For busy, full-time workers like us, a 3-day (long weekend) trip to Tasmania was the perfect way to unwind. Friday pm: LAUNCESTON This small city is a short, 1 hour flight from Melbourne, across Bass Strait. The flight attendants barely have time to serve the drinks and snacks before you’re down! There are two ways of travelling from Melbourne to northern Tasmania, the second being sailing across the strait on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry. We have tried both. If you wish to take your own car +/- caravan, etc. the ferry is the way to go. We sailed into Devonport a few years ago and stopped for breakfast at the well-known Christmas Hills raspberry Farm Café, purchasing raspberry vinegar, chocolate raspberries and other goodies. However, I didn’t like the early wake-up call (6:15 a.m.) and I have heard other travellers’ accounts of rough conditions causing dreadful seasickness! We were lucky to have calm seas on both journeys. Back to this trip: we hired a small car at Launceston Airport and drove the 25-minute, straightforward trip into central Launceston. We stayed at Peppers Silos, which is a very interesting hotel built literally into disused silos. Go and meet Archie (Insta = archiethesilodog) (!!!) who is a ‘failed guide dog’ and now resides at the hotel. He is always up for a pat, or even a walk if you wish!
Our curved-wall room at Peppers Silos View from our hotel window
The tranquil Tamar River
SATURDAY: LAUNCESTON TO HOBART The morning was sunny and still: perfect weather for a walk around the river area. Peppers Silos sits at the delta of the Tamar and Esk rivers, and this area has recently undergone large-scale redevelopment. There is an enormous playground next to the hotel which, at the time of our visit, was about 3/4 complete. I can’t wait to visit this place again when this playground is open to the public, as it caters for all ages, including big kids like myself! Breakfast at the hotel was amazing (try the cornflake panna cotta!), and after eating all that food we really could have done with another walk, but we had to get moving in order to reach Hobart before dark. We used our phones to navigate our way through the cities, but we had a UBD Road Atlas of Tasmania for the rural roads, which we found to be very helpful. It deals with each township individually (and alphabetically), plus gives a brief history of the place and a description of any major attractions. Tasmania was settled by Europeans (initially the British) from the year 1803. Then called ‘Van Diemen’s Land’, it was a penal colony- a place to send convicts for “terrible” crimes such as stealing a few geese or a small amount of food. We read some of the convict’s stories in Campbell Town- see the bricks laid into the pavement. Wealthy settlers arrived later, with the promise of land grants and convict labour. Also in Campbell Town is the convict-built “Red Bridge”, the oldest main-road bridge in Australia. While in Campbell Town, visit Valentine’s Park: see the statue and read the fascinating story (on a plaque) of Eliza Forlong. This amazing woman was largely responsible for bringing the iconic Merino sheep over to Australia.
Campbell Town's famous red bridge
We were supposed to turn off just after Campbell Town, to head for the east coast, but we were distracted by the scenery and found ourselves headed for Ross. We decided to drive into the township and then retrace our journey until we found the turn-off. This proved to be a great decision, as Ross was absolutely gorgeous! It had tree-lined roads, historic buildings and (yet another) convict-built bridge. We could see the caravan park, and we made a pact that we would stay there one day when we are grey nomads, caravanning all around Australia!
The beautiful bridge at Ross Tassie's rugged East Coast. Freycinet in background.
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The journey overland to the coast is through untouched forests and over a series of hills and rivers. We eventually hit the coast at Swansea and we could clearly see the Freycinet Peninsula. We have also visited this area on a previous trip and Wineglass Bay is a must-see, even if you just walk to the look-out. The road heads south and winds its way down the coast before heading back inland and arriving on the south coast at Sorell. We then travelled across 2 causeways, past Hobart’s airport, and on to the final water crossing that is the great Tasman Bridge. In 1975 a bulk ore carrier took out a few pylons and the top part of the bridge collapsed, with a few cars going down into the river below. It’s known today as the Tasman Bridge Disaster. We arrived at our hotel- the Mantra Collins- after 2 wrong turns (due to the many one-way streets), but it was well before darkness descended over Hobart and we were able to explore some of the surrounding streets before dinner.
SUNDAY: EXPLORING HOBART AND THE HUON VALLEY The day dawned much the same as Saturday (i.e. perfect!) so we decided on a trip to Mt. Wellington, which sits watching over Hobart and sheltering it from some of the Antarctic weather that blows up here. We passed the famous Cascade Brewery on the way up. Beer connoisseurs may wish to do the brewery tour, but we didn’t have the time. The road reminded me of that of Melbourne’s Mt.Dandenong about 20 years ago: narrow and needing a lot of money spent on an upgrade! Numerous signs on the front fences of private properties indicated protests against the building of a cable car, proposed to run between Hobart and the top of Mt. Wellington. It is already a big tourist attraction, and you can see the amazing views to be had on a clear day, so a cable car or a road upgrade is definitely a necessity.
Views from the top of Mt. Wellington
From Mt. Wellington we continued west to the Huon valley, passing vineyards and beautifully set-out orchards. Lunch at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed was recommended by a local, and it is easy to spot from the main highway, so in we went. We ordered a “cider paddle” with 4 different ciders to taste, plus two different sandwich platters to share. There is an apple museum to browse for the small donation of a gold coin.
Sullivan's Cove, Hobart
We explored the Huon Valley a little more before heading back to Hobart. We walked from our hotel to explore the docks (see Sullivan’s Cove, above), and to see the beautifully restored buildings. Salamanca Place, below, is the site of the famous market held every Saturday. We chose our restaurant for the night’s meal, and I had delicious Tasmanian scallops with a cauliflower purée. Try the local scallops when you visit Tassie, even if they are in one of the very popular seafood curry pies!
Buildings at Sullivan's Cove
MONDAY: RICHMOND, HOBART AIRPORT AND HOME! Another beautiful day, and more stunning photos! Richmond (with another famous bridge!) is 25 minutes from Hobart’s CBD, and a good place to visit if you have a bit of time to kill on the way to drop your hire car at Hobart Airport. There is also a cheese factory and vineyards if you have the time. The airport was only 20 minutes from Richmond, and is still very basic (no proper ‘gates’; boarding from tarmac, etc.), but I’m told an international airport will eventually be built. And so it was time to fly home…
View from the bridge! . . .
OTHER MUST-SEE PLACES IN TASMANIA: