First Days in Tasmania

MARCH 19, 2020 : Spent a restful night on the ferry to Tasmania. At 5:45 there was a wake-up announcement to prepare for 6:30 disembarking. When they made the announcement, we had already reached our destination. We slept through the docking in Devonport. Not much to see, it was still very dark outside.

In leaving the ferry, they stopped each car and asked if anyone had been overseas in the past two weeks. When I answered yes, they gave me a form to fill out with my contact details and information about when I entered Australia.

We spent the morning getting organized. Kashered the campervan kitchen. Went shopping for fruits and vegetables (due to biosecurity you are not allowed to bring them into Tasmania). Next to the grocery store was Kmart – yes they have Kmart in Australia – and we filled our cart with many storage containers to organize things with.

Devonport is small costal city, mostly single-family ranch homes. Very green. In the city is the Mersey Bluff Lighthouse, a beautiful red and white lighthouse. We went there for a picnic lunch – it was a warm sunny day – and then we took a walk on a pathway along the cliffs. For our Australia trip, we bought a new drone and decided to give it a try. Mark figured it out (of course) and flew it for the first time to create a movie featuring the lighthouse. Next I need to figure out how to get movies from the drone to the blog. Coming soon.

That night was our first night sleeping in the campervan. It was comfortable. But getting it set up – to transform the back of the van from a living room/dining room to a bedroom took a very long time. Take apart the dining table, move the sofa cushions (and everything else on them), put away the table leg, put the table top down to create part of the bed, take out the two wooden planks from the closet to fill in the rest of the bed, replace the cushions in the correct way that they will all fit flat, somehow, on your hands and knees spread open the sheet on the bed, throw the pillows to their place, and spread the blanket in place. I assume with practice it will go faster.

First Campervan Dinner

We spent the morning returning some items we bought the day before and bought new items. We finally found rice and tofu – the last remaining items on our list that were not easily available. The rice shelf was totally bare except for two bags of brown rice (I guess they were not as popular as the white rice) and I grabbed them. I am beginning to wonder if Australians think it is bad manners to take the last item on the shelf – because it seems to be that often we get the last item on the shelf.

From there we started our first long drive. Our destination was Cradle Mountain National Park.

Although the parks are called National Parks, they are not really national. Each state in Australia has its own national parks. Each state has its own National Park web site and its own National Park rules. Buying a National Park entrance pass for a park in Tasmania will only be good for other parks in Tasmania, and not good anywhere else, even though it is called a National Park Pass.

Our first stop was at Spreyton Cider. We had enjoyed a drink of Spreyton Cider on the ferry over, and here was the place where it was made. We decided to have a look. They have a short walk around their orchard called the Fruit Loop. As you walk the Fruit Loop there are informational signs about apples in Tasmania and about the cider company. It is now apple season, and the trees were bent with fruit – all different shades of red and green. After buying a few bottles to take with us, we continued on our way.

We left Spreyton behind and quickly the landscape became rolling green hills – mostly farmland. In the distance loomed the large Mount Roland. Our next stop was the town of Sheffield – known as the mural capital of the world. It is a small town, with some historic buildings, and many murals painted everywhere. These murals deal mostly with the history of the town. In addition, there is a mural exhibition behind the visitor’s center. Every year in Sheffield, there is a mural competition. Artists need to complete a large mural within a week. Townsfolk then vote for the best mural. The winner goes on permanent display in the exhibition.

In front of the Sheffield Visitor’s Center, there was a signpost showing the direction to various towns in the area. The towns in the area have great names – Nowhere Else, The Nook, Promised Land, Gentle Annie. The Garden of Eden was only 15 miles away. These are real town names because as we drove along we continually saw road signs for them.

From Sheffield, we continued driving west towards Cradle Mountain. The landscape became miles and miles of thin tall tree and gigantic ferns. I was very excited to be going to Cradle Mountain, to do the Dove Lake Circuit hike (CNN voted it as one of the top destinations for 2020).

As we were driving along, about 45 min away from the park, I got an SMS from the Tasmania government telling me that I need to self-isolate for the next 14 days. Oh no! This can’t be! This was quite unexpected because my understanding was that only people that arrived in Australia after March 15 needed to self-isolate and I arrived on March12 – three days before.  Why do I need to self-isolate? For a couple of stressful hours, all our trip plans were being changed in my head. Instead of hiking we would do scenic drives. We would figure it out somehow. However, after several phone calls to the Public Health Hot Line, where they took my details, they called me back and told me I do NOT need to self-isolate. So happy! Tasmania as a state can create their own rules, and although the national rule says anyone arriving after March 15, in Tasmania they decided this applies to everyone who arrives that has been overseas in the past two weeks (me). However, because we will be hiking and not in the cities, I do not need to self-isolate but should practice social distancing when I am near people. No more shopping for me until my 14 days are up. I was very impressed that they took the time to consider my case individually.

Today, Thursday, we woke up early to get to Cradle Mountain National Park to beat the rain that was supposed to start in the afternoon. It was cold – the temperature inside the campervan was 11 degrees celsius. Cradle Mountain is only accessible via shuttlebus, and so from the visitor center we took the bus to Dove Lake, a 20-minute ride. From there we did the Dove Lake Circuit, the three-hour hike around Dove Lake that I had been looking forward to. It did not disappoint.

The craggy peaks of Cradle Mountain stand in the background as you walk alternating through open fields to mossy green rainforests. Sometimes you walk on loose gravel pathways and sometimes on wooden boardwalks, both meticulously maintained. The area is well sign posted so you cannot get lost.

Towards the end of the hike we reached the boat house and took the iconic photo of the boat house with Cradle Mountain in the back – the scene that the walk is known for.

During the last third of the hike, the rain started, mostly drizzling on and off, but enough to get us wet. Once we finished the hike we returned to the campervan for dry clothes. Once dry, we went out again – this time with umbrellas.

From the ranger station, we did two short hikes – the Rainforest Walk and the Enchanted Walk – to see waterfalls and more rainforest. You can tell we are still new to Australia by the excitement we showed when we spotted our first wallaby.

Tomorrow we are heading to Lake St. Clair to spend our first Shabbat in the campervan. Rain predicted.

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  1. Beautiful photos, sounds like fun
    Yatir says: the blog is pretty, thank you for the pictures
    Yarden : have a good day