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5 Week in a 4WD - Lee & Marylin from NSW
On our home page we offer additional information to anyone visiting the state. We received an e-mail from Rod and Anne from Anna Bay in New South Wales.
Blue Tier Trees
Trees at The Blue Tier sporting age-old lichen on their trunks.
It was such a great place to visit that we reckon it would be a sin to not advertise it. So here we go . . .
Here is some general information that we hope will be useful to anyone considering holidaying in Tasmania.
There is a bit of general guff, but we also have tried to include some reasonably important & helpful info, to make anyone's trip more enjoyable!
Please take on board our comments about weather and also booking ahead.
Included also are just a couple of photos of the lesser known places we visited - and enjoyed very much.
We decided to travel during early March through to early April due mainly to the weather and to avoid the peak of the tourist season. Also, being keen photographers, autumn colours have great appeal in Tassie, but we were a few weeks too early for the maximum autumn colours. Bad planning on our behalf.
The weather is always a factor in the island state. We constantly experienced several ‘seasons’ in the one day. But to be fair
Blue Tier View
Site of the tin mining town of Poimena, at The Blue Tier.
Consider this when setting up, especially if you have a tent.
Speaking of tents - although we have a caravan we decided to tent it, with the option of staying in cabins or motels IF rain set in. No regrets with that decision. It proved to be a good alternative to dragging our van all the way from NSW and then cautiously and slowly around the notoriously windy roads of Tassie. It gave us a certain peace of mind by travelling light, although at the small cost of a few creature comforts. Plus by saving the cost of extra fuel, and taking a caravan across on the ferry we offset the cost of the cabins and motel rooms (ten nights in all during our 32 days in Tas). Not all ‘no tent’ days were due to rain . . . we chose at times to shout ourselves
The environment is kaput! at Queenstown
An important consideration was the extreme shortage of caravan sites at several of the places we went. If you hadn’t booked literally weeks ahead then you would not get to stay at key places like Stanley, Cradle Mountain, Strahan, and several others. Then of course, IF you have booked well ahead that makes it inconvenient and a hassle should you wish to stay an extra day, or leave early from a place due to miserable weather. (We heard from quite a few ‘unhappy campers’ who had arrived at (say) Cradle Mtn with the intention of staying three or four days, only to find it bleak (visibility zero), snowing and freezing cold. (The weather there and most west coast places can set in and this just wastes your precious holiday time).
Even unpowered tent sites were in short supply at Cradle Mtn - beware!
On the other hand we always got the best sites (- plenty of unpowered tent sites available) and could move on if the weather prevailed.
In contrast there were plenty of
Easement - Old North Lyell Railway
The old North Mt Lyell Mine railway line easement on the trip to Bird River and Pillinger ruins.
So just how ‘good’ is Tasmania as a tourist destination? Would have to say it is absolutely excellent, and we would not say that lightly, having travelled quite extensively, and on lengthy ( sometimes 4 months duration) trips overseas and around Oz.
The island state has just about everything the demanding tourist would want to experience.
Something to take on board, which is a sort of ‘motherhood statement’: much of the time you are in Tassie it doesn’t seem anything like the mainland - it is often very different to the ‘typical’ Aussie scenery. For those who like something completely different, I say that you truly are in a ‘different country’.
This is partly due to the different landscape. And the often-times absence of the omnipresent and quintessential Australian gum tree. Sure, there are some Eucalypts in some areas, but generally speaking you’ll see dense forests of trees that are not generally encountered (or exist at all) on the mainland. What
Bird River Rapids 1
The remote and beautiful Bird River, Macquarie Harbour World Heritage Area (WHA).
So in my analytical way I’ll summarize what Tas has to offer:
- Scenery is varied, spectacular, interesting, and almost always very appealing. Couldn’t fault it, from the harsh devastated ‘lunar landscape’ of Queenstown through to the very beautiful and different types of rainforest and the beautiful towns and impressive ruins. Added bonus - nowhere is very far away!
- History pervades and is gripping stuff. You can only be amazed at the amount of history associated with such a small place. And we found that even the iconic Port Arthur was only a nose ahead of some other sites for history and beauty. You need to research reasonably deeply so you don’t miss out on seeing (and absorbing) the many other significant sites like the Coal Mines convict site, Sarah Island, Pillinger etc.
Bird River Colours_1
The Bird River's 'Whisky water' colour contrasts with the verdant green of the moss that covers everything . . . Keep moving!!
- And - finally, it needs to be said that the 'natives' and the tourists we met there were about as friendly and helpful as you could find anywhere. Hardly anyone asked us if they could borrow a quid, or anything unseemly like that! Seriously, we made some good friends and enjoyed the company of many campers.
So how long to spend there? We continually met people who complained they had allowed too little time, were surprised at having ‘overlooked’ too much and thereby had only allowed a week (or perhaps two weeks) because they thought they would have seen enough. For us a month was still too little time.
Some things worth considering before you travel would include the following:
1. There are day ferry crossings as well as ‘all night’ crossings. It’s useful to know that Taswegians don’t disallow the intrepid tourist pulling over with their van and staying in
Beauty of the Remote West Coast
Here spectacular colours form a beautiful contrast with the ocean, near Sarah Ann Rocks, south of Marrawah.
2. If you are a hiker (or even if you aren’t!) take warm clothes as you’ll need them. The beautiful but rugged walks available all have an element of danger associated with them due to the extreme weather conditions and rapid changes. You might see the track easily on the way up a mountain, but even
Misty Cradle Mountain
Grey weather at Cradle Mountain . . . (not unusual!). A cloudy, dull day fails in its attempt to reduce the beauty of the scenery at Dove Lake.
3. Quality of accommodation varies considerably, a few camping grounds are tired and grotty while others are modern and clean. One disappointment for us (in tent) was the variation of facilities available in Camp Kitchens around Tas. There were some crackers, like the Cradle Mtn NP&WS one, with everything including the kitchen sink (ha ha), a log fire, hot and cold running wildlife (including the occasional Tassie Devil running past just outside the windows (- what a buzz!). At the other end of the scale were inferior places in Hobart and Mt Field to mention two.
4. Another previously unseen problem was the ‘curfew’ that some parks placed on closing the kitchen - 9pm for example! This was a real hindrance to meeting and chatting with other travelers, or downloading your photos near a power-point. Suggest checking the closing time before settling on a place to stay. But worth mentioning are the great and very good camps - like Stanley (5 Stars from us!!), Cradle Mtn (also 5 stars), and St Helens (ditto). And quality was not usually dictated by cost.
5. A real gripe from us is the (dare we mention it?) absolutely terrible toilet paper that is now commonly used in most parks. We reckon campers everywhere should write to whoever they possibly can and complain about the demise of the quality ‘date rolls’ which are being replaced by useless rubbish. (Enclose some in your letter and pose the question as to whether they would be pleased to use it themselves! Enclose rubber glove as a gentle prompt . . .). No different in Tas, so take your own. At least a couple of parks provided a choice but most have gone over to the Dark Side. Bet the proprietors don’t use the same inferior garbage in their own home . . . Oh no, not bloody likely! Shame on the greed involved here because for just a few cents more your normally enjoyable few minutes in the Dunny could be preserved!
Sorry about that . . . I'm over it now . . .
In summary, Tassie is a great holiday destination, you need to ensure that you don’t consider it to be a place that can be seen properly in a week. There is some great information on walks and other pastimes. But the careful researcher will also dig deeper with their research, and will be rewarded with some true gems (- as well as tired eyes of course). Check out the track to Bird River and Pillinger ruins, and also the Blue Tier with its Goblin Walk, to name just two destinations not usually included in the itinerary. Pics below (we hope - if they stuck to the blog ok . . .).
All we can say is . . . . don’t miss Tassie!
Lee and Marilyn (from Bathurst, NSW).
2 Comments - Add Public Comment or Send Private Message
April 24th 2009 - kangaroojack: From Kangaroojack
Hi Bloogers, Love your entry, we can concur on your thoughts of Tassie, and besides we met you lovely people. You write so well, keep up the good work. Love to you Both. Andy & Caroline
We're rank beginners but are getting the hang of it. Hopefully given time we can improve our blogging skills! Thoroughly enjoy reading yours, thanks for inspiring us to start one ourselves. So nice to recollect the Tassie 'adventures' with you guys. Love from us.
The text and photos of this article remain the copyright of the Author (Lee and Marilyn). Under no circumstances should the photos or text be used without the express written permission of the Author (Lee and Marilyn). If you wish to use or publish photos or text from this article - pleaseContact Lee and Marilyn.