In June I wrote about my trip to Broken Hill and Lake Mungo. This was a trip of a lifetime with the child bride. My usual form in recent times has been to do a Grumpy Grandads tour of somewhere with an old mate of mine who we will call G2 (me being G1 of course).
We have done two trips to New Zealand’s South Island and gone from Christchurch to Queenstown, with side trips to Wanaka, Dunedin and up the coast.
We did those trips in a camper van – was it an adventure or what!
Anyway, our latest GGT was to Tasmania by car. I took the station wagon and we went on the Spirit of Tasmania, across the ditch and down the east coast of Tassie from Launceston to Hobart and back up the guts to Launceston/Devonport, back across Bass Strait and up the Hume to home. About 2,300 kms all round.
Along the way, we got our vittles either from local victuallers (IGA, Woollies, local shops etc) and cooked, or we ate at eating establishments giving each a rating out of 10, noting the quality of the disabled toilets.
We’re gonna share that trip with you now.
We took off down the Hume to Melbourne at around 9am, arriving at Port Melbourne around 4pm. We had a bite to eat at the roadhouse at the Dog on the Tuckerbag and don’t recommend it. KFC, Subway, two other outlets – rather eat my own luggage. Rating 4/10. Toilets just ok.
Loading on to the boat was delayed for an inordinate amount of time and we boarded around 9.15pm or so. We found our cabin – a twin berth with its own ensuite. Pretty nice actually. G2 and I decided to sample the fare at the “Captain’s Table” buffet on board but found it was an all you can eat basic feed aimed at the budget traveller. Rating 4/10.
We had a rotten time in sea sickness going over to Tassie but recovered OK. From Devonport, we drove to Low Head, via Beaconsfield, which was closed. Low Head is an old pilot station on the coast north of George Town. Fascinating.
George Town is the third oldest town in Australia after Sydney and Hobart. Fancy that! The views from Low Head out across the heads were spectacular, with the wind swept landscape and sheeting rain. Turner would have painted something from there for sure.
I cooked that night. My rating 6/10; G2’s rating 5/10.
Next stop was to be Weldborough to see an historic hotel, but the town was closed (all four buildings of it). So we pushed on to St Helens. Nice little fishing village. Stayed at the Big 4 caravan park. Expensive but well appointed. Lunch was a piece of potato cake with a skinny bit of fish from a chippy. Rating 2/10.
I cooked again, peasant food. We survived.
Off to Swansea. Had two nights in Amos House, run by a Lebanese Basil Fawlty and the premises were of similar standard. Small room at the top of a steep stairwell (challenge for G2) with ensuite and small kitchenette. Toilet clogged in the middle of the night and I had to clear it myself. Yuk!
Swansea is a really lovely little town, full of character. The IGA is in fact an old building which has been trading in victuals since 1838. It’s called Morris’s General Store and has almost everything you might want. Fossickers dream. The local RSL Club was a pleasant experience. The natives were most welcoming and friendly. And they didn’t have two heads!
Dinner was at the Saltshaker restaurant. Brilliant. I had the Tasmanian scallop pie and G2 had salt and pepper calamari – he not being a big eater. Washed down with a Ninth Island pinot grigio. With its rustic décor and upmarket but casual atmosphere, it was a standout. Rating 8/10. Disabled toilet was very clean and appropriate.
So good was it that we went back the next night and I had the seafood chowder (amazing) and G2 had the fish and chips, which were splendid, with tempura batter and fish cooked lightly. Another 8/10.
Day two at Swansea saw the intrepid GGs having a picnic at Coles Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula. Tasmanian cheese, olives, sundried tomatoes, crackers, ginger beer and a local riesling. Fantastic views of the Hazards in a splendid little cove. Rating 8/10.
Next stop was Hobart via Port Arthur, which would not let us take the car through so G2 couldn’t get about. After giving them the two finger salute, we pushed on and had lunch at nearby Port Arthur Lavender, which was nice, with hippy smelling stuff for sale and okay food.
A plate of fish and chips for G1 and pancakes with ice-cream, cream, strawberries and strawberry liqueur for G2. A cup of hot chocolate (great on a windswept and freezing day) for G2 and another pinot grigio for oneself. Rating 7/10. Disabled toilet was very clean and appropriate.
In Hobart we stayed at Woolmers Inn in Sandy Bay for three nights. Best value accommodation I’ve seen for years. $80 per night saw a large room with a partitioned queen bed, a single bed, armchairs, a huge TV, kitchenette, ensuite bathroom, all within ten minutes’ walk of Salamanca Markets.
Dinner in Mee Wah’s silver service upmarket restaurant. Incredible. We had two entrees each. Fine Asian food with panache. Rating 9/10. Recommend the Szechuan hot and sour soup and the Peking duck. The pork belly with Chinese sausage was just what the doctor ordered. Disabled toilet was very clean and roomy, with high class fittings and provisions.
The snow set in after our visit to Salamanca markets and the trip to Launceston was interesting to say the least.
We had a great trip and I have given you a snapshot of half of it so if you want more, let me know and I will post the second half with comments on Hobart, Richmond, Ross, Launceston, Devonport and the Don River Railway. The trip home was much nicer, too