us through the harbour and up the Gordon River and the rainforests along its banks which are Heritage Listed.

It also stopped at the remains of the secondary penal settlement on Sarah Island which was an absolute highlight for a history buff such as myself.  Sarah Island was a secondary penal settlement was where they sent reoffending convicts if they’d been caught doing something really bad whilst either serving their first sentences, or after they’d finished their original sentence.  It was generally reserved for the worst of the worst, but the fascinating thing about Sarah Island, is that it became a prominent ship building enterprise as a result of the plentiful Huon Pine in the area (which is now illegal to cut down). It’s the story of convicts who built a boat on Sarah Island under the design on a world renoun shipwright, before stealing it to escape, that forms the basis of the “The Ship that Never Was” play.

It was also in Strahan, both at the play and on the boat, that we got to know a fabulous couple from Queensland (Hi Terry & Julie) whom we ran into, quite literally, several times over the next few weeks.

On Boxing Day, we finished up our time in Strahan with a drive along the beach to see the lighthouse we’d passed the day before from a different angle.  And then time to pack up and get ready for a new place to explore.

Where did you spend Christmas this year? Have you ever played a role in an audience-participation based play?

Want to read more about our trip to Tassie? Click here for Week 2 & Week 3

Surprise! We’re home… for a short visit anyway

The idea for making a quick dash home to surprise the in-laws had been fermenting for some time. Given that we still needed to pick up our tent and camping gear at some stage in preparation for our trip to Tasmania (or arrange for a friend to bring it to Melbourne, which was the original plan), we decided that a sneaky trip home to allow the girls to see their grandparents and new baby cousin before Christmas would be a good thing.

After a day in Melbourne to have some issues with our van fixed and with no advance warning, we headed up to the Murray River to surprise Corey’s Mum and Dad.

The girls loved sneaking up onto the porch and waiting for Nan and Pop to see them and we loved our few days back home catching up with family and friends.

After we spent the night with Nan and Pop, we then headed to Mildura to surprise our Sister-in-Law. With our Prado still up for sale, I decided to drive that up for a change of scenery (and also because it was convenience for us to use). Taking all the back streets, we were nearly there when we bloody passed her on her way!!! I rang Corey to let him know she wouldn’t be home and then about five minutes later I get a phone call. The conversation went a bit like this:

SIL: “Just humour me for a minute, but did I just see you and Corey drive past me”

Me: “What on earth are you talking about H?”

SIL: “Well, I’m just heading to catch up with my Mum’s group and I saw a car that looked a lot like Corey’s tricked up Colorado followed by a gold coloured Prado that looked a lot like yours. Maybe I should ring Dave (our father-in-law) and check that no-one has stolen your car?”

Me: “No, don’t do that. How about you come home and put the kettle on?”

Needless to say, a quick U-turn and a few moments later and the reunion was happening!

Funnily enough, it wasn’t the only conversation along those lines. My good friend Mrs Pett apparently recognised me by THE BACK OF MY HEAD and calls me. “I know I’ve just had a baby and am a bit sleep deprived, but did I just see you sitting outside of Mocha Mecca having a coffee”. Boom… what can I say, I have a recognisable boof-head!

We were able to catch up with Mrs Mone and ditch some stuff back into the shipping container.img_5797

And retrieve all of our camping gear!img_5799

In addition to catching up with some friends, our sneaky trip home also meant that we could have an early Christmas too. We arranged for Santa pics with the girls (here’s hoping the proper ones had them all looking at the camera!).img_5975

And pulled together an impromptu Christmas lunch (which involved the pork catching on fire!).img_5871

We had all agreed that it would be a kids-only Christmas and they loved being able to open them all early and have Christmas with Baby Zee.img_5915

And the girls loved playing with their new wings from Mrs Mone.
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Before long, our time was up and it was time to head back to Melbourne, ready to catch the boat for Tasmania!

Bye-bye for now! See you in Feb!

Have you ever planned a sneaky visit home? Do you have any distinguishable features that mean you’re instantly identifiable?

Where the heck is Porepunkah?

I had a conversation with a close friend of mine from home.  They’d been having a fabulous night out and had called to tell me they missed me.  But they could not get their head around where we were when I told them. In fact, the conversation kinda went something like this:

Them: “Where are you?”

Me: “We’re in Porepunkah”

Them: “Where the **** is that?”

Me: “In the Victorian Alpine region, you know, snow country”

Them: *crickets*

Me: *sigh* “It’s near Bright”

Them: “Aaahhhhhh!”

BINGO.

Porepunkah is the lesser known cousin of the Alpine region, especially as it’s only 6km from Bright.  But this is where we ended up for a few days in a wonderful little caravan park right on the Ovens River.

On our way from one mountainous region to another (the Blue Mountains in NSW to the Alpine region in Victoria), we couldn’t resist a pitstop at Bathurst, home of the great V8 Supercar race.img_5569

Before continuing on to Young (renown for its cherries) where we stopped overnight.  After parking up the van, we went on the search for a farm where we could pick some of our own!  A few false starts (closed farm gates) and some dodgy directions later, we finally found one! I didn’t realise it at the time, but cherries were nearly $30kg in the supermarket, but we were lucky and only paid $10kg!!! img_5610

We continued on through Gundagai and stopped to say hi to the Dog on the Tucker Box.
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And grabbed some lunch on the way through Holbrook where a full sized submarine is featured in a park as a tribute to Captain Holbrook who was a submarine captain and winner of a Victoria Cross medal.img_5622

We finally arrived at the Porepunkah Pines Holiday Park which was situated right on the Ovens River and were lucky enough to get a site that overlooked the river and the walking track that ran parallel. So beautiful.  And given it was the calm before the school holiday storm, we virtually had the whole park to our self!img_5715

We spent one of our days here driving up to Mount Hotham, which saw us stop at Harrietville to have morning tea and give the girls a play on a playground there. 36km of windy steep roads and we made it to the top… of a virtual ghost town.  We could certainly tell that Mount Hotham is a seasonal town with hardly anything open… and that which was, was not being utilised at all.
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The views were stunning, but eeirey, due mainly to the forests of dead trees everywhere.  We weren’t sure if it were due to fire or the aftermath of snow (but then we wondered how they grew that big in the first place if it were snow???). It was a striking but bleak landscape in some places.img_5638

On the way down, we stopped at a little town called Wangiligong and checked out a bridge that was erected in tribute to the large Chinese community in the area during the gold rush period before having hotdogs in the park.img_5648

After returning to the park, the girls spent some time in the pool whilst I attempted to update our blog.img_5671 img_5677 img_5683

One of the best things about this park is free wifi!  Well, it’s not the best thing, but it’s right up there! Sunday night was spent catching up on a month’s worth of posts.  I need free wifi because with all the pics, we keep blowing our 24GB data allowance! And whilst the wifi was slow, it got the job done!

The next day I caught up with one of my writing buddies that I met at a conference last year for coffee and a chat whilst the girls took dad to the water play park.  She bought her newborn daughter who was happy enough to let us easily kill a couple of hours and down a few cups of coffee as we chatted and yakked about everything from writing to being a mumma with a new bub!

But the tribe was soon restless and it was time to head off and find my little fan again.  We finished our time in the area by taking the track from the Caravan Park along the Ovens River and into the Porepunkah  township for ice-cream.  An awesome little place that we’re considering bringing our November holiday crew back to one year! img_5717img_5724

The evening was spent packing up the van ready for our early start to get into Melbourne and the caravan factory for a few things to be fixed the next day!

Have you ever heard of Porepunkah? Have you ever seen Mount Hotham in the Summertime? (eerily quiet!)

 

 

Beautiful Blue Mountains

When I was a little girl (in grade five to be specific), I did a project on the crossing of the Blue Mountains. I remember getting my big piece of poster board and cutting and gluing pictures of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth onto the card, and writing up a description of their expedition and drawing a map of where they went. Ever since that time, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Blue Mountains, and having finally had the opportunity to explore it, I wasn’t disappointed.

We based ourselves out at a free camping area called Lake Wallace, just out of Lithgow in a little village called Wallerawang. It was a beautiful little spot which had hot showers and a fabulous vista of the lake.img_5217

Knowing that we wouldn’t be able to do a lot of the bigger bushwalks, we decided to splurge and spend money on a ticket to Scenic World. The girls got in for free and the total cost for Corey and I was only $78 which when you compare to some other attractions we’ve been to, is definitely a fair price for what you get.img_5248

There are four components to Scenic World:

Skyway – a cable car that takes you across the Jamison Valley to the other side where we hopped off and did a fairly easy, but very wet walk to several lookouts which had awesome views of the Three Sisters before heading back over to Scenic World on the other side.

The girls loved this ride and we were able to stand on a glass platform and look down at the valley below, seeing the Katoomba Falls and the top canopy of the rainforest.picmonkey-collage11

Railway – a 52 degree angle (that’s very steep!) railway ride that goes up and down (to the soundtrack of Indiana Jones). We headed on the railway to get down to the bottom of the valley but even though we knew we were going down a hill, we were not expecting it at all. I remember briefly seeing the sign that said 52 degrees but maths is not my strong suit so it did not compute in my head at all. Once you’re in, you go through a pitch black tunnel and come to a crest before it plunges down a short, but insanely steep decline – the girls weren’t sure what was going on at first, but by the end they were laughing their heads off! It was so awesome in fact, that we made sure we went back up the hill again (downhill was definitely way better!).picmonkey-collage14

Walkway – a series of boardwalks covering 2.2km of meanderings through the rainforest and imparting the history of the coal mine that used to operate on the site (and hence the reason for the railway, and the second cable car which I’m about to mention). It was a beautiful walk and Miss A nearly made it all the way before needing to be given a piggy back.picmonkey-collage13

Cableway – an old cable car system that was originally used to transport coal from the bottom of the valley to the top. It’s now obviously a ride and we took it to the top of the mountain, stayed on the ride and headed back down. It provides an awesome view of the valley and also of the Three Sisters and Orphan Rock, which used to be the most well known landmark in the area until the tracks and lookout were closed in the 70’s due to safety issues (erosion).img_5294

So a massive thumbs up to Scenic World and the awesome opportunity to experience the Blue Mountains in a kid friendly way! After we finished up there, we headed across the other side of the valley so we could get a closer look at the Three Sisters (the three little peaks to the left).img_5281

And, if you look closely, you can see a little bridge between the main peak and the first ‘Sister’. img_5313

We ended up doing the walk to get around to the Three Sisters and the Honeymoon Bridge which is the little bridge between the main ridge and the first ‘sister’.  And it involved a ridiculously steep set of stairs. But the girls did it and the people we held up didn’t seem to mind.picmonkey-collage15

The girls were glad to get back to the car but we were happy to say that we did it!img_5350

One of the funny things whilst we were at Scenic World and when we went over to look at the Three Sisters were the Asian tourists.  They LOVED Miss B and Miss A.  They were constantly taking pictures of them and on several occasions we were asked if they were twins (I think our ‘twin count’ for this trip is up to about 18 – true fact!). I took this sneaky pic of this lady who was so excited to get a picture of the girls – what I couldn’t capture were the 8 or 9 people actually taking a picture!img_5311

The next day we mixed it up and headed out to the Lithgow Glow Worm Tunnel. Other than knowing it was a tunnel… and it had glow worms in it, we weren’t really sure what to expect.

We headed out to the Newnes Plateau in the Wollemi National Park on one of the roughest and rockiest tracks we’ve been on. It took us about an hour to drive the 24km to get to the tunnel. Along the way we saw a herd of what we presumed were brumbies, as the land was all logged forestry and not really suitable for agistment.img_5367

On the trip out, I read that the tunnels were originally constructed for a railway line to an oil shale works at Newnes. The track and tunnels were constructed but were done so with very steep grades and sharp curves and a couple of narrow squeezy spots. After about 30 years, it was dismantled and tourism got the benefit.

There are two abandoned tunnels, one of which we drove through and the other which is full of glow worms.img_5369 img_5372

After a 1km walk along a series of leaf-littered pathways, steep stair cases and gnarly tree-rooted dirt tracks, the tunnel appears behind a lush curtain of ferns and trees.picmonkey-collage16

It is 400m long and curves around nearly 180 degrees (or so the brochure says) and becomes pitch black about 50m into it. You can walk right through to the other side and there is actually a longer walking track coming from the opposite direction, but it was a 5km track along the original railway track one way so we weren’t about to do that with the girls (knowing we’d need to carry them by the end). So we took the easy way in, walked right through and had morning tea at the other side. In the pic, bottom right, if you squint hard enough, you can see some glow worms!picmonkey-collage16-2

The floor of the tunnel is old rubble from the dismantling of the tracks and there is a little stream that runs through it making for an uneven walking surface. Couple this with pitch black darkness (well, that and the glow of the worms which are of no use in a navigational sense) and it took us a while to get through it. But the girls absolutely loved it!picmonkey-collage17

And although we had to carry them both back (pretty much once we got back through the tunnel), we had an awesome day. We ended up having 2-minute noodles back at the carpark for lunch.img_5525

And Miss A decided to have a nap – “having a nap now Mum *makes snoring noises*”img_5513

And then we headed back to camp.

And that pretty much sums up our time in the Blue Mountains. There was so much more to see. We would have loved to have explored the Jenolan Caves but when we researched it, we felt that the girls wouldn’t have really appreciated the experience and the cost to go and not be able to see some of the highlights due to the difficulty in the walking and access, meant that it went on the list for a future trip when the girls are older.

I would have also liked to have found some museum or place to find out more about my pals Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth, but again, the girls get really bored, really quickly with that kind of stuff, so we opted to keep our experiences to the nature kind.

But it’s definitely on the future to-return-to-list!

Have you experienced the Blue Mountains? Did you ever do a project or an assignment on a topic that has still stuck with you as an adult?

Kids and the Hunter Valley don’t mix

The Hunter Valley has been on my bucket list for many years and I had come close to ticking it off a couple of years ago when we were at Umina Beach on the NSW Central Coast for our annual November holiday with our crew (we are four families made up of some cousins and friends and we pick a different destination each year to travel together for a week or so).

Anyhoo, we didn’t end up squeezing in a trip to the Hunter in favour of Taronga Zoo that trip so we definitely wanted to include it in this leg of our trip. And whether or not it was just high expectations, I’m not sure, but to be honest I found it a little lacklustre. I know that’s a pretty strong statement, but the main reason for my disappointment is some of the establishments’ attitude towards children.

Don’t get me wrong, I can completely see that the Hunter Valley is geared for couples and adults who do not have to worry about children when they are drinking their way from vineyard to vineyard. But, hello! Aren’t parents the ones who need that wine more than anyone???

One of the first stops we made was to a food establishment. I won’t name them, but on the door walking in was a sign that pretty much said (and I’m paraphrasing here – but not much) “people don’t want to listen to or have their day ruined by your children. Don’t let them touch anything, run around or make noise. They are also not allowed in the ‘adults only’ section of the café”.  Ok then… nice first impression.

Now, I’m the first to admit I hate seeing kids running around, especially when the parents are within arms reach but despite their kid running riot, they are  completely oblivious (or choose to appear oblivious) to their kid’s shite behaviour. I’m also the first to acknowledge that making sure your kids aren’t running around being shitheads is the parents’ responsibility, no question.

I suspect that this particular establishment has had a couple of awful experiences and as a result have shot a pre-emptive strike, putting it all on the table and trying to avoid it happening again. And although I’m not one to get offended easily, I was actually offended. Not in an outraged ‘my kids don’t do that kind of thing’ (coz trust me they do, and on this very day they did – just not here) kind of way, but more in a ‘thanks for painting us all with the same brush’ kind of way.

And unfortunately it kind of set the tone for the rest of the day. The girls were pretty well behaved in that shop. We grabbed some fudge and had a coffee but by the time we got to the cheese shop the sugar had kicked in. Rookie move Mum! The girls were just being annoying – you know, that whingey and hang off you and sook kind of annoying. Not full blown shitheads, but annoying enough that Corey had to take them out of the cheese shop we were looking through and let them run around outside.  And when we continued along the cluster of shopfronts, (and I was audacious enough to even contemplate going into one for a tasting), I ended up sculling 2 glasses before calling it a day and leaving… After I picked Miss A up off the floor who had cracked it because she was scolded for touching stuff.

We gathered our cheese, jams and breads and headed to the park for lunch where the girls could burn off some energy at the playground.img_5129

I’m disappointed because I was so looking forward to tasting a few wines and checking out a local gin distillery, but it just got too hard and most places just don’t cater for kids unfortunately. So we called it a day and went back to Singleton where we were staying (because the Hunter Valley was booked out for a Day on the Green – d’oh! #IheartGarbageforeva) and put the kids to bed for an early night.

The next day we had much better luck (both with behaviour of said annoying children but also in an age appropriate activity) when we decided to explore the Hunter Valley Gardens. It’s not a cheap day out at $30 per adult and $18 for kids over 4 (Miss B became 3 and ¾ that day – sorry if you happen to read this HVG) but the gardens were stunning and you can see where the money is spent. It’s the largest private garden in the country owned by the Roche family (who as an interesting aside, were the founders of Nutrimetics in Australia). picmonkey-collage9

It is so well designed and pretty that we paid the extra $20 to get a 35min train ride tour around where we discovered that the gardens took nearly 4 years to build from scratch.  Prior to that, it was just a large paddock.  So much effort has gone into the gardens featuring an oriental influenced garden, Italian grotto, several formal gardens, a sunken garden, Mrs Roche’s rose garden, an indian garden with curry plants which smelt awesome, a Storybook garden to engage the kids as well as a big waterfall which is often used for weddings.  Overall, it was definitely worth the tour.img_5150

The dedicated Storybook garden was designed to engage the kids and establish a love of gardens and the girls definitely loved it. Taking a range of nursery rhymes and fairy tale stories, props and statues were erected along the garden with the ‘book’ open to a key page to set the scene.img_5162

There was of course, Humpty Dumpty as well as the Mad Hatters Tea Party and Alice in Wonderland’s big red chair, Jack and Jill, all the sheep rhymes (Mary had a little lamb, Baa Baa Black Sheep & Little Bo Peep!), Hansel and Gretel and a whole heap of others.picmonkey-collage10

They also had the gardens set up for the annual Christmas light spectacular with literally hundreds, if not thousands of Christmas lights and displays throughout the gardens.  It was due to start that evening, but obviously that required coming back at night and, nope… that wasn’t gonna happen. So we just enjoyed it for what it was in the daylight.img_5200

And that pretty much wrapped up our time in the Hunter Valley. Singleton as a place to stay was great. Power and water at the Showground for $25 a night meant we could so some washing and get some issues with the car fixed (yes, again). We also got a big crack in the windscreen so that’ll have to be fixed at some stage soon as well.

Although I was disappointed not to get the full Hunter Valley experience, we did have a great time there but next time I think I’ll just arrange a gals weekend away to explore it properly – no kids allowed!

Have you been to the Hunter Valley with young kids? Did you find it kid-friendly?

A few nights at Mungo Brush

Mungo Brush was a random selection that was made after Corey had read a good review somewhere about it. On the drive over towards the coast from Gloucester we decided we should check it out. It’s one of the first National Park campgrounds that we have had to book and reserve a site.

After stocking up on some groceries, we headed through town and called the Parks hotline to reserve a site on the way out to the campground which was about 20km from Hawks Nest.  A huge campground, we could see why it was popular and we ended up with a great site with views of the Myall Lakes.img_5058

Located on a peninsula, Mungo Brush had the lake on one side and the ocean on the other as well as some great walking tracks (that do contain snakes as Corey discovered – ugh!).img_5061

Unfortunately, not long after we’d had a swim in the lake, thunderstorms rolled in and the next day was cold and grey, so we decided to head into Hawks Nest and have a look around.  On a sunny day, the lady at the Information Centre tells us that you’re just about guaranteed to see dolphins about, but unfortunately it was too miserable to spot any so we stopped for some morning tea and a walk along the creek instead. img_5066 img_5071

On the way home, we stopped to check out the beach which was on the other side of some massive sand dunes.  Long and white, it was a beautiful beach, although a little bit windy.img_5101

The afternoon had improved somewhat weather-wise so Corey took the girls for a swim whilst I watched from the bank (still too cold for this little black duck!).img_5109

We would have liked to have stayed another day, but the site we were on was booked and we weren’t going to pack up the van just to move to a site next door.  Time to move on again…

Have you been to the Myall Lakes before? Ever had to make a reservation on a camping site?

Atop the Barrington Tops

Once more, we’ve traded the ocean for the mountains and left South West Rocks bound for the Barrington Tops. I didn’t really know what to expect from this area as I honestly had never heard of the Barrington Tops before. Access to the ‘Tops’ is through Gloucester (I can never pronounce this town properly – apparently it’s pronounced Gloster) and if you’re looking for information about the area, be sure to drop into the information centre there.

We’ve become somewhat proficient in assessing a town or region’s Information Centre of late and this one is right up there at the top.  Nothing impressive to look at compared to most, it’s the staff that make this centre work.  Super informative, clever tactic in giving kids a colouring in book and a nook with crayons to keep them occupied (so adults can actually have a conversation) and just genuinely helpful and most importantly, sincere in wanting to be helpful. Sadly, we’ve come across a few dodgy ones which make you wonder why someone would bother being in the industry if they didn’t want to help and talk to people… but anyway, I digress.

We didn’t end up staying in Gloucester itself because, well, as we all know, I’ve become a huge tight arse, so we ended up staying at a gorgeous little free camp called Bretti Reserve (as in Brett-eye not Brett-y as we had thought) about 50km out of town.  (And yes, this post has become a lesson in phonetics).

This place proved to be a great spot to explore the Tops, but to be honest, when we first arrived we weren’t sure we were going to stay due to some pretty heavy bush fire smoke in the area.img_4925

We tuned into the fire brigade channel and canvassed some of the other campers and no one seemed to concerned. In the end we figured the rangers would surely come and let people know if it was an issue so we stayed.  After setting up camp, we decided to have a look around.picmonkey-collage7-2

The reserve had an awesome stream running through it, which made for some fun exploring in the afternoon trying to skim rocks across the river and relaxing by the running water.picmonkey-collage6

The next day we got an early start and headed up into the Barrington Tops itself, stopping a few times to do a couple of the easier bushwalks. Unfortunately, as we’ve mentioned before, we have to be very selective about what walks we can do and which ones we have to miss, but most of the time, the easy shorter walks are still pretty awesome. And Barrington Tops didn’t disappoint.img_4980

The first of the walks was a stunning little loop called Honeysuckle which was
situated in a heritage-listed area of the park. Featuring old gondwana growth, it was stunning – an absolute highlight. And the girls just loved it. They spent time poking around and looking at all the leaves and trees and moss covered logs. It was my favourite walk of our trip so far! And these pictures do not do the area justice at all!

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Again, the history of the area is fascinating and we learnt about the ‘Gentleman Bushranger’ called Captain Thunderbolt who escaped Cockatoo Island prison in Sydney and became known as a Robin Hood of his time. He’d rob businesses and then turn up at the pub and shout those at the bar! He had a Bonnie to his Clyde in a woman called Mary Ann Bugg, who they believe helped him escape Cockatoo Island and who was also the reason he was so hard to capture – her knowledge of the local area kept them hidden and safe for many years. The whole storey piqued my imagination and left me wanting to google the heck out of that! If only I had the phone range!img_5022

Such a beautiful place, I wish we had more of a chance to explore the area in more detail, but many of the walking tracks to get to the great lookouts were over 10km one way.  Oh, well, we’ll add it to the ‘next trip’ list that is lengthening every day!img_5026

After arriving home the girls had a snack.img_5032

And then Corey and Miss B headed off for a walk down to the river whilst Miss A had a rest and before long thunderstorms hit, leaving the intrepid explorers stranded at another campsite until the sheets of rain eased.

We would definitely go back and do some more exploring around the Barrington Tops. It was a beautiful surprise and the town of Gloucester was lovely too.

Have you heard of the Barrington Tops before? How about Captain Thunderbolt and his bushranging partner in crime Mary Ann?

Intrigue at South West Rocks

Our time at South West Rocks was steeped in history and stunning in its surrounds. Normally we don’t book anywhere and just wing it, but we had noticed that the closer to the coast we are, the harder it is to get in where we want. Sure enough, we left making any booking too late and ultimately paid for it not realising just how busy this area gets on a weekend. We were hoping to get a powered site at National Park managed Trial Bay Goal Campground, but they were all taken and after ringing around, we decided to take an unpowered site given the choice between that option for $30.75 per night or a well known chain caravan park charging $65 per night.  Not surprising we opted for the campground (#tightarsestrikesagain). And after our first evening walk around the grounds, I’m so glad we did.img_4738

Set up pretty much as a caravan park, the Trial Bay Goal campground is situated, quite literally on the slopes of the hill of the prison that is built there. Unlike other penal institutions, this particular goal was built with the specific purpose of housing the convicts who were labouring on a public works project to build a breakwater.img_4855

It took 13 years to build the goal and not long after, the whole enterprise was deemed a disaster and the project was disbanded and left to ruin. Several years later, it reopened as an internment camp for foreigners who might (but probably not) prove to be problematic during the war. Trial Bay Goal housed several hundred foreigners, predominately those of German descent, but also from a range of countries. It was a fascinating insight into a history I knew little about.

The setting of the goal looks over the ocean and the precinct had a great walking track which offered double sided views of the ocean on one side, and the more secluded bay on the other.img_4849img_4737

The campground was also home to a family of around ten kangaroos who weren’t afraid to get up close to your van, which I discovered one morning when I woke up early to go for a walk, opened the door and was confronted with a roo less than half a metre from the step!  img_4856

This guy had moved when I stepped out one morning, but they certainly weren’t afraid to come close.img_4912

Seems to be the thing around that part, as I met this fella along the track during my morning walk and it was Mexican stand-off for a few minutes until he decided to let me pass.img_4917

For a change of pace, we decided to head out to Wauchope and to Timbertown, a ye olde village based on the old timber towns of the area. Timbertown was actually a lot of fun and we learnt heaps about the timber industry (which complemented what we discovered on Fraser Island).img_4784

We watched a bullock team pull a sleigh of logs (well, actually we didn’t because they wouldn’t perform for their stand in Bullocky, but we learnt a lot nonetheless).img_4757

We went for a ride an old steam train and in a horse and cart, and discovered what old houses and businesses back in the day looked like.picmonkey-collage4 picmonkey-collage3

We even saw our Bullocky ride a penny farthing.img_4798

It was good old fashioned, wholesome fun and the girls had an awesome day out. Until we gave them a little reward for being so good and Miss B chucked the hugest tantrum when she got back to the car as she decided she didn’t like the stuffed kookaburra toy she had picked and wanted a puzzle like Miss A had gotten. You win some, you lose some right?

So we headed back to the tranquillity of South West Rocks. The next day, we actually did go up and do the tour of the goal.picmonkey-collage5

After checking out the goal, we headed off to explore the nearby Smoky Bay Lighthouse which was a steep climb which the girls mastered leading to stunning views of the coastline.img_4886

On the walk back to the car, we again ran into another family of kangaroos and I managed to snap this awesome pic before we left.img_4907

A beautiful place, we really enjoyed South West Rocks and the surprise history lesson that we had whilst we were there!

Do you enjoy learning about the history of the places you visit? Did you know that Australia interned foreigners during the war?