Departing Hobart, we travelled across the Tasman Bridge heading along the Tasman (A3) Highway towards the Tasman Peninsula.
We drove across the twin bridges at Midway Point
to arrive at Sorrell where we turned on to the A9 Arthur Highway which would take us all the way to the Port Arthur Historic Site.
Driving south near Copping we noticed a sign for the Bream Creek Farmers Markets (www.breamcreekfarmersmarket.com.au) so turned off the highway to Bream Creek Road and soon arrived at the Bream Creek Showgrounds
where the markets were being held. We were lucky as the markets are only held on the first Sunday of every month and that just happened to be the day we were passing by.
The market focus was strongly on local produce and one could buy everything from fresh meat to bakery products to alcoholic beverages to fruit and vegetables and even live poultry. We purchased some honey, some gin (from Nonesuch Distillery – www.nonesuchdistillery.com.au) and some greengage plum jam before we left the market and proceeded on our way.
In 2013 the township of Dunally was devastated in the widespread fires that plagued Tasmania at that time. We travelled through the area with our caravan not long after the fires and were saddened by the destruction the fires caused. It was pleasing to note the number of buildings rebuilt since the fire and the way the community had picked itself up. We noticed a hand drawn sign along the way – “Forget the past – look ahead to the future” and that is obviously what the community has done.
Soon we passed through Murdunna and not long after that we reached Eaglehawk Neck.
Eaglehawk Neck is famous for the dog line which existed here during the convict era as a deterrent to convicts attempting to escape from Port Arthur and other detention centres across this narrow isthmus.
Driving on we arrived at Port Arthur Lavender (www.portarthurlavender.com.au); this property has only been developed in the past couple of years as it did not exist last time we travelled in the area. We took a walk through the property which has smaller fields of lavender planted amongst substantial lakes and inspected the lavender distillery on the site. Additionally, there is a substantial café and gift shop selling lavender related products and many other items. It was a little early for lunch so we drove on.
Eventually we arrived at the Port Arthur Historic Site and located a parking spot – as usual it was very busy with lots of visitors in cars, buses, motorhomes and caravans crowding the site. We spent a long time at Port Arthur in 2013 so decided not to further explore the area opting only to purchase a meal at the café before we drove on.
Leaving the historic site, we travelled along the road (B37) to White Beach where we had stayed during our visit in 2013. We explored the area a little more before driving in to Nubeena and along a very scenic route to Premaydena and Koonya, both associated with the convict era, before re-joining the highway at Taranna.
The Federation Chocolate factory (www.federationchocolate.com.au) is located near the junction with the highway so naturally we called in for free samples of the product before we purchased a number of items and then drove to our accommodation – Masons Cottages (www.masonscottages.com).
Tomorrow morning, we will drive north back to Sorrell and then along the Tasman Highway following the east coast to Scamander.
We were up early and on the road by 7:45 am heading back along the Arthur Highway to Sorrell where we would join the Tasman Highway to begin our drive along the east coast of Tasmania. We drove past Eaglehawk Neck and through Murdunna then on past Dunally and Copping and before long we had arrived at Sorrell.
The vehicle was filled with fuel at a local service station and we went in search of a few supplies; it was a public holiday in Southern Tasmania so we were unsure what would be open. We found the two big supermarkets both operating so purchased the necessities and headed north-west toward Triabunna.
At Orford, we crossed the river and stopped just out of town for morning tea before proceeding on past Triabunna towards Swansea.
The drive was uneventful and we were just poking along taking our time and getting off the road when practicable to let other vehicles overtake.
Just out of Swansea we pulled off to have a look at the “Spiky Bridge” (and to get out of the road of a following motorist who was riding our tail) (http://www.discovertasmania.com.au/home/local-tips/spikey-bridge).
Driving on we reached Swansea
and decided to take a short walk through the town – we stayed overnight in Swansea when we toured with our caravan in 2013.
After stretching the legs, we drove on heading toward Bicheno.
In the Freycinet area walnuts were being grown in a number of plantations and there were plenty of grape vines as well with many wineries apparent along the way. One property not only had grapes aplenty but also an extensive olive grove being cultivated for oil production.
We drove through Bicheno and started to think about lunch.
Not sure what we might find in Scamander (where we had booked accommodation) we decided to take a drive up Elephant Pass to St Marys in search of food. The road up Elephant Pass(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_Pass) twists and turns with hairpin bends and becomes quite narrow in places.
Right at the top of the mountain we encountered Mount Elephant Pancakes (http://www.mountelephantpancakes.com.au/mtelephant.htm) and decided to stop at this establishment for a lunch of savoury pancakes.
After lunch we drove on to St Marys (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Marys,_Tasmania)
where we stopped for coffee
before heading back down the range via St Marys Pass – almost as steep and narrow as Elephant Pass –
to reach Scamander arriving just after two and checking in to our cabin at the Scamander Tourist Park (http://scamandertouristpark.com.au/).
When the afternoon cooled off a little, we took a walk through town and ended up on the local beach.
From the beach we took an obscure path that appeared to be the way back to the caravan park and ended up in quite an extensive bush bash through the dunes until we found our way back – we had walked several hundred metres along the beach and through the dunes only to end up about one hundred metres away from where we first entered the beach.
On Tuesday morning we headed toward St Helens (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Helens,_Tasmania) for a look at the town.
Before we arrived at the town centre we turned off the highway on to the St Helens Point Road and drove all the way along this road to the boat ramp at the very end of the road; it is surprising the number of residences along this road and there is obviously more to St Helens than meets the eye from the highway.
Initially when we first turned into the Point road, George Bay was a mill pond and we encountered a number of black swans happily swimming near the shore. There seems to be a fair number of black swans resident in this part of Tasmania as we have encountered these beautiful birds in many locations during our east coast drive.
Back in the centre of St Helens we took a drive around the town inspecting the sites and eventually pulled up in the CBD to take a walk through the shopping area.
In 2013 when we toured with our caravan, we based ourselves in St Helens for a couple of days and toured around the area fairly comprehensively. There didn’t appear to be much change to the business area from three years previously but the town seemed to be quite buoyant and busy.
From St Helens we headed west with a view to lunch at the Pub in the Paddock (http://www.pubinthepaddock.com.au/). A few kilometres west of the town one encounters the “Shop in the Bush” (http://www.onlytasmania.com.au/50801/the-shop-in-the-bush).
This establishment sells antiques, curios, gifts and souvenirs and is quite an interesting place to visit; our visit was even more interesting this time, although we didn’t realise it immediately.
When we arrived, we notice several people standing outside the shop – it seemed as though there was a “Mexican Standoff” as there was a guy at the end of the shop where we parked and two or three others at the other end. We went into the shop and had a look around and picked up a shirt to buy (bought the same shirt – different colour – three years ago and they still had them for the same price so I bought another) and walked around looking at all the bits and pieces. All of a sudden the shop seemed to be empty and the guy behind the counter remarked that it wasn’t every day that he had security guys in the shop and that the customers he had just finished serving appeared to be American Diplomats based in Canberra. Something different for the day.
From the Shop in the Bush we drove on and took the turnoff to Pyengana (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyengana) where, a couple of kilometres from the turnoff, we arrived at the Holy Cow Café – part of the Pyengana Dairy Company (http://pyenganadairy.com.au/) which also includes a cheese factory.
Here we met a caravanning couple from Queensland; we noticed their Mazda BT 50 had unusual rear mud flaps and took some photographs to pass on to a caravanning friend who also has a Mazda BT 50. We started talking to the couple, from Leyburn in Queensland, and heard a lot about their current trip. They were just leaving the café and when we parted their company we entered the café to find it absolutely packed with people sampling cheese and patronising the café section of the business. We decided to leave the café and proceed to the Pub in the Paddock just a little further up the road.
“The Pub in the Paddock” otherwise known as St Columba Falls Hotel (the falls are a little further up the road), has a resident pig known as Priscilla – the porker is said to be continually thirsty and very fond of the amber fluid. We didn’t provide any thirst relief but we did visit and photograph Priscilla and her female co-resident before we went into the pub.
Once inside we had a look around, purchased a drink and ordered some lunch. The interior of the pub has a lot of wood paneling and is quite dark in places.
Pigs feature heavily in the decorating theme for the pub with pictures and models throughout. The meals arrived quite quickly, sausages for Margaret and Parmigiana for me and were quite tasty and thoroughly filling. After our lunch we departed and returned to the Holy Cow Café where we had a good look around and sampled their coffee.
Tomorrow morning, we will leave the east coast and move on to Launceston to begin the last five days of our visit to Tasmania.