Margaret River
Ocean Drive

Jan 10 - cont'd.  Tasmania.  A driver picks us up at the Launceston airport and takes us to the Hatherley House.  Listed on the National Register, it is a grand old 1830's mansion that has been re-crafted to retain its original character and style while the interior rooms has been transformed into a combination of ultra modern fixtures, wonderful artwork and  well placed antiques. 

We spend the afternoon exploring Launceston, Australia's third oldest city.  We stumble upon the Design Centre of Tasmania and spend time enjoying the Tasmanian workmanship in contemporary  wood pieces.

Launceston is referred to as the "garden city" because of its many parks and public squares.  The City Park is a Victorian garden including a monkey house and the Prince's Square centered on a bronze fountain from the 1858 Paris Exhibition.  On Saturday afternoon, the town had closed most of its businesses so we completed our walk and returned to the Hatherley house.  Our dinner was down by the River at Stillwater where we enjoyed a Muddy Flats cabernet.

Jan 11 - Sun.  Our primary purpose for our Tasmanian visit was a four-day 15-mile trek to the Bay of Fires. We stored most our luggage at the Hatherley House and were picked up and driven to Pleasant Banks in Evanston, headquarters of tour operator. We met the rest of our adventurous group plus guides and were outfitted with gear for our hike. 

We have a three-hour van ride to Mt. William National Park, located on the northeast coast, during which we pass through the Tamar Valley and Piper Brook.  The scenery consists of cattle ranches, poppy fields (medicinal crops), and hops farming. We stop at a tin tailings lake site - an eerie shade of blue.

Our walk begins at Boulder Point- Stumpy Bay with views toward the Bass Strait Islands, the small land masses that once were connected as a land bridge to the mainland of Australia.  Our group consists of ten people, five couples including two ladies, from as far flung as the UK to fellow Australians. 

We follow the coast and wander the tide pools.  The Bay of Fires outfitter has special permits for allowing us to traverse sections of this coastline since there are sacred Aboriginal areas along the way.

We break for lunch and fire up the tea kettle for a hot cup before continuing on. 

Around 4:30 we pull into Forester Beach camp for the evening. Nestled behind the dunes and situated on a platform, a system of chain link fence has been erected, plywood walls secured and tarps cover the entire structure as a temporary-semi-permanent structure.  Each rectangular room has two single cots with just enough room for turning around. At one end of the building is the water and propane storage and at the other is the pantry and kitchen.  Our toilet and sinks are housed in a separate building, ecologically accommodating this area. 

Our guides, Moira and Graeme, put together a delicious dinner while we relax, take a quick dip in the cold ocean and enjoy the sunset.  We do attempt to catch sight of wallabies scurrying around in the bush, but they are too quick for us.

Jan 12 - Mon.  Brekkie at 7:30 and we are trekking by 9:30. 

During the day, we walked long stretches  of wide brilliantly white sand beaches complemented by dunes and marsupial lawns. We rush to cross Deep Creek before high tide so that we can walk instead of swimming across with all our gear.

Lunch at Surprise Beach?  Beautiful dunes and rock formations covered with red lichen are visible along the way. Built in 1887, the Eddystone Lighthouse sits within the National Park boundary.


 At 4:30, we climb the last inlet hill to the lodge where we will stay for the next two nights.  This ecologically designed building has been carefully situated so that it is unobtrusive on the landscape and yet has fabulous views of the bay. It is the only building on 20 kilometers of coastal wilderness.

The Lodge has carefully been designed for sustainability from the siting of the buildings, the form of their design, selection of building materials, management of the construction process to the use of non-polluting services.  Two identical narrow pavilions face one another to create the lodge footprint.  The common areas: deck, sitting area, kitchen, and guide rooms along one side while the guest rooms and showers face the walkway that divides it from the first.

Our rooms are spacious, light and comfortable.  We hand pump water for our showers - water is abundant and hot (solar powered).  Our guides cook for us and we fall into bed after an enjoyable and beautiful evening.

Jan 13 - Tues.  We enjoy a leisurely breakfast before we set off for kayaking. We start on the river with Dick and his dog, Babe, and paddle easily out toward Anson Bay.  We lunch on fresh mussels that Moira has harvested for us. We return across the bay and walk an hour back to the lodge via the beach.  We spend the remainder of the day enjoying the deck and relaxing. 

Jan 14 - Wed.  We lounge on the deck during the morning enjoying the warm sun and a perfect day.  At noon, it is time to pack up and hike for an hour to our rendezvous spot with the van.  We lunch in the forest and then start our three-hour return drive. Our arrival back to Paradise Banks was complete with a champagne toast and good-byes to our trekking group. 

We complete the day with a flight to Sydney and overnight at an airport hotel en route to New Zealand.

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