Tag Archives: Southern Tasmania

The Needles—Southwest Tasmania Day 1

This week we had a three-day break at Lake Pedder in Tasmania’s southwest. None of us had been before so we were all looking forward to it and had several short walks planned.

From Hobart, we headed to New Norfolk and turned onto the Gordon River Road at Bushy Park.  After a coffee stop at Russell Falls, we resumed our journey. The Gordon River Road takes you past the Florentine, an area I am very keen to go and explore more, and into the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.  The area was listed on the World Heritage List in 1982 and covers approximately one-fifth of the area of Tasmania (1.584 million hectares). It incorporates eight of Tasmania’s National Parks, including the Southwest National Park, where we were going.

Our first stop, about 16 km from the town of Maydena, was the walk to The Needles. This is described as 2-3 hour return medium grade walk. According to the information we got from the motel, “this steep and muddy track takes you to a series of jagged rocks at the top of a beautiful ridgeline known as The Needles. It is one of the most rewarding, and seemingly unknown, short walks in the Southwest National Park.”

It sounds pretty cool, right? The description goes on to say “this steep 3 km return walk offers uninterrupted panoramic views from rugged mountainous terrain”.

Do you get the feeling it’s steep?

I’d read the description and thought the views sounded spectacular so was very keen to do this walk. The word “steep” obviously hadn’t registered in my mind, and when we got there I had to look a long way up to see the top of the hill. The walk starts at the highest point on the Gordon River Road, 651 metres, and the summit point is 1020 metres. That’s a 400-metre climb spread out of about 1.5 km. It looked fairly imposing for a non-hiker.

View from the road

The Needles from the road

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We’re going up there

As we set off it was nice and muddy underfoot. (So far, the description was spot-on.) I was grateful for having bought some new walking boots a couple of weeks ago rather than wear my old non-waterproof shoes that had holes in them when it became apparent the track was more of a watercourse than a track. The tracks I’m used to in my city-girl bushwalks come from the 60 Great Short Walks book. There were no formed paths, no duckboard over the muddy bits and no steps here. Thank you, past me, for the new boots.

It was very heavy going and I was regretting the multiple layers I’d put on in the morning to prepare for the cold. It was a sunny day and climbing was hot work once we got out of the bush and into the sunlight.

The view got progressively better as we climbed.

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Excuse the blown-out cloud there

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Getting to the top

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A  bit closer

Getting to the top was amazing and totally worth the slog. I’m a big fan of huge jagged rocks and here they were in abundance, everywhere I looked.

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Started to climb this. Didn’t finish.

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One of my favourite photos from the walk

The views off into the distance were stunning.

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Seeing for miles

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Snow!

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It was a perfect day for this walk

The sky was gorgeous and I felt a sense of having come somewhere special. The other thing was that it was absolutely silent up there. I don’t know if I can remember the last time I experienced such total silence and I didn’t want to leave. Giant rocks, blue sky, fabulous clouds and the complete absence of noise. I dragged it out as long as I could to soak in as much of this feeling as possible but we had to leave eventually.

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Stunning rocks everywhere

Going down was equally challenging because it was very easy to lose your footing and fall over into the mud. A girl we’d passed on our way up had done exactly that. I had no desire to do the same and managed to retain my footing the entire way down.

This was a fantastic way to start our trip and I couldn’t wait for the next experience.

You can find more about The Needles here.

Walk in her shoes – Day 2

I woke up at that unspeakable hour this morning to hear an unusual rumbling.  At first I thought it was trucks, but didn’t take too long to work out it was thunder, accompanied by a huge lightning show out the kitchen window.

Well I wasn’t about to go outside and walk in a thunderstorm. I love the cause but I’m not going to get struck by lightening for it.

After tearing myself away from the lighting show, I sat down for my meditation/breathing/distracting thoughts exercise. It started to rain. I had visions of walking round my lounge room for 30 minutes to kick off my step count.

Fortunately, the storm was short-lived and I was able to go out. About half way round my circuit I saw more lightning, but it looked like it was further away and there was no thunder, so I imagined I was safe by then.

I had to go to work today. I decided to start out with some fairly conservative leggings. The bright ones will come later. 

Today’s steps included walking to work, a walk around the docks at lunch time, where I almost got knocked over by a driver who thought it wasn’t necessary to put his indicator on until he’d actually started turning the corner (thanks), walking to the boy’s school, doing laps around his school while we waited until it was time to go to his doctor appointment (he’s fine), walking to the doctor’s and walking to and from yoga.

A successful Day 2, although I feel the beginnings of a cold coming on, which I really do not need.

Day 1 step count: 21,146.

Walk in her shoes – Day 1

Day 1 of Walk In Her Shoes. It’s finally here!

I got up at an hour that most people would be fast asleep (this is becoming my new normal anyway so I can get things done in the morning that I’d never do if I slept later, but that’s for another time).

I started doing a form of meditation about three months ago, which is where you focus on your breath. I do that first thing after I get up. I’m really good at it. True. I can get to three breaths before I’m distracted with thoughts that I get carried away with for several minutes until I realise I’ve lost focus and go back to the breathing. For three more breaths, until the thoughts creep back in again.

I’m so good at sitting still sometimes my Fitbit doesn’t register that I’m awake and records my meditation time as sleep.

I know right!

I digress. I’m talking about walking.

I went for a 30 minute walk this morning in the cold and dark. Woohoo. It was really cold this morning. Like thick leggings, two jumpers and woolly socks cold. It had warmed up by lunch time, which was when I decided to go for a walk. I had to change into something more suitable and realised that, as it was my work at home day, I could have reshuffled my hours and walked earlier in the morning. But no, I had to pick the hottest part of the day.

I walked to the Esplanade and walked the walking track past Tynwald Park and back to The Avenue, which is the opposite way I usually do that track. I remembered the reason why as I climbed the eleven million steps to the top of the hill.

20160308 WIHS Combo 1

I made a couple of Periscope videos as well. I thought I might do that for a few of my walks this week. Not sure if I can post any of them on here. I will if I can work out how to do it. Otherwise I’ll post them on my very active and well-known Facebook page.

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The other end of the walking track – open space to be sold off for development; the nearby community food garden; and Willow Court Barracks

I was still about 5,000 steps short when I got home, which I eventually knocked off this evening when, thankfully, it was cooler.

So Day 1 is down and I’ve met my step goal on what was always going to be one of the most challenging days, so I’m happy with that.

Like I did last year, I’m going to wear different leggings each day for a bit of fun. Here’s what I wore today.

20160308 WIHS 04 Leggings IG

I have a couple of new pairs to try out over the week. I’m spoiled for choice.

Looking forward to tomorrow.

Channelling (Day 3) – 12 of 12 July 2015

A very belated conclusion to our weekend in the D’Entrecasteaux Chanel in July.

Sunday was going home day. We had another leisurely breakfast and coffee. Lots of coffee, before packing up and checking out. (Pro tip: If you ask your 8 year old to get everything of theirs out of their room, you actually have to go in and make sure that their definition of “everything” is the same as yours.)

(1 of 12) I had to go back as we were leaving to take a picture of the red door on the cottage.

1 of 12

1 of 12

We drove down past the marina to the start of a short walk to Kettering Point. (2, 3 and 4 of 12) There’s a lovely view from the marina all the way around to Bruny Island.

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2 of 12

3 of 12

3 of 12

4 of 12

4 of 12

We spent a while there watching a sea bird circling in the sky and diving for fish. It was mesmerising.

(5 of 12) The Kettering Point walk continues to Trial Bay, where we had stopped briefly yesterday on our drive to Woodbridge. It’s a lovely walk through the bush and, for some reason I can’t explain, I felt a strong feeling of connection to this place. I’m not a coastal person and as far as I know I have no family history in this area, so I don’t know where this came from, but it was a feeling that sat with me for most of the walk.

5 of 12

5 of 12

(6 of 12) After the walk, we finally went back to Grandvewe to buy our cheese.

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6 of 12

(7 of 12) We decided to have coffee in their café, where there’s a great view back to the water.

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7 of 12

The options were coffee and tea with normal milk, or for $2 extra you could have it with sheep’s milk. I normally drink black coffee but I wanted to try sheep’s milk, so we all ordered our drinks with that option. It certainly tasted different to any milky coffee I’d have before. Both Slabs and I thought the sheep’s milk made the coffee less sweet, although the staff member who served us said that sheep’s milk is sweeter than cow’s milk. Whatever, it was different, and I’d definitely have it again.

(8 of 12) Juniordwarf had a pot of tea. His report was: “It tastes a bit like sheep cheese. It tastes like English Breakfast tea with sheep cheesy milk. It’s delicious . . . (second taste) Yep, this definitely tastes like sheep’s milk. And cheese.”

7 o f 12

8 o f 12

Not too sure about that.

We spoke to a fellow customer who was new to Tasmania, and she told us how much she loved the state and that she’d been spending every weekend getting out of Hobart to see new places. It must be great to have the freedom to do that! I felt a tiny pang of envy.

(9 of 12) Juniordwarf enjoyed a conversation with the sheep before we left.

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9 of 12

Our final stop was the Oyster Cove Inn in Kettering for lunch.

It’s a nice pub right near the marina where the Bruny Island ferry leaves from, so you get a lovely view of the boats if you sit close enough to the window.

According to the website it was originally the summer home of one of Tasmania’s richest men of the 19th Century, Alfred Cotton. It was converted into a guest house in the 1930s and a hotel in the 1950s. (10 of 12) Despite the later additions and renovations to the building, you can still see what the original house would have looked like from the deck.

10 of 12

10 of 12

The deck is lovely, but it was a bit cold for us to want to sit out there. (11 of 12) It has some interesting sculptures dotted around, which I’d like to find out more about.

11 of 12

11 of 12

The dining room was packed when we got there, and we got the last free table. (12 of 12) The meals were great, and I think I liked mine better than the meal I had at Peppermint Bay. I’d definitely go back there.

12 of 12

12 of 12

Nothing eventful happened on the way home. As always, the weekend had gone too fast. I was sad to have to leave and I hope we get another chance to spend time in the area soon.

Channeling – Day 2 (11 July 2015)

After our yummy dinner the night before, we all slept in this morning. The cottage was so very dark and quiet.

Breafast was included with our deal. We could choose from cereal, fresh home made bread with jam, and eggs, as well as plunger coffee. Slabs set to work making coffee and breakfast while Juniordwarf and I read our books. I could get used to this.

The advantage of a weekend break is that we could spend a whole day in the area without having to rush home or rush through everything we wanted to do so we didn’t miss anything.

After breakfast we headed south, and our first stop was Grandvewe Cheeses in Birchs Bay.

Grandvewe Cheesery

Grandvewe Cheesery

It’s the only sheep milk cheesery in Tasmania and I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. We arrived at the wrong time of year to see the sheep milking demonstrations as the ewes are still pregnant, and due to lamb in a few weeks. This means we get to go back later in the year!

We were able to taste some of the cheeses, and I surprised myself by really liking the Sapphire Blue, as I’m not a blue cheese fan. Perhaps I could be converted.

Sheep. Grandvewe Cheeses

Sheep. Grandvewe Cheeses

We decided to come back later in the day to get some cheese to take home rather than drive round with cheese in the car.

Not too far away we found the Art Farm Birchs Bay Sculpture Trail,  It’s an annual sculpture trail set in the bushland at Five Bob Farm, running from April to July. There were 34 sculptures on display as part of the exhibit, plus several sculptures that are permanently located on the trail.

Sculpture Trail Entrance

Sculpture Trail Entrance

There was a great variety of sculptures along the trail using media as diverse as sandstone, steel, wood, and many recycled objects. Some of the works reminded me of Juniordwarf’s class trip to the Art from Trash exhibition.

Lizards!

Lizards!

Sculpture Trail

Sculpture Trail

One of particular interest was the series called Spiralling Down, by Jen Newton, which was a series of four pods that you could sit in to “experience the space and contrast natural materials with man-made ones”. One pod was made of plastic trash that would never break down, one from natural things like pelts, bones, hemp and flax that would eventually decompose, one from old blankets for warmth and protection and the final, moving, one from barbed wire in recognition of Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers sent to detention camps.

Spiralling Down

Spiralling Down

It took us about an hour and a half to walk around the trail, and it was a nice way to spend the morning. We hadn’t realised it, but today was the winter bonfire night at the Art Farm, where the awards were presented and everyone was getting ready for that while we were there. We already had plans so we didn’t go, but it looked like it would have been a fun night.

Sculpture Trail

Sculpture Trail

We continued south through Flowerpot, Middleton and Gordon, and stopped at Nine Pin Point for a photo opportunity. We decided to keep going and do a lap instead of turning around and going back to Woodbridge.

Nine Pin Point

Nine Pin Point

We followed the Channel Highway around until we got to the turn off to Woodbridge and took the very scenic, windy road back. We had lunch at Peppermint Bay, which had also been on the to-do list.

Lunch at Peppermint Bay

Lunch at Peppermint Bay

Juniordwarf saw sardines on the menu and had to have them. He’d never had sardines before. He’s recently become interested in obsessed with the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which is based in a town which gets stuck with an oversupply of sardines when the sardine demand plummets. So he’s been fascinated by sardines.

He was so very excited to be having sardines! It was almost like it was Christmas. I wish I’d filmed his reaction. He was absolutely over the moon. His favourite word to describe something he likes is “delicious”. “I love them!” he said. It was one of those priceless moments where he was completely overjoyed about something that I’d take for granted. A moment to remember for the pure joy and exhilaration.

I might have had a similar reaction* to the Moo Brew Stout that was on tap. Apparently it’s a seasonal stout known as ‘The Velvet Sledgehammer’. The staff member taking our order warned me that it was 8.5% alcohol. Hey, I’m not driving, it’s cool. It was very very good.

Peppermint Bay

Peppermint Bay

We had intended to go back to Grandvewe, but we’d seen the turn off to Hartzview Vineyard on our way back to Woodbridge, so we decided a wine tasting was in order. Hartzview is set in a beautiful spot with a tantalising glimpse of the very recognisable Hartz peak (which we had also got lovely views of on our morning drive). I think I’d like to go there one day.

Hartzview Vineyard

Hartzview Vineyard

Wine tasted and purchased, we made a quick stop at the local gemstone store in Woodbridge and then headed back to the cottage. Juniordwarf and I went for a walk up the road. We spotted some herons on the way, which is where the vineyard got its name, as well as a couple of other interesting things that caught our eye. (The herons didn’t like having their photo taken and wouldn’t stay still.)

Single early cherry blossom

Single early cherry blossom

The things you see along the side of the road

The things you see along the side of the road

The evening’s entertainment began with the game of Cluedo, in which I made up for the disappointment of my defeat in Qwirkle last night. Juniordwarf and I played a couple of games of Snap and I was victorious again. I tried to help him refine his technique to put him in a better position. Slabs also taught him to play Patience and a sneaky little card trick.

Gerry brought us our dinner at about 7 pm. Tonight it was pork in a fig sauce with mash, purple cabbage and carrots, with apple/berry crumble for dessert. It was really good, and I’m going to try and find a similar recipe for the pork dish so I can make it myself.

Dinner Day 2

Dinner Day 2

I’d told Juniordwarf I didn’t want to go home. I really didn’t. Everything was so peaceful and relaxing, I think I could stay for a week and potter around reading, writing, walking and taking photos. And not cooking for myself. Wouldn’t that be great?

* That is probably an exaggeration. Probably.

Channelling (10-12 July 2015) – Day 1

One of the good things about living so far away* from where I grew up is that a lot of the nearby places that Slabs and Juniordwarf haven’t been to are places I’m also not familiar with.

One of these areas is the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, which is the stretch of water between mainland Tasmania and Bruny Island. The Channel region is the area south of Hobart between the Huon Valley and the water. It includes the towns of Margate, Sung, Kettering and Woodbridge, and it’s from Kettering that you get the ferry to Bruny, as we did on one of our mini-breaks last year.

We thought that school holidays would be a good time to go away for a couple of days. I wanted to go to the beach (I’m not a beach fan, but I like them in winter), and Slabs wanted to go somewhere relatively close. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing we agreed Kettering would be a good base for the weekend.

We had a few options for accommodation, and finally settled on Herons Rise Vineyard, about 1 km out of Kettering. It has 3 self-contained cottages, which you can book with or without breakfast. There is also the option of including a 2 course dinner and a bottle of wine.

Herons Rise Vineyard

Herons Rise Vineyard

I wanted to be able to see the water, so we chose the Wine Loft cottage, which is above the wine cellar. It has two bedrooms and can accommodate up to 5 people. The thought of having a home-cooked dinner rather than having to cater ourselves or go out somewhere appealed, so we booked dinner for both nights.

The Wine Loft

The Wine Loft

The Wine Loft

The Wine Loft

Kettering is actually a lot closer to Hobart than I remembered, and it took us just over half an hour to get there. Heron’s Rise is about 1 km out of the town, up the hill, and we could just see the water through the trees. Criterion satisfied!

I can see the water!

I can see the water!

Juniordwarf decided he’d have the main bedroom, which had a queen bed and a single, leaving us the other bedroom, which also had a queen bed. I’m not sure how that even happened, he did it so smoothly.

Bedrooms and loungeroom

Bedrooms and loungeroom

This trip we finally remembered the board games, and decided to teach Juniordwarf the game of Qwirkle, which Lil Sis had introduced us to several years ago. She’s so good at the game that people who play against her call her “The Cheater”, which Juniordwarf found hilarious. He came out with this classic line, which cracked me up: “Lil Sis is a cheater. We have to defeat her.” (She says it’s all lies. I believe her.)

Thanks, in at least some part, to a double Qwirkle, Slabs won the game, and Juniordwarf didn’t disgrace himself coming second. I, on the other hand, deserve a place in the hall of shame for setting up the double Qwirkle without realising it, and not even the bonus points for using all my tiles first could lift me out of last place.

Lucky I’m not competitive isn’t it.

Juniordwarf's first Qwirkle game

Juniordwarf’s first Qwirkle game

Ordering dinner turned out to be an excellent decision. Our host Gerry brought down a big box holding our meals – tonight it was chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto, a potato gratin and steamed veggies – and laid it all out on the table for us. Dessert (because it was a 2-course dinner) was a divine chocolate cake with a berry compote, or whatever it is you call a sauce that includes the whole berries, and whipped cream. I decided to let my sugar-free lifestyle have a very small break, mainly because I know I’m now capable of having dessert every now and then without letting the whole thing go.

Dinner at Herons Rise

Dinner at Herons Rise

We topped it off with a bottle of one of our favourite wines, the 2003 cabernet sauvignon from Derwent Estate, that we apparently bought the very last bottles of a couple of years ago.

2003 Derwent Estate Cab Sav. Glorious!

2003 Derwent Estate Cab Sav. Glorious!

It was a lovely way to end our first night away.

* By Tasmanian standards