One otherwise uneventful day at the showgrounds the phone rang and it was our mates The Masons. Nothing unusual about that, except…….they were coming to Hobart!!
Obviously being subjected to The Cusworths 24 hours a day for a couple of weeks hadn’t caused any permanent damage (or they are just gluttons for punishment) and they would be arriving in a couple of days.
Since we were now the ones playing host we were determined to pack as much into the six days they would be here as possible. Luckily Paul (Moose), Tanya, Georgia and Jesse are always up for a challenge and hit the ground running from the moment they landed at the airport. Since they were coming from sunny Queensland and it was getting decidedly cold in Tassie we warned them they would need to bring their woolies!
The Masons had hired a campervan for the time they were with us. They arrived on a Thursday afternoon so we suggested they head down to Port Arthur on the Friday for a look around. Partly because we found it such an interesting place and knew they would appreciate it too but also because it was a school/work day for us, although we would be taking a few days off to spend with them the following week.
Unfortunately it was raining the day they went to Port Arthur, not that they let that bother them.
The following morning was Saturday so we all headed to the Salamanca Markets for a look around. To get to the markets we walked along the Harbour Front and showed them some of the buildings that Paul had being working in. Seeing that Tanya is also an avid plaque reader Paul and her were blissfully happy to stroll along reading everything they laid their eyes on.
Moose and I blissfully strolled along looking for food!
The kids enjoyed the markets, for a while, but inevitably it wasnt long until they were tired, hungry and thirsty. Moose bought some local Ginger Beer for them to sample and while we were still having a look at the market stalls, the kids wandered off and found a kerb near the park to sit upon and share the drinks.
I had to laugh when I saw them and managed to snap a couple of photos. Somehow I can picture the five of them in a very similar scenario ten years from now, although I’m putting my money on it NOT being Ginger Beer in the bottles!
A look into the future?
From the markets we headed south-west from Hobart to do The Tahune Airwalk. This cost us $62.50 for the family which we considered a little expensive (based on similar tree top walks, such as Walpole WA). The Airwalk involves a tree top walk through the forest canopy 20m above the ground, with a cantilever at the end of the walk reaching a height of 48m above the junction of the Huon and Picton Rivers.
Typically I only got so far before I turned around (shouldn’t have looked down) and headed back to solid ground but once the kids were off the walk and being supervised by ‘responsible’ adults I managed to get myself to the end of the cantilever for a quick photo.
It’s bad enough having three kids regularly show me up but not five!
The cantilever overlooking the Huon & Picton River’s conjunction
There are also a couple of swing bridges to walk across which were fun and the scenery was very beautiful. No prizes for guessing which ‘kids’ had the most laughs bouncing and swinging the bridges!
Tanya, Georgia and Emma crossing one of the swinging bridges
We decided to spend the night at a camp in Franklin ($10 a night). It was starting to get dark as we set up. Moose, Tanya and the girls were going to sleep in the camper whilst myself and the boys were to sleep in a couple of tents. It didn’t take too long to set up and we were soon munching on some jaffles and cooking marshmallows (cooked on the stove in the camper), with the kids entertaining us with singing and dancing competitions.
Eventually the kids took themselves off to bed and the adults sat up chatting while trying to keep warm. We were all wearing many layers of clothing, including beanies and scarves with the only heat source being a tiny gas stove fueled by an even tinier canister. The more we drank the more we convinced ourselves what a fantastic heater it was.
Tanya, being the sensible non-drinker indulged us in our silly talk for a while before taking refuge in the slightly warmer camper!
A while later when our liquid based source of heating ran out, three very adult, sure-footed and giggling campers took themselves off to bed (fully clothed). For us tenters it would have to be the coldest night we have experienced yet, reaching an invigorating zero degrees! Paul says he can’t remember the last time I let him sleep that close to me!
It didn’t help that we were actually in a summer tent (ahem).
The best part though, was waking up the next morning and looking just metres across the road to the local pub with a large sign inviting locals and passers-by to come in and spend some time next to their ‘roaring log fire’.
Franklin, a very pretty town
Our freezing Franklin camp
Early morning looking over The Huon River at Franklin
Our next mission was to drive as far south in Australia as you can, to a place called Cockle Creek. This is a popular holiday destination for the locals and there is lots of camping available. We were content to have a quick look around, take a short walk along the beach, read about the area and visit the whale sculpture there.
The mighty camper at Cockle Creek
While we were down that way we also called into Hastings to have a look at the thermal pools there. Before heading to Tasmania someone had jokingly suggested that as it is so cold in Tassie, this may be the only place we swam. The entry price was $12 for a family and the water temp was about 26 degrees. With an outside temp of around 12 degrees this was not quite warm enough for Tanya and I to jump in but the others did, although the kids lasted longer than the big boys.
There is an under cover area with log fires to warm up next to as well as a couple of board walks to take. Not to mention hot showers for after the swim.
Our last stop on the way back to Hobart was at The Taroona Shot Tower. This is about 11km out of Hobart. It was built in 1870 and manufactured lead shots by dropping molten lead through sieves at the top of the tower. The lady working here actually lives in the adjacent building and was really lovely. She happily shared some local history with us and if you have time you can pop downstairs for tea and scones. Having been here on a previous visit we were happy to wait while The Masons scaled all 318 steps to reach the top. The family price was less than $20 and if you have a head for heights it is well worth a visit.
Taroona Shot Tower
One view from part way up the tower
Looking up the spiral staircase to the top of the tower
It had been quite a long day by now but an added bonus of this was that we all got to admire the city lights and also The Tasman Bridge lit up at night. Once back at the showgrounds we focused on getting our camping stuff and bedding dry and turned in at a much more civilised time!
The following morning Paul drove our mates up to the top of Mount Wellington for a look at the gorgeous views. They enjoyed this but apparently it was COLD!! After a quick drive to look through the CBD the gang once again all met up.
The Mighty Masons at the top of Mount Wellington
Checking out the amazing views
Our next stop was The Cadbury Factory. The kids and I had been here before but it didn’t seem right that The Masons were in Hobart and not visit the Australian home of Cadbury. The family ‘tour’ price is $17.50 but it can’t really be called a tour anymore. Visitors are no longer allowed onto the factory floor or even view any of it. The ‘tour’ basically involves being shown a twenty-minute presentation on how chocolate is made. The guide that conducted the ‘tour’ when we were there the first time was quite engaging and explained a lot about how Tasmania became the home of Cadbury as well as answering many questions. The lady that took the tour when we all went was nice enough but pretty much just showed and talked about the video. There seemed such a large difference between the two experiences supposedly being the same thing. So it would seem that how thorough your talk is really pot luck depending on who you get on any given day. Interestingly we were asked not to take photos on our first visit for legal/copyright reasons. However, on our second visit we were asked not to take photos because the staff didn’t wish to appear on people’s Facebook pages!
Nevertheless the kids were happy as they were each handed a family sized bar of chocolate on entry and then got to go in the wholesale shop and grab a few (relative) bargains.
Oh, did I mention the hot chocolates made from real chocolate? Yummo! The lady making these was a blast and in our opinion should be the one doing the ‘tours’.
Although we enjoyed ourselves the whole thing seemed a little effortless from such a large multi-national company.
Just a few samples!!
Our next stop was somewhere where we had been before but had really enjoyed and wanted to share it again – Mt Field National Park west of Hobart. This is such a beautiful spot with a number of walks and waterfalls to visit. By now the kids had not nearly had enough of walking so we headed up to the beautiful Russell Falls.
The gang at Russell Falls
Beautiful Horseshoe Falls a 100m walk from Russell Falls
The first time we visited Mt Field NP, Paul had read about a group of five Government Huts that you could stay in near Lake Dobson in the Alpine Area of the park, at an elevation of 1000m. Having The Masons visit was just the excuse he needed to stay in the huts. These have no power but do have log fires and an external toilet for use by all people staying within the huts. The cost is $45 a night and each hut sleeps six people. We managed to get two huts joined by a common room and had so much fun (we were actually the only group staying there).
It was really cold when we got there and I was worried about how dark and cold it was going to get but the ever resourceful menfolk strategically hung some torches from the ceiling and got both the log fires cranking. We had a lot of laughs and in the end we were all roasting! In fact my husband got so hot he ended up sitting around in his underwear!
I would publish a photo but this is a family blog!
What a handsome bunch!
The view from our huts
Before we knew it our last morning together had dawned. After restocking the woodpile for the next guests we made our way back down to the park entry once again marvelling at the changing landscape. In one section it look just like we were on the moon and I still rue the fact that I didn’t get a picture. Driving down through the clouds was just beautiful.
We once again head off to the town of Richmond to show The Masons around and to take another look at Australia’s oldest bridge. Not to mention ensuring that the curried scallop pies from the local bakery remained at a high standard.
By now we were all exhausted but very happy with what we had achieved over the last six days. But alas although we had all had a blast, it was now time to return the rental camper and for our wonderful guests to catch their flight home.
Parting was such sweet sorrow!
So Mighty Masons, that’s four states down – two states and two mainland territories to go.
Then we go international.
Next stop……..THE WORLD….muwhahaha!!!!!!