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Scottsdale to Bicheno

Wow!! Did we really do all that in 1 day?!?

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

After leaving Ben Lomond National Park and looking at some of our maps, we decided we'd head up the Camden Hill Road (C405) to cut through to the Tasman Highway (A3) to get to Scottsdale. This was another winding dirt road through forests and farmland with its fair shair of road kill. A nice drive, however the signage was a bit to be desired. We initially missed the correct turnoff for the A3, but finally figured it out when the next turnoff we came to had a sign at the junction explaining various road closures!

Phoning ahead to the number listed for the Scottsdale North East Park camping area in one of the brochures we had, we got the ok to camp there and found out it was a free campsite!! It was located at a really nice Lions park beside the A3 highway heading out of town towards Branxholm and St Helens. There were toilet and shower facilities (pay showers) available, power and water, a playground, picnic tables, shelters, and some short walking tracks. Considering our late arrival, we opted for a hot flannel face/hands/feet wash, and went straight to bed after a quick dinner. There was also a small lake beside the camping area, with quite a few large resident ducks. Clancy got a bit annoyed at them waking him up, but the kids enjoyed being able to chase them around in the morning!

Come morning, we decided to backtrack a bit to check out the Scottsdale Forest EcoCentre that we'd passed on the way into town the previous evening, only to find it didn't open on weekends. So onto the information centre, to find out that didn't open till 10:30am (was then 09:30am). After all that... we figured we may as welll continue on our way to Ralph's Falls via Legerwood.

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Legerwood is a small town not far off the Tasman Highway (A3) between Scottsdale and Branxholm. Even if you're just travelling past on the highway, it's well worth the short detour in to Legerwood to see these amazing memorials to some WWI ANZACS, and read their stories.

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Ralph's Falls are located approximately half - 2/3 the way along the Ringarooma/Pyengana Link Road or Mt Victoria Road (travelling from Ringarooma). It's a winding gravel road that'd only been opened relatively recently in 1998, joining Ringarooma and Pyengana, travelling through the Mt Victoria Forest Reserve. Considering the rather overcast day it was turning out to be, we weren't too sure if it was going to be worth it or not, but decided we may as well enjoy the drive and see how things developed. As it turned out, we ended up not being able to see a thing when we got there due to thick heavy fog.

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The drive itself was interesting enough with some rather nice views before the fog closed in, and despite the extremely cold dampness and occaisional misty rain, I think we all generally enjoyed the short walk to Norm's Lookout. I wouldn't recommend it in foggy conditions, but if it's not foggy, I reckon there would be some amazing views. Once again we had to keep an eagle eye on Sonia, as all she wanted to do was jump off rocks or logs, and run along the wet slippery track. This behaviour was quickly stopped by a firm hold from Clancy as we got closer to the lookout however, as the last 50m or so was a bit too risky for that sort of thing from a 2.5yr old! The track became rather narrow and was very close to the cliff edge.

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Near the carpark area, there was a decent sized BBQ/picnic shelter available, with utensils chained to the walls. Satisfying a toddlers curiosity looking through everything, we came across a Geocache by total accident! Clancy and I had previously enjoyed finding a few of these when we'd been based in Sydney, and hadn't even thought about possibly looking for some on our travels around Tasmania! So after signing the log and replacing the cache, on we continued to St Columba Falls.

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We were glad to find that these falls were below the cloud level that we'd previously experienced up at Ralph's Falls. There were good toilet and picnic facilities availalbe, and the top half of the falls were visible from the start of the track at the parking area. Some rather interesting historical information was available in the small shelter at the start of the track, including the background of the 'Pub in the Paddock', and a story about a lady who went missing for 9 days chasing a lost cow.

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We were expecting quite a few steps so carried Kaden in the Ergo baby carrier, but the walking track down to the falls and viewing platform ended up being quite suitable for a pram. The falls themselves were awesome, and well worth the trip. We were also lucky in seeing an echidna crossing the road. Rather fat and fluffy compared to the ones I'm used to seeing in WA.

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After stopping for some lunch, lollies and information at St Helens, we headed on up the coast to Binalong Bay and The Gardens. The coastal red rocks were great! It would've been even more amazing on a sunny day, contrasting white sand, red rocks, ocean, blue sky, and green trees/bushes. This area is well deserving of the positive reviews it receives.

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Kaden slept through most of the time we spent there, while Sonia thoroughly enjoyed being able to run and jump all over the large rocks and sand. I would've loved to have utilised one of the many free campsites available near the beaches to see the rocks at sunrise, but once again, we had to keep moving. This time it was so we could hopefully get down to Bicheno in time to join a penguin tour.

As we were leaving Binalong Bay, we rang Bicheno Penguin Tours to see if there was any space available for us on the tour that night if we managed to make it down in time. There was, and thankfully, we got there with just enough time to pay for the tour and get on the tour bus, carrying the extra jackets we'd need to combat the cold wind. We weren't allowed to take any video's or photo's on the tour ourselves, but could later email the tour company to receive a copy of photo's that they had.

The kids were understandably hungry and tired, but did amazingly well to stay as quiet and as still as they did for the whole tour. We found it best to carry Kaden, and let Sonia walk (occaisonally carrying her as well). It was really good seeing all the penguins coming up through the rocks and steep banks to camp in all sorts of random hiding places. They were rather noisy, with interesting songs or calls, and apparantly smelt pretty bad when they opened their bowels. Thankfully, we didn't get to fully experience that side of them! The guides were also very excellent. Really knowledgeable, and interactive with all ages on the tour.

We'd organised to stay at the Bicheno East Coast Holiday Park, and had informed them that we could be late (ie, after reception shut, but before 10pm). No problem, just press the buzzer. Following the penguin tour, we ordered pizza from the nearby restaurant (very yum!), and finally got to the campground by about 7:15pm. Reception was obviously shut, so I pressed the buzzer and received a somewhat surprising response. A not very happy lady answered, stating we'd interupted her dinner!! I remained polite and didn't say much, but really felt like saying 'Sorry, but we did warn you, and the person I spoke to (I'd previously spoken to a man on the phone) said that would be fine, and to just push the buzzer when we got here!'

I'm glad I didn't say it, as the rest of our stay there was quite positive. We'd been given a very handy spot close to the bathrooms, laundry and enclosed kitchen, and Sonia and Kaden loved the playground that was available before leaving in the morning.

Posted by Goannaray 20:24 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls birds winter view ocean wildlife memorial tasmania river rocks walk sculpture creek lookout campground bay_of_fires toddlers wood_carving 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! eastern_tasmania interstate_overseas

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