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The final 6 days of photos have now been posted of our wonderful holiday in Tasmania with Katharine, Steve, Patrick and Henry. I hope you enjoy them.

Day 15 Saturday 30 September Hobart to Brisbane

When the two of us have been staying in a separate room/villa to Katharine, Steve, Patrick & Henry, we have been getting a phone call from Patrick in the morning to say they are up and ready for breakfast and will see us soon, so we loved getting our phone call from Patrick this morning – he is such a sweetie!! We checked out and got the car packed and headed down to Salamanca Market, which is said to be “a celebration of Tasmania’s unique culture, creative artisans, talented musicians and diverse produce”. It is held every week on a Saturday and the area, set on the waterfront, was alive with the sounds, colours and smells of Tasmania. The historic Georgian sandstone buildings that line the Salamanca Place and face Hobart’s waterfront were used for warehousing of whale oil, grain, timber and imported goods. Some of the old stonehouse warehouses are now galleries and cafes. With the sandstone buildings of Salamanca Place as its backdrop and yachts and fishing boats moored nearby, we could see why the market is a favourite for locals and visitors. The stalls included woodwork, jewellery, glassware, ceramics, fashion items and lots of food stalls to name just a few of the 300+ stalls at the market! We wandered around this amazing market for a couple of hours in the freezing cold 5°, the wind was blowing and there was snow on Mt Wellington, making it feel much cooler, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at this amazing market.
Just as we were heading back to the car, we could see that the Aurora Australis, the Australian icebreaker ship that we saw on our first day in Hobart, was leaving port, heading back to Antarctica, so we watched as it slipped its moorings and moved out into the harbour – Patrick was very interested when Richard and Steve explained each part of the process to him.
We went for a drive around the city, checking out the city sights before heading out to the airport. We filled up with petrol and returned the hire car and walked along the path to the airport building, with lots of people walking past, chuckling and smiling at the sight of Henry pushing his own little suitcase along the path. We got checked in – thank goodness for Steve’s Gold status as we were able to go to the priority check-in instead of lining up with hundreds of other people in the extremely busy airport. We had lunch and all too soon it was time to board our plane for our flight back to Brisbane. This time, Patrick sat with Katharine & Steve and Henry sat with us. We kept Henry occupied as we needed to keep his seatbelt on because of turbulence and although Nanna suggested he should close his eyes and have a snooze as it was his afternoon sleep time, he much preferred for Nanna to read some stories and for him to play with his Police Car. About an hour and a half into our flight, he cuddled his bunny and fell asleep – he looked so cute. Meanwhile, Patrick was enjoying watching a movie on the iPad and was delighted when Katharine took him to the toilet and Patrick was chatting to one of the hostesses and asked her if there was anything he could do to help her, so she put an apron on him, pinned her flight badge on him and off he went with her to collect rubbish from the passengers, who seemed quite delighted – Patrick was in his element and we have a couple of lovely photos of him as “a steward”. Henry woke up just before the plane landed in Brisbane and after everyone had disembarked the plane, the hostess had organised for Patrick to go into the cockpit to sit in the Pilot’s seat beside the Co-Pilot while Henry watched on. Both boys were given a special Virgin Passport with a stamp in it and Katharine got some chocolate from the co-pilot. How awesome!
We very much appreciated Don & Lesley collecting all of us and our baggage and delivering us home before taking Katharine, Steve, Patrick and Henry home. We were very spoilt as Lesley had made us a lovely dinner and had bought some milk so we could have a cuppa. What a perfect end to our amazing holiday in Tasmania! We have so many special memories of the places we visited and the fun & enjoyment we shared with Katharine, Steve, Patrick and Henry. Watching the boys experience new things has added a special dimension to our holiday!

Day 13 Thursday 28 September Strahan

This morning we woke to a cool and rainy morning in Strahan. After breakfast, we headed off to Hogarth Falls. We parked in People’s Park and had a short walk (about 45 minutes return) in the rainforest along the track that meandered beside Botanical Creek to this lovely little waterfall. The track had some large puddles and some muddy sections that we needed to carry the boys across. The creek is apparently the home to a number of platypus but we were not lucky enough to see any today. Some of the trees in the rainforest were covered with lichen and moss and we also some fungus. Hogarth Waterfall was quite spectacular and it was difficult to get a good photo because of spray coming off the water as it gushed over the falls.
We had morning tea at Banjo’s Bakehouse across the road from the Harbour where there were two large catamarans being loaded for the Gordon River Cruise. Then we went up the hill to Water Tower Hill Lookout for lovely views over Strahan and the Harbour.
We visited Morrisons Huon Pine Sawmill, a family owned and operated sawmill, featuring older milling equipment and different types of wood. They make chopping boards, coasters, table & bar tops and lots of other items.
We also visited Tasmanian Special Timbers, who pride themselves on providing quality timbers such as Huon Pine and King Billy for longer than any other company in the world – seven generations, from prisoners and free settlers all the way through to today’s entrepreneurs. They say that they are in the unique position to have been involved in the entire Tasmanian Timber industry and that they are still salvaging timber and managing the valuable timber resource and claim to be the most responsible harvesters of Huon and other valuable Tasmanian timber species. They had a very good display of various timber products made from Blackwood, Celery Top Pine, Huon Pine, King William Pine, Leatherwood, Myrtle and Sassafras. Some of the Huon Pine logs have been carbon dated to be greater than 4,000 years old. We watched a craftsman making some salt & pepper grinders – very interesting. We wandered through the shop, looking at all the beautiful items for sale, including a lovely glass topped dining room table for $4,900.
We came back to our Villa for lunch – Patrick made Nanna’s (Sandy’s) sandwich, a ham and tomato sandwich, all by himself – and it tasted great too! Henry had a sleep, Patrick had quiet time, Sandy wasn’t feeling well, and so she had a snooze too.
After Henry woke up, we drove down to Ocean Beach where we could see the rough surf of the West Coast – Ocean Beach is 40 Kilometres long. Then we drove to Macquarie Heads through the Swan Basin State Forest, passing a big camping area to the beautiful headland and narrow passage, called Hells Gates. As it was raining, Katharine and Richard walked to Wilderness Beach to get photos of Macquarie Peninsula and Macquarie Harbour, as well as Cape Sorell Lighthouse, while the rest of us stayed in the car. Macquarie Harbour is six times the size of Sydney Harbour and is the second-largest natural harbour in Australia after Port Phillip Bay in Victoria and is surrounded by wilderness.
We returned to Strahan Village and went to Regatta Point Station to await the arrival at 5.30pom of the West Coast Wilderness Train from Queenstown to Strahan. The West Coast Wilderness Railway is a reconstruction of the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company, which began operations in 1897 as the only link between Queenstown and Regatta Point in Strahan. The railway used the ABT rack and pinion system to conquer the mountainous terrain through the rainforest. Some of the original locomotives are still operating on the railway today and it now operates as a tourist experience with a focus on sharing the history of the West Coast. It was windy and freezing at Regatta Point while we waited for the train to arrive. When it finally arrived, the train driver tooted the whistle and waved to Patrick and Henry as the engine went past them – it was spectacular to see it pulling into the station belching steam and looking very impressive. One of the staff members on the train organised for Patrick to stand inside the locomotive and then she took him into one of the carriages and also gave him a little gift – Patrick was delighted!!
We had dinner at the Regatta Point Tavern across the road from the station and then headed back to the villa to get the boys settled for the night.
We enjoyed our day exploring Strahan.

Day 14 Friday 29 September Strahan to Hobart

We left Strahan at 8.30am and drove up through the rainforest mountains, stopping at Queenstown, which is the gateway to the West Coast and is surrounded by hills and mountains and was once the world’s richest mining town. We stopped at the Queenstown Station, where the West Coast Wilderness Train came from yesterday. We wandered through their historical Museum and saw interesting information about the Rack & Pinion system as well as lots of other information about the building of the railway line from Queenstown to Strahan. Beside the Railway Museum were some sculptures about mining through the ages, including a Miners’ Siding. Across from the Station was the 19th Century Old Empire Hotel and in the Main Street was the brightly coloured Old Post Office building.
The scenic drive out of Queenstown up a winding road with supposedly 90 bends was quite spectacular. We stopped at a lookout over Queenstown, which was very picturesque and then we stopped again at the Iron Blow Lookout overlooking the Old Mine, which was built on the Lyell fault line. Patrick said it was very windy and he nearly got blown off the mountain!
We continued down the mountain with its rugged scenery, which soon became rivers and lakes and snow-topped mountains. We arrived at Derwent Bridge, which is a town at the gateway to the southern end of the wilderness and wildlife area of Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. It was named after its crossing at the source of the mighty Derwent River. We drove out to Lake St Clair, which has an area of approximately 45 square kilometres and a maximum depth of 160metres, making it Australia’s deepest lake. When we were in Cradle Mountain, we saw the beginning of the Overland Track, which is one of Australia’s most famous hiking tracks through the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. More than 8,000 hikers each year complete the track which is officially 65 km long, however, many of the hikers choose to add the hike around Lake St Clair, which brings the length to 82 km. The track winds through mountains, rainforest, rivers and plains. A group of hikers had just arrived at St Clair when we were there, so we were able to have a chat to one of the girls about their trek. Lake St Clair was beautiful with snow-capped mountains in the background, but it was windy and very cold and started to rain again. Our picnic lunch that we had planned on the shores of Lake St Clair ended up being a picnic lunch in the car.
Not far out of Derwent Bridge, we stopped at The Wall in the Wilderness, which is “an inspirational tale carved from the mountains and rivers of Highlands Tasmania”. Greg Duncan, the artist/sculptor is carving 3 metre high x 1 metre wide panels from Huon Pine, telling the history of the area from the indigenous people to the pioneering timber harvesters, to pastoralists, to miners and hydro-electric scheme workers. It is a work in progress and when it is finished it will be 100metres long. We wandered around the long museum–type building looking at all the different panels, in awe of this talented man. He had left some of the panels in various stages of completion so that we could “experience the evolution of the carvings, from the drawing to the roughing out and the various stages of detailing, to the point of completion.” We were most impressed by the detail in his sculptures eg the veins and tendons on the backs the hands were so lifelike.
Back on the highway again and we were delighted to see an echidna toddling across the road in front of us. We continued along the Lyell Highway and passed through the HydroElectric Scheme town of Tarraleah where we saw the Tarraleah Power Station – the inlet pipes, the Turbine Hall and the Switchyard.
We turned off the Highway to visit Russell Falls, which is a tiered cascade waterfall on the Russell Falls Creek in the Mt Field National Park, part of Tasmania’s World Heritage Wilderness Area. Once again it was raining, so we all put on our jackets and raincoats and walked to the falls on a track through some lovely rainforest, passing beside tall swamp gums and some species of typical rainforest trees. As we got closer to the falls there were some tall tree ferns which were lovely. The falls were spectacular and very loud as the water thundered over the three sections of the falls, with large amounts of mist coming off the cascading water.
We made our way back to the car and then drove to the highway and continued our journey towards Hobart, passing through some lush green farming land, stopping briefly at the Salmon Ponds at Plenty – it was pouring with rain so Katharine took Patrick for a quick look and then we continued our journey. We passed through the small picturesque town of New Norfolk, on the River Derwent. The town has a rich history and is the third oldest settlement in Tasmania, established by evacuees relocated from Norfolk Island after the island prison was abandoned in 1807. We saw lots of old pioneer heritage buildings, such as St Matthews Anglican Church built in 1823 and one of Australia’s oldest hotels and many of the houses date back to the 1820s. New Norfolk is also a hop-growing area, which produces most of the hops for Australian breweries. Just outside New Norfolk, we some some unusual buildings called “oust houses” that are used to dry the hops in preparation for the brewing process. The views areound New Norfolk were lovely – beautiful river, the mountains and the valley – pity about the rain.
We arrived back in Hobart after a long, but lovely day at approximately 5.30pm and made our way to the Best Western Hotel, which is located in the city centre. We got checked in, brought all our stuff up from the car – it now has to be packed back into our suitcases, ready for our flight home tomorrow. We had dinner at Embers at the hotel and then bath for the boys and off to bed, while the weary adult travellers got the packing done and off to bed too.

Day 12 Wednesday 27 September Cradle Mountain to Strahan

We woke this morning to a cold frosty but clear morning, so after another lovely buffet breakfast at the Main Lodge, we packed the car, checked out and headed straight down to Dove Lake. This time we walked around the Lake in the other direction around to Glacier Rock where we had great views across the Lake to the Boatshed. Cradle Mountain had a band of cloud around it but it did lift for a short period of time so that we could get some photos.
After a wonderful time at Cradle Mountain, we headed back down the mountain at 10.10. We stopped at the Tullabardine Dam on Lake Mackintosh and also saw the Mackintosh Power Station. We drove over the Dam Wall – the crest is 877m long. By this time it was raining and it continued to rain for the rest of the day.
We stopped at Tullah, a former mining town, which is located on the edge of Lake Rosebery and beneath Mt Farrell, a 712 metre high mountain, which, like today is often shrouded in mist. Mining ceased in 1974 but two years later, the Hydro Electric Commission built over 250 houses for local workers on the Hydro Electric Power Schemes. Until the early 1960s the only access to Tullah (other than by foot or horse) was by a siding off the Emu Bay Railway. The “Wee Georgie Wood” steam locomotive re-enacts this journey in 1.6km train ride that departed from the middle of town. The train wasn’t working today, but we did manage to see some of the old trains and the boys pretended they were engines as they “chuffed” around the track. We drove to the Murchison Dam and the Mackintosh Power Scheme on the Murchison River.
We continued through the mountains and stopped at Rosebery, which is at the foot of Mount Black and is an active zinc-mining town with an estimated yield of $8billion since mining began over a century ago. Rosebery is in a valley with beautiful dense forest and the volcanic mountains of the West Coast Range. We saw the Bluestone Mine Operation and had lunch at the Rosebery Bakehouse. As we were driving out of Rosebery, we saw the old Hercules to Rosebery aerial ore bucket ropeway constructed to move ore from the Hercules mine to Rosebery.
We drove through Zeehan, which is hidden in a valley of hills and rainforest and was established in the late 1800s when tin, silver and lead discoveries started the largest mining boom in the west. Zeehan, Silver City, attracts geologists from around the world because of the unique geological structure of the region. On the outskirts of Zeehan, we saw the Bluestone Mining Camp and the Old Miners Cottages in town. We saw the West Coast Heritage Centre, but it was pouring with rain and both boys were asleep, so we didn’t stop.
We booked into our accommodation at the Sharonlee Strahan Villas, which are built on the original Tasmanian Government Railway Yards of West Strahan. The original turntable housed on the railway yards and built in 1892 was donated to the West Coast Wilderness Railway, since being restored and now in regular use at Regatta Point Station. Strahan is the port town of the West coast of Tasmania and is located on the northern end of Macquarie Harbour, which is 6 times the size of Sydney Harbour, and the 2nd largest natural harbour in Australia, only 2nd in size to Port Phillip Bay. Strahan was established in the late 1870’s at Smith Cove to service the early mining and pining industries.
We got settled into our two bedroom Villa and then Katharine, Richard and Sandy went to the IGA for some fruit and something to cook for dinner. It is quite cold here – at 4.00pm it was 9° but because of the wind, it felt like 4°.
We enjoyed a home-cooked meal and then looked at some of our photos on the television together before the boys went off to bed. The four adults enjoyed sitting around chatting.

Day 11 Tuesday 26 September Cradle Mountain

We woke this morning to a white winter wonderland as it had snowed overnight – everything looked magical. Katharine, Steve & the boys called in to our cabin and then we all went to breakfast together at the Lodge.
After breakfast, we got organised and drove down to Dove Lake, which is a very popular visitor attraction and is circled by a six-kilometre track, some of which is a boardwalk. Dove Lake was formed by glaciation and the area has lots of Tasmanian Beech, snow Gums, tussock grasses and pencil pines. Steve put Henry into the pram as we thought that most of the track would be boardwalk, however we soon discovered that there were lots of steps and the track we walked on was mainly dirt/gravel and many stone steps and only a short section of boardwalk.
As we followed the track and boardwalk around the lake, it snowed lightly on us – how amazing!. We soon came to the Boatshed, which was built, using King Billy pine, in 1940 by the first ranger at Cradle Mountain, Lionell Connell. The Boatshed is currently vacant, but boating was popular on the lake up to the 1960s. There were a lot of people coming and going at the Boatshed but after waiting a while and with some degree of patience, we managed to get some beautiful photos of Dove Lake, the Boatshed and Cradle Mountain shrouded in cloud and mist, without any people in the photos! What a magic place!
After walking back to the car in the rain and snow, we stopped in at Gustav Weindorfer’s house Waldheim Chalet was originally built between 1912 and the early 1920s. It was largely the vision of Gustav and Kate Weindorfer that led to the construction of the chalet and the creation of the national park. The Chalet, which they named Waldheim meaning “forest home”, provides visitors with an insight into the Cradle Mountain area and the people who played a role in the establishment of the national park.
From there, we drove up to the Visitor’s Centre and had a look at the various displays and items for sale before having lunch in the Cradle Mountain Café. After lunch, we dropped Steve and the boys back at their cabin so the boys could have a sleep/rest and Katharine and us went to the Discovery Centre where they had a small convenience store so that we could get some fruit (which they didn’t have) and some biscuits to replenish our supplies. We also had a wander around the Peppers Lodge grounds.
While the boys were having their afternoon rest, we returned to our cabin to read for a while. Richard went out onto the verandah to take some more photos and saw that there was a wombat just outside Katharine & Steve’s cabin, so he went up quietly and managed to get within a metre of the wombat to get some good photos. When Patrick rang our cabin to say that Henry was awake and would we like to go and have afternoon tea with them, we told them about the wombat and Patrick and Henry and the two of us went outside to take more photos and discovered that there were two wombats.
After afternoon tea, we all went on a couple of the suggested walks. The first one took us down the Pencil Pine track to the Pencil Pine Waterfall, which was very powerful and very loud and very beautiful. As we walked along the boardwalk through the forest, there were many types of beautiful lichen growing on the trees and along the ground in different shades of vivid green through to brown. There was also patches of snow still remaining from last night’s fall but most of the rest of the snow in the area, including around our cabin, had melted.
We also did the Enchanted Nature Walk – this short trail took us on a boardwalk through the forest and we walked underneath a canopy of gnarled myrtle-beech trees and towering pencil pines and we were able to stop and look at the soft mosses that were all over the trees and also on the forest floor. As we walked along, we could hear the sound of the mountain stream, Pencil Pine Creek, and we could smell the fragrance of the foliage. We came across three interpretive tunnels that Patrick & Henry explored – they had displays that explained the flora and fauna of the area and encouraged the young ones to look out for different plants and animals. We kept our eyes peeled for wombats, but we didn’t see any on the trail but we did see some pademelons. This walk brought us over a bridge across the Pencil Pine Creek and we came out beside the Lodge. We were back in time to have showers and be ready for our 5.30 booking at the Highland Restaurant. Sandy took her phone out of the rice and very gingerly turned it on and was very surprised and very grateful when it came to life!! We had a lovely meal in the restaurant with its big open fire-place and the boys charmed the waitress and the other staff members. Steve took the boys back to their cabin to settle them for the night while we finished our drinks. The two us went up to Katharine & Steve’s cabin for a cuppa and a chat after the boys were asleep. We were pleased that we only had a short walk back to our cabin as the outside temperature had dropped to -1°.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our short stay in Cradle Mountain – the remoteness of the mountains with the twisted, lichen-covered trees and the mountain streams and the beautiful Dove Lake and our unexpected white winter wonderland this morning were all that we had hoped it would be and more!

Day 10 Monday 25 September Launceston to Cradle Mountain

We left Launceston at about 9.30, called in to a lookout that look over part of Launceston for a couple of quick photos before heading north on the Bass Highway. Our first stop was at 41° South Salmon & Ginseng Farm, where we had a tasting of some salmon dip, salmon, ginseng and honey.
Our next stop was at the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm where we went for a wander around a small lake to the long tunnels of the Raspberry greenhouses. We had our lunch at the café sitting out on the verandah where we could keep an eye on the boys while they played in the children’s play area until our lunch was ready. Henry had Raspberry Jam sandwiches, his favourite, Patrick had pancakes with Raspberry Sauce & ice-cream, Katharine had Pumpkin Soup & savoury muffins, Steve had Chat Potatoes, Richard had a eye-fillet beef sandwich and Sandy had an Apple &Raspberry pie – all were delicious!
Our next stop was at Ashgrove Cheese Dairy – their slogan is “Where the Cows are Happier”. We were able to look through some large windows to view the cheese-making process and curing room before tasting and choosing some cheese and wandering through the gift shop.
We continued our journey through lovely lush green diary farm land to Railton, which is known as the Town of Topiary as it has over 100 topiary characters along the main street. The town is proud of its high quality limestone cement, which was used to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge and many of the great construction projects around Australia. After driving up and down the main street to view the topiary, Steve parked the car beside a Topiary Park so that we could get lots of photos.
Our next stop was at Sheffield, which is the “Town of Murals” and “Tasmania’s Outdoor Art Gallery”. A public meeting was held in Sheffield in 1985 to formulate some strategies to stop the economic decline which Sheffield and Kentish was experiencing. They investigated some suggestions, one of which was how successful a town in Canada had been when facing a similar economic downturn – Chemainus on Vancouver Island, who painted murals on the walls of buildings and these murals were credited as rescuing the town. Richard and Sandy visited Chemainus when we visited Canada & Alaska in 2013 and were very impressed with the murals.
The Sheffield Murals depicts the pioneering history of the district and its people. The first mural commissioned in 1986 and painted by John Lendis depicts “Gustav Weindorfer, a passionate mountaineer, naturalist and conservationist sharing his home with the wild animals.”
We wandered around the town looking at some of the 80 murals that show “the town’s history, events, heroes and heartbreaks painted on the walls of this quaint little town.”
From there we drove past Mt Roland up into the mountains to Cradle Mountain. Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, where we are staying, is located right on the edge of the World Heritage listed Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. As we approached the National Park, it started raining, which turned into sleet and then when we reached the Lodge, it started to snow!! Our Pencil Pine Balcony Cabins (one each) overlooks the forest hinterland and a small lake AND they both have fireplaces. We put our suitcases etc into our cabins and went exploring. The Main Lodge building is set beside the Pencil Pine Creek – it has a lounge with a big log fireplace, a bar, a Tavern & Bistro and a formal Dining Room. When Katharine checked us in she was told that this is a “Technology Retreat” as there are no TVs in the rooms and no WiFi other than vey limited WiFi in the Main Lodge building. Sandy is having a technology retreat more than she had expected because she dropped her phone in a puddle beside the Main Lodge and so it is sitting in a container of rice with fingers crossed and prayers being said over it.
We had dinner in the Tavern Bistro tonight and then spent a little while relaxing in the lounge before heading back to Katharine & Steve’s cabin for a game of Snakes & Ladders with the boys before their bedtime. We came back to our cabin while the boys got settled and then went back to their cabin – it was snowing lightly again – and sat with Katharine & Steve in front of the fireplace, chatting and working out our plans for tomorrow.

Day 9 Sunday 24 September – Launceston – Tasmania Zoo

We woke this morning to another cool, overcast and rainy day. We drove over to Nicole and Russell’s place and they took us to Tasmania Zoo. The zoo, which is privately owned and family-run, is situated on 900 acres of native bushland in the picturesque Tamar Valley and is home to Tasmania’s largest collection of native and exotic animals. They are dedicated to continuous contribution to wildlife conservation and to the education of the community at large. They are also committed to caring for injured and orphaned wildlife.
We were delighted to be able to see several Tasmanian Devils, who wandered up to the face to “sniff at us” and were less than a metre away, so we were able to really get a good look at them. Tasmanian Devils make their dens in hollowed out logs, old wombat burrows and caves. Devils usually sleep during the day and at dusk they emerge from their dens to begin their hunt for food, returning at dawn.
We saw lots of Australian Native Parrots and Cockatoos, as well as some more exotic birds like Macaws and Golden Pheasants. We saw a good balance of Australian Native Animals like Wallabies, Pademelons, Emus and Wombats, as well as animals from other countries like White Lions from Africa that looked very healthy and well-fed, Capybara – semi-aquatic mammals from South America, Cotton-top Tamarins, Marmosets, Black-tufted Capuchin and Alpacas. All the children, as well as the adults, enjoyed watching the antics of a colony of Meerkats while they were being fed and we had our morning tea – lovely banana bread – while we watched them.
The Zoo also had a large Jurassic Swamp area that was filled with life-like Dinosaurs. We followed a path around the area, through the bush to the sounds of dinosaurs coming from loudspeakers placed among the trees. As we wandered around the dinosaur exhibits, we saw several Pademelons, who quickly hopped away to hide in the surrounding bush.
The zoo was well laid out and the areas that the animals were housed in were quite large with perspex sections so that even the smallest child could see the animals. The rain held off for most of the time that we were there. By the time we left the Zoo, it was raining quite heavily, so we went back to Nicole & Russell’s place for a late lunch.
The two of us came back to our Villa to get some photos sorted and then went back to Nicole and Russell’s place for dinner, which Katharine made – yummy pasta bolognese and then we managed to get a photo of all of us together before the children went to bed. The adults then sat around chatting and enjoying each other’s company.
We have had a wonderful time in Launceston, despite the rain. Nicole and Russell have made us feel very welcome and it was wonderful to catch up with them and Bec, Frances and Eliza.

Day 8 Saturday 23 September Launceston

This morning, we woke to a damp drizzly Launceston. By mid-morning the rain was clearing so we all headed off in two cars to explore. Nicole and Russell took us to Cataract Gorge, which is a beautiful, unique natural formation and only a short distance from their home. At the Gorge, there are walking trails, gardens, a pool, a suspension bride, a café, a rotunda and a chairlift.
We followed a pathway originally built in the 1890s along the cliff face and we were looking down onto the South Esk River. The first Basin we came to had a swimming pool and a café surrounded by bush – this is known to the locals as Launceston’s Beach.
We continued along the path to the Alexandra Suspension Bridge built in 1904 and got great views from the bridge. On the northern side, is a Victorian garden with ferns and lots of different plants, and we also saw “The Fairy Dell”. There were lots of peacocks strutting about and quite a few sitting on braches in the trees – Richard commented that he had never seen so many peacocks all together. Katharine & Patrick, Nicole & Frances and Richard all caught the chairlift back and Richard was able to get some good photos even although the weather wasn’t very good. They had a bird’s eye view of the South Esk River with its cascading waterfalls and the rocky Gorge.
From there we all drove down to the waterfront of the Tamar River and had Fish and Chips at a great Café – they served our meal in a large paper cone – very unique. (We were given a dinner plate as well.) Then we went for a wander along the boardwalk, stopping for a gelato ice cream and continuing our wander along the Tamar River to a playground for young children, where the kids enjoyed themselves and we could see the West Tamar Highway Bridge and the arch of King’s Bridge. We even saw some people flying a huge kite, which Patrick and Henry loved!
After a wonderful few hours, it was time to head back to Nicole and Russell’s place for Henry and Eliza to have a sleep and for them to get ready for dinner. Mutual friends of Katharine & Steve and Nicole & Russell are going to have dinner with them. Richard and Sandy are leaving “the young ones” to enjoy themselves and have opted to have dinner at the Casino Complex. After a lovely dinner, Sandy’s friend, Karen, came to meet us at the Watergarden Café at the Casino for a cuppa. She brought her latest PhotoBooks for Sandy to see, which was great. We enjoyed catching up with Karen.
Despite the overcast day and showery weather this morning, we have had a wonderful day, and evening, in Launceston!

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.