The Snail Trail

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


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Away with the Willie Wagtails

No – not those cute little chattering black and white birds, but the Western Willie Wagtails, a chapter of the CMCA. Mind you there was still a lot of chattering going on!

My first trip was in May when we went to Bindoon.

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What a wet weekend it was! There were only a few vans camped at the Bindoon oval but it was a great opportunity for me to meet some new people. Richard, who I had met at Lucky Bay, also came along and his van became the meeting place as he put his awning out – it was the only reasonably dry area for us to gather. But as we discovered, if you sat to close to the edge the rain ran off the awning and down your back! As Happy Hour kicked in the awning struts also became a hazard as we forgot to duck whenever we moved so there was a constant cry of “Watch your head!” It didn’t do any of us much good as we still managed to knock our heads whenever we moved.Despite the weather we had a great time, and wandered off to the Bindoon bakery for morning tea together one day.

When we woke on Sunday morning there was a heavy fog which was quite beautiful as the sun came up over the orange grove next to the oval.

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A foggy morning in Bindoon

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The fog lifts as the sun comes over the hill

I wrote the following thank you for the weekend

The rain came down at Bindoon
But not on our parade
The happy campers came and went
The stayers – well, we stayed!

We gathered next to Richard’s van
– He had his awning out –
But whenever someone went to leave
We had to give a shout

“Watch your head” became the cry
But it didn’t seem to matter
The drinks flowed freely at happy hour
And there was a lot of noisy chatter.

Friday’s happy hour began around four
And finished around nine
Some of us forgot to eat
But we were all feeling fine.

On Saturday we shared our meal
And all sat down for dinner
There was a lot of laughs and friendships made
For me, the weekend was a winner!

In June our venue was at Gillingarra.

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We travelled through Bindoon to get there and I had company on this journey as I picked up Wilma, one of the ladies I had met at Bindoon, to take her along.

What a different weekend this was! There were about 20 vans at this excellent facility, with a great kitchen, hall, and hot showers. Although the weather was chilly it was dry, with beautiful sunny days and clear starry skies at night.

Jose(Yosay), who I had travelled with in Tasmania, turned up with her little campfire and we gathered around that on Thursday and Friday night for Happy Hour – and later!- and there was lots of good conversation and sing alongs led by Jose. Friday the 13th was also a full moon so we all stood up and wolf howled at the moon! I don’t think we would have scared anyone away with our feeble attempts, though!

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Jose getting the wood ready for our campfire

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Happy hour begins

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Around the campfire with the Western Willie Wagtails

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Around the campfire with the Western Willie Wagtails

I was totally spoilt by Les, one of the other Solos, who cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for both Wilma and I.

Saturday night was our shared meal in the comfort of the hall and then back out to the huge fire pit where Les had a massive fire going. The wind had dropped, the stars were out, the wine flowed, the company was excellent, the laughter loud – I can’t wait for the next meeting in July.

 


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On the Snail Trail – my new life begins

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Snapshot Stories

Open the first photo album you can find — real or virtual, your call — and stop at the first picture of yourself you see there . Tell us the story of that photo.

Well, here I am! At the very start of the next stage of my life. My first trip away in my campervan which will soon become my home. And that’s why my blog is called the Snail Trail – I’m travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere!

When I was packing my van with my worldly possessions I felt a bit like a bag lady – you know, those disenfranchised people that load up a supermarket trolley with whatever they can gather and it becomes their life on wheels. The difference is I chose this life on wheels. I decided when it was time to pack up my trolley and take to the road. And the overwhelming feeling since I started this journey just over a year ago is  – Freedom!

Freedom to participate in a blogging challenge. Freedom to turn left instead of right. Freedom to stay instead of go. Freedom to discover, explore, connect with new people.To travel my life at a different pace. To spend some time in an interesting place.


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Flashback to February

My last weekend in Tasmania, which was also the last weekend in February, was spent at Evandale Penny Farthing Bicycle Races.

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The Tassie Shearwater’s, a Chapter of the CMCA (Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia), had organised a camping area in the grounds of a local church and it was a great location to just stroll down the street where all the action was happening to join in the festivities. This map shows my route from the time I left Marion’s in Lake Leake, stopped off in Evandale and then headed towards the ferry home to the big island that departed from Devonport on Sunday night.

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Evandale is an historic town and the perfect setting for an event such as racing Penny Farthing bikes. “Evandale today is a National Trust classified Georgian village, popular with tourists for its unspoiled heritage buildings …..” You can read more about Evandale here , find out a brief history here, and find loads of photos here.

The locals got into the old fashioned mood for the weekend dressing in period costume, as did many of the bike riders.

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The Evandale markets were an added attraction and for the first time since I was a little kid I saw an old-fashioned Punch & Judy Show.

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There were also vintage cars and a steam tractor, Morris Dancers and a street parade.

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The Church whose grounds we stayed in was an amazing structure with Doric columns.

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There were about a dozen vans on site so of course Happy Hour was a great time to catch up with everyone and share the day’s experiences.

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At Saturday’s happy hour we held a mock wedding for an engaged couple in our midst and decided we would all eat together that night in the hall that was provided for us. This meal became the ‘wedding breakfast’, which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately for the ‘bride’, she did most of the food preparation – and did an amazing job!

As Sunday dawned I realised that this was my farewell day in Tasmania, so van packed, I headed off to Devonport to catch the Spirit of Tasmania that night. I had spent nearly 3 months in Tasmania and I still have so much to see there that returning is not an option, it’s a must!


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Destination Deloraine – Silk Art and Smashed Steps

We were off to a rally in Bridport with Auswide – at the invitation of fellow motorhomers, Richard and Janis. It was held at a private property and Mick, the owner, had everything set up for a comfortable weekend. I loved his Happy Hour Shed, and couldn’t help but be impressed with his woodpile!  I know it’s cold in Tasmania, but I’m hoping this stack of wood will see him through a few winters!

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Jose and I stayed 2 nights and then decided to move on to make sure we saw as much of Tasmania as we could in the time we had available. We headed back to Scottsdale, and while Jose did some shopping I found the black water dump point. While there I noticed some public toilets and thought I’d take advantage of them, so I started Brutus up and drove up the hill. As I was leaving I saw this lump of red & white plastic near the dump point – and as I got closer I realised it was MY STEP. I had tried to leave it behind, unintentionally, on sooo many occasions and now I had finally demolished it totally! No longer would fellow campers have to call out “You’ve left your step behind!”  I dragged out a broken, not totally demolished one, that I carried for emergencies and trod very carefully on it until that, too, became unusable. The first Rays Outdoors I came to I upgraded to a ‘grown up’ grey Fiamma step, and now that I have it I don’t know why I didn’t get one of those in the first place!

We had planned to stay at Myrtle Park on the way to Launceston but although it looked like a great spot to camp it was jammed pack with a rally group and heaps of children, being school holidays. So we motored on, through Launceston and up the western side of the Tamar River to a free camp called Paper Beach.

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When we left the next day we treated ourselves to a visit to the Ninth Island Winery, had a few tastings, admired the view, and yes, came away with some lovely wine. One of my favourites is the Ninth Island Pinot Noir which my friend Carol had introduced me to many years ago, so what better place to buy it than at the Cellar Door.

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The view from their function centre was beautiful.

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And I loved this poster on their wall!

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This is the route we took from Bridport to Deloraine.

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I know, you’re looking at the map and wondering why we went such a round about way. Well, Jose decided to lead the way when we left Paper Beach and for some reason, known only to her, she turned east when we got to Launceston instead of west – and she kept saying she didn’t need a GPS!  When she realised we were heading in the wrong direction she used the excuse that she’d never been to Evandale, so off we went. Instead of turning back to the highway we drove through Evandale – and kept driving. ( My fault – I looked at the map and thought the road came back on to the highway pretty quick). About 90kms of dirt road later, and having skirted around the base of Ben Lomond, we came out south east of Evandale and pointed towards Launceston again. Finally we are going in the right direction.

Destination Deloraine! Finally we arrive! We stayed at the free Deloraine East Overnight Park, glad to stop driving, have a drink and unwind. The next day we set off to the Information Centre and I was absolutely blown away by their Art in Silk Display. It’s a must see if you are in the area! Here’s a few photos I took of the massive silk panels, but if your’e interested in this sort of thing click on the link above, which gives you the story of the fantastic community cooperation over  many hundreds of hours, to put create this. Jose took my photo in front of one of the panels to give you an idea of the size of them. There were 4 panels representing the four seasons.

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We were definitely having an ‘arty’ day because as we wandered down the street we came across an artist’s co-op called Deloraine Creative Studios, strolled in, and met one of the artists, Steve Howells. He has some striking street scenes of Deloraine on display, vibrantly coloured, and done in water colours. If you’d like to see some his work his website is just a click away, Steve Howells.

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You’ve probably guessed by now I loved Deloraine!

Ooops! Correction needed!
Before I begin on the next stage of my journey I need to get my Tassie towns in the correct order! In my blog The Trail of the Tin Dragon, our stop at Weldborough was before we got to Derby, not after, and the miners blockade to stop the Chinese miners occurred at Branxholm, not Weldborough as I said. Ooops, should write these blogs with a map in front of me. Or perhaps if I wrote them as I went, rather than on reflection, my short term memory would be closer to reality!


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Treading the Tahune Air Walk

After a chilly start to the day – only 4deg C when I woke up at my camp in Geeveston this morning – Brutus the Beast and I slowly made our way up the 29kms of winding road to begin my walk.

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Walking up hills/stairs and heights are probably two of my least favorite activities so I approached the day as a challenge. It was well rewarded!

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112 steps later (hey, who’s counting) I reached the track to the air walk which wound its way around massive stringy bark gum trees, myrtles, leatherwoods and celery top pines.

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The Air Walk is about 40 metres above the ground amongst the tree tops and finishes in a cantilevered section that hangs out over the Huon River. I asked a fellow tourist to take my picture as proof that I went right to the end, but he took about 6 of his thumb but I managed to sneak into this one.

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As I left the air walk there was an option to walk back via the Swinging Bridges. I’m up for another challenge so that’s the path I took. Now there’s only selfies to prove my achievement!

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The walking track is well maintained although steep and a bit slippery in places. You can see where nature tries to take over and block the tourists but fortunately for us someone comes along and clears the way.

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I’m so glad I had the opportunity to experience this beautiful place. I don’t think these are magic mushrooms growing in this magic forest, but who needs them when you can get high on nature!

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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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Camping the Tasmanian Coast

I’ve been so busy finding all these wonderful camp sites that I’m having blog withdrawals – as some of you must be judging by the messages I’ve had about the lack of blogs. So here goes my attempt at blogging on my iPhone
Rather than tell you lots of stories in this blog I’m going to concentrate on the camps! Hope you enjoy the pics.
Mayfield Bay
Great little campsite. Donation box. Long drop toilet. No showers.
The first pic is of a convict built arched bridge and the second of my sister, Marion, on the beach.

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Lagoons Beach
Right on the beach. Heaps of campsites with level ground and trees between the camps so although there was a lot of people there the camps were quite private.

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Binalong Bay
Day visit only. Lovely clean beach

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Swimcart Beach
Another lovely free camp right on the beach. It was quite windy when we were there but there were more protected sites back off the water.

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Paper Beach
On the western side of the Tamar River. Toilets, water, camping between 5pm & 9am for about 6 vans.

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Jose and I both managed to wash our vans here as they were covered in white mud from all the roadworks we’d been through.
Preservation Bay
Nice grassy free camp near Penguin. No facilities but a lovely beach.

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Detention River
Not listed in Camp 6. Heading west on Bass Highway turn right before the Detention River bridge almost opposite service station. Big open area by the road but drive down the track and there are lovely protected and private sites along the river and towards the river mouth. No facilities. This is what this lifestyle is all about!

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This next photo was taken as we left the next day and the tide was out. Taken from a similar spot as the first pic.

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Boat Harbour Beach
Another one not in Camp 6. Free. Good clean toilets. Water (recommended to boil). Grassy site for about 10 vans. A local couple came around to welcome us and give us an info leaflet. Sisters Beach is now closed for camping and this is the closest spot to there. Beautiful clean beach. Kiosk open during the day.

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Today, Jose is off to rodeo in Ulverstone (not Galveston!) and we’ll catch up again tonight to head towards Queenstown and Strahan. She’s looking the part, don’t you think?

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