North East Tassie

Launceston (pronounced ‘Lon-ceston’) is Tasmania’s second biggest city after Hobart.  Its main tourist attraction is Cataract Gorge Reserve which unfortunately is not dog friendly so we took turns having a look in.

Cressy – the fly fishing capital of Tasmania

Cressy is host to the Tasmanian Trout Expo every September.  It’s a shame we weren’t here then as Jonathan might have landed a $10,000 trout.  Cressy sits on the Macquarie River and is also close to Brumby’s Creek and weirs which are regarded as some of the best trout fishing spots in Tasmania.   Jonathan caught a couple of rainbow trout in the Macquarie River.  He’s becoming an expert trout filleter too and we had rainbow and brown trout fillets for dinner to compare the two.

Campbell Town

There were some beautiful sculptures next to the bridge carved by Eddie Freeman from Ross.  One depicted Dr William Valentine and his telescope.  He was responsible for the US Naval observatory team who observed the Transit of Venus at Campbell Town in 1874.

Westbury

This historic town has several National Trust buildings and a very English feel to it.  It even has a village green complete with stocks.

Cockle Creek

Our stay at Cockle Creek is a good example of the highs and lows of travelling.  Cockle Creek is the most southerly campsite in Australia and we found a perfect spot to park up.  It was the warmest day so far in Tassie at 29 degrees and we were hotter than Cairns, Brisbane and Alice Springs.  There were oysters and mussels on the rocks and Jonathan used his geology hammer to harvest some for dinner.  Winston enjoyed swimming in the creek and running on the beach.

After a fabulous day, we set off back to Hobart the next morning only to get a flat tyre 10km out of Cockle Creek.  A lovely local couple stopped to assist with a tyre change and we were on our way again an hour later.

We spent the afternoon on a quest to get some new tyres and TyreRight in Hobart managed to sort us out.  While we were waiting, we went to the Electoral Commission office and cast our votes for the upcoming Queensland elections.

In other voting news today, the results of the same sex marriage survey were announced and 61.6% of Australians voted for the law to be changed to allow same sex couples to marry.  Many landmark buildings around Australia were lit up in rainbow colours to mark the occasion.

Inverawe Garden, Margate

Margaret and Bill Chestnut have turned 22 acres of weeds into a beautiful native garden which attracts over 100 species of birds.  I booked into one of Bill’s bird spotting workshops which gave me a chance to test out my birthday binoculars.  Our group spotted 35 species over a couple of hours.  As the gardens are next to the North West Bay River, there were also plenty of shore and water birds.  Margaret laid on a fine morning tea for the group.

The gardens are behind the Margate Train whose carriages house various traders such as the Devil’s Brewery, Choo Chews and the Pancake Train.

We camped at the Bowls Club, next to the gardens which was a very scenic spot.  There was a platypus in the river and some elusive trout which kept Jonathan occupied for a few hours.

 

Tassie Adventure Day 1

It was freezing cold (literally) in Devonport but the sun was shining.

We visited the Tasmanian Arboretum in the morning …

… and spent the afternoon by the Mersey River.  Jonathan did some fly fishing and caught a brown trout for dinner.  I sat platypus spotting with my new birthday binnies and soon saw one swimming around.   It didn’t seem bothered that Jonathan was standing in the water.

 

The Bradshaw guide to seafood of the Eyre Peninsula …

… or ‘shucks, we ate a lot of oysters’

Jonathan has been hauling in the squid from the jetties and caught his biggest yet in Ceduna.

The oysters along the West Coast are said to have a range of flavours so we thought it would only be right to try some from each of the four main growing areas.  Armed with an oyster knife and a handy guide to shucking, we started off with a dozen from the Ceduna Oyster Bar and A One Oysters at the Smoky Bay oyster sheds.

The wind had dropped, the sun was shining and we were camped up on the beach.  It didn’t get much better than that.

Our next dozen came from the Streaky Bay Seafood company.  These made a very tasty lunch with some fresh buttered bread.  Jonathan caught an Australian Salmon from the jetty at Venus Bay and we ate that for dinner, battered, with some chips from the nearby café.  Winston did a sterling job keeping the pelicans and seagulls away from the fish cleaning table.

We’re becoming pescetarians (I think that’s the correct term).

At Coffin Bay, we tried the Pacific Oyster and also an Oyster Pie from the local bakery, which was quite tasty.

In our opinion the oysters from Streaky Bay and Coffin Bay tasted best straight from the shell with a squeeze of lemon juice or garlic butter.  They were fresh, sweet and light.  The larger oysters from Ceduna and Smoky Bay had a stronger flavour with a distinct saltiness and were very tasty cooked.  We grilled some Kilpatrick style with bacon and Worcestershire sauce and also deep fried some in batter.  We still need to try the native Angasi oyster which is said to be very rich, with a meaty flavour and texture.

Blackwood River Valley

Next we headed inland from Augusta along the Blackwood River Valley.  Jonathan had discovered that the river is stocked with trout and the season starts on the 1st September.  A lot of the town names end in -up: Nannup, Balingup, Palgarup, to name but a few.  This led to us inventing a few new town names as we drove along.  Manjimup was christened ‘sold a pup’ as we drove there for the famous farmers’ market on the first Saturday of the month only to find a handful of stalls.

The trout fishing wasn’t amazingly successful but there were plenty of pretty walking trails.

The towns were all very tidy and quaint.

Coral Bay, WA

Jonathan spent a day fishing with Mahi Mahi Fishing Charter.  The sea was pretty choppy and they almost cancelled the trip.  I think Jonathan wished they had as he had a terrible bout of sea sickness but managed an impressive catch anyway.  The Red Emperor sells for $80 a kilo so I think you get your money’s worth.  Any fish recipes gratefully received.

My boat trip was much calmer as I went out in a glass bottom boat for an hour’s bob over Ningaloo Reef.

A few other pics of Coral Bay.

Exmouth WA

On the way into Exmouth we came across Learmonth Solar Observatory which is a joint operation between the Australian and US governments.  Exmouth has a dry climate, with approximately 320 days of sunshine a year, hot summers and mild winters so makes an ideal location.  The observatory isn’t open to the public however.  In April 2023 there will be a total solar eclipse visible from Exmouth so Jonathan was keen to check out some viewing sites on the path of totality.

Exmouth is at the Northern end of the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef.  There are lots of campsites along the Cape Range National Park but of course we couldn’t go there because of The Winst.  We stayed at the Lighthouse Caravan Park at the North West Cape which suited us very well, as a dog friendly beach is directly across from the campsite.  We walked up to the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse where there are sweeping views along the coast and we also spotted  humpback whales which are migrating.   We could see loggerhead turtles close to shore, feeding on the reef.  Emus also came wandering into the campsite.

Jonathan was surprised to find that the sandflats of the Ningaloo Reef Lagoon are famous in fly fishing circles as a place to catch bonefish, trevally, queenfish and permit and he spent a couple of afternoons out with his fly rod.

Onslow, WA

It was the start of the two week WA school holidays and we were prepared for the coastal towns being busy and the campsites bringing in their ‘super peak’ holiday prices.  We’re still in the tropics here so people are also escaping the cold of the south west winter.  Onslow is a small coastal town about 80km off the main highway.  We stopped at Ocean View Caravan Park for two nights but could have stopped longer as we were right on the beach and all the beaches were dog friendly.

There were also some good fishing spots.

Jonathan worked out that Onslow is the furthest place in Australia from Samford by road, at 5598km.  It has taken us 135 days to get here but of course we didn’t take the shortest route!