The Tasmania Chronicles – Part One: Cradle to Coast

I’ve just returned to Sydney after two weeks travelling around Tasmania, and I found that there were so many things to do and see that I couldn’t find the time to blog whilst I was out there, and there is no way I can fit everything we did do and see into a single blog. So here is part one of ? blogs on Tassie!

The journey to Tasmania was very easy and hassle free. We’d booked return flights from Sydney’s domestic airport to the city of Launceston (for some reason pronounced Lon-ses-ton) in northern Tasmania for around £100, and when we turned up at the airport we just had to print off our boarding passes and bag tag, drop our bag off and head through security to await our flight. The journey only took an hour and a quarter, and we soon found ourselves in Tasmania without having to show so much as a driving licence. Once at Launceston airport I recommend not attempting to follow google maps to the bus stop, as you’ll end up in some random place. Much better to just organise a lift with the airport shuttle or get a taxi. While we were wandering around the empty roads looking for an invisible bus stop we managed to get lucky and snag a passing uber to take us to our hotel: the Batman Fawkner Inn! On check in we found out that unfortunately the hotel wasn’t named after The Dark Knight, but rather two of the founders of Melbourne, who had met in that very hotel. (Fun fact: Melbourne was briefly called Batmania. What a name!) We had a wander around the small city in the evening and formulated something of a plan as to what we would do for the next two weeks.

the-dark-knight

We got up bright and early the next day to collect our hire car, which I had accidentally managed to book for the day before, but the folks at Europcar were very accommodating with my mistake. We explored Launceston a little more, taking a wander through City Park, which has a nice mix of English oaks and Japanese macaques! Yep, that’s right, apparently Launceston were gifted the monkey display when they became twinned with the Japanese city of Ikeda.

Not what I expected my first animal sighting in Tasmania to be!

After our short stop in Launceston, and armed with handfuls of leaflets, we decided to head northwest out of the city, as we had picked up an interesting map of the cradle to coast tasting trail, which looked to be a nice Sunday drive/binge. First, we stopped off in Deloraine, a quaint little town with a very English looking river running through it. We had a nice breakfast at Deloraine Deli (which seems to charge more on a Sunday!) and then took a wander along the river, where I was fascinated by sightings of the Tasmanian native-hen. A relative of coots and moorhens these birds were once native to the mainland but as they are flightless they were wiped out with the arrival of the dingo. The native-hen has a fascinating social structure, with groups of birds all breeding together and all caring for the resulting chicks, also getting help from last year’s offspring. I was confused when I saw the same chicks being fed by at least three adults, but this strange social structure explains that behaviour.

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A very English looking Deloraine
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Native-hens are characterised by green-grey plumage, a pale yellow beak, and piercing red eyes
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Not sure whether the saliva-leash is common practice in native-hens

After leaving Deloraine we stopped off at 41°South salmon farm, where we tried hot smoked salmon among other things before paying a small fee to walk around the nature trails as well as feed the trout and a very hungry goose! As we wandered around we decided we could construct a very delicious, and probably expensive, picnic by picking something up from each place we visited, so on return to the shop we bought a surprisingly reasonably priced piece of salmon and were on our way.

Next stop: Christmas Hills Rasperry Farm Café. A bit of a mouthful that one, as I’m sure are all of the raspberry flavoured goodies you can buy here, but as Saska had her heart set on a Devonshire tea across the road at Van Diemen Creamery, we elected to buy an expensive punnet of berries instead and take a walk around the lily pond. On the other side of the pond we came across a strange little animal, a bit like a rat, but also like a rabbit. Turns out it was a southern brown bandicoot, a type of marsupial that looks nothing like the guy from the video games! As we wandered further round the pond we came to a much larger (and less aesthetically pleasing) lake. There was plenty of birdlife to be seen, and as we were walking away something broke the surface and caught my eye. A brown shape shuffled along the lake, and with my camera on full zoom I worked out I’d just seen my first wild platypus! A strange mammal that looks like a cross between a duck and a beaver, lays eggs, produces milk but has no nipples, and was once thought to be a hoax.

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I’m not sure how well the southern brown bandicoot would do at Crash Team Racing
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My first wild platypus at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm

The rest of the day panned out with us stopping off at Ashgrove Cheese where we tasted their entire selection of produce before settling on a Rubicon red (yes I thought it was a mango drink too) and a jalapeño Havarti (which ended up making a good batch of nachos on our last evening). We then went to Seven Sheds Brewery where we picked up a nice cherry beer. We arrived in Devonport and quickly found a hotel for the night. It was St Paddy’s day, so we thought we’d go and check out the local Irish bar. One thing I can tell you is that Devonport is a very quiet town, although the locals entertained us with their music and dancing.

Our spoils from the tasting trail

A very full and exciting first full day in Tasmania, and we had a great picnic prepared for the next one!

Part Two>>>

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