The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere

Bridport, Tasmania


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A Tourist in Tasmania – Bridport

Bridport is on the north east coast of Tasmania, a pretty fishing village with many small cove like beaches.

The caravan park and camping ground extends for ever along the foreshore but was cost prohibitive for me at $25 a night for an unpowered site. It did have lovely beach/bush camping areas though.

There are extensive walking tracks around the area and along the waterfront that direct you to some of the local historical landmarks like the old jetty.

Bridport, Tasmania

Bridport, Tasmania

The Old Jetty, Bridport

There is lovely safe swimming here in what is delightfully called Mermaids Pool, naturally created by the rocks and the tide. It makes you wish you were a mermaid!

Bridport, Tasmania

At the entry to the town you cross a small inlet where a couple of fishing boats are moored and I also noticed fish hatchery ponds on the way in.

I love the look of these old jetties when you look up the creek the other way! They don’t look too substantial, do they?

I was in Bridport to get the canvas replaced on Brutus the Beast, my pop top campervan and I can highly recommend Kerry, the Canvas Man from North East Canvas if you need any canvas work done. I know some of my travelling buddies have often needed awning repairs etc, so he’s your man when you’re in Tasmania! He was so quick – within 24 hours the old canvas was gone and a brand new PVC ‘hat’ was installed.

 

Happy Campers: There is no free camping in Bridport and the caravan park has a monopoly on waterfront locations. There is free camping at Scottsdale, just 20kms away, but that is the subject of another blog!

 

 


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West Coast Rally – Cervantes October 2014

Cervantes is a fishing village about 200kms north of Perth and is famous for its rock lobsters! Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to eat one, but those that did said they were pretty good. I’m glad I didn’t have any because I notice that the rock lobster season is due to begin, so I’m hanging out for a fresh one!!

Perth to Cervantes

I was interested to find out how Cervantes got its name and found this fantastic website that gives the history of names in WA. This is what it said about Cervantes

The townsite of Cervantes, a fishing settlement on the west coast near Jurien Bay and Nambung National Park, was gazetted in 1963. It is named after nearby Cervantes Islands, which in turn are named after the “Cervantes”, an American whaler, wrecked just north of the islands on the 20th July 1844. The “Cervantes” was under the command of Captain Gibson at the time of the shipwreck and the survivors walked about 160 km south along the coast to Fremantle. At the time of naming of the townsite it was thought that the islands had been named “Cervantes” by the Baudin Expedition of 1801-03 after a Spanish author, and, as a result, many of the streets received Spanish names.

This little town, population around 500, grew by about 50% when the West Coast Rally began, and approximately 170 motorhomes of all shapes and sizes turned up – and about 280 people all shapes and sizes turned up too! You can imagine what a boost these sort of gatherings have on the economy of a small town like this – fuel, gas, souvenirs, eating out, tourist trips….. We all put our shopping dockets in a barrel so I’m sure there will be a report at some stage about how much we spent in the town while we were there.

The rally kicked off on Thursday, October 9 and we braved the wind to set up our camps. The Solos were well represented by lots of Willie Wagtails and a few extras, like myself, from other parts of Australia. The theme of the rally was Aliens and UFO’s, so at our dinner on Saturday night we dressed to the theme.

Earlier that day a bus load of us went off to The Pinnacles.

So how did these strange pinnacles form?

A set of unique circumstances produced the pinnacles. Firstly the huge sand dunes stabilised. The rains which fell on the dunes leached down through the sand carrying the calcium. This resulted in the lower levels of the dune solidifying into a soft limestone. As this stabilisation occurred a layer of soil formed on top of the dune which allowed plants to grow and further cemented the limestone below. Gradually the lowest layer of soil, which lay between the surface and the limestone, formed into a hard cap which resulted in the old dunes having three levels – a soil and plant level near the surface, a hard cap below the surface, and a thick layer of soft limestone at the bottom of the dune.

Inevitably the roots from the plants on the top level found cracks and broke up the hard cap and the layer of soft limestone. The result was that under a surface covered with plants and soil the pinnacles developed. No one knows for sure how long ago this process occurred. It may have started as long ago as 500 000 years but equally it may only be a few thousand years old and it may still be continuing today. The Western Australian Museum has opted for some time in the last 80 000 years.

Anyway the advent of drier weather in the region resulted in the top layer of plants and soil being removed and gradually the pinnacles were exposed so that today they stand like strange sentinels on a plain of wind blown sand.

Disc Bowls was a popular activity and championships were held over the weekend, along with a Pet Parade.

After a few days of fellowship with like minded motorhomers we all went off in our various directions on Tuesday. I headed straight back to Cliff Head, one of my favourite camping spots in this area, and set myself up for a few days R & R.

Oh, I forgot, isn’t that my whole lifestyle now?

Cliff Head Western Australia

Camping at Cliff Head

 


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Wearing Wobbly Boots at Cape Riche

After leaving Lucky Bay I headed back to Esperance to find a Laundromat, and washing done and dried I travelled towards Ravensthorpe. I hadn’t really thought about where I would stay tonight, but checked out my Camps Book and settled on Munglinup Beach.(NO phone, NO internet!) I hated it! Not fair, I suppose, to make such a judgement because I only stayed overnight, but the road in for about 19kms was rough and dusty corrugation, I wasn’t feeling 100%, the beach was covered in weed, and it was late in the afternooon when I got there and I kept thinking about that horrible road that I had to go out on the next day. I couldn’t wait to leave and get it over with so I was up early the next morning and headed back along that bone-shattering red dust road.

WikiCamps came up with my next overnighter – Tozers Bush Camp on the way to Bremer Bay. I am so sorry I didn’t take any photos here to show you the fanastic set up here.

Funny how something makes you lean favourably toward one thing or another. As a kid we had camping friends by the name of Tozer, and as the reviews in WikiCamps were ok I rang ahead and Robert Tozer assured me there was a spot for me. There was a spot alright – I was the only one there! What a shame this place isn’t better known. Robert has done a great job levelling a lot of sites and has built one of the best amenities blocks I have ever seen. Fantastic hot showers and toilets – luxury – and you should see the Happy Hour/Camp Kitchen he has there. It’s massive, with a huge deck that overlooks his land, and great facilities inside. I finally had internet access here, basically for the first time at a place I had stayed since the start of my journey about two weeks ago . That alone was worth the $20 a night fee – which is probably a bit over the top for what is there. I wish there had been more campers here to enjoy the Camp Kitchen and Happy Hour with, but Robert left to go back to his home in Bremer Bay and I was left with the internet and a brilliant night sky for company. He did say, though, that when the wildflowers are in bloom, he expects his camp to fill up and he has made walk trails over the property for his guests to make the most of what he has to offer here.

I must admit I was a little nervous for the first time ever as I really was in the middle of no-where, and alone! That is, except for the big green frog in the toilet! I left Robert a copy of my Green Frog poem when I departed the next day.

I decided to head to Cape Riche for a few days, and what a good choice that turned out to be.  (apart from NO phone and NO internet again).

Cape Riche

 

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The little birds were really friendly here and hopped all around me – they were kind enough to let me take a couple of photos, too. The one on the left is a White Browed Scrub Wren and the one on the right is a Splendid Blue Wren that becomes a vivid all over blue when it is mating – little show off!

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Found this photo on the internet to show the colour that little fellow becomes when he is breeding. Now, what female could resist him!

blue wren breeding

I spent a couple of quiet days here and on my last night I was invited to Happy Hour at a neighbouring camp. When I got there I discovered there were three guys on a fishing trip – and me! I drank far too much red wine and staggered back to my camp in my wobbly boots after Noel, Peter and Nigel had cooked up a storm for dinner, which they shared with me. Feeling much the worse for wear the next day I started the day with Panadol and a bottle of water but think I probably should have had it the night before instead of all that wine! The fellas cooked me bacon and eggs for breakfast the next day and while they headed off with their boat to catch some fish I packed up and I was ‘on the road again’!

The amount I am spending on petrol is killing my budget – I need to find a place and just prop for a while. I decided to go to Parry Beach.

 


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Lucky Me – Lucky Bay in WA

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After shopping for some supplies in Norseman I decided to head south towards the South-East Coast of Western Australia, with an overnight stop at Salmon Gums. (NO phone, NO internet). It is named after the beautiful salmon gum trees in the area.This is a small community run caravan park with hot showers, clean amenities, some powered sites and a laundry with washing machine. There was only one van there when I pulled in and no-one around but it wasn’t long before some caravanners, Bob and Carol, arrived. (No Ted and Alice!) It was only $5 for an unpowered site so I did some hand washing, hung it on the line and decided to stay.

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 There were no flies, which was a bonus, but there lots of little bitey ants. The next morning my washing wasn’t dry so I hung around and it wasn’t long before more vans pulled in. We all started chatting and I decided to stay for another night and enjoyed a great Happy Hour with new found friends. John and Helen were one of the other couples and Helen and I started talking blogging. Helen has a travel blog called www.magfowl.com which is really interesting.

It was Saturday when I left and headed to Esperance to stock up the cupboards and fill my gas cylinder to keep the fridge running. I shopped first – big mistake! After midday there is no-one that will fill a gas cylinder and the only changeovers available were 9kg and I needed a 4kg one. On the recommendation of a friendly customer in the last servo I went to looking for gas, I headed off the 65kms to a little place called Condingup. Yes, they would fill a gas bottle for me! I’m now on my way to Lucky Bay after a 130km round trip for gas. As I came over the crest of a hill Lucky Bay came into view and I thought, yes, this has been worth the hassle.

Coming in to Lucky Bay

Coming in to Lucky Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beaches along here have been voted the whitest sand beaches in Australia and it’s easy to see why. The pure white sand disappeared in to clear aqua waters, the bays curved towards rocky headlands, the Recherche Archipelago was just off-shore – it was picture postcard perfect. See what the WA Parks people have to say about Lucky Bay in the Cape Le Grand National Park here. There’s also some wonderful photos on this web-site and links to other bays in the area.

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I enjoyed four beautiful days here for $6.60 per night (plus National Park fees). (NO phone, NO internet).There is a solar shower, a great camp kitchen and believe it or not a coffee van that sets up on the beach most days about 10 o’clock. John and Helen came to visit me while I was there and booked out of their Esperance Caravan Park and camped nearby at Cape Le Grande. My fitness neighbour, Richard, joined me for a walk along the beach one day and we shared Happy Hour that evening before I left the next day.

The other beautiful thing about this camp was the birds and I was really excited to see a stunning finch called a Red-eared Firetail. Typically I didn’t get a photo – red eared firetail3all the birds I aim the lens at are extremely camera shy, but I found this one on the internet and can guarantee this is exactly what they look like.

 

As I was packing up my camp one of the camp ground kangaroos got upset with me and growled! Did you know they do that? I thought they only made Skippy noises and I got a hell of a fright. Anyhow, a few days later I wrote my first children’s poem called The Angry Kangaroo. I won’t include it here, but you will find it on the Poetry page of my blog.

Here are a couple of kangaroos that made themselves at home around the camp.

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Lucky me – I had spent a wonderful four days in Lucky Bay!


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Derby – On the Trail of the Tin Dragon

Tasmania is the most amazing place to travel. There is so much history and at every turn in the road there is so much evidence of this history still to see. Jose and I left Swimcart Beach to travel to a rally in Bridport that we had been invited to, and I was really interested to visit Derby, where my sister had lived in the early 1980’s. She used to live in the old Bank House and I had visited her there for a very cold Christmas one year.

The house Marion used to live in is now a Gift Shop in the rooms that were the bank chambers.

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I knew Derby was an old tin mining town but since my last visit they have developed this side of its history into more of a tourist attraction.We really only stumbled across this because of my interest in going to Derby as it is not well promoted as a Tourist Attraction.

The Tin Interpretation Centre at Derby is a ‘must see’ experience if you are travelling that way.It is a beautiful building with an wonderful wall of theatre that tells the story of the discovery of tin in the area and how the early miners harnessed the power of the water to successfully mine the tin. The climax is the devastating flood in 1929, which broke the banks of the dam and spilled billions of litres of water through the town. You can find out a bit more about it here.

There is also a tribute to the contribution of the Chinese miners, and I loved this part of the Centre, as you will see by the number of photos I took of the wall murals!

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There is free camping at the river on the outskirts of town – a nice grassy area with shady trees and toilet facilities – and it’s close enough to walk into the little town.

We left Derby and our next stop was following a track beside the Ringarooma River which led to an old Chinese miners hut. Inside were story panels of the life of a Chinese tin miner. I found this really interesting, too, and was happy to leave my donation in the tin at the door.

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By the time we got to Weldborough we were ready to sample the Tasmanian Boutique beers on tap – they also had ciders available.

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While enjoying our ‘coldies’ in the beer garden we met a couple who were camped at the back of the pub and they told us of a couple of good camping spots to try as we headed west.

Weldborough is on the Trail of the Tin Dragon as it was the site of the confrontation between the Chinese miners and the ‘whites’. The Chinese had walked from Bridport and were on the way to Derby when they were stopped from going any further by an angry mob. They turned around and trudged all the way back to Bridport and came back with a police escort that quietened the mob and gave them safe passage to Derby.

We had planned to stay at Scottsdale that night but the free camp was very crowded so we did our shopping, fueled up our motorhomes, and headed off to Bridport to enter the rally early. It was hot, the roads had been winding and steep, and the roadworks everywhere had contributed to a tiring day. We were ready to stop!

This little map will show you the area I have been talking about and the route we took over the last couple of days. It will also give you an idea of the long walks the miners had when they were landed by boat at Bridport and had to get to Derby! When I think about that I realise that we have got it soooo good these days!

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Flying High in the High Country

It was later in the day when I left Sale and I was pretty tempted to just cross the road and go to the Showgrounds, but there’s no adventure in that so out came my Camps book and I headed off to Marlay Point. The wind was blowing a gale but I was camped right on the foreshore of Lake Wellington and I loved being near the water.

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An early start the next day gave me plenty of time to have a look at Hollands Landing which is also a camping spot.

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I’ll have to paint those clouds one day!

I arrived in Bairnsdale, did some shopping and headed off towards Omeo and beyond to spend a few days with my old school friend Russell.

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When Russell left school he joined the army and attended Officer Cadet School at Portsea and I was honoured to be his partner at his graduation in 1965. We had lost contact for many years and when our old school had a reunion a few years ago we made contact again and have kept in touch ever since. I’m so lucky to have such long-term friends in my life.

On the way I had another overnighter at Swifts Creek, a pretty little camping ground with power, lovely hot shower and clean facilities. To stay there you had to pay $14 at the General Store in town. I’m really getting sick of the drizzly rain that always seems to come down as I am preparing for dinner and should have done what my neighbour, Chook, did and go to the pub for tea. Chook comes from Morwell and also travels alone with her 2 little dogs. She was interesting, although brief company.

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Swift’s Creek camping ground

I headed off up the mountain early the next day going through Omeo then turning off at Angler’s Rest towards Russell’s home at the foot of the Bogong High Plains. There is 10kms of corrugated dirt road to Russell’s place and poor old Brutus showed his displeasure by throwing open my cupboards and tossing stuff around on the floor! Russell’s property is surrounded on 3 sides by National Park and is an idyllic location. I spent hours trying to identify the birds that cheekily landed on us as we sat on the veranda ‘chewing the fat’. The cheekiest of all were the grey fantails, but there were also crimson rosellas, blue wrens, kookaburras and a little bird I couldn’t identify that had the sweetest song. I’d stalk it around the garden trying to catch a glimpse of it but it was too elusive for me!

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I took this next photo the day we went collecting wood to stockpile for next winter. I reckon it looks like a Frederick McCubbin painting!

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Wednesday was an amazing day! Russell has a plane, a Cessna 172, and we went over to his hangar at Benambra and he took me for a flight over the coastline around 90 mile beach and Lakes Entrance before heading back over the mountains to home. On the way to Russell’s plane we stopped at McMillan Lookout which he likes to do to get a ‘visual’ of the local weather conditions.

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And then the time had arrived to prepare the plane and take to the skies!

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Omeo township

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Lakes Entrance

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Coming in to Bairnsdale

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The Silt Jetty

The Mitchell River Silt Jetties are the second largest in the world, after those at the mouth of the Mississippi River as it enters the Gulf of Mexico, and have been nominated as a site of international significance. The Silt Jetties extend out from the western shore of Lake King about 6 km north-east of Paynesville.

From Eagle Point Bluff the Silt Jetties become a series of long, narrow, winding silt jetties which extend eastwards out into the lake for 8 km. There is a part bitumen/part gravel road all the way to the end, with many favourite fishing spots along the way. The silt was deposited over millions of years when the Mitchell River slowed as it entered Lake King. The jetties are also home to a large range of native animals and birds.

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Flying home we were heading back into the mountains. Russell calls this Tiger Country – no where to land!

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That night we went to The Blue Duck, the pub at Anglers Rest. As it is trout season there were trout fisherman all dressed up in their gear hoping to catch the BIG one. Russell told me a funny story about the publican who had been feeding up a brown trout for a few weeks waiting for the season to start so he could throw in his line and catch it. Meanwhile his daughter swung from the rope in the tree into the river, belly flopped and landed on the fat trout, stunning it. So she lifted it out of the water and took it to her dad asking what she should do with it. Dad was mortified – all that time he’d been cultivating that trout to catch it himself and his daughter catches it with a belly flop!

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Here’s another ‘before’ and ‘after’ photo, the first taken at Russell’s graduation in 1965 and the second, obviously, a lot more recently at the Blue Duck.

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I left this peaceful haven the next day and headed to Sale to see my Aunty again and then make my way back to Melbourne. That night I stayed at a second cousin, David’s, place in Sale. I’m not sure if I’ve met David before or not. If I have it was a long time ago so it was wonderful of him to welcome me into his beautiful home, where I met two of his sons, Toby and Henry, and also his housekeeper, Bev.

On the way back into Melbourne I caught up with Laurance, a fellow Solo and he worked his magic on Brutus and adjusted the timing for me so once again he’s running like a dream.

My next adventure takes me to Tasmania where I will spend Christmas with my sister Marion and hopefully see as much of the countryside as I can while I am there. I leave on December 4th and plan to stay for at least a couple of months. I’m looking forward to sharing my Tassie experiences with you…


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Sidetracked at Wantabadgery – on the way to Wagga Wagga

Day 3 & 4 – Sandy Beach at Wantabadgery

You know, sometimes you find a camp spot that you’d be happy to spend a bit of time at, and this is one of them. Right on the banks of the river it was a lovely clean, mowed area with picnic tables, a toilet (composting) and water – and plenty of room to camp without being on top of someone else.

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Marion and I were a bit cheeky and pulled up either side of a covered picnic table and claimed it as our own while we were there. It wasn’t a problem as it was mid-week and not a lot of people around.

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This photo MUST have been taken after 4pm – it looks like Happy Hour is in full swing by the level of my vodka and tonic!

We were camped near some lovely people from Yeoval and they were amazed when I said I had been there – quite by accident of course – when I was bringing Brutus home to the Gold Coast not long after buying him. You’ll have to read my first blog if you want to catch up on that story!

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I know, this photo has a fingerprint on it, but it’s one of the few I’ve got outside Marion’s van.

Sandy Beach is on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, which Jack made the most of by having several swims. He loves the water almost as much as he loves sticks to play with. And sticks and water together – dog heaven!

We had a couple of lovely days here, the weather was good, the facilities fine, Jack was a happy dog – and I think Marion is getting into the swing of this. A camp site like this certainly helps! If I hadn’t needed to fill up my gas bottle I could have easily stayed a few more days.

Day 5 – Arriving at Wagga Wagga

Wagga Wagga wasn’t far away so we checked out one of the other freedom camps at Oura Beach on the way there. It had a few more people staying there but once again looked like a good place to go. It was a little closer to Wagga Wagga than Sandy Beach, too. Love the sign going into town!

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As you come into Wagga Wagga there is another free camp right on the edge of town at Wilks Park, but I’m so glad we have a cousin here and we were able to stay at their home on acreage a little way out of town.  Wilks Park was right on the highway, and although it had good facilities and gave easy access into town, it was crowded and noisy.

Being here was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with Gretchen and Richard, and Marion was thrilled that Richard was able to fix a squeal in her air conditioning. A hot shower and shampoo was very welcome, too.

Jack met some cats for the first time in his life – and they soon let him know who was boss! His ball, another favourite toy, rolled into the horse paddock during one game and that was an interesting encounter to watch. The horse just wanted to be friends but Jack was very wary and couldn’t get out of there quick enough. That was the biggest dog he had ever seen!

We enjoyed a nice evening together before heading further south the next day. The Rutherglen wineries are not far away ……