We stayed at Dunalley for a few more days as after our quick visit to the Port Arthur convict settlement we drove around to where the Pennicott Wilderness Journey boats left from and decided that we would do another boat trip, this time from Port Arthur. As the next day was expected to be quite windy the boat trip would be mainly in the calmer waters protected by the two outcrops. We would only go out into the open waters for a few minutes as we went around Tasmin Island.
The weather the next day was very windy but sunny and so we had a good trip, passing by the Port Arthur settlement and again going into some caves which were even more spectacular than the ones on Maria Island. We saw so many dolphins and seals, they were all around us, it was amazing. Our few minutes out in the open water before heading around Tasmin Island was hair raising to say the least! To see this big wall of water in front of us that had to be as high as a house, that we know we are going up and over to then crash down the other side. Well, I’m glad we experienced it but I was also glad when it was over.
We had dinner at the golf club at Dunalley and chatted with some of the locals who made us feel very welcome. They told us of the bad bush fire that went through the area back in 2013. The fire sped down the big hill behind the town in eight minutes and around 100 properties were destroyed. Eight minutes is not very long and it’s a huge hill. Hard to believe!
We drove around to White Beach where we saw the fish farm on the other side of the bay and around to Primrose Sands where we happened to meet up with Kay and Dennis. We last saw them at Sorell and were surprised to see them again so soon. We were headed back to Sorell the next day and Kay told us to look out for Lee and Jim, other friends from the Blue Wren at Ulverstone. They were likely to be at Sorell then.
We did meet up with Lee and Jim the next day and then the following day Kay and Dennis arrived again so we had a few good happy hour all together along with other campers.
While at Sorell we went for drives, checking out all the little coastal townships between Seven Mile Beach and Opossum Bay. We drove out to Richmond and walked along the river, picked apples from the trees in the park and chatted for a while with the lady in the woodcraft shop. She would love to do what we are doing, living in our van and enjoying this wonderful lifestyle. We were telling her not to wait and just do it! Her only regret would be that they hadn’t done it sooner.
We drove from Richmond back past the Wicked Cheese Factory where we stopped for lunch. This place has won so many trophies for their cheeses and we were not disappointed with the large cheese and cold meats grazing plate that we shared for our lunch. Driving on further, we then saw a Pick your Own strawberry farm so we just had to stop! While we were paying for the strawberries that we had picked we sampled some strawberry liqueur and gin. The strawberry liqueur was my favourite.
When we left Sorell we headed to Hamilton and another free camp that had been recommended to us. We used this as our base for a few days and explored the area. We drove out to Strathgordon, stopping in to check out Teds’s Beach on the way. We explored the Gordon Dam, walking down the 196 steps that then only took us to the top of the dam wall. The dam is huge and an incredible feat of engineering. We then drove up to the lookout to get yet another view of this spectacular construction.
While at Hamilton we walked along the river looking for platypus but with no luck, only to be told by our neighbours another day that they had seen them while we were out. How disappointing is that. We never have any luck when it comes to seeing platypus. We did find plenty of blackberries though on a big bush near our camp so I decided to make some blackberry jam, something I haven’t made before. I was pleased with my effort and have since made more batches. I also found more fruit trees. Probably strictly speaking on private property but it was on our side of the fence and on a very steep slope. Anyway, taking my life in my own hands (not really) and hanging on to whatever I could find, I picked peaches, nashi pears and apples which all made good eating. I felt pretty confident that this fruit would all have gone to waste because of where it was and how hard it was to get to if I hadn’t picked some of it.
After leaving Hamilton we headed again for Kempton. We were expecting more cold and windy weather so liked the idea of being on power for a couple of days. We went into Glenorchy again from there and caught up on shopping, washing etc. From Kempton we headed again to Oatlands and we are now beginning to feel like we are repeating our route but as the weather is not great we don’t feel like we are missing too much. While at Oatlands we hear from Jim and Lee again which then causes us to change plans and return to Kempton to meet them.
We spend a couple of days in the enjoyable company of Jim and Lee, driving to Brighton and back home around the back roads. We walked up to the Old Kempton Whiskey Distillery for coffee at the restaurant there and commented on how reasonable the food prices were.
As we left Jim and Lee at Kempton we drove off to meet other friends at Derwent Bridge. These were the Tasmanian guys we had such a good time with just after Christmas, again at the Blue Wren. David had rung us a few days earlier and wondered where we were. They were headed out in their vans again and would love to meet up with us. We spent a couple of days at Derwent Bridge with David and Doreen and John and Denise before we had to say goodbye to John and Denise as Denise had work on the Monday. While at Derwent Bridge we drove around the area and again David gave us a good guided tour, telling of the history, the many hydros in the area and of course the good fishing spots where he had camped many years earlier. We drove out to Lake St Claire and also visited The Wall. The Wall is somewhere we visited when we were here four years ago but were more than happy to see again. This was a second or third visit for all of us but we were all still blown away by the amazing larger than life size carvings on huen pine. We spoke with the guy who works there and he convinced us that what we thought had to have been bits added on were all optical allusions. We even got him to stand behind the railing that stopped us visitors from getting too close so he could put his hand behind the RIP cross to prove the point. We couldn’t however get him to touch the very delicate chain made from the wood that is actually hanging from the picture.
The next day our three vans headed off for Miena where we had morning coffee before John and Denise went their way and our plan was to on go to Arthur’s Lake.
We got to Miena in freezing cold weather and an icy sleet rain as we headed to the pub and it’s large welcoming open fire. The guy behind the bar told us they had had snow that night and he had to scrape it off the car that morning. Brrrrr!
We said our goodbyes to John and Denise but not before taking a picture of the boys in front of the three vans lined up in the car park. Then for us it was off the Arthur’s Lake to meet up with an old school friend of David’s and who Doreen also remembered from her school days. The mate’s nickname is Onions so that’s what we knew him by and with his partner Sylvie, we had another good happy hour. In the morning we paid our $4 a night camping fee and I gave Onions a jar of my blackberry jam as we left.
We didn’t realise how high up we were at Arthur’s Lake until we had to make the very long, steep and winding trip down the mountain. We both agreed that it was better to have come down this way than to have dragged the van all the way up it!
Now we are here at Cressy, another good little free camp. David and Doreen went on to Perth where David lives and they spent the day organising things while we spent the day washing and cleaning. The van and car were really filthy from all the wet dirt roads we’ve been on and I had lots of washing to do.
David returned to us again yesterday to go for a drive with him, taking Doreen back to her home. David showed us around this area and where he used to manage a property back in his working life. I have thought many times how my dad would have loved to talk with both David and John. I’m sure they would have loved each other’s company and found lots to talk about as we have.
Now as I’m writing this Chris is off playing golf and I’m catching up on phone calls and this blog. We are coming to the end of our stay here in Tasmania and although the weather has not been as kind to us this trip we have still enjoyed our time here.