Launceston and Bridport

Launceston

Launceston
Launceston “Examiner” and “Express” Building

At the end of the last Blog we were in Williamstown, just outside Melbourne, on the last few days of our stay there. We finished up our stint in Williamson and caught the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, day time sailing, from Melbourne to Devonport in Tasmania. We left about 9:30am and arrived in Tassie about 7:30pm. An hour later we had checked into our Airbnb in Launceston where we’d be staying for the next 4 days.

Launceston is Tasmania’s second largest city, next to Hobart. We’d been through here before but just for a short stopover. This time we’ll be here or near for a couple of weeks and we’re looking forward to seeing more of this interesting place.

City Park

City Park, Launceston
City Park, Launceston

Our accommodation was very near City Park. It was originally developed by the Launceston Horticultural Society and handed over to the Launceston City Council in 1863. Maddy and Steve joined us from Hobart for our first night in Launceston and told us about the park they’d discovered. The most interesting thing they told us about it was it had a monkey enclosure. We had to go of course.

Macaque Monkey Enclosure

Macaque Monkey Enclosure
Macaque Monkey Enclosure

What a delightful surprise this was. Once you get past the wild animals in an enclosure it was an interesting experience. About 30 Macaque monkey’s we’re running around the enclosure doing monkey things. They really are just little people. Watching the young ones play was like watching human kids play. Well, before Xboxes and mobile phones maybe!

Macaque Monkey having fun
Macaque Monkey having fun

3 baby monkeys were born in December last year, they were very active in October when we saw them.

From the City of Launceston general manager.

“Each day the monkeys enjoy a diverse menu. They eat barbecue chicken, fruit and vegetables, scrambled eggs, honey sandwiches, and a special kind of cake we call ‘primate cake’. It consists of rolled oats, molasses, vitamins and minerals.
“We also hide treats around the enclosure for the monkeys to find, including honey in the logs, dog biscuits, and bird seed in the bark and mulch.
“We also put popcorn in plastic bottles which they run around with and shake to get the popcorn out, and birdseed in containers which can be rolled back and forth to extract the seed.”

They spent a lot of time grooming each other. Sometimes very intimately.

Advanced Monkey Grooming technique
Advanced Monkey Grooming technique

Launceston has one of the best-preserved early cityscapes in Australia with its Colonial and Victorian architecture. Not sure how old the Grumpy Piper, Bagpipe Museum and Whiskey Tasting establishment is but it looks interesting all the same.

Grumpy Piper
Grumpy Piper

Cataract Gorge

Launceston’s most accessible and arguably most famous attraction is Cataract Gorge. As you may be able to discern from the pictures it rained heavily the day we visited.

Cataract Gorge Suspension Bridge
Cataract Gorge Suspension Bridge

We had lunch in the Gorge Cafe, it was very good, well worth visiting.

The rain didn’t seem to put off the visitors taking a ride on the chairlift.

Cataract Gorge Chairlift to the top
Cataract Gorge Chairlift to the top
Cataract Gorge Chairlift
Cataract Gorge Chairlift

Even on a bad day the scenery was stunning. We walked to the top of the gorge where there are many peacocks and peahens wandering round. All of them showing off their plumage and looking very beautiful. As you can see in the pictures it had stopped raining by the time we got to the top.

I'm sexy and I know it
I’m sexy and I know it

We even saw a wallaby with a little joey peering out of her pouch.

Mother and baby wallaby
Mother and baby wallaby

Despite the bad weather on the day we visited I’d definitely recommend a visit to Cataract Gorge if you are ever in the area.

We left our Airbnb in the centre of Launceston to do another house sit on a small farm for 5 days. The farm was about 25 minutes drive from Launceston. The farm had 4 lambs, several chickens, ducks and geese and a few pet doves.

Ducks and geese
Ducks and geese
Pet Doves
Pet Doves

And two very active dogs.

Raring to go!!
Raring to go!!
Up and at'em!
Up and at’em!

The farm had lots of flowers and flowering shrubs surrounding it. It was great to see so many honey bees and bumble bees around.

Bumblebee having lunch
Bumblebee having lunch

We took a short outing to Lilydale Falls one day.

Lilydale Falls

On our last visit to Tasmania we stayed in an Airbnb in Lilydale. It was in March last time and there was a bit of a drought so Lilydale falls was a trickle. Our house sit was only 30 minutes drive to the falls so we couldn’t miss the opportunity to go see what it looked like after heavy rain.

Lilydale Falls, October 2018
Lilydale Falls, October 2018

This is what it looked like on our last visit.

Lilydale Falls, March 2018
Lilydale Falls, March 2018

Georgetown

Georgetown is Australia’s third oldest settlement after Sydney and Hobart. It was a 30 minute drive from the farm we were staying at. On Sunday, when we weren’t working, (rarely happens) we took a day trip out to sight see a bit of Tasmanian history.

The historic Watch House, an old Gaol built in 1843, was closed when we visited.

Georgetown Watch House
Georgetown Watch House

We did find the “Best Pub Style Hotel in Australia” though.

Simply the Best
Simply the Best Pub Style Hotel in Australia

Low Head

As we drove up to Georgetown all we saw were signs for “Low Head”. It was another 5 minutes drive up the road so we thought, why not. Turned out to be another one of those serendipitous decisions.

Low Head Lighthouse and Fog Horn Shack
Low Head Lighthouse and Fog Horn Shack

Low Head Lighthouse was the third lighthouse to be constructed in Australia, and it is also Australia’s oldest continuously used pilot station. Tasmania’s only foghorn is a Type G diaphone that was installed in April 1929 at Low Head Lighthouse. It is now the only operational G-type diaphone in the world. It was decommissioned in 1973.

Gardner kerosene engines
Gardner kerosene engines

As an ex-engineer I love the story of its restoration. Around 2000 a couple of local engineers were visiting the lighthouse and peeked through the window of the old shed. Through the grime they saw some interesting old machinery and being engineers they had to investigate. They successfully found the person who had the keys and upon entering discovered the treasure of the old fog horn. Instantly they knew they needed to hear it working. But it was not functional and needed a lot of work so they committed to restore it to working order. Being a rare thing they eventually traced the original plans to an old lighthouse in England who miraculously had a copy of the plans for the very same fog horn and sent them over. A few years and many hundreds of hours volunteer work later the foghorn is working.

The sign at the entrance said it sounds every Sunday at 12:00pm. We had arrived at 11:50am. We met the engineers who restored it and had a chat with them, that’s how we got the story. Then it sounded. We were standing right beside it when it went off and our ribs rattled in our chests it was so loud. Apparently it can be heard 40 miles away, I believe it!. You can see the “horn” poking out of the grey shed in the picture.

Jenni and the Low Head Lighthouse and Fog Horn
Jenni and the Low Head Lighthouse and Fog Horn

Found another Trig Point.To repeat the last few blogs in case you haven’t read them and don’t know what a Trig Point is. When the original surveys of the coast of Australia and Tasmania were being done they hammered these points int rocks in prominent points around the coast and by using trigonometry (trig points) they could accurately map the shape of the coastline. We keep coming across these, some are more ornate than others.

Low Head Trig Point
Low Head Trig Point

Also saw an automated weather station bunker. A pretty solid thing it looked too.

Low Head Weather Bunker
Low Head Weather Bunker

On the way out of Low Head there was a field of wild flowers. [Edit:- For Wildflowers read weeds.] We saw it on the way in and stopped on the way out to get a snap.

Field of Wild Flowers
Field of Wild Flowers

Looking back over the scene we just left it was obvious why the signs were directing us to this place. It is idyllic.

Idyllic Low Head Harbour
Idyllic Low Head Harbour

Windermere

Heading back to the farm we saw signs to Windermere, 4kms away. One of the great things about Vagabonding is the ability to go where your mood and instinct takes you. Today it took us on the 4kms detour to Windermere where we found the old St Matthias’ Anglican Church.

St Matthias' Anglican Church, Windermere
St Matthias’ Anglican Church, Windermere

It’s an impressive looking structure on the banks of the river. It may be for sale soon I’ve heard if you are interested?

Bridport

The Wikicamps app is worth every cent it charges. We used it to narrow down the sites we hoped to stay at. Bridport camp came up high on the list and it was close so we booked in there. We had always intended to camp more in Tassie than we had previously done. The parks and camp sites are so very good and well placed, near the best beaches or in the National Parks.

Bridport Camping Spot
Bridport Camping Spot

Bridport Caravan Park got rave reviews and did not disappoint. It’s a beautiful camping and caravan site stretched 4 kms along the beach with great facilities and beach access. Being off season we had a whole section to ourselves. Breakfast on the beach every morning was a treat.

The sky over the tent was full of bright stars and the Milky Way in the clear dark nights.

Camp Site Sky
Camp Site Sky

The first night we were sitting under the stars I saw a glowing light on the water through the trees. The full moon was rising over the ocean. It was spectacular.

I see a red moon arisin'
I see a red moon arisin’

The next morning the moon had some good competition from the sunrise.

Sun-a-rise come every morning
Sun-a-rise come every morning

We we’re up early every morning to catch the sunrise. It was worth it.

It was cool when the sun went down. Got down to 3 centigrade one night. We have a fan heater we keep on in the tent when on a powered site and some quality blankets and sleeping bags so we were fine.

We sat out every night around the fire pot watching the stars and listening to the sea. Jenni reading her book by the firelight made a lovely picture. Rather than buy wood we scavenged and burned Eucalyptus bark that was lying around everywhere. The smell was amazing. Like a Vicks inhaler.

J-J-J-Jenni and the fire..pot
J-J-J-Jenni and the fire..pot

Camping this time was an experiment. We have to work while travelling. We wanted to see if we could be productive in a camp site as well as an Airbnb or hotel. This was the first time we tried it. It was a success. We now know if we can get comms we can camp and work. It opens up a lot more opportunities.

Birdport Walking Trail and Wild Flower Reserve

Bridport has an 11kms walking track in a loop around the town. We did a third one day and the rest at the weekend.

The wildflower reserve took over 45 minutes to walk through. It was colourful and pretty good fun trying to spot all the wildflowers shown on the board on the way in.

Bridport Wildflower Walk
Bridport Wildflower Walk

The track took us from the city to the beach through some very pretty scenery. I took some pictures of the wildflowers we found. Well the nice ones anyway. I know this looks pretty but this is Australia. Probably kills you if you sniff it. Or look at it. Or see a picture of it.

This tree got bitten by an ancient Australian snake and is taking 200,000 years to die.

Tree Fungus
Tree Fungus

I am fascinated by ferns.

Young Ferns
Young Ferns

There was a lot of flora everywhere. Well worth the walk to get here.

Jenni taking some flower pictures
Jenni taking some flower pictures

We caught a glimpse of Mermaid Beach, the end of this part of the walk, through the trees.

Mermaid Beach over the Wild Flower Forest
Mermaid Beach over the Wild Flower Forest

Mermaid Beach close up was beautiful. Had it been another day we’d have gone swimming. We will be back.

Mermaid Beach
Mermaid Beach

The walk back from the farthest point of the trail took us back along the shoreline.

The coastline of this part of Tasmania is ‘picture postcard’ stunning. Well I think so. It is full of beautiful little coves, every one a delight. It’s as if someone just placed stuff where it needs to be to be extra perfectly beautiful. Like the boulder in this picture.

North Tasmanian Coastline
North Tasmanian Coastline

At the far edge of the camp site on the way back from Mermaid Beach are the remnants of the old pier/jetty which burned down under suspicious circumstances.

So much more attractive with Jim in the picture
So much more attractive with Jim in the picture

The walk takes us right back to the campsite.

Time to Leave Bridport

Finally it was time to leave our beloved Bridport and for me to end this blog.

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