Last weekend, we got back from THE BEST holiday ever! I had a whole 11 days away, split between 5 days in Victoria and 6 days in Tasmania. It was seriously the nicest break!
In the first half of the trip I spent a couple of days in Melbourne visiting a few archives centres for PhD-related research, which was so much fun. I love the city of Melbourne – it has such a friendly, chilled out, cool vibe. After I finished up my research I jumped on the train and headed north to Rochester and Echuca, where my family live. I’m stoked that I got to catch up with quite a lot of my family in a short space of time (only two days!). I spent a night at my grandma’s in Castlemaine, and had a really nice catch up with both my dad and Kane’s dad in Echuca. We even caught a local footy match in Rochester, where I saw my step-brother play footy and also caught up with my aunty, cousins, and my cousins’ kids!
Then early on Sunday morning Kane and I, Kane’s mum Kaye, and her partner Merv, all drove down to Melbourne airport to catch our flight to Tasmania!
Kane and I have been talking about taking this trip for so long, and I’m so glad we finally did! Although Kane has been to Tassie a few times (most recently for a 5 day hike in the south-west wilderness, and he still has the fungi-ridden toenail to prove it), I’d never been to Tasmania before. And as both a nature lover and a history lover, I was so keen to check it out!
After our wonderful little holiday, we’ve decided that we DEFINITELY need to go back for a second trip. We managed to pack a lot into our six days in Tassie. Having got a taste of things though, I’d love to go back a second time with more time to explore more fully. Next time I think we’d take our own car and pack the tent, so that we can stay where we choose.
Anyway, here are a few photos of our trip. I’ve structured this post kind of like a diary, because I want to be able to read over it in years to come and remember every moment of this wonderful trip!
I hope you enjoy reading it, and that it inspires you to make your own trip to Tasmania!
Oh, and if you’ve been to Tasmania and have any suggestions of where we should go next time, please let me know in the comments! I’ve completely fallen in love with the state, and would love to hear what you think!
Love Jess xx
Day 1 – Exploring Kane’s family history in Cygnet
We flew into Hobart airport around lunchtime, picked up our hire car, and headed south. The first thing we noticed, as we drove south along the winding roads (with stunning views around every corner) was how much drier the landscape was than we expected! But lots of the locals commented that it’s been a particularly dry year, so I guess things are usually greener.
The photo above is at a beautiful little campsite near Gordon, looking across to Bruny Island. Absolutely stunning, and made us wish we had the tent so we could stay the night!
The purpose of the first two days of the trip was so that Kane’s mum could do some research into their family history. We visited a town in the south of Tassie called Cygnet, where a lot of people with the surname “Clifford” have lived. Kaye hoped to find a connection with the Cliffords in her own family tree. We couldn’t find the connection this trip, but Kaye did go home with a LOT of data, so hopefully she’ll be able to make a connection soon.
The other thing we learnt in our first few days is that dead people in Tasmania sure have some nice views. Check out the vista from this cemetery at Middleton, looking straight out over the bay!
Day 2 – The Apple Shed Ciderhouse, Cascade Female Factory, and Hobart Port
We started the day with a MASSIVE breakfast at the Lotus Eater’s Cafe in Cygnet. The food was absolutely beautiful, in every way. I had the smoked trout, and Kane had the fruit and nut salad. I’m not even kidding, this breakfast was one of the highlights of the trip! If you’re ever in the south of Tassie, I highly recommend a visit to this very cool cafe!
We spent the morning in the local history museum at Cygnet, where Kaye found lots of family history leads. Next up we headed east till we hit the Huon River, then north up the river. Being a cider lover, I insisted that we stop at a place called ‘The Apple Shed’, which is an awesome little ciderhouse and museum. Look at that beautiful copper!
This lovely little place is well worth the stop if you’re ever in the area! It was a beautiful day, and we sat outside in the Autumn afternoon sunshine and shared a cider paddle, before posing for some cheesy family snaps!
Then we were on the road again, heading north-east back to Hobart. One of Kaye’s ancestors was put in a female factory in the north of Tasmania, so we were keen to visit the Cascade Female Factory in Hobart, to get an idea of what her life would have been like.
This place is incredible, and I highly recommend a visit. They’ve done a truly awesome job of interpreting the site, and you really get a sense of how tough the women who stayed here had it, back in the mid-1800s. It made me think how lucky I am to have been born in a time and place where I have the power to control my own destiny.
After all our adventuring we were pretty starving, so we headed down to the beautiful port area of Hobart for some fish and chips. We had a wander around the port area while the sun set. It was kinda freezing – but so, so pretty!
There was a big cruise ship in the port, so we wandered down to the cruise terminal to take a closer look. And that is where we took what is probably my favourite photo EVER…
Day 3 – Roadtrip to Richmond and Campbell Town
On day 3 we jumped in the car and headed north to Richmond, to see the oldest bridge still in use in Australia! It’s convict-built – very cool! We had a wander around Richmond, which is a lovely little town with lots of antique shops and other cute things. We had breakfast and coffee at a bakery, then jumped in the car and headed north again. We stopped at a little town called Ross, where we looked through the Tasmanian Wool Centre and checked out the site of the Ross Female Factory.
Then we were back in the car, heading for Campbell Town. This little town has a really cool monument to the 200,000-odd convicts who were transported to Australia. The monument is a ‘brick trail’, that runs right down the main street of Campbell Town. Each brick shows the name of a convict, their crime and punishment, and the ship they arrived on. We managed to find several of Kaye’s ancestors there!
We headed back to Hobart via Oatlands, where we briefly checked out Callington Mill (an historic windmill that produces all sorts of flours) and stopped at the local pub for a beer. Then we headed back to Hobart and our accomodation for the night, the Shipwrights Arms in Battery Point. This was my favourite place that we stayed at on our trip! We also had an THE NICEST dinner in the restaurant (loooooots of oysters and wine involved, so good!). And look how cute it is!
Day 4 – Hobart again: Mount Wellington and Cascade Brewery Tour, then north to Swansea
We woke up to this view from our bedroom window at the Shipwright’s Arms, looking straight down the street to the bay. Absolutely stunning! Then we ate breakfast at the cutest little bakery in Battery Point. Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos, but it’s called Jackman and McRoss, and it’s well worth checking out!
Next, Kane headed off to a meeting while Kaye, Merv and I wandered around the shops in Hobart. Merv was pretty excited to check out the local Harley Davidson shop! When Kane had finished, we all piled in the car and drove to the top of Mount Wellington. Two observations: one, the view is incredible. Two, it’s flippin’ FREEZING up there! It felt like stepping into the middle of winter! You can tell by my face in the photos that I was NOT cool with how cold it was!
After we’d thawed out a little, we headed to another highlight of the trip, the Cascade Brewery tour! Again, my face in the photo says it all… This was such a lovely afternoon, and we had a really nice lunch at the brewery’s restaurant and sampled quiiiiiiite a few of the beers.
Around mid-afternoon we dropped Kaye and Merv back at the airport to fly home, while Kane and I would stay for another two nights. We were seriously so sad to drop them off, it had been such an awesome trip with them!
Kane and I drove north again that afternoon because we were keen to check out Freycinet National Park. I think the landscape got more and more beautiful the further north we headed! We stayed in Swansea that night, and took a long walk along the beach. We even saw a seal swimming in the ocean!
We got back to our accomodation around dark, where we realised that we’d enjoyed our long walk SO much, that we’d forgotten to organise anything for dinner! It was too late before we realised that all the shops were closed, and all we had was one chocolate bar between us! Oh well, at least we had this beautiful sunset to make up for our lack of dinner that night!
Day 5 – Freycinet National Park, hiking Cape Hauy, and Port Arthur Ghost Tour
This was such a special, beautiful day. We packed SO much in, but it was still so relaxing and fun! We woke up in Swansea and made the short drive to Freycinet National Park, where we had breakfast and coffee. Then we set out to see as much of Freycinet as we could in the half day we had there. We started by hiking up to the Wineglass Bay Lookout, which was a pretty short walk (30-45 minutes), but it’s steep so you feel the butt-burn!
Then we jumped back in the car and drove to Honeymoon Bay, which was absolutely STUNNING (as you can see in the photos, below). The red granite rocks against the turquoise water sure makes a beautiful view!
Next we jumped back in the car and drove up to Cape Tourville, which is an easy stroll along a boardwalk, past a lighthouse and some seriously beautiful views of the bay. I thought I was going a crazy when I heard cows bellowing from over the ocean. Turns out it wasn’t cows, but a pod of seals chilling out on one of the little islands that you can see in the picture (below right)! There was a set of binoculars at one part of the boardwalk so that you could watch the seals, and it was seriously awesome! They’re such chilled out dudes, just lolling about in the sun. I’d love to be seal! Apart from the whole “getting eaten by sharks” thing, that part would suck…
Having packed everything we could into our few hours at Freycinet, we jumped in the car and were off again, this time heading south. We’ve been super keen to hike the new “Three Capes Track” that opened recently, and although we didn’t have time to do the full hike this trip (it’s a three day hike), we were determined to at least walk a portion of the track! So we set off south, heading for Cape Hauy, which is one of the “three capes”.
We headed south along the coast and stopped at Orford for lunch (scallop pies, so good!). Then we veered off the main road and took a short cut south along gravel roads through Three Thumbs State Reserve and Cape Bernier Nature Reserve. I’d estimate that this shortcut took about an hour off our trip, and it was such a beautiful drive through the forest. Having said that, I’d only recommend attempting it in dry weather and with a four-wheel drive – otherwise, I’d suggest sticking to the main road!
We arrived at the start of the Cape Hauy track at around 3pm, and set straight off to make the most of the remaining light.
And seriously… wow. What a beautiful walk.
You start at a beautiful little camp ground in a gorgeous, sheltered bay (above left). After hiking along the coastline for a while, you veer in and walk through beautiful forest. The track is really well made, and it’s a relatively easy walk (with a few good ascents, so you feel the butt-burn again).
After hiking through forest for around 45-50 minutes, you hit the edge of the main land mass and start walking out over what is, essentially, a big chunk of rock sticking out of the ocean. It’s pretty bloody spectacular!
From that point, it takes around another 30-45 minutes to hike all the way out to the edge of Cape Hauy, depending on how hard you’re going (we were pushing pretty hard, because we didn’t want to run out of light!). The track is quite up-and-down, so you get a pretty good work-out!
When you near the edge, prepare to have your breath taken away! It is truly spectacular. Standing on that chunk of rock jutting straight out of the sea, with nothing but a whole lot of ocean and then Antarctica in front of you, you start to realise the meaning of the phrase “the end of the earth”. It’s pretty exhilarating.
After we’d taken in the view, we set off and hiked back in. The hike took us just under 3 hours all up, but we were going pretty hard – 4 hours would’ve been a more comfortable walk! By the time we’d reached the campground I was hobbling along like a 70 year old, because I’d done something stupid to my hip! But that beautiful walk was well worth the pain.
At that moment we were SERIOUSLY sorry that we didn’t have our tent with us. The little campground was heavenly, and we would have loved to be setting up our tent, cracking open a wine/beer, and sleeping under the those beautiful trees next to the bay.
But we had a ghost tour to go on, so we drove into town where we were staying the night, had a quick shower, and headed to the local pub for a very well-deserved beer with bangers and mash for dinner!
After dinner we drove down to Port Arthur to start our ghost tour. As the night got colder, my hip got more stiff and sore, to the point where I must have looked quite frightening hobbling through the darkness at Port Arthur!
Kane dobbed himself in to be a lantern carrier on the ghost tour, and thoroughly enjoyed himself giving the tour leader a hard time! I’d expected to be quite unnerved taking this tour (I get frightened of pretty well anything), but I was surprisingly unperturbed! Maybe because there were so many people around? Having said that, I wouldn’t like to be left alone at Port Arthur at night…
Day 6 – Port Arthur, then home to Charlie
On our last day in Tasmania we went back to Port Arthur to check the place out in daylight. Again, I expected to be quite unsettled by all the horrible things that have gone on in that place. But I was surprised to find Port Arthur actually quite a beautiful place. Some terribly sad things have gone on there, and but all in all, I thought it was lovely! Hah!
Around lunchtime we jumped in the car one last time, and drove back to Hobart to catch our flight home. There was one little puddy cat waiting at the door, who was VERY glad to see us! (The photo on the left shows where Charlie sat alllll night, and followed me like a shadow whenever I got up. The photo on the right shows his face, after I asked him how his week without us had been.)
What a wonderful, magical trip. I can’t wait to get back to beautiful Tasmania soon!
Thanks for reading,
Love Jess xx