Week 53 | Swansea to Derwent Bridge

Day 365: Swansea – One year on the road!

It’s time to celebrate being on the road for a whole year!  It literally feels like we only left a few weeks ago.  Where has the time gone?  It’s been a worthwhile exercise to track our expenditure to have a clear picture of exactly how much it costs to be on the road.  There are a lot of areas that we could improve on to cut our costs down, however, this trip has been a dream come true for both Andrew and I and we budgeted for $1000.00 a week.  We are both pleased with the final outcome of $42259.67 (which includes our registrations, insurances and RACQ membership).

Here’s a few of our big ticket item stats:

Kilometres travelled: 32,440

Food: $9072.24 an average of $174.46 per week

Fuel:  $6516.18 at an average price of $1.53 p/l

Accommodation: $6101.37

Experiences: $5780.77

Eating Out: $4689.95

Maintenance: $2688.67

An even more interesting are these stats.  When we set off we thought we would free camp most of the time.

Caravan Parks: 193 nights

House sits: 106 nights

Free camps: 66 nights

Wildlife: seagulls, bandicoot.

Day 366: Swansea

The smoke haze has rolled in again today and after a windy, wild day yesterday the beach is strewn with sea grasses. I’m calling in for my monthly Board meeting and Andrew is off for a game of golf. The golf course is just around the corner from the park.

After the meeting we head out to Kate’s Berry Farm. We visited 5 years ago so we are keen to see if they’ve grown and what else they may now have on offer. It’s a bit disappointing. The staff are very uninformed on the menu items and the service is particularly slow. The berry farm doesn’t appear to have grown at all and there is no improvement to the parking situation. Other visitors are commenting on the disappointment of the berries for sale. Such a shame to see. We decide to settle for an ice cream and go else where for lunch. We head into town & have lunch at the Artifakt Cafe & Gallery. I have a delicious lamb & vegetable quiche & Andrew has a bacon & egg panini. They are both delicious. Before leaving we check out the gallery. Some interesting and very expensive artworks.

This afternoon we have a walk on the beach and on our return we meet the owners of the caravan park. They tell us how they bought the park 4 years ago & basically rebuilt it from the ground up. They travelled all around Australia in their own van & helped other parks get their businesses running more efficiently. This park is certainly a credit to them. Some of the features include heaters in the amenities block, washing machine for pet bedding, heaters in one of the camp kitchen areas (yes there are two camp kitchens) & very quiet motorised cleaning carts.  We’ve really enjoyed our stay at Swansea, it’s a beautiful spot to spend time in.

Wildlife: seagulls, parrots.

Day 367: Swansea to Sorell

It was great this morning when we checked out of the Swansea Holiday Park to be thanked by the owners for the review that I posted on WikiCamps. They are certainly on top of their social media networks.

We’re travelling 109km today and it’s 20 degrees when we depart at 9.15am. The east coast is vastly different to the north west coast. It’s so incredibly dry. The land is brown and quite baron. We feel for the farmers and particularly the sheep grazing on parched landscapes. Driving the coastline however the colour of the ocean is striking.

We arrive early at the low cost camp at Sorell. It’s quite spacious & is $7.50 per night. Water and a dump point are available. Sites are all marked out which makes it easy to find a site & park up. After backing in we meet another caravanner and end up chatting for quite some time. A very late cuppa and then we’re off to the shops to stock up on groceries. I’m catching up on a bit of work this afternoon, more chatting with other campers and before we know it it’s time to get dinner organised. We were going to stay for one night, but decide to stay for two.

Wildlife: alpacas, ducks, seagulls, dead pademelons, crows, sheep, dead rabbits, shetland ponies, horses.

Day 368: Sorell

Today’s weather forecast is not looking good. It’s wet, cold and windy & looking like we’ll be forced to spend the day inside the van. Andrew does some reading and I’ve got my pencils out to do some colouring in. It’s been very restful! We managed to reach a top of 14 and tonight it’s going down to 9. I don’t enjoy it when it goes under double digits.

Wildlife: none today!

Day 369: Sorell

After a day indoors the sun is out and we’re hoping for a top of 16. We’re heading out to Richmond, home of Australia’s oldest bridge. Now Heritage listed, the bridge was built in 17 months with convict labour & opened in April 1825. The overseas tourists are in full force taking weird selfies and feeding the many ducks in the creek. It’s tricky trying to get a photo without any of them in it!

Next stop is the small township and as we are driving around I notice my daughter Melissa’s friend Helen and son Seth walking along the street. We turn around and go back and pull the car up beside them. It’s such a small world!

We have a wander through the Main Street and find the small cottage where we stayed 5 years ago. It’s now a shop and the building looks really lovely. The old fireplace is still there too. It bought back some fond memories of our stay in Richmond. Next stop is the Bakery where we enjoy a lovely hot coffee, a warm sausage roll and a takeaway French vanilla slice. The bakery is packed, it’s spot the Aussie time.

Back at the camp it’s time to sit outside in the sun for awhile and enjoy some warmth. It’s slowly climbing to 16 degrees but there is a breeze which is really chilling to the bones. Late in the afternoon we take Cinta for a long walk before settling in the van for a cool night expected to go down to 8 degrees.

Wildlife: ducks, sheep, horses, parrots.

Day 370: Sorell to Hamilton

We’ve had a later start this morning after filling the van with water and getting ready for a few more days of free camping. It’s 10.30am by the time we leave Sorell and it’s only 14 degrees.

The scenery today is quite different as we head inland towards the Derwent region. Apricots, cherries, raspberries & blackberries are grown in massive quantities in the farms all along the Derwent River.  The hills are also adorned with vineyards. Whilst the farmlands look dry and baron the lush green growth on the vines is a stark contrast.

Hamilton is only 73km from Sorell, another short days driving for Andrew. We’re staying at a low cost camp at Hamilton by the creek overlooking a dairy farm. It’s a very peaceful and calming place to spend a night. The camp ground is run by the Central Highlands Council and is $5 for the night. Across the road is the children’s playground and amenities block. Showers are $1 for 5 minutes, toilets and a laundry (available during council hours).

It’s such a beautiful day, slowly climbing to our top of 22 so the awning is out and we enjoy an afternoon relaxing. We meet two ladies from Hobart who are having a night away in their camper and spend quite a while chatting with them. Three whiz bangers roll up and set up by the creek. You never know what to expect when they arrive at a campsite. They are all quiet and have their mats out meditating and doing yoga. We are in for a cold night with the temperature expected to drop to 8 again.

Wildlife: sheep, shetland ponies, turkey, geese, dead pademelons, crows, horses, swans, dead rabbits,cows, ducks, Fairy wrens, grass parrots, swans.

Day 371: Hamilton to Derwent Bridge

Our camp site is so peaceful, it’s a beautiful way to start the day. The air in Tassie is so clean and fresh. Andrew is cooking bacon and eggs outside and Cinta is lying in the sun. We are packed up and leaving by 9.40am and it’s climbed to 16 degrees. We’re travelling through a lot of pine forests and over some very winding roads today. As we climb the mountains the temperature drops to 11 degrees. The dogwood trees are all flowering and there are yellow flowers everywhere along the highway.  We stop for morning tea at the geographic centre of Tasmania. It’s quite a scenic drive today. Our journey is 101km however we don’t arrive until just after midday.  We’re free camping at the Derwent Bridge Hotel.  Free camping is allowed and you are encouraged to buy a drink or have a meal in the hotel.

Once we’ve set up we head for The Wall in the Wilderness. Over 60,000 people visit each year. We visited 5 years ago and we were very keen to see the progress over time. The unique concept of not allowing mobile phones to be turned on and photographs prohibited creates an overwhelming sense of peacefulness and respect for the creativity of the artist; Greg Duncan. Be prepared to immerse yourself as you enter The Wall.  100 panels, 1 metre wide and 3 metres high, back to back, showcasing the history of the area. His work is breathtaking. His passion is inspiring. Wandering through the lighting is subtle, the space is warm and the piped music adds to the ambiance. We have the deepest respect for a talented artist. It truly is History in the making.

The building itself is oozing in timber craftsmanship throughout. Since we last visited a coffee shop has been added with indoor and outdoor dining options.  The outdoor area is also something to see.  We decided to have lunch inside as it’s quite cool for us.  We had the most tasty home made tomato and vegetable soup with focaccia bread. It was a taste sensation in your mouth!

Next stop is Lake St Claire. There are hikers everywhere and plenty of tourists, totally opposite to the quiet, peacefulness we have just experienced. We take the short walks to the jetty and the foreshore. The weather is turning and it’s looking like rain could be coming in. We head back to the van to an over excited Cinta.

Time to work on the budget and finalise this blog.  A late afternoon walk and foraging in the bush just near our van is an echidna.  I’m quite surprised how close I can get to him with my phone to be able to take a short video and a few pics.  I’m chuffed.  We’re really lashing out today and having dinner and a couple of drinks at the Hotel.  Andrew is having his usual parmigiana and I’m trying out the “genuine” Sri Lankan curry with poppadoms and roti.  The kitchen is full of Sri Lankans so I’m pretty confident I am in for something very special.  Andrew’s parmi is the biggest, thickest chicken breast you could imagine and he says it’s pretty darned good.  My lamb Sri Lankan curry is a taste explosion in your mouth and roti is now a favourite.

Back at the van and we meet our new neighbours from Melbourne.  They are a lovely couple doing a 2 week trip around Tassie and doing a lot of bush walking.  We chat for quite some time exchanging ideas of places to see and where to camp.

That’s another week coming to a close.  Tonight we’ll be looking at where to next for tomorrow.

Wildlife: dead possums, horses, cattle, dead pademelons, Fairy wrens, dead wombat, echidna, grass parrots.

Week 53 total expenses: $775.99 – under budget.



That’s a wrap for Week 53 of the Lap of the Map.

PS: Don’t forget to leave me a comment!

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