Published: June 9th 2012June 9th 2012
Echuca on the Murray is probably only about 70 or 80m above sea level, so it was surprising on our way south to Melbourne to recross the Great Dividing Range at an altitude of 600m. No wonder the car’s fuel economy seemed terrible. We are now officially in the east again, having crossed the Great Dividing Range over a year ago in Queensland. Passed through Bendigo on the way south, it was founded on gold and has morphed into a strong rural town.
We had picked a campground near to the CBD, and also as close as possible to the docks, and when we reviewed Chris & Lynne’s blog found they had stayed here too. We had a day in town, and then went for dinner with George, Linda and the kids. George is Janet & Leigh’s son and we hadn’t seen him in a long while. They live at Cheltenham in Melbourne’s east, while we were staying on the other side of the city. It stretched our TomTom to its limit in the Friday night traffic, but we got there, and more importantly got back safely, with no accidents or arguments.
We are now in Tasmania, having stored
Pronouncested Lonceston - lots of lovely old houses
the caravan for a week or two. We crossed Bass Strait by overnight ferry. It left at 7.30pm Saturday and got in to Devonport at 6.30am on Sunday. So we left in the dark, and arrived in the dark! After the huge distances of mainland Australia, the small size of Tasmania is a surprise. From the ferry in the north to Hobart is only 277km or 3 - 3½ hours.
After we disembarked, we drove around Devonport, but there was nothing open at 7.00am. Only McDonalds, so we left. After about an hour we zoomed past an old hotel with lots of lights on and cars outside. Stopped, backed up and went in. Great, called ETC, or Elizabeth Town Café. It was obviously the preferred stopping place as we recognized many people from the ferry! Refreshed we drove on to Launceston, had to wait for the Information Office to open, and found ourselves a bed and ideas for touristing and eating.
Launceston reminds us of Dunedin, but not quite as hilly. Lots of lovely old buildings and bloody cold. The town is about 40km from the sea up the Tamar River which is navigable to there. Halfway down,
At Launceston - drains one-sixth of Tasmania - flowing at the rate of a big hose
the river changes its name to Port Dalrymple. The first leg of our tourist day took us up the eastern shore past the Bell Bay aluminium smelter to Georgetown, which is also filled with quaint old buildings. Georgetown claims to be the third oldest European settlement in Australia, after Sydney and Hobart. Founded in 1804 with convict labour, of course. They’ve got a good collection of original buildings at the pilot house station. We also visited the Low Point Lighthouse at the eastern entrance to Port Dalrymple and were lucky enough to hear the land-based foghorn. It’s played for 15 minutes a week, on Sundays. Gee its loud – they reckon in fog it can be heard for 17km out to sea. It works on two very large air tanks and a compressor powered by a 2 cylinder Gardiner kerosene engine pumping up to 35psi. All original equipment maintained by the usual crew of retired gentlemen.
The nearest bridge across is about 20km up the river, so crossed there and went up the west bank to Beaconsfield – site of the trapped miners in 2006. What we didn’t expect is that the town is on the banks of Port
Golf at Barnbougle, Tasmania
Dalrymple and the mine is right in town, not up in the hills. They’re mining gold, of course.
I forgot to mention that Launceston was founded by farming,and boosted by tin mining and there are lots of Cornish names in the area. Nowadays its back to farming, but the rainfall is still low by our standards at about 24inches a year. It’s a very pretty city with lots of old buildings and houses.
Next day we took a short cruise on the river, got some history and looked at the famous Cataract Gorge, a wilderness area right beside the town. There was virtually no water running, we were told it drains one-sixth of Tasmania.
Great lunch, again, watch the waistlines, and we headed north east. Our first destination was Pipers Brook Winery, as many years ago they had bought St Pats Wines which was the first venture of Leigh and Janet, and it probably sparked the whole family interest in wine which has culminated in Mollydooker in McLaren Vale.
We had a great chat with Gail at Pipers Brook who still own the vineyard and use it to make sparkling wine from its Pinot Noir and
Lost Farm 2
Some scenery on the course
Chardonnay, so we just had to buy a couple. Then on to Lost Farm at Barnbougle where we are staying 3 nights. This is a two golf course complex near Bridport, a little town on the north coast. This farmer has created two golf courses out of the coastal sand dunes and one is now ranked as the top public access golf course in Australia.
We had a cold day in Melbourne on Saturday, and it got windy as well when we arrived in Tasmania. The day we arrived at Lost Farm was cold and windy as well, so we feared for our golf. But our luck persisted and we had a cold but still day for our first round. Lost Farm is peculiar in that it has 20 holes instead of the usual 18. So par is 78, not 72. They have 13a and 18a as additional holes. I birdied 18a and think it would be hard to explain if I’d scored a hole in one! Due to popular demand, scores remain confidential!
Tomorrow we play Barnbougle Dunes and the weather looks good.
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Published a bit late due to limited computer access! We are in Tasmania after all!
Up to 5 June 2012