Cruisemaster Factory Tour

Cruisemaster Factory Tour

We have always known that Cruisemaster is the industry leader in all-terrain towing technology. We have heard this said time and time again, and our last van was fitted with this suspension and coupling and towed like a dream.

We had messaged with them on Instagram and knew the people behind the product were knowledgeable and the kind of guys we would get along with if we happened to cross paths in the ‘real world’.

We bumped into the crew at the Brisbane Caravan Show a few months ago and had been right! We all got along really well, had a long chat and a good look into how both the company and its products came to be so damned good.

When they offered to take us on a factory tour, we jumped at the opportunity and set a date.

Nathan was our tour guide and gave us a brief run-down while I signed us both in (Chris says I have neater handwriting) and we put on our high-vis vests. Something else I have that Chris doesn’t is foresight … so I had come prepared with enclosed shoes while Chris wore thongs! So, I was the lucky one that got to see all the fun stuff while Chris had to say on the green. 🤣

Every part of his huge factory is fascinating and if you listen carefully to what is being said, you will be blown away as we were. I was able to see the entire process from start to finish including both the robot welders in their little rooms and human welders behind the curtains.

Parts are manufactured here in the factory from Aussie made steel which is awesome … and the research and development is out of this world.

It’s incredible how these products are tested before they hit the market. It restores faith in what is often a deceitful industry filled with little concern for the consumer. So many cool gadgets and machines all make it obvious that some pretty clever engineers work at Cruisemaster!

Check out their R.A.T or ‘remote area testing’ here: https://cruisemaster.com.au/remote-area-testing

and the teaser video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HTb1HzcaiQ

 

It’s evident just how much they pride themselves in their work and we are completely impressed! 👌🏼

What we really love is the dedication to getting things just right. A great example of this is the TPC (Towing Performance Centre).

At the Cruisemaster Towing Performance Centre they assess your complete towing package to ensure all changes made to the vehicle or caravan won’t lead to adverse effects elsewhere in the towing experience.

They give you an in-depth analysis by weighing the vehicle in 3 stages; tow vehicle, caravan or camper and the combination of the two. This gives both the individual axle loads as well as the combination weights associated with towing.

The Cruisemaster TPC is a MUST VISIT for anyone who doesn’t know their numbers. We came in well under with our Hilux which was great news! And we know exactly how much we have to play with. We will be heading straight back here when we take delivery of our new van early next year

Without our GCM/GVM upgrade we would have been right up that creek without a paddle! 💩

 

The TPC also perform vehicle fitouts including:

Engine Protection, suspension performance, GVM upgrades, towing essentials, electrical and comms, vehicle protection and storage solutions.

See more here: https://www.cruisemastertpc.com.au/vehicles

They also perform caravan servicing including:

Brake inspections, service and replacement; wheel bearing inspection, serive and replacement; coupling replacement and upgrades; logbook servicing of all suspensions types; pre/post trip suspension inspections; suspensions lubricaton and overhaul; suspensions, draw bar and undercarriage repairs; wheel alignments on applicable suspension

See more here: https://www.cruisemastertpc.com.au/caravans

 

Thanks to an awesome team for bringing something to the market that is desperately needed!

Take our advice and call these guys, take your rig/setup in and get it checked out. They’ll give you all the info you need to stay safe and legal.

 

Websites here:

https://www.cruisemastertpc.com.au/

https://cruisemaster.com.au/

 

 

Location

352 Bilsen Road
GEEBUNG QLD 4034

Vehicles: 07 3624 3821
Caravans: 073624 3822

Helensvale Meet Up

Helensvale Meet Up

RnR Wanderers, Let’s Get Outta Here and Makn Trax were coming along for our first weekend away in months! We’ve had a really rough year having had no van or 4x4 for what feels like forever, and this was us finally getting back out there doing what we love.

 We still don’t have a caravan or a battery system in the Hilux but we weren’t going to let this stop us. So, we were heading off with what we do have – the Alucab rooftop and a borrowed Eski packed with ice.

Our initial plans of a weekend at Flanagan’s Reserve were completely thrown by the devastating bushfires that have wreaked havoc in our National Parks and so many other places. Where could we go on such short notice we wondered? The BIG4 at Helensvale popped into my mind (it’s our local go-to park being only 20 minutes down the highway). Worth a try I thought and made the call. Within a few minutes we were booked into the unpowered sites down the back by the river.

It’s such a fun park with awesome amenities and great, super-friendly staff. I love the huge tropical fish tank in one of the (really nice) camp kitchens and the even bigger one in the amenities block! It’s pet-friendly and even has a dog-park which was perfect for Mel and Geoff’s pooches Molly and Kiki to have a good run around in. If dogs and fish aren’t your thing, feel free to check out the various animals in the ‘petting zoo’. There’s a BMX track which Greg’s little fella didn’t take long to find, and plenty of open spacefor the kids to ride/tun around in.

The pool area lit up by flames at night and open until 9 p.m., is amazing.  You can relax in the spa or splash around in the heated pool which has a water slide while the kids (if you have them) have fun in the shallow kid’s pool. If you want to eat while hanging out in the pool area, you’ll find the café serves scrumptious food and drinks until 8 p.m. And they can whip up a mean cocktail! 

Yep, this park is just awesome! It also helps that the park is located right across the highway from Movie World, Dream World, White Water World, Wet n Wild, Outback Spectacular and Top Golf and isn’t far from Surfers Paradise or Brisbane.

Yep, this park is just awesome! It also helps that the park is located right across the highway from Movie World, Dream World, White Water World, Wet n Wild, Outback Spectacular and Top Golf and isn’t far from Surfers Paradise or Brisbane.

Mel and Geoff (RnR Wanderers) were already set up when we arrived about lunch time on Friday. We parked the Hilux next to ‘Blondie’ and our Alu-cab roof top and brand new awning was set up within a few minutes.

We had a bit of a chat before I left the boys with their beers and went for a bit of a splash in the heated pool.

When I returned to camp, Greg from Makn Trx  had arrived along with Kurt and Carly from Let’s Get Outta Here .

 The boys were frothing over Greg’s chopped 200 series and discussing all things 4x4.

Camping makes a person hungry and we were there is a flash when Kurt and Carly invited us over to their caravan for Weber-fired pizzas. Carly’s got that recipe nailed … dinner was delish!

It was still early when we climbed up into the roof top. It’s super comfy so we fell asleep fairly easily despite the sound of the freeway. We had forgotten how loud the road-noise is when not in an enclosed van!

The sun peeking in through the flyscreen combined with the cockatoos squawking had us up pretty early. I pulled up a camp chair by the river to read for a while and Chris did whatever it is Chris does (Instagram and YouTube I think … lol).

By the time the others were up and about, we’d showered, and Chris was getting hangry. We thought brekky at the café would be quicker than cooking our own, so we all headed over there to find we had 15 minutes before the gate opened.  Not to be idle, we decided to have a bit of a sticky at the huge new water park that will be open to the public in February next year. It will be amazing!

On the way, some gorgeous little French Bulldog puppies name Bob and Marley grabbed our attention and wouldn’t let go! They were adorable and had us all wishing we could take them home. Marty (their dad) came out and had a chat with us. Turns out he was there with his family on the final leg of their lap around Australia! ‘Glamping Around Oz’ was stuck on their Silverline next to a big ‘For Sale’ sticker.

Breakfast was divine (pancakes, eggs benedict, brekkie wraps and big breakfast filled our table) and a great way to start the day that was filled with relaxing, chatting, swimming, being a little crazy in the pool and just enjoying each other’s company.

We had a nibbles platter for lunch, again thanks to Kurt and Carly, and said goodbye to Greg who was packing up and heading off only to set up in a new location a few hours later. The rest of us all went our separate ways for a few hours; some of us reading, others (Chris) having naps, swimming, and doing whatever else we felt like.

Chris added some awesome graphics to the back of the Let’s Get Outta Here Van and managed to get it straight even after a few Big Heads!

We came back together later in the arvo to sort out how we were getting to and from Top Golf which was just across the Motorway. Needless to say, we were all a little disappointed when we arrived to find out that the wait to play was over two hours.

We decided food was the next best thing (I know, food did feature a lot in our weekend!) and headed to the Boathouse Tavern for some amazing food and drinks.

We sat outside next to the live music. It was fun to people watch a bit and continue chatting. We didn’t run out of conversation all weekend which I guess is to be expected when like-minded people with similar passions get together. It was great!

There was a brief lull while we were all devouring our meals … but that didn’t last long! We all have so much in common and so much to share with each other … including lots of laughter.

I tell you … Mel and Carly seriously crack me up! Such hilarious human beings.   

Sunday was breakfast at the café and then time for Kurt, Carly and us to pack up and head off. We watched Mel and Jeff disappear in our side mirrors as we drove away … they were lucky enough to be hanging around for an extra night.

We had such a great weekend even though it was nothing like we had originally planned. Our free-camping adventure at Flanagan’s turned into a caravan park adventure with loads of delicious food and pool time! Who can complain about that? Certainly not me! I had a blast and I can’t wait until our next meet up in mid-December. 

Thanks to Mel and Jeff, Greg and Ellie and Kurt and Carly for making the weekend awesome.  Oh, and Chris. Of course, thanks to Chris! He makes all my weekends awesome 🙂

 

13 Christmas Gift Ideas

13 Christmas Gift Ideas

13 Christmas gift ideas

🎄🎁 It’s time to start thinking about Christmas gifts! And if you’re stuck – let me share 13 awesome gift (and some stocking stuffer) ideas that will have your entire family covered (and your mates too!) 😁👌🏼

If you’re like me and have family or friends with birthday’s coming up during the silly season, why not take advantage of the list below and do some birthday shopping while you’re at it?

We work closely with all of these brands, using their incredible products all the time. We love that most are designed and made right here in Australia (you’ll see the 🇦🇺 next to the Aussie made products). Aussie Aussie Aussie! 🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺

We are super excited to be able to offer special discounts to our followers and supporters on some of the items listed below, so be sure to enter our code or click on the links to get the discount. 😄

We believe the products are as awesome as the Aussie owned people who have created them and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do 🤙🏼

1. 🇦🇺 bbqarm

Head over to 👉🏼 https://www.bbqarm.com.au and enter the code 🔥ADUCREW🔥 for your discount!

What is it? An Aussie designed and made caravan and camping bbq table (and accessories) for bbq’s or gas cookers that easily swings out of the way. Designed for camping and 4WD enthusiasts it can be mounted to your caravan, camper trailer or vehicle. Check out our video here: https://youtu.be/VkLOJRJjUIU

 

2. 🇦🇺 SLIDE ’N’ DRY PEGLESS CLOTHESLINE

the perfect stocking stuffer! Purchase here:👉🏼 http://www.aussiedestinationsunknown.com.au/slide-n-dry-pegless-clothesline/

👖👙👕No more fiddling with pegs – hanging your washing is fast and easy; Easy on, easy off! It hooks on with a bungee strap and little hooks which you hook onto whatever you like! 🙂Simply slide your washing into the slots to dry. Australian Made.
Check out our videos here:
📹 https://youtu.be/3ziAWUZO-w8
📹 https://youtu.be/B8dWztFcLbE

3. 🇦🇺 NAVIGATOR GEAR

👉🏼 Head over to https://navigatorgear.net.au/?ref=3l_cmutqk-p and be sure to enter the code 🔥ADU15🔥 for a 15% discount!

This is camp gear of the highest quality designed by people who love to camp and knows what is lacking in the market. Do yourself a favour and check out these ingenious products!

Navigator is an outdoor caravan, camping & adventure brand that provides accessories with a purpose for the modern-day nomad to assist in getting the best experience with as little stress as possible.
Ps … the camp chairs are ridiculously comfy and have built in wine glass and stubby holders!

 4. 🇦🇺 MUST-HAVE STICKERS/DECALS

👉🏼Order here: http://www.aussiedestinationsunknown.com.au/product-category/stickers/

 

What a GREAT way to personalise and glam up your car, van or even the walls or windows at home. Chris is a quite a creative guy and has designed have over 60 different designs.

If you can’t find what you are after, tell us and we can do a personalised sticker just for you!

These are designed and printed by us here in Queensland.

Head over to our website to order yours now!

Free postage.

 

 

5. 🇦🇺 PERSONALISED WALL ART

Transform your boring walls into works of art work digital wall art!

We print your photos (or whatever you like) on an amazing material that can be peeled off and re-stuck without damaging most walls.

Your home, office, business, inside your caravan or almost anywhere you’ve got walls can benefit from a little Brandcraft magic as well.

These are great for kids bedrooms!

Email us now with your images and preferred size so we can check the resolution and give you a quote.

 

PRICING: Size: AO – $95Size: A1 – $80Size: A2 – $50

 

If you would like to get it printed as a wallpaper mural, please send it to us with the size of your wall and we can give you a quote.

6. MYSTICAL FIRE PACKETS

Perfect stocking stuffers for the kids!!

Purchase here:👉🏼 https://www.caravanningwithkids.com.au/product-category/colourful-fire-packets/?aff=aussiedestinationsunknown

Mystical Fire is a unique product that creates a brilliant display of colourful flames on wood burning fires! 

With a flick of the wrist as you toss the packet in, you can turn any fire into a mesmerising show of vibrant colours of red, green, blue, pink, orange and violet and more.

7. 🇦🇺 INSULATED STEMLESS TUMBLER

👉🏼 Purchase here: http://www.aussiedestinationsunknown.com.au/product/insulated-stemless-tumbler/

Shaped for comfort and designed for practicality, this Stemless Insulated Wine Tumbler will lovingly take care of half a bottle of wine at a time (355ml) and keep it cool for up to 24hrs.
What’s neat is it’ll also handle hot drinks and keep them that way for up to 8hrs.
Constructed of BPA-free food grade stainless steel, the tumbler features a splashproof slide-open lid.

These are top-quality, and in our opinion the best on the market.

8. 🇦🇺 INSULATED WINE FLASK

Purchase here: 👉🏼 http://www.aussiedestinationsunknown.com.au/product/insulated-wine-flask/

From the people that brought us the Insulated Tumbler, we now have the FLASK! Perfect for camping, festivals and the great outdoors.  No need for ice or an esky! We love these …

Ready to serve and protect, the TraVino Flask will engulf an entire 750ml bottle of wine and will maintain the temp for a whole 24hrs. Featuring a sealed leak-proof- lid, it is the wine bottle where no one bottle has gone before, it is practically glass-less.

9. 🇦🇺 LOG BOOK

👉🏼 Purchase here: http://www.aussiedestinationsunknown.com.au/product/log-book/

The CARAVAN LOG BOOK is an A5 2 part book that will help you keep track of the places you stay and the kilometres that your caravan or camper trailer does.
The front part of the LOG BOOK allows to you note down where you stayed, rate it and jot down some notes that you can refer to later.

The back part allows you to keep track of the kilometres the caravan/camper travels.  There is a FUEL column too and it has been endorsed by the Caravan Industry of Victoria.

10. 🇦🇺 TRAVEL JOURNAL

Purchase here:👉🏼 http://www.aussiedestinationsunknown.com.au/product/travel-journal-log-book-2-pack/

Whether you enjoy occasional overnight stays, weekends away, international adventures, months of adventures on the road or even sleepovers – The TRAVEL JOURNAL is packed with 92 journal pages to document your daily experiences. Draw, write or attach a photo. The kids just LOVE these! 🤗
This travel journal was proudly designed, developed and printed right here in Australia and is wire bound with a protective plastic sleeve. Everyone in your family will have a wonderful time documenting the highlights and happenings of each and every day and looking back on the memories in the months and years to come. 🥰

11. 🇦🇺 VAN GO CARAVAN INSPIRED PRODUCTS

👉🏼 https://www.caravanningwithkids.com.au/product-category/van-go-caravan-collections/?aff=aussiedestinationsunknown

We love the VanGo collection – a Melbourne-based family run business.

Van Go is an eclectic assortment of wonderful caravan inspired goodies for home, the van, gift ideas and just for fun!

Products are printed locally where possible and are designed in Melbourne.

12. 🇦🇺 LSKD CLOTHING

Head over to 👉🏼 https://www.lskd.co and enter the code 🔥ADU15🔥 for your discount off any non-sale items 👌🏼

I know you’ve seen us repping this brand non-stop … and it’s because we LOVE IT! Men, women and kids … there’s something here everyone will love. These guys are based just down the road from us and we love hanging out with the crew. Legends in person and just as legendary with their clothing range.

13. 🇦🇺 A KNOBBY UNDERWEAR SUBSCRIPTION

Purchase here: 👉🏼 https://knobbyunderwear.com.au/and be sure to enter the code 🔥ADUCREW🔥 for a discount off your first subscription.

We are so proud to be partnered up and decked out in the best underwear on this planet. Yup. We know that’s a huge call … but it’s what we believe. 

It’s made right here in Queensland, is supportive, comfy and comes in the funkiest designs every month – delivered to your door! Whoop!

PS. They have recently added a KIDS RANGE to the mix so the whole family can match! Did someone say stocking stuffer genius? 😜

No matter who you are shopping for, you are bound to put smiles on their dials with something from this list! And if you have any questions at all in regards to anything at all … please ask us!

There’s nothing we love more than sharing our experiences to make things better/easier/more fun for you.

 

Ho ho ho and happy shopping!

Woody Head, NSW

Woody Head, NSW

Wahoooosers! It’s great to be baaaack!! 

Our new van is amazing and we love it … but what we love more than the van itself, are the adventures we get to experience once again. 4 months without a 4WD or caravan has truly taken its toll on all of us.

We couldn’t have chosen a better place for our first relaxing weekend in the van in months … we were finally able to set up the camp chairs, and enjoy a few beers (or many beers in Chris’s case!) around the fire with both old mates and new ones. 🔥

White sandy beaches, rock platforms, a boat ramp, grassy areas, rainforest, shallow reef (perfect for snorkeling) and lots of kangaroos roaming around … plus awesome surfing and great fishing put Woody Head, part of the Bundjalung National Park, right near the top of our beachside camping list. And the fact that it’s only a bit over 200 km from home makes it even better.

The charming seaside village of Iluka, right at the mouth of the Clarence River is just down the road and has everything you need including an IGA, golf course, a great bowling club and pub plus pretty much everything you need including a caravan park. We didn’t eat at the pub this time, but we have before and the meals were epic! The whole area (pub included) gives off an awesome relaxed vibe that makes you think seriously about not going home!

Our first time to this gorgeous spot was back in October of 2014 when we came and stayed at the Woody Head Campground and attended a friend’s wedding at Shark Bay, just around the corner. I was blown away at the beauty and tranquility of the place as it was my first time to the NSW North Coast. Chris had not long finished building our camper trailer and adventures like this were a new thing for us. We fell in love and knew we’d be back for sure.

 

Woody Head back in October 2014

We finally made it back, and yep – we are planning our return trip already. And next time we’ll bring the kids. We know they will love this place as much as we do. 

There really is so much to explore. A short walk through the campground will take you to a grassy area that leads you down to a white sandy beach (or a boat ramp if that’s what you need!) and if you head off to the right you will find a gorgeous little path, quite often dotted with kangaroos, that you can follow along the rock shelf and coastline for ages. You can spend hours exploring the rock shelf and checking out the different textures and patterns. We went for a walk just after sunrise to snap a few pics.

“Woody Head is a campground with the lot – you can pitch your tent, park your caravan or book a cabin to enjoy a pleasure-packed beach escape for the weekend or longer.
It’s a great place for a family holiday, with a protected sandy beach that’s ideal for swimming and fishing, a boat ramp and the spectacular rock platform. There are heaps of other things to do as well and children and adults alike will love exploring the rainforest and shallow reefs around the campground. There’s also a boat ramp for those who’ve brought their boat along, great places for fishing and waterbabies will love being so close to the beach.

There is one designated group camping area and the campground is wheelchair accessible.

Of course, with the amount of attractions on offer, it’s no wonder Woody Head is a popular north coast campground. You’ll need to book with plenty of time to secure your campsite.”

🌐https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/…/woody-head-campground

Woody Head Campground
🗺Woody Head Road, Woody Head NSW 2466
📞1300 072 757
📍https://goo.gl/maps/GpSLUNJk65JhBk527

Full Video Here

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.

Gordon River Cruise

Gordon River Cruise

Here’s a short video of our adventure

Cruising the Gordon River on The Spirit of the Wild

The Gordon River Cruise is something everyone needs to experience at least once in their lifetime. It may be right over on the wild West Coast of Tasmania and require making your way along more than a few narrow, winding roads to get there, but it is definitely worth it! We went with my parents and had a fantastic time.

 

We stayed at the BIG4 Strahan Holiday Retreat http://www.strahanholidaypark.com.au/ Chris and I stayed in our Alucab rooftop tent and mum and dad hired a lovely cabin that backed on to a little creek. They even had a back deck to enjoy the view!

I did the cruise 14 years ago on the older red vessel, but this time we were lucky enough to cruise the Gordon River on the brand new ‘The Spirit of the Wild’ … what a great boat!

65 nautical miles or 120 km was our journey in the 33.8m long catamaran that was launched in 2018 and has super quiet diesel and electric engines.

It’s a floating history lesson delivered by a few wonderful characters that light up the TV screens as you navigate the waters.

We departed Strahan at 8:30am and were on the water for 6 hours (including an hour on historical Sarah Island).

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. Side note – it was extremely cold and crazy windy, even in January! So make sure you take your winter woollies and a beanie to keep the hair out of your eyes.

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.

Heritage Landing is a 30 minute nature walk where we followed a fairly new boardwalk through the temperate rainforest.

There are interpretative sign all along the way filled with information about the flora and fauna.

Sarah Island 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.

It was also 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.

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!

You can read my blog post on Sarah Island here: http://www.aussiedestinationsunknown.com.au/2019/01/31/sarah-island-tasmani

It’s lovely to take some time to stretch your legs, soak up the history and really breathe in the fresh air after the leisurely cruise down the calm waters of the river.

The buffet lunch was delicious, the boat was very new and quite impressive; the scenery was breathtaking and the staff were lovely. We can’t rate this highly enough.

 

 Gordon River Cruises

 

🗺 https://goo.gl/maps/H1ppQPgor9txagdDA
📍24 Esplanade, Strahan TAS 7468
🌐gordonrivercruises.com.au
📱(03) 6471 4300