‘Some Stories Last More than a Lifetime’: Port Arthur

Photo showing the ”new” Penitentiary and hospital prior to fires destroying the site. Photo Courtesy of Port Arthur Historic Site.

Established in 1830 as a timber station, Port Arthur was a secondary penal colony. By “secondary” it meant that the prisoners were repeat offenders. The men and women who ended up at Port Arthur were those who had committed crimes after they had arrived in the colonies; The worst of the worst were sent here and the site was chosen for its remote and inhospitable location. Making escape impossible for the unlucky convicts who were imprisoned here was a priority at the time. Escape was almost impossible, with a line of vicious dogs guarding the only way out, a 100-metre-wide strip of sand at Eaglehawk Neck.

It’s one of Tasmania’s most popular tourist attractions, but the story behind the Port Arthur Historic Site is anything but easily digested, It’s been more than 140 years since the Port Arthur penal colony shut after 44 years of brutal slavery and punishment of the ‘worst of the worst’ sent from the motherland, some as young as 9 years old. Most were hardened criminals, others insane or you could say just unlucky. Some made it out. Hundreds did not.

There is so much already documented about Port Arthur that we will not give you another history lesson here. However we will give you 5 interesting facts to ponder.

1. The convicts built their own prison walls. 
Really ….. No thanks.

It’s hard to imagine that they would really care about leaving a few bricks loose!

The initial industrial penal settlement was built of timber from the surrounding forest and was home to key factories, such as ship building, shoemaking, smithing, and timber and brick making. But by the 1840s, Port Arthur was home to more than 2000 convicts, soldiers, and free officers (and their families), and by 1848 the first stone was laid by the prisoners for the separate prison, which stands as a central attraction today. 

The new Penitentiary even in ruins dominates the site.

This is the most photographed building on the historic site. The new Penitentiary as it was known had 136 separate cells on the bottom two floors for those whom one Commandant called ‘the lions’ – ‘prisoners of bad character under heavy sentence’. They had to be separated from each other and from the better-behaved.

The ”new” Penitentiary as it stands today.

The convicts ate and slept here but worked around the site and across the peninsula. Above the cells was a dining hall (which doubled as a school room at night), the prisoners’ library of ‘useful and entertaining books’ and a Catholic chapel. On the top floor was a dormitory for 348 better-behaved men.

2. An ambitious experiment….. but did it work?

Believe it or not, despite all of the cruelties that went on at Port Arthur, the Governor was trialling an ambitious experiment around the philosophy that prisoners could reform while still being punished.

Religious and Moral Instruction was given at church services.

The authorities’ aim was to offer its prisoners the opportunity to turn themselves into useful citizens of the future by building a system on punishment and discipline, classification and separation, religious and moral instruction, trade training, and education. In combination, they were to provide the convict with opportunities to turn himself into a useful future citizen. We can actually say that Port Arthur was Australia’s first TAFE. 

A sculpture of a ship now stands on the slipway where hundreds of boats were built. Master Shipwright Mr Hoy who was originally at Sarah Island, came to work and train the convicts at Port Arthur.

There were many benefits for learning a trade, apart from the obvious one in improving ones life. Convicts that were good at their trade also received privileges like tea and sugar, and some skilled prisoners were even rewarded for good work with a ration of rum.

However for those who did not tow the line. Harsh punishment in the form of solitary confinement was issued. Now we were lead to believe in school that these prisoners were kept in the dark for 23 hours a day. But in fact they worked in their solitary confinement quarters for 23 hours a day with one hours exercise. But they were not to utter a word or make a sound. They were kept in a state of silence. This represented a move away from physical punishment to a focus on psychological punishment. 

Isolation, confinement and total silence was the
punishment for the untameable

3. Convict tattoos… more than just for decoration.

It’s nice to know some things are woven through history. Go back 180 years, and even convicts had a thing for tattoos. And just like today, they were for many and varied reasons. From purely decorative, to a tribute to a loved one, and even a reminder of a trial date, or in fact when their sentence would be complete.

While some of the most common tattoos were that of a woman, a cross or crucifixion, a heart with the initials of a loved one, a man, and a mermaid – the most popular was that of an anchor, which was a symbol for hope.



How do we know about these tattoos? The government of the day were very precise in their record keeping. Identifying a prisoner was of importance so detailed descriptions were made.

4. Drawing the short-straw… the life of a soldier

There was no glory in guarding convicts. Speak to most soldiers and they say they train for battle to defend their country and that of their allies.

So imagine being called up for duty when there is not only no chance for any of that, you’re across the other side of the world in a place called Van Diemen’s Land. Most regiments posted at Port Arthur regarded it as a low point in their history. Their main job was obviously security, watching over the convicts working in the bush or building boats, and of course chasing after escapees.


With their accommodation next to the Commandant’s house, it wasn’t all bad news. Senior offices and their families apparently had busy social lives and enjoyed dinner parties!

5. The care of the older and infirmed


Most convicts lived a life of heavy labour, and for those already skilled they would be put to work in their trade. But for those men who were too weak for the heavy lifting, you’d find them in the gardens or performing light duties at Garden Point.

The hospital as it was prior to destruction by fire.
The hospital in ruins today

During the 1860s Port Arthur entered what is becoming known as its ‘Welfare Phase’. This period saw the construction of the Pauper’s Depot in the Hospital (1863-64) and the Asylum (1864-68). The result of an ageing and increasingly infirm prisoner population, these were the centres of Port Arthur’s somewhat benevolent leanings. Another result of the ageing prisoners was that the profitable convict-driven industries like timber-getting and agriculture took a downturn.

In keeping with the era, treatment for the patients, many suffering from depression or mental disability, was rudimentary at best. Convict patients were provided with a ‘soothing’ atmosphere, where they were allowed exercise and mild amusement. Work, though limited, was mainly tending the gardens, or chopping firewood. 

The NRMA caravan park where we stayed is the location of the convict gardens where they once flourished. Convicts walked the 50 minute return trip each day after attending to the vegetable gardens, which feed the 2000 occupants of the site.



Port Arthur Historic Site is one of the those few attractions where even when going in with high expectations, it still managed to excel. This is a historical site of untold disappear. As you run your fingers slowly across the hand-made clay brick remains of once imposing structures built on the blood, sweat and tears of convicts at the notorious Port Arthur Historic Site, you feel an energy, a deep melancholy and unexplained sadness.

The unease contradicts the view about you. The day is warm and peaceful with the leaves of broad ancient oaks and gum trees chattering in the breeze. Bumble bees hover over colourful flowerbeds and cherry and apple trees are bursting with fruit.

You can’t feel good walking about this monument with its horrific past that was enforced upon this land. A history that tried to be forgotten by so many even changing the towns name to Carnarvon to wash away the past. But nothing could erase the past, not even the bush fires that ravaged it. It has succeeded regardless. What has triumphed though is the stories of individuals who served their time, reformed, escaped or died. They left a history that we should never forget.


We have been to Tasmania on many occasions, but we have been unable to visit the Port Arthur site. It is 26 years since the Port Arthur “Massacre”, (how we hate that word). 26 years ago 35 innocent people lost their lives, and 23 others wondered, families were destroyed and dreams were never fulfilled. Kate Scott was one of those vibrant young lives, never will she grow old and never will she nor any of others be forgotten. We were finally able to pay our respects to Kate and those taken from us on that fateful day.

Rest in Peace



Your entry fee includes a 2-consecutive day pass, a free introductory tour and a free harbour cruise. Make sure you don’t miss the tours.

We would also recommend booking extra tours if you’re budget allows. We added in the Commandants Tour & Isle of the Dead Tour. The tour guides are all excellent – natural, passionate and knowledgeable. 

If you want to visit all the buildings at the Site, take in the museum and do all of the tours., you will need more than one day. We managed to have an action packed day from 8am till the close of the iron gates, but we were on a march.

Discover more about Port Arthur and Tasmania at www.discovertasmania.com.au

Following is a pictorial of our visit to Port Arthur. Some have been photographed in sepia. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Church of non denomination








The Catholic Chaplain’s house became a hotel as above. As a hotel it saw many film stars through it’s doors
Below you can see it restored.


The accountants home

Commandants house and below interior photos
Wall paper in the hallway
View from the Commandants House
The ”new” Penitentiary
The watch house and baracks






Join us next time when we go on an exhilarating boat ride to explore the highest Cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere.

If you would like to ride along with us whether it be on the high seas or on a dusty road out west, consider being a patreon find out about it here 👉 Dreamtime Patreon every little bit helps to keep us on the road producing Youtube and writing blogs as we hope you enjoy them. 

Please subscribe to the blog so you will be notified each time we post. To subscribe head to our home page.

We love to read your comments if you have any questions pop them below, we will be sure to get back to you.

If you are interested in the products we used on our build on our product page is a list. Many of these items we sourced secondhand, others we purchased from the manufacturer or retailer. We have found them online and listed them for you. Some of the links supplied we have an association with and we will receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, but it is free to look and do your research 😊 we can not promise all links to work as retailers may remove items, but we will do our best to update them 👍

Taste Testing Tasmania’s Best (part 2)

From Bruny Island to Port Arthur.

Oh no it’s raining, the wind had blown stronger throughout the night but we didn’t hear the rain. “Le Frog Box” is so well insulated that we hadn’t realised that it was raining until we opened the door, and it was freezing! Our plan today is to drive closer to Port Arthur sampling wines and produce all the way along. No set plan had been made on where we would pull up stumps for the night. Karen had marked a number of free campsites along the route we would just see how far we travelled.

Our first stop was Get Shucked for a dozen of the mixed oysters for breakfast! Yep oysters for breakfast, the best (cheap) beautiful fresh oysters for breakfast.


Yep Oysters for breakfast … why not

So fresh we could hear them being unloaded this morning as we stayed right next door last night at Bruny Island Landscaping. So good in fact there was a dozen natural purchased to be taken away. Next a double back to Bruny Island Cheeses yep we know we were there yesterday but we know they have fresh Sourdough sticks just about ready to come out of the wood fired oven.

After we collected these essential items and secured them safely it was onto the barge for the return trip to the mainland. TIP: Just a reminder here, if you catch the ferry from the mainland to the island at the “Supersaver” time slots it costs a lot less, you can return at any time to the mainland even at peak times and it won’t cost you anymore.

As mentioned our plan was to taste Tasmania on this leg. We were going to be passing a lot of distilleries, wineries, cheese makers, fresh produce shacks and we intended to try everything, well as much as our bellies could take. Also remembering drinking and driving is very much frowned upon, so Karen will be drinking and Rob will driving.

In the harsh early days of the colony, convicts, soldiers and free settlers all favoured a drink or two as well. Presented with an abundance of pristine mountain water and land perfect for growing barley, the colonists were soon producing their own spirits, with sixteen legal distilleries and countless small-scale farmhouse operations by 1824. 

In 1838 a new governor by the name of John Franklin decided that spirits were a bad influence on the colony, (BOOOOOO!) and banned distillation outright. (Double BOOOOO!!) This prohibition would last for over 150 years. But in 1990, Bill Lark managed to get the law overturned and established Lark distillery in 1992, launching the modern Tasmanian whisky industry.

Historical Photo of Sullivan’s Cove.
Photo Courtesy Tasmanian Government Archives

Sullivans Cove Distillery was established in 1994 at its original location at the old brickworks at Sullivans Cove, making it the second oldest whisky distillery in Tasmania. In the early days, the reputation of Sullivans Cove was poor to say the least, but in 1999 new ownership vastly improved the quality of the whisky being produced. 


The Barrel room. Tours of the Distillery are available,
bookings are essential.

This was the first distillery of our choice to visit, located now in Cambridge it was on our foraging trail today. Tasting took place in their beautifully appointed cellar door where you are asked to take a seat in leather wing-backed chair or on a Chesterfield lounge, very boys club.

Cellar Door and tasting room

We were guided at leisure by one of the knowledgeable cellar door staff members who talked us through the various whiskies on offer and answer any questions we had. We of course had many. After your chat about the Whisky they ask, you to choose from three different tasting flight options which include 3 x 10ml samples (approx. 1.2 std drinks): Karen chose the whisky flight with three of the core range/cask variations. Karen is a scotch drinker and likes a fine drop, but in her words “these are out of this world”.

Karen taking one for the team and tasting the Sullivan Cove Whisky

The attentive staff member answered all of the questions she had and then offered her a special tasting of a limited edition trail barrel that had just been bottled. Did this have something to do with us filming for YouTube or did Karen’s charm work a treat on this young man. Whatever the case we paid for Karen’s tasting $30 and left empty handed, Karen only really liked the $400 bottle, typical.

On existing the tasting room we find, thankfully that the skies have cleared. Onto our next destination and “Le Frog Box” led us right there. Frogmore Creek. The highly acclaimed Frogmore Creek wines are from the genuine cool-climate of southern Tasmania, where grapes benefit from a long growing season amongst a pristine environment. These slowly-ripened grapes develop pure fruit flavours, fresh natural acidity and are perfect for making world class cool-climate wines. We were truly looking forward to trying these wines.

Where to find Frogmore Winery, easy trip from Hobart.


Frogmore Creek vineyard


Elegant Cellar Door, breathtaking views,
beautiful wines and a restaurant we didn’t get to eat in.

This winery is home to both the Frogmore Creek and 42 Degrees South wines, the vineyard is situated in the produce-rich Coal River Valley wine region. The tasting room and restaurant is set amongst the vines, with breathtaking views over the surrounding valley and waterways. It is a perfect place to get acquainted with some of Tasmanian award winning wines.


Our Sommelier guided us through a variety of wines encouraging us to try various varieties that we would not have normally tasted. With her guidance we found new and exciting wines that could well become our favourites.

Well on this occasion we didn’t leave empty handed. Where to store all this wine? You can always store wine right! We didn’t stay for lunch as much as Karen would of loved to try a number of the menu item’s. We had a few more discoveries to make along the way.

With wine goes Cheese. High on Karen’s list to visit was Wicked Cheese Co. Wicked Cheese are boutique cheesemakers based just outside Richmond. They have emerged, in a few short years, to gain recognition as one of the most impressive, high-quality, hand-made cheese ranges in Australia.

love their label 💋

They have won numerous awards including best Brie in Australia, champion goats cheese two years in a row and Supreme Champion cheese at Royal Melbourne Show. Not only do they showcase their own produce but they have teamed up with other small local produces, making their destination a one stop shop.

Tastings at Wicked Cheeses


You can view the product being made onsite

It is an amazing outlet to find, jams, small goods, chutney, sauces, Australian native spices and herbs. After a generous cheese tasting experience, Karen filled her basket and we were off to find a place for lunch, to try some of her purchases.

Timing was right for us to enjoy Richmond and maybe have a lunch stop at the popular Richmond bridge. Richmond is rich in history and architecture, with more than 50 historic buildings, mostly from the 1820s. This is a wonderful town to explore and to learn about Tasmania’s past while enjoying visits to galleries, museums, cafes, retail therapy in gorgeous historical landmarks.

Beautiful streetscape
Lots of wonderful shops, cafes and restaurants
Australia’s oldest intact jail.

But in it’s past it was an important convict station linking Hobart with Port Arthur, and Richmond is known for housing fascinating landmarks, such as Australia’s oldest intact jail (1825) and Australia’s oldest remaining Catholic church, St. John’s, built in 1836. 

The most photographed landmark in Richmond is the oldest bridge in Australia that’s still in use. Built by convicts in the 1820s, it is made of sandstone and was completed in 1825 when Richmond was the 3rd largest town in what was then called Van Diemen’s Land.

And here is just one more photo taken to add to the collection.

We doubt that the convict builders ever envisioned the types of vehicles that now use this historic bridge, let alone the weight it carries. But here it stands testimony to their great engineering skills. This is where we decided it was time to eat, into the galley Karen went and a cream of Mushroom soup made from some wild fungus that she had purchased along the way, served with a sourdough stick fresh from Bruny Island this morning accompanied by cheeses from Wicked Cheese Co and a shared bottle of Pagan Cider, life is good.


After that feed it was time for a tour around town and to catch up on some history lessons. The Richmond Jail, is the oldest gaol in Australia. Built in 1825, it was in use until 1928 and gives glaring insight into the difficulty of convict life in the 19th century. It’s open for self-guided tours daily, and as you explore the cells you can learn about the stories of some of the notorious inmates, including the famous convict “Ikey Solomon”, who many say was the model for the character of Fagin in Charles Dickens’ novel “Oliver Twist”. you could wander this beautiful town for days, photographing every building, it is so picturesque.

Our thoughts turned to where are we going to rest for the night. As mentioned we had earmarked a couple of potential free and low cost campsites for the night. Tomorrow is our first day to explore Port Arthur so we certainly wanted to be close enabling a full day at the historic site which opens at 8am. We drove into the Dunalley Hotel, which if eating and partaking in an ale camping is free or they ask for a donation.

As found on WikiCamps, Dunalley Hotel would be a
great stop in different weather.

There were quite a few already in for the night and still plenty of room for us. However the wind was howling up there. Affording fabulous views also sometimes means if the wind is coming from the wrong direction you don’t have shelter. One stop to keep noted for another time with much more favourable weather conditions.

We both looked at each other and said “we are so close to Port Arthur let’s just go on through”. We had booked at the NRMA caravan park in Port Arthur for two reasons, there is no close free camping and we wanted to be close to the historic site to take full advantage, and we needed to know our site would still be there after touring all day. We called in to see if they had room for us tonight…. No sorry we will see you tomorrow. So what do we do now. There is a free camp spot on a gravel/dirt road 20klm away or we could try the other caravan park. Trying the other park was a wise decision. A non powered site set us back $30. The park is right on the beach and the amenities were spotless. We pulled in made dinner and fell into a deep sleep with the sound of the waves washing up on the beach …. Perfection. 

Join us next time when we explore the Historic Site of Port Arthur and surrounds.

If you would like to ride along with us whether it be on the high seas or on a dusty road out west, consider being a patreon find out about it here 👉 Dreamtime Patreon every little bit helps to keep us on the road producing Youtube and writing blogs as we hope you enjoy them. 

Please subscribe to the blog so you will be notified each time we post. To subscribe head to our home page.

We love to read your comments if you have any questions pop them below, we will be sure to get back to you.

If you are interested in the products we used on our build on our product page is a list. Many of these items we sourced secondhand, others we purchased from the manufacturer or retailer. We have found them online and listed them for you. Some of the links supplied we have an association with and we will receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, but it is free to look and do your research 😊 we can not promise all links to work as retailers may remove items, but we will do our best to update them 👍

A Pilgrimage to the most Southern road in Australia


Cockle Creek sits on beautiful Recherche Bay at the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and is the furthest point south that one can drive in Australia. It’s a place of tranquil coves and sandy beaches. Distant mountain peaks, make a spectacular backdrop to the calm waters. This is one of those anchorages yachties dream about and we were thinking that Our Dreamtime would look perfect anchored out there in the bay. 

Tip: You will need a Tasmanian park entry pass to enter the National Park. It is easy to organise before you arrive in Tasmania here

It is here that tannin-rich streams meet the ocean, ending their meandering journey through buttongrass plains. The sheltered coastline and forested hills are home to an abundance of wildlife including shorebirds. That unlike other birds of the same species don’t want to steel your chips but are happy with the fresh catch from the sea.

A rich cultural history exists, being the homeland of the Lyluequonny Aboriginal people. For centuries this was their harvest ground for the once abundant cockles, oysters and mussels found at its mouth as it enters the sea. Middens in the region speak of the aboriginal presence here, well before  Europeans arrived.

The encounters between the indigenous people and Europeans is well documented, thanks to a French expedition, that sailed into Recherche Bay in 1792 on a mission to find the lost explorer La Perouse. However Bruni D`Entrecasteaux’s voyage had another purpose beyond the rescue of La Perouse. The voyage was also invested with the task of recording and documenting the environment and the people of the new lands that they encountered.

The expedition carried scientists and cartographers, gardeners, artists and hydrographers – who, variously, planted, identified, mapped, and marked the countries that they visited. They first visited the southern region of Tasmania in April 1792, and, desperate for water, they harboured in a bay that they later named Recherche Bay, after one of their sailing ships.

The ship Recherche that the bay was named after

The meeting of the local indigenous people and the crew were very harmonious. The readings from this voyage are very interesting and it was portrayed as a joyful experience meeting, conversing and learning from the local inhabitants. The remains of a garden planted by the French were found here in 2003, resulting in the creation of a reserve to protect the area. 

But the area was not settled but the French. The British initially settled in the area as a base for whaling, timber and coal industries in the early 1830’s, the settlement was given the name Ramsgate, when land was officially surveyed and subdivided. The many whaling stations were manned mostly by free settlers and ticket-of-leave convicts. Whilst many of the early habitations were crude and short-lived, some dwellings or buildings made use of convict-made bricks from Southport; some remnants can still be seen, such as the whaling hotel at Fishers Point.


Once a settlement with over 2,000 residents, its rich history is found today in Aboriginal sites, abandoned tramways, gravestones and ruins. Sheltered among the tranquil cove of Recherche Bay, Cockle Creek has campsites and basic facilities but no shops or services. There are two separate camping areas and each provide a number of campsite options. These days it’s a departure point for treks into the South West National Park, or for those wanting to kick back and relax. A simple stroll along the beach at Recherche Bay is enough to take in the peace, quiet and beauty of this remote place.


There is even more of Tasmania, south from Recherche Bay, including Australia’s southern most point. So often we hear of the legends of Cape York Peninsula, those who have made the trek north to one of Australia’s ‘last frontiers’. But how often do you hear of those who have been to the most southern point in Australia. Google it and see what you find. For two pages you will find that the reference talks of the southern points on the mainland. Little is said about one of the most southern points in the world before Antartica.  

Photo from the internet credit to Hobart and beyond.

And many Australian’s couldn’t name it, it is simply known as South East Cape. It is said ”Drive to the end of the road at Cockle Creek, then a well maintained walking track takes you to Tasmania’s South Coast. Stand on the cliffs of South East Cape bay, a bracing wind blowing from Antarctica, surf rolling in from the Southern Ocean. You are the southern most people in all Australia”.

As sailors it is one of the inherently crazy things that is talked about whenever the subject arises of circumnavigation. South East Cape being one of the 5 great capes of the southern ocean, and yet so few know of its existence.

We were fortunate to score the most southern campsite, we were quick to make came and then settle in to watch the sunset on another magnificent day of travel.

The following day we woke to the sound of the waves lapping the shoreline. Time to discover more of Cockle Creek. After a long walk along the beach to take in the beauty of this remote place. We then continued to Fishers Point Navigation Light and Pilot Station Ruins visiting the Whale monument along the way. Where we stood at the whale sculpture at Cockle Creek, 30kms south near South East Cape, we were in fact closer to Antarctica than to Cairns, and were feeling it too, despite it being summer. Cockle Creek is the most southerly point able to be reached by road in Australia. From nearby South East Cape, if you were to somehow sail due west, the next landfall you’d make would be South America, and to the east it would be the narrow sliver of New Zealand with nothing beyond that until South America came around again.


We decided that we weren’t going to do the walk to the South East Cape, we have been on the go it seems since we arrived in Tassie and this place was so quiet we wanted to just sit and take it all in. Maybe we will regret not doing the walk but some times it’s not about ticking a box but truly enjoying the moment.

For those wanting the information about the walk to South East Cape, this is the info friends of ours who live in the area told us. Behind the Rangers’ hut, there is a walkers carpark and walk registration both.


The first 3km the trail undulates across rocky ground and light forest, then becomes duck board as it crosses the buttongrass moorland. Wonderful wildflowers in late spring.  A little more undulation and coastal scrub, until you suddenly emerge onto the windy cliff top overlooking South East Cape Bay. Brace yourself for the wind here blows up from Antarctica, surf rolling in from the Southern Ocean: As an optional extension, continuing down the staircase provided on the western side of the cliffs. South Cape Beach is about 1km long to the western end where there are toilets. For those interested in a challenging hike there are organised trekking in Tasmania and one of their popular treks is the 3 Cape Track. located on the south-east coast, the route opened in December 2015 and remains one of Australia’s most coveted and essential hikes. Just 48 people are allowed on the track each morning. The four-day, three-night journey begins at the historical penal colony of Port Arthur.

Following are a collection of photographs of this magical place.

Rob making YouTube
Take nothing but memories and leave only footprints
Our Campsite Cockle Creek
View from our campsite
The most southern campsite
Waiting for sunset we phone sailing friends on SV Whoosh to tell them about this amazing anchorage.
Curious wildlife

Camping information

Cockle Creek is a very popular destination for families, offering a variety of recreational activities such as bushwalking, swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, fishing and bird-watching.

The shady campground within the Southwest National Park is known as Boltons Green. Approximately 10 sites are available here for tent and caravan camping. Although caravans can access this campground, please be aware that the road is rough and flat campsites are limited.  

An additional 3-4  small tent sites can be found further along the road before you reach the ‘NO TENTS beyond this point’ sign.  Beyond this point there are limited sites available which are only for self-contained RV campers. Sites are not numbered so please try not to spread out too much, allowing for other groups to utilise the campground.

Basic facilities include pit toilets and a water tank at Boltons Green. Water is untreated and must be boiled before drinking. There is a public pay phone available at the visitor information shelter.

The Southwest National Park is a fuel stove only area​, no fires are permitted. 

Dogs are not permitted once you cross the bridge at Cockle Creek and enter the Southwest National Park.​

The following map shows the zones outside the Southwest National Park where dogs are permitted, where dogs must be on lead and the off lead dog zones.

  Map of Designated Areas- Southern Section – Cockle Creek – Recherche Bay NRA   (4Mb)

Other campsites

If you prefer to have a campfire or are bringing your dog on a lead, you can choose a campsite north of the bridge within the Recherche Bay Nature Recreation Area. 

There are a number of camping areas on the northern side of the Cockle Creek bridge and further north at Catamaran, Finns  Beach and Gillams Beach. See Recherche Bay camping for these sites. 

If you would like to ride along with us whether it be on the high seas or on a dusty road out west, consider being a patreon find out about it here 👉 Dreamtime Patreon every little bit helps to keep us on the road producing Youtube and writing blogs as we hope you enjoy them. 

Please subscribe to the blog so you will be notified each time we post. To subscribe head to our home page.

We love to read your comments so if you have any questions pop them below, we will be sure to get back to you.

If you are interested in the products we used on our van build, our product page has a list. Many of these items we sourced secondhand, others we purchased from the manufacturer or retailer. We have found them online and listed them for you. Some of the links supplied we have an association with and we will receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, but it is free to look and do your research 😊 we can not promise all links to work as retailers may remove items, but we will do our best to update them 👍

Join us next time when we discover Bruny Island.

East bound taking in Queenstown, Derwent Bridge and Mount Field National Park

Up early we leave Strahan to allow time to checkout a few of the tourist hot spots along the way to Mount Fields National Park. We have had a mix of weather on the west coast and have used more winter gear than we do in a whole winter in Queensland so we were looking forward to the 30 degrees that Tasmania promised us today.

Nestled in a valley between Mount Lyell and Mount Owen, Queenstown is the largest town on the West Coast. Surrounded by dramatic hills that provide stark evidence of a history that once made it one of the richest mining towns in the world.

Today, Queenstown is experiencing a rebirth with a growing tourism and arts culture. But it will never rid its past for its unique landscape was formed by Copper smelting and excavating stripped the hills around the city bare and has stained them with unnatural colours. The hills have had a hard time regenerating so much that the moonscape is still there all these years later for you to enjoy. It’s a beautiful but rather haunting reminder of man’s greed and his responsibility to Mother Earth.

East of Queenstown we have the 99 bend challenge…. The staging ground for one of Targa Tasmania’s toughest sprints, the 99 Bends may not actually have quite as many twists and turns as its moniker suggests, but it is still an incredibly challenging drive that any hillclimber will love.

However Karen reminded Rob “we are not in a Porsche, but a distant European cousin called “Le Frog Box”, watch them sharp bends boy”. You can thank nature for shaping the winding roads that cover the island state – and the stunning, movie-set views you see from them. Believe it or not, the speed limit through the 99 Bends is 100km/h.

We wouldn’t suggest you try hitting it given the big drops off to the side – the elevation change in these 4km of

driving is around 200 metres. Surely someone is taking the p …. out of us, with those speed signs.

Our next stop has become quite a phenomenon in Tasmania. Wherever we went people remarked “have you seen the wall” … well no we haven’t and it hadn’t really come up on our research radar. Mmmm …. what is this wall about. Only the night before had we been told “Oh you must book, they don’t allow walk ups”. So onto the internet and sure enough “Bookings are now essential. To avoid disappointment book online before midnight the day before”. We booked and pay for our tickets $20 each, our only problem was we could only get a 1pm booking, once booked we received our booking confirmation, including very strict details on conditions of entry no photographs, no video and if we missed our time slot by 15 minutes we would forfeit our tickets. Oh dear best be there on time, which unfortunately meant we would be missing a particular walk that was on the way to Derwent Bridge, as we couldn’t risk being late. 

Derwent Bridge is at the southern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and surrounded by wilderness country. There are a number of accommodation options for walkers and those wanting to play in the winter snow. On arrival at “The Wall in the Wilderness” down the very long driveway we came across an extremely long building in the middle of nowhere. The building itself is impressive so it set our expectations high.

We think this hawk is the most photographed piece of artwork at the wall.

The Wall itself was created amidst adversity. The artist Duncan and his wife sold all they had, purchased the land and, as he says, “went for it”. It was a huge gamble. Was it too far out in the middle of nowhere? Would people travel? Construction issues also plagued the first years with Duncan building a lot of the shed himself in harsh winter conditions. The gamble has definitely paid off with more than 75,000 people visiting The Wall each year, 

The artist’s statement reads “On the 1st March 2005 in one of the most beautiful parts of Tasmania I set out to undertake sculpting a wall that would be 3 metres high and over 100 metres in length. The material would be Huon Pine. Through an often arduous at times but also immensely satisfying journey and over a decade and half later I welcome you to visit what is simply known as The Wall”. – Sculptor Greg Duncan

This fascinating piece of instillation artwork was created from the determination and ambition of the artist, to pay homage to the history of the Central Highlands of Tasmania and the grit and resoluteness of the people who make up its history.

The wall, features beautifully scented and rare Huon Pine, represents an ongoing project in which the artist has sculpted the story of the area. He depicts the history right from the beginning when the indigenous population lived in the area, to the pioneers who began harvesting timber from the ancient forests. Following the pioneering era, there are images of the pastoralists, miners and hydro-electric scheme workers, shown along with the many animals found in the area and the horses who worked alongside pioneers. Throughout the work you can read the political statement the artist is making about the environment and mankind’s effect on earth.

Though you are not permitted to take photographs the internet is full of them and following are a series of photos available.

Artist at work.

After doubling back to the local servo to fill the tank of very expensive diesel we devoured the best chunky steak and mushroom ”hot” pies from the Hungry Wombat Cafe, in the front cab of froggy with the heater on …. Where is that promised 30 degrees …. It’s currently 17.

As the winding road ascends through Mount Field National Park the stunning natural flora transforms, offering a constantly changing view as you climb to higher altitudes. Known as ‘the park for all seasons’, Mount Field is Tasmania’s first National Park and part the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Site and home to some of the world’s tallest eucalypt forests, as well as a unique array of alpine vegetation.

There’s a wide variety of wildlife in the park, including many of Tasmania’s native mammals and endangered species, such as the eastern quoll and the eastern barred bandicoot. Eleven of Tasmania’s twelve endemic birds can be seen here, too. Spectacular glaciated landscapes compete for attention with cascading waterfalls, including the breathtaking, three-tiered Russell Falls arguably Tasmanian’s say one of the most impressive waterfalls in Tasmania. 

We pull in late to the campground to find it absolutely full. It’s a Sunday what’s going on we haven’t seen this many people forever it seems. Karen goes over to the ranges hut to see if there is availability at another ground, Oh it’s a public holiday weekend, well that tells a story.

Ok back to our trusted APP WikiCamps. Just down the way is “Left of Fields Campground” their marketing spiel reads “So much more than just a campsite but a destination itself, boasting beautiful gardens, a unique 18 hole golf course, regular live music and generous space”. Yep it’s quirky to say the least. The sites are big, you are encouraged to have a campfire, it is a must to have a game of golf and to soak in the fireside bathtub. Oh and don’t forget to feed the chickens and if you find any eggs they are yours.

Fireside bath tub
Fire pits are supplied for you to use at Left of Field Campground
The chooks are very friendly at Left of Field Campground
Free eggs 👍

It Valentines Day, and not that we need to remind ourselves of the special relationship we have but it is rather fitting that we are going to visit what Tasmanian’s call their most romantic waterfall. Now it is going to have to be good to out do Lovers Falls and our very own private waterfall at Trial Harbour

Beginning our Mount Field visit with a leisurely hand in hand walk through the towering tree ferns and giant eucalypts on the short walk to Russell Falls sounds just the thing lovers should do.

Gentle Giants stand as sentries

Russell Falls is the star attraction and even featured on Australia’s first stamp. It deserves allthe attention it is simply breath taking. It is very popular so having the falls to yourself is difficult. However if you wait for all the lovelies to get their instagram pose just right you to can try one with your selfie stick.

Russell Falls cascades over three drops
Abundance of wildlife
These Fairy Wrens are a joy to watch as they flit about

The falls are only a short, wheelchair accessible journey from the visitor centre, through enormous fern forests and some of the world’s tallest trees. The wildlife is abundant with the potaroos enjoying the fresh shoots and seeds by the pathway.

Easy pathway to Russell Falls

But …. If you have had your weetbix this morning start the climb of numerous flights of stairs to take in the breathtaking view over Russell Falls to the valley below.

Ok there are steps to climb, lots of them.

Now that we have your breath back, If you continue the climb you will be rewarded with Horseshoe Falls and then beyond to Lady Baron Falls.

The top of Russell Falls
The view from the top is worth the climb
Horseshoe Falls are just up stream
Horseshoe Falls may not be tall but they are delightful
Baron Falls cascading

With stunning vistas, great walks, abundant wildlife and excellent visitor facilities we understand why with an easy drive from Hobart, Mount Field has been popular with nature lovers for well over a century. If you are here during the winter season, Mt Field National Park becomes a whole new playground offering downhill skiing and snowboarding, with tows operating and good cross-country skiing across the higher plateau. We were happy to see the blanket of green not white.

Join us next time when we camp in the most southern campsite available in Australia oh and it’s free. 

🌟TIP🌟 It pays to have your Tasmanian National Parks Pass. Apply online prior to travel save $$$$

Following are some more photos of our time at Mount Field National Park.


The national parks have included information
boards on fauna and flora along the walkways
We kept a watchful eye for platypus but unfortunately we didn’t spot any



If you would like to ride along with us whether it be on the high seas or on a dusty road out west, consider becoming a patreon you can find out about it here 👉 Dreamtime Patreon every little bit of support helps to keep us on the road/sea producing Youtube and writing blogs as we hope you enjoy them. 

Please subscribe, like and share to the blog so you will be notified each time we post. To subscribe head to our home page.
We love to read your comments if you have any questions pop them below, we will be sure to get back to you. 
If you are interested in the products we used on our build on our product page is a list. Many of these items we sourced secondhand, others we purchased from the manufacturer or retailer. We have found them online or the retailer and listed them for you. Some of the links supplied we have an association with and we will receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, but it is free to look and do your research 😊 we can not promise all links to work as retailers may remove items, but we will do our best to update them 👍

















From Mining riches to busts and a fight to save one of the most important wilderness sites in the world – Strahan

Strahan is a harbour-side village with a dark and fascinating convict past set on the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Strahan is full of stories from the days of convicts and pioneers toughing it out in Tassie’s wild west. Nearby, in Macquarie Harbour is Sarah Island, once a notorious convict prison and a powerful reminder of the brutal treatment of Tasmania’s convicts.

These days, Strahan is an iconic travel destination with shops selling artisan wares.

There are long stretches of wild ocean beach to explore, massive sand dunes to conquer and forest adventures to be had.

We arrived in Strahan (Straw-n) on a mission. Back in October, yep months earlier we had booked two tours the “World Heritage Cruise” and the “West Coast Wilderness Railway”. Both of these tours book out quickly and with the added restrictions of COVID19 we new these were going to be very hard to schedule. Of the popular tours to take in Tasmania these are on top of the list. And yes if they are popular there are going to be crowds, but sometimes this is the price we pay to see beautiful places. As it turned out we couldn’t organise the tours on conservative days and needed to book for five nights in the caravan park, as there are no free campsites in the area. Wow this is going to put a hole in the budget.

We figured the four actual days in Strahan would be filled easily enough between washing, catching up on vlogging, blogging and to take in all the local sights. We arrived late afternoon set up camp and Rob said it was his turn in “Our Galley” awesome that means we are going out for dinner. After loooong showers we headed downtown to find a suitable eatery. 

Set up with the annex, awning and privacy screen

The beachside caravan park is situated at one end of the bay, the township at the other end, so we had a lovely walk along the waterfront. We’d been told that the Bushmans Thai Restaurant served awesome food, upon arriving at Bushman’s we were asked if we had a booking.

Best to book

No …. (But there were plenty of seats available). “Well I’m sorry we are not seating anymore guests this evening” really it’s only 7:15pm? ….. Ok spying the takeaway menu we picked it up and said we would settle for takeout “Sorry we close our takeaway orders at 6:30pm”. Mmmmm… Could you suggest somewhere else to dine, “ Hamer’s the hotel, but they can get busy” thank you and we left to find the hotel. “Do you have a booking” ….. no but it seems you have plenty of tables available. “Well no ….. we can put you on our wait list” does that guarantee that we will be fed? “No sorry we close the kitchen at 8pm”. Ok do you think there is somewhere else we could find a meal. Oh yes maybe at Molly’s they serve pizza. Guess what Molly’s closed at 6:30pm ……  this seems to be the normal situation in Strahan after talking to locals they say it is the biggest complaint that they get from tourists …… everything closes early. So the food maybe great but make sure you book and eat at toddler hour or you will be hungry. Well of course we didn’t starve that night with a well stocked pantry there is always something that can be whipped up.

There is always something in Our Galley to cook

One of the reasons we occasionally stay in Marina’s whilst sailing or in a Caravan park whilst vanning is for the convenience of provisioning, cleaning, filling with water, the odd repair job and laundry. At almost all parks we find they have clothesline’s which saves on the washing bill, at $8 on average to dry a load it can certainly add up in a dryer. In a park you can also walk away from your laundry whilst washing and get other jobs completed in the meantime, however at a laundromat you really need to stay with your washing. With a list of things needed to be done our first day in the park was full of activities. One of our major jobs was to look into a water leak we had discovered. More on that later. We must say that the facilities at the park were a little odd and old, the toilets were in a separate amenities block to the showers and separated by about 30 meters. Caravan parks also need to know that shower curtains are really not suitable for communal use 🤮.

The second day of our stay was our trip on the World Heritage Cruise. So after Pizza from Molly’s at 6:30pm …. we hit the pillows early 🙄.

No visit to the west coast of Tasmania is complete without a cruise on Macquarie Harbour and the ancient, mirror like water of Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River.

Up early we walked the 1.5klms to the dock, we were excited to be doing this cruise and our expectations were high. This is a six hour cruise on the iconic Gordon River, a river that none of us really knew about until 1982. When a group of protesters and environmental activists worked to stop the damming of the Franklin River. Support for the ‘no dams’ campaign exploded across the country in that year. Protests spreading to mainland states, with Dr Bob Brown and other members of the Wilderness Society travelling the country to raise awareness. 

No Dams Protestors over 1200 of them were arrested

They highlighted the potential destruction of habitat for endangered species and the certain loss of important Aboriginal rock art only discovered in 1981. The fight to stop the dam and the devastation to the delicate ecosystem including Gordon River downstream continued until 1983. Where in May 1983 the then newly elected federal government led by Bob Hawke introduced new regulations under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 and passed the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act 1983 that protected the Franklin River, which had been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1982. 

Historic photo showing the blockade

But the battle was far from over. The Tasmanian government was determined to build the dam and the federal government then took them to the High Court to force them to stop work, arguing successfully that federal laws were to be sustained in state contexts when they were upholding the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The Tasmanian Government was forced to abandon the Franklin Dam project. One of the worlds most significant wildernesses was saved for future generations. 

A barge with fire hoses tried to blast the protestors

The cruise boat owners that we are travelling with today have strong links to this area long before the days of the protests, their heritage dating back to 1896. Five generations on, the Grinings continue their century-old family tradition, adding a wealth of local knowledge to the mystery and serenity of this special place. Macquarie Harbour is the second-largest natural harbour in Australia after Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. However, the real glory of Macquarie Harbour is not its size but its setting. The dense, temperate rainforest is dark, gloomy and teeming with life that we were about to discover.

Enjoying the aft deck view

Once onboard, we travel out to Hell’s Gate and thankfully our weather is calm. We can imagine the weather different from this, as this is the West-coast of Tasmania and those roaring 40’s that blow around the Southern Ocean are well known in these parts. The narrow and very shallow 120 metre wide entrance to the huge Macquarie Harbour was discovered in 1815.

Going through Hell’s Gate

Within a year, timber cutters moved in, navigating the narrow entrance and its sandbar was the biggest hazard to getting the timber out to Hobart. A signal station was erected near Cape Sorell in 1822 which indicated conditions entering the harbour. The station was manned by convicts from the newly established penal settlement at Sarah Island. 

The Entrance Island light, one of the most photographed lighthouses in Tasmania, guards the notorious entrance to the harbour. The name of the channel relates to the original convicts claim that it was their point of entrance to Hell, their hell being the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station on Sarah Island. Today we were fortunate with the weather and were able to safely transit Hell’s Gate to view the outlying Cape Sorell Lighthouse.

Passing back through Hell’s Gate

Back safely in the harbour we are now cruising down the majestic Gordon River. Past 1,000-year-old Huon pines growing in one of the world’s last temperate rainforests. This is a true taste of this rugged corner of Australia, something that we will never forget. We are treated to panoramic views from our extremely comfortable seating, apart from our seat we can enjoy a covered aft deck for an up close view of our surroundings.

Comfortable seating with huge windows to take in the view
Cheers to us

The staff are well trained providing a personal service from the time we stepped onboard until we stepped off. We took the option of the fully inclusive deck, tasting some of Tasmania’s finest produce, an individually packed lunch, freshly prepared on board was served along with morning tea and freshly brewed coffees of our choosing.

Lunch freshly prepared onboard is delivered to your seat

As we cruise we experienced expert commentary from the skipper along with audiovisual presentations from others, experts in their fields which brings the river and its rich history to life. We are certainly pleased we did pay the upgrade to be on this deck as the inclusions along with the more spacious deck (with no children) and with limited passengers was well worth it.

The every differing view keeps you entranced

There are so many highlights to this cruise we can’t write of them all, but one of the standouts is the visit to Sarah Island. Tasmania’s first penal settlement was established in 1822 on Sarah Island (Port Arthur was established in 1834, after Sarah Island was declared unsatisfactory). We believe that this part of the tour deserves much more than a few words, so much so, that we have written a separate blog just on this part of the cruise you can read about it here

Our final stop on the cruise was at the Morrison’s family owned and operated sawmill specialising in Huon Pine and other unique Tasmanian timbers. Operated from this location since the 1940’s it is still a fully functional sawmill. Walking into the sawmill is like going back in time – we saw for ourselves how Huon Pine is transformed from a “salvaged” log to a beautiful piece of craft timber.

The following day we completed the extra chores that were needed to be accomplished and had a look around town. Set on a quiet bay, Strahan is a small, picturesque frontier-style town with an abundance of character and a variety of stories to tell of the West Coast’s pioneering days.

From its beginnings as the location for bushmen seeking precious Huon pine, Strahan became the railway port for a rich copper mine inland. Mining and forestry operations based around the magnificent Huon pine, famous for its oily shipbuilding qualities, commenced in the 1880s, making Strahan, the small fishing village now the centre of activities on Macquarie Harbour, the second-busiest port in Tasmania a century ago. Those days are long gone, and the only reminders of the copper boom days are an impressive post office, steamship offices, a few workers cottages and the restored railway. 

The old workers cottages are now holiday lets

Impressive buildings still line the street
The harbour side is picturesque

Strahan is surrounded by a wild environment, that Australia’s most picturesque tourist rail line, the West Coast Wilderness Railway, winds its way from Strahan to Queenstown. On tracks laid down more than a century ago to carry ore from Queenstown’s mines to port facilities on Macquarie Harbour.

This is our next days tour. We had originally booked for the full day tour taking us on a 9 hour journey to Queenstown. Unfortunately due to Covid and staff shortages, they had to cancel our journey but were able to offer us a half day in the Wilderness Carriage.

Now this is civilised
Our carriage well appointed with a rear viewing platform.
this platform was brilliant for filming, make sure you subscribe to our blog so we can let you know when the YouTube Episode is released.


Again this is a fully inclusive experience is certainly well worth it, you feel that you are truly experiencing rail travel of a bygone era. Starting with the Car Attendant welcoming you onboard with a glass of champagne.  Followed closely by canapés, then morning tea consisting of light fluffy scones and jam. Lunch and dessert were served on our return trip accompanied by a lovely bottle of Tasmanian Champagne that we purchased from the bar.

Why are the scones serve with Blackberry Jam? you’ll just have to journey on the Wilderness Carriage to find out.

The Queenstown-based Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company decided to build a railway to link Queenstown to Strahan, so that they could transport the mined copper to the port. They had one problem, though: The terrain here is made up of rainforest and steep mountains.

original bridges still service the line.

The company decided to tackle this issue by using what was then a state-of-the-art rack-and-pinion system called the Abt system for the steep sections. This system was designed in the 1880s by Swiss locomotive engineer Roman Abt and the Mount Lyell company’s railway would be the first in Australia to use this technology. 

We simply can’t imagine the toughness of the men who built the railway. Through seemingly impenetrable rainforest and across daunting, slippery ravines, between Strahan and Queenstown in the late 1800’s. Covered in leeches and facing daily life-threatening challenges. And the tenacity and devotion of the women who brought up kids and kept home fires burning in the most demanding, inhospitable of situations. The railway officially opened in 1897, and again on 1 November 1899 when the line was extended from Teepookana to Regatta Point and Strahan. The railway was the only way to get copper from the mine at Queenstown to markets. Until 1932, when a road link from Hobart was completed, until then it was the only access through to Queenstown.

On the river cruise you get to see the spectacular eco system that has now become legionary, with the rail journey you get the opportunity to see the rainforest up close as you wend your way through it. The rail journey stops along the way at remote stations where you can take short walks into the beautiful ancient wilderness to gain another understanding of this unique part of the world. Again we were pleased that we spent the extra dollars on the all inclusive Wilderness carriage, not only were we spoilt with scrumptious food but we had a viewing platform where we could step outside to enjoy the rainforest as we traveled. Where we filmed for the upcoming YouTube Episode for you to enjoy. 

Tasmania’s west is often only remembered for the conflict between forestry workers, governments and environmentalists to save the flooding of Lake Pedder, but once you have visited you’ll get an idea of what the protest was all about, and thank the environmentalists for their dedication and the federal government at the time, for their foresight to save this precious area.

Oh and that pesky water leak was a hose fitting that had come loose, thankfully we have a separate switch to turn off the water pump otherwise we could of been faced with a very wet van.

Following are a collection of photos from other points of interest that we saw in Strahan we how you enjoy them.

A picnic lunch at the peoples park where you will find Hogarth Falls
Quiche made in ”Le Frog Box” oven 🙌
Hogarth Falls a short 20 minute walk

If you would like to ride along with us whether it be on the high seas or on a dusty road out west, consider being a patreon find out about it here 👉 Dreamtime Patreon every little bit helps to keep us on the road producing Youtube and writing blogs as we hope you enjoy them. Please subscribe to the blog so you will be notified each time we post. To subscribe head to our home page.

We love to read your comments if you have any questions pop them below, we will be sure to get back to you. 

If you are interested in the products we used on our build on our product page is a list. Many of these items we sourced secondhand, others we purchased from the manufacturer or retailer. We have found them online and listed them for you. Some of the links supplied we have an association with and we will receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, but it is free to look and do your research 😊 we can not promise all links to work as retailers may remove items, but we will do our best to update them 👍

Join us next time when we free camp in one of the most incredible places on the edge of a cliff…

Montezuma Falls 


Montezuma Falls, near Rosebery in Tasmania, is Tasmania’s highest waterfall and is truly spectacular and well worth the visit. This incredible, sleepy giant is located on Tasmania’s Wild West Coast and is accessible via an easy yet very scenic rainforest track. It is certainly amongst the most stunning waterfalls in Australia with a permanent drop of approximately 104 metres. And for this reason it is perhaps one of the most rewarding short day walks in Tasmania. We found that the Montezuma Falls track was a great addition to our visit to the West Coast. We had initially had this walk listed as a maybe, if we had time sort of thing, wow we are certainly glad we did it.

The track to the falls begins at Williamsford, two kilometres south of Rosebery, and leaves directly from the carpark. The area is rich in railway and mining history with you literally following a late 1800’s route of the former North East Dundas Tramway right to the base of Montezuma Falls.

Historical photo of North East Dundas Tramway

The initial surveying of the tramway was initiated in 1895, and by 1897, the first section of the tram way being used. The official opening of the tram way from Zeehan to Williamsford (Where the carpark area for Montezuma Falls is situtated) took place in 1898. The tram way used a narrow gauge of rail, which is why it was regarded as a tram line, and not a rail line. Today, some of the original sleepers from the tram line can be seen on your walk, with signage encouraging you to locate them. The waterfall was named after the Montezuma Mining Company which derived it’s name from the last emperor of the Aztecs.

The 10klm, three-hour return walk along a level track takes you right to the base of the 104 metre falls through pleasant cool temperate rainforest of leatherwood, myrtle, sassafras, giant tree ferns and eye-catching fungi. It amazes us at how different the rainforest here is compared to the tropical rainforests we are used to. These seem more park-like, as if someone has come through and cleaned up. At every turn there is a new vista to take in. The path is often wet in sections as it meanders through cuttings, often adjacent to creeks and streams running alongside. Good hiking boots with some waterproofing is recommended, not pretty pink Palladium Boots as Karen soon found out. 

Some level of fitness is required, the walk is listed as a grade 2, but even though the track is wide and mostly level underfoot it is somewhat deceiving in the amount of undulation. (120 metres total elevation gain)

Rob taking his chances in the dark wet tunnel

The trail passes many points of interest highlighting the mining history of the area including an open mine shaft just before the Falls. (Flashlight required) The open mine shaft is at the end of a dark short wet tunnel, no glow worms were sighted but it does seem to be a place for them to hangout. An old tramway bridge across the river is slowly being reclaimed by the rainforest and aged sleepers on the trail with railway spikes still embedded.

You may also see native wildlife along the way, including potoroos, several species of birds. Notably White’s thrush, which is a medium-sized and speckled brown and white ground dwelling bird. It forages quietly on the rainforest floor and, when disturbed, flies only a short distance before settling again, enabling you to get a second look. 

However you do need to be aware of one local that likes to lay in sun spots on the track, yep tiger snakes love to bake in the sun. Tiger snakes are a large and highly venomous snake. The bite of a tiger snake, if left untreated for long, is fatal. But seldom do these snakes attack humans.

Can you see the Tiger Snake? this as close as Karen would get.
Rob did get better video footage and photos
Zoomed in on Karen’s photo

Tiger snakes vary in their appearance according to region. The ones who inhabit Tasmania are mostly jet black in color. We happen to come across three of these guys on our trek and one in particular just did not want to give up his spot on the track, that would be most of the width of the track. It took a little coaxing, but finally he/she found a sunny spot on higher ground. We took a wide berth and moved slowly by. 

The creek immediately below the falls was once spanned by a wooden trestle bridge, 160 feet long and 50 feet high. Today derelict pieces of timber, moss-covered concrete piers and rusty bolts are the only remains of this bridge.

Karen hates heights

In it place a suspension bridge crossing the gorge below provides a brilliant viewpoint to witness the sheer magnitude of Montezuma Falls. To the left of the suspension bridge is a narrow broad walk that takes you for a close up view of the base.

The broad walk that leads to the base of the falls

Depending on the season, the waterfall can range from a gentle pour to a powerful waterfall which is almost impossible to get close to. We visited in February and we fortunate to have a steady stream with us able to scramble the rocks to get a closer view.

Both view areas are worthwhile seeing providing spectacular views. Once you have finished gasping at the falls, you need to return along the same way you came, this to us was the only downside to the walk. What had taken us a couple of hours to stop look, photograph and film, now became a route march back to the carpark and onto Strahan. But the pay off at the end was the fact that we had seen these magnificent Falls and walked a 100m long suspension bridge. One of our favourite hikes in Tasmania.

The afternoon sun playing through the rainforest was stunning

Note: Take plenty of drinking water with you as these pristine looking waters are polluted with chemicals from the mining days.

If you are in the area you should not miss these falls. They are well worth travelling to even as a day trip from either Strahan/Queenstown.

If you would like to ride along with us whether it be on the high seas or on a dusty road out west, consider becoming a patreon you can find out about it here 👉 Dreamtime Patreon every little bit of support helps to keep us on the road/sea producing Youtube and writing blogs as we hope you enjoy them.

Please subscribe, like and share to the blog so you will be notified each time we post. To subscribe head to our home page.

We love to read your comments if you have any questions pop them below, we will be sure to get back to you. 

If you are interested in the products we used on our build on our product page is a list. Many of these items we sourced secondhand, others we purchased from the manufacturer or retailer. We have found them online or the retailer and listed them for you. Some of the links supplied we have an association with and we will receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, but it is free to look and do your research 😊 we can not promise all links to work as retailers may remove items, but we will do our best to update them 👍

Following are more photos of Montezuma Falls, we hope you enjoy them.


Join us next time when we travel to Strahan to retrace history.

Gold, Cannibalism and Bob Brown – Corinna


To get to our next adventure, the town called Corinna in Tasmania we needed to transverse the Western Explorer ”Highway”. Whoever named this piece of road a highway either has never traveled on a highway or is romanticising. There is no better way to describe this road as bone jarring and van build testing. Thankfully our van building skills are better than our bones and the civil engineering on the ”Highway”.


If you are looking for a road trip adventure take the Western Explorer Highway it is a unique beast that is isn’t the fastest way to get around the coast but it is the most interesting. Known variously as the C249, the Western Explorer Highway or the road to nowhere, this deliciously remote route through dense forest and buttongrass plains that crosses the Tarkine Wilderness and has the feel of a true adventure, albeit a pretty safe one that connects the Arthur River with Corinna.

The road to nowhere
An endless road


A 4WD is recommended, although 2WD vehicles regularly make the three- to four-hour passage. We recommend that you check the weather before setting out. 2WD in anything other than bright blue skies would be a concern. Take your time and enjoy the spectacular scenery. We wish we had known about a few stops along the way that campers have used. Sleeping out here under the stars would truly be amazing, however we had a booking at Corinna so had to push on.

The ”Highway” is undulating with twists and turns

Corinna is reputedly derived from the Peerapper word for a young Tasmanian tiger. Peerapper, is an aboriginal language of Northwestern region of Tasmania. Corinna is a historic gold mining town, set in pristine rainforest on the banks of the majestic Pieman River in western Tasmania. Corinna is, as the sea eagle flies, 60km north of Strahan, 70km west of Cradle Mountain and 18km from the Southern Ocean. It sits at the southern end of the Tarkine the largest temperate rainforest in Australia – and is the northern most point where the famous Huon pine grows. This ancient unbroken tract of rainforest shows a world beyond human memory and is a living link with the ancient super continent Gondwanaland.

What was once a thriving gold mining town, Corinna is now an oasis for nature lovers wanting a genuine wilderness experience. The staff at Corinna provide a warm welcome, this hospitality was put to the test when we breezed into town. After a gruelling days drive over the Western Explorer “Highway” we fronted up to reception eager to find our campsite. As cheery as can be they said “we are fully booked up tonight, your booking isn’t until tomorrow”. But “not to worry we will find you a parking spot to sleep and maybe you would like to dine in the restaurant after taking long hot showers in camp”. Soon we had a glass of red wine in hand, laughing that Karen’s well planned schedule was up the creek without a paddle. The hospitality and quality of the food and beverages in the Tarkine Hotel and Tannin Restaurant add another dimension to our Corinna visit. Secretly we were not disappointed to gain an extra day in this exquisite place.

Remnants of the gold rush days

The camp provides an unforgettable wilderness experience that is difficult to find in Tasmania and elsewhere in the world. There is a range of unique wilderness experiences to do here, including the cruise on the Pieman River in the legendary Huon pine vessel, MV Arcadia II. Or a range of outdoor activities such as kayaking, walking, boating, fishing, bird watching and nature experiences are available. Opportunities also abound to explore and recall the exploits of the early miners and the aboriginal communities who made the west coast home as many as 30,000 years ago. 


The campsite is only small 8 sites in total, however there are the ensuited, eco- friendly retreats for those wanting a little more luxury. We were delighted with our campsite with views of the Pieman River at our doorstep and an abundance of wildlife that just walked, hopped, flew and crawled through the site whenever it suited them. We were exactly where we wanted to be. 

Wildlife that are just as curious about us as we are of them

Totally relaxing you can do as much or as little as you want.


Corinna was inhabited by white settlers in 1881 and proclaimed a town in 1894, following a flood of people coming to the area in pursuit of gold. The township of Corinna (in the Pieman River State Reserve) is singularly placed in Tasmania’s history as a unique example of a remote mining town that has survived. Before that, the Tarkiner people made Corinna and the nearby Tarkine areas their home for 30,000 years.

There are three noted river cruises on the Tasmanian west coast – the one at Arthur River (which unfortunately we had missed), the Gordon River cruise which leaves from Strahan which we are booked on and the small, intimate and fascinating cruise which leaves Corinna and travels to the mouth of the Pieman River. 


Named the Pieman River Cruise it journeys in the The Arcadia II a magnificent 17m craft built of huon pine in 1939 and listed on the Australian register of Historic Vessels in 2009. It is reputedly the only huon pine river cruiser in operation anywhere in the world.

Rob at the wheel

She has a leisurely cruising speed of 9 knots. Originally a luxury pleasure craft based in Hobart, it was requisitioned to serve in the Second World War in New Guinea as a supply ship. After some seasons as a scallop fishing boat on the East coast working from the Coles Bay area, the Arcadia ll was commissioned as a cruise boat on Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River in 1961. In 1970 she moved to Pieman River where she faithfully served her new owners, as the first regular cruises on the Pieman River.

Amazing reflections.


The cruise is a unique opportunity to travel the length and see the heads of the Pieman River, admire the fauna and flora of the area and to experience a rare pristine part of Tasmania’s West Coast rainforest. With excellent commentary, stunning reflections it’s a truly personal experience with the river and rainforest.

Solid Huon Pine build.


The entrance to Lover’s Falls

The cruise passes close to the wreck of the SS Croydon at the mouth of the Savage River and to Lover’s Falls near the mouth of the Donaldson.

Morning Tea and a picnic lunch is included which you can take with you if you wish to walk to Hardwicke Bay and take in the magnificent view of the Southern Ocean something we were keen to do.

The heads of the Pieman River
Southern Ocean

This is an uplifting and authentic experience, rich in history, nature and personal anecdotes. when you journey on the Arcadia II You must ask the story of how Lover’s Fall was named it’s a fascinating tale.

How Did The Pieman River Get Its Name?


There is an argument, with some small level of plausibility, that the Pieman River is named after a pastrycook, Thomas Kent of Southhampton, who was transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1816 and nicknamed “The Pieman”. 

The more plausible explanation is that it was named after Alexander Pearce, a convict who because of his repeated cannibalism, became known as “The Pieman”. Both men had escapes that led them to the Pieman area. The Pieman though has a long history, the river was originally called the Retreat and was renamed the Pieman in 1823 by Captain James Kelly.

So is this why the rivers name was changed? Alexander Pearce was born in County Monaghan in Ireland in about 1790. He was a small, pockmarked man who was transported to Hobart Town in 1820.

Drawing of Alexander Pearce (Photo courtesy Sarah Island archives)

His crime: he had stolen six pairs of shoes. His punishment: seven years in Van Diemen’s Land. Two years after his arrival Pearce was found to have forged a money order. Right now you have done it mate! and In June, 1822 he was sent to Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour to serve out the remainder of his sentence.

By September of that year he had managed to escape with seven other convicts. Their plan was to cross the island and escape to China. They got hopelessly lost, ran out of food and took the easy option: they started eating each other. The rest of the gruesome story you can find in the history books. But it is obvious that Pearce was the lone survivor. Pearce was eventually caught. He admitted to cannibalism but the authorities didn’t believe him.

There are many historical books relating to Alexander Pearce.

He was sent back to Sarah Island where, a few months later, he escaped with another convict, Thomas Cox.  Once again Pearce found himself without food and, to solve the problem. Yep you know the story but the fool was recaptured near the King River, Pearce admitted to eating Cox. There was no argument this time because when he was captured Pearce still had bits of Cox’s hands and fingers in his pockets.

He was subsequently executed in Hobart on 19 July, 1824.  It is reported that just before he was hanged, Pearce said, “Man’s flesh is delicious. It tastes far better than fish or pork. As you cross, or cruise down, the Pieman, think of Alexander Pearce. A unique footnote to Australian history.

Copy of Death Sentence.
(photo courtesy of Tasmanian Government)

There was a time when schooners laden with huon pine left the river through the Heads, and when steamships, not much bigger than the Arcadia II, came up the river and discharged their cargoes at Corinna and the nearby Donaldson’s Landing.

To take the journey on the Arcadia II to Pieman Head, the return trip is an unforgettable experience. The skipper takes the Arcadia close enough to the banks for you to actually feel as if you can touch the ancient rainforest, including many specimens of huon pine. On the journey, it is not uncommon to see platypus and sea eagles, and always possible to see the rare and endangered slender tree fern.


Other than the cruise we came here to be one with the wilderness and the only way to truly do that is on foot. Using Corinna as our base, this is our chance to embrace and really explore the wilderness of the west coast on foot with some iconic walks that range from accessible to challenging. 

Our first was the Whyte River Walk it is the most popular walk in the area. The track leads away from the township and which has boardwalks and stairs at strategic places. The walk is easy, and is an ideal introduction to the rainforest ecosystem.

The Huon Pine Walk is what this area is known for. One of the truly memorable moments Karen says she can remember in Australian environmental history is a young Bob Brown standing next to a modest huon pine and pointing out that it had been growing in that place on Tasmania’s west coast from before the time of the recorded birth of Christ. The huon pine is a remarkable, fine grained, slow growing tree and this short walk has interpretative signs along the way.

You see beautiful specimens not only of Huon Pines but others such as leatherwood, celery top pine, sassafras, king billy pine, myrtle beech, pencil pine, native laurel, soft tree fern, slender tree fern, blackwood, cutting grass, native plum, whitey wood and the commonly named, “horizontal” and if you search some eucalypt species like the mountain ash, that grow in these rainforest conditions. An understory of ferns, mosses, liverworts and fungi form an important part of the rainforest habitat and ecosystem. There are more than 400 species of diverse flora, including a range of native orchids and many rare and threatened species. There are more than 250 vertebrate species of fauna, 50 of which are rare, threatened and vulnerable. These include quolls, Tasmanian devils, eastern pygmy possums, wedge tailed eagles, the white breasted sea eagle, orange bellied parrots, white goshawks and giant freshwater lobsters.

It is so different to the rainforests that we are use to walking through. The cool temperate rainforests seem quiet, tidy, clean and in order. Where the tropical rainforests that we are use to seeing are disorderly, larger than life and busting with colour.

The township works with nature in mind and it is powered by an eco-friendly solar system with back-up generators. It has pure rainwater (probably the most pure water in the world) and all waste is removed from site. The general store, old guest house and original buildings bring alive the history of Corinna, which is a starting point to connect with the surrounding wilderness in all of its facets. Once visited this area it will always be part of you forever.

From Corinna, our next stops are Zeehan and Strahan and both we are looking forward to visiting especially the Montazoma Falls at Zeehan and the Gordon River Cruise. But to get to these we need to cross the Pieman using the ‘Fatman Barge’. The barge only operates limited hours so if you are coming this way make sure you plan your crossing!  Given that the point of crossing is 130 metres wide and 20 metres deep, the “Fatman” barge is a “local crossing” method. It is small so towing rigs are also limited. Check out http://www.corinna.com.au/barge-access-and-times/ for costs limits and times.

Following are a collection of photos we hope you enjoy




If you would like to ride along with us whether it be on the high seas or on a dusty road out west, consider being a patreon find out about it here 👉 Dreamtime Patreon every little bit helps to keep us on the road producing Youtube and writing blogs as we hope you enjoy them. Please subscribe to the blog so you will be notified each time we post. To subscribe head to our home page.

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If you are interested in the products we used on our build on our product page is a list. Many of these items we sourced secondhand, others we purchased from the manufacturer or retailer. We have found them online and listed them for you. Some of the links supplied we have an association with and we will receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, but it is free to look and do your research 😊 we can not promise all links to work as retailers may remove items, but we will do our best to update them 👍

Join us next time as we stay at the best ever tFREE campsite in Tasmania.

Highfield House is the story of success or tragedy – you decide. 

Take a step back in time and visit the Highfield Historic Site in the northwest of Tasmania, near Stanley. Remarkably intact, the house is a gentleman’s home and farm from the 1830’s. With gorgeous views of Stanley and the popular tourist attraction ‘The Nut’, combined with the lavish gardens, the site is a pleasant visit that will fascinate history buffs and give an interesting account of an important period of Tasmania’s history. 

The Historic Site includes many outbuildings all of which are open to the public.

Highfield Historic Site offers a historically accurate vision from the 1830s. It sits on a hillside overlooking the lands the manager would have once controlled, with impressive views across to Stanley, The Nut and the Bass Strait beyond. The house has been restored over time by the Tasmanian Government and its elegant Regency design, convict barracks, barns, stables, and a chapel are surrounded by a large ornamental garden. By visiting you are helping to raise the funds to continue the restoration and preservation work. 

The main house with ornamental gardens has a magnificent view of “The Nutt” and the township of Stanley

Part of the History

The Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL) came to the region in 1826 and essentially formed the cornerstone for European settlement in northwest Tasmania. The company was granted royal permission to select unexplored territory in Tasmania’s west and Circular Head was chosen as the ideal spot given its harbour and plentiful supply of fresh water. This company was intended to rival the West Indies Company to supply much needed supplies to the mother country. Their aim was to grow Merino sheep and export the wool.

Still in the yard is equipment used over the years to work the land

The first settlers were no strangers to hardships and challenges presented by the harsh environment and rugged terrain. The company also became known for its brutal treatment of the local Aboriginal inhabitants. Nonetheless, the land was eventually cleared using convict labour and infrastructure began to take shape. 

Impressive stone work by convict labour

In 1831, Edward Curr, the chief agent of the Van Diemen’s Land Company, planned for a larger homestead for his family, adjoining the weatherboard cottage that had until that time served as Curr’s home. Construction started in 1832, it was completed in 1835 and later additions were made by John Lee Archer.

The tradesmen entrance, through to the kitchen and boiler room.

The Company’s grand plans largely foundered as the land proved not suitable for merino sheep with most of the 5,000 imported animals dying in the cold winters. Due to the company’s underwhelming performance, Curr was dismissed in 1842. By the late 1840s, the company decided to sell or lease most of its holdings. In the ensuing years, the homestead was leased out and the company’s headquarters moved to Burnie. It was then sold to various owners until it was acquired in 1982 by the State Government and is now administered as an Historic Site and been extensively restored. Today, the original land holding has reduced to around five acres.

Other rooms, buildings, and landmarks as part of the homestead included the chapel and school house (later used as a storehouse), barns (later converted to a large shearing shed), horse stables, pig sties and boiling house (later made into a slaughterhouse), cart shed, cottages, and funerary monument (for Curr’s 3 year old daughter who died tragically on property).

The chapel and school house

Apart from the historic value showcasing the amazing skilled labour of the convicts who built the homestead and adjoining outbuildings. The real intrigue is in the people who lived at the site. 

Another view of the chapel
The stables are a true work of art
The interior of the stables, the wood is beautifully crafted.
Tack room



We had planned a quick visit to walk through another beautifully built and restored colonial home. However the visit extended to a couple of hours as we spent time reading of the trials and tribulations of the occupants throughout the years. The homestead is really bought to life with the detailed history that is on display. Letters, journal entries and private diary writings that give you the true picture of the comings and going’s on not only in the company, but also into the private lives.

It is fascinating to read a woman’s account of her time, in what must of seems outrageously harsh and outright freighting times for someone who had come from a civilised lifestyle in England. Simply to have your children sent back to England to be educated, some from as young as three, must of been heart wrenching. But there are many more fascinating stories to uncover when you visit this remarkable site.

Every door opened reveals something new to discover about Highfield Hose and its occupants


On a windswept bluff these buildings have stood the test of time


Something about fence pots constructed like this take you back in time. Makes you wonder why we still don’t build this way.

Highfield Historic Site is just 3km down the road from picturesque Stanley and located at 143 Greenhills Road. On the way to the historic site make sure you stop at the lookout and climb the stairs for a spectacular view of “The Nut” and Stanley in the foreground. There is no public transport to the site, but plenty of free parking with room for caravans, RV’s and our Frog Box.

Visitors are welcome daily from September through May. In June to August the site is closed on weekends. Entrance fees apply. Groups are welcome and the site is also available for events such as weddings. 

Please find following a number of photos we took the day we visited this incredible historic site.















We hope you enjoyed our latest blog. Join us next time when we continue to explore the North West Coast of Tasmania.

If you would like to ride along with us whether it be on the high seas or on a dusty road out west, consider being a patreon find out about it here 👉 Dreamtime Patreon every little bit helps to keep us on the road producing Youtube and writing blogs as we hope you enjoy them. 

Please subscribe to the blog so you will be notified each time we post. To subscribe head to our home page.

We love to read your comments if you have any questions pop them below, we will be sure to get back to you.

If you are interested in the products we used on our build on our product page is a list. Many of these items we sourced secondhand, others we purchased from the manufacturer or retailer. We have found them online and listed them for you. Some of the links supplied we have an association with and we will receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, but it is free to look and do your research 😊 we can not promise all links to work as retailers may remove items, but we will do our best to update them 👍