Tassie Week 8, Camps 78, 79 & 80 – Days 352 – 361 – West Kentish, Strahan & Central Highlands (Little Pine Lagoon)

So camp 78 isn’t really a camp, more of an escape. An escape from van life, for just a few days. I’m not sure how I found out about Eagles Nest but it was a lovely little interlude in the final week of our Tassie adventure. With views to die for, chickens for fresh eggs, a veggie garden and orchard at our disposal and space to spread out, we were set for a few lovely days.

The house was simple, spacious yet cosy but it was the view of Mt Roland that stole the show. So stunning we found it hard to want to go anywhere, so we didn’t. The first night we were making the most of having a decent oven and had roast pork that crackled up beautifully. Accompanied by roasted veg from the garden and apple sauce made from apples out of the orchard. Magic.

We really did just unwind, relax, catch up on a few things, sleep, eat and repeat. That said there was school, blogging, journals to keep up with and being out of the van gave me a chance to give things a good clean and wash.

Just to complete the experience Eagles Nest Retreat provide a few service you can book during your stay. One being spa treatments and the other having a chef prepare your meals. My back had been causing me grief for months so that was a must and having a chef prepare us a 3 course meal well who could pass us that experience.

Chef Cynthia was wonderful and preparing a gluten free, dairy free and low sugar meal was no trouble. Her husband Chris was the gardener and it sounds like their own property has them pretty self-sufficient. So we were treated to the freshest of produce nearly entirely out of her garden. Cynthia came two nights out of our 4 night stay and a total luxury.

The lady made another appearance while we were at Eagles Nest

Our one outing durning our stay took us up to Cradle Mountain for the day. We jagged a totally fabulous day with very cold but clear weather. People tell us most of the time Cradle Mountain is shrouded in cloud or mist and many tourist visit but may not even see it. So we felt very lucky to do two of the shortest walks around the lake.

There are many stunning walks situated here in the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Claire National Park, but unfortunately we didn’t have the time nor do we find walks very easy with Lulu. She is a happy little delight but the pace is so so slow and she will not go in a carrier. Ken and I have to take turns lugging her around and all in all it’s not much fun, so we opt out most of the time.

That said we thoroughly enjoyed our time spent around Lake Dove, in the glorious sunshine, lapping up the stunning views. The shuttle bus in and out to Lake Dove was a great service, managing traffic in the park and giving additional information about the park. Very well run.

We returned to the car for a quick picnic lunch and on to Devils at Cradle for an education and look at the the Tasmanian Devil, Spotted Quoll and Eastern Quoll. Tasmania three largest carnivorous marsupials and all under threat in the wild. A fabulous conservation sanctuary and we loved the tour, knowledge and passion passed on by our guide. And the animals were amazing. All very cute but he Tassie Devils have such character and a sense of mischief, that is when they are not flat out sun bathing.

All up it was just one of those magical days were your filled with gratitude to be doing this trip and doing it together.

Our time at Eagles Nest Retreat was nearly over and the weather had closed in however we had one last thing to do, plant some trees. A fabulous option is to leave your mark, give a little back and reduce our carbon footprint by paying for and planting some tree on the property. Des the owner is as Chris (the gardener) put it ‘an unusual dairy farmer in the sense he actually likes tree’.

This was made abundantly clear to us with the arrival on the fence line of the owner of the neighboring property. She was very keen to know what we were doing with those trees and if the tree where going to block the view. Initially she was quiet abrupt in her manner but mellowed as she realized we were interstate guests visiting and planting a few trees with our children. A little insight gained and a little dirt under our nail and we were off to Strahan, camp number 79.

Another storm was set to lash the west coast that evening so we were keen to arrive and set up camp but now being very limited on time we were not going to be able to postpone the tours we wanted to do and just hoped the weather wasn’t going to reek too much havoc.

First stop was the post office to collect a bit of mail we’d been chasing for weeks now. My mistake forgetting it was to be delivered to Coles Bay, followed by a series of postal mistakes but in the end I spoke to an awesome person at Australia Post who took up the challenge to find and this piece of important mail from a 7 year old girl in Perth to her travelling 7 year old bestie moving around Tassie. The smile says it all, great job Australia Post!

That evening we attending the longest running play in Australia, “The Ship that Never Was”. Fabulous evening! They’ve had 25 years to perfect it, although with it being a two man / woman show and a large proportion of audience participation it keeps it pretty fresh. Telling the story of some personalities we’d learnt about at Port Arthur and the convicts keep here on the notorious Sarah Island it was, funny, informative and ridiculous! A highlight of the trip for sure.

The next day it was an early start through to Queenstown to take the West Coast Wilderness Railway. A half day tour on the old steam train up some very steepest track using the rack and pinion system. The journey takes you deep into beautiful temperate rainforest but it must have been a total nightmare to build.

We were told the story of how and why the rail was built. A tale of the race of two Irish men, for riches and power. A race to exploit the gold, but mostly the largest copper deposits in the world back in the late 1800’s. It was a wonderful and yet again stunningly beautiful scenic journey. Once at the half way point the engine was turned around and we had a chance to walk amounts the Forrest. The trees, the fungi, the mosses, the cool mountain air was energizing and beautiful. Tassie just continues to wow us.

As part of the tour we stop at one of the old station and everyone get the opportunity to pan for gold. It’s a well oiled tourist experience and we while the kids were excited to get a chance to pan for gold I didn’t for one moment expect we or anyone else would get anything. Lady Luck was with Georgia on this day and she jagged a nice bit of gold much to the shock of all including the tour guide who had never seen such a big piece of gold turn up in the panning.

Amazed by the morning Queenstown still had one little treasure to reveal to us. A most unassuming cafe, run by a couple of salt of the earth people, well up on looking after our coeliac needs and baking the best Curried Scollop Pie EVER!!!! A Tasmanian specialty, my mouth is watering just writing of this. With our heads, hearts and bellies full we returned to Strahan for a cosy night in the van.

Having loved the play so much last night Charlotte was really keen to see the “Ship that Never Was” for a second time. She just jumps at any chance to get up on a stage and having missed her drama classes so much I couldn’t say no. And we enjoyed it just as much the second time too. Although the heavens opens with deafening rain, the wind turned wild and the temperature dropped noticeably, but the show did go on. Considering the show is done in an outdoor theater with some heavy duty canvas sails for shelter it was pretty impressive.

Our final day here was on a boat cruise through Port Macquarie and up the Gordon River. A World Heritage listed area it was set to be a spectacular day. We were treated to proper west coast Tassie weather which wan an experience in itself. The sky was grey and moody, the wind wildly whipping up waves in Port Macquarie and patches of rain coming from all direction. Once we entered the Gordon River we were a little more sheltered from the elements and despite the weather it really was another amazing tour, in a deeply beautiful place on earth.

Learning about the ship building era, the convicts and the amazing forest was all very interesting. I knew it was going to be good, everyone had said it was amazing but I was blown away by the feeling of being amongst such, ancient, unique and majestic trees. These are not just any old tree, they are very rare and protected with the Huon Pine holding powerful healing, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which makes it very unique and special, however they are incredibly slow growing.

After being in awe and blown away in the forest we were nearly literally blown away on Sarah Island learning to story of the convicts lives, successes and spirit. It’s a gripping and intriguing tale and it was told so so very well by none other than one of the actors of the the play ‘’The Ship that Never Sank’. The weather was wet and wild but we didn’t really mind because the story was so warm and rich.

Thank you to the Wild West coast of Tasmania 10 our of 10! But that’s not all ………….

Our final camp and night in Tasmania was spent in the Central Highlands. The drive to Davenport and the ferry was too big for one day so our plan was just to pull up wherever we got to by about 4pm. So Little Pine Lagoon was it. I didn’t really have a sense we were up too high and nor were we aware we may be in for snow but it was Baltic for sure and upon checking our altitude was hopeful Tassie might deliver us one more magical moment.

The summer just past Tasmania had experienced some of it worst ever bush fires and we had been traveling through some of that country today. Black and battered in appearance but by morning it would be covered in snow.

It sure was magical, just what you’d dream of and imagine for your first experience of falling snow. You go to bed and when you awake and peer out the window everything it white. And that was exactly how it was but it was also still snowing. So surreal and so beautiful. It was a very exciting morning making snowmen and photographing this very novel scenery.

Much fun was had but the snow was not to thick and it wasn’t long before patches were melting. However we had a boat to catch that evening and still a distance to travel so it was back on the road for us.

We needed a lunch spot and a quick search on google revealed a real gem we’d be driving right past. A perfect way to farewell Tasmania and her delicious produce was at the Tasmanian Food & Wine Conservatory. A beautiful setting complimented with grazing platters that were completely local, lovely and lekker, (lekker is a Dutch word for good / pleasant and completes the alliteration).

Perfectly blissed out. Much gratitude to this little island packed full of fabulousness! Thank you Tasmania. ♥️

Tassie Week 7, Camp # 76 – Longford & 77 – Penguin, Days 346 – 352

Saying farewell to southern Tasmania today we are legging it up the guts of the island on probably the straightest road Tassie has. Once past Hobart it was easy highway driving till we stopped for a latish lunch at Ross. Like Richmond a very historic town with another stunning convict constructed bridge. We checked out the bakery, (because it was the only place open) and had lunch by the river and bridge. Very windy, very cold but still very beautiful.

We chose to stay just outside of Launceston in Longford. This turned out to be a good choice. The caravan park was lovely, the supermarket in town amazing and some Zoners already hunkering down to ride out the storm. We had met this family in Coolum so was funny to run into them again in Longford.

Our first day we really just rode out the weather. It was cold, wet and windy not much fun to out in. However it all blew over in 24 hours and we had a stunning afternoon the following day at Cataract Gorge. A stunning recreational area with walks, hiking tracks, playground, pool, beautiful gardens, cafe, peacocks and wildlife and the worlds longest single span chairlift. The sun was out which was a treat as we haven’t seen a lot of it lately and throughly enjoyed our play, chairlift ride and walk.

The excitement has been building all week and final Lotte’s birthday had arrived! The day started with gifts in bed and breakfast before Ken and Charlotte went off to do a bit of a ropes climbing adventure. Charlotte had done a little of this on a school camp and loved it so has been hoping for the last month we’d be here to do it for her birthday.

Meanwhile with the birthday girl was out the van Georgie, Lulu and I got on with the business of cake making and decorating. Looked fantastic and should have tasted delicious but to be honest I haven’t nailed this gluten free / dairy free baking. At least the toasted marshmallow on top where still delicious and quickly disappeared. The rope climbing had been a lot more challenging and Charlotte was feeling pretty down about how the day was panning out but thankfully her choice of restaurant for dinner was a winner.

We ate at Stillwater Restaurant in Launceston, an iconic waterfront flour mill, turned bar, restaurant and now accommodation. Very classy, like our young 11 year old daughter. Charlotte sure does enjoy the finer things in life and when it come to food she just loves a great dining experience. Couldn’t fault the place, but the most noteworthy moment came when we were presented with the menu’s and they had typed up a specific coeliac and dairy free menu for Georgia and dairy free menu for Lotte.

Total wow! The little things really do matter, being able to walk into a restaurant and order anything off the menu is a rare and wonderful thing. Since October last year (2018) neither girls have been able to do this. So it was really special for them to just be able to choose whatever they wanted, from the menu in front of them, and know they weren’t going to end up being told they can’t have it or suffering the ill effects of poor planning and knowledge from the skilled professionals in the kitchen. Might not seem like much to others but it was just fantastic for us. Food, wine, service and setting all 5 stars! Thank you Stillwater Restaurant, Launceston and Tassie for such fine produce.

Our final day in Launceston / Longford we lunch the at low carb / high fat cafe Broth me before driving to and up Ben Lomond. At 1,572m (5,157ft) it is Tasmania’s second highest peak and its premier Alpine skiing destination. Stunning, dramatic, windy and freezing. The photos really speak for themselves.

Leaving Longford we made our way to Penguin hoping to spend some time with some little fairy Penguins. We stayed at a free camp just outside Penguin. The view was fantastic with the stony beach just 1m away but a couple of meter the other way was a train line. Luckily it was for freight only and not that busy but it did make for dramatic train spotting. No fencing or signage to stay off the line which actually was nice.

We had read that the penguins would come up and shelter under the van during the night. It did seem by the poo left around that they were coming but to be honest it was so freezing we weren’t hanging around to watch and didn’t want to startle of blind the gorgeous little things. We did however spot a few nesting during the day.

We had a wonderful relaxing time here, be it hanging around the van or wondering around Penguin or nearby Sheffield. Penguin town is full of character with Penguins everywhere and view across Bass Striat. The view was so distracting in the library I was having trouble readin the booking the books. The town had developed a wonderful scavenger hunt that took us on a lovely walk and to all the major sights. Very well done Penguin 🐧!

From Penguin we did a day trip to Sheffield. Had a delicious lunch, potter around the town and an explore for all the murals the town is famous for. We happend to be here when the annual Mural Fest was on so there was plenty to admire. This is when we weren’t admiring the magnificence of nearby Mt Roland. What striking and towering natural beauty to have as a backdrop for the town.

We’ll be seeing a lot more of Mt Roland next week as we have book some accommodation for a few days looking directly on to it.

Our final day camped just outside of Penguin was a very relaxed one just soaking up the views, a chance to have a slowish day catching up on bits and bobs around the van. Tassie continues to deliver and we can’t get enough. 💜 ♥️ ❤️ 💜

Spot the bumble bee!

Tassie Week 6, Camp # 74 – Cookle Creek & 75 – Port Huon, Days 339 – 345

Rechercher Bay

Eventually we left Hobart for a few nights camping at the most southerly point of Tasmania – Cookle Creek. To get there we drove through the Huon Valley, scenic apple orchard country. We stopped at Geeverston for lunch, a play and to try our luck at platypus spotting in the wild, sadly we were unsuccessful. The disappointment of no platypus sightings was made up for with an awesome playground and some top nosh.

We continued to drive south until the road literally runs out and you drive off the most southerly bitumen road in the world and on to dirt for a few more kilometers. You cross a bridge and then campsites begin to appear.

Having been to the most easterly point in Byron Bay, NSW and the most northerly point in Cape York, QLD here we are at the most southernly point Cockle Creek, TAS. We love a little remote get away, and this feels pretty remote. From this point we are closer to Antarctica than we are to Cairns and we were incredibly fortunate to not cop any winds coming up from Antarctica.

The weather was gloomy but it felt serene and peaceful. There wasn’t much on offer in terms of a campsites but we perched ourselves on a spot with view of Rechercher Bay. A couple of very low key days were in order and with Georgia becoming unwell she couldn’t muster the energy for anything too adventurous.

There were a couple of long walks near by that were too long for us, but we enjoyed a beautiful morning stroll coastal walk. Much was learned from the signage on the history of the bay. Whaling being the main industry when the bay was full of whale. It’s a gruesome picture painted by the historians and I am left wondering why have they have never returned to what now appears a very safe and tranquil bay. Are their numbers still so depleted or is the knowledge of what occurred here all those years ago somehow passed on from one generation of whale to the next?

The walk took us through some dense coastal woodlands which to me had a magical feel. Lush lichen and mosses, peppermint trees and grasses before delivering you onto a deserted beach of clear waters and white sands. We explored this bay and paddled before stopping for a snack and calling it a day. We didn’t cover much distance but we did absorb and love every minuet of the journey.

The afternoon and following day moved at a slow but blissful pace. Beach play, a walk with a massive ray, and a show put on by the arrival of a tall ship in the bay. Having been learning of the early seafarers and French admiral Bruny D’Entrecasteaux who discovered this bay, it was an amazing sight to see this elegant lady sail into Recherche Bay and stay the night.


Georgia was still feeling unwell but her tummy was settling down so it was another restful day hanging out in paradise. Ken took the pack raft out for a paddle, explore and oyster scavenger hunt. While he was successful and enjoyed shucking his first oyster, we followed the signage posted around and didn’t consume them but tossed them back to the sea.

Having all had such a hectic few weeks sightseeing and Ken working hard this little three day escape was a much need chance to take a breath and decompress. However now with a sense of our time here in Tasmania coming to an end and still much to see, we mustn’t dilly dally . That and Charlotte birthday in a few days and her request to be in Launceston playing in the back of our minds it was time to move on.

Upon leaving our most southernly camp we couldn’t miss paying a visit to Hasting Caves and Thermal Springs. So with van hitched on we drove through the beautiful Huon Valley to take the tour of the cave and enjoy a dip in the 28-degree thermal swimming pool situated at the visitors centre. Yet another crack’n experience Tassie!

Before we travel up the centre of Tassie to Launceston we decided to overnight at Port Huon and have one last attempt at capturing the Aurora Australis. Conditions where looking favorable so we were hopeful, however a storm was coming in with a horrible forecast for the next day. With everything crossed the storm would hold off for the night we found ourselves a south facing campsite settled in for a long night.

The view was stunning but the elusive “Lady” didn’t delight us and with bad weather arriving imminently there was not much point holding out for another night. It would be remiss to leave this area without stopping at one of the famous Huon Valley orchards and stocking up on apples and pears, juicy, delish and so fresh! With that our last stop we headed north for a long day on the road, nearly travelling the full length of Tassie in a day.

Tassie Week 5, Camp # 72 – Goats Bluff & 73 – Cambridge, Days 332 – 338

We had decided to change locations, staying in the same area but to the caravan park we had originally hoped to stay in but was full over the long weekend. The timing of the move worked in well with solar activity forecasts of the possibility of capturing the Auora Australis. We had missed a few opportunities and had promised we’d be more committed and find a south facing free camp next time.

Sunset at Goats Bluff

Since being in Tassie we have been learning about the Southern lights or Auora Australis and Ken has been learning more and more about astro-photography. So while Ken worked, the girls and I spent the day scouting the coast for a do-able south facing campsite so we might pull up for the night or two and have a chance for all of us to witness it. The girls where very patient as we didn’t have much luck. In the end we decided to chance it and take the van and park up in the car park of a well known lookout spot, Goats Bluff.

What a spot!

This spot has the added bonus of being able to also capture bioluminescence in the water as well as the Auora if she shows. It really is a thing of great beauty but also great luck, many, many elements need to come together. Enough solar activity, favorable solar winds, clear skies, ideally no moon, not to be occurring during daylight hours an uninterrupted south facing view, minimal light pollution and there are probably more. But you’ve gotta be in it to win it.

So we snuck (not that a 22ft van can sneek in anywhere), in to the car park just on sunset and settled in for the night. We planned to keep the girls in the usual bed / sleep routine and only wake them if the skies lite up, and Ken and I would take turns. A few other hard core Auora chasers rolled in and we could have made a tidy packet if we sold coffee out of the van.

Goats Bluff – Top south facing spot for Aurora photography

Ken being the adventurous type jumped the fence and scouted the cliffs for the best location only to surprise one of the main Auora chasers of Tassie. When Chris rolled up Ken was well settled into what he though was his secret location, but it was a great little meeting as Chris was happy to share both is location and knowledge with Ken. However that is where the luck for the evening runs out. ‘The Lady’ (as the Auora is called by the faithful) never turned up. We waited till nearly 2 a.m., it was freezing cold and we knew we’d need to make an early get away. Or did she?????? After processing the shots on the SLR camera it seems we may have got lucky after all. Just nothing visible to the naked eye, which is often the case.

There was some colour in the night sky but no obvious Aurora that night.
Nice shots of the Milky Way with the new lens, not to mention bioluminescence and Aurora

We departed early and picked up breakfast on route to the Barilla Holiday Park in Cambridge, just a 20 min drive to Hobart. We set up, got some schooling done before heading up Kunanyi / Mt Wellington. Hobart is set on the Derwent estuary and towering over the city is Kunanyi. Some 1,271m or 4170 ft. It’s an epic drive and amazing views. Snow had been forecast over 900m and as this may be our only chance of falling snow on this trip, we had to give it a go.

View on the drive up Kunanyi / Mt Wellington

It wasn’t exactly snow more like sleet but it was extreme and certainly a new experience. Lulu had fallen asleep in the car on the way up and it was freezing outside so we kept our time at the top brief. The geology and flora was beauty to behold, when you could drag your eyes from the fabulous views. What a spectacular city Hobart is.

With a serious hankering for hot chips I was on the hunt for a coeliac safe venue and yet again Hobart delivered. Delivering Ken a few more hours of peace to work we stayed in the city for dinner and explored around Constitution Dock and Franklin Square. Loving the city vibe and all these lovely outing with our 3 delightful daughters. They really are just so amazing and such a great help with Lulu. Feeling very fortunate and grateful.

The next day we put school on hold opting to hit the museums of Hobart. First the state museum and secondly Mawson’s Hut Replica Museum. The kids love a museum but Mawson’s was a fabulous visit and something really special. An epic tale of an expedition that departed from Hobart in 1911 to the South Pole.

Three men and 11 Huskies in the final expedition party and Douglas Mawson’s was the only survivor. The story is tragic and gripping and with the museum being set in a Replica of their accommodation it’s easy to be transported to the life they may have been experiencing. For Georgia it was all about those lovely dogs. She is passionate about all animals and spent the entire time talking note on all the details she could find and the dogs.

By then Ken was needing a break so he met us in town for dinner and a stunning sunset. We are finding Tassie just awesome for eating out and catering for Georgies coeliac needs but it eventually comes unstuck and somewhere along the line we get some contamination and Georgie has pain again and her symptoms return.

The whole fam out for dinner on a beautiful sunset in Hobart

We have always enjoyed eating out so much and really finding it hard to change this mindset. I really know we just cant eat out anymore but then we keep finding ourselves doing it. We get away with it a few times but eventually the inevitable happens and we are back at square one. Then I spend the next few days feeling guilty because really I know better. Ugh!

Friday the 15th of March was the ‘School Strike for Climate Change’ march through the streets of Hobart. We spent the morning making signs and discussing topics and issue around climate change and the power of people to change the world and the various way we can effect change.

The girls weren’t sure what to expect and make of it but in the end got right into the protest and the sense of being part of a movement. Thrilled to plant the seeds of activism in our girls. I hope traveling through our great country and living so closely with the elements gives them an appreciation for the delicate balance of our environment.

We rounded out the week with a day trip to Port Arthur. We’d left it to the end of the week hoping Ken would be able to join us but unfortunately he was still under pressure to get his work completed. Having prepared a picnic lunch and snacks we got away as early as we could. It was an hours drive each way, but well worth it.

What a fantastic day and a well organized attraction. Tours and boat cruise included it was a fascinating insight into the workings of a penal colony. It wasn’t what I was expecting. Imagining it was going to be a place of brutality and suffering we were to learn that Port Arthur was in fact a new breed of prison. The foundation of our current justice system, no longer with the focus on physical punishment but punishment of the mind, rehabilitation and a religious regime to reform the soul.

It is for these reasons that it is a place of global significance being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage convict site. It was a beautiful day with patchy brilliant blue sky and the girls were just wonderful taking it all in. Charlotte in particular loves history and enjoys the story’s, facts and information on tours.

As we left Port Arthur I noticed signs for Remarkable Cave and Ken said it was worth a look. Just coming into the soft beautiful afternoon/evening light and being so close we couldn’t not go. And remarkable it was, for us today it was dry and calm but i’d seen footage of surging water flooding through the cave and engulfing the viewing point. No such danger for us today, just a beautiful walk and lovely lookout.

A delightful drive home, but it was a long day. All this sight seeing and being out of the van while trying to keep up with meals, washing, school, food shopping, cleaning, blogging and planning is exhausting. Many great moments shared with the girls which I have loved, adored and cherished, but its an intense pace. Looking forward to some quiet time soon – hopefully, and having Kenny back!

Yeah! Ken has finally finished his work and while we really need to move on we are all exhausted from the pace of life we decided to stay a couple days longer, besides there if one of Tassies hottest, not to be missed, attractions we are yet to check out ….. MONA! We take the fast ferry from the city centre and cruise up the Derwent being delivered to the doorstep or steps, there was a few! MONA is stunning on many levels, the big bold ideas, the art, the architecture, the location. In our view worth the money, the time and mind bending experience.

It’s so easy to go through life with just your own perspective of life and then surround yourself with comfortable like minded lovely people that support your world view and then you see something like MONA. You can’t help but be stopped dead in your tracks, then slapped about the chops with the realization of how wild, playful and different some peoples minds are. Isn’t that just wonderful, cool and uplifting!

Tassie Week 4, Camp # 70 – Swansea & 71 – Seven Mile Beach, Day 325 – 331

Today we are leaving the beautiful Bay of Fires and Georgia is still in a fair amount of pain and unable to walk more than a few minutes at a time. I really wanted to have her checked out but couldn’t get a Dr’s appointment in St Helens. We’d been told of a good GP down the coast at Swansea, so will bypass our planned stay at Coles Bay and head for Swansea. 

View across to Coles Bay from Swansea

Coles Bay and the sights of the Freycient National Park, home to the famous Wine Glass Bay, (features on most brochures about Tasmanian) is all about the magnificent bush walks and stunning scenery. It was looking like we were just going to have to give this gem a miss. With Ken still having what now appears likes weeks worth of work left and a fast approaching dead line, Georgia unable to walk more than 50 meters and Lulu not going in the sling and wanting to be carried everywhere it was just all too hard.

The lunch stops (Orford) are magnificent when you caravan
The girls loved the practice road marking in the Orford park

Swansea was on the other side of Great Oyster Bay looking across to Freycinet National Park. The caravan park was a very short walk from the bay and the views were stunning. The park itself wasn’t anything special but it was obvious the owners cared a lot and invested in the maintenance and experience of there clients. Super friendly and they’d developed a scavenger hunt for the kids to keep them occupied for at least a few hours. The big hit was the communal TV room though. The girls enjoyed getting out of the van and having TV to watch. 

Lulu, having a cruise on the Scooter in Swansea

Our planned to stay in Coles Bay was also were we were to collect mail. With a day to wait for the Dr’s appointment the girls and I jumped in the car and drove the hour and a half drive to pick up mail. Wow, soooo glad we did, cause the views as you drive in to Coles Bay are breathtaking. Easy to see what all the fuss is about. Cute little town to, but the natural beauty surrounding it, absolutely awe inspiring. We picked up the mail, had an icecream and wonder around before the hour and a half return trip home.

Our visit to the GP went really well, she was a fabulous GP. No X-rays or scan required. Phew!!! It was a really thorough and great assessment and the Dr was awesome with getting Gigi involved in her assessment. I felt really reassured as we left with the advice to just have a couple of quiet weeks, to let the swelling and bruising subside and ensure Georgia doesn’t get another knock to the head so soon after a concussion. With that knowledge we left the stunning wildness of the east coast of Tassie behind and made our way to Hobart.

We opted to stay just outside of Hobart on the outskirts and base ourselves here until Ken was finished his work. This way the kids and I would have plenty to explore either in Hobart city, or nearby Richmond and even take a big day trip down to Port Arthur.

Caught out again by a public holiday and long weekend and had difficulty finding a campsite. Finally the park at Seven Mile Beach took pity on us and squeezed us in. Turned out to be a great sight looking into pine forest and a fabulous place for bird watching.

Lulu, after checking out the beach at Seven Mile

With Ken needing to crack on with work, us girls headed into Hobart for a little look around. First stop Salamanca and the fairy shop the girls had been told about. I thought i’ll get it out of the way early and then the question of ‘when can we go to the fairy shop?’ would stop. After that we had a little food shopping to do and visit to office works for school supplies.

Serendipity played a lovely role as we discovered the Hobart Cat Cafe was just around the corner and it turns out a lot of cat lovers are also Coeliac as the entire menu was gluten and could be dairy free. What luck. As for the cats, i’ll leave that for Georgie to share.

Our day wasn’t done and I was trying to give Ken as much quiet time as possible so we ventured out of Hobart and to the delightful historic town of Richmond. Along the way we came across the Beatrix Potter garden, another attraction the girls had been wanting to visit. Being so late in the day we had the place to ourselves and the girls loved revisiting these stories they have listened to so often. It couldn’t have been better timing as Georgia had recently been inspired to do an English presentation on Beatrix Potter.

Finally we reach Richmond to visit Australias oldest bridge, built by convicts and opened in 1825. Beautifully restored, and full of charm and character it’s amazing what those poor, unskilled workers accomplished. As we travelled around Tassie time and time again we discovered stories of how the convicts were an efficient and an effective work force. Unfortunately these success stories were short lived as industry couldn’t compete with the volume and quality of convict production. This lead to the convict teams and lines of work being shut down.

Our last couple of days of this week were spent out and about sightseeing. Trying to be out of Kens way meant we where seeing loads of stuff but they were long exhausting days. Back to Hobart for the famous weekend Salamanca Markets, and a little retail therapy. The following day a full day back in Richmond. A yummy brunch, Old Hobart Town (a miniature replica of Hobart as it was in the 1820’s), and the Pooseum.

Yep, you read that right. The Pooseum. Who would have thought, poo could be so fascinating. We spent hours here. A very unassuming building but the quality of the displays, the fun in which the topic is presented and the passion and knowledge of the owner was fabulous. Of all the museum to attractions we have visited around Australia I think both the girls would rank this one right up the top! Educational and funny. Let’s face it, there’s a lot we can learn from poo and who doesn’t love a good fart joke!

Having had a brief sighting of bioluminescence in the waves at Bay of Fires we were intrigued to learn more about it and start noticing posts on Facebook about places to view it around Hobart. Reports had a bloom of this algae near us so after dark, dinner and getting ready for bed we jumped in the car to see what we could find. It was very cold 🥶 and took a bit to coax the girls out the car but once we started splashing and playing in it ……. epic!

Squeals of delight as the sand beneath your feet would magically light up. Every time a wave crashed or someone splashed the water a blue glow would appear. Tassie really is the coolest place, what more hidden treasure are out there?

Bioluminescence in the Hobart ‘burbs!

Tassie Week 3, Camp # 69 – Bay of Fires, Days 318 – 324


Our first full day we just hung by the van. Enjoying the rhythm we have created, school, chores, lunch and the afternoon to play and explore. With Ken away working in the library, this meant we had to do it tough with a few hours on the beach.

The sun was warm, the wind was mild but the water was freezing. Strangely thought I just found myself wanting to go back in again and again and again. That little zing of numbness all over your body was kind of addictive. I suppose it was a little rush of adrenaline as your body went into shock with the cold and sudden emersion. Invigorating is probably the best description.

The sand is white, water crystal clear but the setting has the added theatre and contrast of the bright orange (fire) colour lichen growing on the nearby rock and the pockets of dark thick leathery kelp swaying in the swell. These details of our surrounds seem to go unnoticed by the girls as they just delight in the sand, surf and play of a beach afternoon.

The week seemed to pass by in this way, but van life is busy. Aside from the daily routine when free camping you are constantly assessing the status of you batteries and water tanks. We are loving this spot but being quiet shaded by trees I’m continuously chasing the sun with the roaming solar panel trying to max our solar charge and now having bought a couple of 25L water containers a daily run to town for fresh water enables us to stay here for the entire week.

The weather never really struck those notes of perfection during the rest of the week. It was a little too cool to brave the sea again but we enjoy an afternoon exploring St Helens and the visitors centre and museum. It provided a fabulous insight into the local history and the role and experience of the Chinese immigrants who come to make money in the tin mines. A very clever film / automated theater production beautifully told the story helping connect us to the ‘Tin Dragon Trail’ we had been following but not understanding along our travels of north east Tassie.

Our daily trips into town gives us the excuse to regularly visit the local providore. More fabulous local Tassie produce, we even have an oyster farm we have to drive past. Now not being a fan of oysters I didn’t stop in but our Neighbour’s did and on our final night together we sat out and I was coerced into trying them again. In a true ‘green eggs and ham’ moment, I found my taste buds to be delighted, my eyebrows raised, a smile come across my face and I discovered what all the fuss is about. Wow! Fresh east coast Tassie oysters, not to be missed.

It was also on this evening that Georgie took a nasty fall off the tree swing on to the rocks below and badly winded and concussed herself. A scary feeling for her and not having witnessed the crash and but seeing her level of distress was awful. Her breath returned but I still didn’t like the distance she had fallen and was concerned for her back and head. She soon had a headache and vomited and now I was very uncomfortable about her status. We set up a bed in the living room so I could observe her through the night and began to make plans for a hospital. With no further vomiting we just kept a close eye on her through the night.

She was ok but sore and sorry the next day. I tried to get a Dr’s appointment but nothing was available but learned of a good GP down the coast at Swansea so that would be our next stop in a few days when I was able to get an appointment. We had a few more quiet days while she recovered, her back and walking being the main issue.

Feeling a little cabin fever we broke out for a drive to visit the beautiful St Columba Falls. With a little light walk and picnic I thought some movement might be good but she was very sore again and short of breath on occasions. We had planned to also visit Halls Falls but having done enough for the day we just got the picture and returned to camp.

Such a beautiful spot is Cosy Corner North, it was the location of a wedding that afternoon. Campers moved so these people could come in for a few hour with their guests and have the stunning back drop for their nuptials.

One final days play on the beach and it was time to farewell this lovely and memorable camp spot. New friends, turquoise waters, tingling refreshing swims, delicious oysters and unfortunately one casualty it will be remembered with a full array of emotions.

But just when you think all has been revealed. A little bit of last minuet night photography revealed something remarkable to us. What the …….. did you see that ……… is the water glowing? It wasn’t until we downloaded the photos that we were sure. Not that we knew it at the time, but it is bio-luminescent algae in the water and there is a lots of it in the water down here. Too cool for school! Thank you Bay of Fires, Cosy Corner North. ❤️ 💜

A final stop in St Helens to shop and restock. Lulu was pretty happy with the trolleys at the IGA.

Tasmania Week 2, Camps # 68 – Derby & 69 – Bay of Fires, Days 311 – 317

We just love Derby and quickly settled into a nice daily rhythm. Get school work done, followed by a morning ride before swinging by Crank It Cafe for a play, lunch and maybe a little more school. Then back to camp for rafting, platypus spotting, dinner and camp fire.

The girls are enjoying the pace of the routine and without travel days there is plenty of time to play, create and perform. We were treated to a concert of ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ with the newest member (Llewella) of the ‘Sister Stars’ group.

The girls have been loving the riding and getting out on to the tracks. Vertigo Mt Biking were great for Kens skills lesson and keen to not miss an opportunity to outsource some teaching, we enrolled the girls in a skills class too. An hour lesson together, and it was money well spent. Doing it early in the week meant they were able to put their new skills into practice. During the week Charlotte signed up for another lesson to take on some more difficult tracks.

The Crank It cafe doubles as a museum to the history of tin mining which is the reason Derby existed in the first place. It provided a great opportunity to delve into how the discovery of tin changed our world and explore what a mineral rich country we live in. Schooling was a bit of a focus for the week as the time had arrived for us to complete the homeschooling evaluation with our Moderator (liaison from the education department).

I had been compiling and collating the girls work from over the year, reporting on progress, while aligning all our experiences with the national curriculum. It was a daunting process but also a rewarding one to see just how far we had come on our homeschooling journey.

It’s not been without its ups and downs, tears and tantrums (from both me and the kids), and I have been tempted to throw in the towel on numerous occasion. Still we have found a rhythm (of sorts) and made it through. However, I was still nervous to see how we had faired. A few emails, many photographs and a FaceTime session with Robyn our Moderator and we were given the thumbs up. Oh what a relief! I had been stressing about this and what a load off my shoulders. High fives all round, a big long breath out and the warm glow of pride in my heart.

Ken’s birthday week came to a conclusion with a Keto birthday cake. Looked amazing but tasted down right nasty. A bunch of lovely elements, sponge, rhubarb coconut cream filling, topped with chocolate ganache and berries. Should have been delicious but without gluten, dairy, sugar and experience baking this way, it turned out to be an epic fail! Still the effort and thought was appreciated, the berries were nice and the candle and singing always part of the birthday magic.

We were just loving it here, no one really wanted to move on. The riding, rafting, and location were just totally delightful. Being camped on the banks of a lovely running river we got the chance to use our creek in / creek out system for drawing up water from a water source to fill the water tanks. After a little fiddling around the tanks were full and we were sitting pretty.

Right there in that moment we were living the dream. The planning, hopes and wishes for the lifestyle we maybe able to live on the road had all come together here in Derby. Tassie had been ear marked as a highlight and it wasn’t disappointing.

But there’s more…… I’d got chatting to this couple, and it turns out they are from Parabadoo, W.A. All week I’d been watching them return to camp each afternoon and hang up their waders from a day of fishing, or so I’d thought. Turns out they weren’t fishing but fossicking and the area was good for sapphires.

I’d been to keen to try this fossicking for sometime and when they offered to take the kids and I out the next day, I couldn’t refuse. We didn’t have any luck with the sapphires but it was a lovely morning and after picking up my own sieve in town I was keen to continue fossicking as we travel around Tassie and back on the mainland.

Blue Sapphire fossicking

It had been such a lovely free camp and the people we met there were all really lovely. The kids even struck it lucky, with a gorgeous family moving in next to us later in our stay. Alas it was time to move on and after squeezing in one final ride we packed up and made a late departure for the Bay of Fires. On paper it was going to be a short travel day but what we hadn’t realized yet about Tassie is they are very few straight roads.

After a long, yet scenic drive we arrived at the beautiful Bay of Fires and jagged the lucky last spot with views at the north end of Cosy Corner. But that’s not all, we are parked next to another Zone RV caravan and it’s got three bunk windows. OOOhhhhh super exciting, more children to play with and a chance to meet some other Zoners.

What colours, what a view!

We arrived on dusk and did a quick set but before racing down to the beach for a wee explore. A stunning place with white singing sandS, clear turquoise blue water and dramatic flame colored rocks for added theatre. Total WOW of a camp and we looking forward to a week as beach bums. Finger crossed for some fine east coast Tassie weather.

Not for all of us though. Ken has got a full week of work to get done and a deadline to meet. He is going to hunker down at the library in nearby St Helens and power through it hopefully. So, the girls and I will explore the area solo.

Feeling alive and feeling fabulous.

Tasmania Week 1, Camps # 67 – Bridport & 68 – Derby, Days 303 – 310

Our Tassie adventure starts with the crossing on the Spirit of Tasmania. We have chosen to do the night crossing. We board by driving the van into the hull of the boat then take a few belongings and head up to our allocated room and deck 7 for a feed and some entertainment in the onboard cinema.


The food was fabulous, with almost the entire buffet being gluten free. I had bought dinner and snacks on board for Georgia but they weren’t needed. The weather was looking ok and we were hoping for a smooth crossing and it was all smooth sailing as we pulled out of Melbourne and spent the next few hours crossing Port Philip Bay, one of Australia largest bays.


Just as the movie was finishing it seemed we were crossing out the heads, a very narrow opening also knows as “The Rip” before entering the Bass Strait. That was the end of the smooth sailing! With the girls now feeling very unwell we retired, medicated and eventually got some sleep. By 3.30am we had stopped rolling and crashing away on the seas but it was all too exciting to sleep and the floor was no longer comfortable.


Disembarking in Devonport we drove to Bridport where we set up camp for four nights. The first day we were just shattered, (well I was from only a few hours sleep), and did nothing but hang around Bridport. The weather was a little wet, windy and cold so aside from a little walk and play in the playground, I did the food shopping to restock, (as we had to dump all our fresh food before leaving the mainland) and hunkered down for the day.

The following day we drove to Beauty Point to do tours at Seahorse World and Platypus House. Both were fastinating and an a great education. Out of the 47 species of seahorse 26 our found in Australian waters. Seahorse World is an educational centre as well as a seahorse farm shipping these totally fastinating creature all over the world. Pretty cool. And then Platypus House was awesome getting up close and learning about both the Tassie varieties of Platypus and Echidna. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed both these experiences.

Grabbing a quick lunch over looking the Tamar River, we had hoped to visit the Beaconsfield mine also but ran out of time. With Kenny’s Birthday the next day we drove home to get ourselves organized for an early start.

Rightly so the girls get super excited about birthdays. We started with the usual on bed present opening fun, followed by delicious Keto pancakes, (ok, only Ken and I think they are delicious), before driving through to Derby for Kenny do his birthday experience from the family in the west – a private mountain biking skills session! Epic fun and it gave us a chance to scope out Derby as we are hoping to be camping here in a couple of days.

In the evening we went to Launceston for a beautiful meal at Black Cow bistro. OMG, I’m  salivating as I type this. A high quality steak house and it didn’t disappoint. They did their best to accommodate the gluten / dairy requirement and everything was delicious. Tassie has such fine produce and the Cape Grim Beef is mouth watering. The girls really do enjoy these fine dining experiences and it makes it all the more enjoyable for Ken and I. We are very proud of them and grateful we get to share this together.


On our last day in Bridport we enjoyed the stunning coast line and a bit of 4WD’ing on the beach at Double Sandy Point Conservation Area. Ken loves the driving and rolling through the dunes, the girls love sliding down the dunes on the boogie boards and we even had an encounter with some wild life – a Tassie Tiger Snake!

One of Australia’s best golf courses was just down the road and we’d seen some amazing photos but wanted to see for ourselves. Neither of us are keen golfers but it’s a stunning links course that ranks the 11th best golf course in the world. Something about it reminded me so much of Scotland, so I was instantly in love with the swaying tall coastal grasses making there gentle rustling song and the quaint tunnel entrance to the gorgeous coast line.