Month end Odo reading: 21,302
March 2010
Km's for the Month: 2,108
Odo reading at month start : 19,194
1 March     Distance:  25
Storage King Deer Park to Ashley Gardens. Staying at Ashley Gardens Holiday Park (Big4).
We arrived in Melbourne on time after a pleasant flight from Auckland. Wang of Airbus Shuttles met us on time and by 11:30 we were at Storage King to collect our 'home.  It started immediately and after disconnecting the mains power we drove to the closest supermarket to restock the grocery cupboard - no fresh fruit or vegetables are allowed to be taken into Tasmania, so fresh veges & fruit will have to be bought in Tassie. Our ferry departs at 19:30 tonight.
5 March     Distance:   149

Devonport to Launceston, via LaTrobe, Railton, Sheffield, Deloraine and Westbury. Staying at Treasure Island Caravan Park.
The trip from Devonport to Launceston on the secondary road (as opposed to the main highway was very interesting and scenic with many small towns that resembled Kiwi country towns rather than the typical Aussie small town. Most were very neat and houses had well maintained gardens.
Railton was particularly interesting, it is a topiary town, with many well-trimmed hedge structures such as elephants, people, Tassie devils and cattle.  When we stopped to take a photo of an elephant and its calf a local woman stopped her car and directed us to a small side street where there was a field full of topiary structures.
Next town on the way was Sheffield, know as the mural town, it became evident very quickly why it is so named. Most murals are very good. We also went into a 1899 established trading store, which is still run by the same family who established the business 111 years ago!
Deloraine is a real neat town with hundreds of good cafes and coffee shops, this town resembled Cambridge on the North Island of NZ. Very neat and a little upmarket. We met another couple with a Paradise motorhome there.
Launceston is the second largest city in Tasmania (pop. 71,400) and is the third oldest city, founded in 1805. On arrival at the camp we were lucky enough to get a power site for tonight and tomorrow night, after being told yesterday we could only get a site on Saturday night. After checking in, we drove to Cataract Gorge on the South Esk River. It has sheer cliffs of dolomite. We did a 2 and-and-bit km walk. On one bank one way and then on the other side on the way back.  The first leg was pretty tough, for at least 90% of the way we climbed to the top of the gorge, on a path with natural steps, this leg is called the Zig-Zag walk and I can see why. The way back was much easier, paved the whole way and only one or two inclines.  It was well worth the effort, the views from the top of the gorge over Launceston are stunning and on the walk back one looks onto the sheer cliffs on the other side. There is a flying fox as well as a chair lift if one prefers not to walk across the gorge.
Waking up, Binalong Bay
Denison canal swing bridge
2 March     Distance:  40
Melbourne to Devonport on the Spirit of Tasmania Ferry. 
Due to Ashley Garden's policy of no late check outs, we had a LOT of time to kill until 5pm when we had to check-in for our ferry trip. We killed an hour by walking around Bunnings, helping an old guy get his car started and I also helped him change his car battery, then we found a large shopping centre and after walking around for a while we decided to go see a movie, we saw Shutter Island starring Leonardo DiCaprio, an extremely challenging and thought provoking move with an interesting ending.
At 4.30pm we left Sunshine centre to drive to the ferry terminal, understandably we hit peak-hour traffic, which turned out to be no problem at all as we arrived at just after 5pm. We then joined a line of cars and RV's to board the ferry which we did just after 7pm, after 2 hours in a queue! We were both surprised just how big the ferry is, it's 11 levels high. We parked on the 5th floor, it was so tight we could only open the drivers door about halfway so we really battled to get out and walk between the wall of the ferry and our motorhome and all the other caravans and trucks. Our cabin was on the 7th floor.
3 - 4 March     Distance:  15
Ferry Terminal to Devonport. Staying at Devonport Discovery Park (Big4/Discovery)
We arrived in Devonport at 6am after a bit of a rough night at sea. The sea was quite rough in the middle of the Bass Strait and as our cabin was right up front we felt the pitching, but besides that I could not sleep as I wanted to see when we left the bay and entered into open water (did not need to see it, we felt it). We arrived at Devonport while it was still dark so it was interesting watching the navigation and city lights.
After docking and disembarking we drove to downtown Devonport and then west to Coles Beach then back into town, where we parked and walked around the interesting smallish town. It is a RV friendly town with quite a few large parking areas suitable for RV's and caravans. 
Devonport is situated on the Mersey River and this is where the ferry operates from.
4 March - A relaxing R&R day, walked along the beach and then to the mouth of the Mersey River. Did most of our planning, but finding most camps are almost all full. Battled to get a camp in Hobart, so we are near Hobart airport, about 20kms from Hobart downtown. We have heard it is almost impossible to get camps on the east coast - we will see.
6 March      Distance:   0

Launceston. Walked 2˝kms  into town and then down to waterfront area and then back into downtown Launceston. The main shopping area is Brisbane Street of which a few blocks have been brick paved and set aside only for pedestrians. Most buildings are over 100 years old and are in very good condition, it's  bit like going back in time, but the town has a very vibe, like New Zealand there are plenty pavement cafes which add to the atmosphere. The walk back to the camp was a lot less easy, uphill for more than half of the 2˝kms, so another day of exercise - I guess that's what it's all about!
7 March     Distance:   179

Launceston to Bridport, via Evandale, Grindelwald, Rosevears, George Town and Low Point. Staying at Bridport Caravan Park. Beautiful location right on the beach but arguably the worst camp we stayed at anywhere in OZ. - but the manager was extremely helpful & friendly. She squeezed into an already overbooked and packed camp (it's Labour Day long weekend).
On the advise of Keith & Kay who we enjoyed happy hour with in Launceston, we again did a detour to the very picturesque historic village of Evandale - practically the whole villages comprises pristine century-old houses and trading stores, it was well worth the extra 40kms.
From there we travelled to the supposedly Swiss Village of Grindelwald. Although the Swiss shopping centre was interesting the town has absolutely nothing Swiss about it, so it was a bit of a disappointment.
We continued northwards along the western side of the large and wide Tamar River, through some beautiful small riverside towns and past many vineyards. A little way past Rosevears we crossed the Tamar River via the very high free span Bateman Bridge.  (saw a fantastic rest area on the west side of the bridge, where many motorhomes were free-parked). After crossing the Tamar we headed for George Town, the 3rd oldest settlement in Tassie, built for troops to prevent a French landing party.
A few kilometres further north is Low Head where the 1888 lighthouse is situated. While we were there the 70-mile radius fog horn was blown a few times - it sounded like the roar of a 1000 elephants. The fog horn in no longer in full time service but the lighthouse is.
8 March     Distance:   147

Bridport to Binalong Bay, via Scottsdale & Derby. Staying on the road alongside the beach.
Last night poured as did it most of the way today, on a very narrow twisty road with many almost switchback turns, however even taking the pouring rain into account the drive was very scenic.  We stopped at the Scottsdale info centre which is one of the best we have seen in OZ and the staff were extremely helpful and informative. The road into Binalong Bay is very bumpy with plenty potholes, 2 of the free camps we were going to stay at are on dirt roads, 1 km down one of them was enough for me, I just managed a 5-point U-turn on the narrow dirt road and headed back to Binalong Bay. We are now parked (illegally?) right on the beach. We may well be chased by the rangers later.  Although many people think the Bay of Fires got its name from the red-algae covered rocks, the real reason was the settlers saw Aboriginal-lit fires onshore.
9 March     Distance:   121
Binalong Bay to Bicheno via a detour north to The Gardens, St Helens and Falmouth.  Staying at Bicheno East Coast Holiday Park
We were not chased from our free parking last and we both had a good nights sleep - we did however have quite a bad storm with plenty rain and lightning. We met yet another couple with a Paradise Motorhome, so far we have met more Paradise owners in Tassie than on the whole trip last year.
From Binalong we travelled north to The Gardens which is the furtherest north one can drive up the east coast on a sealed road. Even the road to The Gardens is so narrow we had to move off the road to allow another vehicle to pass. The beaches along the Bay of Fires have almost talcum powder fine very white sand, and it squeaks like the sand at Maroochydore. From there we drove back to St Helens where we topped up with diesel, gas and milk. St Helens is a neat fishing town with an interesting boat-filled marina.
Before coming to Tassie we decided we really wanted to see a Tasmanian Devil and I wanted to see a Tiger snake, Australia's 4th most venomous snake. The East Coast Natureworld is situated just north of Bicheno. The park is 150 acres and has a large population of disease free 'devils as well a large population of Tiger snakes. A large proportion of the 'devils suffer from an incurable disease - Devil Facial Tumour, which is threatening to wipe out the species. We were lucky to watch a few of the 'devils being fed, they are pretty ferocious and make weird threatening noises when approached by another devil while eating.
Bicheno is a typical small, neat seaside holiday resort. Not to far from the camp we watched the blowhole on the headland.
Across the road from the camp is a specialist meat and seafood deli, we couldn't resist buying a fresh crayfish - once again we find OZ very expensive - $71 for a crayfish!!! So it's cray & salad for dinner tonight.
10 March    Distance:   135

Bicheno to Mayfield Bay, via Coles Bay (Freycinet National Park), Cape Tourville and Swansea
The crayfish we had last night was really good, a fine end to a good day!
We left Bicheno early this morning as we had to first dump at the municipal-provided dump point - we always get quite miffed when caravan parks do not have an on-site black water dump. Thereafter we headed for Coles Bay, which is situated in the Freycinet National Park which in turn is on the Freycinet Peninsular. 
Wineglass Bay with its stunning white sand beaches and clear blue water is the main attraction of this area, however one is unable to see Wineglass Bay unless one takes a flight over it, or one does a tough and long hike to the top of a mountain which overlooks the Bay.
We mistakenly thought by driving up to Cape Tourville it would afford us a view of Wineglass Bay, but it didn't, we could only see it from a long way off. Despite that, the views from the top of Cape Tourville were stunning - so the very steep, twisty and slow drive to the top was well worth it.
In Swansea we saw over 20 rented motorhomes (later we were told there were 26 in all), all with a computer drawn kiwi bird and a number in the back window.  We chatted to 2 couples at the car park at the beach and found out they are all Kiwis and are touring Tassie for over a month. We all agreed Tassie is a lot like South Island NZ.
After leaving Swansea we drove about 13km south to Mayfield Bay where we parked on the side of the road - where we hope to spend the night. Just like Binalong the view from our home is stunning as we are absolutely beachfront.
11 March      Distance:   112

Mayfield Bay to Richmond - via Triabunna, Buckland and Sorrell. Staying at an off-the-main street parking area alongside the river in Richmond, near the old bridge. Hope we are not "moved on". We have been lucky so far in our selection of free parking sites.
Had a peaceful night at Mayfield Bay, woke up to a beautiful sunrise this morning with a stunning view from our bed. This type of view normally costs a million bucks.
Triabunna, where we stopped for morning tea is a fishing village, mainly crayfish. We spoke to a local "oldie" who owns 3 large crayfish boats - he told us just how bad catches have been recently, in a week of fishing recently they caught on average 1 crayfish a day!!! No wonder we paid so much, but, theboats sell crayfish directly to the public for around $45 per kg. Much cheaper then $71 for one!
We spent about a hour or so speaking to him and his son who was about to set off for another week - they don't take crew so he would be on his own for the week.  The cray pots are made from wooden branches, something I haven't seen before.
On our way to Richmond we visited the Church of St John at Buckland, built in 1846. One of it's stained glass windows set into the east wing dates back to the 14th century - it was taken from Battle  Abbey in the 17th century. It really is beautiful, as are all the windows in the church.  It is n amazing church for a town with a population of around 100.  walking around the cemetery surrounding the church was also very interesting.
Richmond is an extremely scenic and interesting village, more than 50 buildings date back to 19th century. The Richmond Bridge was built by convicts in 1823 and completed in 1825. It is the oldest surviving bridge in Australia.  St John's Catholic Church, built by a convict architect and St Luke's Anglican church are both very beautiful churches. The convict responsible for the beautiful timber ceiling at St Luke's was freed due to the quality of his workmanship.
Richmond is full of restaurants and  cafes, coupled with the historic buildings and well maintained gardens it really is a neat place to visit.
12 - 14 March     Distance:   62
Richmond to Hobart, via Cambridge. Staying at Hobart Airport Tourist Park (Big4). En-suite would have rated 5-stars if it had towels and a soap dispenser. A very neat but sterile camp but as it is new (Sept. 2009) it hasn't had time to establish itself with trees & shrubs - it is part of & owned by the airport Comfort Hotel.
Another great night in a free parking, in Richmond village. But, early this morning we were awoken but a number of utes parking around our RV - after talking with one of the people I found out they were arranging breakfast for a vintage car rally, which later turned out to be a Rolls Royce rally, travelling around Tassie.
After watching about half the cars arrive, we drove to Cambridge, which other than a large new shopping mall appeared run down and really nothing to offer or see.
We then drove into Hobart, which is slightly similar to a mix between Wellington, NZ and Vancouver. It has many old buildings still in really good condition but besides that it did not "grab" either of us, as much as we thought it might. Like Wellington, parking in the city is at a premium especially for a motorhome, driving around is not the easiest, the roads are really narrow with many 1-way streets - however, with the assistance of my Nuvi and TomTom we drove around a saw quite a bit before finding a 2-hour parking in a residential street, about a 15-minute walk into town.
We walked along Salamanca Place (we plan to visit the renowned Saturday Market there), then into town, down to the waterfront area where we were really tempted to buy fish & chips at the floating take-away food stores (a lot like Washington, D.C.) but decided to wait until tomorrow. The main pedestrian mall is on Elizabeth Street, like all such streets it was buzzing with locals and tourists alike.
The RV park we are staying at is near the airport, 20kms from downtown Hobart, so tomorrow we are catching a shuttle bus to town to see the Salamanca Saturday market. 
13th - caught the shuttle bus into Hobart for $20 each return, this was a good decision as Hobart, anywhere near the Salamanca Market was really busy and from what we could see all parking bays were taken, the traffic was pretty full on. We saw many RV's driving around trying to find parking.
The main attraction of Hobart is the Salamanca Saturday market and it is well worth visiting - most stalls sell arts and crafts and Tasmanian made wooden objects, all of which are interesting. Unfortunately like many markets worldwide cheap Chinese  junk toys and goodies are also sold. Yvonne spotted Olliebollen (a Dutch type of donut) - they were great and pretty authentic. Unfortunately there is no such praise for the fish & chips we bought at the floating fish market, the fish was horribly overcooked and dry. Not to be recommended.
We also did a walking tour through the very old  original residential area of Hobart where there are some fine cottages still in very good condition. One particularly grand neoclassical house, Lenna, was built in  1880 as a private mansion but today operates as a hotel.
15 - 16 March     Distance:   97
Hobart to Port Arthur, via Sorell. Staying at Port Arthur Park. All the water is brown & drinkable?
From Sorell to Port Arthur is a very scenic drive. We even crossed a swing bridge on the Denison Canal, which connects Blackman Bay and Dunalley Bay. A short distance further on we turned off the road to look at Pirates Bay from a good lookout point.
We also turned off the main road just south of Eaglehawk Neck and drove to Penzance and Doo Town, where most houses have a name with the word "Doo" in it. We saw houses named, Dr Doolittle, Wattle-I-Doo and Nickle Doo, even the take-away stall at the beach was emblazoned Doo-lishus!
One of the main attractions we planned to see in Tasmania was the old convict town at Port Arthur. From 1830 Port Arthur became a penal station and convicts were used to produce sawn logs from timber gained from local forests. From 1833 Port Arthur was used for only repeat offenders. By 1840 there were more than 2,000 convicts living in the harsh conditions at Port Arthur. At it's height it was a busy little town, with free settlers, soldiers and government officials and of course, the convicts. We spent about 4 hours walking around and into the remaining buildings, many were destroyed in bush fires after the penal station closed in 1877. We did a boat tour around he Isle of the Dead, where everyone was buried, and also around Point Puer, where there was a jail for children, the youngest was 9 years old!  Later that night we did a ghost tour of camp, it was interesting and credit must go to our guide for trying to make it as scary as possible.
When we arrived back at our camp just after 10pm, there were at least 20 little wallabies  (pademelons) on our camp site.
17 March      Distance:   279
Port Arthur to Derwent Bridge (Lake St Clare). Staying at Lake St Clare National Park, 5kms from Derwent Bridge
A long trip today, much more mileage than we normally do, but we wanted to get close to Queenstown and Strahan, on the west coast.
To break our trip we stayed on the banks of Lake St Clare, the deepest lake in Australia at 167m. It was formed by glacial activity. The lake is in a World Heritage site, but the camp is disappointing, a super location and fairly nice sites, but extremely over priced at $35 when one considers there's no fresh water on site, no grey water dump, no dump and the amenities are fairly old and slightly run-down to say the least. The lass at reception said many people have complained!
Not much of interest along the way today, we watched a few people trout fishing near New Norfolk (not a good feel about that town at all), it resembled a typical outback town as opposed to the neat Tasmanian towns we have seen on this trip.
We stopped at the view site in Tarraleah overlooking  the hydro-electric power station, fed by a large canal and 6 enormous diameter pipes. On the opposite of the mountain there are another 6 similar pipes feeding yet another hydro-electric station.
Brisbane street, Launceston
Driving onto Spirit of Tasmania
Our cabin
Grindelwald Swiss Village
Blowhole at Bicheno
Our "cray" dinner, Bicheno
Port Arthur, penitentiary ruins
Sunset, leaving Melbourne
Docked in Mersey River, Devonport, Tasmania
Cataract Gorge
Launceston, from the gorge
Suzuki rally
Elephant topiary in Railton
Mural in Sheffield
Low Head Lighthouse (1888)
Binalong Bay, photo taken from our door, showing how close we were to sea.
A Tassie Devil
2-metre Tiger snake
View from Cape Tourville
Wineglass Bay
Taken from our bed, Mayfield Bay
Mayfield Bay
Cray boats on boat, Triabunna
Stained glass window, St John's Church. 14th century
Richmond Bridge - 1823
Elizabeth Mall, Hobart
Salamanca Place on market day
One of the 'Rollers
Our free parking in Richmond
Lake St Clare
Our "spot" at Lake St Clare
18 - 19 March      Distance:   137
Derwent Bridge to Strahan (pronounced Strawn), via Queenstown.Staying tonight (18th) at Regatta Point car park as we could not get into a camp. Hope we are not "moved on". Staying at the Discovery Holiday Park (Big 4) camp about 5kms from where we stayed last night. Very old amenities block and staff unfriendly!!!!
Last night was the coldest night we have had in this motorhome, it was just below 5o, but it actually got down to 3˝o while we were driving through the forest.
This was one of One of the toughest drives we have ever done, from Derwent Bridge to Strahan - for those who know the drive from Napier to Lake Tutira, it's like the worst of that road, but 137kms long. For those who know Hwy 1 going north out of San Francisco it's even wore than that, in short a real tough, demanding & tiring drive, which one had to do at a very slow speed most of the way.
Once one leaves Derwent Bridge there are no towns or settlements until one gets to Queenstown. Before reaching Queenstown, we stopped at Nelson Falls, situated in a rain forest, a short walk from the main road. It was well worth the short walk, even though it was really cold in the forest.
The road leading down to Queenstown which is situated in a valley is just a series of switchbacks. The hills surrounding the road have been stripped bare by copper, iron and zinc mining, it's a bit like a barren moon scene. We did not explore Queenstown at all, as we are catching the West Coast Wilderness Railway tomorrow, a 4˝ hour trip from Strahan to Queenstown, and a coach trip back to Strahan.
Strahan is a very popular holiday resort town, everything is expensive and unfortunately it is now quite touristy complete with many expensive (dare I say, overpriced) restaurants and many shops selling trinkets not at all different from the ones offered by tourist shops all over the world - just the name changed to Tasmania or Strahan. Having said that, it is worth visiting even taking it's remoteness into account.
19th - We weren't moved on last night from our Regatta Point free parking - but we did have a really bad storm, an absolute downpour with gale force winds which we felt, being parked right alongside the harbour. At times our motorhome swayed a little like a yacht at sea, that's how strong the wind was, no wonder some refer to this coast the wild country.
At 10am we boarded the West Coast Wilderness Railway at Regatta Point,  100 metres from where we spent the night. The train consisted of 3 coaches and a diesel loco for the first half of the trip to Dubbil Barrill, (yes, correct spelling) on the way to Queenstown.
At Dubbil Barrel we changed trains for the steam loco driven one.  In addition, for the next section of the trip the train lines were augmented by a 3rd rack & pinion rail as well, between the two normal rails. This enables the train to climb  1:14 and a 1:16 mountains, as the rack & pinion wheels lock as the train passes over the fixed rack. The trip is very scenic and the train crosses over 40 bridges and runs along the King and then the Queen River.

The bare Mountains
Steep, hilly road to Queenstown
Diesel loco at Regatta Point
Steam loco at Dubbil Barril
Queenstown main street
Dove Lake, Cradle Mtn. on right
Nelson Falls
20 March      Distance:   216
 Strahan to Hellyer Gorge Rest area via Zeehan, Rosebery and Cradle Mountain National Park. Very scenic rest area (#181), one of the best we have seen in Tassie.Last night was the coldest night we have had in this motorhome, it was just below 5o, but it actually got down to 3˝o while we were driving through the forest. 
After leaving Strahan fairly early this morning we travelled to Zeehan on a pretty good road, not as twisty as the road from Queenstown to Strahan.
Our first stop, Zeehan was named after one of Tasman's ships. It was a mining town with a population of over 10,000 in 1903, it even boasted its own stock exchange, however today it has a population of only 850 and looks pretty run-down. We did  not visit the mining museum.
The next town on our route was Rosebery which is also a small town but has a massive gold, tin and zinc mine so although the town looks a little depressed it is apparently pretty well off.
From there we travelled to the Cradle Mountain National Park - we had heard so much about Cradle Mountain, being told many times it's a must see attraction. One is not able to drive to the main attraction, Dove Lake, but a shuttle bus takes one from the visitor centre to a number of stops in the park - the road the shuttle bus travels on is extremely narrow and I don't think we could have taken our RV along certain sections of the road. 
We went straight to Dove Lake, from where Cradle Mountain can be seen.  To say we were underwhelmed is a bit of an understatement - but in defence of Tassie, the Alps in NZ and the Rockies in Canada / US are just so stunning that Cradle Mountain just doesn't compare. The colour of the water in Dove Lake doesn't compare to the glacial water at Lake Louse in the Canadian Rockies - maybe we are being unfair to Tassie, but it did just not have the WOW factor, nice, yes, but stunning, no! Worth visiting, yes, but only because it was 40kms away from the main road.

Mining Museum at Zeehan
21 March      Distance:   107
Hellyer Gorge Rest area to Stanley, via Wynyard. Staying in a parking on the beach, hoping once again we are not moved on. We had a bad rainstorm last night again, but besides that it was a peaceful night. We met a couple from Burnie (about 50kms away) who came to the rest area in their motorhome for the weekend.
The drive from Hellyer Gorge to Wynyard is a very pleasant drive mainly through forests and then through an area similar to Cambridge in NZ. Due to the amount of rain lately all the fields are very green.  This area is the main dairy cattle area of Tassie, we even saw a Fonterra plant near Wynyard. For those who don't know, Fonterra is a NZ company and is the largest producer of milk solids in the world.
Stanley is a very neat small town (pop. 460), it was the headquarters of the London based Van Diemen's Land Company. It was a whaling port in the early 1800's, today it is still a fishing port, but mainly crayfish. Most of the old houses and buildings have been beautifully restored, and are mainly restaurants or B&B's.
The town is based at the bottom of Circular Head, otherwise known as The Nut, a 152m high lava plug, from the top the views are pretty spectacular. We were lazy today, we took the chairlift to the top instead of walking up and down. In our defence it was raining on and off and the wind was howling! That's our excuse and we are sticking to it.
Once again we are pushing our luck and have parked right on the beach only a few hundred metres from The Nut. We hope to spend the night here. The view is stunning!
Met a guy from Victoria who is travelling in his campervan, his story makes one thankful for the lot we have been dealt.  He's about 35, is a severe diabetic  and both his feet have gangrene. They will have to amputated in the near future.
We watched the movie The Bucket List last night, that too, makes one think a bit about life! Anyway, enough of these morbid ramblings.  Right now, we have no idea where we are headed tomorrow or the next day, all we know is we have to back in Devonport on Thursday afternoon, to catch the early morning ferry back to Melbourne. Here's hoping the winds dies down a it before then!

Hellyer Gorge rest area
Stanley- main street
Our parking at Stanley
View from the top of The Nut
The Nut - Stanley
Page 2 of the Tasmania story