There’s The Best Laid Plans…And Then There’s This

“Where are we staying?” Tracey asked as I ground my way through the gears and we slowly picked up speed on the way out of Scamander.

“I was about to ask you the same thing?” I told her.

“Are you kidding me?” Tracey’s tone told me I better be. “You know it’s the Australia Day long weekend, don’t you?”

My wife and I have very different ideas about how to handle our schedule on this big lap of ours. I think we get in the bus and head generally in the direction we’re going and eventually we’ll run into somewhere we can plug into power and water – because adventure, baby! Whereas Tracey thinks we should be a little more specific about what we’re aiming for. Ideally, she’d like to know days or weeks ahead where we intend staying.

Our compromise is often to argue about it the night before until one of us caves.

Clearly, I’d been distracted during the final round of last night’s discussion when it was decided I was to have this organised.

“Want a coffee for the drive?” I asked Tracey as I pulled into the curb near a service station and ducking out the bus door before she even had a chance to answer.

Then moments later, standing at the machine pressing buttons, I looked at a map of Tassie, Googled ‘Swansea caravan park’ and made a quick call.

“One night? Shouldn’t be a problem at all,” the woman on the other end of the phone assured me. “How long did you say you were?” I explained we were as good as nineteen meters with the car trailer, which we’d prefer to keep attached to the bus. “Yep, we’ve got a spot or three. And how many of you are there?” I ran through the usual spiel of seven people including five kids aged 5 to 14. She said we’d need to pay extra for some of our kidlets, bringing the price to $65. “Five kids. You’ve been busy.”

I didn’t bother mentioning they were our youngest five rather than our entire brood.

“Not for few years,” I assured her instead. Adding, “Don’t worry. We’re not noisy.” Then I realised how that might have sounded. “I mean the kids aren’t noisy, not that Tracey and I are….” I trailed off. By this stage I was transferring the coffees over to pay for them and one of the eyebrows of the guy behind the counter was heading northwards. “As close to the toilet block as you can, please.”

“Done,” I told Tracey back on the bus as I handed her a cup. “We’re staying at Swansea.”

“How far’s that?”

“About two hours,” I said. “A bit longer for us.”

Because our kids need to pee a lot.

But even with their teeny weeny bladders taken into account, it turned out we were to be on the road a lot longer than that. Closer to five hours, in fact.

And not just because of the meandering goat tracks Tasmania has mislabeled as roads.

I was, it’s true, flat out doing 30km/hr up some of the hills we encountered, and I tended to refuse to go faster than that down the other side. I drove to conditions tempered with a healthy dose of fear factor. I always signal to let people pass where I can see far enough ahead and I pull over when I can, but for the mental wellbeing of a couple of young hoodlums in hotted up Holdens if you know someone who knows a guy who’s mother plays bridge with the auntie of a dude who deals with the main roads down here (I’m told this is how things work in Tassie) I’d suggest a few more overtaking lanes might be in order. Outside of Hobart the roads really are as bad as you’ve heard. Beautiful views at every curve, but the driver can’t risk a glimpse.

Those of you who are following our travels and know their way around a map of Tassie might be wondering about now how I know the roads are better in Hobart when I’m halfway up the east coast?

Well, that would be because that’s where we ended up having to drive to in order to find somewhere with a place we could plug into power and water.

You see, it turns out there’s a Swansea in both New South Wales and Tasmania.

Can you guess which one I Googled and booked us into? How about the expression my wife gave me when we worked it out, you what to try guess what that looked like?

Hint: it was hell scarier than the roads I had to keep driving along for the next two plus hours as we passed one booked out caravan park full of Australia Day revellers after another.

Hawley Beach

There was a lovely beachy area but my kids LOVED the rocks bookending it.

I taught her this pose. Proud.

Superdag. I mean dad. Getting up there was fine. You should have seen me getting off it. I think Tracey aged so much we’re nearly the same age now.
You know that sweet point in a book or series when you just need to keep reading to see what happens next? Master12 has hit that. Had his head more inside a book than a DS this week. Sweet parenting moment.

Reliquaire, Latrobe

We were advised to make finding this shop in Latrobe a priority, so we did. More than a toy store. Lots of interactive areas and…well let me show you.
Look, it’s a shop. Obviously they want you to buy something. But they also give you so much for free. Every corner has a new ‘wow’ moment. Hidden themed doors and the most wonderfully eclectic life-size toys they’re happy for you to touch and interact with.
Yes, they sell the most beautiful dresses but forget that – look in my other hand. Coffee. There’s a cafe in the toy store!
Was tempted to buy these for the bus.
Miss5 using the knowledge she’s gleaned from hours and hours of watching How To Train a Dragon.

Didn’t eat her, so assuming it worked.

Master12 says this is what Mum and I will look like in another ten years. He assured his mother he was playing her.

Bridestowe Lavender Farm

We stayed for the free tour of the drying shed and the other where oil is extracted. Was excellent. Louis was our guide. He was a cracker.

 

This photo is here for context. Because we arrived a couple of weeks after the best most vibrant flowers, those two beautiful shots at the top of the post have had a touch of colour correction in photoshop. See if you can spot it.
A lot of people have been saying Tracey needs to make sure she’s in more photos. I put this shot up both as evidence she does get in lots of photos and that being in front of the lens instead of behind the camera isn’t the problem.

Scamander Tourist Park

Camped at Scamander Tourist Park for a few nights while we looked around the east coast around Bay of Fires.  This awesome camp spot gave us a kiddy park, gazebo, picnic table and soccer field all just outside our bus door. 
St Helens oysters from Lease 65. $18/doz shucked, straight from the oyster farm. Brilliant. None of the kids wanted any either. Even more brilliant.
Cherries fresh from a farm we nearly drove past. $6/kg and picked that morning. Three kilo later. If I’m starting to sound like an advert for Tasmanian produce I don’t care. Loving this.

Shelly Point

Much collecting of shells. Miss10 came with a garbage bag.

Beach was thick with shells. Crunchy under feet thick.

Doesn’t look like this anymore because Tracey let the girls collect shells. Although they assure me they only took the ones they liked. Meaning, of course, that Shelly Point has to be renamed Shell Point. I think they left one.
You will, however, find a lot of cairns, like in this fancy shot Tracey took. You’re welcome.

Bay of Fires & Binalong Bay

And after this we took off up the coast to see if there were any other fantastic beaches, or if this one was just a freak accident. Seriously difficult to take a bad photo in this part of the world. I mean, I managed obviously, but Tracey got some crackers.

Found another beach! Because adventure!!!

Running to the water, and then…
…I don’t know why either. Maybe they mistook me for a sea monster.
I confess, the water is cold – but only until your nethers go numb

I look tight, like a tiger

Water so clear you’d think it was a like a pool

Blue Tier Blueberries

This place was recommended to us by a lovely family Tracey was taking photos of. $12/kg for pick your own blueberries. Fun and food rolled into one delicious exercise.

Fruit picking. I consider this teaching my kids a trade.

My gardening-show-host pose
A lot of picking was being done, and we did eventually manage to not eat two kilos and leave.
‘Tasting berries is encouraged’. Not sure what it said after that. I’m sure it wasn’t important.

Raising a family on little more than laughs

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