(to the tune of 'Back in the USSR' by the Beatles) Back in the Vic-Tori-Ah...
Parting is such sweet sorrow. Tasmania was twelve+ kinds of awesome (landscapes, nature, fresh produce, people, cheap accomodation, whiskey, beer, wine, short drives, waterfalls, TWO vegan cheese makers...), but there is still lots more for us to do in other places, if you are following the 'where are we going' link above.
After a windy and sleepless night in Low Head we headed into Launceston for coffee which turned into coffee and lunch at Sweetbrew. Also fizzy kombucha explosions.
We hiked the hour-ish each way to the falls from the campground - only to have Ruth's DSLR battery be flat at our destination :(. It was a nice campground, but a little further from Cradle Mountain than Adam thought (ended up being about 2 and a half hour drive).
Cradle Mountain. Iconic. Picturesque. Unspoilt. Very Very Very Very crowded.
So. Many. Tourists.
A credit to National Parks Tasmania that they manage and maintain the area around the mountain so well with the extreme level of human traffic. You park outside the park and take a shuttle bus in, along with the few thousand other people there when we visited (midweek and not in the school holidays). Ruth and I couldn't help but feel after all the special wild natural places we got to explore with just us, the quiet of nature, the birds and the wind in the trees (like Montezuma Falls, Donaghy's Lookout and Cashs Gorge), the amount of traffic at Cradle Mountain detracted from the experience.
We didn't have enough time in the day to attempt the summit, so we only ended up hiking the two hour loop around Dove Lake. Don't get me wrong, the peaks of the mountain are stunning, the landscape is breathtaking and you could spend a day or ten hiking in the area (Overland Track is another one for the bucket list). But the morass of humanity reduced the awesomeness of the place.
From Cradle Mountain we returned to spend our last night in Tasmania at one of our favourite campsites - Leven Canyon. Unlike last time there were many other campers there and it was a very windy, rainy and stormy night. Our group of Pademelon friends returned to hang out with us in the evening and morning though, so that was nice.
Sopping wet everything packed away, we journeyed towards our evening boarding of the Spirit of Tasmania to return to the mainland. A coffee stop in Ulverstone and a couple of Tasmanian beers and cider by the waterfront in Devonport, watching some very brave surfers catch waves breaking on the rocks at the river mouth (all in steamers and hard hats) and it was back on the ferry.
If you catch the overnight ferry, get a cabin with a bed. Don't save money and get a recliner chair.
Dawn in Port Phillip Bay saw us bump against the dock against a backdrop of city skyline silhouette and hot air balloons gracefully gliding across the town. Coffee on the top deck (also not recommended), then there could be only one destination - Vegan vanilla slice time.
Driving against the rush of peak hour we returned to La Panella and got a whole bunch of tasty vegan pastry treats for breakfast/brunch. Got some excellent fresh produce and coffee #2 at Preston Market before dozing away part of the morning in Edinburgh Gardens on our picnic rug in the sunshine with full bellies.
Being the completionists that we are, we finished the other vegan food safari goals in a day: Lunch from Smith and Deli and a ten course vegan degustation (with matching wines) for dinner at Shu Restaurant. Adam describes Shu as the culinary (and interior design) expression of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs teaming up with Hiatus Kaiyote, touring Szechuan Province in China. In our semi-sleep deprived and emotionally heightened fugue-ish state it was an experience. The beetroot spring roll (course number 4) was so mind meltingly delicious that Adam cried. Other highlights of the meal were: everything. We completed steps 2 (Smith and Deli) and 3 (Shu Restaurant) of the Lea and Ash's wedding gift trilogy. Thank you guys!
The next day we got to catch up with Ruths friend (and ex co-worker) Larissa and her two boys for coffee and cake at the Fig and Walnut, before high tailing it southwards away from all the delicious but wallet intensive vegan restaurants.
Goodbye Melbourne. Visit number two this trip was also fun. Southwards, through the ocean of suburbia towards the Mornington Peninsula, we drove. It is a stark contrast to the abundance of nature in Tasmania. Concrete and bitumen had replaced mountains and valleys. Signs to buy all of the shit you don't need everywhere. Row after row after row of concrete consumer goods stores, shopping malls that even formed a bridge over the highway.
Ruths Aunty Pam and Uncle Harvey live in Mount Martha down the Mornington Peninsula. It was great to catch up with them for afternoon tea, even if we were a little weary and out of sorts. We eventually found a caravan park and crashed out, hopefully expunging the weariness from our sleepless ferry crossing.
The next day it was wedding gift experience time. Adams very excellent, stylish and generous cousin Jessica and her family (Hi Chris and AJ!) gifted us tree surfing and brewery tasting for our honeymoon.
We wound our way up the hillside to Arthurs Seat and the Enchanted Adventure Maze for some climbing, swinging, balancing and ziplining through the tree canopy on a high ropes course - aka Tree Surfing. A very cool experience - especially because it is something we probably wouldn't normally choose. One of the great things about the wedding gifts people funded us is to be able to get outside our comfort zones and try new things we wouldn't normally think of.
A few scrapes and bumps and bruises later it was off to the Mornington Peninsula Brewery to sample some delicious local craft brews. We met some friendly locals and chatted away about the Mornington Peninsula (One guy, Jason, commutes TWO HOURS EACH WAY for work! That is twenty hours per week of your wakeful life gone in the car. I can't even...), life in Victoria (apparently lots of Victorians never leave the state?), travel, things to do and the state of the world.
The density of population here (especially as we approached Melbourne last time from the Ballarat direction) is brain melting and soul sickening. Today we drove down to Portsea at the end of the Mornington Peninsula and had to turn around and get away. Not our scene at all. Beachside parks saturated with caravans, everything developed. For our Perth Friends - Imagine if Cottesloe went on for 30 kms of coast line (pine trees and sandstone), but then fill up every beachside park with caravans, take out any remnant bushland or nature reserves, then add a bunch more people. Then add more people.
It has actually been quite a shock to come to this part of the mainland after Tasmania. Free Camping is super sparse to non existent in this part of the nation. Caravan Parks are $30-$50 a night. The National Park we are going to visit tomorrow is over $60 a night (for a campsite). The population here creates demand and drives the cost of the small slices of nature right up. Hopefully things will attenuate as we get further from Melbourne.
Tonight we found a cheap spot within striking distance of Wilsons Promontory National Park - which a few people have told us is worth a visit, we will see tomorrow.
The plan this week is to find somewhere not too pricy near a beach and relax for a few days if we can. But the best laid plans....
Be safe, and visit Tasmania. You should if you can. It is a magical place.
All our love,
Adama nd Ruth
Days on the Road = 68
Distance Driven = 9 088 km
Mean Distance per Day = 134 km
Mean Fuel Economy = 14.14 L / 100 km
Best Fuel Economy = 12.17 L / 100 km (Port Lincoln to Port Augusta)
Nights Free Camping = 23
Nights in Roof Tent = 64/67
Coffees Purchased = 26
Instagram Posts = 244
Instagram Followers = 151
Geocaches Logged = 16
Gary Breakdowns = 0
Drone Flights = 2
Videos Made = 0
French Land Rover Drivers Scared = 1
State or Territory Borders Crossed = 4
Bucks Parties Accidentally Crashed = 1
Vegan Vanilla Slices Eaten = (Adam 2, Ruth 1)
Times set up camp after dusk = 1
Chairlifts not used = 1
Number of returned waves by Tasmanian Land Rover Drivers = 2
Cups of tea made for strangers = 1
Tasmanian short walks completed = 10/60