Yorke Peninsula

20130531-104908.jpgYorke Peninsula is the “boot” of South Australia and home to my mum whose family all originated from this region. Visiting family again gave us the opportunity to briefly live in something other than 6×2 meters of enclosed space – although that isn’t as bad as it sounds provided the weather is fine and we can embrace the great outdoors! The girls (and my mum) were delighted to see each other again and we had the rare opportunity to spend Mother’s Day with all three of our female generations – leaving my long suffering husband as the one and only male yet again ! We did conclude Mother’s Day at the rather good local winery (Barley Stacks) where he scored his own present – a five liter plastic container of tawny port. Although this doesn’t sound particularly classy the port was good quality and the container perfect for storage and use camping – should last Craig at least two months of camp fire night caps depending on stress levels!

The Trip Poison of Choice

The Trip Poison of Choice

York Peninsula is primarily farming land however we ventured right down to the bottom of the boot’s foot to the Innes National Park (considering the name it seemed appropriate that we visit!) My mum hadn’t seen this region so we were happy to show her what was in her own back yard – it’s very true you don’t play tourist in your home State very often. Turns out this is another of those wildly beautiful edges of Australia with light houses, cliffs and jetties into the big blue, proving Craig wrong about South Australia being boring – think seeing as I originated from here he’s pushing his luck a bit there…

IMG_9437

IMG_9465

IMG_9508

IMG_9556

IMG_9515

20130531-113010.jpg

Naracoorte to Robe South Australia

Our trip out of Victoria to South Australia was a nostalgic one for me, having grown up in the South East in the country town of Naracoorte. Driving through the outlying towns (or even just seeing direction signs) brought back memories of netball/football games, awkward teenage crushes, youth group shenanigans and visiting friends on their farms. Country towns must suit parents of girls  – boys I liked always seemed to be far, far out of town! We stopped by the house I grew up in, where our first family pet (rough tough little black poodle called Simmaron of all things) was buried under the now huge willow tree in the front yard and I grabbed a quick picture before the now owners decided we were stalkers and called the police on us. Funny how places always seemed so much bigger when remembered through the eyes of our smaller selves.

As the husband isn’t quite as enthused about my childhood memories (particularly the first boyfriend discussion for some strange reason) it was a quick walk down memory lane before our next destination, the seaside fishing village of Robe. It had been a very long time since I visited Robe so my impressions of it were vague but it turned out to be a beautiful and peaceful sea side stop. We arrived almost at sunset in weather positively balmy for the South this time of year and headed to the beach out the front of the Big 4 to play. Other than dealing with sympathetic looks re: my black eye we had a very quiet and uneventful stay in Robe, some would say this is par for the course for South Australia however it’s always nice to go back to your roots – and realise how far you’ve grown from them!

IMG_5776

IMG_5783

IMG_5786

IMG_5805

Grampians Horse Riding Centre

This was our last stop on the way out of this beautiful Victorian spot and wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  The owner of this great establishment and I have mutual friends and had met at their wedding previously so we dropped in to say hi and let the girls have a pony ride.  This was a very exciting day as not only did Cam teach them all about how to approach the horses, catch them (that had varying success) and lead them back in but by the end they were able to ride around by themselves (in a very small enclosed corral I should add!) That amounted to a few steps actually, once their very savvy horses realised that the little legs couldn’t actually reach past the saddle to give them a ‘giddy up’ in the ribs they soon stopped moving.  Never the less it was unaided riding and these were two happy girls – Sophia has now decided she would like to be a horse vet (well, plus cats) – even after Cam demonstrated how you take a horses temperature – which resulted in gails of giggles and genuine concern for the horses, um, comfort??!!

IMG_9344

Layla on Trigger

IMG_9360

Solo Riders

IMG_9343

Sophia on the Lovely Ted

IMG_9322

Leading In

IMG_9316

Not sure who is leading who here…

 

 

 

 

Grampians National Park

We returned to the ‘mainland’ from Tasmania without incident or sea sickness (phew) and moved into my dad’s place en-masse for a few days. My dad and step-mum are always good natured about these invasions, dealing with the noise, chaos and mess in exchange for cooking, cuddles, fresh made juices and for my dad assistance with the odd job. The husband had lined up a bunch of modification to our camping setup after the trial run in Tassie – which at first I thought was just more male tinkering. However, it was proved he does know what he’s on about (no-one tell him though) as the carpet on the floors absorb noise, dust that would otherwise end up in beds and stop our feet from freezing. The new high density foam on our bed has dramatically improved our quality of sleep (and lowered the level of crankiness) and a hand held vacuum? Worth every penny with the camper now carpeted! Dad and husband spent a day making some very nifty movable steps for the girls to climb into their bed without demolishing the couch cushions and I think there were other things that were technical and essential but slip my mind – not being directly related to comfort or security.

After all this busy-ness it was a little reluctantly (again) that we packed up and hit the road for South Australia. First stop was the Grampians National Park, I hadn’t been to this area since I was a teenager on Youth Camp but I had vague memories of it being beautiful. Apparently I’m not senile yet as it is an absolutely stunning part of Victoria, driving into Halls Gap there were kangaroos literally everywhere – in the school grounds, camp grounds, by the local shops – everywhere! This was exciting until I walked around the back of the camper one morning with the girls in tow to find a reasonably large buck just lolling around behind our living quarters! He didn’t seem in a hurry to get away from us and the girls were almost hypnotised by him so we all just stood for five minutes and stared at each other. This impasse ended when Craig came to investigate and the kangaroo stood up to full height in quite a threatening manner – apparently even male humans aren’t popular with these boys.

IMG_9280

Seemed to like the girls pink pyjamas !

IMG_9287

Hello Roo

Once again we subjected our children to the cruel and unusual practice of hiking for hours on end over mountains but to their credit there was only one truly monumental melt down otherwise they were complete little champions about it all. It would have been good to do some of the more challenging hikes and access the stunning scenery from these paths but that is just going to have to wait until the girls are older. Evenings were spent around the camp fire toasting marshmallows and we were glad that it was this route we had decided on rather than the Great Ocean Road (also beautiful but done many times before).

IMG_5716

Post Short Person Melt Down – I’d had enough too!

IMG_5721

Big Day for Short Legs!

IMG_5740

Looks like a face to me!

IMG_5741

Follow the Leader

IMG_5739

Beautiful View after a Very Long Walk!

IMG_9298

Coming up the Canyon at the Peak

IMG_9296

Troopers

The only down side of this stop-over was a slight safety malfunction that was extremely embarrassing considering I am a so called safety professional (don’t mechanics always have the worst cars??) One other modification Craig made in Melbourne was a connection for the van stabiliser legs that allows us to use an 18V hand held drill to wind them down instead of man (or woman) power. I objected initially as it seemed like quite a good upper body workout while on the road but Tim the Tool Man insisted. So in Halls Gap he passed me the drill and requested that I wind up the stabiliser legs – after looking at him blankly I think the penny dropped that I really am not that familiar with electric drills – especially not in this capacity! So a very brief instruction session followed which included making sure I slowed the drill down as the legs were nearly up – the first two were a bit quick so the next I bent down to check what where the legs were and obviously loosened my grip on the drill. I’ve never been punched in the face but in the movies it never looks like a big deal – I’m assuming this is incorrect if the big heavy handle of an 18V drill smacking me in the eye socket at full speed is anything to go by. To the husbands credit he initially cradled my head and made sure my eye was still in it’s place before commenting that people were going to think he hit me! Although no-one accused him of this, as the beautiful blue, purple, green and yellow hues of my eye emerged I did get a lot of funny looks – and very few souls actually worked up the courage to ask me what happened, I’m assuming in case I said I walked into a door (because the drill story is so much more plausible!) There have been many jokes about me not doing as I’m told or listening and needless to say I haven’t been authorised to use power tools since then….

IMG_5845

Ouchy

Deloraine, Mole Creek and Cradle Mountain

I think we left our run to Cradle Mountain a little late – by the time we arrived in this region it was freezing, rain was coming in sideways and any thoughts of hiking through this beautiful area had turned into camp fires and hot chocolate longings!  However – our first stop after Launceston was delightful, the little town of Deloraine – beautiful, quaint, featuring a meandering river with modern art on the banks and a supply of hippy types camping out on the sidewalks! I loved this spot, nestled in between mountain ranges with a melting pot of tourists, locals, hippies, overseas back-packers and picturesque scenery.

IMG_5398

Funky Art Work

Beautiful Deloraine

Beautiful Deloraine

Walking Path

Walking Path

Deloraine River Bank

Deloraine River Bank

Our camp site was about half an hour on from here at Mole Creek – an unfortunate name for a beautiful spot at the foot of Cradle Mountain. We had tried to book a powered site at Cradle Mountain itself however none were available – after freezing our butts off all over Tasmania we decided that no heater was a deal breaker so we booked at Mole Creek – this turned out to be a stroke of luck. The van site was right next to one of those crystal clear streams that should be in an english fairy tale but was reportedly inhabited by platypus – which weren’t sighted despite the girls searching high and low. The husband was delighted as camp fires weren’t only allowed but fire wood supplied AND we had power for a heater – funny what becomes nirvana after weeks of camping. Only draw back was the possibility we (as in Craig!) offended the lovely group of young french back-packers next door by putting on a terrible fake french accent. This was partly because I’m walking around repeating french phrases constantly as I learn and partly because he just can’t help himself – seems to think that putting “la” in front of everything and putting on a bad accent is the equivalent of knowing French!  Level of french affectation seemed to be proportional to the amount of red wine consumed around our camp fire so hopefully they were oblivious as well by that time of night.

IMG_5412 IMG_5420 IMG_5423 IMG_5424 IMG_5427 IMG_5448

Best of all was this area had relatively clear weather compared to up the mountain so while we did venture up to the peak and wander around some of the child friendly tracks the constant rain and wind (avoiding the wombat poo at every step and turn) made us very happy not to be camping up the top! W

IMG_5511

What’s with the Weather?!

IMG_5510

Wonderland Walk at Cradle

IMG_5460

Cold!!!!

This was also the site of the girls fifth birthday celebrations so will always hold a special place in our memories of Tasmania.  The day was marked by lamington cake, balloons, small toys (emphasis on small) and exploring the local caves – the glow worms were a huge hit as was the point at which the guide turned out all the lights in the deepest darkest spot possible.

IMG_5453

Happy Birthday Littlest Campers

IMG_5481

Camper Party (it was raining)

IMG_5487

Making a Wish – hopefully not to go home!

IMG_5469

Celebrating in the Caves!

I do wish we had made Cradle a priority when we arrived, it’s a disappointment not to have completed some of the walks around this incredible area, however the husband has pledged to bring the girls back to do the overland track when they are old enough – there was no mention of taking me though, maybe he thinks I will be too old by then???!!!

Bay of Fires and Moo Cows

We didn’t think anything was going to live up to the playground right in front of our campsite at Coles Bay – but we were wrong.  Moving into the Big 4 at St Helens, right on the edge of the Bay of Fires we discovered a jumping pillow (!!!), a playground and games room that we could camp practically in front of.  I may or may not have been seen jumping around on the pillow with the kids a few times – as always there is no photographic proof (I don’t think). It seems this has become the kids paradise tour of Tasmania – which we are going to put an immediate stop to by going free camping after we check out on Wednesday.  Of course it’s going to be a stark contrast after camping Disneyland but I’m sure the kids will cope – it’s a matter of the adults coping with the whining!

IMG_4825

Kid Heaven

So in line with our aim of spoiling the kids fun we went and looked at all the spots the locals had recommended along the Bay of Fires for free camping.  I may have also been a little reluctant, having been accustomed to power, running water and shower blocks (sigh) but as the photos will attest to, this place is the Tasmanian Whitsunday’s.  Before all the Queenslanders get their knickers in a twist I know it can’t compete with the water temperature but otherwise there is white sand, turquoise water and miles and miles and miles of beautiful beaches.  We are slowly luring the kids in with promises of night beach fires, toasted marshmallows and beach frisbee – plus hunting down every piece of detritus the ocean throws on the sand and declaring  ‘treasure’ so it can stink out the camper.

Bay of Fires Bay of Fires

Bay of Fires

The other highlight of the day was visiting the Pyengana Dairy Company headquarters, set right in the middle of the lush green grazing fields with a mountainous backdrop where we also trekked to one of the highest water falls in Tassie.  The “Holy Cow Cafe” offered tastings of their traditionally made cheese (to die for), home made ice-cream and milk that hadn’t been homogenised, leaving the thick layer of cream on top. This is almost impossible to obtain on the ‘mainland’ so I’m devastated about leaving the land of cream topped milk now.

Pyengana Cheese Factory Pyengana Moo Cafe

St Columba Falls

St Columba Falls

This was all topped off for the little people by seeing a real working dairy and lots of frolicking calves – although it made me realise what little city slickers we are raising when they became overly excited every time a cow ‘mooed’ and I had to explain what an udder was!!

 

Bon Voyage

Melbourne really turned on the weather the day we left, Port of Melbourne glowing in the late afternoon sun and the bay full of sail boats lazily traversing the water.

20130321-110341.jpg

20130321-105425.jpg
Such a tranquil spot but dominated by the massive Spirit of Tasmania! I think my daughters comment that “it’s bigger than my head” was the understatement of the decade!! I know the husband type would happily regale me with the theory of fluid dynamics (or something) and how this beast actually floats but it still seems to defy the laws of nature.><br /20130321-110608.jpg
There was much excitement about boarding the behemoth of a boat, from the multitude of cars in the parking deck to our pint sized cabin the girls loved it all (adults may have too truth be told!)

We received one very good piece of advice about the crossing – do it at night. Sleeping away eleven hours across Bass Strait was definitely the best option after watching the lights over the Bay slip away.

20130321-114302.jpg

20130321-114435.jpg
Our concern over sea sickness turned out to be unfounded – although I discovered that taking two Kwells (sea sickness tablets) with a glass of wine produces dizziness, loss of balance and a feeling of inebriation – who knew??!! So staying up wasn’t really an option anyway – count myself lucky not to have rolled out of the top bunk though, woke up at 2am to put a short person back in their bunk and there was a definite rock and roll motion going on!