Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Leaving Home

It's time to pack our bags and head back to the mainland. It all still feels a bit surreal - nothing is booked, yet we should be on the ferry in 9 days. I can't quite believe I won't be taking in the gorgeous Mt Wellington view everyday anymore.

Tassie has been very good to us. We've had a wonderful (almost) three years here. My daughter has been very lucky to spend time here - it's just a shame she won't remember it. Oh well, I guess we will just have to come back!

We've seen so much, but certainly not everything. We didn't get around to Maria Island and there are more waterfalls we didn't see than those we did. But we covered a fair bit of this gorgeous, wild, impressive state.

We travelled up and down the East Coast a few times. It's one of my favourite places here. The views are spectacular, the food is divine and the beaches are so tempting it's easy to ignore the cold!

We've had a few trips to Launceston - hubby loves to visit the car museum and I just like to wander around town. Little miss is a fan of the monkeys at the gardens :)

The North West corner was one of the last places we visited - only aboout 6 months ago. It was everything we were promised, and then some. Rugged, stunning, remote, freezing cold! A cruise along the Arthur River left us feeling we were the only people on Earth while the walk up the Nut at Stanley reminded us Tasmania is well and truly civilised!

We recently popped back to that part of the world to drive the Road to Nowhere, Hubby was a bit excited to get the Fatman barge across the Pieman River. It cost a fortune, but little miss thought it was great fun - probably the highlight of the trip for her. I thought the Balfour Track looked like good fun and begged hubby to just go a little way along it ... he sensibly declined. There was a lot of water (which is why it looked like fun!) and he was concerned about getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with no one around. So we will be back to do that one in convoy!

There has only been one area of Tasmania I haven't loved and that's Queenstown. I really hope the plans to revitalise it as a real tourist attraction get off the ground. My memories of it are not happy ones!! Strahan on the other hand is absolutely delightful and one of the nicest places to visit in Tassie. There's plenty of accommodation, great food options and the cruise along the Gordon River is exceptional (and perhaps a touch more professional than the Arthur River cruise!).

Now we're packing up and getting organised to leave, we've run out of time to do or see anything else, and that makes me sad. I'm going home to my family for the first time in nearly 10 years and that's what I wanted. But if there had been an option to stay just a few more years, I think we would have taken it!

I am making the most of the time we have left by storing a few extra kilos thanks to the Cripps Bakery in Bellerive!! I'm going to miss that place.

But most of all, I am going to miss the lovely, lovely people. I have made some great friends here in Tassie and it will be hard to leave them behind. My little miss has some great little friends that she too is going to be sad to leave.

Still, Tassie is an easy trip from Melbourne - especially with kids. Just hop a ferry, drive straight down the highway to Hobart while said kids are sleeping and Bob's your uncle.

We will be back!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Long Time Between Drinks

So this blogging thing has highlighted my tendancy to get distracted. Despite the best intentions, regular updates are clearly not happening!

To fill you in since I last wrote, it's been a busy, busy time. We've been exploring as much of Tassie as we could get to in between interstate visitors and my frequent travels to Melbourne to spend time with my grandfather. He passed away a few months ago and one of the things I'm saddest about is he never got to experience Tasmania. I think he would have loved it.

I know I do. It's a magical place that gets under your skin. We have traipsed up and down the East Coast numerous times now, and the amazing beaches still amaze me. We recently ventured to the North West corner with hubby's family and that was a great experience. We started at Cradle Mountain ~ staying at Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village ~ before heading on to Stanley and Ulverstone. All up, it was a great adventure and I'm so glad we were able to do it.

Cradle Mountain is all about the walking. We had a group of ... shall we say diverse ... ages and fitness levels, so we stuck to the 'easy' Dove Lake walk. I must admit I found it rather hard going ~ although I did have tonsilitis and I was carrying my 11 kilo daughter the whole time!

Driving around the North West corner from place to place was itself a highlight. The roads are excellent and the scenery is stunning. Which was good, because we did a lot of driving. From Cradle Mountain to Stanley, to Arthur River to Ulverstone to Hobart!

Arthur River was pretty cool. We did a very Tasmanian cruise along the Arthur River and had a guided walk through privately leased land alongside the river.

One of the biggest surprises for me were the spectacular beaches all along the north coast. Stanley is such a picturesque little town. It was a bit sad to see it wasn't doing as well as you would hope.

Ulverstone was much bigger than I'd thought - it had everything you could possibly need, and it's pretty close to Devonport too. Great fish and chips!

We're planning another trip up that way soon ~ hubby didn't get to do the 4WD track down the West Coast and is very keen to get the fat man actoss the Peiman!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Loving the East Coast

Hubby's Dad came across ~ from Perth ~ a couple of months ago to meet bub. He's seen more of Tassie than us and suggested we head up the east coast and stay somewhere near Wineglass Bay so we could finally see it. I came across a great little place to stay ~ just out of Bicheno ~ called Bicheno Ocean View Retreat.

The view from the accommodation was so magnificent we didn't want to venture out! After awhile we did decide to go in search of dinner and discovered Bicheno has quite a few good food options. Night number two saw us staying in with local caught fresh fish because we couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Absolute highlight of the weekend was seeing Wineglass Bay. It is even more beautiful than the photos. Mostly because there's a bit of effort involved in just getting to the viewing platform! That's as far as we went as we weren't equipped for a proper walk and hubby was carrying 4 or 5 kilos of baby, otherwise known as a living, breathing hot water bottle! We will go back ~ I'm not leaving Tassie until I've been swimming at Wineglass Bay.

Exploring the Apple Isle with the Little Chicken

Wow! Who knew having a baby would take up every moment of every day!! We've never had so little free time. But we've also never had such good incentive to get out and about. We want our 'little chicken' ~ as she was somehow named on day one ~ to grow up with our love of this beautiful country, camping and 4WDing.

Our first trek as a family was the boat crossing from Melbourne back to Tassie. The little chicken was a dream and all went smoothly. Feeling confident after that experience, we set of for Launceston for a couple of nights in a hotel thanks to a great wotif.com deal. Things did not go quite as smoothly this time. The little chicken travelled well but decided to reinstate the night time screaming we thought she had well and truly outgrown. I feel very sorry for whoever was staying in the room next to us! As daytime was issue free, we made the most of it. The morning had us at the National Automobile Museum for its annual open day (free entry, lots of classics on show in the car park & a Lions Club sausage sizzle).

We also checked out Cataract Gorge. The north of the state had experienced torrential downpours and flooding just prior to our visit so the water was flowing at a fair clip. Very impressive and a bit frightening walking over a suspension bridge watching it rush by below. Gorgeous scenery and I'm hoping we get back in warmer weather so we can swim in the (submerged) pool I caught sight of!

After a great weekend mostly spent in the CBD of Launceston, the drive home actually had quite a lot to offer to the exploring experience. Hubby spotted a sign to Liffey Falls ~ about 50 k's out of Launceston ~ and we ducked down a narrow clay 'road' to see what the falls were like. After parking at a very nice camping / BBQ spot we trekked along a steep, windy path that followed a crystal clear river that became the beautiful Liffey Falls. Apparently the water crashing over the rocks was melted snow from Cradle Mountain.

Because I have become bored with the three main roads in Tasmania (apologies for the exaggeration Tasmanian's!) hubby suggested we head back to Hobart through Deloraine and Bothwell. We'd seen snow on mountains in the distance, and I was promised snow if we went back this way. I was not disappointed. It was magical. Snow lined the road and covered the ground around us. We jumped out for a couple of photo ops ~ even dragging bub out of her warm and comfy car seat for a quick snow bunny shot. If I had to choose the one thing I have loved most about our time in Tassie so far, it would have to be the snow. It's accessible and natural and makes me feel like a five year old child.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Missing Tassie

I'm in Melbourne at the moment ~ here to give birth to our baby girl (hopefully any day now). It was a choice I made because my family and friends are here, but it has meant spending six weeks before the birth away from Tassie and my husband. Plus another six weeks afterwards before we head back. So, as you can imagine, I'm missing my Tassie 'home'.
I didn't realise how accustomed I had become to the lack of traffic, living by the beach and polite, considerate drivers until I spent an extended period of time back in Melbourne!
I absolutely love Bellerive. Especially since the Retro Fudge Bar moved in recently. The village has all the shops you need ~ bakery, chemist, post office and newsagent, plenty of takeaway options and restaurants, a sewing shop, cake decorating shop and a beautiful gift shop. There's even a little supermarket around the corner. And of course there's Eastlands at Rosny Park just a few minute's walk. I'm really excited about being a stay at home mum there. I'll be able to do pretty much everything locally.
I'll also be able to take bub to the beach and the playground. Looking forward to feeding the ducks with her!
I've come to realise that living on an island is not for me ~ no matter how big that island may be. I'm happy to stay out the three years, but I am glad that we are returning to the mainland. However, I also think that returning to Melbourne on a permanent basis is also not for me. The traffic alone puts me off. If I was to return, it would be after I had won Tattslotto and could afford to live on the Mornington Peninsula without having to commute!
So at this stage, I am not sure where our permanent home after Tasmania will be. And until I know, I plan to make the most of Tasmania. If anyone can reccommend child friendly camping destinations, please let me know. Once the warmer weather arrives, hubby wants to head off and show bub all of Tassie!
I'm rather looking forward to the end of July and our trip across the Tasman as a family to return to our home.   

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Australia Day in Tasmania (yes, I'm a bit late!)

I've been meaning to write this post for quite awhile now ... a whole month, in fact. But life has this habit of getting in the way of me turning my computer on, and I prefer not to write a blog post on my phone. I've decided to give it a crack this time, or I'll never get this post out!

So, hubby and I decided to stay in Tassie for Australia Day this year, and our very good friends C & S decided to pop across for a visit with miss 3 and mr 1. It was a great weekend, even if the weather did conspire against us.

Our visitors arrived on Thursday morning bright and early. There's nothing like a gorgeous 3 year old running at you full tilt with a gigantic grin to start your day. After the airport pick up, I went to work for the day and left them to their own devices. They discovered the Cadbury Factory and Cygnet. When we caught up that night, they couldn't stop raving about their lunch at the Red Velvet Lounge (one of my favourites), the chocolates at Cygneture Chocolates and the butcher.

Friday was spent at Bruny Island. Having been before, I wasn't too fussed about preparing for the trip. Turns out, I should have paid more attention. When we got to Kettering we were told the ferry was running to demand, rather than the advertised timetable. So there we were, rain pouring down and two littlies stuck in the car for an extra 45 minutes. Bit of a stressful start, but nothing like the finish. After driving around the island, we headed off to the lighthouse. Halfway there, the driver (C) thought to check the petrol gauge. Turns out he was so used to long range fuel tanks he forgot to check to see if we had enough petrol. Ooops! We kept heading to the lighthouse, planning to go straight to Alonnah to fill up afterwards. Only, we got to Alonnah to be told they don't have fuel anymore and we had to go to Adventure Bay. The car was telling us we had 13k's to go before we were out of fuel. C and I thought it was great fun. S wasn't so thrilled! We ended up making it to Adventure Bay with 7k's left!!

Saturday we visited the Salamanca Markets. C's favourite stall was the retro fudge stand. Miss 3 thought it was pretty great too! In fact, the fudge was so good, I have to stop by and pick up some more to take to Melbourne for C next time I visit!

The Sandy Bay Regatta was also on Saturday, so we popped in there for a bit. The kids loved the playground, and miss 3 had her face painted. After a BBQ lunch, we all headed home for a nap ... Minus hubby who decided to throw a world class temper tantrum seconds after arriving at Sandy Bay. So we left him to walk home.

To finish off the trip, we spent Sunday at Port Arthur. It would have been much nicer if the rain had stopped a lot earlier. Although miss 3 had a ball jumping in puddles and running around in the rain.

It was interesting, and worth a look. Decent value for hubby and I because we can go back as many times as we want to over the next two years. Bit on the expensive side for visitors. But the boys seemed to enjoy it. Hubby and C wandered off to explore while S and I kept the kids entertained and dry. Luckily the sun came out so we made the most of all the open space and played hide and seek with miss 3 and spun in circles until she fell over :)

All up, as always, it was a great weekend because it was spent with amazing people. I do think Tassie tourist attractions could improve their 'kid-friendliness', but we managed and the kids seemed to have fun. And I'll know for next time to plan some wet weather alternatives!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

We're expecting a mini camper!

No, that's not a camper trailer. We have a bub on the way!! After years and much heartache, we're finally starting our family. Unfortunately pregnancy kept me from camping for awhile - I was so sick for about three months that all I did was work and lie on the couch. Hubby went out exploring on his lonesome a bit, checking out places he thought I might like and crossing a few I definitely wouldn't off his list.

Thanks to hubby's recon trips, we had a great couple of days visiting places along the north east coast, across to Launceston. Quite a few were definitely spots to return to in quieter times (outside school holidays). I absolutely loved Bridport, although the caravan park was completely chokkas when we pulled in. The town reminds me of Lorne in Victoria - trendy, with enough shops that you don't need to be overly prepared for a weekend away.

For our first night camping in a long time, we stayed at the Big 4 at St Helens. It's a pretty decent caravan park, with plenty of space for unpowered sites. The town is probably the major town servicing surrounding communities for quite a distance, so it really has everything you could need. And it's only about 2 kilometres from the caravan park.

The reason for staying at St Helens was so I could see the Bay of Fires - something I had been desperate to see since coming across a photo online that I thought was from a tropical island somewhere. I was not disappointed by the reality either. It's a beautiful beach with white sand that squeaks when you walk and crystal clear aqua water. And I didn't find the water any colder than Melbourne beaches, so I think swimming is definitely on the cards when we do a proper weekend there.

Just like a Thailand beach ... only it's Tassie!
View of Bay of fires from the carpark
Crystal clear water and perfect white sand.
After the Bay of Fires we continued on across the eastern corner of Tassie to the northern coast where we came across Tomohawk. The sign at the turnoff claims it's Tasmania's biggest secret - a pretty big call, I thought. However, once we got to the beach, I decided they weren't kidding. The beach is amazing and there was hardly anyone there. The caravan park looked decent and definitely not overcroweded. The part that really stood out to us was the fancy foot bridge that had been constructed over a rivulet across to the main beach. In the middle of nowhere. It was only early morning when we were there, and not quite warm enough to tempt me into the water, but it was another perfect swimming beach. I'm thinking this one will be a good babymoon destination.

Tomohawk Beach - Gorgeous.
After Tomohawk and a stop at Bridport, we moseyed along to Low Head just past George Town. We had planned to stay at the caravan park there, but it looked less appealing than one we'd stayed at in Coober Pedy, so we ventured back down the road and across the Batman Bridge where there are plenty of lovely caravan parks. We stayed at Kelso, but checked out Greens Beach and Beauty Point as well and decided they were worth coming back for.

Our New Year's Eve accommodation - keeping it simple :)
All up, we covered a lot of ground and flew through places we'll have to go back to and leisurely explore. I had been starting to feel a bit disappointed with Tasmania. Hobart is great, but people had talked up the rest of Tassie so much I was feeling let down. The parts I'd seen weren't living up to my (rather high) expectations. Of course, pregnancy hormones haven't been helping much! But after travelling around the coast, I fell in love all over again. The beaches are amazing, and I plan to spend much more time enjoying them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's been a little crazy ... but I've finally been to MONA

G’day. Apologies for the gap between posts (again, I know!).

Life has been a little crazy. My Dad passed away on Grand Final Day after a 13 month battle with Glioblastoma Multiforme or GBM ~ the nastiest kind of brain cancer. After a mad dash across to Melbourne to see him, he passed away three days later. Then came the funeral. To anyone who has ever organised one, I say congratulations. It is a momentous task, and one I was predominantly responsible for. By the end of the week, I was exhausted. Coming back to Tassie was something of a relief, although short lived.

I’d booked a few flights to Melbourne, planning to spend time with Dad. One of these was the Hobart Show Day long weekend. It was quite sad, knowing I was heading off and he wouldn’t be there for me to spend time with. But my grandmother quickly distracted me from that. I was due to fly out on Wednesday night and on Wednesday morning there was an email from my mama telling me Nan had had a stroke. It was only a mild one, and after going in to see her on Thursday I was quite reassured. She was in relatively good spirits, determined to be up and about as quickly as possible. She was quite lucky in that she did not suffer any cognitive impairment or facial paralysis. Her right side is not doing much, but she’s made significant improvement in her hand and arm all by herself. I am sure she will come along in leaps and bounds now she is finally in rehab.

Now, just to keep me busy, in the middle of all this, mama popped over for a long weekend visit in early October. We played tourist for four days, visiting some new places and revisiting others that have quickly become my favourites.

There was, of course, a trip to the Salamanca Market. No visit to Hobart is complete without stopping in at the market and whiling away a Saturday morning admiring local handcrafts and tasting local produce. Growing up in Melbourne, the Red Hill Market is probably the market of note. But it’s only held once a month, is an hour’s drive from the city (for those of us who choose to avoid toll roads) and is a nightmare for car parking. The appeal of Salamanca ~ for me ~ is the proximity to the city (and me!) and that the market is held weekly, all year round.

We also toured Richmond, stopping for lunch at the bakery ~ which sadly doesn’t do gluten free so mama had an average looking salad ~ and a bit of window shopping. We also drove over the bridge ~ a regular occurrence when we take visitors as Hubby likes to show them Australia’s oldest bridge.

After tasting Grandvewe Cheesery’s offerings at the Salamanca Market, mama was in love. So on Sunday, we ventured out to Birchs Bay to see where the cheese is made, taste a little more and stock up. Apparently, the Vanilla Whey Liqueur is divine. I didn’t try it, but it went on mama’s ‘next time’ list ~ she plans to visit often.

We left Hubby at home for the afternoon and jumped on the car ferry across to Bruny Island. I can’t believe how reasonably priced the ferry is ~ $30 return for a car is pretty good, and it runs regularly throughout the entire day. Of course, it helps if you read the timetable right ~ I had us waiting in the line an hour before we were supposed to return to Kettering because I’d looked at the time for the ferry to Bruny Island!! Oh well. It was a good afternoon driving from one end to the other. We stopped for lunch at The Jetty CafĂ© at Bruny Island ~ located at Dennes Point on North Bruny. The food was lovely and mama had no trouble finding something she could eat (gluten and fructose free). The view through the floor to ceiling glass windows across the water was spectacular. Sitting there on a Summer’s day would be perfect (and I look forward to doing just that soon).

After a stop in at Bruny Island Cheese for mama to add to her cheese stash (good thing I had the 4WD and car fridge) we climbed the steps to the look out at The Neck and took a stroll at a little picnic area on the beach just shy of Adventure Bay, before dashing back to the ferry queue to wait in line for an hour!

The highlight from mama’s visit was MONA ~ otherwise known as the Museum of Old and New Art. It’s brilliant. I must admit I was rather sceptical at the idea that an art gallery could be the number one attraction in a state as beautiful as Tasmania with so many natural attractions. And admittedly, there is still a lot of Tasmania I am yet to see. But having visited MONA I now understand the infatuation people have with it. To start with, the location is perfect. Heading up the long, tree lined drive to the impressive, modern buildings of Moorilla Estate (on the grounds of which MONA is located) puts you in the right awe struck frame of mind. Walking into the building across the tennis court and through the mirrored doors keeps the feeling going. And then someone hands you an iPod as you walk in and pay your money (or show your ID if you have a Tassie driver’s license. Apparently, the scar from where the second head was removed is also sufficient). The iPod was it for me. As you walk through MONA, you refresh the display on your iPod to read about the artefacts you are looking at. And you can rate them ~ love or hate. Which I thought was the greatest thing. Art often inspires complete hatred or love in me, and I assume I am not unique in that respect. It was nice to be able to share my reaction, and to see what others thought. There were things I hated that 90 per cent of visitors had loved. I personally did not enjoy the overtly sexual pieces ~ but that’s just me. And given that it’s a pretty consistent theme throughout MONA, obviously others don’t agree with me.

The most interesting ‘artwork’ is one that is hidden behind a closed door, guarded by a MONA staff member (the staff appear to have been hired based on a recruitment strategy similar to that used by Richard Branson when staffing Virgin ~ they’re all young and attractive). I don’t want to give away what’s behind that closed door, because I think not knowing contributes to the experience. All I will say is don’t go in if you’re scared of the dark!

Having seen that MONA lives up to the hype, I am impatiently awaiting MONA FOMA … I hear it’s pretty great. The full program should be available in December. I’m glad I’ve planned to be here for January ~ the festival runs from the 16th to the 20th of January.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Eating my way through Tasmania

G'day there. It's been awhile since I wrote ... sorry about that. I've been busy enjoying myself. One of the things I'm particularly enjoying is the fabulous food on offer here in Tasmania. To start with, there's so much fresh local produce on offer ~ and you don't have to go very far to find it. In Hobart, the Salamanca and Farm Gate markets have stallholders selling fresh produce straight from the farm gate. If you prefer to visit the farm gate or cellar door yourself, a trip South to Margate, Cygnet, Huonville and surrounds offers plenty of options. I quite enjoyed Grandvewe Cheesery ~ the Pinot Paste is divine!

But Tassie isn't all about fresh produce for you to take home and cook. There's an abundance of fabulous restaurants to visit everywhere you go. I thought I'd share a couple of my favourites so far with you.

Red Velvet Lounge ~ Cygnet
I walked by the Red Velvet Lounge one weekend when hubby and I were visiting Cygnet and liked the look of it. So I went back on a weekday when there were tables available (for a weekend visit, book!) and fell in love as soon as I set foot inside. The decor is beautiful. Big, solid, dark tables and chairs, red walls, metal detail and plenty of retro knick nacks to keep things interesting. Before I even saw the menu, I wanted to move in. And then I saw someone else's meal come out and my mind was made up!

The food is made using local produce and is unique and inventive, but not so out there that you don't know what you're eating. I dined with my Dad and his partner and they both agreed that the food lookd great, tasted amazing and was very filling.

After lunch, we rolled down the street to Cygneture Chocolates ...

Cygneture Chocolates ~ Cygnet
I'm a born and bred Victorian (please don't hold that against me!) and while I haven't lived there for nearly 10 years now, I visit often. Most of my time is spent on the Mornington Peninsula, which is home to the most amazing chocolates I have ever tasted ~ Mornington Peninsula Chocolates in Flinders. I was missing my chocolate fix until I stumbled across Cygneture Chocolates. Now ~ I won't lie ~ they haven't knocked MP Chocolates off the top of my list, but they are a very close second. The chocolate is extremely good, and the service even better. The very delightful Gillian is a font of knowledge about the area and passionate about how wonderful Tassie is.

I love the pretty patterns painted onto the chocolate blocks ~ they make perfect little gifts, although I think they're almost too pretty to eat!

Ball and Chain ~ Salamanca
If you appreciate good steak, this is a must. I'd heard Tassie beef was pretty good before we moved here. I now know it is very good (understatement of the year!). The quality and size of the steak was impressive. And for the price it was amazing. However, Ball and Chain isn't a cheap restaurant, and even though I thought it was great value for money (especially compared to my favourite steak restaurant in Darwin), I would think of it as a special occasion restaurant. So for a meal with my Dad while he was visiting, it was perfect. See, my Dad couldn't cook to save his life when he was married to mum. When he met his lovely partner, she taught him to cook and we got to know Dad as a person (rather than 'Dad') over steak. Lots and lots of steak accompanied by lots and lots and lots of red wine. Becuase of this, steak is a bit of a special meal to our family and we definitely enjoyed our night.

Bark Mill and Tavern ~ Swansea
The Bark Mill is in Swansea, just on the other side of the town if you're driving from Hobart. Hubby and I stopped by the bakery when we were on a Sunday drive one weeked, and we took Dad to the Tavern for lunch while he was visiting. The goodies at the bakery are worth the drive alone! You can even buy freshly made brandy snaps to take home and fill with cream (so you can say you made them!).

The Tavern was a surprise. I thought I would find standard pub grub on offer and didn't have any expectations about the food. So when it came out I was well and truly impressed. I ordered a garlic pizza. This is what I got.

The others ordered scallops and oysters ~ fresh from the oyster farm down the road. I was told the oysters didn't smell at all, and apparently that is the sign of fresh oysters (who knew!). I pinched a couple of prawns, and they were pretty good. Hubby enjoyed the scallops too. 

Finally, for somewhere to stop for an informal lunch in town ...

Fish Frenzy ~ Hobart
Fresh seafood is just so good. And Tassie has it in spades. I popped down to Fish Frenzy for lunch today and enjoyed crumbed fish and calamari, thinking that my cheap and easy lunch was some of the best seafood I've had. It's really not worth eating seafood in Canberra (you can be pretty confident it's been frozen at some stage) and I wasn't much of a seafood fan when we lived in Darwin. But I am making the most of the fresh seafood in Tassie.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I {Heart} Bruny Island

A couple of months into our time in Tassie and we've finally sorted ourselves out. We moved into a gorgeous place in Bellerive, I found myself a job and we've finished unpacking.
Two weeks ago, my Dad and his partner, Nat, came to visit. Hubby and I took them all over south-eastern Tasmania and we had a great time eating, drinking and being merry. Wine tasting in the Freycinet, Huon and Coal River Valley regions, dinner at Ball and Chain, a bit of shopping at the Salamanca Market and a visit to Cygnet for the fabulous handmade chocolates at Cygneture Chocolates and a divine lunch at the Red Velvet Lounge.
So, after all that entertaining, we took a weekend off to recover and prepare for a fun weekend exploring. I had a look online and came up with Bruny Island. Seemed easy enough to get to, looked like there was plenty to see and do and there was a caravan park on the beach - perfect.
We set off this morning to catch the 9.30am ferry from Kettering (after hitting the snooze button a few too many times to make the 7.45am one). I couldn't believe how easy it was ~ rock up, join the queue, pay your $30 (includes the return trip) and roll aboard. After we climbed out of the car (quite literally for me ~ my door was so close to the wall I couldn't open it!), had a look around upstairs and took a couple of photos, it was time to hop back in the car and disembark.
Hubby had a great morning driving down random roads to 'see what's down there'. We ended up driving around the entire island, enjoying views of the spectacular coastline and a brief glimpse of a couple of dolphins frolicking near the shore.

Bruny Island Lighthouse
Bruny Island Cheese is worth coming across for on its own. The cellar door is gorgeous and the lady who was there when we went in was just lovely. We tasted some of the cheeses on offer and ended up buying Tom and Otto ~ hubby was fascinated by the combination of prosciutto and cheese so we'll be trying that tomorrow night when we get home.
A quick stop in at Bruny Island Providore resulted in one very happy wife. Somehow I managed to convince hubby that buying me 1.25 kilograms of chocolate fudge was a good idea!!

View of 'the Neck' - the narrow piece of land that joins South Bruny and North Bruny
Now we're at Captain Cook Caravan Park in Adventure Bay, snuggled up in our roof top tent listening to the waves crash on the shore. I couldn't think of a better way to finish such a wonderful day. We'll definitely be back to visit Bruny Island again ... and we'll be bringing all our visitors too :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Settling in

Two weeks in and Tasmania is really starting to feel like home. Our second fabulous weekend started with us signing the lease for a gorgeous place in Bellerive ~ right near the centre of Bellerive Village and walking distance to a decent sized shopping centre. Plus there's a fresh seafood van just down the street! I'm looking forward to cooking in a full sized kitchen again ... scones with locally made jam and cream are first on the menu.

I now know my way around the city and I'm slowly learning how to navigate the one way streets. I even drove over the Tasman Bridge ~ a terrifying experience that I will likely need to repeat twice daily once someone employs me. The major downside to choosing to live on the other side of the Derwent River. However, after much searching, we didn't find anything in the Hobart CBD that excited us (and had two off street carparks) so we decided to look further afield and are very happy with the townhouse that will hopefully be home for the next three years.

Our fabulous weekend continued with a visit to the Salamanca Markets ~ yes, again! But this time I shopped. Award winning local jams, Tasmanian sassafras timber coasters, a retro print and plenty of handmade soaps. Hubby even got in on the act, buying himself a new beannie (the one he's been wearing was a present from his Dad years ago and has been so well loved it has holes in it ~ I think it was time for a new one!).
Tasmanian Sassafras Coasters

While perusing the markets, we noticed a little courtyard through a gap between buildings and ducked in for a squizz. It was Salamanca Place, with cafes and restaurants and a couple of shops. It was also full of people and somewhere we'll be heading back to for afternoon drinks. Since it was so cold ~ snow on the mountain cold ~ and Kathmandu were having a massive sale, we popped in and tried on duck down jackets. They're just like being wrapped up in your doona! Sadly, the black jackets were sold out so we braved the cold once more and rejoined the markets.

After returning to our hotel room so hubby could read the paper, we embarked on a mini road trip up Mount Wellington to see the snow. Never having seen snow before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I certainly didn't think we would be able to drive all the way to the top of the mountain and play in the snow! As we drove along the snow lined road I was grinning like an idiot. The snow was so beautiful and magical and fluffy. At the top, I enthusiastically jumped out of the car, only to have the door blown open by the wind hurtling across the mountain. After two seconds standing in the full force of the wind, I was icy cold all the way through. I couldn't breathe, let alone speak. But it was still magnificent. I managed to pry my hands out of my coat pockets long enough to take a couple of photos, step in the snow and marvel at the view. Next time, I'll be better prepared for the snow .. by wearing 15 layers of clothing, three beannies, ear muffs, gumboots and a couple of scarves!!

Snow on the top of Mount Wellington ~ beautiful!

Sunday started as all Sunday's should ~ with a sleep in and late breakfast. This was followed by a leisurely drive to the Coal Valley wine region. We stopped in at Puddleduck Winery ~ a little boutique vineyard just shy of Richmond. I sampled the Pinot Noir while hubby had a look around and we were both well entertained by the antics of a gorgeous Corgi pup. We continued on to Richmond, a quaint town with plenty of antique and bric~a~brac shops. If you're looking for chandeliers, Richmond is a must. I was mentally ripping off our roof back home and working out how we could increase the ceiling height to let me have a chandelier in the bathroom ...  

Clock tower in Richmond

We finished off our Sunday drive with a very late lunch at Three Peaks Cafe in Sorell where the customer service was exceptional and the food tasty. With full bellies, we traipsed back to the hotel and proceeded to crash in front of the television for a quiet night in to recover from a packed weekend.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A lot can happen in a week ...

Our first full week in Tassie, and what a week it's been! In some ways it feels as though we only just arrived and in others it seems like we've been here for months. I'm completely in love with Tasmania and never want to leave. Hubby is not quite as excitable as I am, but he seems to be pretty happy too.

A fair chunk of our time so far has been dedicated to finding a place to call home ~ the hotel just doesn't cut it anymore. I've found it harder than I expected given the rental market here is rather slow. Unfortunately, we're a bit fussy and it's proven difficult to find somewhere with enough bedrooms, storage space, two bathrooms (that don't still have a toilet from the 1800's) and a landlord willing to let us bring the cat. Originally we wanted to be in the CBD so we were walking distance to everything, but after a week of disappointments we've had to reconsider. I conducted a quick Twitter poll and heard good things from people on the city side of the bridge and from people on the airport side. I concluded that Tasmanian's feel very strongly about which side of the bridge is best and that we need to pick a side, love it and share that love with everyone else. So we're thinking about the other side of the bridge now ... Don't worry Tasmanian's ~ we'll make up our mind soon and become passionate about our choice!

We had a very enjoyable first weekend. It started with a trip to the Salamanca Markets on a very cold Saturday morning. It wasn't cold enough to keep people away though ~ we wandered the markets with what seemed like everyone in Hobart! The markets are clearly a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, and I could see why. An interesting array of goods are for sale, and everything I saw was quality. Those who know me will attest to my love of Darwin, but I thought the Salamanca Markets were better even than Darwin's famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets (although the warmth and the sun would have been nice additions to Salamanca on Saturday). I managed to find items for all the birthday and Christmas presents we need to buy over the next 12 months ... I just hope the stallholders don't change before I get around to purchasing everything on my list!! As we're still in no man's land, we didn't really buy anything although we saw plenty we liked and we will return once we have a home to clutter. The Salamanca Markets are also at the top of my list of places to take the family and friends who have promised to visit.

After a quiet Saturday night in, we set off shopping on Sunday morning only to find that apparently Sunday trading is optional in Hobart and most stores opt out. So we visited the stores that were open, window shopped at the ones that were closed and decided to head back during the week (I may have made plans to fly to Melbourne for a shopping spree with Mama ...).

The view from a look out at South Arm

On Sunday afternoon, hubby suggested we go for a drive ~ destination unknown ~ so we piled into the 4WD and set off. We stopped in at Seven Mile Beach which is about 15 minutes from Hobart. It seemed to be a mix of old beach shacks and brand new architecturally designed houses I would happily have sold my grandmother for (sorry Nan!). It was raining by the time we arrived and the sky was quite dark. I managed to get a few photos, although I'll have to go back on a sunny day and take some more.

We weren't ready to head back so we continued along the road to South Arm and Opossum Bay. The drive was very scenic ~ plenty of water and beautiful houses to look at. The view back across to Hobart from Opossum Bay was very impressive. Somewhere not too far out of Seven Mile Beach we drove past an animal that I swear looked just like a Wooly Mammoth!! I am going back for a photograph of him!

The jetty at Opossum Bay

This morning I was woken up by hubby calling me from the office to tell me I had to get out of bed ~ there was snow on Mount Wellington!! I was so excited I jumped up, grabbed my camera and stepped out onto the balcony (ignoring my fear of heights) to take a photo of the snow. I think next time I'll have to make a bit more of an effort and go somewhere with a clearer view, however it was cold and I didn't really want to leave the warmth of the hotel.

Mount Wellington from our hotel balcony

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

We're here!!

My feet are on Tasmanian soil! After weeks of planning and preparing, we're finally here in Tasmania! What a crazy lead up ~ resigning from my job, renting out our house, packing, cleaning, traipsing down to Melbourne and finally getting the boat across to Devonport.

But it was all worth it. Everything I have seen so far has been fabulous. It was a lovely drive from Devonport to Hobart (via Launceston, Latrobe, Ross and a handful of other towns hubby decided to detour through) and Hobart itself is beautiful. It's full of restored historic buildings ~ the juxtaposition of old and new is really interesting. There are so many things in Hobart that remind me of Melbourne 20 years ago ... it brings back memories of my childhood I had forgotten. Don't get me wrong, Hobart has plenty of modern touches and it is by no means backward. It's just nice ~ in a romantic sort of way ~ to be reminded of what shopping was like before Chadstone Shopping Centre found steroids.

My excitement and enthusiasm may be colouring my glasses rose, but I honestly think I have fallen in love with Tassie already. Yesterday ~ our first full day in Hobart ~ we went for a wander through Salamanca, Battery Point, West Hobart and the City. I couldn't believe how big and busy the city is. There is so much to do and see in Hobart ~ it's not going to be hard to find great places to take the many visitors we're expecting!

Salamanca was everything I expected and more. The cafe strip with outdoor tables (and plenty of heating) has a lovely atmosphere and I can see us spending a bit of time there ~ especially in the warmer months.

Today I shopped up a storm getting job interview appropriate attire to assist me in my endeavours to find gainful employment. Hobart has all my favourite shops (Portman's, Sportsgirl, Sandler, Myer) and I managed to find everything I was looking for. The most important item being comfortable flat shoes for all the walking around the city we seem to be doing!

We also walked/drove by all the rental properties on our shortlist and had high hopes for one in West Hobart which was only a few minutes from the city ... until we saw it this afternoon and agreed instantly that it was not quite what we were looking for. We have a couple more places to look at tomorrow and the day after ~ fingers  crossed one of them pans out. I'm looking forward to having a place to call home.

For those thinking about coming across to Tassie on the Spirit of Tasmania, I thought I might let you know a bit about our trip over. As I mentioned in my previous post, the staff were very pleasant and helpful and everything runs pretty efficiently. However, be prepared for a fair bit of waiting around between checking in with your car and boarding, which I expect would be difficult if travelling with young children. Also, once you've boarded, you need to move pretty quickly ~ lots of people are moving around the boat as everyone boards and finds their cabin and the corridors are quite narrow.

Once on the boat there are a couple of options for dinner ~ The Leatherwood Restaurant (very nice, a little bit pricey) and The Captain's Table which is buffet style. We decided to eat at The Leatherwood Restaurant to make the most of the experience (we probably won't get the boat again until we leave Tasmania) and we were very happy with the food and the service.

In terms of accommodation, again you have a couple of options. We had a Deluxe Cabin which was very nice. There are Twin Cabins and cabins with two bunk beds in them (ideal for families) or Ocean Recliners which are similar to airplane seats and located at the back of the boat. I would strongly recommend a cabin. During the night, the boat was moving around a lot and I had trouble walking. Being able to lie down in a comfortable bed and sleep made the trip seem a lot quicker than if I'd been sitting up. Also, a hot shower in the morning was nice, especially as we were woken just after 5am so we would be ready to disembark at 6am. Again, disembarking took awhile and this is something to keep in mind if travelling with kids.

All up, it was a great experience coming across on the boat and I would happily recommend it to anyone.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Leaving the mainland

We're on the boat!! After a 5am start (to collect the cat, drop in on friends in Violet Town and catch up with family in Melbourne) we're finally on our way. We joined the queue nice and early and waited in the warmth of the car for an hour before boarding started. The staff were efficient and helpful and our Deluxe Cabin is perfect. I'm glad we chose to come across on the Spirit of Tasmania ~ it adds an air of excitement to the move that air travel no longer holds. The next three years will be something of a working holiday and what better way to start it than this! 

I am excited about what the next three years holds for us. We have been given a wonderful opportunity to explore Tasmania at our leisure. Previously, we had planned trips (which were all cancelled for various reasons ~ fate, as it turns out) that were to last two, maybe three, weeks. In that time, we had planned to drive around the island, briefly stopping in at places of note and meandering along a couple of 4WD tracks before heading back to real life. Now we can see it all properly and really enjoy our time.

In my 28 years I have lived in Victoria (21 years), remote central Australia (2 months), Darwin (3 years) and NSW (3 years). I have travelled across much more of this fabulous country and overseas to Europe and Asia. But I have never ~ not once ~ crossed the Bass Strait. As of tomorrow morning when we dock at Devonport and disembark the Spirit of Tasmania (at a crazy 6am!!) I will have visited each Australian State and Territory. I really enjoy seeing this amazing country that is my home.

For now, it sounds as though we're about to head off and there's a glass of red wine calling my name ... Catch you later x

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hello! How are you? It’s nice to meet you

G’day! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Carly. My husband and I are moving to Tasmania on the Queen’s Birthday weekend for three years (hence the blog title). While we’re there, we plan to see and do everything there is to see and do. We’ll be setting off with the 4WD and the roof top tent to discover what’s off the beaten track.

We’ll be living in Hobart so we’ll also be making the most of proximity to great restaurants, the Salamanca markets (I’m so excited about them!!) and access to fresh, locally grown produce. I’ve found a place online where I can order beef delivered to my door from Tasmanian farms ~ can’t wait to try that out once I’m there.

I’ve heard that Barilla Bay Oysters is a must, the restaurant at Peppermint Bay is apparently divine and cooking lessons at the Agrarian Kitchen are a great splurge (might have to save up for that one!). I’ll be writing about all our experiences and posting lots of photos, so bookmark this page and come back and visit.