Amazing wilderness and a great place to visit
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Australia'ssmallest State Tasmania comprises just 200 kilometres from north tosouth and about 250 kilometres along the northern coast of thisroughly triangular shaped island. The climate is much coolerthan the mainland, because due south from here is Antarctica. Inmany ways, travellers in Tasmania could be forgiven for thinking theywere in England or Europe, because of the deciduous trees to be foundin many areas, together with guest houses and old Georgian manor andcoach houses, which can be seen all over the island. Tasmanians have alaid back,country person's view of life, so they take the time to stop and enjoya friendly conversation with travellers. There are about 350,000people living on the island and there are two major cities - Hobart, the State capital in the south and Launceston, on the moretemperate north coast. However, there are scores of lovelylittle villages and country towns all over the island, as well as someof the world's best Heritage areas, so there is a great deal to beseen and enjoyed. Because of its small size, people think they canarrive in Tasmania by boat or plane and cover the island in a coupleof days. Anyone trying to do this will soon find out how wrongthey were. While the central highway from north the south isfairly straight and level and can easily be driven in about four hoursnon-stop, the road that encircles the coastal townships is oftennarrow and very winding, as well as considerably undulant in places,with many blind bends, so speed has to be cut back accordingly forsafe travelling. Tasmania has a quiet charm and many unique features - so much so that a three week holiday allocated to explore the islandproperly would pay good dividends as far as visual delights areconcerned. Winters (June through to early September) can be verycold compared to the mainland, with day temperatures of 10-12cand considerably colder still by night. During summertime, fromDecember through to March, days are usually bright and sunny, around25-27c. And in between, spring and autumn, which isparticularly spectacular, have their own particularly Europeandelights, with colourful foliage to be seen everywhere. Themountain regions are highly popular all year round, especially aroundthe north central lakes and the far north and west coast. And ofcourse there is skiing in winter. However, it should be noted that inthese areas sudden storms can happen at any time, so it is wise to bedressed accordingly, to know where the emergency huts are on themountains and to have some emergency food with you. And it goeswithout saying that before setting out you should notify the parkrangers of your intended route, in case of emergencies. Tasmania wasoriginally known as Van Diemen's land, having been named by Dutchmariners in the 16th or 17th century, before the British founded apenal colony there over 200 years ago. The British renamed itTasmania and it became known purely for its large penal settlement,until settlers came out from the United Kingdom to take up land andfarm there. Today, some of the world's finest apples, salmon andwines come from Tasmania's rich rural areas, while the cottages,gracious old houses and historic hostelries enjoy good business fromtravellers.
GETTINGTHERE: People arrive by boat - if not their own thenusually aboard the "Spirit of Tasmania", which sails everyother night from Melbourne in Victoria. A variety of differentpriced accommodation aboard this luxury ship is available, frombackpacker dormitory style to state rooms. The ship hasrestaurants, entertainment and garaging for personal vehicles of allvarieties. The other way in which visitors arrive is by air - usually flying with Kendell Airlines from Melbourne into Launceston,Burnie or Devonport on the north coast, or Hobart in the south of theisland. The flight takes less than an hour to reach the northcoast and well under two hours to reach Hobart.
HIRECARS: There are agencies for Hertz, Avisand Budget to be found at all the Tassie airports and majorcities. There are also a wide number of recreational vehiclehire companies, whose motor campers are fully equipped with everythingthe visitor will need apart from their clothes and food.
ACCOMMODATION:There are top quality hotels and tourist resorts, as well as a coupleof hotel casinos on this island. There are also motels to befound everywhere, along with tourist parks, all of which have selfcontained family cabin accommodation. One of the very nicestways to tour Tasmania is to stay each night in one or other of theVictorian or Georgian cottages or mansions to be found all over theisland, all period furnished and offering luxurious accommodation withhuge cooked breakfasts (and cosy log fires in winter) for around $100per couple per night. Quite a few of them have four poster bedstoo, those these cost a little more, of course.
TOURCOMPANIES: AUSTRALIANPACIFIC, GREYLINE and a number of other coachoperators offer tours of the island, usually taking from 7-10 days andincluding quality accommodation and meals. Your travel agentshould have the details.
BACKPACKING:There is accommodation for backpackers on the island, but hitch hikingis frowned upon here.
HOBART:Founded in 1804, Tasmania's capital city can be found at the southerneastern end of the island, straddling the Derwent river. It hasa good harbour, from which fishing boats sail frequently. Thebuildings sweep down to the waterfront, with Mt Wellingtonas an arresting backdrop. Many of the early waterside buildingshave been refurbished and there are some good restaurants here,several serving seafood that would only have been an hour or so out ofthe ocean. This is Australia's second oldest city after Sydney,in New South Wales the original British colony. More than 90 buildingsin this city have a National Trust classification. Some of theseinclude the Theatre Royal (1837 and Australia's oldest theatre) andSalamanca Place's terrace of Georgian warehouses, which now houseboutiques and gracious restaurants and form a backdrop to busy weekendmarkets. Other city highlights include the Cat & Fiddle Arcade,the Botanic Gardens, Anglesea Barracks, tours of the Cadbury chocolatefactory, city bus tours, river cruises, the Post Office Museum,Parliament House, Dreamworld's Arctic Adventure, Tudor Court at SandyBay (where you can also find Wrest Point Casino), the Maritime Museum,Holy Trinity Church, St David's Cathedral, Kangaroo Bluff Fort, theSignal Station, Van Diemen's Folk Museum, Battery Point and MtWellington Lookout. Hobart is also the starting point for theapple growing areas of the Huon Valley, the unspoilt beaches of theSouthport area and Hastings Caves all to the south of the city.
THEEAST COAST:Touring in an easterly direction from Hobart, after crossing the riverbridge, one passes through Cambridge and Sorrell, before taking theArthur Highway, south down the peninsula to Port Arthur.
PORTARTHUR: Sited on this rugged and isolatedpeninsula, the old Port Arthur Model Prison can still be viewed.In fact you can take a night tour by lamplight, which may well sendshivers down your spine. The Isle of the Dead, off shore, iswhere many of the convicts were buried in limepits and there also can be seen the headstones of many of the youngofficers and men responsible for these prisoners. Savage guard dogswere spaced across the narrow neck of the peninsula, to discourage anypotential escapees. Their only other choice was to jump off thehigh cliffs onto the rocks below and many did just that in the early19th century. This is an important site in Australia'sconvict past, but today there are also bright cottage cafes andsouvenir shops to be found in the vicinity of the old prison and guardhouse. There is plenty of comfortable accommodation - touristpark, bed and breakfast and motels - to be found in the area.Returning back up the highway and heading northwards via Triabunna andSwansea (where there is a good tourist park and the old Bark Mill andEast Coast Museum), keeping on the Tasman Highway, the drivercontinues until the turnoff (on the right) to Freycinet National Parkis indicated, then this narrow road should be taken for somespectacular scenery.
FREYCINETNATIONAL PARK& LODGE: Drive down this roadand you will begin to see unspoilt bushland. In due coursethe peaks known as The Hazards will appear on your right, possibly anhour later. You will pass through pretty little Coles Bay, wherethere is a bush campground on the beach,to Freycinet Lodge at the heart of this rugged peninsula. Thebird life here is magic and so are the very luxurious family logcabins, most with an ocean view from their balcony. There aregreat recreational and restaurant facilities here, with day longactivity programs to suit all tastes. Take a guided beach walk,a boat cruise or climb up a peak and look down into WineglassBay. It certainly gives you a fine appetite for a gourmetdinner. Some cabins have two bedrooms, some have cooking facilitiesand some have spa baths. You choose what suits your budget. Fromhere one return to the highway and then turns right and continuesnorthwards to Bicheno, about an hour and a half distant.
BICHENO:This is a popular east coast fishing resort, with good tourist parkaccommodation, offering powered sites and family cabins. Nearbyby is the EASTCOAST SEALIFE PARK,which is really well worth is visit. Since there are a number offishing boats working from this township, fresh fish is easilyobtainable. Sealers and whalers used this port around 1803 andit later became a coal mining port in the mid 19th century.. Thecoal was pulled by horses along a five kilometre tramway and theremains of the convict built coal bins can still be seen at theGulch. The foreshore is particularly attractive. Today though,this pleasant little resort shows no sign of its hard past and enjoysa relatively mild climate all year round.
BICHENOHOLIDAY VILLAGE:has specially good family cabin accommodation and facilities. DIAMONDISLAND RESORTis another little holiday makers delight. From Bicheno one travelsnorthwards through Scamander and St, Helens. There's a goodfamily holiday spot called the Cray Drop In Holiday Village atIronhouse Point, before you reach SCAMANDER.At Scamander there's the more luxurious Scamander Beach Resort Hoteland at St HELENS'sthere's a tranquil tourist park and the Queechy Cottages, with goodfamily accommodation at very reasonable prices. There is also plentyof bed and breakfast and youth hostel accommodation available. Twointeresting features are the fishing fleet and The big rocks andstones along the beaches at St Helens and around Binalong Bay whichare extremely colourful. You'll find many subjects for your camerahere. St Helen's is located at the northern end of the eastcoast and from here the road runs westwards, along the north coast.
LAUNCESTON:Tassie's 'northern capital', is situated where the south and north Eskrivers meet to become the Tamar River. It nestles in widevalleys formed by the river system and one of the town's most popularattractions is Cataract Gorge, with its beautiful park and gardens,its outdoor swimming pools, its cafe and its chair lift and suspensionbridge across the gorge. Founded in 1805, Launceston is an ideal basefrom which to visit all the National Trust properties in the area,such as Entally House. There is a casino resort, plenty of goodhotels and bed and breakfast accommodation and a warm welcome forcaravanners and RV enthusiasts. The Waverley Wool Mills areAustralia's oldest. Near Cataract Gorge is the very popularPenny Royal World, a recreation of the earliest days of whitesettlement on this island, with short boat cruises around its smalllake and a full size water mill. Adjacent is the Penny Royal Villageoffering good quality 2, 3 and 4 bedroom apartments for tourists. 'TheShambles' self contained historic cottages is one of the nicest placesto stay in Launceston. Then there's Mole Hill Fantasy, Ritchies MillArts Centre, the Queen Victoria Museum, the Community History Museum,Yorktown Square (another recreation of ye olden times), and just outin the countryside, Grindelwald Holiday resort, built on Swiss chaletlines. Travel up the Tamar river towards its mouth on the eastern sideand you will come to historic George Town, with its old fort and tallsemaphore mast, which was used to signal to approaching ships atsea. The Grove (built in 1830) is a restored grand residencethat thousands of folk enjoy inspecting each year and there is also anearby penguin colony. On the other side (west) of the river mouth isthe old mining town known as Beaconsfield and anyone interested in ourmining history will enjoy paying the Grubb Shaft Mining Museum and oldmachinery and workings a visit. This area is also the jumping offpoint via LONG FORD,for historic WOOLMERS ESTATE,Tasmania's oldest working farm property, with award winning tours ofthe historic buildings, stables and well preserved cars and excellentcottage accommodation. Also one takes off from here via DELORAINEto get to the mountain lakes and tarns that are much loved by thisisland's guests. There you will find lovely LEONTHYMELODGE, and CRADLEMOUNTAIN LODGEwith all their top class facilities and accommodation to suit allpockets. LAKE STCLAIR also offers bunkhouse andother types of accommodation (such as caravan and camping andcottages) at reasonable rates. Scenic flights can be taken overthis area, which is truly spectacular.
This is where "The Spirit of Tasmania" docks in the Merseybasin, on alternate mornings from Melbourne. From her terminal,hire cars, coaches and buses can be taken onwards. This is apleasant seaside township with several tourist parks, motel and bedand breakfast accommodation available. Several of the town'sattractions include the Don River (steam) Railway, a full size dailyoperated passenger train and Tiagara Cultural Centreon Mersey Bluff, alongside the caravan park. Here Aboriginalculture is displayed. One can also visit 'Home Hill', the humble homeof former Australian prime minister Joe Lyons. His wife, DameEnid was the first woman member of parliament in this country.Driving south from Devonport for half an hour one comes to SHEFFIELD,a quaint little township where every blank wall in town has beencovered by a delightful mural, each painted by a well known Australianartist.
PENGUIN:Has some interesting buildings around town, a giant penguin onthe foreshore and 15 minutes away is Pindari Deer Farm at Rianna,where you can meet the deer, buy venison and eat in the restaurant, ifyou wish. This is very pretty country. BOATHARBOUR is a tiny seaside hamletlooking out over the Bass strait from the north coast, between Wynyardand Stanley. The best accommodation there is a row of cottages,very beautifully furnished in period style, but with king size brassbeds and huge spa baths (not to mention big log fires in winter), thatis a very memorable bed and breakfast hideaway. It is known asKillynaught Cottages
STANLEY:The most northerly town, with its famous Nut, sticking out into theocean. It is well worth the effort driving this far, as thereare many superbly kept buildings to be seen, as well as some colourfulmurals. The Bass highway runs out at the far north west coast.To turn east or south you will now have to retrace your route toSomerset, between Wynyard and Burnie, which is where you can turnsouthwards.
WESTCOAST: The rugged north westof Tasmania is a coldly beautiful place, much of it inaccessiblewilderness. However, the road south leads down through Rosebery(with some very interesting town murals) to Queenstown.
QUEENSTOWN:A vast area around this town was totally denuded of vegetation earlyin this century to make way for the very rich Mt Lyall copper mines.Take a chair ride to the top of the hill and you'll see just how badthe devastation was, but now they are endeavouring to re-establishsome of the vegetation. The main attraction for tourist here, apartfrom some good accommodation, is the colours and textures of thehillsides for kilometres around this township. One can take the roadout of Queenstown to Strahan on Macquarie Harbour. This is a veryscenic spot, with plenty of good accommodation available in guesthouses and cottages. It is also the place where visitors boardboats for cruises up the Gordon River, with its grand waterreflections and ancient Huon pines, or to Sarah Island, if passengerswant to come to grips with shocking instances and relics of thedistant convict past. They can also see the local seafoodindustry at work in the harbour waters.
DERWENTBRIDGE: On the Lyell Highway, headingeastwards from Queenstown, visitors will come to this smallspot. It is where they will find the road leading in to Lake StClair, with its Mt Olympus backdrop. Here there is a modernVisitors' Centre, where boat trips can be taken on the lake, wherepeople can go bushwalking, eat in the restaurant, or take part in anyof the other organised activities out of the Parks and WildlifeCentre. There are excellent backpackers' facilities and fine familylodges at Lake St Clair Wilderness Holidays and superb fly fishing inthe lake and other nearby waterways. On the highway, at DerwentBridge there is a good service station, store and cafe, withparticularly good accommodation for small groups or large families inchalets. Known as DERWENT BRIDGECHALETS they are two storeycottages with three and four bedrooms, superbly appointed, the mainbedroom having a large ensuite. Some sleep up to 10 people ormore. The chalets are well heated in winter, have plenty of goodbedding and linen, large laundries, everything the traveller couldever need in the spacious kitchens and cosy lounges, complete withcolour TVs. The prices are very acceptable too. Passingsouthwards through Tarraleah and the Wild Rivers National Park,travellers will eventually reach New Norfolk.
NEWNORFOLK: This is a corner of Ye OldeEngland, with its ancient inns, its delightful old church (with lovelystained glass windows), its surrounding quite beautiful scenery, oasthouses, hop farms and the multitude of deciduous European trees, thatadd such a blaze of colour in autumn. Be sure to visit TheColony Inn, the Salmon Ponds (where you will learn all about salmonfarming); historic Tynwald mansion (superior and gracious bed andbreakfast accommodation, set in lovely gardens and with a greatrestaurant) and the old guest house. Glen Derwent mansion, built in1820 on Georgian lines, is another lovely old building offering firstclass accommodation and meals. In addition, there are goodfacilities for caravanners and campers in the riverside caravan park,plus B&B establishments, as well as hotel and motel accommodation,one of the best of which is Friendship Lodge, which is quiet, friendlyand economically priced.
Travellers can drive from Hobart to Launceston and vice versa via theMidland Highway. Here again there are a number of small towns andhamlets either on the highway or off it aways, and they are of muchinterest. These include ROSS,with its very intriguing convict history and convict built bridge(1836) renown for its carvings. There are so many historic buildingshere, plus the relatively new, award winning Wool Centre andmarvellous B&B cottage accommodation (Colonial Cottages of Ross),as well as a small, quiet caravan park. The main street isstill sheltered by an avenue of majestic old English elms. Still onthe convict scene, RICHMOND has awell preserved convict gaol, buildaround a quadrangle of sandstone buildings, all suitable furnished inperiod style and a township of delightfully well preserved early 18thcentury hotels, cottages and churches. OATLANDSis another classified historic midlands town, with a fine old mill andstables to photograph and learn about. There are 87 sandstonebuildings of note in this small hamlet. Take a spooky night time tourby lamplight and maybe a ghost or two will be lurking in theshadows. There's a backpackers hostel, bed and breakfasthostelries, restaurants and a good Visitors Centre to be foundhere. Don't miss the old world general shop cum emporiumeither. It's a real blast from the past. Then there's theBouquet Residence (B&B) with Onslow's room, Hyacinth's room,Daisy's room, etc - all suitable furnished, for lovers of the BritishTV series involving those characters.
EVANDALE:is another classified historic town, with a host of lovely oldGeorgian buildings. The majestic old Clarendon mansion is periodfurnished and has been restored by the National Trust, although it isactually 8 kilometres outside the township. Every February theyhold the Penny Farthing Championships, when the streets are filledwith competitors valiantly pedalling along on those old boneshakers,trying to win a trophy. A village fair is held over several days atthe same time. Here too is a grand old world general store,attached to The Old Stables, which offers highly superior bad andbreakfast accommodation, where the service, food and appointments aredefinitely out of the top drawer. Every Sunday morning lively marketsare held in the main street and anyone can get a free leaflet from thegeneral store, detailing the town's delightful heritage walk.
ELSEWHERE:Other grand little country towns that should not be missed arehistoric HAMILTON, with its superblittle St Peter's Anglican Church (1834), myriad old buildingsoffering first class bed and breakfast accommodation, such as the OldSchool House or the specially good Emma and George's Cottages.The 1830 Hamilton Inn offers cellar tours to guests before they retireto bed. Here too can be seen the remains of the old gaol.
OFFSHORE ISLANDS: KING ISLAND,in the Bass Strait, is part of Tasmania. It is very peaceful andrelies on its magnificent dairy produce (particularly exquisitecheeses), game meats, rock lobsters and fishing as well as tourism forits living. There are just two towns, Currie and Grassy Harbourand this is where comfortable accommodation can be found. Farmstays are also available. People either fly in with KendellAirlines, or they arrive by boat. There are penguin rookeries, theseasonal kelp industry, guided tours and bushwalking opportunitiesavailable. Roads are mostly flat, though some are unsealed, butthere are no traffic lights to be seen. Boats, cars, vans and bicyclescan be hired on the island. FLINDERSISLAND, King's twin in the BassStrait to the north of Tassie, also belongs to that State and hassimilar facilities to King Island. A road runs down its westernshores to Strezeleki National Park and off shore to its south, there'suninhabited Cape Barren Island.
For more information on Tasmania visit Focus on Tasmania
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