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

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