We received a bit of a buffetting on Sunday night at the park up in Dunalley. While the land area itself was great, unfortunately for us the site was on the top of a cliff that faced south. The overnight southerly wind and rain made it feel more like we were on a ship than in the motorhome.
Monday morning we awoke to sunshine and clear skies and our first task was to drive 30km back into Sorell to pick up fuel and LPG. From Sorell it was onto the Tasman Highway and north. While the road was steep and winding in places, we drove through some stunning country. Morrison Forest and the Three Thumbs State Reserve consist of vast areas of massive dry eucalyptus trees with many being over 80m tall. A brilliant part of the country.
The first village we drove into was Buckland. The area around Buckland was originally settled around 1820 and is renown for its many old churches. While the oldest remaining house dates from 1826, the historic St John the Baptist church took our fancy. The foundation stone was laid on 22 August 1846 and even today it is well maintained and is a stunning building.
The village of Orford was our next stop. Orford is 73km north east of Hobart in Prosser Bay and at the mouth of the Prosser River. Beyond Prosser Bay are the waters of Mercury Passage and excellent fishing (we were told). As lovely as the village was we decided to carry on.
Twenty kilometres further on we came to the town of Triabunna. Triabunna is just off the Tasman Highway and is sheltered within Spring Bay at the mouth of MacCleans Creek. Triabunna was initially established in the 1830’s as a garrison town for the penal settlement just off the coast on Maria Island. The town is now home base for the region’s fishing and timber industries as well as providing ferry services to and from Maria Island.
After exploring the town we decided to make Triabunna our stop for the night. We parked up at the free spot directly across from the hotel and beside the port area. We could have undertaken a couple of bush walks while here but instead opted to give fishing one more try. The waters of the local area are famous for its fishing including squid, blue mussel and scallop. We booked ourselves on a half day charter with the target fish being flathead.
At 8.30am on Tuesday morning we mustered at ‘Mater Cara’, a converted traditional cray fishing boat and out into the ‘blue yonder’. Maximum numbers were ten but there was only four others on the charter so we had plenty of room. We were told that we would be fishing in the ‘traditional’ Tassie way with hand lines. Once on the ‘spot’ in the Mercury Passage and an hour later, we had about 30 flathead in the bin. It was great fun albeit just a wee bit cold out there. The captain had never caught flathead before let alone filleted one. After a brief demonstration by the boats skipper, it was only a couple of fish later that Rod was well into his work. Dinner on Tuesday night was of course flathead fillets. By the time we got back into harbour and had a late lunch we decided to stay on for another night.
On Wednesday morning we reluctantly departed Triabunna and continued north along the Tasman Highway. Our first stop for the day was at Bicheno. Bicheno is about 185km north east of Hobart and was first settled in the early 1800’s. With the discovery of gold in Victoria in the 1850’s, most of village’s population moved to the mainland and the village became the ‘sleepy’ fishing village of today. Of interest to the captain was that in February 2004, the village presented a freedom of entry charter to the Australian Merchant Navy, the first time any locality in the world has granted ‘freedom of the city’ to the merchant Navy. While we could have made Bicheno our home for the night, we decided to continue north for 60km; hook a wee left and visited the village of St Mary’s.
St Marys is a small township nestled at the junction of the Tasman Highway and the Esk Highway just10 kilometres from the coast. To be honest the reason we wanted to visit St Mary’s is that to get there you have to drive through the Little Beach State Reserve and cross the mountain range through either St Marys Pass or Elephant Pass. We were told that the Tasmanian Tiger can be found in Reserve and is sometimes seen along the narrow mountain road. Unfortunately none was seen on our journey so we are yet to see a Tiger in the wild. On the upside, when we arrived at St Marys we discovered the village provides travellers a free overnight stop at their Recreation Reserve so that was us for the night. Also staying at the Reserve were two other Kiwi couples in motorhomes – both were from Auckland with one couple being from Takapuna and the other from Northcote. A very pleasant 5 o’clockers was spent at St Marys.
On Thursday morning it was onto the Tasman Highway again and driving 10km back to the coast. While at St Marys we were told of a great little spot about 160km away at Myrtle Park and beside St Patricks River. The attraction of the site for the navigator was that she was also told that platypus were aplenty in the river. It took us all day to get to Myrtle Park as we made stops at the villages of Scamanda, St Helens, Derby and Scottsdale before arriving at our destination. All these villages had great art, craft and antique studios so it was not difficult to enjoy the journey. We passed by some stunning bays on the way through. Little beachside settlements dotted the Tasman Highway all the way through to St Helens.
We are excited to be able to tell you we have at last managed to get of shot of a platypus in the wild. They are elusive and shy little creatures but one finally made it into the lens. While we saw quite a few in the river, because they only stay on the surface for a very short period, getting a good shot was difficult. Well done the navigator. We did learn that handling platypus could be quite dangerous. If they get their tail barb into a dog or a cat, it can kill the animal within 2 to 3 hours. If the barb goes into a human, the victim can be ill for up to 18 months. Swimming in the river was not the go!!
The plan this morning (Friday) is to drive back through Scottsdale and north to Bridport, hook a left at Bridport and go to George Town, hook another left and then drive south through Launceston to the town of Evandale. Saturday in Evandale is the annual penny-farthing race so we will stay there overnight on Friday, watch the race then drive back to Launceston for the rest of the weekend.