Sunday, 24 April 2016

Our last few days in Tasmania.

Sadly at this point we only had a few more days left to wander around this   beautiful state, but we still had much to see and do.
We headed off from St Helen's   and made our way through lovely mountain country and stopped at the old tin mining town of Derby, A few years ago  it had practically  became a ghost town  but through the foresight of a smart business person a  wonderful tourist venture of mountain bike trails and hire was developed and now the small town is once again thriving.
We looked through the tin mining centre, and also the lovely old schoolhouse museum which were both interesting and informative.
We had the best  hot chocolate and coffee at Derby in a small cafe that we had anywhere in Tasmania.
Friends of ours from home had advised us to visit the small farming community  township  of Legerwood to see the wooden statues, and we are very glad we did.
Apparently  there was an avenue of trees planted   in the  town to honour all the local men that went off to fight in WW1, but all these years later they had started to become a problem and needed to be lopped off or removed , so a decision was made to have a local chainsaw carver come and carve  the trees into memorial statues to commemorate  the local men that never made it home.

We think they were stunning. We saw statues that this same man had carved in three different places and all of them were remarkable.
We made it to  George Town/ Low Head where  we booked into the caravan park , then went sight seeing.
It is a lovely area  right on the coast where the Tamar River meets the ocean, so picturesque.
We visited the beautiful old light house and pilot station,
It was a lovely place to stay, and they also do regular penguin tours everynight, but we decided not to do them.
The next morning we headed  down alongside  the Tamar River and back over the Batman Bridge,to Exeter where  hit the local bakery and bought some goodies as we were going to visit  a family from a farm that we have been in touch with on my Facebook  canning page  who live near Glengarry.
"Swampy Hollow Farm"  also known as Mark and Aurore, They can be found on Facebook at
We were made so extremely  welcome at  the farm by Mark and Aurore and their family, they too are on a small acreage and are trying to become as self sufficient as possible.
They have  a collection of bee hives and Mark was able to pass on some invaluable tips to Brian for our  future endeavours  into bee farming, they hope to be able to run a farm gate  shop in the future.
They have a myriad of animals, a sweet pig called Pumba that was expecting at the time of our visit but has since given birth to 5  gorgeous spotted piglets, a horses and ponies, a few cows , some sheep, chickens, goats,ducks and 2 sweet dogs.
  All their animals are treated with the  greatest affection  and most of the animals have either been rescue cases or  bottle fed babies.
We had a wonderful visit to Swampy Hollow Farm, a yummy morning tea and a test taste of Swampy's  chilli garlic sauce he had bottled, and sadly we bid them farewell and headed off towards Devonport . I hope that we  keep in touch and that if they come to the mainland one day then hopefully we can return their wonderful hospitality, as we really seemed to be on a similar journey in life.
We called into a raspberry farm and purchased fresh and choc dipped raspberries, and consumed them  within a few minutes if I am to be honest.
We booked into  the caravan park in Devonport and did some local sight seeing around the city.
Next morning we visited Ashgrove cheese factory, all around the factory and garden were  cute hand painted cows, they really were a feature,we  saw the cheese making process and tasted samples of many cheeses.
There were so many of  the cows , I decided to make a collage.
We purchased some yummy cheeses and then headed to a chocolate factory.
 We also called in to the "Axeman's  Hall of Fame at Latrobe, it was an interesting look around and learned the history of the local area  Axenen who have  won  great fame with their skills. Hubby and I took some pics of each other outside.

Our next stop was the Don River Railway  on the outskirts of Devonport, unfortunately we didn't get to ride the steam train  as there was not enough volunteers that day, but we were able to check out their museum, buildings and rolling stock that was there on display.
We had a lovely day and retired to our cabin for an early night.
The next day was our last , we had to vacate our cabin so  we did some sight seeing in nearby towns to Devonport, Ulverstone, Bernie, Penguin,, did some shopping, had a wander along the beach and collected some shells and stones to take home, had a lovely lunch and an ice cream  on the Mersey Riverside,  and  waited until we  were able to line up at the ferry terminal car park ready to  load the car back onto the ferry for our return trip.
We lined up about 4.30 pm but didn't actually  get on board until 7pm. It amazed me again how many cars and trucks are loaded onto the ferry, this time  we had our car on deck G2( right down the bottom) we  had booked a cabin for the night crossing and found it quite spacious and comfortable( albeit with twin beds) with our own private bathroom.
We   headed to the  lounge and restaurant area, had a few beers,
had a lovely dinner and a few more beers, watched a bit of television  and retired to our cabin for a good nights sleep.
The  trip across Bass strait  was  as smooth  as smooth, like gliding on ice, we slept like babies, and docked about 6 am  and   had an early coffee and breakfast in the restaurant and  waited to disembark at Melbourne.  We were one of the last  cars to  get off  due to where we  were  sitting in the ferry, and  when we finally disembarked  about 7.30 am we headed off straight  out of Melbourne towards Parkes.We spent two nights there with our daughter and her family.
We  have had a wonderful  11 days in Tasmania , it has been a lovely  holiday and break away from the farm,we have seen so many  interesting  and  amazing places. We  really only saw about half of Tasmania on the trip so we will certainly be returning again in the future when we save up again to complete the journey.
I hope you have enjoyed the holiday  too as you have followed along with us, we have enjoyed your company.
Please take care until we meat again soon,


Highlights of the next few days of our trip.

We had such an amazing time in Tasmania, did so much that I just did not have time to update the blog, there were just not enough  hours in the day, so I will shortcut and just do the highlights( even that may be long winded), so I apologize..
The day after  visiting Port Arthur, we headed south and had a lovely breakfast on the "Margate Train" the last passenger train to run in Tasmania, now converted to a small tourist stopover.
We did a scenic drive  around the countryside and Brian spotted some old grey fergie tractors near an apple stall we stopped at, and just nearby were some cute Highland cattle and a farrier shoeing a draught horse.
We came back to Hobart and had  fish and chips on the dockside,  had a look around Hobart( cities are not really our thing) and headed back over the Derwent river bridge .
On the way back to  the motel we passed back through Richmond that we had seen previously but  found "Old Hobart Town" a small scale replica village of what Hobart looked like in the early 1800's, it was brilliant, so much detail has gone into creating it.
The next morning we headed off north  to travel up the east coast.
We came to a beautiful old stone church at Buckland, it was closed for repairs but we had a wander around it and the enclosed graveyard, so many young people just never made it in those early years, so sad.
We drove through lovely winding hilly countryside, often with  beautiful rivers and creeks on one side of us and ocean on the other.
We came across the "Spikey Bridge", a convict build bridge, but unknown why the vertical spikes of rock were placed there. The notice says that it was  to either prevent stock jumping over the sides whilst crossing or that it was just a folly of the engineer or builders.
Freycinet National park was our next  stop as we  wanted to walk the track to wineglass bay lookout. As we  entered the national park we got amazing views of the mountains.
The treck up  to the lookout started off easy but soon became quite a hard climb of steps that just kept going  and going.. I had a few stops along the way as  I am just so out of condition, but I certainly wasn't alone . The climb was definately worth every  gasping step.
What a totally stunning view of Wineglass Bay it was.
As we  came back down to the car park, we had a little friend right near us while we had a  quick lunch from the car.

We continued  noth up the coast until we came to St Helens, where we stayed the night, had dinner at the local RSL and met a lovely couple Don and Jill from Launceston who like us were doing a touring trip of Tasmania. We had so much in common and we stayed  and chatted for hours.
The east coast of Tasmania is very picturesque  and we have enjoyed it, so different from our dry inland home.
will continue the journey soon,
Take care

Sunday, 17 April 2016

A pictorial look into our past.

After much deliberation for reasons discussed  further down , we made the decision to go and visit Port Arthur .
Port Arthur was a  penal settlement  at the bottom of Tasmania established around 1830  to house the worst of the  convicts who had been  transported to Australia, the more hardened criminals mostly  ended up at  port Arthur.
This post will  contain a lot of photos, but I feel they tell the story of life  during those hard times.
We arrived  early, purchased our tickets and the first  thing we did was went on the cruise to hear a little of the history of Port Arthur.
We were shown a scale model of what the entire settlement of Port Arthur originally looked like.
As you walk to the  dock, you get  see a  really striking  view of the main  prison.
From the water you get a great view of the settlement, and also what was   the white shipyard managers home.
We also circumnavigated a small island which we were told was called"The Isle of the dead" which we were told over 1100  people( including, convicts,free men and women and  young convict boys) were buried on that small island.
We visited "The Broad Axe Cafe,  which is now just a shell,
On the 28th April 1996 a crazed gunman entered  Port Arthur and went on a  tragic shooting rampage. many innocent lives were lost that day, many of them in the cafe and the decision was made to  demolish  all but the walls which are left as a memorial to all those  poor souls. I agree with the decision to leave the walls as to  completely  remove the building also  leaves no trace and I think we need to see this to  remind us of the devestation he caused to all these families.
A memorial garden  has been established with a reflection pool, and I found this a very calming area  to be.
For this reason we nearly didn't visit Port Arthur, but we  decided  that  if all the  tourists stay away it will fall into disrepair and  so much history will be lost.
The following photos show the main  prison   and surrounding buildings.
We also viewed "The Commandants House", which also was a hotel  at some point.
I especially loved the display of what a typical pantry of bottles goods would have looked like.
It would have been a hard life in those days, there were small cramped loft accommodation   in quarters at the rear of the building for junior servants.
The "Seperation Prison" was also very interesting to go through. The very worst of the prisoners were bought there, they were hooded and were not allowed to see or speak to each other, the guards used sign language to  converse and a  pop up symbol system on the doors was used  when the prisoners need a guard. There were small seperate exercise yards also. This type of psycological   punishment was a new innovation at the time, as authorities were trying to move away from harsh  physical punishment which was the norm.
Some of the  people that passed through the seperate prison.
There was also a beautiful  church at the settlement, multi denominational, which I think is  brilliant, but it is also just a shell too, next to it is a small wooden church that is currently still in use today.
There are many  beautifully restored and conserved homes in the settlement.
When the  prison closed in 1877 many of the buildings were demolished. There has been an ongoing  initiative to bring as much as possible back to life.
Port Arthur has a long and brutal history, but it is our history and for that reason it must not be allowed to be forgotton.
Beautiful gardens  and lawns  surround the  settlement, and are extremely well maintained, they really are a credit to the staff that work there.
We had a  really  good day wandering around Port Arthur, we were there for a full day, the entry pass  allows you to come for two days, and if you  went on all the walking tours and cruise tours  it probably would  take the two days. We learned so much about our  early convict history  and appreciate it all a little more now.I am so glad we made the decision to  visit.
On our return to Hobart we called in to the nearby "Tessallated   pavement on the  foreshore at Eaglehawk neck , a really unusual rock formation  that was definately worth a look.
We had a big day, a powerful day, one  that brought many emotions to the surface, that  I find it difficult to express. I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone visiting Tasmania to go to Port Arthur, I for one am extremely glad I did.
Our holiday continues, we are having such a wonderful time.
Until we meet again,