A Travellerspoint blog

February 2013

Mount Gambier

South Australia's town of volcanic lakes

semi-overcast 24 °C

We left Killarney and stopped for lunch at Lower Glenelg National Park. We decided not to camp there and travelled further across the border into South Australia, changed our clocks back 30 minutes (strange time zones in SA and NT!) and drove to Mount Gambier and stayed here for a couple of days.

This is our second visit to South Australia on this tour. We visited it briefly for 6 days in July 2012, travelling through Coober Pedy, Lake Eyre, the Oodnadata Track, Marree and the Birdsville Track. This time our stay in South Australia will be about 38 days.

Mount Gambier is famous for its 'Blue Lake' which changes colour dramatically each year. The Blue Lake is just one of the lakes within the three craters of the inactive volcano also named Mount Gambier. During December to March, the lake turns to a vibrant cobalt blue colour, returning to a colder steel grey colour for April to November. It is generally considered likely that it revolves around the warming of the surface layers of the lake during the summer months to around 20 degrees Celsius, causing calcium carbonate to precipitate out of solution and enabling micro-crystallites of calcium carbonate to form. The less colourful Valley Lake has a delightful recreational area with lots of birds and wildlife to watch.

From Mount Gambier we will travel north-west along the Limestone Coast to camp in Little Dip Conservation Park and/or Coorong National Park.

Blue Lake

Blue Lake

Leg of Mutton Crater

Leg of Mutton Crater

Valley Lake

Valley Lake

Purple Swamphen

Purple Swamphen

Eurasian Coot

Eurasian Coot

Posted by KobusM 23:29 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Great Ocean Road

South West Victoria

sunny 25 °C

After spending four days with Lorraine's brother Jon and his partner Ali in Melton, west of Melbourne, we headed south-west on our last leg of our Big Lap that will take us 2 months to travel the western part of Victoria, South Australia and through the Nullabor to Esperance in Western Australia. Lorraine wrote her exams in Melbourne and she got her results for the Clinical Coding exam today. She passed with 93%!

We travelled the famous Great Ocean Road through Anglesea, Lorne, Point Hawdon and Apollo Bay to Great Otway National Park to camp a couple of days at Johanna Beach. The park features rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, rock platforms and windswept heathland. In the north, the park features tall forests, ferny gullies, waterfalls and tranquil lakes. The campsites at Johanna Beach are free with no facilities except a toilet and it was surprisingly busy. Johanna Beach and the Johanna River are named after the schooner Joanna that ran aground and was wrecked here on its maiden voyage from Launceston Tasmania, in September 1843. One crewman drowned.

From Johanna Beach we travel the rest of the Great Ocean Road and stopped at the Twelve Apostles, The Arch, London Bridge, The Grotto, Bay of Martyrs and the Bay of Islands in Port Campbell National Park. Exhausted after too much sightseeing we travelled to Killarney Beach to camp overnight before travelling further tomorrow to Lower Glenelg National Park.

Tonight we have a double celebration: Lorraine's exam results and one year since we arrived in Perth for this Big Lap tour.

Views from the Great Ocean Road

Views from the Great Ocean Road

Sunset at Johanna Beach

Sunset at Johanna Beach

Two of the Twelve Apostles

Two of the Twelve Apostles

Twelve Apostles

Twelve Apostles

The Arch

The Arch

The Grotto

The Grotto

London Bridge

London Bridge

Rugged coastline at Port Campbell

Rugged coastline at Port Campbell

Port Campbell National Park

Port Campbell National Park

Bay of Martyrs

Bay of Martyrs

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands

Posted by KobusM 20:11 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Devonport

Our last stay in Tasmania

semi-overcast 24 °C

From Cradle Mountain we travelled back to Devonport where we camped one night next to the Devonport Swans footy field before we will sail back to Melbourne on the Spirit of Tasmania later tonight.

Devonport is situated at the mouth of the Mersey River and is Tasmania's third largest city and is most known as the port of the Spirit of Tasmania, the vehicle ferry connecting Melbourne and Tasmania.

We have thorougly enjoyed our seven weeks of travelling around Tasmania. The rugged west coast, the remote south-west wilderness, delightful Bruny Island, the beautiful east coast - especially Bay of Fires - and the magnificent mountains, especially Walls of Jerusalem and Cradle Mountain and their glacial lakes, were all highlights of our tour. We have enjoyed good weather, especially during the last 5 weeks, but I must admit, I don't want to camp here during winter! The wildlife is exotic and I am still cursing the Tasmanian devil that stole one of my Crocs. The food, especially the seafood, was devine and the wine world class. We will have good memories of Tassie.

Devonport

Devonport

Home of the Devonport Swans

Home of the Devonport Swans

Spirit of Tasmania

Spirit of Tasmania

Devonport at dusk

Devonport at dusk

Goodbye Tasmania!

Goodbye Tasmania!

Posted by KobusM 21:32 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cradle Mountain National Park

Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area

sunny 26 °C

Tasmania's most recognisable landmark is the craggy profile of Cradle Mountain reflected in the waters of Dove Lake and we were eager to see this for ourselves. We camped at the caravan park near the visitors center in Cradle Mountain National Park and did a trip to Dove Lake in the park.

The park, which is part of the Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area, covers an area of almost 125,000 ha which is characterised by a rugged, glaciated landscape with over 25 major peaks and a wide range of glacial lakes, U-shaped valleys and waterfalls.

We did the 6,2 km circuit walk around Dove Lake on a cloudless day and the jagged contours of Cradle Mountain reflected in the tannin stained waters of Dove Lake epitomises the feel of a wild landscape. Ancient pines mirrored in the still waters of this glacial lake and temperate rain forests with pandani palms add to the harmony of the scenes around the lake. We also detoured to Lake Lilla, another glacial lake, close to Dove Lake.

We will travel back to Devonport today to board the Spirit of Tasmania back to Melbourne tomorrow evening.

Cradle Mountain reflection

Cradle Mountain reflection

Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain

Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain

Dove Lake beach

Dove Lake beach

Temperate rain forest

Temperate rain forest

Pandani palms

Pandani palms

Lake Lilla

Lake Lilla

Posted by KobusM 13:27 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Gowrie Park and Sheffield

An abandoned village and a town of murals

sunny 25 °C

We camped at the small village of Gowrie Park which is located 16 km south of Sheffield and used to be a hydro construction village in the 60's. The construction of the Mersey-Forth Power Development Scheme in 1963 saw the town grow dramatically to about 3000 inhabitants. In 1969 there were 1800 people working on the project. After the completion of the power scheme - seven dams and seven power stations - in 1973 the town's population declined rapidly to a handful today. The streets are abandoned with only a few residential homes, a caravan-cabin park and a restaurant left. The restaurant serves excellent food. The scenery in the area is stunning with Mt. Roland and Mt. Vandyke dominating the southern horison. At our campsite (Gowrie Park Wilderness Park) we saw many Tasmanian pademelons who were very inquisitive and liked to have close inspection of the Quantum.

We took a drive to the delightful little town Sheffield which has huge and fascinating murals on every available blank wall in town. The first mural in Sheffield was unveiled in December 1986. Since then over sixty murals depicting the area's rich history and beautiful natural scenery have been painted on walls scattered throughout the town and buildings along the roadside.

Tomorrow we will travel to Cradle Mountain National Park.

Abandoned streets of Gowrie Park

Abandoned streets of Gowrie Park

Gowrie Park

Gowrie Park

Mt Vandyke

Mt Vandyke

One of the few residential homes left in Gowrie Park

One of the few residential homes left in Gowrie Park

Weindorfers Restaurant at Gowrie Park

Weindorfers Restaurant at Gowrie Park

Hang in there!

Hang in there!

Sheffield Tasmania

Sheffield Tasmania

Sheffield's Chinese mural

Sheffield's Chinese mural

Sheffield mural

Sheffield mural

Sheffield blacksmith mural

Sheffield blacksmith mural

Sheffield Bible Chapel

Sheffield Bible Chapel

Original Sheffield mural

Original Sheffield mural

Old Sheffield town mural

Old Sheffield town mural

Bank mural in Sheffield

Bank mural in Sheffield

Posted by KobusM 20:11 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Walls of Jerusalem

Remote alpine wilderness in Tasmania

sunny 24 °C

As the Walls of Jerusalem National Park has no vehicle based camspites, we camped in the Mole Creek Karst National Park next to the Mersey River. The Walls of Jerusalem National Park forms part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and the park is remote and not accessible by road and therefore retains its wilderness character.

We decided to hike up to The Walls on my birthday and parked the Cruiser near Lake Rowallan where the walk starts. It is a very steep and rough walking trail that meanders through the forest and climbs almost 600m meters in altitude, past the Trappers Hut, before it reaches the alpine plateau. It took us 3 hours to reach a spot where we had the most maginficent views of the Walls of Jeruslaem to the east and Cradle Mountain to the west. On the way we walked past Solomon's Jewels, several placid alpine lakes that reminded us of the Swedish lakes.

We saw an olive green white-lipped snake busy swallowing his lunch, a lizard that was bigger than the snake. At the Wild Dog Creek Campsite we saw several wallabies in the bushes and close the campsite. The return hike took us more than 2 and a half hours and the downhills were heavy on our knees and feet. We reached the Cruiser exhausted and a cold beer never tasted better!

Trappers Hut

Trappers Hut

Burnt out!

Burnt out!

Magnificent views

Magnificent views

The Walls

The Walls

Easy part of the hike

Easy part of the hike

Alpine lakes

Alpine lakes

Lunch!

Lunch!

Wallaby

Wallaby

Walls of Jerusalem

Walls of Jerusalem

Patches of thick moss on the plateau

Patches of thick moss on the plateau

Posted by KobusM 18:36 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

Narawntapu National Park

The "Serengeti" of Tasmania

sunny 24 °C

From Beauty Point we travelled west through the forests on a very bad and steep gravel road to camp at Bakers Point in the Narawntapu National Park.

Dubbed the "Serengeti of Tasmania", Narawntapu National Park (formerly known as Asbestos Range National Park) is supposed to be one of the best places in Tasmania to view wildlife. The park boasts a rich array of easily observed animals that come out in the evening to graze on the grasslands. Some of the animals that we saw included the Forester kangaroo, Bennetts wallaby, Tasmanian pademelon, Common possum and Tiger snake.

Bakers Point is on the shores of Port Sorell, a big tidal inlet fed by the Franklin Rivulet. The campsite is nice and quiet with lots of sea birds nesting on the shores of the port. The bird hide at the lagoon allows you to view many water birds.

From here we travelled south to Mole Creek Karst National Park to explore the Walls of Jerusalem.

Baker Point campsite

Baker Point campsite

Bakers Beach

Bakers Beach

Port Sorell at high tide

Port Sorell at high tide

Port Sorell at low tide

Port Sorell at low tide

Bird hide

Bird hide

Black Swans

Black Swans

Chestnut Teal

Chestnut Teal

Eurasian Coot

Eurasian Coot

Oyster Catchers in flight

Oyster Catchers in flight

Pacific Gulls

Pacific Gulls

Pelican, oyster catchers and a tern

Pelican, oyster catchers and a tern

White-fronted Chat

White-fronted Chat

Tasmanian pademelon

Tasmanian pademelon

Posted by KobusM 17:22 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Beauty Point

Platypus House and Seahorse World

sunny 25 °C

From Launceston we travelled north along the broad Tamar River to Beauty Point to visit Platypus House and Seahorse World.

Beautiful, exotic, mysterious and darn right odd are possible descriptions of the platypus. This reptile like mammal lays eggs and the male platypus have a hollow spur about 15 milimetres in length on the inside of both hind legs. This spur is connected to a venom gland, and the platypus uses this spur to defend itself against predators. Together with the echidna, it is the only species of monotremes: mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth. Echidna are also known as spiny ant eaters.

Seahorses are my favourite small sea creatures. The male seahorse is equipped with a brood pouch on the ventral side of the tail. When mating, the female seahorse deposits up to 1,500 eggs in the male's pouch. The male carries the eggs for 9 to 45 days until the seahorses hatch and emerge from the pouch.

Beauty Point harbour

Beauty Point harbour

Amazing!

Amazing!

Feeding time

Feeding time

Exotic platupus

Exotic platupus

Echidna

Echidna

Seahorse world

Seahorse world

Pregnant male

Pregnant male

Yellow seahorse

Yellow seahorse

Posted by KobusM 22:37 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Launceston

Tasmania's second largest city

semi-overcast 23 °C

Launceston is Tasmania's second largest city after Hobart and is home to several firsts such as the first use of anesthetics in the Southern Hemisphere, the first Australian city to have underground sewers and the first Australian city to be lit by hydroelectricity. Settled by Europeans in March 1806, Launceston is one of Australia's oldest cities (3rd) and is home to many historic buildings.

We did a walk through Launceston CBD to explore its Colonial and Victorian heritage and architecture. The old buildings and facades are beautiful and give a lot of character to Launceston or Lonnie as the Tassies call it.

We stayed in a caravan park 10 kilometers north of the city in Legana, the start of the Tamar Wine Route. From here we will travel north to Beauty Point and then to Narawntapu National Park on the north coast.

Launceston Hotel

Launceston Hotel

Launceston Post Office

Launceston Post Office

Launceston street scene

Launceston street scene

Motors Garage

Motors Garage

Old Bank

Old Bank

Bank of New South Wales 1817

Bank of New South Wales 1817

Boags Brewery

Boags Brewery

Delightful Launceston

Delightful Launceston

Quadrant Mall

Quadrant Mall

Posted by KobusM 22:16 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Mount William National Park

Tasmania's remote north-east coast

sunny 27 °C

We left the Bay of Fires after a delightful stay on the beach for 5 days. We travelled back to St. Helens to fill up the water tanks in the Quantum and to buy some provisions for the next stretch of bush camping. We headed north through the state forest on a decent gravel road to Musselroe Bay.

Mount William National Park on Tasmania's far north-east coast is remote with undulating grasslands, large dunes, sweeping white beaches and an ocean varying from azure in the shallows to bright blue in deeper waters. The granite boulders in the surf zone are home to many sea birds like cormorants, terns and pelicans. We camped at Top Camp which is an oceanfront campsite on the beach between Musselroe Bay and Cape Naturaliste. Although it was a lovely spot the March (horse) flies and the ants were annoying and we cut our stay short to only two days.

From here we travelled to Launceston, Tasmania's second largest city.

Mt William National Park beach

Mt William National Park beach

Top Camp, Mt William National Park

Top Camp, Mt William National Park

View from Cape Naturaliste

View from Cape Naturaliste

Spider web

Spider web

Grass trees at sunset

Grass trees at sunset

Crested Terns

Crested Terns

Cormorants and a Pelican

Cormorants and a Pelican

Black-faced Cormorants

Black-faced Cormorants

Posted by KobusM 18:29 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Bay of Fires

Tasmania's best beaches and the world's 'hottest' travel destination

semi-overcast 24 °C

The Bay of Fires Conservation Area starts a few kilometers north of the town of St. Helens on the north-east coast of Tasmania and extends from Binalong Bay in the south to Eddystone Point in the north. This unusual name was given to the area by the French explorer Captain Tobias Furneaux, in 1773, when he noticed numerous fires along the coast. This led him to believe that the country was densely populated. The Bay of Fires is famous for its white beaches, blue water and granite headlands splashed with orange lichen.

In 2009 Lonely Planet named The Bay of Fires as the world's 'hottest' travel destination. It is certainly 'hot' in the modern sense of the word but not in the literal sense. It was very cold the first night and temperatures during the sunny days that followed never exceeded 25 degrees. The Bay of Fires is described by Lonely Planet as "a castaway bay with a 29 kilometers ribbon of sea and surf spooling out from the old whaling town of St Helens, on Tasmania's north-east coast. White beaches of hourglass-fine sand, Bombay Sapphire sea and an azure sky. This is the secret edge of Tasmania, laid out like a pirate's treasure map of perfect beach after sheltered cove, all fringed with forests.”

There are many campgrounds along the bay and we chose Swimcart Beach to camp and found an absolute beachfront spot with fantastic views. It is a free camp with only a pit toilet but that doesn't bother us since the Quantum has everything we need. There is something magic about staying right on the water's edge and the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach adds to the atmosphere. The coastal bushes at the campsite are home to many Green Rosellas, found only in Tasmania, and many other birds.

We declared Bay of Fires is one of our top campsites and decided to stay for five days. Tomorrow we will travel north to Mount William National Park on the remote north-east coast.

Bay of Fires

Bay of Fires

Lichen covered rocks

Lichen covered rocks

Swimcart Beach

Swimcart Beach

Swimcart Beach campsite

Swimcart Beach campsite

Swimcart Beach on the Bay of Fires

Swimcart Beach on the Bay of Fires

Binalong Bay

Binalong Bay

Green Rosella

Green Rosella

Little Wattlebird

Little Wattlebird

Silver Gulls resting on the beach

Silver Gulls resting on the beach

Posted by KobusM 18:34 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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