A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Goannaray

Launceston to Hobart...

Via Campbell Town, Ross, & Oatlands

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

A nice frosty morning to leave our accommodation in Launceston for Hobart. We'd stayed at the Village Family Motor Inn and enjoyed our brief stop there. Breakfast included, Playground which Sonia didn't want to leave, Games room for older kids, Heated pool which we didn't get time to test out, and about the only downside for us was the lack of a bath for Kaden. The room did have a big handbasin though which worked perfectly fine for the job.

The drive from Launceston to Hobart along the number one or Midlands Highway, otherwise known as the Heritage Highway, travels though large tracts of pasture and farmland with many historical towns to visit. The ones we visited were Campbell Town, Ross, and Oatlands. Everyone's colds were still going strong, so it was both good and bad that every time we started driving again, the kids would almost immediately fall asleep. Good, in that it made for a peaceful drive and they needed the sleep. Bad, as the stops at towns were relatively frequent and woke them up.

It also seemed to be the day for stuff to fall off vehicles! Between Launceston and Hobart, we saw one truck lose a strap off the machinery he was carrying, one truck lose a right angle plastic guard thing that prevents the fraying of straps going over his load of 1000L water/chemical tank containers, and dodged two small square hay bales before passing the driver of a ute re-tying his load of hay beside the highway.

We stopped to look at the 'Red Bridge' that convicts built in 1838. Sonia and Kaden enjoyed the swings and chasing the ducks, while I managed a closer look at the amazing tree stump woodcarvings near the bridge.
Campbell Town Ducks

Campbell Town Ducks

Red Bridge, Campbell Town

Red Bridge, Campbell Town

Tree Stump Wood Carving, Campbell Town

Tree Stump Wood Carving, Campbell Town

The town of Ross had numerous old buildings to look at, but we mainly stopped to look at the 'Ross Bridge' that convicts had completed in 1836 over the Macquarie River. Well worth the stop to look at. We passed a film in the making on the way through town to get to the information centre and Tasmanian Wool Centre which we all had a quick look through. Rather interesting information and history on things pertaining to that area and Tasmania, and wool in general. I enjoyed it a bit more than what Clancy or the kids did though as I'm more interested in that sort of thing, having grown up and enjoyed working with merino sheep.

I would have liked to have been able to walk out to look at the Female Factory Site, but Clancy and the kids reckoned it was time to keep moving after a detour to have a play on the playground coming back from looking at the bridge.
View from hill in Ross

View from hill in Ross

Old Church in Ross

Old Church in Ross

Ross Bridge Sign

Ross Bridge Sign

Ross Bridge

Ross Bridge

Ross Bridge

Ross Bridge

Macquarie River, Ross

Macquarie River, Ross

There was no way we could go past Oatlands without stopping in to look at the Callington Mill. We all enjoyed a tasty lunch there, and I stayed in the warmth of the cafe to breastfeed Kaden while Clancy and Sonia went to play on the awesome playground behind the mill. We then had enough time to walk down to look at Lake Dulverton where we saw a pair of Swans and numerous other birds on the lake, but didn't have time to do any of the walks available. So it was back up to the mill, where Sonia and I went on a tour of the mill while Clancy and Kaden wandered around town, seeing what could be found.
Callington Mill

Callington Mill

Sonia and Wombat, Oatlands

Sonia and Wombat, Oatlands

Playground near Callington Mill

Playground near Callington Mill

Lake Dulverton, Oatlands

Lake Dulverton, Oatlands

Sonia and I really enjoyed the Callington Mill tour. Me with all the information, history, and seeing how it all worked (I'd grown up grinding our own wheat with a home made electric stone grinder), and Sonia with all the climbing up and down steps to get to each floor. She also enjoyed having her own special hard hat to wear! No camera's were allowed inside the mill though, just in case they accidentally fell in, and there was no touching of the grain allowed either. I purposely had to remember this one, as I knew that both Sonia and I would each want to grab a handful when we saw it! (I'm so used to doing this to look at the grain and eat/chew some when at my parents farm!).
Sonia's Hard Hat!

Sonia's Hard Hat!

We finished the tour and Sonia amused herself jumping in and out of triangle shadows made by a wooden gate, while I looked at some more information on the entrance sign. It was then a round about route following Sonia's lead (which she thoroughly enjoyed being able to freely do) through the mill gardens to find Clancy and Kaden.
Triangle Shadows

Triangle Shadows

Callington Mill

Callington Mill

This town was also full of old buildings and interesting shops that I would've happily spent more time wandering amongst like Clancy had been able to do. But it was time to move on and enjoy the numerous different topiary along the main street, and silhouette signs beside the highway heading south. Sonia enjoyed looking out for the different silhouette pictures, before once again falling asleep.
Old Woolpress, Oatlands

Old Woolpress, Oatlands

We eventually got to Hobart, where our first stop was to the neighbours of one of my school friends who lived there. My friend and her family had flown out for a trip back to WA to see family the same time that we'd left for Tasmania. They'd left a bundle of winter gear for us and the kids, plus other things (toys, books, crayons, paper etc.), with their neighbours for us to pick up if we wanted it. We enjoyed a nice quick visit with them, then on towards the centre of Hobart to find our accommodation for the next seven nights.

  • Woolmers Inn, Sandy Bay

Two bedroom apartment which we'd picked up on a special deal through Ezy Flights.
Were able to save money and cook our own meals in the apartment kitchen.
Shopping centre 2 blocks away, and numerous other shops and restaurants very close.
Relatively close for walking to Hobarts central sights/highlights.
Good heating.

Posted by Goannaray 20:40 Archived in Australia Tagged bridges winter tasmania ross toddlers oatlands callington_mill campbell_town 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! central_tasmania_hobart_swtasma interstate_overseas Comments (0)

'Busier' Days... 'Slower' Days...

Cadbury Chocolate Factory and The Springs area on Mt Wellington

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

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One thing you learn very quickly when dealing with young children, (especially near toddler age!), is that no matter what you're trying to do, it'll take double, or triple... or even quadruple the amount of time it normally would! Apply this to travel, and you've either got to accept it and alter your traveling style to accommodate, or be constantly fighting it, yet trying to remain calm at the same time. Unfortunately, I think I find myself in the latter category way too often! To try and reduce the frequency of this occurring, I thought it'd be a good idea to try and alternate 'busier' days with 'slower' ones.

Considering I'm now writing this in hindsight after returning home... Yes, it was an excellent idea, but wasn't always achieved for various reasons. Same goes for this blog! I'd been hoping to not get any further than about a week behind with our experiences. Let's just say I was lucky to only be a day or two behind with notes in my journal! Very thankful I persevered and can now use them to help complete these blog entries. I have great respect for those who are trying to study, or do anything involving sitting down with pen and paper or at a computer for any length of time, with two or more toddlers also requiring their constant attention!

And yes, Tuesday the 9th of July 2013 had been planned to hopefully be one of those 'slower' days. But did we succeed?... With a trip to the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, a trip to a local GP for Clancy, some grocery shopping and lunch back at our hotel/apartment, and finally a fun afternoon trip up Mount Wellington to see some snow... I'm glad to say I think we did! (Relatively so!)

Sonia enjoying the Cadbury delivery truck!

Sonia enjoying the Cadbury delivery truck!


Cadbury Chocolate Factory

  • As Clancy says, not actually being able to go on a factory tour 'feels like a let down'.
  • We still enjoyed the talk and video provided on how they operated and made their chocolate though.
  • Cheap/discounted chocolate available in their shop was good. Couldn't help picking up a few things.
  • The only thing Sonia really enjoyed was the Cadbury
  • Clancy 'meant to ask how many Oompa Loompa's they have working at the factory. Because I (he) hadn't seen any at that stage.' - If anyone else has ever seen any, or asked this question... we'd love to know!!

View from the springs carpark lookout on Mt Wellington

View from the springs carpark lookout on Mt Wellington

The Springs, Mount Wellington

  • The Pinnacle Road was closed at The Springs car park which was at the second gate.
  • There's a great sign at the bottom of the road before you get up too far, letting you know at which gate the road is closed from.
  • There were large patches of snow which by now was mostly ice, which Sonia thoroughly enjoyed playing with. She mainly just wanted to hold it between her hands!
  • Clancy found some snow soft enough to make two snowballs. One of which had to get thrown at me and Kaden! The other being given to Sonia and Kaden to enjoy... which promptly got eaten!
  • I went and asked one of the council workers who was there directing traffic, and he recommended we check out the Hobart City Council website for updated information on the mountain and road if we were thinking about going up again another day.

Posted by Goannaray 22:35 Archived in Australia Tagged snow chocolate winter tasmania hobart toddlers mt_wellington cadbury_chocolate_factory 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! central_tasmania_hobart_swtasma interstate_overseas Comments (0)

Bruny Island Cruises

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

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Before leaving for Tasmania, we decided we'd splurge on one big tour while we were there. After some research into different tours available all over the state, we decided on Bruny Island Cruises. One of two Pennicott Wilderness Journeys available to do in Tasmania, and well worth the expense.

There were three different options we could choose from;
1. Drive to Bruny Island ourselves and start the 3hr wilderness cruise from their Bruny Island Cruise office in Adventure Bay.
2. Drive to Kettering and catch their 9am daily tour bus which would then take us to their Adventure Bay office for the 3hr cruise.
3. Do the full day tour from Hobart. Leaving Hobart at 8am and returning around 5:30pm which would include all the above plus morning tea and lunch.

We couldn't figure out which option would best suit us, so decided to go with what they'd recommended to us considering we had two toddlers tagging along, and drove to their office in Adventure Bay to start the tour from there. Glad we did, as we were able to take extra things with us, and could do things before and after the cruise at our own pace. Ie, toileting Sonia, eating lunch, enjoying the Neck lookout point and chocolate factory. For anyone else who has two or more young children and would like to do the cruise, I'd definitely recommend doing the same, and to take some extra warm clothing.

Kettering Panorama

Kettering Panorama

Kaden and Clancy on the ferry to Bruny Island

Kaden and Clancy on the ferry to Bruny Island

I'll point out here for those who're thinking of taking a hire car to Bruny Island... check you're allowed to do so before booking. Or be willing to undertake the risks involved. I'd seen and/or heard that many of the hire car companies wouldn't allow their vehicles to go to Bruny Island when I was doing my research. We ended up hiring our car through Avis, and they allowed us to take the car over to Bruny Island, so long as we signed an 'Avis Bruny Island Authorisation' document prior to, or at pick up.

Ginger tablets were provided for those who wanted them once on the boat, and all the staff were really great! They really knew their stuff, and made it feel like as if it was a total pleasure to them to be able to share these special places with us all. They were extremely helpful, and very accommodating and tolerant of screaming, unhappy kids! Both Sonia and Kaden seemed to be in a generally grumpy mood all day unfortunately with nothing seeming to ever happen the way they wanted it to! We'd had to wake them up earlier than usual to ensure we made it down to the ferry at Kettering in time (45minutes from Hobart to Kettering, Ferry departed at 9:30am, Recommended we arrive 20-30minutes early), neither child had wanted to eat a proper breakfast, and they both really disliked the wind with a passion! Particularly when the boat was moving forward, increasing the wind level.

It wasn't too bad though, as it wasn't long before they fell asleep. Most probably from the motion and vibrations, similar to driving in a car. We were very thankful for the recommendation to sit at the back of the boat. It might not have had the best vantage point, but it was much calmer and less windy. They were really considerate though, and turned the boat around at each major sight so those at the back, or on the opposite side of the boat could see as well. Sonia was also able to lay down and sleep, all rugged up while Clancy stood for a bit. I initially had Kaden in the Ergo baby carrier on my front under my big jacket, with the massive raincoat they provided over the both of us. He didn't much like this, preferring to just be held in my arms, with me holding jackets around him. Less cramped and more free, allowing him to move and suck his thumb easier.

P7100429.jpgWell wrapped!

Well wrapped!

Sonia trying to get out of the wind

Sonia trying to get out of the wind

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All the things we saw were amazing!! Rocks, cliffs, islands, seaweed, albatross, seals (Their smell nearly tipped Clancy over the edge of his control on his sea sickness!), friendly prions zipping around just above the surfaces of the waves, and we even got to see a whale spouting! One of the crew spotted it's first spout, and with a bit of patience, the rest of us got to see it's second surfacing spout. Shooting through between the rock columns, and going part way into a sea cave was also a lot of fun!

The crew were also keeping a helpful eye out for those who might have been struggling with sea-sickness. Encouraging them to come stand near the back with them, and to watch the horizon. The barbecue shapes and timtams passed around on the return trip were greatly appreciated, and got us thinking about the hot food Clancy had ordered prior to our departure, that would be ready for us on our return.

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We took our time enjoying lunch with Sonia and Kaden, so didn't have time to get down to see the Cape Bruny Lighthouse, or many of the other things we had listed for our day on Bruny Island. The view from the Neck lookout was worth the number of steps needed to climb to the top. Sonia wasn't such a fan of them either until Clancy and I brought up the '1... 2... 3... Jump!' game. Holding a hand each and helping her to jump a step or two. Only after she'd walked up three steps by herself each time mind you! The Ergo baby carrier came in handy once again here for Kaden, and once she'd gotten to the top, Sonia couldn't help but exploit her momentary freedom to explore further. Quickly being brought back by Clancy.

The final stop before getting back onto the ferry and heading for home, was the Bruny Island Providore, or Chocolate Factory as it's otherwise known. Sonia and Kaden had fun playing with the penguin sign, while Clancy decided which flavours of fudge he wanted. Keeping in mind he'd have to share it with the rest us!

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Freedom! Lets go!

Oh no you don't!

Oh no you don't!

Our 2 little penguins!

Our 2 little penguins!

To really enjoy all that Bruny Island and the southwest of Tasmania has to offer, I'd definitely recommend either staying over a night on the island, or atleast staying somewhere a lot closer than Hobart, and doing other things in the area at the same time. It was good to have Hobart as a base, but it would've made seeing everything south west of Hobart a lot easier time wise, to have stayed a night or two down there somewhere.

Posted by Goannaray 08:24 Archived in Australia Tagged boat coast tasmania whales cruise ferry seals bruny_island toddlers sea_caves 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! central_tasmania_hobart_swtasma interstate_overseas Comments (0)

Another day around Hobart...

Mt Wellington, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Shot Tower

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

Mt Wellington

P7110013_-_Copy.jpgP7110007.jpgP7110008.jpgPanoramic view from the top of Mt Wellington view

Panoramic view from the top of Mt Wellington view

  • We checked the Hobart City Council website to see that the road up to the top of Mt Wellington was open, and off we went.
  • It was raining in Hobart when we left, so we didn't know what we would find when we got to the top. Turned out to be overcast but fine which was good.
  • There was still plenty of snow around to enjoy, with some older kids having fun sliding down a small slope not too far from the main carpark.
  • I enjoyed climbing up to the trig point marker with Sonia to enjoy the awesome 360 degree views.
  • The slightly circular information building was just as cold inside as out, and looked like it had previously had a fair bit of snow blown into it! Interesting history and stories to read about in there.
  • Once again, Sonia and Kaden did not like the cold wind that was constantly blowing.
  • They did enjoy eating and throwing snow at Dad though!
  • I would've liked more time to be able to explore, do some walks, and play some more in the snow with the kids, but it was time to go find Tassie Devils.

Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

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There it is!

What's over here?

What's over here?

  • There were plenty of different Australian animals to look at, including numerous Tasmanian Devils.
  • Both Kaden and Sonia enjoyed all the animals.
  • Sonia didn't listen to Mum and Dad frequently telling her to keep her fingers away, which allowed a pink and grey galah to get a good hold on one of her fingers! No broken skin though, and no problems keeping fingers away after that!
  • She also wasn't too sure about the big kangaroos coming chasing her for food. She still wanted to, and enjoyed feeding them though, so long as they weren't right close beside her. Preferring to give the feed pellets out of her bag of pellets to us, to feed to the roo's.
  • There was a great perspex full length viewing wall for one Tassie Devil enclosure, which was great for Sonia and Kaden. Meaning we didn't have to lift them up to see over the walls.
  • We caught the beginning of a tour after looking at all the animals, but had to leave early because the kids were starting to really complain, and really needing food by then. It was very interesting and engaging though, so well worth going on if you get the chance.
  • There were quite a number of picnic areas available, and we'd definitely recommend taking your own food if you're there over lunchtime, as meals are not available to be purchased there.
  • We ended up getting lunch at the bakery in Brighton, just down the hill from the sanctuary.

The Shot Tower

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  • We got there just as the staff were finishing up counting the cash in the till ready to close. They were really great, allowing me to quickly go through the museum and up all the steps to the top of the tower while Clancy stayed with the kids who were asleep in the car.
  • The small museum had a short video giving a brief summary of the tower, and plenty of other posters and pictures to help further explain its history. I found it rather interesting learning about how it all worked.
  • Climbing up the internal wooden spiral stairway totally reminded me of all the towers and castles we'd previously explored throughout Europe.
  • The views from the top were spectacular, and you're able to walk all the way around the top of the tower.

Posted by Goannaray 16:41 Archived in Australia Tagged snow tasmania shot_tower toddlers mt_wellington bonorong_wildlife_sanctuary tasmanian_devils 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! central_tasmania_hobart_swtasma interstate_overseas Comments (0)

A slice of Arve Road and the Tahune Airwalk

... and gumboots!

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

This turned out to be one of those days where looking back over it, you think 'There's sooo much more I could have got done'. But then, considering the things that popped up... you actually didn't do too badly!

As mentioned in a previous blog post, Clancy had needed to visit a doctor earlier in the week, where he had been diagnosed with an inguinal hernia and told to visit the hospital emergency department if things worsened. Well things had slightly degenerated since then, so it was decided a trip to emergency was warranted before we left Hobart, to confirm that things were still ok. And clarify what level of physical activity would be recommended or not. Considering we'd planned to do a lot of walks involving carrying both children, this could drastically alter our travel plans. If not destroy them altogether.

We figured going in and being able to act on whatever results were given during regular business hours would be the best thing to do, just in case a total new set of plans were needed to be made. Having experienced numerous emergency room wait times elsewhere, we were pleasantly surprised and got seen rather quickly! The staff member who assessed Clancy was great, and explained things very well. The verdict on how much he was able to do was also rather reassuring. Stating that easy to moderate walks should be fine so long as Clancy took it easy, and didn't try carrying Sonia for any of them! Worked fine for him! I didn't mind too much either, as it meant we wouldn't have to totally change our previous plans. Alter them yes, but not start again from scratch and miss out on many of the things we really wanted to see.

So having gained this knowledge, it was time to get back to exploring Tasmania! And for today... it was the Arve Road and Tahune Airwalk.

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Geeveston

  • We got to Geeveston in time for us to once again enjoy a local bakery's hot food.
  • Clancy then took Sonia to find the towns local playground, while I visited the library to quickly print off some documents and feed Kaden.
  • Looked like there was a nice area of parkland with a creek/river running through it to explore if we'd had the time for a walk as well.
  • There were also many wonderful woodcarvings of local people who'd had an impact on the community.
  • The Forest and Heritage Centre then became our meeting point, where we all enjoyed the museum, tasting different types of honey, and picked up information on Arve Road, and tickets for the airwalk.
  • Sonia really enjoyed the playground and interactive items in the museum

Arve Road

  • This's the road out to the Tahune Airwalk from Geeveston.
  • There were numerous well signed things we could look at or do along the way.

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Keogh's Creek Walk

  • A nice short loop walk, with boardwalk running beside and crossing over Keogh's Creek.
  • Sonia enjoyed being able to run free and explore (until she got reigned in by us telling her she had to be able to see us!), and climbing up into the base of a big tree.
  • I carried Kaden in the Ergo carrier, but could have easily used the pram.

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West Creek Lookout

  • This was a nice lookout to see the tops of trees and bushes covering the slopes of a deep steep valley right beside the road.
  • The sign about bushfires, and how some firefighters saved themselves in the fire of 1967 really caught my interest having experienced a few smaller fires myself in farmland.

Arve Picnic Area

  • This area looked really nice beside the Arve River as we drove past

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Big Tree Lookout

  • We actually stopped in to look at this one on the way back out from the Tahune Airwalk.
  • The lookout platform was under repair, however we were still able to see the tree and read the information signs.

Tahune Airwalk

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  • This was a great walk and well worth the cost to go on it.
  • I carried Kaden in the Ergo baby carrier as we weren't sure how many steps were likely to be involved.
  • Following the main walking tracks from the river up to the start of the airwalk platform there were quite a few steps. But the platform itself would've been fine for a pram, and it looked like they catered for wheelchair access as well with a labeled parking area beside the start of the actual airwalk platform entrance.
  • Looking out through, and then over the trees was awesome. Gave you a totally different perspective. Enabling you to appreciate the bush on a whole new level.
  • The view from the cantilever lookout was awesome!
  • Sonia once again loved being able to run free. She also liked the perspex at the end of the cantilever lookout. Totally scaring Clancy as she leant against it to look out!
  • Sonia didn't really want to keep walking after we got off the airwalk platform. Continually asking to be carried. We managed to encourage her to keep walking, counting the number of steps in each block of steps with her, and making Clancy tally them all up together! (Got up to about 67 steps. Started counting part way through though). Plus keeping an eye out for fungi.
  • There were some nice picnic areas beside the river.
  • I would've liked to have been able to do more of the walks available, but once again, kids and time did not allow.

Sonia and her starry pink gumboots!

Sonia and her starry pink gumboots!


On the return trip to Hobart, we decided to finally act on the recommendation we'd been given by my high school friend, and see if we could pick up some gumboots for Sonia. I didn't like our chances of finding anything then though as it was after 4:30pm, with many places shutting at 4pm. Was then rather surprised to find the St Vincents store in Huonville still open when we stopped so Clancy could pick up some take away chicken and chips for tea.

I grabbed one of Sonia's shoes to take as a size sample (she was fast asleep), and went to see if they had anything... nope... smaller, and much bigger... but none anywhere really near Sonia's size. Back to the car, where Sonia'd woken up and I realised the Mitre10 we'd parked in front of was also still open for another minute or two. So in we rushed to find plenty of kids gumboots in army camouflage colouring, or sparkly pink with silver stars. You can guess which one's Sonia wanted! Sorry, Kaden... pink it's going to be when you get older unless Sonia totally wears them out first! Finding the right size was then not as easy as we'd thought it'd be with all the different sizes available. I narrowed it down to 7's and 8's, with 7's looking like they fit really well right then, but 8's looking like they may have been a bit too big, but had better growth room available. Decided on the 8's, and off we went, just as they started shutting up for the night.

The next morning however, when Sonia was having fun running around with her new boots... I soon realised that we probably should've grabbed the 7's. When she'd put her feet into them and stood still, allowing me to squash the toes to see how much room there was, she'd pushed her feet as far forward as they'd go, leaving half an inch or so between her heel and the back of the boot! So yes, that's why the 7's would've felt too small for her toes to grow, and why they would've looked a better fit when she walked. Oh well, she didn't seem to have any issues walking in the 8's (or running and jumping for that matter!), so we kept them, and didn't need to struggle at any time to get them on or off whenever we got in/out of the car or campervan when we had that.

But in summary of the Arve Road and Tahune Airwalk day... we really did manage to see and do a fair bit. Especially considering the late start we'd had to the day. What with the much shorter number of daylight hours, and experiencing a day at Bruny Island, a day to do the Tahune Airwalk, and a future day to do the Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs, it was really confirming that being able to stay more local to see and do what was available in an area, would've dramatically improved a lot of things in general.

Posted by Goannaray 00:44 Archived in Australia Tagged bridges trees tasmania river walk creek playground toddlers geeveston arve_road tahune_airwalk 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! central_tasmania_hobart_swtasma interstate_overseas Comments (0)

Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs

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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 22:24 Archived in Australia Tagged trees tasmania walk cave creek pool platypus thermal_springs tree_stump hastings_cave_and_thermal_sprin 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! central_tasmania_hobart_swtasma interstate_overseas 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 15:18 Archived in Australia Tagged tasmania hobart drama toddlers louisa's_walk 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! central_tasmania_hobart_swtasma interstate_overseas 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 00:46 Archived in Australia Tagged winter tasmania campervan toddlers 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! preparation_hints/tips_summary interstate_overseas Comments (0)

Mount Field National Park

Adapting to the campervan and walking with toddlers...

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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 16:55 Archived in Australia Tagged winter tasmania walk campervan campground toddlers mount_field 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! western_tasmania interstate_overseas 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 tasmania river creek campground toddlers wall_in_the_wilderness derwent_bridge lyell_highway nelson_falls lake_st_clair 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! western_tasmania interstate_overseas Comments (0)

Queenstown

And its very accommodating laundromat!

rain
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 22:47 Archived in Australia Tagged queenstown view tasmania mine campervan lookout laundry toddlers 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! western_tasmania interstate_overseas 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 21:15 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls rain tasmania walk mine toddlers pram rosebery montezuma_falls 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! western_tasmania interstate_overseas Comments (0)

Cradle Mountain and Gowrie Park

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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 22:04 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls mountains lakes trees winter view wildlife tasmania panorama cradle_mountain toddlers 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! western_tasmania interstate_overseas 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 16:58 Archived in Australia Tagged winter tasmania sign sculpture maze toddlers tasmazia 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! northern_central_tasmania interstate_overseas Comments (0)

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