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Day 1 Highlights

Rai Maneesorn (Sunflower Field)

Midwinter Green Khao Yai (Restaurant)

Day 2 Highlights

Khao Yai National Park (Important Information)

Khao Yai 30km. View Point (in Khao Yai National Park)

Dinner at ครัวหญ้าคาเขาใหญ่ (Thai Restaurant)

Day 3 Highlights

Palio Khao Yai

The Chocolate Factory Khao Yai

PB Valley Khao Yai Winery

TIPS?!

IGTV

Best time to visit Khao Yai:End November to Early January
Recommended length of visit at Khao Yai:~ 3 nights (max. 4 nights at best, and really stretching it!)

With the constant advertisements on the things to do beyond Bangkok city itself, we have places like Hua Hin (~ 2.5 hours from Bangkok) and Khao Yai (~ 3 hours from Bangkok) popping up every so often. Which reminds me, I should probably start working on my Hua Hin article soon huh. 😀

Khao Yai is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Khao Yai National Park is the third largest and probably the most visited! If you were to do a quick google image search on Khao Yai, you would probably see quaint-looking buildings that you would not believe they are actually located in Thailand. The buildings / hotels are designed to make you feel like you are in some European scene immersed in lush green calmness. Well, at least that was my impression of Khao Yai even before I went. Oh and also not to forget the amazing sunflower fields filling the entire vista!

J and I trying to catch the sunlight.

There are so many luxurious themed hotels that will take your breath away and be just spoil for choices, so I will not delve into that. Let me bring you through my 4D3N stay at Khao Yai – things in my itinerary you can probably forgo and things that are must dos!

Day 1 Highlights: Rai Maneesorn (Sunflower Field)

Operating Hours:07 00 – 18 00 daily
Entrance Fee:Foreigner: 80 Baht / pax

Local Adult: 40 Baht / pax

Local Child: 20 Baht / pax

(collection of fee happens at the carparking area; someone will signal you to wind down your window and pay up as you are parking your vehicle)
Recommended length of visit:~ 1 – 2 hours

(depending on how intense you want your sunflower selfie game to be)
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

We arrived at the sunflower field at about 16 30. Considering that the sun would be setting in about 1.5 hours’ time, there were not many visitors. The evening air was cooling and crisp! There was not much I could ask for. Everyone could find their own little spot around the big vast field to have plentiful of beautiful pictures with the sunflowers and not be obstructed. The distant sunset as the backdrop added an awesome texture to the whole peripheral vision I must say!

You will not be stopped by anyone when you step onto and between the rows of sunflowers on the planting field. Just make sure you are gracious enough to do not pluck, destroy or stomp on any sunflowers in the process! 😀

As there are not much shady areas to hide from the sultry afternoon sun, I suggest visiting the field in the morning or evening! I would prefer the evening.

This sunflower field is a must visit place when in Khao Yai. You have to make sure you do not miss it!

Day 1 Highlights: Midwinter Green Khao Yai (Restaurant)

Operating Hours:10 00 – 22 00 daily
Personal Breakdown Rating: (out of 5)Ambience 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Service 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Food Quality 🙂 🙂
Overall Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂
Total Damage (per pax):~ 1150 Baht

(This also depends on what exactly you are order. We had 2 mains and 2 sides.)

The WOW factor of course came from the ambience. I have to say it is probably one of the most romantic dinner spots I have seen, especially the outdoor seating – which by the way, has people queuing for. We decided to take the indoor seating as it was a pretty cold night and I was already freezing my arse off just walking from the parking lot all the way to the restaurant.

Outside Midwinter Green restaurant.

The outdoor seating took my breath away with its dim lightings and candles on each table. There was also a stage outside with a live band. I would say it would make a perfect date night! However, being me, I could not appreciate it that much as I wonder how long would anyone’s bowl of cream of mushroom soup remain hot out in the cold? 15 seconds or less? Haha! 😀

The restaurant’s property is amazingly lit. Alas, food wise… … I would say for the price I paid for, it was definitely going to the ambience. I could get better food with such a price point elsewhere I reckon, but of course that is just my opinion.

Unless you just want to splurge and have a chill expensive dinner night out, I would think you can just give this restaurant a miss.

Khao Yai National Park (Important Information)

Address:There are 2 entrances into Khao Yai National Park.

Khao Yai National Park Southern Fee Entrance Station
Noen Hom, Mueang Prachinburi District, Prachin Buri 25230, Thailand

Khao Yai National Park Northern Fee Entrance Station
Lam Takhong Mu Si, Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima 30130, Thailand

I would reckon most of us would be coming in from the Northern entrance as most accommodations are located there.
Operating Hours of  Khao Yai National Park:06 00 – 18 00 daily
Entrance Fee: (one-time payment into the park will allow you to see all the sights within the park)Adult Foreigner: 400 Baht / pax

Child Foreigner: 200 Baht / pax

Local Adult: 40 Baht / pax

Local Child: 20 Baht / pax

NOTE: Entrance ticket is only valid for 1 day. If you are setting up camp or staying in some bungalows in the National Park, then the ticket is valid for 3 days!
Recommended length of visit:~ 6 – 8 hours
Overall Personal Rating of National Park: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 (a brush of fresh air in the outskirts)

Day 2 Highlights: Haew Suwat Waterfall (in Khao Yai National Park)

Operating Hours:follow that of Khao Yai National Park
Recommended length of visit:~ 1 hour
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

We were there at about 09 00 and there were already quite a handful of people. From the parking lot, we had to walk 200 m on uneven ground and down a series of flight of stairs. Definitely wearing firm gripping shoes is much needed.

You need to navigate through loose rocks underfoot and boulders before having the waterfall directly right in front of you.

To get a more artistic angle of the waterfall, venture further towards a mini cave-like indent on the right. Not much people would manoeuvre their way there, so you have quite a bit of personal space to enjoy the waterfall!

This sight was definitely a nice way to start the cold morning!

Day 2 Highlights: Haew Narok Waterfall (in Khao Yai National Park)

Operating Hours:follow that of Khao Yai National Park
Recommended length of visit:~ 1 hour
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂

We were there at about noon,  and oh boy the crowd was man insane. By this time, the weather was not very forgiving. The humidity, together with the mosquitoes, were starting to get to our skin.

We started with a gentle descend on concrete ground for about 10 minutes followed by crossing a wooden bridge. There was a rest point and a viewing area of the river before a flight of steps up.

View from the wooden bridge.

Thereafter, we had to make our way down a series of incredibly narrow steep steps to the viewing deck of the waterfall. Good thing there were handle bars on each side for people to have an additional grip, as it can be proven a challenge for some visitors.

There is no rush, so just take your time to make your way there!

Comparing Haew Suwat Waterfall and this waterfall, I would prefer the earlier. I guess the part of manoeuvring through the boulders and getting into the little cave-like indent still gets to me instead of just mere viewing the waterfall from the top deck down.

On a side note, not related to this waterfall… …We settled for a simple lunch at Noen Homme Café (just outside Khao Yai National Park, exiting the Khao Yai National Park Southern Fee Entrance Station), about 15 minutes’ drive from the waterfall.

Oh I have to say, their sliced cake was so so good. I am not sure if it was because I was so hungry, but it was really good. Haha! 😀

Day 2 Highlights: Khao Yai 30km. View Point (in Khao Yai National Park)

Mountainous vista from view point.
Operating Hours:follow that of Khao Yai National Park
Recommended length of visit:~ 20 minutes
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂

After speaking with Noen Homme Café owner, we took a longer respite and decided to forgo the other attractions that was planned. She recommended that we headed back as the sun was setting and the drive to the Khao Yai National Park Northern Fee Entrance Station was a distance away. She mentioned that wild animals tend to start roaming at dusk and can be a little dangerous.

Hence, we decided to just take our time to drive back to our accommodation up North now that we had quite a bit of time to spare having forgo an attraction or two!

This viewing point was unplanned. There were many cars parked on the side, and that caught our attention. We decided to follow suit and did not regret it! The view was amazingly calming! You can see the distant hills and the valley just below. It was evening and the cool breeze now envelopes the surroundings. A nice way to end of a day trip in Khao Yai National Park!

Day 2 Highlights: Dinner at ครัวหญ้าคาเขาใหญ่ (Thai Restaurant)

Address:101/3 หมู่5 ตำบลหมูสี ปากช่อง Nakhon Ratchasima 30130, Thailand
Operating Hours:10 00 – 20 00 daily
Personal Breakdown Rating: (out of 5)Ambience 🙂 🙂 🙂
Service 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Food Quality 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Overall Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Total Damage (per pax):~ 425 Baht (this also depends on what exactly you are order)
For only 2 girls, we sure did order a hell load!

It was a random Google searched restaurant just 5 minutes’ drive from our accommodation. We wanted to eat something local. For the price range and quality of Thai dishes, I would imperatively say I would go back again. Really not a bad Thai restaurant! Yum yum! Ah how I miss Thai food!

Day 3 Highlights: Palio Khao Yai

Operating Hours:Sunday – Thursday (08 30 – 21 00)
Saturday & Public Holiday (08 30 – 22 00)
Recommended length of visit:~ 1.5 – 2 hour
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂

We started the day by ambling through a shopping complex that is Tuscan village-themed. I would say there are probably only 3 reasons for you to decide on heading to Palio Khao Yai.

Uno: You are into little handmade trinkets and quirky-looking items for gifts and souvenirs.

Dos: You want a nice place to relax and have a cuppa; soaking up the chill Sunday vibes.

Tres: You want to have an Instagram-worthy shot or shots.

If you want none of the above, I would say just give this a miss. You are not really missing out. Haha! I would not go back to this place again. Not because it is not nice, but I guess themed places maybe isn’t my cuppa, if you know what I mean. Of course, if you are referring to themed parks then that’s totally different! 😀

But I must say this place would definitely score you some insta-worthy shots! That’s for sure!

Day 3 Highlights: The Chocolate Factory Khao Yai

Operating Hours:09 30 – 21 30 daily
Overall Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂
Total Damage (per pax):Approx. typical pricing in a café.

Aye… … I do not know how to put this gently, so just ‘no’ would suffice. That is basically all I can say. Unless you want to buy chocolates home as gifts or even just for yourself, I would not come here. I do not know if the chocolates are nice, because they do not give out samples, but J did bought like a couple back.

Her review and direct quote? ‘It’s not a must buy. Just buy for fun… …to show your support and presence there (Khao Yai).’

Well… ok my darlings, if you want to show your support for local products, then I guess, go right ahead.

We did not dine at the restaurant, just at the café, and had ordered 2 items off their menu. I suggested ordering a third item afterward, not because they were good, but because I wanted to wash down the previously 2 items ordered. It was just not to our taste.

I would say if you love After You Dessert Café in Bangkok, then just stick with that. You can skip this.

Day 3 Highlights: PB Valley Khao Yai Winery

Operating Hours:Sunday – Thursday (08 00 – 20 00)
Friday & Saturday (08 00 – 22 00)
Recommended length of visit:~ 1.5 – 2 hour

(if you are dining at the restaurant, then of course it would be longer)
Personal Rating: (out of 5)🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Other than the sunflower field which I was excited for, visit to this winery was also one of the top things I was looking forward to! I have never been on a vineyard, so I guess new experiences are always refreshing!

PB Valley Estate is the largest vineyard in Khao Yai. The Estate has wine tasting tours that includes a professional guided tour around the vineyard and the explanation about the various wines and grapes.

Guided tours are conducted 6 times daily, and it is about 70 minutes. For more details and booking, click here.

J and I on a working tractor, mind you. Haha!

We took the latest tour slot. I would suggest for that as it is much cooling in the evening and fewer people as well. You could also end off your tour with dinner at the restaurant!

TIPS?!

1If you want to visit the sunflower field, then December is the golden month for you. We went during the first week of December. The flowers bloomed perfectly and plentiful! As we were driving around Khao Yai, we saw many other smaller sunflower patches, so it was not only at Rai Maneesorn.
2We did not fully explore Khao Yai National Park, as it is pretty huge. However, there is one sight I thought it would be nice if we had gone to. Khao Chiew Viewpoint (Pha Diew Dai Cliff). Maybe you can check that out and see it for yourself! 😀

IGTV

I would say this mini road trip to Khao Yai was quite an all rounded one; covering some waterfall attractions, a sunflower field and a vineyard. If you are looking for a sweet escape from Bangkok’s city buzz, then Khao Yai is definitely a scene for you!

So let’s believe that there’s just so much more out there in this world. Believe that there’s so much beauty in this world and Travel Whenever!

For now, let’s just stay home until it is safe.

Dee

Route: Parking Lot –> Swing Bridge –> Series of Mini Waterfalls –> Elevated Track –> Lake Marian –> And Back
Total Distance: 2.4 km (1.5 miles)
Average Walk Time:

~ 4 hours or slightly less

(with plenty of time to take great shots, light snacking & a quick swim)

Seasonal Restrictions: Do not walk around the edge of the lake during the snow/avalanche season (winter and spring)
Difficulty: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Scenery: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there? 

Highlights and Views 

TIPS? 

Well, I reckoned New Zealand needs no prelude whatsoever. Everything about it just never stops to inspire me in a frivolous way. And it was probably the first time I jaunted through trails and treks every other day for a month until my feet got sore and blistered. I would imagine this to be otherwise for anyone else. So yes, a weakling I was?

But it was all worth every drop of sweat to climb. It was all worth every minor or major slipups along the way. And it was all definitely worth (at times) sacrificing sleep for the enthralling views that time sleeping will never give. Lake Marian is imperatively impeccable, and I would recommend this trek to anyone, that is without a doubt!

The closest town to Lake Marian would be Te Anau. It is also the closest town to the famous Milford Sound attraction in the South Island of New Zealand. Te Anau is a quiet, humble little town, with quite a selection of restaurants and smaller eateries. A nice place to be away from the buzz of city life, and still be able to enjoy amenities of excellent food, accommodation and at the same time satisfying those basic grocery needs.

 

How to get there?

Though Te Anau township is the closest to Lake Marian, the drive was still quite a far bit long from our accommodation at Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau near the town centre. A straightforward driving route on the main Te Anau-Milford Highway 94 would basically take you there in approximately 1 hr 20 mins.

Just remember to make a turn right soon after Pop’s View lookout, onto Hollyford Track when you see the signage ‘Lower Hollyford’, otherwise, you would be on your merry way to Milford Sound, which is also not a bad option. Haha!

Drive down about 1 km on the unsealed gravelled Hollyford Track a.k.a Hollyford Road and you would reach the Lake Marian carpark!

 

Highlights and Views

1. Swing Bridge

The start of the trek to Lake Marian requires the crossing of the swing bridge which hovered above the Hollyford River (Whakatapu Ka Tuku). The river was in its clear refreshing blue and the sounds of the waters crashing against the rocks as it rushed down with gravity was invigoratingly welcoming! What an excellent way to start a morning! 😀

I recalled I was so tempted to go down to douse my hands in the refreshing and presumably cold waters. But as I made my way down gingerly across large rocks and boulders to the edge of the river and I squatted down, I realised my hands were too short to reach into the waters. Haha! Yup, woes of having short hands.

Looking to both of my sides along the river, it seemed very unlikely I could reach down into the waters unless I sat down on the rocks or something like that. Hence, I decided to give it a miss and head back up, for the waters at Lake Marian would definitely be as refreshing too right? And definitely easier to reach in…

2. Series of Mini Waterfalls

About a short 10 minute stroll on the boardwalk past the swing bridge was the next highlight of the Lake Marian trek: the exhilarating rush of the waterfalls. It was quite thunderously deafening when we walked deeper into the track; closer to the top of the waterfall. With the morning sun beaming all so strongly, the waters that flowed down glistened crystal white. Which really was not a bad sight for a morning!

There were some people who visited this place just for the mini waterfalls. Because it was a relatively easy paved short walk, some would decide to have a nice easy morning stroll and would give the slightly more advance tramping track a miss. That could be an option, but if you are more able-bodied, then continue on the elevated track to Lake Marian ‘cause the reward at the end is just mind-blowing! Period!

3. Elevated Track (through the forest)

After the end of the series of mini waterfalls, where the initial road underfoot was still well-paved and easy to walk on, came the start of the elevated tracks to Lake Marian! Which by then, consists of gravel roads, steep inclined and at times, wet and muddy pathways. From here on, it was approximately 1.5 hours to the beautiful Lake Marian as stated on the signage.

So into the native forest we ascended, starting with steady inclines up on uneven rocky road. It was still relatively manageable at the start, with very obvious reasons. It was enjoyable and exciting to wander through the amazing forest. Even the sweat and the panting from climbing up against gravity were all part of the package of adventure! Totally enrapturing!

But the climb soon became a little relentless as time passed. However, thinking about it now just made me missed manoeuvring through the dense forest like some explorer on a mission; a mission to find the hidden gem of a lake that is! Haha! 😀

After trotting through the rocky, and at times narrow paths, feeling all sweltering, we arrived to an area of openness. There weren’t any shelter from the sun by the trees like before, and if one would just have a quick glance at the entire peripheral view on its own without being meticulous in the details, one would totally missed out the orange beacon (which we all know is there for the very reason to guide trekkers in the right direction)!

And we decided, of all places, to take respite in an unshaded open piece of area surrounded by trees and huge logs. Hhhmmm… And the idea of respite is to dance silly as if the trees were the compelled audiences there to stay. Haha… You can see the embarrassing footage in the video linked below.

Click for Lake Marian video!

Following the orange beacon prudently along, we were on our merry way back into the forest under the cool shelter from the sun. But from this section on, the path was definitely way more exciting to manoeuvre through. Much more narrower pave, and even at times having to balance on thick tree trunks and all. I imperatively enjoyed my climb for this particular trek during my whole stay in the South Island of New Zealand. I found the zeal and passion just moving through the forest. Yes, it was tiring, but I found the joy in it. I felt so alive and just plain satisfied. I really don’t know how else to explain this feeling but it was pure simple happiness! 😀

I recalled we did asked other trekkers who were descending back from the lake, how much more distance we had to cover. And the answers to that were always, “Oh yeah yeah, soon, very soon.” And after a while, we figured, “… soon, very soon.” was but a mere sentence. Totally inaccurate. Well in their defence, probably the distance was short, but maybe we were already quite worn out that “… soon, very soon.” seemed “… far, all so very far.” Haha!

We just had to ramble through and press forward!

So trust me when I say that these huge pieces of logs that you have to cross over, is a pretty good indicator that the end is near. The end to eternal ethereal beauty of Lake Marian was just so close within our reach. Honest!

4. Lake Marian

Lake Marian is an alpine lake in a hanging valley formed by glacial action. This lake lies above the bush line and is surrounded by the amazing Darren Mountains. The Lake Marian region probably provides the most enticing setting of a hidden gem in the Fiordland National Park region. Perfect for photographers!

Albeit jaded, the breeze from the lake just doused the tiredness and rekindled a whole new feeling of enthusiasm and glow! When we first saw the sight of Lake Marian, we were awestricken. Speechless. Dumbfounded.

I needed a moment to soak in the wondrous beauty of it all. The distant partially white snow-capped Darren Mountains as backdrop and the undisturbed clear waters were just in a perfect cosmos. It was really impressive how incredible Mother Nature was. And time and again, she never failed to amaze and blow me away. It was like a wallpaper that I would only imagined and dreamed about, but there it was, sprawled right in front of me in my peripheral vision, unimpeded!

The hours of climb through the forest and all the pushing through was all worth it. Worth it to be in the moment as such, and to have that memory to have at least seen and felt it just once was bliss enough.

We spend quite a long time by the alpine lake. Having our packed lunch of sandwiches, admiring the beauty, and of course taking loads of photos. Haha!

It was so beautiful, we were quite reluctant to leave. But we did have quite a journey back to the parking lot. Alas, we had to leave to make up for the time before it turned dark.

 

TIPS?

(a) Start the trek EARLY

Before embarking on this Lake Marian trek, I already knew we had to start the trek early. But because we were beat out from previous nights, we decided that we would still get up early, but… just not so much earlier.

Hence, we missed out on the magnificent reflections of the Darren Mountains on the lake waters; which could be seen when the weather was calm making the waters in Lake Marian very much still. And that usually happened at dawn when the air would be crisp and the breeze at its minimal. When we were heading towards the lake, we stopped to have a conversation with a couple from Israel. They headed to the lake extremely early in the wee morning, and were already on their way back. We saw some of the shots they took of Lake Marian early in the morning, they were GORGEOUS! Words cannot describe.

So if you want to have amazing reflection shots of the mountains imprinted on the lake waters, a good timing to arrive at Lake Marian would be around 8 – 9 am? That was according to the Israeli couple.

If not, Lake Marian is still a gorgeous sight in the late morning early afternoon; which was what we got to see. Still ain’t half bad you know. 😀

(b) Go for a SWIM

Minor regrets in life comes when you thought you were all packed for a trek, but didn’t occur to you that you could actually bring your swimming gear. I didn’t know swimming was allowed at Lake Marian, well… apparently so it seemed. If I had a do over, I would make sure I pack my swimming essentials that’s for sure. I am positively sure the waters would be so refreshing after a long arduous climb up. Totally energising!

But because we were not prepared for a swim, we only doused our hands in the waters, which was extremely chilly!

(c) Beacon of SAFETY

The start of the tramping track on this Lake Marian trek would be after the series of mini waterfalls. The pathway started to get more uneven underfoot and the route was not at all straightforward. Hence, it would definitely be advisable that one should be of moderate to good level of fitness and also have a certain level of navigation and survival skills.

Getting to Lake Marian was still somewhat manageable. We just had to find orange beacon arrows mounted on tree trunks, or any form of track markers or indicators. Of which, some were very obviously spotted, while others required a wee bit more eye for details. But either way, it was still alright, coming from someone who really do not have much jungle experience.

However, on the way back, we had probably missed a beacon and sort of side tracked a little. The pathway did not seemed at all crossable. Hence, in such situation it would definitely be wise to trust your gut, retract your steps and find the orange beacon or any indicator that you might have missed, sometimes it could be a red ribbon or something like that.

Always remember to be safe. If you don’t feel that it is right, even the slightest bit, to move forward… don’t. Trust yourself.

The Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawbai, a government agency in charge of conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage, placed Lake Marian Track to be in the ‘Advanced: Tramping track’ category.

In New Zealand, tracks that are listed in this government agency website, are placed in one of six categories. And to be placed under ‘Advanced: Tramping track’, indicates that the Lake Marian Track is considered to be the second most demanding track, with ‘Expert: Route’ being the most challenging one.

Click for more information about the six walking track categories.

Hence, it is always wise to stay safe and be mindful of the surroundings!

Trekking is always a good way to avoid huddled groups of people, and a great way to find solace. I always relish the moments spend trekking. The serenity of it all just cannot be bought with money! And I do hope to conquer more treks in the future.

Hope this prods you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So remember to Travel Whenever!

Dee

Route:

Gillespies Beach Car Park –> Gillespies Bucket Dredge Walk (1932 Gold Dredge) –> Gillespies Beach –> Gillespies Lagoon (bridge) –> Galway Beach Seal Colony –> Miners Tunnel (backtrack) –> Gillespies Lagoon –> Gillespies Beach –> Gillespies Beach Car Park

Total Distance:

6.8 km (4.2 miles)

Total Average Walk Time:

~ 6 – 7 hours (with plenty of time to get lost, take great shots and respites (lunch) when necessary)

Difficulty:

🙂 🙂
Scenery:

🙂 🙂 🙂

How to get there?

Trekking Route + What you might experience (getting lost)?

TIPS?

This was a much anticipated trek when in Fox Glacier township. With the description on Google saying that we could actually trek to see a colony of seals with beady black eyes, I voted ‘Why Not!’ instantly! With no fences or viewing glass that impedes, just pure wilderness and wild fur seals, it was an opportunity I wouldn’t want to miss- with great hope that nature would be on our side for us to spot them for afar of course.

 

How to get there?

An approximately 25 minutes drive from Fox Glacier Township, head on Cook Flat Road, and turn right onto the gravel- made Gillespies Beach Road. The journey could be slow and draggy due to the nature of the road, and the view, well… … isn’t that all awe-inspiring, but just bare with it!

Blast on music and enjoy the bumpy ride, because the corollary is just too sweet to not hold on to it! Just keep thinking of those fur seals; wild and untouched; that’s the main goal (gold) here. 😉

But of course, we were pretty lucky to see an amazingly tranquil sight when the weather changes and the sun starts to cuddle up for the night. On the journey back after the trek, we had views that were just inexplicably breath-taking that we had to stop the car and snap!

 

Trekking Route + What you might experience?

This route we took, well… took us a minuscule bit of time to figure out and to maneuver about because there is just so many routes you could actually take and things you could see all within the same vicinity. With a variety of route choices, and not enough time, we need to make wise decisions. So let me ease this out for you and you could totally skip certain routes that doesn’t interest you!

At the car park you will be first greeted by a massive rustic suction dredge machinery designed by Edward Von Schmidt in the 1800s. With parts of the machine gone, and rust flakes all over the entire dredge, it was time to step into the time capsule and take us back a few hundred years.

You have the options to take the ‘Gillespies Suction Dredge Walk’ which is a short 15 minutes loop or the 5 minutes ‘Miners Cemetery Walking Track’. However, we decided to head for the 1932 Gold Dredge a.ka. the Gillespies Bucket Dredge Walk instead.

1. Gillespies Beach (detour appetizer before the main trek)

Before that, I was curious to where the route with the signage on the left labelled ‘Beach’ would take us. Obviously the beach… Duh! But I was just interested to see the beach first alright? That’s not a crime right? 😛

Gillespies beach is just perfect for anyone who wants solace. Placid; with only the waves crashing against the shore, and the late morning sea breeze howling, it was a cool way (literally) to start any day, any time!

The insanely many rocks that awash and shrouded the sand on the beach was definitely a unique sight for me. I have never seen so many pebbles and rocks on a beach that people actually could stack pebble-made sculptures; which I must add, do act as good photography pieces- not complaining here. 😛

2. Gillespies Bucket Dredge Walk (1932 Gold Dredge)

This is the start of the main trekking route towards the seal colony! Whoo hoo!

We started off with walking amongst the tall shrubs, bushes, certain animal poopies and friendly flies that always come along with the poopies. Not pointing fingers here but I reckon the culprit… … the sheep. I really do. We saw a few of them en route to the car park; just saying… … 😛

Soon we saw a few more rustic machineries that were half submerge in the pond; with a massive part of them still sticking out. I really cannot help but think of Tow Mater from the Disney movie Cars upon the sight of all of these!

Ambling along a very narrow walkway under some shade and admiring, these machineries are so rusted and ancient that it was just unbelievable that they were so close to reach (not that I actually touched them).

3. Gillespies Lagoon (bridge); getting lost?

Part 2 for the walk was to head towards Gillespies Lagoon. To do that, we had to head pass the shrubs and bushes towards the beach (just follow the signage).

Once you see the beach with huge chunks of dried logs sprawled on the sand at intervals with countless rocks and pebbles, head right towards the Lagoon. However, if you think that you have seen enough, you could head left, and you would be on your merry way back to the car park via Gillespies Beach.

Now here comes the hard part.

We got a little carried away with walking along the beach that we pass our turn to the right which will lead us to the bridge. We even thought we had to climb boulders and across waters to get across. But none of such difficult tasks were needed, not to worry.

We saw the lagoon but thought that the lagoon wasn’t the right one as we could not see the bridge. Well, it turns out that we had to turn right BEFORE passing the lagoon and walk along it. Because sooner enough there would be a signage on the right (amongst the bushes) that says… … Hey what do you know, ‘Bridge 3 minutes’. Feeling stupid then we were. Haha! A little setback here, but not to worry; the day was still long!

We spend more time by the bridge and the tannin lagoon taking massive photos, and of course, had some snacks for lunch and watched a couple of duckies roamed in the lagoon! It was a nice serene moment for respite.

4. Galway Beach Seal Colony

From here onwards, the route starts to be a little more rocky and challenging. So if you want to head back after seeing the bridge, DON’T. Push yourself a bit further through the forest, and at least make it to the Miners Tunnels. Anyway, it is only about 10 – 15 minutes (ish) from the bridge (with no muddy sections)! I’m sure with a slow walk, it would be fine! And after that, if you still feel you cannot carry on, then backtrack. 🙂

For us, we decided to leave the Miners Tunnel for when we come back from Galway Beach Seal Colony because we all know; once we got stuck at a place for photos, we would spend an ungodly amount of time at that one place. And at that moment, time was a factor. It was already long past noon (we probably spend too much time by the lagoon and lost track of time). This was great evidence for us to keep moving or we will never make it back before sundown! Haha! 😀

The gravel route in the dense forest soon turned muddy. I mean, real muddy. Too muddy that at times, your only option was to brave through it and sink yourself, close to ankle deep, into the mud. Hhhmmm… … What a way to get close to nature. But of course, I would try not succumb to such.

I would think of ways like hopping and leaping from one dry(ish) spot to the next and walked gingerly close to the edge if I had to, just to avoid the thick mud if it was possible. J would followed suit, but at times she decided to take another way across and got her shoes a tad bit closer to nature. There were also other times when she was faster at maneuvering through them than I was, and well… … when she sunk in, we both knew it was a danger zone, and I would then avoid it. So for the times when she sunk in, I really do have her to thank for that. Oops! Haha! :S

Sometimes, whoever was faster to cross over the more challenging mud section, that person would help pull the other over, or just communicate with the other on the next step of action if the other party was stuck in a muddy predicament. Sounds like we are in an obstacle course, and it did felt like it for awhile. But since there were so many muddy sections, soon we were immune to them, and maneuvering around them were quicker.

There were some logs at intervals in the muddy sections to help people cross over it, but sometimes, the logs aren’t at all stable, and stepping on them may cause you to slip and fall into the puddle of mud. So do be extra prudent.

There you have it, what you may experience on this trek!

I did however came out of this with minimal damage; though with some minor cuts from branches, and some form of sinking into the mud; which was surely unavoidable. And yes, I am proud of myself for that. Haha! 😀

I do not have pictures to show for the muddy routes as we pretty much had our hands filled (filth) from dodging around the mud. Haha! But trust me, it was muddy. We passed a friendly old couple who were on their way back to the car park, and his wife had accidentally sunk into the mud, kneecap down. Oh man, what a sight it was. But kudos to the couple, who did not allow age to get in their way for an experience of adventure. Salute!

After all the hard work which seems like an eternity of dense forest mud dodging, we were exhilarated when we saw a flight of metal stairway to paradise. We, I mean, I, climbed down the steep wet stairway hurriedly and hopped boulder to boulder to the beach.

Oh man, it was amazing to have finally arrived. And the hunt (not literally of course) for the fur seal begun once J ambled over! Whee…! I must say, it wasn’t easy to search for the colony. We had to walk a long way along the beach through the boulders slowly, and be consistently on alert mode as we do not want to be found in a situation where we were too close and trapped within the colony. The key is to espy the wild from a distance, yeah?

And we found them! Well, not a colony, but just a few sprawling on the sand. But I’ll take it! Better than nothing right? Maybe it was the time we arrived, it was already late afternoon by then.

Regardless, elated as we were, we tried to contain our excitement so as to not scare them. All the mud dodging in the forest earlier was worth it! 😀

The way back to the car park was backtracking; meaning another round of mud dodging through the dense forest. Whee… … … … … …. I cannot wait… …

5. Miners Tunnel (backtrack)

The Miners Tunnel was a nice checkpoint to assure us that we were out of the dense forest, and we could actually make it out in one piece by sundown. Melodramatic much? But yeah… … It was really getting late, and there weren’t a single soul trekking with us in the forest.

The view of the ocean was breath-taking. A nice aerial view of everything, and on good days I heard you may actually see the seals from way up here at the viewpoint! Alas we weren’t this lucky that day, but hey, seeing them at the beach earlier, that was good enough! 😀

 

TIPS?

(a) Good time to start the trek? EARLY!

How early is early? Well… … It’s really up to you. But I reckon, if I would do this again, 8 am (ish) is a nice time to work with.

This way you will imperatively have plenty of time to admire the scenery by Galway Beach where the seal colony is. I mean with all the hard work put into get there, the least you could do to reward yourself is to spend a little bit more time by the beach lunching (away from the seal colony of course) don’t you think so?

I recall we did not get enough time to soak in the beach at all, and was compelled to head back soon. 🙁 It was very close to sunset and we were still only halfway through the muddy sections on the trek back. This frightened us a little. Okay, a lot. Because this means we aren’t even close to the Miners Tunnels, which also meant that we were still in the dense forest, and light-less is definitely not the way to maneuver around in the forest; with no flashlight. I bet even Jessie J can’t help you here. #justsaying

Hence, it is always good to have ample day light to work with, no?

(b) Take photo of the signage with the trekking map printed on it!

Either with your mobile phone or camera, make it a habit to snap a photo of the signage with a map at the start of any trek.

First of all, you can always refer to it to remind yourself how long the journey would be, because sometimes the signage does indicate the duration of the trek; which I must add is not always accurate- speaking for many experiences. So back to the first TIP? Start your trek EARLY!

Secondly, the map on the signage would help you if you were to get lost and there ain’t a soul to ask for directions. We really relied on photos like these on quite a few occasions, so don’t underestimate these simple photographs- they can go a long way.

And lastly, a good photo to use as documentation for your trekking trip! Haha! 😀

(c) En route back to the car park; walk along Gillespies beach instead

When passing the bridge the second time on the way back to the car park, take a stroll along the beach instead! There is no need to literally backtrack unless you really do want to experience the Gillespies Bucket Dredge Walk (1932 Gold Dredge) one more time.

In my opinion, saunter along the beach when it is close to nightfall beats walking through the shrubs, bushes and animal poopies. Furthermore, you could have the opportunity to maybe spot one or two fur seals chillaxing by the beach too (speaking from experience)! So keep your eyes peeled like J did, because thanks to her we managed to have a second round of fur seal watching! This time it was by Gillespies Beach near the car park; so we have all the time in the world to admire it from afar without fear of being trapped in the forest without a flashlight! Yay! 😀

Hope this goads you to get yourself out of bed early to capture some awesomeness, and just be around nature!

So 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

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