Hobart and beyond. East coast travels.

I don’t think we have had two better “weather” days than we enjoyed in and around Hobart, Tasmania’s beautiful capital city. Fortunate, because it is a beautiful city on the Derwent River, and the sunny skies provided for a complimentary backdrop to it all. We were certainly overdue for some consistent sunshine and Hobart did not disappoint us. It was, however, still not as hot as we’d been expecting given we were now right in the middle of summer. That said, one must remember that anything above 25 Celsius ( 77 F ) is considered hot in Tassie !

Constitution Dock, Hobart. This is where the end of Australia’s famous Sydney-Hobart yacht race is celebrated.
Tasman Bridge, Derwent River, Hobart.
View of Hobart from the north shore.

There’s loads of history in the place (it’s older than you think), and has some of the country’s best preserved convict-era buildings. Its downtown is compact, easy to navigate and the waterfront, centred on Constitution Dock, makes for great walking and good old fashioned people-watching. A highlight for us was the drive up to Mt. Wellington ( tight in a long van – but we made it ) where expansive views of the city, the harbour and nearby towns are on offer from a vantage point more than a kilometre above the city itself. Noticeably cooler up there, too. The curious opening times ( closed on two midweek days ? ) of the avant-garde MONA ( museum ) prevented  us visiting it during our stay. Not sure it was our cup of tea in any event !

Backstreet near Salamanca Market. Lots of beautifully preserved convict-era buildings in Hobart.
London ? Or Hobart ? Parts of the city, especially around Battery Point, had a very English feel.
Mount Wellington. The drive up was intense but the views were worth it.

The convict era left Australia with some well preserved and infamous gaols ( jails ) and Tassie has two that standout, both close to Hobart. Port Arthur ( which we’d both explored on previous trips ) is certainly much larger, but we found the Richmond jail ( a new attraction for us ) to also be most worthy of a visit. Fascinating history, and, while smaller, better preserved than its more famous (infamous ? ) peer further east.  Richmond probably has the best collection of period buildings in any small town in Tasmania, annd also claims Australia’s oldest ( and one of its most photographed ) functioning bridges. Among a host of other attractions as well, this quaint little town also offered up a great farm camp !

Lois, in front on Richmond gaol ( jail ).
Beautiful Richmond Bridge. Still in use, and the oldest stone span bridge in Australia, opened in 1825.
Camped here on a farm just outside Richmond, one of the nicest spots we stayed at. The animals brought back memories of South America.

From Richmond our route took us out near Port Arthur ( known for its coastal drive as well as the prison) then heading north up Tassie’s east coast. More populated, more accessible and generally attracting more visitors than the west, the lack of traffic there both surprised and pleased us since many other travellers had warned us in advance that it would be busy.

A few days easy cruising up the east side took us through many of the well known towns and some spectularly scenic coastline. Wineries, breweries, fishing villages & some of the whitest beaches in Tassie await those who explore this corner of the island – but the jewel in the crown of the east coast is undoubtedly Wineglass Bay (on the Freycinet Peninsula ). It’s the stuff postcards are made of, visitors being rewarded with a spectacular view of its crescent-shaped white sandy beach after a hike that is short but certainly gets the muscles working. In a week that gave us mixed weather, Wineglass Bay served up a gem of a day while we were there.

One of Tassie’s most iconic and beautiful walks.
Wineglass Bay from the lookout.

Ironhouse Brewery, Winery and Distillery, north of Bicheno. A beautiful spot where we sampled the offerings and parked up for the night. Many of these types of places encourage RV travellers to stay overnight, so we did.
You can’t always sample beer, wine, spirits, and even artisanal ice cream in one place, but you could here !

Upon reaching St Helen’s the main east coast road more or less comes to an end and the highway turns west for the mountainous climb up to Scottsdale. Taking the small road which continues just a little further north past pretty Binalong Point takes one to another of the east coast’s highlights, the Bay of Fires and an area known as The Gardens. Certainly the coast’s nicest beaches and some really unusual rock formations, but given the water temperature we had to content ourselves with “looking” rather than swimming. Perhaps with a wetsuit !

Pretty Binalong Bay, the beginning of the Bay of Fires.
The Gardens, Bay of Fires.
The Gardens, Bay of Fires.

Leaving the coastline and climbing up into the mountains, a rather circuitous road took us to the small community of Pyengana known for both the historic “Pub in the Paddock” and impressive St Columba Falls. Both well worth a visit !

Historic Pub in the Paddock, Pyengana
Nearby St Columba Falls, Pyengana

From here continue heading west and explore Tasmania’s central north, the final leg of our travels in amazing Tasmania.

Till next week…….