Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lake Leake 8 December 2007

The morning was lovely and sunny and good for a beach walk. Sue and Heather followed the headland and spied a mutton bird’s nest, even seeing an egg rolled out of the nest. We drove the car out to Spiky Bridge, which was a convict built bridge with unusual upturned rocks spiking the top – no one knows why - maybe just whim! Called into a Berry Farm (which was quite a commercial set up), but after trying the amazing strawberry icecream we had no complaint!
A long climbing drive took us to Lake Leake, a man made lake that evoked scenes from the old movie Deliverance. We enjoyed a walk along the dirt track and seeing the higgly-piggly shacks that were built 50 - 80 years ago. NO rules apply here!

We followed a quad bike roaring up the dirt track with Santa on the back, beard billowing in the wind. Arrival point was the bush pub with just four kids waiting for him. Bemused we left with a few caramels from Santa. We then drove off to see two falls that were virtually dry but enjoyed looking at the bush and the creek surrounds. Evidenced the hint of alpine plants on barren rocks and imagined how cold winter would be! On the way back we saw wallabies, one with a joey.
Enjoyed a happy laughing evening with lots of sentimental tears. Must have been the alcohol! Sue and Heather chatted away and when Peter went out for a quiet moment he found a few deer in the camp, however giggling Heather and Sue soon frightened them off!

Camping at Swansea - fantastic view

Summer hits Coles Bay

Swansea 7 December 2007

Woke up to a cold, wet and windy morning and set off for Coles Bay and Freycinet NP for breakfast. Coles Bay was a small town set on a pretty bay. We had a look at the national park, as we were keen to go on the walk to Wineglass Bay but it was too wet to go on the hike. The weather forecast for the day was sunny and 25deg. Not a sign of it! The thunder and lightning finished off any possibility. Instead we decided to drive down to Swansea, which is one of the older farming communities. We found a caravan park with a fantastic view of Freycinet and the Hazards. Sue and Heather trawled the shops and the beach and met Peter on his adventures to all the old sites. We enjoyed a really spectacular sunset of soft mauves and blues on the mountains. The rain cleared up slowly over the afternoon.

Heather and Peter at Bicheno - great dinner

Sue and Heather at Bicheno

Bicheno (Llandaff Rest Area) 6 December 2007

Drove down the coast and despite the cold and wet day, we had a lovely walk in the afternoon at Bicheno. Bicheno is definitely there for the tourist and has a tired commercial feel We had intended to stay the night there but the only caravan park that could take us was not suitable. We went for a walk along the headlands and admired the scenery with the lichen colouring all the round boulders making up the foreshore in orange, gold and yellow. We parked at the best view in town and stayed there til late, having a wonderful roast dinner in the Goal Restaurant. We were able to drive a short distance and free camped on the road. It poured rain overnight and was reasonably windy but we were snug inside.

What the! - humour at St Helens

St Helens 5 December 2007

Drove down the mountain to the coast. St Helens reminded us of beachside towns we had seen along the east coast – a tourist town without any real centre or heart. Stopped at a park out of town overlooking a quiet bay – very peaceful. Sue and Heather took a long walk back to town and up the estuary. Bought some smoked salmon that was very good. Will try and find that one again! Another fun night of entertainment with Heather and Sue enjoying their female side. Lots of laughing!

Sue and Heather at Fingal camp

Fingal 4 December 2007

Picked up Sue from the airport. Lovely sunny day with the usual cool breeze. Morning tea in the truck and then Sue and Heather off in the car to the Gourmet Sauce Factory! Yum! Then on to Woolmers to show Sue the wonderful roses. It was hard to admit but the roses had deteriorated a lot in a week. On reflection it must have been the heavy rain the previous days. They said it had been a very dry November hence the best rose display in a long time! We left Evandale midafternoon for east coast. Stopped at Fingal in a nice rest area with free power!! First ever !!! Meet one of the locals called Ron who lived there all his life and had a chat. Ron came up later and offered us a large bunch of rhubarb and we cooked it straight away for breakfast!
Sue and Heather walked around the very sleepy town and wondered how you could every spend any money in the town. The takeaway shop had a sign on the window saying We are not a bank. Don’t ask for credit etc. Looked like no money in this town. Enjoyed Sue’s company as we did on all the following nights!

Evandale 3 December 2007

Left truck at Westbury and drove off in dark cloudy wet weather to Deloraine.
Stopped at an old barn to check out some antiques and ended up with in a long conversation with an old Scotsman. He asked did we have time to chat as he likes to chat for half and hour. He says he won’t let any one off even after 28 mins! He was interesting and had lots of interesting opinions. Deloraine is an old farming settlement with a very beautiful river flowing through it. Lovely parkland on each side of the water and a very green distinctive English look.
Came back to Evandale Market Grounds for the night and to sunny weather - only a short distance from pouring rain!

River at Deloraine

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Westbury 2 December 2007

Sent off for Evandale Markets, which were huge and diverse. Then onto Westbury to see the White House, a small but amazingly diverse museum, featuring 17th century furniture, an enormous dolls house, a comprehensive toy collection, as well as assorted carriages and vintage cars.

Entally House

Longford 30 November – 1 December 2007

Longford 30 November – 1 December 2007
Arrived early in the town and were thrilled to get one of the best sites at a beautiful campground, overlooking the Macquarie River. The ducks greeted us rather too warmly and the decision to eat outside needed to be revised. Whenever we thought of food they turned up! ESP! Spooky!
The locals encouraged us to visit the local bowling club for happy hours. Yes! HOURS! Like the pub in Launceston, we were welcomed like long lost relatives, introduced to everyone and to our surprise a free dinner in a bowl was delivered to all!
The highlight of the night was winning the Xmas ham and yet again Peter was called upon to draw more tickets! It seems a little strange that they like strangers this much!
We discussed that the Tassie population is an aging one and how all the grandchildren have gone to the “other-side” (the other-side refers to mainland!)
We also learnt to say BITumen rather than BITCHumen!
The river where we are camped is green and fresh and running very quickly. The speed of the water is invigorating after the sluggish rivers of NSW!
We took a day drive to “Entally House” at Hadspen and on to Carrick. Entally House was interesting but not as inspiring as the others because the contents were impersonal as they were all recently purchased, with only one item belonging to the family. The gardens were wonderful and full of roses, delphiniums and lupins.

Evandale Pub

Woolmers Estate 29 November 2007

Awoke the next morning to the opposite weather to last night with cold, grey and a chilling wind. Off in jackets to walk the town. Reminded us of Scotland! Went into a lovely bakery with wood fired ovens and melted in the warmth!
Another quick drive took us through the countryside to a wonderful National Trust home - Claredon. Lunched in our Motor home in an adjacent fields and had a half hour Nanna nap. Once we got going again it was hot! Changing clothes is becoming normal! Moved on to visit another wonderful heritage estate, Woolmers.
Woolmers Estate was first settled in 1817 and was a working sheep farm, so it still has all the typical outbuildings intact. It remained in the Archer family until the last direct heir died about 10 years ago. The rest of the family then formed a trust to look after the property. We were shown around the estate by Bob Archer, who remembers it as a family home. The fascinating thing about the property was the abundance of personal effects left in the home through 6 generations. The old Uncle who had it last left it under the proviso that everything must be kept as is!
The National Rose Garden was at its peak and we don’t expect to ever see a rose garden like that again! It may have been the right time but wow! It will eventually have 4,500 plants consisting of 500 named roses. Must be about there now!
Moved outside the gates to the bridge and stayed overnight - very quiet and pretty, right on the water. A couple of roosters stayed by the door all evening and awoke us at 2.55am. That has happened more than once in Tassie!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Woolmers House - beautiful grounds

Evandale 28 November 2007

Arrived in Evandale feeling really hot and we were thrilled to find that the nominated free camp was right in town under big shady oaks. It is a lovely village that reeks of history – most of the houses in the main streets dated back to the 1840’s – 1870’s and have that quaint old English village effect of being built up to the footpath. They are small and Georgian with simple design and little adornments. The gardens make the final picture perfect. So many English garden plants on mass that we have not seen for a long time - no chance of copying this in dry, water wise NSW.

Gardens at the Basin

Launceston 26 -27 November 2007

A short trip to far away Launceston. First job is to say LONceston not LAWNceston. If we hang around long enough we can say LONNY! Stayed only two days as we are coming back. Immediately LOVED the place! Our friends, Lee and Annette warned us it was our sort of place! The first day was actually hot in the afternoon, ideal to explore the Gorge. We started at the Basin and followed the path along the edge of the gorge on a path created around the 1880’s. We returned on the same route and stopped in at the tea rooms with the peacocks in a green oasis with a few remaining rhododendrons and immensely shady green trees. We actually felt hot! Never for long though!
On Tuesday night we went to a pub to hear a local jazz band. They were jamming with a group from Hobart (southerners!!) but produced a great sound. We were warmly greeted by the local jazz club and introduced on the stage, gave a short thank-you and were presented with a jazz CD – amazing!!
Explored all over Lonny looking at antique shops, museums, art galleries and heritage homes, including the Design Centre in City Park that displays and sells timber furniture that we were in awe of. We could nearly become minimalist after seeing the works and highly recommend the centre.
We loved the large number of heritage homes that are still lived in and maintained with gorgeous gardens. Everone told us that the roses are at their best this year. We were starting to think this must be normal, but thrilled to think we are seeing one of those memorable events. The perfume of roses is usually associated with sweet sickly talcum powder but now we can relate to the inspiration. The perfume hits you in frequent waves wherever you go in varying degrees of heavenly scent! A true scent of musk is also mixed in. Some bushes are so thick in flower you can not see leaves!

George Town Xmas Pagent

George Town 22 - 25 November 2007

Drove across to George Town for a festival and to attend a CMCA Rally. George Town is a small settlement on the coast with an initial impression of a non-descript town, however it was the founding settlement for Tasmania, although many the early buildings have been destroyed. Surprisingly the town was laid out by Governor Lachlan Macquarie and the main street is Macquarie Street crossed by Elizabeth Street! The town has a huge park in the middle of town where the CMCA rally was held! Approximately 60 motorhomes. It is the first rally we have been to and we are not really keen to go to them as we feel too young to be true Grey Nomads! It seemed to be true that most of the members on the rally were 10 - 30 years older and there is a generational gap! Never the less it was enjoyable, especially catching up with other travellers and older Tasmanians educating us on their language and attitudes! The festival was fun with different boat displays and a milk carton raft race. It was almost overshadowed by the spectacle of a huge tanker carrying a large oil rig off to Singapore. It passed by and the jazz band struck up an appropriate tune but they gradually stopped playing as their attention was lost!
We still find coincidences seem to be the order of travel and they no longer blow us away! We were to follow up mutual friends we have not seen for 10 years in Launceston and decided to ring them when we got there. Whilst in George Town, Heather bumped into them in the shopping car park. It turns out they moved in May. We would have missed them! Enjoyed afternoon tea with them.

The Fantasy Shop

Latrobe 21 November 2007

Left in the morning and drove a whole 10km to Latrobe, a pretty little village, where we spent the day!
We had intended to keep heading towards Exeter; however we had such a great time we decided to stay the night just behind the main street in a large paddock overlooking lush green paddocks. We stumbled across the most amazing shop which, Tardis-like, kept on growing and we soon became lost in the multiple of fantasy rooms full of character dolls and amazing toys. It’s a shop that could be on a travel show. They told us that they don’t advertise and rely on word of mouth. SO! We are telling you – go see a shop where they meet you at the door with a map and a chocolate!
Drove down the creek to catch some platypi – alas we didn’t see SES mascot Paddy - but we did see a number of the shy platypi diving for food. A fisherman explained what to look out for and, sure enough, we found them. The magic was the trail of bubbles after their dive indicating the next emergence. They have a lovely dipping dive to finish off their little surface swim. The Tassie ones are very small. We think they might be half the size of mainland ones???

Shiny Spirit

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Devonport 19 - 20 November 2007

Explored Devonport and found that it is a delightful place. We loved all the parks and reserves around the town’s beaches and estuary. It felt like it belonged to the community. The highlight was watching the Spirit of Tasmania leaving at sunset! The river is dwarfed by the boat. It travels further up the port to turn around as it leaves. It pivots around, appearing to nearly touch the banks and then speeds up to power out to sea! It blasts its horn and majestically passes with the glowing sunset reflecting off the red body. It passes so closely you have to look right up. The water is pushed up like a thick liquid reflecting the colours of the sunset. It really was special. The Spirit has been a lovely symbol of the trip!
We stayed in the football grounds as the recommended free camp site.
Enjoyed morning tea in the park, with poppies out in the garden, overlooking the river. Poppies are winter flowers out here in late November!