Five Weeks in Tasmania


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This is going to be a long winded report, there will be a short intermission and a lady selling ice-creams at the half way point! :D
In summary
37 days travelling
4200 ish KM covered
Bit of background first... Lost my job June 2015, unemployed for three months before deciding work wasn't going to come to us in SA and starting our travels, took three months in Bendigo that coincided with school hols, so the family came with me (great location for the High Country and Grampians)
At the end of that contract i was offered a 5 month role in Canberra (which is still going :) ), so the wife and kids went back to SA to sell the house, i went to Canberra and did FIFO going home every 5-6 weeks for a weekend. This sucked!
So we decided mid 2016 that no matter what we were taking time off work (6 weeks in the end) over christmas and we booked the ferry.

So October 2016 i found a family rental, we got an offer on the house and the wife and kids arrived in Canberra at the start of November. We signed everything over to the conveyancer so we didn't have to think about it and got ready to go!
This was going to be more than a holiday, it was going to be a chance to get back together as a family!!


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So travel day rolls around, the car is packed, we have swags and a tent to give us the option for short or long stays, kids packed and it is off for the ferry. Easy drive down until we got to Melbourne where they seem to have forgotten to put ANY signs up for the ferry!, luckily the GPS guided us through and avoided the roadworks.

Now the original plan was get to Melbourne, grab some food, some travel sickness pills and then board. To plan ahead we thought we will nip down and check where the terminal is and get an idea of what is minute we have got ourselves into the customs queue and are sat waiting to board :|

So no food other than what is in the car and no sea sickness cure ... now i have been known to get sea sick having a bath, and this is nine hours overnight... On top of this in the chaos of FIFO and relocating neither of us had read the T&C so had stocked the fridge with the first 4 days food...yup lots of fruit and veg that would need to be disposed at the far end >-)


So we sat on the dock for a few hours eating fruit before boarding and then settling in the cabin for the night...all was good, i was even dozing, then we got through the Rip...immediately i could feel the swells and the head started, so up on deck and wondering zombie like or kipping on the chairs for half an hour at a time. but we made it!

So off the boat and after a quick breakfast on the foreshore we decided to blow some cobwebs out on the beaches and a walk to the lighthouse.
We then drove up to our first camp of the night on the beach at Beechford. First night for the kids and wife in the swags and despite the wind howling off the sea we all slept soundly.
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Now the original plan was to head up to Bellingham, drive through the dunes and camp on the beach, but given the wind direction and the fact we had already been a bit sand blasted we decided to head inland.

A lazy explore with some sight seeing around Cataract Gorge and Launceston and the surrounds saw us having the relaxing start we needed. Found the Little Rivers brewery in Scotsdale and could have stayed notch beers, especially the European dark, Hefeweizen and the Stout. So stocked up on beer and food at the local IGA we headed for the hills.
Completely at random we took a road that said regional reserve or some such, turned out to be Mount notch camp, with a hut, running creek, plenty of firewood and a drive up over the landslide to the lookout at 1406m. This was our base for a couple of days to get into holiday mode!


We were now into the Xmas run. The wife wanted Christmas on the beach. Just before we left Unsealed4x4 ran an article on the top swimming holes to cool off and had listed Petal Point up on the other side of the peninsula from Bay of Fires...we thought we would check it out. The campground was split into two distinct areas, to begin with you have small camp grounds (couple of cars max) down among the bushes, very sheltered but the best ones were taken and the worse ones had the fragrance of the hot long drop. The second part of the camp is a flat "village green". Now we caught a local lad on the boat ramp and spoke to him, his advice was that the village green got very windy but if it was hot you at least got a breeze up there where it was stifling in the bushes.

Now the forecast was hot for the next few days so we set up on the top, slight breeze, fabulous views across the bays and no people other than a lad with his two boys who had claimed the prime spot which was slightly off the hill side and a little sheltered.
First night was great, Xmas eve we woke up to heat, a day in the sea was planned. I never managed to swim...having walked out nearly a km it was still only thigh high, white sand, turquoise water, perfect. Wandering back to camp and the family were just pulling out heading home for xmas, so we ran up, moved the car and the kids swags and then carried the tent down to claim the spot...we were set for XMAS!
Xmas day was as it should be, presents, family games, beach and then a camp oven roast turkey and veg for dinner (around 9:00pm once it had cooled off enough to sit out and have a fire) ... wifes request fufilled!
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Boxing day we decided to have a drive to look at the Bay of Fires. we were unfortunate in the weather had turned (seemed to be a recurring theme) and rather than bright skies and photos we had it grey and overcast, probably didn't see it at it's best and it was a bit cool for exploring by foot. Nice enough but not the spectacular location for the hype we had heard about it. Pleasant day out then back to camp to pack up ready to move on the next day.

The next plan on the list was Wineglass Bay and the Freciynet National Park. First issue we had was me not thinking had not counted on the holiday crowds...Frecyinet NP is done on a lottery, you enter in the year, it is drawn in September and those people get a camp spot...we hadn't even entered not having really planned the holiday till the ballot was closed. Spoke with the ranger before we left and he suggested Friendly Beaches. We turned up at Friendly Beaches to find it packed, overlapping guy ropes, cars double and triple parked, we were not camping here. So a quick phone call to the Caravan Park on a single bar of reception, they couldn't get us in for any more than 1 night, wedged in the unpowered area...We wanted to do a day hiking wineglass bay so we took it, we reasoned we would sort something out for a second night towards Hobart. On arriving the girl recognized the broad Yorkshire accent and told me she had a cancellation, did we want a powered site for two nights instead...DONE!

Now from the moment we set up camp it rained, and rained and rained. A real test for the swags (as it turned out the kids were fine, ours had a small leak in the stitching). We decided even though it was raining we would do the hikes loop Wineglass Bay, Hazards Beach and Israelite Bay.

So, in what was to come a ongoing joke we did the lookout while we were in the clouds and then hiked in the rain for the day, at least we didn't get sunburnt :p
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We didn't have many fixed dates on our itinary, the next stop was our first, we had booked into the caravan park at Dover (mainly because we had planned to bush camp to this point and the wife made threatening noises if i made her go 10 days without a proper shower). When we got to Dover it was a nice grassy campground, quiet, not too full and plenty of space to set up all the gear to dry out.
Swags, tents, sleeping bags and tarps all stood in the sunshine...The wife disappeared to the showers and then the laundry and we decided rather than risk New Years and not finding a spot to stay we would book in for an extra few nights. This gave us the chance to sit on the Jetty catching flathead (all tiny) and gave us a base camp to expore the area. We decided to do a couple more walks, the first was the start of the 3 Capes track which takes you to the southern most accesible point in Tasmania.
It was raining...again ...all the lookouts were in cloud but the kids had a ball, the wife was smiling and you know what, we didn't care! Next day we jumped in the car to head down to the Thermal Springs and Caves at Hastings.

A really good day out, the guided tour around the caves was informative, the walks around the rainforest and the springs enjoyable and then you got to swim around in the pool heated by the springs with BBQ huts built from local rocks (although i wish they had kept the natural setting and not had a bright blue square swimming pool). On the way out we took some of the back tracks and started following the signs for a Lookout. After a few squeezes through bushes we found a grave marker and information board but no lookout...all we could see was trees, there was just space to turn the car around but certainly no views. Heading back down the hill we spotted a sign for a Duckhole Lake with a walking on came the hiking boots again and a pleasant walk through the woods over about 5KM found us at the lake which is actually a sinkhole where one of the earlier caves had collapsed.

It was time to move on and the Tahune air walk was the next on the itinary. These are a spectacular fact the whole Huon River/Hartz mountain area is so good the wife has been looking at land there since we got back :|
We did the airwalk first, to walk on the ground under the big stringy barks and then go on the walkways high off the ground and still only be halfway up the trees gives a wonderful sense of the scale of this timber.
We then walked around the loop walk which crosses the two rivers on suspension walkways for a bit of excitement.
Full of high spirits we thought we would then explore downriver for a camp for the night. This was our mistake for the trip...Rather than rewrite it jump here to see the full story ( After six hours digging the car, covered in mud, cuts and exhausted we rocked up at the This place is incredible. Each camp ground must have been getting on for a 1/4 acre. Malcolm the owner came out to greet us, no this was 9:30 at night, i looked like swamp thing, we had no cash but he welcomed us in, got us a quiet camp ground close to the shower block and told us to sort the money by EFT as soon as we could get a signal even if that was a couple of days time when we got to Hobart, a real top bloke. If anyone is looking for a bush camp with facilities this is it and i recommend it to everyone!
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Now we were heading up market, as a thank you from a guy at work he had booked us a couple of nights in a timeshare apartment he has the keys to. So here we are driving to Hobart. Stopped at the visitor information to pick up a map and get some local information on where to park etc for some of the museums/galleries we started to head out to the resort at Seven Mile Beach. The first sign of trouble was the aircon wasn't blowing cold, then i lost power...flicking the ODBII app over to gauges i was just in time to see the coolant go from 110-115-124. Straight off onto the hard shoulder and engine stopped!! coolant dripping onto the road. Now before this trip we ummed and ahhed about breakdown was about to pay for itself. Tow truck came out and ran it down to Nissan, we then had to wait another 45 minutes as they had forgotten to book us a taxi :| by the time we got to DJ Nissan they had got the car on the hoist and diagnosed a cracked radiator (in hindsight probably in getting stuck or getting out afterwards).

The service manager told us to go get lunch and have a shop and he would do some phoning around. True to his word he called us back and told us he could order in a standard replacement from repco but it would be 48 hours, or he could order a high quality aftermarket replacement from the mainland that would be overnight freight (and was only $80 more). Decision was made we got back onto the breakdown assistance and they sorted us a replacement car (a holden trailblazer with 8KM on the clock)

So after the rainy walks, the stranding in the mud and then sat on the side of the A3 motorway with a cracked radiator to rock up at a 5 star resort that was already paid for was heaven!! A top notch restaurant and the wife with a naughty cocktail let us change gear into civilised mode, we were ready to continue.
Next morning a trip around MONA in the morning and then the museum in the afternoon had us feeling cultured and human again Then a phone call to say the car was ready to pick up, no lasting damage and the holiday was back on track :D.


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From Hobart we headed south, having learned our lesson we phoned through and booked into a caravan park at White Beach getting the last spot again. The drive down is a full day due to all the stopping spots, the Tessellated pavement is a natural wonder caused by the layers of sediment and erosion to create an effect that you would swear took a skilled concretor.
We then worked our way down the Tasman Arch, Devils Kitchen and the Waterfall Bay. Unfortunately it was like a mill pond so to add to the lookouts you can't see we now had a blowhole that didn't blow :D

The caravan park was grassed again, ideal for swags, and backed onto the beach and another bay of white sand and turquoise waters. The kids were in their element, the wife risked her bikini (photos of that cost extra ;) ) and the days wound down slowly.

Next day was the half way point, we had no idea what day it was, we ate when the kids were hungry got up when we felt like it, didn't think about houses, jobs, money anything...we went out to the convict settlement at Port Arthur.
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More informative guided tours, boat tours and wandering around the history passed a full day...although sitting outside the old church looking back across the bays i can think of worse places to be incarcerated. We continued the history the next day with a drive up to the old mines, although given it was 42 we passed on the walks and instead just flopped about in the sea again to cool off.
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We had to do some changing around now, we had planned on going to the Walls of Jerusalem and then around to cradle Mountain. The walls are currently inaccessible except on the 3 day overland hike, and the weather forecast for the end of the week was 20-40mm of rain. We decided to head off and try to get to Cradle Mountain midweek and miss the rains.

First stop on the way over was the Land of Giants at Mt Field NP. Lovely bush camp with a long drop and showers on the banks of the river, we got in and set up camp around 4:00 and decided as we had hours of daylight left we would do the hike to Russell Falls (appeared on the first australian stamp), Lady Baron falls, Horseshoe Falls and the tall trees walk among the huge stringy barks (measured one that had fallen at 92m). The walk to Russell falls is flat and easy, then you have some steep hills to do the remainder of the loop including Horseshoe falls. Couple of hours and a paddle in the waters saw us back at camp...Got the kids settled for the night and then took the wife for a night walk down to see the glow worms...highly recommend it, to start with we could not move for Padmelons (thing small fat wallaby), then we had three possums either cross the path or mewl at us at head height sat on a tree. Then we got to the glowworms, back around the loop and back to the swag for bed.

From Mt Field we called in at Derwent Bridge on a recommendation from a fellow camper to check out the Wall...this is one mans twenty year endeavour to carve Huon pine panels, 100m worth. It is beautiful and a testament to someone with incredible talents with wood! Then it was into the twisty climbs to get us across to Queenstown, a stop for lunch at Nelson Falls before back on the tarmac. This road was a pig, rarely did i get into third gear due to switch backs and steep ascents and descents. I don't envy anyone pulling a van along here (indeed a couple of caravanners I got talking to at Burnie decided to dump the van and come back for it rather than tow across there) We rocked into Queenstown at 4:00 to restock fuel and food. Looking at the time, the road on the maps we decided to scrap the bush camp at Lake Gardiner (which we didn't actually know where it was other than a dirt road name) and chickened out for the Discovery park at Cradle Mountain. The campground has two brilliant indoor camp kitchens with big wood fires that we soon had roaring and used all their facilities rather than getting out our gear. it also meant come the morning that we could head straight out for the bus from the visitor centre to the NP itself.

Cradle Mountain was another lookout in the clouds and the drowned rat look...We got off and decided to hike up to the lookout, down through the pools and then do the lake loop.

Luckily the clouds cleared as we did the lake so we actually got to see the peak, even if we didn't climb it. We did however spot wombats and this gorgeous Tiger snake as we came along the final boardwalk heading for the bus. The next day was the day of rain, so we moved into the camp kitchen, took the board games and the books, had the kettle and the fire on and sat on the storms in comfort...sometimes camping is NOT the answer ;)
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Now it was time for the 4x4ing. We headed up to Burnie and made arrangements with the caravan park to leave some of our stuff (tents, toys, clothes, spare water) and shed some weight as we were going on a tag-a-long tour down the west coast.
First up this was ran by Mark Cullen of Tasmanian Offroad Adventures...a real nice bloke who is only interested in getting everybody through the trip intact and feeling comfortable. He was supportive willing to give and take advice and made everyone feel good about the trip (and we won't mention he got stuck in case he does come and read this!!)

The tour was set over five days.
Burnie --> Sandy Cape
Sandy Cape --> Balfour Track --> Corinna
Corinna --> Pieman Heads --> Trial Harbour
Climies Track
Montezuma Falls

There were five of us on the tour, We had the Pathy, my mate Ben bought his Pathfinder too, we had Brian and Cathy in a 100 series, Hans and Belinda in a brand new 2.8 hilux and Keith the Qlder in his GQ.

Sandy Cape was flat, we had been warned on the way in it was soft, but 18Psi saw us through without any issue. It was certainly firmer than the South East coast of SA or even the far end of Goolwa. River crossings were easy, just timing it between the waves. Couple of dunes to cross, the first one we hit caused us some issues and the first bogging of the trip...and yes it was me :D we had managed to get ourselves further back in the line and the instruction came over the radio the crest is blind, the track curves. As we got to the top the crest was blind, unfortunatley the curve went right and i had guessed left...quickly on the brakes stopped us but bogged the car down. two minutes with the shovel and the chance to christen the max trax saw us pop straight out. Third dune was also nasty, you had a sweeping right then a hard left as you climbed through the dune with banks either side. Mark had gone up first and had two or three attempts (just to loosen it up). A couple of attempts in low 2 got us to the top but not over the crest, back down, low 3 and a bit more grunt saw us over...Ben followed but had the same issues, by the time the 100 series had done the same the remaining two elected to find another way around and explored a by pass track. Out to the old whaling station and the kids explored the bones, and we got to see the rocks and the lichens in the sunshine (think bay of fires with 4wding and no crowds). Then we continued on. A call over the UHF from Hans, he had a flat, quick check showed a buckled rim (problem with running sand pressures and then crossing rocks), quick team effort meant we had the spare on the car within 15 minutes even with the soft sand. A final stop off at the big dunes for the kids to have a play although no-one had the boards and then into camp, swags up, fire lit and a bit of banter around the camp fire and a discussion of tomorrows challenge, the balfour track, with rain forecast!
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Tuesday saw us up and back on the sand to get to the Balfour track, real pleasant beach driving with a few stops for photos saw us at the infamous sign.

Straight past the sign was a rocky ascent to get up onto the track. Watching the two cars in front who scraped and lifted wheels we took a completely different line, kept all four wheels on the ground and walked it up. Second challenge of the day was a clay hole with a clay slope out, Mark got through fine but then the clay was wet, no grip meant no movement in the pathy, so a combination of maxtrax and finally a light snatch had us out...twice in two days, i was in for some stick. To prevent further issues we grabbed six sets of trax down and made a ramp over the exit of the hole and the remaining cars came through without incident. we had managed 200m in 40 minutes and Marks timetable was looking in trouble :) We then drove the length of the track, all the holes (bar the canal) were stone based and firm, this however meant it was 1st gear low range over the boulders, no bow wave as such, and with nowhere for the water to flow out to we had water up to the passenger windows more than once. but nobody got stuck, nobody suffered any water damage and only the two pathfinders had a bit of damp carpet inside the back doors. As we came out the final water hole my wife turned to me and said "we are not doing that again!", i have to agree, the track was not difficult and I don't have an issue with water crossings, my issue was there is no choice of line, you can't adjust because of the track banks, you just have to follow the car in front and hope you don't hit anything...track tick list ticked off...not sure i will be going back :D Due to the slower than expected run through we skipped old Balfour town and ran down the Norfolk highway into Corinna and the wilderness camp and more importantly cold beers!

Day three had everyone up packed and in the queue in the first six positions for the fatman barge.

Three crossings later we were all on the far bank and heading around to Granville harbour to run up to the river mouth and Pieman Heads. Rocky base, few hill climbs, few sand hills and a bit of beach driving had an easy drive out to the heads for lunch and the chance to throw out a line (not sure why we bothered, no fish to be seen)

easy drive back in the afternoon with plenty of banter did see a bit of damage, Ben knocked his transfer case causing warning lights all over the dash in low range and i cracked both side steps (but not enough apparently to justify steel steps...yet).

We aired up and drive around to Trial Harbour for the nights camp only to find it was full...a bit of bartering between Mark and a local had us lead around the beach to a secret camp spot. We sat on the beach while Mark did a quick recce only to come back and state it was only big enough for two or three cars. So a change of plan and into Zeehan and the caravan park, well that was the plan, Ben had managed to sink the pathy in the sand, followed by Hans sinking the hilux getting him out...half an hour of digging and the pair were out and we rolled into camp.
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The change to a campsite gave us a big advantage in we could leave swags, tables, chairs etc in the camp and shed the weight for day 4 - Climies track, in hindsight i am glad we did. A sad note as Ben drove off to Queenstown to get his warning lights checked, he didn't want to risk Climies with no low range (or to be stuck in low range and not get it out) so as he headed for the smoke the remaining five were airing down for Climies track. We started with a quick detour out to the mines and the water race, whoever dug those tunnels with hammer and chisel had a bloody hard life, hard to imagine anything these days that is comparable.

We were then into the technical, rutted climbs, rocky outcrops meant wheel placement was essential, track building and guidance was required but by now we were a veteran team and everyone had an absolute ball, have to say by the end of this track we had a real sense of achievement, no damage to any cars. Back down into Zeehan and a few beers and a get together and some banter, jokes and food.

Day five, the final day saw a wet pack up for some of us who were heading on while the rest sat around drinking coffee and shouting comments as they were coming back to stay again. The goal today, Montezuma falls (ironically the day before 4WDaction showed up there to do it, be interesting to compare there version of the track to ours ;))

Ben had diagnosed a faulty sensor rather than a major fault so we had a full crew again. The track was wet, but firm, no issue with traction and other than a bit of guidance through some of the creek crossings due to the steep descents and exits a fun rather than challenging drive. A walk around the falls and down to the mine and then lunch before we headed back out to air up, say our goodbyes and all hit the road.
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So we were back on our own. We decided to run back up to Corinna to spend another night on the river before going up to old Balfour and looking around the former town. We wandered the forest and found the old cemetry, there was some serious headstones to say this was a small mining community in the back of nowhere. As we got back out on the road we found a sign giving some history, the lack of remains is due to it being an old shanty town, it also had some details of the lady on the gravestones neglecting to mention you can walk in and see it! We were then back up to Burnie and the caravan park to collect our gear. not content with taking no extra cash for being a storage bay the owners then suggested we used their hose and wash pad rather than run into Burnie to use the truck wash, this gave us a chance to sluice out all the mud, salt and sand and get the car clean for the ferry home (while avoiding looking at the new pinstripes and rock scrapes). The final days were ticking off a few tourist spots, eldest child wanted to do the BIG things, so that involved a trip to the Big Penguin (and a great little odds and sods market), the big Tassie devil and the big Apple cafe. We wandered the Mersey valley with appropiate impressions and Gerry and the Pacemakers on the radio before pulling in for our final camp of the day overlooking Mt Rowland, campfire, no people and a fresh berry damper was a fitting end!

but it wasn't...a text message from Spirit of Tasmania stating a delay on the ferry meant we had an extra day to explore, so we went to Tazamazia, great fun day out, kids had a ball exploring the mazes doing the treasure hunts and generally acting like kids should. Then onto Devonport and a decent feed at the old Rectory before we went and sat on the foreshore and played giant checkers in the sand and built shelters while we watched for the boat. The crossing was uneventful, i had sea sickness tablets, unfortunatly the eldest didn't so i was woken at 3 AM by him going green and filling bags...poor mite! Took him up on deck and watched the sunrise as we came through the Rip and past Sorrento before we went back to bed for a couple of hours while the boat docked. The trip was over. Five weeks and we hadn't seen the great lakes, a lot of the highlands, inland east coast, Bruny Island, the list went on...we have decided we could go back, do another five weeks, go to completely different spots and still not see it all...a can see a future trip coming on!!


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Great story & trip, I went in Oct 2015 first time i have been & had a ball, still planning to get back down there for a bit longer one day, your pics & story brought back lots of memories, thanks for sharing, :)


Great read and photo's mate, perfect way for a family to reconnect.
Tassie has been high on my list for sometime and now you've inspired me more to make it happen sooner, rather than later .
Thanks for sharing mate.


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Awesome trip. Love to do Tassie one day.
Great read and photo's mate, perfect way for a family to reconnect.
Tassie has been high on my list for sometime and now you've inspired me more to make it happen sooner, rather than later .
Thanks for sharing mate.
thanks...stop this "one day" thing, we were going to go for 5 years and never did anything about it....tis time we just booked the ferry and made everything else work around it :D, book the ferry, best way to get over
Great story & trip, I went in Oct 2015 first time i have been & had a ball, still planning to get back down there for a bit longer one day, your pics & story brought back lots of memories, thanks for sharing, :)
only a small selection of photos by the time i have the ones from the tag-a-long collabaration i am pushing 3000 pictures...incredible place and so different to the mainland while being similar in other ways.
Nothing beats good family time in a great spot with good mates .:)
you forgot with good beer ;)