On the 2nd January 2016, we headed south down the NSW coast to get to Tasmania. School holidays caused all sorts of problems. No Pet Friendly parks (we have a well behaved cat on a lead) and of course the problem of much higher fees. There are no free-camps down the NSW or Victorian coastal highways, and we hadn't thought of that. Everywhere there was a showground - they were too wet - because of all the rain, or closed setting up for their show days. We have a Mazda BT50 and Kingdom Balmoral 23'6" van as our home and were looking forward to low cost parks and stays. We were heading to Tassie for 9 months, and as that would be the coldest time of the year, we had CRVC install a diesel heater. BEST DECISION EVER!! and a great price as well.
We arrived in Devonport on 22nd February, and had decided to house sit, and volunteer as we travelled this beautiful island. Those people who suggest that you can see Tasmania in 2 - 3 weeks - are simply missing the beauty and people!! Placing our van in central locations and using the house sits as our "launching points" - we did 15,000klms around this beautiful island. Locals were amazed that we had come in Winter, but we have seen far more of Tasmania, met "new life long friends" and have been places even Tasmanians have never been. All without the hustle and bustle of "peak season."
We volunteered at the Steamfest in Sheffield (the town of free camps and Murals). We had a 3 week house sit in Bellerive - high on the hill behind the city, but looking straight down Hobart Harbour - and seeing the Cruise ships come in was amazing. We did a 7 night house sit on Bruny Island (off the grid and looking straight back towards Kettering), and we were the first customers at Bruny Landscapes new $5 per night stay for the extra 5 nights. Pennecott's Cruise around the beautiful southern Bruny National Park was amazing. We took 10 days to drive across from Hobart to the west coast. Tarraleah with a light dusting of snow is just gorgeous. BEWARE - THEY CLOSE FOR WINTER!!
6 weeks later, we had stayed in Queenstown, Strahan and Zeehan and travelled in and around the beautiful Trial Harbour, up to Corinna and into Waratah and Savage River. We had 400mm of snow on top of the van (blocking the air conditioner) the night we arrived in Cradle Mtn. Again, we met some locals, who only had a small oil heater in their van, and after 5 days sharing stories in front of the fireplace in the camp kitchen and lodge - AND a few "cordials" later - we are now life-long friends.
We attended several Baptist Churches along the way. Tassie people are so friendly and welcoming at the best of times, but meeting up with "like-minded" people, we were offered farm stays, backyard stays and so much hospitality. We kept a diary the whole time, and as we were able to spend time with the "locals" - we were told of places that the tourist and 'quick traveller' will never see. Adamsfield was one place the Sales Manager at the Mazda dealer in Hobart said we "just had to visit." $300 deposit for the key, 26 klms along a dirt road off the Strathgordon/Mt Field Highway, - but this was a mining town of 1,000 people and 6 pubs. In 1923, they mined Osmiridium. Used for pen nibs, this metal was valued at 7 times the price of gold! "Left of Field" Caravan Park at Mt Field - is another "MUST STAY!" While we were in Tassie, February brought the worst bushfires in 30 years. The Northwest National parks were scorched, and there were fire trucks and helicopters everywhere. The temperatures stayed around 27oC - when usually it was 3oC. Drought took over the hydro system, and the dams were at 18%. The "umbilical cord" - the underwater power connection to Victoria was broken, and so without 'endless' hydro electricity, major manufacturers and smelters were all brought back to 50% capacity. Then in August - the worst floods in 100 years. Beautiful towns like Latrobe, Deloraine, Longford and Evandale were all flooded, highways closed, rail bridges and lines washed out - and even the Spirit of Tasmania couldn't berth in Devonport. Tasmania is renowned for its apples, pears, cherries, berries, stone fruit and vegetables. Picking fresh apples off the tree (at the house sit) and biting in - one of the great "mouth watering" tastes you can endure.
The Broccoli stays fresh for weeks!! BUT - where was your favourite place you ask? Probably Derwent Bridge - and "The Wall in the Wilderness!" Greg Duncan - has built a beautiful log building - 80 metres long - to house 100 Huon Pine panels - 3m x 1.5m x 150mm. These hand crafted and carved panels cost $5,000 per panel and his life-long challenge is to tell the story of life in Tasmania. And the food in the cafe is fantastic too! Out at Derwent Bridge - half way between Queenstown and Hobart, this is one of the "Must Sees" of Tasmania. Just $12 to "be amazed" at the beauty, the skill and the vision of this amazing artist. We spent the last 3 weeks while waiting for the ferry at Wynyard.
The Tulip Festival in October is phenomenal!! We were a month too early for the Cherry Season in Young on the way home. YOU HAVE TO VISIT TASMANIA!! Yes - I know it is a long drive!! Yes - I know it costs a lot of money to go across on the Spirit - BUT - stay 6 months, meet the locals, taste the oysters, the wines, the fresh vegies and fruit, meet the locals, volunteer, house sit. One Last POINT!! BOOK YOUR RETURN FARE ON THE Spirit of Tasmania!! You can change your return dates any time you like! You have preference over everyone else!! And who knows - you may just decide to stay a while longer!! 20th February to 20th November are the "half price dates!!!!!!" Don't hesitate to call or email if you are looking to Travel Tasmania in the future.
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