Sunday, 30 November 2014

21 - 22 November 2014 - St Helens

We left Kelso on a sunny morning and headed over the Tamar river and travelled down the east side to Launceston. Launceston is a lovely little city but did not stay as we wanted to get to St Helens. We headed east over the mountains through forested passes and open valleys with cattle in the lush green fields. We stopped at a lookout and chatted to some locals to get a feel for what we should be doing and they gave some good info as well as telling us about an Amish community nearby that sells produce and freshly baked apple pie not far down the mountain. We stopped and bought two apple pies one of which we ate shortly after arriving in St Helens - it was divine!

We stopped at Legerwood where the locals had planted a tree for each of their men who had died in the first world war. The trees had grown old and were condemned as they were now dangerous. The locals organised to have a wood carver come and carve the stumps into likenesses of the men who they were planted for. These carving are now famous and people come from all over the world to see them. The most amasing thing about the carvings is they were done with a chainsaw!

The rest of the road to St Helens was through forests of huge trees with the largest tree ferns we have seen. No photo can do these scenes justice but we tried our best.

The morning brought a beautiful day so we were up early and did some washing, had breakfast and headed out to explore. We drove to the Bay of Fires and saw some humpback whales tail slapping in the bay and some yellow tailed black cockatoos. The bay has white sand and is pretty but not as good as Esperance. Next we headed inland to the cheese factory with their various cheddar cheeses. After tasting some cheese we had a simple lunch at the 'Pub in the Paddock' then went on to view the St Columba Falls which were in spectacular rain forest with huge tree ferns. We took many photos then visited the Forrest Walk with numerous Myrtle Trees. This short walk had great information boards about the Myrtle Trees. We then drove home for champagne cocktails and dinner.

View from the mountain pass
Our home on the mountain pass
Tree fern next to the road on the pass
Tree fern and flowers on the pass
Legerwood carvings
St Columba Falls
Rain forrest stream with fern trees
More rain forrest
Giant fern trees
Myrtle trees
Vlasta sitting on a fallen fern tree

19 - 20 November 2014 - Devenport, Kelso

We drove our caravan off the ferry and after consulting our maps we decided to drive towards the north-west coast via Launceston. We ended up in a lovely caravan park in Kelso at the mouth of the Tamar river on the opposite bank to George Town. Before we even managed to check in a wombat came strolling through the park. We setup and then headed to George Town to do some shopping. We stocked up on groceries as well as some fresh fish from a wholesaler, we had a cup of coffee and shared a slice of carrot cake before heading home.

We strolled to the beach with a G&T before returning to prepare the fish for dinner. The wombats started emerging from their burrows and we could see them wandering around along with a few wallabies. During dinner we felt the caravan rock and looked outside to see a wombat sauntering off after either bumping into the caravan or having scrached himself on it. We were told that wombats have pretty bad eye sight.

In the morning we drove to Beauty Point to see Seahorse World, Platypus House and Echidna Garden. Seahorse World farms seahorses to be sold as pets all  over the world. The tour was fascinating and we saw seahorses from the US, Australia and the Phillipines. They also saw Weedy Seadragons and other fish as well as having the opportunity to hold a seahorse. Right opposite Seahorse World is Platypus House and Echidna Garden. We saw a number of platypus and were given a fascinating talk and insight into the lives of the Platypus. Next was the Echidna Garden where we were introduced to 3 echidnas which had just been given some food. These three echidnas were busy using their long tongues to lap up their food from little bowls before marching all around us looking for more food. They were just adorable.

Back at the caravan we had lunch, did some blogging and relaxed while it rained softly on the roof. As the afternoon progressed it started raining heavier and continued most of the night. The wombats came out and were all over the place but we did not manage to get any decent photos due to low light. During the evening the caravan bumped and rocked as a wombat used it to scratch his back and when Vlasta opened the door she saw this head looking up at her from under the caravan!

Our caravan in Kelso
A wild Wombat wandering through the caravan park

Seahorse World
West Australian Seahorse
Baby Seahorses
Pipe fish, a relative of the seahorse
Holding a seahorse!
Weedy Sea Dragon
Platypus resting under a piece of wood
Platypus happily in its emclosure
Echidnas enjoying their meal
Echidna nose

18 - 19 November 2014 - Ferry to Tasmania

We had arranged a late checkout from our caravan park so we had a late rise and breakfast. We quickly went to Officeworks to buy a new kettle and some USB thumb drives as I wanted to give Dave some e-books. We dropped off the USB drive and then prepared for our ferry ride to Tasmania. We needed to be at the ferry terminal no earlier than 5 pm, so we headed out at 4 pm with the caravan in tow. We arrived right on 5 pm and went through customs, collected our boarding passes then waited for about an hour before we drove the caravan on board. We had to drive up a steep ramp up and over the bow of the ferry and into the depths of the ferry. It was a tight fit but we managed well and headed to our cabin.

After dropping off our overnight stuff in the cabin we explored the ferry. There was not a lot to look at so we ended up having a beer to celebrate before heading to the buffet restaurant for dinner. We ate too much but enjoyed the view as we steamed across the bay to the open sea. We were rather tired and it was getting late so we decided to turn in for the night. Sometime shortly after hitting the sack the sea became quite rough but fortunately it did not affect us.

We were up early in the morning (4:30) to shower and watch the sun rise as we approached Davenport for the 6am docking.

Boarding the ferry
Leaving Mebourne on the Spirit of Tasmania
Port Phillip Bay
Sunrise just before arriving in Devonport
Arriving in Devonport

14 - 17 November 2014 - Melbourne

After Phillip Island we decided we needed to be closer to Melbourne to see our friends, Dave and Kirsty, as well as be closer to the ferry terminal. Wikicamps came to the rescue again and we booked a caravan park just a few kms from Dave and Kirsty. This caravan park turned out to be a little gem and we settled in for 4 nights. In the evening we visited Dave and Kirsty for a scrumtious dinner and a lovely evening chatting and catching up on the years since we had last seen eachother.

The next day we went looking for a shopping centre where we could have our hair cut. The first centre we found we had coffee and yummy cake before looking for a hairdresser - none were found. Off to the next centre we went but this time "Betty", our GPS, took us on a tour of the area before we switched to "Betty Mk II" who managed to get us to our destination. Well the haircut was OK for me but Vlasta was not happy with hers.

In the morning Dave and Kirsty picked us up and we went for brunch on the bay not far from their home. We spent the rest of the day doing a few things around the caravan and relaxing.

The new day brought some grey skies but this did not stop us heading off to Mount Dandenong where there is a lookout to Melbourne and a cafe. We could just make out the city in the distance after which we had a coffee before heading down the mountain to walk in the Ferntree Gully forest. We saw some lovely old fern trees and an echidna just before we returned to the carpark. We had to get going as we had arranged to catch up with Dave, Kirsty, Odelia (their daughter) and her partner Brendan for curry at their favourite Indian Restaurant.

Breakfast with Dave and Kirsty
Crimson Rosella
Superb Fairy Wren
Dandenong tree ferns
Echidna nose
Echidna back legs face backwards

Friday, 21 November 2014

11 - 13 November 2014 - San Remo, Phillip Island

We set out for Phillip Island which meant we had to drive through Melbourne which proved less traumatic than expected as we stuck to the highways and toll roads which included the tunnel under part of the city. We stopped for pancakes and coffee before arriving on Phillip Island. The caravan park we had booked was awful to say the least! Fortunately they kindly refunded our deposit and off we went to look for another place to stay. The next park we went to was quite quaint but when we heard the price we high-tailed it out of there. We decided to look at the caravan park on the mainland just before the bridge to the island. This caravan park was far better than any others so we checked in for 3 nights.

The next day we headed back onto the island, purchased tickets for the Penguin Parade and then headed out to look at the beach where the Little Penguins come to nest. We chose a good place to view the penguins for the evening parade. We headed off to see Swan Lake with its wetland birds and hides then down the road to Nobbies at the far western end of the island where there is a boardwalk and long-distance viewing of the seals. The boardwalk was lovely with seagulls nesting in the grass and also amoungst the wild flowers. We noticed burrows in the grassy banks and realised they were Little Penguin burrows and there were quite a few penguins home. It was difficult to photograph them and we only managed a few reasonable photos. We headed home for an early supper before rugging up for a cold penguin parade. It was thrilling to see hundreds of penguins coming out the sea, grouping together then waddling up the beach. No photos were allowed so the pics here are from their website. Once the penguins reached the bush at the edge of the beach they rested because of their full stomachs, then headed for their burrows. We followed them from the boardwalks as they completely ignored us while they waddled up the paths to their burrows. It was a thrilling evening even if we were frozen.

Next day we headed out to the koala sanctuary where there are two enclosures with koalas easily viewable. Beyond these enclosures is a much bigger enclosure where there were 20 or so wild koalas. As we started our walk we came across some rangers trying to capture a large male koala for a health check. We were allowed to watch, photograph, video and ask questions. This gave us a great insight into how you handle these small but powerful animals. Koalas are sensitive animals and can overheat easily as was the case with this little fellow. Once released the koala would not climb his tree. After a little water on his forearms to cool him off, he took a fancy to a tree near Vlasta and head up to a branch where he settled in to recover from his ordeal. After this excitement we continued our walk to 'find' our own wild koalas. We managed to spot 4 of them! You have no idea how hard it is to find koalas in the wild!

Swan Lake
The Penguin Parade
Nobbies Boardwalk

A Little Penguin
Cape Barren Geese
Nesting Seagull
Nobbies Boardwalk
Little Penguins
Little Penguin

Koala stretching
Measurements being taken
A bemused look after being released
Superb Fairy Wren

Thursday, 20 November 2014

9 - 10 November 2014 - Anglesea

We left Apollo Bay for Anglesea, taking the caravan along the last windy coastal section of thr Great Ocean Road. The caravan park we selected in Anglesea is enormous and by far the largest we have ever stayed in. We had a great spot on the river a short distance from the mouth. We then headed off to take a look at the famous surfing beach, Bells Beach. Well, there were no decent waves to be seen and the handful of surfers around were not that impressed with the waves this day. We had a quick look at Torquay before heading home and a stroll along the beach before dinner.

The next day we drove to Geelong to take Joan Fawcett out to lunch. Peter had recently passed away so it was a sad time although we did have some good laughs while remembering the antics Peter got up to on his various holiday tours.

Joan Fawcett and Keith
Lapwing and chicks
A Sulphur Crested Cockatoo looking for food
The beach at Anglesea