Tasmania 2010

Tasmania

10/19/2010 09:47:00 PM

Round Mountain Scenic Lookout on Olivers Road (from Mole Creek to Cradle Mt)

Isn't that view just stunning?  It was just one of the many gorgeous places we visited on our mini-break to Launceston last weekend.  Despite living in Melbourne all my life, (just an hour away!) I'd never visited Tasmania before.  I did, however, know of its reputation as a haven for foodies and nature-lovers, and I was thrilled when Tourism Tasmania offered me a return flight and car hire to experience Tasmania.  I'll also mention here that even though they provided flights and transport, I was absolutely free to choose my own accommodation, tourist destinations, restaurants, and even the city I visited!  I selected all destinations personally and visited as a paying customer.

We based ourselves in Launceston for the 3 nights, doing breakfasts and dinners in town, and spending the days driving around Tassie to see as many sights as we could fit in.  And believe me, even though we only covered the northern part of the island, there was a lot of driving!  I found the roads pretty easy to drive (with Sandra's skilled navigation, of course), and well signed, but we did notice that there was heaps of roadkill.  I think we counted about 120 over the 3-days, the poor things!  Luckily I didn't hit anything, but I imagine it would be pretty hard for even the most careful driver to avoid animals on some of the unlit roads at night.  (We even saw a super-cute deceased wombat at one point, which just about broke my heart!)

But I digress.  This post is going to be all about the different destinations we visited outside of Launceston. I've tried to limit the photos in this post, (not an easy task!) but there are lots more gorgeous pics on Sandra's 'Sekai Photography' Flickr, here.

So, early on Saturday morning, we hit the road in our blue Ford Falcon, with our official mascot for the trip: Baby Cookie Monster!
Our faithful trip mascot - Baby Cookie Monster!
When we saw him at the airport in Melbourne, I couldn't resist buying him!  Cute, right?  Y'all know that I love cookies (see my header!), and even had a pic of Cookie Monster on a previous design of this blog.

Our first destination was the King Solomons Cave at Mole Creek, about a 90 minute drive from Launceston.  There are a few different caves around Mole Creek, and we chose King Solomons as the tour times fit in best with our schedule.  If time had permitted, I would have loved to check out the other caves.  Apart from the intricate formations, King Solomons is famous for its sparkling calcite walls, hence the name.  A bit hard to see in pictures, but very lovely in person.
Inside King Solomon's Cave

The atmosphere inside the caves is eerily beautiful, unlike anything I'd ever seen or experienced before.  Despite the mild temperatures outside, the caves are always about 9 degrees, and on the day we visited, rather damp.  Our guide told us that after a heavy rain, the caves can be very wet and water will actually run from the walls and ceilings!  In stark contrast to the expanse of greenery and forest outside the caves, it is absolutely silent and pitch black inside. Visitors are given torches, and there are some mild electric lights to illuminate the more cavernous areas.  I found the varying textures of the formations fascinating.

Hehe this rock formation looks like bacon!

Once we'd emerged from the caves, we hit the road again and headed towards Cradle Mountain, about a 2 hour drive from the caves.  We drove through some beautiful countryside, and pulled over a few times to take pictures.  Below we have a picture of the prettiest thing we saw on the way, a random river we drove over.  We spent a good 20 minutes taking pictures from the bridge here, stretching our legs and breathing in the clear Tasmanian air.

Random beautiful river on the way to Cradle Mountain


The Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park was a must-visit destination for me, having heard rapturous descriptions of its beauty from friends and colleagues.  There are a few different walks you can do throughout the park, from easy strolls to intense week-long hikes.  We got our national parks pass and some maps in the visitor centre, had a seat in the cafe next door and made a plan of attack.  The meal there was, well, bland and uninspiring, but I'm happy to say the park was the absolute opposite!

We did The Enchanted Walk first, which is a nice and easy 20 minute stroll.

The Enchanted Walk

Snow!

The Enchanted Walk

We then drove further into the park, to Dove Lake.  You can take a free bus through the park too, especially recommended if you've got a big car or van.  For me, the main attraction of the whole National Park was Dove Lake, as it offers stunning views of Cradle Mountain (although the mountain is often shrouded in mist!)

Dove Lake

The view here was just breathtaking!  It takes about 2 hours to walk around the lake, and you have to register first.  Given that we were both just recovering from colds and that it was windy and raining, we decided to give the walk a miss and just took some pictures.  Next time I'd love to give it a go!

View from Dove Lake

Dove Lake

And then it was time to make the long drive back to Launceston... but of course we made some stops along the way for photos!  There were some amazing contrasts in the scenery.

Middlesex Plains
And there were quite a few farms too! Mainly cattle and sheep farms...


... and this one had a camel!!



On Sunday we drove through the Tamar wine region, marvelling at the gorgeous pastoral valleys on the drive.

Valleys on the way from Launceston to Wineries - Pretty!

We made a quick stop at Pipers Brook winery...
Cute sign outside the ladies' bathroom!

Pipers Brook Vineyard
And then - why not? - we picked a seaside town on the map and drove there.

Bridport Foreshore
We then drove to Hillwood Berry Farm and enjoyed some ice-cream, before going back to the hotel for a much-needed rest!
On the way to Hillwood Strawberry Farm

If you're still with me - well done on reading the whole thing!  Hope you've enjoyed some of Tasmania's gorgeous scenery.  Next up will be some foodie posts from the trip!

To help me discover Tasmania, Tourism Tasmania generously provided return flights and car hire for the trip.  However, I selected all accommodation, tourist destinations and restaurants personally and visited as a paying customer.

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6 comments

  1. I love Tassie. Will definitely head back again. Mister spent one more week than me in Tassie and still can't have enough of it. Great job on the driving and avoiding roadkill!

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  2. Hmmm, I wonder what the meaning of that toilet image is? "Don't drink and piddle"? So many ideas running around in my head...

    My uncle lives in Hobart but I sadly haven't visited Tassie in, golly, 8 years! They've often asked me to visit so I have a feeling I'm going to be emailing them at the end of your Tassie blog series ;)

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  3. Oh the last time I went to Tassie, I took the ferry over and brought my car over to drive around Tassie for a whole week. And it wasn't enough!

    Such a beautiful beautiful place. Breathtaking. I can't wait to go back!

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  4. Tassie is such a pretty place - love going down there to visit the folks. I'm glad it's not just me that gets upset with all the roadkill. It's pretty horrible!

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  5. My husband's family lives in Tassie so I've had the privilege of travelling down there a few times. We also did a big holiday around most parts of the island a few years ago. Oh, how I love that island. It's got so many great foodie spots and I can't wait to see what you mention in your foodie post (and am happy to educate you about any you missed ;P)

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  6. I must say that overall I am really impressed with this blog.It is easy to see that you are impassioned about your writing. I wish I had got your ability to write. I look forward to more updates and will be returning.

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