Tasmania’s St Marys, Cornwall and saucy Evandale

We had read so much and heard other travellers speak of St Marys and the quirky shops there, that it became one of our last destinations.

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While being very pretty, and sustaining brightly-coloured flowers, the opening hours of most of the shops did not include Sunday morning. So we had a quick stroll, took some snaps and made our way to Evandale.

There is a tourist paper that Tasmania makes readily available, Travelways, and this alerted us to an area called Cornwall, an old coal mining district still in operation and a family sauce-making business in Evandale. Cornwall was like so many mining areas in Australia – victims of the change in politics and environmental action. The history of the miners and the monument was very interesting and alluded to plenty of stories and local heroes.

The Tasmanian Gourmet Sauce Company was an absolute treat. Easy to access and find, just off the main road, we were able to try about 13 sauces, I think. We bought home jam, sauce and pickles and were shocked at the low cost. I think the plum and pepperberry relish was the favourite and disappeared very quickly. We will be ordering online, for sure.

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So, if you get time, stop by these two towns (but check opening hours) and be delighted.

Safe travels.

Bicheno and Waubs Bay

It is an easy drive from Coles Bay and Freycinet National Park to Bicheno, where there are many accommodation options. We took a cabin in Bicheno Cabin Park, which had very good facilities and was a five minute walk to Waubs Bay. The sound of the surf at night was only just louder than the rain.

Of course, you cannot speak of Bicheno without mentioning the blowhole. We drove the short distance there and headed across sand and lichen-covered rocks to the attraction. You can hear it from the road, but don’t realise it until you have seen it. Shooting pretty high, it is the most accessible blowhole I have visited and fascinating enough to capture your interest for at least 30 minutes. I would be wary of taking young children nearby, as the waves from the ocean crash over the rocks that form the blowhole and it is not hard to imagine anyone getting swept out to sea.

There are a number of bakeries and eateries, a supermarket and a gallery. We tried to find the lookout but were unsuccessful and as the hour was late we couldn’t ask anyone in time to catch the view.

Waub’s Bay was a good spot for exploration and we saw a couple of young surfers in the water. Again, if I had young children I would keep an eye on them, with all the rocks and constant waves, but if you didn’t have a wetsuit I wouldn’t be heading in anyway.

Apparently, Waubs Bay is named after Wauba Debar, an Aboriginal woman of the area with a remarkable story. She and her family endured terrible things at the hands of sealers, yet she married one and saved him and another sailor during a storm, as she was an exceptional swimmer. When she died an early death in the mid-1800s, members of Bicheno raised funds to build a monument to commemorate her heroic deed. We did not have time to find her memorial.

Safe Travels.

On our way to Freycinet

With limited time to complete our dash around Tasmania, we left Hobart and faced a demanding day of driving, touring and hiking. Our main destination was Freycinet National Park.

Orford was prettily situated around the river and we were not deterred by the light showers that set in. En route to Swansea we stopped at Spiky Bridge, the aptly named way for cattle to cross the creek without being tempted to edge over the sides. It is quite unique, I believe, and just one of the many structures built by convicts in the early 19th century. As the two farmers who owned the adjoining paddocks told us – Tasmania (and maybe Australia) owed so much of its early growth to the convicts.

Swansea was, for us, a refreshment stop and short walk through the town. It is picturesque and has historic buildings and great eateries.

The way to Coles Bay is strewn with possible diversions and the one that tempted us was Devil’s Corner Cellar Door. We had heard of it, through another traveller who was doing a wine tour of the region and our brief stop and climb to the view certainly revealed many supporters of a nice drop. The view from the tower is soul-warming and if we visit this way again we will make time to taste the culinary delights teasing us from the compact, welcoming cellar.

Arriving at the Freycinet National Park Visitor centre we were well-informed about what would be suitable for us, given time and goals. We decided on the Wineglass Bay Lookout walk (3km return, 1 – 1.5 hours) and the Cape Toureville lighthouse walk.  The first was steep and a little slippery uphill, with more steps than the sign indicates in the last stretch, but the view is worth it and there is always the kudos once you return. Beware the suicide selfie tourist who plants themselves in the middle of all the best shots.

Some of the path is interesting in itself, with rocks and flora to satisfy everyone.

The lighthouse walk was very easy , with good firm paths and gave pretty views in all directions. There was a variety of geography.

Good walking shoes and determination are in order. Take water and read the advice to walkers.

We didn’t stay in the park, as it was Easter and everywhere was booked out, but we saw such a variety of accommodation options – campsites, cabins, tents, resorts.

Safe Travels!

Giekie Gorge(ous)

We travelled to Fitzroy Crossing, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, far to the north. The roads are suitable for front wheel drive and there is many an experience to be had in this lovely area.

You cannot leave without visiting Giekie Gorge – after seeing so many, I still say it is extraordinary. The chalk-like faces and colours, varied surfaces and sections are beautiful. I revisited the photos today, for the monochrome madness challenge and sighed once more.

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There is an information kiosk at the landing, from where you purchase tickets for the smooth and informative boat ride and marvel at the marks left by the largest flood they have had, well above my 175cm on the walls.

The boat ride is filled with opportunities to see cormorants (now, those I HAVE seen enough of) drying their wings – in case you didn’t know, that is the most photographed pose for them and I was led to wonder if they ever put their wings down.

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Apart from the birdlife, there is a variety of environment but the most stunning is the gorge walls.

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An endearing feature of the Fitzroy Crossing region was the caravan park, which was home to about 100 kangaroos and wallabies that grazed freely all night long, right alongside the cows! Very different. There are also hundreds of small bird nests under the eaves of the toilet block, so small birds fly about and poke their beaks out at all hours.

Fitzroy Lodge, at the opening of the caravan park was the only place I have been to in Australia where the Aboriginal people and the non-indigenous congregated in the pub in equal percentages and talked comfortably with all and sundry. There was no underlying ill-feeling or tension and it was WONDERFUL. I don’t know how the locals do it, but it was              incredibly uplifting. The riverbed, alongside, was almost empty but such a size that to dryland southerners it was unimaginable that it would fill sometime.

 

 

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There are other things to do in the area that we didn’t get to, and recommended by an indigenous local. Apparently, Tunnel Creek and Mimbi Caves  are surprising and an easy trek, with covered shoes. We’ll have to go back.

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So, whether you arrive here after Kununurra or on your exit from Broome, make sure you give yourself time to see the beautiful sights.

Don’t forget the hat and water and travel safely!

Finding solitude

Australia is such a big place that you will not find it hard to achieve some solitude, no matter what State you are in.

You may seek out the place, or it may loom up before you. Other creatures like solitude, too, and this week I decided to enter the photo challenge with just one example. It’s the kind that makes you cautious about solitude.

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travel safe.

Other rocks #2 Kata Tjuta

About 30 km from Uluru, still in the Northern Territory, is Kata Tjuta, a series of dome-shaped sandstone rocks that cover an area of around 20km. The highest of these rocks is Mt Olga, and at one time they were called ‘The Olgas’.

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Several walks are possible and they range from easy to more demanding, due to gradient and loose rocks. The best thing is to ask someone who is returning from one, or has done one recently, how they found it. Wear sturdy shoes and a hat, and take water. Some walks are said to be wheelchair accessible.
The variety of scenery is unexpected and begging to be photographed. There are plenty of places to stop and just breathe in the beauty, or stop for a drink.

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The Anangu people, speaking Pitjantjara, have been in the area for 22 000 years and the rock formation is believed to have taken 500 million years to form. It is ancient and mysterious, shrouded in a deep, spiritual silence.

For a special treat, get there for sunrise or sunset.

Safe travels.

Other rocks worth visiting #1 – ULURU

Situated in the Northern Territory, 450 km from Alice Springs,  lies one of the most famous, world-recognised icons of Australia – Uluru. Sacred to the Anangu Aboriginal people, it was once known as Ayers Rock, after Sir Henry Ayers, but was returned to its original name in the ‘80s, when such practices were widespread (and appropriate, too).

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The Rock, as it is colloquially known, is truly a wonder to behold. If you’ve seen it in pictures and think you know what you’re in for, you’ll be surprised. I won’t say too much on that, as that would spoil the effect of the real life experience, but if you thought the different colours you’ve seen were Photo Shop tricks, or creative manipulations, they aren’t. You can be at Uluru for an hour – and you’ll be there for longer, I think – and you will see different shades in the structure, the soil, the trees and quite possibly the sky.

Majestic, mysterious, ominous, it looms high above you as you circle it. Made of sandstone, the monolith is said to have begun forming over 500 million years ago! It is 348m above the ground (taller than the Eiffel Tower), has a circumference of 9.4km and descends 2.5km below the surface. Does my head in. At one time, I heard a rumour that it was a meteor from way back, but I do not hear that now, so maybe just a conjecture that was swept up in a whirly-whirly (they’re another story).

If you visit in the Summer, or wet season, from October to April (roughly) it can be very hot (up to 45C or more). There are moments of shade, but you should be prepared with water and a hat and take frequent stops. Never underestimate the need for plenty of water on hand.

Uluru was once climbed by all and sundry, but the custodians (the Anangu) would prefer that you do not, as it is a sacred site). When it is very hot, no climbing is allowed due to the danger it presents.

There are a great variety of surfaces and formations to view and some Aboriginal Art.

The ground is flat, but 9.4 km is a fair distance, punctuated by photo stops. You can hire bikes or take your own, to make the journey easier. There are stunning and unexpected waterways and the stories, on plaques along the way, tell of history and culture and are worth the brief read.

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There is an information centre with history, culture, facts and artifacts, along with locally made items.

When you’ve finished, gaze to the west and  see Kata TJuta – meaning many heads, in Pitjantjatjara. But I’ll do a separate post on that.

From the caravan park at Yulara, where you can get a cabin, motel room or campsite, you can get all the information you need and at sunrise and sunset, great views of Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

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There is a national parks fee for entering the area to Uluru and Kata Tjuta, but it lasts for 2 days (at my last visit, last year).

Safe travels!