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Cataract Gorge

Wineglass Bay

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

Bay Of Fires

Cradle Mountain

Of all the time spent in Tasmania that one Summer time, and having visited both Hobart and Launceston, it is limpid to me now to consolidate my thoughts- these two cities give off totally different vibes.

On one hand, Hobart gives me the rich historic, at times shuddering, blast- into- the- past vibe. When I think Hobart, I think Port Arthur immediately. Then images of the penal settlement and all those that comes with it, came sloshing back into my head.

Click on the links for more detailed articles on Port Arthur and on the things to do in Hobart!

Sights & Sounds: Tessellated Pavement State Reserve, Port Arthur

Sights & Sounds: Historic Site, Port Arthur

Sights & Sounds: Coal Mines Historic Site, Port Arthur

Treks: Cape Raoul, Port Arthur

And on the other hand, Launceston gives me the bonanza- of- nature vibe. When I think Launceston, I think Cradle Mountain. I think of all the trek trails I had been on. How invigorated I was, and how honestly just plain happy I was. It is simply amazing that a simple activity in the woods can be so galvanising.

It is quite an enigma to why Taylor Swift kept asking if she was ‘Out Of The Woods Yet?’, when I would love to spend more time In The Woods. Huh… Huh…Get it? Get it? Out Of The Woods, and wanting back Into The Woods? No? Okay, was talking baloney. 😀

(And here right now, is an episode of how I really do love T.Swift. Evidence of my hopeless excuse to try to infuse her lyrics into this article. HHhhmm… …)

Alrighty, back to topic. So by now, you should have roughly guessed which part of Launceston is my favourite! Cradle Mountain; if you hadn’t already guessed so! 😀 But Launceston is way too huge to concentrate on only one favourite! That’s just so much one can do, and worth doing! So here are my Top 5 MUST DOs in Launceston Tasmania! Let’s spiel… …

 

Cataract Gorge

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

3 – 4 hours; depending on whether you just want to have a short leisure saunter or if you want to do the simple trek trails; which is longer.

Admission Fee

FOC

Visitation Suitability

Everyone & Anyone who loves nature. Awesome for family gatherings.

The Gorge is located strategically within walking distance from Launceston CBD. This site is the perfect place to spend a day at. With easy grade walking trails options, it is basically a place for light trekking within the city’s vicinity! Super convenient and totally awesome-making! Nature within the city? Say what now?!

The Gorge has facilities like the world’s longest single span chairlift, the outdoor swimming pool, and my personal favourite- the iconic Alexandra Suspension Bridge; because it makes the perfect photo backdrop! Haha…! How typical, I know.

With treks trails that cater to people with varied level of fitness, the Gorge is very family-friendly. There is even a play area for kids too!

Lunch at the First Basin Café is also a great food option with views overlooking the outdoor swimming pool and the open greenery. With hindsight, after a nice walk to sweat it out, this eatery is the place to be at to binge on some good food to satisfy those voracious pangs.

With The Gorge offering cliffs of nature beauty and being so accessible, no wonder this is a MUST DO in Launceston!

Click on the link for a more detailed article on The Gorge!

Sights & Sounds: Cataract Gorge, Launceston

 

Wineglass Bay

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

1 full day (inclusive of beach time! Yay! :D)

Admission Fee

AUS $12 – $123; pricings are for adult national park passes of different categories.

Click on National Park Passes for more information.

Visitation Suitability

Nature Lovers. Trekking Lovers. Beach Lovers.

With its curved circumference of a coastal beachline that may take on the shape of the bottom of a wineglass, it’s my personal speculation that its name is given because of the very obvious reason? This walk gives you the best of both worlds. Why so? Let me illuminate you.

Image taken from: http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/?base=1478

Image taken from: http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/?base=1478

Firstly, the walk from Wineglass Bay Carpark to the Lookout will give you a pseudo aerial view of the beach and the vast sea! The crystal clear waters of blue that glistens under the strong afternoon rays, along with the curved coastal beachline from the lookout is totally a site for a lunch respite with a view! This is something no luncheons at fancy restaurants can beat, now can they?

Secondly, the expedition down to the beach will give you the opportunity to reward yourself for all the arduous trekking. Unwind on the coastal sand, meander along the white sandy beach, or take a dip in the luminous waters? Your pick!

We definitely spend a teeny bit more time on the beach before heading back! I am sure we all deserve it. 😀

Hence, a tip? Do start off the trek early, so you have more buffer time to spend chilling by the amazing beach! You honestly will not regret it!

A day spend trekking and some beach time? This seriously got to be the way to have it all- a MUST DO in Launceston!

 

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

2 – 3 hours

Admission Fee

AUS $7.50/pax during the period of lavender blooming (1st Dec – 31st Jan).

Visitation Suitability

All those who love to embrace the floral field or those who want a chillax at the café with a mind-blowing purple vista as the backdrop.

(First-timers to a floral field patch will be awed. Trust me. Been there, felt that!)

This lavender estate is just an ethereal beauty. With the vast field of purple and a peripheral vision of distance fogged mountains, this place is just perfect to spend a quiet morning along aside a cuppa at the café. I do suggest an outdoor sitting to placate the enthralling jolt of the calming purple field.

There’s quite a few places to explore within the estate. The distillery over at the wooden shed operates after the lavender blooming period. I reckon it is worth a pop by.

Of course, the star attraction would imperatively be the transcendent purple hues. The best time to visit this sight would be during the Summer months. December to January would be lovely!

Mesmerising picturesque landscape? Check! A café option for chilling. Check! What more could one ask for to spend a thwart-stress day! Definitely a MUST DO in Launceston!

Click on the link for a more detailed article on Bridestowe Lavender Estate:

Sights & Sounds: Bridestowe Lavender Estate, Launceston

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtGUSN9x6ic&list=PLTQHYLfXkzDVhuFvsqBqcBUcUKKhf2TWt&index=2[/youtube]

 

Bay Of Fires

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

1 – 2 hours
Admission Fee

FOC

Visitation Suitability

Those who love a beach that has a tint of orange feistiness.

This sight is definitely worth a come by especially at sunset. The orange rays from the sun enhances the tint on the rocks, making the colour all the more conspicuous. Love it!

The Bay of Fires will impinge on you a whole new level of beach waves crushing rocks. The sea breeze howling, crashing waves serenading and the orange lichen that encrust the rocks makes meandering through it, all the more adventurous!

This is undoubtedly the best way to end off the day exploring; a MUST DO in Launceston to unwind!

Click on the link for a more detailed article on the Bay of Fires!

Sights & Sounds: Bay of Fires, Launceston

 

Cradle Mountain

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

4 – 5 days
Admission Fee

AUS $16.50 – $123; pricings are for adult national park passes of different categories.

Click on National Park Passes for more information

Visitation Suitability

Nature Lovers. Trekking Lovers.

So I have saved the best for last. And yes! I adore the Cradle Mountain region most. It was probably the highlight of the entire Launceston vacation. With so many amazing trek trail options that all seem so enticing, my only regret was not being able to spend more time to explore.

The exuberant trekking trips on the various trails available just makes me want to implode with excitement when reminiscing them. With the walks through alpine rainforest and endless vistas that comes with every trekking trip, it is no wonder this region is dub a ‘walkers’ paradise’!

The world famous Cradle Mountain with Dove Lake just sprawling at its foot is an iconic photo to take home. An approximately 3.5 hours (with plenty of time to snap pictures and for lunch) trekking odyssey around the Lake will give you different angular perspectives of the Cradle Mountain zenith.

Canoeing trips provided by Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge during the Summer is also another alternative to have the Mountain experience to remember forever!

During a hot Summer’s day, the spires of the Mountain against the cloudless cerulean sky is the perfect wallpaper! So how can I not say this is a DEFINITE MUST DO in Launceston!

Click on the URLs for more detailed articles on the Cradle Mountain region, YOU WON’T REGRET!

Treks: Lake St Clair National Park, Cradle Mountain

Treks: Dove Lake And Canoeing, Cradle Mountain

Treks: Marions Lookout, Cradle Mountain

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqMbbYBh164&list=PLTQHYLfXkzDVhuFvsqBqcBUcUKKhf2TWt&index=1[/youtube]

So there it is, a list of Top 5 MUST DOs in Launceston Tasmania where I am able to say with conviction that you will bound to make the trip to Launceston all worth your ride!

Hope this helps! And remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Mount Wellington

Salamanca Market

Port Arthur

Maria Island

Bruny Island

The initial reaction I got from most people when I told them I was leaving for Tasmania on a getaway would be them telling me there was really nothing to see but trees and more trees.

Well, I am here to say that there’s a huge misconstrue going on. Sorry guys, there’s really so much more to it than just trees. And even if it is ‘just’ trees, the trees are situated at locations with backdrops so ethereal it’s unbelievable!

So why Hobart they asked?

Well… … Here’s why…

Top 5 MUST DOs in Hobart Tasmania. Let’s spiel shall we…?

 

Mount Wellington

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

1 – 2 hours; depending on how many photos you want to snap, and how long you wanna’ amble on the metal platforms gawking at the magnificent bare view.

Admission Fee

FOC

Visitation Suitability

Everyone & Anyone

You cannot say you’ve been to Hobart without placing yourself at the summit of Mount Wellington. Nope you cannot, period! The sweeping view over Hobart City which towers 1270 metres above ground is the must-do-spot to be at!

If you are lucky, a single trip up on 4 wheels (car; for the families or people who have tight itinerary schedule etc.), 2 wheels (bike; for the dynamics who hanker for an adventure uphill) or 2 feet (for trekkers who enjoy longer ramble through cold dense forest) welcomes you to a sprawling peripheral vista of Hobart in a whole new light. I remember driving up there twice in a day with no luck at all, considering the fact that thick cold fog shrouded every inch of the area. It was pretty dangerous just impelling slowly up the narrow sinuous road.

Thank goodness, on our last day in Hobart City, the weather did clear up, and BAM! With minimal trekking of any kind to get views as splendid as these, no wonder it is the MUST DO in Hobart; spoken by the locals!

 

Salamanca Market

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

1 – 2 hours; depending on how much food you can stomach.

Admission Fee

FOC (exclude bought goods)

Visitation Suitability

Everyone & Anyone

Operates every Saturday, all year round from 08 30 to 15 00 along Salamanca Place, this place is swarmed with locals and tourists all in for a piece of Hobart’s unique cultural experience.

With 300 odd stalls all in tandem along Salamanca Place, you better get there early on an empty stomach so you could try all the local produce and goodness. Not only does this place sells delectable foods, handy crafts and cute souvenirs are massively available for purchase. Some less perishable food items like nougats and honey are available in sample sizes for you to try before buying.

And if you are in luck (yes, I realised I do say that a lot, but come on, right timing is really fundamental, and you know it), live performances of song, dance and magic tricks will get the crowd howling for more. It is absolutely the time to reel off on a lazy Saturday morning!

TIP?

After ambling through the market, and soaked in the atmosphere of it all, take the food TO-GO! Head on down to wharf, just about a 100 metres away, for a nice ‘picnic’ with the view of Sullivans Cove!

I mean, come on, awesome food, perfect local culture experience, and brunch by the wharf overlooking the Cove? Rating is a definite 5 without a doubt; a total MUST DO in Hobart!

 

Port Arthur

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

4 – 6 days; depending on how in-depth of the place you want to cover.

Detailed information on things to do at Port Arthur, click the URLs below for past articles.

Admission Fee

AUS $35 – $130; pricings are for adult tickets into the Historic Site

Detailed information on which pass package to choose?

Click: Sights & Sounds: Historic Site, Port Arthur for more details!

Visitation Suitability

Everyone & Anyone

 

Once a convict settlement, this area is now with rich history of how the convicts lived amongst the officials and their families. Ambling in the Historic Site during the self-guided tour, with the handy iPod commentary playing does make the entire experience come alive.

A suggestion would be to stay in the Site until dusk when it gets real quiet; just you, the ancient old buildings, and your imagination of how life was like years ago. Aahhh… Now doesn’t that sound like the perfect history lesson outside the classroom?

Well… at least that was how I like it- just me pretending I was in that convict era; imagining how the convicts were in the Penitentiary. Yup, no judgement please, I like to be in the moment okay? 😀

Other than wandering off in the Historic Site during the day, the GHOST TOUR is something you might wanna’ check out, for experience sake. I mean, you owe it to yourself to just lock those jitters in a box for one night and just do it! You are really in perfect hands of the adept ghost guides, they do these sort of thing on a daily basis, so I am confident it’s safe… … Right? 😀

There are loads to do at Port Arthur like visiting the Coal Mines Historic Site (which is FOC; by the way, and the drive there is quite awe-inspiring #justsaying) and trekking of course! Trekking up Cape Raoul was a beauty too!

Port Arthur is undoubtedly a MUST DO in Hobart to complete your trip!

Click on the links below for more detailed articles and pictures on Port Arthur!

Sights & Sounds: Tessellated Pavement State Reserve, Port Arthur

Sights & Sounds: Historic Site, Port Arthur

Sights & Sounds: Coal Mines Historic Site, Port Arthur

Treks: Cape Raoul, Port Arthur

 

Maria Island

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

1 – 2 days

Admission Fee

AUS $12 – $123; pricings are for adult national park passes of different categories.

Click on National Park Passes for more information.

Visitation Suitability

Natural Lovers

The convict hold up before Port Arthur, this quiet island gives you the first hand experience of life as a convict during those times. Not exactly the ‘first hand’ experience, ’cause we all know that’s never going to happen, but it is as real as it gets!

Accommodation on the island would be the once Penitentiary. Yup! How wicked awesome is that?! Of course, this means no electricity, no room decorations, and definitely no room service! Toilets and showers are just a short walk away. It’s time to rough it out people!

For those who prefer day trips, that’s cool too. Mode of transportation on the island is either on foot or on a bike. Definitely choose the latter to cover more grounds on the island.

An imperative MUST DO is to take an approximately 2 hours return (4.4 km one way) stroll to the Painted Cliffs at Hopground Beach from Darlington. The sculpted sandstone cliffs boil in prominent orange in the late afternoon; definitely a moment to snap and remember forever!

A hidden gem just slight North-East, this is a thumbs up MUST DO in Hobart!

 

Bruny Island

Rating

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Length of Visit

1 – 2 days

Admission Fee

FOC (exclude the cost on the vehicle ferry)

Visitation Suitability

Natural Lovers

Travelling to Bruny Island was my first experience on a vehicle ferry. Up till today, I am still somewhat fascinated by the whole idea of loading the car onto the ferry can being transported to an island. Sorry, but it’s not very often you get to drive up a ferry and enjoy the breeze while you’re at it!

There are many cruises and tours that bring you to the island, but I suggest driving there. Not only do you have a say on what you wanna’ do there, the luxury of time and space is just so crucial when on this serene island.

The Neck Game Reserve is a good stop to be at to have a symmetrical view of the sea divided by the isthmus of land. A nice tranquil drive on Bruny Island Main Road to the South of the island provides nice lunch options at the Hot House Cafe, and trekking options up to the Fluted Cape.

If you are lucky, spotting of a clan of wild wallabies is not a problem!

Click on Sights & Sounds: Food Hunt: Treks: South Bruny National Park, Bruny Island for a more detailed article on Bruny Island!

Loads of things to do on the island that captures the heart. An enrapturing island less populated, and very personal; it’s no wonder a MUST DO in Hobart!

So there, a list of Top 5 MUST DOs in Hobart Tasmania that I am able to say with conviction that you will bound to make the trip to Hobart all worth your ride!

Remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

How to get there?

Best time to visit?

Sights & Sounds within Cataract Gorge

Recommended Walking Route

Have a lazy Sunday to spare in Launceston CBD?

Well… … Cataract Gorge is imperatively a place to visit for days when you feel like giving your feet a shot at being the mode of transportation.

No car. No bus. No train. And frankly, no grappling with maps or GPS! Whoo hoo…!

A super frivolous weekend focused solely on nothing, really. With no major agenda for the day… … Just let your feet bring you places! We all definitely need days like these in our itinerary; what I like to call ‘Buffer Days’. A whirlwind vacation is no vacation at all- if you know what I mean. 😀

During such ‘Buffer Days’, I am basically the lyrics of Bruno Mars’ The Lazy Song. Just a sinuous minor change to a few phrases and it will all make perfect sense. Watch this… …

Today I don’t feel like doing anything

I just wanna walk aimlessly

Don’t feel like picking up my phone (GPS)

So if I get lost, just let me be

‘Cause today I really don’t feel like impelling

Ooh hoo Ooh hoo

So… … Maybe I am not a songwriter for the obvious reason, but hey, the lyrics really nailed it spot on!

What’s perfect about Cataract Gorge is that even if you get lost (which is highly impossible), no worries! You are still very close to the vicinity of the city- which means there will be loads of people to ask for directions, ’cause it’s after all the day you don’t feel like picking up your phone (GPS), right? *winks*

 

How to get there?

Address

Operating Hours
Cataract Gorge Reserve, 74-90 Basin Road, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia

24/7

Note: Certain sights within the Gorge are not 24/7

a) On foot- The Healthier Choice!

We stayed at Hotel Launceston (Address: 3 Brisbane Street, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia), so it was approximately a 2 km walk to Cataract Gorge; roughly 30 minutes tops.

If you decide to stay at Hotel Launceston too (which was not a bad stay- reasonably decent), here are the directions.

Directions from Hotel Launceston to Cataract Gorge (~ 30 minutes walk)

1. Leisure stroll pass Launceston City Park on Brisbane Street.

2. Make a turn right onto George Street and a left onto Paterson Street.

3. Continue straight all the way on Bridge Road, passing Kings Park.

You will know you are near the ‘entrance’ of the Gorge when you espy the iconic Kings Bridge suspended over the Tamar River/ South Esk River. Just tranquil when the morning sun hits the bridge with the dense trees as backdrop and the calm river sprawled beneath it. Definitely a enthralling way to start the odyssey into the Gorge! 😀

b) By car

If your stay is further away, or just don’t wanna walk, a quick car journey of approximately 15 minutes tops from the CBD will get you to the destination.

Main parking area is located at the First Basin- follow the signage from York and Frederick Street.

If it isn’t already obvious enough, the mode of transportation unquestionably will be on foot. You get to have the experience of walking through the streets, and to take your time to see the humble buildings together with the less salient landmarks- plus points! 🙂

The walk on Bridge Road just before seeing Kings Bridge (near Stillwater Restaurant & Café) has this quirky wall graffiti. I don’t know about you, but it is such little sights (though seemed to be very mundane) along the way that makes the whole walk so much more meaningful.

Zooming by in the car does get you to the destination fast, but you are really just missing out the smaller yet better things in life! It’s not about the final reach, it’s the climb, no? ;D

 

Best time to visit?

Summer. This is by far an understatement, but yeah. Summer is definitely the best time to do any outdoor activity. It is also the time when facilities are open; and open for longer hours. Facilities include the outdoor swimming pool at the First Basin.

A time when you get to see the Gorge’s open field suffuse with sunlight. And many locals welcome Summer in a paroxysm of joy with evidence of enjoying a picnicking or sunbathing- the perfect time for a nice family and friends chillax.

 

Sights & Sounds within Cataract Gorge

There are just way too many larking activities to do and sights to see at Cataract Gorge. Here are just some suggestions (in no particular order).

Sights & Sounds #1

Address/ Telephone Operating Hours Admission Fee (Inclusive of GST)
First Basin Chairlift Located near the First Basin Café.Address

69 Basin Road

Cataract Gorge

Launceston TAS 7250

Australia

 

Telephone

(03) 6331 5915

(Chairlift Office)

 

DailySpring & Fall09 00 – 17 00

Summer

09 00 – 17 30

Winter

09 00 – 16 30

Adult

AUS $12 (One Way)

AUS $15 (Two Way)

Concession (Seniors & Pensioners)

AUS $10 (One Way)

AUS $12 (Two Way)

Children (< 16 years old)

AUS $8 (One Way)

AUS $10 (Two Way)

NOTE: Children < 4 years old can travel for FREE.

This is the world’s longest single span chairlift, that covers approximately 457 metres with the terminal ends at the First Basin (near the Basin Café), and at the Cliff Grounds (near The Gorge Restaurant). You could hop on for a ride on either terminals.

The low speed chairlift provides an opportunity for a wide- angled pseudo aerial view of the ancient rock gorge. You probably will not be blasé about the view you are receiving from up there.

Sights & Sounds #2

Address Operating  Period Admission Fee
Swimming pool Located near the First Basin Café.Address

69 Basin Road

Cataract Gorge

Launceston TAS 7250

Australia

November – March

FOC

The outdoor swimming pool is just located below the First Basin Café. During Summer, we saw loads of families and groups of teens having a day of fun chilling by the pool, and picnicking on the open field around the pool vicinity. The atmosphere was shrouded with inordinate amount of giggles, shrieks and staccato laughter here and there. It was an experience that just screams a definite Summer!

Sights & Sounds #3

Address Operating Hours Admission Fee
Alexandra Suspension Bridge Located near the First Basin Café.Address

69 Basin Road

Cataract Gorge

Launceston TAS 7250

Australia

 

Daily

FOC

This is probably a must- snap landmark, aside the Kings Bridge (at the ‘entrance’ of Cataract Gorge). Situated just upstream from the First Basin, this bridge gives the view of both sides of the Gorge.

Standing in the middle on the suspension bridge will present you a distant view of the swimming pool, the Cliff Grounds and the First Basin from a slight elevated angle. Turning your attention to the back, you will see a gentle current flow of water down the South Esk River which pours nicely into the First Basin.

We managed to catch local teens in action as they set their air floating mattress to sail onto the First Basin. We also saw adults standing near the edge of the ‘cliff’ and making several plunges into the waters of the Basin, which was then followed suit by the kids as well.

Hhhmmm… … How safe was it? I don’t know. I was kinda not in congenial with the whole idea of plunging into the waters like that, but hey, who am I to judge right? They looked like they had done that way too often, so I guess swimming in the First Basin is a yes? I really do not know.

Sights & Sounds #4

Main Walking Tracks
Short Walks & Treks

1.      Cataract Walk

2.      Duck Reach Circuit

3.      Zig- Zag Track

There are so many tracks at Cataract Gorge. Some are mere short ones for those who just want a sneak peek on the tracks and the vistas it provides, and a few longer tracks for the energetic who wants a punch at it. I reckon the more popular walks would be the Duck Reach Circuit Track, and the Zig- Zag Track.

The Duck Reach Circuit Track, though rates level 3 with some uphill sections, is still suitable for children. This circuit leads further up the Gorge to the Second Basin and to the Duck Reach- which is the earliest municipal hydroelectric power station in Australia. This hydroelectric power station is now a popular tourist attraction, open as a museum (Interpretation Centre) since 1995. The walk takes about 1.5 hours to complete one full cycle.

Cataract Gorge is just too huge with most of the tracks somehow connected. The added bonus is that the Gorge is definitely well-maintained with clear signage to inform you which track you are leading to.

Depending on what you want to see, the many tracks to choose from will get you spoilt for choices! Imperatively a great morning walk for the entire family!

 

Recommended Walking Route

Route:

Cataract Walk–> The Gorge Restaurant–> Causeway Track –> First Basin Cafe –> Alexandra Suspension Bridge –> First Basin Cafe –> Zig- Zag Track

Difficulty:

🙂

Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂

This is definitely not the must- walk route to take, but I feel through this route, we sort of cover most of the Gorge. We get to see the highlights Cataract Gorge has to offer, so I’m pretty much satisfied with it.

Cataract Walk

The Cataract Walk starts from the ‘entrance’ of the Gorge, at Kings Bridge. There are two ‘entries’ into the Gorge. The one on the left takes you through the Zig-Zag Track, and the other takes you through the Cataract Walk.

You might really want to consider the latter option, as the Zig-Zag Track from the ‘entrance’ takes you up steeper incline, whilst the Cataract Walk basically bring you through levelled ground. So unless you want to get your adrenaline pumping right at the beginning, the latter option just describes a way to pass a lazy Sunday!

The leisure Cataract Walk takes you through picturesque cliffs and rock formation with the semi-serene South Esk River flowing down the bank. After a distance of walking, you will notice a flight of steep ladder steps that leads you to a lookout, where you can espy the Alexandra Suspension Bridge from afar. The mounting up stairs to get the elevated view does give the Gorge a new perspective to it all.

The Gorge Restaurant

The walk to The Gorge Restaurant could be your respite for lunch. There are quite a few peacocks, peahens and their peachicks running loose outside the eatery. Toddlers and all were pretty much fascinated by the beautiful creatures. Playground facilities for kiddies are in this area as well.

The First Basin Chairlift terminal is also around this vicinity. Hence, if you are feeling kinda sluggish, a ride across the First Basin could be your ticket with a majestic view! 😀

Causeway Track

I do strongly suggest a walk through Causeway Track instead of taking the chairlift. I can vouch a nice photo along the way with the backdrop of the iconic Alexandra Suspension Bridge! I don’t think you would want to miss that!

First Basin Café

We had our lunch at the First Basin Café. The food portion was huge (for us), and the coffee wasn’t too bad. Best of all, the Café has a nice landscape view of the swimming pool and open fields below. You could also see the chairlifts passing by.

Not fancying Café food? A food kiosk just outside the Café has light snacks too!

I would recommend the Café though. #justsaying

Alexandra Suspension Bridge

The stroll to the suspension bridge was definitely a great way to walk off lunch. Just a short amble pass the swimming pool and you can get an awe-inspiring view of the vicinity! Without a doubt, a time to snap a hell load of pictures!

Zig- Zag Track

To get back to Launceston CBD, we had to get to the ‘entrance’ of the Gorge; either retracing our steps through Cataract Walk, or out through the Zig- Zag Track.

Well… … We all know retracing steps can be a little dreary, so Zig- Zag Track it was! Now going via this route is undeniably efficient-making in terms of energy consumption. Because most of it was descends. And when gravity works with you, life is so much easier. 😀

So that was how we ended a lazy Sunday (with gravity working in our favour) at Cataract Gorge!

Notice that I did not include the Duck Reach Circuit Track. Reason being we weren’t that all prepared for the walk all the way to the power station, and back. Besides, it was a lazy Sunday after all, so a simple easy- to- do track that covers the main highlights is good enough for us.

It all depends on what you want to get out of from the walk. If I were to visit Cataract Gorge again, then the Duck Reach Circuit Track will absolutely be the route I would take! 😀

It was definitely a gratifying laidback day packed with simple walks, good company and enchanting views. Totally no frets at all, just the way I like it on a weekend! If you are ever in Launceston CBD, I would definitely recommend a lazy weekend day trip at Cataract Gorge!

Remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

How to get there?

What is the Bay of Fires?

St Helens Township

 

How to get there?

Close to a 3 hours drive by taking the Tasman Highway from Launceston city, led us to St Helens Township on Cecilia Street. Making a turn onto Quail Street, brought us straight on to Binalong Bay Road and The Gardens Road.

With the close- to- empty and fairly narrow costal driveway heading to the end of The Gardens Road, a glimpse of the “fires” of the bay can be spotted on the right, with the sea and cloudless sky as the backdrop.

There is a small area for parking right at the end of the road that faces the Bay.

 

What is the Bay of Fires?

Located at the North-Eastern coast of Tasmania, this bay is sprawl from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point.

When I first heard of Bay of Fires, I thought the name originated from the fact that the rocks have patches of stained orange on them. Hence, from afar, it looks like the Bay is indeed on fire- and the name “Bay of Fires”.

Well… … While I still believe my theory had some logical and literal aspects to it; it is not the case.

The Bay of Fires has its unusual name from a Captain in the 1700s after he noticed fire build-ups along the coast done by the indigenous people.

We were welcomed by the coastal sea breeze just as we opened the vehicle door. Calming and extravagant as can be when the close- to- evening breeze lightly brush against our skin.

With the orange stained rocks up ahead, we had to saunter through the partial grassy and sandy patch right at the front of the parking lot. The climate was impeccable- the wind howling strongly at us and I suddenly felt my spirits lifted. The afternoon sun slowly creeping into slumber, and the air turning cool and crisp, any normal person would feel the serenity of it all.

Enthralled by the stains on the rocks as we examined them up close, and taking a moment or two to soak in the sea beyond the horizon and the breeze that came with it. I can still recall we spend quite a bit of time (with legs stretched out towards the sea) keeping silent as we couldn’t tear our gaze from the beauty of Mother Nature. Just tranquil.

As it was close the evening, the already orange sunset further enhance the salient details of the rocks making it all the more a dramatic landscape. The stained granite of orange produced from lichen is definitely a place to be awed by.

Positively a place pop by when in Launceston.

 

St Helens Township

This very quiet town surprised me in so many different ways at so many levels.

An episode of The Walking Dead?

As a city girl, I have definitely a lack of experience when it comes to rambling through small towns.

I reckons the nature of a humble town reflects peace and calmness; where cars don’t just zoom by in a flash, and people take time to enjoy the nice walks on the streets with their family and pets. And these are the traits we saw when we were by at St Helens after a nice time over at Bay of Fires.

Knowing these traits at the corner of my head, I was still pretty much amazed by the peacefulness and placidity of it all. I have never felt so much calmness amongst neon lights and shop houses before- though most shops have already called it a day when we were there.

Not trying to be melodramatic here, and you may probably be thinking such small towns are so common- so why the big deal?

But, back home, there isn’t such thing as small towns away from the city, and even when darkness falls, cars still zoom by every now and then, people still roam the streets, staccato laughter and loud chattering can be heard from a distance somewhere. The buzz on the streets would die down only closer into the night.

Even before the sky was dark, the town was already in pin-drop silence. Very few people roamed the streets, and most cars were nowhere in sight. So as we walked towards a pizza parlour with a flashing neon sign, it did felt (for a moment) like we were in an episode of The Walking Dead- just saying. 😀

Trimboli’s Pizza

Address 1 Pendrigh Pl, St Helens TAS 7216, Australia
Operating Hours Evenings
Personal Rating 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

This pizza place is definitely to die for. I am not kidding! The staff are so friendly and the food is just superbly beyond words. If not for the small bellies that we have, we would have order more.

The orange sunset still shrouded the town when we entered the parlour. Choosing a seat that is close to the glass window, gave us a view of the empty street with a cross junction. Peaceful.

I definitely cannot remember the exact name of the dishes we ordered, but let me just try to describe them.

The first dish was a rich creamy carbonara base sauce with tortellini, and the next was a super spicy (to my taste buds) pizza with prawns and pepperoni (I think).

To be honest, the taste of the pizza is way too spicy for me. Hence, I could not remember much of it, really. But I reckon it should be good because J had no complaints whatsoever. All I remember was me sipping water as I had a mouth of pizza each time.

The star for the night is without said- the tortellini dish. This is the one to die for. The strong fragrant of melted cheese mixed in with the carbonara sauce is just heavenly. Rich, thick and creamy; Trimboli’s Pizza definitely did not stinge on the ingredients used in the dish. The sauce came with slices of ham all mixed in with it, so every mouthful is in a cosmos altogether.

A savoury and exquisite dinner was undoubtedly the way to end of the day at the Bay of Fires and St Helens town.

Dee

 

To Marions Lookout via Lake Lilla & Wombat Pool

Route: Dove Lake car park–> Boat Shed Track–> Lake Lilla–> Wombat Pool–> Crater Lake–> Marions Lookout
Average Walk Time: ~ 4 hours; inclusive of time back down (with plenty of time to take great shots and rest)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Marions Lookout via Overland Track (Ronny Creek)

Route: Ronny Creek–> Crater Falls –> Boat Shed on Crater Lake –> Marions Lookout
Average Walk Time: ~ 4 hours; inclusive of time back down (with plenty of time to take great shots and rest)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

TIPS (The PERFECT route to take)

Walks in the Cradle Mountain region are very walkers’ friendly I would say. With so many route options available leading to the same destination (as the saying goes, “All roads lead to Rome”, well in this case, “All tracks lead to a virtually impeccable landscape”), it’s no wonder we found ourselves revisiting the same spot again, just via a different trail each time.

You can choose your route base on your level of fitness and endurance, hence you will not be missing out on the spectacular vista and feeling all despondent because of the lack of fitness profiency.

You will be amaze by what each trail has to offer! Every trail opens up to a whole new world of alpine scrubs, meadows and tannin stained streams and lakes.

 

To Marions Lookout via Lake Lilla & Wombat Pool

Going via this route was sort unplanned as it was a wrong turn made on our part. However, it was definitely a mistake well made. It was also this route where I saw cute “Christopher Columnus” and his family.

This route passing by Lake Lilla has many uneven rocky sections. But definitely a trail to stumble across with many tiny streams of tannin waters that really looked so refreshing as it glistens under the Summer sky. Totally sparkly gorgeous!

I remember a really long and arduous flight of steps we had to surmount as we journeied towards Wombat Pool (or was it passing by Wombat Pool-I cannot remember vividly.). A rest platform is avaiable at Wombat Pool before a steeper incline- probably a good spot to recharge and hydrate before a round of heavy duty up slope.

Travelling up the rocky incline was actually one of the best parts of the hike. I always feel so invigorated when I enconunter such sections of a hike. Reminiscing the time at Cape Raoul in Port Arthur, Hobart, where I had to cross a moss- filled slippery tree log on four limps, and climbing at the edge of the cliff.

In this case, I wasn’t climbing on four limbs, nor was I anywhere near the very edge, but this activity had about the same level of fun and excietment ! 😀

The good thing about this route up is that there will be mini sections of somewhat flat (hmmmm… … not exactly flat per se) and saf(er) grounds for us to take a breather and enjoy the beauty that came with.

We could just stand many feet above sea level and enjoy the inundating landscape. The cloudless sky and the unobstructed view of Wombat Pool down below, with Lake Lilla and a partial Dove Lake view all within my peripheral version! Just awesome!

Climbing further up on partial boarded stairs and inclined gravels led us to a rest spot for people to take pictures of the magnificent Crater Lake down below. How blue and calm the lake looks, and from the top, we could see the boat shed too! This was definitely one of the highlights.

 

To Marions Lookout via Overland Track (Ronny Creek)

In my opinion, the route from Ronny Creek is much gentler as compared to the one via Lake Lilla. Yes, there is no running away from many flights of boarded stairs, but I just feel safer as I ascended amongst the tall alphines.

Maybe I have registered internallly that if I fall to my death, the bushes would somehow miraculously cushion the impact. I know, how silly of me to think that, but I just do. Haha…

Besides, the inital journey from Ronny Creek has all flat boarded platforms. How very welcoming it was. This is the same area where we saw many fluffy wombats!

After languorously trotting upwards, we finally reached a much cooler section of the hike- Crater Falls, where we entered the rainforest. We could really feel the temperature drop a few degrees as we entered the rainforest; so much cooler as compared to the Summer’s heat. Of course we had to spend some time inside the rainforest to cool ourselves down, hydrate, slump in the bench and listen to the waterfall crashing down.

Once we were out of the cool rainforest and into the heat, we had another round of stairs climbing and walking on unevenness before we arrived at the boat shed on Crater Lake.

From here onwards, the route is basically the same as the route via Lake Lilla.

 

TIPS (The PERFECT route to take)

Combining BOTH routes in one?

Because the earlier route wasn’t part of the plan (as mentioned), in order to cover Crater Falls, and having already covered Lake Lilla and Wombat Pool, we decided to get to the Falls via Ronny Creek- which was much easier. And since we were already at the Falls, so why not just continue on since the Crater Lake isn’t that far away. This was our, then, rationale.

As I have been through both routes, I reckon I have enough “qualification” to make a suggestion on how to improve/modify and make the hike more experiential?

Hence, my suggestion for the route to Marions Lookout would be to COMBINE BOTH:

Route: Dove Lake car park–> Boat Shed Track–> Lake Lilla–> Wombat Pool–> Crater Lake–> Marions Lookout–> Boat Shed on Crater Lake –> Crater Falls–> Ronny Creek
Average Walk Time: I can’t vouch the duration as I have not done this route in unison. But if I would gauge… Probably 5(ish) hours? But don’t take my word for it, give amble time to rest, hydrate, lunch and snap (photos).
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

My philosophy? After some hard work (climbing), a sweet reward (cool rainforest) will come.

Turn around and ENJOY

The key to get the most out of any walks/ hikes is to not rush through it. Take a moment or two to turn back and immerse the view behind. You will be surprise what the backdrop offers. Of course don’t take too long a pause, if not a 3 hours hike may actually take 6 hours? 😀

Hope this inspires you to do more walks in Lake St Clair National Park. Travel whenever and enjoy the hike!

Dee

Route: End of Cradle Mountain Road (Circuit Jaunt)
Distance: 5.7 km (3.5 miles)
Average Walk Time: ~ 3.5 hours (with plenty of time to take great shots)
Difficulty: 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

How to get there?

Glacier Rock

Getting tangible with Dove Lake

Angular view of Cradle Mountain

Boatshed

Canoeing on Dove Lake

 

How to get there?

From our stay at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, an approximately 15 – 20 minutes drive along Cradle Mountain Road, led us to the end, and marked the start of one of Tasmania’s premier walks- the Dove Lake Circuit Track!

(FYI, taking the free shuttle service can also bring you to Dove Lake, and this is advisable since parking spaces are limited. The frequency for these shuttle services are reasonable too.)

Upon arrival at the parking lot, the partial view of the cerulean waters of Dove Lake was enough to keep us enraptured for a moment or two. Not to mention the backdrop of the 2 leading spires of Cradle Mountain protruding high up against the sky. What a picturesque vista that no image captured on camera could ever do justice to. Seriously, you need to be there to see it in full view.

Hiking Highlights and Views

We were swooned as we got closer to the start of the circuit track, though the waters ain’t as blue as it was for view at the parking lot, it looked really clear, clean and super refreshing- to an extend that J and I wanted to douse ourselves inside for a refreshing late morning splash. It only we could… … We just might… …

Between the both of us, J was a tad excited than I was. She had done research on Cradle Mountain many months before we embarked on this odyssey, so she was extremely excited for this part of the entire Tasmanian vacation.

Since it’s a circular track, venturing from either side would be the same. However, we decided to start from the left, as that was what the signage stated. Very typical, I know.

 

Glacier Rock

After experiencing the walk (starting from the left), I suggest that everyone should do the same. WHY?

The initial part of the walk allowed us to spend an interminable amount of time up on the Glacier Rock taking pictures with natural late morning sunlight! Furthermore, we got to have an unobstructed view of Cradle Mountain, and a pseudo bird’s eye view of Dove Lake.

It was a perfect way to start off a walk, don’t you think?

If you looked closely at the surface of the Rock, you will see parallel grooves engraved into it caused by debris within the glacier that moved down from the slopes of Cradle Mountain many moons ago.

TIPS? Try to stay rooted to the uneven rock, and try not to plunge into the lake, though how inviting it may look. The tracks may be slippery too, so don’t get too carried away with photo takings that you accidentally plunge.

 

Getting tangible with Dove Lake

Walking on the boardwalks around the Lake led us to a mini outlet or two where we could sit by the sandy shore with the waters of Dove Lake just a pebble’s throw away. It was a great instant to stay serene with nature, and stare at the waters with the two spires in the far distance.

This was the moment where we all took a deep breath and wished time could just pause forever.

Since the waters was just within reach and all so alluring, I couldn’t resist not putting my hands in for a cold swirl. Hey, if I can’t douse my whole body in it, at least let my hands have a go at it, huh? 😀

 

Angular view of Cradle Mountain

Sauntering around the Lake gave us angular views of the 2 jutting spires of Cradle Mountain that ensorcelled us as we stood beneath. After awhile we came to realised the tons of photos of Cradle Mountain we had as the backdrop- viewed from different parts of Dove Lake. Haha… … 😀

A walk cannot be complete without admiration of the flowers that grow so perfectly along the boardwalk. And what about appreciating the little streams that trickle from the rainforest? Oh yes, what about the wildlife, insects and amphibians too? 😀

Nature is just beautiful like that. If we could spare some time to pause and absorb, we would be awe-stricken.

 

Boatshed

Another popular icon in many photographs of Dove Lake would be the boatshed that stands humbly by the shore of the Lake; with Cradle Mountain afar.

The boatshed was build mainly out of King Billy pine. It was built back in the 1930s, as boating was popular back then.

 

Canoeing on Dove Lake

Our stay- Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge offers canoe trips on Dove Lake during Summer. It was pretty easy for us to enquire and book a slot with them upon our arrival at check-in.

The costs is not exactly cheap- it’s approximately AUS$80- ish? However, this trip provided by the Lodge, includes afternoon tea, life vests (not for keeping afterwards, of course), tips of how to manoeuvre the canoe, and a dash of insights of the Dove Lake area.

As we aren’t adept canoeist (I have never held a paddle before in my life), we weren’t so on the ball of things, and were actually behind the “class” in all tasks. It was mad hilarious. We were practically laughing our ass off during the entire 3.5 hours trip.

Let me describe to you in detail of what was actually happening, so any first-timers out there could be prepared and not face the same awkwardness as we did… … Haha…

You know the movie Dump & Dumper? The one where the pair was acting all weird, clumsy and goofy? Well, imagine them being girls, and younger.

When the rest of the “class” had already advanced further towards Glacier Rock and were there listening to the insights by the guides, we were still way behind struggling to join the pack. We were laughing half the time to even get the canoe to move, and when we did move, we were going in circles! It was seriously quite an embarrassing sight. LOL!

Finally we made it close to the Rock, but by that time, the guide had finished speaking and the “class” was ready to canoe to the next location.

This was after J tried to murder me (yes, she did) by canoeing us way too close to the Rock that had protruding sharp branches. By the time, I yelled for her to stop paddling and me trying to use the paddle to stop the canoe from advancing, the branch was already so close to me it slit my wrist a little during the mini struggle. Flies started fluttering in front of me for our canoe had perturbed their afternoon slumber. (-.-)”

Ah yes… …Definitely a Dump & Dumper moment. Don’t judge.

As J had done some really minor canoeing in Vietnam, of course I took the cue from her. Her miniscule experience in canoeing was our only asset to bring us through the 3.5 hours. Sounds like torture huh? But it was not, really. It was like a self-entertained sitcom. We did way too embarrassing things that tickled us silly. We saw ourselves being extremely way behind the “class” that it was pricelessly comical.

We were constantly reverent that the “class” could paddle like some sort of pro-athletes. Way to go people!

So I paddled when J instructed me to, and also stopped even when she wanted me NOT to. I was tired alright. I needed a break to embrace nature, leave me alone. LOL.

I felt real bad that I was at the front seat gawking at Cradle Mountain, and splashing the waters when she was at the back struggling to keep us on track with the class. So I offered to take over, with full on enthusiasm and energy thinking that I could paddle for at least awhile longer while J rested. But this determination lasted a few seconds, and in the end, we both weren’t paddling as we saw the “class” float into the horizon, while we were left at the centre of the Lake.

Okay, I exaggerated here. The guides aren’t that mean. When they saw as “liabilities” of the “class” stranded, they paddled back to get us and tied our canoe to theirs so we won’t be left behind! Hooray for the invention of ropes, seriously!

As they were tying the ropes, I could still remember I asked a very cheeky question- probably I was too tired to think straight.

“Yay. So, this is like a free pass right?”

“Oh no. You still have to paddle ya? Or we will all be here until sunset.”

After being tied to them, and knowing now there was no way we will be behind the pack, I spend most of the time playing with the waters by making mini waves with my hands as the canoe moved. J, on the other hand, was a “good student”. She paddled, and only took short pauses to rest.

For that, I would like to laud her. She has some serious determination when it comes to canoeing. You go girl!

As I was having my moment with the waters of Dove Lake, J was at the back reminding me to paddle. So trying not to be a freeloader, I mustered all my energy left in my arms, and paddled with all my might- which of course lasted for a few seconds. How feeble my arms are.

Okay people, I’ve tried. My arms just can’t. Make me walk for miles up slopes and down, but don’t make me canoe.

Would I want to experience this again? Sure! Why not? Not the part where J tried to murder me of course. The other parts of this are definitely good to relive. Haha…!

Since I was not the one doing most of the paddling (thank you J and the guides), and I could enjoy Cradle Mountain from a unique perspective. So why not? 😀 And not to mention all the laughs and embarrassing actions we did- I honestly don’t mind reliving them.

Life is all about new experiences and laughter, and so what if we “humiliated” ourselves in front of the “class” and guides? What matter most was that we had a ball of a time laughing at each other’s stupidity.

At least now I can tell people I have canoed before? Or does this not count? 😀

Hope this inspires you to insert new experiences in your life, embrace nature and travel whenever!

Dee

Prelude: Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge

Snake Hill to Ronny Creek Walk

The Enchanted Stroll (Guided Walk- Lodge’s Complimentary)

If you are a novice in walks/ hikes, then a great place to start would imperatively be at the Cradle Mountain vicinity. This place offers grade 1 walks to higher level intensity and challenge. After some hikes in Hobart, up Cape Raoul and Fluted Cape, the walks and hikes in Lake St Clair National Park does seem to be really no kick at all. Not trying to vaunt, but it is what it is. 😀

Of course, I am not referring to the Overland Track which requires me to pitch tents, bring my own food/ water supplies and live in campsites for days as I (that is, if I can) advance further up the mountains.

This national park has made the trails tracks within the Cradle Mountain vicinity so family-friendly. With most trails on levelled boardwalks (J’s favourite walk paths), a few uneven inclined steps and rocky fissures, this is definitely child’s play- literally. We saw many families on the hikes, with kids as young as 5? 6 maybe?

I remember vividly of a family of 5 from Hong Kong – Dad, Mum, Grams and 2 kids. The preschooler in the family was adamant he was the next Christopher Columbus that when his Pops made a wrong turn sending them in the opposite direction, “Little Columbus” decided it was time to take charge and exclaimed, “Dad, I told you, it’s this way. This way!”

Exhilarated, the little boy trotted along the path and passed us. His dad meekly allowed himself to be led, while the other 3 family members jaunted some distance behind. What a heart-warming sight I must say.

 

Prelude: Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge

We arrived at our stay close to late afternoon. By the time we settled the checking in and other miscellaneous, I was already quite bushed (probably from the long ride from Launceston city). Too beat to even feel enraptured by the largest stay we ever had.

Frankly I didn’t even want to go out after we checked it. I laid on the day bed facing the somewhat angular high ceiling and the picture mounted to the wall- I could fall asleep then and there.

“So what now? Do you want to go out?”

I ignored J’s question. Shut my eyes and try to find some sort of serenity.

She asked again. Duress to reply, we ended up heading out for an evening walk towards Ronny Creek.

 

Snake Hill to Ronny Creek Walk

Route: Snake Hill -> Ronny Creek
Distance: 2 km (1.3 miles)
Average Walk Time: ~ 35 mins
Difficulty:
Scenery: 🙂

As it was evening, taking an easy walk seems the right way to end off a languorous day. We took the free shuttle service from the Rangers Station/ Interpretation Centre, which was just a 5 minutes’ walk from the Lodge. The walk from Snake Hill is super clear cut; boardwalks throughout. In truth, I was kinda taken aback by how easy the walk really is. I am sure J would differ otherwise- she really adores boardwalks. I reckon the only 2 worries you need to fret during this harmless walk are:

Animal poopies Don’t want to soil your track shoes, now do we? Prime suspect? Wombats, maybe? I’m sorry cute stuffs, but I seriously believe the poopies left at intervals on the boardwalk belongs to you guys! Haha! 😀
Black Currawong (a.k.a Black Jay) Black Currawong (a.k.a Black Jay)- My first encounter with this bird was during this seemingly risk-free evening stroll. I was walking way faster than J, and unfathomably I didn’t notice the Currawong standing stationary on the perch at the end of the bridge! So I continued on, and by the time I noticed it, I was about an arm’s length and half away from it!It glared straight into my eyes as I did in its.  Only difference was, mine was more of gawking than glaring. What a fearsome looking creature it was. I sort of froze for a few seconds, uncertain of what to do next. I turned behind, and saw J paused at the other end of the bridge as she espied what was ahead. I gingerly made my way towards her, and we waited for it to take flight.

 

I can still remember distinctly the death stare it gave me. I   read in a hotel brochure somewhere that Currawongs can recognise faces? So whether or not it is true, better be save and not stare at one for it may register you- if you are hapless!

After an approximately half hour’s walk, we arrived at Ronny Creek. The view at Ronny Creek is definitely way better than during the walk through Snake Hill in my opinion.

With large pasture of open spaces filled with patches of button grass (Wombats’ food source, FYI), this is definitely a nice place to respite and soak in the moment in all its glory.

It is mentioned by the driver in the shutter service that Ronny Creek is the best place to spot Wombats! And aren’t we lucky? Our first day in Lake St Clair National Park, and we saw cute stuff! 😀 Just soak it all in people. Just soak it all in… …

 

The Enchanted Stroll (Guided Walk- Lodge’s Complimentary)

Route: Front of the Lodge (Circular Track)
Distance: 1 km (0.62 miles)
Average Walk Time: ~ 20 mins
Difficulty:
Scenery: 🙂

What I love about the stay (aside the huge room), is the activities the Lodge provides, and the very strategic location. After our walk through Snake Hill, we decided to go on this guided stroll since it is just located adjacent to the Lodge. How very so convenient huh?

Even the King Billy Track is just a few metres from our room! We popped by and went on this walk on one of the other evenings before dinner. I still remember I could even go back to our room and grab an apple to munch as we meander through the rain forest! Haha…!

The guide was really amiable and informative as he got the group engaged- for me at least; since I love to listen to stories and histories- even the histories of the ancient rain forest and the Pencil Pine river seemed to intrigue me somehow! He talked about the age of trees that he pointed to, and plants to look at in detail etc.

During the tour, we all spotted another wombat (minding its business) and the entire group was all busy gawking at it instead of listening to the guide. So he decided to pause a moment and let us be amused by the cute stuff before he continued. How thoughtful! 😀

We were on a streak here when it comes to spotting Wombats! Yay!

Hope this inspires you to do more walks in Lake St Clair National Park! Travel whenever and spot for cute stuffs (a.k.a Wombats) at Ronny Creek!

Dee

Route: Stormlea Road -> Summit -> Cape Raoul (lower plateau) -> Summit -> Stormlea Road
Distance: 14 km (8.7 miles)
Average Trekking Time: ~ 5.5 hrs
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

TIPS (Toilet, Log Book, Lunch)

Trekking Route

 

How to get there?

The journey from our stay (Port Arthur Motor Inn) to the trail head of Cape Raoul was approximately a half hour’s drive away. Do drive prudently on the narrow gravel roads, and be vigilant for any wild creatures- bunnies, echidnas etc. You DO NOT want to run over these cute animals down. Trust me, YOU DO NOT. The empty roads with cars occasionally passing by, makes the drive pleasantly comfortable- not to mention good company with good music jamming over the radio. Aaahhh… … That was the life… …

The route to Cape Raoul is somewhat similar to the journey to Coal Mines Historic Site. We drove on Nubeena Road, but instead of continuing on (as with Coal Mines Historic Site), we made a left turn onto Stormlea Road. Just travel on to the end and voila… …

The trail for the trek starts at the end of Stormlea Road, next to the Raoul Bay Retreat- a wooden cabin standing tall on the fairly much open field. Parking spaces are available just at the mouth of the starting trail.

Another structure that stands tall on the open field is the toilet. Yes, people, a toilet.

 

TIPS (Toilet, Log Book, Lunch)

The Toilet

I have no qualms having an open concept designed toilet, you know; like the ones at a SPA- breathtaking and fresh. However, this is way too medieval. I may be an inch overboard on this divisive issue, but I can’t, I just can’t go into cubicles like this. Period. I couldn’t face the latrine- awfully too much of a city girl for that. There is no flushing system installed, and who knows what creepy crawlies have been there.

Of course, I pressed J into going in first to recce. She knows she can’t win in the battle or who goes first when it comes to this kind of situations. Haha… 😀 Thanks girlfriend! I will never forget the many unwilling times you wished you didn’t have to go first, but you know I am too stubborn to barge unless you took the lead.

After a few seconds (definitely less than 2 minutes), she came out. And then the decision. I was in a catch-22. Either I tighten my incredibly small feeble bladder for the next 5 hours during the trek, or I put aside the cleanliness freak inside of me, and just do it!

The latter option seemed more wise.

I went in, shut the door for 2 seconds, then dashed out gagging at the revolting smell from within the cubicle walls. To be fair, the cubicle wasn’t so bad, it was… …decent, if I must say, as compared to other toilets in the wild of course. I mean, there wasn’t any flies hovering around (thank goodness), maybe a few spider webs and ants, but it was decent. It was all in my mind. The whole idea of not being able to flush after use, and thinking of all the waste left by previous occupants just sends shivers down my spine.

I decided to try once more. Hurriedly, I did what I had to do, shut the toilet seat behind me, and scrambled out gagging for the second time. Oh boy, an experience, I may not want to relive unless imperatively necessary.

But I would like to say, thank goodness for the free use of toilet facilities provided by the Retreat, for if it wasn’t there, I would have to endure 5 hours or more of excruciating torment.

A word of advice? Use the bathroom before you leave your hotel/motel if you are like me, a cleanliness freak. Otherwise, the toilet facilities are actually quite alright. I mean, J could take it, and there aren’t any flies or flying bugs, so that’s cool right? Oh, did I mention there’s a sink to wash your hands. 🙂

The Log Book

This is probably the most fundamental thing to do BEFORE any trek in Tasmania! Sign it/ register your treks before embarking in your odyssey.

The log books are kept inside a metal container bolted to the signboard at the head trail.

This is a great preventive measure to ensure our safety, just in case we got lost in the woods, the rangers can come and get us. When will they come to our rescue? Well, I’m not sure how often they check the log books. Probably not that soon, I reckon. A few days, maybe? I do not ever want to find out either.

The Lunch

Pack some energy foods (bars, sandwiches, drinks), you need it. With loads of oomph spend climbing, and manoeuvring on the patchy ground, we needed a break on the summit to embrace nature, have water break and, without saying, to take photos of course. I brought along my favourite carton of hydration drink- COCONUT WATER! Obsessed. Invigorating and thirst-quenching with every gulp. 😀 I got mine at Woolworths in Sorell Township en route to Port Arthur.

It is vital that we constantly stay hydrated throughout the trek. We may be too engross and exhilarated with the scenery that we may forget to hydrate our body, and this can be dangerous. Bring a huge bottle or two of water in your bag pack!

 

Trekking Route

The trail starts of intimidating, with many muddy “carpets” sprawled at intervals to welcome us into the inland. This was the part J loathe the most, and I have never seen her so irritated before. This was definitely pushing her buttons. As we travelled on, we jaunted through very narrow walk path surrounded by overgrown tall grass, what seemed like a never ending route of tall bushes.

Once out, we inclined up a gentle slope and cross a fallen log bridge. I would say this was the most galvanizing part of the trek, and I adore this part the most. The log was huge, steady and covered in slippery green moss and algae. With lack of experience crossing something like this, I did it on 4 limps cautiously. Haha…! As I crossed, I imagine myself as a little rascal on a great adventure with my buddy, with a mission to find hidden treasures in the enchanted woods. How enthralling! I LOVE IT! 😀

Soon enough, going through the woods on a wider path, we reached a junction with a huge signboard (left heading to Cape Raoul and right towards Shipstern Bluff). This was also our indication to take a water break.

Following the left hand trail upwards, the forest bore our first magnificent view of the incredible dolomite cliffs of the Tasman National Park! Also another indication for a break! Haha… The view was breathtaking and so worth it. All the effort of braving through the mud, grass, moss, and algae seemed to all melt away with the sweat that trickled down our backs and foreheads. We took a moment to catch our breath and snapped pictures (well, mostly J did the snapping) simultaneously. While she was capturing the views with the lens, I was out and about exploring the other side of the lookout and absorbing every moment my eyes can capture and store in my brain.

At the summit, to the left, we could see the heathland on the lower plateau (Cape Raoul)- our end point before retracing our steps. To the right, the lookout opens to a stunning view down to Shipstern Bluff.

Continuing on, the trail leads along the cliff top before descending the steepest section of the trail onto Cape Raoul plateau. Trekking along the cliff top provides many amazing angular views of the sea against the cliffs. With the blazing sun dazzling the sea into sparkles, the vista is just beyond words. No camera can do justice.

We did some climbing on 4 limps near the edge of the cliff as it was pretty rocky and windy, but the journey near the edge of the cliff has the perfect view- no obstruction by those wretched trees. I was so thrilled by God’s creation, that J was yelping at the back asking me to be cautious with my steps in fear I would fall to my death! Haha… …

On the lower plateau, hurls of hostile wind gusting pushing us two steps back as we advanced one. In the middle of the plateau, lies a small lake. We didn’t venture towards the lake for the high winds were going through great lengths to prying our feet from the sandy ground. We pushed on further towards the edge of the plateau to get a better view of the rock formations. Not too close to the edge though- you never know when the wind could really pry your feet from the ground!

As we detoured, the view of the summit seemed so far-fetched that we were reverent we actually climbed that high prior! On the flipside, we languor at the fact that we had to ascend that much to reach the summit once more.

A 14 km expedition to the end of Cape Raoul (inclusive of returning the same way) and 5.5 hours(ish) spend with my best friend, trekking until we both looked half dead was so worth it! 🙂

Just a word of caution- DON’T FALL OFF THE CLIFFS! Tremendously hostile weather conditions like high winds can occur near the cliff edges and on the lower plateau! STAY SAFE PEOPLE!

Hope this inspires you to go be a nature lover, do some trekking, and travel whenever!

Dee

The Coal Mines Historic Site is definitely a tranquil place to immerse in picturesque sights of quaint rustic ruins. A peaceful few hectares of space to ramble through the uneven remnants as I mulled over how the place was run in the past. Imagine how this place was once occupied by few hundred convicts and families. Imagine how life was for them, though my imagination could only take me so far as books and TV go. How hard life must had been for them then.

This was around a 20- minute(ish) ride from Port Arthur Historic Site. A smooth drive on a cool breezy late morning as we embarked on our journey. The ride was breathtaking as we were greeted with pastures of land with herds of fluffy sheep and lush tall green grass sprawled across the horizon. The clear cerulean sky accentuated the salient beauty of nature. A beautiful sight that the camera just cannot do justice to.

What enticed us most was the emerald waters of Norfolk Bay we saw along the stretch of Saltwater River Road. It was the most serene moment to capture and store in our permanent memory. Maybe it was the position of the sunrays and the current of the waters such that there’s a cosmos, but every moment of the journey was just reverent that we had to take a few miniature stops to contain the awe.

We don’t get a lot of/ any scenic view back home you see, so such moments of pauses are imperatively necessary. 😀

There was not a single soul (excluding wild insects and bunnies) when we arrived. We took time to enjoy the sweet lonesomeness… …

 

Definitely a relic to remember the rich history of how the convicts lived, worked and were treated. Kudos to the people who well preserved this place!

(A continuation of the itinerary will be in the future posts.)

Hope this inspires you to go on a road trip to explore the history of an unknown, and remember travel whenever!

Dee

Bronze, Silver or Gold Pass?

Isle of the Dead

Lunch

Port Arthur Historic Site

Ghost Tour

 

Bronze, Silver or Gold Pass?

We were contemplating between which passes would make our experience at Port Arthur most fulfilling and memorable. At the crowded ticketing counter, as I recalled, in the Port Arthur Historic Site Visitor Centre, we were still indecisive. Finally we decided to settle on the Silver Pass (with Isle of the Dead Tour).

Reasons?

  1. The 2 differences between a Silver and Gold Pass are that there is Morning and Afternoon Tea, along with Point Puer Boys’ Prison Tour in the latter Pass.
  2. The difference in prices is AUS$30.
  3. With the limited days we had in Port Arthur, we felt that forgoing the visit to the Point Puer Boys’ Prison Tour, in exchange for more time to saunter through the Site and doing something else (like trekking) would be more worthwhile.

So what exactly is included in the Silver Pass (with Isle of the Dead Tour)?

Inclusions

 A 45- minute Introduction to Port Arthur guided walking tour The zealot guide on the site was just amazing. I could feel her ardent in her job, and it was really contagious. Very informative. 😀
The Isle of the Dead Cemetery Tour, including a harbour cruise aboard the MV Marana There are a few timeslots for the harbour cruise (cum The Isle of the Dead Cemetery Tour). Just bring your ticket to the jetty and join the queue. There are many approachable guides on Site to assist you if you do not know which to board or you are somehow just perplexed and inundated with the massive crowd surrounding the jetty.
Self Guided Audio Tour iPod + earpiece loaned to us as we self-toured the Site. Just return them back to the counter at the end of the day. The good thing about this is that, we could loan the iPod again the next day! ’cause the Site is just too huge to complete in a day!
Lunch on-site at the Museum Café or Port Café We had lunch at the Port Café (in the Visitor Centre).FYI, the Museum Cafe is located in the Asylum building adjacent to the Separate Prison.
Access to more than 30 historic buildings, ruins and gardens

 

Isle of the Dead

We spend 2 days soaking in the rich history of Port Arthur as a convict settlement. It was the time of my life. I love exploring old rustic ruins especially when they have so deep meaning. I was just venerated.

On the board the cruise en route to the Isle of the Dead was our first stop on that glorious morning. It was buzzing with loads of tour groups, school kids and individual visitors at the jetty as it was boarding time. Talk about perfect timing! We did not have to wait at all! We just got into the queue like everyone else (of course with the kind assistance from the guides on Site- as it was a major fluster then).

It is really heartening to see that Port Arthur has such a historic place for younger Tasmanians to embrace and have a school fieldtrip to greater understand their own history.

It was tranquil and hopeful onboard the mini cruise. The captain gave a little morning introduction while we enjoyed the breeze and fresh air on the upper deck. All that was lacking was a nice cup of hot mocha and maybe some marshmallows on top- sipping al fresco style. 😀

The captain explained about the seas surrounding Port Arthur, islands in the distance and what made it the ideal place to house convicts. What seemed like a real short while of embracing the morning with educational commentary, we alighted on a tiny island- Isle of the Dead.

Isle of the Dead is graveyard for anyone (I mean, anyone) who died in Port Arthur. Regardless of whether the person was an officer or a convict, they were all buried on that island. Our guide was really informative and I was imperatively enraptured by the place.

Was it weird that I felt more galvanised than lugubrious? After all, it is a graveyard. But I was absolutely intrigued by the details the guide was saying! And please tell me how not to start my wild imagination in my head when he was telling us stories about the people who were buried?!

According to the guide, a headstone can tell you lots about the person buried. Headstones with detailed embellishments were probably well respected people when they were alive. Officials, soldiers and their families have headstone situated on the high end of the island.

On the other side of the island (the lower end), convicts were buried. They were not allowed headstones. However, there were exceptions.

Every headstone has a story to tell. Alas, if only time permits, I really wished I could have the luxury of having some time to explore. To really read the headstones in detail rather than having to skim through them real quickly.

 

Lunch

After the harbour cruise, we went for the 45- minute Introduction walking tour. Again, we didn’t wait long at all. It was such perfect timing- one tour after another! I guess the management may have thought the timing schedule for tours through. Haha… 😀

We had, I would say, quite a scrumptious lunch. We weren’t expecting very much from the lunch that was included in the Silver Pass, ’cause well… … lunches that were inclusive don’t usually hit our expectations. But this time, Port Arthur amazed me.

The meal portion was big, and there were a range of beverages to choose from (regular coffee, latte, cappuccino, hot chocolate, and mocha). Usually such lunches would not allow one to choose a choice of beverage, so I was stunned for a spilt moment when the counter asked me to choose from the list!

We both were happy customers then. Our belly were filled and we were all ready for our next round of exploration!

 

Port Arthur Historic Site

The Site is really enormous. If you really want to ramble through the ruins, immerse yourself into the past, and read the descriptions bolted to the walls or on signages, then starting the exploration after lunch would need you to go back there again the next day.

The Convict Church was built by the convict builders. Officers and convicts all attended mass on Sunday in the same church. However, they would seat separate. The objective of this church was to use religion as a platform to reform convicts- making them better people spiritually.

Fun fact: In modern era, people actually come here to get married!

During the ghost tour, the guide warned us that creepy incidents happened here. On the left corner of the church near the church bells, a convict builder fell to his death, and from then on, his spirit haunted the church with his hefty footsteps. And on some nights during the ghost tour, you may actually hear those footsteps if you are LUCKY. Hhhmmmmm… …

Convicts with notorious behavior would be sent to the Separate Prison, where they would be stripped off their identity. Nameless; they would be labelled using numbers. Here, officers communicated with them using hand signs. Talking was strictly prohibited. Faceless; they were to wear cap-peaks when they left their individual cells from an hour exercise everyday.

The dingy ruins of the hospital can be easily differentiated from the others by its unique 3 arch “doors”.

According to the guide, no convict would want to be send to the hospital as medical treatments during that time was pretty bad. Convicts who went there never made it out alive. Hence, people prefer dying to be send to the hospital.

I reckon The Penitentiary should be the icon of Port Arthur Historic Site. It just beckoned me when I first entered the site. It was so marveling, as it was the largest/longest building that sprawled on the open field. To think that the main bulk of convicts actually lived and ate in there, is just reverent.

I just adore how the entire structure of the building is so lopsided, due to the many fires that happened ages ago, yet minimal construction is done to preserve most of the remnants.  Though it is not a complete structure, The Penitentiary is really put together through my eyes. 😀

We stayed on until sunset. The lonesome moments sauntering through the site is definitely a good way to embrace the past. No distractions, and noise. Just you and your iPod playing a short prelude of each attraction on the Site.

 

Ghost Tour

The ghost tour was definitely the highlight of the 2 days on Site. We never participated in such a tour before, and we were in it to see how it works and all that jazz. Like… were we going to be scared by people in costumes? Or were we going to be locked in a haunted house or something or that sort? Or were real ghost going to haunt us? We had no idea.

Of course the counter told us there would not be any people dressed in costumes to scare the living daylights out of us. But well… you never know until you are there…

Again, I have to rave about the guide on this tour. He was spectacular. Funny, and full of stories to tell. Just splendid.

Going on this tour really brings out the dark side to Port Arthur, literally and not. And as I recall now, it was pretty hilarious that people were scaring themselves more than the guide’s stories had intended. Haha… It’s all in the mind… It’s all in the mind…

In all, this was a pretty momentous tour. Good to experience if you have never participated in one. 😀

Hope this inspires you to go on a road trip to explore the history of an unknown! You never know what intriguing ideas the unknown may leech on you! 😀

So travel whenever!

Dee