After spending a lifetime of summers in sticky muggy Queensland, it's hard to imagine a better destination at this time of year than Strahan.
While the rest of Australia has sweltered, we've been here for two weeks delighting in the bracing air and chilly breezes of the early mornings. Most days I've started with a jumper, and temperatures in the middle of the day have hovered in the balmy low to early twenties.
The very name Cradle Mountain has its own magic cachet. Because of excellent marketing? As significant as we'd been led to believe? We planned to find out.
Like everywhere else in Tassie, it's quite close to civilisation. A bit over an hour from Burnie, 2 hours from Launceston Airport if you want to fly in. It's part of the vast Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which covers one-fifth of Tasmania.
We drove to Stanley along the pretty undulating coastal hills which at first drop precipitously to the sea.
In flatter country, we happened upon this horrendous looking Dickensian building right on the beach at Port Latta, looking for all the world as if it would blacken and devour child workers whole and make wraiths of their wasting fathers.
A very long jetty reaches way out into the ocean with not the remotest sign of pollut...
Since we left you last at Launceston, we've covered the north-west of Tassie - easy to do in a short time because the distances are so small. We stayed for two nights at the most delightful AirBNB in Burnie, two at a boutique hotel in Stanley and two at Cradle Mountain Lodge.
The drive from Launceston to Deloraine is a delight - irrigated crops, fat cattle, and big round bales of hay, always with the backdrop of those beautiful...
After a very happy week at Falmouth we were excited to be on our way. I have three rules for a happy road trip: make sure there's a cricket test match on the radio, don't comment on John's driving style, and take a valium.
Our route from Falmouth to Launceston last Thursday had all the signs of a perfect dawdle. This charming route winds and meanders over mountains, down into valleys, through dense temperate rainforests and tal...
We anticipated a long day at Wineglass Bay, so we set the alarm for 5am.
We drove there, climbed to the Lookout and back, called in on Freycinet Lodge, visited Cape Tournelle lighthouse, nodded at Sleepy Beach, had an ice cream at Coles Bay, did our grocery shopping at Bicheno, stopped at an art gallery on the way home and were back here by 1pm!
But let's back up and I'll tell you a little more about it.
Here we are in Falmouth, population 102 according to the 2016 census. It could just be the most liveable town in Australia!
If there were a main street here, and I don't think there is, you could shoot a cannon and not hit a soul. Especially not a shopkeeper, because there aren't any shops. This is a tree-lined street in town, dirt surface with neatly mown verges and no gutter.
We agreed that if we spent Christmas in Tassie this year we wouldn't do gifts at all. No tree, no bonbons, no gifts, no pre-cooking. A low-key Christmas without all the material hoo-hah and none of the pressure.
Steely resolution turned to marshmallow once we arrived. A tinge of sadness. No pressies???
A brainwave - a secret Santa draw, with the gifts being only objects found or made by the giver at Opossum Bay....
O'Possum Bay is a sleepy village forty minutes drive from Hobart, yet it's light years away. Fifties weatherboard cottages snuggle low into the slope above the narrow beach, the peeling boat houses and old concrete ramps. Corrugated rainwater tanks balance on rickety wooden tank stands and cantilevered street-level car ports own some of the best views in town.
Hobart is really buzzing. There's a sophistication born of knowing who you are and what you're good at. A quiet confidence that Tassie can hold its own with the best in the world. Excellence, professionalism.
Plus an honesty and a down-to-earth realism too about a port town with all the industry associated with ships and the sea.
The city feels small and intimate, a wonderful mix of the past and the future. I love the sandstone,...