Monday, February 3, 2020

Tasmania Travels - Devonport to Cradle Mountain

Fashionably late, as usual, we left Devonport for the SouthWest corner of Tassie. 

First stop was the mural town of Sheffield. We stopped at the Visitor Centre for a stamp before it had opened for the day, but luckily Tilly the Town Cat was there to greet us. She came out from behind a bush and looked at me. I looked at her. She meowed. I meowed. We became BFFs right there and then. She apparently works casual hours (very casual) at the tourist centre and is even featured in one of the town's 140 murals. 
Sheffield Tasmania Tilly Cat

Sheffield Tasmania Tilly Cat

Sheffield has an annual mural festival held in the park, but there are also painted works all over town. My favourite is this one below, Stillness and Warmth. A local man stopped for a chat as we were looking at it and told us the story of how Gustav Weindorfer, the original founder of Cradle Mountain National Park, would shelter wildlife in his chalet during the harsh winters on the mountain. 
This local man also told us how he had written a book about Cradle Mountain which featured lots of photos he had taken during his years there (and a whole lot of religious writing). He was in town to pick up a book he had ordered, about Chinese healthy eating. I asked him if the pastie he was munching on was part of the new healthy eating plan. We had a laugh. He gave me a book. I gave him some money. He refused. I gave it to his wife and told them to put it towards the price of their new book purchase. Or another pastie. The choice was theirs. We said goodbye to them and walked along the street a bit more and the man and his wife drove past, giving us a toot and a wave. 
Lasting memories of Sheffield and we were only there for an hour.
Sheffield Tasmania Mural town

Sheffield Tasmania Mural town
A signpost out the front of the Visitors Centre shows the quirky names of the nearby towns. We set off in the direction of Promised Land.
Sheffield Tasmania Mural town

 We ended up in New York City.

Actually, we were in the village of Lower Crackpot, in the land of Tazmazia. Featuring one of the world's biggest mazes, we spent a couple of hours getting lost, admiring the miniature buildings and having a laugh. 

Next stop, Cradle Mountain National Park. We arrived at the Visitor Centre with our prepaid Parks Pass receipt and registered with a staff member. We hopped on a bus that takes you 5 stops on the way to Dove Lake. We could have driven our own car up, but a winding, single lane road up a mountain with tourists and buses coming the other way didn't seem very appealing. 
We hopped off at the Enchanted Walk (Great Short Walk) stop and did the circuit through pine forests and alongside a creek. 
Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain
We then did the Rainforest Walk and Pencil Pine Falls...

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain
Dove Lake Carpark to Glacier Rock...
Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain

...and back around to the Boat Shed.

Cradle Mountain
 A well-earned ice cream cooled us down before we jumped in the car and began our descent into Strahan.

What: Devonport to Cradle Mountain
Where: Cradle country 

Whyart, hiking, maze 

When: Daily 

How much: varies 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Tasmania Travels - Devonport to Stanley

I'd planned this trip meticulously, with spreadsheets, notes, timetables down to the minute, so we could see everything we wanted and also have a little downtime for kicking the footy in the park or lazing on a beach somewhere. I had it sorted.
By the time we had finished breakfast and were finally in the car for our first outing, we had uttered the words that became our holiday motto "we're behind schedule".
But we were on "Tassie Time" now, so off we went to see how our day panned out.

At Stanley, we caught the chairlift up to the top of The Nut then walked the 2km circuit around the summit, admiring the views, wildflowers, birds and a couple of wallabies before descending the very steep walk down to the carpark.

Stanley Tasmania

The Nut Stanley
A walk around the marina, watching a fishing boat unload its haul and seeing the beautiful, bright vessels moored nearby.
Stanley Tasmania

Stanley Tasmania
A stroll along the historic town streets, collecting our first Tiger Track stamp and first Scallop Pie of the trip. YUM! 
Tasmanian Scallop pieA penguin rookery with a viewing platform and an old cemetery had us exploring further than my itinerary had anticipated. 
Stanley penguinsThe weather turned cold and rainy as we headed to Table Cape. The lighthouse was just closing due to low visibility, so we got a stamp, took some photos of the surrounding tulip farms and poppy fields and headed off to find fossils.
Table Cape lighthouse

Table Cape lighthouse tulip farms

Table Cape poppy farms

It was a short drive to Fossil Bluff. The meet and greet person looked like he knew a thing or two about fossils. 
Fossil Bluff Tasmania
We rugged up with our winter jackets and hiking shoes and spent an hour or so checking out the rugged cliffs, rock pools and pebble covered beach.
Fossil Bluff TasmaniaFossil Bluff Tasmania

One of the many perks of taking our car was that we could pack extra clothing, balls for the kids to play with, a big plastic tub of food and snacks and a large container of water to refill our bottles with. And our own pillows - because in our family, we don't leave home without them. 

Speaking of cars, we ventured indoors at the Wynyard Visitor Centre and checked out the veteran car collection on display, which included vintage motorcycles and bicycles for the two-wheel fans.

Wynyard Vintage CarsWynyard Vintage Cars

The rain had stopped, so we drove to the local platypus playground, Fernglade Reserve. The overcast day made the water seem darker, the reflections more vivid and the lush green rainforest even greener, if that's possible.

Fernglade Reserve Tasmania

The 1km return walk along the Emu River was so peaceful and relaxing, I think the platypus must have all been having a siesta. We did see the cutest baby pademelon cross our path, so that made up for the lack of platypus...platypuses ...platypi  ummm, you know what I mean.

Fernglade Reserve Tasmania

Back on the highway, past the town of Penguin, in search of actual penguins smaller than this guy.

The Big Penguin

Our wildlife quest continued a little further down the road at Lillico Beach. A Park Ranger and a couple of volunteers met us there at the penguin viewing area just on sunset. We were worried an approaching storm was going to spoil our plans, but we watched as it rolled over Devonport in the distance, leaving us to watch the little penguins come ashore and find their nests in the dunes below where we stood.
Too dark to take photos, too wet and cold to hang around for long, but definitely worth the (free) visit to see these little guys, without hundreds of others for company and without a hefty price tag.

Seafood chowder and local lobster for dinner completed our day. Bellies full and bodies tired, we headed back to our accommodation to rest up before we headed south.

Tasmania Seafood

What: Devonport to Stanley

Where: Northwest Tasmania

Why: chairlifts, penguins, seafood

When: Daily 

How much: varies 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Tasmania Travels. Melbourne to Devonport

With a couple of weeks off over Christmas and New Year, we decided to head out of town on an extended road trip. Way, way out of town (overseas, even 😆), we went to Tasmania. 
This wasn't a spontaneous holiday, it was a well-planned, advance purchased, much-researched kind of trip for our family of four because we wanted to see as much as we could in the time we had.

Tassie is so close, it's almost like an extension of Victoria. You can even drive there - and we did!

The first thing I did was purchase an RACV Personal Membership for $36. This gave me access to discounts on a few fares, like the Spirit of Tasmania, Gordon River Cruises and West Coast Wilderness Railway and the National Parks Pass (not sure if this pass is still discounted).

I booked the 'Spirit' way back in May, then the cruise and railway later in the year and ended up saving a few hundred dollars on tickets!
I also bought a 30-day Digital Entertainment Book for the Launceston area, as it's a great way to get discounts when travelling around.

Driving distances calculated, accommodation booked, itinerary printed - we were good to go.

DAY 1.
We headed down to Station Pier early one morning, along with about 500 other vehicles (including Scooby Doo and the gang, I think), but soon enough we had parked our car and taken our day packs to our cabin. 
Melbourne to Devonport

We could have just sat anywhere on the boat, or booked recliner seats up the front, but with 2 kids in tow, we decided a cabin would be the most comfortable option for the day cruise. We were thrilled to find ourselves located on the 8th deck, with our porthole overlooking the bow. 
Spirit of Tasmania

Spirit of Tasmania

We bid farewell to Melbourne and set off exploring the ship. The twin cinemas beckoned immediately, so the kidlets dragged us in to see The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. If only they were a few years older, we could have watched Bohemian Rhapsody or A Star is Born on the other screen. 
That killed a bit of time, then we had an early lunch that we had brought from home and some of our ginger stash to avoid seasickness. (Remember to eat any fruit before you board, due to quarantine restrictions.) 
We visited the tourist hub desk to grab some brochures and purchased a couple of Tiger Track packs. These contain a booklet to collect cool stamps from various towns, attractions and information centres right around Tasmania.

Spirit of TasmaniaSpirit of Tasmania

A walk around the decks, bars and lounges kept us busy for a while. Purple stairs, blue lifts, green stairs, orange lift, blue stairs, orange stairs - it was a game to see if we could ever remember our way around.

At 4pm, we headed to the Terrace for a cheeky glass of Tasmanian wine (me, not the kids) and a packet of chips and sat back to listen to the live entertainment - a singer/guitarist playing a mix of her own songs and some well-known covers that even had my kids singing along. It was like being in a seaside pub on a Sunday afternoon.
Spirit of Tasmania Bass Strait

Into the video game arcade for some adrenaline pumping motorcycle and car racing, before heading back to our cabin to collect our bags and begin the disembarking process at sunny Devonport. 

The journey was smooth sailing and we kept ourselves busy enough to not get bored for the 11 hour journey. Having a cabin to leave our day packs in was the best thing. We may have even snuck in a Nanna nap during the day. 

Melbourne to DevonportWhat: Spirit of Tasmania
Where: Station Pier, Port Melbourne

Why: road tripping on a boat

When: Daily 

How much: varies