Taste Testing Tasmania’s Best (part 1)

Bruny Island is a small island accessed only by ferry off the south-eastern coast of Tasmania. It is a microcosm of the Tasmanian mainland. Blessed with an extraordinarily diverse range of distinct environments – spectacular coastlines, geological wonders, beaches, rainforests, mountains, lagoons, waterfalls, abundant flora and fauna. 

The island is about 50 km long but appears on the map to be two islands with North and South Bruny joined by a narrow strip of land called The Neck. This isthmus is an important habitat for native wildlife.

Tourists are drawn to Bruny Island for many reasons but the main attraction is the amazing walks through the South Bruny National Park with towering cliffs overlooking long sandy beaches, coastal heathland, and underwater gardens of kelp seaweed with some amazing bushwalks to take it all in.

However in recent years Bruny Island has been promoted as a foodies heaven and this is what has drawn us to spend some extended time on the island. It is home to producers specialising in oysters, cheese, wines, honey, berries, spirits and chocolate. What more could we ask for?

First however we need to get to the island and this is via a vehicular ferry. A 20-min crossing from Kettering, around a 35-min drive south of Hobart. The service runs seven days a week. Now there are ways of saving money on the ferry by taking it during off peak times and for us being seniors we also received a further discount. Sometimes age is a benefit. Bruny Island Ferry Information

We hadn’t booked anywhere to stay on the island. We were planning to stay in one of the National Park campgrounds. Whilst on the ferry we discussed what our stay on the island would entail.

There is no public transport on Bruny Island, with the island  50klm long, we needed to drive to all of the tasting sites we wished to visit. One of the disadvantages with having a van and touring, is you take everything with you when day tripping, leaving nothing at your campsite. So when you chose to stay in a National Park, which is first in gets the site, you are not always guaranteed of having a site when you return after your day out. We have a free standing annex and this is a great solution for this situation, as we can leave it standing in our campsite.

We however did checkout the National Park Campsites. Very close to the beach with lots of wildlife roaming freely.
our free standing Annex see our product page for more information

However we were expecting rain on the last day of our stay, and really didn’t want to repackage a wet annex. Our solution was to stay at one of the caravan parks or the local Landscape Supplies. Strange as it might sound this local business has sites available for self contained vans. On calling them we discovered they had lots to offer, so we booked for two nights at $25 per night. 

On arrival our host was very welcoming and showed us to our site. All sites have power, water, level and are grassed. There are only 5 campsites and are well spaced. They provide an awesome camp kitchen which has a wood fired pizza oven and a great outdoor fire pit for social gatherings.

So naturally after a quick set up we grab a bottle of red wine and head over to meet our other campers. This is certainly one of the highlights of Vanlife, meeting people from all walks of life that are enjoying life on the road.

So after a few wines it was back to “Le Frog Box” for a great nights sleep. We woke in the morning to a beautiful day, now time to enjoy the famous local produce; Bruny Island is pretty well known for the amazing local produce. Indulging in fresh oysters, seafood and artisan cheeses was high on our priority list for the next few days. Karen had made provision for extra $$ in our budget for eating at all these gastronomical delights. We didn’t have an early start, that maybe caused by the couple of extra reds last night but we are soon on the road to our first stop Bruny Island Cheese. Mmmmmm …. 3 coach-loads of tourists are there before us, ok let’s come back. 

Apart from tempting your taste buds Bruny Island is full of natural wonders and history. We had marked on our must sees as the place Captain Cook arrived and placed a plaque on a tree to commemorate his landing, that simply read “Cook 26th January 1977”. Does that date ring a bell with Australian’s? It is quite a significant date and is now a national holiday we call Australia Day. 

A Bicentennial Memorial to Captain Cook, at the far end of the road around the bay, which was the site of a plaque which marked the site of Cook’s Tree.  

On arrival at the site we learn that the plaque was lost. In 1989 it was reported that barely the roots remained of the tree which had stood forgotten above a beach, weatherworn, vandalised and burnt. 

In 1930 it had stood over three metres tall, with Cook’s carving still intact. The site has recently been cleaned up by ‘Friends of Adventure Bay Inc’, with Callistemons (Bottle Brush) planted beside it. The small piece of trunk that remained was removed to the Bligh Museum for safe keeping. The Bligh Museum is a small building a few hundred metres away, so off we trundle to see this famous stump. 

The Bligh Museum
Historic photo of the vandalised tree.
Photo courtesy of the Bligh Museum
The remains of the stump in the Bligh Museum
photo courtesy by the Bligh Museum

Bruny Island figured prominently in the early exploration of the southern seas, and was partially charted by Tasman in 1642. It was inhabited by the Nuenonne band of the South East tribe of Aborigines. Truganini. The Museum is small but is packed full of interning history from the first discovery of Van Diemen’s Land and if you are a history buff well worth the visit.

Samuel Clifford, ‘Adventure Bay where Captain Cook landed in 1771’, c 1873 (W.L. Crowther Library, SLT)

Adventure Bay, which is the large bay on the eastern side of the isthmus that joins North and South Bruny Island, could be called the birth place of Van Diemen’s Land – Tasmania. Its list of 17th and 18th century European visitors reads like a who’s who of leading Pacific explorers from the golden age of world exploration. British navigators James Cook, Tobias Furneaux, Wiliam Bligh and Matthew Flinders all visited Adventure Bay during their exploatory voyages. Adventure Bay became a centre of the whaling industry with whalers using the Bay as early as 1804. By 1829 the Bay supported some 80 to 90 men, two sloops and up to twenty whale boats. 

But today Adventure Bay and Bruny Island’s other pristine beaches are a playground for holiday makers to watch and marvel at these majestic giants of the ocean not harpoon them and for a bit of beach combing or swimming.

Adventure Bay to the left of “The Neck”

With the history tour over it was time to find some of that great seafood. We had been told not to miss the platters at Bruny Island Hotel. I’m not sure what you conger up when you think about pub food but ours is soggy parmy and chips. The hotel is a very unassuming 1970’s lowset building, our thoughts were still “soggy parmy” …..

Bruny Island Hotel

Well DON’T miss the platters at the Bruny Island Hotel. Though the day was blustery and we couldn’t sit outside we were shown to a table with the view of the water across the road. And the food was superb, no soggy chips to be found. Everyone seat was commenting on the food, not sure we even saw the view once our Fish Platter arrived. Did we mention DON’T miss the platters at the Bruny Island Hotel. 

Fish Platter Bruny Island Hotel
Cheers to another great day of #Vanlife

With our bellies full it was easy to curl up and have an afternoon nap, but we had other things in mind. Wine …. Carved from bush and pastureland on the outskirts of the sleepy little island settlement of Lunawanna. Richard and Bernice Woolley bought the Wayaree Estate property in 1997 and they established their vineyard the following year, planting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines. This family owned winery now has a beautiful tasting room and restaurant. As we had already filled our bellies, wine tasting was all we partook in.

Wine tasting room

The vineyard produces premium quality, cool climate wines. Bernice has been making the wine on-site since 2004 and has now passed on her knowledge and love for wine to her son Joseph. Mid to late April all grapes are hand-picked on an annual picking day which attracts around 100 pickers in a day of vintage celebrations. Oh what fun that would be. All wines are made on site and include such varieties as Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. After enjoying a tasting of their premium selection we headed to do some sightseeing and then back to finish our day with some artisan cheeses.

The historic Cape Bruny Lighthouse, built in 1836, is the only southern Tasmanian lighthouse open for tours.
Beautiful vistas at every turn
If i could give you anything in the world what would it be?
Stairs to The Neck lookout
Pristine Beaches

On arrival at Bruny Island Cheeses we found it was still packed with people. Unfortunately when something is so very popular you need to share. We lined up to speak to the “Fromager”. We were taken through each of the cheese’s that were available for tasting that day. Even though there was a considerable line behind us, we didn’t feel rushed and each of our questions were asked fully. Bruny Island Cheese Co was foundered by Nick Haddow in 2003. It was started after Nick spent 10 years working with specialist cheese makers in many different countries around the world.

Traditionally Matured

As a traditionalist, who recognises that great cheese was made for centuries before modern technology. His cheese’s are made and matured using traditional techniques, the range of cheeses changes seasonally. Reflecting the seasonal nature of the Huon Valley dairy farms and the companies own herd of rare breed cows.

FREE tasting board at the Bruny Island Cheese Co
What to choose?

These cheese’s are truly unique to Tasmania. We made our many purchases both at the cheese counter and from the range of other Tasmanian products on offer and head back to the campsite for well another glass of Tasmanian wine and cheese’s. We can alway diet tomorrow.

Follow along by subscribing to our blog to find out what we devour next ….. 

8 Top Things to do and see Bruny Island – from this blog

Visit The Neck – Free

Follow the History of the Explorers that discovered Australia Free / $ – Captain Cook Memorial Free – Paid entry fee of $5 into Museum

Lunch at the Bruny Island Hotel $ – Shared Fish Platter $45

Wine Tasting – $15 per person Wayaree Estate Bruny Island Premium Wines

Adventure Bay – Free Beach walk, watch for Whales, beach combing, take a swim.

Visit the World Sculpture – Free

Bruny Island Lighthouse – Free / $ you can enjoy the grounds of the lighthouse or you can take a tour.

Cheese Tasting – Free / $ Enjoy free cheese tasting at Bruny Island Cheese Co. Then purchase your favourites to take home.

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

Bruny Island Cheese Co

Through Hell’s Gate where it was said …. “you will never return from the notorious Sarah Island”

In about 1815, when James Kelly sailed through Hell’s Gates to be the first European to visit Macquarie Harbour, he named Sarah Island after Sarah Birch, the wife of the merchant who had paid for the voyage.

Sarah Island was established in the remote reaches of Macquarie Harbour in 1821. From 1822 to 1833, Sarah Island was the home of a harsh convict settlement. It is Tasmania’s oldest convict settlement and reputedly one of the severest penal establishments in the history of transportation to Australia. 

Once a thickly wooded outcrop in Macquarie Harbour lashed by the Roaring Forties, it was selected as a place of ‘banishment and security’ because of its isolation. It was a bleak place reserved for the worst of British felons. Sarah Island has a notorious past. Flogging and hanging was frequently used as a punishment and more than 180 escape attempts were made. Convicts laboured under the harshest conditions in the rainforest, felling Huon pines for boat building. 

Remotely located, the island sits in the southern part of Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania’s west coast. Of all the possible sites to choose, Macquarie Harbour would have been the most windswept and barren but it was also the most secure.

Any convict trying to escape Sarah Island had not only to get across the harbour but to hack their way through the impenetrable rainforests of the west coast …… to where exactly. Despite its isolation and grim function, Sarah Island was for a time the largest shipbuilding yard in the colonies.

With the opening of the Port Arthur penal settlement in 1830, the use of Sarah Island was phased out. It operated for a year as a convict probation station when it housed a party of convicts sent to cut Huon pine. Economic and ‘moral’ problems forced its closure.

Towards the end of the 19th century the haunting ruins and natural beauty of Sarah Island became popular with tourists. The island was gazetted as a tourist reserve in 1926 and nearly 50 years later is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and Macquarie Harbour Historic Site. Today, the convict ruins give a chilling insight into the cruelties of convict life and are especially unsettling given the overwhelming beauty of the surrounding wilderness.

Sarah Island

A walking track links important sites. The best way to visit the site is on one of the several wilderness cruises operating out of Strahan. We chose the family owner and operated World Heritage Cruisers (red boat).

They took us on a journey following in the footsteps of the convicts from their passage through Hells Gates the narrow entrance to Macquarie Harbour named by the convicts on their way to Sarah Island to their daily life on the island; Entering the harbour through Hell’s Gates meant navigating waters so treacherous that many lost their lives here. For them it may have been their salvation because what awaited those who did make it was much, much worse than death. Conditions at the penal settlement on Sarah Island in the southern part of the harbour were so harsh that one convict, only known as Trenham, went as far as stabbing a fellow inmate, reasoning that this would get him executed and he wouldn’t have to spend more time in this hell.

Going through in the modern large catamaran on a calm day was concerning enough. At just 120 meters wide and notoriously shallow this dangerous channel is the entrance a harbour twice the size of Sydney Harbour. Hell’s Gate must of been an intimidating site as ships navigated though with no propulsion other than the wind. Convicts described their arrival through the entrance as the “entrance to hell”. The dangerous conditions caused by the “Roaring 40s” would also contribute to the well deserved title, that is still used today.

Hells Gate at 120 meters wide isn’t somewhere we would like to be navigating in a square rigger.

Once thorough Hells Gate we cruised along Macquarie Harbour passing high-tech aquaculture where hundreds of thousands of Tasmania’s famous Atlantic Salmon and Ocean Trout are farmed;

Fish farms in Macquarie Harbour

enjoying the very interesting commentary from the Captain and experienced guest speakers about the history and goings on in the area. Once docked we stepped ashore at Sarah Island to see some of Australia’s oldest convict ruins.

Beautiful broad walks have been constructed for our convenience

A settlement which pre-dates Port Arthur by decades. Created to put the ‘fear of God’ into the convicts of Van Diemen’s Land, this tiny outpost of 18th Century British penal history hides a fascinating tale of human triumph over adversity, brought vividly to life by expert guides of the Round Earth Company. 

Our guide on the ground from Round Earth Company, Kiah was simply brilliant in her delivery of the historical facts in a theatrical way to bring the people to life.
Many drawings and paintings are still in existence from the convict time.

Over time Sarah Island has gained a reputation as a place of unspeakable horrors and a living hell, largely due to the exploits of one of the island’s ‘colourful’ characters, Alexander Pearce, the Cannibal Convict, and a novel For the Term of His Natural Life written about 1860 by Marcus Clark. The novel, although based on actual events, is a fiction which set out to create Sarah Island as a living hell for its hero, Rufus Dawes.

A scene from the 1927 film of For the Term of his Natural Life.

Altogether about 1200 men and women were sentenced or sent to Sarah Island. Most of them had committed further offences while serving their original sentences; others came as ‘remittance men’, skilled tradesmen who worked at the settlement in exchange for remission of their sentence.

They were supervised by military detachments of several regiments (up to 90 soldiers at one time), and by a variety of Civilian Officers, Supervisors and Constables, many of whom were ex-convicts. Ships’ crews were regular visitors, tradesmen were co-opted and often bribed to work at the Settlement. There were women and children: some convicts working as servants; some wives of soldiers and officials; some wives and children of convicts.

Well constructed walkways keep visitors off the historic sites

The Muster in 1828 was a total of 531, including about 380 convicts, 95 military, 14 women, some civilians and 27 children.

The early work of the Settlement was timber-cutting and hauling, work that could be done largely by unskilled gangs. But shipping out the valued Huon Pine proved more of a problem than expected: one solution was to build ships at the Settlement to transport the timber.

Solitary confinement block

Soon Sarah Island was more than just a prison. It was also an industrial village: gardeners, timber cutters, sawmen, boatmen, tanners, bootmakers, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, carpenters, boat builders and shipwrights, fencers, bakers, cooks, medical orderlies, quarrymen and stonemasons, brick makers, lime-burners, coal miners, clerks, accountants, artists and draughtsmen.

The remains of the New Penitentiary

Today there are a few obvious ruins. Most of the buildings were of timber construction which has been removed or rotted. Some deliberate damage many years ago by those who wanted the island’s history forgotten and the activity of souvenir collectors in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century have depleted the brick and stone structures.

Only rubble off fire places remain for the cottages

Some detailed images of the Island painted by the artists who served time there (skilled draughtsmen sent for forgery). But the real task of re-construction is to create a picture of the people who lived and worked there. 

The bakery
Servants quarters where the natural vegetation is
reclaiming the island.

And this is where the talented folk of the Round Earth Company take us on their journey. What they do is to put together a detailed picture of all these people, what they did, how they related to each other, and above all how they responded to the harsh environment and the brutal treatment meted out for at least half of the period of the Settlement. It is a fascinating tale of trials and tribulations of an island full of the unimaginable group of people forced together to live on a very small Island at the end of the world. 

Where this area had been cleared and was the main shipbuilding and slipway area it is now returning to nature. walkways have been provided so you can examine the remains of the slipways.

The Tour has been researched and prepared by Richard Davey with the assistance of Dr. Hamish Maxwell-Stewart. The story told on the Guided Tour has been elaborated by Richard Davey in The Sarah Island Conspiracies, published in 2002. The tour is as much as a theatrical performance as much as guided factual tour and it is a snippet to the of this complex picture and introduces you to some of the people of Sarah Island. 

The Ship that Never Was, a must see to conclude your visit
to Sarah Island

To complete the story and to see the characters come to life acted out by attending the hilarious pantomime performance of “The Ship that Never Was”. This live theatrical production has been in continuous operation since 1994 every night at 5:30pm. Bookings are essential as numbers are limited in this small intimate space. We would suggest that you see the production after your tour of Sarah Island.

The theatrical production of the building of a ship, the escape, the capture and the trial, facts told of Australian history.

We hope you enjoyed our insights to a forgotten part of our convict history. there is much more to the story. But it would be remiss of us to spoil it for those who wish to discover Sarah Island for themselves. For those of you unable to make the visit there is plenty of books now available on the subject, please find a list following:

The Great Escape: start reading The Ship That Never Was by Adam Courtenay

The Sarah Island Conspiraciesby Richard Innes Davey

The Round Earth Company have a children’s comic available. https://www.roundearth.com.au/books.html

Join us next time when we take a historic train that was said could never be built.

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 👍

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.

The best ever Free Campsite in Tasmania

It was sad to be packing up to leave Corinna, we really could have spent another couple of days here enjoying the remoteness. Sometimes you need to unplug from the world. Our schedule wasn’t so hectic that we felt rushed, but it wasn’t giving us much downtime and that’s what we really needed. 

Our campsite at Corinna Wilderness Experience
What a stunning peaceful place

Our next couple of days promised to provide just that. We had marked a couple of free campsites on the map hoping that one of them would provid a place to sit and watch the great southern ocean roll on in. This of course was all dependant on the weather, and as we have had no phone service since  the start of the Western Explorer “Highway” we really had no idea what the forecast was going forward. For sailors this is an uncomfortable feeling.

Fatman Barge over the Pieman river

We were packed and ready for the first Fatman Barge crossing of the morning across the Pieman River. We then set just a steady pace so that we could enjoy the journey without rushing. The wilderness on this side of the river is just as spectacular. With very few visitors on these roads, we expected the surface to be a little rough, but it is well maintained. The weather looked awesome for camping on the west coast, a light breeze of around 8 knots and blue skies. 

The first on our list of our free campsites was Granville Harbour, 30 kilometres from Corinna. We passed through the Granville Harbour Wind Farm project, consisting of 31 turbines. Between the Granville Harbour and Cattle Hill wind farms they are expected to boost Tasmania’s renewable energy production from 95.6 per cent to 100 per cent by the end of this year (2022). The Granville Harbour turbines are almost 200 metres tall, have blades with a rotation the size of two soccer pitches and sit on foundations each made of around 100 trucks of concrete. The energy is being sold to Hydro Tasmania and transported via an 11 kilometre transmission line to Reece Power Station. When we sailed the Wales coastline we actual sailed through a section of a wind-farm, totally an amazing feeling to be sailing under these giants.

We hope these are the way forward for power generation.

The road in actually had roadworks in action, they were putting in new culverts and grading the gravel road. It amazed us that out here in the middle of nowhere this work was being carried out but of course we realised a little further on that this is the road in and out to service the wind farm. All of this road works were happening without a lollipop person to be found (traffic controller). 

The road is an easy drive in and would be suitable for all towing rigs. Arriving at Granville Harbour we found a sleepy fishing village with a beautiful beach. Originally a soldier settlement after World War 1, Granville Harbour is now a small community. It is a popular fishing destination for locals and a holiday destination for miners from both Queenstown and Zeehan. Archaeological research has been conducted on aboriginal middens on the coast between the Trial and Granville area. After a drive around town and stopping to take photos. We eventually found the entrance to the camping area situated to the right hand side of the beach looking to sea. We were stunned to find so many signs indicating that they have had many problems with people leaving their trash behind. On the drive in we had passed a refuse station that was a drive through, we thought it was pretty cool that you could drive through and dump your rubbish. So what is wrong with these people, you are given a free campsite so take your $*#+ing rubbish with you! Rant over!!

Come on guys clean up after yourselves
A stunning place to set up camp.

The beaches between Granville and Trial Harbours

The entrance to the camping area is good with toilet facilities available, however past that it is really a sandy 4WD track. When you get told about these campsites not always do you get told the whole story. Not that we were disappointed in the drive down to Granville, totally the opposite. If we had of been told the conditions of the campsite roads we may not have driven down, and we would of missed checking out this beautiful spot. But there was NO chance of us risking “Le Frog Box” down a sandy track even if the campsites looked so cool. So if anyone ventures further than us, let us know in comments below what you thought. 

Well on to Trial Harbour, 55 kilometres away, these are not big distances to travel, but they are narrow, winding roads and caution is required. As we came to the intersection from Granville Harbour to the main road we came across a group of bicycle riders that had been at Corinna. These guys had come across on the Fatman Ferry with us and were now already at the turn off. The average age of this group would of been 70, total respect ✊ yes they were on electric bikes but you still have to pedal at some point no charging units to be found out here. But the one thing we were pleased about, we would not have them on the road ahead of us.

We didn’t see any 4WD but we are sure they were out there

The roads in this part link up with many 4WD tracks, you can see the entry and exit points all the way along. Many aren’t signed so we expect there is a 4WD book detailing the trails. We certainly hope so as it is a very inhospitable country side. We are yet to see a 4WD bounding out of a side track. We were told by people we met in the Tarkine that the Climies Track links Trial Harbour and Granville Harbour and they were hoping to tow their camper along the track with a distance of 25 km. Note: Climes track (one way) starts at Granville Harbour and traverses the cliff tops of the coast before finishing at Trial Harbour.

The sharp downward hairpin

Originally to service port for the mining town of Zeehan, Trial Harbour, once was a thriving town with shops, hotels and businesses. It is now home to just a few houses that are mainly holiday shacks with it looks only a few permanent residents.

Just 30 minutes from Zeehan, you can understand why locals love coming here. Trial Harbour is a picturesque surprise after journeying the gravel road through rain forest and button grass plains. The road in, is windy, steep in places and then the last hairpin corner is a beauty. We took a 3 point turned to get around and we’re very pleased of no oncoming traffic at the time. This isn’t a road for big rigs, or towing caravans. We were silently pleased we had a LWB and not and ELWB.

Stunning visas of Trial Harbour. you can see our campsite, the twisty road along the cliffs

Trial Harbour is stunning. There are magnificent surf beaches, (link for live surf conditions https://www.surf-forecast.com/breaks/Trial-Harbour  ) fantastic views and by all reports great fishing. However active pursuits were going to wait. We wanted time-out and we needed to find a campsite. Well …… a campsite we found. Bare with us when we use every superlative we can in this next paragraph. 

Imagine if you can …. Pulling up on the edge of a stunning, high cliff with just enough room to park “Le Frog Box” and roll out the awning.

Pulling into our campsite at Trial Harbour
Set up as close to the edge as we dare

A crystal clear freshwater waterfall to our right (10 meters away) feeds a rock pool teaming with tiny friendly colourfully striped fish. The waterfall is surrounded by button-grass and native flowers making it a private and tranquil space. It trickles over the rock pool edge to meet the the southern ocean across the rock shelf below.

That’s right, from high above on our cliff face campsite, the stunningly deep blue and unusually placid on this occasion, southern ocean washes onto the rocks below us with an ever so beautiful sound of waves meeting land. In a word, the views in every direction were breathtaking. The air is said to be the cleanest in the world and our spot for the afternoon and evening simply mind blowing. It was very easy to sit there in awe.

The view from the galley, Karen prepares Sundowers
Happy to sit back and read our books for the afternoon

Have we over done the superlatives. Not a chance we simply can not tell you how magnificent this campsite was and all FOR FREE!

Oh and then the sunset, we popped the cork on a bottle of Moët that we were saving for just an occasion like this (thank you middle child). The Southern Ocean lit up in an amazing array of colours and we silently watched the sun set on another perfect day of Vanlife. 

Breakfast the following morning … Explain to me why we are leaving?

We hope you have enjoyed this blog.

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 take on Montezuma Falls hike.

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.

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 as we stay at the best ever tFREE campsite in Tasmania.

The Western Wilds of Tasmania – Tarkine Wilderness

The route we followed completing the loop to continue on to Corinna

If you are looking for the ultimate Tasmanian road trip into the wilderness, then you need to head west. Home to untamed rivers, ancient pine trees and giant sand dunes, the west coast is at the heart of Tasmania’s wilderness. It is isolated rough country, associated with wilderness, timber harvesting and mining. It served as the earliest location of an convict settlement in the history of Van Diemen’s Land, and contrasts sharply with the more developed and populous northern and eastern parts of the island. 

Now known as the gateway to Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area, its rugged mountains, ancient rain forests and heath make Tasmania’s west one of Australia’s last true wilderness frontiers. The island’s West Coast consists mostly of lush national parks. Fill your lungs with what is said to be the world’s cleanest air and be fascinated by the climate resulting in icy winters with freezing temperatures and pristine white beaches with unbelievable surf breaks. Western Tasmania is a place of contrasts. 

Just another country road

TIP: If you want to visit these National Parks and you most surely will want to, you can save money and reduce the risk of hassle by investing in a Holiday Pass or as we did a two year Tasmanian National Parks Pass. All the island’s national parks take entrance fees, but some of them have no controllers, instead just trusting in that you are honest and pay when entering.

Yet, despite its remoteness, there is easy access for those brave enough to tackle the Western Explorer Highway. It is a unique beast that is the most direct way to get around the coast and is most interesting. Known variously as the C249, the Western Explorer Highway built in 1990 it is the road to nowhere, this seriously remote route through dense forest and buttongrass plains crosses the Tarkine Wilderness has the feel of a true adventure, albeit a pretty safe one that connects the Arthur River with Corinna.

“The highway”

The “Highway” rewards those who drive it carefully – wildlife is abundant views are spectacular and this was the last known habitat of the Tassie tiger; take care lest it emerges from the bush. But be warned the term “Highway” is a very romantic view of a piece of gravel road, at 77 kilometres long you will know that you have traveled every inch of it by the end. However it opens up to a truly memorable experience. 

We leave our beach side camp at Montague ready and committed to do the Western Explorer Highway, this will be a real test on our van conversion building skills and how well “Le Frog Box” handles such roads. 2WD vehicles regularly make the two- to three-hour passage. At the north lies surf beaches like Marrawah, fishing settlements at Couta Rocks and Temma. And to the south lies the spectacular Tarkine wilderness rainforest, which will be our first overnight stop and then finally onto the settlement of Corinna.

Even though we are here in mid February don’t for one second believe that this is the Australia that is known for hot days and a baking sun. Instead, pack warming clothes, thick wool socks and rainwear. The wind is howling today from the southwest and there is nothing and we mean nothing between this coastline and Antarctica. At least the surf will be pumping at Marrawah, not that we intend on putting our toes in the water.

Marrawah is Tasmania’s westernmost settlement. It is a town known in the surfing world for its outstanding big wave surf which, in extreme weather, has produced waves reaching 19 metres. Apart from surfing Marrawah is a tiny outpost servicing the surrounding rich farming and dairy area. Beyond the town the farmlands tumble down to the sea at Green Point and West Point.

Beautiful campsite with BBQ’s and shelters but not in this weather

We had initially marked the free campsite here as where we wanted to stay tonight, but when we heard that wind arrive through the night and as dawn broke that wind was howling, we new Marrawah wouldn’t be suitable. We still wanted to see this famous surf beach, and are so very pleased we did. The waves were pumping not to the record highs but enough that the windsurfing guys were having a great time.

Windsurfer making the most of the windy conditions

A stunning beach area in the right conditions

We turned “Le Frog Box” in the direction of Arthur River.  This small town lies 16 km south of Marrawah and, although it is a tiny isolated settlement, it offers cruises up the Arthur River. The family owned Arthur River Cruises on the M.V. George Robinson leave Arthur River at 10.00 am, travel upstream for 70 minutes past banks densely forested with myrtles, sassafras, celery-top pine, laurels, blackwoods, and giant tree ferns. It includes lunch and a walk in the riverside rainforest, and return to Arthur River by 3.00. Unfortunately we had missed the timing for the cruise but definitely wanted to see what the locals call the “Edge of the World”.  

Rob braving the cold and standing on ”The Edge of the World”

Gardiner Point, which lies to the south of Arthur River, has called itself “The Edge of the World” because, apart from its isolation, it is further south than Cape Agulus (the southernmost point of Africa) and therefore the waves breaking on the shores have come uninterrupted all the way across the Great Southern Ocean from Argentina.

The edge of the world

With today’s conditions we totally believed we were standing on the “Edge of the World”. Karen was so cold her teeth were chattering. Time to move on and find some shelter.

Karen hiding from the winds at the mouth of Arthur River.

Leaving Arthur River means we are now officially on the Western Explorer Highway. It doesn’t take Karen long to question her plans to come this way. A number of times within the first 20 kilometres did she asked if “Froggy” was ok and asked “should we turn back?” 

The highway takes you through vastly different vegetation

An hours drive from Arthur River is the 447,000 ha Tarkine Wilderness Area Loop Drive, (FYI: It’s pronouned “tar-kine”, rhymes with “fine”, not “tar-keen”, rhymes with “mean”.) a vast wilderness of myrtle, leatherwood and pine trees which was once part of the mighty continent of Gondwana. However, whilst there is no official recognition of the name “Tarkine” I think Tasmanian’s have accepted the name, and it is generally agreed that it stretches from the Arthur River in the north to the Pieman River in the south and is bound by the west coast and the Murchison Highway. The Tarkine flanks the old mining towns of Roseberry and Corinna and includes the Sumac, Norfolk, Waratah, Rebecca, Pieman, Temma, Blackwater and Corinna Roads.

The Tarkine is vast and diverse. Some is wild, windy coastline, some is beautiful button grass plains, some majestic rainforests, some shack communities and townships, some farms, forestry and some of it mined. It is a beautiful area and anyone who has spent time exploring it will know there is a lot to see and a lot to take in.

The region has almost no permanent residents, but it has lots of wildlife including populations of endangered Tasmanian Devils. You can also find some of the richest aboriginal historical sites in the Tarkine, including shell middens and rock carving sites. The Tarkine is definitely off the beaten path so it’s not overrun with tourists, but it is still easy enough to get around.

The “Loop Drive” takes you through natural and dramatic landscapes beginning with Kanunnah Bridge, taking its name from the aboriginal name for ‘Tasmanian Tiger’.

you then come to, Sumac Lookout surrounded by rainforest and tall eucalypts and gives a more impressive widespread view of the river and beyond. From there the Julius River Forest Reserve has cool temperate rainforest to explore. The next stop Lake Chisholm Forest Reserve has flooded limestone sinkholes and meandering walks through old myrtle forests and alongside still watered lakes. Completing the loop is the Trowutta Arch Rain Forest Walk; a stunning and natural geological structure. This area is richly woven in human history and natural beauty. 

Sumac Lookout

The Loop has well marked signage for each of the places of interest.

One of the best places to get an overall good look of the area is at the Sumac Lookout viewpoint. A breathtaking view over the majestic Arthur River and the surrounding cool temperate rainforest. It is an easy, 10 minute walk. This area is again receiving a lot of attention by conservationists over the destruction caused by logging. A protesting blockade has been re-established in the Sumac area to hinder further logging. The Bob Brown Foundation says ‘while we wait for political leadership, we will occupy these forests in a peaceful vigil aiming to prevent their loss to logging’.

The view from Sumac Lookout shows the beauty of the area

Julius River

Julius River Car Park

The green on green on green of the temperate rainforest is enchanting at Julius River. And it made it one of our favourite parts of the Tarkine Drive.

A beautiful river walk

There are two short loop walks at Julius River. The shorter one takes about 30 minutes. It leaves from the end of the carpark and runs next to the river, over a bridge and then up a hill back to the start. The scenery here is just primeval, with tree ferns and lots of ancient plants that date back to Gondwana, the ancient supercontinent that formed most of the modern continents.

The longer walk takes in a few stairs

The longer walk takes about 40 minutes and makes a loop through the forest, it is a worthwhile walk but if you are short on time take the 30 minute one. The picnic ground at Julius river has tables, barbecues and toilets, which makes it a nice place to stop for a break.

Lake Chisholm

Imagine, if you will, a beautiful lush rainforest, still and peaceful with a sense of remoteness, and in the middle of it a calm lake with mirror-like reflections. That’s pretty much what you’ll find at Lake Chisholm.

How big did we say those trees are.

A picturesque short walk through tall trees, ferns thigh high (well Karen’s thighs) and mixed eucalyptus forest leads you to one of the finest examples of a flooded limestone sinkhole in Australia.

This was the day that we found out our Great Grandson Hudson Robin had been born. Karen named this tree after him wishing him a long and
healthy life. One day he may visit this tree too.

The forest you walk through is simply stunning in its lushness.  What sets Lake Chisholm apart is its origin. The lake was formed when a sink-hole in the limestone countryside became blocked. Water flowing into the hole had nowhere to go, and accumulated until a decent sized lake had formed.

Perfect mirror image

Being in a low lying area, the lake is sheltered from the winds common in the area, and so the surface is still and mirror-like. Platypus have been sighted here however we were not here at dusk or dawn so our likely hood of seeing these beautiful mammals was non existent. The path is a gentle incline and is listed as Moderate, there are stairs and some uneven ground and it takes approximately 30 minutes.

Trowutta Arch

The path is a very easy walk. there are some stairs to navigate.

A short walk through lovely rainforest takes you to an extraordinary and rare geological feature. The Trowutta Arch walk begins by entering the dense temperate rainforest beside an obvious sign. The walk is very easy and follows a wide, clear trail with little to no elevation gain. Along the way, you’ll get to experience the incredible beauty of The Tarkine, a true global treasure. Giant fern trees (man ferns) and fungi-covered logs dominate the understory, with towering eucalypts on all sides. Trust us when we say that if you’re visiting Tasmania’s Wild West Coast, you’ll want to add the Trowutta Arch walk to your list of things to do. The Trowutta Arch is also one of the most accessible around and one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.

At the end, you’ll find a set of beautiful green cenotes (sink holes) framed perfectly by a tall arch, the remnants of an ancient cave. Trowutta Arch was formed by the collapse of the cave. The roof fell in leaving a section between two “sink holes”. When we visited the sink holes were full of water. However we have been told at times the water level is very low or non existent, it would still be worth a visit no matter what.

This has to be seen to be believed. straight out of Jurassic Park you can imagine Dinosaurs roaming these parts.
Pristine temperate rainforest

We pulled up stumps for the night in one of the National Parks Campgrounds 200 meters up the road from Julius Creek reserve. This is available to park pass holders and gives you the true feeling of being in the remote wilderness of the Tarkine. There are only 5 campsites you need to be totally self sufficient and leave no trace only your footprints. There is no booking system it is first in gets the spot.

It was truly a beautiful experience going to sleep with the forest noises of the nocturnal animals going about their business and then to be woken by the squawking, laughing and chitter chatter of the birds at dawn. Thank you Tasmania Parks for giving us the privilege to experience this.

Our camp for the night. Totally secluded surrounded by nature.

A warming Curry with garlic naan bread for dinner

We weren’t sure what to expect when planning our roadtrip on the Tarkine Loop Drive but we are soooooooo glad we went. It’s such a beautiful place and is still quite off the beaten path. There were only a few cars at most of the places we stopped. We even had some of them all to ourselves. If you find yourself in Tasmania, make time to drive the Tarkine, you’ll love it. However whilst the Tarkine Wilderness is magnificent, we felt a little disappointment with the loop road leading to it – the South Arthur Forest Drive (or the Tarkine Forest Drive, as Forestry Tasmania prefers to call it). 

Maybe our expectations were too high. The tourist literature portrays it as an unspoiled wilderness experience, but it isn’t. Most of the countryside the road passes through has been – and still is – extensively logged. The predominance of regrowth forest and the frequency of logging roads are a constant reminder that the area is far from pristine.

In a way, the “managed” forest along much of the road serves to highlight the unspoiled nature of the forest reserves within it. And for sure the reforestation ”Managed” forests are far better than logging natural forest. For us, the signs of logging outside the Lake Chisholm reserve provided a stark contrast with the forest within, and emphasised the beauty. A mirror-perfect lake at the end of the walk was a welcome sight. We both spoke of the timber industry leaving a corridor of growth so you can’t see the destruction, but this would be a false illusion. Better we see it so we can acknowledge what man does to earth.

Join us next time when we explore Corinna Tasmania’s Wild Western Frontier and the majestic Pieman River. Full of histoy and scenery to take your breath away.

Please find following more photos of this beautiful area, we hope you enjoy them.

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 👍


Edge of the World

Arthur River

Julius River

Lake Chisholm

Trowutta Arch

Stanley is truly a quaint town.

It was hard to drag ourselves away from our outstanding Free campsite at Sulphur Creek, but when we did we meandered along to find more adventures.

Sulphur Creek Free Campsite

Stanley is a town on the north-west coast of Tasmania, Australia. Travelling west it is the second-last major township on the north-west coast of Tasmania.

The township of Stanley with ”The Nut” dominating the skyline

Stanley is a truly remarkable town. Not only is it steeped in the early history of Tasmania (for it was from here that the mighty Van Diemen’s Land company operated from Highfield House) but it is also a town full of beautifully preserved historic buildings.

See our next blog which features Highfield House

Not surprisingly it is a classified town. As a bonus it has one of the most remarkable landforms anywhere in Australia: the Nut, the stump of an old volcano, towers over the town. Although the Nut can be bitterly cold when the winds are blowing as it was the day we visited, it is a magnet for everyone who wants to get a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.

The panoramic view from The Nut.
Looking west along the coast from on top of The Nut

Stanley was named after Edward Smith-Stanley, known as Lord Stanley who, at the time, was the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. He later became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom three times. Until 1842 the town was also known as Circular Head, a name it had been given by Matthew Flinders, and is still used today in marketing and tourism brochures. 

Street scapes that are so quaint and beautifully preserved
Perfect for movie sets

Stanley is a tiny romantic town with quaint streets and beautiful views making for a perfect leisure seeker’s retreat. It is used by many for that special romantic getaway. Sitting on a slender sliver of land jutting out into the Bass Strait on Tasmania’s northwest coast it is remarkably well-preserved.

We are asleep until we fall in love!”

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

With many colonial buildings surrounding the port and dominated by the massive volcanic plug “the Nut”. The plug rises 150 metres out of the water and it over shadows the small towns skyline. But the name of the volcanic plug belies Stanley’s quaintness. Called “The Nut,” Stanley’s cheeky geological feature is what visitors remember most. Volcanic rock spewed into the sky and cooled before it had time to come back down to the ground. Now this massive geological feature is a world-famous marvel.

It offers 360° views from the top. It is a strenuous hike that takes you 150 meters above the sea where you can marvel at Tasmania’s beautiful and rugged northwest coastline. Or you can opt to take the chairlift if the steep hike is too much. Be sure to look below for sea lions basking in the sun and tiny Penguins coming back from a day’s hunt out in the Bass Strait. Even though we love a good hike we decided to take the historic chairlift. At the base of the Nut we were quite protected but as that chairlift rose over the crest the 35 knots of wind darn near lifted us off our seats. The walk around the top of the Nut is very picturesque but in the weather conditions we found ourselves in it was one of the quickest laps anyone visiting has achieved. 

The chairlift in 35 knots of wind was not for the faint hearted
Hold on to your hat Karen

Stanley is rich in history but its importance as a port has faded through time. Now Stanley is a quaint little fishing port that relies heavily on tourism. Tourists flock to this small peninsula for its remarkable geological feature, it’s beautifully preserved colonial buildings and fresh boutique seafood.

Romantic BnB’s and seafood restaurants draw the crowds

Compared to the rest of the world, Tasmania’s northwest coast is rather sparsely populated, Stanley itself has a recorded 560 residents. That means the ocean waters beyond are some of the wildest and least touched marine habitats on the planet. And you can taste that unspoiled natural beauty when you order seafood in one of many Stanley restaurants. The fish and chips alone draw seafood lovers from all over Australia.

As the westerly winds were blowing cold on the day we visited (in the middle of Summer) we chose to eat indoors and try the seafood chowder. Thankfully it lived up to the waitress’ enthusiastic description, served with a fresh hot loaf of crusty bread, it was perfect to warm us up.

On a cold summers day just what we needed.

We finished our day with a walk around the town popping into each of the quaint shops and particularly the ones that showcased local produce and alcoholic refreshments. We didn’t quite know the extent of the local production of whiskey, gin and vodka not including the vineyards and their fine wines. Of course from these visits we have topped up the larder for our next few days 🙄.

More provisions for the larder.

Join us next time when we explore Highfield House.

“I’ve never had a moment’s doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one. My reason for life.”

Atonement by Ian McEwan

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 👍

Dip Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls we have seen.

We had a leisurely breakfast of scrambled eggs and watched the waves wash along the rocks at Sulphur Creek. It is hard to tear yourself away from beautiful places like this. We had the most restful sleep listening to those waves dance along the shoreline last night. Except maybe for the noise of those beautiful little fairy penguins that call this place home. But really those penguins are a delight to see and they soon settled down to sleep as well, oh until dawn breaks 😂.

What a place to wake up to Sulphur Creek
free campsite gets a 10/10 from us

Our journey today isn’t that far, it is only 91 kilometres but of course we are sailors, we can’t possible go in a straight line. No we are going on a meandering course that will take us all the day. However we do need to find our next campsite at Peggs Beach but that won’t be a worry as the sun is currently setting at 9pm so plenty of time. we do like this Daylight saving in summer. This next campsite is part of Tasmania’s National Parks. You will need to have a pass for your car and a permit to camp. We talked about the cost of National Parks Passes in our previous blog on Cradle Mountain. If you are going to visit a lot of parks in Tasmania it is worthwhile getting the holiday pass or the annual pass.

Peggs Beach a beautiful campsite.

From Sulphur Creek we make our way firstly to Burnie. Burnie is a port city with an industrial past that has reinvented itself as a vibrant and creative city on a beautiful stretch of Tasmania’s north-west coast. Nestled around Emu Bay on Bass Strait, Burnie has been an industrial centre for most of its existence. Since the closure of its paper pulp mill, the city has taken a creative approach to promoting itself and the many artisans who call it home.

A great regional town to catchup on provisioning or that spot of retail therapy

It has a lovely beachside feel and downtown you will find a vibrant mix of shops and eateries which you find in most small towns. So if you are needing a Bunnings, Kmart, Target, Coles, Woolworths etc. this is certainly a great place to find all of these and more.

The foreshore has been redeveloped and has a vibrant vibe.

There is also a free campsite down by the bay, at Cooee Recreational Reserve. You do need to book/register with the council to stay there. The Burnie City Council provides a short stay (max 2 nights) free camping for fully self-contained vehicles the reserve is about 2.5km west of the Burnie town centre.

Cooee Recreational Reserve has a dump point.

When we checked it out there were six camping there still with plenty of room for more. You do have to be self contained as there are definitely no facilities. We were happy to have a look and put it on our list, for if, we needed a regional town spot, this would certainly be useful. Info on how to register below 👇 There is also liquid waste discharge point and a water supply point provided within the vicinity. We also needed a top up on fresh water in our tanks. We stopped into the Coles Express filled our diesel tanks, then used their fresh water tap to fill the very depleted fresh water tanks. Last time we filled was Melbourne.

The industrial history of Burnie and the surrounding north-west region can be explored at the Burnie Regional Museum where you can wander a replica Federation street and see how ordinary people lived more than 100 years ago.

Take a walk through history

Burnie also produces award-winning cheese and at Hellyers Rd Distillery, Australia’s largest boutique whisky distillery, you can sample some of the world’s best whisky at the cellar door.

Hellyers Rd Distillery

Wynyard was our next stop. From the hustle and bustle of Burnie, Wynyard is totally relaxed. A seaside town located at the mouth of the Inglis River. It is a popular holiday spot for beach activities, ocean and river fishing, and lazy drives through out picturesque landscapes. When we passed over the river there were all sorts of watercraft coming and going. Everyone seemed to be in the water. We shivered at the thought, way to cold for us in the middle of summer.

But what Wynyard is really famous for is For flat-topped Table Cape and fields of stunning tulips. Why tiptoe when you can dance through the tulips …… well it’s not spring 🙄 so there was no disco in our step when we saw fields and fields of freshly dug dirt. Oh well something to put on the list for next time. Spring not Summer …. Is it summer we still have coats on 🙄 Queenslanders!

We headed back on the A2 because we had been told of a waterfall…. We know ….. by this stage you are saying, “we should just do a blog on all the waterfalls in Tasmania”. But this one promises to be something totally different to anything we had seen before. Not much detail other than that was given … “you just have to see it” was all we kept being told. So we turned off the A2 and followed the signs to Dip Falls. 

Wow oh Wow. “You just have to see it” …… 

Join us in our next blog when we discover Stanley…….. 

Ok just our little joke 😂 here are all our thoughts and details on Dip Falls. It’s probably easy to be overlooked and miss seeing these falls, as it really isn’t up there on the top 10 things listed to see or do, but it should be. Dip Falls are located between Stanley and Wynyard in Tasmania’s North West, 27 km or a 1/2 hour up a quiet and mostly sealed road that passes through pleasant countryside. 

They are one of the most beautiful falls in the state or should we say that we have ever seen. It’s a two-tiered structure that’s right “a structure” and the unique rock formations make it well, totally different to anything we have seen.

The carpark is amazing as well

From the parking area next to the falls in the Reserve, it’s a short walk to a platform with an unsurpassed view out over the top of the falls.

From the platform above the falls you get a spectacular view

Another path leads down some 220 steps to the base of the falls and its unique rock formations are right there for you to study. This walk to the base needs a fitness level, however if you can’t manage the stairs, still visit as the viewing platform at the top gives you a brilliant view, and it shouldn’t be missed.

Not until you see these falls can you understand the structure
The walkway takes you right out to the centre of the falls so you can enjoy the scene.
The rainforest around the falls is pristine
It’s magical to be surrounded by such beauty

Once you have caught your breath from the climb back up the 220 stairs you can take the extra 5 min drive to the “Big Tree” in the Big Tree Reserve. Now this is super special. Not only is visiting this giant tree unique but the rainforest walk which is very easy and short (10 minutes return) is one of the best walks we have done. But don’t let us be the judge for you checkout the following pics.

The walk is well marked and flat
Giant man ferns

To see such giants still in our forests after we know of so much logging history it is unbelievable. The circumference of the featured tree at its base is nearly 17 m and definitely worth a look if you’re here. But there is not just one, they are everywhere. 

This tree is massive
And there are more

Ok time to get a wriggle on as usual we are a bit behind our schedule. We start heading for our next campsite, but when we arrive at Peggs Beach it is blowing 35 knots straight into the campsite with no protection. Good sailors always have a plan B to bail to and we had marked a spot on the map at Forrest, a little inland that hopefully would give some protection. 

Forest is a small quiet rural community, located about 11 kilometres south of the town of Stanley. This would be a perfect overnighter as we plan to visit the historic town of Stanley the following day. 

On arrival in Forrest we firstly checked out the potential campsite. WikiCamps has it listed as a paid site of $5 per night (paid at the general store). Well if you are looking for a great campsite with clean amenities (toilets, water and camp kitchen) you can’t go past “BlackBerry Inn Forrest Sports Centre”. Here is a review of another camper.

We were totally protected from those wicked South West winds and had a very enjoyable night surrounded by like minded people. 

Now these hedges should keep us protected

Join us next time when we explore the historic township of Stanley and the Nut. Please find following further photos of today’s exploration. 

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 👍

Burnie City Free Campsite registration information


Le frog Box is dwarfed by these giants

We welcome you to use our photo’s but please give a credit and link back to our blog. Sharing is caring 😊

Is it Preston Falls or Delaney Falls?

The morning dawned and it was time to say goodbye to Cradle Mountain and all it has to offer. Driving down the road we both felt this was not the last time that we will set foot in this stunning landscape. 

True to our nature we were off to find new gems that Tasmania had to offer. So out with the map to find some back roads for “Le Frog Box” to navigate. One of our key tasks today was to visit a winery and farm stalls, along what the Tasmanian’s call the “Forage Trail” and lucky for us we were right in the heart of it. 

Map showing the back roads we took to Preston, Gunns aplains and through to Penguin

Breathe deep. That’s (officially) some of the cleanest air in the world they say we are inhaling. Yes the science has proven that the air on the North and Western seaboards of Tasmania are the cleanest air in the world to breath. That also means the produce grown here is farmed in the best air available. As there is nothing and we mean nothing between Tasmania and South America 20,000 klm away, the air has no pollution or contaminates. 

Bordered by the wild coastline of Bass Strait, our journey across northern Tasmania is a chance for us to slow down, forage for food from paddock to plate at some of the most fertile farms and pasture that we were about to travel through. We were looking forward to stopping at farm-gate stalls, distilleries and cellar doors for tastings, and to meet the makers. And to linger in rural villages and quirky coastal towns along the way.

On our map the Leven Valley popped up as the most likely spot to find all we were looking for. It also showed there were a couple of walks we could do to walk of some of our indulgence. So first it was to Delaney Falls …. Or is it Preston Falls? …. Or is it Delaney Falls at Preston? Well whatever the falls are called don’t miss them. We hope we clear up the name confusion following.

Upper Preston Falls is the unofficial name of a waterfall situated on Preston Creek and is the first waterfall in a series of 3 waterfalls along an approximately 1 kilometre stretch of Preston Creek. The waterfall itself drops about 4 to 5 metres and is best viewed from side on due to a large rock sitting directly in front of where the water drops. Directly behind the waterfall is a semi sheltered cave that provides a close up view of the falls from behind.

Access to Upper Preston Falls is relatively easy when approached from upstream. On the northern side of the falls you walk down a slope where old makeshift pine steps still exist, but it is officially closed to the public due to the disrepair of the track.

So this phot does not exist

Delaneys Falls (also known as Preston Falls and the sign on the road says so), see the confusion 🙄. Is just around the corner from Preston Falls ….. you got this right 🙄. It (meaning Delaney Falls) has a drop of approximately 25 metres into a gorge below.  

The trail is a very easy stroll if not a little up hill on the back

Access to the waterfall is very easy, with a short walk from the carpark area down a very well maintained path, to the lookout area of the falls.  Due to the terrain, visibility of the waterfalls can only be seen from the side, from the top of the gorge.  The viewing platform is situated on top of a cliff face, and provides excellent views of the gorge area below, as well as the waterfall.

Upstream of Preston Creek

The walk to the waterfall takes you over Preston Creek, and if you meander off the track and along the banks of the creek, very small cascaded areas are also available to be photograhed. The land surrounding the waterfalls was owned by a gentleman by the name of William Delaney. We hope we finally cleared that confusion up. But whatever you do don’t miss Delaney Falls, the one that is sign posted as Preston Falls. 

Just as it falls over the cliff face. Delaney Falls that is 👍

Delaney Falls cascading 25 meters

The viewing platform is on the cliff edge giving a birds eye view

Now that we have done some exercise for the day it is on to find some paddock to plate and fine wines. Gunns Plains is our best shot for these delights. Gunns Plains is a rich fertile area dotted with dairy farms, potato growing, poppy growing and beef cattle. In days gone by vegetables were grown here and it was also one of the three major hop producing regions in Tasmania. The Leven River winds slowly through its pastures that support a variety of grazing stock. Agricultural endeavours are also very successful, benefiting from rich red volcanic soil. The town was named after botanist Ronald Campbell Gunn, who visited the valley in 1860. 

Stunning vistas at every turn on the country road

The drive over the mountain and through the plains can only be described as a chocolate box painting. The lush green pastures backed by roughed mountains is only a scene from fairytales. We seemed to be stopping everywhere to take just another photo. There are of course other things of interest in this area, Leven Gorge, the Gunns Caves and a Wildlife Park, but unfortunately on this occasion they were to be passed over for a winery so we thought ….. oh no 🙈 Leven Valley Winery is closed. What! Who did this research….. well folks only plan to come this way on a weekend 😞 what day is it …. Monday!

No need for a caption

Further down the way we came to what only a devoted cook would relish, farm fresh, organic, free range, chook eggs with poo. Karen was in heaven. So paddock to table was achieved but turning water into wine was not. 

Now who’s a happy cook

After not provisioning since Devonport it was time to call into a town to pick up supplies, as we had planned lunch at a certain winery the belly was grumbling and she who must be feed was now needing FOOD. The town of Penguin was the next on the map. Sitting on the edge of mighty Bass Strait, Penguin takes its name from a nearby penguin rookery and it’s obvious this town dearly loves its little feathered friends.

There’s a 10-foot penguin that makes a quirky photo opportunity, while the real thing can be seen each night at Penguin Point. That’s not the only monument that says this town is proud of its name. Rubbish bins, bollards, signs, seats you name it and it’s a penguin well in the shape of one anyway. 

Apart from many penguins, Penguin is a great place for supplies as they have two IGA’s right next door to each other 🙄. We grabbed some provisions and wandered off down the road to a spot called Preservation Bay, here we thought by the train line looked like a great place to camp for the night. There were many others already camping here but it was not crowded. It is listed in the top 8 free camping spots in Aircamp and WikiCamps also gives it a good wrap. We parked up with a view of the ocean next to the disused rail line, and decided to have a late lunch and a glass of bubbles.

A toast to Tassie Bubbles

Yeeew what is that smell… oh no get the fly spray they are swarming our lunch. We were soon packed up wondering where to go, we certainly can’t stay here. Out with the binoculars Rob spied another headland that looked like it was worthy of a look see. On WikiCamps it is listed as Sulphur Creek.

Le Frog Box was turned around and wouldn’t you know it a cyclist turns right in front of us on the Highway. Thankfully no injury to Froggy and off went went with the cyclist saying so many apologies in our wake. 

Oh wow look at this FREE campsite. Sulphur Creek campsite is again right on the water and beach, well grassed, surrounded by Penguin rookeries and a view to write home about.

Arial view of Sulphur Creek. photo courtesy of OurTasmania.com

To get into the campsite is just a turn off the Highway and head over the rail line. There are no facilities other than a rubbish bin so, once again, you must be self contained here with your own toilet etc. There were 2 campers and one caravan already in. We pulled up and took the pole position right on the waters edge. If we were any closer we would need Our Dreamtime’s anchor. Checking the tide table as good sailors do, we noted that tonight’s tide would be 10cm less than the last high, all good, no anchor watch required. 

So here we were for the night just settled in, when our bicycle rider turns up. Works out that they were our camping neighbours, well the ice was broken and a couple of glasses of wine later nobody remembered anything about a near miss.

Steak on the BBQ. Tide currently out ……

That night we dinned on Tasmanian reared Beef then listened to the waves breaking on the shoreline and the noisy little cute fluffy things called penguins doing whatever penguins do. Oh did we mention the very long freight train that trundled past at about 4pm. We may have been a little close to the “disused” track at the other campsite.

Morning guess whats on the menu for breakfast at Sulphur Creek

Following are more photos that we took along this journey, we hope you enjoy them.

Join us next time when we explore further along the North West Coast of Tasmania and visit Dip Falls.

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 👍

View from the bunk in the morning at Sulphur Creek
Gunn Plains
Picnic Table at Delaney Falls
She is happiest by the water
Majestic old souls
In between Preston Falls and Delaney Falls not sure of its name but if you have a suggestion leave it in comments below.

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 👍

Cradle Mountain a place you always want to return to

On the road ….. now finally provisioned up on fresh Tasmanian produce it was time to kick Le Frog into gear and head up into the central North of Tasmania to Cradle Mountain. But of course we aren’t taking the normal route, no we are going to take some of the back roads and discover some of the hidden gems along the way. 

Follow our route on Wikicamps and by subscribing to the blog

Taking our route along the Northern A1 west from Devonport. We turn left about 7 kilometres before we reach Ulverstone. As you come down the hill there is a sign that says, Wilmot Road …. Cradle Mountain. This is the road of our discovery. We would not advise it if you are hauling a large rig. This road is rather tight with lots of twists and turns but magnificent views with very little traffic. We will need to go back through the dash cam but if we said we had passed 6 cars we could be exaggerating. 

This route takes you through Wilmot and on to Letter Box Drive of funny curiosity letter boxes.

The whole town has developed this quirky letter box trail

It meanders through the “valley of views”, to a look out over Lake Barrington and beyond to Mount Roland and the Promised Land. Yes there is such a placed called the  “Promised Land”, and we can’t forget Nowhere Else, yep you certainly wouldn’t want to live “Nowhere Else” in the “Valley of Views”. And when we got to Middlesex it was time to remember why we were here ….. why were we here oh yes Cradle Mountain. 

Mount Roland dominates the skyline with most of the peak shroud in cloud
Lake Barrington in the middle ground

Arriving at the Cradle Mountain Discovery Park, we discovered an envelope with our name on it. Contactless reception, it doesn’t quite feel the same as a welcoming face behind a desk. Oh well the instructions were straight forward and we headed for our campsite. Each campsite is quite private with a lot of natural bush separating them. The ground is rough gravel and quite uneven, so be ready to sleep on a lean or spend time using your ramps or whatever to try and level up a bit. We found our site also had the track to the amenities building beside it but some thicker bush maintained our privacy to an extent. This is a no frills campsite. Whatever you bring in you take out and there is no drinking water available. We opted for an unpowered site to save money as our solar is keeping us well and truly juiced up. We were into bed early to insure we were up early for our next challenge …. hiking Cradle Mountain.

Our campsite at the Discovery Park Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain is a locality and mountain in the central highlands region of Tasmania. The mountain is situated in the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park. At 1,545 metres (5,069 ft) above sea level, it is the 6th highest mountain in the state.

The area around the mountain has a large number of day walks, as well as being one terminus of the Overland Track. The Overland Track winds through a variety of landscapes to its opposite end—80.8 kilometres (50.2 mi) to the south at Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest lake.

The mountain is climbed by walkers virtually all year round. It is a strenuous return hike from the Dove Lake car park with a recommended allotted time of six-and-a-half hours. This was not something the Dreamtime crew were about to embark on but we were envious of those with younger legs venturing off. We had chosen to do the lesser but still fitness testing, Dove Lake circuit. 

The circuit follows the lake around to the base of the mountain retuning you to the famous boathouse

Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain National Park is a wonderland of spongey moss-carpeted floors, rolling buttongrass moors, scenic boardwalks, curious wildlife and the kind of trees that play host to entire worlds of budding, miniature greenery.

Such a diverse eco system

This beautiful national park was our absolute must do stop in Tasmania and if you love being out in nature it should be an essential stop on your Tasmania itinerary as well. We had travelled to Cradle Mountain some years back on a short visit day tripping from Launceston. It had such a lasting impression that we knew one day we would be back.

If you are heading this way ….. These are a few useful things we found helped us to prepare for our visit to Cradle Mountain National Park.

Like all national parks in Tasmania, you’ll need to pay the entry fee on arrival at the Visitor Centre which includes access to the Cradle Mountain National Park shuttle.

The entrance fee is $25.00 per adult per day, but if you’re travelling in a family group or visiting more than one park in Tasmania, it’s often more economical to buy the Holiday Pass which costs $40 per person or $80 per vehicle and is valid for 2 months.  We took the option of the 2 year pass for all Tasmanian National Parks, for 2 vehicles for 2 seniors at the amazing fee of $46, sometimes it pays to be old 😜. (prices as of January 2022). Check here for more info. 

Our seniors passes ready for the windscreen.

Since October 2018, the free Cradle Mountain shuttle bus is now the only way to travel through the park during opening hours, that is, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. during summer (October through March) and 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m in winter. Shuttles leave every 10-minutes or so from the Visitor Centre (more frequently when demand is high) and can drop you at any of the main stops within the park, including the Interpretation Centre, Snake Hill, Ronny’s Creek and Dove Lake. See here for more info. When arriving at the beautifully designed information centre there are a number of staff on hand interested in what you want to see and will help you choose which walk is best for you. 

Though some visitors grumble about the fact they can no longer take their own cars into the park whenever they wish, we actually think this is a fantastic system that is efficient, convenient and goes a long way to easing congestion on the narrow winding roads. It is less of a disturbance to the wildlife and disperses visitors throughout the park very effectively.

We arrived in Tasmania in late January …. In the heart of Australia’s summer …. and despite the wonderfully balmy temperatures of 30 degrees + along the east coast of Queensland that calls for daily swims and lazing in the sunshine, we did welcome the Cradle Mountain moderate temperatures of 24-28 degrees, blue skies and cooler nights. Perfect weather for outdoor activities and then snuggling up at night preparing for another day of trekking.

Even if you’re visiting in summer like us, you’ll want to come fully prepared for wet, chilly conditions. We were exceptionally lucky to score crystal clear days for the whole time we were there. Seriously, it rains about three quarters of the year up there and a summer bout of snow is not all that unusual. Yes, snow in Australia… in summer, who knew!

Layers are key so be sure to pack essentials at any time of year: a thermal base layer like merino wool, warm fleece or puffer jacket and durable waterproof jacket. In winter when average temperatures hover around zero degrees, a scarf, beanie and gloves are all so a good idea. But alternatively you require hat, sunscreen and plenty of water for the hot temperatures that can come in summer. The hikers registration points have written guides on what they recommended you to carry whilst trekking in these mountains. The weather can change without warning and they are very forthcoming that hypothermia can kill.

Given the area receives an absolute drenching of rain, a solid pair of waterproof hiking boots and hiking socks are also the way to go. I love my new Keen waterproof hiking boots which are lightweight and super comfortable, with my quick dry bamboo socks, as well as my new hiking pole. I was set. Rob opted for a more traditional walking shoe as he feels more comfortable with nothing wrapping his titanium ankle so he wears these ones from Anaconda, I also picked him up a new hiking pole. 

Between the plumes of mist and bearded trees, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d just stumbled into Middle Earth, and while the gloomy skies actually lend rather well to these fairytale landscapes, if you’re here to hike, you’ll want to take full advantage of the fine weather. If your plans aren’t fixed and you’ve got some flexibility in your itinerary, don’t hesitate to make a beeline for Cradle Mountain if it looks like you’ll have a clear window. Or if the sky is clouding in head for another activity, nothing is far in Tasmania. There is a webcam available here for you to checkout the weather in real time. https://parks.tas.gov.au/explore-our-parks/cradle-mountain

Whether you’re driving or walking, Cradle Mountain provides plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting.

Around dusk, wombats emerge from their burrows in full force, as do wallabies and Tassie Devils, and it’s not unusual to find them waddling across the road in a slight daze from their daytime slumber in search of an evening meal. If you’re behind the wheel, travelling on a winding road at the 45km/h dusk to dawn speed limit, this can still take you by surprise, so be sure to keep an eye out for anything ferreting about on the roadside and always be prepared to stop. If there is road kill on the road Tasmanian Devils find it irresistible to have an easy meal. We were advised if we were unlucky enough to hit and kill an animal, if it’s safe to do so stop and pull the carcass into the Bush. This stops Tassie Devils from venturing onto the road for a feed and becoming the next victim.

Out on the trails, you’ll more than likely see the full collection of Aussie cuties – echidna, Tasmanian Devils, wallabies, wombats and, if you’re really lucky, the elusive platypus. Generally, the animals will keep their distance so please repect that and certainly don’t go traipsing across the grasslands to get a closer photo – we saw this happening all too often! Keep your distance and, whatever you do, don’t feed them! We had a very inquisitive Pied Currawong. They feed on a variety of foods including small lizards, insects, caterpillars and berries. This one had us in fits of laughter because at first we thought he/she wanted our lunch. But we soon worked out that when we sat and opened our lunch the flies arrived in numbers. This bird was so clever it sat near us eating all the big fat marsh flies. Forget the Aeroguard. Really what every picnic table needs is a Pied Currawong.

The best fly catcher we have seen
That Pied Currawong didn’t want any corn beef sanga, fresh flies are the go aparently.

With wisps of mist unfurling rapidly between the peaks and radiant golden light glimmering across the landscapes, Cradle Mountain is an absolute feast for the eyes, and the lens. You can’t take a bad photo. As you walk your eyes are constantly drawn to the peaks and at every turn you take another amazing vista appears. So tantalising is the scenery, it’s easy to take much longer than the stated estimated time for your chosen hike as you are always stopping to admire the view and get another great photo.

Us on one of the many beaches

Dove Lake and its insta-famous boatshed are the obvious choice as they’re easy to access at any hour, offer up clear views toward the twin peaks and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a perfect reflection to capture. It’s only a short walk from the drop off point so if you’re time limited, you can easily walk to the boatshed and take some Insta worthy pics and be on your way.

Rob taking his YouTube shots of the famed boatshed

However the Dove Lake walk is certainly a must if time permits. Take the day and don’t rush it. It’s not often you get to walk in pristine wilderness surrounded by such grandeur. You do need a modest level of fitness as there are broad walks, stairs,  and some steepish inclines. There is no rush so allow the time to be in your comfort zone with the pace you walk. It’s certainly possible to set your sights higher and enjoy the dawn light from one of the upper ridge-lines if you are fit and agile but remember to always register your plans when taking on the more challenging trails.

Reflections on a clear summers day not the norm

You’ll quickly notice that there are absolutely no rubbish bins anywhere around Cradle Mountain National Park. And yet, the landscapes are completely pristine and untarnished by the piles of trash that sadly are so pervasive in many other natural areas we have been to around the world.

This does, however, mean that you need to plan ahead. If you’re bringing any food into the park or hoping to have a picnic lunch, remember to bring an extra bag with you to take away all your rubbish. This includes tissues, food waste (even fruit peels and cores), and of course, any plastics. Then, dispose of your rubbish responsibly when you’re back at your accommodation.

Cradle Mountain National Park is by no means over crowded, but the early bird does get to enjoy the soft morning light and have the trails more to themselves.

No crowds early in the day

As the vast number of people visit on a day trip from Launceston, staying at the Discovery Wilderness Park certainly gives you the advantage to get on one of the first shuttles of the day and hit the trails bright and early. You’ll have plenty of time to disappear into the wilderness before the bulk of tourists arrive to spend their afternoon flitting around Dove Lake, as the crowds usually arrive around mid-morning. 

The walk varies from broad walks to steps to natural path ways.

But having that advantage does cost and at $75 per night in January to park your camper van or pitch a tent it is really up there. With that price you do get to use the amenities, it does not include power or water so you must be self sufficient as the water that is on site is non potable. We have to say, we wouldn’t return anytime soon. In our current situation with Covid we would expect the amenities to be cleaned but on both the times we used the showers they were not clean and Rob complained about the same two bandaids in the drain of his shower cubicle over two consecutive days 🤮. We felt the camp was very over priced for what you got. There is accommodation areas popping up along the roads into the park and some offer RV camping, so it would be worth looking at these as an option. But if you are wanting to stay in the heart of the National Park we have listed the info of the Discovery Park below, bookings are essential.

Cradle Mountain Peaks demand your attention

Put simply, Cradle Mountain is a place of magic, with its alpine heaths, overland tracks, rugged terrain, as well as its diverse flora and fauna.

White flowers were to be found everywhere, apparently the colour changes with the seasons.

From to the lush microcosms of budding greenery that dress every tree, to the fields of tea tree bushes blanketed in tiny white flowers that shimmer beneath the sun filled sky. From the abundance of wildlife and their freedom to roam to the ephemeral mists that roll across the mountains. From the sun-drenched boardwalks to the enchanting forests.

The rich tannins that seep down from the button grasses turns the water to the colour of rich tea.

It’s a place we were eager to return to as soon as we had left.

We will be back.

(please find following a collection of photos from our Dove Lake walk, we hope you enjoy them)

Join us next time when we explore some amazing waterfalls.

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 👍

Discovery Parks  | This Australia-wide chain run holiday park offers powered and unpowered campsites, dormitories and basic cottages for larger groups. Facilities include a shared guest kitchen, barbeque and laundry. Check rates and availability here and here.

The boat shed Cradle Mountain

The Spirit of Tasmania was a little more spirited than expected. 

One of the main reasons why Tasmania draws us back, again and again, is that Tasmania is an island with four distinct seasons. When planning what to do in Tasmania, each season brings a different set of activities and events. As there are so many different things to do in Tasmania unique to each season, it’s easy to plan a getaway.

Our planed loop around the Apple Isle

From warm summer beach days to rugging up on a crisp winter night in the highlands to the freshness of spring and the vibrant colours of autumn, Tasmania is a feast for the eyes all-year-round.

Our journey begins by catching the Spirit of Tasmania 1. On the day of our sailing, there was a fairly simple check-in process for the ferry. Arriving at the pier in Port Melbourne 2 hours before the scheduled sailing time we receive our boarding passes (these double as our swipe cards for entry into the Ocean View recliner lounge). 

There was a lot of sitting and waiting in the van before we finally drove onto the boat, but then it’s quite quick to grab your backpack and head for our seats. I hope Rob took note of where we parked as there are so many cars. I did see somewhere that there were little maps you can take from the nearest stairwell that will give you directions back to your stairwell, but I was to excited to grab one.

In our day backpack we were advised to pack a number of items. Sea sickness tablets, mmmm do you really think we will need these. We have checked the weather for the last three days like most sailors and it is predicted to be calm.

What the weather was expected to be.
But can you see the red spike thats the actual.

But the Bass Strait is notoriously rough sailing. Books and/or iPad: entertain yourself for the next 9-11 hours. Well we are used to being on a small boat for days at sea how boring could it be on a huge ship with a movie theatre, bars and cafes. Ok book and iPad packed. For guest convenience there are powerpoints available for use throughout the boat, now this is great.

the Ocean View Room with recliners.

We were also advised to bring a Blanket/pillow (if you are on a recliner) for your snooze during the day, well our shared backpack is not that large so they can stay in “Froggy”. By the sounds of it we are going to have a pretty leisurely sail, of doing not much at all. 

Beyond just hanging out at the bar (not a bad idea) the cinemas are really the only excitement onboard entertainment to speak of. There are two separate cinema rooms that each show a rotation of 3 films (amazingly, new releases!), and there are about 60 seats in each. It’s certainly no IMAX experience, but it’s far better than watching a movie on your laptop (or even on our home tv), so it definitely could be a fun way to occupy a few hours on the boat. Tickets are $10/adult and $5/child. We were advised if we wanted to see a movie however get in quick as the limited tickets sell out quickly. We decided to skip the idea anyway.

Plenty of food to choose from.

We were concerned about the onboard pricing of food and drinks. There is absolutely nothing to stop you from bringing your own onto the ship however, you can only consume your own alcoholic drinks in the comfort of your own private cabin. (That’s if you have paid the extra $ to have one) While it’s nice knowing that food is there for purchase if we needed it, we would be saving a bit of money by packing something tasty from the vans galley instead. As it turned out the meals weren’t as expensive as we expected but eating our own was just fine.

Once seated it didn’t take us long to realise that we still weren’t going anywhere…. Huston do we have a problem! While there is no announcement saying anything of the sort, as keen weather watchers we certainly saw a change in the sky. Rob immediately went onto the weather radar, and what was on screen was very ugly, severe storm warning level ugly. Yep we aren’t sailing for a while yet. Eventually after the storm cells passed we heard the thrusters in full motion and we were off the dock. 

This was to be our first crossing of Bass Strait so to say we were looking forward to it would be an understatement. Many sailors dread the idea of this crossing and we were pleased we were taking the cheat’s way rather than a sail boat. This was only made more evident when we came out of Port Phillip Bay in 20 to 25 knots of wind and the swell hit us on the rear quarter. Now this admiral does not get sea sick but with the awkward rolling of the ship she had definitely felt better. Rob thought it wasn’t too bad, until he got up to walk to the bar. Mmmmm with the side steps he was doing it looked like he’d had a few to many before he actually had any. We decided discretion was called for and only had the one drink each anyway. 

You know that blanket that I was advised to pack. Pack one! It was freezing in the Ocean Lounge, whether it was the bleak day or the rain and the swell that added to the chill, regardless it was cold. I snoozed with Rob’s and my jackets wrapped around me.

Even travelling at a speedy 27knots it takes a long time to cross Bass Strait. Nine or ten hours actually. Time passed slowly with not much going on at all. Thankfully we had devices (until phone service dropped out), ocean views, books and each other to keep company. It is really a boring trip.

Service is not available for the entire passage.
Good to have a book to turn to at these times.

Entering the Mersey River on the Spirit of Tasmania 1, a bit after 6pm through narrow headlands that didn’t seem wide enough for the ship it was a relief to see the dock. After getting up at 4.30 am and 9 hours crossing the Bass Strait we were pleased to leave the ship at her dock and head for our first campsite in Devonport for a well needed sleep. Now to start our exploration of this beautiful island full of history, spectacular vistas, vineyards and fine food to be found. New adventures await.

Join us next time when we explore Devonport and the fascinating Maritime History.

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 👍

Honouring our Service men and women along our highways. 

The idea of planting trees as war memorials appears to have originated in Great Britain in 1918 when the office of the King’s Highway issued a pamphlet titled “Roads of Remembrance as War memorials”. Planting trees was seen as a symbol of hope for the future but above all it was seen as something tangible which ordinary people could become personally involved with. These are tangible reminders of patriotism and community spirit, as poignant places to reflect. 

In Australia the Remembrance Driveway is a system of parks, plantations, and road-side rest areas. They are a living memorial dedicated to those who served in the Australia Defence Forces in World War 2, the Korean War, Malayan Emergency and Vietnam War and who continue to serve today around the world. 

The “Remembrance Driveway” was instituted in 1954 when Queen Elizabeth ll and the now deceased Duke of Edinburgh marked the “Driveway” by planting two trees in Macquarie Place. 

Starting in Macquarie Place, Sydney, and following the 320 km Hume Highway between Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, and Canberra, the national capital, where it concludes at Remembrance Park behind the Australian War Memorial. This bold vision was of a series of informal plantations of natives & exotics, a total of over 50,000 trees. The intention was to create continual groves and plantations along the entire highway.

This is the first time we had travelled the Hume Highway and we were interested to see how they have commemorated and honoured our service men and women, through the planting of trees.

Australia is particularly rich in war memorial avenues, groves and other plantings. The “Remembrance Driveway” is to commemorate with exceptional dignity and beauty, using open spaces at intervals as special memorials to the named Victoria Cross recipients.

Victoria Cross Medal

The Victoria Cross rest areas and memorial parks sited along the “Driveway” honour the 24 Australian World War II and Vietnam War Victoria Cross recipients.

The Victoria Cross is the pre-eminent award for acts of bravery in wartime and Australia’s highest military honour. It is awarded to persons who, in the presence of the enemy; display the most conspicuous gallantry, or daring or pre-eminent act of valour, or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty. Because of their acts of valour and extraordinary personal courage they have been selected by name to represent all the servicemen and women commemorated along the “Driveway”.

Further parks have now been added in both NSW and Victoria along the Hume Highway commemorating those who have shown the highest acts of bravery and fought for our freedom.

Commander Holbrook Memorial Park

Past Canberra, some 275 kilometres south along the Hume Highway in the town of Holbrook, you will find the most unusual sight. Approximately 450 kilometres inland from the coastline you will discover the HMSA Otway an Oberon-Class Submarine. The 89 meter long submarine is an impressive sight as you come into the town being in such an upcountry environment. One of the first four Oberon-class boats ordered for the RAN, Otway was built in Scotland during the mid-1960s, and commissioned into naval service in 1968. The submarine was decommissioned in 1994.  

HMAS Otway
89 meters long

Holbrook is affectionately known as ‘Submarine Town’, and is named after the first submariner to receive the Victoria Cross, Lieutenant Norman Holbrook he was presented the VC for his bravery during the 1914 Gallipoli campaign.

Euroa a town with a proud VC history

On 14 November 2014, at a ceremony in front of the Returned Services League in the township of Euroa, the Governor of Victoria unveiled the statues and accompanying information panels that celebrate the lives and sacrifice of three revered men from the Euroa district. Each of them was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC). Euroa is the only area in the entire Commonwealth to have been home to three Victoria Cross (VC Recipients).

Euroa is the kind of town that proudly wears its military history on its sleeve. People talk about it down the beautiful tree lined streets. Three bronze statues, immortalising the bravery of Victoria Cross recipients, Fred Tubb, Alex Burton and Leslie Maygar stand in pride of place – overlooking the beautiful and scenic Seven Creeks in Euroa. You will also find storyboards telling the remarkable tales of these three brave souls.

VC rest areas are well cared for with good facilities.

In conclusion…. So what are our thoughts regarding the “Remembrance Driveway”.  The Hume Highway is some 880 kilometres long and is one of Australia’s major inter-city national dual carriageways, running from Sydney in the NE to Melbourne in the SE. The pledge to plant 50,000 trees to look like a memorial is a huge undertaking. To manage and maintain this many trees in our hash environment is a feat in itself. 

We certainly were impressed with the rest areas, they were well maintained and each had good facilities.