one week in Tasmania

Jan 30th, 2019, 08:03 AM
  #1  
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one week in Tasmania

I'll try to put together a coherent trip report despite suffering some jetlag from our trip to Australia.

Couple in our 60s, well traveled. Third trip to Australia; first to Tasmania. I had some business in Melbourne first, so traveled over solo, then husband joined me for a week of vacation in Tasmania.

Despite our experience, I was persuaded to schedule some flights with tight connections in MEL because of price, the reports of it being a small airport, and verbal reassurances from Virgin Australia that it would be fine. My husband's flight from LAX was delayed 20 minutes and then it was a zoo of arriving flights in immigration/customs so he missed his connection to HBA and was rebooked for 2 hours later. Our joint flight leaving HBA was eventually cancelled and we were rebooked for 5 hours later via BNE rather than MEL with a second redeye in the US arriving home at 5:30am on Monday rather than 7:00pm on Sunday. Stressful for my husband who was trying to meet up with me at MEL and couldn't get wifi to work to communicate as well as for both of us when VA staff in HBA couldn't rebook us and my phone connection with VA and DL via wifi kept dropping.

It all worked out as we knew they would have to accommodate us, but we could have avoided some of the stress by booking longer layovers like we usually do. I guess we all need a reminder now and then. Also lucky than Monday was slow for my husband at work so he could take a nap when needed.

Last edited by Kay2; Jan 30th, 2019 at 08:12 AM.
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Jan 30th, 2019, 08:12 AM
  #2  
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We flew RT via HBA because of the greater number of flights (anticipating the potential problems we experienced), driving up the east coast and back the Midland Highway. We rented a midsize SUV (cheaper than car and hoped better visibility and clearance would help with potential animals on the road) from Enterprise and drove on the left side for the fourth time with few problems (wipers versus signal controls always problem).

I booked several nights in "cottages" in holiday/camper parks along with one bed and breakfast. The cottages gave us more room and in-room catering to cut food costs. I prebooked everything because it was still school holidays, but found vacancies most everywhere we went. I split the driving to about 3 hours per day as I knew driving on the left would be stressful and we wouldn't drive between dusk and dawn. We encountered a lot of road construction, two echidnas, and a wallaby on the roads. Everyone survived.
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Jan 30th, 2019, 08:38 AM
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With my husband's delayed arrival, we had limited time on our first day in Tasmania. We drove to see the tessellated pavement (very interesting), tide pools, and some viewpoints, but didn't have time for Port Arthur. It was an optional site for us that we did have to cut. My husband needed to sleep and eat more than sightsee.

Maria Island--one of my main destinations because of the reports of wildlife. In fact, I revered the order of our trip and skipped Bicheno to accommodate the tide schedule.
We prebooked the 9am and 5pm ferries. Lots of people were buying tickets on the day. You can change your return if space available by telephoning the ticket office from the island.
The ride was very smooth with a couple of dolphins for a few minutes on the way out.

The highlight of the day for us were the painted cliffs at low tide. Amazingly beautiful! Lots to see in the tide pools as well.
We are cautious and had just commented on how people were walking on unstable surfaces and allowing their children to scamper up, along, and over rocks with no supervision when I heard a shout and my husband called to me to return to where he was with a man sitting on a rock. A father had slipped on the rocks and scraped his knee, tearing his jeans. The wife rolled up the pant leg to reveal a bleeding cut. My husband had called to me because I always carry at least minimal first aid supplies when hiking. So, I pulled out some antibacterial spray (left the antibiotic ointment in the suitcase) and bandages while the wife started wiping with tissues and we got him bandaged up. He would have a sore knee the next day, I am sure. They still allowed their children to scamper around over the rocks unsupervised.

We had our first encounter with a wombat at the fossil cliffs where one was spotted in its burrow/cave. A park ranger was standing at the information sign and didn't discourage people from walking up and looking inside, straight into the face of a sleeping wombat about 3-4 feet inside. We saw ones awake at around 4:00 pm. One was in a grassy field where some groups of people stood and sat to take photos. I thought the wombat was going to crawl in one woman's lap who was sitting still, originally 10-15 feet from the wombat. Another came hurrying along in front of the interpretative center as we waited in the shade for the ferry to arrive.
We saw kangaroos from a distance as they rested in the shade along the trail to the fossil cliffs. Wallabies closer in the afternoon under shrubs along the oasthouse trail.
We came across a devil trap in the woods, but none of the devils themselves.
Various birds rounded out the sightings.

We weren't particularly impressed with the fossil cliffs.
The history of the convict buildings was interesting and we meandering around/through them all.

The temperature was high and the sun intense, so the 10 miles or so that we walked took its toll. We took shady routes where available, even if longer, put on sunscreen, long sleeves, and hats. By the time we returned on the 5pm ferry, we were glad that we were staying in Orford and not following a considered plan to drive on to Coles Bay or Bicheno that night. We could have done it, but we would have been exhausted and not up for penguins or devils after dark anyway.
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Jan 30th, 2019, 08:47 AM
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An Australian told us that we had to stop at Kates Berry Farm as we drove up the East Coast, so we did. A disappointing stop at a tiny cafe and jelly/jam shop. We did eat a nice crepe with berry compote, but not worth the time unless you just want a snack.

I stopped traffic when an echidna decided to calmly cross the two-lane road.

We had a nice time in Deloraine. We were staying overnight to break up the drive to Cradle Mountain and to look for platypus in the river.
We were successful spotting about 4 platypus swimming on the surface on one night, but only 1 short sighting of diving on another evening. We went to the river about 1.5 hours before sunset and joined others searching the water. Some are often spotted near the public swimming pool and others near the pedestrian bridge. One lucky girl had spotted a small/baby platypus around 2pm one afternoon that week.

We also visited the Yarns Artwork in Silk and Heritage Museum at the visitors information center. Weird, but interesting.

I had hoped to browse some of the art/craft stores in town, but didn't have time.

Last edited by Kay2; Jan 30th, 2019 at 08:58 AM.
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Jan 30th, 2019, 08:57 AM
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Cradle Mountain Park--highlight of our trip. We had one night at Cradle Mountain and would have enjoyed two so that we could return to our cottage to rest between hikes. We rode the bus one day and then drove our car to Ronny Creek early the next. Both worked fine.

The Enchanted Forest and the King Billy walk were both enjoyable forest walks that we had to ourselves (maybe because of all the stairs on the latter). Picnicking was difficult with the flies both here and on Maria Island.

We followed the advice to take the bus to Ronny Creek for the last couple of hours of the day to see wombats. One was eating adjacent to the boardwalk and even looked up for photos. Amazing experience. Saw an echidna on the road to our cottage. A wombat near a restaurant. several birds.

The next day we started from Ronny Creek up to Crater Lake, down to and around Dove Lake. Lots of boardwalk, stairs, some rocky trails. There was fog so we didn't get good views of the mountains until it burned off while we were down at the lake, so we didn't push up to Marion's Lookout. The crowds were evident as we reached the lake. Unknowingly, we joined the Dove Lake circuit counter to most people starting from the parking lot, so we were going counterclockwise, having to pass lots of people on the boardwalks. We were glad we did it because it meant we tackled all the stairs early in the circuit and finished with a flat walk. Most people were starting with a flat walk and would encounter the stairs on the second half of their circuit.
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Jan 30th, 2019, 09:09 AM
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We skipped some more optional sights--Woolmers Estate, Mole Creek caverns. The heat and driving would wear us out and we decided we would rather have some time to relax, do laundry, etc.
We also had to skip Mt Field Park because it was closed. The Tahune area and the Styx River area were also closed due to fire risk. I was disappointed not to see the tall trees.

We did get off the highway and drive through some towns along the Midland Highway. Oatlands was particularly interesting and seemed a good place if one wanted to break up the drive in a small town. New Norfolk was not as interesting as I expected for some reason.

Because of the closures and some stops we skipped, we did have time for the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and Hobart Battery Point and waterfront.

We enjoyed Bonorong with several active devils and other animals. It was physically smaller than another sanctuary I had visited, but had more active animals.

The blustery conditions in Hobart seemed appropriate in a port city. We did a walk, looked at some historical buildings, but nothing more. The city driving and parking was a low point for us after such relaxed driving through the country all week.
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Jan 30th, 2019, 10:20 AM
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Some random thoughts--

Food is expensive. Self-contained/self-catering units allowed us to shop at grocery, cook some meals, and prepare/store picnic lunches.

Tasmania people are very friendly and added to the enjoyment of our visit.

Local guides, rangers, etc. constantly remind tourists to use sunscreen. Good advice.
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Jan 30th, 2019, 03:37 PM
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Thanks for your report, Kay2. I've been trying to finish up my own Maria Island trip report, which I began working on in April 2018! It's a wonderful place, and I think you might be the first to have mentioned it in a trip report. As you point out, wombats are plentiful.
I also noticed people taking risks at Painted Cliffs in search of the perfect selfie no doubt.
I think you might have inspired me to finish my trip report.

Last edited by Diamantina; Jan 30th, 2019 at 03:50 PM.
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Jan 30th, 2019, 07:59 PM
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Thanks for writing about your trip. I showed it to my husband who is originally from Tassie. Sounds like you did a lot in a fairly short time. It's always great seeing wildlife, you were so fortunate to see platypus! They can be quite elusive.

From another Kay
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Feb 4th, 2019, 03:28 AM
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Enjoyed your report.
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Feb 4th, 2019, 01:58 PM
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We head to Tasmania for two weeks in March. Looking forward to it and happy to read your trip report! Hopeful that the fires haven’t done more damage than already reported. Saw photos of the destroyed bridge for Tahune forest walk.
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Feb 5th, 2019, 05:41 AM
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We found the Tasmania Fire Service website helpful to see where fires are occurring and their danger level TFS Online but closures of parks, etc. are not listed.

The Gell River Fire has been burning for some time in the alpine area of Mt Field park.
The largest and directly threatening fire while we were there was in the Central Plateau near Great Lake and fishing resorts.
The Tahune fire was just getting started.

As usual in these situations, there was a lot of local discussion as to how the fire was being handled and a tense disagreement between business people who depend upon tourists for their livelihoods and officials who want to err on the side of safety.

While sitting in the Hobart airport after our flight was cancelled, we saw a C-130 from New South Wales Fire Service repeatedly stopping in. I'm not sure what it was hauling.
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Feb 11th, 2019, 07:46 AM
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I thought I should share about our rental car experience after asking advice on that topic.

We are steady Avis and Hertz customers because they have given us great service for years (unlike our experiences with Alamo and few others). We use Enterprise at small airports and in-town or occasionally local companies with recommendations.

For our HBA rental, Avis and Hertz automatically included the CDW coverage, which made our credit card coverage useless and doubled the price. I also had difficulty understanding if liability for damage to other person's vehicle was covered by card if waive coverage with another company despite being directed to two websites and the terms and conditions.

So, I dove in and rented an mid-size SUV from Enterprise (cheaper than a sedan) at half the price of Avis or Hertz and relied upon my credit card for coverage and our bank account for any excess. The counter sign said Enterprise/Alamo/National (I think was the third). Employees said all the same company. I was expecting it to say Red Spot as I thought that was who had the Enterprise franchise in Australia, but didn't see their name anywhere.

The employees were great at rental and return (I asked about a small blemish before leaving and they said "That's nothing; we don't care." When we returned an employee happened to be in the lot, did a quick walk around, said "Looks good." and we were done. Charges as expected. We didn't have any problems so didn't get to test customer service.

The rental car parking lot at HBA was too tight for the vehicles and vacant space difficult to snag.

We did run into a slight snag at the first gas station self service pump that wanted preauthorization on pin and chip card. Last time we did that, the amount of preauthorization for a fill up was astounding and the credit card company suspended the card until we called to verify it wasn't fraud, so we balked. The station attendant walked out and used a card to authorize so we could fill up and then pay. She even helped me find the gas tank lever. The next two times we stopped at places where we could fill up then pay the amount rather than agree to an authorization. Fuel was pricey, as expected.
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