It continues to amaze us how many locations in Australia add the the prefix “great” to the location. It has become a bit of a standing joke between us. Undoubtedly, a lot of locations do deserve this title but the difficulty is that if everything is labelled “great” how do you distinguish the “really great” from the “take a look if you can because it’s great”? Which leads me nicely to……
The “Great” Eastern Drive
After our very successful road trip to the west of Launceston and Cradle Mountain, we felt a day was needed to head east and low and behold after planning our route with our trusty map, we discovered that part of our route followed what is called The Great Eastern Drive. After about a 20km drive south from Launceston, we started to head east towards St Mary’s on the coast. It was through Fingal Valley and rolling hills. Fingal itself was originally a convict station and then it was said that “there be gold in them hills” (always wanted to say that) and it boomed. The boom has now died down and it is more of a sleepy version of it’s former self. We continued east until the road cut through a gorge and got very narrow, high and hairpin bends-a-plenty. Suddenly we had our first glimpse of the coast which stretched as far as the eye could see to the north.
Our first stop was at Four Mile Creek. Our hosts, Rosa and David, had recently bought what they described as a small cottage there very close to the beach and they had given us the address in case we were passing. Well, passing we were so we found the place. Not really a cottage, much bigger but what a lovely place to escape to. There were only about 30 or 40 houses and it is tucked away off the main coast road.
We continued south and had our trusty picnic on the shoreline at Bicheno. A great spot with a view right back along the coast that we had driven.
The views just got better and better as we headed down towards the Freycinet Peninsula and Swansea. The roads were really quiet so there were lots of chances to pull over and take some photos.
In Swansea, we walked around the headland to get a great view of the Peninsula. It was such a calm, sunny, perfect day. Picture postcard stuff. Hard to choose photos so you have a few more than usual. It was The “Great” Photograph Drive.
My turn behind the wheel to get back to Launceston via an equally superb drive. The road didn’t have a name as such but it has become The “Great” Wallaby Way. I was merrily swinging the car around a succession of empty curving roads when a wallaby decided he would cross the road. He just bounded across from my right without a care in the world. To be fair, on the rural roads it does feel more like their territory than ours. He lived to tell the tale and the Mitsubishi logo on Jon’s forehead is now only a faint mark.
Highland Lakes Road (No “Great” but it was great!)
Our 8 days in Launceston came to an end. We loved it all and having the car gave us the opportunity to get to places that would have been expensive day trips and, even worse, time restrictions at every location.
I was back navigating and put forward a plan to travel back to Hobart via a different route. We just thought it would be a change from using the same highway that we had used on our outward journey. It was an A road and I anticipated it taking about half an hour longer (around 3.5 hours). Well, it was the drive of a lifetime. For once, it didn’t have a fancy name but we have found out it is called the Highland Lakes Road. Basically the road climbs and climbs and climbs until you are on a plateau at 1200 metres. The views were amazing and we jumped out to take some photos. I immediately jumped back in to grab my jumper. The temperature had dropped from 19 degrees to 4.
The road was around 150km long and the average height for the drive is 1000m so it was quite spectacular with the change in scenery, vegetation, etc. After stopping off at another couple of viewing points, we joined the road for a few hundred metres then the tarmac disappeared. (I wondered why the colour of the road on my map was different!) Evidently, we had found the only unsealed A road in the whole of Australia. So for around 20km we were on a dirt track on the plateau.
The track took us past Pine Lake and Great Lake which are on the plateau. There were quite a few houses made of corrugated iron with the obligatory water tanks and gas bottles for their water and heating supply but it was a fairly desolate place. Jon described it as the best drive of his life and it did have a “Top Gear” feel to it. Move over Chris Evans – Jonno is here!
Now that Jon has perfected his mountain driving, when we were back in Hobart we finished the day by attempting the drive up Mount Wellington. Our earlier off-road experience had played havoc with my ETA – mostly because of the various photo opportunities but we figured we had time. We headed for the access road only to see the cloud come in and you couldn’t see a thing but we persevered and Jon’s expert negotiation of roadworks, scarily narrow roads with hardly any barrier, patience with other hire car drivers with little or no knowledge of driving and finally me, ooing and hiding in my jumper due to my aversion to heights. Just as we finished the 30 minute drive, the clouds cleared and it was worth all the anxiety to see the views. We could see for miles right over Hobart and the Tasman Peninsula. The massive cruise liner in the port even looked like a tiny spec. It was a bit blowy but we did manage to take some photos and even recorded a video (a first for us) before it started to snow and then that sort of turned into a blizzard. We decided it was time to head down and, once again, Jon got us safely to ground level.
A quick drive across town to return the hire car with 15 minutes to spare and head to the bus stop to find our next Airbnb. We were both feeling weary after our exciting day so were pleased it was an easy journey and such a friendly welcome from Penny our new host.
We have had such a brilliant time in Tasmania but only a few days left before crossing “the ditch”, as we have heard it referred to, and heading to Christchurch.
Here I am practicing to fly to NZ…….. although it does also look like I might be being beamed up by Scottie as well! Please note this photo was produced without the use of CGI or alcohol. Please send your own caption in a comment but be kind to me.
30.11 – 2.12.2015