Friday, January 22, 2010

North West Tasmania: For the Birds

Land ahoy!  We arrived in Devonport on the good ship Spirit of Tasmania I and, thanks to an unlikely recommendation from my dentist, knew to look out for Hawley's Gingerbread House circa 1885 in the first street off the exit ramp.  It was a visual treat after the hours of cabin fever, a queasy tum and nary but apples to eat before confiscating them for quarantine purposes.  Boy, was that first cup of coffee gooood and we loved the intricate table settings with matching china salt and pepper shakers.  The children frolicked in the garden and oggled the edible sweets inside.

Duly fed and watered, energy replenished, we took off in an easterly direction to the town of Port Sorell behind the sand dunes of Bass Strait and nearby Shearwater, Hawley Beach and Freers Beaches. We happened across some bush walking tracks along the Port Sorell Conservation Area – 70ha of foreshore and woodland - when lo and behold, not far from an historic farming property ... there were chickens on the beach scratching around in the dunes.  A proud old rooster gave us a cheery morning welcome to Tasmania. Cock-a-doodle-do. It was like wandering onto the pages of Rosie's Walk.

Having stretched our legs, we sped off and drove through La Trobe - home of the House of Anvers Chocolate Factory, Railton -  town of topiary and Sheffield - town of murals.  We dropped into the wacky shop, Reliquaire, where you can explore over 10 rooms containing a antique furniture, limited edition dolls, decorative masks, jewellery and toys, science kits and spooky installations.  Our cruising then led us back North West to the town of Ulverstone where we stopped at the Riverside Anzac Park beside the Leven River with its 'Spaceage' childrens playground including rockets and space ship climbing frames.  From there it was a treat to drive along the pretty Old Bass Highway to Penguin. You can’t miss the Big Penguin which has made the esplanade its home. The 3.15-metre (10-foot) cement and fibreglass bird was erected in 1975 to commemorate the centenary of the town.  If you know Club Penguin, you'll love the town. Does Disney know about this place?

We found our humble lodgings at Cooee just outside Burnie and had to prod and poke the children to stay awake (yeah, right) until nine o'clock when we scurried out onto beach across the Bass Highway where we, and a few other wanna be David Attenboroughs, caught a glimpse of some real live fairy penguins coming ashore after dark to their burrows among the rocks right below the road!   Ro Ro was official guide with his brand new, red, head torch and Charly was the nature photographer with her brand new, silver camera.  Here is a collaborative picture of a penguin's footprint.

What a day! We bundled our chicks into their triple decker beds and slept soundly and deeply, dreaming of more advertures tomorrow.


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