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.

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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.

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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

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What’s with the Weather?!

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Wonderland Walk at Cradle

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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.

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Happy Birthday Littlest Campers

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Camper Party (it was raining)

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Making a Wish – hopefully not to go home!

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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???!!!

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!

 

Free Camping at Cosy Corner

Now I am preceding this post with the statement that I was wrong.  Doesn’t happen very often ( just ask the husband, he’ll tell you) but in this case, I was wrong – wrong to worry over lack of power, wrong to be concerned over no playground and wrong to delay free camping for so long!  Being by the beach, camped in the sand, visited by Pademelons (see photo below if anyone is confused) and watching the girls climb tree’s, roast marshmallows around the fire and hunt for shells on the beach reminded me of what this trip is really about.

Visiting Pademelon's Cosy Corner

 

Beach Cosy Corner

Although technically setting up and every day routine should be no different to a caravan park for some reason it was much more relaxed.  Perhaps because we didn’t need to travel around each day as we were living on the edge of one of Australia’s wonders in the Bay of Fires or maybe the ritual of having fire is actually some kind of primitive trigger for feelings of well being!  Whatever the reason this was another little haven in Tasmania and to really make it memorable we were camped right next to another family traveling Australia – although Debbie and Matt with their three kids put our ambitions to shame being twelve months into their planned 21 month trip around Australia!  We learned some invaluable lessons from this lovely lot and picked up some great tips for the routes they had already travelled.

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Our kids played together beautifully, making cubby houses in the trees while they roamed free between the camp sites.  I wouldn’t have missed meeting these guys for the world, as with all the people we have met in Tasmania – there has been no shortage of good conversation, interesting stories and fascinating characters!

As for our the relaxation factor – for the first time on the trip I actually read a book, had the opportunity to sit around a fire staring at the flames and started learning French (now I look like a lunatic walking around muttering French words to myself but that’s another story!). As for the husband – he was in paradise, getting to practice his refined art of pyromania and impressing all and sundry with his camp oven cooking skills (the lamb was incredibly good!)

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In particular camping at Cosy Corner taught us:

  •  Not showering for five days isn’t at all problematic as long as the wet ones don’t run out – unlike Queensland there isn’t the benefit of ocean swims (unless you are prepared for your heart to stop).
  • Clothes can be scrutinised daily and if not yet standing up by themselves – good to go. We need to practice this one, running out of clothes became more urgent than the water supply!
  • Draw back of not having power – the heater doesn’t work in the brass monkey temperatures – but wearing thermals, fleecy jackets, merino socks and sub-zero rated sleeping bags seems to help (plus this assists with the no-shower policy).
  •  The majority of campers are incredibly tolerant (and even indulgent) of children, restored my faith in humanity when one lady informed me how wonderful it was to see kids playing in the trees.
  •  Free camping brings out the happy in the husband – worth it for this alone!

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Bicheno

Bicheno was a relatively quick trip from where we stayed at Coles Bay and although we didn’t spend a lot of time in this little town it was obviously a beautiful spot in summer with its miles of beaches, wharfs selling fresh fish and oysters and hands down the best local roasted coffee I have ever tried.  This was quite a spot for gastronomical delights as the local butcher also provided us with freshly made thick cut smoky bacon rashers and a fillet of smoked trout that made breakfast the next day an experience all by itself.

The weather unfortunately didn’t allow for going out in the glass bottomed boat on offer there but apparently Bicheno is considered the best temperate water diving in Australia (translated by the husband as barely above freeze your butt off temperature!) I may have my advanced dive ticket but nothing was going to induce me into the waters around here this time of year.

Lunching at Bicheno

Lunching at Bicheno

By the Bay

By the Bay

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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The Hobart Finale

The van is back in business! We experienced great service from everyone in Hobart and our insurer Suncorp. Considering everyone returned to work on the Tuesday after Easter,  getting our van back on the Friday was outstanding.  In the mean time we caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in 25 years since our Air Force recruit training days.  Time stands still with some friendships and that’s how it felt seeing Tanya again, like it was yesterday.  We had a lot of giggling over old photos as we relived the horror of the eighties hair styles and clothing.

After picking the van up and checking out of our park out near the airport we thought we might move a little closer to town – there was a park near town called Treasure Island that looked good.  The problem was the only treasure near this park was the local sewage treatment plant!  Hmmm… scrub that off the list.  The next closest to Hobart seemed lovely, set back in the bush only 5 minutes away and every night we had Long Nosed Potaroo’s coming to visit (once the kids were in bed, they weren’t silly).  This park turned out to be the best and the worst decision – we made some fabulous friends out of the parents of six year old triplets who setup next to us (they came to the next camp site with us as well where we managed to make most people believe we were a multiple birth association tour!)

Long Nose Potaroo in Hobart

Up Close with a Potaroo

However…on our last night in Hobart, we were sitting around with our new found friends drinking red wine, discussing the detention facility that was across the highway from our current resting place.  Although we were all aware it was there, so close to civilisation we sort of assumed it would be low security.  I mentioned the copious amounts of razor wire and double fencing we noticed on the way past that day so we googled it and found that it was the medium to high security Tasmanian prison and also the mental health unit where Martin Bryant was housed.  Needless to say we were all relieved to check out the next day – although I figure that the last place any escapees were going to hang around was outside the prison so we should be reasonably safe in the event of a break out?

Our last few days in Hobart were lovely, took the girls to Zoo Doo where they take you to feed the animals in a safari vehicle and the Emu’s and Camel’s practically climb in and take the food out of your hands (not joking about that one) and we took a boat ride to Peppermint Bay to enjoy world class food and wine after checking out the Tasmanian coast line.  I also snuck out for a half day back at MONA all by myself – my mental health break!

Camel Loving

Camel Coming Aboard

Windy on the Bow!

Peppermint Bay Restaurant

Peppermint Bay Restaurant

 

Although sad to leave next is Freycinet National Park which if memory serves is a stunning place so onwards goes the Inns circus…

When My Heart Stops Beating

I just had to slip in a quick blog about my absolute favorite exhibit from today at the Hobart Museum of Old and New Art.

The artist is Patrick Hall and he creates these beautiful, intriguing, emotionally evocative pieces of, well, furniture! Visually stunning in a dim space, these cabinets with illuminated little faces on every drawer will say “I love you” in various tones and voices when opened (that’s the bit kids love).. I was intrigued by the short pieces of writing illuminated on the top surface of each drawer – they were beautifully written and incredibly moving. To quote the narrative from the iPod guided tour:

records of living: a depository of people; of stories revealed, secrets whispered and emotions laid bare

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Here’s a short excerpt from the top of one as well:

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