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World Trip Our World Trip - Return to simplicity and raw beauty of the nature


AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 24 April 2010 | Views [680]

Narrow pass between south and north B islands

Narrow pass between south and north B islands

Eight months has passed since our return from RWT-1 and what a life here at Blue Bay it was! Living in small one bedroom unit just 300m from beautiful beach was comfortably easy and we had no difficulties to adjust to such lifestyle… but it’s time to go to another adventure trip. The only issue making this somewhat difficult will be eight months absence from children and sweet grandchildren. Well, we’ll see them again soon.

As little warm-up first we explore Tasmania for 11 days before we fly to Sri Lanka.

Saturday, 20 March we arrive to Launceston only to discover that Bargain Rentals completely stuffed up our booking for a campervan. No one is in the office; guy who answers mobile (previously given to us by Bargain Rentals) does not know anything about our booking but promised to get someone soon. Manager Tim gets very rude and abusive refusing to accept any responsibility. After few hours and many arguments he offers smaller campervan from Tassie Motor Shack. Having no other option we accept and by 5pm we leave Launceston to start exploring Tasmania, and we do it in a clockwise direction. Apparently sun does not go down until about 7pm so we should be able to make it to St. Helen on the east coast before sunset. Our first evening at local caravan park is quiet and cold … we are not used these sort of temperatures. After dinner at local RSL we found nice refuge under duna inside our new home. Morning is grey and occasional drizzle rules out any trips to Bay of Fires, at least for now. Instead we decide to explore area around Weldborough starting with 90m Colombo waterfalls and amazing surrounding rainforest, then visit to cheese factory followed by apple-cider on tap at historic hotel. Extra adrenalin comes with our car getting stuck on sandy road – Iva tries to help pushing but car slips further and further down the hill. Rocks and sand fly from rear tires and I feel suddenly very cold. How the heck are we going to get out of this forest? We need to prevent further slipping so we place few large rocks behind back wheels, offload heavy backpacks and with Iva’s strong determination I manage to get car back on flatter part of the  road. Soon we are back on bitumen thinking whether we should take this campervan off-road again. Late afternoon clearing weather looks promising and we head off to Bay of Fires. Tonight we stay at free camping grounds right on the beach. Bright starry night is peaceful and also very cold but 7am sunrise seen from our car-bed more then compensates for all sufferings. What followed that day blew our minds away – stunning turquoise waters blended with hot orange algae covered rocks forms surreal natural mosaic. Truly spectacular! Taking pictures, more pictures, just can’t stop… but once more it’s time to move on and by mid-afternoon we arrive to Bicheno. Distances in Tasmania are relatively short and roads are good with little traffic so on average we spend no more then a couple of hours behind the wheel every day. Bicheno is famous for colonies of little penguins living on its shore and tonight we are going on a mission. By 9pm whispering and shivering we hide amongst large boulders but no sightings of these small cute creatures so we decide to call the mission off. Next morning locals tell us we should have waited much longer. Perhaps we should, but who knows…?

Few scrambled eggs for breakfast is a good start and by 9am we follow the coast further south to reach Freycinet National Park before lunch. Almost clear skies look promising – with our daypacks filled with water and few sandwiches we start 7km return hike to Wineglass Bay beach… and what a view from the lookout!!! Turquoise water in this nicely curved bay is plain amazing and we cannot resist to take many pictures we used to know only from postcards. Another hour of somewhat steeper descent down to the beach is just as rewarding - sitting on beach we eat our lunch while we soak up the serenity of this place. Well worth the effort … well we still have to make it back to the car park. Unfortunately we did not pre-book a camp site at the park and ranger suggests we can stay 8km west of Coles Bay town. Before retiring for the day we make a short trip to the lighthouse with nice views. Small campfire keeps us warm as well as a bottle of red. Wednesday morning we leave fairly early because we want to catch ferry to Maria Island … to our disappointment we miss the ferry by half an hour. Hmm, never mind, we’ll do something else. No point waiting here for another day we decide to continue further south. At 5pm Port Arthur becomes our new home base for tonight. Short sightseeing and dinner at local pub is all we can manage before calling the day off, tomorrow we’ll have early morning. It is still dark when alarm goes off. While everyone is still sleeping we quietly leave caravan park for few hours drive to Bruny Island ferry which leaves at 9:30am and we cannot miss it. All worked out ok and by 11am we sit on a 2x400hp speed boat, sharing it with another 20 people for next three hours. Unforgettable experience! Not those 20 people… dramatic coastline and abundant wildlife were stars of the show. Few large colonies of seals inhabit the most southern tip of the island where Pacific and South oceans meet showing off their powers. Strong waves play with our boat and standing up while taking photos takes some good balancing skills. Truly amazing boat trip this was. Driving back to ferry we stop at narrow neck joining south and north Bruny islands only to discover many fairy penguins found their homes on slopes by the beach. Late afternoon we arrive to Hobart to meet my daughter Monika and we all enjoy nice dinner at Drunken Admiral restaurant. Friday morning after breaky and few farewell hugs we stop at Cadbury Chocolate factory on the way to western half of Tasmania. Needles to say what chocoholics do at such place … mnam,mnam. Soo many calories need to be burnt and what a better place then to stop at Mount Field National Park for short walk to nearby waterfalls through lush rainforest. Very satisfying! Chocolate and rainforest too. Landscape starts to rapidly change as we drive further to the north-west. Tasmanian hydroelectric system exploiting 100’s of meters of gravity is pretty impressive and we start to appreciate dramatic ruggedness of this part of Tasmania. At 5pm we finally arrive at Lake St Clare. It is very cold, the National Park office is already closed and there is only one (and not exactly cheap) pub opened at Derwent Bridge. Camping site in the National Park is ridiculously expensive but we strike lucky with the owner of local petrol station and he let us to stay at adjacent car park. Hot soup for dinner keeps our bodies warm for a couple of hours and only bed and duna can save us from freezing. Next morning after breakfast we enjoy a short walk by the lake looking for elusive platypus with no luck of any sightings. Staff at the Info centre is very helpful providing maps and hints on “not to be missed” places – Franklin River rainforest and Nelson waterfalls are just few mentioned. Descent from the Franklin-Gordon N.P. plateau to Queenstown is quite chilling and I would not want our car breaks to fail now. Mining activity in this region is evident and the moon-like landscape lacks any green growth. Big difference to what we saw just short while ago. We had no plans to stay here but closer look at the town changed our minds … tomorrow we could ride historic steam train from Queenstown to Strahan. Very tempting indeed! On the train we learn short history of mining presented in very entertaining way by young tourist guide … with hints of serious and visible ecological damage done to the area over time. Hopefully the river will have its life back in not so distant future. We also tried our own gold panning skills … and bingo! Iva found a speck of pure gold which would easily sell at $25! … but instead of increasing our asset base she decides to keep it as souvenir. The four hour trip is definitely worth of every penny as steam engine puffs up 1:16 rail slope through the most beautiful rainforest, once away from Queenstown. Late afternoon we return back to Queenstown by bus and continue little further north so we get closer to Cradle Mountain N.P. Weather has turned bad, it is raining and cold. Free camping site near Tuloch recommended by a tourist book had long time been converted into a rubbish dump. An alternative is to stay somewhere in bush, which seemed a good idea until Iva found few cuddly leaches around her ankles. Hey, do not panic! They are not deadly .. just ugly .. and maybe hungry too. Monday 29 March is the day we are going to see the most talked about attraction in Tasmania – Cradle Mountain. Weather is still pretty bad but we are determined to walk 6km around The Dove Lake, does not matter what. Equipped with Gortex jackets and beanies we start the hike. Can not be more lucky … clouds are receding and sunny breaks become frequent. The lake path is simply amazing, one cannot resist thinking that if ferries exist they must live here. The Cradle Mountain undressed from its white veil of clouds for few seconds here and then and we take every opportunity to shoot from many angels. Not having enough of nature’s serenity we extend our hike by another few km to Ronies Creek where we are lucky again – echidna crossed the board-walk that close Iva almost stepped on her. Ten minutes later Iva meets a wombat face to face. It is truly her day!

Tired but excited we return to car park and shortly continue our journey to Doloraine where we stay in a caravan park over night. Tomorrow we spare for Launceston, on our last day of this trip we’d like to visit Cataract Gorge. It is unusual to find such a wild nature walk right in the middle of town and 6km round hike with two suspension bridges is quite an attraction for locals and visitors. A visit to Josef Chromy winery was disappointing because we just missed the lunch time and Mr. Josef Chromy (migrated to Tasmania from Czechoslovakia after IIWW) has been away. We drive to nearby Evendale where local markets grounds can be used for overnight campers. Baked beans and sausage provide fuel for last night sleep. Large disk of full moon rising above horizon will not help good sleep tonight. By 8am we return the van at the airport and shortly after we see Tasmania from the air heading towards Melbourne.

There were two reasons to stay at Melbourne – Gypsy Kings concert tonight is main one; secondly budget airline AirAsia does not operate from Sydney. Hotel Cosmopolitan at St Kilda exceeds our expectations as staff upgraded our accommodation from Basic to Deluxe upon arrival. Soaking up Melbournian lifestyle we enjoy meals and few bears in all sorts of pubs and cafes for next few days. After all we have nothing else to do. Gypsy Kings did not disappoint and audience including two of us could not ignore the persuasive rhythms.

Saturday 3 April at 01:45 after midnight we leave Australia for eight months backpacking trip starting at Sri Lanka.


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