As highlighted in the blog entitled Our Tasmanian East Cost Adventure, we were happy to move on from Scottsdale. We left about 9.00AM and our first stop was at the Bridestowe Lavender Farm, the largest commercial lavender farm in the southern hemisphere. See photos in public domain (‘PPD) – ours’ will follow. It delighted the sense of smell, was an amazing sight where we could see only lavender in full bloom and was very memorable.
Next we hit Tasmania’s northern coast in Bridport (see PPD) and stopped for a couple of coastal walks. We went to the Wildflower Reserve (see PPD) which was particularly pleasant with lovely views over Anderson Bay.
From Bridport, we drove 56km to George Town (see PPD), Australia’s third-oldest town, settled in 1804. We parked up and explored George Town’s historical sites on foot. Stepping back in time, this included home to the oldest gaol, a Model Village and a sad display of the Women’s Factory. The woman’s factory was staffed by female convicts, their crimes were sometimes so petty, and included things like insolence to their former boss; however, they were transported from England to serve their time, working at the female factory and falling pregnant, having babies under dire conditions and the babies dying and being buried in unmarked graves. There are thought to be 900 infant deaths and to pay respect to these infants and their mothers, there is now a memorial of hundreds of Christening bonnets, hand-made by volunteers and one bonnet for each infant death, all on view at the Watch House. We followed the self-guided tour of George Town’s heritage trail. A highlight was the Bass Finders Centre, with the ‘Norfolk’ replica, which was the ship used in 1998 to acknowledge the extraordinary achievements of Bass and Flinders, in the original Norfolk, circumnavigating Tasmania 200 years earlier – we were amazed at how small it was considering the length and dangers of the voyages. Finally, we visited Low Head, five minutes north of George Town, Australia’s oldest continuously operated pilot station (circa 1805), a maritime museum and Low Head Lighthouse (1888). We were reminded how important lighthouses and pilots were in the years before satellite navigation systems and saw some interesting examples of early maritime life, including a diver’s suit with pull strings; he would have to pull once for up and twice for ok and his operator would be on board holding the other end of the rope!
After nearly half a day in George Town, we headed south for Launceston where we based ourselves for two nights. We spent the day exploring the Tamar River’s west coast, including the Tamar Islands Wetland Centre (see PPD) and various stunningly beautiful points along the river – we resisted sampling the many wineries overlooking the river. After two uneventful nights in Launceston, we left in heavy rain, driving west. We passed through the historic towns of Carrick, Hadspen and Hagley, moving on to Westbury (see PPD), renowned for its English country character and lovely colonial architecture and through Deloraine, a classified historic town on the Meander River. Later, we followed the coastal road, through pretty north coast towns, until we got to Stanley (see PPD) , our base for two days. As it was still raining, we earmarked several historical towns for stops on our return journey.
We had two delightful days in Stanley, staying in a wonderful 18th century cottage which had been modernised for 21st century comforts but still had some beautiful original features such as the open brick interior wall and decorative items – it was right in the historic centre with a lovely sea view. Each night we had fresh fish in the nearby pub which was popular with locals and visitors alike. After the rain stopped, there were very strong winds in Stanley but this did not stop us exploring the quaint town on foot.
Next day, we headed west through the breath-taking wilderness of the Tarkine National Park. The Tarkine National Park was our introduction to Tasmania’s Western Wilderness. For some amazing photos in the public domain (PPD), open this link. Incidentally, we bought a sixty day Tasmanian National Parks pass for the car and occupants for AUD60 (GBP36); this was remarkable value, as we visited national parks most days along our route. We completed several lovely coastal walks in the Tarkine and finally arrived at the coastal area known as ‘Edge of the World’. Behind Marilyn in the above photo, the open ocean extends for 40,000km, all the way to Argentina.
Stay with us as we continue our journey in Tasmania’s Western Wilderness.