15 February, 2014
The Swiss style resort of Grindelwald near Launceston
Early start again to explore the towns north of Launceston, initially travelling up the western side of the Tamar River, and crossing the Batman Bridge to the east side.
First town was Rosevears, a diversion from the main road, a pretty drive beside the Tamar River, and rejoining the highway. Shortly after we took the turn to Grindelwald, a Swiss style resort, part of which is similar to a tiny village, with a newsagent, clothing store, lolly shop and a couple of eating places. We chose the Chocolate Cafe for a breakfast of raisin toast and coffee. It is a busy place for coaches to visit, and for golfers to enjoy their own private course.
At our next stop Rowella we visited the Lavender Farm. I took some photographs of the preparation room (no one working on the weekend), and the beautiful display of lavender products The business now also produces a broader range of natural herbal aromatherapy, skin care and body care products. I purchased some lavender pillows as gifts for friends, lavender is calming and aids sleep.
Shortly after we were at the point to cross the Batman Bridge to the eastern side of the Tamar River. We turned north and set out for George Town and Low Head at the northernmost point. At Low Head we had to visit the Lighthouse (love lighthouses!), a penguin rookery was tucked in behind it – but of course the penguins had ”gone fishing” and would not return until dusk.
So much information about the history of the lighthouse that was constructed in 1888, and the reconstructed semaphore equipment that was used to send messages from Low Head through various other locations and finally to Launceston. There are beautiful views across the estuary of the Tamar River.
Heading back to George Town we passed the Low Head Pilot Station that was built in 1885. The cottages on the site, originally built for the pilots and their families, are now let as holiday cottages. There is also a museum, and a cafe where we stopped for lunch, overlooking Port Dalrymple (right).
George Town is a quaint town with numerous heritage buildings, camera was busy again! The Bass and Flinders Museum (originally a picture theatre) had some interesting exhibits including a replica of the “Nelson” that could be boarded to inspect how difficult it must have been to sail this ship, we saw the galley, the crew quarters and the captain’s cabin (left). The cat, Trim, was also on board.
When we returned to Launceston by about 3pm we decided to take a 50-minute Tamar River Cruise on the Lady Launceston, there was one leaving at 3.30pm from Home Point Wharf. Our skipper pointed out the interesting features after we headed for the area on the North Esk River now known as Seaport which includes a Peppers Resort, numerous cafes and restaurants, and a marina. At the time of our visit the Wooden Boat Show was in its last days, and it was great to see some of the boats on display.
The Lady Launceston then did a u-turn to take us back past Home Point Wharf and up the South Esk River which is 217 kms long. With a length of 71kms, The Tamar River is the longest navigable river in Tasmania, having a salt water base with a layer of fresh water on top, which aids in keeping the river clean. We passed along the popular suburb of Trevallen where the homes are built on a steep hill and would have views to Ben Lomond in the distance.
Seaport on the North Esk River, Launceston, Peppers Resort, cafes and restaurants, at the time of the Wooden Boat Show
There is an interesting dry dock with a row of cranes that lift the ships out of the water to be repaired or maintained, plus a ”graveyard” of some old ships with interesting histories. The skipper pointed out some old silos, where plans are on foot to convert it into a large hotel
Then back to the Tamar River, passing the Tamar Yacht Club, the oldest yacht club in Australia, commencing in 1837. It is now a top class restaurant. A short distance further along is another top class restaurant and gallery, “Still Water”, once a mill. It is next to an old silo – we will go there for breakfast tomorrow before we say goodbye to Launceston.
Next we went under the Patterson Bridge and the Kings Bridge (constructed in 1823) and up into the Cataract Gorge. The cliffs lining the gorge are high and rugged, there is a walking path that leads along one side that is popular for walkers heading to the head of the Gorge, past a lovely cottage inhabited by an artist in residence.
At the end of the Gorge were some huge rocks and we saw some young boys jumping from them into the water – quite illegal, but boys will be boys – there have been a number of accidents where jumpers have been badly injured.
As we returned to Home Point the skipper pointed out the flood wall that stretches along the Tamar. It looks like seating but was constructed following flooding along the Tamar River during storms. Apparently after the wall was erected storms has caused the river to rise up as far as the 3rd tier of “steps”.
The “Lady Launceston”
We had booked in to Pierre’s for dinner (walking distance from our accommodation) and had a delicious dinner and dessert – yes I did take photos (will appear on the Taste page as soon as I can upload them!).
Tomorrow we explore the towns south of Launceston.