When we left Scamander the weather was quite bright but there was an increasing presence of smoke the further west we travelled.
We drove through St Helens and then west along the Tasman Highway; once we reached the turnoff to Pyengana we were travelling on previously untraveled road as we had not previously been this way.
The road up the range through the Weldborough Pass twisted and turned and was quite steep both going up and obviously coming down.
Reaching the village of Weldborough (http://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/weldborough-tas), we met a party of several motorbikes departing the Weldborough Pub and travelling west and were soon overtaken as the bikes handled the twisty road much more easily than we did.
When we reached the historic town of Derby (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derby,_Tasmania) we again encountered the bikes outside another pub.
Just after Branxholm (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Branxholm,_Tasmania) we turned off the highway to take a look at Ringarooma (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringarooma), Ian McNamara of “Australia All Over” (http://www.abc.net.au/australiaallover/) fame often suggests that listeners give him a “ringarooma” so we thought we would see what the town was like.
When one leaves the highway to travel to Ringarooma, dependent upon the route one takes, the first town one encounters is a place called Legerwood and the most striking thing about this small community are the memorial carvings one encounters when one enters the town (http://www.northeasttasmania.com.au/legerwood-memorial-carvings).
These carvings are a memorial to World War I soldiers and are a great memorial to the fallen diggers. “The trees used in these carvings were planted in 1918 as a tribute to local soldiers lost in WWI. By 2001 the trees had become unsafe, and were to be removed completely” before members of the community stepped in and arranged the carved memorials.
After inspecting the carvings and taking time for morning tea we travelled on to Ringarooma to see what the town had to show before we turned around to head off toward on the rest of the journey.
Reaching Legerwood once again, we opted to take the most direct route back to the highway via the appropriately dubbed “Snake Track”. This road was signed as being unsuitable for caravans and the like and wisely so as it was exactly like the track of a snake over a rough, unsealed, dusty road.
Back on the highway the next major town was Scottsdale and after largely skirting the town we headed south west toward Launceston.
After Scottsdale the road again winds up and over another range and it was at the bottom of the range that we encountered a semi-trailer which we then followed at about 40 kilometres per hour for quite a while before we managed to get by near Nunamara.
We wanted to take a look at Evandale and Perth before we got to Launceston so we turned off the highway near St Leonards and went in what we thought was the right direction relying on our GPS to find the way.
It wasn’t long before we worked out that the Bitch in the Box (the GPS) was clueless and after a considerable excursion through a number of country lanes we eventually arrived at Evandale.
Here we found the Prince of Wales Hotel and had a very tasty lunch.
After walking around the village for a while we headed off to see what Perth had to offer.
Perth is a small town straddling the highway into Launceston.
We parked and took a short walk along the main street,
had a look at a couple of motor homes which were for sale at a local car yard
then got back into the car to drive to our accommodation, Tamar River Villas (http://tamarrivervillas.com/). We have a self-contained unit here and will stay until we depart for Devonport on Sunday morning.
Thursday morning, we were out of bed early and visited the guest laundry to do some washing. Washing done and hung out to dry and breakfast consumed we drove off to the Bridstowe Lavender Farm (http://bridestowelavender.com.au/pub/) for a looksee.
We previously visited the farm in 2013 when we toured with our caravan but the day we were at the farm it was raining, wet and miserable so we were confined to the café and shop. Today we were able to explore more thoroughly as the weather was fine and clear. We also enjoyed coffee and scones in the café and had a good look at the good in the shop. The farm was very busy with many visitors including a large tourist coach.
Returning to Launceston (some 55 kilometres), we decided to visit the Grindelwald Swiss Village at the Tamar Valley Resort (http://www.discovertasmania.com.au/attraction/tamarvalleyresortgrindelwaldattraction). Friends of ours had lived opposite the village before they moved north to Queensland and it was on their recommendation that we decided to visit. Interestingly we encountered a local resident who also knew our friends and we will give her best wishes to our friends when we return home.
From Grindelwald we travelled back toward Launceston to Legana where we visited the Legana Tavern and enjoyed a sumptuous lunch. From the Tavern, we visited a local shopping centre where we were able to purchase some greengage plums (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greengage), recommended by our friends as a tasty treat; and then filled the vehicle at a very reasonable price and returned to the villa to deal with the washing.
On Friday morning we headed into Launceston to check out the city centre; we found a convenient parking spot and set out to explore. I called into a barber shop for a haircut while Margaret checked out a few of the nearby shops. Found a nice place for morning coffee and enjoyed the break. We found the Old Umbrella Shop (now run by the National Trust – https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/old-umbrella-shop/) and had a yarn to the volunteers manning the shop.
We spotted the Boags Brewery (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boag’s_Brewery) so headed off to see what was there was to see (https://www.jamesboag.com.au/). Unfortunately, we were a little late for the morning brewery tour (could have come back at 3:00pm) but decided to have a look through the museum on the upper floors. What we saw was most interesting and we watched a number of older commercials presented in a lighter vein that were quite humorous.
We were close to the National Automobile Museum of Tasmania (http://www.namt.com.au/) that we were interested in looking at so went back to relocate our car (as the parking permit was about to expire) to a car park close by.
The local Hogs Breath Café was also nearby in the old gas works building so we thought lunch was in order before our museum inspection.
After lunch we spent a fair time in the museum inspecting the exhibits – Peter Brock was featured in the current exhibit so we saw a number of the cars that he raced and a number that he influenced in production.
After spending time at the museum we visited a local supermarket to pick up a few things then found a local car wash to clean a very dirty car – took the wet car back to the villas and dried it with the chamois to ensure a clean finish to the job.
Saturday saw us experiencing Festivale 2016 (http://www.festivale.com.au/) in City Park in Launceston. The website indicates “Festivale, one of Tasmania’s premier summer events, is a three-day celebration, designed to showcase the very best of Tasmanian food, wine, beer, arts and entertainment. Staged in Launceston’s historic and picturesque City Park the ambiance of the outdoor event is unique.”
Festivale certainly was an enjoyable experience where one could enjoy any amount of food, wine, beer, cider, and soft drinks in addition to musical performers (including Kate Ceberano and Wendy Matthews) on two separate stages, buskers in a variety of different locations, and roving entertainment all over the park. Further there were separate workshops and activities for the children.
There were 91 different stalls where one could experience food, wine, spirits, beer, cider and soft drink and we sampled a few of these. There was even a stall where you could take a breathalyser test to check your blood alcohol level before departing the site. Literally, thousands of people were in the park during the five hours we were there and we probably left before the peak time of the late afternoon and evening.
Expecting parking to be at a premium we left the motel about 10:00am to arrive at a parking area adjacent to the site well in advance of the commencement time of 11:00am. After we parked the car we went for a walk along the river and through the Inveresk Precinct (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inveresk_and_York_Park_Precinct,_Launceston) past the Museum, Art Gallery and Launceston campus of the University. Aurora Stadium (http://www.aurorastadiumlaunceston.com.au/aurora/) is also located in this precinct as is the Launceston Tramways Museum (http://launcestontramwaymuseum.org.au/). It was a good and interesting way to fill in the time until the gates opened at Festivale.
Today is Valentine’s Day and romantic fool that I am, I completely forgot until my loving wife wished me a happy Valentine’s at the breakfast table. We left the Tamar River Villas around 9:00am and headed off toward Devonport where we will board the Spirit of Tasmania in the morning for the trip to Melbourne.
We had a few hours to fill in as we were unable to check in to the motel in Devonport until 2:00pm so we decided to turn off the highway and take an excursion to Westbury to see what was there.
We stopped briefly and considered whether or not to take a look at Pearns Steam World; after pulling up outside and taking a few photographs we decided to drive on.
The road we were on would take us on to Deloraine and thence to Devonport once we returned to the Highway. Passing through the rural hamlet of Exton
it wasn’t long before we arrived at Deloraine and decided to pull up alongside the Meander River for morning tea; as it happened we were able to stop at the same spot as we had on our way south a couple of weeks ago.
After morning tea, we drove along the river then headed back to the highway passing through Elizabeth Town
to our next stop at the Ashgrove Cheese Factory (http://www.ashgrovecheese.com.au/).
Here we checked out the award winning cheese products on sale. After admiring the large pumpkins growing in the garden and photographing some of the many fibreglass cows on display, we purchased some cheese for Ron (later on) and drove on to Latrobe.
The Cherry Shed (http://www.thecherryshed.com.au/) is located adjacent to the Bass Highway at Latrobe and offers all sorts of cherry and berry based and related products for sale. The Shed offers an all-day menu for diners and a wide variety from its menu. When we visited the area in 2013 we patronised the shed and took home many products from the establishment.
About three kilometres further up the highway from the Cherry Shed one encounters “The House of Anvers” (http://anvers-chocolate.com.au/#intro) purveyors of fine chocolates and chocolate products. In addition, Anvers provides dining facilities and it was here we decided to stop for lunch.
After enjoying a sumptuous meal, we drove the few remaining kilometres into Devonport and found a parking spot in the main street.
We strolled through the business area looking in some of the shops that were open (there weren’t too many and these were generally the major chains). Eventually we decided it was close enough to two o’clock for us to check in to our overnight accommodation – The Argosy Motel (http://www.goodstone.com.au/the_argosy). The room is small but comfortable and quite adequate for an overnight stay at a quite reasonable rate. The motel is located only 4 minutes from the Spirit of Tasmania loading facilities.
In the morning we will board the Spirit of Tasmania to cross back to mainland Australia to commence our return journey to the Sunshine Coast.