We’ve been trying to get back to Suzzanne’s home state of Tasmania for a few years now and something always got in the way, but at last we could lock in a travel window and headed south. I’ll break the trip into a few separate blogs so it doesn’t get too long winded, but as usual I’ll keep things brief so please shoot us a message if you’d like more information about anything I mention here.
After weighing up the options we elected to take Suze’s VW Tiguan on this trip, giving the Cruiser and TVAN a rest – this suited our itinerary a little better, starting with being cheaper on the Bass Strait ferry crossing and also given we planned to spend nights at many places where we wouldn’t need our own accommodation (you’ll have to keep reading to find out where ;-). We even considered a fly-drive option but the cost (and restrictions) on hire cars in Tassie made it unattractive compared to having our own vehicle.
To give us maximum time on the island state we belted down the Newell Highway, covering the 1,700km distance from Brisbane to Melbourne over two long days with an overnight stop at Dubbo (where we also had our best 1/2 price pub meal of the trip, check out the Commercial Hotel). Our driving transit stage ended at St Kilda, a great bayside spot to wind down that is also near to our early morning boarding onto the Spirit of Tasmania ferry. After exploring St Kilda’s foreshore area we had dinner at the famous (but we found to be over rated) “Espy”, or Esplanade Hotel where the view was great but the food and service were pretty ordinary.
For our southbound voyage on Spirit of Tasmania we chose a daytime crossing, so we weren’t under time pressure getting to the boarding dock the previous evening in case of delays on our drive down from Brisbane. This meant being in the boarding queue before 6:00am, and after some traffic control hiccups caused by impatient (or incompetent) motor home drivers we were on board and settled in for the voyage across the nastiest stretch of ocean around Australia.
Luckily we had great weather and an easy trip, spending the day roaming around the ship or kicking back in the recliner lounges we reserved for the journey.
We off-boarded at Devonport just on dusk – our Tassie road trip had now officially started! Then after another great pub dinner straight across the river from our accommodation at the Formby Hotel we bunked down in a great little self contained studio called “One” that Suze found on booking.com.
To start our trip we followed the northern coastline to Stanley on a day that blessed us with great weather.
Along the way we pulled into many of the beautiful bays and beaches including one of Suzzanne’s child hood haunts, the spectacular Boat Harbour Beach.
Once at Stanley we headed to the area’s main attraction, Circular Head or as it is more affectionately known, “The Nut”. We took the easy way up on the chair lift before walking around the self guided track with its great oceanic views, then walking down the steep trail toward town.
Dinner wasn’t easy to source in Stanley, although we were staying at the town’s main pub they were booked out for dinner. After walking around finding most places closed we eventually settled for pizzas at the very quirky Stanley Wine Bar, a period furnished lounge bar where we were reminded by the proprietor that they weren’t a restaurant and food was only served if you bought drinks (which of course meant we had a glass of great pinot noir to accompany their very good pizzas!).
An early morning departure saw us headed south, eventually following the spectacular Western Explorer Road through the beautiful Tarkine nature area.
This white sandy road was in great shape and took in some amazing scenery from deep dark forests to open alpine meadows (though the occasional washouts meant I was at times wishing we were in the Cruiser rather than the Tiguan…). This is an areas I would love to revisit with the TVAN in tow, to spend some time exploring the famously rugged north west coastline.
We eventually emerged from the Tarkine at Corrina, a tiny hamlet at which we found our first coffee for the day then took the single vehicle ferry across the Pieman River.
The run from there was just as beautiful along ridges and through lush valleys until we reached the history rich mining town of Zeehan.
A walk around the town’s pioneer cemetery reinforced how difficult life was when this area became first settled by Europeans, with many graves marked for people dying at a young age and many examples of multiple siblings from the same family buried – it must have been heart breaking times.
Next stop is the coastal town of Strahan, where we will board the sailing ketch “Stormbreaker” for an overnight trip up the world heritage protected Franklin River, another bucket list destination for us both.
And so ends first leg of our trip, check out our next blog to find out what we discover next 😉