Thursday 7th - Thursday 14th January 2021
After saying goodbye to 2020 and two lockdowns, what a year it was. We were certainly looking forward to escaping Victoria and we decided January was going to be a great month to explore our southern most state - Tasmania. We had both explored Tassie previously but this is our first time exploring the Apple Isle together.
We started our day at 5.45am and arrived at Station Pier at 6.50am, a good run in at that time of the morning. DABUS didn't get onboard the ship until after 8.30 and the Spirit of Tasmanian departed just after 9am. It was smooth sailing across the bay, we both loved being outside experiencing the ship going through the heads, Bass Strait was also smooth sailing. We can only hope for such a pleasant return trip back home.
After arriving in Devonport at 6.30pm and by the time we got through quarantine, temperature checks etc it was 7.30pm, we then spent the night at Horsehead Creek campsite, about 5km from the port. Here we met up with a couple that was parked behind us in the ship and had a few drinks and yarns with them. Alan & Jan had driven two days down from Queensland to board the ship.
Friday, we set off to Leven Canyon, which had been suggested to us, as a must see place by Alan and Robyn. Driving through the countryside of Don & Forth there was fields of rich red soil with crops of potatoes, carrots, poppies and pyrethrum flowers. The first stop was at Braddon Lookout, overlooking the Forth Township, the Forth River, the productive fields, poopy fields out in bloom and over Bass Strait.
At Leven Canyon we hiked up to Cruickshanks Lookout, were on walking out onto the steel viewing platform, we looked over a spectacular view of the Leven River running through the deepest Tasmanian canyon, way below us. We had heard that there was 692 step and had decided that was not for us but just prior to this lookout we discovered the steps were downhill, so we made up our mind that it was an easy challenge. And down and down we went, seats were placed to rest indicating how many steps we had done and how many to go. Alan rested his knees while I went out to check out the lower Edge Lookout. Looking up the raven you could barely see the top lookout. This followed with a 0.5km uphill hike.
Back to Devonport and Horsehead Creek camp, after dinner went for a lovely 2km walk along the Mersey River. On arriving back to camp, our follow travellers, Alan & Jan arrived, so more drinks and tales. Jan had told us how Alan had broken her 40year old chair but Alan had bought both chairs across to our camp and after sitting on it for about 30minutes the chair split in two and Alan was promptly sitting on his backside on the ground.
We are blessed with the weather as it has currently been sunny and 23 each day.
On Saturday morning the market at Devonport was not operating, so off to Woolworths to stock up on supplies, Pepsi, Wine, soda & food. Stopped at Tasmania Onions, makers of the yummy Blue Banner Pickled Onions and made our purchase. Our drive north west took us along the ocean road through Ulverstone, we stopped the night at Cooee RV area, west of Burnie. Once set up we walked into town, 6km return trip, to the tourist information centre and obtained info for our tassie holiday. Feeling quite relaxed, we enjoyed a few drinks and dinner overlooking Bass Strait, just a few metres from the back of DABUS.
Sunday morning we ventured into Stanley, here we drove up to the lookout and this was our first oversight of this magnificent quintessential township with The Nut in the background.
The Nut is the remains of an ancient volcanic plug with a large, mostly flat surface that can be circumnavigated on foot.
We paid for a return trip on the chairlift and enjoyed the circuit walk up the top. The views were absolutely stunning; the weather was extremely kind to us. The Nut had a particular smell, which we discovered were the moonbirds (mutton birds) that migrate here to breed their young. After enjoying the morning at The Nut we went and purchased a crayfish for dinner and seeing how it was Sunday treated ourselves lunch at a little café, to experience the local scallop pie, which was beautiful.
We investigated the RV camp but decided this wasn't for us, to crowded. This has to date been the busiest tourist spot we have come across so far. The roads and other camp sites have been extremely quite and we are glad we are doing this trip anti clockwise and not clockwise, as we believe the east coast would be very busy.
As we leave this picturesque town behind, we head to Smithton and to our surprise; this town is certainly bigger and busier than either of us expected. Here we camped up at Tall Timbers, which is a large hotel complex, that provided free camping for RV's and Caravaners on about 5 acres of lush green grass, with a stream running through, ducks that come and greet you and other birdlife in the evening. On Netflixs we watched the 2015 film that was produced in Stanley 'The Light between Oceans' with a great Aussie cast.
Monday morning we set out to drive The Tarkine Drive, this drive takes us through the forever-changing breathtaking wilderness of this region. Our first stop inside the Arthur-Pieman conservation Area was at Arthur River, where the Arthur River mouth flows into the Southern Ocean. The colours of the water are amazing with the water from the river tainted with the talons from the trees. The other amazing sight was the huge amount of large dead trees that have obviously been pushed down the flooded river and dump onto the surrounding rocks at the mouths edge and surrounding rock formations.
Here we went out the "Edge of the World' a lookout that features an exhilarating view of the Tarkine Coast.
We drove through and explored Couta Rocks, Sumac Lookout, Julius River, Sinkhole Lookout and finally the Trowutta Arch, all which were stunning and beautiful.
During our entire day we only spotted about 10 other cars, not many tourist out exploring this extraordinary drive. We arrived back at Tall Timber at Smithton for another night.
The following day we drove from Smithton to Burnie, via the coastal road and checked out Rocky Cape and Table Cape lighthouses and tulip farm. The drive from Burnie to Strahan took up the afternoon, a slow trip as we ended up behind a fully loaded b-double. It was like a roller coaster ride, after we finally got past the truck, slowly creeping up steep hills and the coasting down the windy roads. We arrived at Strahan close to 4.30pm and camped for $10 at the local golf course.
Wednesday we enjoyed walking through town and enjoying the sights, Strahan is extremely quite of tourists, which seems quite strange to when we have both been here previously. No bookings were available on the West Coast Wilderness Railway until Saturday, so we were happy to move onto Queenstown. Here we saw the stunning steam train arrive at the station and got to watch as they turned the steam engine around on the turntable, before hooking it up to the carriages and off on another tour. After leaving Queenstown, DABUS slowly meandered around the windy steep exit through the barren landscape, stopping along the way at lookouts and enjoying the stunning views and landscape. At Derwent Bridge we found a gem of a campsite along the Lake King William, the campfire finally came out, a few drinks and chicken schnitzel cooked over the fire whilst watching trout jumping out of the water.
Up early the following morning as we had booked into see 'The Wall' which came recommended by Heather. We arrived at the carpark to this massive long corrugated building, once inside we were greeted and given a run down on the history and creation of the wall. It's a tourist destination not to be missed. The artist, the extremely talented Greg Duncan and along with his son have created this massive wall of wood sculptures. We were both extremely impressed with the building, The Wall, the talent and inspiration of these two men. Once back in DABUS we made comment that the outside of the building is the blank canvas to what is behind the walls. We'll definitely be back to see further progress. Just down the road we discovered some old wooden stave water pipes, an amazing engineering feat. They are old wooden hydro water pipes that are still in use today. Near Bronte Lagoon we found ourselves in the geographical centre of Tasmania. We finished our day driving towards Hobart and stopping the night at Hawksmere, a private property near Campania, just north of Hobart, for $10 a night.
We have been surprised with the lack of tourist in the areas we have travelled and feel blessed with the stunning weather for this first week. Only having rain twice overnight and the days have been sunny and average between 22-27 degrees.