If you read summit 2 sea's last blog on how to stay off the grid longer or their tips for holiday travel you would know most of their planning and trip preparation has been for Tasmania. If you're planning a trip to Tassie, make sure you read their in-depth travel diary below and read what they got up to on their 16-night adventure!
Hitting the road
When the time had finally come to get up and hit the road for Tasmania, the tiredness, due to lack of sleep from packing until 11 pm the night before we were soon overcome with sheer joy and excitement. We had finally come to the beginning of our road trip holiday.
After 1800km, 3 states and almost 2 days of bum numbing driving we had reached the Spirit of Tasmania at the Port of Melbourne. It was at this point our excitement reached new levels as the following morning we would wake up in VAN DIEMANS LAND (The original name of Tasmania).
We disembarked the Spirit of Tasmania at Devonport, and it wasn’t long until Nikki's ‘hangryness’ (being angry due to extreme hunger) was starting to shine which meant our first call of duty would be to get ourselves a good breakfast........ she just needed to wait until we arrived in Launceston. We arrived at a nice cafe in Launceston, only saying what was necessary to not awaken the 'hangry demon' as I call it.
Monkeying around in Launceston
Launceston is Tasmania’s second largest city after Hobart. We strapped on our walking shoes (thongs) and went for a wander around the township. During our walk, we came across an amazing lush green park called City Park. To our surprise there was an enclosure with Japanese Macaque (Snow Monkeys) in the centre of the park. As strange as this was to us, these monkeys are on display in the park most of the year around. After burning up some time watching the monkeys and exploring some of the town it was time to load up the truck with the essentials and head for our first destination, Bridport.
Blown away by the Bay of Fires
Bridport is a quiet little town situated on the Northern end of the island heading towards the East. We spent our first night at Bridport Caravan Park where on arrival we were greeted by a lovely and helpful manager. He chatted with us for almost half an hour giving us maps and details of places he recommended to see, as well as a few little local tips of his own. We woke up to a slightly wet drizzly morning and decided to pack early and get on the road and head for the Bay of Fires area on the East Coast.
If you have ever considered travelling to Tasmania, read books about, or spoken with someone who’s travelled or lived in Tasmania, I'm more than certain you would’ve heard of the name Bay of Fires. Unfortunately for us, the morning drizzle had nothing better to do with its day and hung around, joined by his mate the wind! The rain in this instance wasn’t too bad and was bearable, but the wind was insane. Some gusts felt like they were on the verge of blowing us over. None the less we walked out to the Bay of Fires' lookout and had a sticky beak around the rocky shoreline.
Despite the weather, you could certainly see how beautiful this place can be. The weather was a sure reminder how beautiful yet powerful mother nature can be. We decided not to camp around this area and headed south along the coast checking out many other campsites along the way. Being the Christmas holiday period, finding a campsite suitable for our setup was proving a little trickier than originally thought. But luckily the sun doesn't go down till 8:30 pm, even 9 pm in some places. So eventually we found a campsite and set up at Friendly Beaches.
Time to head east
We continued down the East Coast, stopping along the way at many little towns, sites and beaches. The original decision we made was to head for Freycinet National Park to camp there for a couple of nights. But something that we were unaware of until arriving was that over the Christmas holiday period the Freycinet National Park is so popular it becomes a camping via ballot.
So, our trip to Freycinet turned into a day trip. Which none the less was an amazing day with a nice walk to the lighthouse overlooking the bay. Unfortunately, we didn't get time to do the hike up to the Wineglass Bay lookout, so Google images will just have to do. When it came time to find a place for the night it was easy to pick the town Bicheno which we had visited earlier that day. There were no camping grounds close to the town so we checked into the Bicheno East Coast Holiday Park.
Bicheno is a lovely old little fishing town situated on the East Coast. It’s only a small town but has all you need to camp for long periods of time comfortably. We spent a large part of our time in Bicheno at a place called The Gulch. Don't let the name deter you, but it is one of the most beautiful places I've seen and it also has some awesome squid fishing. The weather had decided to turn on for us with some of the bluest, clearest skies I've seen, water so clear, and a beach so pristine you could mistake it as the Mediterranean. But you soon know you’re in Tasmania once you feel the water temp. After exploring the beaches and coastline we headed to The Gulch for some fishing.
During the daylight hours, it produced some nice sized Wrasse and Barracuda, and by dusk, it was a calamari lover’s heaven. This wasn't the only thing Bicheno had to offer at dusk, the little Fairy Penguins flock to this area with the numbers being so thick you need to be careful where you walk. Bicheno also has a pretty awesome blowhole, which is easily accessed via a 2-minute walk from the carpark. We experienced the blowhole on a making tide with little swell and it was still putting on a good show. I could only imagine what it would be like during a large swell.
Goodbye Bicheno, hello Hobart
It was hard leaving Bicheno, I could never say enough to give it its full justice. But none the less we had lots more of Tassie we wanted to see, so we headed off again heading South along the coast. It wasn’t long after heading off that we had our first pit stop. It was at Devils Corner Winery which was only 30 minutes South from Bicheno. This was our very first winery experience, and it sure blew us away. Neither of us are big wine drinkers, and in a way thought the whole vineyard scene was one that wasn’t for us. Even though we may have been the roughest looking vineyard visitors in our adventuring get up, we felt rather relaxed and comfortable here. We enjoyed a glass of wine and a wood oven pizza on the deck, which looks out over the grass hills into Oyster Bay. Not a bad breakfast I say. From here we headed off South stopping at few little towns along the way until we reached Hobart.
We booked a hotel room at Hobart with plans to head to Bruny Island the following day. This gave us the chance to catch up on that fun activity 'the laundry' and also some much-needed sleep.
Waking up early, we headed for Kettering, a little town South East of Hobart. We boarded the ferry for a short 10 minute voyage across to Bruny Island. Our first port of call was always going to be the Bruny Island Cheese Factory. We stocked up on a few goodies to add to our snacks and of course a few special cheeses to go with our Christmas lunch which was only a few days away. We left the cheese factory and headed for the well-known and photographed 'Neck' on Bruny Island.
The lookout provides stunning views of the island. With the almost perfect weather, it was a good day to check out what we could of the island before finding a place to stay. We spent the day driving around South Bruny, checking out the South Bruny Lighthouse and in the opposite direction, Cloudy Bay. Both these locations showcase some spectacular views. Also at the lighthouse stop, they conduct tours to the top of the lighthouse. There is also a small museum showcasing some of the old instruments used and the old logbooks of lighthouse keepers. Visiting this place sure makes you realise just how harsh and isolated the lifestyle would have been back in the day as a lighthouse keeper.
We set up camp at 'The Neck' campgrounds, where we stayed for 3 nights. We enjoyed the easy walk to the beach, the abundance of wildlife (especially Wallabies and Possums) and the sheer serenity of the island. The beaches around The Neck are renowned for beach fishing, but unfortunately the fishing gods were not on our side. However, we did manage to catch some more squid, with one of them smashing my previous PB.
Driving to the summit
After spending 3 nights on Bruny we headed back to the mainland to continue the adventure. With the day turning into a cracker, we headed the top of Mount Wellington which overlooks Hobart and surrounding towns. To make it more interesting and a real adventure, it was time to test out my 4wding abilities and take Jeffrey’s Track. It's a 4wd track which links up Crabtree to Lachlan which is a short cut in km’s but not in time.
The track is 14km long and took us 1hr 30min to complete, but it was worth every minute. The track is of a medium difficulty and has some awesome views along the way as well as some testing obstacle and track conditions to navigate your way through. Once we emerged from Jeffrey’s Track it wasn’t much further on until we begun the ascent to the top of Mount Wellington. The windy narrow road up to the summit takes roughly 15min with plenty of spectacular views along the way. The real gem though is the top of the summit. Even though the day was quite warm once we reached the summit the jumpers soon came on. Only a few weeks before our arrival the peak had received snow and it was the middle of summer.
“Does Tasmania get cyclones?”
From Mount Wellington, we set our GPS for Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula. After arriving late with the light fading fast we decided to stay at the free campsite next to the Dunaley Pub. If my sixth sense had known what this night would have installed for us I would’ve stayed somewhere else! The campsite is an open oval which has no shelter from the wind, and it just so happened that on this night after a long day of driving and adventuring it had decided to give the roof top tent a true test of its strength with each gust of wind that made me think “does Tasmania get cyclones?”.
The wind was so strong the roof top tent was acting almost like a sail on the car and the rocking felt like the seas. Not only was the soothing rocking a contender for “KEEP THEM AWAKE AWARD” but the loose parts of the tent were flapping so loud that the only possible way to sleep would be to down a few too many wines mixed with some sleeping tablets. We decided to get out of the roof top tent before we ended up in Antarctica. We somehow managed to pack the tent away and turned to the ever inviting front seats of the car. With a car packed to the brim with gear, the seats were not going to recline to the greatest sleeping angle.
They were upright and made for one of the worst night’s sleep that I can remember. We woke at the crack of light and despite the lack of sleep, and rainy weather, we were super excited for the day ahead. We had decided to head to the Port Arthur Historical Village. Even though the weather was a grey drizzle, I don’t think I can explain how awesome the historical site is. In a strange way, the rainy conditions gave it this eerie feel which only added to thrill. We spent almost 5 hours wandering around in our rain coats checking out what remained of the site and listening to the stories of the tour guide for the first hour. Port Arthur would be one of our must do trips if you ever visit Tasmania.
The taste of Hobart
With the ‘Taste Festival’ and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race occurring, we headed back to Hobart to get amongst the festivities and check out the beautiful city. The Taste Festival boasts a great range of food and drink, all of which is grown and produced in Tasmania. The festival is set up along the harbour just past Elizabeth Pier. With plenty of seating set out along the harbour’s edge, you can enjoy some of Tasmania’s wonderful food and drink and watch the yachts sailing in from Sydney. The Taste also has a range of live music, buskers, acrobats, and live cooking demos. The Taste is also the place for the New Year’s fireworks and celebrations.
With a few days to kill in Hobart we decided that we would try to check out as much as we could by foot. Walking around you almost feel as if you’re in an old English town, with some spectacular buildings that date back as far as the 1800’s. Something that I enjoyed was the Maritime Museum. For a modest fee, you can explore the history of the Australian Maritime industry, and especially that of Tasmania’s past. We were lucky enough to visit the museum where they had an amazing and very knowledgeable exhibition on the Royal Australian Navy’s history. This was something of my personal interest, as I joined the Navy at a young age for a short time and I like learning about Australia’s Defence Force history.
“… one of the most spectacular drives.”
After a few days checking out Hobart and all the festivities, we needed to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and get back out to something more relaxing, or at least a little more remote. We decided to head for the Strahan, a small town on the West Coast of Tasmania. Along the way to Strahan we decided to make the trip through the Central Highlands and near some fresh water lakes. This drive had to be one of the most spectacular drives. The terrain seemed to change almost every 30 minutes, from open flat plains to large mountain ranges, forest-like terrain to parts that feel like you’re driving through a scene from Lord Of The Rings. Unfortunately, with time running short we didn’t get to spend much time around the lakes and Cradle Mountain region, but this is just a good excuse to visit Tasmania again one day.
We didn’t arrive into Strahan until late, and it was New Year’s Eve, so we didn’t muck around and got set-up asap at the Strahan Holiday Retreat Campground. We put up our feet and enjoyed some of Tassie’s culinary delights cooked by yours truly. Of course we stocked up on some Wine and Cider from Vineyards we visited throughout the trip so far.
Bringing in the new year
January! Another year down. We didn’t want to waste a minute, so we packed up early and headed off to find ourselves a campsite that would provide some fishing and fun for our last couple nights. With a few local tips and hints which we had acquired the night before around the fire we headed for Macquarie Heads. We were told had his was an almost guaranteed spot to catch some Australian Salmon, a fish in which we had long been trying to catch throughout the trip with no success yet.
We arrived at Macquarie Heads and headed straight down the beach access to a spot that I thought looked like it would produce the goods of some Salmon. The weather had turned a little grim, with light rain and grey skies, but luckily the wind didn't get the memo and hadn’t turned up yet. We rigged up the light rods, chucked on our rain jackets and headed to the water’s edge with the expectation and dream of “Salmon first cast” but that would just be too easy apparently. What felt like a couple of hundred casts later and the rain not letting up we had produced nothing but a sour mood.
Nikki finally gave up and started making her way back to the campsite, leaving myself and my Taurus born stubbornness still casting away. I was reluctant to accept defeat! Sure enough only several more casts later and finally a HIT! Was this going to, be it? With absolute joy, I had finally caught and landed an Australian Salmon. I, of course, had to run and show Nikki. With the excitement of finally catching one I was ready to tackle another hundred plus casts to get an even bigger one. But it wasn’t going to take a hundred, no not even several. I was on again. Nikki came back down and joined in with the total tally for that evening reaching 30 plus Salmon. The following day we managed to catch another 40 plus within an hour, almost going cast for cast with double hook-ups.
A visit from the devil
During our stay at Macquarie Heads on the west coast we also had one of the most freaky and awesome night’s sleep. Now if you have ever heard Koalas mating or more likely Possums, then I’m sure you’re aware of the devil like noise they make. If you have experienced this you know how freaky it is the first time when you’re wondering what demonic creature has come to get you during the night. What we heard this night makes them sound like nursery rhymes. When I said it was also awesome it was because it was a wild Tasmanian Devil outside our tent.
After 3 nights at Macquarie Heads we headed North making our way closer towards Devonport, where the following evening we would have to say goodbye. We got away from Macquarie Heads early and headed North. Along the way, we visited Guide Falls, right next to the Guide Falls Animal Park. The Falls are amazing! And if you have a love for animals, the Guide Falls Animal Park is a lovely friendly place to visit, where yourself and/or your children can get up close and personal with a wide variety of animals. With the final day drawing to an end we headed to Burnie. We got to spend our final night walking along the wonderfully set out boardwalk watching the Fairy Penguins come ashore to feed their chicks.
A trip to remember
We had a total of 16 nights in Tasmania, formerly known as Van Diemens land, but I certainly wish I had a lot more. After experiencing only a fraction of what Tasmania has to offer I know one thing for sure, I’ll be back. Tasmania is truly one of Australia’s best-kept secrets, with an abundance of wildlife, lush healthy landscapes and such a vast array of scenery. Not only is it a picturesque dream, everyone we had met were so friendly and helpful, and we cannot forget the wonderful food that comes out of this pristine place. So, if you get the chance to visit Tasmania we would highly recommend that you take the opportunity.
Liam & Nikki
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