Day 7 Friday 22 September Swansea to Launceston

We left Swansea this morning after 2 full and enjoyable days. We headed north along the beautiful coast road towards St Helens. We stopped in at Bicheno Penguin Tours shop so the boys could choose a souvenir with their spending money that Eenie had given them, because we didn’t have time to look last night. They both chose a little furry blue penguin and Katharine also bought Henry a cute little bucket hat with Penguins on it.
We stopped at St Helens for morning tea. St Helens is the largest town on Tasmania’s north-east coast and is the state’s game-fishing capital, known for its catches of deep sea fish, such as Albacore Tuna and Yellowfin Tuna, and also lobster. St Helens is at the southern end of the beautiful beaches of Binalong Bay/Bay of Fires. We bought coffee/tea/iced coffee and some morning tea and went down to the waterfront where we sat on the grass, eating our morning tea and taking in the beautiful view and then the boys had a play in the playground.
From St Helens we headed off the highway to explore Binalong Bay – the whole area is very picturesque with its white sands and large weather-beaten granite boulders, many covered in bright orange lichen. At the ends of the beaches were rocky outcrops and all this was set against a backdrop of beautiful clear turquoise/ azure blue ocean – picture perfect. We stopped at Binalong Bay and went for a walk up to the lookout over the Bay and along the coast and stopped again at Swimcart Beach and The Gardens.
We tore ourselves away from the beautiful coastline and made our way back to St Helens, where we bought a sandwich/wraps for lunch and ate them quickly before heading west through lush green farmland and then up into the mountains with lovely forests.
Our next stop was at Bridestowe Lavender Estate, which has been growing lavender since 1922 when a London perfumer planted lavender seeds from the French Alps on his family estate, which he named after his wife’s birthplace in England. The Denny’s designed the curved rows of lavender, which was a revolutionary approach at that time, to better capture and manage the rainfall. The Denny’s also moved away from hand harvesting to automated harvesting, which meant that they could capture the flowers at their peak, ensuring a better quality of oil. Many of the practices became international standard for lavender production. When Tim Denny retired in 1989, he passed Bridestowe to corporate ownership. In 2006, the current owners purchased the farm and restored it to “agricultural excellence” and also strengthened the tourism/visitors aspect of the farm – more than 50,000 visitors from all over the world stroll through the stunning fields.
Unfortunately, the lavender flowers are not in bloom at this time of year so we didn’t get to see the spectacular sight of rows and rows of purple flowers, but we did see the plants and could imagine how stunning it would look when they are in full flower. We wandered through the gift shop with its lovely lavender aromas everywhere.
From there, we made our way to Launceston, which is a riverside city in northern Tasmania. Launceston’s history began in 1804 when the commandant of the British garrison, Lt. Col. William Paterson, set up a camp at Port Dalrymple, now known as George Town. A few weeks later, the settlement was moved across the river to York Town and in 1806 they finally settled in Launceston.
We stopped off at the Country Club Villas so that Richard and Sandy could check in and dropped our suitcases in and then made our way to Nicole and Russell’s home, arriving at about 5.00pm. Nicole and Russell, who are our family friends, have kindly offered to be our Launceston tour guides for the next two days, which we are really looking forward to. Katharine, Steve, Patrick & Henry will be staying with Nicole and Russell and their three gorgeous girls, Bec, Frances & Eliza, while Richard and Sandy stay at the Country Club Villas, not far away.
We enjoyed meeting gorgeous little Eliza and catching up with them – there was lots of chatter and laughter and a very enjoyable dinner. Sandy & Richard then drove back to the Villa while “the young ones” watched the football.
We all enjoyed our day exploring the stunning north-east coast of Tasmania.

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