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Year View| Summary| Highlights| December 2007 (Month View)

01.12.2007Saturday 1 December – Tasmania

Bronwen had already packed for Tasmania, but me being myself, I hadn’t, so packed now. Then, with everything neatly packed away ready to go, it occurred to us to weigh the bags, and they came out far too heavy. A quick re-pack, moving everything possible into cabin baggage, or not taking it at all, got the weight down a little.
I drove up to the train station, dumped Bronwen and the luggage there, drove home, and walked back to the station, catching the train to Roma Street, changing for the airtrain, and catching that to the airport. Thus began our Tasmanian holiday.
Jetstar’s Airbus A320 departed roughly on time, with Bronwen and I seated in seats 1E and 1F—I asked for extra legroom—but not before we’d had to pay $35 excess baggage, which was actually lenient, it should have been around $50.
We arrived in Hobart. My first impression was that the airport is very small, and catching the $12.50 bus into the city, that Hobart itself is also very small. Bronwen had prebooked a $60 room at the Hollydene Inn. We went for a short wander around the city, and then slept.

02.12.2007Sunday 2 December – Hobart

Both Bronwen and I slept in. I woke feeling seedy. We went for a walk around Hobart, looking for food, but nothing was open. It was fairly hot and tiring. Around lunchtime, as things gradually opened, we had nachos at a café on the main mall.
It’s quite hot, though I suppose not very hot compared to what Brisbane would be at this time of year. Bronwen and I retired back to our room.
Off for a walk. Checked out a local beach, imaginatively named Sandy Beach. The water is quite cold—I don’t think I’ll be swimming. We also found a Woolworths, so there’s some civilisation around here, though the city still seems very small.
Wandered around Hobart. Bought a milkshake. It has been quite hot, only getting cooler now, though it didn’t get dark until 8:30. Had a nice curry that Bronwen made for dinner.
Back from our walk, and off to bed. There weren’t many people around, but there were still several restaurants open—later than they’d normally be in Brisbane, particularly on a Sunday night.
Comment by io – Saturday 12 April 2008, 1:39 PM
  The ubiquitous milkshake makes materializes in Hobart!

03.12.2007Monday 3 December – Port Arthur

Got up. Packed. Turns out it’s raining. Walked to Lo-Cost Auto Rental, where we picked up our Hyundai Accent Auto, 2005 model. We’d booked a manual, but turns out they had an auto instead—which normally cost a little more, so can’t complain. I drove to Mount Wellington, through thick fog, which lifted just as we got to the top. We couldn’t have asked for better timing really. It was very cold, and didn’t take long before the fog began blowing back—something between sleet and cloud, cold and coming sideways. The car wouldn’t unlock with its remote key, due to the transmission towers on the mountain. The car radio also failed to work. Bronwen drove back to Lo-Cost Auto Rental, who changed a fuse, fixing the radio.
I picked up an American tourist from the Pickled Frog—who Bronwen had met back in Brisbane—and we drove to Port Arthur, where we had chips for lunch and left our American friend. Bronwen and I went for a walk to Remarkable Caves and along the spectacularly cliffy coast, before getting a $20 campsite at Port Arthur Caravan Park.
After setting up the tent, we went for another walk, had Bronwen’s curry for dinner, and wished it hadn’t again begun raining. A Launceston school is having some kind of camp here, so it’s very busy, with school kids all over the place.
The tent leaks from the corner of each window somehow. Fortunately it didn’t rain enough to be a big problem, though the two corners of the bed did get wet. The bed also went down a bit—fortunately not enough to really matter. Perhaps buying the cheapest inflatable air mattress and K-Mart tent wasn’t the way to go.

04.12.2007Tuesday 4 December – Coles Bay

We woke late, packed out still-wet leaky tent, and Bronwen drove slowly north along the scenic East coast of Tasmania. We visited Dootown, where all the houses are named various “doo”-related names—proof enough that while Tasmanians don’t seem to have two heads, they’re certainly not normal—the Blowholes, Devil’s Kitchen, Tasman Arch, and Tessellated Pavement, before taking a gravel forestry road through Sandspit Forestry Reserve. We somehow managed to have to turn 180 degrees to keep going the right way.
We drove through Orford, Triabunna, Swansea, and on to Coles Bay. We stopped a few times to sightsee, seeing an old convict bridge, several sections of scenic coastline, and some boring historic streets that Bronwen insisted were interesting.
By the time we got to Coles Bay (which has mosquitoes, it turns out) it was too late to go walking, and we were fortunate to get a $20 campsite at the Iluka Holiday Centre, as it normally closes at 6. Bronwen made the first of many marvellous pastas, having somehow managed to disappear and return with half a kilo of good parmesan. Exactly how she managed this I’m not sure, as we only just managed to get a campsite, let alone fine foods.
After dinner, Bronwen and I wandered along the scenic beach, before going to bed, ignoring the noisy kids nearby. So far it hasn’t rained.

05.12.2007Wednesday 5 December – Bay of Fires

Bronwen and I walked the two and a half hour walk to Wineglass Bay—said by many to be the most scenic bay in Tasmania—via a lookout perched on the side of a mountain. Bronwen had thoughtfully made sandwiches, which we ate on the beach. I knew there was a reason she’d come.
I drove to Cosy Corner Beach, in the Bay of Fires. It’s a free camping area, though quite windy and cold. We’ve done 585 kilometres so far. We stopped off at a beach on the way here, and again at Saint Helens, which has the dubious distinction of having the largest supermarket on the East Coast. It’s a Supa-IGA, about the size of a small Brisbane supermarket. There are some nice rocks out at St. Helens’ Point though.
  Wallabies and wombats are abundant and quite tame. There’s even a cinema at Saint Helens. The council here is called Break O’Day Council. It’s all quite backwards, in a scenic, pleasant, rustic British—but worrying—kind of way.
After a lovely pasta, Bronwen and I spent a while looking around Cosy Corner Beach. It’s the sort of rugged secluded coast some people dream of. Bronwen cleverly opened the car door onto a rock, denting it slightly—though I’m glad to say the rock was fine.

06.12.2007Thursday 6 December – Launceston

Cornflakes and muesli for breakfast. Pack tent. Bronwen drives to Saint Helens again for water, some supplies from the supermarket—and of course, a chocolate milk for me.
  Bronwen drove to the Pyengana Cheese Factory, at Pyengana in case you hadn’t figured that out, and onto Saint Columba Falls. It rained gently most of the way. Carrying my tripod and a couple of thousand dollars worth of camera gear underneath my $2 emergency poncho (we went all-out on the equipment for this holiday) seems like something I’m going to have to get good at. I drove back down the mountain from the falls.
Bronwen drove to Derby, where we had Bronwen sandwiches at a park. We stopped again at Sideling Range, where we had planned to climb a mountain, but thick fog had rolled in and visibility had dropped to well below a hundred metres, and being bitterly cold and wet, we decided we should abandon our mountain ascent and remain alive.
Bronwen drove us into Launceston, where we got temporarily lost looking for the Treasure Island Caravan Park, which cost us $22 for a tent site for two. From there, we walked into Launceston, had a look around, and a curry from a nearby Indian restaurant. It wasn’t as good as Halim’s back in Brisbane.
We walked up Cataract Gorge—which really is spectacularly scenic, lit up colourfully at night, and seems to be a popular haunt for the local youth—before walking back to the caravan park and having a shower at last. We’ve put 805 kilometres on the clock, just a little over our 800 kilometre (200 kilometres a day) limit.
Comment by io – Tuesday 13 May 2008, 9:42 AM
  Yep that colour is vibrant brilliance.

07.12.2007Friday 7 December – Devonport

We woke (fortunately), and packed up the tent just as it began raining. I drove into Launceston, where we bought the cheapest umbrellas we could find—at a place called Chickenfeed—and had a look at King’s Park, its monkeys, and went for a walk across a suspension bridge at Cataract Gorge, before driving to Devonport. Excitingly, we came across a normal-sized Woolworths on the outskirts of Launceston, which cheered me up no end. Perhaps there’s hope for this island after all. We stopped, of course, and I bought flavoured milk.
We found a gale-force-wind-attracting lookout, complete with driving rain, Batman Bridge, and Beaconsfield—which looks just like it looked on every Australian news report while the miners were stuck underground there. Bronwen and I spent a fascinating few hours in its museum. The mine is almost unbelievably vast.
  I then drove on to Latrobe, had a milkshake (caramel, seeing you asked), and set up tent at Mersey Bluff Caravan Park, in one of the most fantastic spots for a camp I’ve seen—overlooking an isolated beach, on a grassy expanse surrounded by shrubbery.
Nice hot chips for dinner were followed by a wander around Devonport, and I’m now eating chocolate. We’ve driven just under a thousand kilometres, and there’s a power point in the kitchen so I can charge my camera battery.

08.12.2007Saturday 8 December – Stanley

We’re at Stanley, with 1112 kilometres down. We had a look at a lighthouse at Devonport before Bronwen drove to Leven Canyon—which is by far the most impressive canyon I’ve ever seen. Breathtaking comes to mind. I wish I knew how to capture its grandeur, and sheer depth, but my photography just doesn’t do it justice.
Being late for a tour through Gunns Plains Caves, I drove from Leven Canyon on to Gunns Plains, as fast as I dared.
Arriving just a few minutes late, we literally caught the tour preparing to go underground. Rushing, we managed to join them, and it was well worth it—with cave after spectacular cave unfolding before our slightly clammy and damp selves.
Exiting troll-like from our caves, Bronwen drove us on to Stanley, where we got a powered campsite for $22—being the same cost as unpowered for some reason—at Stanley Caravan Park. In contrast to last night’s campsite, this is boringly neat, orderly and well-maintained. We walked up the “nut”, wandered down a rocky beach on dusk, snuck behind the sensitive penguin rookery warning signs, and sat with a penguin. We also bought two litres of Neapolitan ice cream, which we have to eat prior to leaving the caravan park fridge tomorrow—this perhaps wasn’t a good idea.
I charged up my camera battery, and the air mattress went down. Evil mattress.

09.12.2007Sunday 9 December – Rosebery

We woke to find that our air mattress had let a lot of its air out. After managing to finish our remaining litre and a half of ice cream, and forgetting to get our wine out of the fridge, I drove to Roseberry via Wynyard, where we restocked at Woolworths. We had planned to stop at Cradle Mountain Campgrounds and go for a walk in the morning, but icy rain and reports of snow changed our mind and we got a nice, large $60 room at the Top Pub in Rosebery instead.
  On the way, we stopped at Port Latta, Rocky Cape National Park, Hellyer River, Table Cape Lookout, and accidentally came across the world’s largest tin mine just outside Waratah.
It’s still raining and quite cold. We’ve put 1454 kilometres on our hire car, and nice Bronwen pasta in our bellies. Hurrah for miraculously obtained parmesan.

10.12.2007Monday 10 December – Strahan

Bronwen drove to Murchison Dam, the first in a series of Dams—and a cold looking dam it was—and then on to Montezuma Falls, one of the highest in the state. We managed to complete a three hour walk along a scenic old tramway through spectacular forest and past an old adit without it raining, though it tried a few times.
We continued on to Zeehan, where we weren’t game to drive through an old tunnel just wider than the car, then on to Strahan (pronounced “straw-n”, in a very Queensland sort of way) via a lookout, where we paid $25 for the least inspiring campsite we’ve had so far, complete with mosquitoes, at West Strahan Caravan Park.
We bought chips for dinner, and drove down to the beach to watch the sun set over the ocean. Unfortunately it rained on and off, but we did get to go on a free sheerwater (muttonbird) tour, which was surprisingly educating and interesting.
We’re up to 1604 kilometres.

11.12.2007Tuesday 11 December – Lake Saint Clair

Awoke, with the mattress again flat, and the tent promptly snapped a main pole. It’s still raining on and off too. The west coast sucks. I drove out to Macquarie Head (Devil’s Gates), then checked in Strahan for tents, tarps, mattresses, poles, or other things someone with a broken tent, broken mattress, and stuck in the land of three-headed-cousins while it rains, would want. Unfortunately, nothing in Strahan sold anything useful.
Later Morning
I drove on to Lake Saint Clair, mostly through rain, stopping for a lovely little rainforest/waterfall walk where we had lunch, and at Queenstown, where we got a tarp but no rope or poles. All the rope had been bought by Parks and Wildlife for catching wombats, apparently. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to believe that or not, but the man in the hardware seemed serious enough. I bought bricklayer’s string instead, in a lovely fluorescent pink.
Camping at Lake Saint Clair is $10 per person, with a six-minute shower token included. It’s still raining. We’ve set up the tent with the broken part of the pole removed, and the tarp over the top. Hopefully that survives the night, and ideally the rest of the trip. In other exciting news, Telstra’s CDMA tower here is an hour wrong, presumably it doesn’t know about daylight savings, and we’ve now driven 1785 kilometres.

12.12.2007Wednesday 12 December – Mount Rufus

We wake up after a fairly uncomfortable and broken sleep, but feeling rested. Sleeping without a mattress really isn’t ideal, particularly when the ground is quite cold. After breakfast, we talk to the rangers about the weather, before heading for a hike up Mount Rufus. The weather looked ominous, building up as we walked, and getting stuck on a mountain here in inclement weather can be dangerous, but it only sprinkled lightly on us on the way back. It was a sweaty and exerting climb of around three hours, with quite a steep ascent, and a less physically exerting four hour walk down the other side, via Lake Shadow, a lot through very impressive carefully laid walkways. It was interesting in that we passed several different types of vegetation.
My feet and legs, particularly ankles, are now a bit tender.
Our washing is now done, for only $2, and is drying in the apparently (but probably not intentionally) free dryer. We’ve eaten Bronwen pasta. It has rained, but not too heavily, and so far looks to be holding off.

13.12.2007Thursday 13 December – Mount Field

With 2026 kilometres done, we are at Mount Field National Park. We had a late start; both poles snapping on the useless joke Kmart call a tent. Bronwen drove to Great Lakes, with me driving the latter half, then on to the Waddamana Power Station Museum via unsealed roads, before heading to Bothwell where a bakery had very good cream filled apple turnovers.
From Bothwell I drove, back on sealed roads, to Mount Field National Park, through fields of hops.
We fixed the tent poles by sacrificing the third pole, set up camp ($8 per person), and had dinner. I managed to find a platypus, which swam only a few feet from me.
Just before bed, we walked up to Russell Falls and saw some glow worms.

14.12.2007Friday 14 December – Lake Pedder

The ranger turned up to wake us up and collect the $16 for camping.
Dusk is gathering. I’m sitting at a table at Edgar Campground. There’s no one else (other than Bronwen, of course—we haven’t killed each other yet) for miles. The road in is gravel. I’ve just finished pasta. We’ve driven 2232 kilometres now, and this is the most remote area we’ve been to.
  This morning Bronwen drove to Lake Pedder, after walking for a couple of hours at Mount Field, stopping for chips for lunch on the way. We stopped at several lookouts, passed some protestors protesting against the logging of old forests, saw Lake Gordon and its dam, Lake Pedder and a few of its dams, bought fuel and milk at the Hydro Electric Commission’s Strathgordon resort, and I am now surrounded by mosquitoes as the darkness grows.
  Ironically, the first day we’re totally out of CDMA range, I check my email for the first time in Tasmania—free internet at Strathgordon, courtesy of the Hydro Electric Commission. The road here, which I drove, is unsealed, and we’re quite a long way from anything, and anyone, else. We do, however, have a nice fire.

15.12.2007Saturday 15 December – Snug

I was woken by gale force winds, which I listened to until they tore some of the tarp pegs from the ground and broke the tent pole again and I had to get up and re-peg the tarp. A few hours later we had breakfast, looked at a nearby dam, and I drove towards Hobart. It had rained a little last night but the gravel road was much the same. We stopped at a treetop protest—sneaking up behind them, accidentally waking one who was sleeping in a mostly abandoned car, and scaring him considerably. I suppose they’re waiting for some kind of surprise armed intervention, and sneaking up on them probably isn’t the politest way to check out their impressively high camp. We then stopped at New Norfolk, where we did some shopping, had lunch, and I checked my bank balance for the first time—not too much of a nasty surprise, fortunately.
We watched a steam train being moved onto train tracks, went to a historic oast house, looked out the lookout, and drove on to Bridgewater, where a new Woolworths had just opened. It’s nice and big, like a normal mainland one. This also marked us having completed a loop around Tasmania—we’ve driven past here earlier on our trip.
  I then drove on through Hobart and along little windy roads down to Tinderbox, before ending up at an $18 campsite at Snug Caravan Park with 2448 kilometres on the clock, and am now enjoying a glass of red with Bronwen’s semi-Asian style noodles, Trangia style. We’ve again fixed the tent pole, which again broke in the morning, again around 4 AM, and seemingly for no apparent reason—again.

16.12.2007Sunday 16 December – Bruny Island

Bronwen drove to a waterfall a short, but quite warm, walk from Snug, and then on to the 75 car capacity, $25 return ferry to Bruny Island, on which we had some lunch.
Bronwen drove around the north of the island—where we met an echidna—and on to Adventure Bay. We walked up a mountain along very high, steep and dangerous looking cliffs over the sea, and had a look at a lookout on the neck, before setting up the tent (and fixing the pole yet again) at a free campsite on the southern end of the neck. The sand is mineral-black and dirty, it is windy (which isn’t that good given our tent poles likelihood of re-snapping), there are no showers or power, and there is a tiny bit of water in a small rainwater tank but it is quite brown and not overly appetising. Still, Bronwen managed to make a lovely pasta. 2561 kilometres on the clock.
We went and saw lots of penguins, along with quite a lot of other people. We had to pick up red cellophane beforehand—which a shop kindly gave us for free, along with rubber bands to attach it to our torches. Hundreds of penguins, and a lot of muttonbirds, turned up.

17.12.2007Monday 17 December – Cygnet

I was woken by Bronwen wanting breakfast, and was in a bad mood for the first few hours. I drove to the south of Bruny Island, where we walked along the beach, had a look at a lighthouse, and lots of scenic craggy cliffs.
I drove to the ferry back to the mainland but we had just missed it, so we drove to a nearby bay for lunch and to await the next one.
We caught the ferry back to Kettering and drove to Cygnet, where we have pitched camp for $15 (along with a $30 key deposit, payable at the nearby hotel) at the Cygnet Caravan Park, which is basically just a grassy area adjacent but across a road from the Cygnet Hotel. We wander around Cygnet, which is eminently unexciting—a generic small town. Dinner is our traditional Bronwen Pasta, along with some wine. We’ve driven 2746 kilometres now.
It’s very cold, and only just starting to get dark. It has clouded over and there are a few mossies coming out. We’re putting the tarp over our damaged tent, in the gathering dark, in case it rains.

18.12.2007Tuesday 18 December – Southport

We didn’t get up until after midday. I drove to Huonville, where we had breakfast at a bakery, then on to Franklin, where we stopped at a wooden boat making school, and then on to Police Point, where there’s lots of salmon farming, before driving through Dover and arriving at Southport around 5:30.
We’ve set up camp at the Southport Hotel for $16, eaten Bronwen Pasta, and are now enjoying the evening sun. There’s very little CDMA signal here. Showers are $1 and cannot be turned off. It’s feeling quite remote again.
We’ve driven 2862 kilometres, well below our 3200 limit for today. I managed to get the car sideways around a bend today, on a lot of loose gravel. That’s fairly scary in a car that feels like it has no handling ability at all.

19.12.2007Wednesday 19 December – Hobart

Having driven 3137 kilometres, we’re again back in Hobart.
Bronwen drove to Cockle Creek, the most southerly place one can drive in Australia, and we walked out to a navigation light, past a large metal whale. It feels very remote here, though there’s a surprising amount of people camping in various sorts of caravans and makeshift camps. We then spent the rest of the day heading back north, via some nice gravelled forestry drives, and through a little rain.
We had planned to stay near Dover, but the free camping we were looking for turned out to be $30, and the next place didn’t exist, so we drove back to Hobart, getting there not long before 8, finding most caravan parks shut, and ending up at the Treasure Island Caravan Park, where it cost us $22 for a fairly average dried out mud puddle. The car began to sound quite like an angle grinder as we made our way into Hobart—sounds like the front-right brake pads have worn out.
The tent pole broke again last night, so we had to again remove the broken part and replace it with one from the sacrificed third pole, before setting up the tent.

20.12.2007Thursday 20 December – 7 Mile Beach

With 3280 kilometres on the car, we’ve set up camp at Seven Mile Beach for $15.
We dropped the car back to Lo-Cost Autos, who changed the brake pads while we wandered Hobart, had an iced chocolate and an iced coffee, and some quite good nachos for lunch.
After picking the newly-fixed car up from Lo-Cost Autos, I drove to the Shot Tower, Bronwen swam in the icy water at Kingston Beach (just so she could say she’d swum in Tasmania), we looked out at lookouts, went shopping, walked along Seven Mile Beach, and are now packing in readiness for our 9:15am flight tomorrow, hopefully arriving 10:50 in Brisbane, with Virgin Blue.

21.12.2007Friday 21 December – Brisbane

Bronwen and I woke up, gave our surplus camping gear to some fellow German travellers, and drove to the airport. We dropped the car and its keys off, and managed to board our flight with roughly the same amount of excess luggage as when we flew down—but without being charged for it. The flight was uneventful, and we arrived back in Brisbane, to be picked up by Bronwen’s parents. It feels like we’ve been away for quite a while. It’s been an odd trip, as it felt like the sort of thing I’d have done with my parents, except this is the first time I’ve done it without them.

22.12.2007Saturday 22 December – Construction

Maz, Stella and I found our way into a nearby construction site and took a few photos.

23.12.2007Sunday 23 December – Mowing

Bronwen mowed her lawn. I’m fairly sure other things happened too, but I’m not sure what.

24.12.2007Monday 24 December – Mooloolaba

I should pack for Woodford but don’t.
I pack hurriedly.
I rush off to drop some DVD’s back to the video store and up to Bronwen’s parent’s place to pick up her Mum. We then drive up to Mooloolaba, where we meet Bronwen and the rest of her family.

25.12.2007Tuesday 25 December – Christmas Day

I spent my birthday with Bronwen and her family at a unit overlooking Mooloolaba. Traditional Christmas present-giving was given; there was a cake, and a sort of Christmas tree. I was given a pole-set for my new tent.

26.12.2007Wednesday 26 December – Woodford

I drive to Woodford, which is a bit of a drama as Bronwen and I had both forgot our tickets, requiring a detour via Bronwen’s grandfather’s place to print new ones. This is further complicated by Bronwen having lost her wallet, including her required identification. Fortunately our volunteer status lets us into Woodford without identification for Bronwen, where we manage to find one of the last remaining spots on Cloud Nine, and pitch our tent, along with my birthday present from Bronwen’s parents—its new centre pole.
We attend our volunteer training, and wander around the folk festival. It looks rainy. It is rainy. Not good.

27.12.2007Thursday 27 December – Rain

It rains. We wander the festival, finding strange birds, strange people, and more strange people. Stella arrives. We set up her tent beside ours.

28.12.2007Friday 28 December – More Rain

More rain. We meet some birds again, a large Scotsman, a displaced frog, machines fighting mud, and lots of umbrellas, not to mention bubble blowing giants.
Stella, Bronwen and I all worked at the Festival Shop—Stella and I as checkout chicks, though I was moved to a cashier supervisor after one didn’t turn up and Stella was moved to a CD girl after some credit card difficulties, and Bronwen as a reconciler.

29.12.2007Saturday 29 December – Woodford

A branch fell on someone not that far from our camp, injuring them and causing a few areas to be closed down, and a warning given to people such as ourselves who were camped under a certain sort of tree. Today’s street performers included some black people, and the evening’s entertainment included a circus.
It was still quite wet in spots.

30.12.2007Sunday 30 December – Woodford

Today the strange things set up for the closing ceremony paraded around.

31.12.2007Monday 31 December – Woodford

More Woodford.

Year View| Summary| Highlights| December 2007 (Month View)

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