The Retirees on the Move Again – Tasmania in Ten – Cataract Gorge and Cradle Mountain

We slept in this morning till 6.45 am. Too bloody cold to get out of bed but I finally bit the bullet and went for my ablutions. Lovely hot shower followed by the cold atmosphere of the amenities block while I did my teeth and had a shave. On the return to the caravan, I turn on the gas and start breakfast of yoghurt with banana and porridge. We needed to get away so that we could visit the Cataract Gorge park before heading to our destination Cradle Mountain National Park. Following the directions given by our host we soon ended up in the parking area of the Gorge Basin. From there we walked across the suspension bridge, along the gorge wall and into city centre where a short distance away is the Penny Royal Amusement Park and then back again. We had a short stop at the kiosk for scones and coffee of course. Just after the Kiosk (or before if you are walking in the opposite direction are two trees both of enormous girth and height with each having a girth 4 times me. The rapids in the Cataract were deafening as against the smooth water fighting with tide below the basin. Then there was the rock that seemed to have hair – grass growing out of the rock.  The gorge is marked by towering granite columns and to my surprise sitting on top of the ridge is a residence. It must have magnificent views of the gorge and basin.

We returned to the motor home about 11.30 am and punched in our next destination – Lake St Clare Caravan Park. Our GPS provides an overview of your chosen route and we suddenly realised that it was nowhere near our next adventure at Cradle Mountain. So we punched in “Cradle Mountain”. Not quite so easy. There is no address in our GPS for Cradle Mountain. Telephoned our caravan park and they confirmed we were at least 2 hours away from where we wanted to be. So ignoring our reservation at Lake St Clare we headed for Mole Creek that being the nearest spot to our destination on the only map we had. All ends well. Mole Creek is the gateway to Cradle Mountain National Park but we were side tracked by a helpful but not well informed tourist information officer at Mole Creek. We went to King Solomon’s Caves to fill in time going to Cradle Mountain only to find that we were an hour early for the next tour.

We arrived on the mountain around 3.00 pm and sorted out our evening tour, our accommodation, our evening meal and our national parks pass by 4.00 pm. Whilst checking on our booking for the Devils we encountered a wombat grazing quietly on the grass in the car park to the Devils Sanctuary. Returning to the caravan park, we rested until it was time to get dressed for the evening chill. We were booked to see the Devils after Dark show at the Tasmanian Devils breeding sanctuary but it was raining windy and below 6 degrees so some preparation was necessary. Dressed in everything we owned off we went to watch a short video on devils and Quolls then experience them being fed whilst our guide droned on and on (15 mins should have done it but he managed 2 hours) The devils the Eastern Quolls and the Spotted Quolls are all related and now are only found in the wild in Tasmania. And they all have a taste for possum.

So back to camp and our frozen dinners – you’ve done it again Mc Cain!

The Retirees on the Move Again – Tasmania in Ten – Launceston

Our taxi’s waiting, he has blown his horn. Dinner time, we are ready but we’re too early so we find the restaurant and our cabbie shows us Penny Royal and the end of the Cataract Gorge after which our restaurant is named. Then we circle into the city and take a stroll through one of the malls into the second mall. The tattoo parlour is open and looking for business but we resist the temptation and move onto the lolly shop instead. Having purchased the supplies for the trip to Cradle Mountain, we walk the 500 metres to our restaurant past the site of the treadmill where convicts served as the power for the grindstone milling flour for the prison, past the TAFE college, past the only drive through bottle shop I have seen serving petrol and finally to the restaurant.

Inside this chic looking establishment is a mixture of industrial chic and busy restaurant. There is even a kids party happening. The wine list is surprising. Devils Corner Sparkling Cuvee, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as a Freycinet Riesling. We choose the sparkling cuvee – we are celebrating our anniversary so we share 6 fresh local oysters to start (they are large and plump – no swallowing these beauties) followed by salmon on the rock for Kerry and pork belly with cauliflower puree for me. Not satisfied we share a banana sundae on the frozen rock with salted caramel ice cream associated chocolate bits and popcorn with an added serve of lemon sorbet (to cleanse the palate).

All in all, the restaurant was pretty good and the food enjoyable. A good night sleep followed.

The Retirees on the Move Again – Tasmania in Ten – Swansea, Freycinet Peninsula and Tourville Lighthouse

The following morning started with brilliant sunshine and a clear sky. Our plan was to go to Coles Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula and take the walk to Wineglass Bay. Kerry showered whilst I cooked the porridge and I showered whilst she cleaned up. We took a stroll to the waterfront of Swansea looking out to Great Oyster Bay where we found some great water front allotments for sale. However, there did not appear to be any rush to buy them.

The drive to Coles Bay was interesting in that we found that our path was dotted with wineries but we were too earlier for the cellar door to be open. So onto to Coles Bay and then Freycinet National Park for the trek to Wineglass Bay lookout. Now I had thought my ankle ligaments had healed sufficiently to do this trek but getting out of the van I twisted my ankle and my hopes were dashed as the walk is one and half hours long and up some steep pathways. So after grabbing a photo of the climb that might have been we ventured back to Cape Tourville Lighthouse.

The Cape Tourville Lighthouse is an unmanned, automatic light, lighthouse built in 1971. The lighthouse replaced the Cape Forestier Lighthouse which had been situated on another island jutting off the Freycinet Peninsula known as Lemon Rock. The walk to the lighthouse is fantastic and gives great views of Lemon Rock and partial views of Wineglass Bay.

A cup of coffee and a biscuit in our house and then we were back on track for Launceston. But first a little wine tasting at Freycinet Cellars and Devil’s Corner Vineyard. We tried a few things at Freycinet and bought a bottle of bubbles for our anniversary and a bottle of savoury and spicy 2015 Louis Freycinet Pinot Noir. Devil’s Corner was a bit different. A spectacular view of the Freycinet Peninsula spread before us as we parked the van. In the lookout tower we were treated to even better views of the vineyard and the bay before going down to the cellar door. This is an offshoot of the Tamar Valley winery and gets its name from a dangerous spot for sailors in the Tamar River. The Cellar door appears to be a traditionally built building and the other outbuildings forming a bar restaurant and eating room are all containers fitted out for the purpose and disguised by a wooden skeleton surrounding each container. Once we were above the cellar door we could see that even the tasting room was a combination of two containers. We had bought provisions at the IGA in Swansea so we were able to lunch in the van with our dramatic view.

The trip to Launceston took a little over one and a half hours travelling through Campbelltown and we arrived at the Launceston Caravan Park around 3.00 pm. It had been a bit lonely on the road with no other camper vans but the minute we turn up in Launceston these others arrive. A few chores like emptying the night soil chamber had to be attended to and then to rest for some. Our anniversary dinner awaits us at Cataract on Paterson in Launceston.