Six Weeks Down Under

Feb 4th, 2017, 09:04 PM
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Six Weeks Down Under

We live in DC and each winter escape the cold and often brutal winters. Last Spring I was able to get 2 business class tickets using our FF miles from IAD to Australia so that made for an easy decision of where to go for the winter of 2017.. We added a 5 night stopover in Hong Kong.

The weather in Australia determined where we went and the order to a certain degree. We start in Tasmania, fly to Melbourne for a week, then drive the Great Ocean Road. From there we will fly from Melbourne to the Gold Coast for a house exchange. After a week we have some unplanned time and then end in Sydney for a week in mid March.

My thanks to all the people who helped with the planning and wrote TRs that we are using as we planned and as we travel. We want to keep this short highlighting our time, but feel free to ask any questions.

And so it begins...
We spent 4 delightful nights at the Grand Vue Private Hotel in Battery Park in Hobart. Our top floor room had a huge bay window that looked out onto Sullivan's Cove. I could sit and watch the boats and the ever changing clouds forever. The scenic Battery Park neighbor is convenient, architecturally interesting and had numerous restaurants and cafes.

High points of our time in Hobart included exploring Battery Park, including Arthur's circus, wandering down to the stores and restaurants at Salamanca Place, visiting Franklin Wharf and taking the ferry to MONA.

MONA is not to be missed. We read the founder felt guilty about all his gambling winnings and invested in a museum. It's a pleasant ~30 minute ferry ride and then a climb of 99 steps to the building. We are museum aficionados so have visited many museums all over the world. MONA is the most unique museum we have ever visited. There is no particular emphasis on any style or era. The art ranges from ancient Egyptian to contemporary. It is displayed thematically making for some unusual juxtapositions (e.g., Native American Puebla pottery displayed next to Islamic calligraphy, displayed next to Keith Haring). Nor is the art labeled. You can either download their app or use the electronic device they provide. The space itself was immense, confusing and underlit although it was interesting. There seems to be a strong emphasis on sensationalism. Ferry cost $20 and entrance fee was $25.

Originally we planned to go with a tour to the Tasman peninsula and Port Arthur. Instead we decided to pick up a rental car a day early and drive ourselves. We thought this saved considerable money and a good way to visit the sites. Although we didn't do a boat trip so viewed everything from the land. We left Hobart car rental a little after 10 am and exited the highway at Eaglehawk Neck to view the magnificent Tasman arch. Signs direct you to the various sites and it is easy to check them out. From there we went to the Port Arthur historic site. Having just read "The Fatal Shore" by Robert Hughes we felt they played down the brutality of the forced transportation to Tasmania of Britain's petty criminals and Irish Rebels. We bought the basic tour and if you want you can buy adds ons for the cemetery and other sites.

Restaurants- we had 2 very good lunches at Fish Frenzy on Franklin Wharf. We also enjoyed dinners at Maldini in Salamanca and Blue Eye Seafood on Castray Esplanade near Salamanca.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Hobart and could easily have stayed another day to explore the area.
yestravel is offline  
Feb 5th, 2017, 12:04 AM
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Following
northie is offline  
Feb 5th, 2017, 03:16 AM
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Good decision to DIY. Tasmania is very easy to get around. If the fellow with th crayfish is still in the road near the turn off to St Helens, get a couple & have them for a picnic. Cannot be bettered.
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Feb 5th, 2017, 03:36 AM
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Glad your trip is off to a good start. I wish you safe and happy travels throughout your journey. I hope that you will fall in love with Australia as I did. And thank you for helping me relive some of our best memories of Australia through your visit.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Feb 5th, 2017, 04:07 AM
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Yay, good to hear you made it down under. Looking forward to the rest of your trip, and to a catch up on the Goldie !
sartoric is offline  
Feb 5th, 2017, 10:00 AM
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Sounds like you're off to a great start, yestravel. So glad you've decided to post along the way since we're following in some of your footsteps in April. Sounds diy for Port Arthur was a good way to go. Will definitely hang on to your restaurants reviews too!
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Feb 5th, 2017, 11:39 AM
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Following along!
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Feb 5th, 2017, 04:58 PM
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Along for the ride...
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Feb 5th, 2017, 05:57 PM
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Can't wait to hear more!
GinnyJo is offline  
Feb 6th, 2017, 12:55 PM
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Thanks everyone for following along.

On the Road to Strahan
Regrettably, after 4 nights in Hobart it was time to move on. Once we left the suburban sprawl of Hobart we initially drove along the Derwent riverbank that took us into the vibrant central highlands. As the landscape became more spectacular it seemed that the roads belonged to only us.

Our only stop other than to admire the scenery was at The Wall right before Derwent bridge and we spent an hour marveling at the bas relief wood carvings of the settlement of the Tasmanian wilderness. The quality of craftsmanship was extraordinary.

From there we continued on the windy roads through Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park. It was a spectacular drive that ended in Strahan, the most southwestern settlement located on the edge of one of the last true wilderness areas.

We stayed at Franklin Manor Inn which is a magnificent structure that has not yet fulfilled its potential as a BnB. If I would go to the area again, I would look into staying at one of the cabins or motels. The town has a a few restaurants that are hit or miss.

The day after our arrival we went on a World Heritage cruise. It took us to the Macquarie harbor, the old prison colony on Sarah Island and up the inky black Gordon river to a temperate rainforest in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. The day was overcast, but it was still a pleasant day on the river. The information provided was extensive and informative. There are 3 different prices for the 6 hour cruise based upon where you sit. I believe they were $110 for inside seats on the lower deck, $140 for window seats on the lower deck and $160 for upper deck window seats. You could move about the boat, but you weren't allowed to change your seat. There was a mediocre buffet lunch served. Strahan itself is a small town surrounded by a temperate rain forest. Gottravel found the town more interesting than I did.

On Monday we hit the road again and headed to Cradle Mountain National Park where we are now.
yestravel is offline  
Feb 6th, 2017, 01:57 PM
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Sorry to hear that your experience at Franklin Manor was not as good as mine. I have to agree with you on your impression of Strahan as a town though. Did you eat at Bushman's Bar and Cafe while you were there? It was my only notable meal in Strahan.

Hope you are having good weather at Cradle Mountain.
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Feb 6th, 2017, 02:37 PM
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It was closed on Sunday when we tried to go. We ate at Hamer one of the 3 places open on Sunday. We also ate at Risby that was ok. I think a touch of sprucing up and FM could be lovely. It was fine, just nothing great. Woman who ran it was quite nice and her daughter just adorable.
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Feb 6th, 2017, 03:15 PM
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Another one following!
margo_oz is offline  
Feb 6th, 2017, 04:11 PM
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To- forgot to say we are having fabulous weather with sun, blue skies and puffy clouds. Couldn't ask for better weather ��
yestravel is offline  
Feb 6th, 2017, 05:52 PM
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Never have understood the attraction of Strahan.
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Feb 6th, 2017, 06:23 PM
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I had read mixed reviews but figured it cut the drive to Cradle Mtn. The day on the boat was nice, but that was about it.
yestravel is offline  
Feb 8th, 2017, 11:34 PM
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Three Days of Hiking in Cradle Mt. Nat'l Park

We left one wilderness by the water for another in the mountains. We had been warned that there were few restaurants and no grocers in Cradle Mt. We stopped in the non descript town of Roseberry to pick up supplies at the IGA and a local bakery. As it turned out the bakery had limited selection and we opted for three available individual quiches. We later discovered that we were buying some of the best food since we left Hobart- quiches were killer even heated in a microwave. A very limited selection of food is available at the Discovery Store, across from t Visitors center. We found prices that would make Whole Foods blush.

The drive from Strahan Cradle Mt. was short-less than 2 hours. It went thru rolling hills, forest and brush. There was one pullover for a nice distant view of Cradle Mt.

We arrived at our lodging, Cradle Mt Highlander's, a little after noon and checked into our adorable, rustic cabin. We were very happy with our choice of this one bedroom knotty pine cabin with a small kitchenette and best of all a wood stove. It's a 5 minute walk to the Visitors center across the road. We highly recommend Cradle Mt. Highlander's.

It was a picture perfect day, rare we understand. We headed over to the Visitors Center and bought the Holiday pass good for 2 months at any Park in Tasmania & cost $60 for both of us. The daily rate would have been ~$18 per person, per day.

Over the next 3 days we hiked the fabulous Dove Lake Circuit (6km easy walk rated a 2) , Enchanted Walk, Kynvet Falls, Pencil Falls (very short, easy walks rated 1's) and the lengthy Ronny Creek to Dove Lake via Crater Lake, Wombat Pool and Lake Lila ( (steeper, grade 3 hike). We had perfect weather the first 2 days. On our final day we found ourselves hiking in initially cloudy and then drizzly weather. All of the hikes provided wonderful scenery with varied landscapes and vegetation totally unlike any we've seen. I loved Dove Lake circuit because you had fabulous views of Cradle Mt. None of the hikes were crowded once you got away from the shuttle stops.

If you have time I recommend going to the Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary despite it being overpriced at $18 pp. it was interesting to learn about the animals, what conservancy was doing to increase their numbers and how they trained them to release them back into the wild. There were also 2 types of quolls who did not have to be trained to be released.

As it turned not buying more food in Roseberry was a mistake. One lunch (chicken wraps) we bought to take on a hike at the cafe at the Visitors Center was ok. Our second night's dinner at the bar/Bistro at the Cradle MT Lodge Plummer the depths of the culinary abyss - it was dreadful. However our third night's dinner was expensive, but good. We ate at the "high end" restaurant at Cradle MT Lodge. GT had lamb and I had trout with two tiny scallops.

We're enjoying breakfast in our cozy cabin waiting for a break in the sheets of rain to load our car and take off to Coles Bay.

Sent from my iPad


Sent from my iPad
yestravel is offline  
Feb 9th, 2017, 03:37 AM
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Happy to hear that you had nice weather and beautiful views at Cradle Mountain. Agree with you on the devils sanctuary; we saw very few visitors there and felt like we had the place to ourselves.

Looking forward to your next leg in Tasmania as we had only ventured as far as Cradle on our visit.
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Feb 9th, 2017, 09:18 AM
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We loved our cabin at Highlanders too. Glad you had good hiking weather.
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Feb 9th, 2017, 09:18 PM
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Enjoy the cool !
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