6 – 9 April 2018
Launceston in Northern Tasmania is the state’s second larget city. With a population of around 84,000, it is smaller than Asheville, North Carolina. This low-rise city has more of a big town vibe. Located at the confluence of the North and South Esk Rivers which form the Tamar River, it was established early in Tasmania’s history.
We stayed in an histroric hotel in town. At first glance, the city failed to wow us but as we walked around we found more and more endearing qualities.
Launceston has a number of architectural treasures and a vibrant business district. The City Park has monkees, that was an unexpected surprise! The National Automobile Museum of Tasmania is small but well worth a visit. And of course the aforementioned Cataract Gorge is outstanding.
We did not know much about the city before we arrived but we will leave Tasmania forever remembering this little gem.
Central Business District
National Automobile Museum
8 April 2018
Memorable cities and towns have something that sets them apart from the rest. Launceston has the incredible Cataract Gorge and surrounding parks and trails. Best of all, they are only a short walk from the city’s central business district.
The gorge straddles South Esk River near the junction of Tamar River. Walking trails on the north side and hiking trails on the south take you from King’s Bridge in town to Alexandra Suspension Bridge at the First Basin. Cataract Gorge Reserve at First Basin has nice park facilites including a cafe, pool and playground. It also has the world’s longest single span chairlift for added viewpoints of the river and gorge. Oh and did I forget to mention the peacocks? Dozens of them hangout around the cafe enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. Further along the river’s southside, hiking trails take you to Sentinel Lookout and Duck Reach Power Station.
On the southside of King’s Bridge is Penny Royal, a great nook of cafes, bars and accomodations with a waterfall, cliff walks, climbing wall, and small rides. We ate lunch outside at neighboring King’s Bridge Bar.
Not just a fantastic place to spend time while in Launceston, Cataract Gorge and surrounding areas are a reason to come to Launceston. We loved it!
7 April 2018
My son really wanted to see a platypus in the wild. We saw them twice in captivity, Sydney’s WildLife Zoo and Melbourne Zoo. Tasmania is supposed to be one of the best places to see them. With our visit here almost done the only platypus we’ve seen in Tassie was at a Hobart museum… not in the wild, not even alive. To be fair, they are especially hard to spot.
This afternoon we drove to Warrawee Forest, about 100 km northwest of Launceston. Platypus Pond in Mersey River was said to be the premier place to spot platypus. I found the trail map online. It seemed simple enough. We drove down Shale Road as far as we could until it was blocked. From there we set off on foot down the remainder of the road where we found the first trail of two trails. It started ok but the further we went the more adventerous it got. It was not what we expected but we could follow the trail markers through the bush. Clearly we took the path less travelled.
Platypus Pond had all the trademarks of a good habitat. There were plenty of animal tracks on the waters edge but no platypus to be found. The real problem we found was platypus are nocturnal so they are best spotted at dusk and dawn. A poorly marked trail, no other hikers, and no mobile phone signal meant we needed to backtrack before we lost sunlight. We raced the sunset to get back to Shale Road. There we found others at the river’s edge. Talking with them we found out that Platypus Pond had been flooded and their habitat destroyed a few years ago. The overgrown trail and lack of hikers started to make sense. Despite our lack of success, not all was lost.
Just when we were ready to give up, bam, a platypus! I wish I could have photographed it. They only come up for air occassionally and are difficult to see, let alone focus a camera, before they disappear again. I’m just glad my son finally got to see a platypus in the wild, albeit briefly.
Mersey River in Warrawee Forest
Platypus at Hobart’s Tasmanian Museum
6 April 2018
On our drive from Freycinet National Park to Launceston, we took the scenic route through St. Helens to St. Columbia Falls. The falls can be seen from the trailhead. The hike to the viewing platform and back takes only 30 minutes through lush rainforest. St. Columbia Falls is worth a stop if in the area, however I wouldn’t go out of your way as we did to see it. There are plenty of waterfalls to see in Tasmania.
5 April 2018
Freycinet National Park’s marquee hike is the Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach Trail. It is posted at 4 to 5 hours however we did it in just over 3. The trail includes Wineglass Bay Lookout, Wineglass Bay Beach, Hazards Beach, and views of the Hazards and Coles Bay. The trail to the lookout was congested. It thinned out down to Wineglass Beach but was still heavily travelled. The longest section around Hazard Beach and Coles Bay was peaceful and quiet. The beaches are amazing.
Wineglass Bay Lookout to Wineglass Beach
Hazards Beach Trail
4 April 2018
Freycinet National Park is at the middle of Tasmania’s East Coast. The park is known for its mountains, rugged coastline, and beautiful beaches. We spent our first afternoon here taking a few short hikes. This is another place where my amatuer photography cannot do justice.
The Cape Tourville Lighthouse Trail provides wonderful views of the cape and Carp Bay on the eastern coast. Wallabies looking for an easy meal greet visitors at the car park. The trail is short, easy, and definitely worth the 6 km drive off the main park road.
The Sleepy Bay and Little Gravelly Beach Trailhead is also on Cape Tourville Road. The trail only takes 30 minutes but we spent twice that walking along the rocky beach.
Cape Tourville Lighthouse (left), Little Gravelly Beach rocks (top right), Mount Parsons (center right), and Sleepy Bay (bottom right)
4 – 5 April 2018
Continuing our tour of Tasmania, we travelled northeast from Hobart to Coles Bay through small towns and grazing pastures. Coles Bay sits on the edge of Freycinet National Park. After a few short hikes in the park, we walked along Honeymoon Bay and Muirs Beach late in the afternoon before returning to our cabin.
Mayfield Beach south of Swansea
Honeymoon Bay at Coles Bay
Muirs Beach at Coles Bay