Up very early a week into the trip so we could drive to the Melbourne port and load onto the Spirit of Tasmania, not a cruise ship size boat but still a huge ocean going vessel carrying semi trailers of goods as well as tourists, back packers, caravans/camping trailers and motorcyclist tourers to the island. It’s a long crossing, taking about 9 to 10 hours and arriving in Devonport. There are 2 ships crossing back and forth almost every day carrying passengers and commerce.
The second leg of our trip started with a casual dinner at the hotel preparing for the next days trip to Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake. We drove through the countryside to the small town of Sheffield which is know for murals painted on buildings and walls all around town. There must be more than 20 of them, maybe more. Kind of cool local art scene. None of us are hikers but we all took on the challenge of walking around the lake through the woods and rocks of the mountain area. No it wasn’t like doing climbs in Colorado but it was a 6k hike that was challenging. Magnificent scenery.
A stop at the tourist shop before we left and then back to Devonport for the night and a wonderful Thai Curry house dinner.
Next day was a drive to our next over night town of Strahan. No expectations although we did book a boat tour that the tourist guides on the Spirit said were not to be missed. In a previous life, I was addicted to the water and sailing so this all felt like the right thing to do. After driving small 2 lane roads up and down and twisting all the way we made it to Straughan. Wow, felt like a small US east coast fishing village. Our lodgings were probably one of the best of the month. 2 small-corrugated tin sheds called the boathouse and the, yeah can’t remember the other name but both were large 2 room buildings right on the bay at a place called Risby Cove. Lyn, Bushy and Vera headed up to the wood carvers and I took another short, hour-long hike to Hogarth Falls hoping to see a platypus in the creek along the way, no such luck. We didn’t have much time, the boat tour was starting at about 6, so we relaxed a bit and then got on board a boat that has the world record for pulling the most water skiers, 145 I think as the total. The boat is a three-deck catamaran that can go over 60 k per hour! The trip included going out to Hells Gate, the entrance to the bay and harbor, a peak out into the South Pacific roaring 40’s and then back to Sara Island, an original convict island that was notoriously cruel and harsh in the rely days of Australia. Eventual we found our way up the Gordan River that emptied into the bay and the pacific. This was the site of what was a major logging scene for many years harvesting the Huon Pine, which is now protected. The “piners” cut and harvested huge 100-foot tall, 3-foot diameter pines that were a staple of the economy, building wooden ships of the day. Tough life for them living off the land for months at a time in an area that has rain over 300 days a year.
Last stop was a walk through part of the temperate rain forest boardwalk that has been built. Dinner on the boat and then back for a great nights rest before the next long drive.
Another sunny perfect day, breakfast at Risby Cove and then back in the van to cross the island on our way to Hobart. Long day of driving so I started and drove the first 200 or so k’s across the low mountains and switch backs up to a town that was at one time large and vital as a massive hydro project was built, Tarraleah Like a lot of towns out in the country, once the dam project was complete, the town failed. Now it’s privately owned and rebuilt as a country tourist get away.
We only stopped for lunch and driver switch and then Bushy took over to get us to Hobart, the southern most stop on the tour.
Hobart is the capital and largest town in Tasmania, lots of history, built along another river and ocean port. We were only there for two nights, enough time to walk around the piers and market area and find a Greek food place that had great food but marginal service. It was a cool night sitting on the patio waiting a long time to be fed. A casual walk back to the hotel stopping for desert along the way. Again, the hotel was in the middle of the best part of Hobart. A good nights rest and another impromptu bike ride for Bushy and I along the river, getting a bit lost trying to follow a locals directions. Back to the hotel and a shower before a tour to the Cadbury Chocolate factory on the north edge of Hobart, back to town and a walk through the Botanical Gardens and then Bushy and me off to the Cascade Brewery for a tour and some sampling.
The night was finished off with a great dinner at the Drunken Admiral a great seafood restaurant around the corner from our hotel and then a walk around the shops and wharf area.
The next leg of Tasmania was another big drive day up the east coast, stopping at a cliff edge park and light house called Freycinet along the way, gorgeous views of the southern ocean with the next land mass being Antarctica. The next town is the one I just can’t seem to pronounce no matter what. I think my job this trip is to rename all the towns we pass though using the same spelling just a different pronunciation. Launceston is the second largest town in Tas and our plan was a one-night stay to break up the trip back to Davonport. We got in to town later in the day after the park visit, Vera’s idea and it was a worthwhile change in the plan.
Our hotel was a 60’s style motel that was very retro without having to go through the transition from original to modern and back to retro. It just stayed retro. The bar and restaurant had a pizza oven shipped in from Italy so, pizza night! Bushy and I did spot a bike shop a few blocks away so of course we needed to make a stop. The weather finally got us after being cool and sunny so far. The rains struck and came down like crazy, not like it was a big deal because by the morning, sun and clear weather again. Another long drive ahead but we still had enough time to find a local car museum and do the self guided tour. Fun to see all the old Aussie right hand drive cars and a bunch of motorcycles.
Back inland through Sheffield again with a quick tour of a country museum n an old home, lunch at the local hot spot cafe and then back to Davonport for our night crossing of the Bass Straight. We got back to town with enough time to relax and going through the maritime museum and a chance to steer a mock up of an ocean going freighter through the bay towards Hells Gate. 4 attempts between the two of us, a few successes and a few sinkings! Felt real, standing in a 3D screen and wheelhouse with what felt like rolling ocean under you.
Eventually, time to drive to the dock and get loaded back onto the Spirit of Tasmania, 2 this time. We got directed into the lowest deck with all the semi trailers, amazing how many vehicles got packed in. Night crossing this time with little mini cabins and bunks to sleep in instead of just sitting about the upper decks with all the other passengers. We had time to get a great dinner on board in the restaurant with a few beverages and then off to bed. The crossing was kind of rough with a lot of banging with all the waves hitting the bow, where our cabins were.
I kept thinking about all the sunken ships the maritime museum talked about in the Bass Straight we were crossing. Obviously, Melbourne arrived in the morning as the sun came up. The last few hours of relatively calm sailing.
Leg three of the trip behind us, next up Adelaide.