Northward Ho!!

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February 23rd 2021
Published: February 26th 2021
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From Cradle Mountain we set out about 9am and headed north.We were ultimately heading for Launceston, but decided to check out the north coast on the way. Our first destination was Burnie which only took us about an hour or so to get there. We drove into the city and headed towards the Harbour, however, nothing extraordinary struck us so we drove past the port and headed east. Fletcher had a great desire to visit Penguin, one, because he was intrigued by the name, but two, because there was an athletics track there. We drove along the coast road which was very scenic.

Penguin was a great little town. We parked on the foreshore opposite a very attractive old wooden church. As we walked along the edge of a grassed area we soon saw how the town honours its name. A series of bollards were decorated as penguins and then there was the giant penguin statue.Near the statue I spotted a Tardis, the blue police box acting as a communal library where locals can exchange books. We walked along the main street and checked out where the track was, but decided not to visit it (Yay!!)

From there we continued along the coastal road, past the islands named the Three Sisters and then Goat Island. It was another beautiful day and the scenery was well worth looking at.We headed into Devonport. I remember disembarking here 56 years ago and we saw the Ferry Terminal along the Mersey River. We drove up to the foreshore and parked to explore further. We walked past an avenue of remembrance for those who served in the Vietnam War and arrived at a boardwalk and jetty at the end of which was a large statue, titled The Spirit of the Sea. This was impressive. Walking back through the park to the car we could see a Lighthouse in the distance. This was set on Mersey Bluff, so we drove there for a closer look. The lighthouse was not huge but beautifully maintained.Nearby was a marina and a caravan park with picnic spots scattered around. A pretty place.

We went into the town and parked near the Rooke St Mall.It was lunch time and we were looking for somewhere to eat. The Mall was very sterile and while I bought a book from th bookshop, no cafe seemed to be visible. We went further and saw a pub in the distance, but as we neared it we saw the sign which said it was only open Thursday to Sunday!! We returned to the car and drove to a restaurant we had seen as we drove in. This was Prem's Grill and Seafood R. I mistakenlyestaurant. This proved to be a good choice. They had a $15 lunch menu.. Both our meals were really delicious and filling. In spite of that we shared a Creme Brulee after. Can never resist a Brulee.

We then drove to Launceston. i mistakenly thought we were staying at the Grand Chancellor Hotel so we went there first. However, we discovered we were actually booked into The Grand Hotel, which was in a different place altogether. We eventually found the right place and checked in. This place has seen better days, as the dining room and bar are both closed but our room was great. It was huge and contained heritage furniture with a spacious bathroom. However, it was on the first floor with narrow steps to negotiate with luggage etc. We rested for a while and then eventually thoughts turned to food. As it was a Monday night, this did not prove to be easy. We went into the centre of the city and discovered a bar/restaurant called Alchemy. Here Fletcher ordered the Trevalla while I had chicken with mango salsa. Very nice.We then walked along the street and went into one of the small bars for a glass of red. Eventually we arrived at Bluestone, the restaurant and bar of the Sebel where Brian Roe had organised to meet us the following night This place was buzzing and we enjoyed a white there, feeling like we were part of the action at last.

The next day we decided to explore the Tamar Valley, both for the scenic beauty, but also the wineries which are abundant there. We headed out about 9am and quickly found ourselves heading north along the banks of the Tamar River. We decided to drive to its northernmost point before exploring the wineries which didn't open until 11am. There were some beautiful vistas, including the views from Brady's Lookout which was our first stop. Brian had told us to go to the top, not just see the view from the car park. We climbed the hill and it was certainly worth it. Stunning.

On the road again we arrived at the town of Beaconsfield. This was a mining town and the site of the mine collapse when two men were rescued after a long time underground. We went to the Jubilee Bakery as we needed some breakfast. I had an egg and bacon pie while Fletcher opted for a scallop pie, a Tasmanian staple which he said was delicious.Heading north again, we eventually arrived at Greens Beach. This is a lovely seaside holiday town, with a great stretch of white, sandy beach,lots of holiday homes, golf course and a caravan park. Retracing our steps we stopped at our first winery for the day, Cabbage Tree Hill just near Beaconsfield. This was a modern, attractive building and the hostess was the wife of the winemaker. Her name was Julie and she guided us through their range with good humour and knowledge. As Tasmania has cool climate wines the selection is mainly white with the inevitable pinot noir as the leading wine. Julie also had a Cabernet Merlot which was quite drinkable. We bought a Sauv Blanc and their pinot which both impressed us. Julie also suggested another couple of wineries to stop at.

We moved on and the next winery was Morrisons. Here we were asked to pay $15 for a flight of five wines. We sat outside on a lovely veranda and tasted again four whites and a red. We decided that we really were not impressed with any of them, so paid for the tasting and drove on. Julie had highly recommended Winter Brook. There, another lovely lady, again the wife of the winemaker, took us through their tasting. This was much better with some very nice whites and the pinot was also good. Here we did buy a couple of bottles as the hostess was so lovely. I find that the hosts in tasting rooms make a huge difference in how I react both to them and the winery!

Our final winery stop was at Swinging Gate. This was a quaint place, housed in a shed and furnished with restored old furniture and crochet covered cushions. The hostess here was young and the daughter of the winemaker. She welcomed us and we tasted some of the best wines we had tasted here so far. They had some more unusual grapes and we enjoyed their offerings . Again we bought a couple of bottles.

Brian had recommended the hotel at Rosevears for lunch so we headed there. At this stage it was nearly 2-30 but lunch was still on. The hotel had a very scenic outlook and we had a great meal washed down by some more local wine. From there we travelled north again and crossed the Batman Bridge travelling onto the other side of the river.We drove back to Launceston along the river enjoying the scenery and the beautiful weather.

That night we met Brian Roe at Bluestone's bar and restaurant at the Sebel Hotel. We had last seen Brian at Maurie Plant's funeral in January 2020. We have known Brian for over forty years and we had a lot to catch up on. We chatted over our dinner of prawn san choi bao, followed by gnocchi and scallops, both tasty but large serves. We had a very pleasant night catching up with all the aths gossip and discussing political issues. A great night. We walked back to our hotel after an excellent day!

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