Melnq8's Tassie Trip Report

Nov 11th, 2004, 03:24 PM
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Melnq8's Tassie Trip Report

A bit about us:

We?re American expatriates who have recently relocated from Kuwait to Indonesia. We?re an old married couple, both in our 40?s and we appreciate the outdoors and beautiful scenery. We like to hike, but prefer day hikes over multi day hiking/camping adventures. We don?t care for cities, and try to avoid anything overtly touristy.

We?re avid travelers and we?ve been trying to get to Tasmania for years, but New Zealand keeps calling us back.

Our adventure began in Duri, Indonesia, where we?ve lived for just two months. We didn?t know until four days prior to our planned departure if we?d be able to take this trip, due to some issues with our Indonesian visas. With the exception of some online research and our Singapore to Melbourne flight, this trip was put together in exactly four days. All bookings were made online.

Getting out of Duri is a bit of a nightmare. While it?s only 100 miles from here to Singapore, it takes forever to get there. We left Duri at 7 am and arrived in Singapore at 4:15 pm ? some nine hours later. Getting to Singapore from Duri involves a couple of company drivers, a bus, and a flight from Pekanbaru to Singapore.

Upon our arrival in Singapore we switched terminals and had our luggage transferred internally via the transit desk. We then spent the next four hours in the SIA Premier lounge. Our tickets from Singapore to Melbourne and back were $560 (US) each.

Our SIA flight left on time ? 8:50 pm. We?d asked to be seated together in an area that had two seats on one side, so we were in row 62. Fortunately, the flight wasn?t full, so I managed to snag a row with two empty seats in the middle and my husband had our row to himself. The flight was fine, the food was okay, and there was more legroom than I expected. There were individual screens in the backs of the seats and plenty of programs to choose from. The flight was about 7 hours long ? we both managed to get a few hours of sleep before they turned the lights on to serve breakfast.

We arrived in Melbourne at 6 am, cleared customs and immigration and switched to the domestic terminal. We were scheduled to take a 10:15 am flight from Melbourne to Hobart on Jetstar. There was a flight at 7 am, but we didn?t think we would make it since we had to collect our luggage and re-check our bags. We had to keep our bags with us for two hours, because JetStar didn?t open their check-in counters until two hours prior to the flight and they don?t offer luggage transfer.

So, we had some coffee and hung out in the Melbourne airport until our 50 minute flight to Hobart.

Although we?d gone through agricultural inspection in Melbourne, we were met at the Hobart airport by a beagle that sniffed everyone?s carry on luggage as we walked into the airport. The beagle then jumped onto the luggage carousel and sniffed the checked bags as they came off the conveyor belt. I almost fell over laughing ? it looked like the beagle was walking on a treadmill.

The weather in Hobart was beautiful. We collected our Avis car rental and went in search of our motel ? Motel 429 on Sandy Bay Road. We were given room 209, where we got settled and promptly took a nap. Our journey from Duri to Hobart had taken 26 hours.

We?d booked this particular motel on www.ratestogo.com. The motel was nice with a large bathroom and a nifty drawer under the TV that converted into a shelf for making tea and coffee. We spent four nights in this motel and paid a different rate each night - $90, $120, $130, $90, the higher rates being for Friday and Saturday nights.

Our first full day in Hobart we drove to Port Arthur via A3 and A9. It was a pretty drive for the most part, with lots of sheep and spring flowers in bloom. We stopped at the Tasman National Park Overlook and continued down to Pirates Bay Drive, where we walked down to the Tesselated Rocks and had a drink at the Lufra Hotel, which overlooks Pirates Bay. We decided to detour to Nubeena where we made the mistake of eating lunch at a local bakehouse. It was the worst meal of the trip, but it was mid afternoon and we were hungry and desperate.

We went to Port Arthur, looked at the settlement from an overlook and popped into the Visitor?s Center. We both thought that Port Arthur was a town, not just a tourist attraction. It was late in the day and neither of us was particularly interested in the Port Arthur experience, so we didn?t go into the settlement. I realize that Port Arthur attracts visitors from far and wide, but it just wasn?t our thing.

We resumed our drive, turning off A9 and passing through Doo Town. We were amused by the names of the buildings: Gonnadoo, Just Doo It, Muchadoo, Digergy Doo, Doo Us, Doo Little, Doo Write, Doo Nix, Wee Doo, Doo Mee, Rum Doo, Doolishus (caf&eacute and my favorite, Doo F*** All.

We saw the Tasmanian Arch and Devil?s Kitchen, then headed back to Hobart.

The following day we drove to Salamanca Place to the Saturday market. We checked out the goods for sale and sampled some edible offerings. We purchased a bratwurst doused in hot mustard that the booth vendor warned we?d ?need a gun license? for. Boy was he right! I think my husband finally found something that?s almost too spicy for him.

There was a band called Arauco Libre playing at the market, and I so liked the music that I just had to have a CD. I also picked up some Huon wood coasters.

After a few hours at the market, we retrieved our car and headed to Mt. Field National Park, via New Norfolk. It was a gorgeous drive, complete with vineyards, hop fields, cherry orchards, salmon ponds, rolling hills, etc. We saw an echidna along the side of the road (a live one!) and had to stop to get some photos of this fascinating little creature.

We purchased a parks pass at the Mt. Field Visitor?s Center for $33 (Note: We noticed later that the price had gone up to $50. Not sure if this was a permanent price change or just a seasonal price change as it went up Nov 1). We walked to the famous Russell Falls, then continued on to Horseshoe Falls and Lady Barron Falls. The round trip walk took about 2 hours with stops. It was a nice walk, easy with a few steps and moderate areas.

We left the National Park and continued on into the Wilderness area, which we thought was gorgeous. We turned around a short distance past Maydena as it was getting late in the day and we still had to drive back to Hobart.

Once in Hobart we went back down to Salamanca Place, which looked entirely different than it had that morning.

The next morning I was up early unable to sleep. I decided to take a pre-dawn walk along Sandy Bay. It was a peaceful Sunday morning and the weather was cool and crisp. Nothing seemed to be open and I was desperate for a cup of coffee, so I stopped at the Wrest Casino restaurant on the way back to the motel and picked up a couple of flat whites for hubby and myself.

Later that morning we took Sandy Bay Road south and picked up the Huon Trail. Along the way we stopped at the Shot Tower and climbed the 315 stairs to the top. The views over Hobart made the climb worth the effort ($5.50 per person). We continued our drive turning on A6 at Kingston. In Grove, we stopped at Doran?s Jam Factory and Museum where we learned about the fruit industry in Tasmania and sampled and purchased some jam (no charge for museum). When we reached Geeveston, we saw signs for the Tahune Forest Airwalk (www.forestrytas.com.au) and decided to go take a look. The drive was 29 kms from Geeveston, near the Hartz Mountain National Park. The Airwalk looked intriguing, so we paid our $11 each and walked amongst the trees. We both enjoyed the Airwalk; I liked being above the trees. I suspect my husband?s favorite part was bouncing on the cantilever, which made the platform move, and made me squeal.

On the way back to Geeveston, we stopped at Big Tree and viewed the heaviest tree in Australia (a Swamp Gum) at 405 tons. Once in Geeveston, we continued on to Dover, where we encountered lots of curvy roads. We stopped at the Dover Hotel Pub, where we had a pint and were entertained by a guy strumming a guitar and singing Waltzing Matilda. We wanted to continue on to Southport, but it was getting late and I?d had my fill of squiggly roads, so we returned to Hobart.

Our final day in Hobart was another pretty one. After making the motel booking through Ratestogo.com, I?d e-mailed the motel and asked if they?d be willing to make a Cadbury Factory tour booking for us. They were kind enough to help out, so we had an 11 am tour scheduled for our last day in Hobart. We checked out of our hotel and headed to the Cadbury Schweppes Chocolate Factory in Claremont, prepared for the chocolate onslaught.

We really enjoyed the tour. I?m a chocoholic, so my favorite part was the conching room, where we watched huge quantities of chocolate being mixed in massive vats. My husband was more interested in the machinery and the incredibly fast robotic arm that packed the Milk Tray assortments. The tour was $12.50 each and lasted about an hour. We had an engaging senior woman as a tour guide and she was really generous with the free samples. After the tour, we made the obligatory stop in their staff cash sales shop where we loaded up on goodies to bring home.

After the tour, we left Hobart and headed to Cole?s Bay via the Booker Highway (1) and A3. We detoured to Richmond via the Convict Trail Touring Route. We passed several vineyards, finally stopping at Meadowbank Vineyard, where we sampled five wines (no charge) and had our first taste of Leatherwood honey. Later in our trip I found that I could tell when Leatherwood honey had been used in a recipe ? it?s that distinctive. We can?t seem to visit a winery without buying a couple of bottles, so we left Meadowbank with a nice dry Riesling and an unwooded Chardonnay.

We continued on to Richmond, stopping at the Visitor?s Center to inquire about a local distillery we?d read about. As luck would have it, our info was dated and the distillery had moved to Hobart three years ago. After viewing the famous convict built Richmond Bridge, and having a nice lunch at the Richmond Arms Hotel, we resumed our drive.

We continued on A3 towards Sorrell and Orford, passing through the Coal River Valley Wine Region, and crossing the Prosser River. This was yet another pretty drive, with lots of sheep and countryside. We took a break at the Bayview Restaurant and Bistro in Swansea (nice big non-smoking tavern attached to public bar) before continuing on to Cole?s Bay, passing a walnut grove, winery and olive grove along the way.

We?d booked our Cole?s Bay accommodation through Wotif.com ? once again we were quite pleased with our choice ($125 per night). The Pelican Bay B&B, located a short distance from the village of Cole?s Bay. We?re not generally B&B people, but we thoroughly enjoyed our three night stay here. Our room was on the lower floor and was incredibly comfortable and nicely furnished. The B&B had a guest lounge and we were invited to use the owner?s kitchen, garden and patio.

Lynda Eastwood, owner of the Pelican Bay B&B provided an excellent cooked breakfast each morning, and left pastry and tea for us each afternoon. Upon our return from dinner at night we?d find a fire in the stove and port and chocolates waiting in the lounge.

Our first night in Cole?s Bay we almost hit a wallaby as we returned from dinner. Mere minutes after we?d seen the road sign limiting the speed to 65 km between dusk and dawn, a wallaby appeared from nowhere and looked as it if would broadside our car. Fortunately, it disappeared as quickly as it appeared, missing both us and the car behind us.

Our first day in Cole?s Bay was spent hiking in Freycinet National Park. Our first stop was the Freycinet National Park Visitor?s Center where we picked up a trail map.

We decided to take the Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach circuit. We first walked up to the Wineglass Bay Lookout (awesome views!), then on to Wineglass Bay, then crossed the isthmus to Hazards Beach, and followed the coastline around the base of Mt Mayson.

This was a nice 11 km undulating walk which was marked at 5 hours return, but we walked it in just under four hours. The last 90 minutes were in a light rain that became a downpour just as we reached the carpark. We saw two wallabies during the walk. Upon our return to the carpark we saw several wallabies with joeys. I was surprised to see how unafraid of people they were, until I realized they obviously associated people with food. After reading the literature on lumpy jaw, I can?t imagine someone wanting to feed the wildlife.

That evening before dinner we took a walk along Pelican Bay at low tide, then returned to the B&B and consumed the spoils of our winery visit with some local cheese.

It rained all night and was still raining the next morning. Lynda made us breakfast and lit the fire and we spent most of the day indoors reading. We?d booked the Bichno Penquin Tour for that evening, but had to cancel as the weather was just too cold and wet.

We finally got stir crazy and wandered out into the pouring rain. We had a quick lunch in the village then drove towards Swansea to visit the Freycinet Winery. We sampled a few wines (no charge) and as is our custom, left with a bottle in tow. We then wandered over to the Coombend Estate winery and repeated the tasting, but managed to leave without acquiring a bottle (!) We drove to the Friendly Beaches Lookout, then down to the beach, longing for nice weather so we could go walking (walks from 5 minutes to 5 hours available here). No such luck. The torrential rain and gale force winds continued so we had to settle for viewing the beach from afar ? still pretty, rain and all.
Melnq8 is offline  
Nov 11th, 2004, 03:41 PM
  #2  
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Sorry folks - I edited out all those ? marks, but the changes didn't save for some reason.
Melnq8 is offline  
Nov 11th, 2004, 03:43 PM
  #3  
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Geez, it also didn't save my changes.

This is part one of a long winded 16 day trip report. All prices in Australian dollars inless indicated otherwise.

To be continued...
Melnq8 is offline  
Nov 12th, 2004, 12:25 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Wow, great report. We are going to Tasmania in 3 weeks. Also going to Hobart, Pt. Arthur and Cole's bay with a rental car.

Can't wait to read more of your report!
Denise
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Nov 12th, 2004, 03:58 PM
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Thanks for the feedback Denise. Will try to post more soon, but am currently buried in moving boxes.
Melnq8 is offline  
Nov 12th, 2004, 06:03 PM
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Part 2

The following day we said goodbye to Lynda and headed to the Cape Tourville Overlook before leaving the area. We took the 15 minute walk to the lighthouse and were met with a fierce, cold wind, so we didn't linger. We headed to Bicheno on A3, stopping at the blowhole, then continuing our drive along the coast. We came to a fork in the road, and decided to take the longer coastal route towards St. Helens, instead of heading inland towards St. Mary's. This added 70 km to the drive, but we were in Tasmania to enjoy the scenery so why not?

We took a break at the Scamander Chancellor Inn where we enjoyed the nice view of the beach and ocean from their bistro before continuing our drive.

St. Helens looked like a nice little town; if we ever make it back to Tasmania, I wouldn't mind spending a day or two there. We stopped at the waterfront to take in the view, then continued on A3 towards Launceston. The drive was very pretty; it began with rolling hills and meadows then the road became winding as we drove through the forest. We made a detour to the Pyengana Holy Cow Café and Cheese Tasting Room, where we sampled some cheese and had a light lunch. Scones and cheese for Bill and pumpkin coconut milk coriander soup for me - yum.

We followed the signs to the Pub in the Paddock, then turned back to A3 and headed towards Scottsdale. We entered a 13 km stretch of incredibly scenic winding road which was completely void of cars, save ours. This was one of my favorite drives, squiggly roads and all.

As we approached the farming community of Scottsdale, we began to see areas of forest that had been heavily logged. And potatoes! Apparently potatoes are grown in or near Scottsdale.

We arrived in Launceston and meandered about until we figured out how to reach Grindelwald, our home for the next two nights. I'd booked the Grindelwald Resort through Wotif.com. We had a "premier suite" and the rate was $115 per night. The rate included a continental breakfast that was a disappointment after Lynda's hearty cooked breakfast. We chose this kitsch "Swiss village and hotel" merely for location, as it was near the Tamar Valley Wine Route. Our room was okay, but I probably wouldn't stay here again. Hotels that feel the need to nail down the lamps put me off a bit.

We woke to a warm sunny day, so we purchased a detailed driving map and headed north on A7, away from Launceston. Our first stop was at Brady's Lookout for some nice vineyard views. We continued north along the Tamar River, meandering along until we located the Tasmanian Lavender fields. Although the fields weren't yet in bloom, there were several blooming lavender bushes near the parking lot and shops. WOW. I'd love to see acres of lavender in bloom. And the bees! They were absolutely everywhere. We visited the lavender shop, sampling the lavender honey and mustard before moving on.

We visited the vineyards of Holm Oak (free tastings) and Tamar Ridge (free tastings of up to 16 types of wine - dangerous!) then continued on A7 toward Beauty Point. Here we stopped at a bistro for lunch before taking A7 back towards the Batman Bridge and crossing the Tamar River. We then visited the Bay of Fires Vineyard (free tastings), Dalrymple, and Piper's Brook. We really enjoyed Piper's Brook, due in part to Sharon, a friendly employee who'd only been there for four days. We finished up with Jansz where we tasted two sparkling wines. Having done our part to support the Tasmanian wine industry, we returned to our hotel laden with our purchases.

The following day, we left our Grindelwald hotel and headed towards Devonport via A7 and B71. We passed logging trucks, cows and sheep and saw many heavily logged areas. The landscape changed to farmland and we could see Bass Strait in the distance as we approached Devonport via Highway 1. We drove to the Tasmania Ferry Terminal before heading into town, where we had a quick lunch, some really good ice cream at a place called Wendy's, and a quick look at our e-mail. We poked around Devonport for awhile, then left via B19 and B14, headed towards Sheffield. We passed through the fruit growing area of Spreyton, then found ourselves back on squiggly roads, meandering through farmland, vineyards and orchards. The soil in this area was a rich looking deep red. It reminded us of the red dirt of Hawaii. Everything here had a red tint to it, even the sheep!

We saw Mt Roland looming in the distance as we entered Sheffield, the "town of murals", per our Lonely Planet guidebook. We picked up C136 just past Sheffield, and once again we found ourselves in the forest, on squiggly roads. There were several hairpin turns in this area. We stopped at the Cethana Lake overlook and took in some interesting views of the dam. We entered tiny Moina and turned toward Cradle Valley.

Okay, I've put off opening boxes long enough!

To be continued...
Melnq8 is offline  
Nov 13th, 2004, 06:29 AM
  #7  
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Part 3

We?d booked a cabin at the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village, which is a short distance from the entrance to Cradle Mountain/Lake St. Clair National Park. There was a bit of confusion at check in, as the hotel?s computer indicated we?d only be there for two nights and they were fully booked for the third. I produced our Wotif receipt and they honored it without any problem. We paid a different rate for each night - $130, $145 and $160.

Our cabin (#2) was very comfortable and well equipped. It was a one bedroom unit, with a queen bed in the living area and separate bedroom with bunk beds. We had a fully equipped kitchen complete with stovetop, microwave fridge, dishes, utensils and a balcony.

After getting settled we drove to the village café, where we were given a free beer when we showed our parks pass. We drove to the Visitor?s Center and bought a walking map, then drove to the Dove Creek Overlook. It had been a beautiful day, but it was getting late, so we decided to wait until the following day to walk.

We drove to the Cradle Mountain Lodge where we had a good meal in their tavern. We met a woman who worked at the Visitor?s Center and she told us that Cradle Mountain only gets about 35 really nice days per year and it had snowed just two days before. Apparently it rains 7 days out of 10 and the sun shines only 1 day in 10. We were thankful that we?d taken photos that day just in case the weather decided to turn on us.

That evening several wallabies gathered beneath our balcony as night fell. It was really peaceful and quiet, until some very noisy birds woke us up the following morning at dawn. We discovered that an animal had left us a surprise on our balcony during the night. More on that later.

We woke to overcast skies, but by 9 am, the sun was peeking out and it looked like we?d have another nice day. We parked in the Ronny Creek car park and took the Overland Track to Crater Falls, Crater Lake and up to Marion?s Lookout. Sections of this walk were steep. We returned via Wombat Pool, Lake Lilla and the Cradle Valley Boardwalk. This was a nice hike (took us 3:15) and the weather was perfect. After lunch in our cabin, we returned to the park and walked the 6.5 km Dove Lake Circuit, which took us about 1:40.

The following morning we woke to another sunny day (!) We were considering the hike to Hanson?s Peak. We?d been discouraged against doing so the previous day at the Visitor?s Center, so we stopped there first to get more details. We were told that it was steep and rough and to be prepared for changes in weather.

We decided to give it a try. The walk began at Dove Lake then went up to the left. It was definitely steep and rough. It was also windy and cold in exposed areas towards the top of the peak. The last section of the hike was nothing but steep rock and there was a chain to help with balance. Once on top of Hanson?s Peak, the trail continues on to Twisted Lakes and Artists? Pool, Scott Kilvert Memorial Hut and then connects to the Overland Track. We went as far as the top of Hanson?s Peak, then turned back. It felt more like rock climbing than hiking and I?d had enough. The hike took us 2.5 hours and was hard on the old knees.

We had another good meal at the Cradle Mountain Lodge tavern that evening. As we left the lodge?s parking lot, we saw an odd looking creature waddling alongside the road. We pulled over to see what it was, and lo? and behold it was a wombat. A BIG wombat.

That evening we heard noises on our balcony, so we turned on the lights and saw a possum. When it saw us, it came right up to the door, sniffing and clawing at the screen. It was like a big tame cat trying to get into our cabin. We?d never seen a possum alive and up close. All previous sightings had been limited to the squashed ones alongside the road. He eventually got bored with us, and decided to leave, but not before pooping on the balcony. So, we?d found our culprit.

We woke to gloom, fog and mist. We checked out of our hotel and headed towards Burnie via C132. The first part of the drive was similar to the landscape within the park, sparse dead trees, undulating hills and lots of rust colored tussocks. The landscape gradually became greener and the forest more lush. We picked up A10 and then B18 where we came upon a cow walking alongside the road. We stopped for lunch in Burnie, a town much bigger than we expected; then headed up the coast towards Wynard via A2. It was raining hard now and visibility was limited. We took a detour into Wynard, ?the tulip town? (didn?t see any) then got back on A2.

The rain began to let up and we could see ?The Nut? in the distance as we approached Stanley. We turned onto B21 and located the Dovecote Motel, our home for the next two nights. The girl in reception was extremely friendly and helpful; I requested a queen room and was given an upgrade to their king honeymoon suite. This room was booked through Ratestogo.com and the rate was $80.

After getting settled and making a dinner reservation at the motel?s restaurant, we headed for the Information Center, where we used the Internet and booked a penguin tour for that evening. Now that the skies had cleared we found that the area surrounding Stanley was incredibly green. We explored the town, then stopped in the Stanley Hotel pub, where we had a drink and watched the Melbourne Cup with the locals.

That evening we dined in the Dovecote Restaurant ? the food was excellent! We wanted to book for the following evening, but the restaurant was closed for the next two days.

We were picked up at 8:30 pm by Bernie of Wilderness to West Coast tours and taken on a penguin tour. It was cold and windy, but fun just the same. We enjoyed Bernie?s humorous commentary and saw several Fairy penguins, one of which was literally at our feet ($15 per person ? one hour tour).

To be continued...
Melnq8 is offline  
Nov 13th, 2004, 08:24 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Mel: Too bad you missed Port Arthur. I found it to be a hauntingly fascinating place (especially the Isle of the Dead). A tourist spot indeed, but that doesn't mean it isn't well worth a look, even just for the chance to learn something of Australia's cruel penal past.
RalphR is offline  
Nov 13th, 2004, 10:51 AM
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Mel - good report. I am waiting to see if you visited Strahan, and did the Gordon River Cruise.
After reading your trip report, I am still trying to work out, what time of the year was the Tassie trip?
When you mentioned St.Helens, I was hoping that you might have made a small detour, to a very pretty peninsula, with lovely blue water, and bays just out of St.Helens, or to the pretty beach town of Binnalong Bay. The last time I was in Tassie, it was in February, and it was quite warm, with bushfires near Hobart. We were swimming each day at Binnalong Bay, and further up the road, at the Gardens (just inside the Bay of Fires National Park, a truly spectacular beach National Park)
We no longer visit Port Arthur region now, as we had very fond memories of our stays at the "Seascape" B&B, owned by Sally & David. Sally & David were shot dead by the young man, who also shot & killed a number of people at Port Arthur. He also burnt down Sally & David's house.
tropo is offline  
Nov 13th, 2004, 03:29 PM
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Tropo - We just returned from Tassie last week - we were there from October 21 - November 6.

We spent two nights in Strahan, but didn't do the Gordon River Cruise. I know, I know, that's pretty much the only reason people go to Strahan, but the weather was bad and we decided to take a pass. Instead we drove to Queenstown and took a mine tour, which was fascinating, yet depressing, given the affect of mining on the area.

Sorry we missed Binnalong Bay and the peninsula in St. Helens - sounds like just the sort of place we'd have liked.

The events at Port Arthur were truly horrible - I'm sorry to hear of your loss and I can certainly understand why you'd not want to return.

RalphR - I understand where you're coming from, but our main reason for visiting Tas was to enjoy the scenery and wilderness areas. We did take the advice of some posters and visited areas we'd not otherwise have considered. We tend to avoid tourist driven activities and sites, as it's just not our thing. It's very likely that we'll get back to Tas within the next few years. Maybe then we'll feel differently about Port Arthur.
Melnq8 is offline  
Nov 14th, 2004, 10:20 AM
  #11  
 
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Melnq8 - you say that you might return to Tassie one day, if you do, I will tell you more about places like the South West Wilderness areas, and Styx River forests, truly amazing places.
Glad to hear you enjoyed your holiday.
tropo is offline  
Nov 16th, 2004, 11:33 PM
  #12  
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Part 4

Despite the wind rattling our door all night, we slept pretty well. We woke to a sunny day, but it was still cold and windy. We left Stanley and headed towards Smithton and on to Arthur River (75 km). On the way we passed some interesting sounding places such as Dismal Swamp and Foot Rot Flats.

We entered the tiny town of Arthur River, where the Arthur River meets the Southern Ocean. The seas were rough and the wind was blowing like crazy, but we walked out to the "edge of the world". We returned to our car and took 214 to Marrawah, stopping at the town pub before continuing on towards the Woolnorth Wind Farm. Tours are provided upon demand, otherwise there's no access. There was an interesting information kiosk at the entrance to the wind farm that explained how everything worked. Not surprisingly, it was incredibly windy here.

We returned to Stanley where we grabbed a quick lunch at the Craypot, which boasted "the world's best hamburgers". Bill had the Hawaiian burger, which also came with beet root (which he promptly disposed of - sorry Aussies) and fried egg. It was HUGE and he said it was very good. I'm not much of a meat eater, so I had a toasted cheese.

After lunch we drove out to the Nut and walked to the top. It only took 10 minutes to reach the top, but it was pretty steep. We circled the top of the nut, despite cold, gale force winds and posted warnings to keep alert for three types of venomous snakes. The views were absolutely incredible from here. That evening we had an excellent meal at Stanley's on the Bay.

The following day was sunny and mercifully windless. We checked out of the motel and left Stanley via B21 and A2, where we backtracked towards Burnie. In Wynard we picked up A10 and headed towards Strahan. This was yet another pretty drive; countryside, farmland and forests. There was a huge swath of land that had been extensively logged and was a bit of an eyesore, but replanting was underway. Of course the roads became squiggly as we entered the West Coast. We stopped in Tullah and visited Radford Woodcrafts, a great little shop packed full of Tasmanian wood products at reasonable prices. We continued our winding drive, passing a tin mine then turning on B27 towards Zeehan and Strahan. Just past Zeehan the landscape changed to scrubby plants and lots and lots of gorse, which was being contained through controlled burns.

Suddenly we crested a hill and the Southern Ocean came into view, the landscape once again pretty as we entered Strahan.

We checked into the Hilltop Motel, which is part of Strahan Village. As far as we could tell, Strahan Village consisted of an assortment of accommodation, restaurants and shops. It reminded me of the place we'd stayed at in Grindelwald, and we immediately felt like trapped tourists.

We were in the Sorrell Wing, which was very nice, well equipped and comfortable. Our queen room had a spa tub, nice thick towels and great water pressure. Our only complaint about this motel was the thin walls, which made it a bit noisy. We paid $113 per night through ratestogo.com.

After getting settled, we walked around the village and went to the very nice Visitor's Center. I don't know what we were expecting, but Strahan seemed to center around the Gordon River Cruise and we were a bit put off by the place.

Doing the tourist bit, we explored the shops and took a walk through town. We stopped in Strahan Woodworks and Gallery, which had some amazing and very expensive wood artwork on display.

The following day we woke to steady rain. We decided to drive to Queenstown, as we were due in Hobart mid afternoon the next day, and wouldn't have time to stop
as we drove through.

We took B41 and A10 to Queenstown. It was raining and foggy and visibility was limited. There were several areas of burned gorse as well as some heavy forest along this route and the roads were very squiggly.

Our first impression of Queenstown was that of a bleak town overrun with pubs and gaming rooms. This was no doubt compounded by the gloomy weather. We went to the Visitor's Center where we signed up for the afternoon Mt. Lyell copper mine tour with Dougie's Mine Tours - $58 each:
http://www.queenstowntasmania.com/Do...Tours_Page.php).

After a quick lunch at Sammy's Chinese we went to the tour office and donned hard hats, miner's lights, gum boots, reflective vests and emergency breathing apparatus. We were given some safety instructions, then we headed to Dougie's 4x4 to begin the tour. We were taken 7 km down the "main decline" and into the mine.

It was just Doug and the two of us. The tour was both fascinating and unsettling, considering the affect mining has had on Queenstown. This was a working cooper mine so we had to dodge HUGE trucks several times. The tour lasted three hours and was muddy, damp, dark and very interesting.

After the tour we returned to Strahan where it was still raining and continued to do so all night and into the next morning.

We checked out of our motel and headed to Hobart via Queenstown, which still had a depressing feel to it as we drove through a second time. Above Queenstown we passed a lot of stark red rock and the Iron Blow Open Cut. We saw rabbits everywhere and this section of road was very rough. As we crossed the Princes River (?) the landscape changed dramatically and everything was suddenly green again. We entered the Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park and drove 56 km within the park, making a note to spend some time here if we're able to return to Tasmania. This was a gorgeous area of dense forest. We entered the Derwent Forests and passed the turn off to Lake St Clair. Two hours into the drive the road finally straightened out a bit, but it didn't last.

We arrived in Hobart four hours after leaving Strahan, and with plenty of time to make one last stop at Little India for lunch before heading to the airport.

We'd driven some 3,339 kms in our 16 days in Tasmania, and we enjoyed just about every minute of the trip.

About the food:

With one or two exceptions, our meals were very good. My husband fell in love with Little India in Hobart, which offers inexpensive, quick meals and takeaways. While the food was very good, the restaurant could use a good cleaning.

We were pleasantly surprised with the food at some taverns. Most notable were Iluka Tavern in Cole's Bay and the tavern at Cradle Mountain Lodge. Both served well prepared meals with fresh local produce and we had dinner at these taverns every night of our stay in Cole's Bay and Cradle Mountain.

We were pleasantly surprised to learn that taverns/bistros in Australia (or at least in Tasmania) always have a non-smoking area where they serve food.

The chicken we had everywhere was excellent. Our two favorite meals were at the Dovecote Motel and Stanley's on the Bay in Stanley. We also thoroughly enjoyed Hamer's Café in Strahan, Flavor of India in Hobart, and The Tandoor and Curry House in Launceston.

Without exception, every hotel, motel and B&B we stayed in was of a high standard.

Overall impressions: Tasmania seemed expensive to us, but we felt we got good value for our money. We spent a small fortune on gas, but after the shock of the first $62 fill-up, we accepted the fact that gas in Australia is just expensive.

We flew from Hobart to Melbourne, where we spent a day and a half before our 00:50 am flight to Singapore. We stayed at the Ciloms Airport Lodge, which worked out great for us. It's located just minutes from the airport and they offer free shuttle service to and from the airport (24 hours a day) as well as on demand shuttle service to the tram stop and a nearby shopping center. The staff of this place was extremely accommodating and we'd stay here again in a heartbeat.

We were excited to find Penfold's Grandfather's Port in the Melbourne Airport duty free shop. This is our favorite port of all time and extremely difficult to find outside of Australia. We left with two bottles, wishing we could take more. Guess we'll just have to visit again.

The End (finally!)
Melnq8 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2004, 11:01 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 366
Loved your trip report!! I visited Tas a few years ago and wish I could go back and visit some of the parts I missed from your trip. I was only able to spend a week there. Visited Launceston, St. Helens, Freycinet, Mole Creek, and Cradle Mountain. One of my top holidays ever!
gtrekker2003 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2004, 05:18 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,995
gtrekker - glad to hear you enjoyed the report. We're already looking forward to going back.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2011, 12:14 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 19
Your report is so good and will be great for us. Wish we had amore days but will see what we can. I have printed your travel guide and will use where i can.
Thanks
rasybanks is offline  

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