Oak Meadow Hits The Road Part 3 ~ Tasmania
'The Island Of Inspiration'
For those who are new to our Oak Meadow family, we are a family of 5 travelling in our home on wheels. We sold everything we had (except a few small boxes of precious items I couldn't give up ) and headed south with no plan... Except one, our booked boat journey over to Tasmania. We thought one month from Cabarita NSW to Victoria would be plenty of time... But it never is. We have travelled that coast line a few times now and its easily the most magical and care free trip.... Abundant beauty and wonder everywhere, I highly recommend anyone wanting to travel with kids and fur babies to travel between the routes between NSW and Victoria.... Rangers are very relaxed , an array of dog beaches, cafes, and sea side sleeping with out being hassled.
All up we only spent two weeks In Tasmania, with unfortunately not the best weather. For anyone who knows us well, we are true Sun lovers..... It almost feels like its hard to function function if we don't get enough vitamin D ;). During the two weeks we really only had about 3 DAYS of sun, this for us makes it tricky with two kids under 3, cooped up in the bus. Also having our bus fully running by solar this was also an issue as the battery only charged when driving.
I must be honest, Tasmania is truly magnificent! With its wild winds, raw landscapes, endless wild berries that grew pretty much everywhere, abundant sea life and the lush peach and apple trees where simply inspiring to say the least. We had a great time and although the distances between locations seemed bare there is so much to see and do!
I wanted to share with you our Tasmania experience! One special location we highly recommends the magic little island they like to call..... The Island Of Inspiration.
‘The Spirit of Tasmania’
After an anxious 45min wait in what seemed like a 2km traffic gridlock, we managed to roll onto the almighty ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ just in time for departure. The boys where literally so excited to get on board the big boat! Our first concern once aboard was how our beloved Django (our Kelpie) would fair the 9hr sea journey. We were informed that instead of leaving him in a small cage we were able to leave him in the luxurious comfort of his home, the bus. With the signing of the consent form we felt at ease as we headed for the deck.
Being the boys first journey over water we were expecting a long hard sail ahead but to our pleasant surprise ‘The Spirit of Tasmania’ has children entertainment fully covered. They have full padded play areas, video games, tv, face painting, and plenty of other kids activities scheduled throughout the trip. The road had an epic buffet bar which was so yummy. If you are considering taking your wildlings on board rest assured you won't have to book the more expensive overnight cabins!
once we arrived on the island it was slowly getting dark so we found a nice place to overnight camp on the river in Turners Beach. There isn't a lot in Turners Beach but it was a perfect first-night spot after our long sea journey. The next morning we had a quick pitstop for coffee at the beautiful Berry Patch Cafe - a lovely farm setting with good coffee before we headed to the beautiful ‘Bay of Fires’.
'Bay of Fires'
Bay of Fires is about 2.5 hours drive from Devonport straight to the north east coast. This place is truly amazing!! The sand is pure white and the ocean is the clearest water we have ever been in. The rocky outcrops kissing the ocean with their dusty orange textures. The surfing and fishing here is also amazing, with Sam only being gone an hour returning with fresh Australian salmon for dinner. There's something so amazing about your Husband bringing back food from the sea and land, it makes me feel so proud of being an Australian and respecting the land for all it provides for us. Bay of Fires truly feels like a magical island in itself, it holds so much beauty and natural inspiration, I feel like i could stay there for months and months and just enjoy all the wonder.
Just a tip! Being a free camp they get very busy so its always best to arrive early in the morning to try get the best spots. We would have stayed here for weeks but the weather made a turn for the worst so we headed down the coast for Bicheno.
Bicheno is about 2hrs down the coast from Bay of Firesand is a really beautiful drive along the east coast. St Helens is a little town near Bay of Fires on the way south to Bicheno that has amazing scallop pies from the local bakery. Bicheno is a quiet little fishing town with a beautiful beach that wraps around to the rocky boat ramp which shelters some lovely old fishing boats from the unpredictable Tasmanian weather. There are some really cute little coffee shops and also a beautiful community garden for your herbs and veggies. There is a good kids playground down towards the boat ramp which our boys played at most days. We highly recommend heading around to the pier at Bicheno and enjoying dinner as the sun sets at the Gulch fish and chip shop. Its a really good co op that uses the old fishing sheds as the dinning room with some amazing fishing tales hung around the walls! Very friendly staff here. Do yourself a favour and try the best fish burger EVER. No free camping in Bicheno so we stayed at a campsite attached to the general store, very friendly and accomidating family and was around $25 a night.
'FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK'
We left Bicheno and headed further south to hopefully get a glimpse of Wine Glass Bay. Along the way we took the ‘Friendly Beaches’ turn off to find a popular free camp, but were dissappointed to find out after arriving that it was not dog friendly. We carried on south and arrived at Coles Bay.
Wine Glass Bay is only accessible by hiking and because we have 2 children too big for carriers but too little to hike (in the rain), we decided to enjoy the Coles Bay area instead. We went to the Freycinet Marine Park restaurant, where we treated ourselves to the best oysters and mussels we have ever had! We are huge seafood lovers and these where next level. There was a beautiful sunflower garden too and the staff where very lovely. Very child friendly and safe location.
After a few nights around the Freycinet area we had to head back up the coast to Launceston as we had to return my Nans camper van that she had hired to travel Tasmania with us. Launceston is the best city we have visited so far. Being a family that prefers a slower pace of life this city suited us perfectly. It has so many rustic and historical little cafes to choose from, and they are all hidden amoungst old little boutiques and retaurants. We went to a fresh produce market in the centre of the city which had some amazing produce from all of the surrounding farms.
Nearby is the central park of Launceston, a beautifully well maintained botanical garden with gigantic trees throughout and a great park for the kids to have a play. There is also an animal feature to one end of the park that had some cute Japanese monkeys contained in a large cage. We didn't enjoy seeing this too much as it is obviously not the monkeys natural home.
We stayed at Macs Farmstay whilst in Launceston which was amazing!! $10 a night gets you your own beautiful patch of grass amoungst the gumtrees with views of the property dam. It is really good for kids here because they have a lot of different farm animals that the kids can feed and there was plenty of other families that stay here with all the kids making their own fun around the fenced farm. Definatly try the cafe at the top of the hill of the property too, great food and also cheap produce. We got 1kg of strawberries for $5.
Penguin was our last stop before heading back to Davenport for the barge back to the mainland. The drive into and out of Penguin was probably our favouite in Tassie. Its basically a mini Great Ocean Road with much less visitors. Its a beautiful winding road, running along the train track and shoreline, revealing crystal clear water and rocky reefs around every bend. Penguin itself is a really cute little (penguin themed) town, with lots of penquin statues, cute little coffee shops, some beautiful beaches and even a little butcher (awkwardly titled ‘Penguin Butcher’). We decided to camp up for a few nights just out of the town of Penguin at a spot called Preservation Bay. Its a beautiful free camp right on the waters edge and you will no doubt see a train pass, by which is VERY exciting for the little ones, as the track runs along next to the water all the way into the next main town.
After staying in Penguin the weather forecast was not looking good, so we made a big decision to change our leaving dates, we just needed to feel the sun on our skin and it felt like our clothes were just wet everyday. Not having a washing machine means hand washing the boys clothes and we rely on the sunshine to help dry it, not having sun made it very tricky.
The spirit of Tasmania was a great service and their customer service was incredible, we changed our leave date and we left two days later.
All in all we loved Tasmania, our bellys were full, our minds where relaxed and we truly enjoyed our time... But We were so excited to get back on the mainland!