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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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That’s a wrap for our first camp and taste of Tassie and we are on a high. Next camp spot is a fabulous free camp in Derby for a few days mountain biking. With not too much distance to travel and a hope to get a riverside spot we got up early had breakfast in the car and got ourselves to Derby quick smart. Bingo! The plan worked a treat. Being a Friday I was worried about the weekend crowd arriving and I’m glad we did. We jagged a super riverside spot and were well settled by the time the entire camp swelled to capacity.

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What a bueat spot. Just on the outskirts of this grown town. This is a beautiful free camp right on the banks of the River and with the best camp amenities we have ever come across. Derby was an old tin mining town but following a devastating disaster that flooded the valley taking the lives of 14 people the mine was closed and the the town has been dying ever since. THat is until, someone started creating mountain biking tracks everywhere and now it’s a growing and bustle hub for thrill seekers of all ages and stages with visitors and competions from all over the world.

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Just last year they put in a new suspension bridge across the river and established some easy tracks for families and beginners. Completing our first track and loving it we were looking forward to knocking a few more off over the next few days. After a few circuits around the pump track it was time for lunch and Lulu to have a sleep. That afternoon Ken took the girls out for another ride which finished them off for the day before trying another different pizza base in the search for the best gluten free pizza and movie night.

The next day was more cycling in the morning and in the afternoon we got the pack raft out to try and spot some Platypus. Our neighbour, Geoff, had plenty of experience doing rapids and encouraged us to give it a go. What a buzz. With Geoff on hand to haul us out if needed and the water not being very deep at all it was all good fun.

On Sunday the local market in the Town Hall supplied us with plenty of locally grown produce and we were set for the week to come. More cycling and canoeing in cool but sunny weather and relaxing to the sounds of the babbling river was just bliss. This place is going to be a highlight for us and we only just arrived.

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