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Our Tasmania Travel Diary

Fat Mum Slim /

tasmania-travel-diary

Last week we did a whirlwind trip to Tasmania. I’m going to be completely honest and say that I didn’t know much about Tasmania before I visited. My neighbours, who travel for around 9 months of the year, are currently spending six weeks touring the whole island. Before they left I picked their brains on what to do and see, giving them a map to mark out everything that I needed to do.

Usually I travel with my husband and my girls, but it’s been my Ma’s lifelong dream to travel to Tasmania {she’s never been overseas and all she’s wanted was to visit Tassie}. So I did what any good daughter would do, I took her with us.

Here’s how our trip went down.

DAY ONE: Gold Coast to Melbourne, and then aboard Spirit of Tasmania

We departed the Gold Coast for Melbourne and then headed straight to Port Melbourne. That place is fancy; big houses, beautiful views, fancy cars. F-A-N-C-Y. Spirit of Tasmania is a ship that you can drive your car {and caravan etc} onto, so that you can hope off when you arrive in Tasmania and continue driving along and exploring.

We traveled as foot passengers, so we just boarded and picked up a car on the other side. Either option is really easy to do.

The Spirit of Tasmania does both day trips or overnight trips. On the way over and back, we traveled overnight. We checked-in and boarded at 6:00pm, ate dinner and then headed to bed, waking up at our destination.
day-one---cabin

Inside our cabin

 

If you didn’t have kids, and wanted to have a really good time {i.e. stay up late!} you totally could. You could play in the gaming lounge, or sit around in one of the many areas and have a few drinks, or watch a movie in the cinema. For kids there is a games room, a play area for little kids, and a kids’ movie too.

We dined at the Leatherwood Restaurant, which offers three course meals for $64, or two courses and drinks for $56. There is also a selection of Tasmanian wines to choose from. I suggest that you book as soon as you get onto the ship, because both times it was booked out very quickly. Alternatively you could dine at the Captain’s Table where meals can be purchased for $31 {kids under 5 eat free}. It’s a buffet-style restaurant which was really popular as well.

leatherwood-collageWe ate at the Leatherwood Restaurant on both our trips on the Spirit of Tasmania. I’m a creature of habit {if I find something I love, I stay with it} so I can tell you the beef is worth ordering, as is the sticky date pudding. There’s also a Tasmanian Tasting Plate that you can for entree to kick off your tastebuds for what Tassie has to offer. For kids there are beautiful meals {no nuggets and chips in sight, yay!} and ice cream sundaes for dessert.

Straight after dinner I headed to our cabin to take Lulu to bed {Spirit of Tasmania provided a portacot, we brought our own linen}, while Ma took Lacey out to explore and play around. We were warned that the swell in the Bass Strait {the body of water we travelled over to get to Tasmania} can get a bit hairy, but we didn’t feel it at all. It was calm, and we all slept like babies.

TRAVEL TIP: If you’re traveling by car, pack a small bag to take on the ship {don’t take all your belongings}. And make sure you take any medication etc with you, because you can’t access your car again once the ship is sailing. If you’re traveling by foot {without a car} pack a small bag to take to your cabin and check-in all other luggage if you’re travelling without a vehicle or leave it in the boot of your car if you are travelling with a vehicle. This just makes life much easier for you.

DAY TWO: Devonport, Elizabeth Town, Launceston and Longford

At around 5:45am a call comes over the speaker that it’s almost time to depart the ship. It’s a wake-up call of sorts, giving you just under an hour to shower, pack-up and leave the ship. I’m an early morning person so this suits me perfectly. In fact I was up before the wake-up call watching the ship sail into port.

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Our first stop is breakfast at the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe at Elizabeth Town. If you don’t like raspberries {I don’t even want to know who you are!} but you will still find something to like on the menu. We’re mad about raspberries, so it suited us perfectly. I started with a raspberry hot chocolate and swiftly moved onto poached eggs and mushrooms with raspberry hollandaise {it’s really subtle}.

You can buy fresh raspberries, and other berries, and products, which we did before leaving. I also recommend taste-testing what they have to offer near the counters. On the day we visited it was chocolate coated raspberries {yum!}.

christmas hills raspberry farm cafe

We then went to Ashgrove Cheese to pick up some more supplies for our stay. You can taste test cheeses, and watch cheese being made too. We visited on a public holiday, so all the cheese-makers were at home relaxing. There are also colourful replica cows around to keep the kids enthralled while you munch on lots of cheese.

TRAVEL TIP: One of the things I quickly fell in love with during our stay was that there was so much to see as you travel around. I saw many things that I wish I’d stopped for, but just told myself I’d see them on the return trip. Just stop and check out something when you see it, because you might take another route on your return. On our travels we stumbled across an apple farm, and decided not to stop. I had instant regret, did a u-turn and went back. BEST APPLES EVER.

seahorse worldAfter filling up on cheese and raspberries we headed to Beauty Point to checkout the Seahorse World, which also took us through Beaconsfield. Lacey had been learning about Seahorses at school, so it was a treat to visit the first ever seahorse farm in the world. Did you know that the males give birth to the young, rather than the females? We got to hold seahorses, while we took a tour and learned lots about them. After Seahorse World we headed next door to the Platypus House. Platypus House is also home to echidnas. The girls were getting a little impatient, so we asked if we could skip the entire tour and instead sneak in to see the playtpus and echidnas and then head off on our next adventure. Our neighbours told us these two places were a must visit for kids, and I’m glad we listened.

We then hopped into the car and headed east to Launceston. After a little bit of a drive the girls were ready to run around, so we headed to City Park. I’ve heard there’s also a great monkey park {and I’m not sure if this is the same thing} but this was perfect for us. Easy to find a carpark, lots of shade and equipment perfect for little people and more active kids too.

slideWe finished our Launceston tour with a visit to the Cataract Gorge. We didn’t have enough time to do it any justice, and I thought it would have suited Lacey but not Lulu, so we drove around and then head a little further south to Longford for the night.

Now, my little family has been very blessed to stay at some beautiful, fancy locations around the world. I know that we’re so very lucky. But I do have to say that where we stayed on our first night in Tassie is the best place we’ve ever stayed {for kids}. It was just so beautiful, and I could tell that the kids were just happy from their toes to their hair follicles.

brickendon-cottageBrickendon is a World Heritage Listed Colonial Farm Village. Basically, it’s a very sweet place built in 1824 that has oodles of character, loads of friendly farm animals and a sense of energy that demands that you relax. Our accommodation for the night was a three bedroom farmhouse with a loungeroom, a full kitchen, two dining rooms {I think one was a breakfast room} and the most comfortable beds you ever did sleep in. Surrounding the house animals roamed free, an apple tree grew out the back, and next door we woke to sheep being sheared. Like seriously, this was a dream for us. We spent hours playing with the animals, feeding them grass and even managed a selfie with a sheep {how freaking cool!}.

As the sun went down it was a little chilly so we lit a fire in the lounge room, and relaxed after a full day of travel and fun, and sat back and chatted, had some wine and watched TV.

Brickendon Estate has a number of houses spotted over the property, so depending on your requirements you could pick the place to suit your needs. There was a wedding the weekend that we arrived, so there were a few families on the property who were staying on after the reception to enjoy life on the farm.

pigfarm apple

We feasted on cheeses, baguette with Tasmanian butter, fresh apples from the tree, and dips… and then had the best sleep we’ve had in a while. I think it was a mix of the crisp cool air {a welcome change from the humidity back at home}, being worn out and all the cheese!

farm-life

DAY THREE: Longford, Richmond and Hobart

After our blissful sleep, we woke and helped ourselves to some breakfast goodies that Lou {from the Archer family who’ve owned the property since way back when} had left us with the night before, and the girls were begging to head outside again. So we did.

We did a lap of the farm; visiting the rabbits, chickens, pig, sheep, calf, goat, geese and horse and then came back and heard a noise coming from a nearby shed. I assumed the farm wasn’t a working farm, and more a historical site, but being nosey, I went into the shed to find people shearing sheep. We sat down and watched for a while, amazed out how quickly a sheep can get a haircut and how well-behaved they are. Better behaved than some children I know…

Once we’d tidied up the cottage, and gathered our belongings, we packed the car and headed off to our next destination, a sweet little town called Richmond. But first we stopped at JJ’s Bakery {readers told me that I shouldn’t miss it} and grabbed a little on-the-road munchies. The pumpkin and fetta quiche was to die for, just quietly.

richmondThis little town feels like somewhere I’ve visited before {Southern Highlands of NSW, maybe?}, the streets are lined with sweet houses with beautiful gardens, and I pretty much want to move right in. The reason we stopped at Richmond, was because one of my readers had told me to visit Old Hobart Town, which is a small miniature replica village of Hobart in the 1820s. I love that stuff. Lacey was enthralled because she was promised a sticker if she could find four hidden things around the place, and she managed to do that and score herself a sticker. Definitely worth a visit if you like small things, and history. It cost us $32 to enter as a family.

We then wandered about town, stopping in for an ice cream for the girls at the lolly shop, and meandering past the bakery which was bustling. I had a hankering for scones with jam and cream, and every cafe seemed to be offering them. We settled for Ashmore Cafe on Bridge Street, and they didn’t disappoint {thankfully!}. If you’re doing a tour of Tasmania, particularly heading from the North to the South, I’d recommend putting Richmond as a pit stop, or a stop over. We only saw a tiny part of it, but what I did see, I loved.

We were keen to get to Hobart and check out our accommodation so we hit the road again, firstly stopping at the Wicked Cheese Factory and for a teeny bit of wine tasting at Pooley Wines {we bought a bottle of the Pinot Grigio}. We didn’t know that the Wicked Cheese Factory was as good as it was, otherwise we would have parked ourselves there for lunch. There’s a lawn for the kids to run around, and they offer yummy lunch options too.

TRAVEL TRIP: Expect travel to take a little longer than your GPS says. The roads are beautiful, but smaller than I imagined {narrower} and there are lots of people sight-seeing {i.e. driving below the speed limit}, so just take that into account. Who’s in a rush anyway?

We traveled further south to Hobart, to Salamanca Wharf Hotel. We checked into our accommodation and the receptionist asked, “We’ve upgraded you to the penthouse, is that OK?” OK? Honey, that’s more than OK! While I love rustic and personality, my Ma likes fancy. So she was thrilled to hear the words ‘upgrade’ and ‘penthouse’. The room was beautiful, and right in the heart of everything. Seriously, all the things. If you wanted to eat at the nicest restaurants, you could do that. If you wanted to walk around and explore, you could do that. If you wanted to head out to visit MONA via boat, you could do that too. Our accommodation was where everything was happen, so I’d definitely plan on spending a few days here next time, so that I could check everything off my Hobart Bucket List.

Salamanca Wharf Hotel looks and feels like it was only built yesterday, with the most modern of functionalities {a car stacker!} but it also feels like home. I took advantage of the washing machine and washed our clothes, so we didn’t have to worry about it on our return. All the toiletry products are by one of my favourite brands, Mor, and were gardenia-scented, so I may have secretly stashed a few away to bring home. They also have Wifi for guests, so if you want to work or play, you can do that too.

Apparently the Salamanca Markets, on Saturday mornings, are unmissable… so if you’re around on a weekend make sure you plan to head to those. Unfortunately we traveled during the week so missed out, but next time!

Salamanca Wharf HotelAnother of my readers {oh how I love you guys! You give good advice} said that I need to get to Daci & Daci Bakers in Hobart, and I noticed it as we were driving to our accommodation. So after we rested in the apartment for 10.3 seconds, the girls and I headed out for baked goods and a play in the nearby park. We grabbed a fruit salad and Concorde {mousse & meringue!}, and sat in the sun for a while. Later we headed to Mures for a quick seafood dinner. I was craving fresh seafood and seasonal vegetables in a fancy restaurant, but two exhausted children and fancy meals don’t mix, so instead we ate and then headed back to our accommodation for an early night.

DAY FOUR: Hobart, Mount Wellington, Elizabeth Town and Turner’s Bay

IMG_4501After waking early, I made a last minute decision that we HAD to see the sunset from the top of Mount Wellington. I Googled the time that the sun was rising, and Googled the distance to the peak of the mountain and basically calculated it all wrong. We drove up the mountain and just missed the start of the sun rising, but it was beautiful all the same. The sun waits for no one!

Mount Wellington is beautiful, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It felt like we were in a whole different world, because the clouds were lingering around us. The temperature was close to freezing point {2 degrees Celsius!}, so without coats, scarves, thermals, beanies {i.e. warm stuff} we couldn’t stand the cold temps for long. So we’d run out, check out the view and then head back into the car to warm up. It was so worth the drive. Do it if you’re in the area. Take warm clothes!

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We ate breakfast at the cafe below the Salamanca Wharf Hotel and I think you should try the caramel pancakes {if you’re ever in the area}. So deliciously naughty. And then we hit the road again. We stopped at the Cadbury Factory, because it wouldn’t be right not to stop. It’s $4 to visit {but that doesn’t include seeing chocolate being made}, and each person gets a goodie bag. The chocolates are super cheap, if you’re a Cadbury chocolate lover. Because it was Easter time, we grabbed a $25 huge bag of Easter eggs. Easter shopping done.

The trip from Hobart to Devonport is more than three hours long, so we wanted to make sure we were there early and didn’t miss the boat. Can you imagine? We made a pit stop at Campbell Town where we found another JJ’s Bakery, so we grabbed some lunch and let the girls stretch their legs again.

TRAVEL TIP: I went into a travel agent and grabbed their guide to Tasmania before we left for our trip, and it included a map with travel times, so I could estimate how long it would take to get to places. This website is good too, so you can plan your trip out a little.

pit-stop

Before boarding the ship we filled our spare time with a trip to Anver’s Chocolate Shop and up to Turner’s Beach Berry Patch for berry picking. We loved picking our own berries. We took a container out into the patch and picked until we were satisfied. Quarantine laws allow us to take berries out of Tassie but not bring any fruit in, so stock up and take some berries home! This loot below only cost us $2. Bargain.

berry-picking

We managed to fill every minute of every day during our stay in Tasmania with good stuff. We were knackered but so very happy. Tasmania delivered more than I dreamed of. The people are beautiful and friendly, the landscape is stunning, and there’s just so much to do and eat. I’m already planning a trip back to visit the East Coast, and to take Hubby along next time.

spirit-of-tasmania

Our trip home was another night of smooth sailing. We ate dinner at The Leatherwood Restaurant, and settled in for an early night. Everyone slept well again, waking before the 5:45am wake-up call. Each room has a bathroom, and room for your luggage. If you don’t want to splurge on a room you can grab an Ocean Recliner, or you could take a day trip and play cards with your mates all day {like my neighbour does, and loves it!}.

Before this trip I didn’t know that Spirit of Tasmania had cabins and restaurants. I actually thought people parked their cars on and stayed in their cars the whole trip {I had no idea!}. The set up is really comfortable, and better than I could have imagined. I definitely recommend putting Tasmania on your travel bucketlist.

TRAVEL TIP: The ladies at the Devonport office told me that if you plan in advance, you’ll save money on your Spirit of Tasmania fare. So plan your holiday ahead of time. At the moment Spirit of Tasmania has a special offer, with 50% off passenger fares. Day sailings start from $43 each way and night sailings from $48 each way. Travel from 16 May to 17 September 2015. Offer ends April 4 unless sold out prior. You can book by visiting here.

And now for some exciting news: One person is going to win a $200 gift voucher to spend on a Spirit of Tasmania trip. It could be you! Simply answer the following question below to be in the running: Why do you want to visit Tasmania?

We traveled as guests of Spirit of Tasmania.

One entry per person
Open to Australian Residents Only
Competition closes April 1st 11:59pm

@Fatmumslim