Published: November 23rd 2012November 23rd 2012
The toilet house
Beautiful, delightful Burnie, Tasmania
We got up early because our guide Robyn wanted us on the first shuttle bus. She met us at the information center with a Tassie bag with little treats, a furry platypus, a picture album and more. She is a local lady who retired from financial planning and now takes out folks from cruise ships or corporate visitors to the Caterpillar facility. We were her first clients in her new Mazda van and we off for the day.
Along the coast are Capes that are really volcanic plugs so our first stop was Table Cape for a view of the coast. On the way we passed many lovely gardens. The population really loves flowers and it shows. This is what I remembered from my first visit and today was even more colorful. The rhododendrons were in full flower and the roses were yummy. We drove along the coast for a while and then into the interior where we saw a herd of young reindeer and a family of wild Wallabies. From the cape we drove to another lookout point where we could see our ship and the port area. We are docked at a working
Garden on the shore road
port where wood chips are arriving to be shipped to China or Japan.
From there we drove the neighborhoods looking for a very special place, The Toilet House. This is not really part of any tour. The small house is located at the end of a dead end street. The project started innocently enough when the owners remodeled their bathroom and had to get rid of the toilet. Mrs. Rush decided to plant cactus in it and the garden bloomed from there. Friend and family dropped off toilets and Mrs. Rush planted succulents and now there are 80 toilets in the yard as well as whimsical garden art, cats and eagles, and lots more. There was a small wooden bridge with a sign “Lava-tree”. The owner was very gracious to show us all around the house and seemed delighted to see her efforts enjoyed so much. This is the kind of thing a private tour can provide that the organized ones do not.
Since we were ohing and ahing about the flowers, Robyn took us to show us her neighbor’s garden. On the way we passed a heard of alpaca, one of many alpaca farms in Tasmania. Then
The Captain's table
she invited us into her home. It sits on five acres, high on a hill with a view of the town of Burnie. He son just became golf pro and we must remember to watch out for Ryan McCarthy. She is so very proud of his accomplishments and the home contains mementos of his matches, trophies, and souvenirs.
Our next stop was a waterfall. Robyn dropped us off at the top and we walked along the falls, listening to the birds and taking pictures along the way. This was no Niagara but rather a small cascade in a shady glen. We enjoyed our walk and then headed off to Penguin.
Penguin is a small village on the coast. It has its share of small, lovely waterfront homes with magnificent gardens and penguins everywhere and on everything even the trash cans. We took our picture with the giant penguin and followed the coast road to Davenport for our lunch. On the way we passed magnificent gardens along the road and railroad tracks that follow the road into town. Two gentlemen retired and having nothing to do decided to plant gardens along the road. It was a labor of love and is continued today by volunteers and the council. It shows what just two imaginative men can accomplish.
We arrived at a wonderful little park alongside a river where Robyn’s husband Dave swam as a boy. The park was dedicated to Anzac veterans and had a gazebo with hearths in the center. The walls were decorated with cartoon art highlighting the war and the vets. Very cool! Robyn set up lunch at the Captain’s Table, local cheeses, wine, fruit and candy. We sat there grazing and sipping and enjoying each other’s company. It was a lovely idea to do this rather than a pub or café.
The rest of the day was spent visiting local cottage industries. We stopped at Avery’s Chocolate factory for a taste and a glimpse of the chocolate making process. Then it was on to visit the Giant Platypus in an area that bills itself as the Platypus Capital. These small shy creatures are nocturnal and still exist in the small streams and ponds here. No chance of our seeing one.
Next was the Whiskey Distillery, another family enterprise. We learned about the brewing process and were given a dram of the whiskey. It was very strong, even when diluted with water. Not to my taste.
Before we knew it, it was time to get back to the ship. Robyn showed us her hometown through a lens of love and pride. It was the best tour we did and I hope we run into each other some time in the future, maybe at a golf tournament.