Saturday, 30 March 2019

The Heritage Highway - Evandale, a village from the 1800's

The Midland Highway is also known as the Heritage Highway and it is so full of early convict history and beautiful Georgian houses. We started in the north east at Scottsdale and drove through to Evandale, a beautiful little English style village located on the Esk River. Launceston is only 20k away and the Launceston Airport a short 4k. Evandale is a National Trust classified Georgian village. The first we see driving into Evandale is an old leaking stone water tower, dating back to 1895. A little further down the road is the information centre and our first stop. We were told that the water tower needs repair and no one will commit to the repair costs, so to stop the tower crumbling further it needs to be topped up with water, which of course slowly runs out the cracks. The information centre has a good walking tour pamphlet, and walking is really the best way to see Evandale. The information centre, located in the old school building, built in 1889, and also has a display of what Evandale once looked like, as well as a good pictorial display.
Established in 1809 by David Gibson, one of the Norfolk Island evacuees, the area was known as Pleasant Banks, Governor Macquarie established the area as a military post in 1811 and named it Honeysuckle Banks.  Evandale has been known by many names – New River, Paterson’s Plains, Gordon Plains, Collins Hill, Morvan, and Evansdale (1829) until in 1836 the name was changed to Evandale in honour of Tasmania’s first Surveyer General. The 1830’s saw the building of tunnels on the slopes of the western and southern hills to provide a water supply to Launceston, built by convict labour. The model of the tunnels in the information centre is very informative. The tunnels were never completed.
View from our window at the RV camp.
We stayed two nights in the free council camp at Falls Park. Originally part of Fallgrove Estate c1869 One needs to be self contained and a permit is required via a website. Great place to stay, walking distance to the village. No one can stay on Saturday due to the markets on Sunday.
The post office was opened 1 June 1835.
The Clarendon Arms Hotel, built in 1847, is where Mark ‘Chopper’ Read was drinking before he shot a former bikie. The remnants of the old watch house and convict cells can still be seen. One of the ‘famous’ prisoners was John Kelly, the father of bushranger Ned Kelly.
The whole main street was full of beautiful flowers.
The Prince of Wales Hotel, built in 1836, is now divided into an antiques shop and country pub.
The old Saddler Shop from 1840 the corner next to the Prince of Wales is now an antique shop.
Solomon's Cottage was built in 1836 as a bakery by Joseph Solomon, it was known as Clarenden Stores. It had also been an inn, a private residence and is today a Bed and Breakfast.
 So many beautiful building in Evandale. This is Lake Leather. It was built in 1848 as Eldersfield Butchery.
 This building was originally a stable for the Royal Oak Hotel, c 1840, next door. It became a garage and then an art gallery. Today it is an antique shop.
 One of the many interesting buildings is the Penny Farthing Emporium. Once Brown's Village Store, it has been re-created inside to look like a country store from the turn of the century.
 I was fascinated by the large amount of lolly jars, just like the "olden days". We stocked up on humbugs and dolly lollies.
 The Emporium is also the local newsagent, so it is open every day.
Today Evandale is famous for the February Penny Farthing Festival, and its Sunday Market at Falls Park. We stayed here twice on our trip.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

SCOTTSDALE – North East Tasmania

Our next camp was at North East Peoples Park, a donation camp run by the local Lions Club. What a great camp, clean toilets, showers, drinking water and set in a beautiful park. The Park is named after Charles Northeast, who initiated the concept of a park for the people in 1930. The park was opened in 1935 with a swimming carnival and over 1000 people attended. The park is a beautiful open space with ponds and gardens and is part of the North East Tasmania Rail Trail. There are platypus in the river, and although we looked each afternoon we didn't see any. We only intended staying a few days at Scottsdale, but with the bush fires raging in many parts of Tasmania in January, we stayed put until we were sure it was safe to travel the Midland Highway.
Scottsdale is only 20 mins from Bridestowe Lavender Farm, and 1 hour from Launceston. The area is a timber cutting area, but many farms and dairies can also be found in the surrounding district. Originally known as Cox’s Creek, Cox’s Paradise, Hazelwood, Hazelton and Ellesmers, the town is named after James Scott, the Government Surveyor who cut the first track to Cape Portland through the area in 1852. He noted the rich soil in the area. The first inhabitants were the Pyemmairrener Aboriginal people. The first Europeans to settle in the area were Janet and Andrew Anderson were they took up a holding near Bridport in 1833.
We packed a lunch and drove up to Bridport, about 20 minutes north and known as the Gold Coast of Tasmania and is a summer vacation area. It certainly is a beautiful area. Named as it is located on the port of the Brid River, and was proclaimed a town in 1883.

Located on Anderson's Bay, we found a lovely spot. It was a bit windy to walk along beach.
From Bridport we did a circuit drive along the coast through the conservation areas to a golf course - one of two here, then took Old Waterhouse Road back to Scottsdale.
Another day trip was an inland circuit from Scottsdale to Derby. First stop was Ledgerwood and the beautiful avenue of WW1 memorial tree carvings. These trees were planted in 1918, one for each of the 25 fallen men from the town. A report in 2001 said the trees were unsafe, and by 2004 it was decided that each tree would be carved into the likeness of each soldier by Eddie Freeman. This is also a donation camp for self contained vans. We also went to have a look at the free camp at Ringarooma, just down the road. Both were good, and a good alternative to Scottsdale, which did get crowded during the week.
Derby was the location we chose for lunch. Once a tin mining town that was devastated by Briseis Dam disaster and floods in 1929, however still retains some of the old buildings. The area was surveyed by James Scott in 1855, but it wasn't until the 1870's, when settlers were looking for gold, that tin was discovered in 1874 by George Renison Bell. In 1876 a mine was opened by the Krushka brothers and named The Brothers Mine. The town grew around the mine. In 1887 the name of the town was changed to Derby, perhaps after the Earl of Derby, Edward Smith-Stanley, who had been the Prime Minister of Britain from 1866-1868. Derby today is a mountain bikers heaven with numerous trails.
Not far away is the town of Branxholm, also with a donation camp. The Imperial Hotel was built in 1907.

An interesting area on the Tale of the Tin Dragon Trail which tells the history of the area through Chinese history in Australia. Along with the discovery of tin, came the Chinese miners.
Taking some little back roads we went through some lovely farming land. This area is known as the heart of the ‘Bible belt’ of the Exclusive Brethren. We had heard about an Amish Tea Room, just off the main highway to Launceston, and it was just like being in the Amish Pennsylvanian tea rooms. 
The small café is surrounded by veggie gardens and fresh produce is also sold. Inside the tea rooms are bolts of fabric and notions and finished patchwork bags, wall-hangings, mats, and small quilts. I did buy some scrap bags.
We had scones, tea, (Devonshire tea $5.75) milkshake ($4), and apple slice ($4.50) – all homemade on site without electricity. I have no idea how the milkshake was kept so cold, but it was.
 On yet another day we drove into Launceston to go to Spotlight and Anaconda. We had been told the main road to Launceston from Scottsdale was not really the best for caravans, and it wasn't. When we did finally leave Scottsdale we took another road that went around the mountain and came into Launceston from the north. We did this circuit drive. At the top of the range is this beautiful lookout, where we had lunch.
 On a clear day one can see Flinders Island.
We stayed 6 nights at Scottsdale, before heading to the Midland Highway - looking every afternoon for the elusive platypus.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

North- East Tasmania

After exploring the north east of Devonport, we continued over the Tamar River on the Batman Bridge and up the river to Georgetown. Georgetown has two camps: a $12, 24hr camp at the info centre on the way into town, and a $20 a night 48hr camp behind the Pier Hotel. Neither suited us. The info centre was not at all appealing and the hotel car park was very difficult to get into. At $12 and $20 a night for parking and neither proving anything more than parking a bit expensive. The view from the hotel would have been good, if we could have got in, but so many cheaper and free camps around Tasmania with views as good, if not better. So all we could do was drive a little way around Georgetown to see some of the old buildings. Shame there was no caravan parking as we would have liked to see some more. We headed north along the river to Low Head and East Beach. Two camps at East Beach – one $30-$35 with power and water, the other $20 non-powered. The drive was worth it though. This is where penguins will come in at dusk, and we saw the mist come rolling in from the light house. We did call into the Low Head Pilot Station Museum and café for afternoon tea. Well worth a visit.
With nowhere suitable to stay here in this area we continued along Bridport Road to Pipers Brook Winery. What a find! Nestled right in the middle of vineyards, and plenty of space for caravans of all sizes, Pipers Brook is a free 48 hour camp among the vines.
We first called into the winery to register and then found a spot – no level spots, so a ramp is needed. The winery is only open during the day and serves snacks, lunch, and of course wine. One can sit inside or outside on lovely picnic cushions. Wine tasting is also available.
We had a lovely night’s sleep and the sun setting over the hill was beautiful. There was one other van also there, camped a distance away.
The real reason for heading east off the ferry was to see the lavender at Bridestowe. So many people had told us about this wonderful lavender farm, so it was the first place we headed to before doing the Heritage Highway for Jonnie.
Bridestowe is Australia’s oldest and largest lavender farm and is opened 7 days a week. In 1922 C. K. Denny arrived from south west England with a bag of French lavender seeds and selected this property to start his lavender growing with an aim of developing distillery technology. Upon entry one gets a pamphlet explaining the history of the farm and the process. There is a gift shop, café and tours.
We did the self-guided tour and spent a little time in the oil distilling area talking to one of the distillers’. There are information boards to explain the process.
At the café we had lavender coffee, chocolate lavender milkshake and a lavender ice-cream. All were yummy.
Sadly the lavender harvester was almost finished harvesting the main field, so we did not see the beautiful purple of the lavender rows.
There is a$10 entry fee during flowering season, however check their website, and if one joins their free ‘Friends of Bridestowe’ you can have free entry. From here it was a short drive to Scottsdale, our next camp.