Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Burrinjuck Waters State Park

Back in 2010 we went to Burrinjuck Waters State Park to for the first time to catch up with a group of friends.  It is a great park to visit for a family weekend away or group catch up as there are clusters of cabins so you can all book in the same section and be next to each other while still having your own space.  The children all have fun popping from cabin to cabin all weekend to play together too.

They also have a great little park to play in, plenty of room to ride bikes and walk about and also friendly parrots and kangaroos.  The kids love feeding the birds and there were lots of squeals of laughter.

We went back in 2012 for another catch up.  It is always fun to see how much the other kids have grown and to see friends in person again.  

The kangaroos and parrots have not changed a bit but Blue is now riding about on his bike with his training wheels on.  Memory tells me that he was not riding so much as being pushed about but he still had fun.  This trip was also very wet.  We spent all weekend drying and changing clothes but the kids loved it.

Our latest visit was this year.  We only seem to make it every second year as it is a nine hour drive for us from where we live now.  We always have good intentions of going every year for the annual catch up but our good intentions fade with the effort involved in getting us there and we have only managed every second year so far.

The above photo reminds me of theone of Blue taken in 2010.  He is older but with the same love of the outdoors and same cheeky smile.  His bike is bigger too.

It is always nice to wander down to the dam.  We don't spend much time near the water and both children enjoy watching the boats and tossing in the odd rock.

We always enjoy our trips here.  Good friends are worth the effort and it always feels like just yesterday we saw them.  Our children play together so well even though we are now spread out from moving and they don't see each other very often.  Friends are like that.

The staff at the park are always super helpful too.  As you can imagine, in trying to coordinate 5 families we tend to change booking details and dates until we are finally organised and they always help without complaint. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Tasmania - West

The final part of our Tasmanian adventure was in The West.   We drove to Queenstown one evening so missed the scenery between there and Hobart but had a nice drive dodging wombats and black possums.  We don't have black possums at home so these were a novelty (everything is fun when you are on holiday).  There was an amazing storm in Queesntown that night and I was glad we had checked in to the motel before it hit town as the rain lashed vertically down the street in a white wall.

We had driven to Queenstown so we could go on The Wilderness Railway.  We ended up in the good carriage with the open deck which was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed the champagne as we got there and the children found drinking juice out of a champagne glass to be a great novelty.  We managed to get another rare photo of us all together.

We spent a lot of time on the open air deck as we would through the forest alongside the river.  It is amazing to think that men mined here in such rugged terrain and bad conditions.  In the photo above you can see the rack and pinion set up that the train uses to climb the steep sections of track.  Such clever yet simple technology

I love trains.  I really think I enjoyed this more than the rest of the family.  I spent so much time out on the deck.  On the return journey the engine turned around so our deck was right behind the engine.  You could see the drivers just 1 meter in front of you and the steam was so wet.  I loved this feeling!

The train derailed on the way down home.  We were not going fast which was lucky as the four of us were still out on the observation deck when the engine lurched sideways and our carriage ran into the back of it.  Blue bumped his chin on the guard rail but was not injured.  If anything, this was a highlight; not many people can say they have been so close to the action of a train derailment!

We loved this holiday.  We were away from home for 2.5 weeks and enjoyed almost every second.  We were told the roads in Tasmania were not great but we found them to be pretty good.  Our roads at home are equally as bad if not worse so we were used to the driving conditions.  I loved that you could drive from Launceston to Hobart in a few hours and everything seemed so close.  We did not see everything we wanted to, we just ran out of time.  It may be a small state but you need more than 2 weeks to see it.  We managed to drive around and cover the state but we have a list of things we want to do next time.

I can now say I have been to every state in Australia although there are areas I would like to further explore one day.

Tasmania - South

We were told by a Tasmanian dwelling family member that the East Coast of Tassie was best viewed driving from the North.  He wasn't wrong.  It reminded me a little of the Great Ocean Road but more compact.

The Tesselated Pavement at Eaglehawk Neck was a geological wonder.  I loved that we could walk right down onto it and explore up close.  We also explored the Devil's Kitchen, Tasman Arch and the Blow Hole.
We drove through Doo Town which is a town full of shacks with names such as 'that'll doo', 'rum doo', 'doctor doo-little' and so on.  I didn't go much on Doo Town so my advice is 'don't doo it' (ha ha).

We enjoyed Eaglehawk Neck more than DH who discovered that his iPad had gotten a little too close to the children's water bottles.  iPads and water do not go well together and 2 weeks of rice did not fix this problem for him even if Google seemed to tout this as the miracle cure for wet electronics. 

Port Arthur was such a haunting place.  The convict history was amazing and the architecture was beautiful.  We wandered about here for the day through the gardens and ruins.  The more recent history of this place made it even more solemn.   The events of 1996 are not mentioned anywhere on site.  The tour guides don't talk of it and there is no written mention of it either.  In spite of this I was very aware of it the whole time I was there.

It was beautiful and the day we visited was perfect but it was not a happy place.  I still list it as a 'must see' for Tasmania and I would go back.  We did not see everything on my list that I would have liked to and the beauty of the surroundings is a strange juxtaposition to the savagery that took place there.

On a lighter note, Hobart was wonderful.  I don't normally like large towns but Hobart was easy to navigate and not big by capital city standards.  We had brunch in Salamanca Place and went back on another day so we could go to the markets.  I enjoyed the atmosphere, the food and the shopping of Hobart.

We drove up to Mount Wellington and it was so WINDY and cold.  We nearly blew off the trig point and it was a big effort to stand there being buffeted by the wind long enough to try to get a photo.  Blue said this was his favourite part of the trip for a long while after. 

It snowed on Mt Wellington a few days after we were up there.  This was typical of our experience with the weather while we were in Tasmania; somehow we managed to stay a step ahead of the rain or snow and it worked out well for us.

We ventured South down the Huon Valley.  We ate apples from roadside stalls and looked at the boats on the Huon River.  We went to the Tahune Airwalk and enjoyed being up above the trees.  We got a rare family photo here which is lucky because after looking at nearly 1000 photos in which I appear about twice I was starting to doubt I was actually there at all!

We also enjoyed some of the other walks and swing bridges across the rivers too.  We saw a Huon Pine but given all the great timber had been extensively logged in this area it was a small sapling so not as majestic as I had pictured in my mind. 

It was about the time we made it to Southern Tasmania that I became aware of the fact that I had yet another uni deadline looming for an assignment.  Yes, I sure know how to keep holidays fun!  I did a pretty good job of ignoring this during the day and pretending to work on it of an evening until that point in time when I had no choice but to knuckle down and do it.

I wish I had been better organised and done the assignments before we left but it was hard enough just organising everything else such as the horses, stock water, mail, bills and the dog. 

The apples were wonderful here.  I bought a bag of 'Geeveston Fannys' and then had to put up with raised eyebrows and barely concealed mirth when I got back to the car.  I loved the farm gate stalls and the fact that I knew the produce was grown right here.  The Huon Valley did this well as I did not notice farm gate sales as much throughout the rest of Tasmania.  They did not do as well on the coffee.  After 4pm it was impossible to find a good coffee shop still open for a good coffee but we had the butane burner with us so this was easily forgiven.

One post to go to finish my summary of our Tasmanian Holiday :)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tasmania - Northern and East Coast

We spent a night in Launceston and walked along Cataract Gorge.  This was a lovely walk and when we got in we caught another chairlift over the gorge itself.  The children were more comfortable on the chairlifts than I was!

We did the Duck Reach short walk and it was late when we finished.  We had headlamps but the children were tired by the time we made it out.  It was worth it to see the power station lit up on dusk up the gorge.  This walk was listed on the short walk guide published by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife service, I had the app and used it a lot.

The next day we visited the Launceston Wetlands (another top short walk).  I thought the children may find this dull but we saw snakes, birds, bird hides and the boardwalk which made it quite fun for everyone.

I did not enjoy finding myself up close to the snakes but the rest of the wetlands were very picturesque.

The Bay of Fires was a Tassie highlight for the whole family.  This is where we found a great campsite on Swimcart beach and pitched the tents.  We watched the waves crash, relaxed and played in the sand.  We didn't get to do as much camping as we would have liked so this was a cherished part of our holiday.

The rocks were so red.  It was the most amazingly beautiful place.  I think it was about this time I started to picture myself living in Tasmania in the not to distant future.  Not a practical daydream but fun while it lasted!

I made DH pull up so I could take a photo of the cattle grazing with the beach behind them.  I loved this!  So very different to our few cattle in our small creek paddock.

A little down the road I had to get DH to stop again for the same photo but with sheep.  He was a bit bemused by my insistence that this was a must have holiday snapshot.

We spent a day in Freycinet National Park.  This was such a beautiful place.  We did an 11km hike here which was a giant test on the children.  They were little troopers!  We hiked up to the lookout to see Wineglass Bay.  Then we hiked straight down to the bay itself.  We had a brief picnic by the beach then hiked across the isthmus to Hazard Beach.

From Hazard beach we skirted around Great Oyster Bay and back to the carpark.  My two children were the youngest we saw during this hike walking under their own steam carrying their own packs.  They were fantastic and the main reason I enjoyed this day so much.

We also made it down through the Midlands and around the Great Lake area.  It snowed as we drove through the Lakes so I jumped out of the car long enough to snap a photo.  

The Midlands were wonderful.  Great grazing areas and history made for a very pleasant drive.  We did this bit as a loop; south down Highway 1 to Hobart and then north through the Great Western Tiers on A5.

Tasmania - North West

In April we set off on a family holiday.  This is the first proper holiday we have had as a family; we often set off on camping trips on long weekends but we had not done anything on a bigger scale since our honeymoon some time ago.  Tasmania was the only Australian state I had not been to so it was high on my list of  must see holiday destinations.

I am not listing our holiday in strict chronological order but have decided to briefly break it down into regions starting with the North West.

We drove from New England NSW to Melbourne and caught the Spirit of Tasmania overnight.  Both children were VERY excited to be sleeping on a boat.  I was less excited as I had left a uni assignment to the last minute and had to get it submitted before I could relax and start to enjoy the experience.

We woke up as we sailed into Devonport.  There was high excitement as we realised we were here (and my assignment was submitted).  We drove to Stanley to see The Nut.  We caught a chairlift up which both children enjoyed.  We wandered about the top looking out over the views.  

The walk around The Nut was listed in the app for the 60 top shorts walks in Tasmania.  I recommend this guide for anyone heading to Tasmania.  It was great with the kids as I knew the short walks would be suitable for them and their little legs. 

We were well dressed for the Tasmanian weather and both kids looked like a walking Kathmandu advertisement.  They enjoyed having their own packs and I was glad I didn't have to carry 'all the things'.

We hiked around Leven Canyon Lookout and also Fern Glade near Burnie (both listed in the short walk guide).  At this point we were a little awe struck by the natural beauty we saw everywhere.  The children enjoyed the hikes and driving along the coast line

We called in to the town of Penguin too.  We didn't see any live penguins as it was late in the season but we did enjoy seeing the penguin statue.

The highlight of the North West for me was Cradle Mountain.  I LOVED this.  We hiked around Dove Lake which was one of the top short walks.  It was amazing hiking around the lake seeing the snow on the peaks above us.  It was cold but not too bad when we were walking. 

I discovered the best way to get myself in some holiday snaps was to discover and embrace the 'selfie'.  I don't like photos of myself generally speaking but I did get less self conscious after a few attempts.

 After the hike we caught the shuttle bus back to the information centre for a warm chocolate.  If you ask the children which part the hike the enjoyed at this point they will tell you the marshmallows!

We called in to the Cradle Mountain 'Devils at Cradle' centre to see the Tassie Devils in person.  They are such funny little critters.  They canter about everywhere and I was surprised how active they were.  This fellow put on a good show for us.

Both children rate 'Tasmazia' at Sheffield as a highlight of the whole holiday.  I am not a huge fan of mazes but there was a large variety of different mazes, a miniature village and even a tick list of things to find as we wandered about lost so as far as mazes go, this one was pretty good.

We discovered Spreyton Cider at Spreyton (strangely enough).  We did a tasting and both decided that the very dry 'vintage' was our favourite.  We also enjoyed the 'classic' and 'perry'.  If it is a cider made from pears it is not actually a cider but a 'perry'.  Strange but true fact.  'Perry' was my second favourite and we bought a couple of bottles to enjoy as we holidayed. 

I took nearly 1000 photos for the 2 weeks we spent in Tasmania.  Possum and Blue said it was the best place they have ever been but I think a small part of that may have been having both parents on holiday with them and not working or worried about anything.  This was the holiday we wanted to take as a family, to relax and enjoy each other, to remember what it was to have fun without thinking about work, study, or the jobs that needed doing at home.