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Entries about wildlife

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)

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

Devonport to Deloraine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What's down here Dad?

What's down here Dad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Goannaray 20:21 Archived in Australia Tagged lakes birds chocolate winter view wildlife tasmania river rocks walk pond cherry lighthouse picnic playground platypus latrobe toddlers warrawee_forest_reserve 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! northern_central_tasmania interstate_overseas Comments (0)

Hello again... Launceston!

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

Launceston

  • Accommodation

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

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

'Me!'

'Me!'

'Mine Dad'

'Mine Dad'

'White plug'

'White plug'

'Birds'... 'Bear'

'Birds'... 'Bear'

'Mine Mum, Dista'

'Mine Mum, Dista'

'Mine boots!'

'Mine boots!'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Goannaray 19:51 Archived in Australia Tagged bridges monkeys parks winter wildlife history tasmania river launceston campground toddlers cataract_gorge 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! northern_central_tasmania interstate_overseas Comments (0)

Tamar Valley Experiences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Not enough time!!

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

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

Scottsdale to Bicheno

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Goannaray 20:24 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls birds winter view ocean wildlife memorial tasmania river rocks walk sculpture creek lookout campground bay_of_fires toddlers wood_carving 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! eastern_tasmania interstate_overseas Comments (0)

Bicheno to Triabunna

Via Freycinet National Park

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

Bicheno

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  • Sonia, Kaden and I enjoyed the playground at the Bicheno East Coast Holiday Park while Clancy finished packing up, then off to start the days exploration.
  • Diamond Island:

I'd previously read that it's possible to walk out to Diamond Island at low tide. Unfortunately for us, I later found out when we got into town, that low tide had been at 05:30am or 06:00am that morning. So no adventuring out to Diamond Island for us.

These were great to see (I think the huge rock sitting beside the blowhole is Rocking Rock, not 100% sure though!). With regular, decent sized spouts of water shooting up into the air, and plenty of large picturesque red rocks to enjoy running and jumping on.
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Freycinet National Park

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  1. 1. Friendly Beaches - Nice long stretch of sandy beach, with a few sections of rocks running down to the water. Seemed like there were some good spots available for camping as well if we hadn't needed to keep moving south.

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  1. 2. Richardsons Beach - This was easily accessed from the Freycinet National Park Visitor Centre, and provided some nice views over Great Oyster Bay. A short walk that was perfectly fine for a pram.

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  1. 3. Honeymoon Bay - We found this to be a really nice spot to enjoy a picnic lunch, and had it pretty much to ourselves for the time that we were there. Sonia and I enjoyed climbing up onto a soon to be island rock as the tide was coming in, then rejoined Clancy and Kaden to find more rocks that just begged to be clambered on. The water was calm and really clear as well, allowing us to see all sorts of interesting things amongst the rocks under the water.

  • Cape Tourville Lighthouse:

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The boardwalk/track up to and around the lighthouse was wheelchair accessible, and provided some amazing views looking south along the coastline.

  • Sleepy Bay:

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Another picturesque bay with contrasting red rocks, water, and sky. Nice short walk down some steps to the lookout vantage point. The track continues on to Little Gravelly Beach, but lunch was calling, so no visit from us this time.

  • Wineglass Bay Lookout:

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Well worth the time to climb all the steps to get there. The views are just stunning! After completing the Cape Tourville circuit walk and then clambering over a lot of rocks with Sonia and Kaden at Honeymoon Bay, Clancy really didn't think he'd survive the walk to and from Wineglass Bay Lookout, so opted to stay with the kids at the van and watch the wallabies around the carpark area.

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I found that the first third of the track (or there abouts) would've been prammable, before the steps started, and never seemed to stop till getting right up to the lookout. A lot of track work seemed to be occuring while we were there as well, with numerous signs up explaining detours and closures of different tracks. I would've loved to have been able to share the awesome view from the lookout with Clancy, Sonia and Kaden, but ended up returning to find they'd enjoyed themselves just about as much watching the wallabies. The return trip dramatically got shortened for me, as I decided to have some fun and run (well, not really run as such, but more like a child pretending to be a horse!) down the steps! Hadn't really done this since coming down off a mountain with my brother quite a few years ago. Managed to stay on my feet and thoroughly enjoyed it! Reducing the total walk time for me down to about 45 minutes.

Coles Bay to Triabunna

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  • Another really nice, picturesque drive. With views of vineyards, bush, rolling farmland, and never ending coastline.

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An interesting convict bridge off the side of the Tasman Highway near Swansea, with stones set up like spikes on the top of the bridge walls.

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We'd rung ahead, and found that yes, this park was open at this time of year. They were quite happy for us to arrive late, choose a site, utilise the amenities and backpacker kitchen, then see them for payment in the morning. When we asked them in the morning, they highly recommended visiting Maria Island if we were prepared for longer walks and bike rides, as the ferry was free for the short time that we were there. Unfortunately for us, Clancy didn't think he'd be up to that with two young children in tow, so on we continued towards Port Arthur.

Posted by Goannaray 20:10 Archived in Australia Tagged bridges trees view ocean wildlife beach tasmania rocks walk lighthouse lookout blowhole wineglass_bay toddlers bicheno freycinet_national_park 2_toddlers_in_winter_tasmania! eastern_tasmania interstate_overseas Comments (0)

Weekend Getaway 1: South West WA - Busselton Jetty

Saturday - Monday: Harvey... Gnomesville... Donnybrook... Busselton Jetty... Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse... Ngilgi Cave

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View Wkend Getaway 1 - South West WA (Mar 2013) on Goannaray's travel map.

Looking back to shore

Looking back to shore

We arrived into a very busy Busselton just before lunch time on Sunday, and were rather unsure how far we'd end up having to walk to get to the Busselton Jetty due to parking issues. We were pleasantly surprised and found a fairly well shaded spot really close to the jetty and information centre. Zipped into the information centre to pick up whatever information we could find (specifically a list of available campgrounds in the area, and what there was to do surrounding the jetty), then onto the jetty itself to purchase tickets to the Underwater Observatory (UWO) and have a quick look through the museum.

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The first available tickets were for in 3hrs time and also included a return trip on the Jetty Train. This worked out really well, allowing us to enjoy a relaxed lunch and swim. We got a few interesting looks over lunch, having a picnic around the back of our dual cab hilux. We'd parked reversed up to a carpark island with pine trees in it providing plenty of shade, so laying the tailgate down for a table, Clancy sitting on one end of it, Sonia clambering all over the baggage in the tray, Kaden in his pram, and me on a camp chair... we enjoyed a quick, cheap, make as much mess as you want (within reason!), picnic lunch! Only thing we forgot was to take a photo!

Window 2

Window 2

Fish!

Fish!

Going for a swim, we found the water rather cold at first, but soon got used to it and rather enjoyed it. It was nice and calm while we were there, so mixing that with the gentle slope of the beach, it made for a rather fun and enjoyable, kid friendly experience. Clancy wasn't too enthused on getting wet, so Sonia and Kaden took turns begging Mum for 'spin/swing' out in the deeper water. Some older folk enjoying a relaxing swim nearby pointed out a decent sized crab slowly scuttling away in the water, not far from where I was spinning/swinging the kids. I'm glad they did, as not only did I not want to get nipped, but it was interesting to watch as it slowly continued on it's way.

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To get to the end of the 1.8km jetty, you can walk, take the train, or possibly even ride a bike. We decided to take the train considering it was included with the UWO ticket, and would let us get away faster to head to our camp for the night. As it was a long weekend with rather warm weather, there were plenty of people enjoying the jetty. Fishing, walking, swimming, jumping/diving off the jetty... people everywhere! The train was well and truly at full capacity as well. One group of people who arrived a bit later during the boarding time ended up having to find individual seats scattered throughout the length of the train, rather than being able to sit together which they weren't too happy with. But yes, it was an enjoyable ride for all, and made the trip to the end of the jetty a fair bit faster and less strenuous than walking.

End of Busselton Jetty

End of Busselton Jetty

Busselton Under Water Observatory

Busselton Under Water Observatory

Window 1

Window 1

The Underwater Observatory was great! It's basically a huge 9.5m diameter pipe or chamber with stairs slowly spiralling down around the inside of the walls. Windows at various levels allow you to look out at the fish and coral of the artificial reef growing underneath the jetty. Sonia and Kaden enjoyed looking out at all the fish and coral, but I think the stairs were a bit more enticing to them. Constantly wanting to run up and down. It's about 8m down to the ocean floor, and after listening to the guide's explanations on the way down the stairs, you're able to stay down there nearly as long as you want. Bearing in mind, if you miss the return train trip, you'll have to walk!

Window 3

Window 3

More Stairs!

More Stairs!


Posted by Goannaray 20:33 Archived in Australia Tagged bridges ocean wildlife beach walk western_australia busselton weekend_toddler_adventures_wa south_west_wa wkend_adventures_swregion other_sw_wa_areas Comments (0)

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