Our driving route - Hobart/Freycinet National Park (Cole’s Bay)/Launceston/Cradle Mountain National Park/Hobart
Gidday, from Tasmania, Australia!
We took a week-long trip around a small part of this vast, mostly green, Australian state.
Arriving in Hobart, we picked up a car from Apex Car Rentals, and headed for Cole’s Bay, in the Freycinet National Park - an incredible landscape of ancient rock formations and crystal clear waters. It’s outstanding.
Steve and I climbed 220 metres from the national park car park, to get to the viewing platform, out over Wineglass Bay. I was so glad I’ve been doing cardio and balance classes which made the climb that much easier. Steve (ex geophysicist) was in seventh heaven, telling me the names of all the minerals in the rocks - my eyes glazed over!
A multitude of bird calls and whistles surrounded us. Each evening, wallabies arrived to feed in our B&B garden. Two of them up on their hind legs having a boxing match, just like their bigger, kangaroo cousins do, was free entertainment! Many road signs warn drivers to slow down and look out for wildlife. Sadly, we saw plenty of roadkill as we drove - wallabies, possums, stoats, but loved seeing waddling echidnas, feeding on the grass verges.
Just out of Launceston we stayed at the Armalong Winery Chalets, where there’s a sign at the cellar door, saying: ‘watch out for snakes; we share their habitat’. I was very careful walking through the grass back to our place. I'd have died of fright if one slithered over my shoe! Loved the gorgeous view from our bed, while I tapped away on my Ipad.
The Cataract Gorge chairlift (west Launceston) and walk back via the swing bridge was fun and beautiful. It's only a crossing of about 1km with your legs hanging but is very safe and well run. I loved the views from our high line seat.
I fed and patted a very tame wallaby and loved the preening and screeching of the regal peacocks that roam through the reserve.
We spent a morning cruising out to Low Head to the lighthouse and the penguin colonies, stopping at some of the small towns on the way.
The next morning and not too far out of Launceston we got the fright of our lives. While driving, Steve discovered a HUGE hairy spider on the ledge of the drivers-side door, causing him to swerve and come to a grinding halt on the verge! We couldn't find it ... There was no choice but to get back in and get to the nearest town. My skin was crawling in fright and I was almost having palpitations, knowing there was one of these huge brutes in the car with us. I was on high alert, worrying it would walk over one of us at any moment!
We stopped in Sheffield and I ran in and bought bug spray. When I told the lady at the counter what I needed it for, she shuddered and said: BURN THE CAR!
Steve had already emptied the car, just outside Railton, trying to find the creepy crawly. No luck. So at Sheffield we sprayed the interior until it was almost drenched and sat outside, for 10 minutes. People were wondering what on earth we were doing. I explained to one man and he said: There’s been many a road accident caused by a driver pulling the sun visor down and a huntsman spider drops into his/her lap! Aaargh! I’d die a thousand deaths.
So we open the doors and peered inside.
We had to drive on.
Five minutes later, Steve again swerves to the verge, a volley of expletives fired into the air. The spider was once more at his shoulder, on the door edge!
Out we both jump. Steve flicks it. The spider drops down to the door jamb. One more flick and he’s scurrying under the car. Both of us jump in, slam the doors shut and drive at 100kms an hour, hoping that scary monster is blasted off the car by the speed.
I could breathe again….
A Tasmanian highlight was the Cradle Mountain National Park. Stunning and pristine with beautiful walks and wildlife. The Dove Lake walk is impressive with a well-constructed pathway and steps, making it easy to traverse.
After our ‘ordeal’ with the huge, hairy spider and a big day, we sank into our seats in a restaurant here in the Cradle Mountain National Park. Steve opened the menu and a black beetle fell into his lap! “Holy sh**. What next?”, he said, lurching backwards and flicking it to the floor. It landed at my feet. I toe-tapped it to the next table, which was empty, and it crawled off - I didn’t see where. “Be gone, you wee beastie,” I said.
People duly arrived to sit at that table. Mr's puffa jacket falls to the floor. Heavens! The black beetle is back, about to crawl inside that snuggly warmth. I scooped up the jacket, telling the gentleman that I’ve just rescued him from a big beastie. He leans over to see the beetle and tucked his jacket firmly between his legs, and said a grateful thank you!
Our cabin/chalet at the Cradle Mountain Lodge was in the middle of all this fabulous wilderness. It’s pitch black at night. At some ungodly hour Steve said, “what’s that noise?” I pulled out my ear plugs and heard a crackling sound. Suddenly the room was filled with flashing light. We sat bolt upright in bed, to see flames climbing up the wall! Blimmin heck. The gas fire had come on - all by itself. What a fright. I’d had enough frights …
Our first night's stay back in Hobart was at the very gorgeous The Rivulet. A bottle of port is left in the dining room for you to help yourself to at the end of your evening out. Breakfast here was one of the best I've had.
The Rivulet is situated in Sandy Bay and from there it was an easy walk to see some of the magnificent older homes of Hobart in an area known as Battery Point. Here we discovered a great Italian restaurant - Da Angelo - which we drove back to for dinner. Bursting at the seams, we got the last two seats in the window. From our vantage point we could watch all and sundry happening outside, while devouring delicious food and velvety Montepulchiano red wine.
After some stunning weather, we ended up enveloped in mist and rain. The tourist-riven Salamanca market was a dripping mess of people which we quickly abandoned, opting for the museum and art gallery. On we went to learn the incredible history of the Female Factory - an obscure name for a convict prison in Cascades.
The World Heritage-listed Cascades Female Factory tells the story of the displacement, mistreatment and forced migration of convict women and girls, and their contribution to colonisation throughout the history of colonial Australia to the present day.
The guides at this place were so passionate, they brought the place alive with their stories of the women's lives and the suffering they underwent. Some had been banished from England, receiving a seven year sentence for stealing a loaf of bread - to feed their children. Further sentences were then brought down on them for having a child out of wedlock - after being raped on the ship out to Hobart. Go figure ....
On a brighter note, our last two nights were a treat and spent in Richmond at a gorgeous Prospect Country House which I loved - even in the rain. It truly was a treat - classy with fabulous personalised treatment from relaxed but professional people. The Richmond village is very popular with tourists and is rather pretty to stroll around.
A morning at the contentious MONA gallery was just fabulous. This place has received mixed reviews - some saying the art isn’t art; just installations meant to shock. But the architecture is fabulous and the property enormous. Both of us loved our time there and yes, several items were unnecessary but the rest of the collection was outstanding.
I understand why so many people want to move to Australia (apart from the creepy-crawlies!). It’s clean, well maintained and cared for. Didn't seen any graffiti or rubbish lying about. Every tourist thing we did and places we stayed, people have been professional, welcoming and friendly.