The Retreat – Coles Bay & Freycinet National Park

This is hands down so far my favourite place in Tasmania.  Everyone raves about the East Coast and with good reason – this is truly a wonderful spot.  We invaded the Big 4 caravan park at Coles Bay with our multiple birth tour group and terrorised the current residents with five children under 6 (tee hee).  Luckily we had the perfect position – right next to the playground, toilets, barbecue area with a view of the bay in the background…heaven for traveling parents.  Nothing comes close to the joy of being able to setup and pack-up while your kids play!  Also there was a Tavern practically on site and a really short walk down to the beautiful Muirs Beach so truly heaven.

Camp Inns at the Big 4 Coles Bay

Camp Inns at the Big 4 Coles Bay

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Sunset from Camp Inns

If you ever needed a place to hide for a while, to recover from life or just ‘find yourself’ as the saying goes this would be it.  I walked every morning and evening along the beautiful curved bay of Muirs Beach, complete with rock pools where the kids could play David Attenborough and discover crabs, shells and prawns while the adults watched the sky scape.  I took so many photos of the same horizon as every time the light, clouds and time changed it dramatically – from the opposite end of the beach you could look back at where our camp site nestled in the green finger of land right in front of the ‘Hazards’ as the series of Mountains in Freycinet National Park are known as.

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View Back to the Hazards from Muirs Beach

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Another Face of Muirs Beach

Rock Pooling

Rock Pooling

Evening Fisherman at Muirs Beach

Evening Fisherman at Muirs Beach

Fun at Dusk on the Beach

Fun at Dusk on the Beach

We all decided to challenge our children and take them on the Wineglass Bay hike (which involved a mountain so it was dicey!)  Have to say I was impressed with all of them, a 2.5 hour hike took us threehours and that was pretty much constant motion for little legs up and down some very steep rock steps.  It was well worth the effort, you couldn’t stay in Freycinet and not experience this stunning Tasmanian icon of a beach.  Mind you, coming from Queensland we had no intention of swimming but apparently children have no nerve endings and our crazy Victorian friend joined them in braving the chilly water – but not for long.

The Beautiful Wine Glass Bay

The Beautiful Wine Glass Bay

Who's in First?

Who’s in First?

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Kid Collection Taking a Well Earned Break

Cape Tourville Lighthouse Board Walk

Cape Tourville Lighthouse Board Walk

The only down side of this stay was saying good bye to our new friends as they headed off after two nights and we settled in for five.  It’s not often you meet people on the road that are completely camping compatible (apparently it took them one and half years to find us!) and the kids especially were very sad to separate from their new friends.  On the plus side they were travelling ahead of us so we’ve had regular updates on the best places to stay and where to go.

I found it very hard to leave this little haven, it will always be high on my list of perfect places to retreat to.

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Hobart and the Busted Camper

Well it had to happen eventually – the big trip disaster – but at least we got it out of the way in a capital city instead of the middle of nowhere!

It was a relief to all of us arriving in Hobart in the sunshine, stocked up on fresh rasberries straight from the farm (more food blogging). We gleefully setup on a dry concrete and grass site, swept all the mud out of the camper from Lake Sinclair and basked in the remaining sunshine before feeding the kids and plonking them in bed early for a book.  As I was lolling about on the kids bed reading a riveting Mr Men book (I think it was Mr Topsy Turvy) it registered that the husband was being a little over-active around the camper for that time of night, but figured it was just typical man-behavior – fiddling with the camping setup the entire time purely for the sport of it.

After climbing out of the kids bed and issuing the usual threats about going to sleep (which are always blatantly ignored) I was instructed to go outside and turn the crank handle so the camper door could be adjusted as this was apparently causing the kerfuffle. This of course made me feel illogically guilty about what happened next – after a quarter of turn the end of the camper closest to me totally collapsed down.  Although startled the girls were safe down their end, the supports bent making it impossible for that end to collapse and we passed them out through the velcro side along with all other belongings required to survive outside of the camper.

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So after half a day of being setup we were once again packing up – in the dark, with two confused short people sitting in the vehicle in their jammies, wrapped up in a blanket watching a DVD while various men folk strolled over to survey the damage, offer assistance or just be entertained by the spectacle!

We are incredibly lucky no-one was hurt and it happened in Hobart – we were planning on an extended stay here, there was a cabin adjacent to the van site we could move straight into, the next day a tow truck turned up courtesy of RACQ membership and the gentleman who runs Kings Caravan’s is now our hero after coming in on his Easter break to install our broken van in their shed. Hopefully thats it for bad luck if it really does come in threes – bogged in Brisbane, broken iPhone (that may have been me dropping it out of the camper van door but there is no proof) and now the big mishap.

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So now it’s a matter of waiting for the insurance company to do it’s thing – and truth be told I may be enjoying the cabin with its heating, bathroom and television just a little too much, wonder how long I can drag this claim out for??!

Lessons Learned

Camping in wet weather really tests your commitment to the cause, once everything you own is damp, your camper floor resembles the ground outside and the inside of your camping abode looks like a domestic explosion that holiday house starts looking really attractive. Having said that, good wine, good company and great food can make all the difference and there is never a shortage of those key ingredients when we camp – even during a deluge. So what did we find out on the wet dry run:

* The wife needs to become ‘more useful’ during setup
* The husband needs to learn more about women and how to motivate them
* If we ever get divorced it will be because of setting up our camper – maybe I do need to become more useful
* We need smaller wine glasses, those buckets we have currently just set me up for trouble
* When there are a bunch of small kids with you going to the amenities is a team sport
* Our camper is actually water proof – provided you zip up the windows and close the air vent!
* Small children and wet weather make for a lot of noise – remember to pack ear plugs
* Don’t sit in your camp chair if it’s been left under the awning on a rainy night, nothing like walking around in soggy shorts
* Kids love muddy puddles more than iPads, thank goodness.

So nothing terribly useful about our actual camp setup, other than we are water proof and may need marriage counselling after setting up a billion times in six months – next dry run is occurring in our drive way, with the sun shining!

The Very Wet Dry Run

So the dry run for the trip has turned into a very, very wet run – although that hasn’t stopped the feral pack of kids having a good time in the mud! There’s been some discussion around our living arrangements for the six months so here’s a sneak preview:

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Setting up is still being fine tuned, to quote my apparently much more organized other half “it will be quicker as you become more useful”. Hmmm – you think he’d know better after 11 years of marriage.

We may be homeless soon but there are a few necessities coming with:
Coffee Machine (husband)
.

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Juicer (wife)

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Pizza in the Weber Q (kids) but not the beer!

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There is probably a distinct food theme developing here, wait until the Thermomix makes an appearance..