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carmel’s Travel Diary

Friday, 25 Nov 2005

Location: Australia

MapSaturday, 19/11/05

We left the caravan park at 9.00am, then sat outside the library and read till 10.30am waiting for the library to open so I could use the internet. (We knew it didn’t open till then, it’s just we’ve got packing up down to a fine art now.) However, when it did finally open, we found out the power was off. We tried using the laptop, but they are on an Education Dept. line so I wasn’t able to get in. So, off we set to St Helen’s – only to find the power was off there. It was off over almost all of Tasmania, from after we left the park, till 2.00pm. However I was able to use the parks phone line, so I was able to get into IncrediMail – yes! The reason some of you received 2 similar e-mails was I had them set up on IncrediMail, then, when I had to use the library computer, I did them again, in summary form.

Our first stop in St Helen’s was to buy a crayfish (Barrie was determined to have a Tasmanian crayfish – somewhere.) and it was yummy. We then booked into the caravan park and went back and got some mussels (at $6 per kg), however we could both live without them. We met up with John and Jocelyn again here (the Bundaberg couple). They had gone to Port Arthur whereas we went to Bicheno.

Sunday, 20 November 2005

Today we checked out St Helen’s. Firstly we went to the Bay of Fires, supposedly the 2nd best beach in the world. They don’t know where the best one is – just somewhere overseas. I don’t know whether Bribie would qualify, but I reckon the 4wd trip along the surf beach is at least as good. (Maybe I’m biased!) It certainly is the nicest beach we have seen so far on the East Coast. We thought the name came from all of the red boulders (we have since found out it is lichen, not iron). However, it was called that because of all the fires lit by Aborigines around the Bay that Captain Tobias Furneaux saw when he first explored the area.

We then checked out St Helen’s Point (the locals call it Beauty Point). It is on a narrow peninsula with sand-dunes 24 feet high along one side – another pretty place, and the water is so clear (we’ve noticed that everywhere in Tasmania). It’s really very deep, but only looks a few cms down. It’s also very warm when you are out of the wind. At 16.5o, it feels warm enough for swimming. We’ve been told the ozone layer is diminishing fairly rapidly here. If that is the reason, Tasmania has real problems.

We had biscuits and cheese, and a few drinks with the Bundaberg couple again. They are staying here for 3 more days, but we are moving on as I would like to see some more of the North West coast - if we have time.

Monday, 21 November 2005

On the way to Scotsdale, we stopped off at the St Columba Falls (impressive), the Pub in the Paddock (the best thing about it was the pig, who loves beer. Her name was Pricilla, Princess of the Paddock) and the Pyenga Cheese Factory (really nice cheese and coffee). Our next stop was the Myrtle forest. It was unlike any other rain forest I’ve ever seen. The Myrtle is an enormous tree, the ‘grandfather’ one was one of the largest trees I have ever seen. And its base looked like a fairy tree out of the Grimm’s fairytales. ‘Grandmother’ Myrtle told the story of the rainforest with picture boards throughout the track. One thing I learnt was that 11% of Tasmania is rainforest. As I’ve already mentioned it is also extremely hilly. Barrie reckons if it was stretched out, it would be the size of Western Australia.

Tasmania really is different. As we were driving along there was an urgent appeal for someone to adopt a 10 month old staffie cross female pup. It hadn’t been claimed so it was going to be put down in an hour. Unfortunately we didn’t hear how it turned out.

On the way through, we stopped off at Derby, a tin-mining town. We intended going to the Derby Tin Mine Centre, but didn’t find it. However we did meet up with the Dutch couple who were camped behind us at St Helens.

We saw more hop farms as we neared Scottsdale, however a number of them were not in operation. We were told that many brewers are using some chemical instead of hops – so that looks like another industry that will go down the drain.

When we got to Scotsdale, we found there wasn’t much there, and no caravan park. However they did have a Forest Eco-Centre. It was so much better than other centres we’d been to – and it was FREE. We met up with the couple from Wisconsin who were camped beside us at St Helens while we were there. As you can see, everybody does much the same trail. So we finished up in Launceston – with both TV and phone coverage, bliss.

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

We decided to see as much of Launceston today as we could. We are finding sign posting in Tasmania, but Launceston in particular, is pretty awful, however we eventually found the Cataract Gorge. I hadn’t realised it is virtually in Launceston itself. Our next stop was Beauty Point. I’ve seen much nicer beaches however we did have lunch (fish and Chips) on the beach, and then again, it was low tide. The Australian Maritime College is there.

Our next stop was the Tamar Ridge winery. Barrie had heard Tassie wines were pretty bad, so he wanted to check it out for himself. That’s his excuse and he’s sticking by it. We found the wines there very nice, and not nearly expensive as we’d heard – although the Cab Sav was $34, needless to say, we didn’t buy it. I didn’t even like it; it was too dry for me. Our next stop was Low Head, with its lighthouse and lead lights AND a Chapel with beautiful leadlight windows – however it was all locked up so we could only see them from the outside.

Our final stop for the day was George Town, which was established in 1804 and is the oldest town in Australia. We found that rather disappointing. I had imagined lots of old houses and shops, but there wasn’t much at all. As far as we were concerned, the only thing of interest was the mural on the water tower – and that wasn’t easy to find either, because of lack of signs.

The weather today was perfect, clear sky and 21o - until 2.00pm and down came the rain. It was so bad, Barrie pulled over rather than try driving in it. And the temperature dropped to 13.5o in a matter of minutes.

Wednesday, 23/11/05

We are now at Deloraine. The park we booked into looked really nice, so we decided to stay for a week. It is in a park beside the Meander river, and there are ducks and, so they say, platypus – although we haven’t seen one. All we did today was go for a walk around the park looking at the sculpture along the way (Deloraine is a town of sculptures) and uptown (like everywhere else in Tasmania, it is very hilly). However we were not too sure we had done the right thing once night fell. We knew the park was beside a railway track, but there weren’t any trains on it during the day. It seems they waited till night, then we had at least 4 freight trains go through – and one blew his whistle at some ungodly hour. AND there seems to be an outsider duck and the dominant male doesn’t like him, so there were raucous ducks squawking round and round our camper. We’ll see how things go tomorrow night.

Thursday, 24 November 2005

We had quite a hectic day today. Our first stop was the King Solomon Cave at Mole Creek. (There were other caves we could also have gone to but seen one cave, seen them all.) From there, we went to Sheffield, the town of murals. Every solid wall in the town is covered by a mural. I really liked Sheffield. Also, we called into a secondhand/collectibles centre and they had a set of ski-bars there that Barrie THINKS can be adjusted to fit the car, so we bought them. Here’s hoping! From there, we went on to Railton, the town of topiary. We didn’t stop there, we only drove through looking at them Some were very clever. And from there back to Deloraine, and, hopefully, a good night sleep.

We both slept much better tonight. I only heard 1 train and Barrie heard 2 – and NO DUCKS!

Friday, 25 November 2005

It’s raining today, so we are going to have a lazy day.
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