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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A new job for Heather

Triabunna 24 January 2008

Up early and off on our journey back to Hobart with more time to look at the towns along the way. We found Triabunna to be very pretty right – it was right on the water with lots of boats and history. Enjoyed lots of walks and Heather found a job opportunity. We chatted over the fence to a lovely old couple and enjoyed all the fruit hanging over the fence. Whilst we talked, their 2 beautiful spaniels ate apricots out of my hands and when dissatisfied with my speed of feeding them, helped themselves to fruit off the tree. Did not know dogs could love fruit so much - though the apricots ARE very sweet!

Triabunna Marina

Wineglass Bay

Coles Bay 22- 23 January 2008
We got up very early to get into the National Park as this is a very popular tourist spot with the European campers and sure enough, we only just managed to get a spot at 9am. Packed a light lunch and headed off for a 12km hike up to the lookout, down to Wine Glass Bay, across the isthmus to Hazards Beach and around the coastal base of the Hazards.

It was healthily challenging and well worth it. The weather was perfect and not too hot and Hazards Beach was a surprise as it was so pretty and sheltered. There were lots of Aboriginal middens along the exposed sand banks with thousands of oyster and abalone shells imbedded in clusters and slowly falling onto the beach. It seemed an idyllic place to sit and eat oysters any place in time! Aboriginals apparently only came in summer. The wallabies were very tame and came out to try to get food from tourists. One must assume some people, (mistakenly) like to feed them.
When we got back to camp our neighbours turn out to be my work mate (Judy’s) sister and brother in law. We were both aware, via Judy, to look out for each other. Jenny had only just spoken to Judy, who asked jokingly had they met us yet! We enjoyed a few evening drinks and a nice chat with them and their visitors. We shared the delight of seeing little blue Superb Wrens flit around us symbolically representing Judy’s presence in the coincidence!

Next morning, we left the camp and ventured onto the far end of Richardson Beach where we found a perfect spot to park overlooking the water for the whole day. We really relaxed with chairs and a table set up on the beach under a tree. We enjoyed many things that day but a highlight was being allowed to watch John, an animal carer, take large bundle out of a basket that turned into a big friendly 10 month wombat weighing nearly 4kgs for her feed. It was an orphaned as a result of mum being hit by a timber truck. She will be released at 2 years weighing 20kgs. Not sure how she will ever grow that big as her correct formula is only 160mls a day given in 4x40ml doses! John assured us she will adapt well as they reject humans as they grow older! What a commitment - Judy would be impressed!
Left this idyllic spot late and drove onto a quiet spot to camp overlooking fields and mountains.
Looked forward to the next day when Katie and Carl were coming. All of a sudden sliding doors changed our plans! Katie rang upset. When she rang Jetstar to confirm the next day’s flight details she discovered the change of flight had not occurred. She had changed it online when Ruth died and the user unfriendly system failed her. There was nought to do but accept this, as last minute tickets on Australia Day long weekend were too expensive.

Freycinet NP

Coles Bay (Llandaff Rest Area) 21 January 2008

Got up early to collect the mail and do some banking in Hobart. We thought of it as a long trip but realised we were only 15 mins away! Along the way we detoured along the beaches and dunes. Had a late lunch and then headed off for a 3 hour drive back up to Freycinet Peninsular and Coles Bay. When we last visited with Sue, it was too wet to do the walks so we promised ourselves to go back. It was a different route taking us on some very narrow and windy roads, but thankfully it was very dry. We did well and arrived close to the area and free camped near the road before dark.

What's for Breakfast?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sorrel 19 – 20 January 2008

Awoke to a very grey morning with light rain starting and drove onto Sorell, parking in the big paddock set for free camping with 10 other motorhomes. We spent some time in the afternoon picking cherries and strawberries at a “pick your own” farm. We ate a lot more than we put in the bucket! We especially loved the very sweet white cherries right at the back of the farm. We hardly needed tea! We love all the roadside fresh fruit - strawberries, raspberries, apricots, apples, cherries, blueberries, blackberries and plums.
The night the drizzle turned to steady rain but at daybreak the yellow straw-like grass looked unchanged and the ground was still dry - just so dry! In the morning the paddock turned into a big market, so we strolled over to buy a few more fruity products.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dunalley 18 January 2008

After a final long day at Port Arthur we started back up the Peninsular. We called in to see John and Robyn at Murdunna, checking out the progress of their long shack. We were amazed at their innovative use of this old demountable office on a pretty bush block, looking through trees to the water. They had dragged it up a hill into position with winches and 4WDs! Later in their lives it looks like the energy of 20 year olds! We all drove on to Dunalley and had a lovely dinner together at a nice restaurant at the pub to celebrate John’s coming birthday, singing Beetles song “When I’m 64!” Again free parking for motorhomes in their big paddock overlooking the water. Another lovely quiet night with lots of wind!

Port Arthur

Ruins at Port Arthur

Port Arthur 17 January 2008

After a lovely long bush walk around the Coal Mine site we drove around to Port Arthur. The whole peninsular was more attractive than we expected with pretty farms, bays and trees. Arriving in Port Arthur, we decided to take a site at a local caravan park as this was big tourist attraction and it would be hard to free camp in the area. We settled the motorhome in a pretty site and made our way to the big tourist machine not knowing what to expect. We hadn’t realised how many convicts (69,000) went to Tasmania compared to other states – and often the most recalcitrant and troublesome ones. Port Arthur was a self contained British settlement with a strict hierarchy and a very systematic (and often harsh) approach, designed to reduce the prisoners to compliant servants. Nevertheless, as well as the many instances of extreme cruelty, there were many innovative and experimental attempts to reform the convicts.

While many buildings were destroyed, enough remains to give an indication of what it would have been like for the convicts and we were very impressed by the way the historical site was presented with a mixture of restored and original buildings.
A number of the grander homes have been renovated and furnished, vegetable gardens recreated including hens, fountains and garden ornaments. The grounds were really attractive with lovely old walnut, pear, pine and oak trees that helped recreate the past.
We enjoyed re-enactment plays professionally presented, modern museum displays, a harbour cruise and a visit to The Island of the Dead (cemetery) - overall LOTS to do and see! We could easily imagine it all and were interested enough to walk our little legs off for 2 days. The setting is amazingly beautiful and, more amazingly, is still as remote as it was in the beginning. The entry fee of $25 is interesting to compare to the same fee at Uluru.

Port Arthur Harbour

Saltwater Creek (Coalmine Site) 16th January, 2008

We spent the morning looking around Sorell then we moved on down the Tasman Peninsular. We followed the road around the coast stopping at a number of interesting sites. Eaglehawk Neck was a very good intro to the convict trail and was the main boundary to stop escapees from Port Arthur. It is a small isthmus that was guarded by 15 savage dogs, underfed and vicious, on a diet of 1/2lb of meat and 1/2 lb of flour a day. They were chained in a cleared area leaving no gaps and therefore no one escaped. They tell a great tale about an escapee who made an elaborate disguise in a kangaroo skin who hopped down the beach but had to give himself up when the soldiers were about to shoot him for food! Lucky the dogs did not get him!
We moved on to The Coal Mines Historic Site and spent the night in the carpark with a few others. This was yet another convict nightmare. Coal was found here, about 30kms from Port Arthur. They used the worst convicts as labour for this very imposing establishment. The convicts were treated very badly and every part of it seemed a nightmare. The underground solitary confinement cells were horrific and it was hard to go inside and we were shocked to see so many. We thought there may be a few but there about 20. Peter discovered, by looking carefully, they were sound and lightproof. Even the tiny air-vent was designed to prevent light. They were very small as well. The formal buildings were once very elaborate and the ruins still give a good sense of the past. It is surprisingly a very beautiful ands uninhabited area. It must be exactly like it was years ago.

Underground Convict Cell

Sorell 15 January 2008

Woke early in this lovely sunny bay but felt obliged not to stay to long as it was such a good place it is best not to spoil it for others. A sign will go up in a flash if it became popular! Keep this one to ourselves! Spent most of the day at the major shopping centre switching over a CDMA phone to a NextG one - &*^%$^%^ Telstra!! Had morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea in a shopping centre car park! All we can say about such a fun day is we saved money on meals!
Finally we left on our way towards Port Arthur, stopping at Sorell for the night. We had a lovely quiet night in a nominated free camp in a big country paddock behind the RSL. This is another important historic town, but it has little of the charm of Richmond or Ross.

Hobart 14 January 2008

Woke up to see everybody leaving Cygnet, which quickly reverted to a sleepy country town again. We took our time moving on and arrived in Huonville to sort out banking. Drove back to Hobart along a now familiar road for the 3rd time! Up and down only! Unsure where to free camp so we tried a spot a local told us about on New Years Eve - right on 5pm in the city! Drove straight through with the crowd over the bridge and found this wonderful bay under the eastern side of Derwent Bridge. We just loved the spot looking across to the city and all the moored boats, watching the sun set against the city lights. Took a lovely walk around the point and found a few more spots to free camp!

Cygnet Folk Festival

Cygnet 10 – 13 January 2008

Left new Norfolk (stopping at Hobart for a few things) and onto Cygnet for their Folk Festival. We happily chose a great spot in a big field in the middle of town over looking hills and farming land. The weather for the festival was a real mixture of everything, from hot, cold, sunny, windy, gales, rain, cloud,! Over all it was fine! All the major events were in the many halls and pubs that this town still has (with a population of only 1,000) indicating a past that was very community minded. There were up to 8 concerts running simultaneously, so we struggled to choose which ones to go to. We were rarely disappointed and revelled in listening to a wonderful variety of musicians. Our road-friends, Robyn and John, joined us in their motorhome and we enjoyed sharing the generally relaxed atmosphere. We particularly enjoyed a “Beatles” concert late on Saturday night that kept us up to 2.30am! Laura will be laughing! But it was a lot of fun and full of ‘grey hair’ our vintage! We met acquaintances from Kiama at the end of the night who were just visiting friends in Cygnet. As per usual, coincidence is now normal! A lot of fun was had in the town itself with` street entertainment, stalls and markets in lots of nooks. The three pubs were a buzz of musicians jamming from time to time and it was enjoyable moving from the ‘top’ pub to the ‘middle’ pub and down to the ‘bottom’ pub! The pubs must have names, but everyone uses the easy version to make sure there are no mistakes when they’ve had a few!

New Norfolk Hop Farm

New Norfolk 8 January 2008

Drove down to New Norfolk and camped behind the Football Club. New Norfolk is a large town on the Derwent River and once again we found the oldest continuous licensed pub and the oldest church in use in Australia. Tried another Devonshire Tea at the Old Colonial Inn as the atmosphere was perfect! We are having an ongoing laugh about getting the ideal Devonshire Tea, (without luck so far). The formula would require home made scones, tea leaves, real jam and real cream. If you get tea leaves you get tin jam and if they have homemade jam you get a tea bag! The worst is the shaving foam cream out of a spray can! We have had three teas and maybe that will be it!
Wandering around town we came across an eerie sight that reminded us of parts of Woomera – street after street of empty buildings disintegrating in the sun – a town within a town. It was disturbingly empty, close to town and very spread out. Many of the buildings were open so we looked inside one and realised it was an old hospital ward. The nature of the layout lead us to conclude it was a psychiatric hospital. On enquiry we were told we were looking at The Royal Derwent Hospital that was closed in 2000, making it –you guessed it – the oldest mental hospital in Oz! The old part was built like barracks in 1827 as a convict invalid depot. We have learnt that convicts released from the horrors of goals in those days often could not re-enter the community and had many psychiatric conditions from their experiences. Over the years the site became Tasmania’s only “Hospital” for intellectually handicapped and mentally ill people. “Criminally insane” people were also housed here. One person told us there were at least 1000 staff here! No wonder it felt eerie! Can’t wait to talk to our friend Lee to ask if this is where he trained - bet he could tell some stories! It would make a great backdrop for a movie depicting the aftermath of war and abandonment! Found a broken down apple tree growing on the ground dropping apples. We picked quite a few and stewed them – tasted better than we expected!
We are enjoying warmer weather and it is very tolerable, although the sun has a real bite, so you have to be extra careful of sunburn.
There is a real sense of being close to nature all the time. Little creeks, pretty rivers lovely hills and mountains are backdrops to every town. You feel relaxed as there is no fast pace or people “pushing” you. We are out in a small town only half hour from Hobart and it feels like a distant country town. There seems to lots of open space in every town with houses well spaced out! Peaceful!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Hamilton Grave

Hamilton 7 January 2008

Left Bothwell early in the morning after a chat with a Yorkshire couple who were shocked to have had a frost last night! It was cold and we had all the blankets on! Luckily the day was to be a sunny 23degs! We crossed country on a small sealed road onto Hamilton through very yellow grassy countryside through prominent hills dotted with cattle and sheep. Hamilton was even a smaller village then Bothwell, (about 150 people) that (once again) time had forgotten. It amuses us how proud the locals are of their towns and we were told that Hamilton was originally going to be the capital of Tasmania. Every town or village we visit seems to have the oldest church, pub, post office, school, stone/brick/wooden bridge in Australia! Had a wander around Hamilton in the morning and in the afternoon went for a drive to Meadowbank Lake to look at another campsite overlooking a vast water scene. We then decided to nose around some forest roads. Had a delightful drive on some dirt tracks stopping to admire majestic views of rolling hills and bubbling creeks – even went for a paddle. Also stumbled across a hydro-electric power plant, which was quite bizarre as it was situated on a bush track with a small narrow bridge across the river. Came out at Ouse, another tiny village where you can camp on the river in the Apex Park, then drove back to our pretty river camp at the town common in Hamilton and over to a colonial pub that served a great afternoon tea overlooking a wonderful lush garden!

Bothwell Nightlife

Country Girl

Bothwell 6 January 2008

After having a last look at Oatlands, we set off in gale force winds and were blown up the Derwent to Bothwell, through country still suffering from drought. Heather has a theory that is probably how the seagulls landed in Oatlands. BLOWN IN! Bothwell is yet another historic village full of Georgian houses, pubs, shops and churches. Peter had a drink at the local pub and joined the publican, a couple of customers and a dog to cheer the final minutes of Australia winning the cricket! Free camped at the showground, which was a relief as it was out of the WIND! Interestingly this was a Scottish settlement, founded in 1820 and lots of Scottish history is to be seen. The street signs have a tartan background and there was a weaving shop where they wove a tartan designed for Tasmania.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Oatlands 4 – 5 January 2008

Drove onto Oatlands, (yes, you guessed it) another historic town, with 180 Georgian buildings for a population of 550. Camped by Lake Dulverton, which turned out to be a dry lake bed. We spent two days wandering around the town and admiring the buildings. This is the most complete Georgian town we have seen that hasn’t been stuffed by over-development or tourist traps. The weather continued on a hot streak and for the first time this trip we went for a swim!! The pool was built in the 1950’s in the remains of their old goal and it was a strange mixture of happy laughing children surrounded by big stone walls with their dark secrets. Never-the-less, the water was great! Caught up with Pete and Thea (whom we had met in Hobart) and had a BBQ that night.
There is a trickle of water in stream on the edge of the dry lake and the birds congregate there. We are right next to it and have enjoyed watching the cygnets. We wonder how the two sea gulls got here 100kms from the sea? The wind came up strongly in the night creating a sound in the big pines like the ocean and shadows from them on the lake bed at night looked like waves! It was remarkable for a waterless lake to be so alive!

Craigburne Dam

Craigburne Dam (Colebrook) 3 January 2008

Another fine day breaking the pattern of cool changeable days. We travelled north on a minor road and enjoyed watching farmers making hay while the sun shone. Explored a few tiny towns on the way and chatted to an old lady in Campania who was born there and married someone from there! Settled at Craigburne Dam, a short distance from Colebrook. You wouldn’t believe it was in Tassie – it is a hot day, the landscape is dry and brown and the dam is well down on the normal level. It was very quiet and we were surrounded by sheep and cattle. The wind came up, blowing a lot of dust around which, with the dry yellow grass, made us think we were WA or SA -the fact it is in drought can not be disputed by that appearance.

Richmond Bridge - longest/shortest/biggest in Oz?

Richmond Goal

An antique ATM machine

Richmond 1 – 2 January 2007

We enjoyed the day walking around the city then visiting the Art Gallery and Museum for a few hours. While it was only small, it had a number of interesting exhibitions. It showed how badly the convicts were treated – Tasmania was built on the back of the convicts, who were treated like slaves by the free settlers. The Aboriginal exhibition explained how the Aboriginals were systematically robbed of their land and often murdered by roving packs of white hunters. Those that survived were rounded up and placed in isolated camps where they quickly died from neglect and disease! Another example of our often shameful history that is echoed in a book we are both reading – Gould’s Book of Fish.
We booked High Tea at the Chancellor Hotel overlooking the harbour. For some unknown reason the waitress gave us one complimentary tea adding to our long list of freebies in Tassie! We have to reflect on why this happens so much in Tassie. It really never happened anywhere else. Seems they are so friendly that they enjoy giving where it is possible. We could probably write a list of a dozen times where this has happened!
The bleak weather of New Year did not go away so we hitched up about 6 pm, not sure where we were going and headed out of town stopping in a quiet spot in the pretty colonial town of Richmond beside some apricot trees full of FREE fruit!
This town had been bypassed due to changes in the road and rail and lots of stone buildings from the 1830’s still remain (thanks to free convict labour) including the oldest bridge in Australia. The next day was such a contrast – very warm and sunny. And we had a peaceful day wandering around the village and talking to other travellers. Visited the old goal, which was a vivid reminder of how cruel the underdogs were treated – both convicts and Aboriginals. Some of the brutal aspects of goal life were very difficult to accept and it was hard to stay for long in some rooms. Heather lost her hat in the goal and had to retrace her steps and found it in the solitary confinement cell where we shut the door for a second to experience what 7 days of total blackness was like. HORRID!
The town was rather inundated with tourists that day, the most we had seen in any town (like Berry). But by mid-afternoon they had all exited and we enjoyed walking around by ourselves!

A Sleeping White Possum

Mt Field NP - Russell Falls

Mt Field NP greenery

Hobart 28 – 31 December 2007

After seeing Laura off at 10:30am when the temp was 14degs, we were shocked to have a hot afternoon when it reached 34degs at 2:30pm! 20degs higher! Don’t think we have ever experienced such a change before! For the first time since we had been in Tassie, we felt H-O-T!!~!! We actually enjoyed it as it would not, or could not, last! It was like Darwin last year in winter!
We had an enjoyable day at the docks around the city. Only a handful of yachts had finished including the winner Wild Oats and City Index Leopard - both maxis that dominated the marina. Spent a pleasant afternoon having a drink (or 2) at one of waterfront cafes with Carol-Anne and watching the people watching the yachts.
Wandered up to the City Hall to an antique Fair to admire the mainly Tasmanian antiques. While we enjoyed it, we were expecting more as this is one of the antique centres of Australia, however the complimentary champagne and food made it very enjoyable - all for a $6 entry fee! We seem to be getting lots of freebies in Tassie.On New Years Eve, we decided to drive Jimmy into Hobart and camp at the Cenotaph Reserve which had been opened for parking during the Festival week. This directly overlooks the Harbour (just imagine trying to do that in Sydney). We were able to easily walk in and out of the town and docks. Most of the yachts were in and the sight of them all moored with their tall masts reaching for the sky, was breathtaking. Two other races wrapped up at the same time as the Sydney to Hobart - the Melbourne to Hobart and the Launceston to Hobart and they brought in a multiple of smaller yachts to completely fill up the harbour. New Years Eve was a very hot day with a cool change in the evening and we were able to sit outside until midnight! We had a great view of both lots of fireworks. The midnight ones were very good with a few new ones we had not seen before. About 15 motorhomes came up to stay the night and we made a few new acquaintances for the evening. We were surprised how quiet the night was after midnight and slept in to find a real cold, wet winter morning again!

Sydney to Hobart Yachts

Hobart Wharf

Heather in the Jolly Wog Chair

Hobart 26 -27 December, 2007

On Boxing Day we decided to make our way back to Hobart in the grey and damp. Arrived back at the camping area near the yacht club and took the car off for a trip of the east coast towards Port Arthur. Peter recalled that our friends Robyn and John had a block of land nearby and a quick call revealed that they were minutes away, so we called in to admire her chosen block. We were shocked at the dry yellow drought looking country. It gets much worse as you go east. It could have been summer in Dubbo!
The next day we made a plan to go to Mt Field National Park for a big day. We got up as early as we could, and took the pretty drive through New Norfolk following the river to the Park. We were really in awe for the first part of the walk with dense green moss covering the fallen trees and super tall tree ferns. The Russell Falls were better than our expectations, as the recent rain seemed to have refreshed them. We then took a 3 hour walk to Horseshoe Falls and Lady Barron Falls. We walked in through the Tall Trees area, full of Swamp Gums, 80m tall! The weather became warmer as we walked and the sun stayed out for us making it pretty ideal. We picnicked after the walk with a late lunch by the river in the park.
Laura was very keen to see some Tasmanian Devils and on our way home we visited a wild life sanctuary for rehabilitation of injured animals. Laura was very lucky to see plenty of little devils. They were semi cute though they certainly have a fierce aura! The Facial Tumour Disease was obviously excluded from the park, though the keeper suggested 85% of their population will be gone in 5 years. Currently the decline in population is 50% since the emergence of the disease 10 years ago. One scary fact is that the tumour is only one of 3 recorded cancers that can be spread like a contagious disease! They believe that it relates to the lack of diversity in the devils immune system that does not reject the cancer. Another problem has been the emergence of the fox as the devils decline in numbers. They thought they had virtually eradicated the fox, as the devils are savage carnivores. Six devils can consume a whole person overnight as escaped convicts found out!
On the way back, we stopped at a farm and introduced Laura to fresh raspberries which went down very well with yoghurt and honey. She also loved the leatherwood honey.
The next day was a bit sad saying goodbye to Laura but we all know that we are all having a good time doing different things and we had enjoyed being together for Xmas. Laura is off to a festival for New Year and has enjoyed having a break from her busy work life.

Our Intrepid Reporter signing off

Xmas Day

Franklin 22 – 25 December 2007

Saturday morning we visited the Salamanca Markets and after a few purchases (including a cute hat for Laura), we headed out of town again and up the never ending rising road to settle on the river at Franklin.
On our first day we explored the area around Hastings Caves. We enjoyed a wonderful walk around the Thermal Springs before going into the caves. We explored some 4WD forest tracks and passed through dense green fernery. The weather was doing its usual trick of being changeable, so when we arrived at Duck Hole Lake it seemed like the best idea was a short peek on the track in the drizzle. But it was immediately beautiful with the path following a river that passed through ferns and bubbled over rocks and the senses were all activated. The strongest was the myriad water sounds, then the vision of patchwork greens, the smell of wet fernery and damp mulch and lastly the texture of the mosses and ferns, some as soft as a pillow. The vegetation changed a few more times in density and type but kept us moving to discover the next corner. We were rewarded at the end by a small but beautiful deep lake surrounded by white blossom trees that we thought were leatherwood. The sun came out and the openness contrasted with our dark trail. We thought we would dedicate this pretty spot to Ruth. We walked back in the damp and cool through the same beautiful vegetation.
We were pretty tired on our return to Jimmy so we visited the pub over the road and were entertained by a young barman who joked around a bit. The Sunday roast of the day was on the menu. Heather and Peter did well and Laura managed with a plate of vegies! Not sure they get what vegetarian is!
Next day was a very strange Xmas Eve, with the weather creating a backdrop of uncertainty. The whole day went from deep dark, cold, wet, windy, stay-in-bed feel to bright sunny winter’s day; every 15mins. It really did something unique for us. I don’t think Melbourne could do it better! Laura was getting a bit restless and luckily we were able to give her a Xmas Eve jet boat ride. Only she can describe it. It rained twice of course!
Xmas day was bleak again and induced us to us staying in bed until 9am with all the covers up. We all got into the double bed for breakfast and presents. Laura went to a lot of trouble wrapping up some really lovely books that she chose for us. It was a great Xmas morning. We saved up our appetite and had a fairly traditional roast with all the trimmings. We left Xmas pudding until nearly tea time and managed a few left overs. The sun came out so we walked the town with Peter in his Santa hat. Our late evening walk was calmer and a bit warmer, enough to sit by the river with a full rainbow backdrop.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Mt Wellington plants

Laura and Friend

Hobart 16 – 21 December 2007

Sadly on Tuesday, Carl’s mum Ruth, died suddenly. It was a big shock to us all and although we knew she had cancer and it was progressing, it was still very quick. Ruth did not die in pain and she died at home with John. Katie and Carl hurried to Kiama and stayed with John until Boxing Day. Ruth had started Minnamurra Headland Land Care group and loved nature, native bush spaces and plants. How she would love Tasmania!
We drove back to Hobart late on Sunday evening, up and down some mighty long climbs and downhill runs. Someone told us roads in Tasmania either go up or down -it’s true!
Free camped at the yacht club with lots of other campers right on the Derwent River. It has a great vista and looks across to lovely hills, with Mt Wellington as a backdrop behind us. Lots of ducks and seagulls to entertain us and we enjoyed the company and chatter of other campers and lots of travel tips. John and Robyn (travel friends from our last trip), just happened to be staying 5 mins away and came for a quick visit and later brought over a big delicious lasagne.
Picked up Laura from the airport on Thursday, which was very exciting! It was lovely to have her come for Xmas. We will miss Katie and Carl but in the sad circumstances it is good that they can stay for some time with John. It will be very sad Xmas in Kiama.
We enjoyed looking around Hobart. Found a lovely café on the Harbour for a few drinks and great chips. Looked around Sandy Point at the cute little cottages and chose one for Laura! Visited the Botanic Gardens for a late afternoon outing and we all thought it was wonderful – one of the best gardens we have visited. We especially loved the fuchsia house and all the wonderful colours and shapes, the Japanese Garden, the Subantarctic Garden House (set at 9degs) and the ABC’s Pete’s Vegetable Garden which turns out to be the TV presenter Peter Cundell.
Mt Wellington is a constant backdrop to our visit to Hobart. It seems to always be there, except when the fog comes in and it changes all the time giving it character. You could easily spend your life knowing it if your home faced it! We took the 15km drive up to the top but it was much longer in time than we thought. It is a magnificent windy climb offering a view of the city and the clouds! The vegetation was truly alpine and we were enthralled by the cold misty clouds in our face. We marvelled at all the flowers and the colours they created in the varying degrees of maturity on the one plant. The heaths and rugged plants seemed soft in the tough mountain rocks. Many were pure bonsai. Rugged old gnarled trunks clinging to barren rocks. We LOVED it!

Huonville Swan


Huonville 15 December 2007

Continued to explore lots of little bays and towns. There are not many people in the area. Spent some time at Cygnet as we will be going there for a music festival in January. We decided that we will enjoy staying there!
Drove on to Huonville and found a very pretty spot on the river. Still cold outside but we had a fish and chip meal on the water on a café pontoon. Very nice out of the wind and inside baking in the sun. It was the same method one applies to finding a warm spot in winter! Not much warm weather so far!
Discovered one of THE delights of Tasmania in Huonville. Fresh RASPBERRIES!!!! And so cheap! $3 a big punnet - wonderful bowls of them with a little sugar and a big dollop of Greek yoghurt!!! The locals are saying it has been one of the best seasons for them because of the dry weather!
Explored another section of coast down to Southport with the weather still very grey and windy. Stopped for a Xmas parade and fete in a little town called Dover. Lots of small town people genuinely enjoying very little except lollypops and Santa on a fire engine! Would not work in Sydney! Travelled in through the forest roads and saw some wonderful lush areas of ferns and moss on a little narrow track.
We don’t know why, but there seems to be more hoons and yobbos in Tassie, who delight in reeving their hotted low slung cars, with their ‘doof doof’ music blaring. When we were driving around some bush tracks we came across 3 cars hooning, skidding and doing burn outs, spraying dirt and gravel everywhere! Someone had ripped out the steel posts that protected a picnic area and proceeded to tear up the grass doing ‘wheelies’ – not an uncommon practice!

Gordon campsite

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Gordon 14 December 2007

We drove through Hobart as we wanted to explore the area south of Hobart to find the
best spot to have Xmas and show Katie, Carl and Laura some untamed places. We were impressed by all the water around the suburbs. We drove through the main centre and past the harbour with no traffic problems. Within minutes we were climbing a huge mountain out of the city into bush. We marvelled that we were five minutes from the GPO and in bushland. What we hadn’t understood was how hemmed in Hobart is by the mountains and the sea!
We explored southern coastal areas and towns. We took the car across to Bruny Island and had a lovely afternoon exploring much of it. No place to free camp there though, although we were not surprised as we haven’t found many free spots around Late sunsets and long dusk allowing us to keep exploring and we finally camped on a lovely headland with a few others in a very cool, grey, damp spot looking back on to green hills.

Ross Bridge

Kempton 13 December 2007

We drove on to stay at Kempton, a quiet little village not far from Hobart. It was cute and pretty enough but the highlight was the idea of a town welcoming you enough to provide electricity at an allocated free site, so we left a donation! We walked the town to find something to buy to support the town but could not even buy milk!

Campbell Town campsite

Campbell Town 9 – 12 December 2007

Drove on to Campbell Town and found a really pretty free camp on the river. Just like an old English village with the water rushing past over rocks and babbling. Sue and Heather went shopping leaving Peter to explore all the old buildings and antique opportunities! Sue bought a gorgeous leather handbag. We enjoyed meat pies for lunch as the weather continued to be cool. We walked around the town, enjoying the old bridge and all the pretty things around it. Mother ducks with ducklings. One mother with 8 tiny ones, the last of all being a fluffy yellow one! Water lilies, requiring sampling of one to be displayed in a vase on our diner table!
Next day very cool and suitable to explore Ross, a very authentic colonial village that time has bypassed - lots to see, enjoying the bridge (oldest one in Australia) for it’s carved stone work. The wide tree-lined street with pretty gardens and a cute little bakery where we had soup and bread. Both bakeries specialised in biscuits, one the old fashioned wagon wheel with marshmallow and old English currant biscuit nicknamed fly spot biscuits! Yum! Visited the site of the Female Factory where the sad facts were documented. It’s hard to believe how cruel people were by today’s values. There were 200 women housed there and their babies were in a separate section housing 40 little ones and 75% of the babies died and mothers saw little of them. One 20 month old death was noted as sun exposure. A beautiful artistic representation of each baby was created recently by local women making a calico bonnet for each baby born there, and displaying them outside on a little foam ball-head, as a sea of bonnets. A small version was on display inside. It was very moving. One single bonnet was made from a old laces belonging to a female convict whose family had kept it.Next day was departure day for Sue. We took a short drive back to the airport on a cool brisk morning, with Sue swimmers remaining unused! Shortly after she left, the weather became hot for the day! Need more visitors to take the cold weather back to the mainland! Drove back to Campbell Town and stayed on at the river site enjoying the beauty of the spot and exploring it a bit more.

Lake Leake shack