CAMPSITE # 71 - Cheating the Overland Track

Camping Ground Rating : 9 / 20
Facilities : That's right, it seems 3 degrees in a tent the night beforehand took its toll on Mum & she shouted us a night in a Motel in Strahan. Power! Shower! But somehow, with all of these added extras it still only managed to score a 9...

We did the Overland Track!!! Yes, one of the most famous walking tracks in the whole of Australia and we did it! Well, I suppose before I go blowing our trumpet and lying by telling you all that we did the entire 65 km journey from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair... I'll just take a moment to insinuate that that's what we did. And then I'll confess that we actually chickened out and just did a five hour day journey.

Would you believe, the record for completing the entire 65km track is currently held by a 17 year old guy who did it in just 7 hours!! And that's through some seriously rugged terrain that takes even experienced hikers 6 - 8 days to complete. The 5 hours that we walked were from the base at Lake St Clair and up to "Echo Point" where we had a lovely 15minutes ferry ride home, kind of makes it all seem so insignificant when you fly past the last 5 hours of your life on a boat at 60km/hr.

We were passing hikers who were on the very last leg of their journey. Some told us stories of how they were hiking through blizzards for the first two days of their hike. And there we were being pooped after just a few km's. 

The questions guaranteed to be asked by every single passer-by was always "How far is it back to base?" Tom considered playing with their minds a little by telling them "Just another 7 or so hours but I hope you brought your ropes and harnesses as there are some seriously steep rocks to climb just down there". 

All in all, it was a glorious walk through some serious magical rainforest. Tom, the trip photographer managed to score us some really great photos...

CAMPSITE # 70 - Watchout Tommy, the girls are taking over...

Site : Lake St Clair National Park
Camping Ground Rating : 10 / 20
Facilities : Good facilities, clean & tidy toilets with hot (pay $1 for 6 minute) showers. Electricity available in facilities. Right next to the lake but no views of it.

As Tom and I decided to be lazy and stick around at our campsite prior in Hamilton for two full days, the day of collecting my mum from the airport was a serious driving day... even for this tiny little island you wouldn't think it was possible to drive for six hours in one day.

Once we had collected a happy & excited traveller from the airport in the afternoon, sorted her car out... we drove in convoy straight to Lake St Clair. 3 hours later, I'm pretty sure Mum was VERY sick of sitting down. 

We loved it when Mum opened her suitcase full of surprises for Tom and I.
  • Woohoo a new shirt for each of us!! Something different to wear than the same clothes we've been outwearing day in, day out for the last five months!!
  • Yippee!! A real teapot with real tea leaves and the cutest little fluffy woollen tea cosy... no saying how long it will last as a cute little fluffy tea cosy but we're certainly going to try.
  • New thongs (flip flops!!) and we didn't even tell her that Tom had been gluing his back together for the last two weeks and they were on their last legs.. Mum's just seem to know these things!
  • And... freshly baked cookies. I'm in heaven. Hmmmm I'm in heaven just thinking about them.... Freshly. Baked. Cookies.  
  • And the one that topped it all off and I thought all of my Christmas' had come at once, homemade from orangically homegrown basil... Pesto... What a treat!!

We slept in the Troopie and set Mum up with our tent and 3 blankets... as I knew she really wouldn't cope well in the cold. Only to find out the next morning that it was actually 3 degrees in the tent and she spent half the night wide away and shivering... hmmm we have officially been awarded the bad host award for night number one... 

CAMPSITE # 69 - Hamilton, England

Site : Hamilton Camping Area, TAS
Camping Ground Rating : 13 / 20
Facilities : Hamilton is a historic Tasmanian town with beautiful meadows and views so similar, you would almost think you were in England. Hot Showers - $1 for 5 mins, flushing toilets, undercover shelter, free BBQ & power. Special mention to the 30 minute river walk which was the highlight of the stay, simply breathtaking.

From Lake Gordon, we had two days up our sleeves to venture (once again) back to Launceston. My mum had decided to make a spontaneous flight down to Tassie to join us & to see how much sightseeing we could possibly squeeze in in four days.

On route towards Launceston, we stopped in at Russell Falls. Now, we have seen a dozen or so waterfalls since being on the trip but I truly believe this one just took the cake. (I know, I know I say that at every waterfall... but how could you not? They're simply so stunning!) Alongside Bay of Fires, The Beer Drinking Pig and Wineglass Bay, I would officially like to add Russell Falls as an absolute must see for anyone travelling to Tassie. The best part is, you stand right at the base of the falls and you look up towards a giant staircase of waterfalls... photos just don't do it justice.

I mentioned that Hamilton had beautiful meadows.. I wasn't lying...

And gorgeous sandstone cottages from the 1850's, now converted into B&B's

We took a much needed break in Hamilton, spending two nights there with a full day of chilling out at the campsite and re-organising ourselves. I sat down with my calendar to calculate what we would do in Tassie after Mum left up until we left on the boat, what I thought to be 2 weeks later, only to find out that we actually on have one more week left in Tassie. When I told Tom, the two of us felt sad... our adventure around this amazing island was almost over and we had so many wineries, cheese factories and distilleries to visit.. better get the skates on!!

Me (unsuccessfully) platypus spotting.... nothing else.


You may have noticed that Tom and I have begun to give a little rating and a brief overview of each campsite at the beginning of each blog post.

Tom, the scientist, who likes everything to have a system via an analytical approach, has decided it best to structure the rating system rather than just us giving an 'emotional' rating.

So, below is the criteria that Tom has come up with for rating the sites.

The rating will now be out of 20 and it will be decided by a list of positive or negative points such as...

Clean & well kept +1 point
 +1 point
Hot shower +1 point
Toilet +1 point
Flushing Toilets +1 point
Pleasant surroundings +2 points
Free +6 points
Nice grass +1 point
Clean drinking water +1 point
Close proximity to attractions  +1 point
Good shade +1 point
Sheltered areas +1 point
Flat pitch +1 point
Free power +1 point
Free BBQ +1 point
Benches / Tables  +1 point
Swimming Pool +1 point
Beach / sea / river / lake +2 points

Emotional swing +/- 2 points from each of us

Negative encounter -2 points
Excessive noise -1 point
Bad location -1 point
Unclean & dirty -1 point
Charge for showers -1 point
Cost (less than or equal to $10) -1 point
Cost (greater than $10) -2 points
Cost (greater than $30) -3 points

We will include the rating and an overview of how it got its score at the top of each campsite post.

CAMPSITE # 68 - In the woods with the hippies

Camping Ground Rating : 5 / 10
Facilities : Listed as a free campsite in our book, only to once again arrive and find it was actually $10 per night. Good undercover area with BBQs & running water, flush toilets but no showers.

We had given in & realised that it was quite unlikely that we may actually see a Tasmanian Devil in the wild. Something Wild isn't a zoo, it's a rehabilitation centre for orphaned and injured animals. Any animals that are brought to the centre are nurtured and  returned to the wild wherever possible.

The reason why Tasmanian Devils are on the verge of extinction is mainly due to a contagious cancerous disease called "Devil Face Tumour Disease". The cancer is passed through the devils by biting. Sadly, they are yet to find a cause or a cure for this disease and therefore the only way to really save these little guys from extinction is to isolate the healthy from the sick. 

There is a huge state wide campaign throughout Tasmania to try to save these little devils. For more information on their cause, visit...

Earlier that day, we heard on the local radio station that a Tasmanian logging truck was stopped from shipping its timber off to China by a group of activists who chained their necks to the underbody of the truck. We were shocked, kind of impressed by the balls of the person but also amazed by their courage.
We've found since arriving in Tassie, just from reading the local rag & listening to the radio that there seems to be an ongoing battle between the Tasmanian State Government and the Greenies / Hippies / Activists / Heros (call them what you will) to stop logging in Tassie.

We made route along a dead end road towards Lake Gordon. Half way there, we found ourselves approaching some sort of commotion hidden amongst the woods of Gordon Forest. We slowed down to gaze at the shanty village, strangely located right in the middle of the woods. A dirt track that lead off to the right hand side, what you would assume to be road for access by the logging tracks, was built up with a giant man-made blockade.
Tom and I were seriously impressed, this structure that they built was huge, and extremely sturdy, built of just logs and rope. Any trucks that attempted to drive along this road would find themselves either 6 feet under in the moat they had built or with a giant spear shaped log catapulted through their windscreen. Holy Moly, they mean serious business. I know, in this day and age it's considered rude to stare, but we just couldn't help ourselves. Afterall, that's exactly what the hippies want, to draw attention to their cause.

Two men standing at the front entrance gave us a friendly greeting and waved us in to have a look. Are you kidding me? Of course, we were both dying to know what they were getting up to. Only to very quickly be told what we thought to be a possibility, that the cops could arrive at any time to arrest us all. We weighed up our options, the likelihood of that happening considering these hippies had been camping here for over 5 years against seeing with our very own eyes what exactly they were doing and how they were living... bring it on!
Our hippie,  (now, I'm not being politically incorrect by calling them that as that was what they were calling themselves), who wishes not to be named, proceeded to take us for a walk around their camp, through their living quarters, out to their kitchen (which were all under about 25 scattered tarps with a huge campfire in the middle - you can imagine the stench) and out to the back of the road where the loggers had began their destruction. 

The above picture was taking in the logging trucks "turnaround area" where they don't even bother to recycle or preserve any of the trees & wildlife. We were then led along a track that anyone would think is a nature walk preserved by the National Parks. We realised, these guys weren't just working to preserve any old trees, these trees were hundreds of years old with lichen & moss happily growing amongst it. Apparently, a recent survey conducted submitted this forest to the World Heritage society to be listed as number 6 of World Heritage Areas in Tasmania. But once that was submitted to the Government, according to the Hippies, they turned a blind eye to it because of the income it generates.

It was very interesting to hear what they had to say. We asked them what their alternative solution would be, would a plantation forest be a more viable solution? When our hippie proceeded to tell us that he also didn't agree with plantation forests as they too destroy the world but that hemp would be a much more appropriate alternative. Now this is where I draw the line. When we walked through their camp, what did they expect these couches they were sitting on to be made out of? The hundreds of books that they had cluttered up on their bookshelf, where did they expect the paper inside of the books to come from? It is all just a vicious cycle. I agree with them, Gordon Forest should not be touched. It is far too glorious and beautiful for any trucks to come through and destroy all of the flora and fauna in a matter of hours but surely they must have to understand that without an alternative solution, how can they expect it to stop? Because the demand certainly isn't going to stop. These Tasmanian forests, truly are sacred, they contribute to making this state so amazingly beautiful and their importance in the cycle of this state is paramount. What these logging companies are doing is not criminal, even though we think it should be.

Either way, they were lovely people and we were both really impressed by what they were standing up for. As Tom and I got in the car to drive away, Tom asked me a question that I think is very interesting. If the logging companies walked into that camp and lay 8 briefcases on the table all with $10,000 in each, where would their priorities lie?

We also stopped into Gordon Dam for a little peak. Turns out, this dam houses the highest arch dam wall and largest mass of water in all of Australia. It was kind of spooky, when you walk to the centre of the wall and look down, the wall actually arches underneath you, all the way down... 140metres down that is!!

CAMPSITE # 67 - Hobbling back to Hobart

Caravan Park Rating : 4 / 10 
Facilities : The park itself wasn't that flash, we were camped right ontop of our neighbours. The best thing going for it was the bathrooms, you had your very own toilet/shower room and you didn't have to pay any extra for the shower!!

After experiencing an extremely wet night followed by a slushy pack up the next day, you know it's not a good sign when you go to turn on the radio for the weather up date and you hear the weather guy say (excuse my french but I'm quoting so it's allowed) "Well, Mother Nature, you're really starting to piss us off.

We couldn't bare Bruny Island any longer. Don't get me wrong, possibly a beautiful island given perfect weather conditions but our conditions were certainly far from perfect. It just wouldn't stop raining and to top it off it was soooooo ridiculously windy. Just plain unbearable. So, we decided to leave Bruny and make tracks to Hobart and attempt to cheer up our fellow Troopie driving, rather glum friends, Jess and Dave. They were experiencing mechanical issues. Unfortunately, I guess when you drive as many k's as we all do, sometimes these machines just need a little TLC. They were having issues with their starter motor and were stranded in Hobart. And just when we thought we were leaving Bruny to get away from the crappy weather, would you believe... THERE WAS SNOW ON MT WELLINGTON IN HOBART!!!!!! 

Summer? Summer? Do you Tasmanians even know what that is? Or do you just jump on a plane and come to sunny Queensland when you can't tolerate another miserable 'summer'? Having said that, Tom and I are certain that the 2nd most common number plates we've seen since being in Tassie are Queenslanders (following tassie number plates of course). Perhaps Queenslanders don't experience enough 'winter' during winter so they come to Tassie, in summer. Confused much? I certainly am.

Don't let the rainbow & blue sky mislead you..
it certainly didn't stick around for very long...
the gale forced winds made sure of that!

When the weather will not obey, you must find an alternative. And mother nature had it all planned out, she wasn't trying to piss us off, she was sending us to Mona. This is an art gallery that has only been opened for a number of weeks. An art gallery like no other. As you enter the gallery, you are briefed by one of their staff members on these iphone devices that act as your guide to all of the art in the entire gallery. Very new age and very chic for me as a Gen X / Y. However, we did feel sorry for the Baby Boomers & pensioners who didn't want to take 'one of those thinga-me-whatsits' and asked for a brochure instead. 

A "Fat" Car... a real life Porsche!!!

Tom's favourite... mechanical light installation

My favourite... the "step up 2" writing is compiled
of thousands of drops of synchronised water


CAMPSITE # 66 - Cloudy Bay, Bruny Island

Camping Ground Rating : 6 / 10
Facilities : Best part about staying at this site is you get to drive along the beach to get to the campsite. The Camps 5 books says it's free camping but it's actually $10 per night. Drop Dunny. No showers.

I thought Tom was having me on when he pulled the Troopie up on the side of the road, hopped out to pick some berries off a rather weedy looking bush. I was initially rather cautious about eating these little berries off the bush. So, I watched Tom dropped three of them in his mouth and waited, just to make sure he didn't spasm or froth from the mouth. Once I knew they were safe, I tasted my very first sweet sweet Blackberry quickly followed by another and another and another.
Apparently, these Blackberry bushes are very common on the roadside in England. Tom proceeded to tell me how much it reminded him of home and how he wished he could have one of those Blackberry Crumbles his mum used to make. As I ran a quick checklist through my head of ingredients, I realised, I could make that!

So, I made a Blackberry Crumble at our camping ground in Cloudy Bay and baked it in our cob for 25 minutes. Tom and I had a very (naughty) tasty dinner that night... :) We've now started a craze ... Blackberry Crumble is officially on the list of most favoured desserts.. and they're fresh and cheap... even better!!!

While the weather was somewhat behaving itself, we ducked up to Cape Bruny to check out the view and the lighthouse there. And, I think I'm slowly managing to path the way to my illegitimate geology degree... below you will find Columnar Jointed Basalt... and I didn't even need any help with this one this time!!!

This was taken from Cape Bruny with South East Tasmania in the distance...

Move over Fraser Island.. there's a Troopie on the beach in Tassie!!

CAMPSITE # 65 - Bruny Island Tasmania

Caravan Park Rating : 6 / 10
Facilities : Just across the road from the beach. Terrible showers - $1 for 5 minutes but you spend the first two minutes waiting for them to get hot. Best thing about it though - in the generously sized camp kitchen there is a fireplace, that adds 2 points onto the score!

Not surprisingly, Tom and I were very  ok with the idea of skipping brekkie and leaving the cow-dung-paddock. We ventured off, unsure of where exactly we were heading. The closest Information Centre (or more commonly referred to by us as an Inspiration Centre) was in a town just ½ hour from Hobart called “New Norfolk”. New Norfolk was quite a strange little town, we got the feeling that the townsfolk were all quite bitter & twisted and weren't very welcoming to new comers in a Troopcarrier. The volunteer at the Inspiration Centre was still flying the flag for her beloved town. She informed us the price of a return ferry to Bruny Island to be around $30 return. Considering we had expected it to be closer to the $100 mark, we were pleasantly surprised and decided to make route to this tiny & intriguing island just south of Hobart.
The directions the lady gave us seemed to me to be quite the long route around. I noticed o n the map what seemed to be a much more direct track along a gravel road. So, we scratched out her directions and decided to make a path of our own to the Bruny ferry terminal.

Upon entering “Jefferies Track” there was a rather small and unassuming sign that simply read “Road not suitable for 2WD”. Of course, we didn’t even blink an eye, and why would we?
Initially, I thought that the sharp corners could have meant that in the wet these could be quite slippery and dangerous for 2WDs. As we ventured further along the track, I began to realise that they should have been slightly more descriptive in their sign – this was no ordinary gravel road. It didn’t take long until we were cranked in 4WD and our speed was lucky to exceed 4km/hr.
My heart was beating a million miles an hour... what the hell were we doing here? We were up in the woods, with the clouds so thick  that we could barely see the road infront, we had no charge on our mobile (which probably wouldn’t have had reception anyhow) and there was no response on any channel on the UHF. I knew there was no turning back once we had passed through a stretch of drops so steep, slipping off the track would have meant rolling the Troopie. There was literally no turning around... we couldn’t possibly have been able to even if we wanted to.

The adrenalin was pumping, my emotions were so torn between fear and excitement. What if we got stuck and couldn’t get out? Would one of us stay in the car while the other ventured off into the woods in what felt like pitch black at 2:30pm on a Thursday afternoon? As all of these thoughts were rushing through my head, I saw an object ahead that made me feel like all of our worlds came crashing down in one fell swoop.  Right amongst the darkness of the woods, a black cat crossed our path. Blair Witch, Saw I, II and III eat your heart out – this was god damn petrifying. Next thing we knew there was something on the roof tap, tap, tapping away trying to get inside – bloody hell, Ivan Milat eat your heart out.
I rolled up the windows, locked the doors, Tom put on a brave man face and went out to remove the loose snap strap from the roof racks. Only to return to the car to tell me to bloody well calm down. “I’ll calm down, when you get me to the safety of the sweet, sweet bitumen.”
Of course, considering I’m still here to blog about it today, we made it to the beloved bitumen, with huge smiles on how faces. What an adventure! A stupid and irresponsible one perhaps but what an adventure!!
The other end of “Jefferies Track” had a very descriptive indication of how rough it was. Perhaps they should consider putting the same sign at both ends, now that would just make sense, wouldn’t it?!

A lot of other travellers in Tassie had been ranting and raving about how beautiful Bruny Island is and how it's worth the ferry ride over to have a look. I can only assume they went there with much better weather than what we had. Either way though, anywhere with cheese factories, wineries, fresh seafood, penguins and white wallabies on it had to be good regardless of the weather.

First things first, as soon as we got off the ferry, we headed straight for the cheese factory. Apparently, the French word for cheese is “Tomme” so the Bruny Island Cheese Factory put a little bit of a swing on his cheeses...    

The cheese is delicious. And interestingly too, the Bruny Island Cheese Factory is the only cheese factory in Australia that makes a cheese using unpasteurised milk. We managed to find a little dent in the budget to treat ourselves to some damn fine cheese. And, the man must have liked us because he slipped an extra two cheeses in the bag for us as a lovely surprise. 

CAMPSITE # 64 - Cowpaddock Camping Ground

Site : Cowpaddock Camping Ground
Camping Ground Rating : 2 / 10
Facilities : No great surprise here, the name says it all really. We weren't staying there for it's beauty and it wasn't providing any so we had quite a good understanding of expectations. It was a free site and a great stop over for our journey down south. The electricity poles didn't really help the situation.

Tom made friends with the lovely old man volunteering at an information centre who bombarded him with a number of different brochures (as they generally like to do). 
One brochure particularly stood out for Tom and that was the one for Liffey Falls, just a 25minute drive south-west of Longford. The photos in the brochure of the falls were very appealing but that wasn’t what drew us in... along with 4 other National Parks in Tasmania.. Liffey Falls actually has world heritage status. Just to put into perspective how much of an accolade that is... World Heritage listed means that it is protected by the UN. Now that’s playing with the big dogs. 

To get to the falls, you walk through a rainforest, which lived up to its name and rained on us two very ill-equipped hikers in our singlets and thongs... you’d think we would have learnt our lesson by now!! As you walk down the pathway towards the bottom of the falls, there are a number of different lookout points that give you a great view into the geology of the falls. Apparently, at the time of the breakup of Gondwana, the sandstone enjoyed an episode of jointing at 90 degrees indicating directions of principle stresses and then glacial dropstones can be seen eroding from within the sandstone and all along the riverbed. The sandstones create the ‘step like’ nature of the terrain. They were then unconformably overlain by basalts which cool to form columnar jointing.  I thought it was quite funny, the other day we drove past a A-frame sign out the front of somebody’s house, I really wish I took a photo of it but all it said was “Geology and Mine Tours”. We really should have gone inside to check out what rate he charges. At least I know that when times are getting tough and we’re struggling to put food on the table and diesel in the Troopie, I can just send Tom off on Geology tours and I’ll sit back drinking my cup of tea, that sounds fair to me :)

Monkey Man, Monkey Man, Hairy Hairy Monkey Man is progressing along VERY well. He’s into week three of having a beard and you could seriously mistake Tom for a 40 year old man. I tell you what, that boy can grow a pretty mean looking beard....