A Travellerspoint blog

Taranna to Launceston

...via St Helens

sunny 28 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

While based in Taranna and on our way northwards, we peeled off to see the Tasman Arch, the Devil's Kitchen and the Blowhole, the latter near the little town of Doo where many residents name their houses (and some dog kennels!) making a pun on the town name (Gunnadoo, Humpty Doo, Just Doo It, Doggie-Doo etc.). The impressive geological features have been created by aeons of wave action on the siltstone which forms the cliffs along this coastline. All were originally sea caves and the arch is what is left of the roof of the cave or tunnel. The Devil's Kitchen is basically an arch where the roof has collapsed, leaving a channel through which waves are forced into 'boiling' white water. The Blowhole is similar but there is a channel under the partly collapsed arch with a platform at the landward end. When the sea rushes in hard enough, the water is forced along the channel and bursts into the air through a hole in a small 'roof' over the end of the channel. This did not happen while we were there unfortunately!

View south along cliffs by Tasman Arch

View south along cliffs by Tasman Arch

Tasman Arch

Tasman Arch

Bent old scribbly gum by Tasman Arch

Bent old scribbly gum by Tasman Arch

Epacris flowers by Tasman Arch

Epacris flowers by Tasman Arch

The Blowhole

The Blowhole

The Blowhole

The Blowhole

Tasmanian thornbill near the Blowhole

Tasmanian thornbill near the Blowhole

After driving up the coast for a while, we stopped, for a coffee break, at Kelvedon Beach where we found many mounds of thousands of very varied seashells. Across the bay we could make out a building which is the old Cotton Boat Shed (named after the family who owned much of the land in the area).

The beach

The beach

Selection of shells on beach

Selection of shells on beach

Cotton Boat Shed

Cotton Boat Shed

We drove on towards Bicheno (named after James Ebenezer Bicheno, British Colonial Secretary from 1843 to 1851) but, shortly before reaching the town, we saw a sign to the Spiky Bridge. To quote from the information board on site, "It is popularly thought that this bridge was built after Edward Shaw (of 'Redbanks') gave Major de Gillem, Superintendent of Rocky Hills Station, a ride home one night after a game of piquet. Shaw drove his gig through the gully at full gallop so as to impress on the Major the need for more road works. Needless to say, the ride was very unpleasant and the bridge was erected shortly afterwards.". The bridge was built by convicts in 1841 but the reason for the stone 'spikes' is not known for certain.

Spiky Bridge

Spiky Bridge

Road over Spiky Bridge

Road over Spiky Bridge

Some of the "Spikes"

Some of the "Spikes"

Further on we stopped at Milton Winery where we tasted a few wines and bought some to take with us to our friends, Alan & Barbara, in Launceston. There were some lovely views from this winery but a little further up the road, we wound up to a point where there were some magnificent views over Moulting Lagoon but, as is so often the case with wonderful views, there was nowhere to stop. A short way down the hill we came to Devil's Corner Winery and the folk here had been smart enough to build a tower from which we had some excellent views, if not quite as good as they would have been from the road!

Milton Winery

Milton Winery

Vineyards at Milton Winery

Vineyards at Milton Winery

View from Devil's Corner over Moulting Lagoon

View from Devil's Corner over Moulting Lagoon

View from Devil's Corner to Freycinet National Park

View from Devil's Corner to Freycinet National Park

One of our friends in Perth came to Tassie some years ago and took a wonderful photograph of Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park. We had hoped to go there and try to get photographs which may have been almost as good as his. Unfortunately we did not find Freycinet National Park anywhere nearly as 'user-friendly' as we had expected. I suppose we should have guessed as it was school holidays but it was the only place we came across in Tasmania that was so congested. The nearest parking to Wineglass Bay was about a kilometre away before getting to the beginning of the track to viewpoints and we had not allowed anything other than short walks on the day, so sadly we decided to give that a miss. Most of the accessible coast by the road was allocated to campers with only two day-use areas (we were hoping to have our picnic lunch here). One was jam-packed with vehicles so that it was impossible to get in and the other we didn't find until later. A big disappointment. We detoured to Cape Tourville where we found parking but nowhere for picnics, so we sat on rocks by the car park and had our lunch before walking around the site. This area had some magnificent views, plus a very low-flying white-bellied sea eagle, so we left in a rather better frame of mind! The only downside at the cape was that there was a very strong wind and considerable haze which made taking photographs quite challenging.

The Freycinet Peninsula was named after one of two brothers (there is uncertainty as to which one) who sailed with Nicholas Baudin, who established that it was not an island, as previously recorded by Abel Tasman. I have been unable to find anything about Cape Tourville's name but there were French military folk of that name in the 18th and 19th centuries so I assume one of these characters was probably a friend of one of the early French explorers in this area - or may have actually sailed with one of them.

Lighthouse at Cape Tourville

Lighthouse at Cape Tourville

Small rocky island off Cape Tourville, home to seals and seabirds

Small rocky island off Cape Tourville, home to seals and seabirds

Rocks encrusted with red lichen below Cape Tourville

Rocks encrusted with red lichen below Cape Tourville

View south from Cape Tourville towards Wineglass Bay

View south from Cape Tourville towards Wineglass Bay

The Hazards behind Honeymoon Bay in Freycinet National Park

The Hazards behind Honeymoon Bay in Freycinet National Park

The last photograph above shows the Hazards which were named after an African-American whaler who plied these waters, Captain Richard "Black" Hazard.

To cap off a day of rather mixed fortunes we checked in at Big 4 St Helens, where we found our accommodation did not match its cost by quite a long shot. The layout was probably one of the worst that we have come across in our travels thus far and in terms of value for money was at rock bottom!

While based at St Helens we visited the Bay of Fires. On the way up the coast we had seen quite a few red lichen-encrusted rocks but nothing prepared us for the beautiful rocky scenery at Binalong Bay - marvellous. We had stopped at Grant's Lagoon on the way in and had seen some interesting birds although none to add to our bird count! Further north we called at Cosy Corner where there were yet more red lichen-encrusted rocks and then continued to The Gardens which was the end of the sealed road. Most of the unsealed road was blocked off for some reason, so that was the extent of our northerly explorations.

Little cormorant calling

Little cormorant calling

Grant's Lagoon

Grant's Lagoon

Beach at Binalong Bay

Beach at Binalong Bay

Judith found wading a bit chilly!

Judith found wading a bit chilly!

Pelicans catching fish at Binalong Bay

Pelicans catching fish at Binalong Bay

Rocks covered with red lichen at Binalong Bay

Rocks covered with red lichen at Binalong Bay

Silver gull 'photo bombing' pic of rocks with red lichen

Silver gull 'photo bombing' pic of rocks with red lichen

Lovely bay at The Gardens

Lovely bay at The Gardens

Apparently the Bay of Fires was named by Captain Tobias Furneaux after the many Aboriginal fires that he saw as he sailed close to the coast. However, equally likely is that the name arose from the red lichen which covers many of the rocks in the area. Personally, I favour the latter explanation. Binalong has Aboriginal origins but there are competing claims for the meaning; one suggests the meaning is 'under the hills, surrounded by hills or towards a high place, while another proposes that the name was given after the famous Aborigine, Bennelong, from Sydney. My guess is that Taswegians would opt for one of the former three alike meanings.

On the way back, we stopped at Sloop Lagoon and had lunch under the shade of our pull-out awning before cutting inland to the Cheese Factory at Pyengana. Cheesaholics that we are, we bought some cheese as well as having coffee or ice creams before driving on to St Columba Falls. There was a very pretty walk down but I turned back only about 200 metres from the foot of the falls as my hip was aching and I had doubts about making the return trip. Judith and Tilly carried on and I slowly ambled back and concentrated on taking photos of a very pretty and obliging Tasmanian thornbill.

Saint Columba Falls

Saint Columba Falls

Rain forest around the base of the falls

Rain forest around the base of the falls

Saint Columba Falls

Saint Columba Falls

Tasmanian thornbill

Tasmanian thornbill

On our return, we bypassed St Helens in order to drive over to Stieglitz, on the opposite side of the bay. There were some attractive views across the bay but also saw some rays (manta rays?) quite close to shore near a jetty there.

A ray in the bay

A ray in the bay

Pacific gull

Pacific gull

Our trip from St Helens to Launceston was quite slow. We stopped at Weldborough Pass Reserve for a '15 minute' walk through the forest of beautiful, mainly myrtle, trees and then continued to the Weldborough Hotel for well-deserved coffees and almond and apricot biscuits.

Old shack on Weldborough Pass

Old shack on Weldborough Pass

Path through beautiful forest

Path through beautiful forest

Tilly using her camera - a rare event!

Tilly using her camera - a rare event!

Tree ferns and fallen, mossy, tree in the forest

Tree ferns and fallen, mossy, tree in the forest

A group selfie in the forest

A group selfie in the forest

Our route, we then discovered, was called the Tin Dragon Discovery Trail which took us on to Derby where we stopped to post some presents to rellies in England and also for a light lunch. Derby is a quaint town which appears to be on at least two levels and is apparently a hot spot for cyclists - you know, those odd critters on two wheels who take up the road you want to drive on!

For the origin of the name Derby (and a bit of history too), I can do no better than quote from the Aussie Towns website: "When the Krushka brothers started mining tin in the district they called their operation 'Brothers Mine' and the settlement that grew up around the mine became known as 'Brothers Home'. The name persisted until, in 1887, it was decided to change the name to Derby. No one is sure why the town was named Derby although it has been argued that it was named after Edward Smith-Stanley, the Earl of Derby, who had been British Prime Minister from 1866-1868."

We lunched at Crank-it Cafe

We lunched at Crank-it Cafe

Bikes reign supreme here

Bikes reign supreme here

The Post Office - workers have one leg shorter than the other!

The Post Office - workers have one leg shorter than the other!

Old (1888) National Bank of Tasmania building

Old (1888) National Bank of Tasmania building

A short distance beyond Derby is a little town called Branxholm and this has a wonderful red bridge which commemorates the Chinese involvement in the tin mining industry. It also has one of the best free camping areas we have seen with excellent showers and toilets and even a swimming pool.

The first settler in the district was James Reid Scott and he named the settlement after a village in Scotland.

View of the red bridge and part of the the town

View of the red bridge and part of the the town

The red bridge showing Chinese characters

The red bridge showing Chinese characters

Our last stop before Launceston, after a bit of a detour, was Bridestowe Lavender Estate (probably named after a small town in the county of Devon in England). We had arrived not long after the harvest but there were a couple of rows of flowering lavender which gave an idea of what the estate would have looked like the previous month. We opted for a self-guided tour but did latch on to the end of the previous tour so picked up some odd snippets. It was all very interesting and we also enjoyed a tea break there. To cap the day, Jet Set picked up a lady friend - Bobby (Roberta if being formal) Bear - love at first bite apparently.

Visitors wandering through the rows of harvested lavender

Visitors wandering through the rows of harvested lavender

Flowering rows of lavender with harvester

Flowering rows of lavender with harvester

Jet Set with his new friend, Bobby, resting in her natural habitat

Jet Set with his new friend, Bobby, resting in her natural habitat

We then headed on to the Abel Tasman Motor Inn which was very comfortable and roomy although the parking was a little bizarre.

There will be a slight intermission in the continuation of this blog as we are off to South Africa on the way to England where normal service will be resumed.

Posted by SteveJD 21:44 Archived in Australia

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

How ever are you going to get back to normal life?? It's all looked amazing.

by Gill Geraghty

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Login