The Retirees in Tasmania – roadtrip to Wynyard

Tassie is not a big place by Australian standards so the idea that we would drive from Ferntree in the South to Wynyard #wynyard in the north west on the northern coast of Tasmania was not adventurous by any means. There are various ways to go and our gps chose to travel through Richmond up the B31 north until we joined the Midland Highway around Oatland. After Campbelltown we veered toward Delorraine as we had spotted the Mole Creek Caves as a place to visit.

Leaving after breakfast we made good time to Longford a village a little west of Perth (Tasmania not WA). We found a shady tree in a spacious park to eat our pies purchased from the local Bakery. A neat and tidy town but we were on a mission to get to the caves.

After our break we continued the journey to Delorraine and then onto Mole Creek and the Mole Creek Karst National Park where we hoped to visit Marakoopa and/or Kings Solomon’s Caves. We had rung in advance and knew we had to get to Marakoopa before 3.00pm otherwise we would have to go to King Solomon Mines Cave. We missed out on seeing Marakoopa by the smallest of margins but we were able to purchase our ticket for King Solomon Mines and secure our entry. It is a 15 minute drive between the two so we were getting a little anxious.

After a rather quick trip through the narrow roads of the park, Kerry dropped me off to run to the ticket office and make sure they did not leave without us. The Cave is at the end of a 200m walk and I am not a practised 200m runner so, I struck off into the bush and as I moved through on the path a feeling of deja vous came over me. An iron statue straight in front of me seemed so familiar but Kerry later assured me we have not been here before. I remain puzzled. However I made the distance and saved our spot. It turned out there was no one else booked to go on the tour so we got a very personal tour.

At the end of the path is a timber walkway leading into a reception area and the ticket office guarding the entry to the caves. Richard was waiting in the office for our arrival and once Kerry had caught up he gave us the safety drill and then opened the wire gate to the cave entrance. King Solomons Cave is a highly decorated limestone cave. This is a small and compact cave of lavish colours and a huge variety of formations with sparking calcite crystals decorating the chambers. Our guide has worked in the caves for 18 years and has a serious speleological bent as he does this for recreation also. He told us that the cave system is very close to the ground above it so much so that it was discovered by a farmer looking for his lost dog. The dog had fallen into the cave. It is only 500m long but very narrow in places and there are instances of tree roots making their way through the ceiling to the cave floor.

Just brilliant – the cave is splendid but I would not cope if the lights went out. The tour last 45 mins but I think we got an hour. So it is now 4.30pm and we have to find our accomodation. According to our map Wynyard is due north so when we exit we find our nearest road due north which takes us through the mountains for about an hour before we can see anything resembling Bass Strait.

The Retirees in Tasmania – Hobart

Our family has become very dispersed – our youngest and his family having taken up residence in Hobart Tasmania. #HobartTasmania The Covid restrictions have prevented us from travelling particularly to visit our family so with a lessening of restrictions in November and December 2021, we returned to Hobart and Paul’s home.

Living below the summit of Mt Wellington (pictured above) they have a charming semi rural property with fabulous views but close proximity to Hobart and its surrounds. We stayed with them for a few days during which we took in the sites before visiting the north and north east of Tasmania.

One of the places we visited was the historic village of Richmond about 25 km north-east of Hobart, in the Coal River region. Richmond’s most famous landmark is the Richmond Bridge, built in 1823 to 1825, around the time of the town’s first settlement. It is Australia’s oldest bridge still in use. The town was initially part of the route between Hobart and Port Arthur. Present-day Richmond is best known as being preserved as it was at that time. It is a vibrant tourist town, with many of the sandstone structures still standing. But we had come with the intent to see the model village of Hobart Town circa 1820 – OLD HOBART TOWN.

At the end of a driveway off the main street is this model correct in every detail (or so they say) – minuature in scale it is like a picture of the town one hour of one day over 200 years ago. Individually handcrafted with passion by Andrew and John Quick over a three year period, the authentic model village has been reconstructed from original plans and it gives a unique glimpse into the tough life of Australia’s convict past. I was taken back by the detail which included an interpretation of life for the inhabitants the harshness of that life including executions on the gallows and flogging with a cat-of-nine-tails. The Hope and Anchor pub shown in the pictures below still exisits but I am not certain that it is the original building or in the original location.

We then strolled through Richmond seeking the historic bridge and some of the original sandstone buildings.

After returning to the car we travelled further into Coal River Valley and onto our lunch venue Coal River Farm. A family run business owned by Daniel and Melanie Leesong with an urge to celebrate Tasmania’s world class produce they opened the doors at Coal River Farm. They have developed a reputation for cheese and chocolate in the form of a high tea and that is what we were there for.

A modern building greets you set in a picutresque part of the valley and the building makes every attempt to allow you to observe your surrounds. Inside you pass a window onto the chocolate maker pouring his moulds and then are forced to walk past each and every kind of chocolate until you reach the dining room with its cheese fridge and choclate dispalys. The menu includes other fresh produce but we were there for cheese and chocolates. Delicious! Satisfied we went to return to our car and the trip home but our grandaughter Lola became sidetracked by a lonesome goat hungry for the greener grass outside his enclosure. After the goat became distracted by other visitors we escaped to the car and home.

The next few days were spent catching up with our family in Tassie before we headed north.