Spirit of Tasmania
Spirit of Tasmania loading day has arrived. We have our massive Jayco Caravan & vehicle with all its contents and 8 people ready for boarding. We have had quite a few dramas getting to this stage as in between booking our voyage and now, we upgraded our camper trailer to the king of the Jayco range! The extra length was proving a problem due to this ‘overbooked’ voyage. Eventually we gained approval for the extra length (cost extra $$ of course).
So today we nervously boarded, concerned we may be a few centimeters too long & may be denied boarding. Apart from the many stares & second looks we got from staff it was a breeze!
We arrived prior to the official boarding time of 5pm, & today it appears boarding commenced at 4:30pm. No measurements of the vehicle were made and no official ID was requested. Room keys were distributed, a head count was done, we parked (third in line) & into the Spirit of Tasmania I.
Onboard we found our rooms – 8001 & 8003 (4 Bed Porthole Rooms). Cabin fever struck pretty quickly so we explored & found the kids gaming area & playground, the information center with plenty of Tasmania brochures, the bar, the pantry (the shop), the TMK Buffet (which we booked & enjoyed when it opened at 6:30pm), the Reading Room (with not a book in sight), & the Cinema.
We were due to set sail at 7:30pm but we left just after 7pm. Alison, Amy & Tristan walked down to wave us goodbye but by the time they got there we were moving. Arrrrrrrgh! We still madly waved – we believe they did too!
With a full belly we had a relax in communal areas & it is SHOWTIME. We pre-purchased our $10 tickets to The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Almost a private viewing as it was the 8 of us & 2 other girls. The Grinch was showing in the other cinema.
What did I think of the Nutcracker? I think it lacked genuine emotion & was the Chronicles of Narnia meets Alice in Wonderland meets The Wizard of Oz. It was tolerable & awesome effects & scenery but characters & emotion were probably lacking…..that is my opinion for what it’s worth…
We are going to have an early morning wake up call at 5am to disembark at 6am so despite pleas from some of the boys to see another movie (10pm session) it is time for bed ready for wake up in the Apple Isle.
Slept on the Spirit of Tasmania – well some of us slept better than others…for some reason I could hardly sleep!
At 5:15am we had a wake-up call from the crew & at 5:50am we were in our cars ready to explore Tasmania.
Breakfast stops were scarce so off to Devonport McDonalds we ended up. At 8am we went to Mersey Bluff – quick photo shoot with the lighthouse & we gathered for the Devonport Parkrun.
It was humid and our pace was slow but we were out there running, and the scenery was fantastic with the Spirit of Tasmania as our backdrop.
After Parkrun we set off on our journey to Richmond Caravan Park. We stopped at Deloraine, a place my Grandparents honeymooned and were inspired to name their farm in Pyramid Hill over 80 years ago.
We drove through Historic Campbelltown (which we are planning to return to, to find a special family convict memorial brick), then stopped at Ross.
Ross is a lovely historic town which has a population of only 300 but the best Vanilla Slices in Australia at the Historic Ross Bakery. Of course, we had to try the slices along with their caramel slice and brownie slice. We had a look at the various shops that were open & moved onto our next destination – Richmond.
By 1pm (we left Devonport at 9am) we arrived at the Richmond Caravan Park. A simple park but an indoor swimming pool & clean amenities.
Within 1 hr we were set up, kids were swimming, I found the laundry then started relaxing!
Ian, Brittany & Corey discovered the local supermarket for supplies & we had an uneventful evening relaxing at the park.
Today was perfect weather to explore the Historic Town of Richmond, TAS.
So much to see….
Antique stores galore (dangerous for me considering one offered $50 shipping on furniture). Oops! I may have purchased an old school teachers desk from one antique store & some other goodies from some others….
The ‘Pooseum’ looked interesting but at a cost of $96 ($88 discounted) for our family we gave that a miss. I am curious, however, how an entire museum can revolve around ‘poo’.
Instead we went to the Old Hobart Town Miniature Village ($40) and the Historic Richmond Gaol ($35). Both were very much fun & entertaining & gave us an insight into life back in the ‘olden days’.
There were sooooo many shops & places to eat – the busiest & most enticing for a snack was definitely the Sweets & Treats shops where we consumed ice-creams, Iced Chocolates, Christmas Tree Waffles, Honeycomb Chocolate Frogs & Chocolate Cobbers (Mates) – remember those!
The Richmond Bridge was a must-see & so tranquil near the Coal River.
We finished off the day with a relax at the Caravan Park & Speak Out (Kids vs Parents) Board Game. Not the most flattering game but fun!
Late start this morning with a jog (Ian & Bec) / cycle (Corey & Kobi) down to the Richmond Bridge (~4km). That was refreshing!
A 25 minute drive into Hobart & the atmosphere was perfect with the Tastes of Tasmania Festival & the Sydney – Hobart Yacht Race Carnival. Magical & Entertaining acts were abundant with The Masons contributing greatly to their acts – just ask Ian about Miss Kiki the comedian / contortionist!
We ate lunch at ‘The Den’ – shared plates which we would highly recommend. We walked along Salamanca Place & went to The Antique Fair to find more ‘old stuff’!
Next, Lachlan (still on his Learners), drove us up to Mt Wellington. It is a perfect day for amazing views.
Then, off to the State Centre to see Bohemian Rhapsody. Yes! Ours were the only kids in the cinema. Quite a posh crowd. The kids coped well with the movie – they have been brainwashed over the years with QUEEN songs so was a good education behind the band.
The State Centre Cafe was perfect for dining & watching the 9:30pm fireworks. After dinner we went to the Hobart Waterfront which was so much fun! We danced the last 1 ½ hours of 2018 away at the waterfront then spectacular fireworks (but no synchronized music as advertised).
Soooooo much quieter than Melbourne. Sort of felt like a country town!
Happy New Year to all. We wish you all a year o health & happiness.
Happy New Year
Today was a quiet one with a 10am Parkrun in Bellerive with the first ever Parkrun that our entire family participated in. Lunch At Hog‘s Breath Cafe in Hobart and we saw ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ at Village Cinemas Hobart followed by a quiet evening in the Caravan Park – well quiet except for the sight and sound of Waterbomber Helicopters in the vicinity. It seems there are a few bushfires around.
We paid $2 for the Tasmanian Emergency App so we know what is going on! So can’t believe we have to PAY for an emergency alert app in Tasmania!
All is well & tomorrow we travel to Port Arthur. Happy Days…
P.S. For what it’s worth – we all thought Mary Poppins Returns was fantastic & very complimentary to the original. Emily Blunt made a great Mary Poppins, Dick Van Dyke had a cameo role which was pretty awesome, and so did Angela Lansbury who was one of the original Mary Poppins choices. We recommend you see it if you have the chance
Early start this morning, packed up the caravan & set off for the National Trust Site, Hobart Convict Penitentiary. This is where the convicts were kept in solitary confinement, went to church – with the free settlers, became a court room & also the gallows.
The tour guide was Ho-Hum but the actual building & history behind it was definitely worth a visit. Even better – as National Trust Members it was FREE.
Our next destination is Port Arthur Holiday Park. So, from Hobart we went & stopped via Sorell for lunch. At Sorell we ate at Banjo’s Bakery Cafe. The Tasmanian specialty seems to be Scallop Pies. We haven’t tasted them yet but perhaps next Bakery?
After lunch we went to the local Op Shop & Antiques Shop & may have bought a few more treasures.
Next stop was the Caravan Park which is a great choice. NRMA Park by the Bay. We have a massive camping area & just a short walk to the beach. We rode bikes to the beach. Tomorrow we are hoping to get out the Kayak & Stand Up Paddle Board before our visit to the Port Arthur Historic Site.
For dinner we went to Gabriel’s on the Bay for dinner. This was a fantastic choice. The food was delicious & a very happy family bonding time reminiscing & discussing our earliest memories. The view over the Bay was pretty good too.
For dessert we had marshmallows by the campfire with our favourite music & the locals – some Tasmanian Long Nosed Potoroos. (Kynan calls them oversized rats!)
We now look forward to tomorrow’s adventure.
Brittany & I went to the Port Arthur Visitor Centre at Opening Time to Plan our day while the rest of the fam relocated our caravan to another site. (We left booking Port Arthur so late that we only had the choice of split sites).
At 11am we went to Port Arthur & this was our day.
Introductory Walking Tour (on this we learned an overview of the property & the people that lived there).
Boat Cruise & Walking Tour on the Isle of the Dead (this cruise included a guide giving more history and in particular about Point Puer – where boy convicts were sent to work). The Isle of the Dead Tour was optional & cost extra. I wouldn’t recommend this tour for the price as we saw quite a few headstones of the free settlers which was interesting but we would have got just as much information from a book. We saw one Convict Headstone – the rest of the convicts are in unmarked graves. We wish we had have paid for the Point Puer Tour instead as this is where boys as young as 9 Years Old (Kobi’s age) were sent & probably would have been more interesting than Isle of the Dead.
2:30pm & 3:45pm we enjoyed live theatre performances which was included in our general ticket entry. These were so well done & really enjoyable performances giving us an insight into the characters & lifestyle at Port Arthur in the 1800s.
At 5pm we booked in for the Escape from Port Arthur Tour which was our favourite tour of the day. So many stories of escapes. The funniest escape attempt is a convict that ‘dressed up’ as a kangaroo
Out of 1000 escapes / escape attempts only 12 possibly succeeded.
The last time Ian & I visited Port Arthur was in 1998. Since then the Visitors Centre is modernized & so much bigger. It is very expensive although they do offer family tickets of 2 adults and up to 6 children which is good!
The Port Arthur Massacre Memorial was hidden behind hedges with the shell of the Old Visitors Centre remaining. This memorial
is well done & interestingly not mentioned by any of the guides. I suppose it easier for them to talk about history back in the 1800s rather than current history.
On the way back from the Historic Site we went to Remarkable Cave. A natural rock formation which is a very pretty spot & coincidentally forms the Map of Tasmania.
Ian wanted to do a Ghost Tour at night which is something I am totally not interested in. Then he decided he would be ‘toured out’ so because Lachlan was so keen to do the tour I decided I would go with him, then Ian changed his mind.
So……..after dinner Ian, Lachlan and myself set off for the 9:45pm Port Arthur Ghost Tour. Of course we saw no ghosts – it is interesting how they use the power of suggestion!
We saw it as a great opportunity to walk through the complex at night-time & from a different perspective.
Tomorrow we travel to Strahan!
We awoke early this morning to pack up & drive a 6 hour trek to Strahan. This trek turned into an 8 hr trek with 4 stops along the way including Queenstown.
The drive was long, windy & with very little mobile reception.
The sky was pink & grey. We checked carefully with the locals regarding local bushfire alerts. Thankfully by the time we arrived in Strahan the rain started & we felt quite safe.
We are staying st Strahan Holiday Park. The drive took 8 hours with stops along the ways
The caravan park is suitable with all the essential amenities.
After settling into to the caravan park it was time for a LATE dinner. The first pub we visited was not very hospitable, had nowhere for us to sit & told is if we don’t order in 7 minutes the kitchen will
close. In the meantime we could t find a seat to sit & Kynan had a Mishap & broke one of their bottles: Oops!
We kindly excused ourselves & moved on to see what else was in town.
We found Bushman’s which is owned by Steve Bennett. Steve is a character & great businessman. He won our business & our $$.
The food was very delicious at Bushman’s. The kids are spoilt. We had a lovely family time together.
Tomorrow we are on a Gordon River Cruise exploring Sarah Island.
Early start this morning aboard the Gordon River Cruise. The 6 hour cruise took us through Macquarie Harbour (second biggest Harbour in Australia, Port Phillip being the biggest), through Hell’s Gates, past Fish Farms, & to the World Heritage listed Gordon River.
We stopped off at a Huon Pine Forest (saved by the Environmentalists back in the 80s), & finally Sarah Island where we enjoyed Guided Tours. Sarah Island is where convicts were sent for second or subsequent offenses & was a harsh environment. Of particular interest to our family is that Ian’s G.G.G.G. Grandfather – Abraham Flower (alias Richard Edwards) spent some ‘time’ on Sarah Island.
Having finished our cruise we ‘shopped’ in Strahan. Corey acquired a nice piece of Huon Pine for his Yr 12 Woodwork project this year at the Saw Mill.
Back to the caravan park & the boys enjoyed some time out on the Kayak & Stand Up Paddle Board.
In the evening a play called ‘The Ship That Never Was’ was celebrating its 25 Year Anniversary. This play has been running for the past 25 Years in Strahan & is held near the Visitors Centre in Strahan. Tonight it was FREE & held in a Primary School Park next door to our Caravan Park – Winning!
This event was huge. Lots of people & lots of fun. It tells the story of a group of convicts amongst the last to leave Sarah Island. It was very much like a pantomime and Kynan became the star of the show at one point as a 92 Year Old convict hero. That was fun! At the conclusion of the production there was a cake & everyone sang Happy Birthday too! Perfect timing to be in Strahan.
Ian & Corey then went 4- Wheel Driving on the beach.
Big day! Tomorrow we travel to Cradle Mountain.
We had a ‘sleep-in’ today & were slow to pack up & leave our campsite. Corey & Ian purchased a nice piece of Huon Pine for Corey’s VCE Woodworking project this year from the SawMill. Our baggage increases by the day!
We drove to Cradle Mountain via various towns including Zeehan (a derelict mining town), Rosebery and Tullah. In Tullah we found an amazing cafe with a view to eat at called Tullah Lakeside Lodge.
Following on from Tullah we discovered a cute little steam train called Wee Georgie complete with vintage Christmas curtains. The boys couldn’t resist a ride so we all boarded the Wee Georgie & enjoyed steaming our way along the track.
Finally we reached our destination at Cradle Mountain. Discovery Parks / G’day Campsite where we have our own piece of nature to camp. The up-side is that the amenities are clean with an amazing camp kitchen with campfire. The down-side is that we have to boil the water to drink & the kids think it is ‘boring’ because there is no playground or swimming pool. They soon got over that & think they are starting to think this place is all right!
We only have one night here so we quickly made the most of it by going to the Cradle Mountain Visitors Centre, purchasing our Parks Permit (group of 8 for $60), caught the shuttle to Dove Lake.
The Dove Lake Circuit walk is 6.2km & is expected to take 2 – 3 Hours. We set out on our walk at 4:40pm & the last shuttle to the Visitors Centre departs at 7pm. Hmmmmm…..hope we get back in time, otherwise it’s a 10km walk back to the car.
We set out at double speed enjoying the scenery along the way & completed the circuit in 1hr 30min. Phew! Made it! This was a very pretty walk & had a boardwalk with some steep inclines along the way. I would highly recommend this walk to many fitness abilities – just some will take longer than others.
After our walk we went back to camp, had dinner in the camp kitchen, played games & sat by the fire.
Tomorrow we head off to Launceston.
Early morning this morning as we can drive into the Cradle National Park BEFORE 8am or after 7:30pm. Between these times it is required to catch the Shuttle Bus.
After an early morning rush we made it by 7:58am into the National Park. With only 90 minutes we had time to walk to Waldheim – an old chalet & one of Tasmania’s Top 60 walks….the Enchanted Walk.
Both walks were well worth doing. Feeling refreshed we packed up back at the Caravan Park & set off for our next destination, Launceston.
We detoured via the Marakoopa Caves where we enjoyed a tour of the cave of which the highlight was the Glo-worms at the end of the tour.
Next stop was Sheffield, the town of Murals. The murals are quite amazing here but the shopkeepers a little on the grumpy side. We decided to quickly move on to our final accommodation stop – Launceston BIG 4 Holiday Park.
This is our least picturesque park as it overlooks the highway. The best showers & good laundry. Not a great place for the kids to play but it will do us for the next 3 nights!
Sleep in this morning – yippee!
We started our exploring today at the Penny Royal which we made the most of but wouldn’t recommend to other travellers.
We went on The Dark Ride & learned more about the convicts including Matthew Brady (the gentleman bushranger), & others.
We also went on the Brig Tamar Cruise which was rather unexciting.
Barefoot sensation was walking across rocks, timber & other aspects of nature so we would know what it felt like to be a convict……. um……OK!
We also panned for gold which was kind of fun.
The cliff walk was the final activity for the day.
The Penny Royal is way overpriced.
From the Penny Royal we walked to Cataract Gorge which is so pretty. We rode the chairlift and walked over the suspension bridge. Such a pretty area.
From Cataract Gorge we drove to Grindelwald Swiss Village & had ice-creams. Brittany was keen to go here as last time we came to Tasi we stayed at Grindelwald, so it doubled as a trip down memory lane.
Back to the caravan park for the evening. Tomorrow we plan for an early….ish start as we drive the coast to Stanley.