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Trip Report TASMANIA - A GeoGourmet Tour

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Tasmania - A GeoGourmet Trip

TASMANIA in eight words.


If the above words mean little or nothing to you, then don’t purchase Peter S Manchester’s fantastic self published book “Created From Chaos – a Geological Trail of 100 sites in Tasmania”. It is designed to the growing GeoTourist market and explains the formation and significance of the sites. The terminology is for people with back ground knowledge of geology.

We got to most of the places in the book. It was our main guide along with a list of National and other parks.

Tasmania is apparently second only to Scotland for Geological diversity. This is what makes the scenery of Tasmania spectacular and so varied.

If you don’t like geology, you can look at the wonderful display of colours, patterns and shapes and dream up your own stories of what they are. Even if you love geology it is a bit of fun – wedding cakes in caves and Sleeping Beauty in the Mountains. You know the drill. Hours of fun for the whole family.

THE A-Z of TASMANIA. (For those poor people who need more to sustain their souls.)

A is for Accommodation.
There is just about every type you could possibly desire. From camping sites with no facilities down to secluded spa B&Bs and resorts. We stayed in our campervan for the grand total of $31 for 29 nights (2x$13 at national parks and $5 for a football ground near the ferry).

B is for Bonsai Sequoias.
The Pencil Pine found only in Tasmania is a relative of the Sequoias but due to the harsh alpine climate only grows to a fraction of the height of its cousins. A small tree of a few metres in height could be a thousand years old.

C is for Convicts
In between floggings and eating each other, the convicts built lots of wonderful buildings and bridges out of Triassic Sandstone. Many are well preserved in Launceston and Hobart. Oatlands has the largest collection of pre 1837 buildings in Australia. (I know – our history is very short and 1837 is not much to brag about except that not much happened in our first 50 years.) Many are also in Ruins.

D is for Dirt Roads.
The best places are always on dirt roads. They are generally well maintained. The western Explore Tourist Route is almost all dirt and at time a bit rough. The Ferry at Corinna charges $20 per crossing and is not long enough to take cars with caravans.

E is for Environment
Tasmania thanks to its geology and latitude has a great variety of environments, from sand dunes and coastal cliffs through to alpine plains (Australia’s most extensive alpine plateau) and forests of the tallest flowering plant in the world (Eucalyptus regnans – Swamp Gum in Tasmania or Mountain Ash in Victoria).
It is also home to the Tasmanian Devil that is in risk of becoming extinct in the next 10-30 years due to a contagious and fatal cancer. No one knows how the cancer started or how to cure it.

F is for Forestry
Forestry and Mining are two of the main incomes for Tasmania.
Forestry Tasmania manages the forest for multiple use, so there are plenty of walking tracks, four wheel drive tracks etc. Some areas have been put aside permanently in reserves. These have great scenic beauty and/or environmental consideration such as the Evercreech reserve near Fingal that is home to 90 metre tall White Gums. The picnic grounds have good facilities and are generally well sign posted. The dirt roads likewise are generally in good condition and well sign posted. Just watch out for the BIG log trucks.
Logging and wood chips are controversial subjects and “Greenies” are not particularly welcome. Conservationists are welcome.

G is for Gluttony
Tasmania is home to many specialised producers of chocolate, wine, cheese (cow, goat and sheep), beer, whisky, mead, berries, fruit, sea food, beef, lamb etc.
Hobart hosts the “Taste” festival showcasing the State’s foods on the docks near where the Sydney to Hobart Yachts moor. It is on around New Year.
Summer berries were in season and very cheap on roadside stalls. The “Tourist berry farms” were more expensive and similar to Supermarket prices.

H is for Honey
Chudleigh is THE place for honey- 50 types including the Tasmania Only leatherwood. Wonderful Nougat, Honey Ice cream (flavoured or sweetened with honey) and honey lollypops.

I is for Isolation
We easily went a day or two without talking to others even more if you don’t count brief, but necessary encounters with fuel station and supermarket staff.
On many walks we saw no one.
Tasmania is free of many plant and animal diseases, and as a result so you cannot take in any fruit of vegetables. Boats and fishing/diving gear need to be inspected.

J is for Junk (or antiques or collectables as the case may be)
Just about every town has at least one if not more “Antiques and Collectables” shop. Latrobe, near Devonport has half a dozen or so.

K is for Koalas and Kookaburras.
There are no Koalas and Kookaburras are introduced along with lyrebirds and other vermin.

L is for Lunettes
Tasmania has Australia’s only alpine lunettes. They are formed out of glacial sand.

M is for Marine
Tasmania has a variety of Temperate Marine Environment for the cold water diving enthusiasts.

N is for National Parks (et al).
About 40% of the State is preserved in some sort of National or Conservation Park or World Heritage Area. National Park Entry fees are $24 per vehicle per day OR $60 for two months. You do the Maths.
These are superb places. Cradle Mountain and Russell Falls at Mt Field get crowded but all the others are very quite.

O is for Ornithology
Tasmania has about a dozen endemic birds. Most of which are common.
It also has many migratory birds.
One of the easiest birds to see is the Fairy or Little PENGUIN. Low Head ($16pp) and Bicheno ($25) run commercial low key tours at dusk. Penguin (Yes that is the name of the town) and Lillico’s Beach near Devonport have volunteer guides. We got to within a metre of a penguin at Low Head. On Maria Island near the fossil cliffs we got even closer to one in a nest.

P is for People
As the island’s total population is just over 500 000 with most living in Hobart and Launceston, there is almost no hustle and bustle. Small towns are just that, small with few facilities.

Q is for Quolls
These are a rare marsupial carnivore. It was quite special seeing one in the wild at Blue Tier near St Helens.

R is for RV friendly towns.
These are towns that cater for people in self contained Campervans and Motor homes. They provide free or nominally charged places to stay for 24 hours and a place to dump liquid waste amongst other services.

S is for Strolling
Tasmania is famous for its walks. Everything from 5 minutes on paved tracks to Wilderness where you need a plane to get you at the other end.

T is for Tourists
Few and far between or thicker than hairs on a cat.
About 9/10 of all Tasmania’s Tourists go to Cradle Mountain. So if you like queuing and shuttle buses and crowded car parks and people in every photograph you want to take. Then this is the place for you even on wet day. Having been before when it was civilised we gave up at the car park.
The scenery is wonderful, but Hartz Mountain National Park and Mt Field National Park are just as good but with a maybe ten cars in the car park rather than hundreds.
Elsewhere things are more sedate. Tasmania is nicely twenty years behind everywhere else as far as mass tourism and crowds are concerened.

U is for Unique.
Towns in Tasmania have unique ways of selling themselves or creating community spirit.
Deloraine has a four panel mural made out of silk and other materials depicting the history and attractions of the town and district.
Sheffield is covered in painted murals.
Railton has topiary in most gardens.
Lilydale has painted power poles.
All the houses in Doosville have name boards with doo in the title eg Nothing to Doo; Dooing time.
Wilmot has letterboxes made out of recycled materials.

V is for Velocipedes
Although very hilly (said to be the largest state if it was ironed flat), Tasmania has a great range of cycle tracks. There are three tours in the north that have iPod downloads available to give you a guided tour. There are mountain bike tours that will take you to the top and let you ride down.

W is for Whisky (and wine)
Tasmania has several distilleries. Hellyer’s Road near Burnie in the North is very good and reasonably priced ($70 a bottle). They also do whisky cream (like Bailey but better) and some vodka. They also have a great cafe/restaurant ($50 for lunch for two)
Lark Distillery is in Hobart and is a bit more expensive ($125 a bottle) and very nice. We didn’t visit but have tasted their whisky.
Tasmania Distillery at Sullivan’s Cove is just out of Hobart. We neither visited nor tasted theirs, but any distillery that can be sold out of whisky that sells for $1125 a bottle must have a good product. The rest of their bottles are about $135 - $350
Tasmania has a surprisingly large number of wineries as well as a few breweries.
We liked Hartz Mountain for its Port like fortified wines made with berry wines. Their Cassis is lovely.
Wilmot Wines had lovely berry wines as well.
Seven Sheds brewery and meadery are quite good too.

X is for Xenoliths
Geology trumps all else!

Y is for Yachts
Hobart is the destination for the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and the lesser known Melbourne to Hobart Yacht Race.
Tasmania supposedly has more boats per capita than any other State.

Z is for Zawn.
A coastal deep and narrow sea inlet formed when a sea cave collapses.
Z is also for Zeehan a lovely historic town in the South West, but Zawn is better for Scrabble.

Other that than the above:-

No phone, No computer, No Work, No People, No Traffic , No Itinerary – No Worries.

Eating yoghurt made in the campervan with fresh berries, whilst looking out over the lower Huon River at dusk from the van. Doing the same thing for breakfast the next morning.

Looking out of the van most nights and seeing grazing pademelons and wallabies.

Looking out of the van most evenings at breathtaking scenery.

Wildflowers that put Western Australia to shame.

Stargazing with no Light Pollution.

New Year’s Eve fireworks. Small quiet crowd at the 9.30 fireworks. We were miles away an in bed by midnight.

The giggles of my wife when she found that the tooth fairy had been, when she broke a bit off her tooth. Ah! Simple pleasures are treasures.

Staying at a lookout 100 metres away from a bakery and having a rabbit pie, an apple and a Latte for breakfast in an RV friendly Town – Penguin.

Starting each day with a cup of tea and breakfast in bed.

Having to get up, to make said tea and breakfast.

There are no other lowlights. It is TASMANIA!

Take your time. A “Taste” can be done in a few days, but like most other places it will leave you wanting more and feeling rushed. We have been twice once for 21 days and once for 29 days. Only about 2-3 days worth of things were revisited.

We have also done King Island and Flinders Island, for ten days each as well as the five day rush trip that schools do. It is a truly remarkable place.

A good intro to Tasmania

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