After a quiet night in Devonport, we were up bright and early to continue our great Tasmanian road trip. As we were going to be heading away from the large towns for the next few days we stocked up on food from the supermarket before carrying on along the cradle to coast tasting route. The day would be a nice drive along the coast of northern Tasmania from Devonport to Stanley, followed by a quick U-turn back towards Wynyard where we’d booked an AirBnB for the night.
We started off along the Bass Highway from Devonport to Ulverston, before diving off the main road onto the coastal route. The views along this road were stunning, and I highly recommend getting off the “main” roads when you can. Our first port of call was Penguin, a town named after the its famous inhabitants. The little blue penguins only come ashore at dusk and we were there in their moulting season, so we didn’t come across any real ones, but there is no shortage of penguin memorabilia in the town; all of the bins have penguin designs, and there’s a (much) larger than life concrete penguin in the centre of town. We took a walk along the beach and had the whole thing to ourselves, which may have had something to do with the brisk icy winds coming in off the Bass Strait. After waking ourselves up with our walk we got back in the car and carried on with our trip. Next stop Emu Valley Rhododendron Gardens.
We arrived at the gardens fully expecting there to be nothing to see, as we were outside of the main flowering season, but after being rather unsubtly asked if we were here looking for wedding venues (we most certainly were not!!!), and paying our entrance fee, we were told that there were indeed some rhododendrons in flower, and were directed where to find them. We spend a fair amount of time wandering around the garden, which has a lot of variety, from North American to Asian style gardens. It was here that we got our first taste of autumn colour, which is a strange sight in mid-March! But although it was autumn, the weather cheered up, and we found a warm spot overlooking the gardens where we constructed a picnic with our spoils from the previous day.
As we wandered around the garden some more, I noticed something slide into the main lake, and lo and behold we had spotted our second platypus in two days. We followed the busy creature around the lake margins, keeping our eyes on the trail of bubbles that indicate exactly where it’s foraging, and got some fantastically close views. Seriously, if you want to see a platypus come to Tasmania! We spent a good deal of time enthralled by this evolutionary anomaly, but eventually had to tear ourselves away as we’d never make it to Stanley during daylight hours otherwise!
We drove straight from the gardens along the coast to Stanley as it had been recommended to us that we should climb “the nut” for fantastic views. We got there in late afternoon, when the sun was still strong, so the walk up the steep footpath to the top was a little tiring (maybe we should have taken the chairlift!). There is a circuit walk around the top with plenty of viewpoints looking out across land and sea. There’s also plenty of wildlife to be seen. Pademelons (not a type of fruit) are a species of wallaby endemic to Tasmania, and for some reason a group of them have decided to live on top of a volcanic plug. I guess it’s safe from most predators. These were the first marsupials that I’d actually seen up close since being in Australia (barring the possum in Sydney), and they weren’t particularly flighty, so we had some great views. They’re certainly very cute with their fuzzy coats and small ears, but as it turns out they’re also very common in Tassie, so this wouldn’t be our last sighting!
Leaving Stanley after five we were aiming to get to our accommodation (not far from the rhododendron garden) before sunset, but we couldn’t resist a stop at Table Cape Lighthouse just as the sun was starting to go down. The lighthouse itself was closed, but the views were phenomenal, and as we stopped off at the viewpoint the light was falling perfectly on the lighthouse and surrounding fields. It’s a shame in a way that we didn’t make it to our accommodation until after nightfall as it was in a wonderful farmhouse surrounded by nature. We’d also been provided with plenty of snacks by the owners which was a lovely gesture, so we gorged ourselves and settled down to rest, as we were in for a busy day climbing cradle mountain the following day!