APT Royal Tasman Tour
October, 2006

Home to Freycinet

3rd October, 2006
4th October, 2006

Tuesday, 3rd October, 2006

Drop Cap ur Anchor Minibus picked us up right on time (09:00) and got us to the Domestic Terminal by 10:10. We immediately joined the check in queue for VirginBlue and were still there at 10:50 when we were fast forwarded by ground staff asking for any passengers for Launceston. Finally got on to the plane with much relief, scoring lucky by having three seats between us. VirginBlue SELLS you food and beverage so we had a very quick snack of nuts and pretzels with coke for me and cheese and biscuits and orange juice for Mac. It was a fairly quick trip and not uncomfortable.

Drop Cap e were met at Launceston Airport by our shuttle driver, who took us to Cataract Gorge to meet the bus and the rest of the tour, which had started before we arrived. There was no time to see the Gorge, but we had seen it before.

We drove off, heading for Beauty Point on the Waterfront and our choice of the Platypus House or Seahorse World. We chose the seahorses and they were quite fascinating. You hear "seahorse" and forget how tiny they are. They had several different species and some Leafy Seadragons, which I really loved.

Drop Cap e got back to Launceston and the swish Grand Chancellor Hotel in time to change for dinner. We were treated to Welcome Drinks and nice hot nibbles as we got to know some of our travel companions. Mostly "of a certain age". A party of four Germans, and a lone New Zealander called Bill who is 74, he says. A Canadian lady (originally Aussie) and her sister who is from Victoria and the rest are mostly from NSW and Victoria. Later we were joined by a couple from Canada and two sisters, one from Wollongong and the other from Wigan in Lancashire, who had been treated to this holiday as a 60th birthday present!

Drop Cap he buffet dinner was good, (in retrospect I think it was the best of the many buffets we had), we started with potato and bacon soup, then helped ourselves from the buffet. I had rack of lamb with roasted vegetables followed by a berry cheesecake and cream. After coffee, we forced ourselves to go for a walk around the block for the sake of our digestion. Then back to the room, which is quite nice, spacious, two double beds in the American style, nice bathroom, table and two armchairs, mini bar etc.

We have a wakeup call at 06:00, bags out by 07:00, departure at 08:00. Relaxed it ain't but we have experienced this enough to expect it.

Beaconsfield Mine photograph

Beaconsfield Gold Mine, near Launceston Tasmania

PS On the way to and from Beauty Point we even went through Beaconsfield, the gold mining town at the centre of the rescue effort earlier this year when there was a collapse underground, one miner died and two were trapped in a cage. It was interesting to see in person what had been on TV for such a long time. The mine is not yet reopened but there are plans to do so before too long.

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Wednesday, 4th October, 2006

APT Coach photograph

Our Carriage Awaits, Launceston

Drop Cap am inclined to start at the end of the day and backtrack because it has been a very long day and I am scared of forgetting things. But I will try to remember. First, breakfast was very good - Mac had the full bacon, egg, sausage, beans and hash browns as well as OJ and weetbix, but I had OJ, some Birchermuesli to which I added some dried fruit and nuts, then a croissant and a little bread roll with honey and coffee. Very nice, I don't know how the willpower will hold up. I love the full cooked while I am eating it but it is quite a heavy start to the day.

Weldborough Pub photograph

Goodbye to Weldborough Pub

Drop Cap t was a lovely sunny day as we motored out of Launceston, passing Holy Trinity Anglican on the way, heading for Scottsdale and the Weldborough Pass down to St. Helens. We stopped at an old pub in Weldborough for morning tea of lovely savoury pastries just out of the oven, then went on down the Pass, stopping for fifteen minutes to take a walk through the myrtle rainforest, full of old trees and huge treeferns, rather like Mt. Wilson.

Baby Wombat photograph

Baby Wombat at Nature World

Drop Cap hrough St. Helens and on toward Bicheno. We stopped for lunch at the South East Nature World, where we then went on a tractor train around the park, visiting wombats, koalas, deer, snakes and, of course, the Tasmanian Devil.

I thought the devils were cute, although apparently being brought up out of the wild makes them quieter and tamer, unfazed by the presence of humanity. The keeper fed them and one climbed up his leg, chest, shoulder and on to a tree to get the bone he was tempting it with. Two others fought furiously over a large piece of meat, one on each side of it and pulling madly. I liked them.

Tasmanian devils photograph

Tasmanian Devils at Nature World

Drop Cap he poor devils are having a bad time in Tasmania in the wild because their already endangered ranks are being decimated by the so-called Devil Facial Tumour Syndrome. They think it is some kind of cancer, and the poor things die within weeks of contracting it. Most of the devils in the parks are being studied in the hope of finding some solution for it and they are trying to breed them with animals in other parts of Australia to broaden the gene pool. (Do I mean deepen?) But they are really quite cute!

Cape Tourville photograph

Cape Tourville on Freycinet Peninsula

Drop Cap fter this we went on through Bicheno to Cape Tourville in Freycinet National Park. This is a spectacular area backed by the pink granite humps of The Hazards, with wonderful sea and beach views, including Wineglass Bay, which unfortunately we only caught a glimpse of. We went on a ranger led half hour walk around the Cape Tourville lighthouse, which was boardwalked and quite easy.

Cape Tourville Lighthouse photograph

Cape Tourville Lighthouse

Drop Cap have been fairly stiff today with all the constant in and out of the coach but, since we only have 21 people on the tour we can have a seat each and spread out, if necessary.

Freycinet cabin photograph

Our Cabin at Freycinet Lodge

Drop Cap ur accommodation tonight is Freycinet Lodge, in individual cabins. The cabins sleep four and even have a kitchen, though you would have to bring everything with you in the way of food, it is quite out of the way. But it is lovely. The high wind tonight, however, precluded the BBQ we were going to have outdoors and has been moved inside.

Drop Cap e all loved Freycinet Lodge and most of us agreed we would like to move in. The headquarters building faces The Great Oyster Bay and has a lovely restaurant with two huge open fireplaces, a bar and several function rooms, in one of which we had our delicious BBQ. The entrees were prawns, mussels, oysters and scallops, yum. The BBQ had lovely tender steak, trevalla, salmon, chicken kebabs, lamb cutlets and venison sausages. Lovely grub.
The bar serves 500ml bottles of Mercury cider, sweet, dry and draught. Good stuff. We have converted several of the ladies to it.

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