The time had finally come for us to head over to Tasmania and we could not wait! Coming off the back of our overnight hike at Wilson’s Prom, a 10hr ferry ride of relaxation and hanging out was exactly what we needed (at least one of us thought so) NB: it wasn’t Chocco.
For what seems like the first time on the whole trip we were where we needed to be the night before we needed to be there. Camping out in the Port Melbourne car park with everyone else was all kinds of fun and entertaining. It’s quite a sight seeing everyone one very indiscreetly camping out in a residential car park.
We were due to board The Spirit of Tasmania at about 8:00am, and as we all emerged, eating our brekkie out the back of our cars, vans and everything in between, there was certainly some excitement in the air. The Spirit itself looks absolutely amazing docked in the harbour.
Of course we’d made it here with a whole night to spare so when it came time to board we (Chocco) decided it would be best if he take off with the camera while we were in line to board to get a good photo…lord help us, will we ever learn. This resulted in me driving onto the loading deck and getting all the way to quarantine with no sign of Chocco.
I was madly deciding whether to be that annoying person who holds up the queue or drive on through without him when said photographer comes sprinting back FINALLY with admittedly some amazing photos of the ferry. Now it was time to stuff our faces with the copious amounts of fruit we still hadn’t eaten before reaching the quarantine gate. And we’re in! With Bluey parked up in the car hold, we needed to take everything we might need for a 10hr journey…what the hell was that? So we packed as much as we could into our backpacks before Chocco decided to make another 7 trips down to the car for more stuff before the holding doors closed. We spent the next 10hrs using a quarter of the stuff we bought, seeing a movie…yes a movie, deliberating on what to eat from which bar (me) and doing some Tasmania research (Chocco). We got off about 8pm that night and headed straight for Mersey Bluff our camp for the night.
Our first morning in Devonport was a sunny one, so I decided to go for a run…for bread and cheese, for breakfast. I came back with bread and cheese, as well as bloody knees from stacking it…worth it for the produce! So we went for a swim, did a big food shop and hit the road! Our destination for today was Eddystone Point on the north-eastern tip of the island. The drive was winding, the roads were more like small country lanes but the views were beautiful, conveniently this took us right through the Tamar Valley Wine Region so few wine tastings and purchased bottles later we were back on the road.
We arrived at our awesome little campsite in the afternoon, wandered up to the little lighthouse and then picked our spot for the night.
Not only was this a gem of a place in terms of a quite, secluded camp but we were also greeted by the first wombats of the trip! This mum and bub were concerned with nothing more than eating and didn’t mind us taking endless pictures. And so was our second cold but awesome night in Tasmania.
The next day we made our way down the beautiful east coast along the Bay of Fires, but not before Chocco decided 10 degrees was an ideal temperature for a swim. Unfortunately the overcast and cool weather persisted as we explored Policeman’s Point but that didn’t stop the beautiful views and even a visit from a rouge cow as we drove through stunning farmland…an actual cow, not me in the passengers seat wondering when we were stopping for morning tea.
We ended up at the “The Gardens” a stunning spot along The Bay of Fires to take some pictures before continuing on to the southern part of the The Bay, Binalong Bay. Jackpot!! This quite little seaside town was completely sheltered from the persistent wind so we parked up and cooked the $20 sausage rolls that Chocco impulse bought (long story…but no complaints on the great lunch by me) before taking off on a walk out to Skeleton Bay to warm up and check out the famous red lichen covered rocks, we’ve (I’ve) taken much longer detours for much less than some fungi covered rocks…Chocco will be happy to remind you I’m sure.
We then headed for much un-needed dip in the freezing Tasman Sea, were stared at as if we were aliens and now feature in the photo albums of at least 50 Asians but the water looked too good not to jump in.
It was then coming to that time of the day when we had to start thinking about where we were going to sleep for the night. First we looked around Binalong Bay and found some undesirable options for free camping. My constant thoughts about food finally paid off…I had spied a dairy co-op slightly inland of Binalong Bay on a brochure that advertised all the right things…home-made cheese, dips, butter, yoghurts and ice cream and lucky for me it stood right across the road from a donation camp ground offering green grass, peace and quiet and hot showers AND ALL FOR A DONATION. Is there anything we love more than cheap stuff? Maybe food, and this place had both. So we made our way to Pyengana, the gorgeous green dairy town full of breathtaking views.
In the morning we slowly defrosted and decided that a short hike was probably a good idea before we ate our body weight in cheese so we took off to a waterfall that is ‘maybe’ the tallest vertical drop in Tasmania according to the handwritten sign…what is that supposed to mean? St Columbus falls is found at the end of a gorgeous little walk full of giant ferns, towering trees and moss-covered rocks. The stream fed by the falls is home to Platypi, unfortunately too shy to come out for us!
And then it was time to make our way to Pyengana Dairy Co for a grazing board to end all grazing boards…and for Chocco, a stout made with whey protein from the cheese I was stuffing down my gob, the circle of life is a beautiful thing.
With two satisfied travellers it was time to hit the road and make our way down to Coles Bay and Freycinet National Park. A few beers with lunch just wasn’t enough so we pulled in to Ironbark brewery/distillery/winery (overachievers) for a quick refuel before continuing on…of course our trip was not complete without us doing something other than make it to our intended destination so we pulled over to pick up a hitchhiker, her 10 bags of scuba diving gear and her CAT!!!! So the four of us were headed towards Bicheno to drop said backpacker off at a hostel…but there were no room’s available so on we all trekked to Coles Bay where luckily we found said hitchhiker and her cat a room and then headed into the main town to have a look around.
It was here that 6 people in a huge F250 truck commenting on our ‘sick troopy’ ambushed us and then invited us to go fishing, when in Tasmania right? So our evening of dinner and finding some accommodation turned into catching squid with the local pilots and having espresso martinis and pizza at the local bar. At this point we still hadn’t figured out where we were going to stay so we consulted Wikicamps and headed for a free camp just out of town, woke up the whole camp as we did a bog lap looking for a spot and then nearly got ourselves bogged in the soft sand we decided to park up in. Sleepy Choong was not a happy camper until tucked up in the back of Bluey.
We were up nice and early for our first full day in Freycinet National Park and started it with a bang…or a stroke, of our kayak paddles as we explored Coles Bay with a little paddle power through the glassiest water I’ve ever seen in my life. The backdrop was complete as we floated past ‘The Hazards” a group of towering mountains that form one side of Coles Bay and then continued on past a historical quarry used to mine the famous pink granite of Freycinet before pulling up for a cuppa and a cookie at Honeymoon Bay. We learnt all about the whaling that occurred here and the mining industry that has now been thankfully overtaken by tourism.
It was that time again to make some decisions about where to stay, we’d been told on the phone that the whole national park was booked out…never one to take no for an answer, ever persistent Chocco decides that we should head to the visitors centre anyway to ask. I on the other hand was rolling me eyes, asking him to please not interrogate the old ladies at the desk. We roll into the car park onto to find a sign saying all campsites booked out, enough to deter Choong AGAIN…and Chocco? Nope he was marching in the door faster than I could say but we haven’t had lunch yet. So in we went and I was forced to unroll my eyes as Chocco books a beachfront campsite at Richardson Beach overlooking Coles Bay and all for $10!
With our accommodation sorted we headed out to explore Cape Tourville lighthouse and its amazing views looking into the famous Wine Glass Bay. Our love of lighthouses continued with this little beauty. Ever enthusiastic Chocco was keen to have a spear and we’d heard some whispers about Sleepy Bay just around the corner. We got there only to find it consisted of a huge cliff climb and around the rocks resembled more of a washing machine and certainly not a sleepy one, so Chocco had a little hunt around for dinner straight out from our new front door while I did the hard yards sunbaking on the beach.
There were few fish in sight and a few hours of sunlight left and with the threat of rain in the morning we decided to use the last of the day to hike Mt Amos one of the Hazards Mountains for what we’d been told was an amazing view of Wine Glass Bay. 2kms of vertical granite climbing and 48 minutes later WE MADE IT, our most challenging hike to-date and we were rewarded with the most unbelievable views. After a necessary snack (for me) and further rock climbing for instagram worthy photo’s we decided to head back down which was almost more challenging, the vertical granite walls became slides to the bottom as we tried to avoid breaking ankles.
Impeccable timing is not our forte…though I wish to brag about the timing of our trip to Freycinet 3 days of beautiful weather to explore this absolute gem of a place. We packed up just before the rain and made our way to Freycinet Marine Farm for oysters along with at least half of Asia. A cute little shed, serving up no fuss seafood though it was about as touristy as you could get so we continued on out of there (after a dozen oysters) towards Devils Corner Winery for little tasting and a few bottles to take away.
This winery sits on top of a hill overlooking the Hazards Range and if it wasn’t pouring with rain, I don’t think we would have left! But with a delicious sparkling wine ready for drinking we headed for our next stop Melshell Oyster Shack 40 minutes down the road. This cute blue caravan served as a BYO oyster bar, so we popped our bottle of bubbles and sank back another dozen oysters…each (I imagine that is what heaven is like) while chatting to the owners of this gorgeous little farm. We bought another un-shucked dozen oysters and a knife to have a go ourselves before we had to drag ourselves away from this slice of seafood heaven. It was then onwards to Hobart for a Friday night in the big city.
We made our way through countless gorgeous little towns…including Swansea where the barmen were, I’m certain, so impressed with my attempt to look like a Michelin Man in more layers than an onion that I scored free coffee’s for Chocco and I. Maybe they just wanted the huge teletubby out of their bar. Again in great time we made it to Hobart and were immediately in search of Rektango a weekly Friday night jam in the town square…since the event was rained out I’m sure its more of a monthly affair in Hobart with the amount of rain we’d witnessed in “summer” so far. We made up for it with a trip to Preachers…a burger and beer bar fit with an old bus in the courtyard filled with fairy lights for ultimate hipster photo opportunities and awkward tinder dates, still it was THE coolest (and driest) seating idea ever so we (I) stalked the bus for a table and for once we were in luck and had the best burgers ever…since my last burger feast, and shared some local Tassie beers. We’d spied a campsite just out of town on Wikicamps with a curfew of 8:30 and since we arrived at 5, you’d think this an easy task to drive 20 minutes down the road before 8:30, WRONG AGAIN, unless you’ve cottoned on to our habits which is more than I can say for us! So we snuck in and luckily cries of ignorance meant we were in.
Saturday morning in Hobart was for one thing only…Salamanca Markets! If there’s one thing I love more than food its markets with food. Chocco was keener on finding some surf so he dropped me at the markets (no complaints here) where I spent the morning tasting everything from freshly baked goods to fresh produce and even wines, ports, gins and whiskey’s so I was on my merry way with a few new purchases under my belt when Chocco came back a few hours later. We then made our way to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) a famous quirky gallery full of all the things that make your jaw drop, such as poo machines, fornicating skeletons and 77 plaster cast vagina’s…all named. Chocco let me loose again for an hour by myself to wander through before he popped in to view ‘the important’ things *eyes rolling.
Lots of art and markets called for an evening at Lark Distillery right in the heart of Hobart. Here we tasted Whiskey and had yet another grazing plate…Tasmania knows the way to my heart. Of course we pushed our curfew once more and made it into the camp at 8:35pm because what else would you expect from us?
Sunday morning was sadly our last one in Tassie. What better way to spend it than at another market…this time the farm gate market, the brief? You must grow it or make it and be there to sell it. So we wandered the stalls and bought copious amounts of locally grown meat, vegetables and homemade goods before stopping for some lunch at the food vans (shopping for food had me famished) of course it wouldn’t be a normal Choong and Chocco visit without taking home something ridiculous…enter Chocco with one $15 gigantic octopus tentacle to store somewhere for later cooking, lucky we weren’t getting on a 10hr ferry trip…oh wait WE WERE!
So then it was time to make our way 3hrs back up north to Devonport to board the ferry, I don’t think we’ve been so sad to leave somewhere. Tasmania completely exceeded our expectations. We said farewell to Tassie with the shucking of the dozen oysters we bought from Melshell as the ferry came into port…because what else would two notoriously late people do? But we made it, found our recliners, Chocco made himself a bed on the floor with our self inflating mattress and slept all the way back to Melbourne.
Thanks Tassie, we’ll definitely be back!