As we looked down from the viewpoint over dramatic Wineglass Bay the walk and the hassle had all been worth it. The weather was perfect, the sea pure blue and the sand pristine white. We could see right across the bush to the other bay and the shape of the bay gave it its name. The beach is often listed in the top 10 beaches in the world and it was easy to see why. However this made it very popular and it’s safe to say we shared our view with loads of other people who had made the climb.
I suppose this was to be expected. January is summer holidays in Australia and peak season for Tasmania. We had not been able to park the truck at the start of the walk as the car park was heaving. Instead we had had to park 2.5kms away down the road adding 5kms to the walk. Still we could not avoid the holidays and had been a little bit prepared for them. I had checked the ferry sailings to Tasmania as soon as we had arrived in Australia and it was already heavily booked so as soon as the truck cleared all the formalities we had booked the ferry for a 2 week trip to Tasmania. We had thought 2 weeks should be enough, after all Tasmania is pretty small, but after a hectic first week we realise we could easily spend longer here.
It was a 9 hour packed ferry ride from Melbourne to Devonport in Tasmania and even though it was a day sailing we were glad we had booked a cabin so we could have some peace and quiet. Fortunately the Bass Strait was relatively calm so we had a smooth sailing. Tasmania offers lots of free camping options so as it was evening when we arrived we headed straight for the nearest one, camping in a sports field. Not the most attractive option but it was quiet and convenient.
So what to do next: food and wine, beaches, culture, bush walking, so many choices. We decided to head to the Tamar Valley an area famous for its wine and food. Tasmania has great fruit, seafood, cheese and many other delights and we were keen to try some of these. First though the kids wanted to see an animal Tasmania is famous for, the strange Platypus. As we thought we would be lucky to see them in the wild we headed to the nearby Platypus House where they are researching them and the only other monotreme found in Australia, the Echidna.
Our search for food met with less success. It seems that good food stops turn up when you are not looking for them but hunting them out proved more difficult. Since that day we have stopped off at a number of food stalls along the road for fantastic cherries, apricots and oysters but we were not so lucky when hunting them out. The wine was easier to find so yet again we had to stop for a lovely wine tasting. Our limited space in the truck means we can only get about 12 bottles in at any one time and we were still a little full from the wineries we had visited near Melbourne. We did manage to squeeze a couple more bottles in though.
From there we headed to the beach at the Bay of Fires. The water here is an amazing blue with beautiful sandy beaches between orange algae covered rocks. The sand is not powder soft but instead is like small crystals and so it sings as you walk along. When we arrived it had started drizzling. The weather in Tasmania can remind you of England! Also we could not get a spot by the beach but had to camp just behind it. The next day though things improved considerably. The sun was out and I found a spot on the top of a sand dune right on the beach. We spent a lovely day playing and walking on the beach and when the sun started to set we could retire to the truck and still enjoy the views.
From the Bay of Fires it was a lovely drive down the coast to Freycinet National Park. It was here that we did our lovely walk to see Wineglass Bay. That evening we camped by the wild beach with the friendly local wildlife.
It was time for a bit of culture so we headed to the state capital Hobart. The council in Hobart let motorhomes stay at their showground and this was very convenient for buses into town. Mind you it was pretty popular. While we were there I counted more than 100 vehicles. Thankfully it was a very large area.
Nearby was the world famous MONA museum, the Museum for Old and New Art. The museum is set on a lovely site overlooking the Derwent estuary and is set in amongst vineyards with a boutique brewery in its grounds. It’s an amazing building and there are lots of funky bars and cafes to enjoy. The art is very modern and so it depends on your taste. Gilly and I are not particular modern art fans. The main exhibition was a large exhibition by Gilbert and George, famous British artists. It was quite confrontational to say the least. The girls just thought it weird. I am not sure what they thought of the work entitled “72 C***s” (asterisks added by me) which was 72 plaster of paris moulds of ….. Well you get the picture. And if you needed a momento of this, the gift shop sold them as a soap. Still the museum was well worth a visit.
The next morning we headed into central Hobart for the weekly Salamanca Market. This market is set against the restored dock warehouses and is a hive of activity. It has been going for over 40 years and sells some great food as well as arts and crafts. We enjoyed a lovely lunch getting various treats to eat. The scallop pie was fantastic especially finished off with pancakes, raspberries and ice cream.
We were lucky in that while we were in Tasmania one of Gilly’s old Moscow friends was also there. They have a lovely beach house about 50kms from Hobart in quiet Marion’s Bay. They had plenty of space so could easily accommodate the truck. It was lovely catching up with Julie, Hamish and their daughter Sasha. After taking us boogie boarding at the nearby beach they cooked us a wonderful dinner of local Tasmanian oysters and lamb. Alisha, Lucy and Sasha decided to camp out for the night in a tent which meant Gilly and I were able to enjoy a very rare peaceful night alone in the truck.
The next day we were all headed to the cricket. The Big Bash twenty twenty cricket has become a big hit in Australia and the cricket was a sell out in Hobart with a record crowd for the ground. With the big crowd we needed to arrive early and had to first sit roasting in the boiling sun. Fortunately as the game started the sun went behind the stadium roof and we were able to enjoy the exciting game in the shade. The game went down to the last ball but unfortunately the Hobart Hurricanes lost by one run to the Perth Scorchers. It was good to see though that the top scoring batsman on the day was an Englishman; still showing the Aussies how to play the game!
Along with the cricket we got close up of a few Australian cricket stars from a few years ago. Can you name them?