After visiting Port Arthur and the Tasman Peninsula for a few days we drove north on the next phase of our trip around Tasmania; the plan was to see some of the east coast of the state then head towards Launceston.
We arrived in Sorrell mid-morning and after refueling headed north-east on the Tasman Highway toward Orford and Triabunna then on to Swansea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swansea,_Tasmania) where we camped overnight. At Swansea we visited the spiky bridge (http://www.think-tasmania.com/spiky-bridge/) built by convict labour in 1843. There are different theories as to why the spikes were placed in the top of the bridge – one being to stop cattle from falling over the edge. Whatever the truth it is clear how the bridge got its name.
There is also another convict built bridge in the Swansea area several kilometres south at Mayfield. This bridge is actually under the current highway and not as obvious as the Spiky Bridge.
Next morning we decided not to venture on to the Coles Bay area and the Freycinet National Park and instead continued further up the coast to Bicheno (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicheno,_Tasmania). We chose not to stop in Bicheno, which is a lovely little town situated on a glorious bay and continued driving toward St Helens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Helens,_Tasmania) which was to be our destination for a couple of days.
The coast in this part of Tasmania is very pretty with the sea a lovely colour and the beaches a beautiful white. We stopped for a break at Four Mile Creek and spent a little while just gazing at the sea on a warm clear day. As we travelled along we passed through Scamander (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scamander,_Tasmania) a lovely beach side town just south of St Helens.
We arrived in St Helens at lunch time, located the caravan park where we had booked a site and set up our camp. Our spot is high on a hill and the prevailing breeze whistles up through the park and is quite cool at times. The days have been quite pleasant and the weather has been fine so far.
On Monday afternoon we set out to explore the Bay of Fires (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_of_Fires) starting our exploration at Binalong Bay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binalong_Bay,_Tasmania) we explored a couple of coves near the town noting the red hued granite rocks which are very prevalent all along the coast. We then drove north towards The Gardens (http://www.discovertasmania.com/attraction/bayoffiresthegardens) visiting some of the camping spots along the way in the Bay of Fires Conservation Area. One needs to be early to get a decent spot in some of these camp sites at this time of the year as they were very busy locations with caravans, camper trailers and tents aplenty. We drove to the end of the road and then drove back into St Helens for the evening.
This morning we decided to visit the Pub in the Paddock (http://www.discovertasmania.com/accommodation/pubinthepaddock) and the Pyengana (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyengana,_Tasmania) Cheese Factory (http://pyenganadairy.com.au/); the Holy Cow Café is located at the cheese factory and offers tastings of the cheese made at the factory. Firstly we arrived at the café where we participated in tasting the scrumptious cheeses available on site – naturally we purchased a good supply for Ron (later Ron).
Leaving the cheese factory we headed off to the Pub in the Paddock but were sadly disappointed to find that due to a “Family Issue” the pub was closed and would not open until the 20th March – unfortunately we will be on the road to elsewhere tomorrow.
Leaving the pub site we drove on to St Columba Falls (http://www.about-australia.com/attractions/st-columba-falls-reserve/). These falls are 90 metres high and are aid to be the highest in Tasmania. The falls can be seen from the car park but a better view is obtained by a 10 minute walk through a forest of man ferns (we Queenslanders refer to these as tree ferns) and other rain forest plants to the base of the falls. Mind you the walk to the falls is downhill and on the way back it is uphill and so may require the odd rest stop. The view from the base of the falls was quite spectacular and would be more so if rain had been more prevalent in the season.
Leaving the falls we drove back to the Holy Cow and enjoyed a light lunch of Open Cheese sandwiches with a zesty tomato relish. I had a Hazards Ale (http://www.tasmans.com.au/boutique_beers.htm) – very tasty and enjoyed the unique brew.
Back in St Helens we sought out a mechanical workshop to have a small welding job done on our tow bar to sort out the anti-rattle nut. Having successfully achieved this we returned to camp to prepare for our departure tomorrow for Longford.