Leaving Longford we drove the short 21 kilometres to Launceston and set up our site at the Treasure Island Caravan Park for the next three evenings. Once we were set up we drove out to Cataract Gorge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cataract_Gorge) on the South Esk River just a couple of kilometres away from the centre of Launceston. This really is a lovely area right on the doorstep of Launceston and a very pleasant place to while away a few hours.
Upon arrival at the Gorge (http://www.launcestoncataractgorge.com.au/index.html) the first order of business was sustenance and we had a leisurely meal at the Basin Café. After lunch we purchased return tickets on the chair lift which spans the basin. According to the website “The central span of 308 metres is believed to be the longest single chairlift span in the world.” The trip across the basin affords some wonderful views of the basin lake and the cliffs which surround the water. Once we reached the other side we disembarked and took a walk along the many paths which have been developed around the site.
We walked to the Alexandra Lookout and took some photos from this vantage point then walked across the Alexandra Suspension Bridge (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alexandra_Suspension_bridge_-_launceston_tasmania.jpg). The bridge was originally built in 1904 but this structure was washed away in a flood in 1929 then replaced the following year; the current structure was refurbished in 2004. The structure is quite spectacular and spans the river just above the first basin. We crossed the bridge then walked further upstream via timber walkways linked by constructed pathways. The river follows the fault lines created by a series of large scale geological happenings over many thousands if not millions of years and tumbles over rocky ledges and loose stones washed along the floor of the stream over time.
After crossing the bridge the path leads one back to the basin where another path will take you across the stream and back to the restaurant on the opposite side. From this point one can also take a 15 minute walk along man made paths to Kings Bridge (http://www.australiaforeveryone.com.au/icons_kingsbr.htm) near the city centre – (http://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/sites/default/files/shado/Divisions/Tasmania%20Division/Engineering%20Heritage%20Tas/KingsBridgePlaque_Jan07.pdf). Having walked most of the way to the bridge we turned around and returned to the Chair Lift and crossed back to the gift shop and café for a cool drink.
The trip to the Gorge was most enjoyable and entertaining and a great bonus for the citizens of Launceston.
On a bleak and wet Sunday morning we headed off from Launceston to take a look at the Bridstowe Lavender Farm at Nabola (http://bridestowelavender.com.au/pub/index.php?c=2). We knew there would not be lavender in flower as it is harvested in December and January, but we wanted to visit the estate anyway to see the site and buy some products. Showers clearing had been the weather forecast but as we drove toward Lillydale and Nabola the showers were more like set in rain.
We drove through pretty countryside where farming and forestry seem to be practiced in equal measure and eventually arrived at the Lavender Farm and during a brief lull in the rain managed a couple of photos of the fields of lavender and the iconic tree that stands in the field near the Visitor Centre. The Visitor Centre presents a plethora of lavender and lavender related products and other items for sale. The adjoining café provides delicious food and great coffee and other beverages.
From the farm we drove on into Scottsdale (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottsdale,_Tasmania) which is a reasonable size town in north eastern Tasmania. With the rain still falling there wasn’t much happening in town so after driving around the town we finally left and headed for Bridport on the coast.
Bridport (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridport,_Tasmania) is a pleasant little town of about 1500 people; the town has a reasonable sized business centre and all the usual facilities need for comfortable living. When we arrived there seemed to be no power (probably as a result of a storm that crossed the area while we were ensconced at the Lavender Farm) and our visit to the newsagent was a dim affair. The wind was roaring in from the sea and it was not at all pleasant in the town.
We drove on towards George Town (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Town,_Tasmania) from Bridport and had planned to have lunch in the town. Despite having a population of more than 4,000 people the only action that appeared to be happening in town was a very active Woolworths Supermarket that seemed to be doing a very good trade for a Sunday. That being the case we drove through the rain along the East Tamar Highway to Launceston. We found some Golden Arches and had a very unhealthy lunch of hamburgers and fries.
Eventually the weather has cleared in Launceston but the persistent wind continues to gust and blow and we have again rolled up our awning to protect it against the wind. Tomorrow we will explore the shopping centre in town before we move on Tuesday morning to Deloraine.