Our final day in Tasmania

Well here we are on the final day in Tasmania.

The first part of our dream has now been completed. After 2 months we’ve seen a lot if this wonderful place but we must also leave a lot unseen.

We both have very mixed feelings about leaving tomorrow. Part of us is excited about the next leg of the adventure – where will God take us next – and part of us is sad to end a chapter that has been thrilling, way beyond our expectations.

It’s all gone so quickly. It just seems like yesterday we arrived on the Spirit of Tasmania and now we are watching it berthing this morning knowing the next time it leaves we’ll be on it.

Here is a map with the places we have been in red. Just click the map to enlarge it.

The route around Tasmania

The route around Tasmania

What will be our “enduring image” of Tasmania?

What will we see whenever we think about this place?

For me it will be a combination of crystal clear waters against rugged landscapes, pristine forests, waterfalls, rolling green hills and fascinating history.

Did we have a “favourite” place?

For me it would probably be Stanley, which epitomises Tasmania in so many ways for me.

Could we live in Tasmania?


If it wasn’t for love of the family and friends and the desire to be as near as possible to them we would move here as soon as we’ve been round Australia.

Possibly our most livable place would be Burnie or Hobart. Stanley, although beautiful, is a long way from basic facilities.

We could easily live in any of the three main cities Hobart, Launceston or Devonport, but Burnie has everything we could ever need and is close to the Northwest coast which we have fallen in love with.

Our goal of eventually becoming as self sufficient as we can on a small property has been strengthened as we’ve seen the glorious small property gardens here and the extent to which Tasmanians grow their own food.

Has Tasmania taught us anything about ourselves, has it helped to discover something that was hidden by years of just getting by?

I think definitely yes!

We have learned that we can be extremely content with very few material goods.

We can invent, think things out, innovate and plan.

We are not afraid to have a go and are not afraid of failing.

We can accept people for who they are and we can see great beauty and wonder in simple every day things.

We have come to realise that even though our possessions are few, we are among the most prosperous people on earth.

In all the inventions and endeavors of both the early pioneer Tasmanians and the latter day ones we have seen how human beings can triumphantly achieve almost anything if they stand firm and focus on the dream and push forward no matter how hard the journey sometimes gets.

We have learned the great value of a loving relationship and how to enjoy being with that someone you love above all else.

We have learned the value of family since it’s sometimes when they are not there that you realise how much you love them.

We don’t need to hide our belief in and our love for God. We have seen His awesome power in so many different forms.

We’ve also learned that there are two distinctly different types of living on the road.

The first type is the holiday or extended holiday where you know that sometime soon you will be back in your house with all its comforts such as shower, toilet, fridge, freezer, ezy chairs and comfortable bed.

In this scenario you can basically live in anything from a tent to a small caravan with limited facilities, like ours, knowing it’s temporary.

The second type is the long term permanent or semi permanent traveler.

This is where there is no “home to come back to”. You are already living in your home.

This scenario requires more facilities than the camping trip or extended holiday if it’s going to provide long term satisfaction and the desire to keep travelling without life becoming a string of frustrations.

We’re convinced that you don’t need to have a 3 bedroom home on wheels to achieve this, just a few basics that allow simple yet organised living with good balance between comfort and practicality.

So Tasmania has taught us what we need to provide for ourselves if we are to stay on the road for the longer term.

The goal of the house and land is still out of our reach and we can’t see it being a reality for at least another 18 months to two years.

This means we’ll need to provide accommodation for ourselves for this time and we might just as well be doing it on the road.

So while we’re in Melbourne, even though we love our “Little Home”, we’ll search out a bigger van that provides the best possible balance of comfort, cost, mobility and general quality of living for the medium term.

The Mutton Bird Experience

Chris, being from New Zealand is used to eating Mutton Bird as a teenager. So here we are in Tasmania where the butchers stock them when in season.

When we travelled from Stanley to Devonport last Wednesday, we had taken the coastal route through Ulverstone. Here we were in the main street, I had stopped to let a car in front do a reverse park when Chris let’s out a yell, grabs my purse (because it usually has money in it). I hear the words “Cooked Mutton Bird” and “Drive around the block” as he jumps out of the car.

As I come back around he’s standing on the road with his package and a big smile.

My first impression was of this tiny little carcass that would fit inside your hand with not much meat.

“Ok lets try it” I said excited. I take my first bite the taste sensation hits me…I gag.

”swallow Kerrie, swallow just get it down” I think to myself.

It tastes like very strong oily fish and chicken roasted together. It has a very strong smell that will never leave my conscious. “You’re kidding” I yell “You like this?” I couldn’t get the windows down fast enough. Here I was trying to find a place to pull the van over with my head out the window like a dog.

Chris on the other hand was munching away with a great big smile on his face. Sucking on every bone with relish, his face already covered in oil.

Finally a place to pull over as I jump out of the car “Out!” I say “Eat that outside it’s stinking up the car” as I run for the van to washout my mouth and grab something to take away the taste.

So that’s my first and ONLY tasting of the famous Mutton Bird. Now don’t let my experience ever stop you from trying  your own bit of culinary  experiment. You, like Chris might love it. Some people love pumpkin but it’s not high on my list either.

A drive well worth it.

Today we are going to visit some caravan showrooms. I suppose it’s a bit like visiting display homes when you live in a house. So we drove back to Ulverstone to look at Nova vans first. Very nice. After living in our van now for nearly 5 months there are a couple of things we like and dislike. Just like houses you pick them to pieces.

Then we drove to Somerset just west of Burnie to look at Ascots. Not a lot here. We then stop off at McDonalds for a coffee. We were deciding whether to eat here or somewhere else. It wasn’t a hard decision,

  1. It’s school holidays here, loads of kids.
  2. They are renovating so a lot of workmen and noise.

Yep you guessed it we decided to go elsewhere. Now remember I mentioned about a takeaway place at Port Sorell where we had beer battered Dim Sims. I had a craving for them again.

OK so it was 48 km back to Devonport and then another 19 to Port Sorell. But they were worth it.

Great food, great service. You have to try the Beer Battered Dim Sims

Great food, great service. You have to try the Beer Battered Dim Sims

This takeaway is called Aqua and is owned by Paul, Kristie & Matthew. It is on the corner of Wilmont & Rice St Port Sorell. The owners have done everything right. Amazing customer service, immaculately clean ( and you know how fussy I am) even the grocery items they sell are dust free and neat.

Aqua Takeaway at Port Sorell

Aqua Takeaway at Port Sorell

Everything looks great at Aqua Takeaway Port Sorell

Everything looks great at Aqua Takeaway Port Sorell

And then the food. Now they stock the usual products but don’t just stop there, they improve on them. Fresh local fish not frozen. Decent serving of chips made even more appetising by a sprinkle of parsley. A nice selection of cakes and slices with good coffee. Presentation and quality are what this young couple are great at. But the beer battered Dim Sims are something you should definitely try. Though Paul said we should wait for him to do his steamed Dim Sims coming soon.

Now take your selection down to the beach and you have a winning combination.

A beautiful place. White sand and crystal water.

A beautiful place. White sand and crystal water.

Another good reason to come back to Tasmania.

A very cold night – and a bit strange

We found last night to be a bit uncomfortable.

I was working on the computer for some time so the battery was quite low and the lights were very dim.

We couldn’t start the Generator for fear of disturbing our only neighbor.

All the vans and motor homes had disappeared by late last night so there was only us and one other van at the free camping area on the old wharf.

It was OK – we played chess and went to bed about 9.00pm – but it was very cold and the wind came up through the night very strong and rocked the little home something fierce. It caused all sorts of things to bang and slap throughout the night and we just weren’t as comfortable there as the first night. The toilet on the old wharf was also pitch dark and a bit of a hike to get to in the cold wind so the Porta Potti was inside which is not the best place for it!

We woke quite early and decided not to go back to Burnie or Sulphur Creek but instead we would go back to Devonport for the last 4 nights where we could drive around the few places we’d not seen up that way.

I went for a walk and caught the most awesome sunrise coming up over Bass Strait before we packed up and headed off.

Sunrise over Bass Strait

Sunrise over Bass Strait

Sunrise over Bass Strait - 2

Sunrise over Bass Strait – 2

Sunrise over Bass Strait - 3

Sunrise over Bass Strait – 3

It was a good way to say goodbye to Stanley for the second time as this is one of our very favourite places.

The drive back to Devonport was the most amazing journey as we passed over those rich, beautiful farmlands again with the Lucerne as green as green can be framed by the deepest blue sea and the now clear and sunny sky.

Property after magnificent property rolled by causing us to repeatedly exclaim, “Look at THAT.”

We passed golden sand beaches, some with jagged rock islands a few metres offshore, with pastures of exquisite quality soil, healthy livestock and a myriad of colours rolling down to meet them.

What a place Tasmania is!

What extraordinary colours!

How could landscapes be so indescribably pretty?

We came into Devonport a little sad because we had now done the full circle and we were back where we started.

We decided to shout ourselves an ensuite site for the last 4 nights in Tassie and the managers let us have it at normal price.

How wonderful to have a private toilet and shower.

It’s amazing how little things in life can give so much enjoyment.

After setting up, showering and getting sorted, something that now only takes a short time, we decided to go for a drive to Port Sorrel, about 15 km from Devonport.

Kerrie will describe after I’ve finished as she describes it very well

Back to Devonport and up to the lighthouse on the highest point of the town where enjoyed a feast of colour and sheer beauty overlooking the deepest, clearest sea you could imagine, the warm sunshine and the cloudless sky and all the time those magnificent farms way in the background.

The bluest, clearest waters in the world around Devonport

The bluest, clearest waters in the world around Devonport

We are sad to be nearing the end of our time in this amazing place.

(From Kerrie)

You know when you picture a place or person in your head, an it turns out nothing like it. That was Port Sorell.

It never stops amazing me how clean Tasmanian water is. Port Sorell is situated in the scheme of things like the Pine River, open to the ocean, tidal then going back into the land. That’s where the similarities stop.

Port Sorell

Port Sorell

The water is crystal clear just like everywhere else. You can see the bottom through very deep water.

The sand is fine white, it would give the Gold coast or Sunshine coast a run for it’s money, and the place is clean.

People here seem to take pride in their homes, like most of Tassie, and very little rubbish is visible. OK they do have signs which basically tell you to dob in anyone you see littering so that may help.

The rise and fall of the tide here is huge.

We drove down to the “boat jetty” at Port Sorell, here 4×4’s and tractors are parked with their trailers. You look down and realise the tide comes in here. Don’t get back late from fishing or your car goes under.

Don't be late back from fishing or your car will go under.

Don’t be late back from fishing or your car will go under.

The rocks high up on the sand are covered with baby mussels and must be covered during high tide, a drop of 6-8ft. We found the same at Stanley. All the fishing boats are under the height of the walkways of the jetty’s at low tide and you look down on them, but are well above at high tide, easy 10-12ft difference.

Small black mussels growing over the rocks.

Small black mussels growing over the rocks.

Mussels must e covered at high tide.

Mussels must e covered at high tide.

The  iridescent explosion of colour from the ocean and the green hills is all around. I hope never to lose this colour image in my mind as no matter how many photos I take, it never captures the full picture.

We had bought fish & chips to eat from the local takeaway. He also had beer battered Dim Sims that were very yummy, and way too many chips for the small amount we paid.

A great spot, great food, another perfect day in Tassie.

Another day in Stanley

I went for a walk early over to Stanleys tiny port.

Stanley's little port

Stanley’s little port

I noticed a whining sound coming from a pump house beside a building where water was being pumped in huge volumes straight from the sea into the building and then back out to sea.

A bloke came up to me from inside and commented that he thought they were running a bearing in the pump.

We got to talking and it turns out that the building houses 16 seawater tanks full of live crayfish.

The seawater is circulated through the tanks keeping the Crays live and healthy.

They are shipped live to Launceston where they are flown directly to China – about 800kg per week!

None of these Crays find their way to Aussie plates.

They are all locally caught from about 8 Stanley Cray boats.

I then went and checked out the fishing boats and talked for ages to a crewman on one of the big ones who told me heaps about the boats, fishing in general, the new technologies now used the potential and many other things.

He was aghast when I told him I was a Fishing Skipper 35 years ago running the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand without a GPS!

He showed me the new laptop system that combines the chart of the area with radar images and bottom readings all at once.

In his words, “The fish don’t stand a chance”.

We met a bloke who owned a Danish Seining vessel, about a 45 footer, who operated it alone (no crew).

When I commented that I often operated the old Kia Ora (about the same size vessel) out of Lyttleton on my own but it was a “Bit Hairy” at times, he said, “My oath mate, I once had a line wrapped around me gumboot and over the bloody side I went. Had to swim like crazy to get back on board and my bum cheeks were so tight they squeezed the water right out of me daks.”

When I got back to the Van Chris was there (Chris and Fay from Sulphur Creek).

It was good to see him and talk to him again. They are staying 2 days in Stanley.

Kerrie and I went for a long walk up the pretty little main street and had a cup of coffee before walking back past an old bloke who owned one of stunning cottages overlooking the bay.

The cottage was built in 1850 and he bought it 50 years ago after coming to Stanley for a holiday and never leaving.

Stanley beautiful old cottages many built around the early to mid 1800s

Stanley beautiful old cottages many built around the early to mid 1800sSea birds swoop around The Nut in the crisp cold morning light

We just keep commenting to each other on how truly lovely this place is and how fitting it is that we spend 3 of our last 6 days in Tasmania here.

Off to Stanley for the second time

You know how when you see a place and like it and then return again its often not as good as you can remember? The whole trip to Stanley was NOT like that.

If anything it was BETTER than the first time.

The rolling, green hills, the deep blue sea, the well looked after properties, everything was as spectacular as the first time we travelled this road.

Our arrival into Stanley had only one mishap, we heard a noise and a car pulled up beside us and yelled that the back leg on the caravan was dragging.

That’s the same wretched one that I had trouble with a couple of months ago.

I’ll look at it again in Melbourne. It’s OK for now, just need to bash it into place before we travel.

We free camped under The Nut on a strip of ground where an old timber mill used to reside in Stanley more industrious days. It’s very well utilised even though no free camping books mention it. It’s right on the old wharf where the water is so blue and crystal clear you can see 20 metres to the harbour bottom.

The old Stanley wharf and the deep blue, crystal clear sea

The old Stanley wharf and the deep blue, crystal clear sea

There were about 15 motor homes, caravans and slide campers here.

So many friendly people – we spent what seemed like hours talking first to some people in a slide on camper from Ulverstone in Tassie, then with a couple from Burnie who were fishing on the wharf and told us the history of the port at Stanley. Then we talked to a young school teacher from Cairns who’s travelling Tassie in a station wagon.

We also met a lovely couple from Somerset in Tassie, just out of Burnie and they showed us inside their beautiful 20 foot van.

It was amazing.

The little home in the shadow of The Nut at Stanley

The little home in the shadow of The Nut at Stanley

She had a pop out Weber BBQ and was roasting the most delicious smelling Lamb and veggies.

This fired up a dilemma that Kerrie and I will need to face soon.

If we are going to continue doing this travelling for a more extended period (which at the moment we could easily do) life would be much easier and more enjoyable with a bigger van.

If we are going to come back to Brisbane in 12 months or so (as was the original plan) it would be a waste to spend 50 to 60k on a van that would devalue 30% the day we bought it and would be difficult to sell.

The advantages of a bigger van are:

  • Toilet and shower – No Porta Potti or bucket showers while free camping
  • Large water storage – up to 3 x 80lt tanks
  • Hot water system
  • Queen sized bed – Kerrie still longs to get back to sleeping together
  • Large fridge/freezer
  • Much more storage
  • Lounge/relaxation area
  • Air con
  • Diesel heating
  • Solar power
  • Large extra spaces for extra fuel, water, toolboxes, rods, etc.
  • Black out glass at night is now standard on most new vans
  • Generator storage in van
  • Washing machine – Saves heaps at coin operated van park laundries
  • Much easier hitching/unhitching systems
  • Easy to get at under bed storage
  • Easy to get at General storage
  • Much More

We still like the Paramount Regent which we were contemplating buying before the gold was stolen (for those that know the story).

The Paramount Bedroom

The Paramount Bedroom


The Paramount Dining area

The Paramount Dining area

The Paramount Kitchen

The Paramount Kitchen


Paramount Extra lounge room which would be changed to the Office

Paramount Extra lounge room which would be changed to the Office

We are going to make the decision about our next move in Melbourne when we find out the extent of the programming the University wants and the extent of the work they want us to do.

We’ll also leave it up to God’s direction – He’s never let us down yet!

We went for a walk down the pier after dark as we heard penguins everywhere.

Kerrie was envious of Chris and Fay (who we met at Sulphur Creek) that they managed to get a glorious photo of some Penguins and we couldn’t.

Well this time Kerrie finally got her picture of one of these beautiful but very elusive creatures.

Elusive and very hard to photograph Fairy Penguin

Elusive and very hard to photograph Fairy Penguin

In Burnie and we finally buy a much needed accessory

I wanted to put set of roof racks and a roof “basket” on the Nissan before leaving Brisbane but decided against it. However one of the few frustrations of the journey has been the constant pulling out of stuff from the ute every time we need something.

I think I’ve reorganized the tray at least 10 times since leaving. I put something at the bottom because I think it won’t be used and then, you guessed it, that’s the next thing we need.

The roof racks have been high on the list for a few weeks now.

We were driving through Burnie today when we saw a Nissan like ours with perfectly fitting roof racks so I followed the guy and stopped him and asked about them.

He told me what to get and what not to get and where to get them, just around the corner from where we were in fact.
So we decided to finally get them.

They were easy to install and the basket rack allowed us to put the tent up there (which we haven’t used yet but takes up heaps of room), the annex sides which we only use when we stop for a week, the clothes line (which is an awkward dammed thing) , the spade (likewise – awkward) and the ensuite.

The new Nissan Roofracks

The new Nissan Roofracks

We also bought two 20lt water containers as we run out of water if we free camp more than 2 days.

This has freed up the room not only in the ute tray but in the van also when we are travelling, meaning we don’t have to step over stuff just to make coffee if we stop on the side of the road.

So happy we did it.

We also re wired the new TV aerial and can get all available channels crystal clear.
It was good that we could get TV so well and Kerrie could watch her favourite program – Bones – I HATE Bones.

I cuddled up into the oh so warm bed and listened to Chuck Missler teaching on “The Easter Story – What really happened” on the iPod.

Move to Burnie

After 3 wonderful days free camping at Sulphur Creek it was time to replenish water, empty the Porta Potti, charge batteries, catch up on the blog and do some work for Melbourne.

We were going to get a site at Stanley where we stayed 2 months ago.

We were going to stay in the Van Park 2 days and free camp at the old Stanley wharf but the Park was fully booked for Easter.

We ended up staying at Burnie in a really nice Van Park (Ocean View Holiday Park and Motel) that is very reasonably priced.

View Larger Map
We’ll stay here 2 nights and probably head to Stanley tommorrow.

We felt a bit sad leaving Sulphur Creek at it was a great experience. We might come back for the last 2 nights before catching the Spirit of Tasmania in Devenport next Sunday morning.

After setting up at Burnie, Kerrie put on a massive load of washing and I went to pick up a new TV antena.

The one we bought in Brisbane has been a bit of a pain and reception has been less than satisfactory.

I bought a different type that will be harder to store when travelling but give us a better reception.

The new arial. We mount it sideways and it works!

The new arial. We mount it sideways and it works!

After a frustrating couple of hours joining the coaxial cable to the booster. It was time to give it a go.
We got less channels than the last one and they keep flicking on and off!

I was sorely tempted to take the arial back to the salesman and insert it neatly into his posterium when I noticed a neighbouring van that had the same one.
They had it mounted sideways, different to the instruction.
I gave it a try.

Perfet reception on 21 Digital and all Analogue channels!

It was great to enjoy a nice dinner, clean sheets and clothes, running water a hot shower and the heater turned on against a rather cold night.

It was an extra bonus to sit down warm and content and watch a movie with great reception, something we’ve not done for a while.

Good Friday and a fishing invention that works!

Well Good Friday dawns and we wake to the most beautiful sunrise.

The sea and the colours are amazing.

We can’t help but reflect on this day how important we must be to God and how much potential He must see in us that we don’t see in ourselves.

That the Creator of the wondrous things we’ve seen and experienced should die for us so that we could live in eternity is beyond comprehension.

A little cold last night without the heater but we survived again very well.

After a chat with Chris and Fay (from Rockhampton) I decide to give the fishing another go.

There is a very big rise and fall in tide here and at dead low tide the rocks are completely dry for about 300 metres out.

Think to self, “How to get a hook out over these rocks”?

So off I head over about 200 metres of rocks armed with a steel tent peg, a hammer, a pulley and pulling behind me the line from my Alvey reel, which I have set up on the beach I hammer in the peg into a rock that’s higher than the rest and clip the line from the Alvey into the little pulley I tie to the tent peg.

I then make up a line with 6 hooks and 2 floats made form 2 milk bottles.

The "Patent Pending" U Beaut rocky bottom sure fire fish catching system

The “Patent Pending” U Beaut rocky bottom sure fire fish catching system

We then sit and wait for 2 hours as the tide comes in.

At almost full tide when all the rocks are under water I get Kerrie to reel in the Alvey while I let out the baited hook line.

Soon the hooks are sitting right over the rocks that we examined at load tide.

It's hard work this fishin'

It’s hard work this fishin’

Within a few minutes the line is jumping all over the place and we reverse the process.

In comes a nice big fish just big enough for a good dinner.

Just enough for dinner

Just enough for dinner

We don’t need any more so the rest we let go.

We probably could have caught cases of fish.

Another chat with Chris and Fay as they return from another day exploring.

We collect a pile of dry wood driftwood and after a beautiful fish dinner we get a beaut fire going and are joined by Chris and Fay again. They’re lovely people and have an amazing off road 18 foot van.

They’ve done Western Australia off road.

It’s a cold night tonight so we pull out the sleeping bags.

I get up to go to the dunny in the ensuite at 4.00am and I’m sitting there in the still of the night when suddenly a rabbit hops in to the tent.

I let out an ear piercing scream that must have woken Sulphur Creek and I fall off the Porta Potti.

The poor rabbit must have had a heart attack!

Kerrie of course heard the scream but decided to stay in bed. (From Kerrie) I did get up thinking Chris had hurt himself but as the light was shining from the loo I assumed he was OK and went back to bed.
Of course, when learning of my fright she bawled with laughter for an hour.

Total Relaxation

We spend a very relaxing day doing not much at all.

I was able to work for 3 hours non stop on the computer with no problems.
The Uni in Melbourne has more work for us after Easter and they want another program built as well so I want to get a head start.

We see seals right in close to the shore lying on their backs waving their flippers.

The view from the Office

The view from the Office

Awesome sight so close.

We take some long walks along the beach and watch surfers while wondering how they could get into such cold water.

Long walks along this beach

Long walks along this beach

More chats with the locals and we meet another couple from Rockhampton who turned up earlier in the day.
They’ve only been in Tassie  1 day and we promised to keep an eye on their van while they left to explore the area.

Camp fire and a glass or 2 of wine

Camp fire and a glass or 2 of wine

I collect some driftwood and just on dusk we get a beaut bonfire going on the beach and we sit and consume a glass or two of wine and watch the full moon rise.