A Travellerspoint blog

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Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs

rain
View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

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For a slower day where you're able to do a variety of things close together, the Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs are well worth it. The way the whole area has been set up accentuates all the natural sights really well, creating a totally relaxing atmosphere. Nice walks, interesting information signs, pool, outdoor and undercover picnic areas with big fireplaces, hot showers in the change rooms... They also cater for wheelchairs (excluding cave entry unfortunately). We all totally enjoyed our day exploring this area, and also managed to return in time to get all our accumulated clothes washing done!

Roads

  • Clancy enjoyed the C636 road heading to Southport, saying that he'd like to do it on his motorbike.
  • We found the dirt road off the C636 that takes you into the caves and thermal springs to be very corrugated and rather slippery, considering all the rain it had recently had, and continued to get while we were there.

Newdegate Cave

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  • You need to book your ticket at the information centre (this's well signposted) before continuing onto the cave parking area.
  • We parked beside an old tree stump with a rather old looking can on top of it at the cave parking area, which rather fascinated me!
  • It was then a further five minute walk along a boardwalk and up some steps to the cave entrance, where we had to wait for the tour guide to enter the cave.
  • The cave had a lot of interesting formations, and the tour was very informative.
  • According to the brochure we'd picked up, there were approximately 245 steps each way inside the cave.
  • Sonia enjoyed the steps, but also wanted 'up' for a fair number of times too. It was definitely easier for her to walk up the steps than down.
  • Kaden didn't really want to be in the Ergo baby carrier on Clancy's back though!

Thermal Springs

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Me feel water dad!

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  • We enjoyed lunch at the information centre - Felt like forever waiting for the kids to finish so we could go see the thermal springs, but that's kids!
  • Exchanged our national parks pass printout for the correct access pass while waiting for the kids to finish lunch. It came with a little passbook that you could stamp at each place you went to as well. Was really great for those places that still had the stamps. Many parks no longer had them unfortunately. Cradle Mountain National Park staff explained to us that their stamps for the passbook had been stolen!
  • The thermal pool area was really nice. Could see why the brochure mentioned it being a local picnic spot. - Picnic and moss/grass areas, pool, barbecues, large sheltered area with numerous wood fireplaces, change rooms with nice hot showers, toddlers paddle pool.
  • Sonia enjoyed the pools, but they were still too cold for me and Clancy. I'd probably enjoy them more in summer.
  • The Platypus walk and Thermal Springs circuit walk were also really good. Going through various different types of bushland, allowing you to see and feel some of the thermal spring water at it's source, and also have a chance to look for platypus. We didn't get to see any.
  • Sonia enjoyed running and looking at all the different things along the sides of the track while I carried Kaden. We could've used the pram, but didn't think the walks were really long enough to warrant a trip back out to the car to get it.

Posted by Goannaray 23:24 Archived in Australia Tagged trees tasmania walk cave creek pool thermal_springs tree_stump hastings_cave_ and_thermal_springs patypus 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

A rainy day around Hobart

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens and Louisa's Walk

rain
View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

So far on our Tasmanian trip we'd been pretty lucky, with it only really raining whilst being in the car, or under cover doing other things like eating lunch or looking in information centres. Today was predicted to be rather different unfortunately. We'd planned to spend the morning looking around the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, and had previously booked Sonia and I to go on the afternoon's Louisa's Walk. A strolling theatre production that tells a convict women's story through drama as you walk from the Cascades Brewery to the Cascades Female Factory. All totally outside and subject to whatever the day decides to bring. And today... that was almost constant drizzle.


Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

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  • A really nice garden to explore. Even in rain.
  • We hadn't yet bought umbrellas, and we'd forgotten to pick up a raincover for the pram before leaving Perth. This was the exact situation where they would've come in really handy. So instead, it was raincoats for us, jacket for Sonia, and carry Kaden in the Ergo baby carrier with my jacket and a poncho over him.
  • Sonia clomped along in her oversize gumboots, wanting to look at, and touch, and climb, absolutely everything! She didn't particularly appreciate us constantly telling her to keep moving, and to stay out of areas she wasn't meant to go through! Ie, climbing up and walking through a freshly dug garden bed ready for planting, to get to the French Memorial Fountain.
  • There were quite a few interesting and different sculptures, or forms of art, scattered around the gardens. We didn't fully understand many of the artists explanations, but did enjoy them and the different aspect they gave to the gardens.

Louisa's Walk

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  • Need to book in advance as they can get booked out pretty quick, even in winter!
  • A really nice walk through the Cascade gardens, from the Cascades Brewery to the Cascades Female Factory, and back again.
  • Clancy stayed home for a sleep with Kaden, while Sonia and I rugged up to enjoy the walk.
  • The story is based on real convicts experiences (names have been changed to protect the descendants' privacy), and the actors were very good. Utilising the natural surroundings exceedingly well to help your imagination conjure up a fully fledged image in your minds eye, with all the associated emotion and sensory details woven through.
  • It was a generally sad story (what convict story isn't!), but did thankfully have a positive ending.
  • I decided to try Sonia in the pram to help with the rain situation, and hopefully reduce the otherwise wanting to be carried whine. Worked out really well. She was happy to stay in the pram and watch till very close to the end of the nearly 2hr time frame. Me kneeling down beside her whenever we were stationary for a while, to explain the drama to her at her level of understanding probably helped too.
  • There were some steps and a small section of rougher track, but others in the tour were very helpful and helped to carry the pram up and down.
  • Even with the drizzly rain, it was well worth it.
  • For those who would like to do it with toddlers or younger children, I would highly recommend getting down to their level to help explain the drama as it unfolds. This not only helps them to maintain interest and understand what's happening, allowing you to hopefully keep watching and listening too, instead of having to contend with uninterested kids... but it is also appreciated by the actors themselves. I was rather surprised, and really appreciated it when 'Louisa' came up to me at the end and thanked me for what I had done with Sonia.

Posted by Goannaray 16:18 Archived in Australia Tagged tasmania hobart drama toddlers louisa's_walk 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

The Campervan...

all seasons in one day
View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

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It was now time to repack everything into the hire car, leave the hotel we'd called home for a week, and go swap the hire car for a campervan. Both excitement and some nervousness was felt by both Clancy and myself regarding this changeover. Was it going to be too big? Too small? Warm enough? Toddler proof? Be able to drive into all the places we wanted to go? Have enough storage space for all our stuff? Easy or difficult to cook and eat in? Comfortable to sleep in?... The only way to find out was to go get it, and use it!

Which campervan / motorhome to choose

I'd done what I thought was a fair bit of research surrounding campervans, trying to answer all the above questions and stay within budget, before committing to any one van. The budget we'd set, and having two children requiring car seats and safety whilst sleeping, very quickly narrowed our options. It then came down to, did we want to pay the extra for a bigger more cumbersome vehicle with a shower and toilet included that we'd have to empty... or go with a smaller vehicle that would be easier to drive, likely be able to get into more places, but need to camp more at caravan parks for the use of their amenities. I showed the options to Clancy, who then decided on the smaller, cheaper option of hiring a 3+2 Trail Finder from Tasmania Campers.

Looking back on it... something else that we probably should've done, would have been to go and physically look at and clamber through similar style vehicles available for hire here in Perth. That would have been the best way to really get an idea of what it was we were getting ourselves in for, and would've helped us to choose slightly more wisely, before having to part with any money. Turned out not too bad, but it would have been really nice to have had that better understanding of campervans/motorhomes from previously being in one.

Picking up the campervan - & - Sleeping arrangements

When booking the car and campervan, I'd planned it so we had two hours between the campervan pick up time, and the car drop off time. We didn't end up needing this amount of time, but it was great to not have to rush. Especially considering we not only had to refuel the car, but also had to give it a good wash after our visit to Hastings cave and thermal springs. The Tasmania Campers depot was on the way out to the airport, and very easy to find. I'm not exactly sure, but it seemed like Tasmania Campers was being operated out of the owner's home. It was a house beside the road, with a lot of campervans parked in the yard behind it.

I forget the name of the person we dealt with, but he was very friendly and extremely helpful. After I'd mentioned the ages of Sonia and Kaden in my inquiries before booking, he'd said he could make up a safety guard rail for the top bed so the kids could safely sleep and play up there without falling out. Clancy and I could have slept up the top with the kids down below, but considering the slight difference in width and length, having to get up during the night to deal with waking children, and general space in the van itself... we thought this would be a great option to try. Turned out extremely useful.

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He'd drilled a hole in each side of one of the bed base boards so that a regular safety bed side rail that you can use for kids on regular beds, was able to slide into the holes and stand up rather well. It held up to quite a bit of pushing and pulling from both Sonia and Kaden during the time that we had the van. If they really wanted to, they could pull it out or climb over it... but we set down strict rules about being up there, and made sure they only went up when one of us was also in the van. Not only that, but we never fully extended the top bed to it's full length. They slept side by side no problem, and half the bed length was plenty long enough for Sonia's height. This also meant that if for whatever reason they did fall over the edge, they'd land on the bed below (Never happened thankfully!). It also came in very handy as a storage area during travel, and a play area for the kids so we could organise things, and prepare a meal down below without stepping on them.

He also washed our hire car for us!! While I organised and rearranged everything to fit all our stuff into the van, Clancy and the Tas Campers guy hosed down the hire car. Did a pretty good job too, considering how bad it'd been covered with dirt and mud. I was extremely grateful for that, as it greatly improved the timing logistics for the day! I then vowed that when it was time to return the van, we'd return it as clean as we could get it both inside and out. And so we did. We'd planned a day or two to catch up with my high school friend and her family when we got back to Hobart after tripping around Tassie, before we flew out for Perth. So one of those days turned into a massive cleaning day. Thanks again to both Tasmania Campers and the Rabe family!!

Storage, and space in general

The kids seats effectively locked two storage spaces, and cut the corners off the bottom double bed. So in the first few days of figuring out what would be used all the time, what would hardly be used at all, and the morning and evening set up/pack away routines, a lot of thought went into how we would deal with them. Would we leave them permanently in place? or remove one each night for access and foot space? They weren't that hard to put in or take out, just time consuming. Clancy ended up deciding we'd leave them in, and remove them for access only when really needed. So what was very rarely used (extra sleeping bags and towels etc), went into those storage compartments.

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The distance between the front and back seats was too great for us to pass anything to either Sonia or Kaden whilst driving. So we very quickly learnt to ensure they had a drink bottle, something to play with, and something to eat, within easy reach when strapping them in. If they then dropped anything, they'd have to wait till the next stop before we'd be able to pick it up for them. So for Kaden, I soon figured out how to shape a towel over his legs and around him, to act like a mini catch table/tray. It wasn't long before Sonia then wanted the same! For sleeping, Clancy and I just had enough room to be able to put our feet between the two seats and stretch out that way.

In regards to overall space... at the beginning, it totally felt like there was none! Reorganising and figuring out the best method of getting things to work to their potential in a van was.... interesting to say the least!! Involving a fair bit of frustration from Clancy, and numerous attempts at trying to explain things from me! I think both of our personal preferences and histories had a lot to do with this, which also affected our overall feelings towards the time we spent in the campervan.

Personal histories / experiences

As mentioned in a previous post, I enjoy traveling and camping. I'm the eldest child of six, and while growing up we'd done a fair bit of travel with our family, driving across or around Australia every two years or so. At first using tents, then using swags beside the road as we got older. Mum and Dad figured out the packing, and morning and evening routines, then delegated different jobs to all of us, resulting in a rather quick, efficient, and smooth trip. Then once leaving home, I continued with extensive exploration and travels on my own, utilising more varied methods depending on when and where I went. Preferring a modified swag method (Even in winter Canada!), but happy to tent, sleep in the car, or stay at a backpackers/hostel if need be.

Clancy on the other hand does not really like camping (or travel for that matter!) generally much at all. He has one sister, and only really traveled as a child when they had to move house. He did once drive around Australia with his parents when he was about 14 or 15 years old, where they mostly stayed at caravan parks or rolled their swags out in the back of his Dad's truck. He then didn't travel or camp again till joining the army, which he says is what finally, totally destroyed camping for him. Throwing a swag out beside the trucks wasn't so bad, but camping under a 'hutchie' (plastic sheet slung up like a tent) was definitely not fun apparently. North Northern Territory, mosquitoes, heat, rain, more mozzies, humidity, wind, dirt, still more mozzies... Not Clancy's idea of fun! (I've done this plenty of times in the same climatic/geographical areas too, and enjoyed it. Just made sure I lathered myself in insect repellent, or slept under a thin sheet. But then again, that's me!) With all of these experiences, there was also generally plenty of space available, and he only ever really had to worry about himself. Personal set up, pack up, organisation etc. No limited space, or interrupting children involved!

So yes, interesting times!

Organisation and daily routines

The stuff that was already in cupboards and came with the van needed rearranging to more economically use the space available, and then a lot of thought and discussion went into what would go where. What we thought would very rarely get used went under Sonia and Kaden's seats, what would sometimes be needed went under the bench seat/bottom bed, what would be frequently needed either went in cupboards in the kitchen area, or up on Sonia and Kaden's bed during travel, or transferred onto/under the front seats during sleep time. It was then time to start thinking about morning and evening routines. After about 3 days of travel, we thought we'd pretty well worked it out. From that point on, everything continued to improve and go smoother and faster.

Morning Routine

  • I get up a little earlier, toilet and get dressed.
  • I breastfeed Kaden while Clancy toilets and dresses himself and Sonia, packs up our bed from under me (I'd start feeding sitting in one spot, then move to where Clancy'd unmade the bed, or sit in one of the kids seats), sets up the table, and organises his and Sonia's breakfast.
  • I then organise mine and Kaden's breakfast.
  • Bit of a slow down to ensure enough is eaten by everyone!
  • One of us packs up the table and does dishes, while the other packs up the kids bed and transfers everything from the front seats back up onto the kids bed (Clancy's bag, raincoats, washing bag, mine and the kids pyjama's and change of clothes for the following day etc.).
  • Dress the kids and organise clothes ready for that night and following day.
  • All in... off we go!!

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Afternoon/Evening Routine

  • Clancy preps tea/dinner while I unpack the kids bed, transferring stuff onto the front seats, and feed Kaden.
  • Eat tea/dinner (whatever you call it!).
  • I bath kids - Mostly in laundry tubs, while Clancy does the dishes.
  • Make our own bed, and let the kids play for a bit while one of us showers.
  • Story, toilet, bed for Sonia.
  • Shower for the other while getting Kaden to sleep.
  • Bed time for us!!

Campsites

If we were able to camp somewhere that had a good indoor camp kitchen available, it greatly helped the whole proceedings. As did a private en-suite. More space for us to work in, and allowed the kids to move around and play more. Plus we could leave stuff in the kitchen or en-suite ready for the morning rush. We also found it beneficial to camp close to the next days planned activity. Do the activity in the morning, then drive towards the next thing and hopefully be able camp relatively close.

If we wanted to camp at a caravan park, ringing ahead to book a spot was also required by atleast mid afternoon, as many places were either closed for the season, or would shut their reception early. Most places also had to give us a key or password for their amenities, and let us know where we could set up camp. We free camped about twice from memory. I found it ok and didn't mind it, and Clancy put up with it, but we both thought having power and hot showers available was positively nicer. Staying in one place for more than one night was also good, but we still had to pack up all the beds and everything to be able to drive anywhere.

Winter cold

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We found that we had to stay relatively rugged up in the van, but were nice and cozy when in bed for the night. This could've been dramatically improved if we'd remembered where the heaters were stored. We ended up finding them during our big clean up of the van on the day we were to return it! I'd taken my extra warm sleeping bag however which fully unzipped so we could use it as a blanket, and only really had to use it about 5 times. The kids were well and truly warm, snuggled together with a knitted/crocheted blanket under their bottom sheet, and another between their top sheet and quilt/doona. If you ever find you're getting cold despite having a large number of blankets on top of you, I'd totally recommend putting one (preferably wool) underneath you as well. Makes a huge difference. Getting up to go outside to the toilet, and getting up in the morning however was freezing!!! Sonia, Kaden and I thought so anyway! Clancy didn't mind it so much, but then he thoroughly enjoys the cold.

Other bits and pieces

After we'd picked up the campervan, but before leaving Hobart, we swung by to pick up some extra things that my high school friend had offered. These included: crochet/knit blankets, kids jackets, beanies and gloves, toys, books, paper and pencils, and some lovely home made bottled fruit. I'm glad we did, as we ended up using all these items. Unlike some of the extra things we requested when we booked the van. We used the camp chairs and power converter (when it worked!), but didn't end up utilising the camp table or side awning at all. We weren't ever camped in one spot long enough to warrant the hassle of putting it up. It would've been nice to have it set up during rain for entering and exiting the sliding door, but the big umbrella we'd bought from Woolworths did the job just as well.

Some other things we found helpful... a shallow fruit box that we used for ferrying food related items between the van and picnic tables or camp kitchen, and remembering to shut the roof top vent and power outlet/inlet cap, and turn off the gas before taking off for the day!

The Campervan According to Clancy

"It was Poo!!" That was the immediate response to my question on what his thoughts about campervans were for this blog. (And yes, I do get him to proof read these posts before I actually post them). Trying to then get him to elaborate on that comment took some time, but with different, more specific questions, some details were obtained.

  • Too cramped - Especially with an injury
  • Very difficult to do anything.
  • Had to twist into a knot to pull anything out of the cupboards
  • Close quarters with kids - Would be much better, more enjoyable if no kids!
  • Hard to keep the inside clean
  • Driving - Top heavy and slow up hills but that's expected, so generally ok to drive
  • Sleeping - Not enough leg room with kids seats in the way
  • A bigger vehicle would've had more room, but would've used up more fuel, and been troublesome to park
  • Campgrounds were better than free camping - Hot showers and power!

When asked for atleast one positive thing about the campervan... this was his response: "The battery never went flat, it started when I turned the key, it was easy to drive, it wasn't pink!!"

And finally his summary: "Overall... Don't do it! It's all bad. Hotels or a swag on the side of the road would be better."

My Summary

On the whole, I'd say it was ok. Yes it did take us a while to get things working the way we wanted them to, and there were definitely times I wished we hadn't chosen that mode of transport and accommodation... but then I'd think of the money we were saving and the benefits of being able to drive and camp pretty much anywhere, without having to worry about food or rain like we would tenting or swagging in winter with kids, and be glad we'd made this decision. Would I do it again... Yes, I'd be quite happy to, but it wouldn't be fair on Clancy so I think some sort of compromise would have to be worked out.

Posted by Goannaray 01:46 Archived in Australia Tagged winter tasmania campervan toddlers 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

Mount Field National Park

Adapting to the campervan and walking with toddlers...

semi-overcast
View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

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Vroom!!

After swapping our hire car for a campervan and visiting with friends in Hobart, we made it out to Mount Field National Park early enough to go for a quick walk into Russell Falls before having to start on making tea and re-organising the van. The track into the falls was well maintained and wheelchair accessible, so really easy with our pram and buggy board. The falls themselves = Amazing!! Well worth the good reviews they get.

We filled out the self booking and payment envelope, then set up camp in the national parks campground near the Tyenna River. The information centre and cafe were within easy walking distance, and the amenities were nice and clean (toilets, showers, laundry, outdoor undercover camp kitchen). My old age habit of immediately checking out the amenities and facilities as soon as a site was chosen had already kicked in! It was then time to put the campervan to it's first real test. Correction... put us as new campervanners to our first real test. Preparing and eating an evening meal, setting up the beds, and finally, sleeping! We survived, but if it'd been a true test... I wouldn't like to even hazard a guess at what our score would've been! As explained in my previous post 'The Campervan...', it was interesting. Some improvement was undoubtedly required!

The following morning continued to be interesting, but with some noticeable improvements thankfully. After breakfast, Clancy took the kids on a walk to explore the banks of the river while I finished attempting to get some order back into what had quickly become disorder. By the time they returned, I finally had it sorted, with the framework of a possible plan of attack for the evenings and mornings that were to follow in my mind. This was quickly explained to Clancy as we drove to check out the information centre, before getting ready to go for a walk past Russell Falls, and up some steps to see Horseshoe Falls.

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Clancy wasn't quite feeling up to the steps involved, so he and Kaden enjoyed the warmth of the information centre, while Sonia and I headed out to the falls. It was the first time I'd really used the Kathmandu child carrier backpack for any length of time, and I found it not too bad. My hip joints were starting to tell me about it by the time we got back though, and it wasn't even that long of a walk! Felt like as if I'd done a really long day mustering through really hilly, rocky country, on foot, whilst pregnant! I put it down to being unfit and needing more exercise to get my muscles and joints used to it all again. Sonia didn't mind the carrier either, so long as she was able to keep her feet resting on part of the framework. The main advantage was that it made the time required for completing the walk a lot faster than if Sonia had walked as well. She did end up walking the last ten minutes or so after seeing some other toddlers running along the track in front of us.

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Horseshoe Falls were really nice to see as well. We missed out on going the full circle to see Lady Barron Falls (had to return for lunch with the otehrs), but we did get to see our first pademelons quickly jumping across the path in front of us, before hiding under a fallen tree. Sonia thought they were 'baby roo', after previous contact experiences with the kangaroo my parents had raised. They didn't stick around too long though, before taking off again after being frightened by another group of people coming up the path. It took us a while to get used to saying 'pademelon' (small kangaroo/wallaby) without immediately thinking of 'paddy melon' (invasive melon plant)!

Regarding the time that it's taken us to complete the walks that we've been on so far, we've found that if using the pram and buggy board, it'd generally take us about 10-15 minutes longer than the signs recommended. If Sonia wanted to walk for part or all of the way, it would then totally depend on how far it was, and how well she walked! But on average, it would generally be about 20-40 minutes extra. If we carried the kids, the signs were pretty accurate with their estimates.

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After lunch we drove up to the first lookout point on the way up to Lake Dobson. Considering the slipperyness, narrowness, softness of the road edges, and number of packed cars that passed us on their way down, we decided that would be far enough for us. We enjoyed the view, then turned around to continue on towards Derwent Bridge and Lake St Claire National Park.

Posted by Goannaray 17:55 Archived in Australia Tagged winter tasmania walks campervan campground toddlers mount_field 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

Mt Field National Park to Queenstown

Via Lake St Clair National Park, the Wall in the Wilderness, and Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park

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View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

Mt Field NP - Lake St Clair

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  • Nice rolling hills farmland, with forest as you get higher and closer towards Derwent River and Lake Saint Claire National Park.
  • Good to see some regrowth slowly occurring after the previous seasons fires.
  • Interesting detour into Tarraleah to see the canals and penstocks (large water pipes for hydroelectricity).
  • Before seeing the signs for Tarraleah, we drove over a large canal and were rather surprised to see one in that location. Only really used to seeing canals for irrigation purposes before.
  • Watch out for wildlife!! We ran over a wallaby or small kangaroo going down a windy section of road at dusk. No damage to the van thankfully, but reckon we would've killed the roo.
  • Finally got to Lake St Clair well after dark.

Lake Saint Clair National Park

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  • We were hoping there'd be a similar self-service set up for camping here, as there had been at Mt Field.
  • No such luck! All buildings were well and truly shut, with the only real information I could find regarding late accommodation, telling us that keys for cabins would be left in the box provided for late arrivals.
  • Considering we hadn't rung ahead to say we were even coming, there obviously wouldn't be any keys for us! Plus, we weren't wanting a cabin anyway.
  • Another couple in a similar situation to us, said they'd rung earlier, and been told to find a site and pay $50 in the morning. Figured we may as well do the same.
  • The whole campsite area was fairly large, and unfortunately.... all amenities (2 blocks in different areas) were well and truly locked!
  • So yes, bush toilets for us that night. Thankfully, Sonia didn't mind and was quite happy to do her wee's under a tree, despite the cold.
  • Toddlers, cold wet ground, bush toileting under trees... This's one spot where gumboots really come into their own!! Sonia was able to squat without pants on, and not have to worry about getting her pants or feet wet. If wee accidentally got onto her boots, no problem! Just wash it off!!
  • I woke early, considerably feeling the need for a wash. Not really wanting to do a camp style wash in the bush (Couldn't use the van - would've woken the kids and Clancy!), I decided I may as well see if the toilets up near the information centre were open. And yes they were! Yay!!
  • I found hot water available in the disabled toilet handbasin, so with my trusty plug, flannel and towel... a nice quick warm wash was had by me!
  • Back to the van in time to greet waking kids and start the hopefully improved morning routine. (Result = Yes, definitely improved!).
  • Finally, a walk down to look at the lake and distant mountains, then back into the van to see the Wall in the Wilderness.
  • So our hints and tips for Saint Clair National Park Campground in winter...

1. Plan more time - looked like there could be some really nice walks and things to see/do.
2. If you're thinking of arriving late to camp there, and are willing for the possible price tag, Ring Ahead!

Wall in the Wilderness

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  • This was amazing!! The artist's an awesome wood carver.
  • Things looked so real. Clancy and I had to double check ourselves, looking at the long coat he'd carved, hanging up beside the entrance door! It took a bit to realise it wasn't real.
  • You aren't allowed to take any photo's, which is explained really well on numerous signs. But they do have books and other things you can buy if you want.
  • Apparently the artist does not like misbehaved children (stated on numerous signs!), so we had a bit of fun trying to keep Sonia calm and quiet, when all she really wanted to do was touch everything. Understandable for a kid her age.

Derwent Bridge to Queenstown through the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park

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After me Dad!

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and.... Peeka Boo!!

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  • Really nice drive through the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, seeing some varying landscapes - dryer forests, grasslands, rainforests
  • We only stopped quickly at King William Saddle and Surprise Valley for some photo's, as the kids were nicely asleep at that stage. From memory, I think you may only be able to stop at the Surprise Valley lookout if you're heading west.
  • Stopped longer at the Franklin River Nature Trail to enjoy the walk through the bush and beside the river, and have some lunch - Picnic tables and toilets available.
  • Nelson Falls are also well worth the time to stop and have a look at. A really nice board walk through rainforest to the wonderful falls. - Toilets were available here as well.
  • Both the Franklin River Nature Trail, and the Nelson Falls Nature Trail, were nice short easy flat walks suitable for prams, and for Sonia to run relatively free.
  • Kids were fast asleep again once back on the road, so quite a few scenery photo's were taken on the move for the rest of the way into Queenstown.

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Posted by Goannaray 10:03 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls mountains lakes queenstown rainforest rivers tasmania wall creeks toddlers wall_in_the_wilderness derwent_bridge campgrounds lyell_highway nelson_falls lake_st_clair 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

Queenstown

And its very accommodating laundromat!

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View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

Arrival...

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  • We were wanting to get set up at a campground earlier to do some much needed washing, so passed by numerous old mining towns and the Iron Blow Lookout on the way into Queenstown, thinking we'd get back to them in the morning if we still wanted to see them.
  • The road from Gormanston to Queenstown gives you some interesting views over steep, rocky, rugged hills and valleys, and has many rather tight bends with steep dropoffs.
  • No one was at the office of the campground, but there was a good sign with phone number to ring - Result from phone call - Choose site and leave $30 in envelope with name, and van registration number, in the box at reception before leaving in the morning.
  • Chose a site close to the amenities, then realised we'd need a lot more $1 coins to complete the laundry!
  • Tip for future travellers... Collect and save $1 coins!! It's amazing how many you go through.
  • Back into town for grocery shopping and coins.
  • Found a laundromat that was cheaper than the campground, so while Clancy did the laundry and minded the kids and their toys, I organised the groceries, rearranged the packing of some things, and made up our double bed in the campervan.
  • Very friendly person running the laundromat. Was great with the kids and also gave us a few tips regarding their washing machines and dryers.
  • Takes a while for 3 loads minimum of washing to get done!
  • Finally back to the campground to finish setting up camp, eat tea on top of our bed, hot showers and laundry tub baths, and finally off to sleep.

Overnight...

  • Unfortunately... not much sleep was had by any of us.
  • Kaden projectile vomited atleast 4 or 5 times, all over their bed, plus our bed!!
  • What we thought to be an excessive number of towels, ended up coming in rather handy!
  • They all got well and truly used cleaning vomit, or replacing sheets.

Next day and departure...

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  • Breakfast and back to the laundromat!!
  • We got it all started, then headed off to the library for shelter from the rain, kids entertainment, and internet checks.
  • Was a really great set up there, with 3 or 4 different community facilities all under the one roof.
  • One of them had a large young kids wooden toy train table set up, which kept Sonia entertained for pretty much the whole time we were there.
  • Kaden enjoyed crawling around trying steal Sonia's trains, and attempting (occasionally succeeding depending on how fast I was!) to pull brochures and books off shelves.
  • Clancy did the walks back to the laundromat to check/change clothes into dryers.
  • And finally... all done, no more vomiting... so back on the road again.
  • Decided we'd check out the Iron Blow Lookout. So back up the zigzag road, and out to the lookout.
  • Was very windy at the lookout which Sonia did not like at all!
  • Good view over an old open cut section, and down the valley towards Gormanston though.
  • And once again... back into the van to go down the zigzag road for the second time, making Clancy's motion sickness return (he should've driven that section. He'd been fine driving it the day before), and on towards Rosebery.

Posted by Goannaray 23:47 Archived in Australia Tagged queenstown view tasmania mine campervan lookout laundry toddlers 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

Dot points - or - Written dialogue.... Readers preference?

Looking back over the entries in this blog so far, I saw that my writing style varies rather dramatically! That got me thinking, what do people prefer? What do they find easier to read? Short, sharp, to the point, bullet style lists... or longer, wordier, more descriptive writing?

I suppose it depends a lot on each individual's own personal preference, and the reason they're reading the blog. I for example prefer the dot point style, as that's just me, and I find it easier to quickly skim through to get the information I need. Plus, as the writer, it's easier for me to transcribe my even shorter, sharper (and a zillion times more unintelligible!) notes, into dot points, than it is into a longer dialogue style.

Others however, may prefer the longer style, for a range of different reasons. Even I prefer this style in some instances, but as yet, haven't really been able to pin down why.

Nonetheless, thinking about it has totally awakened my curiosity, so feel free to honestly comment if you want :)

Posted by Goannaray 22:57 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Rosebery & Montezuma Falls

The location of Australia's safest mine??

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View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

Rosebery

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  • After rewashing and drying everything for the second time in Queenstown (following a full night of projectile vomiting from an 11month old boy), we managed to get to Rosebery in time for lunch.
  • Didn't think we'd be able to make and eat lunch, then walk to and from Montezuma Falls before nightfall, so delegated that for the next day.
  • Good parking area in town with playground and skate park nearby for kids to play in while I made lunch.
  • Both parks looked to be getting a good workout by the local kids despite the wet, windy weather.
  • Found a nice cafe opposite the IGA to get the hot chips that'd been promised for when lunch had been fully consumed. Seemed to be the local hangout for quite a variety of different age groups too.
  • Then on to the Rosebery Cabin and Tourist Park - Signs up saying check in preferably after 4pm when office opens, but feel welcome to choose a site and see staff after 4pm.
  • By the time we'd chosen a relatively sheltered spot and organised the van ready for the evening, it was 4pm.
  • Paid for the site, then went for a walk to see Stitt Falls which were just below the caravan park, and continued on a loop past the town pool and oval, through some bush up to the townsite, and back around past the local mine to the campground.
  • Stitt falls hadn't been on any of the maps we'd seen, but they seemed pretty good to us.
  • Thought the sign at the entrance to the Rosebery mine site was pretty good too: 'Australia's safest mine? Not yet - we're working on it!'

Montezuma Falls

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  • Getting there and preparation

Rain continued on and off all night, and into the following morning. Not quite what we were hoping for... but it was either do the walk and see the falls today, or forget the falls and keep going. Decided we may as well try it and see how we went.

Not far out of Rosebery on the way towards Queenstown, is the turnoff to Montezuma Falls and Williamsford. It was bitumen for most of the way in, before turning to gravel to go down the hills past the old Williamsford cemetery and town site, to the start of the Montezuma Falls track (Approx 6km from main road into walk carpark). There was a decent sized gravel parking area, with two creeks flowing nearby. Some picnic tables, and a toilet not far into the start of the walking track.

I was starting to wonder, did I really want to do this? It was raining constantly, and Clancy wasn't feeling too well, so really didn't want to do the predicted three hour walk. Finally decided that Clancy would stay and have a sleep with Kaden, while Sonia and I went in to see the waterfall.

A 22 seater bus arrived at the carpark not long after us, with a group tour. I asked their guide, who said he thought a pram should be able to get through to the falls ok as there were a few steps, but no really bad sections that he could remember. Well.... it was ok for me. I did it with the stroller and Sonia, but wouldn't really recommend that method for anyone else unless it's good dry weather! The pram and I were totally soaked and muddy by the time we got back. Sonia managed to sleep for most of the trip back too, despite the bumpiness.

I'd read the track was an old tramway and therefore fairly level, and had been debating between the pram and Kathmandu child carrier backpack. I didn't really want to have to carry Sonia in the backpack by myself for 3hrs, with her constantly wanting up/down. It would've totally killed my back and hips by the end of the walk, and so therefore, with a bit of confidence from the guide, decided on the pram with raincoats, and whatever we could fit in our pockets. ie, water bottle, mandarines, muesli bars, and camera.

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  • The Track

The track into the falls is mostly one joined track, but there are atleast 2 sections where the track divides for those walking, and those with bikes. The bike sections ford across rocky creeks on a 4WD track, where as the walking sections often involved some steps, and a narrower bridge. We chose the walking sections, as the creeks were too high for the pram at that time.

Clancy and Kaden walked the initial 10-15mins in with us before turning back for the campervan. Not far past the toilet, you go down a steeper section to the first wooden bridge, and then up another steeper section with rocks as steps, to get back to the main tramway track. Sonia walked these sections while I carried the folded up stroller heading in, and I figured she could do the same on the way back out. In regards to the correlation between track and pram.... there were both good and bad patches of track.

- The Good: Wherever the track was rocky or like rough gravel, basic wooden 4WD bridges, walking bridges.

- The Bad: Deep mud, fallen rock slides, tramway sleepers where there wasn't a better walkway beside them.

- For walking: The only bad was the mud!

The tourist group that'd arrived in the bus not long after us, comprised mostly of Asian girls, some wearing very good neat casual clothes, heels, and wedges. Not quite what I would've thought appropriate clothing for that track on that day. But then again, who am I to judge. I was taking a 2.5yr old toddler through the same rain and mud in a pram! And at a fairly fast pace too considering the conditions. I passed the tail end of the group on the way into the waterfall, and then again on the way out as well.

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  • The Waterfall and Suspension Bridge

The waterfall, creek, suspension bridge, and history was amazing! Well worth the walk in good weather. The walk would be much nicer then too! Others may not have thought it worth the struggle, but I was glad I battled my way through the rain and mud with toddler and pram to see it all. There's quite a lot of spray from the waterfall that comes out over the viewing platform near the base of it, so trying to get good photo's was interesting. Water droplets on the lens from not only the continuing rain, but also from the waterfall's spray got rather annoying! Sonia and I enjoyed the food and water we'd brought along as well. Talking to the group's tour guide, we found out he knew one of our neighbour's from when I used to live on a farm in Toodyay, WA!

The suspension bridge was a lot of fun! Sonia and I really enjoyed it. It gave a totally different perspective and view of the falls and valley. Only two people were allowed on the bridge at one time, and I made sure I hung on to Sonia's hand like crazy the whole time we were on the bridge. I also made sure I had my camera well and truly secured to my wrist!

  • The walk back

Heading back, Sonia wanted to walk and run, so she walked, jumped, or ran down the tramway sections while I carried the pram. That was much easier than on the way in where I'd bumped the pram around or over the tramway sleepers. She did end up totally soaking her shoes and feet in the mud and puddles, but that was unavoidable, so oh well. Once we got through the tramway sections (they're all mostly at the waterfall end of the track), Sonia got back into the pram, where I then proceeded to pull her backwards for the rest of the way on the back two wheels only. This was much easier, especially through the bad sections. And with the hood fully pulled down (Valco stroller hood fully pulled down nearly covers the whole seat!), and a raincoat covering from the hood to the footrest, she soon fell asleep out of the wind and rain.

I was expecting to have to wake Sonia so she could walk through the steep sections and first bridge close to the beginning of the track, but the group guide had walked back to check on the tail end of his group, and helped me carry the pram through instead. Very much appreciated!!

Got back to the campervan, where Clancy and Kaden were stirring from a good sleep. We woke Sonia up so she could get into some clean, dry clothes, and found that only her outer layers were wet! All her internal layers were still nice and dry! I grabbed the big umbrella and a change of clothes to go change in the toilet, while Clancy cooked up some nice hot two minute noodles for a late lunch for everybody.

Timing from the start of loading the pram, to getting changed and dry... we'd managed the walk in about four hours. Considering the conditions and everything else... I reckon we did pretty well!! When I got back to the campervan, I felt like I could have kept on walking with Sonia in the pram as she was at the end, for another hour or so. If I'd had her in the backpack, I reckon I would've had badly aching hips by the time I got to the waterfall, let alone the return trip.

  • Recommendations

So, after successfully completing the walk with the pram this way, my recommendations are...
- If Dry: Go for it however you want. Walk, baby/child carrier, pram... whatever.
- If Wet: Gumboots!!! Umbrellas/good rain gear, pram if prepared for mud and a rough trip! Baby/child carrier if it's not going to affect you physically.
- Whatever the conditions: Enjoy the walk, the suspension bridge, and waterfall!!

Posted by Goannaray 22:15 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls rain tasmania walk mine toddlers pram rosebery montezuma_falls 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

Cradle Mountain and Gowrie Park

semi-overcast
View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

  • Cradle Mountain Accommodation

Considering the volume of wet gear we had from splashing our way to and from Montezuma falls, we decided we'd pay a bit extra that night and camp in one of the cabins available at Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village. They'd come up the cheapest after a quick call to the Sheffield Information Centre. Doing this would hopefully allow us to wash the mud out of everything, and then get it all as dry as possible... including the pram and our shoes/boots! Washing everything in the shower, then hanging everything in front of heaters overnight, we partially succeeded. We managed to get the pram dry enough to use the following day, but both my boots and Sonia's shoes still needed a bit more dry heat. So onto the van's dashboard in the sun (as much as we were likely to get!) they went for the next few days.

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We woke to a lovely clear morning, and headed into the information centre to see what we could feasibly do that day. As we had a regular sized van (length and width), and two young children (one close enough to still be considered a baby), they said we could take our vehicle through the boom gates and all the way up to the Dove Lake carpark. Otherwise we would have had to leave the campervan in the parking lot at the information centre, and catch the shuttle bus service.

Understandably so as we found out on our return trip. The road in to Dove Lake is rather narrow (mostly single lane) with plenty of blind corners, and few wider areas for passing. Some really nice scenery and views to see along the way though. Going in was ok, as we were relatively early and nearly all traffic was also heading in to the lake at that time. Coming back out... there was a lot more traffic going in both directions causing you to constantly be on the lookout for oncoming traffic, and also places to pull over to allow each other to pass. It would've been crazy if we'd had a wider or longer vehicle.

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Interesting stones

The view across Dove Lake to Cradle Mountain is stunning! We were very lucky with only a few clouds in the sky for the time that we were up there. Reading the signs and maps detailing the walks available, and standing at the edge of the carpark looking towards the mountain, we decided that walking to Glacier Rock would be the best option for us. A shorter, flatter, easier walk. The pram once again got delegated to Kaden, while Sonia managed the distance walking there and back reasonably well. There were some steps leading up to and past the rock, which Clancy, Kaden and the pram handled ok (plus a few hints from me after the Montezuma Falls walk experience!), but otherwise a nice short, easy walk for all involved.

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As soon as we got near the rock, I once again made sure Sonia's hand was held especially well. All she wanted to do, was jump in puddles, and jump off any slightly higher point. Not quite the safest thing when there's a decent sized cliff nearby! Despite this, the views were once again amazing! Definitely worth a return visit for longer walks if we ever get the chance.

  • Walks near the park entrance

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Come on Dad!

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Starting at the bridge between the park entrance and Cradle Mountain Lodge, is the Enchanted Walk. A boardwalk well suited to young children and prams. It meanders along beside the Pencil Pine River, with a few side detours involving fun tunnels and pictures for kids (and kids at heart!). I enjoyed seeing the differences in vegetation types, and managed to spot a wombat in the distance, and several wallabies near the track. No platypus sightings for us in this river either unfortunately. But yes, a nice, well thought out short walk.

The track to Pencil Pine Falls, and Knyvet Falls starting opposite the Cradle Mountain Lodge, is also a boardwalk, but involves quite a few steps after the initial viewable flat section. We took Kaden in the pram down to Pencil Pine Falls, but then folded it and left it beside the track for the return trip, before continuing onto Knyvet Falls.

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Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin passed us on the way down to Pencil Pine Falls, where we met up again and swapped camera's for family shots with the waterfall, before they continued back along the track to Knyvet Falls. I wouldn't have recognised them if Clancy hadn't said anything to me later. And no, we didn't acknowledge to them that we knew who they were, figuring they might like some anonymity.

The boardwalk section between Pencil Pine Falls and Knyvet Falls was also really nice with numerous little rivulets and waterfalls running down the nearby slopes and under the boardwalk. This resulted in frequent pointing and cries of 'Wart Fall' from Sonia! She also enjoyed being able to run along the zig-zag walkway, jumping up and down the frequent steps (even after accidentally sliding off the boardwalk at one stage!).

  • Gowrie Park

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We were hoping to explore Tasmazia the following day, so after looking at a map, decided we'd camp at the Gowrie Park Wilderness Village that night. On the way, we detoured in to the dam at Lake Cethana, and then up to the lookout point on Olivers Road beside the Mount Roland Regional Reserve. Where we were rewarded with a nice view over the surrounding hills and valleys.

On arrival to Gowrie Park Wilderness Village (we hadn't rung ahead), we were informed that we were in luck. Apparently the campground would normally have been shut at this time of year, but this year was different. More tourists continued to trickle through, warranting them staying open for longer into the winter season. They had a small but decent enclosed kitchen, the cheapest laundry we'd seen so far, pademelons hopping around everywhere, and pay showers.

Posted by Goannaray 23:04 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls mountains lakes trees winter wildlife views tasmania panorama cradle_mountain toddlers 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

Tasmazia

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View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

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As they state on their web page, 'The world of Tasmazia is a crazy complex located in the wonderfully named town of Promised Land in the heart of Tasmania's beautiful Cradle Mountain and Lakes District.' And yes, it is in the town of Promised Land, complete with postcode and post office!

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It's well suited for all ages from young children to grandparents. With eight mazes (some mazes within mazes!), strange and interesting model villages, yummy pancake parlour, and fun gift shop, we found it well worth the entry price of about $25/adult ($20/seniors, $12.50/child, Free/under 3, disabled, wheelchair). It was pram and wheelchair friendly, (excluding the balance maze, and lookouts), and we all thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the windy, cold, wet weather.

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On entry, you're given a basic area map, with a fairly large list of fun things to find if you're up for the challenge. We decided we'd aim to complete all mazes, but leave the list and just see what we happened to come across in our wanderings. It took a while for us to fully complete all the mazes as we'd get sooo close, yet sooo far! We'd often be right next to the goal and able to see it, but have a hedge or wall between us and it. Could get rather frustrating in a fun way! Sonia loved running around, being able to choose which way to turn and finding all sorts of different random things. ie, steps, cubby's, tunnels, pots of gold, doors, cottages, pictures on signs.

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The Great Maze was as it's name states 'great'! With heaps of cool sayings and all sorts of random things to find. The goal for this maze was The Three Bears Cottage. This maze contained numerous other mazes including the Cage Maze, the Irish Maze, and Balance Maze, so we often got side tracked in our efforts to get to the bears cottage. It also contained a secret passage way, Cubby Town, Crackpot Correction Centre, cricket pitch, and much, much more!

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The Hampton Court maze was designed after the maze at Hampton Court Palace in the United Kingdom. Make sure you don't take the temptation to cheat on this one! Sonia led the way, and took me straight to the goal of a central viewing platform where we were able to help provide instructions to another family lost in the maze. If it'd been me choosing which way to turn, I think we would've been just as confused as the family we managed to help!

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Attempting to help someone through the Confusion Maze however, is a totally different story. Clancy stood up on the complexes main tower lookout platform, and attempted to help me get to the central tree, which was the goal of the confusion maze. From the angle he was at, it often looked like I should have been able to turn left or right, but in actual fact, there was a hedge blocking the way. I don't know how many times I traipsed through the same section of that maze, attempting to get in, and then out! And then Sonia realised I'd done one without her (she'd been looking at the village buildings), and wanted to do it to! I didn't think I'd be able to do it again in a quick enough time frame, so we moved onto the next maze instead.

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The Village of Lower Crackpot is a model village built to 1/5th scale, with each building connected to real life people or things/ideas. ie, Cathy Freeman Sports Centre, Channel 7 station, Coastal FM radio station, University for Lateral Thinking, Liberal Party GST house. The residential area of town is at Upper Lower Crackpot, which is also the fairy tale Yellow Brick Road Maze, specifically built for toddlers and young children. And older children too, as Clancy and I still enjoyed it. Looking out from the tower, we were able to see the next installment to the maze which wasn't open yet. Another model village, but this time covering well known sites/buildings around the world.

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The Pancake Parlour next to the entrance and Gift Shop, was nice and warm, and provided some rather yummy nourishment to hungry tummies! There must've been a rowing competition at the Lake Barrington International Rowing Course nearby, as the parlour was packed with old and young enjoying the food and drink, and talking about the mornings rowing experiences. Over lunch, I managed to have a look through the list of things to find, and realised we'd inadvertently found quite a few of them without even trying to. There were some things that we hadn't found yet that I thought would be fun to find, so while Clancy and the kids finished off their hot chocolates, I dashed back into the Great Maze to see if I could find them before having to continue our journey. I managed to find some without too much hassle, but gave up on the others as it was time to go.

Righto, I've had enough! Where's the food?

Righto, I've had enough! Where's the food?

So yes, you can just about complete it all in half a day. But to give it it's true justice, I'd definitely suggest a longer time frame. Especially if you can sometimes be directionally challenged!

Posted by Goannaray 17:58 Archived in Australia Tagged winter tasmania sign sculpture maze toddlers tasmazia 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

Sheffield to Devonport

Via Railton and Latrobe

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View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

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The views we got of Mt Roland as we drove from Tasmazia to Sheffield, were amazing. As were the murals we got to see around Sheffield. We parked behind the IGA, where there was a good playground, but didn't end up using it as the kids remained asleep. Clancy got some grocery shopping done while I kept an eye on the kids, then we swapped places so Clancy could sleep, and I could walk around to get photo's of as many murals as I could. Clancy could appreciate them, but wasn't as interested in them as I was. Kaden had woken up by this stage, so I popped him into the Ergo baby carrier, and utilised our large umbrella to shelter us both from the wind and rain as we walked around.

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Considering the wet weather and the fact it was getting late in the afternoon, we just wanted to get to Latrobe and set up camp for the night (hadn't yet rung ahead to book though), so decided to have the camera ready to try and get photo's of the topiary as we drove through the town of Railton. We saw quite a few different ones in all stages of development, but only really succeeded with a few ok photo's. If you want to really enjoy the topiary, I'd suggest you stop, and walk around!

The entrance to the caravan park was all fenced up with construction style fencing when we got there... so... after a quick call to the Devonport information centre (who was surprised to hear the Latrobe park was shut), we managed to secure a spot at the Devonport Discovery Holiday Park. Good thing we rang when we did too, as it was close to 5pm, and closing time for both the information centre and caravan parks.

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The park had an awesome set up for what we wanted. Ensuite site (including small verandah, handbasin, toilet, shower, and washtub) for only a few extra dollars, big indoor camp kitchen, and close to the beach for a quick walk in the morning. It was a rocky beach, but that didn't worry Sonia or Kaden, as they both enjoyed playing with, and attempting to collect stones!

Posted by Goannaray 16:06 Archived in Australia Tagged winter paintings tasmania murals topiary campground sheffield devonport toddlers railton 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

Yay! Finally... a meeting with the ever elusive platypus!!

Devonport to Deloraine

all seasons in one day
View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

As you can probably tell from the title of this blog, this day turned out to be a rather enjoyable highlight of the trip. With Sonia and myself finally being able to see a platypus in the wild. And for a decent length of time too, not just a quick glimpse!

But before we get to that, we couldn't leave Devonport without a visit to Mersey bluff,... and go through Latrobe again, without a return visit to the Anvers Chocolate Factory and Cherry Shed!

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We hadn't originally planned to stay in Devonport, and wanted to keep moving relatively quickly, but didn't want to miss out on something iconic to that area either. So on leaving the Devonport Discovery Holiday Park, we asked the reception staff what they'd recommend that was quick and simple to see/do for toddlers around Devonport. They recommended the Mersey Bluff lighthouse. It was an interestingly painted lighthouse, with distinctive red stripes facing out to sea. We held Kaden, and had to keep an eye on Sonia with the cliff edges being so close, but she enjoyed being able to run around the lighthouse and look down on the crashing waves. The view across the mouth of the River Mersey wasn't too bad either.

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There was no way Clancy would let us drive past this place again without picking up some more extremely yummy chocolate! After visiting it for the first time during the Latrobe Chocolate Winter Festival, we found this visit to be much more relaxed and enjoyable. Less people, easier parking, different things being made etc. We also found another rather fun children's activity available, that we previously hadn't seen. A bouncy truck. The truck was on springs, and Sonia really did not want to leave it! We finally managed to coax her out of it to go and taste some different chocolate samples at the Anvers Tasting Centre. Took a while to decide what we'd buy, and ended up choosing a mixed box of truffles. We'd previously bought a mixed box of pralines. Both very yum!

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As with the Anvers Chocolate Factory, we couldn't bypass the Cherry shed again without restocking our supply of chocolate coated cherries. While Clancy picked up the desired treats, Sonia, Kaden and I went to have a last play and look out of the big cherries.

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After missing this attraction during the Latrobe Chocolate Winterfest, I'd been looking forward to having a quick glimpse, but had since forgotten that there'd now be an entry fee involved. So yes, considering Clancy wasn't really interested, I'd already seen a fair bit of this sort of thing traveling around the south west of WA, our time frame, and the cost to go through, we decided we'd skip it this time as well, and push on to see if we could see a platypus instead. So after obtaining more information about the Warrawee Reserve, saying goodbye to the big flying platypus, and picking up some Subway for lunch, on we went in search of a good picnic spot, and the ever elusive platypus.

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The Warrawee Forest Reserve isn't far out of Latrobe (follow Hamilton St, which turns into Shale Rd), with the last section of road through the reserve being gravel. We found a nice picnic spot nestled in a bend of the Mersey River, and enjoyed our lunch with a decent sized flock of friendly Superb Fairywrens or Blue Wrens as they're otherwise known. Sonia and Kaden really enjoyed watching them zip around chasing crumbs or whatever else they could find.

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While I fed Kaden, and waited for Sonia to finish her lunch, Clancy wandered around looking at different things, and found about 22 marbles scattered around the picnic area we were at. Seemed like they kept popping up everywhere! After Sonia had finally finished eating, I took her down to be able to throw some stones into the river while Clancy watched Kaden for a while. Sonia really enjoyed being able to do this, seeing how far she could throw them, and how big a splash she could make. I enjoyed the numerous smooth, flat river stones that were around for skimming. I managed to get one to bounce atleast 10 times, but generally averaged about 5-7 bounces. I thought that was pretty good!

What's down here Dad?

What's down here Dad?

Moving on from the picnic area, we found a boardwalk bridge that'd been removed for some reason. It would've allowed us to cross over the creek that ran between two ponds/lakes, as a shortcut to the main boardwalk and viewing platform. Instead, we now had to walk the whole way round the big pond/lake to get there. Clancy didn't really feel like having to return via the same route round the lake/pond to get back to where we'd parked the van, so decided he'd keep Kaden and stay near the gazebo on that side of the lake.

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Sonia and I continued on around the big lake/pond to the start of the boardwalk, but decided we'd continue on down through the bush beside the following smaller pond, before coming back to check out the boardwalk. Whilst doing this, we spotted bubbles rising in the smaller pond, but didn't think much of it, as we'd seen similar bubbles in the big pond/lake, and nothing seemed to come of them except an occaisonal duck or other waterbird.

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We continued on, following what seemed like an old track round the pond, and came to a sort of causeway across an outlet for the pond to flow back into the Mersey River. We squatted down behind some reedy bushes and continued to watch the bubbles for a while. Much to our surprise, a platypus surfaced, and started skimming across the surface of the pond directly for the causeway!! It changed direction a bit as it got closer, and duck dived to rummage around the reeds, bushes, and banks of the pond leading away from the causway. I managed to keep Sonia quiet, and tried to get as many photo's and videos as possible to take back to show Clancy.

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I didn't really want to move in case we scared it, but this decision ended up being made for us. The platypus seemed to have had enough of scrummaging round the edges of the pond near where we were, and went to climb out and over the causeway! It spotted Sonia and I near the bushes not far away, and quickly dove back into the pond. I decided that would be the best time for us to make an appropriate get away, and leave him/her in peace.

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We headed back to the boardwalk and viewing platform, where we found Clancy had driven our van to wait on the road above it. After getting a few more photo's and savouring the area a while longer, Sonia and I climbed the bushy bank to have fun showing Clancy the photo's and video's we'd taken of the platypus.

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And once again.... another not to be missed chocolate opportunity! Clancy ran in and picked up some chocolate coated raspberries, then stayed in the van with a sleeping Sonia, while I took Kaden for a walk around the lake near the cafe. It was a nice short walk that could have accommodated a pram ok. There were also various interesting signs providing information on the history, and flora and fauna of the area.

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The Melita Honey Farm is located in the small town of Chudleigh, between Mole Creek and Deloraine. It had a lot of fun interactive displays for both young and old alike, prividing a vast amount of educational information. I found the indoor glass beehive rather interesting, being able to see the bees working in the hive. Sonia however prefered to watch the bees coming and going from the regular box hives through the window outside.

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She also enjoyed a display set up where you'd have to look through a small viewing window, to see colourful picture panels moving round at the push of a button. She did need my help to lift her up to the viewing window for that one though. And we all enjoyed tasting the many different varieties of honey and nougat available! We would've loved to bring some different varieties of honey home with us, but would have had to surrender them as soon as we landed back in WA due to quarantine regulations. So nougat it was instead.

Posted by Goannaray 21:21 Archived in Australia Tagged lakes birds chocolate winter rivers wildlife views tasmania rocks walks pond cherry lighthouse picnic playground platypus latrobe toddlers warrawee_forest_jreserve 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

Liffey Falls and Pencil Pines at Pine Lake

Using Deloraine as a base

all seasons in one day
View Tasmania with 2 toddlers! (Winter 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

We camped beside the Meander River in Deloraine at the Apex Caravan Park, and managed to enjoy an early night thanks to arriving a bit earlier, and constantly improving evening routine. This campground had required us to ring earlier to be able to obtain a key for the amenities, which we picked up from the caretaker living across the road and railway tracks. In the morning however, when I went to return the key, I didn't see the board on his front verandah for early morning key drop off's, and woke him up knocking on the door! So for those likely to be staying there and wanting to return their keys earlier, make sure you ask what they want you to do for this, and be very observant!

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It was a bit of a trip into the Liffey Falls State Reserve from Deloraine, with the smaller more bendy access road to the falls turning to gravel not long after leaving the A5 Highland Lakes Road. If we'd had a bigger style motorhome, I don't know if we would've made it round some of the tighter slippery wet bends ok. It was definately worth the trip in though, with a nice easy walk, and some rather picturesque falls.

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The track to the upper cascades was a gentle to moderate downhill walk that we could've easily taken the pram on. There were quite a few steps involved to get down to the bottom of the main falls though (still only gentle to moderate steepness), so we carried both Sonia and Kaden in baby carrier backpacks (Kathmandu and Ergo) to help reduce time. Sonia didn't want to return in the backpack however, so she walked for most of the return trip back up to the carpark and picnic area. Numerous informative signs were posted alongside the track which also caught Sonia's attention, as they incorporated a variety of drawings from primary school aged children helping to depict the written information.

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There were quite a few picnic tables available, including some undercover ones. As we were leaving, driving around the picnic/parking area circle, I saw the sign for the Big Tree. Clancy stopped and stayed with the kids in the van for a while, allowing me to quickly run in to see the 50m tall Browntop Stringybark tree and grab some photo's. Not far from the picnic area toilet.

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I'd read that Pine Lake beside the Highland Lakes Road, was one of the best and easiest spots to see Pencil Pines. Considering it wasn't too far from the Liffey Falls turn off, we decided we'd drive up to have a quick look. The drive on its own was worth it, as there were some really nice views of the Great Western Tiers. There was ice on the rocks beside the road, and with a strong wind blowing over the lake, it made for a rather cold walk. As Clancy wasn't really interested in going for another walk and the kids had once again fallen asleep, I left them in the warmth of the van and ran down the boardwalk to see the trees closer up, and grab some more photo's.

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We got back to Deloraine in time for a picnic lunch at the Deloraine Train Park beside the Meander river. We found this to be a great spot, as it looked to be well maintained, had a fenced in playground for younger children, a bigger open playground for older kids, old train that could be climbed on, decent toilets, and nice views of the river and bridges. We were lucky it was nice and sunny at that time, as both Sonia and Kaden really enjoyed being able to play freely on the fenced in playground. Before continueing on to see some of the sculptures around the town, we went for a walk over the fun bouncy walk bridge across the river. Sonia had a lot of fun trying to get it to bounce with some help from mum!

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Posted by Goannaray 05:46 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls lakes sculptures winter view tasmania walk tiers picnic deloraine toddlers campgrounds liffey_falls pencil_pine 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

Hello again... Launceston!

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Launceston

  • Accommodation

After previously staying at a hotel/motel in Launcesten when we first arrived in Tasmania, it was now time for us to find a campground instead. Looking through the travel brochures we had for options on where to camp in or near Launceston, we noticed there was a Discovery Holiday Park in Hadspen, just west of Launceston. After experiencing this chain of caravan parks in Devonport and liking what they had had on offer there, we decided Hadspen would be the spot to be if they also had ensuite sites available. They did, as well as a good playground, cool bear birdhouse, herb garden for patrons to use, and indoor kitchen (screen door though, so still cool!) and laundry. We arrived early enough for Sonia and Kaden to be able to take advantage of the playground while tea preparation and clothes washing got finalised. Plus a quick trip into the IGA next door for some groceries.

A two second tour of the Hadspen Discovery Holiday Park, brought to you by Miss Sonia Hehir.

'Me!'

'Me!'

'Mine Dad'

'Mine Dad'

'White plug'

'White plug'

'Birds'... 'Bear'

'Birds'... 'Bear'

'Mine Mum, Dista'

'Mine Mum, Dista'

'Mine boots!'

'Mine boots!'

This then turned out to be one of those nights where I was very glad that I'd brought my big warm sleeping bag. Rather cold, and in the morning we woke to a rather heavy frost.

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The first stop for the day was the Launceston Cataract Gorge. In summer, this would be a great place to spend a decent length of time to enjoy the playground and go for a swim (pool or river!). As we were there in winter, and it'd been raining on and off for a few days, the water level was up and over the lower walking tracks. Resulting in quite a few track closures. The Alexandra suspension bridge and Cataract Walk along the cliff face between the Cataract Gorge Cliff Grounds and Kings Bridge were still open though, so that's where we headed.

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Unfortunately, Clancy's inguinal hernia was acting up fairly badly, so by the time we got over the suspension bridge and around to the Cliff Grounds Reserve, he decided it was time he needed to lay down for a bit. So Sonia, Kaden and I continued along the cataract walk while he slowly worked his way back to the van for another sleep. The cliff grounds were really nice, with quite a few peacocks meandering around the restaurant there, catching both Sonia's and Kaden's attention.

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The cataract walk allowed great views of the cliffs and the South Esk River. It also seemed to get a lot of local traffic utilising it as part of their exercise route. Mums with prams, and others walking or running. One group of mums and prams we passed were very helpful, informing us they'd seen a sea lion or seal (unsure which!) in the river from a viewing point along the track. It was still there by the time we got there, and Sonia and I enjoyed watching it move up and down the river for quite some time. It appeared to be playing in the river's current, swimming up in the calmer water beside the opposite cliffs, then crossing directly into the current to float downstream a ways beside the lookout point, before repeating the whole process over and over again.

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The return trip back along the cataract walk to the Cliff Grounds confirmed the reasoning behind why the signs had said this walk was suitable for wheelchairs with assistance. There was a reasonable uphill gradient to push against. Sonia and Kaden's weight in the pram and buggy board was ok, but I reckon I would've had fun if I was trying to wheel myself along in a wheelchair without help! Could have done it, but it would've given my arms and back a work out!

Returning to the other side of the basin, we wandered into the little information centre below an entrance to the chairlift (the other end/entrance is below the restaurant at the Cliff Grounds). The chairlift was built in 1972, and claims to have the longest single chairlift span in the world of 308m. We'd considered going on the chairlift when we first walked past it on the way into the basin area, but decided we didn't need to spend the money on it if we were going to walk around to the other end anyway. It would've given a totally different perspective of the gorge and basin though.

The information centre had a large number of really interesting photo's and stories on the history of the gorge and Duck Reach including the numerous floods over the years. There was also a letter from a lady who'd lived there as a child in the very early years. Sonia and I spent quite a while looking at the photo's and other memorabilia there (Kaden had fallen asleep in the pram), before Clancy woke up and came and found us. Wanting to keep moving onto the next activity for the day.

The only real downside we found to visiting this area, was having to pay for parking

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I found the Duck Reach Power Station museum or interpretation centre very interesting. We parked on the West Launceston side of the gorge near the old workers cottages and manager's residence. Then Sonia and I walked (jumped in Sonia's case!) down the steps and over the bridge to the old power station buildings.

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As we went over the bridge, we saw two people kayaking down the gorge. It made me rather envious, as I would have loved to have been able to join them. However, I don't think my skill level would've been up to what was required for that level of water!

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Reading all the information signs, both in the parking lot and down in the power station, provided a great sense of all the different things that'd happened there over the years. Development, floods, using the flying fox, rebuilding etc. Being in a picturesque location as well seemed like an added extra bonus. Making the whole area well worth the visit.

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When we first told our neighbours that we were planning to head to Tasmania for a few weeks, one of the first things they said we shouldn't miss if we were going through Launceston, was Cataract Gorge, and the monkeys at City Park. I was a bit dubious about finding monkeys in a regular cold/hot climate city park, but after completing some research... I had to agree with them, and added it to our wishlist.

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Once again, we found parking to be a bit of an issue, as it was lunch time, and it seemed like quite a few others had the same idea as us. A picnic lunch in the park. We were lucky this time though, and managed to get a free spot (2hrs only), fairly close to the park.

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It was an excellent park. With a great playground (especially for toddlers), picnic facilities, ducks, fountains, monkeys, conservatory, and plenty of other gardens/plants and lawn space to run around in. But yes, I definitely have to say that the monkeys were the main highlight, followed very closely by the playground. Especially from Sonia's viewpoint!

Posted by Goannaray 20:51 Archived in Australia Tagged bridges monkeys parks winter rivers wildlife history tasmania launceston toddlers campgrounds cataract_gorge 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

Tamar Valley Experiences

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Unfortunately for us it was a little too late, and the kids were fast asleep when we quickly stopped at the Tamar River Conservation Area on our way up through the Tamar Valley towards Beauty Point. From 1 April to 30 September, they shut at 4pm. I had about 5 minutes to quickly run along the boardwalk to the information centre, grab some photo's and information brochures, then run back to the van. From the little bit that I did get to see, I think it would've been really nice to have been able to have the time to go for a leisurely walk through the wetlands. It would've worked really well with the pram too. Being a wetland however, this area did look and feel rather different to what we'd previously seen in our travels around Tasmania.

This tourist park is nicely situated right beside the Tamar River, and for those who're camping, has hedges around each site to help improve privacy. We were lucky and got given a site beside both the amenities and rivers edge! As we'd arrived before it got too dark, there was no way we could avoid a walk down to the waters edge. Or in our case, where the water's edge had been! The tide was out, leaving quite a long stretch of muddy beach to traverse before you could actually get to the water.

Sonia had fun running along the dry sandy strip between a sandbank and 'beach' finding all sorts of interesting things that caught her eye. While Kaden enjoyed crawling or walking with help, as far as we would let him go. Plus getting as much sand, rocks, sticks or whatever else he could grab into his mouth before we finally managed to stop him! Just about the time we decided it was time to head back and start the evening routine, Sonia decided it would be more beneficial to start walking out towards the water. Wasn't too bad until one of her thongs got stuck and she fell face first into the thick sandy mud! It was then rather funny hearing her squarking and carrying on about her stuck thong, rather than all the mud that she was now covered in! So yes, after the thong's timely rescue and some calming reassurances, everything went back to normal and the evening routine was allowed to continue!

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Platypus House and Seahorse World are situated right beside each other between the Tamar River and a bend in the West Tamar Highway (A7) near Beauty Point. By purchasing a triple ticket covering Seahorse World, Platypus House, and Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre, you're able to save a fair bit on the entrance fees. As I think I've mentioned before, both Clancy and I have already seen and experienced a fair bit of mining stuff before, so we only got a double pass to see the platypus's and seahorse's. If the kids were a bit older, we might have done all three for their benefit.

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At the Platypus House, there were four platypus and three echidna's that we were able to see. Considering Sonia and I'd already been able to see a platypus in the wild at the Warrawee Reserve near Latrobe, this visit was more for Clancy and Kaden's benefit. Sonia and I still thoroughly enjoyed it though, and we all managed to pick up a lot more information about the animals.

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A short documentary style video was shown before we went through to see the platypus. Then after spending some time attempting to get photo's and video's (not very succesful unfortunately), we were taken through to see three echidna's being fed. As soon as we walked in, the echidna's walked right up to us to smell our feet. Sonia was a bit nervous of them at first, but it wasn't long before both she and Kaden were trying to touch them and follow them around!

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There were lots of different seahorses to see (tropical, Tasmanian, other), as well as a fair variety of other fish and sea life. Clancy and I really enjoyed learning about their breeding process, and how the Seahorse World staff slowly got them ready for the live trade industry to become pets all around the world. If you're ever interested in having one as a pet, this would be the place to contact!! Sonia could've spent hours going between the different tanks, watching them all.

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  • Not enough time!!

Unfortunately for us, having spent an extra day travelling through Latrobe again, we now had to miss a few of the extra things we'd wanted to see in the Tamar Valley (ie, Low Head penguin tours, pilots station and museum, Narawntapu National Park, numerous vineyards), to start heading for the Ben Lomond National Park. If you haven't already figured out, to really experience Tasmania properly (as with anywhere really!), you need a lot of time! Especially with young children in tow!!

Posted by Goannaray 03:29 Archived in Australia Tagged children wildlife tasmania seahorse mining platypus launceston toddlers tamar_valley echidna 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! Comments (0)

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