Hobart and Penguin and Strahan

Hartz Mountains

On our last couple of days in Huon Valley Caravan Park we went to explore Hartz Mountain National Park. It is one of 19 Tasmanian National Parks, and in 1989 it was included in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. We had lunch in Geeveston, in the Old Bank, the same place we visited the last time we stopped here. You need a pass to visit the National Parks in Tasmania and we bought an All Parks pass in the Tourist Centre there. 

Arve Falls

We stopped at the Arve Falls walk half way up the mountain.

The Hartz Mountains and Waratah Bush (and Jenni)

The day couldn’t have been better. Warm sunshine and clear blue skies. There was still a chill in the wind in the mountains but it was refreshing. We had the entire mountain to ourselves this day. One of the benefits of Vagabonding is that you can visit tourist places off peak and non tourist places during peak times. The best of both worlds. The Tasmanian Waratah flowers were out in abundance.

Tasmanian Waratah
Tasmanian Waratah

Our walk to Arve  Falls had steps so this had to happen.

Tasmania’s Top Model

The short 20 minute walk rewarded us with this spectacular view over the  Valley.

View over the valley from Arve Falls
Arve Falls and the Valley

At the start of the trail up the mountain we saw this washing station. The ecosystem here is very delicate. This boot washing station kept foreign bugs away from the fragile environment.

Boot Washing station

A short distance up this well prepared trail we came across this monument to the Arthur and Sidney Geeves who died in a blizzard at this point on November 27th 1892. 

This is their story.

Among the early settlers in the 1840s were the Geeves family who founded the township of Geeveston. They explored much of the southwest and cut the first track from Geeveston to the Hartz Mountains. As a result of this track, Hartz Mountains became one of Tasmania’s earliest popular bushwalking destinations.  On 27 November, 1897 the elderly Osborne Geeves, his three sons, Arthur, Richard and Osborne, and their cousin, Sidney, were overtaken by a blizzard when returning to Hartz hut from a prospecting expedition near Federation Peak. They struggled on over Hartz Pass to Ladies Tarn, but both Arthur and Sidney were faltering and suffering poor vision, and their loads were taken. Within a few hundred metres of the old Hartz Hut all the party were exhausted and stumbling. Sidney was carried and dragged by Richard to the hut but he died soon afterwards. Arthur was left with his father, and died in his arms with the last words, ‘Don’t leave me, father’. Both had died of hypothermia (a lowered body temperature) as a result of prolonged exposure to severe cold.”

It was a comfortable 24 centigrade when we passed this monument and travelled on up the mountain. We walked this path on December 1st 2018, 3 days and a few years after the Geeves brothers died in a snow storm at this place . Don’t anyone ever try and tell me Global Warming isn’t a reality.

Hartz Mountain Trail

There was wildlife in abundance on the walk. A Currawong kept an eye on us as we passed his patch.

Currawong Watching us

Our destination on this walk was Hartz Lake. 

Hartz Mountain Walk

The walk to Hartz Lake wasn’t too strenuous. When we got there we took off our socks and shoes and dipped our feet in the water. It was freezing, biting cold.

Hartz Lake

After we dipped out toes in the lake we had a bit of a rest stop there as you can see. On the way back down we were inundated by small creatures like this cricket who stopped for a visit. 

Jimmy Cricket

After Hartz Mountains we made our way back to the camp site and packed up and left for Hobart. We did have this last look back at the view before we left.

Hartz Mountains


Steve’s Birthday Dinner at Templo

We left the idyllic Huon Valley Caravan Park for a couple of nights in Hobart to catch up with Maddy and Steve for Steve’s birthday. We’d booked a unique and beautiful house in Hobart for the weekend. It has been restored back to it’s original grandeur and has been filled with interesting old objects like this ancient barbers chair. 

Hobart Airbnb

Barbers Chair

When I was a wee boy back in prehistoric times my dad used to take me the to Terry Murtagh’s barbers in Carrickfergus to have my hair cut. His shop had seats just like this. He’d put a cushion on it for me to sit on to raise me up enough so he could get at my head. 

Edison Standard Phonograph

What house is complete without a music system? This Edison standard Phonograph from 1898 still worked, we had a bit of a concert with it. Whatever we played sounded a bit like this Youtube Clip.

Thunderbox Toilet

I think this has been the second time I have posted a picture of a toilet on this blog. Both times have warranted it. When was the last time you saw a pull chain cistern toilet?  If you are interested in staying there this is their listing. I’d recommend it. 


Matt Breen and Chris Chapple of Templo

Templo restaurant is tiny, about 20 covers. They have 2 sittings each night at 6:30pm and 8:30pm and they serve a set, 6 course Chef’s menu. The food is amazing, each course a delight. 
Owners Matt Breen and Chris Chapple, (in the picture) chef and front of house respectively, do virtually everything themselves. If you are ever in Hobart, book a place here. It’s an experience well worth it.


We bade Maddy and Steve sayonara and drove 300 kilometres to Penguin on the north coast of Tasmania, where we had booked an Airbnb for the next 2 nights. 

Penguins are everywhere in Penguin

When we were in Tasmania last time we drove past Penguin. The name was so intriguing we made a decision that we were going to spend a night there so here we are. Also, we had heard it has a giant penguin statue. We had not heard wrong.

Giant Christmas Penguin

I was hoping to get a few humorous Penguin themed pictures but it was not to be. They really have missed a trick. The local race track was NOT called Penguin Races. The Bakery that made excellent pies was NOT called Penguin Pies and not one pub sold Penguin beer. It made me wonder if maybe the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission wasn’t keeping a close eye on them in case they misled a poor consumer who’d travelled all the way there to try a pie full of penguin and just got chicken and mushroom instead and sued for misleading claims and advertising. 

Penguin capacity low, add more Penguins

Our little Airbnb was on a small farm which had miniature goats. These little guys/girls were full of character. They stood precipitously on top of stuff but as soon as they saw us approach or  raise the camera  they jumped off and ran towards us. They were very cute, not as cute a chicky in the last blog but close.

Now this may not be as exciting for readers of this blog as it was for me but they had an old Ferguson Tractor on the farm. I learned to drive one of these when I was 8 years old. This one wasn’t working at that moment as it needed a new alternator. 

Wee Fergie

As a regular reminder, we are working as we travel Australia on what we call this Vagabonding journey. We chose Penguin as it was a commutable distance to our Tassie client we had arranged to visit this week. As a Doctor Who fan I was very happy to see another Tardis on the side of the road on the commute.

The sign on it said it was built as a shelter for school kids waiting for the bus. A lovely thought. We were only in Penguin a couple of days before we drove to Strahan on the west coast.


Visiting Strahan has been on the agenda for months. Finally we made it here. It’s a short stop this time, more of a reconnaissance visit for the next time when we intend to spend a few days here. We went for a wander when we arrived, we found a lovely little place for dinner called Bushman’s Cafe.

We ordered the sharing plate of Salmon and Trout and a Crab dish. It was outstandingly good.

Sharing Salmon and Trout Plate and Crab 

The next day our first exploration visit was to the Peoples Park and Hogarth Falls.

Hogarth Falls

The path from the car park to Hogarth Falls takes about 20 minutes, or 45 if you are stopping to take pictures like I was.

Walk to Hogarth Falls

The weather was misty and overcast, like walking through a cloud. Absolutely perfect for forest pictures, the ferns and moss and the trees were luscious in their colours.

Talking about ferns. I am besotted with the enormous rainforest fern trees we have seen. B-E-Sotted. To me they are like something from pre-history, Gondwanaland. Ferns are ancient, early fern fossils predate the beginning of the Mesozoic era, 360 million years ago. They are older than land animals and far older than the dinosaurs. They were thriving on Earth for two hundred million years before the flowering plants evolved. These enormous fern trees are stunning. Its like seeing a dinosaur in the wild.

The walk to the falls was lined with Fern Trees and other plants. The weather was moist and warm. Ideal for fungi which I was hoping to spot. I wasn’t disappointed.

There was a lot of Forest Fungi. There was also evidence of path clearance. overhanging and dangerous trees were cut down and left to rot and compost and feed the next generation of growth, Mosses take hold quickly and turn the forest into a verdant paradise.

Eventually we made it to Hogarth Falls which was named after ????, well no one knows. 

If you look closely in the top right hand corner of this picture you might catch a glimpse of the mythical Angel of the Falls.

The weather turned as we left the People’s Park. In Ireland, where I come from and where it rains 300 days a year we have a lot of words to describe the various types of rain. I would have described this type of rain as Mizzle. Half way between mist and drizzle. On a walk the previous night we spotted a short jetty with a great outlook which was perfect for atmospheric pictures. It couldn’t have been more atmospheric than this. We stopped and jumped out into the mizzle. Jenni did her Tasmania’s top model best performance and this was the result. The world turned monochrome. I took these before I realised the lens was covered in mist, and I had the ISO setting all wrong but I think they came out ok.

Hells Gates

OK So it looks quite reasonable, but his this is Hells Gates. The entrance to Macquarie Harbour. The name of the channel relates to the original convicts’ claim that it was their point of ‘entrance to Hell’, their Hell being the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station on Sarah Island and the outlying surrounds of the harbour

We drove to Hell’s Gates after our visit to Hogarth Falls. It was another reconnaissance visit as it was a potential future camp site location. The road to Macquarie Heads as it is properly known is along 10 kilometres of dirt road. The drive is worth it. It is remote and beautiful. We drove the Mazda at 30 kph as any faster might hurt the suspension. We saw 4 wheel drive vehicles going 60 kph and a hire car doing 80 kph. Hire cars are amazing.

This sign greeted us at the end of the dirt road. We had to progress the rest of the way on foot,

Pedestrians to the left, 4WD to the right

The walk along the beach was beautiful marred only by the plastic waste left by the previous visitors. We did start to pick it up but there was too much. Multiply this picture by 10,000. Bloody disgrace.

Plastic waste on the beach

The day was grey, colours were muted. For muted read “there were no colours” but the scenery was amazing. We were at the edge of Tasmania. 2,400 kilometres away is New Zealand.

The sky was wild though.

We drove to our cabin in Strahan knowing we’d be back. This place needs a lot more exploring.

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