Kangaroo Valley and Buladelah, NSW. By Charli

Kangaroo Valley and Buladelah, NSW. By Charli

The first time dad has ever been worried … of course we’re all scared to death.

We were driving through a mountain range down an extremely steep, slippery road and were all scared for our lives.

When mum had found what sounded like an amazing free camp on Wikicamps (Bendeela Recreation Area), one person’s comment has mentioned ‘windy, slippery roads’ – and we were finding out first hand exactly what that person had meant! ‘

One wrong move and we’re ‘dead meat,’ that’s what dad said anyway.

Not to mention we had a 3 tonne caravan dragging behind us, making everything 100 times more difficult!

We finally make it through the steep mountains and get to a cute, one street country town. There are loads of little shops and cafes lining the main street, and a lovely old bridge that crosses a small ravine with a gorgeous river flowing underneath.

When we finally arrived at the free camp mum found on Wikicamps, we saw tonnes of wombats and kangaroos, some ducks and even a black cat!

We wandered around the campsite for a while, following a pathway that led us through some bushes to a stunning lake called ‘Lake Yarrunga’. The reflection of the surrounding trees on the water was absolutely beautiful.

Lake Yarrunga was formed when the Tallowa Dam was constructed in 1976, it’s an extremely important lake, as it is a part of the water supply for Shoalhaven, Illawarra and Sydney.

Lake Yarrunga is absolutely gorgeous and is filled with plenty of wildlife including platypus, ducks, birds and heaps more. And yep – I read all that information from a sign near the lake 🙂

As we were taking in our surroundings, we noticed that we could hear our voices echoing throughout the hills! We were standing on the wooden ramp cooeing and shouting into the hills, just to hear our voices talking back to us. We did that for about 20 minutes, until mum came over and told us to be quiet because we were echoing throughout the whole campsite. Oops.

We walked back to the caravan and decided to relax out the front and enjoy the views. It’s so green and so peaceful. Soon after, we decided we were starving and begged mum to cook us dinner, so we could hurry up and eat s’mores after.

For dinner, mum had cooked a beef and vegetable stew, and it had cooked in her thermal cooker while were driving. We ate it with a side of potato bread that tasted delicious! Who knew bread made out of mashed potato could taste so good? After that, we finally got to do what we had all been waiting for since we left home in Queensland, eat s’mores!

Although it wasn’t how we expected to, it still tasted delicious.

This whole trip we have been looking forward to sitting around a warm, cozy fire and toasting our gigantic marshmallows on the long pointy sticks we’d specially hand picked from the bush, smearing the melted marshmallow onto chocolate covered biscuits. But sadly we aren’t allowed to have fires where we were staying. So instead of eating them around the fire, dad lit the gas burner in the Dometic outside kitchen and we toasted the marshmallows that way. We had just picked up our brand new caravan, and we are super happy it’s got a slide out kitchen. I just hope we get to have s’mores again tomorrow night!

Next day: Kangaroo Valley to Bulahdelah River

We woke up to a nice warm caravan, with the smell of porridge wafting through the air. Mum and dad had woken up early to have a nice, peaceful breakfast without us kids making a racket. After we had brekky, we hooked up the van and drove off to our new destination, Bulahdelah.

On our way dad insisted we stop at one of his favourite pie shops called ‘Heatherbraes Pies‘. Mum got her favourite steak and mushroom, dad got a Jillaroo, and Aylah, Cooper and I all got an original beef pie. Once we all finished, our bellys were full and we were absolutely delighted with the delicious pies.

Soon after several stops at service station, we finally arrived at Bulahdelah. It’s a beautiful free camp right next to a gorgeous river that has plenty of space for heaps of caravans, tents, camper trailers, ect.

About 10 minutes after we arrived, we spotted a rope swing hanging out over river. We all desperately wanted to swing off it, but it was way too cold to go swimming. Cooper being the person he is, decided to show off to everyone how cool he is by swinging into the river without falling off. That didn’t go to plan. The first swing Cooper had, he slipped off the stick and landed strait into the river! We all burst out laughing as we all watched Cooper walked out of the muddy river with shame and embarrassment.

Of course Aylah wanted to have a go after Cooper, so she took of her shoes and grabbed onto the stick. She was hesitating for about 5 minutes until finally she built up the courage to swing over the river. We were all 100% certain she was going to fall in, but surprisingly she didn’t! She even swung 10 or more  times and still didn’t fall into the river. That really did shock us all.

And then it was Golden Hour! Time to snap a few pics as the sun set over the Myall River.

Later on we collected some rocks and made a fire pit. We grabbed the wood from our Navigator bags the that we had collected and dad had cut with his new chainsaw and began to build our fire.

The sun sank slowly, casting an orange glow. Birds were flying down the river, over the water and looping back around. Mum obviously decided to take photos of the sunset and they turned out amazing.

The campfire was lit, the chairs were set in a circle, relaxing music was playing from the caravan, everyone was sitting around the fire and everything was perfect.

A bit later dad cooked up some delicious meat patties on the slide out kitchen and mum put together some hamburgers for dinner. Aylah, Cooper and I sat around the fire and demolished our burgers faster than the parents could even make theirs! And of course we had s’mores after!

We had some Colourful Fire Packets (that you can buy from our online store here! http://www.aussiedestinationsunknown.com.au/product/colourful-fire-packets/) and dad decided it was a good time to toss one in. Lucky we had already eaten our s’mores as you can’t roast marshmallows with the colorful flames bouncing around. It did look beautiful though and was an almost perfect night. We finally got to roast our marshmallows over the open, warm fire, sitting under the stars enjoying each others company.

Tasmania Summer 2018

Tasmania Summer 2018

For many people Tasmania is the holiday destination of a lifetime, especially if you are towing a huge caravan behind you and have a 4WD filled with kids. For me, it was a wonderful opportunity to take my family back home (from Brisbane) and show them where I grew up.

One thing that doesn’t change from first time visitors to those returning home like me, is how much it actually costs to get there! Our van is a 22.6” monstrosity with bikes on the back, so the Spirit of Tasmania alone cost about $2700. Once you get your head around the fact that this will be one of the more expensive adventures to be had here in Australia, you will be fine.

We booked our tickets six months in advance as they sell out pretty quickly, and we locked in our itinerary and caravan park bookings (where necessary). One good thing is that they ask for full payment when you book the SOT, so technically you’ve already paid the biggest chunk – aside from fuel, well before your island adventure begins.

If you would like to see our journey from Brisbane to Devonport, you can watch the videos here:

Heading to Tasmania as tourists during the summer months meant we were definitely not alone on some of our expeditions, however having the insider knowledge that we do allowed us to get well off the beaten track and do some serious exploring of hidden locations that many people would never know existed.

 From beaches covered in razor sharp rocks and sea weed to the base of incredible waterfalls. From ghost towns to the cool, temperate rainforest of the Tarkine. From convict heritage to picture perfect coastlines   – Tasmania is an island paradise just begging to be explored.

We began as everyone does, in Devonport (after taking the inland road to Melbourne from Brisbane and spending the night on board the Spirit of Tasmania). My mum met us for breakfast at the gorgeous Café Squire not far from the ferry terminal, we walked along the Bluff, and from there we headed north west through Burnie stopping off at Penguin so the kids could practise their counting (how may penguins are there on the foreshore?).

Boat Harbour Beach was where we spent our first day in Tasmania. We pulled into the spectacular free camp right on the water’s edge mid-morning and spent the entire day splashing around in the bright blue water and breathing in the crisp, clean air. It was Chris’s kids first experience of daylight savings, so it was a bit of a novelty having the sun still high in the sky at 8 pm.

The following day the sunshine and warm weather were replaced by low lying cloud and a constant drizzle as we made our way to Stanley. We spent some time exploring this cosy coastal town including the obligatory climb up to the top of The Nut, an enormous flat topped, volcanic neck jutting 150 metres straight up from the water’s edge.

The following day the sunshine and warm weather were replaced by low lying cloud and a constant drizzle as we made our way to Stanley. We spent some time exploring this cosy coastal town including the obligatory climb up to the top of The Nut, an enormous flat topped, volcanic neck jutting 150 metres straight up from the water’s edge.

There are so many experiences to try on Tasmania’s North-West and West Coasts so it’s hard to choose what to do in such a short amount of time.

Our first full day on the North – West Coast was spent inside the convict-built Highfield House which is regarded as the birthplace of European settlement in that area of Tasmania. We learned a lot about the history of the local towns and early settlers as we walked through this important part of Tasmania’s heritage. It was here that we began to get a sense of what it was like to live back in the early 1800’s and as we continued through Tasmania this would come back to us often.

Not to miss anything if possible, we stopped by the old Duck River Butter Factory on the way back to the caravan park. I explained to the kids that Duck River Butter would be the best butter they EVER tasted, and we vowed to bring some back to Queensland with us.

 

The Tarkine has always intrigued me. It is a hidden treasure and a forgotten wilderness. Tasmania is only a small state and this cool temperate rainforest takes up 477,000 hectares. It’s the second largest in the world and we spent most of the next few days exploring it.

Trowutta Caves Reserve, Trowutta Arch, Milkshake Hills, numerous sinkholes, Dempster Lookout, Lake Chisolm (one of the sinkholes) and Sumac Lookout were the spots we were able to explore on the first day. Each of them was incredible and well worth the time it took us to get to each one.

The next day we left Stanley and set up in a stunning free camp in Marrawah.  This was our base for exploring another three stops on the Tarkine Drive; Arthur River, The Edge of the World and Couta Rocks (and a few smaller places dotted in between).

 

This rugged coastline, where the wild Roaring Forties (strong westerly winds) batter the coast from across the Great Southern Ocean, really does make you feel like you are at the edge of the world.

By this time, it was almost Christmas which meant turning around and heading towards home, which for me means Grindelwald, the Swiss Village just outside Launceston where my parents have five acres and some very friendly alpacas!

We drove through Sheffield, stopping to have a look at the murals and grabbed a famous curried scallop pie on our way.

During the next few days we spent time with the rellies, relaxed a while and sent the kids off exploring on their bikes. We also took them to a few local places like the Cataract Gorge and Bunnings 🙂

Next on our itinerary was the East Coast. We drove through the winding bends of St Marys Pass, our caravan bouncing all over the shocking roads as we approached Bicheno where we spent the next three days. Here we visited the Blow Hole (where the kids had a blast!), drove to The Gardens, and the boys spent some time surfing at Redbill Beach. Beachside fish and chips are always on the menu at least once, and the line up at The Gulch is well worth standing in!

 Next it was Southbound to Triabunna with lots of little stops on the way including Coles Bay, The Pondering Frog, Devils Corner Wine Cellar, Swansea, The Spiky Bridge and Mayfield Bay Conservation Area.

We spent the day exploring Maria Island which was absolutely incredible. It’s a short 20-minute ferry trip from Triabunna on Tasmania’s East Coast across to the island where we spent the day on our bikes exploring and creating a lifetime of memories. It was one of the more expensive activities but was well worth it.

At 8 am on New Year’s Eve we carried on with our journey south driving through Orford, up Break Me Neck Hill and continuing along to Bust Me Gall Hill (yes, these are real names!) until we pulled into Whitebeach Caravan Park at 10:15am. This gave us plenty of time to set up and explore Eaglehawk Neck and the local Historic Coal Mine Site before the New Year’s Eve celebrations kicked off.

It was a wonderful yet brief stay at Whitebeach and early the next morning we were packed and on our way to Bruny Island where we caught up with my friends and their kids for three days. Although it was fairly windy, the weather was warm, and the kids were happy playing in the ocean. We did a bit of island exploring including the Trugannini Stairs, Cloudy Bay, Cloudy Corner Campground, and all of the lovely little local shops on the island. We just loved the Bruny Island Beer and Cheese Co., and the kids were pretty impressed with the Chocolate Factory. Oh, and there was that evening where Chris asked me to be his wife! 🙂

It was with happy hearts that we left Bruny and caught the ferry back across to Hobart where we spent the next few days based at Seven Mile Beach. Chris and I generally like to avoid touristy spots, especially in peak season, but we thought we should show the kids some of the more famous Hobart ones. And, despite the many tourists, we all had a great time visiting places like Cascade Brewery, Richmond Gaol, Cradle Mountain, Constitution Dock, Mt Wellington and so on.

We spent time with our friends, and I was lucky enough to have my bestie Narelle take me to Pancho Villa, a very, very cool Mexican-style restaurant with a couple of funky bars inside. We’d left her hubby, Chris and all the kids across the street eating ice cream, so we didn’t have time to order food – but we did have time to have a tour and be led out the back, down a dimly lit corridor and through a bookshelf door into the Voodoo Lounge for a cocktail. Think stained glass windows, chandeliers, and Day of the Dead type artwork dotted around. It was amazing. A Mexican feast will be on the agenda when we are next in Hobart, that’s for sure!

Then it was time to say ‘see you later’ to the three kids, put them on a plane back to Brisbane, and continue our journey. Were we sad to see them go? Yes, and no. They loved their time in Tasmania, but they were definitely ready to go home. And while we loved having them, we were really looking forward to some ‘adult’ time.

 

We had the next leg of our trip locked in and ready to go. Back to my parents place we went, and the ‘adult’ fun began. Chris had a nap and I began editing our Maria Island video.  How adult is that? No bored kids in sight 🙂

No planning can be a good thing. While Bridport was our next destination and included a wander through the town and fish and chips at the Seascape Café that was as far as we had planned, so… we Googled and that lead us on an adventure along a little used track, through enormous sand dunes to beautiful, white, sandy beaches and on to other beaches covered in razor sharp rocks and sea weed. The further we ventured the more surprises we came across. There were more beaches, some accessible and some that had ‘keep off’ signs as they were noted as bird sanctuaries.

Our road trip took us through Bellingham and on to Georgetown, but we didn’t have time to explore as we had to be home in time to get ready for the Festival of Small Halls at Rowella. Fru Skagerrak and Liam Gerner were just wonderful and had us laughing, crying and bopping away for hours. What a day!

We couldn’t be in the north of the state without a trip to Blue Derby Mountain Bike Trails. If you ride a mountain bike you won’t want to miss these world class trails. All that activity can be tiring though, and on the way home we needed sustenance. A light lunch at Café Rhubarba in Scottsdale left room for scones with jam and cream at the Springfield Tea Room.

After all the busyness we relaxed for a bit (but not for too long!) before loading up the car for our trip deeper into the West Coast. Without the kids we were able to leave the caravan behind which made the notoriously narrow and winding Tasmanian roads a little easier to navigate. It was nice to have mum and dad’s faces peering at us from the back seat!

It’s a long drive to Strahan from Launceston so we made sure we stopped to see the sights on the way. Hellyer Gorge Roadside Park was a welcome ‘stretch the legs’ stop before taking mum on a nostalgic trip through Rosebery and on into the abandoned mining town of Williamsford.

In order to get to there, we had to drive right through Tullah, which was once the most remote town in Tasmania. There was no way we could cruise on by without stopping to read all the information boards and check out Wee Georgie Wood, a still-running, 1929 steam train. We learned so much on our little detour.

In 1642 when Abel Tasman sailed in the waters off the west coast of Tasmania and noticed his compass was misbehaving … he noted that “There might be mines of loadstone around here”

He sighted and named two mountains after his ships Heemskirk and Zeehan and went on his way.

250 years later the region because famous for a spectacular number of mining booms. Tin, copper, silver, lead, iron and rare minerals like osmiridian were found in abundance.

The entire west coast of Tasmania is drenched with mining history and reminders are scattered through the forest and in the little towns that remain – just like this one.

We wandered through the heritage park and read all of the interpretation panels that are dotted around. We climbed on an old rusty train and we even had a peak at Wee Georgie Wood himself inside the shed.

We learned all about this area including how Tullah, which sits on the edge of Lake Rosebury, was established in the midst of a fierce railway war in the late 1800’s.

It is a great place to spend a few hours and if you’re lucky enough to be passing though on a weekend, you could even jump aboard and take the 20 minutes scenic train ride through the town! 🚂

Our first actual ‘destination’ of the day was Montezuma Falls, one of Tasmania’s highest waterfalls is worth the 10.7 km walk in. The track begins at Williamsford and follows the old tramline. It is dotted all along with remnants from the old mining days and various signs explain the history and a bit about the surrounding flora and fauna. Being an old mining area there had to be an abandoned mine, so Chris and I explored it – all six feet of it – while mum and dad waited patiently outside. There is a very impressive, and very narrow, suspension bridge just below the falls that delivers incredible views for those brave enough to venture out onto it (not mum!). Mum found the viewing platform beneath the falls to be exciting enough.

Finally, we arrived at Strahan and were tempted to stay put at the lovely Caravan Park where mum and dad had a cabin and we had minimal set up thanks to our Alucab rooftop tent. But we really needed to eat something substantial and found just what we were looking for at the Bushman’s Bar and Café where we were served delicious food in a wonderful atmosphere by a cheeky waiter! 

The main reason for our trip to Strahan was the Gordon River Cruise. You really can’t go to Strahan and not do the cruise! A new electric catamaran, The Spirit of the Wild, powered out through MacQuarie Harbour to Hells Gates before cruising to the lower reaches of the Gordon River. We couldn’t keep the smiles off our faces or the wind out of our hair as we passed by trout and salmon farms and the rugged rainforest landscape of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. They switched off the diesel engines as we slid into and along the river. The silence and peace as we glided those glass-like waters was highlighted by a dramatic drop in the fierce winds we experienced in the harbour. What a contrast! The tours of Heritage Landing and Sarah Island gave us a strong sense of going back in time while the delicious food on board kept us very much grounded in the present! It was a memorable day.

 

The two-hour drive from Strahan to Cradle Mountain flew by. The scenery is spectacular no matter where you are on the West Coast so driving from place to place is never boring. We had a good laugh as we drove through Rosebery. There wasn’t a lot of spectacular scenery in the town but we did notice an elderly man employing a unique way of clipping a rather high hedge- how he got a mattress up there we didn’t stop to ask but it seemed to be working for him as he was clipping away diligently with a pair of secateurs!

If you stopped everywhere that is beautiful and special, you would need far more than a couple of days to explore Cradle Mountain and the walks you can do there. It can be very busy though, so you need to be prepared for lots of people. Sheffield was on our way home and it is a must see as are the stunning views of Mt Roland which towers nearby. It’s not called the town of murals for nothing. It was a trip down memory lane for dad, especially when he saw the police officer who gave him his motorbike license painted in a mural up on the wall right next to the ban.

It’s funny how easy it is to find you need a snack when you stop at some of the places we visited! Honey ice cream doesn’t get any better than what we had at Chudleigh Honey Farm. It kept us going us until we stopped at Honey Tasmania, a quaint little honey shop in Exeter, owned by my mum’s friends Rebecca and Tristan.

We decided that a couple of relaxing nights at Bakers Beach would be a great way to end our holiday. We spent our time on the beach where my childhood memories came flooding back. Wallabies and other wildlife bounced around and often stopped in under the awning for a visit.

Holidays do have to end though and finally we were heading to Devonport for our last night in Tasmania. It was a meandering drive that took us through Port Sorrell, Shearwater and Hawley – and on into Devonport to the Hill Street Grocer for the best meat pies we’ve ever had!

Remember that Duck River butter? Well, mum and dad arrived to have dinner with us on our last night and came bearing gifts! A few blocks of Duck River Butter ended up in the fridge and journeyed back to Brisbane with us! What a fantastic way to end our adventures.

We had the most wonderful time in Tasmania but there is still so much to see. We can’t wait to get back there and squeeze in some of the places we didn’t have time to explore on this trip.

Girraween National Park

Girraween National Park

Check out our video here

This year for Australia Day long weekend, we headed away from the crowded beaches to our beautiful granite country keen to explore Girraween National Park.

We decided it was time to tick something off the bucket list … and on day one we did just that; we climbed the Pyramid! And wowsers … what a view from the top!

It was so worth the incredible steep (and scary) climb. Just epic! 🤙🏼 I must point out that I (Miriam) was the one terrified of slipping down the rock face as we made our way up. Chris was running up in his runners, and I was stepping very carefully with my hiking shoes on. Oh to have his confidence!
He even scaled a rock on top of the rock … 😯

We also walked through, around and Chris walked on top of the Granite Arch as well 😆 It’s hard to figure out why it has the name it does … lol. It’s a beautiful spot from all angles and boggles our brains as to how the rock just balances on top like that! Come to think of it, there are lots of rocks in precarious positions that we spent ages trying to figure out not only how they got there but how they’ve managed to stay put!

 

It was a scorching hot weekend with temperatures soaring up into the high 30’s, so we made sure we had plenty of water, wore our wide brimmed LSKD hats and headed up the rock early.

We were back at the caravan by midday relaxing and enjoying being immersed in nature in an almost empty camp ground. Something you don’t often come across is a gorgeous campground with plenty of empty sites on Australia Day long weekend!

It was the perfect opportunity for us to get out our epic Knobby Underwear collection and snap a few true blue Aussie shots in honour of their Australia Day design. And while there may have been quite a few empty spots around us, we still drew a bit of attention and ended up meeting some great people who wandered over to see why on earth we had done so much washing! We honestly love these undies – we have so many pairs/sets and still look forward to ‘Knobby Day’ when they show up in our letterbox each month! If you would like your own Knobby subscription, head over to the Knobby website and enter our code ‘yhs34y‘ and you’ll get a discount off your first subscription. 

 You can of course purchase a single pair if you don’t feel the need to cover the entire front of you van with your intimates like we did here!

Ok, so we may have also done a few sneaky Knobby’s shots on top of The Pyramid too. One bonus of getting up early and starting the climb while it was still cool was that we had the top to ourselves for ages! We passed lots of people on our way down … I wonder how it hot must have been for them at the top!

Girraween National Park has been undergoing a severe drought and the campgrounds have been closed for quite sometime. There was no water to the amenities other than toilets and taps. It was such a shame about the showers as they looked fantastic! We usually shower in the van, but I would have used the amenities because they looked so darned lovely 😊

The camping areas usually open for public holidays, long weekends and school holidays operating at half capacity and without showers.

👉🏻 Check out campground status here: https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/park-alerts/16209.html

 

As it’s a national park, fees are quite low. (taken from the above website)

  • $6.55 per person per night, or $26.20 per family per night;
  • $3.60 per person per night for students and accompanying adults on approved educational excursions.

Family rate

A family is 1 or 2 adults and accompanying children under 18 years.
The family rate applies to a maximum of 8 people in total.

Free of charge for children under 5 years.

On day two we went for a wander to The Junction. We did The Junction Circuit at 7am before it got too hot. It was just under 3km and a nice easy walk, most of it was along the very dry river bed. So. Very. Dry.

It made for some great scenery, but oh – how amazing it would be if there was a swimming hole!

It was so awesome to have Kurt and Carly from Lets Get Outta Here join us 😁

Check them out on Insta and Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/Lets-Get-Outta-Here-494857247657662/

https://www.instagram.com/letsgetouttahere_/

 

Let’s sum up our weekend in three words … HOT … WALKING … NATURE 🔥🌿🚶🏻‍♂️🏃‍♀️

We will be waiting for the water to start flowing again and we’ll be back for sure. We’d also like to head back in winter 🥶 ❄️ 😁

 

Map📍
Girraween National Park
Pyramids Rd, Ballandean QLD 4382
https://goo.gl/maps/6mGRgJgvijy

Bakers Beach, Tasmania

Bakers Beach, Tasmania

We’ve just arrived and set up at Bakers Point Camping Area – a National Parks Campground on the North East Coast of Tasmania. Narawntapu National Park is  located west of mouth of the Tamar River, between Port Sorell/Hawley and Greens Beach.

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It’s so peaceful. The tiny waves are lapping gently against the shore, the birds are singing, and the sounds of nature are reminding me of my childhood holidays spent not far from here.

My grandparents had a holiday house at Squeaking Point or ‘Squeaky’ which is just across the water.

I spent many weekends and holidays helping with the garden, being shown by grandad how to hammer nails, learning how to reverse my trike under the water tank and playing in the waters of a beach just like this one. My uncles would jump off the jetty – aaahhh … so many special memories…

We would identify the birds and local wildlife. Nan and grandad had a ‘pet possum’ that lived in the tree out the front, and we would often see a big blue tongue roaming along the fence near the side track. I still remember the ‘hockey one’ bird and it makes me smile on the inside every time I hear it call out when I’m back in Tasmania. Yep, that’s a photograph of me with my grandad. I miss those days – and him – so very much.

We’ve set up and Chris is in his camp chair at the van and I’ve come down to the water. I can see a yacht not far from here that looks just like the one I remember seeing bobbing on the water year ago, although I’m sure it’s not.

The smells and sounds are the same here at Bakers Beach as I can remember from Squeaking Point, and so are the pebbles lining the water’s edge that I’m sitting in right now. They are so flat and just perfect for skimming across the water like my grandad showed me. Although beautiful, they are quite uncomfortable for sitting and lying on!

The sky is grey today, and the tide is out, but it’s still beautiful, and the warm temps mean that there are kayaks and stand ups out and about and a few kids paddling in the shallow water.

I just love this part of Tasmania.

After soaking it all in for a good hour or so, I head back to the van to see what Chris is up to – he’s still sitting there, so I ask if he’d like to go for a walk. He says yes, and after a short while (and visits from kangaroos!) we wander back down to the water.

The clouds have disappeared, and it looks like a different beach!

This time we turn right and make our way over the rocks, past the swimmers and around the point across from Shearwater and Hawley. The sun starts to set, very slowly, and we bask in the twilight that we sadly don’t get up in Queensland.

Although, Chris and I have quite the opposite opinion of daylight savings! I miss it terribly and he despises it and hopes it never returns to his home state. I just love the gentle light and softly coloured sky that lingers on until late into the night that makes this beach walk just beautiful.

I spot a baby shark that has washed up and Chris finds a tee pee someone has constructed from drift wood and immediately sits inside to ‘work on his zen’ .. um what? Haha! The water is crystal clear and is lapping gently as the tide continues to come in.

 

We turn around and make our way back, seeing the smooth round rocks embedded in the sandy banks and stop for a closer look. Seagulls scatter as Chris splashes through the water, and our feet are sinking so far into the sand, making it very hard to stay upright!

We get back to the camp ground with plenty of daylight hours to spare.

The sites are sandy, quite large and fairly private. Some have pretty low hanging trees (that our van couldn’t get under)

Our site is right across from the beach, next to the (drop) toilets, close to the bins and dump Point. We have a path on one side and a space with trees and a table on the other. It’s great! 

Narawntapu National Park (once known as Asbestos Range National Park) extends from the low coastal ranges to the long Bass Strait beaches, and includes an historic farm, a complex of inlets, small islands, headlands, wetlands, dunes and lagoons, all with an amazing variety of plants and animals. 

This camping area has a total of 36 campsites with 15 of them being suitable for campervans, small camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes. 

Inland from the coast you will find an unspoiled part of Tasmania filled with some great bushwalks. 

Narawntapu National Park is one of the best places to see rare Forester kangaroos, Wombats, pademelons and Bennetts wallabies. Apparently even the Tasmanian devil are is commonly seen, but we weren’t that lucky. Next time perhaps!

 CAMP GROUND DETAILS

💰 For non- serviced sites

 

$13 per site for 2 people

Extra adults $5

Kids $2.50

Families $16 (2 adults and 3 kids)

 

 

Facilites:

 

✔️ Drop toilets

✔️ Showers ($2 tokens needed available from the visitor centre)

✔️ Dump Point

✔️ Limited Fresh Water

✔️ Ranger on Site

 

🚫 No Bookings (Bookings are only taken for large school groups).

🚫 No Dogs

🚫 Maximum Stay

🚫 Powered Sites

Springfield Amish Tea Room, Tasmania

Springfield Amish Tea Room, Tasmania

Check out our short video here

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‘Would you like to stop by the Amish Tea Room?’ Mum asked me. The what? 🤔

We were heading along the Tasman highway on our way to the mountain biking Mecca of Blue Derby when we passed the area where the ‘Springfield Tea Room’ was.

This is a real working Amish farm that has a cute little tea room where they serve homemade goodies.

Mum had read about it online and wanted to go. And now so did I! Dad and Chris both seemed keen and so it was decided. We would stop in for some scones on our way home.

After an action-packed day at Blue Derby we punched the address into the GPS and wound our way though the lush green countryside until we reached the little crooked sign on the side of the road that read ‘Tea Room’ and pointed to the right. 

We turned down the little lane and slowly passed white goats and brown cows, a house with gardens filled with flowers, a couple of stables and we soon pulled into into a tiny car park.

We wandered over to the door with the sign on it and slowly pushed it open.

It was quiet – one other couple was just finishing their cups of tea and a lovely older lady with white hair and the clearest eyes I have ever seen was sitting quietly behind a table that was next to the door.

The table was filled with baked goods and as she peered at us from behind, she smiled and welcomed us in. She was wearing a white bonnet, long purple floral dress and an apron.

We took a seat after choosing what we would like off the menu which was written on a chalk board and paying by bank transfer. There is no eftpos here! No lights or light switches either.

The room was light and airy with large skylights in the roof and windows lined with blue and white check curtains.

Unfortunately we hadn’t read enough online and had no idea that they served meals as well! So we had stopped by a cafe in Scottsdale (Rhubaba which was insanely good!) and only had room for something small here at the Tea Room.

The walls are lined with all sorts of craft and the shelves are filled with fabric and clothing and all sorts of homemade produce for sale. It’s just gorgeous!

We could hear her making everything in the kitchen and we started wondering … how long had they been here? Where were they from? How did they make the ice cream that I’d just ordered? How did they keep it cold? How did they keep in contact with the world? How many lived here? Did they meet with other families? Did they get away much?

So instead of coming up with our own imaginary scenarios, we asked questions and shared our stories and listened to hers. It was fascinating! She was blown away when I explained Apple Music to her … and was very interested when I shared about Aussie Destinations Unknown and the whole concept of social media.

They keep in contact with their son on the mainland by snail mail, printed photos and the occasional phone call made on an old turn dial phone.

They have been self sufficient for over 30 years and – well – you’ll just have to go and see for yourself!

While we were there a stunning young lady came in a collected a bonnet (we all guessed it might be for gardening) and when she mentioned it was for gardening, we all smiled and mum knew she had to have one! She has ordered a fabulous black bonnet that will be ready for her to pick up when she returns. It will keep the sun off her face and neck while she’s gardening – and gosh she looks good in it! 😁

I signed us into the visitors book and Mum enjoyed it so much that she’s going to go back with a friend (and to collect her bonnet).

As the others all piled into the car I chose to walk down the driveway to have a closer look at the garden, and visit the goats. She noticed me down there and came down for a bit more of a chat.

I can’t recommend this place enough. It’s not fancy, it’s not lavish but it’s real, it’s homemade and it’s most definitely something you don’t see everyday.

I’d share their website – but they don’t have one. 🤔😁

 

 

Punch this into your GPS and go for an adventure of an entirely different kind!

👉🏼1139 Ten Mile Track, Springfield TAS 7304 

 

Sarah Island Tasmania

Sarah Island Tasmania

We love old stuff! And boy is Tasmania full of it 😁

An isolated penal settlement established in 1821 known today as Sarah Island was a huge hi light of the Gordon River Cruise for us. In fact, when making up our mind as to the cruise being worth both our time (which we were running out of rapidly!) and our money, this was the decider.

You’ll find this little island in the remote reaches of the Macquarie Harbour and if you choose to cruise (😆)- you’ll be able to hop off the boat and explore the island for about an hour like we did.

The cruise itself seems to be suitable for most people, although we found the younger kids from other families were quite bored, some were seasick and others just didn’t like being restricted for so long. There was also a lady with a walking frame who managed quite well, even with the walks on Sarah Island and through the rain forest.

 

Short Video

Longer video (with tour guide talking – very funny!)

Upon seeing how beautiful Macquarie Harbour is, and Sarah Island in particular, it’s hard to imagine that back in the 1820s, this was the scene of unimaginable torture and despair.

After disembarking from our vessel, we were given the choice of a guided tour or to explore the island ourselves … we chose the tour and it was fascinating! We were led along the walking tracks around the island that link each site by a member of The Round Earth Theatre Company. These guys put on a nightly play in Strahan ‘The Ship That Never Was’ which kind of takes up where this tour ends, and it’s the longest-running play in Australia! Needless to say, our guide was pretty good at keeping our attention.

There were 7 puzzles which he shared enthusiastically and left us pondering as he led us around the tiny island.  When at the last stop and all the puzzle pieces fell into place, there was many a ‘aha’ moment as people were calling out the answers.

 

 

At the beginning of 1822, the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station was established, with Sarah Island as its base. This island was intended to strike fear into the hearts of convicts and was where they worked usually in chains, under terrible conditions in the rainforest, felling huge Huon pines for boat building.

James Kelly named Sarah Island after Sarah Birch, the wife of the merchant who had paid for the voyage. Which voyage? The one in about 1815 where he sailed through Hell’s Gates and became the first European to visit Macquarie Harbour.

The island had a few other names as well such as Devils Island, and … um … a few other names that I can’t remember as there was so much information to take in!

This place was a banishment settlement for the worst criminals sent directly from the transport ships in Hobart, those who’d escaped and been recaptured or had committed further crimes while serving a sentence.

Here there was a constant lack of food, not enough space even for these inmates to sleep lying on their backs and as a result constant illness and despair was felt by these 500 men.

They were funneled from all over the Australian colony to this harsh, windswept and barren island. So harsh that execution was considered a mercy and ‘liberty or death’ was a common cry. This was a place filled with blood, brutality, and even cannibalism.

Sarah Island was also the most secure of the penal settlements as any convict who tried to escape not only had to get across the harbour but also had to slash their way through the dense rainforests of the west coast.

There were many escapes (about 160, although very few were successful) including one by James Goodwin who escaped (in a very clever way) and because he knew so much about the uncharted wilderness was promptly employed in the surveyors department!

Alexander Pearce was a prisoner who escaped not once, but twice. His story is fascinating and gruesome. You may have heard of cannibalism on the island – well… this is your man (one of). He escaped along with 11 others who due to extreme hunger drew lots and killed the loser who then became food for the others. This continued until Pearce was the last man standing. He was found with human flesh in his pocket and was tried for murder in Hobart.

At about this time Matthew Brady (now infamous although many (including me) had no idea he was held at Sarah Island) stole a boat and sailed to the Derwent River. Brady was convicted for stealing a basket and some butter, bacon, sugar and rice. During the time he was held he received over 350 lashes for attempts to escape and other crimes.  He eventually managed to escape with a small group of men, and they spent 2 years roaming Tasmania as a bushrangers.

He was known as a bit of a gentleman as he always had lovely manners while robbing his victims and some people even helped him out. There are many stories verifying the fact that he only resorted to violence only in self-defence.

Eventually in 1826 he, along with others, was charged with stealing a musket and bayonet, stealing horses, setting fire to a property and murder. He was hanged on May 4, 1826.

There is a beautiful lookout ‘Brady’s Lookout’ on the West Tamar Highway, Rosevears, that offers sweeping views over the Tamar River and surrounding areas.

 

Sarah Island was a slave labour camp where good quality ships and boats were built on the slips. For a while it was the largest operation of its kind in Australia

with over 130 workboats being built and launched sideways on a slipway. 250 tonne was the largest of the big boats that was launched stern first down a slipway on rollers.

 You can still see the large planks of wood under the water near the shore if you have a good pair of polarized sunnies. I couldn’t see anything until I put Chris’s Oakley’s on!

 

The island was fairly self-sufficient with all of what you’d expect to see in a small town including an open cut quarry where they ground their own wheat.

Wandering the well-defined paths past what remains of the penitentiary, bakehouse and solitary cells, you can’t help but imagine how bad it truly was. And while not much remains in the way of buildings (don’t expect Port Arthur!) it is still hauntingly beautiful. I actually prefer the crumbled bricks and stories of Sarah Island.

The Sarah Island penal settlement was closed in 1833 after the establishment of the penitentiary at Port Arthur.

If you tour the island as part of the Gordon River Cruise, you will have an hour to explore. We couldn’t believe how quickly the time flew by! And yes, we could easily have spent more time there. 

This is one place you MUST see as it gives a chilling insight into the horrors of convict life and is especially unnerving given how incredibly beautiful the surrounding wilderness is.

 

To book your Sarah Island adventure (which is just part of the amazing Gordon River Cruise), head over to https://www.gordonrivercruises.com.au/