I've always wanted to visit Tasmania in autumn. As Brisbane enjoys a sub-tropical climate, our gardens are devoid of autumn colour; consequently, I hunger for a landscape with flaming reds and flashes of gold at this time of the year. So, one day, while enjoying a coffee together, my dear hubby suggested we make our second visit to Tassie. Our first visit was in October 2007 for 19 days. This time, we would spend just a week and the trip certainly lived up to our expectations; and I got my autumn 'fix'!
Day 1: BRISBANE TO HOBART. Our Virgin Blue direct flight to Hobart landed 10 mins. early at 11.15 am. We were surprised that Tasmanian quarantine won't allow fruit and vegetables into the State or at least it must be declared. (We didn't remember that happening last time.) I had eaten a mandarin on the plane and a clever sniffer dog detected the smell in my bag. We collected our Avis hire car, a Mitsubishi Lancer, and headed for the city and the Fountainside Hotel. After parking in the free carpark we were surprised when checking in to be allocated the exact same room as last visit. Room 61 is on the top floor and at the end furtherest from the lift. The Fountainside looks rather ordinary on the outside but the inside has been stylishly renovated and at $123 per night is great value. (Last minute rates are even better.) The king bed is the most comfortable hotel bed we've ever experienced; the bathroom is great - doesn't fog up and has plenty of shelving for toiletries; excellent shower; towells thick and fluffy; mini-bar cheap, eg. Coke $1.50; breakfast $10.80 for hot and cold buffet; dinner, $19.80 for soup, main meal and salad bar; double glazing ensures quiet rooms and excellent location within walking distance to docks, restaurants etc. In other words, we love staying there.
By now it was lunch time so we walked down to the docks, located Fish Frenzy at the Elizabeth Street Pier and enjoyed some seriously good seafood, particularly their sea scallops and calamari. It was a beautifully sunny day so we enjoyed just walking around Salamanca Place and Battery Point, admiring the fine old buildings and lovely parks and gardens. Eventually we made our way back to the Fountainside, stopping at the Information Centre on corner of Elizabeth and Davey Streets to collect tourist info and maps. We slept like logs after dinner at the Fountainside.
Day 2: HOBART TO EVANDALE. We woke to another fine day in Hobart and after an excellent breakfast, departed just before 9.00am heading up Hwy 1, otherwise know as the Heritage Highway or the Midlands Highway, whichever takes your fancy. There was little traffic and the road was mostly flat and straight. First stop was at Oatlands to visit the very old Callington Mill. We climbed the stairs to the top of the mill and read about its history.
Not far along the road we stopped at Ross where we visited the interesting Wool Centre and Female Factory, took photos of the lovely, well-preserved old buildings and enjoyed steak and mushroom pies for lunch at the Ross Bakery. Before leaving town, we walked across the picturesque Ross Bridge (1836) and took photos from all angles. Ross is a lovely little town and well worth a visit.
We headed north through Campbell Town and Cleveland, arriving in Evandale about 2 pm, and easily located our accommodation for the night, the Old Wesleyan Chapel in Russell Street. The chapel was built in 1836 but has been beautifully converted into a comfortable B & B for two. The owners had given us a pin number which we used to enter the building. We paid a reasonable $125 which included breakfast supplies. Evandale is another lovely village which we took time to explore and a cappuccino at the Ingleside Bakery was enjoyed while sitting outside in their lovely garden courtyard. We prepared a quick and easy dinner ourselves that night; vegetables with a quiche from the Ingleside Bakery.
Day 3: EVANDALE TO CRADLE VALLEY. After departing the Old Wesleyan Chapel we made our way along a torturous path through Westbury, Deloraine, Railton to Sheffield, passing through some lovely countryside and towns all resplendent in their autumn colours. In Sheffield, the Town of Murals, we visited the Bakehouse for lunch and then purchased food at the supermarket for the following days.
We arrived at Cradle Valley Visitor Terminal about 1 pm, later than we'd hoped, purchased Park passes ($37 for two, including the shuttle bus) and caught the shuttle bus to the Enchanted Walk, a very easy and pleasant 20 minute circuit walk near the Visitor Centre and Cradle Mountain Lodge.
After reboarding the Shuttle bus to Dove Lake we walked in the opposite direction to last visit; just as far as the boat shed and back. Unfortunately, Cradle Mt. was partly obscured by cloud but nevertheless a lovely sight. We promised ourselves we'd return one day and allow more time to walk the full circuit round the lake. Really, two nights are needed at Cradle to give at least one full day for walks.
We checked into the lovely Woodsmoke Cottage at the Cradle Mountain Highlanders Cottages. (We paid $165 which included breakfast supplies.) Hubby lit the fire and a pademelon grazed outside. So cosy and romantic. The cottages are all secluded, very comfortable and what I call 'rustic luxury'. We didn't want to leave our little cottage for dinner so cooked our own - tuna and vegetable alfredo. Another very comfy bed ensured a good night's sleep in a wonderfully peaceful bushland location just a few minutes from the Visitor Terminal but so quiet it could be miles from anywhere. Such bliss!
Part 2 to follow.