HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!!
The ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ took approximately 10 hours to cross the Bass Strait on a day sailing. There was plenty of entertainment including films, Tasmanian devil information and cartoon drawing sessions.
Our visit to Tasmania was another extra and unplanned part of Macswayround and we are so pleased that we have been able to add it to our journey. We had been told that we would be reminded of home in the UK, and we were in some parts. We were very surprised by the size of Tassie – it doesn’t look that big on the map! We were reminded of Scotland in a number of mountainous areas too. The weather was kind to us which made our stay all the more pleasant.
In fact, Tassie reminded us of a condensed version of the mainland Australia and our route took us from the east coast to the south and then up the west coast before heading back to Devonport.
We travelled from Devonport towards Launceston and stayed in the Tamar Valley (near Winkleigh). It was very strange to be amongst so many familiar names. We saw a sign that included Winkleigh, Exeter and Devonport on the same post and this was all very familiar to us.
In the village store at Glengarry we were recommended to see Beauty Point which absolutely lived up to its name! Further on, along the Tasman Highway, we went through Launceston and Exeter before camping at Derby. As this was a holiday weekend we met Danny, Sharon and family, also Gus and Faye too. A good time was had by all with the help of a communal campfire! Jemma, Ben and Jared spent the evening performing a circus act to see how many different ways all three could ride a push bike at the same time!
On our travels we are always on the look- out for wildlife and as we stopped in a gateway to turn around, Jemma spotted an echidna –a real wild one –and the second of the egg – laying mammals.
Next day, the Weldborough Pass Rainforest walk was a blast from the past and beautifully old. It must be treasured as three quarters of Australia’s rainforest has now been lost and Tasmania only has 11 % left covering the state.
Passing through St.Helens, Scottdale and Bingalong Bay, we stayed along the Bay of Fires at Cosy Corner. This bay is so called, due to the brilliant orange lichen on the rocks and our stop followed a trip up Mount Elephant for a taste of the famous European style pancakes.
We loved our time in Bicheno, where the blow hole was a novelty. We were also lucky enough to see the Little Fairy Penguins coming home to their babies and to rest for the night. It was fantastic to see then waddle past us, as a part of their daily routine, within an hour after night fall. We watched from a great quiet spot and shared the moment with two friendly, Irish Sheila’s, who could have spoken for ever with those accents!
The Glass Bottom Boat trip out from the Gulch as Bicheno was another of our highlights. Maitreya (our skipper) made our trip very enjoyable and extremely informative. We would also like to say Hi to his Mum, who we met later, by coincidence, at the Milton Vineyard along the Freycinet coast. We had stopped off for a quick wine tasting session and got talking about Bicheno and the glass bottom boat!! We also saw the famous wine glass bay, with a perfect crescent of pure white sand.
Travelling onwards towards Port Arthur, we camped near the dog-line at Eagle- Hawk Neck. Along the way we saw another blow hole, the Tasman’s Arch, and the Devil’s kitchen which have all been eroded as the sea bashes against the coast line, creating tunnels and caves as it goes.
The Tahune Airwalk and Swing-bridge walk in the Tahune Forest Reserve, on the banks of the Huon River, was an excellent experience. We walked 48 metres above the forest floor. We also saw the biggest tree in Australia (not the tallest at 87 metres) but the heaviest, weighing in at 405 tonnes!
We arrived in Hobart on a Saturday and so the Salamanca market was buzzing with the traditions of the Island. Many local arts and crafts were available and Phil managed to kit himself out with an authentic ‘Mac Dundee’ hat!
A very wet night was spent at Lake Burbury and it was strange to feel rain! Next day was bright again and we went to see the infamous Cradle Mountain, which has an unusual shape and spectacular scenery all around the area. We passed Queenstown which has a lunar landscape due to the past mining that has moved the earth, and where its sulphur fumes have either poisoned the vegetation or burnt it in their furnaces. It was a very strange landscape and equally unique.
We also all enjoyed the Tasmanian Devil Centre @ Cradle where we learnt lots about these very placid and lovable creatures! Their spine chilling screech and instinct to fight for food has helped to create the cartoon and give them their devil name. However, at most times they are usually quiet and shy creatures in their natural territory!
This centre is currently helping to work hard to maintain their stocks and introduce breeding programmes as a shocking disease is threatening their future. Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is a contagious cancer and many parts of Tasmania has been affected by the disease. It is estimated that 65% of devils have been lost in the last 10 years across Tasmania. There is a calculated fear that if the number of ‘disease free’ devil’s in captivity cannot be built up to a stock of 1000 and the disease continues to wipe them out at this rate, the species may become extinct within 25 years. How terrible it would be to no longer have the devils in the only place they can be found in this world (in the wild), at present.
Ben had a practice with his new boomerang when we stopped off at Waratah – he thought they were supposed to come back?! This town is unique for its spectacular waterfall right in the main street. Much can also be learnt in the museum and the town displays of mining equipment used in the past.
We stocked up at the cheese factory at Burnie, on our way to Stanley. The chairlift up to the top of the Stanley Nut, was hair –raising in places as it was very windy and the chairs were swaying along with the best of them! That said, the journey was well worth it for the fantastic views, and the fresh air blew our cobwebs away at the top! A lady commented to us that she had never been blown uphill before – but we all were on that day!
We were pleased to be able to pay Gus and Faye a visit, in Ulverstone (whom we had met at happy hour in Derby!). This was for our last night in Tasmania and we would like to thank them for an enjoyable time and for their hospitality! Jemma and Ben say ‘Hi’ to Mitchell and say that they enjoyed paying a quick visit to his school! Later we took a further look around Ulverstone, Penguin and Latrobe before heading back to Devonport. Ulverstone struck us as being a very clean, tidy and organised town with an unusual ‘space-rocket’ themed play area for the children to enjoy. Penguin was another quaint seaside town and Jemma and Ben enjoyed a paddle and a picnic there.
Latrobe is known as the ‘Platypus Capital of the World’. We had a good look for these very shy creatures in the wild, for several hours, but we were out of luck as we had to leave too early and get back to Devonport.
We caught the ‘all night’ ferry back to Melbourne and some of us watched the Star Wars clones! As we got some sleep in the reclining chairs we dreamt of our time in Tassie and of all our adventures!
· Tassie was a beautiful place and my favourite animal was obviously the Tasmanian devil. I LOVED the wombats too. I did notice that there was lots of road-kill. I loved all the over-hanging trees.
Here is a little rhyme that I made up while we were on the boat – “We travelled to Tassie by boat,
But I did not have to wear a coat!
When we got there it was warm
But there was no corn!
It was pretty cool – but we still needed a pool.
I love Tasmania - like you love Lithuania!
· The Tasmanian Island was discovered in 1642 by Hon. Abel Jans Tasman.
· Tasmania is nicknamed the ‘APPLE ISLE.’
· Tasmania is 150 miles (240kms) South – East of Mainland Australia.
· Tasmania constitutes less than 1 % of Australia’s total area but contains some of the wildest landscapes in the country.
· Little Penguins are the smallest of the 18 species of penguin and the only one to breed on Mainland Australia.
· Little Penguins can sleep at sea and may spend weeks away from land.
· Unlike all other penguins, the Little Penguins natural behaviour is to nest in a burrow.
· Tasmania is said to have the ‘World’s cleanest air (in particular at Stanley) - as there is no land between Tassie and the Antarctic.
· Stanley also has the cleanest water........The Nut rises 152 metres (500 feet) and is almost completely surrounded by the Bass Strait Ocean. When you walk on ‘The Nut ‘you will walk on land that is over 13 million years old.
· More than one third of the Tasmanian State is World Heritage Listed, National Park and Forest Reserve.
· Was the specimen in Hobart Zoo in 1936 the last Tasmanian Tiger? Even the experts will not rule out the possibility it survives in Tasmania’s primeval forests. There have been a number of reported sightings – with the last two possible sightings being in the year 2000.
· The Tasmanian devil is the world’s largest meat -eating marsupial.
· Eastern Quolls are little spotted marsupial cousins of the Tassie devil. They now only survive in Tasmania. Spot Tailed Quoll (or Tiger Quoll) is the largest carnivorous marsupial on Mainland Australia. They survive in good numbers in Tassie, however they are endangered in Victoria.
· For over 40,000 years the Tasmanian Aborigines and the Tasmanian devil have lived in harmony. According to legend, the devil has inherited its special colouring from the world around it: BLACK- the complete darkness of the night. PINK EARS- the red berries of the edible native cherry. WHITE- the prolific white flowers of the common Clematis. Aboriginal children continue to learn about the Purinina or Tasmanian devil’s secrets, its lifestyle, its links to their culture and the magic of the devil.
· Port Arthur is now an historic site, dating from 1832 when the first convicts were taken there. The site tells many stories to illustrate the Australian convict experience. It is now Australia’s premier convict site.
· In 1831 a Military Station was opened at Eagle Hawk Neck , to the north of Port Arthur and in 1832 a dog line was formed. This line was made up of 18 ferocious dogs, which were tethered to large barrels. These dogs prevented the convicts from escaping and some dogs were also put out to sea on platforms to prevent a swimming escape.
· Located in the North-West of Tasmania, the 447,000 hectare Tarkine Wilderness area is Australia’s largest tract of unprotected temperate rainforest.
· The Tuhune Forest Reserve is home to the world’s tallest flowering tree –the giant Eucalyptus Regnans which may stand 100 metres high.
· Launceston is Tasmania’s second largest city and Australia’s third oldest.
· Hobart is Tasmania’s waterfront capital and Australia’s second oldest city. It was founded in 1804 as a prison for repeat offenders.
· The Big Penguin, at Penguin (so named in 1861), stands a proud 3 metres tall on the foreshore. It was erected to commemorate the town’s centenary. It has become one of the most photographed landmarks in Tasmania!
· The Duck Billed Platypus is everyone’s favourite monotreme – a semi-aquatic, egg laying mammal!
· The Cradle Mountain –Lake Sinclair National Park is 161,000 hectares and is a part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
· L.C. Bernacchi was a Tasmanian who became the first Australian to work and winter in Antarctica from 1898 to 1900.
TASSIE WILDLIFE HITS:
· Yellow –tailed Black Cockatoos
· Laughing Kookaburras
· White –bellied Cormorants
· Masked Lapwings
· Sulphur -crested Cockatoos
· Black Swans
· Little Correllas and Sea Lions!
Monday, 13 April 2009 00:31:39 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) Australia | Tasmania
On the way to Tassie!
G’day – It’s time to crank up the kilometres or miles covered along this blog journey! So much to see and do and so little time to write about it!
As we travel along in Aussie – some of our time is being entertained by good ‘ole Aussie music and we very much like the words and music created by John Williamson. He was not familiar to us until we bought the Steve Irwin Tribute DVD and John was performing for that occasion. Now we can all be heard singing about (among others things)- True Blue, a home among the gum trees and a rocking chair on the veranda to watching the possums play– all great stuff-which we are experiencing for real!
After leaving Eden we crossed the border into Victoria and stopped at Marlo. Ben was chuffed at beating his Dad and becoming the first of the family to catch a fish (bream) in the Southern Hemisphere! Later on, as the skies were so clear, we sat and watched the most amazing star show – with as many as ten shooting stars, a wish on each and a very clear Milky Way.
We continue to be perplexed by the stars around here, which in some spots look like they should belong to our set of stars. There is a saucepan and some seven sisters- just like the ones we see in the Northern Hemisphere – but not quite. We shall be phoning home to our astronomer friend, Alan, very soon for some advice on what to be looking out for. The beautiful shooting stars will do us just fine for the time being!
Lakes Entrance provided more excellent fishing spots and entertainment later as the Dad’s tried to combine prawning with a happy hour, in the middle of a cyclone! They must have been very wobbly rocks that night, and who needs waders anyway?!
We were surprised to find a rather large spider (about 12cms across) on the inside of our awning roof, but were told by Steve and Jen that it was only a BABY Huntsman – no worries!
After spending time at Sale Motor Village and Rosedale (and spending time with Kevin and Sandy!), it was safe for us to pass through the fire danger zones and we made our own tracks. We have enjoyed our time travelling with Steve and Jen and family and thank them for the various advice along our way. Maybe we shall meet again later in our travels!
We stayed at the Discovery Holiday Park in Carrum Downs and the swimming pool was a hit once more. Ben’s reply took a lady by surprise as she warned him to be careful as the water may be cold – “Oh this is fine- we have swam in the Baltic sea!”
Trekking through Rosebud, we arrived at our friend Bev’s house in Rye. Both Bev and her friend Phyllis have houses in Rye and we met them in Vienna, Austria, a couple of summers ago whilst they were travelling around Europe together. Back then MACSWAYROUND was a very newly hatched idea, only about two weeks old at the time! We enjoyed a happy hour with them although did not realise that was what we were doing at the time (we now understand more about the happy hour!) and told them of our intension to make it to ‘their land down under’. It was such a great feeling to have actually arrived and be living our dream. Bev cooked the most amazing roast which was a delicious treat for us all. We were introduced to tasty roast pumpkin (not so commonly eaten in England). The succulent lamb was also cooked in a fry-pan – another idea we shall be taking home with us.
We enjoyed the sights and scenery around the area at Rye, Rye Back Beach, Rosebud, Sorrento, Mount Martha and Arthur’s Seat. At Sorrento we visited the first official British Settlement –established in 1803-04, in the area that is now Victoria. This was called the Collins Settlement and the traditional owners of this land were the Boonwurrung people, for some 40,000 years.
At Sullivan’s bay we found out about William Buckley - the only person who successfully escaped, out of 27 convicts. He lived with the Wathaurung people for 32 years and as he had a very unlikely survival there is now an Australian phrase “Buckley’s Chance” – meaning “NO CHANCE!”
We would like to thank Phyllis for the loan of her car. A few hours and a good supply of energy were spent by us all, at the Enchanted Gardens and Mazes!
As we bid farewell to Bev and Phyllis we took the opportunity to sail on the ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ from Port Melbourne and add a taste of Tassie to our experiences. This was highly recommended by all we have spoken to and we just had to go and find out why! (thanks to Lynette and Sandra for the overnight stop, before we caught the very early ferry!)
· “Sale” is a supply and residential centre for the Bass Strait Oil Fields.
· The town of ‘Sale’ was settled on the banks of the Thompson River in 1844 and was originally called ‘Flooding Creek’.
· The Forester Kangaroo can travel up to 50 kilometres per hour and can leap up to 10 metres!
· In ‘Sale’ there is an historic swing-bridge which was built in 1883 as one of the first of its type. The bridge pivots from the centre through a series of cogs and gears.
· The Mornington Peninsula comprises of 190 kilometres of coast, which provides a variety of beaches and coastline.
· The Mornington Peninsula is home to more than 50,000 Olive trees and around 15 commercial Olive farms.
· Popes Eye is situated in Port Philip Bay (near the Heads). This is the abandoned foundation of an island fort that began construction in the 1880’s. At that time there was a fear of invasion from Russia and Melbourne’s current cannons could not properly defend the bay.
· Arthur’s Seat summit is the Mornington Peninsula’s most prominent landmark and at 305 metres high, offers magnificent views of Port Philip Bay and the wider Peninsula Region.
· Sorrento Bay is known as the Water Amphitheatre due to the stunning views right around the bay.
· In 1967, Harold Holt, the Australian Prime Minister went for a swim near Cheviot Point and never returned.
· Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne is the largest and oldest market in the Southern Hemisphere and opened in 1878.
· The Eureka Sky-deck in Melbourne is the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere and includes the world’s first edge experience on a glass tube that projects 3 metres out from the building and is suspended almost 300 metres above the ground!
· Melbourne is recognised as Australia’s shopping and fashion Capital.
· In the 1850’s, John West started the Federation Movement in Australia and created the Australian Flag.
WILD -LIFE HITS –
· Huntsman Spider (12 cm baby!)
· Eastern Masked Lapwing
· Black Swan
· Pied Cormorant
· Scalley Breasted Lorikeet
· Pacific Gull
· Pied Oyster Catcher
· Swamp Hen
· Little Eagle
Saturday, 04 April 2009 14:19:30 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) Australia | Tasmania