Never Underestimate Launceston

It was with great reluctance that we packed up and left our cosy little corner at the Bay of Fires however with less than a week left we still had Cradle Mountain on the list of ‘must do’s” so we headed off to our first stop-over in Launceston.  This was supposed to be just a chance to wash clothes, buy food, have really, really, really long hot showers (after five days free camping) and perhaps sample a little of the local Tamar Valley wines (just a little, I’m still trying to dry out after the first month on holiday). So we booked into a van park just outside of Launceston – it was a little uninspiring but as mentioned we really only wanted their washing facilities anyway!  Launceston however turned out to be a delightful sojourn, ticking off all the key tourist attractions in record time but nonetheless having a great time doing it.  We toured the Tamar Valley and found a Pinot Gris that we fell in love with while the girls fell in love with the local winery doggy who lapped up the attention and stole their toys.

The platypus and echidna house visit was supposed to be for the benefit of the girls however I was almost as tickled by the cute little bundles of spikes that trundled around feet and stuck out almost terrifyingly long tongues to lap up food. Disturbingly discovered that male platypus have poison spikes in their paws that causes excruciating pain that can’t be relieved by morphine and will take an adult six months to recover from – not worth thinking about what happens to children – who said Australian mammals are all cute and cuddly??!!  Personal favourite may have been the monkeys in central park – a city with it’s own monkey enclosure in the centre of town, who would have thought?! We spent a long time watching the monkey antics, goo-ing over the baby monks and generally being entertained (remarkable similarities to our children I thought). Last of all Cataract Gorge – wow, what an amazing spot to have in your backyard, the photos speak for themselves…

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Cutest Native on the Planet

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The Inns Girls at the Look Out – Cataract Gorge

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Huge Trees in Cataract Gorge!

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Restaurant in the Hills – Cataract Gorge

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Swimming Pool with a View – Cataract Gorge

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monkey Business – Central Park Launceston

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More Monkey Business

 

So that was it for our tourist activities in Launceston – on a personal note the setup and pack up of the camper is now occurring like clock work and we have all adjusted to living in a very confined space – mostly.  Every now and then I at least feel the need for my own company – that might only be having the opportunity to shower alone (minus the children before anyone gets any funny ideas!) but even that’s luxury in a life lived in a 5×3 metre space.  We may get through this holiday with all family members intact after all….standby though!

 

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!

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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!!

 

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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