We are on our way again. We have made it to Tasmania. A fair bit has been going on since our last entry. I did a few shifts to get some cash for ferry tickets, but mainly for flights to England. It was my folks 50th wedding anniversary in August, and we had decided to go over for that and surprise them. So we were there for about 6 weeks and had a really good time. I've put some photos up of that trip.
The day before we left for England, we made an offer on a house, nowhere near where we were looking. Its in the Dandenong Ranges to the east of Melbourne, nowhere near the sea! Janine was adamant she wouldn't want to live up there, but decided she did within about 30 minutes. Our offer was accepted while we were travelling to England, so we had to sign contracts etc by email and text. All a bit stressfull, but all went through ok. We have been living in the house for about a week once we returned from England, and have left it again now ro see Tasmania. The only glitch in the plan is that the van won't get up the drive, so it may have to go....
When we get home from Tasmania, we will do up the house for a few months, and then settle back down into normality again, albeit without having to do much work hopefully. I'm done with working. Janine is happy to do a bit. hopefully her bit is big enough!
17/10/13: Today was our departure day for Tasmania. We're went by sea, so we could get the van over there. Its an overnight sailing, leaving at 7.30 pm and arriving at 6.30 am the next day. The dogs had kennels booked on the boat, but we really didn't want to put them in them, so we left them in the van. I'm not sure how scared they got, but they didn't 'do' anything in there which was good.
The sea was a bit rough, and sleeping in the cabin was a bit hard, especially when the boat launched off a wave and then crashed back down. The up and down was pretty grim, but the side to side was worse. We both did get some sleep which was good, and both held onto our $25 roast dinners we had when we got on.
18/10/13: We got off the ferry early morning, and let the dogs have a wander. We parked up in Devonport where ferry comes in, and cooked up some breakfast and went supermarket shopping. We have decided to head west initially. It was pouring with rain intermittently, and very windy. We drove through places like Ulverstone, Burnie and Wynyard, aiming for a freecamp at Sisters Beach. When we got there, new signs had been put up saying no camping so we kept going, all the way out to Green Point on the west coast. You can park here in the beach car park, and there's water and an outside cold shower. We settled in here for the night with a couple of other vans.
19/10/13: We woke to bright sunshine today, and the wind has dropped away too. It makes the beach look much more inviting. We'll spend today sorting out this blog a bit, and getting the satellite up and running again. It needs reactivating again as it hasn't been used for 30 days which is simple to to do, but it needs putting up and also having an internet connection at the same time. We've got internet here, and the suns out so may aswell do it now. We're not sure how long we'll stay here, but we're in no rush. We killed half the moring watching a guy in his new van trying to reverse park it. I've got no idea how he got here from New South Wales.
We were interupted this moring by a Variety Bash, which is the Variety club touring around in cars raising money for a kids charity. I don't have any kids so luckily I didn't have to pay.
22/10/13: We stayed put for a few days at our ‘beachside’ camp and today we moved on. We drove 20kms further along the coast to Arthurs River, and the ‘End of the World’ viewing platform, largely on a recommendation from another traveller who turned up. Disappointment is the word that springs to mind. The weather didn’t help, but the ‘End of the World’ was just a beach, the same as all the others. It was covered in driftwood. Literally tree trunks. We were expecting some sort of cliff, or sudden drop off at least, but no. Perhaps they meant that it felt like the end of the world for the people who lived here. I couldn’t see much point in living there. Oh well.
We turned around and drove back eastwards, stopping at the supermarket at Smithton. And then on to Stanley to have a look at the Nut, which is a volcanic plug. The weather was pretty miserable, and the Nut was barely visible in the mist, but Stanley is really nice. The town wraps around the base of the Nut, and consists of old timber buildings. We had a coffee and a caramel slice before leaving. We wanted to walk up the Nut but the weather prohibited that a bit.
We drove on the Wynyard, fuelled up, and then headed south through Yolla towards Strahan. We stopped for the night at Hellyer River Gorge. When we got there, there were several middle aged people like Janine in Wrx’s and BMW’s who’d come over from the mainland for a burn through the country roads. Not quite the same in a van with a coffee machine perched on the kitchen bench. It was a cold night, so we stayed inside and watched a coupe of DVD’s.
23/10/13: We woke up this morning, and the other two vans who were in last night had already gone. We had brekky, and continued south. It was a great road, full of twists and turns through the forest. We turned off the main road at Tullah and went to Lake Mackintosh. We’ll be staying here for a couple of nights to watch Survivor! The lake feeds a hydro power station, and it’s a bit unnerving driving in to the area, as the road dips below the water line, and if it spills over you’re trapped.
The weather fluctuates between cloudy and cold, and hail. Every ten minutes or so. It makes even going for a walk tricky, as by the time you’ve got your coat on its changed again. But it’s a nice spot, we’ve got food and water, and the van is cosy. We’ll spend a couple of days here and see if the weather improves.
25/10/13: We packed up today ready to move on. The weather hasn’t changed; about 7C during the day and colder at night. And the rain is pretty much fulltime now. We headed through Tullah, and followed the road out to Strahan on the coast. The drive is really pretty, but no straight bits so you have to concentrate all the time. It’s hard to keep the speed over 60kmh.
After going through Roseberry and Zeehan, we got to Strahan and had a coffee and a date scone for elevensis. We had a quick look round but there’s not a great deal to do, and what there is, is pretty unappealing in the horizontal rain. So we drove on a bit further. The next stop was Queenstown, which is an old mining town. Again, not a lot to do, but pretty dramatic in its own right. We emptied the loo and got some water. There are some good lookouts on the way out of town, and we stopped for lunch at one.
We decided to get to a freecamp at Bronte just east of Derwent Bridge. We can’t really see what its like due to the weather! Can’t be bothered putting up the satellite tonight, so it’ll be Downton Abbey on the old DVD.
26/10/13: We stayed at Bronte Lagoon last night, which was good. It’s a smallish lake and you’re allowed to camp around the edge of it, although it’s pretty wet underfoot so we stayed near the boat ramp where it was firmer. Once we got underway, we turned south towards Hobart. Tarraleah was the first spot we went to, which is a small town based on the hydro electricity power station there. It was a nice town, and the weather is improving. Cold, but dry at least.
We found a free camp up on a hill at Ouse with a couple of others in, but we needed supplies so kept going to Hamilton. Hamilton is a small town, and has a little camp area with toilets and showers, and costs $5 per night. So we decided on staying there instead.
Because the weather improved, and the pub opened for Sunday lunch, we decided to stay here for a few days. The landlord John was good value, and it was a very relaxing few days sitting around. The pub is old school, with an open fire, and pretty much a self-service regime behind the bar! Just keep the tab up to date and everyone’s happy. We also met a couple, Howard and Gerri, who live south of Hobart at Cygnet, who wanted some gardening doing, so we said we’d go there for a couple of days when we’re done in Hamilton.
29/10/13: Time to move on today, so we drove an hour south to Hobart and had a look round quickly. We’ll be back this way a couple of times, so we didn’t linger, other than to restock the fridge, and take a couple of photos. We kept going to Howard’s /Gerri’s place, and settled in there. It’s a nice place, on the bay, with a few leaves that needed raking up and burning off. We ended up doing 3 days hard labour, digging and weeding etc. It was nice to do something physical for a change; a very pleasant stay
2/11/13: Time to head back to Hobart for the Saturday markets. We drove east from Cygnet to Woodbridge, and then north back up the coast to Kingston for a bit of food. Once restocked, it was into Hobart for the Salamanca market. There was heaps of free parking along the street, and the market was a fair size, if not a bit repetitive. I didn’t complain once, and we were still out of there within 90 minutes which must be a record.
Once done, we drove out of Hobart again, heading east across the bridge to Sorell. We emptied the loo, and had lunch. We were aiming for the pub at Dunalley for tonight as there’s a free camp out the back, but there was a hotrod show in the field so after looking at that we continued south toward Port Arthur.
The weather has been much better the past few days, so we took a couple of detours out to the coast to places such as Dootown. The sea looks quite appealing, but there’s nothing between here and Antarctica so it’ll be pretty fresh.
Once done, we turned off the Port Arthur road, west to Nubeena via Premaydena. We’re holed up for the night in the carpark of the RSL club, which is free unless you want a shower. Even the TV tunes in here which is a bonus.
3/11/13: We woke up today to pouring rain again. We wanted to go to Port Arthur so we drove there and decided we’d make a decision about going in once we arrived. Port Arthur is an old penal colony from the 1800’s and a lot of the buildings have been preserved. It became better known after a massacre in 1996 when a lone gunman killed 35 people, mainly in and around the café.
It stopped raining when we got there, so we paid up and went in. It’s quite well done really. The entrance fee includes a couple of tours, one of which is a harbour cruise to see the place from the bay, and to see the surrounding islands where ‘residents’ were buried. The cruises were cancelled after our one due to the weather. There’s several buildings to wander around, and the remnants of the old café which has been left as a memorial. Once done, we went back to Nubeena RSL and had a free shower and watched some TV.
4@5/11/13: Our plan from here was to head north, up the middle of the state. We retraced our steps to Sorell, and cut across to Richmond. The scenery is very nice through here – lots of rolling green hills. The sun is out finally which helps. We looked at a couple of freecamps, and settled for one by the lake at Outlands. It was tea time so we cooked up and had a relatively early night. The next morning we wandered around the town and then I started to feel a bit ill. We stayed another night.
6-9/11/13: Today we moved an hour up the road to a campsite at Ross. We stayed here for 4 days. It rained for most of it. I didn’t get out of the van for 3 days. I was pretty ill – fevers, headaches and achy eye sockets. I think it was ebola. Jan reckons it was a cold. What would she know? All I know is I had no energy for doing anything, so stayed in bed and pretty much slept solid for the whole time we were there.
10/11/13: By now, Jan was getting restless and a bit bored (don’t know why – she could have tried looking after me for starters), so we moved on. We drove north to Launceston, but didn’t really stop there. We’ll be back this way, so thought we’d do it when I ‘m a bit better. We continued up the east side of Tamar Valley, out to George Town. This part of Tassie has a bit of a weird vibe; a bit Deliverence. We stopped at a freecamp at Lilydale, but I didn’t want to stay there. The people hanging around were just plain odd. Most were human, but some were very strange looking. So we kept going, and paid $7 to stay at the council run Targa reserve campgrounds. Much better. The fevers stopped today.
11/11/13: We decided to keep moving today. We had a really nice drive east out towards the coast, and settled for a free spot on the coast just past St Helens. Not much to report today. The weather was average, and we didn’t do much. Just watched a bit of TV, and wandered around with the dogs. Tomorrow, Jan needs something doing with her hair, so we’re off to St Mary’s to try and find a hairdresser.
12/11/13: St Marys today. It was about an hours drive though the mountains from St Helens. We found a hairdresser who fitted Jan in – dying and cutting. I did some shopping and sat around watching. What a day. Rained for most of it. We found a free spot in town with showers and toilets so we went there for the night. It poured down. The dogs needed to go out, but they wouldn’t get out into the weather. Jano took them out under an umbrella which snapped into many pieces in the wind. Everyone got soaked. Well, when I say everyone, obviously dog duties isn’t on my list, but the way Jan went on and on about it, I may aswell have got wet too.
13/11/13: We drove a bit further down the coast today, through Swansea. We had a look around and a quick walk on the beach between the showers. Then we pressed on to Mayfield Bay. There’s another freecamp here on the beach, with pretty good toilets. We found a good spot and had tea. A few other vans came in. It poured agan overnight.
14&15/11/13: Today we drove back to Sorell, east of Hobart. We knew we could camp here, and there’s water and shops. We have decided to stay 2 nights – to watch Survivor and to regroup. We realised a while back that even now, we had 5 weeks left before our ferry home. It’s too long, so we changed it and bought it forward by a month. Otherwise we’d have to go round again! So we have just over a week to get back up to the north of the state. It’s about a 3 hour drive, so we’ll be struggling to pad it out, especially if the weather continues to be so bad.
On the way out of Sorell and through Hobart, we stopped at the Mona Gallery. Its an art gallery place set up by a gambler and its all a bit weird. The building itself is pretty cool, but the 'art' is a bit '18 year old art student'. Theres a few good bits but a lot of rubbish. Photos of city skylines...........which are hung upside down!! Wacky. A library of white books with no writing in them.......are they actually books then?? Wow. Mind boggling. It really makes you think, this art stuff. Jano liked it more than me.
16-19/11/13: Then we headed back to Hamilton, where we stayed previously. The weather had gradually improved and we spent a few days sitting around camp chatting to other campers which was good. We also went to the pub for another roast, and got roped into helping out in there to cover Sunday roast.
The pub can cater for about 40 people, but had 70 nannas coming in. Jano and I had to coordinate who sat where, and make sure they got the right meals. It was a nightmare. The places got messed up, all the roasts came out at once, and everything else came out in dribs and drabs. Some on dessert, while others had nothing. Most people were ok, and to be fair to the pub, the tour company was told 40 only. But it was my most stressfull day of work ever.
20-21/11/13: We left Hamilton today and went inland to the Great Lake area. We stopped at a couple of camping areas but they were terrible. The scenery is nothing special, and the weather turned nasty again. We just kept driving as there was nothing else to do. In the end we stopped at Mount Blackwood Lookout and decided to stay there. We were in the clouds.
22&23/11/13: After leaving the lookout we went to the supermarket in Launceston, and headed west to Delorane. Theres a free camp in town there and its quite a pleasant spot. Our hearts not quite in it anymore, now we're so close to finishing. We stayed a couple of nights and had a look round the town fete which was on while we were there.
24/11/13: Our last night out in the van. We moved on to Sheffield and stayed at a freecamp just outside town. We had a look round and took the dogs for a couple of walks. Its a strange feeling A bit like the end of any holiday i guess. Once you know its over, you just want to get home. We'll definately miss it though. More the lifestyle than some of the places.
We will be putting the van up for sale as it takes up too much room at the new house and barely gets up the drive. I won't be in the slightest bit disappointed if no one buys it.