Week 62 | Goondiwindi to Brisbane

Day 428: Goondiwindi to Marburg

Queensland. The State that we call home and are more than happy to #holidayherethisyear.  I ask you “where else would you want to be!” After travelling over 37,000km the feeling as we drove across the border was quite overwhelming. With so much uncertainty around travel restrictions it’s a relief to be back home in our beautiful State.

We’re moving closer to Brisbane and looking forward to catching up with all of Andrew’s family and hopefully some of our friends.

Travelling 291km today and still getting used to the changed time zone again we are departing by 8.00am and it’s 19 degrees. The warmer weather is certainly welcome after a year of cold climates.

The landscape is lush after all the rain and there is water alongside the road, something we haven’t been used to seeing. The rivers are all full but the water is a rusty brownish colour. Travelling through Toowoomba bring backs memories of when I lived there 40 years ago. How that makes me feel old. We are staying at the Marburg Showgrounds tonight and have power and water for $18. A great low cost camp for travellers. After we set up we have a quick walk around the block and then it’s work time for me. Andrew is checking the map for tomorrow’s drive into the city.

No lovely sunset tonight just fighter jets in the sky. Memories of being near a RAAF base!  Above and below are few photos of around the Marburg township.

Wildlife: dead kangaroos, rabbits.

Day 429: Marburg to Brisbane

There is no rush to pack up and get on the road today as we’re only travelling 67km into Brisbane. At 9.09am when we leave it’s 24 degrees. Andrew is confident he knows the way as we lived in Brisbane for quite a few years and within no time we are pulling up at Dave’s place.

Dave returns home from shopping only minutes after we have arrived.  It’s so great to see him again as it’s been a couple of years since he last visited us in Mission Beach. Cinta has made herself at home and after a cuppa Andrew reverses the van into place in the front yard.

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After lunch I catch up on some work and then we take Cinta out for a walk. Some of the family are coming over for dinner tonight and Dave is cooking up a chicken & leek potato bake. It was delicious. An early night for us after a lovely day and evening.

Day 430:  Brisbane

An early start to another beautiful day in the sunshine state. We are heading off to the shops to pick up some supplies. We’re in luck and manage to get our chemist & health food shop items. The supermarket is well stocked except for toilet paper, tissues, sanitizer and pasta. There is none. We are lucky that we don’t need any of these items at the moment anyway. We manage to get everything else on our list.

As we entered the shops Andrew said “I wonder if we will see anyone that we know”. You wouldn’t believe it. I recognised a woman further down the aisle. Gail was one of my staff members in 1998 when I was the Branch Coordinator at Northern Permanent Building Society Brookside branch; now known as Bendigo Bank. We automatically embraced and then stepped back from each other and said “we shouldn’t have done that”. It was a stark reality for us both of the implications of the Coronavirus. We chatted for awhile and swapped contact details. It was so great to see Gail after all these years.

Next stop is the fruit shop and then the butcher. The butcher is extremely busy but again we manage to get everything that we need.  I’ve got a small amount of work to do then the rest of the day is spent relaxing. A lovely afternoon walk with Dave and an early dinner. Another day is coming to a close.

Day 431: Brisbane

Another beautiful day in Brisbane today. Andrew is busy giving the car a really good vacuum and wash and I’ve decided it’s time to pack all the winter clothes away and get the summer clothes back out. What a great feeling.

There’s more work to be done, another afternoon walk, time to relax and early dinner.

Day 432: Brisbane

Andrew is up early again, I’m managing to sleep in until 6.30 or 7.00am. This morning he’s washing the caravan, something that has not been done in many months. The car and van are both looking lovely and clean now. The next few days will be spent giving the van a thorough clean inside as well.

This morning we are heading to the bank for some work business. We attend the Strathpine branch of the Bendigo Bank. The teller offers me her pen to sign the paperwork and I politely decline and use my own pen. It was lovely of her to thank me for considering her health and safety. Every little bit helps in this worrying time.

We have a lot of friends in Brisbane and we had fully intended to catch up with a lot of them during our stay. We’re seriously reconsidering this at the moment as we would never forgive ourselves if we bought the Coronavirus into Dave’s house or into anyone elses home. In having said that we still need to go to the shops for supplies and are putting ourselves at risk doing these every day chores each time we leave the house. These are such unsettling times.

We are also considering how long to stay. Is it safer to stay put or is it safer to move on into country towns where there is less contact with people and more wide open spaces to camp. Supplies could be harder to come by in country townships. I guess as the coming days unfold the decision could be taken out of our hands.

Day 433: Brisbane

Andrew and Dave are fixing the small fold out bench on the side of the caravan today. Andrew did a temporary fix with some fishing line when we were in Perth last year but we have been hesitant in using it in case it broke again. It’s now fixed with some heavy duty twine and as Andrew says “Happy wife, happy life”.

While the men are working I’m doing some cleaning inside the van. We’ve had a few very tiny black ants find there way in somewhere even with the baby powder around the legs. I’ve sprayed inside and Andrew has used Dave’s ant spray to spray all around the tyres and legs as well so let’s hope we don’t get any more inside. The air conditioner is now lovely and clean and the pantry cupboard and one other cupboard has been cleaned as well. I’ve also cleaned a section of the ceiling and the wall that backs onto the shower. Over the coming days we’ll continue to get the van completely cleaned. The dust gets into every nook and cranny and it’s almost impossible to keep it really clean while you are travelling.

This afternoon Andrew & I are having a few games of pool. He beats me 3 games to nil. Next up is darts. I used to play competition darts 40 years ago. Now I am feeling very old with that statement! I actually beat him 2 games to 1. I’m sure we’ll have many more games of both before we leave.

Cinta is enjoying the freedom of roaming around off her lead and barking at the pigeons that fly into the house next door.

Day 434: Brisbane

Today we’re heading out to visit a very good friend from school days back in Cairns. Glennis went to school with my sister Julie and we have all kept in touch over the years since then. We decided on the phone that we would have a virtual hug and kiss on arrival and keep our distance. It was so weird.  We had a lovely morning with Glennis, it was so good to see her again.  Through your lifetime you meet many acquaintances, however, only a handful will become friends forever.  Glennis is one of those “friends forever”.

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We are both pictured above practising our social distancing.

The news tonight about the virus is becoming increasingly worrying.  Sometimes we have to turn the TV off as it gets too much to comprehend.  It is becoming more obvious that our plans will no doubt be impacted by what is happening around us.  We are extremely thankful to be here with Dave to spend time with him and to help out where ever is needed.

To everyone following along with our journey we wish you all good health.  We are all in this together.  Breathe, smile and be kind to one another. Until next week.

Week 62 total expenses: $494.26 – a good result and well under budget.

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That’s a wrap for Week 62 of the Lap of the Map.

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

Week 61 | Ararat to Goondiwindi

Day 421- 422 Ararat

Waking up in Ararat and it’s 8 degrees again! The heater goes on to warm the van up while we’re having our breakfast. I’m dialling in for our monthly board meeting today at 10.30am.  The remainder of the day is spent working.  Tonight we’re going down to Bugsy and Bone’s bunker for a sausage sizzle and a few drinks.  Bugsy has given me 2 bottles of her tomato relish and let me tell you she should be bottling this and selling it.  It is the best relish we have ever tasted.

Another morning dawns and we are heading into town to do some shopping.  My niece Bel loves Butter Chicken so I’m making it for tonight’s dinner.  We are in the car ready to go and it is dead as a door nail.  A quick call to RACV who confirm our roadside assistance with RACQ and the mobile mechanic is at the house within half an hour.  It’s not as simple as putting in a new battery.  A scan tool is required so that battery can be programmed with the electronics in the car.  The RACV don’t have that tool.  They can put in a new battery costing $484 but we would then have to go to Ford for them to reprogram the car.  We decide to call Ford.  They can put us in straight away & get the job done.  RACV give us a jump start & we are on our way.  Grampian Ford were terrific and had the new battery in and car reprogrammed within half an hour. We were very thankful that this happened in Ararat and not in the middle of nowhere as it would have been a very different outcome especially given that we are leaving tomorrow!

The shopping is done and back home to catch up on some more work before beginning the dinner preparations.  I’m used to making Butter Chicken for 2, tonight I’m making it for 9.  It’s a winner all round.

Wildlife: sheep.

Day 423: Ararat to Stanhope

It’s a fresh start to the morning however Ararat is expecting a top of 28 today.  It’s time to say goodbye to my sister Julie and husband John. Bel is driving them into Melbourne to catch their flight back to Townsville.  It’s sad to say goodbye we’ve had a great time here with everyone.  There has been plenty of laughs and plenty of nights around the fire having a few drinks.

We are packed up by 10.00am and it’s a very pleasant 23 degrees.  George (Cinta’s Ararat boyfriend) is sound asleep on the lawn as we say goodbye to him and put his food bowl down.  Cinta loves George’s food!  A quick stop a couple of doors down to say farewell to Bones and Bugsy.  We’ve loved their company too and hope that we will see them both again sometime.

The temperature climbs to 30’degrees and for the first time in a long time the aircon is on in the car.  I didn’t do any driving in Tasmania as the roads were so narrow and windy so I offered to take the wheel after morning tea today.  I ended up driving right through to Stanhope.  When we arrive I suggest to Andrew that we reverse the roles and I’ll back the van in (mind you there are no other vans here).  I’ll unhitch and set up outside and he can do inside. Tick, all went well with instructions from Andrew on unhitching.  Next things sirens are going and the CFA truck comes roaring out of the shed.  We couldn’t see any smoke anywhere and we’re hoping that it wasn’t too serious.

We’ve travelled 258km today which is a big day for us.  We’re free camping across the road from the Stanhope pub. They like you to support the pub by having a meal which we are more than happy to do so.  Chicken parmi for Andrew and a scotch fillet for me.  The meals were generous and delicious.  We had a great chat with a couple of locals at the bar.  Stanhope has a population of 590 and the main industry is dairy.  

Pictured above is a painted piano that sits behind glass in one of the parks at Stanhope.  it wasn’t easy to get a good photo, but the artwork was so great, I couldn’t resist trying.

Wildlife: sheep, cattle, dead snake, alpaca , dead kangaroos.

Day 424:  Stanhope to Yea

Our journey today is 127km as I have a lot of work to catch up on.  It’s a bit fresh this morning but the day should warm up.  We’re going to check out the free camp behind the pub in Yea.  It’s overgrown and looks a bit boggy so we decide to check into the caravan park.  It’s $40 for a powered site which is a bit on the expensive side but it’s a nice clean park with all the facilities. 

After we set up I spend the afternoon working.  We have become quite concerned with the reports on the Coronavirus in relation to the prospect of cancellation of events, school closures and self isolations .  We need to be home for Mums  90th birthday in May and we are becoming increasingly concerned about travel restrictions that may be imposed over the next few weeks. The dynamics of domestic travel are changing every day and we have had a lengthy discussion with a colleague who has given us some advice on how things may look in a few weeks. Taking everything on board given the current situation we have decided to alter our travel plans and make our way to Brisbane to Andrews dads as soon as we can.  At least that way we will be back in Queensland and hopefully able to still travel within the State.  We haven’t taken this decision lightly and we are both so disappointed that we have had to make this choice but in the long run we think it will be a decision well made.  The bonus is we’ll have to come back and finish these areas next year!

Pictured above is our spot in the caravan park at Yea and a couple of the lovely flowers in the garden.  I couldn’t resist capturing this cute little butterfly on the purple blooms.

Wildlife: dead rabbits, pelican, sheep, cattle, horses, dead kangaroos, parrots.

Day 425: Yea to West Wyalong

Last night was pleasant sleeping at 15 degrees.  Andrew was up at 5.30am this morning so I decided I had better get up too so that we could have an early start to the day as we’ll be putting in 510km to reach West Wyalong. We are pulling out of the caravan park at 7.45am & it’s 10 degrees and we are both in shorts.  Yep that’s right, it’s going to climb up to 30 degrees during the day.

We’ve decided to share the driving today.  There has been a large semi roll over northbound into Melbourne near Benalla and the highway is closed.  One of the BW’s is on its side across both lanes.  We’d hate to be travelling into Melbourne today!  Morning tea is at the Service Centre near Glenrowan and lunch stop at the quaint little town called The Rock.  The park area in the main street is lush and green and Cinta is enjoying munching on the grass.

It’s 4.00pm by the time we reach the Showgrounds at West Wyalong and it’s reached 30 degrees.  It feels weird wearing shorts again after being all rugged up and wearing winter clothes for the best part of a whole year. Time to pack those winter woolies away?  I think we will really feel the heat this year.  While Andrew is setting up outside I’m getting a bucket of washing done and the flies are driving us all crazy.  Change of plan and we move inside the van.  Andrew is in charge of dinner as I’m on a deadline with work commitments and I work through until 8.30pm just breaking for dinner & a quick shower.  We are both pretty tired so it’s an early night for us.

Wildlife: llama, alpaca, sheep, cattle, rabbits, horses, dead kangaroos, currawongs, flies.

Day 426:  West Wyalong to Narrabri

Another 5.30am start today.  I’m missing my sleep ins and lazy starts to the day.  This is not my idea of an enjoyable trip travelling another 530km.  I’ll be glad when we make the Queensland border and we can get back to a normal travel pace.

We are on the road by 7.22am and it’s 16 degrees. Our morning tea stop is in Parkes and the flies are out in full force.  We retreat to inside the van.  I’ve had no reception on my phone or through our wifi router for most of the morning so it’s quite frustrating.  The countryside is really green, the dams are all full from the recent rain.  It’s lovely to see. Canola is coming into flower and there are fields of yellow everywhere.

There are some crazy NSW drivers on the road today with many cars overtaking us on double lines and others passing with oncoming traffic.  Andrew pulls over as often as he can when he knows we have traffic behind us but some drivers are just plain dangerous.  We have a quick lunch stop just north of Gilgandra inside away from the flies.  I have finally have reception and see a Facebook post from my friend Jenny who was staying in Parkes.  I am so disappointed as we were hoping to catch up with them sometime throughout our journey.  I’m sure our paths will across again though.

We’re staying at the Narrabri Showgrounds, $20 for a powered site is a good price.  Park up wherever you like and payment is by an honesty box if the caretaker is not around.  There’s plenty of lush green grass and we enjoy some time outside enjoying the warmer weather.   We are both tired after two big travel days so I’m cooking dinner early and we’ll have another early night.  The Queensland border is getting closer!

Wildlife: pelicans, crows, dead kangaroos, flies, dead porcupine, Shetland ponies.

Day 427: Narrabri to Goondiwindi

It’s been blowing a gale all night.  Not much sleep was had by either of us.  We’ve decided to have a shorter travel day today as we will finally cross the Queensland border.  We all slept in, including Cinta.  Andrew is making bacon and eggs and by 9.30am we are packed up and on the road.

Morning tea is at a rest area along the highway and by 11.30am AEST we are in Goondiwindi. We both feel relieved that we are finally in Queensland, so if there are any travel restrictions we are comfortable with our decision and will be happy to stay put in our home state.  We’re staying at the showgrounds as we stayed here over 12 months ago when we began our journey.  Allan the caretaker is a real character and he meets us and tells us to park up wherever we like.  Unlike last year when the showgrounds were a dust bowl, it’s lush and green after the rains.

We are all set up and I head into town to do the weekly shop.  I feel like I’m back at Mission Beach. Coles doesn’t open on a Sunday.  What a pleasant change.  So, I head for the local Foodworks.  It’s really disappointing to see the shelves are almost empty.  Panic buying has taken over Australia with so many mixed messages about the Coronavirus.  I can only purchase half of the items on my list… I was quite excited to find a packet of Kleenex thick and large tissues as I haven’t been able to buy any since leaving Tasmania.  Perhaps it was the price that put people off!  I managed to buy the last packet of bandaids as both Andrew and I stubbed our toes on tree branches while walking Cinta.  Who would have thought bandaids would be in short supply.

We also use talcum powder around the legs of the caravan when there are a lot of ants around as it keeps them from getting inside.  You guessed it, no talcum powder in sight. I have been trying to buy this over the past week as well.  I have 2 special talcum powders on board for my sister Dot.  I’m hoping that I won’t have to be desperate enough to use them as they were specially bought for Ralph in Tasmania.

It’s difficult when you are travelling in a caravan as weight and space are two of our biggest challenges.  Stocking up on essential items is not really something that can be accommodated easily.  We tend to stick to minimal food supplies and buy as needed.  Travelling in the heat also comes with different challenges as three way fridges don’t work particularly efficiently when hooked up to the car.  We are now back to putting 2 freezer blocks into the fridge to help keep it cool whilst travelling.  When the heat outside climbs, so does the temperature inside the fridge.

The flies are driving us crazy here at Goondiwindi so there is no sitting outside this afternoon.  I’m madly tapping away at the laptop finishing off last weeks blog and also this week.  It’s been a crazy hectic time travelling through 3 states and working.  I’m hoping that things will settle down next week as we slowly move into Brisbane now that we have made the border.

The next 8 weeks will be spent enjoying the State that we call home and hopefully having the freedom to move around unrestricted.  Only time will tell.

Wildlife: horses, sheep, cattle, dead kangaroos, crows, dead echidna, dead rabbits.

Week 61 total expenses: $954.69 just under budget!

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That’s a wrap for Week 61 of the Lap of the Map.

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

Week 60 | Railton to Ararat

Day 414: Railton to Latrobe

Our last few days in Tasmania sees us moving from Railton into Latrobe.  It’s another cold morning at 8 degrees which means a slow start to the day before packing up.  We’re only travelling 15km today to the Latrobe overnight RV campgrounds.  A council permit is required to camp and you must be fully self contained. The fee is $10 of which $9 goes to the local primary school.  Money is collected daily by the school volunteers and after chatting with them it’s great to hear about the benefits to the school and how much it is appreciated.  Latrobe is a very RV friendly town.

After we set up we head into Devonport to catch up on our washing as there is no laundry at Latrobe.  There’s a couple of thrift shops nearby so we check them out while waiting for the washing/drying to be done.  When we get back to Latrobe I head into the Main Street to have some retail therapy again on my own as I want to have a good look through the new Reliquere shop.  There are some lovely shops in Latrobe and I’ve managed to pick up a couple of gifts.  Back at the van and time to do a bit more work before dinner.  Below is our spot at Latrobe and some of the beautiful flowers around the neighbourhood.

Wildlife: cattle, sheep, dead pademelons.

Day 415: Latrobe

Another 8 degree start to the day and a long lie in bed.  It’s so hard to get up when it’s so cold.  Bring on the warmer weather!  We’re off to the House of Anvers for morning tea.  The Californian Bungalow was built in 1931 and is really beautiful inside.  There are two separate dining rooms both stylishly decorated.

Morning tea is a tasty selection of cakes and pastries. Red velvet cake, chocolate cake, lemon tart, strawberry cheesecake and a profiterole.  It was absolutely delicious.  We also watch the chocolates being made through the viewing windows and can’t leave without a couple of small purchases.

Next stop is Devonport to get a new pair of shoes each and pick up some scripts from the chemist.  We have a good wander around the mall and come home with a couple of items that weren’t on the shopping list.  It’s a lovely day outside with the temperature up to 19 degrees so the awning comes out and we sit outside for the afternoon.  We have a long walk around the block and meet a lovely resident of one of the old age homes as we pass his letterbox.  He was so friendly and just loved Cinta.  The cold wind drives us inside for our last night in Tasmania.

Wildlife: plovers.

Day 416:  Latrobe

Today is all about prepping the van for the trip tonight on the Spirit of Tasmania.  Our first job is to defrost the fridge and then secure everything in case we have a rough crossing.  Jobs all done and time to take Cinta for a walk into town and morning tea at Monclair.  A Beautiful building tastefully decorated with a lovely dog friendly courtyard.  The scones with jam and cream were delicious and served on a beautiful old floral plate.  A nice walk back to the van and a few more odd jobs taken care of.

Lunch is at the Thai Imperial Restaurant which is located within the Australian Axemans Hall of Fame.  Andrew orders an entree of spring rolls and they were delicious.  We’re hopeful that the main meal won’t disappoint.  Andrew chooses Honey Pork Belly and I have the Chicken Pad Thai.  Both were really good and the pad Thai was the closest dish that I have had to Spicy Thai at home.

At 4.30pm we head for Devonport and park the van up near the beach and have a long walk until 5.15pm before heading to the ship.  There is no bio security check for fruit and vegetables and Cinta did not have to have any further worming treatments to come back to the mainland. At check in there is a police sniffer dog in training & his handler hides some contraband behind the bus wheel next door to us.  He’s found it and is duly rewarded for a job well done.

Cinta is loaded into her kennel for the night and has a very sad face.  She’s not eating her treat, no doubt it will still be there in the morning.

After checking into our cabin it’s time for a lovely long hot shower which is really appreciated after free camping for 4 days. We enjoy a couple of drinks in the bar and a light dinner before moving outside as the ship departs Devonport.  The captain announces a smooth sail as the swell is only 1-1.5 metres. We are very pleased to hear that!

Wildlife: seagulls.

Day 417: Melbourne

The alarm is set for 5.00am.  It’s been a smooth crossing which now makes us realise our trip across was actually quite rough.  Another lovely hot shower and then coffee before collecting Cinta at 6.30am.  Deck 5 is extremely wet. Cintas bedding is wet, at this point we’re not sure if she wet her bed or if it’s from the rain or ocean coming into the deck.

She is super excited to see us.  She hasn’t drunk any of her water or eaten her treat. All loaded into the car we are off the ship and on the road by 6.48am. It’s a very streamlined and well organised process.  It’s  raining, 17 degrees and still dark.

Finally out of the traffic we stop at one of the big roadhouses to get some breakfast and let Cinta out for a wee. It’s a very big wee.  Back on the road and we’re now heading for Ararat, the traffic coming into Melbourne is horrendous.  We hate the big cities. We’ve reached Ballarat and the temperature has dropped to 14 degrees and it’s still drizzling.  Finally at our destination and it’s so great to see my sister Julie and all of the other family members.  Tonight is spent by the fire having a few drinks and catching up with Bugsy and Bones.  Cinta is pretty happy to see her boyfriend George again too!

Wildlife:  seagulls.

Day 418 – 420  Ararat

We’re waking up to 8 degrees this morning and hoping the temperature will climb to just under 20.  The last few days of this week are about spending time with family to celebrate my great nephew Matty’s 21st birthday.

I’m off for a long awaited haircut, the boys are all cleaning out the shed and then we’re off to the RSL for a few drinks. We’ve bought the last $5 worth of raffle tickets and then won a $30 gift card & a six pack of beer.  We were happy with that.

It’s party day, the shed is all set up with balloons and Bel has made a massive 21 covered in photos. The light bulbs have been changed to blue to reflect all the glow sticks, neon glasses and neck bands and the sound check has been completed.

It was quite surprising to hear some of the music choices being played and the older generation ended up on the dance floor singing their hearts out too.  Everyone had a great night.  Matty was put to bed before midnight…

Sunday was recovery day.  No time for budgets and blogs.  It’s been a great week  travelling back to the mainland and having time with family.  It’s starting to sink in that our journey now is heading towards home. With the threat of Coronavirus it’s difficult to know whether to change our plans.  We really don’t want to be stuck in a remote area with limited supplies and have to self isolate in the van.  Some serious discussions and planning are taking place moving into next week.

I’m a week late with finishing this blog.  Changed travel plans and a high workload have taken precedence over everything else.  Let’s hope I can get the past week completed today so that I’m up to date again!

Wildlife: sheep

Week 60 total expenses: $1072.12 over budget, however it was expected this week.

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That’s a wrap for Week 60 of the Lap of the Map.

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

Week 59 | Deloraine to Railton

Day 407: Deloraine

Waking up in Deloraine by the river is a beautiful start to the day. Where else would you want to be? There was plenty of low cloud cover and a lot of dew and then a beautiful blue sky. With a maximum expected of 22 today it should be really pleasant for a work day. First up after breakfast is a walk along the riverbank. We have often talked about what we’ll do when we return home, we’re still undecided but one thing we do know is that we must be near water, whether that’s the ocean, or a river. Who knows how we will feel when we return home. Travelling is addictive and there is so much that we haven’t seen. Funding further travel is the million dollar question though.  Time to get the laptop out and spend the day working.

Wildlife: ducks, water hens, plovers, platypus.

Day 408: Deloraine

A lazy start to the day before we walk into town to the Deloraine Deli for a lovely morning tea. I chose the orange pistachio brûlée cake and Andrew has the macadamia cheesecake. They are both delicious. Andrew is heading back home and I’m having a wander through town as there are a lot of interesting shops with a lot of local art and craft works. There are some very creative people in Deloraine. They have a fantastic art space which is run by volunteers and has booths for individual artists to work, display & sell their artworks. I spent quite a bit of time here wandering around admiring the amazing works.

Back at home and it’s another full afternoon of work for me. A late afternoon walk by the river and another day is coming to a close.  Tonight’s sunset and reflections on the river were so pretty in many shades of yellow, pink and purple.  I think we’ll be in for a cold night…

Wildlife: ducks, geese, plovers, water hens, platypus.

Day 409: Deloraine

We are waking up to a cold and drizzly day with an expected maximum of 15. The wind is blowing a gale so it looks like we’ll be stuck indoors for the day. It’s 11 degrees when we wake up and by 9.00am it’s dropped to 9 degrees. We’re heading off to Chudleigh tomorrow after having new tyres fitted on the van and we’ll be free camping for a few days so we’re hoping that it’s going to be a little warmer. Time to stock up with a few groceries so that we’ve got enough supplies to see us through to next Wednesday when we board the Spirit of Tasmania.

It’s all about work this week for me so the laptop is out and we have moved outside while the sun is shining. In the end the wind is so cold that it drives us back inside the van. The drizzle begins again. Late this afternoon we take in the awning and pack all the tables and chairs away in preparation for our move tomorrow. It’s been very relaxing by the river even though a lot of my time has been spent working.

Wildlife: geese, ducks, water hens, plovers.

Day 410: Chudleigh

Another cold, drizzly start to the day.  We take our time getting organised to leave as the caravan is booked in for 10.00am to have new tyres fitted. Andrew heads into the office and comes back to tell me that we have to back the caravan into the shed.  Pressure… There is plenty of room and under instruction from the Little General (as my brother Ray calls me) Andrew is backed in with ease.

I take Cinta for a walk outside while we’re waiting but the wind is howling and there is a light drizzle.  It’s damned cold.  Cinta wants to get back in the car, she’s not interested in wandering around killing time, she’s cold too.  She’s grown such a lovely coat while we’ve been travelling and I can just imagine the shedding once we come back to a warmer climate.  It’s bad enough now.  I couldn’t resist this photo as she’d only been back in the car less than 5 minutes and she was asleep sitting up!  She’s such a great traveller; she just sleeps the whole time while we’re on the road.

The new tyres are on and we’re off to Chudleigh which is only 16km away.  We’re staying at the Chudleigh showgrounds.  Camping is by donation to the general store and it’s $5 a night.  The new toilet block is right next door and it’s cleaned regularly by the council.  We’ve got a great spot right in front of the fence which is adorned by rose bushes.

It’s such a cold miserable day that the rest of the afternoon is spent indoors and of course, it’s more work for me.  I’ll be glad when this week is over and things settle down a bit work wise.  I’m hoping to take most of next week off when we’re in Ararat catching up with family.  I do have a board meeting on the Monday which will interfere with those plans though.

Wildlife: cattle, sheep, alpacas, rabbits, dead pademelons.

Day 411: Chudleigh

A very cold start to the day with the temperature plummeting to 7 degrees overnight.  It’s a lot harder to handle the cold when you are free camping.  The caravan get’s so cold inside.  A lot of people have diesel heaters but that’s something I don’t think we would ever invest in.  Just add another layer!  Thank heavens for Florrie’s beanies, they’ve certainly had a work out.

Across the road is the Melita Honey Farm.  We met the owners while there and it was interesting to hear their story of how they came over from the Netherlands and have been running the honey farm for the past 18 years.  The premises are amazing, not just a shop but a real experience of learning about bees and honey with interactive displays. There are plenty of tastings too of every type of honey in the shop and you can also try two types of nougat.  The honey and nougat is made onsite and we ended up leaving with a macadamia honey, a lime honey and some nougat.

Fanny from the Honey Farm recommended the Earthwater cafe which is a short drive past Mole Creek.  We’ve been watching all the caravans drive past the camp grounds since arriving yesterday and Fanny told us there was an annual music festival on this weekend with 2000 tickets and it was sold out.  It’s a “Day at the Creek” and one of the farmers opens his paddock up for camping.  We couldn’t believe how many caravans were in the paddock when we drove past.  It’s going to be a big weekend at Mole Creek!

The Earthwater cafe is out on an acreage property and it’s really lovely with seating in the garden or on one of the decks.  It’s got a really good atmosphere and it would be lovely to sit by the fire.  Given that it’s summer and the Tasmanian’s are not feeling the cold like us Queenslanders, the fire is not lit today.

The burger was a beauty on Turkish bread and the home made chips were the best we have tasted in a long time.  Crispy on the outside and lovely and fluffy inside.  After a lovely day out we are heading back home to take Cinta for a long walk and time for me to do some more work…  It’s going to be another cold night and there’s a lovely sunset with fluffy clouds turning from white to pink.

Wildlife: cattle, sheep, alpacas, rabbits

Day 412: Chudleigh to Railton

Another chilly start to our morning and a surprise call from my son Conrad.  He’s just come back into range after weathering terribly bad weather in the gulf after Cyclone Esther passed.  It’s been the worst weather he’s seen in the gulf and for the first time he’s been sea sick along with a lot of the crew.  What an experience.  Time for us to get organised and make our way to Railton for the next two nights free camping.

We stayed at the Railton RV park just after arriving in Tasmania and it’s a great spot to free camp.  There’s a dump point and water available and toilets a short distance away.  Railton is only 40km from Chudleigh so our journey today is short.   The markets are on in the local hall so we have a wander over to check them out.  Lot’s of local craft, fruit and vegies and plants.  Back at the van and time to get the laptop out again and do some more work.  Andrew is chatting with the neighbour, another Queenslander.

Wildlife: sheep, horses, alpaca, cattle, dead possums, dead pademelons, Fairy wrens, dead chicken.

Day 413:  Railton

Waking up today and the weather is overcast, drizzly and cold.  We are taking a drive out to Elizabeth Town to visit the Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm, a family owned and operated business since the late 1880’s.  Milk, cheese, butter, cream and ice cream.  There is plenty to taste and also a variety of well known Tasmanian produce for sale.  We decide to have lunch and I’ve chosen the trio of cheese on sourdough and Andrew has the leg ham and cheese toasty.  All meals come with potato crisps, green salad or potato salad.  The meals are very generous and the prices are really good too.  Plain simple tasty food.

There are plenty of colourful cow sculptures around the farm and I can’t resist photographing most of them.

On the way home we pass a couple of steam engines on the road.  The annual steamfest is being held in Sheffield next weekend.  Such a shame that we’ll miss it.  When we arrive at Railton there’s one parked up in the main street and the guys are filling up with water and topping up with firewood.  Apparently the steam engines we passed only travel at 2km an hour, so they have quite a way to go yet to get to Sheffield.

Time is almost up for our adventure in Tasmania, it’s been almost 4 months and Tasmania is absolutely beautiful.  There is so much to see and the country is quite diverse, we have loved every minute of our time here, met some great people while house sitting and travelling.  We won’t miss the weather!

Wildlife: dead pademelons, sheep, cattle, echidna, horses.

Week 59 total expenses: $1104.65 over budget this week due to the purchase of our new tyres at $700.

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That’s a wrap for Week 59 of the Lap of the Map.

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Week 58 | New Norfolk to Deloraine

Day 400: New Norfolk to Ross

Welcome to summer! It’s 5 degrees when I wake up at 7.30am. I’m so pleased that Andrew was up early walking Cinta & came back and turned the heater on. Yep, you heard that right. By 9.30am when we are ready to hit the road it’s warmed up to 7 degrees. The rest of the week is not looking much better either.

Our journey today is 115km which takes us to the pretty riverside village of Ross, Built by convict labour in the 1800’s and home to Australia’s third oldest bridge. The caravan park is right on the river banks and overlooks the bridge. It’s a small park with room for about 20 vans on powered sites and a smaller area allocated for unpowered sites.  The office is unattended so I phone the number and am greeted by Ken, well I thought that was his name when he answered.

After we finish booking in he says; by the way I’m James. We have a bit of a giggle and he calls me Marsha! The sites have plenty of room and we get ourselves set up and then head over to the bridge for some photos. The sun is just in the right spot for some lovely reflection shots. A block away is the small township which we wander along reminiscing of our visit years ago.  One of the churches is perched high on the hill and the timber work and stained glass inside are just amazing.  The beautiful organ inside reminded me of my Aunty Claire who lives in Cairns and often plays the organ at her local church.

Back at the van and it’s time to do some work to prep for my board meeting in the morning.

Wildlife: ducks, swans, rabbits, chickens, alpaca, sheep, horses, geese.

Day 401: Ross

A slow start this morning before calling in for my board meeting. Andrew has walked into the village and bought a French vanilla slice for morning tea. It’s a definite 10/10 from us both. The pastry was so fresh and flaky and the French vanilla rich and creamy. Yum. The rest of the day is spent working.

Tonight we’re heading over to the Man O Ross pub for dinner. I can’t go past the baked Atlantic salmon & Andrew has his chicken parmigiana. The pub has recently been leased and the new owners certainly have one key lesson to learn and that is to have enough staff to serve the customers. We felt so sorry for the lady at the bar who had to look after the public bar, the bottle shop and the restaurant. She was run off her feet. There were obviously plenty of staff in the kitchen as the meals came out relatively quickly. Overall dinner was lovely and the small restaurant was packed with travellers.

After the sun has finally set we take Cinta for a wander over to the bridge to see it under lights. It is beautiful all lit up. More photos.

Wildlife: ducks, rabbits.

Day 402:  Ross

It’s 7 degrees when we wake up and we’re in for a cold, wet day with a maximum of 13 expected. We’re going back to Ross Bakery for morning tea and another french vanilla slice! There is not a lot of room in the bakery and it is jam packed with people. The cappuccino is pretty good too. Andrew heads back to the van and I have a wander around the local shops. Back at the van and the heater is on and the afternoon is spent inside away from the cold and drizzly weather.

Day 403:  Ross to Deloraine

Time to move on after spending an extra day at Ross. It was so pretty by the river, shame about yesterday’s weather! We’re travelling 110km to Deloraine and it’s 14 deg at 9.40am when we depart. Most of the journey is on the A1 Highway and it’s good to have a decent Highway that’s not so windy and hilly to travel on. We’ve decided to stay for a week at the Deloraine Apex Caravan Park which is right on the riverfront. They do a stay 7 pay for 6 deal which is great. After we set up we take a long walk along the river. It’s so pretty and so peaceful. Ducks, geese and water hens everywhere.

The afternoon is spent sitting out in the sun chatting to our neighbours who just happen to have been our neighbours from Ross. We didn’t meet them at Ross as they came in late and left before us. They were teachers at Tewantin and we spent quite a lot of time chatting with them.

Wildlife: cockatoo, sheep, geese, ducks, platypus, water hens, plovers, rabbits.

Day 404:  Deloraine

We are in for a cold week ahead with night time minimums under double digits. Thanks heavens we are not free camping.  This morning we’re taking a drive out to Chudleigh and Mole Creek. It’s reached 13 degrees at 10.20am. Chudleigh is the village of roses which adorn the main street. We wanted to check out the free camp at the Showgrounds for when we leave Deloraine next week. Camping is by donation of $5 which goes towards maintaining the rose gardens. It looks like a good spot. We enjoyed a cappuccino at the general store while meeting the new owner. Further on is Mole Creek, another small village. We’ll visit again next week to explore further.

Back at the van it’s time to catch up on some work. Andrew has been watching the river and spotted the platypus again. He forages around for about 4 hours this afternoon travelling up and down the river. It so great to see them in the wild. I’ve tried and tried to photograph him but it’s really difficult to get a good shot. The photo above is about the best of all of them.  Another lovely long walk along the river this afternoon and sunset tonight is the best we have seen in awhile. While I’m photographing it, Andrew notices another 3 platypus in the shallows further up the river. It’s far too dark to try to get any photos of them.

 

Wildlife: ducks, water hens, geese, rooster, rabbits, platypus.

Day 405: Deloraine

It’s 6 degrees when I wake up at 7.30am. The heater is on again. A very slow start to the day before getting organised to go into town to do the shopping. Morning tea is at the Empire Hotel cafe and while there we notice they have a buffet on Sunday night and it’s Thai. We haven’t had much Thai food on this trip so we’ve booked in for tomorrow night and we both can’t wait!

Back at the van and more work for me today. Andrew is outside with Cinta and an irresponsible dog owner (dog off a lead walking in a caravan park) has come onto our site and of course Cinta has gone off at it. The stupid owner is saying “why didn’t you come when I called you”. It obviously doesn’t do as it’s told. This has to be my pet hate of caravanning. I couldn’t help but have something to say from inside the van! Whinge over.

More work, another long walk admiring all the local wildlife and a couple of drinks before a late night watching a repeat of the concert that was raising money for the victims and volunteers of the recent fires.

Day 406:  Deloraine

Today’s maximum is going to be 24. I’ve decided to take the drone for a flight.  All was going well until my drone went rogue and took off across the river and started spinning in circles.  Talk about panic, I thought it was going to land in the river. I got such a fright. Andrew’s letting me know it’s over the water and I’m yelling out it’s gone rogue I can’t control it, then all of a sudden it’s back under control. My heart was racing as I bought it down to the ground. I’d charged the spare battery to have a second flight but there was no way that I was flying it again.

Back across the bridge and back at the van, I’m keen to see the footage of the rogue flight. It was scarey watching the footage of it spinning out of control. I’m going to have to consult google or the forums to see what may have caused that to happen.  Here’s a short video of my flight before it went rogue.

 

The rest of the day is spent working and then we head up to the Empire Hotel for dinner. The timber work in the pub is beautiful, there is a band playing in the lane way and we enjoy a couple of drinks at the bar before the Thai Buffet dinner. It was nice, but we can’t help but reminisce over our favourite Thai restaurant back at Mission Beach; Spicy Thai.

That’s it for this week, it’s been so relaxing at both Ross and Deloraine.  We’ve had quite a few different neighbours over the week and it’s been great meeting new people.  So many Queenslanders are travelling around Tasmania at the moment escaping the heat.  Next week is a very busy work week for me so there won’t be a lot of exploring. Sitting with my laptop by the rivers edge does make it seem all worthwhile.  We only have 9 sleeps left until we return to the mainland.  I’m getting excited as we’ll head straight for Ararat to celebrate my sister’s grandsons 21st birthday and I can’t wait to see the family again.

Wildlife: ducks, geese, water hens, plovers.

Week 58 total expenses: $630.91 pleased to see the expenses down a few hundred dollars after the past couple of weeks.  Next week will be expensive with a new set of caravan tyres though.

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That’s a wrap for Week 58 of the Lap of the Map.

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Week 57: Dunalley to New Norfolk

Day 393:  Dunalley to New Norfolk

Another week begins and it finds us heading to New Norfolk. We’re unsure how many days we’ll stay as it’s quite central to Hobart and Mona. We’re staying at the New Norfolk Caravan Park which sits on the Derwent River. We spent a night here a few weeks ago and loved the location. We didn’t explore the township last time as it was wet and windy.

Our journey today was 88km and it’s overcast when we arrive. We’ve got a lovely corner site overlooking the river. The park does a stay 7 pay for 6 deal so we decide to spend the week. It’s time to do the groceries and stock up on food again and then take Cinta for a walk along the river bank. We pass a mother duck with her 7 little chicks by the waters edge, she’s herding them altogether as we walk by.

Time to catch up on some work before getting dinner organised and settling  in for the night.

Wildlife: ducks, dead pademelons, dead wombat, sheep, donkeys, deer, emu, chickens, roosters, Shetland ponies, horses,

Day 394:  Glenorchy

We all slept in this morning. Cinta and Andrew didn’t wake up until 7.30am. Very unusual for both of them. Must be the warmer weather. I slept in till 8.30am. It’s great to no longer have to get up and go to work. After a lazy breakfast we get ourselves organised and take a drive into Glenorchy to do some more shopping.

Back at the park and we take Cinta for another long walk along the river. So many photo opportunities of the beautiful reflections in the water. The duck is in the water teaching her chicks to swim. There is only 4 chicks today, how sad.

Back at the van the afternoon is spent outside, it’s reached 26 degrees. We are really enjoying the warmth of the day. Late afternoon we take another walk up to the cliff face. Steps. Oh no, I wonder how many. Up we go and I’m counting. 100 steps sees us at the top and the view of the river is breathtaking. More photos.

Wildlife: swans, pelicans, ducks, seagulls.

Day 395: Mona

I‘ve been waiting to have a day to myself to explore Mona. Andrew isn’t into art so he’s not going to join me today. To be totally honest I think he would be bored and I don’t want to be rushed while viewing the artworks. He and Cinta can have some quality time alone.

Mona is only 26km away from the park and as I’m driving through the vineyard I start to comprehend the magnificence of the architecture of the buildings and surrounds. I arrive not long after opening time of 10.00am and already the first car park is full so I head back to Car Park 2 and score a park. The walk in is a gradual incline past the vineyard and over a tennis court. My ticket is $27 (seniors discount).

On entry they advise you to start at the bottom and work your way up to the top. I decide to take a brochure & sit down and have a coffee to look at the map. Maps are certainly not my thing! Oh well, good luck and here goes. I take the spiral staircase all the way to the bottom and collect my O Device and headset. At first it’s a bit confusing understanding how it works but then I get the hang of it and I’m off. The O Device tracks your location and as you move through the exhibits you can tap the screen and obtain the information about the artwork or listen to interviews with the artists. It’s all quite high tech. If you’re not tech savvy I can see how it would be confusing.

I love the tunnels that lead into each art space, some are filled with music or sounds and the lighting is amazing.  The second photo above is “Tim” he was a former tatoo-parlour manager from Zurich.  At first I thought it was a sculpture, but Tim is a real life work of art.  Since 2011, Tim has sat at Mona for over 3,500 hours.  That’s dedication to art!

The third photo is titled “Cloaca Professional”.  The artwork mimics the workings of the human digestive system and is fed at 11am and poops at 2pm.  Art? A very interesting question.   Mona is engaging, confronting and controversial and well worth visiting. The architecture is breathtaking.

Wildlife: ducks, seagulls, swans.

Day 396: 13/02 Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

We’re heading off today to visit the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens in Hobart. A short drive of 33km gets us there in no time. We are met by a lovely volunteer who provides us with a map and quick overview of the layout.  I didn’t realise that the community garden here is the one that is featured on ABC’s Gardening Australia and this vegie garden supplies local Charities.

I love the Japanese Garden, it celebrates Hobart’s sister city relationship with Yaizu in Japan and formal Japanese garden art. It is so peaceful wandering past the waterfalls.  The Rose Arbour and Friends Mixed Border was another favourite with climbing roses and a myriad of colour along the brick wall. We saw quite a few bandicoots foraging in the garden.

We spent quite a bit of time at the Lilly pond as the reflections of the white timber bridge were just so eye catching against all the beautiful Lilly pads. The decks are designed as timber Lilly pads overlooking the pond. We met a lovely American couple from LA who were on a cruise which had stopped in at Hobart for the day. We had a long chat with them, they were full of questions about Australia and absolutely intrigued about the journey we are on.

While chatting a little duckling came wandering over the deck with mother quacking madly at it. It was so funny as it was like a naughty child on the loose and having so much fun! I couldn’t help myself snapping away at the mischievous duckling.

We had a late Devonshire tea in the Succulent Restaurant overlooking the floral clock. Served on a wooden paddle-board the scones were lightly dusted with icing sugar and the raspberry jam was so delicious. One of our more expensive morning teas but oh so worth it.

The gardens are spread over 14 hectares and are Australia’s second oldest Botanic Gardens. In 2018 they celebrated their Bicentennial milestone.  We had a fabulous day wandering the gardens and highly recommend it to any gardening enthusiast or anyone who just loves to walk through amazing gardens and parklands. And, it’s absolutely free, but don’t forget to make a donation.  Grab a cuppa, sit back and watch the video I’ve created with my amazing photos of the gardens.

Wildlife: geese, Shetland pony, horses, sheep, swans, seagulls, bandicoot, ducks.

Day 397: Salmon Ponds

Happy Valentines Day!  What better way to spend the day than with someone you love. We have a bit of shopping to do and some printing at the library and then we’re taking a short drive out to the Salmon Ponds. They are actually Australia’s oldest trout hatchery supplying annually over a million trout to Tasmania’s lakes, rivers and dams. Salmon were initially released however being migratory fish, didn’t establish themselves and Trout which are generally non migratory quickly became established. Eggs are collected from wild trout, hatched and raised until they are fingerling size and then released.

The gardens are a rare example of 19th century English style public open space and some of the trees are over 150 years old.  It was quite difficult to photograph the trout in the ponds so I don’t have many good photos. The garden however was lush, green and lovely to wander around.

Wildlife: trout, dead possums, dead pademelons, swans, seagulls, ducks.

Day 398 – 399: New Norfolk

The weekend is upon us again and it’s time to start looking at where we will head off to next week.  I’ve got a board meeting on Tuesday, so we need to be somewhere where I have good phone reception.  We’ve decided to head up to Ross for a few days and have booked the local caravan park there.

It’s not often I get a cleaning bug and this morning I’m itching to get rid of some dust!  Most of the day is spent cleaning in the van, you’d be surprised where the dust actually gets to.  It’s a never ending job and having Cinta on board creates a whole new level with plenty of dog hair around too.

There are some beautiful reflections on the river again today and a wander along the banks is always a great distraction.

Sunday; shopping, budget, blog and washing.  The day is almost done and the weekend is coming to a close.  We’ve really loved our time at New Norfolk, so many walks along the river and I even tried the exercise equipment each time!  There were only 3 ducklings today…

That’s it for this week, it’s been very relaxing with a lighter work load…

Week 57 total expenses: $957.69 it’s up there, but still under budget.

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That’s a wrap for Week 57 of the Lap of the Map.

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Week 56 | Snug to Dunalley

Day 386: Snug to Bruny Island

Summer in Tasmania…waking up this morning it’s only 7 degrees. It’s rained on and off all night, however it’s a light sprinkle compared to Mission Beach rain events.  I had a great photo this morning from my sister Julie who reads my blog and shows my photos to Mum who is vision impaired. Mum has a budgie called Peta and this morning while Julie was reading the blog Peta was listening as well sitting perched on top of the iPad. That photo made my day today – thanks Jules!

We are heading over to Bruny Island for a few days and by the time we are loaded onto the ferry it’s climbed to 8 degrees and the wind is blowing a gale.

The ferry across only takes 20 minutes and it’s a very smooth crossing. $85 return for the car and caravan is quite reasonable. We’ve decided to free camp behind the Bruny Island Hotel and it’s looking like we’ll have a few cold nights to snuggle up together with no power. Staying at the back of the pub is by donation as the Council cracked down on them for charging campers to stay.

We set up and head out to Adventure Bay to check out where we catch the jet boat tomorrow. It’s about a 30 minute drive along a windy road and then the rain begins to fall. We weren’t sure if sleet or hail was beginning to fall on us but thank heavens it was fairly brief.

Adventure Bay is very picturesque and one of the main townships on Bruny Island. There is also a caravan park there, however, the reviews on WikiCamps were terrible hence deciding to free camp for a few nights.

Back at the van for lunch and a warm drink and then we head further south to Cloudy Bay. I manage a quick photo before the rain begins to fall again. The rest of the afternoon is spent back in the van out of the cold, wind and drizzly rain. While Andrew was walking Cinta another caravanner alerted him to the view of Hartz Mountain with snow on it! Of course I had to get a photo, as we were only there last week walking out to Lake Osborne. The temperature is slowly dropping, we’re all rugged up and ready for a cold night.

Wildlife: rosellas, seagulls, sheep, cattle, geese, ducks, swans, water hens, alpacas.

Day 387:  Bruny Island

Today’s weather forecast is looking better than yesterday. With a maximum of 14 we’re booked on the Bruny Island Cruise. The jet boat goes from Adventure Bay and runs for 3 hours. The foyer has two interesting pieces of artwork and the circular staircase is made of timber with another great artwork reaching all the way to the top of the staircase.

On arrival at reception the ladies ask if we have gloves and beanies as it can get very cold on the boat. We are well prepared and have our thermals on too. Fifteen minutes before boarding we are all called to the outside deck to meet our tour guides. After a short briefing we head down to the jetty. There are 87 of us today and the boats take 42 passengers each.  So that everyone is more comfortable we are loaded into 3 boats. The guys are really helpful getting us into the boat and we slowly motor off shore for a safety briefing and time to put on our red water & wind resistant coats. Mine comes right to the floor. Andrew is given a big boys jacket as he’s got his super big Port Power coat on today. We look like sumo wrestlers! We are all offered ginger tablets and water as they tell us it’s going to get rough out there today.

And we are off, hugging the coastline as we zip along beside 272m Jurassic Dolerite sea cliffs formed over 160 million years ago. What an amazing sight. We pull up alongside the Breathing Rock watching and waiting as the ocean explodes every minute as it crashes against the cliffs. The jet boat keeps turning so everyone gets the opportunity for photographs. Cruising further along we stop at the sea caves and pass kelp forests. The winds are picking up and so is the swell. We are extremely thankful for the waterproof and wind resistant coats.

Our guide tells us we are now heading for The Friars where the Tasman Sea meets the Southern Ocean and it’s about to get very cold and very rough. He advises to put your cameras and phones under your jackets. He was right, it’s freezing and it’s a big swell. We drift along beside the Friars where thousands of seals are hanging out. They are noisy and the ocean air stinks of seal dung. I photograph some lying on their backs in the ocean. They do this to regulate their body temperature. It’s amazing to see so many fur seals of different colours and sizes.

We cruise around the Friars for about 20 minutes before the guide announces the winds are picking up and it’s time to head back to Adventure Bay. We’re riding the swell back and the motor slows down and the guide points out a massive albatross cruising along the tops of the waves. He’s too fast to get a photo. One of the guides comes around with BBQ shapes and then Tim Tams and we are off again. We have never felt so cold, the wind was relentless.

This cruise was exhilarating and we would highly recommend it for anyone travelling to Tasmania. The brochure says they provide world-class customer service and we can certainly vouch for that right from the booking process to the very end of the cruise, the staff were friendly, attentive and knowledgeable.The cruise was $135 and there are no discounts as the Pennicott Foundation is committed to their philanthropic activities by donating 25% of the ticket price to humanitarian and conservation projects.  Rob Pennicott actually circumnavigated Australia in a dinghy to raise money and awareness for conservation and polio eradication.  We remember when he arrived at Mission Beach throughout his journey.  Here’s a short video of some of the highlights of our trip.

After a big day out we headed over to Hotel Bruny for an early dinner. Whilst we’ve been free camping at the back of the hotel we have watched the car park fill up at meal times. Every table was booked. They can seat 80 people in the dining room. As it was early we were given a table on the condition that we left before 6.30pm. Andrew had his regular parmi and I had the Atlantic salmon. The meals were very generous, came out quite quickly and were very tasty.

Wildlife: seals, albatross, seagulls, Shetland ponies, sheep, cattle, water hens.

Day 388:  Bruny Island

We have a lazy start to the day before heading off to Truganini Lookout and Rookery at The Neck. The isthmus of land connects the north and south islands. The Fairy penguins nest here and can be seen late at night coming in after searching for food during the day. It’s freezing cold here today as we climb the 235 steps to the top of the lookout. The 360 degree view is spectacular. It’s worth it for the photos.

Next stop is Bruny Island House of Whisky. The outdoor area is quite unkept and the young guy at the counter is not very welcoming. While looking around we overheard him tell another couple that tastings don’t start until 2.00pm so you’ll have to come back if you want to try the whiskey. I was really disappointed, I just presumed if they were open you could do the tasting. So with that we left after a disappointing experience. We travel further to the north of the island to Dennes Point. There is an art gallery and coffee shop that we walk up to and on the door the sign reads: We close on Wednesdays. Oh great, another disappointment. The scenery is lovely though looking over to mainland Tasmania and there are a couple of artistic sculptures on the site.

Third time lucky we stop in at Bruny Island Cheese. The car park is almost full. The place has a really good vibe to it, people everywhere enjoying drinks and cheese platters. We can smell the wood fired oven and see all the sour dough that have just been baked. Nothing better than the smell of fresh baked bread. We have some lovely hot cappuccinos and a cheese and sourdough platter to share. It’s ample for the two of us with a choice of 3 cheeses, some pickled beetroot & onion and a lovely sourdough. We’re sitting on the veranda under the electric heaters where it’s nice and warm. With full bellies we head back to the van for the remainder of the afternoon. I put in an hours work before getting organised to cook dinner and settle in for the night.

Wildlife: sheep, cattle, wallabies, Shetland ponies, rosellas, goats, donkeys, crows, dead wallabies, seagulls, swans.

Day 389:  Bruny Island to Dunalley

It’s time to say goodbye to Bruny Island. A couple of days here is plenty to explore from north to south of the whole island. The coastlines are picturesque, however the island is so dry, rain is desperately needed. We’re on the 10.00am ferry back to Kettering and then heading for Sorell to fill up our water tanks and dump the loo. Morning tea is at the Sorell low cost camp and then we travel further down to Dunalley. Our journey is 130km today. The free camp is at the Murraville Golf Club and there is room for about a dozen vans. Camping here is by donation. There is no water available but toilets under the clubhouse are open 24/7.

I wanted to stay at Dunalley as they had a major bushfire in 2013 and our craft group in Mission Beach organised a couple of suitcases of craft materials and warm hand knitted jumpers and beanies (from Florrie) to be sent to their community centre. I have fond memories of our group packing up the supplies on the floor of our lounge and Rotary was kind enough to pay for all the postage. It was a great project.

We want to support this small community by staying here for a few days and spending our money here. The township has certainly grown since we were here over 5 years ago. This afternoon we head up to the clubhouse to have a few drinks and meet the locals. It’s been a great few hours learning more about the area and the club. Parked next to us are a young French couple travelling Australia. We have a great chat with them before retiring for the night.

Wildlife: cattle, sheep, donkeys, dead pademelons, crows, seagulls, swans, Shetland ponies.

Day 390: Tasman Peninsula

Today we are heading further south to explore around the Tasman Peninsula. Our first stop is at the Tessellated Pavement, an inter-tidal rock platform where the rock surface has been divided by fractures forming rectangular blocks.

Further on is the spectacular coastline at Fossil lookout. The colours in the dolerite cliff face are amazing, a stark contrast to the aqua blue ocean crashing against the cliff face. A short walk around the top of the cliff face takes you to the Tasman Blowhole. It wasn’t blowing very much today. There’s a great food van at the top of the lookout and as we were too early for lunch we enjoyed a coffee and the biggest Monte Carlo biscuit we have ever seen. Delicious.

The scenic drive hugs the coastline passing through picturesque seaside villages of Koonya & Premaydena where pear orchards and oyster farms abound.  Next up are the sleepy townships of Nubeena and Whites Beach before we pass through Port Arthur. I had to get Andrew to stop at Nubeena so I could photograph the mosaic on the amenities block.  We didn’t go to the Port Arthur settlement as we have been there before, instead we travelled further around to Carnarvon Bay. We stopped here to let Cinta out for a walk on the beach and I photographed the private jetties and boats in the bay. It was very overcast and the light was low today.

Before we knew it we were in a National Park and we had Cinta in the car with us. Andrew stayed in the car while I quickly walked to the Remarkable Caves lookout. It was breathtaking. Again, the aqua blue ocean was crashing against the Dolerite cliffs.

Remarkable Caves Lookout

On the way home we stop in at the Federation Chocolate Factory for some sampling and of course some purchasing of their chocolate. We bought a licorice chocolate bar and a mint oil chocolate bar. I can’t wait to open them!

Tonight we are heading up to the clubhouse for a meal.  The RV parking area has quickly filled up today as it’s a long weekend in Tasmania for the Hobart Regatta.  We meet a couple from the Northern Territory who have been travelling for just under two years and have a good chat with them.  There is quite a few locals in the club house tonight, some that we met last night and some others.  The bar and kitchen are leased out to the lovely Sharon who made us feel very welcome from the moment we met her.  We’re supporting her business tonight by having a meal.  We both have a parmi and it is really good!  After dinner the caravanners at the next table ask if they can join us and we end up having quite a few drinks with Allan, Bill and Adele.  Bill got the title of Minister for Finance during the night, he was a real character.  All three were from the Brisbane region so we had plenty to chat about and swapped stories about our journeys so far.  There will be a few sore heads in the morning…

Wildlife: sheep, cattle, horses, dead pademelons, crows, rosella, blue wrens, seagulls, Shetland ponies.

Day 391- 392: Dunalley

It’s a very slow start to the day after a big night.  It’s overcast and drizzly and we’re hoping it reaches at least 17 degrees today.  Andrew puts up the clothes line and we do a bit of hand washing, hoping that the sun will eventually come out and dry our clothes.  We take Cinta for a walk down to the Denison Canal.  There are some lovely mosaics in the local park.  Part of the recovery projects saw a walkway along the canal with new bbq’s, seating and viewing platforms installed.

Sunday: this morning we take a drive out to Marion Bay which stretches for more than 8 km in a gentle arc.  The dunes are shaped by introduced and native plants; beach spinifex and maram grasses.  Marion Bay is significant for nesting shorebirds; the endangered hooded plover, pied oystercatchers and red-capped plovers are just to name a few.

We also drove along the coastline around Primrose Sands, Carlton and Dodges Ferry.  This southern part of the peninsula is so very dry.  This afternoon we are heading up to the clubhouse again to have a few last drinks with the locals who have made us feel so welcome.  Andrew never got around to having that game of golf either…  It’s been a busy week of sight seeing and time is starting to run out in Tasmania.  I hope you have all enjoyed this weeks ramblings.

Wildlife:  plovers, dead pademelons, alpacas, ducks, swans, seagulls, sheep, horses.

Week 56 total expenses: $983.09; still under budget which was a bit of a surprise this week due to the out of ordinary expenses of the ferry trip and cruise at Bruny Island.

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That’s a wrap for Week 56 of the Lap of the Map.

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Week 55 | Geeveston to Snug

Day 379: Hartz Mountain

An amazing way to spend the first day of the week. After a lazy start (I slept in till 8.00am) we finally got ourselves moving after breakfast and drove out to Hartz Mountain. Whilst it is only 26km from Geeveston, over 10km of the road is gravel and in parts quite windy. Our first stop is at the Waratah Lookout. It’s a short 5 minute walk in to the lookout. There is not a lot of water falling over the Keough Falls and you can barely see them from the lookout platform. The view out over the Huon Valley is quite spectacular. Unfortunately the Waratah is not in flower at the moment. The National Park was ravaged by fire in early 2019 and its encouraging to see the new growth appearing.

Our next stop is the Arve Falls track. The 20 minute return walk takes you along the Arve River through the alpine herb-field and snow gum woodlands. The wind is chilling to the bone as we walk the track. I’m all rugged up and even have my hoodie on and Andrew is actually wearing his (Florrie) beanie today!  The reward is well worth it to see the water tumbling over the falls. It’s really picturesque.

Back in the car and further on to the Lake Osborne car park. It is packed. We circle around and get a car park as a family are leaving. We register at the ranger station and take the 45 minute return walk through myrtle rainforest across the Hartz Plateau to the glacial lake. This walk is a little more challenging (classed at moderate) on the National Parks brochure. It got our heart rates up, mine more than Andrew’s. Lake Osborne is breathtaking. It’s blowing a gale. We sit and enjoy the view, but not for too long it’s too cold.  Here’s a short video I took of Andrew taking in the view of the Lake, listen to that wind!

The flora along the track is so different to what we have seen elsewhere, some of the blooms are so tiny.  Back at the ranger station we sign back in. It’s very clear how the weather can turn so dramatic at any point as we get in the car it starts to rain.

Back at the park and time to sort through all the photos from our day out and take Cinta for a much needed walk before we organise dinner and tuck ourselves up inside the van for the night.

Wildlife: dead possums, crows, robins, cattle, sheep, goats.

Day 380: 28/01 Southport & Dover

This morning I’m catching up on a bit of work before we head down to the southern point of Tasmania more commonly known as the Southern Trove.

It’s 11.00am and 19 degrees by the time we depart and our first stop is only 21km away at Dover. The drive takes us through many apple and cherry orchards. Dover is the southern most town centre in Tasmania where you need to buy your last fuel and supplies if heading further south. Dover sits in Port Esperance Bay and it is incredibly beautiful.

Next stop is Southport. In the early 1800’s it was Tasmania’s second largest town. Known as a bustling convict and whaling station and an international port exporting timber to Europe. Now it is a small fishing township with equally beautiful coastlines and rugged cliffs

When we reach Hastings the road turns to gravel. The next 20km is not as bad as some of the locals have told us. The drive yesterday to Hartz Mountain was far worse. There are 4 free camps before you reach the National Park. Gillams & Finns Beaches, Catamaran Campground & Cockle Creek campground. Each of the campgrounds are located right on the waters edge with spectacular views over the Tasman sea. The most picturesque for me was just near the Catamaran campground. The reflections in the bay where amazing. There were so many different shades of colour in the ocean and the water was so calm.  The pictures below  really don’t do it justice.

Cockle Creek would be my second favourite with a tiny rocky island just metres away covered in seagulls. A private jetty at the end of the beach was providing some lovely reflections in the calm waters as a light sprinkle of rain fell upon us.

Back at Dover we stopped at the Coffee Tree cafe for a very late lunch. The zucchini slice was amazing and the coffee was very welcome in the drizzly weather. We then took an alternate route back to Geeveston via the coastal road passing through Surveyors Bay & Police Point. The coastline was absolutely stunning.  Salmon and Ocean trout are grown and harvested in pods just off the coastline at Surveyors Bay. Some of the pods are in the photo below.

We had a few drinks by the fire after our big day out and an early night.

Wildlife: crows, dead pademelons, horses, cattle, sheep, swans, seagulls.

Day 381: 29/01 Hastings Caves

This morning we are heading out to see the Hastings Caves. The dolomite caves were formed millions of years ago. We saw spectacular subterranean formations including flowstone, stalactites, columns, shawls, straws, stalagmites and the unusual helictites. The cave has 500 steps (return), however with a meandering pathways it really didn’t seem like we had traversed that many steps! Inside the caves the temperature is a very cool 9 degrees all year round.

There is also a thermal springs pool at the Visitor Information Centre, however, we didn’t choose to have a swim as it wasn’t as appealing to us as the springs at Mataranka and apart from that the outside temperature was too cold anyway.  While we were waiting for the tour, the guide pointed out an echidna foraging in the rainforest. He was so close and I was lucky to be able to take a short video of him.

This afternoon we took a walk back down along the platypus pathway and I was finally lucky to see two platypus playing in the water.

Wildlife: sheep, goats, horses, cattle, swans, seagulls, dead possums, dead pademelons, echidna, platypus.

Day 382: Huonville

This morning we’re off to Huonville to stock up on groceries, alcohol, fuel and gas. We’ve been camping at the low cost camp at the back of the RSL so it’s a good week to stock up on everything. It’s 29 degrees today and the wind is blowing an absolute gale. I’m also having a haircut at the local hairdresser in Geeveston.

The remainder of the day is spent working in the heat! The wind is so strong this afternoon that Andrew has taken in the awning. By the time we are ready for bed the wind has died down and the temperature is quickly dropping.

Wildlife: swans, seagulls, dead pademelons, sheep, cattle, horses.

Day 383: Geeveston

After such a hot day yesterday this morning is quite fresh at 13 degrees. We’re heading for 39 degrees today and I have a full day of work to get through. The awning is back out and by 3.00pm the heat is so unbearable that my inverter is running non stop trying to cool itself down & the nighthawk router is showing a battery overheating message. Even the table my laptop is on is burning to touch. I decide to call it quits. Not a great day to be working when you are free camping! It’s our last night at Geeveston so we decide to support the RSL Club and have dinner and a few drinks. As I write this blog the rain is beginning to fall and the temperature is finally dropping.

Wildlife: ducks.

Day 384:  Geeveston to Snug

Our journey today is only 57km heading north to Huonville and then east to Snug.  After free camping for the past 9 nights we are both looking forward to a long hot shower.  Showers have been limited over the past 9 days to conserve water.  Water was available at Geeveston and we regularly filled up milk bottles to use for our washing up and boiling for drinking.  The solar power did really well over the 9 day stay even with a few days that were overcast and drizzly.

We are on the road by 9.30am and its a pleasant 21 degrees.  We’re staying at the Snug Beach Cabin & Caravan Park which overlooks North West Bay and across to Bruny Island on the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.  We’ve got a large drive through site on grass.

Once set up, we take a walk out to have a look at the North West Bay.  Unfortunately dogs are not allowed in the bay so we take the river walking track.  They bay and river are so picturesque.  There are families swimming and kayaking in the protected bay.

Back at the van it’s time to get the turbo oven out and bake another fruit cake.  It’s also time to catch up on the washing.  We’ve been hand washing most days at Geeveston but it’s time to do the towels and sheets.

Wildlife: sheep, goats, horses, cattle, seagulls, water hens.

Day 385: Snug

Another sleep in for me till 8.00am.  We stayed up late last night catching up on some Netflix serials.  Andrew was up early and walked Cinta along the river in the cold.  When he arrived back at the van he has put the heater on as the temperature is under double digits again.  He’s making pancakes for breakfast this morning before we head out for a drive. We’re expecting a top of 17 degrees today and tonight it will plummet to 8 degrees again.

We’re taking a short drive along the Channel Highway to Gordon, passing through the coastal towns of Kettering, Flowerpot and Middleton.  The drive is of particular interest because of all the scarecrows that adorn the highway.  Middleton runs a scarecrow competition each year raising much needed funds for community projects.

It started to rain while we were out, so some of the photos are not terribly good as I had to take them through the windscreen while we were driving. The temperature dropped from 17 degrees to 11 degrees in minutes. Back at Snug and it’s an indoor day doing the weekly budget and finishing this blog while the wind and rain is buffeting the van.

We’ve had quite a busy week exploring the Southern Trove, equally as beautiful as the north and next week we look forward to heading over to Bruny Island for a few nights.  Make sure you keep an eye out for next weeks blog to see what we get up to.  The weather forecast is not looking particularly favourable!

Wildlife: sheep, goats, cattle, horses, seagulls.

Week 55 total expenses: $904.77 – it’s right up there this week, but we’ve stocked up on a lot of items while the camping costs were low.

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That’s a wrap for Week 55 of the Lap of the Map.

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

Week 54 | Derwent Bridge to Geeveston

Week 54: Derwent Bridge to Ellendale

Last night we had some welcome rain. Nothing like the downpours back home, but rain nevertheless.  It’s quite cool at 11 degrees when we are departing at 9.00am.  My hay fever is driving me crazy this morning.  We’re travelling 94km to a free camp.  It’s quite picturesque today driving over the mountain range with the mist lingering through the rainforest canopy.  There are plenty of logging trucks on the road and we pull over to let one pass us as they travel much faster than what we are over the mountain ranges.  Andrew keeps commenting about the condition of the roads and the speed limits.  There is no way that you could travel at 100km on some of these roads.

Before we know it we’re at the Ellendale Bethune Camp Ground which is perched high up on Lake Meadowbank.  Wow, it is so pretty, it’s free & has toilets and rubbish bins.  There are two areas for camping. One at the top of the Lake and one at the bottom.  We park at the top and take a walk down to the bottom parking area.  It is a little damp after the overnight rain so we decide to stay up at the top.  We spend all afternoon sitting outside taking in the view.  Happy hour is much longer than an hour today.  Parked up beside us is an elderly couple from Bendigo who have been on the road for 10 years and on the other side a couple from the Sunshine Coast.  We love chatting to other travellers to hear about where they’re from, where they’ve been and where they are going to next.

The reflections over the lake changed all day long as clouds came and went.  The first shot above is mid morning, in the middle is an aerial from my drone at lunch time and the final shot is late in the afternoon when the mountain range was refelecting back over the lake.  Today has been an extremely relaxing day.

Wildlife: dead wombat, dead possums, dead pademelons, crows, sheep, cattle, swans.

Day 373: Ellendale to Mount Field

We’re on the road by 9.00am again and it’s a comfortable 16 degrees.  Our journey today is only 29km.  Why didn’t we realise that and stay longer at the lake!  On the way we stop in at the raspberry farm at Westerway.  I am so disappointed.  All the berries look awful.  They certainly don’t look fresh.  You can pay $5 to go in and pick your own berries and then pay $15kg. After seeing the quality of the berries in their shop I decide I’m not going to bother.

We arrive early at the Left of Field Camp Ground.  I phone the number on the sign and we are met by Adrian.  He’s really friendly and takes us in to show us the available sites.  Adrian bought the land 10 years ago and has been progressively working on it.  It’s a unique park.  If you’re looking for something completely “Left of Field” then this is the place to stay.  We loved it.  It is so relaxing and so very rustic. 

The toilet block has a lovely large open cut in the wall looking out over the property.   In a secluded garden is the porta shower.  At the entrance there’s a chain between two stumps.  If the chain is up you know someone is having a shower. The change area & vanity is in the open air surrounded by garden. The washing machine is set up in a horse float.  All the gardens are surrounded with recycled materials.  Wheel barrows with plants on old tree stumps, skeletons hanging from high in the trees.  The sites are spacious and we can drive through which is even better.  They are relatively private with gardens around them.  There’s a golf course with a difference. It’s $40 a night for power & water hookup which is on the expensive side but we think it’s totally worth it for a unique experience in a very rustic bush setting.

After we’ve set up we head up to the Mount Field National Park to view the waterfalls in the World Heritage Wilderness area. There are a few walks that you can do.  We take the walk into the Russell Falls where towering swamp gums align the pathway.  It’s an easy walk along a sealed pathway also suitable for wheel chairs.  The falls are really lovely, although some say there is not a lot of water going over them. 

A further walk in are the Horseshoe Falls.  Quite a few steps to traverse but worth the effort. Further on is the Tall Trees walk through giant eucalyptus trees, some of the largest in Australia.  They are breathtaking.  We’ve had a great couple of hours wandering and have certainly got our exercise today.  Back at the park and time to sit back and relax for the afternoon.  We’ve been chatting to lots of families in the park and they are all enjoying it as much as we are.  With so many kids around, I hide some of my painted rocks and hope that the kids will find them and rehide or take one on their journey with them.

Wildlife: chickens, dead pademelons, dead Tasmanian devil, sheep, cattle, crows, ducks, swans.

Day 374:  Mount Field to New  Norfolk

After a lovely sunset last night, this morning is quite fresh. With the sun shining we decide to take a walk down to the creek.  It borders on the edge of the National Park. The reflections are really pretty along the creek banks and I can’t resist a few more photos and a couple of long exposure shots.  We wander for quite a while before making our way back to the park to slowly get organised for our next day of travel.

It’s climbed to 16 degrees by 10am when we depart.  Our journey today is only 39km.  There are many orchards along the river banks. It’s great to see everything looking so lush and green again.  On arrival at New Norfolk I notice our water tank cap is missing. A bit of googling and a couple of phone calls later we find a caravan spare parts business and head into Moonah to pick one up.  Andrew is sure it was locked in properly and the guy at the repair place mentioned that with all the corrugation on the roads it’s possible that one of the small clips inside could have snapped off and then the cap would have just fallen out.  It’s not an expensive part but one to be mindful of and check more regularly.  The temperature has climbed to 27 degrees and as we arrive back at the park, the skies open up and it drizzles all afternoon.  The remainder of the day is spent indoors.

Wildlife: donkey, dead pademelons, dead rabbits, crows, sheep, swans.

Day 375: New Norfolk to Geeveston

After a windy, wet night it’s 14 degrees by the time we are packed up and ready to leave.  New Norfolk to Geeveston is only 95km so it’s going to be another short journey today.  We’re travelling through the Huon Valley region and it is particularly pretty along the coastline.  The overcast weather is presenting some amazing reflections from the boats in all of the bays.  I’ve let Andrew know that we need to come back another day to get some great photos of this area.

There are two low cost camps at Geeveston.  We’ve spoken with many travellers who have recommended both.  We decide that we’ll stay at the Geeveston RSL camp ground as it has the best reviews on WikiCamps.  The camp ground area is large and runs alongside the Kermandie River.  The grass is neatly mown and we can see fire pits placed around the grounds.  We park up and walk around the site to pick a spot close to the river.  We are far enough from the large trees so that we can power our solar panels.  It’s $10 a night to camp here with a stay 4 pay for 3 deal, payable to the RSL. Toilets are available with a code after hours.  It’s so peaceful by the river that we decide we’ll stay for 8 days and explore all the area has to offer from this base location.

There’s a caretaker, Dave and his wife Luan who keep the grounds really clean and tidy.  Dave delivers cut firewood for $10 a wheelbarrow with all proceeds going to the club.  He volunteers his time to cut the timber and let me tell you on this Australia Day weekend, he is going non stop!

It’s cold, windy and drizzly all day long, so most of our time is spent inside the van once we are set up and I catch up on some work before the weekend is upon us.  Tonight we are heading over to the club for a few drinks and a meal.  Happy hour is between 6.00-7.00pm and at $9 a shout for a bourbon and coke and a glass of wine, we have a few drinks and get to know the locals.  The kitchen has recently been leased out and the food comes highly recommended.  Andrew is pleased to see his favourite parmi on the menu and I’m pretty pleased to see crispy skin salmon.  The meal was really tasty, all produce sourced locally.

Wildlife: sheep, swans, ducks, seagulls, dead pademelons, dead possums, cattle.

Day 376 – 378: Geeveston

Last night we had more rain.  It was cold and windy dropping to 9 degrees.  We decide to take a short walk into town to see what’s on offer.  Everything you need is here and the local IGA is well stocked.  There’s a great Visitor Information Centre with a gallery upstairs and a local wood turner is also set up inside.  There are some amazing creative people in the area.  I need to come back on my own to have more time to look at all the beautiful artworks.

Geeveston has a strong apple growing and forestry heritage and the local township is full of hand carved timber sculptures of famous locals.

This morning we’re taking a drive into Huonville to pick up some bulk dry food for Cinta.  On the way back we stop off at Franklin to have a coffee and check out the free camp by the river. The drive along the river is so picturesque we stop at Port Huon to take some photos of the boats on the river.

Further along there’s a sign at the Cherry farm so we stop there to get some fresh cherries.  You can only buy seconds or stewing cherries by the 1.25kg bag at $8.  Some of the seconds are split but still edible.  They are plump and juicy.  I’m going to make a cherry crumble for dessert.  I’ve never made cherry crumble before.  It was a winner!

Happy Australia Day!  This morning we are heading over to the Heritage Park (the other low cost camp) for a Community Australia Day breakfast.  Breakfast was put on by the local volunteers from the Lions club, SES, police and firies.  Imagine my surprise when we get to the serving area and there is tassie salmon alongside bacon, sausages, vegie burgers, onion and eggs.  I can’t resist the salmon on two slices of bread for brekkie!  We then head up into the small township for a coffee at one of the local cafes.

We’ve done a lot of walking while we’ve been here at the camp ground.  Everything is so close and we’ve enjoyed many, many walks along the river looking for platypus every day.  Andrew saw two platypus yesterday morning when he walked Cinta at 6.00am.  There was no way I was getting up in the cold to walk at that hour.  We’ve been at lunch time and I finally got to see the platypus foraging around in the clear waters.  We watched them for ages along with other tourists.

As this week comes to a close, we look forward to a further 4 nights here at Geeveston and will venture out through the week to explore more of the area.

Wildlife: platypus, seagulls, geese, ducks, goats, sheep, cattle, swans.

Week 54 total expenses: $786.47 – a little higher than expected this week due to a bulk purchase of dog food for Cinta and a very empty fuel tank and gas bottle!

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That’s a wrap for Week 54 of the Lap of the Map.

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

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.

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

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