04 Mar Tasmania 2020 – to 29th February
We are now on a trip to Tasmania, our first long trip in the motor-home. This will be a test of whether we can manage alright without a vehicle to run around in for day trips & shopping etc. We were used to having the F250 to go places while the fifth wheeler was parked at a camp. Now we have to do all the sight seeing and shopping on the way to a camp, and not stay long at each place.
2nd February 2020
We left home in hot and dry conditions and stayed the first night at Kilcoy showgrounds where we could plug in to power and run the air-conditioner. It was too hot to do much but we wandered out in the late afternoon to find a geocache.
The next day we made it to Stanthorpe and got set up in time for the edge of a huge thunderstorm. We had a brief downpour and a bit of thunder, then it cleared and the air was much cooler.
The next few days were a mixture of very cool to moderately warm days and nights, then rain. There was a huge rain band moving up from the south and although we tried to stay away from it we could not avoid it for long. The motor-home was soon very dirty as the dust on it turned to mud streaks – one of the joys of motor-homing. There are still water restrictions in the towns we visited so no hope of washing the RV.
We reached Temora in the pouring rain and went to the Aviation Museum for a couple of hours – well worth the visit and at least somewhere dry to occupy ourselves for a while. We then went to the Temora showgrounds for the night –very wet and muddy and we had an uncomfortable night with very strong winds rocking the van and pelting rain – and a strange clunking noise!
The next morning after the rain stopped Frans crawled under the van and found the heat shield which protects the floor and wiring from the muffler heat was hanging loose. He managed to fix it back with some cable ties and we were lucky to be able to book in to a fiat dealer in Wodonga to check it. Apparently this is a common fault with Fiats and they securely fixed the heat shield and ordered the new parts for us as an “urgent” matter and said to come back the next day.
We went to Tallangatta showground for the night, a beautiful place and just recently the evacuation centre for the bush fires further east at Corryong.
A lovely day and we used the synthetic cricket pitch for some croquet practice. The Fiat dealer rang to say the parts are on back-order and will be a few weeks. They said it will be fine for a few weeks so we arranged to go back there when we return from Tasmania at the end of March. As it was afternoon by then we travelled a short distance to the Tuan forest campground near Chiltern – we were the only campers so had a very quiet night.
To Frans’ daughter (Karyn) south of Melbourne, for a few days before we take the ferry to Tasmania. It was a tight fit getting into her front garden but we made it after some severe pruning of the bushes, and we were comfortable there for 3 nights. We went out to dinner with Karyn and enjoyed our time with her.
We left Karyn’s place at 6am and drove to the Port. The Queen Elizabeth had arrived earlier and the congestion at the port was ridiculous. We joined the queue of vehicles waiting to get onto the dock and after 30 minutes or so got to the front of the line only to be told there was no more room right then for motor-homes and caravans and to go back to the end of the line.
Our friends were ahead of us somewhere. Eventually we made it to the dock and joined the check-in line. We were 30 minutes late leaving but had a pleasant cruise across to Tasmania, after having breakfast on board, watching a movie, lunch, then snoozing in our recliner chairs for a while. We left the ferry at about 7pm and went to Latrobe for the night. We went looking for geocaches before calling it a day.
After a quiet night we went to the nearby IGA and stocked up on fresh veg & fruit. Bev went to Reliquaire to meet Cousins Anita and Karen who live near Devonport. It was great to catch up with these lovely ladies.
Frans and Sue & Jim joined us after a while. We had a hilarious time taking photos on a “hole” mat. It is a black and white rug which looks innocuous but from the camera’s eye looks like a big hole which you can jump into. A lot of fun for those of us enjoying our 2nd childhood.
Then we went off to a lovely campground at Yorktown called Watermill Cottage. We spent 2 nights there with Sue & Jim and they carted us around in their Land Cruiser on day trips to various places.
We left Yorktown and drove to Low Head via Georgetown, finding some geocaches along the way, one at some great woodcarvings in Georgetown.
We visited the Low Head Pilot Station, an 1800’s small village which was occupied by Pilots who brought the ships in from Bass Strait along the Tamar River to offload their goods. We also went to the Low Head lighthouse which is at the northernmost tip of the Tamar Estuary. More geocaches found.
We camped at East Beach RV camp for the night – very windy and wet.
Wet and windy still so we took our time and waited until late morning to leave East Beach. We made our way to Old Macs Farm campground in Launceston and found a site near to Sue and Jim who had arrived earlier. Later in the day they took us in to town so Frans could see a doctor about an infected leg, which required dressing and antibiotics. The weather cleared up and became sunny but still windy, but we could see that the camp ground was a beautiful location and with a café on site a very pleasant place to stay.
A cool sunny morning and we went out for the day with Sue and Jim, first to town to do the Cataract Gorge cruise, then to Cataract Gorge where we went across in the chair lift, walked a way along the walking trail, then back to the start. After that we drove to Grindelwald Swiss Village, had lunch and then to Hillwood Berry Farm to pick some strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
Frans’ birthday and another day out with Sue and Jim, this time to the top of Ben Lomond. The day was sunny and quite warm but once we got to the top it was a very chilly 4 C and windy as well. Sue and Jim went off for a walk and we stayed in the warmth of the car. The drive up and back down the dirt road (called Jacobs Ladder) was interesting! Beautiful rugged scenery though.
We meandered around a bit and went to Evandale for lunch and planned to go to Alan’s Bakery at Westbury for afternoon tea, only to find it had closed down 3 years ago and was replaced by an IGA store. Sue cooked pancakes when we got back to camp as compensation – delicious with berries and cream.
The main event that we had planned to go to on this trip – the annual Evandale festival and Penny Farthing races. We watched some of the early trials before wandering around the stalls and sampling some of the food – one special treat was Dutch Ollie Bollen which was a favourite for Frans in his younger days. We bumped into some friends from RV Homebase. Later we watched some more penny farthing races before going for a drink at one of the pubs and then wending our way back to camp – all courtesy of Sue and Jim.
Time for Sue and Jim to go west and for us to go east. We first went to the East Launceston Croquet Club for a game of golf croquet, then headed off to Myrtle Park campground. We had a lovely sunny afternoon there and a peaceful night.
A foggy morning to start and we took our time getting going. Then we drove through Scottsdale to Legerwood to see the memorial carvings of the old trees. The trees were planted in 1918 to commemorate fallen soldiers from the district, and when they were eventually cut down they were carved into statues- a very effective way of remembering the individuals whose stories are told on plaques beside the carvings.
We continued on to Winneleah RV stop for the night, where we parked up against the hay bales. We walked to the pub only to find it was closed that day.
After a showery start to the day the sun came out and we headed off along the narrow, winding mountain roads through Weldborough and stopped at Pyengana for Devonshire Tea at the dairy café. It was delicious and it was very interesting to sit outside on the sunny deck watching the contented cows ambling up from the paddock to the automatic gate to be let in for milking by the fully automated robotic milking system. They patiently queued up until their turn came, and when milking was finished ambled round to the grain feeder for a snack before heading back out into the paddock.
We then drove down to St Helens and out to Cosy Corner North campground in the Bay of Fires for the night. We managed to find a reasonably good spot near the beach and spent some time walking along the beach and checking out the orange rocks. It was warm and sunny and we were actually in shorts and Tshirts for a change.
The forecast was for rain and storms and the site we were on looked like it would become very boggy, so we packed up and drove to the next campground for a look. We did not find a suitable site there, but Frans ended up helping a single woman to park her caravan, and then helped another woman with 2 kids to relocate her caravan to a better position. Sir Galahad to the rescue!
From there we went to look at Swimcart Beach and found a perfect spot on the beach side, on good hard gravel. We set up and put the awning out, but within minutes the storm appeared with strong winds so we had to put the awning up again and sit out the bad weather.
Later on the clouds cleared and we had a really lovely afternoon for a walk. It even became warm enough to sit outside and watch the sunset with a glass of wine.
The forecast was for more strong winds so we packed up and went into St Helens to do laundry and dump out and refill the water tanks. The wind really picked up so it was just as well we were away from the exposed shore.
We drove to White Sands Estate south of Scamander and stayed the night at the RV stop there, which is a beautiful location. We went into the Brewhouse Café for a coffee and wandered around for a while looking at the scenery. It was still windy but sunny and pleasant.
Another lovely sunny morning and after another coffee at the Brewhouse Café we headed off to The Pondering Frog café near Freycinet with the intention of staying the night. However, we rang East Coast Cruises to see about booking the Maria Island cruise and they said the best weather forecast was for the next day and they had space available. So, an instant decision was made to move down to Triabunna RV stop and stay the night there so we could do the cruise next morning.
We moved the motorhome into the public car park at the wharf and boarded the Spirit of Maria. The cruise took us over to Maria Island, then a circumnavigation of the whole island including pushing the boat into a small sea cave, also hard up against fossil cliffs and into some other very small spaces to get a close up look at the geological features of the island. This is the only place we have ever seen stalactites outside a cave- they are actually on the cliffs around the island.
It is a fascinating place and has a lot of wildlife around and on it. We saw seals, heaps of seabirds, and when we went ashore we came across wombats and cape barron geese.
The island has a very interesting history which is little known – definitely worth a visit.
Tonight we are at Buckland in the RV stop behind the pub. We are 3 days ahead of our planned schedule, but that means nothing! We will head towards Hobart now and see where we end up.