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Published: January 23rd 2012
Our last day in Tassie, Tuesday 17th
January proved to be an interesting final day. The ferry wasn’t due to leave until 7:30pm and loading would start at about 5:00pm. That meant we had virtually a whole day to amuse ourselves but we already knew what it was we wanted to do. Having failed to see any platypuses in the wild on our entire journey around Australia we planned to visit Platypus House - a platypus and echidna centre situated in a place called Beauty Point, about 40 kilometers from Launceston and still within easy reach of Devonport – the ferry terminal. We partook of our complimentary breakfast and completed our packing in leisurely fashion but we were ready to leave Launceston at about 10:00am. The route to Beauty Point took us along a road that followed the course of the River Tamar towards the sea and the occasional lookout provided some interesting views. We passed through the small town of Beaconsfield which, not so many years ago, had been the scene of a major mining disaster. There is a memorial there and a museum recounting the events and we decided to call in on our way back from Beauty Point.
We arrived at the Platypus House at about 11:00am and the next tour was due to start in about 15 minutes so we had a cuppa in the small café there to pass the time. For a while we thought we’d be the only ones on the tour but by the time it started there were about 10 of us. First we watched a 15 minute film about a platypus research programme with which this viewing centre is associated. Then we went into an interpretation centre which explained the biology of platypuses and echidnas. Tasmanian platypuses and echidnas are different to the mainland species and will not be found anywhere else in the world. Our tour guide told us many interesting facts and one of the more unbelievable ones (to us anyway!) was that we were far more likely to see a platypus during the day in Tasmania than on mainland Australia. This is of course due to the generally cooler conditions. Eventually we visited the ponds area where we were able to watch platypuses feeding and playing. They were absolutely fascinating and simply confirmed why we were so anxious to see them even if it meant seeing them at
a special centre. Finally, and as an added bonus, we were able to walk through an echidna garden where several echidnas were running round by our feet and were fed using their exceptionally long tongues to lap up a special paste. They too were fascinating and we both agreed that our journey to see the platypuses and echidnas had been well worth while.
To celebrate our good fortune we found a nearby restaurant where Graham indulged in an “all day breakfast” while I had grilled fish with salad and chips. It would be our main meal today as we would make do with rolls later prior to our departure on The Sprit of Tasmania. We stopped for a short time in Beaconsfield and I strolled around taking photos. It was a very pleasant little town with plenty of history. In the mid 1800’s the population boomed when gold was discovered in the area. Gold mining continues to this day but on 25th
April 2006 a minor earthquake caused a rock fall – 14 miners escaped, one sadly died and 2 were trapped for 2 weeks. We’ve had a book on the story in the caravan for a while so
and we even went through Exeter!!
just like home (this Exeter is tiny though)
I’ve now resolved to read it.
Our journey to Devonport took a couple of hours along slow, rural roads that offered some lovely scenery. We visited the town of Devonport to purchase our rolls and then made our way to the ferry terminal where the early processes of registering and loading had already begun. We joined the queue although the number of vehicles for this trip didn’t compare with the large numbers on the outward journey from Melbourne a couple of weeks ago. We were amazed again that, without presenting any details, the lady in the booking booth was able to address us by name and present us with our cabin keys. We can only assume that vehicle rego details were used for advanced identification – very impressive. Unfortunately, it didn’t negate the need to wait in line for some time before loading actually began. Eventually we boarded and settled into our cabin before enjoying the views from the departing ferry. We sat in a lounge area to enjoy our Subway rolls and watched a bit of tennis on one of the many large TV screens before retiring to our cabin and having a fairly early night. The initial
One of the information posters in Platypus House
including the fact that platypuses and echidnas are prototherian or monotremes which means that among other things, they lay eggs and have reptile-like front limbs
part of the crossing was not as smooth as the outward journey had been but we eventually managed to doze off.
January – we both slept reasonably well through the night on The Spirit of Tasmania before being awoken by the official early morning message at 5:45am advising that dis-embarking would commence at 6:30. We wound our way off the ferry at about 7:00am and negotiated the early Melbourne city traffic to make our way out to Wantirna. Ironically, it was too early to stop anywhere for breakfast and we knew we couldn’t gain access to the caravan until mid-morning. However, as we still had breakfast ingredients left from our Tassie trip we made our way back to the caravan park and made use of their Camp Kitchen. We were even able to watch the news on TV until the park office opened at 8:30. Unfortunately, while we were able to register and begin to unpack items back into the caravan, we weren’t able to get onto our new site until the people there moved out – and they seemed to be in no hurry to move! The official departure time is 10:00am and they left with
just a few minutes to spare. By this time we had done all of the transfer of clothing etc so all we had to do was to park the caravan and plug into the electric and water. So by 11:00am we were fully ensconced on the pitch which will be our “home” for the next two weeks or so. I had spoken with Daphne on the telephone the night before and agreed that we would call in for an evening meal. We did a bit of shopping to restock the caravan and after a late lunch we bought a few things to take to Daphne’s and eventually arrived there at about 4:30pm. David had gone to meet an old friend for the afternoon but Daphne and Mad Micky were in along with Bert and Kym. Daphne was expecting David back later so we delayed dinner until David’s return. He had been visiting someone who had established a successful bakery business so David returned with his arms full of bread!!! (and very nice it was too!) We were able to catch up on all the latest wedding and visitor developments and with Micky providing the entertainment the time soon went by.
Replica platypus eggs
now there's a strange thing!
We left at about 10:00pm and covered the 12 kilometers back to the caravan in about 20 minutes. We both felt very happy to be back in Sweetie and slept well.
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; mem: 1.3mb