So where was our first motorhome trip?

Our very first motorhome trip was in a hire motorhome to Tasmania with four of our wonderful friends. The 3 couples each hired a motorhome so we could travel in convoy and explore Tassie. This was way back in 2008. We remember this trip very fondly as it was such hoot travelling with our friends this way.

Motorhoming was fun!

Why did we choose to do Tassie in a motorhome? Although my husband and I had both holidayed as children in caravans, went on our honeymoon in my parents caravan, had owned a couple of vans in our early married life, we din’t have a caravan at the time. We could have borrowed my parents van again but after talking with our friends we all decided that hiring motorhomes was the go. We would all be able to travel in convoy, it is much easier to park a small motorhome than a car and caravan, and also much cheaper to take on the Spirit of Tasmania as they charge by length.

Two of the couples drove to Melbourne where we collected our motorhomes from Around Australia Motorhomes. We found the hiring process very easy and they were happy to store our cars for us until we returned. One advantage to hiring in Melbourne was we were able to bring our groceries and wine with us in the car and just transfer it all to the motorhome.

After a thorough guided tour of our motorhomes and being shown how everything worked we completed our packing and headed off to Port Melbourne to catch the Spirit of Tasmania. Here’s where we almost has our first accident. We were too early to board so looked for somewhere to park while we had a wander around the port. As we were nosing into the parking space we forgot about the Luton (you know the bit above the cab where there is a bed) sticking out so far and almost speared it into a branch on a tree. Luckily we remembered in time and missed the branch by centimetres.

This was to be our home for the next 3 weeks

Boarding the Spirit of Tasmania was so exciting. It is a pretty slick operation and we were surprised at how quickly the line moved. Soon we were parked and heading upstairs to find our cabin. We had booked an outside twin cabin and it was surprisingly roomy with it’s own little ensuite. We had a large window and once we got underway we had a great view of nothing but sea for as far as the horizon. The four of us dined in the restaurant and remember it as being a great meal with great wine. Here’s a tip……if you want to dine at the restaurant book your table as soon as you board or you will miss out.

After an overnight sail we arrived in Devonport and were quickly disembarked from the ship. We had a short stop in a nearby carpark to have breakfast in the motorhome then it was off to the supermarket to get supplies. I loved that we can just drive into a supermarket carpark and park the motorhome.

Stopped for breakfast in the carpark after disembarking

You cannot bring fruit and vegetables into Tasmania so the first stop needed to be a supermarket. We also stopped in at the Tourist Information Centre to stock up on maps and tourist brochures and to purchase a National parks Pass. This would save us having to pay each time we went into a park. We had arranged to meet up with the third couple in our group at Cataract Gorge in Launceston. They had flown to Hobart, picked up their motorhome and were driving to meet us. We only got 5kms down the road and we just had to stop an Anvers Chocolate Factory. Yum! We enjoyed a coffee sitting in their lovely garden.

A bit further on and we stopped to check out Ashgrove Cheese Factory. We stocked up on a few goodies from here.

Bag of goodies and a painted cow at Ashgrove Cheese

We had a lovely picnic at Cataract Gorge after meeting up with our friends. We poured over the maps while having lunch and decided to head east to St Helens and follow the coast down to Hobart. We drove from Launceston to St Helen’s via Scotsdale and Derby. Our first night camping was at Cosy Corner North just north of St Helens. This was a fabulous free camp right on the beach. We parked our RV’s in a rough circle and went to sleep with the sound of the ocean.

Next stop was Freycinet National Park after a brief stop at Bicheno and Coles Bay. At Freycinet we booked into the campground then visited the lighthouse, boardwalk and Sleepy Bay before setting up camp. The campground offers power, water and grey water disposal on good, level gravel sites right next to a lovely beach.

The next day we did the walk to Wineglass Bay. This beach is in the top 10 beaches in the world along with Whitehaven in the Whitsundays. It is quite spectacular. The sand is very white and the beach is a perfect curve with sparkling turquoise water. We walked down to the beach where we spied the Aurora Australis moored in the bay. This is the supply ship for our Antarctic bases.

Our camp for the night was at Fortesque Bay Campground, a beautiful bush camp alongside a lovely beach. The enterprising ranger was selling wood $5 for a wheelbarrow full so we made use of that and had our first campfire.

The stunning Wineglass Bay

A visit to Port Arthur Historic Site was how we spent most of the next day. There’s so much to see here. One of the things I liked about traveling in convoy was that while at Port Arthur one couple decided they had enough history for one day and wanted to continue on so we all arranged to meet up at Seven Mile Beach Caravan Park where we had booked three powered sites. This meant the four of us that were left could continue to explore Port Arthur for another couple of hours. We also took the opportunity to check out Tasman Arch on our way around to Seven Mile Beach.

Port Arthur Historic Site

Heading further south towards the Huon Valley we stopped in the little town of Franklin to visit the Wooden Boat Centre. We were fascinated to learn about the boat building school they run. People come from all over the world to learn how to build wooden boats and they pay for the privilege. The school only takes 8 students at a time and they build the boats one at a time. All made by hand.

The fascinating Wooden Boat Centre

Onwards to Geeveston where we stopped at the Forest Information Centre to get info and purchase tickets for the Tahune Air Walk. I’m happy to say I did the walk although, being terribly afraid of heights, it wasn’t really a pleasant experience. The swing bridges across the river on the walk back to the carpark were terrifying! We headed back to Franklin and camped at their free camp alongside the river. There was a pub across the road that we just had to try out.

The next day was spent in Hobart. As it was a Saturday the markets were on in Salamanca and we managed to find parking for the three motorhomes so we could visit the markets. It was our friend’s birthday so we lashed out and had a lovely lunch at the renowned seafood restaurant on the waterfront, Mures. We all went our separate ways for the afternoon with one couple driving their motorhome up Mt Wellington, another went back to keep exploring the markets and Richard and I took a trike tour , which included a ride to the top of Mt Wellington. This was a hoot! We passed our friends coming down in their motorhome and we waved furiously to get their attention. They were so surprised to see us go by on the back of a trike! The trike tour was a lot of fun and we declared it well worth the $160 for the hour and half tour.

We all met up again at the caravan park our friend had found near a winery in Glenorchy. The park was right alongside the River Derwent so we had water views. We continued to celebrate our friends birthday with nibbles and a bottle of Tattinger sitting at a picnic table outside until it became too cold to sit outdoors.

One couple had to leave us today to fly home and the other was going to head up to Launceston and the Tamar Valley. We arranged to meet up again in Launceston in a few days time. We took this opportunity to do a cruise to Peppermint Bay. It was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for a cruise. The cruise was fabulous and we were glad we paid extra to be on the top deck. No children allowed on this deck! It was very quiet and relaxing. Our gourmet lunch was served in bento boxes and included a wonderful variety of local food. Smoked salmon, chicken with potato salad, pork terrine, garden salad and the best chicken pate I have ever tasted. All served with homemade sourdough rye bread. This was finished off with a raspberry fool. What a lunch and all washed down with Tasmanian wine. Delicious. It was a most enjoyable day.

Our camp that night was in the backyard of my uncle and aunt’s place just south of Hobart where we shared a delightful dinner and caught up on family news.

It poured rain during the night. It was snug being in our bed in the Luton listening to the rain. The next morning was sunny but cold and we headed back northwards. We called in to Woodbridge to see if we could purchase some of their delicious pate and sourdough that we had eaten yesterday on the cruise. There were no jars of pate left in the shop however I’m very glad we asked as the chef went back to the kitchen and filled a couple of jars for us. We made a lunch stop at Huonville and what a lunch, sourdough, ham, local Tassie cheese and pate. Yum.

Continuing northwards and we came to the historic town of Richmond where we booked into the caravan park for the night. This gave me a chance to do some washing, empty our grey water and cassette and fill up with water. We had dinner at the Richmond Arms Hotel. Richmond is home to many convict built historic buildings and is well worth the visit. The Richmond Bridge is spectacular. It is one of Australia’s oldest bridges and was built in 1825. It is still in use today. We spent the next morning checking out the old Goal and Old Hobart Town and the myriad of little shops.

Heading north again via Oatlands, where we stopped for lunch by the lake, and Ross where we visited the Tasmanian Wool Centre. The countryside around here was all green rolling hills and looked like perfect sheep country. Near the town of Longford we found a free camp at Bishopsbourne. This free camp is a great overnight spot. Grassy level sites between the local fire shed and the community centre. I reckon there’s room for at least 10 motorhomes and we were the only ones there.

This area must have been settled by English people as most of the names around there are recognisably English. As you drive along you catch glimpses of gorgeous old Georgian style homes.

The next day we paid a visit to two of the areas historic houses. First up we visited Woolmers, a historic farm and homestead that has been lovingly preserved. Next stop was Clarendon House. This one was looking a bit shabby however it looked like they were setting up for a wedding. We had a delightful lunch sitting in the sun outside their conservatory.

Woolmers historic Stables

As we drove into Launceston we stopped at the Motor Museum that had a good display of historic art and motorbikes. We had arranged to meet up with our friends at the Treasure Island Caravan Park in Launceston and we arrived to find they had arrived just 10 minutes before us. We quickly set up our table and camp chairs to have drinks and nibbles and catch up on each others travels. We ended up ordering pizzas to be delivered for our dinner.

The next day we visited the Harley Davidson Museum. What a treasure trove that is. Then it was onwards to Deloraine where we just had to stop and have a look at the silk wall hangings at their visitors centre that we found were inspired by the sculpture curtain in our home town of Griffith, NSW. The workmanship is amazing and so detailed. I can admire the craftsmanship.

Richard and I drove on to LaTrobe to visit the Axemans Hall of Fame whilst our friends headed off to visit a salmon and ginseng farm and a honey farm where they indulged in delicious honey ice cream.

We had a look around the murals in the town of Sheffield before meeting up again at Gowrie Park Reserve. This is a really pretty free camp with a gorgeous little creek running alongside. I did the 700m nature walk along O’Neils Creek. What a lovely walk. That evening we had a camp fire and enjoyed being the only campers there until a 4WD camper pulled up a bit later. They were not very friendly and didn’t join us around the fire.

The next day we headed off in convoy towards Cradle Mountain. Once we arrived we parked the motorhomes in the carpark and caught the shuttle bus up into the National Park. This is a great idea and takes the pressure off the park to widen the road. It also lessons the impact of vehicles coming into the park. We did the walk to Dove Lake and took the advice of our fellow campers from last night and went from right to left NOT the recommended left to right. I’m glad we did as the first part of the walk was up and down lots of stairs and rocky steps whilst the last part was all on a well-constructed boardwalk. We got some lovely photos of Cradle Mountain and the clouds briefly blew away so I could get the iconic shot of the mountain across the lake. We passed quite a few walkers going the other way including one family with a toddler who sounded as though he had enough of this bush walking caper. And they were only half way around! We took just under 2 hours to do the walk.

Back at the Visitors Centre we took our bus drivers recommendation and went to The Tavern for lunch. We enjoyed a delicious lunch outside in the warm sunshine.

Back on the shuttle bus to get back to our motorhomes down in the carpark and we were off to find a camp for the night. Found a great free camp at Lake Barrington and settled in around the campfire. A little Blue Wren and his drab coloured mate flitted in to camp and came up quite close. They didn’t seem to be afraid of us at all.

Lake Barrington free camp

It was gently raining in the morning but we were all packed up and ready to roll by 9am in the general direction of Burnie. We arrived in Burnie after traveling via Gawler and Ulverstone and the beachside town of Penguin. Love how the town of Penguin has penguins everywhere. There’s a ‘big’ Penguin, penguin rubbish bins, penguins on signs all over town and the town also has beautiful gardens. Once in Burnie we headed straight to the Surf Club as this had been recommended to us as a great spot for some seafood. We ate our fabulous lunch right on the beachside.

After our long lunch our next stop was Hellyers Road Distillery. The guys were fortunate to get a personal guided tour of the distillery with the Production Manager. while the others were doing this I drove off in our motorhome to visit the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden. This is a 13 acre community garden constructed on the site of the old rubbish dump. The garden is developed and maintained entirely by volunteers. It is a spectacular garden and well worth the visit. The best part was having a couple of blokes standing in the car park with their arms crossed just watching me reverse and turn the motorhome around in the carpark. Showed them! No problem at all.

Back to meet the others and it was time to search for a camp for the night. We found a camp spot at Cooee Point where we were able to fill up with water although the camp site was right on the beach and very exposed and windy. We decided to look further and settled on the Somerset Beachside Caravan Park. It was only $22 per night for a powered site. After our big lunch we just had snacks and finger food food for our dinner.

It started to drizzle and we took the opportunity to put up our awnings for the first time. This was hilarious. None of us knew what we were doing and we were in trouble. In the end we had to consult the instruction manual that had come with the motorhomes and once we followed that we discovered it’s actually quite easy. It’s always easy when you know how! Awnings out we could continue to sit outdoors inspire of the gently patter of rain.

We were all feeling a bit sad as our friends would be departing the next morning too head back to Devonport and onwards to home while we would head south to Strachan via Zeehan.

The next morning our friends departed while we stayed and did our washing, emptied our grey water and cassette and filled up with water. It was a little sad to see our friends go as it is a lot of fun travelling together but they had to get back to Devonport so they could catch the Spirit of Tasmania back to Melbourne.

Eventually we got going about 11am and headed south passing Mt Farrell and stopping in Zeehan to visit the West Coast Heritage Centre. This is a very good little pioneer museum and well worth the visit. We filled up in Zeehan before continuing on to Strachan. Once there we drove into town to book some tours for tomorrow. We booked a Gordon River Cruise for the morning that included lunch and also booked a seaplane tour for the afternoon. Richard really wanted to see where the Franklin Dam was going to be built and what the fuss had all been about. We hoped the weather would stay fine.

We had a wander around the town and for the first time we ‘stealth’ camped. We found a secluded spot behind some old buildings at the Wilderness Railway. We were camped just metres from the waters edge of the bay. We hoped we wouldn’t get asked to move on but we were pretty well hidden from view behind the buildings. It was lovely to hear the sound of the waves lapping not far from us.

We couldn’t be any closer to the bay in Strachan

It rained during the night and we were very glad we had set our alarm or we would have missed our cruise the next morning. We had to be at the wharf by 8.30am as the cruise departed at 9am sharp. We had a bit of win in the carpark as none of the pay parking ticket machines were working. Yay! free parking for all. We joined our cruise onboard the large catamaran The Eagle. We had front row seats on the upper deck. It was very flash. We had great views from our seats however you could get up and wander about and even go up on the top deck and chat with the skipper but it was windy and cold up there. Richard had a good chat with the skipper while I chose the stay inside in the warm.

Our cruise took us out through Hells Gate (the mouth of the Macquarie harbour). The harbour entrance was named Hells Gate as it is only 72 metres wide and many ships were lost seeking the entrance into the harbour. One was carrying the wife and children of the local lighthouse keeper coming back after holidaying in Hobart. They were only 100 metres or so from their home when their ship went down and all lives were lost. Once through Hells Gate ships arrive into the relative calm of Macquarie Harbour. It is huge, some 2 times the surface area of Sydney Harbour and 7 times the volume of water. It is BIG. As it was a calm day the skipper took The Eagle out through Hells Gate and into the open sea. The rollers were coming in and the boat started to pitch up and down. It was a lot fo fun but you could tell that some of the passengers were getting a little nervous and were relieved when we turned around and headed back into calmer waters.

Back in Macquarie Harbour and we cruised past The Training Wall. This is a rock wall some 3km long that was constructed over 100 years ago to help keep the channel from silting up. It has never been maintained and is still working today as efficiently as it did when constructed all that time ago. We cruised on and came to some huge fish farms. Our boat stopped so we could all have a look whilst the fish were being fed. They are fed from what looks like a large water cannon that has fish food mixed in with the water. As this mixture is sprayed over the tanks the water looks like it is boiling but it is just the fish trying to grab as much food as they can. The huge tanks are 150 metres across and are basically a rubber ring with a net hanging down below to hold the fish. The farms in Macquarie Harbour house Ocean Trout and Atlantic Salmon and this is a huge industry for the area.

We traveled on to Sarah Island, once a penal colony for the convicts who had committed secondary offences. They were supposed to be the ‘worst of the worst’. We stopped here for a guided tour and our guide was very funny and told the story of the island with lots of anecdotes about particular convicts. It was supposed to be ‘hell on earth’ but some things about Sarah Island don’t add up. For example, the convicts were housed in ‘comfortable’ barracks, they had plenty of food and the shipyard was the largest shipyard in Australia for many years. These so called ‘bad’ convicts constructed some of the finest boats of the day.

Back onboard The Eagle and we continued up the Gordon River. The buffet lunch was delicious. The river in this area looks so dark it looks like Coca Cola. The reason for the dark colour is the tannin that leaches down through the soil from the button grass plains up above. In places where there is no breeze the water shows perfect reflections and is a particular favourite for photographers.

Our boat stopped at Heritage Landing about 42 km up the river. This is as far as the tour boats are allowed to go. Here we went on a well constructed boardwalk though the ancient rainforest. Half way around our guide gave a talk on the importance of this rainforest and why the area received its World Heritage listing. She gave the talk whilst sitting on a fallen Huon Pine tree that, although it has fallen, is still growing. It is estimated to be 2300 years old. She pointed out that this tree has been growing since some 300 years BEFORE Christianity. It was an excellent talk and the boardwalk is a fabulous way for all the tourists to experience the rainforest and cause the least amount of impact on it.

Back on the boat and we cruised back to Strachan. A video was shown about the life of ‘the Piners’. It was a tough life being a ‘piner’. Cutting down the trees and getting them down to the river so they could be brought down to the mill was backbreaking work. They were a tough bunch.

Back in Strachan we disembarked in front of Morrison’s Timber Mill. This is a Huon Pine mill that is still in operation although it has been illegal to cut down Huon Pine since 1964. Morrison’s are one of the few who are allowed to collect the Huon Pine that get washed down the river. Some of these are logs that ‘the piners’ had cut down and for one reason or another had left behind. Eventually these logs make their way to the river where Morrison’s workers can collect them. Huon Pine is a sought after timber and has a very distinctive aroma.

We went to check on our seaplane flight but as they hadn’t got anyone else booked it was changed to tomorrow morning. We hoped it would be a nice day tomorrow.

After having a bit of a drive around we finally drove out to Macquarie Heads where we found a fabulous camp ground and found a spot right next to the beach. We had a view of the beach from our window and could hear the waves. The campground is run by the council and costs just $5 per night. The very chatty caretaker told us that the council has big plans for the camp ground including a new amenities block in the next 12 months. Over the years people have set up their caravans and lean tos that have become quite permanent. They have all been given their marching orders and will all have to be dismantled. The council plan to level the sites and make the campground more accessible for caravans and motorhomes. It is a lovely spot I just hope they don’t ‘fix’ it up so much it becomes too expensive.

We went for a very long walk along the beach around to Hells Gate and back before having dinner and going to bed with the sound of the waves.

After sleeping like logs we woke to a miserable day. It was really overcast and had rained during the night. As we packed up and drove back to town it started to rain again. This didn’t look good for our seaplane flight. We arrived at the dock and the pilot suggested we go for coffee and come back in half an hour to see if the weather improves. When we arrived back the pilot decided we could go. The other couple going with us are on their honeymoon. We all climbed into the back of the little plane and as I was the shortest I got the back seat. It is a great position as I got a window on each side. Richard got to sit up front with the pilot and the other couple were in the middle. We took off and flew out past Hells Gate and the lighthouse. We flew right over where we had camped the night before. The pilot turned the plane around to head back up the harbour but we hadn’t gone far when the weather turned really bad and the little plane was being tossed about. We flew over the fish farms and back to Strachan. The pilot apologised and said we could have a refund. Once back on the ground we thanked him, received our refund but gave them $70 for the short flight we managed to have. You can’t fight the weather. Oh well, we will have to come back one day and try again.

We decided to head back up north via Queenstown. This is a very hilly and winding road and coming into Queenstown the hills are barren and bare. This is direct result of the mining that has occurred in the area. We had a bit of a walk around the town and went to the Empire Hotel for a pub lunch. This hotel was obviously a very flash one in its hey day. The beautiful Blackwood staircase has been heritage listed by the National Trust. It is quite stunning with all the turned bannisters and carved acorns on the Newell posts. The Blackwood was cut in Tasmania then sent to England for turning then the whole thing was sent back to the colonies to be put together.

We got underway again and some 3 hours later we arrived back in Burnie. Here we found the dump point so we could empty the cassette however there was no potable water so we continued on. We drove on to Wynyard where we checked into the Beach Retreat Caravan Park. After hooking up the power, filling the water tank and turning on the gas Richard got his book out and settled in for a read. I got 2 loads of washing done and went for a walk into the town. It was a 10 minute walk to the Main Street, a 20 minute stroll from one end to the other, then the 10 minute walk back to the caravan park. The walk takes you along the edge of the river past the waterfront and is a lovely walk. Back at the motorhome and we were glad of the power so we could have the heater on. It warmed the motorhome up nicely. It was going to be good sleeping weather.

We woke to a beautiful sunny day and the ringing of my phone. Who dared to call us this early? Don’t they know were are on holidays? After checking my phone to find it was our son, Michael, who had called and it was already 8.45am. It was really time to get up and get going. We packed up and headed towards Stanley in the states north west. It was a very pretty drive along the coast with picture postcard beach scenes and distant views of Table Cape. We drove up to Table Cape to see the view and check out the tulip farm. The rolling hills were covered in mass plantings of tulips. It was quite stunning. The Van Dieman Tulip Company is so good at growing tulips that they even export them to Holland!

Our next stop was Allendale Gardens near Smithton. Allendale is an private open garden and we were fortunate to have such a lovely day to visit. The garden was started 28 years ago when dairy farmer, Max told his wife Lorraine that she could have one paddock for her garden. He says she picked the best paddock. The garden has since become their livelihood and now extends over 6 acres as well as the 65 acres of rainforest next door. Lorrained told us she never wants to see another dairy cow.

It is a truly magical garden and they are so fortunate to have a creek running through the middle of it. A permanent water supply and good rainfall do make it easier to get a large garden established. The garden has grown and grown and is still being added to by this enthusiastic pair. We were really impressed with the groves of Californian Redwoods ad Cyprus Pine that were planted 24 years ago. The trees are huge. This has spurred us on to get some trees planted at our place.

We had a delightful Devonshire tea with homemade scones, jam and cream supplied by Lorraine in their teahouse (Max’s old tractor shed). We spent 2 hours just walking around the garden and the rainforest. There were even a couple of Tassie Devils in the rainforest and I think we caught glimpses of fairies.

After leaving Allendale we headed back to Stanley. You can see the famous Nut from quite a long way away. It is very impressive. First stop in Stanley was Hursey Seafoods to see if Rich could get any prawns for lunch. No luck but he did get some fish and scallops. He commented that the fish shop was so clean you could eat your lunch off the floor. We sat in the park next to the original Van Diemans Company Store to eat our lunch. The store is now up-market accomodation. It wasn’t long before we were joined in the park by seagulls. I’m sure they can smell fried food.

We drove around the little town and up the hill past the quaint cemetery surrounded by a white picket fence. The cemetery has one of the best views in town. We arrived at the chairlift carpark to find some idiot had parked their Pajero in the section for ‘Buses Only’. Obviously they can’t read. We bought tickets for the chairlift which was similar to the ones we’ve been on at the snow and took the short 5 minute trip to the top of The Nut. From there we did the 45 minute walk around the top. The views from up there are fantastic. We walked back down the hill with my knee complaining all the way. We bought the obligatory postcards and ice cream from the shop and headed off to find a camp for the night. We found couple of spots near the beach but they were a bit exposed so we tried the caravan park. They had a great spot right next to the beach for $22 per night so we took that and set up camp.

We woke to an overcast day and had a slow start to the morning. We finally left the caravan park at 11am and drove the short distance out to the headland to visit the historic Highfields House. This was the home and farm of the Van Diemans Company in Tasmania (basically the ‘king’ of the area at the time). The house has been restored very well and some of the stone outbuildings are very fine examples of construction of that time. Amazing what one could do with free convict labour. We spent an hour there reading all the information of the family that built the house. The poor woman had 15 children. I cannot imagine how hard that would have been. She had a new baby almost every year for 20 years. When they were deemed old enough they were sent back to England to be educated so she would have had the heartache of always sending one away. There is a grave on the site of their 3 year old daughter who was killed by a runaway carriage. Very sad.

We continued on to Forest so we could visit the Wild Wood Gallery. This is an amazing place. They are one of the few who are allowed to gather Huon Pine and they have a huge stockpile in their showroom.

Onwards to the town of Wynyard for a lunch break then on to Devonport. We had time to kill and after coming across a cinema took ourselves to the movies to see the new Leonardo Di Caprio movie ‘Body of Lies’. It was very good. A truly frightening movie in that it could all be true.

Back to the motorhome and we looked for a camp site. There were a few free camps but they looked a bit exposed so we opted for the Abel Tasman Caravan Park in East Devonport. It is right on the end of the river with views out over the beach. There were rabbits running everywhere. We should be able to see the Spirit of Tasmania as it leaves Devonport on its way to Melbourne. It was a shame that would be us tomorrow. We had so enjoyed the holiday.

That evening while dinner was cooking in the oven and Richard was settled on the lounge with his book, I sat with a glass of wine and reflected on the previous three weeks. We had both really enjoyed motorhoming. I had always thought we would but hadn’t realised how easy it was to fall into a bit of a routine each day. We had no trouble at all with the hire motorhome but we had thought of lots of things we would do to improve it its it was ours.

When asked, Richard’s impressions of the last three weeks was that it had been mentally unwinding and then physically unwilling to the point where he felt really drained, then recharged and was ready to get back to the challenge of running our business again. Motorhoming has been enjoyable, easy, not too demanding, and no pressure. It’s not about getting from A to B as quickly as possible but it is all about the next stop or the next view or the next cup of coffee.

The next morning was our last one in Tassie and as the motorhome has to be returned all clean and tidy we spent the morning having a clean up. I stripped the bed and put all the sheets and towels in the shower, packed our bags for our overnight stay on the Spirit of Tasmania and cleaned out the fridge and only kept things we would take home. Richard did the ‘secret mens business’ and emptied the cassette using the dump point in the park. It was a bit sad to be packing up the motorhome.

We headed off to check out Port Sorell. It is only about 20 minutes drive from Devonport along the river. We found a couple of good free camp spots that we would have to remember for next time. We drove on and came to Ghost Rock Vineyard. It looked pretty good so we stopped for a look. The very modern building houses the cellar door and also doubles as a function centre with a proper kitchen attached. The whole room opens onto a large deck with fabulous views across the vineyard.

We continued on and came to La Trobe. This was our second visit but this time we took our time and had a very slow look about the town. We had a wander up the Main Street and stopped for lunch at a lovely cafe. We visited a couple of galleries and then I came across the most amazing store I have ever seen. It was called Reliquaire and was the most eclectic mix of stock your could ever imagine in one store. They sold everything from Venetian mask to fancy soap, children toys and games to adult toys, costumes to garden furniture, statues and ponds, novelty items to china dolls and baby clothes and toys. It was incredible and each little room just kept leading to more little rooms. The place was chock full of stuff! I asked the owner how they ever did stocktake and she said they don’t but just take a guess each year. They had even had the tax office there to check and after taking a look at the amount of stock they agreed that the owners could take a guess. I had never seen such a variety in one store.

Sadly, I heard that the store was completely destroyed by fire in 2015 and has since been rebuilt and it back up and running again.

It was time for us to get back to the dock where we joined the queue and were directed into line with other motorhomes. We were quickly boarded and after parking went up to find our cabin. Then we went up on deck to watch our departure from Devonport. From the stern of the ship we watched the twinkling lights of Devonport disappear and then we headed inside to find some dinner. This is where we had made a big mistake. We hadn’t booked a table for dinner as soon as we boarded and the next available table was not going to be until 9.30pm. Oh well off to the buffet for us. While the buffet was OK it was nowhere near as nice having dinner in the restaurant. that’s one to remember for next time. Book your dinner table as soon as you get onboard.

We were up early the next morning and it was quickly off the ship and driving through city traffic to return the motorhome. We really could have just kept going! It was a very efficient process back at the depot where the motorhome was checked and we unloaded our stuff into our car ready for the drive home. We had an uneventful drive home with a stop in Benalla for lunch. We arrived home tired but glad it was a Saturday and we had a whole day to unpack and get ready for work again on Monday.

We have since discussed our trip many times with our friends and they all agree that this short trip gave us all a taste of the motorhome lifestyle and it appealed to all of us. Just being able to pull up anywhere and within a few minutes your camp is set up is fabulous. We’d have to do it again.

Disembarking at Port Melbourne