Second part of our Tasmania campervan trip, leaving the East Coast and heading inland towards the verdant valleys in the North East/ North of Tasmania, before reaching for the coast again, this time along the Bass Strait.
Tasmania North East/ North Road Trip Itinerary Overview
After the many coastal wonders along the East Coast, our northern stretch was a change of scenery with some days spent inland, in valleys, caves and waterfalls before going back to the coast again. National Parks such as Narawantapu National Park and Mole Creek National Park were our favourites from this region, but the other facets of Tasmania, it’s rich history and amazing local produce, stood out here as well. Here’s a video summary of our time in the north:
- Day 1
- The Shop in the Bush
- Pyengana Dairy Company
- St Columba Falls
- Bridestowe Lavender Estate
- Narawntapu National Park
- Day 2
- Narwantapu National Park
- Bird Hide Walk
- Archers Knob
- Bakers Beach
- Narwantapu National Park
- Day 3
- Tamar Ridge Cellar Door
- Tamar Island Wetlands Centre
- Kings Bridge Bar & Restaurant
- Cataract Gorge Reserve
- Old Macs Caravan and Motorhome Farm Stay
- Day 4
- Old Macs Caravan and Motorhome Farm Stay
- Dixie Blue
- Red Brick Road Ciderworks
- 41° South Tasmania and Georgie’s Cafe
- Melita Honey Farm
- Mole Creek Caravan Park
- Day 5
- King Solomons Cave
- King Solomons Cave Nature Walk
- Van Diemens Land Creamery Elizabeth Town
- Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe
- Elizabeth Town Bakery Cafe
- Ashgrove Cheese Dairy Door
- House of Anvers
- Peter & Una Seafoods
- Lakeside Tourist Caravan Park
- Lillico Beach Penguin Viewing Platform
- Day 6
- Turners Beach Berry Patch
- Three Sisters-Goat Island Nature Reserve
- Fern Glade Platypus Reserve
- Highfield Historic Site
- Jimmy Lane Memorial Lookout
- Godfreys Beach
- Hursey Seafoods
- BIG4 Stanley Holiday Park
- Godfreys Beach Penguin Viewing Platform
- Day 7
- The Nut
- Table Cape Lighthouse
- Hellyer Gorge
After rounding up our East Coast adventures at the Bay of Fires, we returned to St Helens to get back on the Tasman Highway (A3). The coastal views faded away as we headed inland towards the woods. In the middle of what appeared to be nowhere, a curious looking shop appeared next to the road.
The Shop in the Bush
The Shop in the Bush is exactly as its name implies. Really cool and interesting shop with a wide collection of all antiques and collectibles from across Australia. The larger collections were in books and jewellery. We spent a fair bit of time browsing the fascinating and precious collection of old books. In the end we purchased some ancient looking children’s book for the niece and nephew back home, as well as a coin from 1916 to add to my collection of random things from around the world.
Drive through Pyengana (St Columba Falls Road)
We left the highway for St Columba Falls Road towards Pyengana. It felt like we had entered a different country. In place of the dense trees, rolling hills against the spotless blue sky. It was probably not the first time we saw rolling hills and blue skies in Tasmania, but something felt surreal about it. That memory of driving our van through the valley at Pyengana still feels like a dream. In all that awe I didn’t take many pictures of that drive, but managed to get some of it in video.
Pyengana Dairy Company
It’s hard to think of something more appropriate to be here in this idyllic setting. The Pyengana Dairy Farm specialises its rich locally sourced milk and cheese made using traditional techniques from that milk. As the fridge on board our van was small and also ran the risk of losing power if we did not keep the battery sufficiently charged, we only got a small block of cheese for later on the road. Milk came in slightly larger bottles than we were confident of keeping fresh/ finishing it so we decided against it. However, with the view at Pyengana we couldn’t resist getting some scones to enjoy the view with. Time to earn those calories.
Entry fee: None
St Columba Falls
A couple of kilometres into the valley we were in the woods again, and then a couple more in and we were at St Columba Falls Track. Parking was a little tricky as there weren’t designated lots and the road was slightly narrow so we had to squeeze to the side of the road. The walk to the waterfalls is a much more straightforward affair, about 600m each way. The best view of the waterfall is probably somewhere nearer to the start of the waterfall, as it is one of the tallest waterfalls in Tasmania and it’s not possible forto see all of it from the base of the waterfall. There were a few others on the trail but it never felt crowded. With all the shade from the tall trees it was a pretty comfortable walk up to the base to the waterfall and back out.
Entry fee: None
Bridestowe Lavender Estate
After St Columba Falls, we backed out the same way we came in till the Tasman Highway. After what seemed like a really long drive, we arrived at the next stop, the highly anticipated Bridestowe Lavender Estate.
We were fortunate to have our trip coinciding with the flowering season, which lasts from December to February. Might have been a little early in the season or been misled by social media, but it wasn’t that deep a shade of purple across the endless hills. The light pastel shade of purple across the landscape was nonetheless a sight to behold. Lavender ice cream at Bridestowe is another bucket list item we checked off here. It was subtle and refreshing in the sunny weather. Nothing life changing, but the perfect complement to the landscape. We wandered across the fields and found varying intensities of blooms in different areas. Just a little closer to the shade on social media.
Entry fee: 20 AUD per person (purchased at entrance)
Narawntapu National Park
Then it was another long drive to our final stop for the day, a fittingly long drive before a long stop – the first site we were to spend 2 nights. We crossed the Tamar River at Batman Bridge and took the longer route (on Google Maps) via the B71 almost to Port Sorell before turning into Bakers Beach Road, as we’ve had plenty of advice to avoid smaller roads as much as possible, and had sufficient memories of an unpaved road in Fortescue Bay.
We were relieved upon seeing the first signs welcoming us to Narawntapu National Park, but all fatigue was forgotten within seconds of entering the park. It was dusk, just the right shade of the land and the sky. As the woods opened into the plains it felt like we had drove into an African safari, but instead of the big 5, kangaroos and wallabies dotted the landscape near and far.
Entry: Parks pass required
Just when we thought we’ve had too many magical landscapes for a day, Springlawn arrived (or we did) as icing on the cake. It was jaw dropping (at least for us coming from the city) seeing countless wild wallabies and kangaroos roaming across the open plain in the setting sun. No words nor pictures will sufficiently capture the awe we felt as we stepped out of the van onto the edge of Springlawn.
Hidden behind the trees from Springlawn is the Springlawn Campsite. It was getting closer to the peak season and some folks were set up to stay all the way till Christmas, so we were thankful that we managed to get a spot. The lots here were powered sites, which were convenient as we were planning to stay for 2 nights. Being plugged in allowed us to use the electric heater and microwave oven if we needed to, and we could use the fridge and charge our devices without fear of running out of battery. There were heated showers available at the toilets here but these required tokens and as the visitor center had closed for the day, hot showers had to wait.
We made our payment using the self service counter at the visitor center and started settling down for the night. Curious animals wandered onto the campground and didn’t seem too bothered by the mysterious metal boxes on wheels invading their habitat. Springlawn campsite was definitely one of the coolest campsites.
- Price per night for powered site: 2 people – $16 (paid at the visitor center, no reservations available); Unpowered sites also available
- Amenities: Toilets (free), hot showers ($2 for 4 minutes, exchange tokens at visitor center)
- Gift shop and information at the visitor center
Narwantapu National Park
Another morning in Tasmania, waking up to the sound of birds, sun in my face, trees rustling in the wind, and animals wandering about. Springlawn looked alot less active than it did the previous evening. As we had been on the road for a number of day by now, we kept this day mostly empty. Just a hike in the morning and nothing for the rest of the day. Lots of time to lay in the campervan and admire the trees, birds and animals all around. First up, a visit to the visitor center to orientate ourselves, get some information about the trails and wildlife to look out for, and to get tokens for hot showers later.
Bird Hide Walk
The Bird Hide Walk started nice and easy on flat ground through low shrubs. A couple of pademelons wandered onto the trail for their morning munch, and scampered away just as we spotted them. The trail branched out onto the boardwalk across a swamp, to a wooden bird hide at the edge of Springlawn Lagoon. There were little windows to observe the birds from. Might have been the weather or timing that we didn’t see many birds, but it being a dark wooden structure with lots of hiding places for the usual Australian crawlies and snakes, we didn’t want to stay too long.
Back to the bush, we walked through moderately dense vegetation parallel to the coast and towards Archers Knob. As the trail climbed we were rewarded with majestic views of Bakers Beach and the surroundings. It was a manageable walk to the top and decent view to effort ratio. I also liked that it wasn’t crowded like it was on the trail to Wineglass Bay lookout. In fact, I don’t think we crossed more than 5 people on our entire hike.
We decided to take a different route back to the campsite and headed out towards the beach. Bakers Beach was long and wide and almost totally deserted. With tall grass by the fringe all along the way it felt like we were on some uninhabited island. Couple of birds by the edge of the water and lots of little crabs scurrying across the beach. All was great until we realised we weren’t sure when to turn back inland to get on the trail back the the campsite. Fortunately there was a visible sign where a trail met the beach, but with the trail covered in a thick layer of sand it was at times hard to make out where to go. We did eventually find a proper trail and were back at Springlawn campsite in no time.
We were back early in the afternoon and had plenty of time to chill, cook and enjoy a hot shower. Being able to add an afternoon nap in our van at Springlawn felt amazing, especially on a long driving trip like this. Another evening with the animals before it was time to call it a day.
On the road again, today along the Tamar River all the way down to Launceston. Before leaving Narawntapu, we decided to go for a drive around the other roads in the park, and came across a quoll along the way.
Taking the “Switzerland of the South” tag a little further with a little Swiss inspired village here in Grindelwald, Tasmania. Grindelwald is a cute touristy village complete with its own artificial lake. There didn’t seem to be much to see/ do here but it was great as a rest stop after our drive from Narawntapu.
Tamar Ridge Cellar Door
There are plenty of vineyards along the Tamar Valley, and we decided to stop by Tamar Ridge Cellar Door for a tasting. Learnt a little more about wine which I’ve more or less forgotten by now, but nonetheless a novel experience.
Tamar Island Wetlands Centre
Tamar Island Wetlands is an unique setting on Tamar River. This vibrant ecosystem is home to a variety of plants and wildlife, and the boardwalk makes the wetlands highly accessible. The mudflats and lagoons were unlike other landscapes we had seen in Tasmania. As it was getting hot and we were getting hungry, we just did a short walk around here. The Tamar Island Wetlands Centre provides more information about the plants and animals around and is a nice indoor spot to enjoy the wetlands from.
Entry: By donation
Kings Bridge Bar & Restaurant
Finally, Launceston. There was a strange sense of familiarity as some things looked as they were in 2019 on my first visit to Tasmania. We stopped by the Kings Bridge Bar and Restaurant for lunch. Paying for parking by the kerbside lots was really convenient through the EasyPark apps, which works across Tasmania but realistically mostly only required in the bigger cities. The restaurant seemed pretty popular and was in a historic building . We had to wait some time for the food but all was good and we enjoyed our first lunch in a restaurant in probably a week. Food was good, a decent premium over our usual self prepped lunches but worth the change in setting.
After lunch, we headed downtown to stock up on supplies. Groceries at Woolworths and backup meals from Paddy Pallin. There is a good variety of outdoor shops with a wide range of gear and supplies in Launceston. Fully stocked for the next couple of days! Might have been the relative density of the places we had been to in the past week, as the buzz of the city got to us in no time and we were just ready to get out of the city again.
Cataract Gorge Reserve
I had been to Cataract Gorge on my previous trip but it felt like a must do in Launceston and since it was my partner’s first trip to Tasmania, we had to visit Cataract Gorge. We were there around the late afternoon, which we found to be a great time for the walk. From the parking lot, we took the Zig Zag Track on the stepper side of the gorge till Kings Bridge, then made our way back on the other side of the gorge. Around the Band Rotunda there were some aggressive looking peacocks, which we were happy to stay away from. There were showers and toilets available at Basin Cottage near the carpark, which should come in handy for those campervaning on a budget.
Entry: Free; Parking is free after 5pm or $2.50 every 4 hours from 9am to 5pm
Old Macs Caravan and Motorhome Farm Stay
Finally, it was time to set up for the night. We found an interesting campground, Old Macs Caravan and Motorhome Farm Stay, just outside of Launceston. Apart from the petting zoo and cafe with a view, there was plenty of space set aside for nature trails, so while the campgrounds looked crowded, the environment was welcoming.
- Price per night: $20 for unpowered sites (no reservations), $40 for powered sites (booking required)
- Amenities: Toilets (free) no showers
- Cafe, nature trails, petting zoo, water refill ($2 per tank)
We had a relaxing morning walk before starting our Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail adventure.
Old Macs Caravan and Motorhome Farm Stay
The walking trails at Old Macs Caravan and Motorhome Farm Stay brought us around the ponds and to the tall trees at the edge of the property. It was a lovely morning walk, and I can’t quite imagine how they can maintain all that landscaping.
Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail
Over the next few days, we made a number of stops along the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail, culinary adventure in the North of Tasmania that explores the fine local Tasmanian produce. We didn’t manage to visit all, but got a good number tried and tasted.
First stop, Hazelbrae at Hagley. Hazelbrae is one of the largest hazelnut groves in Australia, and where you can get lots of fresh hazelnuts and hazelnut products. We’ve had lots of hazelnut/ hazelnut inspired products but not much of whole hazelnuts. If any, none as fresh as we had at Hazelbrae. Pretty cool seeing the actual source of these nuts, the amazing trees, and how the flowers indeed opened up so elegantly to reveal the hazelnut within.
Next up, Dixie Blue, serving up delicious meals made from local Tasmanian produce. We enjoyed our food here very much and I think it’s worth a visit if you’re driving down this area/ passing Deloraine.
Red Brick Road Ciderworks
Just a few minutes away from Dixie Blue is Red Brick Road Ciderworks. Ciders here are made using natural processes from Tasmanian apples and pears without added sugar or flavourings. We got a bottle of cider off the tap for later in the evening. We had some ciders further down our trip but thought the flavours here were the most memorable.
Across the Meander River from Dixie Blue and Red Brick Road Ciderworks is the town of Deloraine, known for its historic buildings and craft stores. Sounds like it would have been nice to visit during its annual craft fair in November, but on the day we visited in December it was still a nice place to walk around and window shop.
41° South Tasmania and Georgie’s Cafe
Going further inland via Mole Creek Road, we next stopped by 41° South Tasmania to check out its salmon farm. We love (eating) salmon so we were excited to see for the first time how salmon was farmed. It was a little anticlimatic to find out that salmon in farms grew up in ponds rather than jumping up fast moving rivers like they do in encyclopaedias and documentaries. Then again I’ve no idea how that would look like in a farm. Nonetheless interesting to find out how they were raised, and how 41° South Tasmania cultivated the wetlands to mitigate the farm’s environmental impact, and how they ventured into ginseng farming as well. We ended our visit with a tasting platter and bought some hot smoked salmon to enjoy later down the road.
Entry: free, self guided tour at $10 per pax including a small bag of fish feed
Melita Honey Farm
We managed to squeeze in one more stop along Mole Creek Road before businesses start to close for the day. Melita Honey Farm at Chudleigh is a honey store that sells honey and honey produces from honey sourced across Tasmania and Australia. Here, we learnt more about bees and honey, and got to try a really wide range of local honeys. We left with a jar of creamed banksia honey, which we later found out to go amazingly with bread and a little butter.
Mole Creek Caravan Park
Last agenda for the day, the stop for the night. Mole Creek Caravan Park is conveniently located on the way to Mole Creek Caves, our first stop for the next day and one of the main reasons we ventured this far deep into Mole Creek Road. Compared to the camgrounds from the previous nights, Mole Creek Caravan Park is relatively smaller. It was surrounded by picturesque surroundings, well maintained, and managed by friendly owners. Apparently platypus are occasionally spotted at the creek so we waited and waited by the creek but didn’t had the luck on the day we were there.
- Price per night: From $20 for unpowered sites, $40 for powered sites (reserve via website or email)
- Amenities: Hot showers ($1 for 5 minutes), Washing machines ($5 per load), Dryers ($1 per 7 minutes)
Time for some caves, before getting back on the Tasting Trail.
King Solomons Cave
Tasmania has a couple of caves with easy walking tours conducted by Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, and King Solomons Cave was the first of 2 we visited in Tasmania. Due to recent floods only one of the 2 caves in Mole Creek Karst National Park were open, which made our choice of cave tours really easy. We had called in to book our slots 2 weeks earlier and drove to park entrance just before the tour begins to make payment. Unfortunately, we were at the wrong park entrance and had to make a mad dash over to the other entrance, barely making it in time despite the buffer we initially planned in.
With all that sorted, we began the King Solomons Cave tour with a group of other eager tourists and a friendly guide. The formations in the cave were spectacular and the guide did a great job of sharing information on the cave and its formations. These pictures might give an idea of what we saw.
Entry: $19 per person (caves can only be entered with the tour). Reservation via phone up to 2 weeks before the tour, payment by card just before the tour.
King Solomons Cave Nature Walk
After the tour, we took some time to enjoy the nature trail back to the carpark. We had rushed through on the way in and didn’t see much then. As can be found in other forests in Tasmania, there were lots of tall ferns/ tree ferns as well as huge blue gum trees.
Van Diemens Land Creamery Elizabeth Town
Back on the Tasting Trail! After driving back out of Mole Creek road, we continued towards Elizabeth Town. First stop, Van Diemens Land Creamery. It was great that we were there early and didn’t have to go through a long wait to get our hands on the delicious, freshly made ice cream, made from the freshest Tasmanian ingredients. I had a taste of Van Diemens Land Creamery ice cream at Hobart on my previous visit to Tasmania, but it was probably much better fresh and straight from the kitchen. Just a window away from where we were seated.
Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe
Just next door is Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe. It was way more crowded here and we didn’t manage to get a seat. It was a nice walk around the farm and ponds though.
Elizabeth Town Bakery Cafe
Further down the Bass Highway we made a stop at Elizabeth Town Bakery Cafe. There was a good selection of snacks and pastries and we got a loaf of bread and a slice of quiche to go. We had the quiche with dinner later and thought the quiche was good. It seems possible to get meals and coffee here too so it makes for a good rest stop along the way!
Ashgrove Cheese Dairy Door
Last stop at Elizabeth Town, Ashgrove Cheese Dairy Door. They’ve got a large retail outlet here where you can purchase and savour dairy products as well as see how cheese is produced, both from information boards as well as live through the huge windows. We bought a tasting platter as well as some cheese and milk for the van. Coming from Singapore, trying non homogenised milk was a game changer, although that didn’t change the fact that I’m slightly lactose intolerant. Worth the extra trip to the loo!
House of Anvers
Never a bad time for chocolate. House of Anvers is another interesting stop along the Bass Highway. The place itself is a 100 year old historic building, purchased and turned into a chocolate museum, shop and restaurant in 2002. There are some displays to learn more about cacao and chocolate, as well as windows which provide a glimpse into the magical world of chocolate. At the shop (a separate building to the side), we found what must have been one of the most generous free samples around – a full sized chocolate truffle, not just a tiny cut of it. The delicious sample worked well though, as we went away with a full load of chocolates.
Peter & Una Seafoods
One more stop for the day at Peter & Una Seafoods. As we had a full kitchen for the night (and a partial kitchen in the van anyway), we thought it’d be a good idea to stock up on a little bit of seafood. Peter & Una Seafoods has a good selection of fresh and frozen seafood and is run by patient and friendly folks. Our only regret here was not having the appetite for more seafood nor the space in our mini fridge to take more away.
Lakeside Tourist Caravan Park
Our campground for the night was Lakeside Tourist Caravan Park. This is one of the larger caravan parks and we were surprised there were only a handful of families there that day. Couldn’t complain about the lack of competition for the well maintained and well stocked kitchen, as well as the really clean showers. It wasn’t cheap, but I think it’s decent value for the well maintained amenities.
We initially picked here due to its proximity to the Tasmanian Arboretum, where we were hoping to see some platypus at dawn. The friendly owners told us that there were platypus in the creek at the edge of the caravan park, but after our futile wait at last night’s campsite we were not very hopeful. We decided to check it out anyway and as luck would have it, we saw wild platypus for the first time in our lives. They seemed shy and would only surface for brief moments, far from the banks, so our binoculars were very handy. Caught much of it in the video but none in photos, unfortunately. It was an incredible moment for us, and we lingered almost a little too long for our last event for the day.
Price per night: $30 a night for unpowered sites and $40 for powered sites (reserve via email)
Lillico Beach Penguin Viewing Platform
There are many penguin colonies around the coast of Tasmania and this was the first one we checked out. It was a short drive from the caravan park to Lillico Beach Penguin Viewing Platform. Compared to Phillip Island Penguin Parade, the area here was less remote (the highway and carpark just a couple of steps away) and smaller, but the experience felt more intimate. There was a crowd but nowhere near the size of the crowd we experienced at Phillip Island. While there were fewer penguins here than at Phillip Island, the colony here was the largest of the 3 we visited in Tasmania. There were plenty of chances to watch the penguins waddle up to shore and back to their burrows where their chicks noisily greet them home.
After watching the penguins for an hour or so, we had our first night drive in Tasmania back to the caravan park. We had been avoiding driving after dusk as not all roads are lit and roadkills are common at night given the abundance of wildlife. Fortunately, our drive back went uneventfully.
Entry fees: None. There are some red lights illuminating the boardwalk so torches are not absolutely necessary, but one with a red light/ covered in red cellophane will be good if you need one, so as to minimise disturbance to the penguins and wildlife. Volunteers put up signs on expected penguin arrivals and numbers at the beach and it may be possible to find out the latest stats online before driving down.
We ended up still making a quick stop at Tasmanian Arboretum before deciding not to head in as we had a long day ahead all along the north coast of Tasmania. After those couple of days inland, it was time for the sea again.
Turners Beach Berry Patch
First stop, not far from Lillico Beach, Turners Beach Berry Patch. We stopped by for breakfast and were also hoping to pick up some farm produce. Unfortunately we were a little too early and there weren’t many berries available both for menu items that had fresh berries as well as punnets for taking out. The place was still packed, atmosphere lively and we managed found a small cosy spot for a fresh breakfast before hitting the road again.
Three Sisters-Goat Island Nature Reserve
Continuing towards the west, we made a stop near Three Sisters-Goat Island Nature Reserve. Due to its unwelcoming terrain, these rocky outcrops have been left relatively untouched and has became an important conservation area. Our binoculars were insufficient to help us stop the wildlife here, but the walk along the coast was a welcome change in scenery.
And then a town called Penguin, complete with its Big Penguin sculpture in the middle of town. Penguin (town) was a lively place with a couple of historic buildings. On a nice summer day as the day we visited it was great just walking down the esplanade and examining the cute community touches such as a books sharing booth, a chalk doodling wall, and the penguin shaped bins. We also had pies and coffee at Penguin Country Bakehouse.
Fern Glade Platypus Reserve
A little change in pace as we headed for Fern Glade Platypus Reserve. I thought there wouldn’t be a better place to see platypus given its name but we didn’t see any here. It was still a lovely and scenic walk through the forest and along the river, with hardly anyone else here.
Highfield Historic Site
We would have missed this remarkable site had we not made last minute changes to itinerary to bring forward our visit to Highfield Historic Site by a day, as the following day was Christmas and we hadn’t realised it would be closed. Highfield Historic Site offers a glimpse into the lives of the officials who managed Tasmania during early colonial days. Views from the restored compounds of Highfield Historic Site over Stanley and The Nut were spectacular, but the story behind the site paints a less rosy picture. Information boards here share more on the lives of the family that lived there, the changing fortunes of the VDL, as well as brutality of the early colonial settlers. It’s quite an informative and scenic place to visit.
Entry: $15, 9.30am to 4.30pm daily except Christmas, closed on Christmas
Jimmy Lane Memorial Lookout
A short drive away from Highfield Historic Site is the Jimmy Lane Memorial Lookout, a great place for more views over Stanley and of The Nut. We had passed the lookout on the way to Highfield Historic Site but decided to go to the historic site first to ensure we had sufficient time before closing. Worth the short detour back for more photos!
From Highfield Historic Site it was a scenic drive down the hill and along the coast to Stanley, with The Nut looming into view, until there was nothing other than The Nut, right in your face. There weren’t many people in the area so we made a few stops along the way to look around.
Finally, at our northernmost night stop, Stanley. Driving through the streets of Stanley brought back memories of Scandinavia for some reason, might be the cute and colourful little houses and the open sea never too far away that gave it some vibe I had not yet experienced in Tasmania.
BIG4 Stanley Holiday Park
We had a little look around town then checked in at Stanley Cabin And Tourist Park (currently BIG4 Stanley Holiday Park). Fortunately, we had made earlier bookings as they were fully booked for the night and we barely arrived before they closed their office for the day. This was a big site with different accommodation options from camping sites to cabins. Amenities were decent and it seemed well suited for kids as there were plenty of kids and they seemed to have plenty to keep themselves occupied.
Price per night: We got a powered site for $40 but prices seemed to have went up significantly after the change in owners
We decided to give ourselves a Christmas treat and headed for a seafood dinner at Hursey Seafoods. Prices were fancy but food was good, as might be expected of a decades long family business backed by its own fishing fleet, just a stone’s throw from the restaurant. Food took awhile but we weren’t in a hurry. As a bonus, we spotted Santa Claus riding around town in a sleigh from our table on the second floor.
Godfreys Beach Penguin Viewing Platform
After dinner, another night of penguins! The Godfreys Beach Penguin Viewing Platform was a little more remote than the one at Lillico Beach, tucked in a corner behind The Nut next to the cemetery. It was also darker here. However, there seemed to have been fewer penguins ashore that day compared to what we saw at Lillico Beach, and some of the penguins we spotted coming up seemed apprehensive of approaching their nests, which didn’t seem like a good sign. Eventually some folks (tourists) left and more penguins came up. It’s really important to avoid using bright lights or making much noise or movement when observing the penguins, to ensure that penguins feel safe to continue living there. Here are some shots before it. got really dark.
Last day in the north. A few more stops long the north coast before heading down south and inland, towards the mountains.
No trip to Stanley would be complete without a visit to The Nut. We left The Nut for Christmas Day as it would be open regardless. Only downside was that the chairlift would not be operational, so we had to walk both up and down. The Nut is a volcanic plug that was once covered in trees, most of the trees lumbered by colonial settlers. The Nut is 143 metre high, relatively flat on top, and provides panoramas of the surrounding regions from all angles. It was a nice morning walk, somehow without many others on the trail on a beautiful day like that day.
Table Cape Lighthouse
Driving along the north coast, we arrived at Table Cape, an extinct volcano that is today home to tulip farms. It wasn’t the right season for tulips but the views over the fields, the cape and sea were still spectacular.
Starting our way down south, we were expecting a scenic drive through Hellyer Gorge, but as much of the way was densely forested, it wasn’t quite as expected but still beautiful. After some time on the road, we stopped at Hellyer Gorge rest area for a toilet break and a short walk to stretch our legs. It was a relaxing walk through the forest then along Hellyer River.
Onward to Cradle Mountain
From Hellyer Gorge, we continued south on Murchinson Highway towards Cradle Mountains, more incredible sights to come!