Tasmania’s Central South

Our third month on the road has been a big one for new experiences. As you can see from our Polarsteps above, we are really filling in the state. We caught up with the Targa Tasmania, experienced our first house sit and finished the month with sand and snow. Bruny Island was also part of our adventures. With so much to share with you to plan your own adventures we will do May over a couple of posts. With so many tourist attractions closing in the cooler months, we want to show you there is still so much to experience in Tasmania.

Derwent Bridge and the Targa Tasmania

Epic fairy floss sunset at Derwent Bridge

Targa Tasmania

For us racing fans, any event that you can attend for free is a bonus. The Targa Tasmania is a tarmac rally that has been held on the amazing winding, twisty and hilly roads of Tasmania since 1992. When we realised we would be in Tassie for this event our aim was to try see at least one of the stages. For us the stage that traveled through Derwent bridge fitted in with our plans.

We parked ourselves in the free camp at the Derwent Bridge Wilderness Hotel which is right on the Lyell Highway. It wasn’t our intention to be so close to the action, but on the morning of the stage we awoke to the support teams surrounding us, and heading into the hotel for breakfast. Throughout the day we enjoyed chatting to the support teams, watching the club drivers file through, before the big guns reached us later in the afternoon. It was an eventful day with around 8 cars ending up on the back of tow trucks, only one being a serious accident where everyone walked away safely. The cars drove straight past the back of our van between stages, and so it was an all round enjoyable experience.

The cars and crews, right behind our caravan.

Derwent Bridge Attractions

Also whilst in Derwent Bridge we hit up some of the local attractions. The Wall is an amazing wood carving display by renowned artist Greg Duncan. The carvings are spectacular and many have been left purposely unfinished to show the process. Camera’s are not allowed inside, so you will have to go there and experience it for yourself.

On a rainy afternoon we headed out to the beautiful Lake St Clair. The information centre has the most amazing warm fire on a rainy day and plenty of displays and information for the kids and adults alike. The kids also got to see the other end of the Overland Track, and this has become a future goal for our family. The lake was also beautiful, even on an overcast day.

Other attractions that we really enjoyed was a visit to Tassies Belly Button (geographical centre of Tasmania), the old wooden water pipes and further out to Laughing Jack Lagoon which is another local free camp.

Left of Field – Mount Field National Park

The Left of Field experience is something that I had been hearing about from all the traveling mum’s since hitting Tassie shores. Left of Field is a bush camping experience that you need to have in Tassie! Adrian will be your amazing host and he will go above and beyond to ensure that your experience is one to remember. Bonus, if you stay 3 nights or more you don’t pay extra for your kiddies.  

You are welcomed to site with the tradition of a Chupa-Chup while you do the “boring stuff” at check-in. This is the time where you book your amazing outdoor bath experience, and pick from the draws of decadent bath bombs (more on this later). Adrian can fill you in about the amazing walks that you can take from the site without having to move your car, visits out to the amazing Gordon Dam, and how else you can fill your time in the local area.

Mount Field National Park

On our first day in this beautiful area we took a walk along the edge of the Tyenna River to the beginning of the Mount Field National Park. We had our eyes peeled for Platypus, but were unlucky on this instance.  We walked the easy track into the beautiful and well-known Russell Falls. This fall is accessible by wheelchairs and is a super easy walk for the kiddies.  We reached this fall in no time, so pushed on up the many many steps to the top of Russell Falls and then onto Horseshoe Falls. Here we went back to the fun of treasure hunting and found ourselves geocache while we were there.

We then returned back to the information centre and explored the many items on display, and then ordered ourselves a take away cuppa and enjoyed that while the kids played at the lovely park. This park area extra enjoyable on a beautiful warm Autumn Day.

The Gordon Dam

On the next day we headed off towards the magnificent Gordon Dam. This long and sometimes winding drive is well worth the effort. The road takes you out through the recent fire ravaged areas of Adamsfield Conservation Area, and then onto the glorious views over Lake Pedder and onto Lake Gordon.

The fire ravaged areas of Adamsfield and Strathgordon.

Lake Pedder is best viewed from the lookout at the western end of the lake near Strathgordon. Pedder is the overflow area for Lake Gordon, and together form part of the Hydro Electric system in Tasmania. At the lookout you can learn so much about the area that surrounds you, including why Lake Pedder continues to exist. The view is pretty epic too!

Lake Pedder Lookout

After the lookout we continued onto the epic sight that is the Gordon Dam wall. Completed in 1978 the Gordon River Dam is a major gated double curvature concrete arch dam with a controlled spillway. The wall is 140m high and 198m in length. With the wall in place Lake Gordon has a capacity of 12.4km cubed. The walk down onto the wall isn’t for the faint hearted. Descending the many grate stairs down onto the 2.7m wide wall is a little heart pumping. But once on the wall the views down the gully and also back across the dam and just spectacular.  

The Twisted Sister

We broke up the long return drive with a short walk to the Twisted Sister. This site was one of a long running protest to ensure the continued preservation of the area. You can still see some of the ropes in trees where the protesters had themselves tied to the trees. Along the short walk to the epic eucalyptus there are many chance to view some epic trees and amazing lichen. Upon arrival at the Twisted Sister we were awestruck by it’s size and boggled by how it became to be. Even with some Google searching we couldn’t find how it came to be twisted!

The Outdoor Bath – Left Of Field

Our final experience in our time at Left of Field was the amazing outdoor bath. Yes the air temp was a chilly 5 degrees, but I wasn’t missing out on this amazing experience and it was Mothers Day to boot! The kids and I met Adrian at the communal fire and were led to the secluded area where the bath has been placed in the most magical circle of trees. Lanterns hung from the tree, the campfire roaring, and the bath full with steaming hot water . . . what more could you want. There is an endless supply of hot water to continue to keep the bath warm on these chilly nights. You are your selected bath bomb and lay back to stare at the stars, enjoy the crackle of the fire, and just be.

I will admit it was a little squishy with the 3 of us in the bath, but Adrian has plans to fix that with a second bath being installed in the coming months. For me I would say this has been one of my most memorable experiences in Tassie. Spending the time in the bath with the two beautiful beings that made me a mum, and just appreciating the journey we are travelling on as a family. It was beautiful to just be and appreciate life!

Whats next for us . . . . Onto Bruny Island. Click here for the post when it goes live! In the mean time hit us up with any questions below!

North East Tasmania – Budget, Campsites and Attractions

Spirit of Tasmania I – Day crossing

We have now been on the road for about 6 weeks and there have been some lessons learnt, amazing experiences and most of all some awesome memories made.

So far we have traveled at a lazy pace exploring the North East of Tasmania. We have stayed at 9 different free or low cost camps since hitting Tassie shores. This state is the king of free camping in Australia, and we are taking advantage of this fact. There are over 200 free camps throughout the state, with over 150 of them accepting your four-legged pals! This month we have stayed 20 nights at free camps, and another 10 at low cost/donation camps costing us a total of $36. Our budget for camping comes in at a huge $71 or $2.20 a day. We set out on this trip with all the facilities in our Bushtracker Caravan to free camp as much as possible, allowing us to travel for longer periods of time on the money we have saved. 

Over 200 free camps throughout the state, with over 150 of them accepting your four-legged friend

Favorite Campsite

Our favorite campsite this month would have to be Swimcart Beach in the Bay of Fires. We were able to fluke a beachfront spot and during our time there enjoyed stunning days in front of the turquoise waters, but we also endured the windy afternoons and one freezing cold day (where is snowed in other locations in Tasmania).

The kids loved this site having the beach at their disposal each and every day. There were so many sand castle, fortresses and tunnels built in this time they should have achieved their engineering certificates. This location allowed us to explore the Bay of Fires region including Binalong Bay and St Helens, the Blue Tier Giant, Pyengana Dairy and St Columbia Falls.

Other than the wind there were a couple of other downsides including the smelly pit toilet, the popularity (it was packed most days) and the black feet! We will leave this one for you to experience yourself. The negatives were well outweighed by the amazingness of this place. It needs to be on your Tasmanian Itinerary.

Favorite Attraction

This month we have paid out $311 in attractions (this includes the tickets to attend the Simmon’s Plains Supercars Race in the first week April). Of the experiences that we have attended the kids most enjoyed Seahorse World at Beauty Point. The learning from this attraction well outweighed its cost. The kids learnt about many different Australian and international breeds of seahorse, which ones are endangered, how they breed them, how they are shipped all over the world as pets, and  the most exciting part was being able to hold a seahorse at the end of the tour. This is a well worthwhile learning experience.

“The learning from this attraction well outweighed its cost”

Tasmania is also abundant with wildlife. We have encountered countless wallaby’s and bird species. Most notably we have been excited to encounter 2 echidnas, a wombat, 2 stingrays, a Tassie devil and a platypus. The shy platypus was the most excited due to how rare they are in the wild.

Feeling privileged – Scottsdale, Tasmania

We are on the hunt for big things on our travels too, and this month we have encountered 2 big things, one natural and one man made. We hiked into see the largest living tree by girth in Australia. It measures a 19.4 meters around and was big enough for ours and the Barravanning Oz families to be photographed in the hollow of its trunk. It soars to over 60 metres tall and is estimated to be over 150 years old. Defiantly worth the walk through the rainforest to visit this epic site.  The man-made big thing we found this month is the Big Thumbs Up in Scottsdale. Carved from a tree that was knocked down into the driveway of Joshie Janoschka’s, a local Scottsdale cabinet maker. Joshie could have just cut the tree up into firewood, but his quirky sense of humour prevailed the big thumb was gift to the town.

We are enrolled in distance education through NEPSODE (See our reason why here). For us this way of schooling is working well for us. We are in the roll of it and it isn’t impacting on our exploring. The kids are doing on average about 2 hours work 5 days a week, plus a half hour online lesson each a week. Hit us up if you have any questions. We are happy to answer them.

This Month’s Learnings

So what have we learnt from our travelling experiences this month. Many many things, but here are the key ones;

  • Food in Tasmania is a little more expensive with only small IGA supermarkets available in most towns. Coles and Woolworth are only in major cities and towns.
  • The landscape in Tasmania is hilly with many dirt roads and we have found it best to camp somewhere central and explore out like spiders legs, saving yourself money in fuel as your not towing the van so often.
  • The above also means less pack-ups and set ups.
  • If you put yourself out there you will meet amazing people, and maybe make new friends. The kids met many new friends to play with in our travels. Whether it was a quick play at a park or at the campground. We also met up with 2 other travelling families (Barravanning Oz and Trekking Downunder) purely by connecting with them via social media. We also met Michelle and Gary at one of our campsites, and have kept in contact.
  • Learn what everyone’s triggers are and how best to calm them down. Is it music, a walk or going fishing. No matter what it is everyone needs to recognise when each other needs space.
  • Girls, your skin will get really really dry from being outside all the time. Prepare for this before you go!
  • You will initially stress about water fill ups and dump points, but it will become part of normal life!
  • Make sure you replace your spare gas bottle as soon as it runs out, because your 2nd gas bottle will run out at the most inconvenient moment – like at 8pm on a Sunday night when you want a shower after a day of fishing!

Budget

Here is a quick overview of our budget. Please remember that all families travel differently and this is just OUR budget for the month of March. In March we have only travelled 1,688 km.

  Month Per week
Accommodation $71 $16
Food $1439 $325
Fuel $503 $114
Alcohol (liquid sanity) $342 $77
Eating Out $381 $86
Experiences $311 $70
Other
(phone, internet, on road bills,
at home costs, maintenance, medical, permits)
$1870 $422
Total $4917 $1110

We are pretty happy with our budget. We were hoping we were going to be living on between $1000 and $1200 per week. But for us we aren’t going to limit our experiences not only because of money. This is our life for the next 3 years, and we are going to enjoy it!

Got any questions about our travels or our other must sees . . Comment below and we will get back to you.