The Cascades Female Factory

The Cascades Female Factory became one of Tasmania's longest running penal institutions. It was built in 1828 and operated until 1856. It is a testament of the cruel and inhumane conditions that prisoners were created and housed in such appalling conditions. I hadn't really considered what the female convicts went through. My closest 'images' are those from book and movie "The Potato Factory" written by Bryce Courtney. This is so much worst.

Sadly previous governments had little forethought of the historical significance of many places and here is the same. The walls of the buildings may no longer stand, but that is of little difference as there are many indicators that 'point' you to where the walls and yards were.

We took a guided tour and she evoked a real compassionate understanding of the mental, physical hardship these poor women endured. That the governor of the time, ignored the advice of his engineer that this location would flood and thus be an unsuitable location for a penal colony. The governor wilfully went ahead  as it was a relatively low cost alternative and thus subjected these women to work and live in damp, putrid cells for long periods often on just bread and water.

The guide tour also allowed us to visit the interior of the only existing building, the Matron's Cottage where there are some artifacts and such to be seen.

The size of the solitary confinement cells are abysmally small.
It is a tour not to be missed. You can look around the 'yards' without a tour and save a few bucks but the understanding of what the various stones/pavers mean will be lost on you and you certainly will not begin to comprehend what went on inside this female factory.

This has made a much deeper impression on me that Port Arthur did. I certainly feel that the women served time in a much harsher environment than the men on Maria Island or Port Arthur! It certainly stays with you long after you leave.

Doo Town

 On our drive around Pirate's Bay, we came across Doo Town and started to notice that many of the houses had a take on the town's name.

At the end of Doo Town there is a blowhole but personally, I don’t think much of their blowhole, but maybe I have been spoilt with the Kiama Blowhole just down the road from my home. But I do recommend their food van that sells lots of fresh seafood such as oysters, calamari, frozen yoghurt, ice-cream with fresh homemade fruit syrups and the regular things such as fish and chips.

The food van was another, it was called Doo-lishus. So after a bite to eat, we went for a drive through the town recording as many of the names as we could.  Here's a small collection

I just love seeing these little things that some towns do for their community. So watch out for these little surprises that crop up now and then. They are little gems that will brighten your day as well as bring a delightful sense of community to an area. I am so glad we found Doo Town.

Here's my list:
Digger Doo
Dr Doo Little
Doo Me
Doo love it
Doo n time
Doo nix
Doo Rae Me
Doo Us 
Doodle Doo
Gunna Doo
Just doo it
Love Me Doo
Make Doo
Much a Doo
Nearly a Doo
Rum Doo
Tickle Doo
Toucan Doo
Wattle I Doo
Wee Doo

Will it be a

if I have missed many???  :)
Read my previous posts about other special little communities:
The wind mills of St Marys, Tas.
The painted poles of St Laurence, Qld.

Do let us know in the comments if you know of other places we should watch for these little gems on our travels!

So ...

Pirates Bay & some spectacular rock formations

There are places to see on the way to Port Arthur, so do make sure to take some time to see the spectacular rocky coast around Pirates Bay which features Australia’s highest marine cliffs as well as caves & chasms that create such features as Tasman Arch, the Blowhole and the Devil’s Kitchen. After living near the Kiama Blowhole for 30 odd years, it is hard not to compare the two and sadly this blow hole just didn't blow at all, well at least not while we were there! Still it is interesting to see how the sea erodes the rocks to create such features.

We stopped at the Tessellated Pavement & walked down to the beach.

Tessellated Pavement from above

As I was still recovering from my latest bout with kidney stones I walked very slowly. Still it was worth it. It is stunning and so much to look at. I have seen this type of rock formation at other places but I had no idea of why they occur and there is a very easy to understand informative sign board here explaining their formations.

Michelle standing on a part of the Tessellated Pavement
The platform here are bigger and better than the previous ones I have seen and you can easily walk on it and around it. If you keep your eyes open you might see sea urchins & a star fish in amongst the rock pools. The pristine white sand and stunning blues in the water makes this a special part of the coast.

Further on the road you can see other sea eroded features such as Tasman Arch, The blowhole and the Devil's Kitchen.

Tasman Arch

It is such an incredible place. Don't miss it in your haste to get to Port Arthur.

Free camping at Dunalley Pub

We had been told of the free camp available at Dunalley Pub would be a good base for sight seeing around Port Arthur and so we decided to check it out. We first checked it out online via WikiCamps and it looked like a nice enough place and certainly saved driving right into Port Arthur where it was more likely to be crowded especially in this peak holiday season.

The Paddock (campground)

To enter the property, just drive through Dunalley, turn left over the canal (bridge). You’ll see the beautiful old pub on the top of the hill and just past it is the opening to the paddock in which they allow free camping. Find yourself a camping spot - right up the back near the trees/shrub might offer a little respite from the constant coastal breezes. Personally we wanted something that would give us the least amount of shade so to maximize as much sunlight as possible as we have been through a lot of overcast weather lately. Though there is no fee, it is polite to buy a drink at the pub to show your appreciation. The property is basically for self contained vehicles though they have recently added a port a loo on site though we chose to use our own. There are some rubbish bins for disposal of rubbish on site. There is no water or power on site nor is there a dump spot nearby so make sure your have plenty of fresh water with you and a empty black water tank. Parking even large rigs around the paddock is a breeze and most of it is reasonably level.

Inside the Pub you will find a nice ambiance, a restaurant and a outdoor social area. There are regular competitions such as darts, and poker held. I love the idea of the wooden fire, it would be awesome in the winter which I believe can get mighty cool.

I was also taken with the photos of the devastating bushfire the township and surrounds had been through just 2 years ago. It is easy to find a local that will tell you the story of the bushfire that nearly wiped out the town and how the people of the town rallied together to save the iconic pub!

Maria Island - is it Australia's best kept secret?

We first heard about Maria Island on our way down the coast of Tasmania just a week or so back.

Maria Island's Painted Rock

Rob saw a photo and determined that he wanted to see it for real. Maria Island can be reached by private boat or by a regular ferry from Triabunna. Since we had plenty of days to choose from we took the option of waiting for a nice sunny day to go to the Island. There is a big billboard advertising the ferry times. We noticed a some early arrivals on the day of our choice and Rob thought he would go over and buy the tickets early only to be told they were booked out as you are suppose to pre book your tickets. There is no mention of pre-booking on the billboard, nor was pre booking mentioned at the Info Centre when we inquired shortly after our arrival a few days earlier. We found that you do need to pre-book especially in the Summer season. What also is annoying is that the ferry actually leaves half an hour BEFORE the advertised time. As it was we were fortunate in that we hang around and a couple didn’t turn up and thus we got on at the last minute after paying the $70 for our tickets.

So off we go with a backpack of our provisions for the day. It was a beautiful day. I don’t think you could have asked for better weather. The short 30 minute trip was smooth riding.

Maria Island jetty & cove

Upon arrival you are encouraged to go to the ranger’s hut where there are maps and other information. Many people camp on Maria Island some even taking their bikes. You need to take EVERYTHING you need as there are no shops anywhere. So whether it be for a day or a week you need to be well organized, you also need to take out all your rubbish too as there is no rubbish removal on the island. There are also rooms available for hire to sleep in for something like $25 per person per night with a communal kitchen and common room available.

Maria Island layers of sediment

After our quick visit to the Ranger’s hut, we decided to do two easy walks. We first tackled the fossil walk which took us about 2 slow leisurely hours to do, stopping to admire the fossilized quarry and cliff as well as this or that along the way.

Just one of the many fossils to be seen

We had a picnic morning tea overlooking some lovely sediment layers on the cliffs. This trip also took in some historic buildings. This walk does involve some hills but no actual steps.

Historic engine house ruins

As you can imagine there are a lot of bird life on the island with Cape Barron Geese being the most prevalent. We were told there are many wombats, but we only saw lots of wombat droppings, not one actual wombat during our day’s trip.

We named these peaks the 3 sisters -note the goose nest below - she was very protective

We had a picnic lunch by the main penal centre which has been done up along with the rooms that are let for ‘camping’ and a couple of other buildings. We then set off on another walk to see the Painted Rocks which is our chief drawcard that brought us to Maria Island.

Painted Rock from across the cove

Again this walk does involve a few hills but no actual steps until you actually reach the Painted Rocks. The return trip took us a bit longer as Rob was well and truly exhausted and we had to take it very slowly on our way back. You can avoid the steps all together if you stick with the coastal walk at the last part to reach the rocks.

This about all you'd see if it high tide unless...

You might be told that the Painted Rocks is best seen at low tide, but you cannot always time your visits to be low tide. We were there when it was definitely not low tide though it might not have been high tide. If you stay on the water’s edge you won’t get to see much of the rocks unless you go in the water which may be not only cold and wet but a bit rough depending on the ‘surf’. The photo above is about what you would get to see if you don’t get there at low tide.

But if you climb down from the cliff at high tide then you can so much more

However we found out that you can walk along the cliff top for maybe 50m and then climb down directly onto the Painted Rocks. It is steep and there are some loose rocks under your feet, so it requires some care and a little effort but it is so worth it.

The Painted Rocks would have to be one of the most beautiful natural formations we have in Australia. The rocks are a marvelous display of coloured sands and erosion caused by the constant wave action of the ocean. We took so many photos, we’d bore you completely, hopefully this page isn't TOO much. I really can't stress enough that you really must see it for yourselves if you are ever in Tasmania!

We were both worn out by the end of our day and we took advantage of the ‘famous’ fish and chips van behind the pub before calling quits on this whole marvelously wonderful day! We are certainly going to need a quiet day to recover.

We really really, recommend that you include a trip to Maria Island in your itinerary. It would have to be one of Australia’s best kept secrets! By the way: The locals don’t pronounce Maria as like the common girls name but more like “Mariah”

Free camping at Triabunna

Our chief purpose of camping at Triabunna is so that we can use this as a base whilst visiting Maria Island which we had heard a lot about. We also intended it to be a time out place for a few days.

On our way to Triabunna we stopped in Swansea to get some of the heavier/larger items done at the Laundromat and have some local fish and chips alongside the sea there.

Robbiebago across the waters at Triabunna Marina

There are two places across the road from each other for camping at Triabunna: behind the pub which gives you a sense of privacy or in an open paddock next to the butchers. Both are right near the Marina and the Information Centre. We chose the open paddock as we’d get more sun for the solar panels. We were the first campers that day, however that did deter us as usually once someone stops, it usually encourages others to stop too.

Triabunna Marina

There are toilets at the marina and you can top up with water near the war memorial alongside the marina which also houses a BBQ and picnic area. There is also a dump point less than a kilometre away over the other side of the river.

St Mary's Triabunna Anglican Church

I like look at old churches and we even went to church here at Triabunna. St Mary's Anglican Church was completed in 1883. It was built from local sandstone f& contains one of only three stone altars to be found in Anglican churches in Australia.

Sadly we found it was windy and wet most of our time there. In the few drier but overcast times, we went on walks around the town. There is a Pelican Walk along the river there for a short distance. We also took to walking around the town.

One of the Pelicans to be found on Pelican Waters

One thing I definitely noticed was the huge number of wild rabbits running around. It was nothing to see 6 rabbits when you hopped out of the caravan. I also counted close to 25 rabbits that ran under a shipping container that is housed behind the pub. So if any of you fancy a rabbit pie, you should have no trouble catching one.

Freycinet National Park

We free camped at River and Rocks Campground at the end of the huge Moulting Lagoon. It is about 25km down the road from Aspley River towards Coles Bay. We missed the turn off to the campground at first, so slow down when you get past the Freycinet Marine Farm and if you get to the Pelican Bay B&B you’ve gone too far.

Free camping at River and Rocks Campground

At the campground there are is a dump toilet (quite smelly) and the sand is a dirty grey colour however there is a lot of near flat camping spots suitable for big rigs and some smaller camping ‘bays’ for privacy if that is to your liking. The fishing is great (not that we are fishermen but we enjoyed the generous efforts of a fellow camper! (Thanks Ian and Barb!) If you are not so lucky, you can always call in at the marine farm just up the road where you can buy delicious mussels, salmon and other seafood. It was here that I tasted my first fresh scallops (and cooked them) with the encouragement of Ian and Barb. That is a big step forward for me! Scallops are OK but not something to rave about in my opinion but then maybe I need a better cook to appreciate it better. (I cooked it with fresh garlic and butter.) The fresh salmon was superb though! Even I couldn’t stuff that up! LOL

The sunsets there over the Swan River are superb. We took a chair and a bottle of wine and joined Ian and Barb for an extended happy hour. We also loved watching the thousands of tiny crabs come out at low tide.

We took in a trip to Coles Bay and drove and walked through to the lighthouse at Cape Tourville where it was very windy and thus cold. We stopped by Sleepy Bay and walked down. I thought Sleepy Bay was just lovely. I think the lovely rock and colourful lichen at Sleepy Bay really sets it apart.

On our first visit to Sleepy Bay we were there at low tide and I was fascinated by the giant jelly fish (to me they are giant) and enjoyed watching star fish too. There is also a lovely big hole worn in a rock which creates a amphitheatre in which maybe a half dozen friends can easily fit in. Some young people were enjoying the echo and acoustics that occurred naturally within the rock. Sadly we had forgotten to take the camera down with us so I determined to come back another time, which I did after the Wineglass Bay walk (Rob stayed back this time though!) It was high tide and no starfish or jelly fish were to be found the second time around! :)

Rob takes a rest on the walk back from Wineglass Bay

Wineglass Bay is justly famous for its pristine beach in a perfect wine glass bowl shape. The walk is fairly steep at time and there are a lot of steps but we took it easy as Rob had some lung damage from the blot clot in the lungs a few months back.

An example of the steps going up to Wineglass Bay Lookout

Wineglass Bay

Personally I liked Sleepy Bay even better than the beautiful Wineglass Bay. On our way back we stopped by Sleepy bay again so I could run down to take some photos but Rob stayed behind in the car. One long walk is enough for him in one day!

Colourful lichen on the rocks make Sleepy Bay very interesting

Sleepy Bay has an "Acoustic Rock" in which you can have some fun!

Back In Tassie

When we made it back to Launceston after our short trip back to Sydney, we couldn’t wait to resume our travels and we quickly picked up the Robbiebago motorhome and headed off beyond St Marys to Chain of Lagoons.

St Marys & the Wind Mills

St Marys is basically our first stop and we hop out to stretch our legs as well as check out the town even though it was misty rain off and on. There’s a corner information sign board with the local history, maps and such on it. We also needed to pick up a few grocery items. As we walked along the main street we start to notice these wind toys (for lack of a better name).

Someone had made these individual wind powered signs to suit most of the businesses in the street. There’s one of hairdressing scissors opening and closing. Another outside a chemist is of a pestle going inside a mortar. I loved the post office which has a letter being ‘dropped’ into a post box. There were others that are also equally clever .

 Click on the photos above if you want to see the larger image of these delightful windmills.

We move on down Elephant’s Pass which is a steep windy road. We had been advised that this was a ‘difficult’ road. It is narrow in a few spots but it is certainly easy enough for the vast majority of motorhome and caravans to handle.

Chain of Lagoons

We settled into Lagoon Beach within the Chain of Lagoons. It was a good place to recuperate from our excursion to Sydney and the little ‘flu’ we brought back with us. The weather was rather overcast though not exactly raining though.

We are able to light a fire for dinner and not only have a BBQ’d dinner and boil a billy but to also make our first damper on this trip. Oh yum, just the sort of food that really lets you know you are camping (or in our case glamping as there is no way you can call our motorhome basic camping by a long shot!)

After 2 nights at Lagoon Beach, we thought we’d move further south to the outskirts of Freycinet National Park.


We stopped in Bicheno and were fortunate to be there for their Market Day. Of course we have to take a wander along the stalls. We bought some fruit and vegetables and Michelle just found it too tempting and succumbed to 2 Christmas craft items to place in the window of the motorhome as well as a CD for listening whilst driving. Bicheno is a small town, mainly fishing, reminding me of Gerroa in NSW back near my hometown.