The Itinerary

The Itinerary

Friday, March 6, 2015

March 5 - Pt. Arthur to Launceston

Thursday, March 5 - Day 29 - Port Arthur to Launceston

It was a very stormy night! If we were home we would have called it a tropical storm or even a cat one hurricane with the sound of the pounding surf in the back ground.

It is still rainy and windy when we get up. There are a few peeks of blue and breaks in the rain. Carolyn fixes a breakfast of the last of the “orange” eggs and bacon with toast and a great Australian made marmalade. We say good by to our hosts by 9:30AM and head to the little store to give back the plug that didn’t work with our extension cord. Dick figured they would not refund the money since he had opened the package, but low and behold as he hands it back, the lady opens the cash register and returns the money...$23AU!
We are officially on the road heading off the peninsula by 10AM . We get stuck behind a “Honey Truck,” a septic system pump truck, for several curvy miles. On the back of it is the company’s slogan, “Yesterday’s Meals on Wheels.” Dick thinks it is hilarious but Carolyn and Jack do not see the humor and don't take a picture.  It is their loss!

We have to back track 50 or 60 KM to reach the highway to Coles Bay, home of the Freycinet National Park and the famous Wineglass Bay. Carolyn had researched the route and has a list of a couple of scenic stops along the way. The plan is to have lunch in the park and head up to St. Helens before cutting over to Launceston where we will spend three nights. She has an alternate plan if we piddle too much on the way to the park, so we will see how it goes.

The main route to Coles Bay is a long looping drive, backtracking West to Sorrel and then turning back to the East to go to Coles bay. There is a yellow road on the map, as opposed to the red road we are on, that goes straight up to Orford from Copping and Carolyn had seen the turn off for it the first day. When we get to the turn, the marked, numbered and paved road looks OK and it cuts at least half the distance.....what can go wrong?

We take a chance and turn. The pavement gives way to hard packed gravel/dirt after a few KM, but there is local traffic and the speed limit on the gravel roads in Tasmania is 80km/hr. We come to a split that is marked Forest Road or Nugent. The small internet generated map we have shows both and we opt for Nugent since we see several cars turn that way as we debate which way to go. In reality the Forest Road was probably fine and came out in Orford. The leg we took was a good smooth road, no traffic and went through nice farm land and forest. We never saw Nugent, just a marker, and get to the main highway at Buckland just east of Orford. The drive to Orford is along the Prosser River. Dick stops for petrol in Orford and we stop for pictures at the beautiful bay. It was a nice drive and saved a little time.

Now we turn north to Swansea and head for the turn down to Coles Bay following the beautiful coast and stopping or at least slowing down to ogle the scenery of sea cliffs, coastal plains and vineyards with the bluest water ever. And, of course, the wind is still howling so there are white caps against the bright blue sky. We stop a couple of times for pictures

and for a look at the Spiky Bridge; a bridge built by convicts in the 1820's as part of the road built to connect the developing coastal area.  We get to the turn off for Coles Bay and the National Park about 1PM. It is 28km on down to the Park Visitor Center, just past Coles Bay. Coles Bay is a resort town right on the Great Oyster Bay...another stunning place.

Carolyn asks the ranger at the visitor center about scenic overlooks with easy walks. She tells us most are accessed by walks of an hour or more, which Carolyn already knew, but that the walk around the lighthouse at Cape Tourville has a wheelchair accessible part and is a must do. Also there are a couple of day use areas along Richardsons Beach on the Great Oyster Bay side that are accessible. Dick pays the $24 AUD entrance fee and we are off.

We drive down to the cape and take the walk. It is an easy, mostly cantilevered, ramp just below the lighthouse and has spectacular views out over the Tasman Sea and the  mountains rising up from the sea to form “The Hazards.”  We also get a peak into Wineglass Bay in the distance with its beautiful white sand beach!

On the way out of the Park we make a stop at Richardsons Beach for a picnic. We eat in the car as the wind is strong enough to blow us down and Jack’s fuzz off!

At this point it is 2:30PM and the GPS says the direct route to Launceston is a two and half hour drive...that puts us at the B&B around 5PM. To go up through St. Helens adds another hour of driving time. We will have to make the choice at the St. Mary’s cut off. Up the road we make another stop for pictures at Bicheno, a little seaside village with a pretty harbor and a quaint church built in 1884. It has a village church in the middle of town and, like so many Australia towns, it seems to be the only church. This one is still in use by two groups, the Anglicans on Sunday afternoon and the Catholics on Sunday morning. Many churches we have seen either are abandoned or are now used for something else, like a residence.

At the turn for St. Mary’s we opt to go straight to Launceston. The road takes us over Elephant Pass on a crooked narrow road and through the farm land of the interior of the island which is dotted with Victorian farmsteads and small villages.

The stop for the next three nights is the Trevallyn House B&B where we are shown to our cute little cottage behind the main B&B. It is perfect...up on a hill with a great view of the Tamar River Valley. There is a Woolworths at the foot of the hill where we pick up a roasted chicken, instant rice and some local, fresh fruit and local blue cheese for dinner and another bottle of expensive bourbon. If we stay much longer we are going to have to find another cocktail of choice!

Back at the cottage we have a nice meal and open the last of the wine we bought in Napa while watching the lights come on in the valley below.     

1 comment:

  1. We love that part of Tassie. You did the right thing not going to St. Helen's and over the mountain as it is a very slow road and would have taken you a few hours though the views are incredible. Jennie