Tasmania Revisited – 2009

Before his scheduled Radical Prostatectomy in early December, my MOTH wanted to enjoy a pre-op pain-free holiday so with the doctor’s blessing, we went ahead with our plan to re-visit Tasmania to check out the places of interest that we had missed during our first trip. By mid-October, we were ready to rock and roll’ Look out, Tassie, here we come again!

Day 1 OCT 30:

I woke up early this morning to make a dozen lamb curry puffs for our lunch before the MOTH drove Just Trip’n home from storage in the warehouse so we could re-stock the food supplies and throw in our clothes and other bits and pieces associated with a long road-trip. By 4.30pm we were on the road to Station Pier to join the boarding queue to sail on the Spirit of Tasmania. As it was on our last trip, this road-trip also coincided with the National H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) Rally scheduled to take place in Tasmania (this would be their 19th rally) from 6th to 8th November. Similarly, there were many, many Harley owners waiting to board with their machines, several of them accompanied by their chicks/partners, eager to get to Tasmania to begin the celebration. (H.O.G. rallies are held around the globe to celebrate Harley-Davidson motorcycle riding. This year, over 2,000 members from all parts of Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and as far away as Alaska, USA, gathered in Launceston to take part in the Thunder Run, a scenic ride through the northern part of the island.) During the waiting period, we munched on KFC chicken that we had bought earlier while we surveyed leather-clad Harley owners mingling happily amongst themselves. After an orderly and smooth boarding procedure, we immediately went to check out our twin cabin – small but comfortable and furnished with twin beds and a couple of chairs. What a cool set-up ‘ complete with our own toilet, vanity unit and a shower to boot! The porthole offered a view of the water so we were quite pleased about that. Next, we made our way to Deck 7 where I headed for the gaming room while the ever-practical MOTH went to the tourism information centre to look into the business of getting a pass for entry to the many national parks that we will be going through during our stay. It must have been my lucky evening as within 20 minutes I had won $50! Woohoo!!! Wary of being too greedy and thus in danger of feeding all the coins back into the poker-machines, I decided to quit while I was ahead and much to his surprise, I joined the MOTH on one of the observation decks where he was enjoying an icy cold beer while airing his armpits’

We wandered around on Deck 7 for a bit and had a snack of a meat pie each from the bar instead of having dinner on board as neither of us felt like a full meal. After polishing off our meat pies, we sauntered over to the theatrette and watched ’17 Again’ amidst a couple of annoying brats climbing on the poles and a few ignorant foreigners talking rather loudly in their native tongue. About ‘ of the way through the movie, we felt the Spirit beginning to sway, just before the announcement came over the PA system advising everyone to vacate all the observation decks as they were locking everyone in. We were sailing straight into a thunderstorm in the middle of Bass Strait! That was kind of exciting as after the movie, we got a cup of latte each from the bar and tottered our way back to our cabin to watch the lightning play as it lit up the water each time a lightning struck. We finally gave in to sleep to be awoken by the wake-up call at 5.40am for the scheduled 6.30am arrival at Devonport.

Day 2 Oct 31:

While waiting for the announcement to go down to Vehicle Decks 5 and 6 to prepare for disembarking, we enjoyed a piping hot cup of latte each. Excellent timing on our part as no sooner had we finished our coffee, the announcement came so we joined fellow travelers in making our way to our respective vehicles. We drove out of the Spirit, went through the quarantine business of getting checked out in case we were importing the strictly forbidden fruit and veggies. Over the bridge we went in search of a supermarket which, from memory, wasn’t too far away. Didn’t buy any fruit and veggies as after a shudder at the exorbitant prices, we by-passed the fruit and veggies section and got a loaf of bread, a tube of toothpaste and a three-pack special of canned spaghetti. Declining the MOTH’s offer of breakfast at Macca’s (McDonald’s), we drove west, heading for Stanley. On the way, we noticed a road sign that boasts of Penguin Market as we approached the township of Penguin. ‘That’s worth checking out,’ we decided, as we followed the signs right through the town centre where it all turned to s**t – no more signage and after driving around for a bit and not seeing anyone around on an early Saturday morning, we came to the conclusion that it must have been an invisible market for a privileged few that did not include us. Not to worry, we drove onwards through Burnie following the scenic coastal route, by-passing Table Cape, etc, until we reached Stanley where we stopped to do a tour of the historic site of Highfield homestead. (We found out the following week when we passed through again that the Market is held every Sunday.)

Highfield homestead was built from 1832-35 as the residence of the Van Diemen’s Land Company’s chief agent, Edward Curr. He lived in a weatherboard cottage erected in 1827 and in July 1832, he claimed the new residence built adjoining it. In 1838, the original weatherboard dwelling was demolished to make way for the construction of new servants’ rooms and kitchen. Highfield remains remarkably intact after the Van Diemen’s Land Company period of occupancy.

After dishing out $10pp entry fee, we were allowed to tour the Homestead at our leisure so we stepped back in time for a general feel of life way back then. We wandered around from room to room, all with period furnishings. After checking out and taking photos of ‘The Room of Reflection’ (master bedroom), ‘The Room with a View’ (possibly a guest room) which provided the viewer with a fantastic view of ‘The Nut’ (Circular Head) at Stanley, sitting room, office, ‘Rooms of Games & Laughter’ (Children’s room), etc, we ventured down to the ‘Room of Provisions’ (the Cellar) and then the kitchen before venturing outside to continue our tour. A two-storey stone building nearby was used as ‘The Room of Preaching and Piety’ (chapel) downstairs and a schoolroom upstairs.

We left the chapel and wandered over to the Funerary monument in the garden erected by Curr as a monument to his daughter Juliana Teresa Curr who died tragically on 24 June 1835 aged 2 years, 11 months and 14 days. [She was playing in a cart harnessed to a dog and when the dog suddenly rushed to fight with other dogs outside the yard, it caused the little girl to hit her head on the fencing.] In 1838, this part of the garden was described as providing a ‘winding, bowery walk’ to a tomb surrounded by honeysuckle and sweet briar in an alcove.

From the monument, we continued on to view the Agriculturalist’s Cottage built for Alexander Goldie, the Company’s agriculturist (c. 1830), next door to the Freeman’s Cottage which is now a private residence. After checking out the stables, the threshing barn in a stoned section of the barn, pig sties and boiling house and the stone cart shed which included a loft for storing tools and provisions, we drove out of the homestead to head to ‘The Nut’, stopping on the way to snap a photo of what remains of the Convict Barracks built from 1834 and used to house half of the 41 convicts assigned to the Circular Head establishment from 1836. What an interesting tour it has been.

Next we drove to Hursey Seafood Restaurant across the road from Stanley Village motel (which used to be a railway station called Wiltshire in days of old) to pacify the worms in our bellies. We baulked at the price of the crayfish roll ($19) so instead we settled for a feed of fish and chips (Blue Grenadier fillets). Unfortunately, the meal turned out to be rather disappointing ‘ the fish was very oily as the oil they were cooked in mustn’t have been hot enough or perhaps the oil was due to be changed. Oh well, better luck next time.

The MOTH suggested that we spend the night at Arthur River so we could do the Arthur-Frankland River Cruise the next day. ‘Brilliant idea!’ I declared delightedly until we got to the Caravan Park at Arthur River where the sign ‘NO Vacancy’ glared at us as we drove up. Enquiries at the reception revealed that most places had been booked out as it was a holiday long weekend and our best hope would be to try another place up the road, over the Arthur River Road bridge. Failing that, we would have to drive all the way back to Stanley where again, we might not be successful in finding a powered site. Fingers crossed, we went over the bridge and came to the recommended site. With high hopes, the MOTH went in to make enquiries and was delighted when he found out that the owner of the site also happens to operate the A.R. Reflections River Cruise! As luck would have it, he had one last powered site on offer in a packaged deal consisting of a couple of nights’ stay and the 6-hour river cruise that included a rainforest nature walk and a gourmet lunch complete with wine and other beverages’ It wasn’t long before some hard cash exchanged hands and we were guided into our site. I was teased by the owner when he saw me munching on pumpkin seeds’ I promised not to squawk too much should I decide to spread my wings like a galah and fly around the place. [I quit smoking on Valentine’s Day this year and have since taken up munching on pumpkin seeds instead.]

After the usual routine of connecting Just Trip’n to the power point when we get to a powered site, we armed ourselves with our cameras and walked over the Arthur River Road bridge to check out the anglers all along the mouth of the Arthur River as we were told the salmon were running. Sure enough, just about everyone young and old were pulling them out of the river. After a couple of photos of waves pounding on Australia Rock, a jagged outcrop standing defiantly in the middle where the Arthur River flow meets the ocean, we returned to Just Trip’n for a little siesta. Our eyelids re-opened at 6pm and after a refreshing shower we sat down to a dinner of Beef Rendang (beef slow-cooked in coconut milk and spices) from home, served hot on basmati rice which the MOTH had cooked in the microwave oven, before settling in to watch a movie on DVD, prior to sweet slumber. We were excited about the upcoming Arthur River cruise in the morning, leaving at 10.15am and arriving back at 4.15pm. The Arthur River was named after Sir George Arthur, Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemens Land between 1824 and 1836. The tiny west coast township of the same name (Pop: 121 in 2006 census) is set at the mouth of the Arthur River which runs through tall eucalypt forests and rainforests out into the mighty Southern Ocean. Early explorers named this awe-inspiring place ‘The Edge of the World’ because the battered coastline and isolated river mouth stand before 15,000km of unbroken, untamed, unforgiving longest stretch of sea in the world (the Southern Ocean), extending all the way to Argentina.
Day 3 Nov 1:

  I woke up bright and early to make a few curried egg sandwiches just in case the cruise lunch consisted of ham sandwiches and little else and by the time 9am rolled by, we were all ready to rock and roll. What a glorious day for a river cruise with the promise of plenty of sunshine and just a light breeze blowing. Laden with 15 tourists, Captain Rob took his boat about 15 km up the Arthur River, right up to where the Frankland and Arthur Rivers meet before the turn-around. Captain Rob has some free-flying feathered friends in the form of two pairs of White-bellied Sea Eagles which had built their nests in two separate locations along the Arthur River. We stopped the boat to feed the first pair about halfway up the river and when we reached the part of the river where the two rivers meet, the second pair of Sea Eagles were already waiting in anticipation of a free feed. After feeding the birds, we turned around and came back to Warra landing where we disembarked for lunch.

It was quite amusing watching the smokers hastily leaping off the boat, with unlit cigarettes hanging out of the corner of their mouths and their thumbs poised over the flicking button of their lighters’ (I must admit a part of me was rather envious though, as I listened to the harmonious flicking of cigarette lighters). The resident Tasmanian Pademelon (small bush wallaby) (pronounced ‘paddy melon’) and a Currawong (medium-sized black passerine bird) were eagerly waiting for their free feed of mixed fruit and vegetables that the Captain had brought along for them. Naturally, we all got our cameras out and began clicking away before enjoying a very yummy lunch of a variety of sandwiches, (egg, salmon, corned beef, ham and tomato) which was followed by an assortment of cheeses and biscuits, fruit platter of figs, dried mango pieces and fresh grapes and dessert of carrot cake and peach strudel. The lunch was liberally washed down with our choice of wine or soft drinks and orange juice for the teetotallers. After tea or coffee, anyone who wished to go on a nature walk was given a little handbook each with descriptions of the native flora we could expect to see along the walking track. Off we set, the younger ones leading the way with slower old farts like us ambling along at our own pace. Such a pity we didn’t get to see Warra Falls in its full glory due to the shortage of good rainfall’

During our absence, Captain Rob re-loaded all the leftover food and drinks back on board and by the time we got back from our walk, he was ready to give us a free lesson on botany, pointing out a Gunn’s Tree Orchid (Sarcochilus australis), native laurel, Bushman’s Bootlace (Pimelea linifolia) and various Australian native plants growing near Warra Landing. [The bark of Bushman’s Bootlace (rice flower) can be processed into strong string by a traditional method that involves wetting, drying, beating and rolling the strips of bark.] After the learning session, we all re-boarded Reflections and continued on our return boat ride, stopping one last time for another feeding session of the first pair of Sea Eagles. By this time the evening sea breezes had strengthened and whipped up a few whitecaps on the water. We hung on tightly to our hats after we pulled up the zippers of our jackets and it wasn’t long before we were back on dry land. Those who were staying at the Reflections Park walked in single file across the single lane Arthur River Road bridge and every time a vehicle approached the bridge, we all stopped with our backs against the bridge railing and sucked our guts in to let the vehicle go past, exchanging waves as we did so. We did it ten times altogether. We spent another quiet night watching DVDs again as there is no TV or radio reception in this neck of the woods. Tomorrow we will head off to our next stop – destination unknown. Roast chicken for dinner tonight followed by coffee and banana cake from home.

Day 4 Nov 2:

We drove out of Reflections Caravan Park a bit after 9am and followed the Bass Highway, heading east for Bridport. About 10km east of the Stanley turn-off, the MOTH made a detour south to the Dip River Forest reserve. He decided that we should check out Dip Falls and what a great decision that turned out to be. First of all, the MOTH had to make sure that the public toilets were in good working order before we followed the 200mtrs beyond the falls to the viewing platform for ‘a couple of photos’. We then walked back to the car-park to descend to the base of the cubic-basalt formed falls. Like a couple of teenagers, we practically skipped all the way down to the base to snap a few more photos. However, we aged very, very quickly as we slowly climbed up 158 steep steps to get back to the car park. After I stopped huffing and puffing, we had our lunch of the curried egg sandwiches that didn’t get eaten yesterday before driving 26km back to the Bass Highway to continue on our way.

When we got to Port Sorell, the MOTH got a tad panicky as we couldn’t locate a petrol station on our side of the road ever since Burnie and the gauge was dropping, dropping’ Not only was he getting panicky, he was also becoming rather irritable. Somehow, his optic nerves became entangled with his auditory nerves, thus confusing his senses… He testily reached over and turned the volume of the music way, way down just so his eyes could focus a little better in an attempt to spot a petrol station! We finally stopped to ask for directions from a couple of local teenage girls who cheerfully pointed us in the right direction before bidding us a happy holiday. My MOTH’s mood changed for the better as soon as we got to the petrol station and he even cracked a smile as he filled up Just Trip’n with diesel. He cheerfully made a stop at a roadside orchard stall so I could jump out to get a 2kg bag of Fuji apples and pop $4 into the honesty box. We then continued on over the Batman Bridge to reach Bridport to spend the night at the Bridport Caravan Park.

Bridport is a popular holiday and fishing destination overlooking Anderson Bay. The town was named by the English surveyors who chartered the coast by boat and named many of coastal towns after the coastal towns in the county of Dorset in Southern England. The bay was named after Andrew and Janet Anderson who were among the first settlers that arrived in 1833 after the district was explored by surveyor Thomas Lewis in 1830. The district enjoyed a short-lived rush in the late 1860s when gold was discovered at nearby Waterhouse and tin was discovered along the Ringarooma River. A substantial wharf was built for supplies and arriving Chinese miners and for the great quantities of tin to be transported out. The port declined in importance after the railway line between Launceston and Scottsdale was opened but by 1900, Bridport became a favourite summer resort because of the mild climate, sand and sea. Bridport today has a population of approximately 1,200, swelling to 2,000 – 3,000 over the holiday season. It has a thriving fishing and boat-building industry and many surrounding farms.

As soon as the power was hooked up, we grabbed our cameras and went for a walk along the path adjacent to the water in the hopes of getting some photos of birds but the only photo worth getting excited about was of a yellow wattle bird. I reckoned all the birdies had gone to bed as the day had been rather overcast with possible showers predicted, so we gave up and headed back to Just Trip’n. After a lovely hot shower, we sat down to enjoy our dinner of braised lamb in soy sauce served over piping hot basmati rice. Dessert consisted of a couple of slices of my banana cake to go with our coffee before settling in for the night to watch a bit of TV – yes, there is TV reception in this part of the island!!!

Day 5 Nov 3:

It rained all night at Bridport so both the MOTH and I didn’t get a sound night’s sleep. The MOTH managed to dash out between the raindrops to disconnect the power cord before we drove out of Bridport through the slushy main street in drizzling rain. What a gloomy day for sightseeing, grumbled the MOTH as he drove through intermittent buffeting wind gusts that was just about strong enough to topple Just Trip’n over! We couldn’t get out of Bridport soon enough. As we headed south, we noticed with some cheer that the weather was slowly improving and by the time we reached the Pub in the Paddock, the rain had stopped and the sun was peeping shyly through the clouds. We dropped in at the Pub for morning tea – we both had a coffee and carrot cake treat ($12) while admiring the d’cor and learning a little of the historic significance of this quirky pub. The heritage listed Pub in the Paddock, licensed since 1880, is one of Tasmania’s oldest country watering holes located in a beautiful little valley of Pyengana (an Aboriginal word meaning ‘meeting of two rivers’). Local yarn has it that the pub was built by a farmer on his property to solve the problem of his sons’ preference of going to the pub instead of working on the farm. A sign by the road advertises ‘Pub in a Paddock – Come and meet our beer drinking pig”. The beer-swilling pig is Priscilla, who can scull a watered-down stubby in seven seconds. Unfortunately, Priscilla was nowhere to be seen when we checked out her pen named Princess of the Paddock, with a sign that says, ‘Priscilla ‘ Hi! Geez I’m dry ‘ I’d Luv a Beer.’ The sign on the sty next to it says, ‘Priscilla Babe ‘ ‘I’d luv a drink too!’ but again, no porker was in sight. We figured that they both could be nursing hangovers from last night’s sculling session…

When we found out from the bar-maid that St Columba Falls is a mere 10mins drive up Mt Victoria Forest Reserve AND it’s accessible via a bitumen road, the MOTH had no hesitation to go and check it out. Of course by now, the rain had tracked us down from Bridport and Mother Nature gleefully waited for us to get our cameras out before spitting on us’ Undeterred, we donned our jackets and with our cameras safely tucked underneath, we set off on the 1km return walking trail which would take approximately half an hour. It was certainly worth the effort as we were rewarded with spectacular views of the falls at the end of the tree-fern lined walking track. Luckily, the rain stayed away long enough for us to get a couple of photos apiece’

Leaving St Columba Falls behind us, we turned around and drove past the Pub in the Paddock to get back on the Tasman Highway to our next destination of St Helens. About 24km before St Helens, the MOTH spotted a signthat screamed out ‘Halls Falls 1km’ so a swift turn of the steering wheel to the left saw us heading for this waterfall that did not rate a mention in the touring map that we had. When we reached the car park of Halls Falls, we read the info board to learn that seeing the falls entailed a 900m (1.5 hours return) walk, steep and slippery in places’ Hmmm’ should we or shouldn’t we, was the $100 question of the day. As we stood there procrastinating, two young ladies emerged from the walking track and in answer to our question if it was worth the lengthy walk, they both gave us the thumbs up. That gave us the impetus to go ahead and sure enough, it was worth the time and effort. From Halls Falls, it was back on the Tasman Highway to get to St Helens for a delicious lunch of crumbed ling fillets and chips ($15.95pp) from the Captain’s Catch on the waterfront.

No more detours – from St Helens, it was straight on to Bicheno to the Seaview At Bicheno Holiday Park ($22.50 for a powered site) to spend the night, with the intention of visiting Nature World (a few km north of Bicheno) in the morning. Our dinner that night was a can of spaghetti (jazzed up with some home cooked bolognaise sauce) on toast, topped with grated cheese.

Day 6 Nov 4:

We woke up to a glorious morning full of sunshine with the promise of more to come. We left Bicheno just before 9 and got to Nature World at 9.15am. It cost $18.50 for adults and $15.50 for seniors and we think it was worth every cent. We spent almost 3 and a half hours there checking out the native animals from kangaroos to Tasmanian Devils but to us, the main attraction that brought us there was the mention of the walk-through aviaries. We walked and we walked and took gazillion photos of our feathered friends. We watched the feeding of the Tasmanian Devils and the Forrester kangaroos with the free-loading sea-gulls gate-crashing the party when the Cape Barron Geese and Pacific Ducks were being fed. After the 10am feeding session, we were free to wander and roam the nature park at our leisure. Fortunately, it was the mating season for the birdies so we got to see peacocks fully displaying their tail feathers to impress the peahens, roosters cock-a-doodling away in front of the hens, and even the parrots were in courting mode. Having taken our fill of bird photos, we wandered over to the reptile section where we saw numerous enclosures full of tiger snakes and copperheads sunbathing. A few more photos later, we started to feel a bit fangy so decided it was time to leave and get a bite to eat.

While deciding on where and what to eat, we chomped on an apple each before heading back to Bicheno to find a store that sells crayfish (lobster). Yay! We found a butcher that advertises fresh crayfish for sale, so gleefully, we stepped inside only to be told that the last one they had was sold a little earlier. Well, that was that’ Somewhat disappointed, we jumped back into Just Trip’n and headed south. As we approached the Coles Bay – Freycinet turn-off, we impulsively swung off the Tasman Highway into Coles Bay Road and drove on to the Freycinet Marine Farm where we had supped on freshly shucked oysters and steamed mussels during our last visit in 2007. We ordered the exact same delicacies and they tasted just as good as we remembered ($14 for a dozen oysters, $15 for a bowl of mussels). Just as we were finishing, a small group of Harley Davidson motorcyclists roared down the driveway, hungry for a meal. We left soon after and got back on the Tasman Highway to get to Lost Falls.

When we finally got to it after driving through over 5km of rough gravel road in almost total silence broken only by the Moth’s occasional muttering of, ‘By George, how much further is this delightful drive going for?’, we were surprised to find that we were the only two souls there. “Hmmmph’ well, we’re here so may as well pushed on,” muttered the MOTH, so we went ahead following the non-descript walking track in search of the waterfall. Finally, we reached our destination – what a fantastic view! NOT!!! No bloody wonder it’s named Lost Falls – only fools like us would go looking for it! After a few half-hearted photos just to prove that we’ve been there, we hoofed it back to Just Trip’n and drove back to the Tasman Highway and onwards past Swansea to Triabunna ($25 for a powered site) to spend the night. Neither of us felt like warming up frozen food so we opted for a takeaway dinner of hamburger with the lot (minus bacon) for the MOTH and a steak burger with the lot (also minus bacon) for me. Tomorrow we will head for Richmond’

Day 7 Nov 5:

Woke up to another lovely day and after making a few chicken sandwiches for today’s lunch, we filled up Just Trip’n with diesel and headed for Richmond. On the way there, near the township of Buckland, I got my MOTH to make a stop off the road so I could get photos of Break-Me-Neck Hill and Bust-Me-Gall Hill that I had missed on our previous trip. Break-Me-Neck Hill was supposedly named after an exclamation uttered by a wagoner during his first trip negotiating the steep hill, and the ascent and descent of Bust-Me-Gall Hill were so difficult that in days of old, travellers often had to dismount from their wagons or horses to negotiate it. Camera-clicking over, we got back on the road to Richmond in search of curried scallop pies as recommended by Nina (who came with her students on a school trip in September), to be super delicious and a ‘must have’. ‘If you get to Richmond, you must try the curried scallop pies, no, not from any caf’ but from the bakery. You can’t miss the bakery, it’s the only one and is in the main street.’ Up the main street we drove, but there was no sign of a bakery so we turned around and drove down the main street again. Unfortunately, we still couldn’t find the bakery in question so I suggested to my rather exasperated MOTH that we should find a parking spot and take a walk and maybe ask a local? We drove around the block and just as we spotted a side street which offered a parking space large enough for Just Trip’n, both the MOTH and I simultaneously saw it – THE RICHMOND BAKERY – not in the main street but in the very side street where we were about to park. Yes, we both had a super delicious curried scallop pie each and also bought a loaf of bread and all together they cost us $15.90.

From the bakery, we went to Zoo Doo Wildlife Park, a park that was also recommended by Nina. It cost me $18 and the MOTH $16 as he flashed his Senior Card. We spent a delightful two and a half hours seeing cute baby animals in the nursery, chuckling at the sight of some funny-looking fancy poultry wandering around the place and taking photos of several species of our feathered friends, some of them roaming freely throughout the park. We also hopped on the open shuttle bus on a feeding tour of the park, feeding alpacas, emus, goats, ostriches, chickens and the two camels, Matilda and Clementine, all the while entertained by the running commentary of the friendly, humorous driver for the duration of the 20 minutes ride. We sauntered around for a few more minutes before it was time to view the feeding of the lion and see the tigers having their afternoon siesta. One last look around and we finally departed for our next destination, a wildlife sanctuary Banarong Wildlife Park in Brighton. Upon enquiry, I found out that the only birds they had there were a couple of cockatoos and a kookaburra recovering from injury. My interest in taking a tour of the place quickly dissipated so we saved on the entry fee of $16pp and drove on to New Norfolk to spend the night. We got to the New Norfolk Caravan Park ($25 for a powered site) on the Esplanade by the Derwent River in the early afternoon and went for a walk along the Derwent River following a walking track with several steep steps that took us to the top of the walk offering splendid views of the Derwent River and some of its surrounds. Dinner tonight was the fresh bread we bought earlier, dunked in the lamb curry from home. Tomorrow will be spent in the Mt Field National Park to check out a couple of waterfalls’

Day 8 Nov 6:

Woke up to another glorious day in this island paradise and after breakfast of coffee, we emptied the black water from Just Trip’n in the disposal pit of the caravan park, before heading off for our destination of Mt Field National Park with the intention of re-visiting Russell Falls and also take in Horseshoe Falls and the Lady Barron Falls, the two waterfalls that we did not visit the last time we were in the area. On the way there, we saw a sign which drew our attention – Salmon Ponds Heritage Hatchery and Gardens so we zoomed down the track and into the car park. After parting with $14 ($8 for me and $6 senior rate for the MOTH), we purchased two tubs of fish pellets ($1 a tub) and wandered over to the ponds to feed the salmon and trout before visiting the Museum of Trout Fishing and the Tasmanian Angling Hall of Fame. We then strolled along the Riverside Walk which meanders alongside a section of the Plenty River before returning to the booth to purchase another couple of tubs of fish pellets. We did another lap of the grounds stopping by the different ponds to feed the Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Albino Rainbow Trout, Tiger Trout and Atlantic Salmon. That done, we retired to the Pancakes By The Ponds Restaurant/Caf’ for a delicious serve each of Lemon Butter Pancakes served with whipped cream and ice cream, decoratively presented with a light dusting of icing sugar. It was the pancake of the week costing $7 a serve.

With satisfied bellies, we jumped back into Just Trip’n and continued on to Mt Field National Park Visitor Centre. We walked for 10 minutes along the tree-fern lined track, passing Glow Worm Grotto on the way to view Russell Falls. Night visitors wishing to see the twinkling glow worms along the track must switch off their torches and let their eyes adjust to night vision. Neither of us expressed an interest to return at night for the experience, so we continued on to Russell Falls. From there, we intended to follow another track that would take us to Horseshoe Falls (30 minutes walk away – one way) or the 1 hour 10 minutes walk to Lady Barron Falls. Unfortunately, the tracks leading to the other two waterfalls were closed for repairs. Bummer!!! No choice but to just do the 1.3km circuit walk that took us back to the Visitor Centre. We enquired at the counter for an alternate route to see the two remaining waterfalls and were delighted to learn that by driving about 2 km up the road, we could park in the Tall Trees Walk car park and get to the respective waterfalls that way.

We had a chicken sandwich and a drink each at the car park before walking for 30 minutes on the track that led us to Horseshoe Falls before back-tracking to the junction to walk for another 35 minutes in the opposite direction to view Lady Barron Falls. By the time we finished taking a few photos of Lady Barron Falls, my knees were starting to ache at the mere thought of the uphill walk back to the car park’ However, the thought of being left behind wasn’t an appealing one so I soldiered on, huffing and puffing all the way. We spent 3′ hours at the Mt Field National Park before coming back to New Norfolk Caravan Park to spend another night there. Dinner tonight ‘ another tub of Beef Rendang served over basmati rice.

Day 9 Nov 7:

After a good night’s sleep, we were ready for more adventure but before that, we need mo’ money as one cannot live on love alone. We went to New Norfolk town centre to an ATM and then across the road to Chickenfeed, a discount variety store where I purchased a hair brush set for a princely sum of $2.99 – top quality, naturally. Having filled our respective wallet and purse with some moolah, we set off for the town of Maydena, driving past the Salmon Ponds again, then Mt Field National Park and onwards past the hops plantations with new hops seedlings just starting to climb up the wire trellis, cherry orchards with tantalizing ripening cherries, apricot orchards and a large raspberry plantation, unfortunately all displaying ‘Closed’ signs’

On and on we travelled and as we approached the township of Tyenna, we started looking for the Marriot Falls sign but despite both of us being on the look-out, we didn’t see it. ‘Well, we’ll just keep going then and check out Junee Cave instead,’ the MOTH declared. It wasn’t long before we reached Maydena and saw a sign, ‘Junee Cave 4km’ with the arrow pointing right. It was obvious to us that Junee Cave mustn’t be a tourist Mecca as the dirt road we were travelling on showed little sign of being well maintained. The further we went, the worse the track became and if not for the fact that there was nowhere that the MOTH could turn Just Trip’n around, we would have called it quits. We finally reached the car-park and from there we followed the non-descript walking path for about 15 minutes before we were pleasantly surprised by the sound of running water and a river magically appeared! We didn’t have to go much further before we got to Junee Cave, the source of the Junee River. A few photos later saw us heading back to the car park, stopping now and again to see little tiger trout swimming in the shallow river.

From Maydena, we decided to head for the east coast and despite craning our necks once again on the way past Tyenna, we failed to see any sign for Marriot Falls. We continued on to Dunalley stopping at the Fish Market for lunch of a seafood basket for 2 ($15). How terribly disappointing to find out that we will totally miss out on the crayfish season which will begin on Nov 15, the day we get back to Melbourne! Bummer!!! Not much we could do about it, we sighed, while enjoying our lunch in Just Trip’n and watching a couple of fishermen cleaning their catch of flatheads with the gulls hovering around for handouts. After lunch, we travelled on to Nubeena to pick up some groceries from the IGA supermarket there before making our way to White Beach Holiday Park. As soon as we had settled into our powered site ($26 a night), we did a load of washing (2x$2 coins for a load and $1 for 10mins use of the dryer). We took turns having our showers and it wasn’t long before our washing was done. I went for a walk around the park with my trusty camera and managed to capture a few shots of the Green Rosella, native to Tasmania. We waited for sunset, hopeful of getting a few nice photos of it, before having our dinner of savoury mince on toast and then we thought of settling in for a relaxing night of TV viewing. Tomorrow, we will head north, through the centre of the island’

Day 10 Nov 8:

We had a lousy night sleep as soon after dinner, the MOTH began experiencing pain in the chest and complained of both arms aching. He totally disregarded my suggestion that I contact the Park manager for info regarding the nearest medical assistance if required and just kept going outside for some fresh air which seemed to help a little. He tried to get some sleep but the most ‘comfortable’ position for him was to stand upright. I was worried sick but tried my best not to show it as I massaged his neck, shoulders and back to afford some slight relief. It was midnight by the time he finally fell asleep while I lay awake praying and checking to make sure he was still breathing! What a relief when morning broke and he woke up feeling his normal self again’ The MOTH spotted several galahs feeding on the lawn while on his way to the restrooms and when he noticed them still feeding on his way back, he told me to grab my camera for a few photos.

Having already checked out Port Arthur during our previous trip two years ago, we decided to scrub around doing another tour of it as the only activity we didn’t participate in the last time was the Ghost Tour. Back then, I didn’t feel like soiling my britches unnecessarily and my sentiments remained unchanged so we left White Beach to begin the drive to Launceston. We made a quick stop at a fruit and veggies market just off the main road near Sorell, where we bought half a kilo of shelled scallops, a couple of T-bone steaks (for tomorrow’s dinner) and some nectarines. From there we travelled on to Ross, a historic town situated on the Macquarie River, noted for its convict history, historic bridge and original sandstone buildings [Not knowing its historic significance beforehand, we missed out on checking out the old bridge.]

Ross was named by Governor Lachlan Macquarie on an expedition in 1821, in honour of H.M. Buchanan Esqr’s Seat on Loch Lomond in Scotland. The crossroads of Church and Bridge Streets in the middle of town is humorously referred to as the “Four Corners of Ross” —
                                                                The Man O’ Ross Hotel is “TEMPTATION“.
Town Hall is “RECREATION“.
The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart is “SALVATION“.
The old Gaol (now a private residence) is “DAMNATION“.

After a lunch of a curried scallop pie @ $6.95 each (nowhere near as good as the pies we had in Richmond) and a fruity icy-pole apiece, we had a bit of a look around the town centre. We then hit the road again and headed for Launceston. Just as we reached Launceston, a call came through from Bill, one of the MOTH’s mates, who had come down from northern Queensland for the H.O.G. rally. We stopped at Coles in Wellington St to stock up on a few grocery items before heading for the Treasure Island Caravan Park to spend the night there in one of their $29 powered sites. Within an hour of another quick phone call, Bill appeared on his 2008 Harley Davidson to say G’day. Tonight’s dinner of scallops in oyster and chili garlic sauce with Asian veggies served on a bed of 2-minute noodles was quite delicious ‘ it turned out a bit like scallop chow mein. Tomorrow, we’ll take in Tasmania Zoo. Yay!

Day 11 Nov 9:

We left the Treasure Island Caravan Park at a bit after 9am, quite pleased with the news that our Aussie boys had won the 6th ODI cricket match against the Indians which meant that we won the series leading 4-2 with one final match to go. Following the route charted on the GPS, we travelled on and on and on until we reached Tasmania Zoo which is located in Riverside, out in the boondocks. We paid the entrance fee of $18 pp (no discount for senior card holders) and also lashed out and bought the layout map of the zoo. The beautiful fish swimming in the numerous aquariums in the foyer of course called for the clicking of our cameras before we followed the keeper to watch the feeding of the blue penguins. Feeding time over, we wandered down to the island haven housing two wedge-tailed eagles living out their remaining years in retirement. The two wedge-tailed eagles were rescued from being euthanized by Dick Warren, the owner of Devil’s Heaven Wildlife Park. They are permanently injured ‘ one was shot and the other electrocuted by power lines’

Temperature rose quite rapidly and by the time we finished doing the round of the zoo’s various enclosures to view the animals, we were rather hot and sweaty. Upon leaving the Zoo, the MOTH decided to take a different route to our next destination, the charming historic town of Deloraine, via the Meander Valley following the gravel road. I remarked that I vaguely remember there is a waterfall called Liffey Falls in the area. So’ up and down and around and around over hills and vales we travelled on gravel road for some 30km until we got to within 2 km of the falls – a sign that states the road leading to the falls is only accessible to vehicles with short wheel base. What a bummer!!! No choice but to turn around and detoured to get on the A5 Lake Highway which took us to Deloraine.

Deloraine, situated on the Meander River, was first explored in 1823 by Captain Roland, searching for agricultural land and was named after Sir William Deloraine, a character in Sir Walter Scott’s poem ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrel’ (1805). Sir Walter Scott’s kinsman, Thomas Scott, first surveyed the district in 1824 and in 1825 the area became the first land in Van Diemen’s Land where leases could be purchased. In the 1850s, the government sold the land outright for ‘1 an acre which resulted in a dramatic increase in population. The township flourished and in the early 1870s, the first rail link in Tasmania was established between Launceston and Deloraine, greatly reducing the poor transport problems. The town has been classified by the National Trust as a town of historical significance and is now a major agricultural centre. Historical buildings from the 1830s and 1840s are still in use today as private dwellings and commercial entities.

Upon reaching Deloraine, we located a chemist where the MOTH insisted on getting me some antihistamine before he became too accustomed to my perpetual sneezing caused by hay-fever. It wasn’t long before the worms in our bellies demanded to be fed so we darted off to a takeaway joint to sink our teeth into a delicious sirloin steak sandwich each, complete with beetroot, onions and the works for $6 each. The MOTH even loosened his purse strings long enough to fish out $13 for a couple of mango smoothies. If we had lubricants for our creaking joints we would have liked to walk up to the summit of Quamby Bluff, about 20 minutes drive away but we opted to take a leisurely stroll around the town centre instead, before jumping back into Just Trip’n to get to Mole Creek where we got a powered site for $20 a night in the Mole Creek Caravan Park right beside the Sassafras Creek. The MOTH volunteered to cook tonight ‘ he got the portable BBQ happening and it wasn’t long before we sat down to a delicious meal of T-bone steaks with fried onions, grilled tomatoes and fresh mushroom gravy.

Day 12 Nov 10:

Bummer! We arose to a dull-looking day with an overcast sky so decided to run away to, hopefully, better weather down the road to check out Alum Cliffs. [This place is also called Tulampanga and was a place of social and spiritual significance to the Aborigines because of the presence of ochre which they used for ceremonial body marking, colouring wood craft products and various other uses.] We arrived at the car-park to find there wasn’t a single soul in sight and no vehicle of any description parked there. Undeterred, we marched enthusiastically to the beginning of the walking track to read the info on the Alum Cliffs short walk – 800m to the lookout – fairly easy with a few steep sections. Some kind soul had the foresight to place several makeshift walking sticks near the info sign. I was wise enough to grab a sturdy specimen and it proved to be a good move as I found myself resorting to using it to ease the stress on my knees. About a third of the way through our walk we came to a clearing with what looked like a bunch of old timber pieces somehow attached to form a strange semi-geometric shape. Reading the plaque nearby we learned that it is actually a sculpture by a David Jones called Soulevement – Triangular (Soulevement refers to the geological context, to lift upwards, the space between the ‘form’ and the earth and Triangulaire takes account of the journey to Alum Cliffs, the series of triangulated stone ‘viewing platforms’ at the cliff edge). We got to the forest lookout perched high above the Mersey River as it flows along the valley through the Alum Cliffs Gorge and left after a couple of photos each to drive on to our next destination ‘ Gunns Plain.

There we were driving along until I impulsively got the MOTH to drive into the car-park of the Ashgrove Cheese factory in Elizabeth Town on the Bass Highway. What grabbed my attention were the colourful, bigger than life-sized statues of cows strategically placed in the huge paddock by the main highway. As we drove up the driveway, our eyes were met by more of these cow statues, each cleverly painted to appear as if they were wearing football socks, boots, award ribbons and so… What a clever, eye-catching form of advertising! More colourful cow statues decorated the place – even in the outdoor undercover eating area and along the front of the building. We had a jolly good time tasting various cheeses from mild to fancy wasabi cheddar before enjoying a latte each ($3 cup) and watched the cheese making in progress. We left the place with 3 blocks of Danish style Claus Havarti (mild, smooth and soft) as we both liked it the best and also a block of Double Brie – total cost $14.15. What a bargain!

From Ashgrove Cheese, we drove on to Gunns Plains Cave which was discovered in 1906 by a local man, Bill Woodhouse, while game hunting. (He followed a possum that eluded him down a hole which led into the cave.) Early tourists had to descend three storeys by rope through the original entrance until a series of 54 steps were constructed from concrete, leading from the natural cave floor to the new entrance which was cut into the hillside and remains as the only public entrance and exit to the cave which contains many beautiful natural cave formations. We went on the 1.30pm guided tour of the cave ($12 for me, $10 for the MOTH who once again flashed his Senior Card). The tour lasted an hour. We were a little disappointed at not getting very many photos of the cave formations as the lighting wasn’t camera-friendly. Negotiating the steep and narrow staircase was a bit of a challenge and I protectively shielded my camera from getting damaged as it swung from side to side with every stair I tackled. I reckon whoever designed and constructed the stairway must be of a rather small stature. Along with the other 4 adults and 3 children tourists, we were reminded and advised on when to duck and bend really, really low by our friendly cave guide, Trish, as we maneuvered from one section of the cave to another. All in all, though, it was an enjoyable cave tour.

After the cave, we drove to Ulverstone, a coastal town at the mouth of the Leven River, to spend a night at the Ulverstone Apex Caravan Park at $24 a night for a powered site. The latte I had at the Cheese place must have given me some extra drive as I was still feeling energetic so I decided to clean the back window of Just Trip’n. I was sidetracked by the sight of a pair of plovers sitting in the middle of the lawn so I ventured over with my camera after I finished cleaning the window. Well! Neither of the plovers liked having me invading their space so they both began to dive-bomb me. That kind of put a damper on my camera-clicking idea so I beat a hasty retreat back to the safety of Just Trip’n. Tonight’s dinner of Lamb curry on basmati rice was quite enjoyable before a late night snack of some yummy cheese on cracked pepper Savoy crackers. Tomorrow, we will go back to the Gunns Plain area to check out Wing’s Wildlife Park.

Day 13 Nov 11:

I helped the MOTH clean out our toilet cassette and also cleaned the inside toilet before we headed off to Wing’s Wildlife Park. We drove into the car-park to see a huge busload of tourists and in one corner near the entrance, I noticed 3 Aborigine youths – one white, one caramel and one dark, busy applying their war-paint. Hmmm’ rather ‘touristy’, I thought and definitely not my choice of a place to visit so I told the MOTH to give the place a miss. A quick U-turn in the car-park and we were off to check out Preston Falls not too far from Wing’s. We pulled up at the car-park just in time to see 3 middle aged ladies getting out of a taxi and together with the taxi driver, they set off on the walking track leading to the falls. It was a short easy walk and we met them halfway when they were on their way back. A couple of photos snapped and we were good to go on to the next destination – Leven Canyon. Not feeling that energetic, we opted for the short 20 minutes return walk to Cruickshanks Lookout instead of the longer, more challenging Fern Walk. A few minutes into our walk and who should be heading back on the walking track but the 3 ladies and their cab driver! We stopped to exchange pleasantries and managed to convince them that we were not stalking them’

We reached the Lookout to be awed by the majesty of the canyon. Leven Canyon is a dramatic canyon with the Leven River twisting and roaring through limestone cliffs almost 1,000 feet below the Cruickshanks Lookout. The Lookout was named in honour of George Roland Cruickshank (1904-1968), whose vision started the Reserve more than 40 years ago. Walking out to the Lookout platform that over-hangs a cliff sent a shiver up my spine – it was worse for my MOTH who is afraid of heights, even though he used to fly around in airplanes! Nevertheless, we steeled ourselves and managed to walk out to the end of the platform to snap a few photos before hastily stepping off the metal mesh to get back on terra firma for a more leisurely stroll on the 570 metres track back to the car-park. We noticed there are 3 bench seats situated at the quarter way, half-way and three quarter way of the walking track with these etched messages –
HAVE A SPELL      <– 436m     134m –>“,
HALF WAY SEAT      <– 242m     328m –>” and closer to the Lookout was the last bench seat with
NEARLY THERE      <– 136m     434m –>

[<– = to the Lookout;  –> = to start of walking track].

We decided we would track down another waterfall, Guide Falls, near the township of Ridgley but first, we would stop to get more biscuits to go with our havarti cheese for tonight’s late night snack. Of course we couldn’t go into the mini-mart and just buy a packet of biscuits so we did a quick scan of the premises until our eyes caught sight of the ice-cream freezer. We selected a frosty treat each, grabbed a copy of the daily newspaper and had a bit of a yarn with the friendly proprietor before continuing on our way to get to Guide Falls, Ridgley’s premier attraction. The waterfall is about 187m above sea level and is about 35m high.

We reached the upper level car-park at Guide Falls and an easy few minutes’ walk later saw us gleefully clicking our cameras at the top cascades before we ventured down a few flight of stairs to get to the second level cascade. It was breathtakingly beautiful and worth every step of the way. From Guide Falls, we thought it would be a good idea to check out the numerous falls in the region, so off we went. Unfortunately, after travelling a further 35km and failing to locate Sanderson Falls and St Georges Falls, the MOTH gave up on them so we turned around and headed back towards Ulverstone where we planned to spend another night. On the way back, I remembered passing a sign that advertised the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden on our way out earlier on, so I persuaded the MOTH to turn into it for a bit of a look-see.

For being so obliging, I treated my MOTH with afternoon Devonshire tea at the visitors kiosk caf’ which, in our case, consisted of 2 piping hot cups of latte accompanied by 2 platefuls of freshly baked scones served with lashings of homemade raspberry jam and whipped cream. Reasonably priced too at $5 per person… The scones were polished off very quickly, giving the fresh whipped cream very little chance to go off. A $6 entry fee per adult allowed us to tour the garden at our leisure so afterwards, armed with our cameras, we wandered around opting for the short walk as it was getting a bit late for a full walk around.

This beautifully landscaped award-winning garden near the town of Burnie covers a 13 hectare site sloping towards the Emu River with over 20,000 established plants, including many wild species of rhododendrons from various parts of the world specially planted to reflect their geographical origins. There are three small lakes (Lake Pearl, ‘Sea of Japan’ and Lake Grebe) formed by several natural springs feeding the large stepped basin in the sloping terrain. What a pity our visit was just a little late to fully appreciate the vibrant colours and fragrance of the rhododendrons at their flowering best in October. It was still colourful enough with the late-flowering species though… We left the garden about half an hour later and drove back to Ulverstone without any more detours. For dinner, I whipped up a quick crab foo-yong which we enjoyed on toast. Tomorrow we will head off for Cradle Mountain.

Day 14 Nov 12:

On the way to Cradle Mountain, we passed the township of North Motton where an unusual ‘garden’ caught our eyes – the whole front yard of a house named ‘Dunny-Doo’ was ‘decorated’ with old toilet cisterns! We made a quick stop at Wilmot, a tiny township with one claim to fame – the original G.W. Coles store established in 1912 which subsequently became an important retailing chain throughout Australia. After snapping a couple of photos of the store, we continued on our way and arrived at the Cradle Mt car-park just before 11am.

We were quite excited about doing the short walk Dove Lake Circuit rated as ‘Easy – one graded uphill section’. It is a 6 km walk that supposedly takes up to 2 hours to go right around Dove Lake. Armed with our four cameras, two bottles of Coke, two jackets, and wearing a jumper over our summer tops, we went into the Transit Terminal where we were issued with tickets for the shuttle bus service when the MOTH showed our Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Pass. (Without the pass, it would cost $16.50 per adult.) We jumped into the next shuttle bus and went all the way to Dove Lake to start our ‘short easy walk’ around the lake. Easy-peasy, we thought as we jauntily set off. Spotting a makeshift walking stick at the start of the walking track, I decided to grab one for myself. A few minutes into our walk took us to Glacier Rock which we climbed to snap some photos of Cradle Mountain. We continued on, stopping every so often to get more photos of Cradle Mountain from different vantage points’ About a third of the way into our walk, the MOTH suddenly stopped dead in his tracks and took a backwards jump with his hand held out to stop me from going any further. ‘Shit! it’s a tiger snake!’ he yelled. I was struck with fear and it was a wonder I didn’t poop in my pants. What a pity I didn’t have my wits about me to snap a photo of the snake before it slithered away. My MOTH then began warning other tourists coming in the opposite direction about the snake. From then on, I rattled my walking stick along the boardwalk to scare off any other snakes that could be lurking around the place.

Fortunately, the rest of the walk was uneventful but I would like to meet the person who rated the walk as ‘Short’ and ‘Easy’. I’ll bet you he or she is a physical trainer as we certainly would not rate it as such and many others agreed with us. Two hours, it said on the info board. It took us 3′ hours to complete the walk! Maybe if I am still a smoker, I would think differently as I could have had a packet of smokes during the walk. I realised how unfit I really am – my knees were hurting even though I was wearing knee supports and was I glad I grabbed that walking stick! I had to have many, many stops as my heart rate soared and I became breathless. What a welcome sight it was when we came around the final corner and saw the car-park up ahead’

We caught the next shuttle bus back to the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre where we went for a quick jog (NOT!) around the 500 metres Pencil Pines Falls & Rainforest Walk to view Pencil Pine Falls before ducking across the road to view Pencil Pine Cascades. We then caught the next shuttle bus (runs every 15-20mins between 10am – 5pm and after that every hour till 7pm.) back to the Transit Terminal where we slowly made our way back to Just Trip’n. I kicked off my shoes, took off my knee supports and changed into a pair of shorts while the MOTH made a phone call to book us a powered site at Mole Creek Caravan Park for the night. The MOTH was chatting with another of the Caravan Park user and it turned out that he and his son were also at Cradle Mountain at the same time as us and they too saw a tiger snake during the walk around Dove Lake. They also heartily agreed that it was not such an easy walk at all. A hot relaxing shower later and we felt almost human again. Another serve of braised lamb in soy sauce over basmati rice would be our dinner. Tomorrow we will find out a bit more about the Great Cathedral Cavern…

Day 15 Nov 13:

Both of us woke up this morning feeling suitably refreshed after an early night to rest our weary bones. We got to the Mole Creek Caves ticket office a wee bit early and started chatting with the park ranger there who filled us in on the difficulty level of Cathedral Cave. When we told her that we tackled the Dove Lake walk yesterday, she quickly assured us that if we did that ok, we should have no problem tackling Cathedral Cave with its 250+ stairs. The first Cathedral Cave tour for the day is at 11am so to fill in some time we went for a 40mins return walk through the Fern Glade with the high possibility of see plenty of birdlife – yea, right! We could hear them alright but not a single bird could be sighted. Oh well, it was a pleasant walk anyway. By the time we got back to the ticket office and purchased our tickets ($16 for me and $12 for Senior MOTH), had a drink, changed our camera lenses and donned our jackets in preparation for the cool temperature of the cave (9C), it was time to drive up to the cave car-park and walk the 120 metres to the meeting place near the cave entrance.

After a bit of a chat with our group of cave visitors regarding the dos and don’ts once we got into the cave, our cave guide, Brian, opened the gate and the entrance door to the cave. For the first section, we were not permitted to use our cameras, which was a bit of a bummer as we couldn’t capture images of the massive and stunning flowstone formations there. Once we were given the okay to use our cameras, one could be forgiven for mistakenly thinking that we were paparazzi who had just caught sight of Brad Pitt kissing his ex-missus in the shadows of the cave! There were camera flashes from all the visitors – all eleven of us began clicking our cameras as we gazed in wonder at some pretty awesome formations – from straw stalactites on the cave ceiling to shawls on the cave walls and flowstones and stalagmites on the cave floor. The highlight of the tour was towards the end when we returned to the section of the cave near the underground river close to the entrance/exit of the cave. We were told once again to turn off our cameras and when the dim cave lights were also switched off, we all stood in the pitch-black darkness, too afraid to move in case we trip and fall. We were then asked to lift our heads and look at the ceiling. An awed chorus of “Awwwww…” echoed throughout the cavern as we gazed on what looked like a moonless night sky, with hundreds of tiny stars the only source of light. The tiny “stars” are of course the glow worms, the larvae of large mosquito-like flies. All too soon, the dim lights in the cave were switched back on so we could see our way out of the cave… The 50 minutes tour was over.

Once again bathed in sunshine and after answering the call of nature, we jumped into Just Trip’n and it was onwards to Deloraine… and lunch! On the way to Deloraine, we spotted a sign, ‘Lobster Falls’ so the MOTH did a U-turn and parked Just Trip’n by the roadside while we went for a walk to check it out. Apart from stating, ‘No cars past this point’, there was little else info but we thought we’d just go for a short walk and hopefully see more signage along the track. Well, on and on and on we walked for a good 15 minutes before deciding that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all and we could be wasting a lot of time and energy for nothing. There was no more signage and no sound of running water although we were fooled a couple of times mistaking the sound of the wind through the trees as being that of running water. The MOTH decided to call his mate, Bill, the Harley Davidson fanatic who grew up in the area, for any possible info he could share with us. Unfortunately, there was no reply. Not long after we got back into Just Trip’n to drive on to Deloraine, Bill returned our call and told us that Lobster Falls was about an hour’s walk each way! Whew! Lucky we gave up when we did…

When we reached Deloraine, we headed straight for the same takeaway shop for another mouth-watering lunch of delicious steak & salad sandwich, a small serve of crinkle-cut chips ($2) and yes, a mango smoothie each for ‘dessert’. Afterwards, we strolled along the river bank and over the footbridge to get some nice photos of the Meander River, the Weir, the old mill, and the old bridge before making our way back past the Baptist Tabernacle and the Apex Train Park. Conscious of our light pockets, we then wandered over to the ATM for a re-fill before a leisurely stroll through the Memorial Park to get back to Just Trip’n. We decided to call it a day and began the drive back to Ulverstone to spend our final night in Tasmania. Tonight’s dinner will be Beef Rendang on basmati rice.

Day 16 Nov 14:

We left Ulverstone and drove straight to Devonport ‘ parked at the same car-park that we used on our last trip two years ago. We then hoofed it to the Devonport Showground to check out the Farmers’ Market (held every second Saturday of the month). After the ‘cut lunch and boomerang’ walk to get there, we were somewhat disappointed to see merely a few stalls set up for business ‘ a few dealt with farm produce, a couple were selling country craft and knick-knacks, a couple of honey stands and a cake stall or two. We were both feeling a bit peckish but didn’t particularly feel like hamburgers or sausage rolls so after one lap of the place, we left and headed back to the town centre to Maccas for breakfast of hotcakes and coffee.

From there, we went for a long, leisurely stroll along the Esplanade to take a few photos of the Spirit docked on the other side of the Mersey River being prepared for our departure that evening. We then walked up and down Rooke St Mall and went into a few stores for a cursory glance at the goods on offer. Our only purchase was The 12th Man Box Set of 7 CDs from Sanity. By this time, our bellies told us it was time for a re-fuel so we decided on a $45 lunch of Grilled Pink Ling fillets with gourmet salad and chips at Sharkies Seafood Restaurant with their rather cute napkin holder in the shape of prawns. Bit pricey for fish and chips, I thought but they did give us an after dinner chocolate each before we left. We sauntered back to Just Trip’n and rested for a while before a bit of a freshening-up session and a change of clothes before we headed off over the bridge and onward to join the queue to board the Spirit of Tasmania. Our mate, Bill, who was also getting on the Spirit to get home to Queensland saw us in the vehicular queue and came over to say G’day.

As it was a full load, it took a while for all the various vehicles to be loaded but finally, it was all done and we made our way up to Deck 7 where I headed for the Star Gaming Room while the MOTH met up with Bill and the blokes spent the best part of the evening drinking beer and telling lies while I tried to bait more gold coins to come out of the poker machines. After four long hours of hard work, I managed to get a machine to cough up $22. Not exactly a cork-popping champagne win but a win nonetheless. I hung around in the gaming room because I felt a bit nervous about making my way to the bar where Bill and my MOTH were seated as the Spirit was sailing through a pretty rough patch of water. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself by swaying like a drunken sailor. It was just as well I decided against having dinner or I could have easily done a chunder DownUnder on the Spirit’s carpet!

Bill decided to call it a night just before 11pm, after which, my MOTH came looking for me and we both went up to Deck 8 to get to our ocean view recliners. We couldn’t find our seats in the semi-darkness so the MOTH went looking for assistance from the security bloke. What a lousy arrangement ‘ we had to wake up the young dude who was fully stretched out in his recliner so we could squeeze our way into ours by contorting our bodies between the dude’s recliner and the three recliners in front of his and ours. Never again! Should we decide to visit Tasmania again, it will definitely be cabin accommodation both ways. If the cabins happen to be all booked out like they were on this return trip, we will postpone our travel just so we can sleep in comfort.

Day 17 Nov 15

The Spirit docked at Station Pier just in time for us to see several sunrise balloon riders taking in views of Melbourne from the air. We drove out of the Spirit of Tasmania and arrived home a few minutes after 7am. After unloading Just Trip’n, it was taken back to the warehouse to hibernate until our next road trip. A half-hearted attempt at unpacking and two loads of washing later, the MOTH and I opted for a little shut eye. We’re not as young as we used to be, after all’ The amount of walking when compared to our last trip is open to debate but one thing is for sure ‘ I felt a lot better on the previous trip when I was able to light up a cigarette during pit stops! All in all, this has been another happy holiday for us and we got to visit all the caves we wanted. Alas, the same cannot be said of the waterfalls as we missed out on visiting those only accessible by 4WDs or involving way too many hours of cross-country trekking. Should we decide on another trip, we will make sure that it is a summer holiday so we can pig out on lobsters and stone-fruit.