Port Arthur and the Tasman Peninsula

Oxford Dictionary definition of wow – exclamation – expressing astonishment or admiration.

Smiffs definition of wow – oh wow, oh wow oh wow, woweeeeee, oooohhhh wooowww, wow oh wow oh wow oh wow!

Wow has been the extent of our conversation for the majority of the twelve days on the Tasman Peninsula. No photo can truly capture the beauty and majesty of the landscape. No amount of words can truly convey the awesome grandeur that we witnessed in this area of Tasmania.

The Tasman Peninsula is located at the southeast point of Tasmania.  From our arrival in Devonport at the very north of the state, it took just over four and a half hours to drive to Port Arthur Holiday Park.  The wows started within half an hour of driving as we saw the most spectacular sunrise.

We stayed at the Port Arthur Holiday Park which is 5 minutes drive from the Port Arthur Historic Site.  It is set on 40 acres deep within the Stewarts Bay State Reserve and we were surrounded by huge, tall trees and an abundance of wildlife and birdlife. We booked for 7 nights but stayed 12 nights.

There are so many historical and natural sites/sights to see in this area so we will give you the links to find out more should our pics whet your appetite for more information.

Port Arthur Historical Site including a visit to the Isle of the Dead– we spent two days exploring this site and it still wasn’t enough time. The site forms part of the Australian Convict Sites, a World Heritage property consisting of eleven remnant penal sites originally built within the British Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries on fertile Australian coastal strips. Collectively, these sites, including Port Arthur, now represent, “…the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts.” (copied from the brochure we picked up from the information centre)

An amazing find during our visit there, was reference to one Alfred Packham, a young man from Brighton, found guilty of larceny in Lewes, East Sussex and sentenced to seven years. He was transported to Port Arthur on the ship Candahar and arrived in 1842.  Ray’s mother was a Packham and came from Brighton. So there is great excitement that he may be related and research has started in earnest.  We also visited the Coal Mines Historic Site where the worst behaved convicts were sent to do hard labour in the coal mines.


The Tasman Peninsula is full of stunning, awe inspiring natural beauty.  A few of the places we visited were: Cape RaoulRemarkable CaveThe Dog Line, The Lavender FarmKoonya, Premaydena and Saltwater River.

So ends our time on the Tasman Peninsula and today, Friday 26th August, we head an hour and a half north west to Hobart. We will be staying at the Hobart Showgrounds for two weeks and exploring as much as possible in that neck of the woods. Farewell for now!

Nhill,Victoria to Tasmania

So we left Blanchetown on Thursday 11th August and headed across country to Victoria. What was interesting was the condition of the roads deteriorated significantly as we got close to the Victorian border. Once into Victoria they didn’t get any better.  They were very bumpy with large corrugations and not at all pleasant to drive along. But we crossed the border with great excitement as this was our third state to visit and more new territory for both of us.

Welcome to victoria

We were heading to a small town called Nhill which is the half way point between Adelaide and Melbourne.  Most people we spoke to said they never stopped there, it was just a town to zoom through on their way to somewhere else. However we had done some research and believed there was a lot to see here!  The Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre which is based at the Aerodrome had set up an RV friendly base behind the centre.  There was a dump point and 24hr access to toilets and there was no cost to stay there for up to 4 nights. We stayed two nights and were the only people there.

During our research into this town, we had read about Lowana’s Craft and Produce Shop and a comment in TripAdvisor said “The ladies are all volunteers and retired Farmers’ wives who have been excellent cooks for the Shearers over the years so hence the wonderful produce you will find at this shop in Nhill. Don’t just ‘whoosh’ through town, stop over – you won’t be disappointed!” So Ray and I paid the shop a visit and were so pleased we did. The two ladies behind the counter were absolutely delightful and told us a few stories about the shop and how they had been interviewed on Sunrise last year. We bought some homemade sausage rolls and cake as well as a lovely hand stitched calico bag. The sausage rolls were devine! Another claim to fame for Nhill is it is home to the Luv a Duck factory – for those of you who have eaten,and love, their duck, you will understand our excitement!

We had a lovely couple of days exploring this town and talking to the locals.  The camp site was great and we enjoyed beautiful sunsets/sunrises, watching a variety of birdlife darting in and out of the trees and looking at the display in the Aviation Heritage Centre. Unfortunately this had to be done through the windows as the centre only opened on weekends. On the morning of our departure we woke to a very very foggy landscape!

Four hours of driving saw us on the outskirts of Melbourne.  We had travelled through the towns of Horsham, Stawell, Ballarat and Beaufort and saw both the Grampian Mountain and Great Dividing Mountain ranges. Stunning countryside and the most interesting towns which have whetted our appetite to go and spend a few months exploring this part of Victoria. After a brief rest stop we drove to Port Melbourne where we boarded the Spirit of Tasmania ferry with our car and caravan for a 10 hour night crossing.  As you can appreciate they wouldn’t let us sleep in the van on the car deck so we booked a cabin. After a couple of hours exploring and having a bite to eat, we hit the sack as we had to be up at 5.30am – Tassie here we come!!!


Enjoying the mighty Murray River.

We arrived in Blanchetown on Saturday 30th July and were planning to stay 6 nights. However it is a beautiful location and we decided to extend our stay to 12 nights.  Blanchetown is home to No 1 lock on the Murray River of which there are approximately 15 locks all up. The Mighty Murray runs from Goolwa in South Australia, across Victoria and into New South Wales. It’s history and usage plus the amazing wildlife found in and around is truly amazing. Too much to write about here but we would encourage you to click on our links or google the information and read up on it for yourself.  At some point we are going to travel the entire length of it and explore as many of the associated towns as possible.

During our time here we have explored the local area and seen pelicans, sulphur crested cockatoos, kangaroos, birds of prey and some interesting spiders!! Ray has fished from the pontoon a few times and managed to catch a silver perch. Although quite a good size he put it back as he was looking forward to the sausages we had in the fridge!!

We have visited a few of the other towns – Mannum, Morgan, Waikerie, Barmera, Loxton, Berri and Renmark. Each one had something unique and interesting – the big orange, a lovely old pub, car ferry, paddle steamer, heritage buildings and best of all…..catching up with Kathy’s mum and sister in Mannum!

Yesterday two hot air balloons flew right over the top of us at the caravan park.

In a couple of days we will leave Blanchetown and make our way to Port Melbourne.  On Saturday 13th August we catch the overnight ferry to Tasmania.



Wingdom of the skies!

A loud screeching, squawking, overhead, what a to do!
Parrot, galah, and cockatoo.

Colours of pink and grey blend with white and yellow. Green too can be seen. What a variety of feather there is on view.

Suddenly it is silent. Have they disappeared into thin air?
Oh wow…no…look up there at that stunning pair.

Soaring, gliding, majestic, prehistoric.
They are pelicans….
Floating across the water top. They land smoothly, lightly…gently sliding to a stop.

Goolwa & Gumeracha, fun & farewells!

On Thursday 28th July we all went to Goolwa for a Coorong Discovery Cruise and the weather was perfect for such a day out.  Goolwa is a town where Jude and Annette’s Aunt and Uncle and cousins used to live and many holidays were spent there in our younger days. It is also where the movie Stormboy was filmed and where Jude’s love of pelicans was born. We cruised through the barrage lock and into the Coorong National Park and then down to the mouth of the Murray river.  We got off the boat and were taken for a walk over the sand dunes to the shores of the Southern Ocean which was spectacular. We then cruised back down the river and into Goolwa.

That evening we joined Jen, Elizabeth, John and Ellen for dinner at a local hotel. The food was delicious and we enjoyed much conversation and laughter. Ben even tried an oyster which he quite enjoyed!PhotoGrid_1469713016815On Friday morning we sadly said our farewells to Annette and Jock as it was time for them to fly back to Perth.  We had such a lot of fun together and we would miss having them around.  It was also Ben’s final day but his flight didn’t leave until approx 10pm.  We decided to visit another of Australia’s big icons – the big rocking horse in Gumeracha. This was situated at a wooden toy making factory which also had a small wildlife park attached to it.  So much to see and do and perfect weather as well. Ben and Ray climbed to the top of the large rocking horse and earned themselves a certificate!  After lunch we drove a few miles down the road to Birdville and the National Car Museum – another fascinating place.

Finally the time came where we had to drive to the airport and say our final farewells to Ben.  We had such an awesome road trip together and laughed and laughed all the way. We were / are going to miss him sooooooooo much!

Adelaide – Hahndorf -Mount Lofty

We arrived in Adelaide the afternoon of Friday 22nd July. Annette and Jock, Jude’s sister and brother-in-law, had flown in from Perth that morning and were waiting at the caravan park. They were sharing a cabin with Ben for the week whilst we had our usual powered site. It was a really stormy afternoon so we quickly set up the rig and then  joined everyone in the cabin for a fish and chip dinner. A bottle of Prosecco went down very well.20160722_193303.jpg

On Saturday we drove to Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills – this town was founded in 1839 by Prussian Lutheran families who arrived in the ship Zebra. There is a very strong German influence seen in the town even today. The weather had improved and we wandered up and down the main street before having lunch at the German Arms Hotel which was also established in 1839. The food was plentiful and delicious and we sat out on the balcony watching the world go by.

On the outskirts of the town is where the acclaimed Australian landscape artist Hans Heysen lived and worked.  We had a tour of the gardens and his studio which was just amazing and we are so thrilled to have had the opportunity to visit here. We weren’t allowed to take photo’s inside the studio so the pics below show his studio from the outside and a view from it which he painted. The person in the photo is his daughter Nora who was also a painter.

We also called into the Beerenberg Farm which has also been around since 1839 and has been run by the same family for seven generations. We had a taste of some of the jams and pickles and just had to buy a small selection.

On Sunday 24th July we had a family lunch at Mount Lofty, which at 710 metres above sea level, is the highest peak in South Australia.  Unfortunately the weather turned bad again and initially the whole place was covered in mist and you could hardly see the person next to you let alone the panoramic views across Adelaide skyline to the coast. We were joined by Jude and Annette’s cousins – Jill, Brian, Mandy, Diana and Max. Jen and Garry were unable to join us as sadly Garry had taken ill the night before and was admitted to Adelaide hospital. (He is now home and doing very well) We all had a great time catching up on each other’s lives and enjoyed some delicious food. By the end of lunch the conditions had improved and we managed a couple of pics outside.