All images © Narelle Bouveng | Sunset in Bicheno
Narelle Bouveng hits the open road on a girls’ own
adventure with her daughters across Tasmania.
WWhen the travel bug bites, we’re quite
partial to just upping and going, so with only
two days’ notice and one night booked,
we set sail on the Spirit of Tasmania – eager
to see, taste and discover what the little
heart-shaped island had to offer.
I admit I’m not much of a seafarer but
the palatial Spirit of Tasmania, complete
with a kids’ play zone, games room,
restaurants and even a cinema, makes
us feel like we are already on holiday.
Rocking the Cradle
It is dusk when we dock at the coastal port
of Devonport and, after driving almost two
hours in the dark, we arrive amid the first
flurry of seasonal snow at Cradle Mountain. Our family spa suite at the wilderness
retreat of Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge
is well equipped for lazy lie-ins, but a snow
globe-like landscape awaits us outside. The
log cabins are surrounded by snow-laden fir
trees. Here, both staff and guests rejoice as
the first snow of the season falls!
We purchase our parks pass from reception
(the permit covers all national parks in
Tasmania plus free rides on the Cradle
Shuttle), and set off to Dove Lake to walk a
six-kilometre circuit, one of 20 guided and
self-guided walks from which to choose.
Carrying a flask of warm Milo (sustenance
and bribery in equal measure), we trek around
the hauntingly beautiful lake, experiencing
godly views of the Cradle Mountain summit.
We meet a scampering colony of wallabies
that keeps five-year old Tiah thrilled as she chases after them. The lake was once a
glacier, evidenced by the striations running
its entire length, before slowly slipping into
its current liquid state. As we shelter in the
Insta-worthy King Billy boat shed on the lake’s
northwestern shore, we ‘happy dance’ when,
once again, it snows.
Another a short drive finds us at Devils
Cradle, where we meet a motley crew of
snorting, snarling but sassy Tasmanian devils.
The breeding program at the sanctuary is
considered an insurance policy for the longterm
survival of the species. Baylee discovers
that the resident devils are named after
characters from Game of Thrones and now
insists she has met Jon Snow.
The real beauty of free-range travel and
having your own transport is the flexibility
to extend. After just day one, we decide to
do just that. We hang around as long as the
snow (three days) and made good use of the
facilities, walks and spa. Ahem, it is a girls’ trip.
Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain Region
From Cradle to Coast
When we do move on, we join the Cradle
to Coast Tasting Trail through the state’s
North West region. We stop for farm-fresh
raspberries and cherries, couverture
chocolate and ice-cream, and can’t resist
filling our tummies and car boot with
cheese, wine and cider. We make our way
across to the East Coast as a last-minute call
to a place I had read about on TripAdvisor.
At Piermont Retreat in Swansea, just
one cottage is available for the night. As we
settle in, I hear the sound of the ocean but it’s not until dawn that I realise just how
much we have lucked out. I let the girls sleep
while I tiptoe outside to soak in views of
sapphire-coloured waters sparkling across
Great Oyster Bay. I adore the gorgeous boat
house on the edge of the beach, so as soon
as reception opens, I book another two nights
at this stunning resort.
During the following few days, we
discover that the East Coast of Tasmania is
as beautiful as it is beguiling. We rock-hop
over lichen-covered boulders spilling into
turquoise waters along the Bay of Fires
at Binnalong Bay. We hike to the lookout
in Freycinet National Park to admire the
perfect contours and colours of Wineglass
Bay. We pause only long enough to devour
fresh local seafood at Coles Bay and raise
a toast to the birthplace of a friend I often
entertain at home – Devils Corner pinot
noir from the Tamar region.
It is easy to wander without maps and find
things shared gregariously by locals. “Follow
the droppings” was one such piece of advice.
Bicheno is our favourite hamlet. We find a
blowhole, squealing as it showers us in mist,
and watch sunsets melt through shades of
pink and mauve over The Hazards. As we sit
on the beach one evening, tiny blue penguins
waddle past our feet to rookeries filled with
fluffy babies hungrily calling out to be fed.
Relaxation time at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge
We could have stayed on the East Coast
longer, but we want to take our time in
Hobart, so we continue onto the southern capital via Richmond, home to Australia’s
oldest convict-built bridge and a famous little
bakery serving creamy scallop pies.
In Hobart, we stay at Battery Points’
Salamanca Wharf Hotel, a boutique
apartment hotel just steps away from the
famous Salamanca Markets. We visit the
Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), an
art museum located within the Moorilla
winery on the Berriedale peninsula. There is
free entry after 4pm for the last hour before
closing time. This is ample time to explore
with littlies in tow, as some of the exhibits
aren’t really age appropriate.
We head to the Huon – the Apple Isle’s
corridor of crunch – and after hand-picking
apples from orchards and tasting organic
ciders at Willie Smiths, we somehow manage
to fit in a giant slab of warm apple pie in
Huonville and find the world’s best lolly and
fudge shop in tiny Geeveston.
When plans to visit Mount Field National
Park are thwarted by snow, we find ourselves
walking among the treetops at Tahune
AirWalk, a 600-metre canopy walk with
a 50-metre-high viewing platform above
the mighty Huon River. It hardly seems a compromise. Our last stop is Bruny Island,
a sleepy island paradise that welcomes
self-drive exploration with a car ferry crossing.
We find pretty beaches, jolly locals and albino
wallabies. Here, we indulge yet again, this
time on oysters at Get Shucked, and truffles at Bruny Island Chocolate Company.
Free-ranging to the very end, we discover
that Tasmania is ideal as a self-drive
destination as it offers plenty of places to
visit, eat and stay. Short driving distances
allow us ample time to explore and indulge
– as any good girls’ trip should.
View of the sandstone
arches of Richmond Bridge,
which was built by convict
This article appeared in volume 54 of Holidays with Kids magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.