Australia: 5/7 – 5/13

(Australia) Swansea >>> Saint Helens >>>  Launceston >>> Tullah >>> Queenstown >>> Blackman’s Bay >>> Perth


5/7- Freycinet National Park, Wineglass Bay, and the Beautiful Bay of Fires! 
5/8- Cheese Tasting in Pyengana and Launceston Errands 
5/9- Cuddly Wombats at Cradle Mountain N.P.!
5/10- Montezuma Falls, Tarkine Rainforest, and the Henty Sand Dunes
5/11- Lake St. Clair and Mount Field National Park 
5/12- Research and Preparation Day
5/13- Flew from Tasmania to Perth with a whole bunch of free food and drinks along the way!


Freycinet National Park, Wineglass Bay, and the Beautiful Bay of Fires! 
+ In the morning we packed up and left the deserted hostel as unceremoniously as we’d entered- with practically no acknowledgment. Certainly not a bad hostel, just very quiet and uninhabited during this shoulder/off-season,
+ Drove to the Coles Bay/Freycinet Peninsula area. Once there, we explored the Freycinet National Park and visited the famous Wineglass Bay. The latter is certainly among the top 3 most visited spots in all of Tasmania and it is easy to see why. Once we completed the hike to the top of the lookout, we were rewarded with magnificent views over the beautiful white beach and crystal clear waters.
+ Not content with the far away perspective, Corey decided to trail run down to the beach and back so he could officially touch the waters and sand, both of which make up one of the best beach’s in the world! While down there, he noticed a few thousand dead “Leather-Jackets” laying all over the beach. These were little fish with spikes on the front of their heads and had all died due to being swept into warmer currents. Interesting.
+ On the hike back down the mountain, we met a nice older couple from just north of Brisbane. We talked to them for a while and they even invited us to stay with them near Brisbane if we’re in the area again. Maybe one day!
+ On the way back up from the beach, Corey met a nice hiker guy from New Zealand whom he talked with for the rest of the way until he was reunited with Liz once again.
– Before we had even ascended the mountain, we had seen a bunch of wallabies out and about begging for food and snapped a few selfies with them. But while Liz was waiting at the car for Corey, a wallaby quietly snuck up on her to beg for some food and gave her a proper fright when she turned around!
+ From that area, we drove north to the Bay of Fires which was almost 2 hours away.
+ Along the way we stopped at Blue Edge Bakery and picked up some of their award winning pies! Really tasty just like all the Australian pies we’ve tasted!
+ Wanting to make it to a prime viewing area before sunset, we drove all the way to the most northern part of the Bay of Fires conservation area before we stopped and explored. The area is already beautiful with all of it’s red/orange rocks set amongst the blue waters, but at sunset it was particularly stunning! The best sunset we’d seen in quite a while!
+ Once the sun had dipped below the horizon and the colors began to fade, we hopped back in the car and drove down to where we’d be staying that night.
+ Slept at Hilcrest Tourist Park (in St. Helens) in a cute little self-contained cabin. We’d often seen these at various holiday parks, but had never stayed before. Thanks to the lack of other options in the area we were able to experience a fun night cooking pasta (having it explode all over the kitchen floor first! lol), drinking wine, and skyping with friends all from our little cabin.


 Cheese Tasting in Pyengana and Launceston Errands
+ We checked out of our cabin and set our sights towards Launceston as we began the 3 hour drive.
+ Before hopping on the highway however, we drove North a little to check out Binalong Bay. It was pretty but the more Northern section from last night was better.
+ Along the way to Launceston, we visited the dairy in the tiny town of Pyengana and sampled their delicious award-winning cheeses and ice cream at the Holy Cow Café.
+ Not only did we do a nice cheese tasting, but we bought some of the cheddar cheese we liked best as well as some Devonshire scones, coffee, and a chocolate milkshake! We were living the good life!
+ Only a few minutes’ drive from the dairy was St Columba Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Tasmania. The waterfall was only a short walk through some pretty and lush jungle cover to reach it.
+ A couple of hours later, we finally reached the town of Launceston. We had a few things we needed to do so unfortunately our touring around was pretty limited before settling into a McDonalds to do some quick work on the interwebs.
+ We also made visits to Kmart and for chocolate and sandals (the essentials, duh) and to the Discount Chemist store as well to stock up on supplies before we left Australia and entered the mysterious land of SE Asia. Once there, we were unsure if we’d be able to get the proper medicine and toiletries we wanted/needed.
+ Before sunset, we did visit Cataract Gorge. It was a pretty little place just outside of town with some nice walking trails situated around a lake and a seemingly pointless Ski lift that took you to the other side of the lake (only about a 10 minute walk, or 5 minute ride).
+ The prettiest part of Cataract Gorge were all of the peacocks strutting around and the very tall and bendy trees lining the walkways.
+ Slept in Launceston at the Batman Fawkner Inn. It was a neat old building with a ton of history to it!


 Cuddly Wombats at Cradle Mountain N.P.!
+ We slept in a little bit longer than normal and then drove straight towards Cradle Mountain which was 2 hours away.
+ At one point the highway passed right through a town called Sheffield which was extensively decorated with murals painted onto a bunch of concrete walls in the park and also on buildings amongst the town. We took the chance to stretch our legs and walked around admiring the artwork for half an hour or so before hopping back into the car.
+ Cradle Mountain National Park was as beautiful as it’d been hyped up to be and offered both outstanding hiking in multiple areas and also abundant wildlife everywhere!
+ After speaking to the park rangers, we had planned to leave our car at the entrance, catch the bus to the end of the park and then hike around Dove Lake. Instead when we arrived at the lake, we didn’t feel the loop track offered much diversity so we opted for another trail instead that would lead us a few kilometers back towards the entrance to another bus pick up/drop off area.
+ Along the way, we took pictures of the view from Dove lake, then started the climb up towards Marion lookout. We passed Wombat Poo(l), Crater Lake, Crater Falls, and Lillia Lake. Although we didn’t have time to make it all the way up to the lookout it was still a way more interesting hike than if we had just done the circuit around the lake.
+ Best of all, we saw tons of wombats near Ronney Creek! The first couple we saw were super far away and we strained our eyes and camera to get decent pictures but by the end they were less shy and content enough  to munch on grass only a few feet away from us!
+ We took so long snapping pictures and exploring that we missed the bus back to the visitor center so an Asian tour bus kindly gave us a ride back through the park to the car park. That saved us a long hike through the chilly weather!
+ Although we didn’t spot any Platypus like we’d hoped, we were content enough with our experience to call it a day and drive to our destination for the night: Tullah.
+ Slept at Tullah Lakeside Lodge which was set in a teeny tiny town.
+ The dinner was too expensive at the restaurant and we weren’t starving so we snacked on all the goodies we’d bought which meant cheese, truffles, and wine for dinner. Yummy!


Montezuma Falls, Tarkine Rainforest, and the Henty Sand Dunes
+ Before we departed for the day, we stopped for breakfast at the lodges dining area. It was really slow but yummy.
+ Drove towards Strahan along a road that took us through the thick of the picturesque Tarkine Rainforest. Along the way we made a detour down a long descending dirt road to hike out to a waterfall we’d heard about.
+ Montezuma Falls was our destination but required a 3 hour RT hike from the parking lot. Luckily for us it followed an old tram line which meant very minimal elevation gain. So no physical exertion today, woohoo!
+ Once we arrived at the falls, our first view was of the crazy suspension bridge that hung dangerously in front of the falls. It was so thin! Corey’s shoe was about as wide as the base you walked on which meant you had to balance with the hand rail ropes and make sure not to lose your focus.
+ The falls were the tallest in all of Tasmania and certainly impressive as they cascaded down the slanted rock face. Worth the hike for sure!
+ On the way back we saw some green rosellas playing in the trees. So cool!
+ We didn’t know what to expect of our next destination as we’d only added it last minute on a whim. We were pleasely surprised though when we stopped to hike amongst the Henty Dunes a little west of Strahan. They were much more massive and extensive than we’d anticipated and had fun walking around the open top area as all the white cockatoos and ravens flew above and around us. Such abundant bird life! All of which were really loud!
+ We then drove into Strahan and briefly toured the little town. There wasn’t much going on though so we decided to end our day with a short walk to Hogarth Falls. Looked for Platypus in the creek and pond areas but it was too dark to see in the water and there wasn’t any activity above the surface. Another strikeout.
+ Slept in Queenstown at the Empire Motel. It was also a cool old historic hotel and pub. Attached to it was a bar and lounge area, restaurant, and even a bottle shop!
+ We had dinner at a takeaway place down the road which was super delicious and cheap (finally)! We both ate burgers and fries and left wishing there were more of these around all of Tasmania.
+ Then it was back to the hotel for the night as we prepared for our last day on the road tomorrow.


Lake St. Clair and Mount Field National Park
+ Today was our last day touring around Tasmania and would be our longest day driving-wise.
+ From the hotel we drove towards Lake St. Clair National Park 2 hours away. This was supposed to be one of the best places to see a Platypus!
+ We hiked out to Platypus Bay and spent 20 or 30 minutes hiding behind the wooden blinds hoping for one of the elusive critters to make an appearance but to our dismay we didn’t see any.   😦
+ Once we’d lingered longer than we should have (sure at any moment a Platypus would appear from around the corner of the lake) we finally gave up hope and left to head to Mount Field National Park.
+ Another 2 hours later, we pulled into the Mount Field visitor center and walked around the nice interpretation center they had. Then we drove all the way up the mountain to the very cold, brown top to walk around the Alpine mountain lake. Our reason for doing so? You guessed it: to look for Platypus! Again we had no luck (do they even exist really or is it all an elaborate prank on tourists to drive up tourism? lol). Then we drove back down to the bottom with the car now completely covered in the red/orange mud from the dirt road. Ugh.
+ Now we were going to do the top thing to do here in the park which was to visit Russell Falls and Horseshoe Falls. The walk only took about 50 minutes round trip and wasn’t too physically taxing. While the falls were pretty, they certainly weren’t as good as Montezuma the day before.
+ Although there had been no animals at the start of the trail only 50 minutes ago, there were now a whole bunch! We saw tons of little marsupials on the walk back to the car park because now it was almost dark. We saw Potoroos and Pademelons, both of which are very similar looking to wallabies just with slightly different tails and smaller heads. And they hop differently and cuter. What funny creatures!
+ Now we drove back towards Blackman’s Bay to the family’s house. Before arriving though, we made little stops to wash the car, pick up dinner, get some groceries for the next day, and again browse K-Mart for some much needed sandals. This time we actually managed to find some! Unlike in Florida, apparently Tasmania doesn’t carry sandals in stock all year long! Who knew! lol.
+ Hung out with Julie and Peter while we drank some beers and talked about our travels. Slept at Coad Family’s House.



Research and Preparation Day
+ Hung out at the family’s house all day with Julie.
+ Did lots of research for Western Australia, including what campervan rental we wanted to do.
+ Drove into town and mailed a package home for the first time this trip! In an effort to lighten our backpacks, we sent home all of our cold winter gear and any tickets stubs or other small mementos we had been accumulating.
+ Repacked our bags and did laundry. Prepared to leave and move around quickly on the road again in Western Australia.
+ Played Mario Kart with Ben and Isaac at night one last time which was fun. After their showers, the boys were arguing and kept yelling “Come at me Bro!” to each other! Then the other would respond with “Come at yourself Bro!” Lol! It was very funny to watch.
+ Julie made dinner that night for us and we enjoyed the yummy vegetable-filled meal. She was definitely spoiling us!
+ We managed to finish everything we needed to do before midnight and got in bed to try and squeeze in a few hours of sleep before our early morning tomorrow.


Flew from Tasmania to Perth with a whole bunch of free food and drinks along the way! 
+ Had to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to head to the airport.
+ Julie was nice enough to drive us to the airport and drop us off. We were going to miss the whole family, especially Crawford and the funny cats!
+ Flew from Hobart to Sydney on Qantas Airways. Our flight from Hobart to Perth was booked with some of our British Airways points! It saved us hundreds of dollars! Woo-Hoo! We arrived in Sydney in the morning and then had all day until our next flight late that afternoon.
+ There were no airport lounges in Sydney but there were 4 different restaurants that we could eat at for free thanks to our trusty Priority Pass! We were allowed $36/person at each restaurant and could buy either food or drinks, including alcohol!
+ We spent the day working furiously on our devices knocking off a whole slew of to-do items as we moved from one restaurant to the other. We actually spent/used about $70 at 3 of the restaurants! (We ran out of time before the 4th!) We definitely had some really tasty food and Corey got to sample 5 new Australian beers he’d never tried before because they were too expensive!
+ It was very very nice to be able to “buy” whatever we wanted without having to worry about the cost and fret over spending too much! What a value this priority pass was!
+ Caught the flight from Sydney to Perth which took 5 whole hours to fly from one side to the other! What a humongous country!
+ Along the way, Liz watched the movie “Sing”, Corey watched a couple of episodes of “Planet Earth II”, and we did some more work on the devices.
+ The airline also graciously kept giving out one goody after another as we got chocolates, ice cream, beer, a yummy curry dinner, and a bunch of other things! This was probably a record day for the most free food and drinks we’d gotten in a single day! Sweet!
+ At the airport, we had to pick up our rental car from Enterprise and drive into the city to the hostel we’d be staying at called Beatty Lodge.
+ After the 20 minute drive from the airport, we arrived and checked in to our room. Along the way from the parking lot to the hostel we met a really strange woman who was either drunk or high who started talking to us while she was sitting in the outside hangout area. She rambled on and on about crazy stuff and when we finally made our escape we hoped the rest of the people in W.A. weren’t like that!
+ In the room we quickly showered and packed some bags for our excursion tomorrow to Rottnest Island and then laid down in bed to relax from our very long day!

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