Day 5, Tuesday – Tasman Peninsular to Coles Bay / Freycinet
On our way off the peninsular this morning we stopped at Eaglehawk Neck to look at the Dog Line and the Officers Cottage. I hadn’t read much about it prior, but the Officers Cottage was well worth the short stop. Even though the place wasn’t furnished, we really got a feel for how it must have been living there. An effort has been made to preserve it and show how it was renovated over the years – so interesting.
We continued north in our tiny Hyundai Getz and stopped at Kates Berry Farm just outside Swansea. We can also highly recommend this place and enjoyed our scones and waffles with berries. Had a chat with Kate who is very interesting to talk to, and bought some of her handmade chocolates to take with us. It’s all about the food!!!
Turned off to Coles Bay and the Freycinet Peninsular, taking the short detour out to the Cape Tourville lookout for spectacular views of the coastline and out to sea. Stopped to take a couple of photos of the echidna ferreting for lunch on the sandbank on the side of the road! They are so cute with their little backward feet and their sad eyes. It curled up on itself at first but I sat patiently and finally it uncurled and kept on digging in the sandy soil under a tree root with it’s nose (or is it a snout?). Finally, it must have tired of the audience and waddled off up into the trees.
We checked into Edge of the Bay Resort at Coles Bay and were thrilled with our beautiful Ocean View Suite. Not especially cheap at $264 but we thought it was worth it. While breakfast wasn’t included, the tariff did include a $30 voucher towards dinner in their restaurant. We had dinner there and enjoyed a wonderful meal. The suites/rooms are built almost on the water’s edge, each with it’s own little deck out the front, but slanted to allow privacy from the other rooms – very cleverly designed. We had a magnificent view across the bay to the Hazards and in the morning found a cheeky wallaby sitting on our deck when we opened the sliding door. He wasn’t at all shy and stayed around awhile for a chat.
Day 6, Wednesday – Freycinet NP to Bicheno
We decided to drive to the Lodge for breakfast which was fairly ordinary – the usual hotel buffet – scrambled eggs, bacon, tomatoes etc and not really good value (have forgotten the cost, but wasn’t cheap) though the place was packed compared to where we had been staying. I must say the dolphins frolicking (do dolphins frolic?) in the bay were also an added bonus. I had decided to stay @ EOTB rather than at the Lodge as I’d heard from friends that it was a little tired and dated and also the view from EOTB looking over to the Hazards was spectacular. This appeared to be the case, so didn’t regret the decision.
After breakfast we drove to the carpark for the walk to Wineglass Lookout. We weren’t sure how we’d go, so took water and nibblies to sustain us should we decide to keep going and do the whole loop. After the last few days being overcast and rainy at times, we had the most glorious day – hot and sunny. We signed into the walkers log at the beginning of the track, and off we went.
The walk up to Wineglass Lookout is a bit of an uphill killer – we are good walkers, but I’m not very fit at the moment - but the views are magnificent! (I’m going to run out of superlatives). After reaching the lookout, there is the choice to head back to the car or head downhill to Wineglass Bay itself, which we did. The beach is beautiful and there were people swimming and sunbaking. From here you have the choice to return via the way you came or take the isthmus track to Hazards Beach and go home the long way round. As we were feeling fit and well, this is what we did. The Isthmus Track is not difficult and in fact much of it had boardwalk to walk on, so not rough either. Hazards Beach was deserted and we were the only people there as we walked along to the end and onto the track leading around the point back to the carpark. This part of the walk was long and not as interesting and though you weren’t far from the water, you couldn’t see it for long stretches. The whole loop is 11km and it was great to have done it.
Drove to Bicheno where we stayed at the Old Tramroad B&B. We had a lovely room and fell into bed for a nanna nap after our morning’s exertion! That evening we visited the Bicheno Blowhole and sat and waited at dusk for the penguins to come in. Finally they did, but they were very wary of us and went out of their way to avoid wherever people were standing. As it was also almost dark, it was hard to see them well, and impossible to photograph. People were very good and mostly just stood quietly and no-one shone torches or took flash photos. It is possible to do a penguin tour where they say they have lighting which doesn’t bother the penguins, so if you were really keen to see them properly, this would be the better alternative. We actually got our best view whilst driving home from the Blowhole when two of the little guys tried to cross the road in front of the car and got caught in the headlights. We pulled over and waited for them to decide what they were going to do, before they waddled back into the tall grass. Apparently they nest in the drains at the side of the road. Unfortunately not all of them make the crossing safely and we were distressed the next morning to see penguin roadkill! We saw lots of roadkill every day – possums, wallabies, wombats, but there’s something not right about a dead penguin in the middle of the road!
We had dinner at the Bicheno Tavern – a satisfactory meal of pub food. Well you can’t eat gourmet meals every night! There were other places to choose from, but we were a bit weary and it was convenient.
Day 7, Thursday – Bicheno to Launceston
After a cooked breakfast prepared by Ron and Merle and a good chat and some advice from Ron we headed to St Helen’s on our way to Launceston. We considered the possibility of going up to Binnalong Bay and maybe the Bay of Fires, but decided to press on.
We stopped in St Helen’s for coffee and to make use of the Online Centre next to the Library. These came to be a familiar sight on out travels and were much appreciated when we had been without phone and therefore internet access for a day or two. Unlike people who say they find it liberating not to have the phone to answer, we like to keep in touch. I guess it’s different if you have work ringing you, but this isn’t the case for either of us. We were forewarned that unless we were with Telstra, we would find phone reception patchy and this we found to be true. As we also used a dongle to access the network for internet, we were also without this for a day or two at a time. However, in many places we found an Online Centre, which seems to be run by the local council or community group as a service – like an internet café without the coffee! The cost of checking our email and facebook was very reasonable and we loved this facility.
We then drove through Scottsdale to Launceston, reaching Cataract Gorge for a late lunch. It was another spectacularly warm and sunny day and there were dozens of teenagers and kids in the pool or swimming in the rockpools of the gorge. We were almost tempted to go in ourselves, but for a lack of swimwear! We spent the afternoon walking the Cataract Walk along one side of the gorge and the ZigZag Track back along the other. Both walks are about 1km but the ZigZag is the more difficult of the two as it’s just a rough path and climbs up quite high above the gorge. The Cataract Walk is a cement path along one side of the gorge which was built in the early 1900’s and you can easily imagine the ladies in their long skirts walking along it to take in the views. The grounds of the Reserve itself as also beautiful and populated with peacocks. We didn’t go on the chairlift, but did walk over the suspension bridge.
We spent the afternoon wandering around Launceston and down to the Old Seaport where we had fish and chips for dinner.
We stayed at Kurrajong House in Launceston for 2 nights in one of the studio rooms across the small car park, rather than in the main house. It was a lovely room, again very comfortable, though in retrospect I should have chosen a place with a laundry so we could catch up. Hand washing is all very well for your smalls and the lighter stuff but the jeans need a machine wash and a spinner – especially as the warm and sunny weather had now disappeared. Julie, our hostess, was very attentive, and offered her assistance with any plans.
Day 8, Friday – Launceston
After breakfast in the dining room of the main house – cooked by Graeme our host, whilst Julie entertained us with her chat – we drove out to Hollybank Treetops Adventure. This was another of the highlights of our trip. It involves being decked out in a harness and spending the morning launching yourself on a highwire from tree to tree. My partner is not especially comfortable with heights (did I understate that nicely?) but even he overcame his initial apprehension and we had a great time. Our guides were fantastic and we felt very safe in their capable hands.
We dined at Stillwater that night, having emailed them a couple of weeks previously to book a table. It was one of the highlights of our many fantastic dining experiences in Tassie and we highly recommend it. We then enjoyed a leisurely walk back through the city and up the hill to our B&B.