24 February 2011

6 February - Sunday

On the ferry to Tasmania and sitting in the dining area while Mr. Unit sleeps in our cabin and Bunyip rests 4 levels down.

waiting to load onto Ferry

entering Ferry

After leaving Wodonga on Thursday we headed for Sheepyard Flat knowing we had to make it to Melbourne on Saturday. The place we sat in the river to cool off is supposedly the place used in the Man From Snowy River for him to cross the river on his horse - We'll have to watch the movie now that we are familiar with the area it was filmed. It was very wet the day and night we were there and the ranger came by with a warning on Friday that we might want to leave as Saturday and Sunday were supposed to get much wetter - oh, joy. Before we left at 3:30 a female King Parrot came and sat on our awning for a few minutes and yelled at us. She was very wet and bedraggled looking.

We drove as far as Yea seeing signs of the heavy rain the night before and hearing stories on the radio of places to the west and south of us receiving up to 100+ millimeters of rain in an hour and one place got 500 (that's 18+ inches in an hour!) - luckily we weren't in any place quite that wet.

Yea put us within about 100 miles of Melbourne. We found the show grounds and a place to spend the night next to a covered walkway WITH power. It rained some during the night but not as much as we expected Saturday bright (well actually cloud covered) and early we started the last leg into Melbourne and the ferry. It rained and rained on us with lots of water (some substantial) on the road at times and rivers & creeks way out of their beds - some actually up and over bridges. Luckily the bridges that were under water were all on side roads and not on our route. We made it to Melbourne and could see lots of places with water damage (muddy floors, etc) from the down pours on Friday evening through Sunday morning - glad we missed that part!

We made it to St. Kilda area about 2:00 where we went to the library and coffee store. We had not let Greg & Chrissy know we were coming because we were only in Melbourne about 15 hours and didn't know we were coming until a few days ago. So, we found a place to park between the library and the coffee shop and were cutting through the grocery store (in one side door and out the other side) when we ran into Chrissy. We talked with her for a little while and brought her up-to-date with our travels and plans. Then we checked out the Ferry and made sure we knew how to board on Sunday then found a place to park and spend the night not too far away.

The way too early 0630 alarm came - marking the official end of "trip 3" and beginning of "trip 4". We managed to get up and head for the ferry. We were in line by 0715 and parked on deck 3 by 0800 for a 0900 departure. We have a 4-berth cabin to ourselves and it was wonderful to have a hot shower once we got sorted.

getting sorted in our cabin

7 February - Monday

Trip 4 started with the ferry ride and a wonderful camp spot in Devonport. Devonport has a number of places which are designated as "overnight stop points". We ended up on Coles Beach with a wonderful view of the Bass Strait which is the one we crossed on the ferry. Ends up the distance is close to 400 kilometers! With 10 foot swells it was an interesting crossing. Trox slept most of the day and I wandered the ship. The plan is to do the north west coastal region first and then continue to work our way around the island.

on deck before departure

the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship next to Ferry

leaving Melbourne behind

first view of Tasmania

waiting in Quarantine line

our first campsite on TAS

8 February - Tuesday

We stayed at the same little beach last night also. Trox has made a couple of rides exploring the area and yesterday we went to the Tasmanian Arboretum where we had a wonderful walk and Trox did some birding. Today our plan is to head along the coast west of here to Burnie where we hope to find a place to stay. There are some touristy places in Burnie where we want to go. Today the sea is calm and blue and even Trox might enjoy the ferry crossing.

the Tasmanian Arboretum

Black swans and 5 baby signets

back at our campsite

I explored the tidal pools this morning at low tide and found conches (tiny) and many colored star fish and a few bright red anemones. Everything in the pools are miniature in size but fun to find.

11 February - Friday

Oops! I've waited too long to update the journal and I'm sure I'll forget something. On Tuesday we did leave Devonport and headed for Burnie. Neither of us were impressed with the free camp area there so after playing tourist for awhile - we went to the paper making studio and watched some of the artists working - we headed inland where we stopped at Hellyer Gorge. The camp area was okay and we met a nice couple (Ralph and Jane) from TAS and they gave us some info on things to do and see. We also did a really nice walk from the camp area and watched the birds.

Kangaroo ferns

a mushroom?

Next morning Trox got a ride in before we broke camp and headed back towards Burnie. On the way back we stopped to see Guide Falls and it ended up to be one of the nicest we've seen so far.

At the bottom of Guide Falls

In the spray zone

From there we headed back to watch for the fairy penguins coming back from sea. The fairies are the smallest of the penguins and the only ones in Australia. The guide showed us some of the babies hiding in the bushes waiting for Mom to come feed them. We then spent the night at the camp area we had rejected the night before.

Thursday was rainy and overcast so we decided to NOT hike the Rhododendron Gardens but DID go to the cheese tasting place - yummmmmm! We went down a back road in search of another falls but never found it. Late afternoon found us only about 50 kilometers further down the beach and we stayed at Sisters Beach which is surrounded by Rocky Cape National Park. We met a couple here with an A-frame trailer that we had seen at Guide Falls - Glenn and Helen - and they recommended the walk to the caves so we went. The wet cave is full of green phosphorescent plants and the other cave was busy with welcome swallows flying about.

the trail down to the second cave

the two caves - nice sponge hat

Banksia blossoms

are huge!

Sisters Island near the top of our walk

On the way back we passed through a Banksia grove and the views were incredible. The beach here is amazing with the soft white sand that squeaks. And here it squeaked! From inside Bunyip out the back window we can watch the waves as they break on the shore.

out Bunyip's back window

13 February - Sunday

I am currently sitting in Bunyip watching the waves break on Green Point. Out the window I can see the windmill farm at Woolnorth. It is (so it claims) the furthest north west point of Tasmania. It also claims to have the cleanest air in the world which has something to do with the weather and air quality monitoring station on the point that is the first land mass the air hits after leaving some point 20,000 Km away. Whatever! They have a tour that we are considering. On the point by the farm is where the Bass Strait meets the Great Southern Ocean. Today is the first time on our trip that we have actually seen an ocean - up to now it has always been the Bass Strait. The waves I'm watching here are the G.S.O. - is this really an ocean? I need to look up the "real" oceans.

14 February - Monday

After leaving Sisters Beach Saturday we went to the west end of the park where we parked by the light house and hiked to another cave and down to a very rocky beach with lots of neat tide pools.

Bunyip and the lighthouse

view from lighthouse

Aboriginal art on rock near lighthouse

another view

The Units on walk from lighthouse

The rocky beach

This area has only been a national park since the 60s. From there we went into Stanley and looked around. There is a land mass in Stanley named The Nut and can be seen for miles - it reminded both of us of Black Mesa.

The Nut from the lighthouse

We ended up spending the night in Smithton a little further down the coast. The city park allows overnighters so we stayed there. The toilet has to be seen to be appreciated. It is all electronic and called an Exeloo - watch the movie - it's a hoot!

oops sorry about that i can't get the movie downloaded!

Before ending up where I now sit we drove out to the gate for Woolnorth and read all their information and also spotted a huge gaggle of geese (maybe 100). They were Cape Baron geese and the first time we had seen them. Last night up on this point was very windy - guess that's why it's a good location for a wind farm. Shortly we will be off to walk the beach.


90 minutes to the end of the beach and 60 back. What a nice beach with clean soft sand the whole way.

Walking the beach

Finally after 90 minutes we reached the end!

15 February

The two plus hour walk on the beach yesterday resulted in a mild sun burn - oops forgot the sun block! We spent some time yesterday working our way down the west coast towards the Tarkine. One of our stops was at Nettle Bay were we watched the surfers.


We are now at Arthur River getting ready to drive out to the "edge of the world" picnic area. The most westerly (almost) point of TAS. The drive yesterday to Arthur River was along some pretty desolate areas. Pretty in their own right.

Spotted him along the road


Before getting to the picnic area you have to travel a one lane bridge across the Arthur River.

Crossing bridge at Arthur River

And at the edge of the world we had breakfast and a walk. At this point the Arthur River meets the Great Southern Ocean. From the same beach you can watch both bodies of water do their thing. Trox just had to enter both bodies from the same beach.

Walking out into the Arthur River
with Southern Ocean in view

Same beach - entering Ocean

Now we sit in one of Camp 5's favorite sites - Sundown Point at the mouth of the Nelson River. WOW! It is beautiful (and windy) to look at but unfortunately there are signs all along the river to not drink or bath in the water because it is toxic! YUCK! We aren't staying here!


15 February 2011 - Tuesday late evening

I feel like I should include more about the drive down the west coast from the most northerly point but I also feel like I'm repeating myself - "what a wonderful beach", "what an amazing view", "how incredible the rocks are", and so on. We did drive almost as far south as we could without hitting 4-wheel drive tracks that we were warned are often sand bogs and quick sand is not uncommon here and has been known to swallow vehicles. When we did turn inland the landscape very rapidly changed from rough craggy coast to rainforest. We drove as far as the South Arthur Forests. There is a "loop" road through these forests and we were told it was well worth the time. We entered the "loop" on the south side looking for a campsite. At the first place we came to we met up with Helen and Glenn but we decided to go down a little further. Our campsite was okay but the flies are intense!

16 February - Wednesday

The flies were still intense this morning which is unusual as they are not usually bad in the morning. We have been disappointed in this forest as it is only about 35 years old. It was clear cut and most burned in the late mid-70s and is being managed to try to recover. It is very dense and mostly matchstick trees - it is very obvious when driving along we come to virgin forest. This morning we are heading towards Smithton and made a detour 19 klicks into the north part of the "loop" where we are stopped for breakfast. This used to be a loop but is now a "loop". About 3 years ago a flood wiped out the Tayetea bridge across the Arthur River. There was lots of down trees the last 2km of road leading to the bridge site.

used to be a bridge

down across road

17 February - Thursday

Yesterday and this morning were reprovision times. We are now full of water, diesel, food and BEER! I just got back from a walk to Big Tree in the Dip River Rainforest Area. Even though this area was logged it was never clear cut and is a beautiful rainforest. Of course, the humidity is off the chart (it is after all a rainforest) but the temperature is very comfortable. There is a real pretty water fall that has two tiers.

bottom tier

From the bottom of the lower tier the upper one looks very minor.

top of fall before going over cliff

It isn't until you walk to the top that it is apparent that the top tier is actually larger than the bottom.

top part of top tier

The water cascades over a basalt (I think that is what it is) wall that looks man made but is not. It reminds me of the rock that makes up Devil's Tower (in Wyoming) and Devil's Post Pile (in California). We are spending the night here tonight and currently Trox is out riding his bike after our hike to the Big Tree and to see the water fall.

can anyone say rainforest?

dead boiler from the loggin heydays

spotted this pretty boy along the road

18 February - Friday

Morning found us back on the road this time heading east towards (and beyond) Burnie where we will turn south to do another small loop where the ultimate goal will be to reach the Cradle Mountain area.

As an aside - we found out recently that TAS is about the size of West Virginia.

We are currently stopped at Table Cape Lighthouse which was along a side road we decided to take to get off the highway. The table cape is 150 meters high basalt cliff and the light house is surrounded by a tulip farm - must be gorgeous in spring. Before stopping for the day we came across another little waterfall that was not very wide but very high - pretty.

Bunyip and Table Cape lighthouse

pretty little waterfall

20 February - Sunday

I am currently sitting in Bunyip watching the wind whip the trees and rock Bunyip. We are at Leven Canyon which is, of course, gorgeous. We arrived here late Friday afternoon and the only residents at the time - Doug & Eileen - immediately introduced themselves and invited us for a come sit by their fire. We are hungry and tired so after a "get to know you" chat we excused ourselves. Saturday promised to be an ugly day and it was. We both spent time reading and doing nothing. It rained and winded all day - and - oh, yes, it is COLD (glorious cold!). We spent time with Eileen and Doug and thoroughly enjoyed them. Today was a little nicer and we managed to walk up to the canyon lookout and then DOWN (about 700 stairs) into the rainforest along the canyon wall and then back.

windy and cold at the overlook

pretty pretty

fungus growing on a tree
looked like crystals

stairs just traversed

more to go

rainforests are pretty

The rest of the day has been spent reading, computing, visiting, and trying to stay warm. Eileen and Doug left this afternoon and we will probably follow suit tomorrow.

21 February - Monday

YIKES! It was COLD last night. We are near Cradle Mountain and after driving about 10 minutes from our campsite we had a beautiful view of the mountain top covered with fresh snow! For those of you reading this in the states don't forget it is mid-summer here (equivalent to August)!!

22 February - Tuesday

We drove through lots of farming country. There are fields and fields of Poppies ready to harvest. Spoke with a local farmer yesterday and ends up TAS has one of the largest (if not THE largest) legal Opium Poppy crop in the world.

hmmm guess I'll stay out

They are very strict with how the crops are planted, fenced, harvested, and require burning of the slash once harvest is done. We spent last night in a very noisy Caravan Park but both had wonderful hot long showers. Trox made muffins early this morning with wild blackberries he picked yesterday. TAS has declared blackberries noxious weeds. They grow all over along the rural highways.

23 February - Wednesday

So, what happened to going to Cradle Mountain? The bloody generator! It started peeing gas and smoking horrid at Leven Canyon! We are trying to get a replacement under warrantee as it has been nothing but problems! We'll see how it goes. We had to take it into Launceston which is how we ended up in a caravan park. Yesterday morning we dropped the generator off and found a bakery. Then off to find a place to spend the night. We ended up in a really nice little town in a free park area. Town is about 20 kilometers south of Launceston - Evandale - and is in an historical area. We parked and then explored the town a little.

Now we are back in the Launceston area at a reserve where Trox is going to ride while I do some computer work then we are going to try and find some internet access.