Our next destination in Tasmania was St. Helens which would be our base for exploring the surrounding Bay of Fires. We checked out of our Airbnb, took an uber to the local library and did some schoolwork until our rental car was available next door. We got some stares from the librarian as we dumped all our gear in the kids’ section. At noon we picked up the vehicle and drove across the bridge exiting Hobart but got mixed up with a roundabout on the other side and ended up back in Hobart! Apparently, we didn’t want to leave. We sorted out our directions, crossed the bridge again and were actually on our way.
Why St Helen’s? It won as the most affordable accommodation in the area. We left this booking until we were in Hobart and the pricing and availability went wonky. This is the second time we’ve ended up in an unknown town due to accommodation pricing. I miss the days of travel when everything didn’t need to be booked weeks or months ahead of time. But in the end, we had a decent hotel in a quaint town that was well-situated for two days of sightseeing.
We would stop periodically during the drive up the coast to explore the beaches. Even though it was too cold to go in the water, we would walk the gorgeous white sand beaches in total isolation. We couldn’t understand how such pristine beaches were utterly deserted. Australia is blessed with an abundance of them and we joked that the Canadian equivalent is our numerous lakes.
As for the bay of fires, how excited can you get about lichen on rocks? Apparently really excited! Both Paige and the kids would point and yell: Look! Let’s go check out those red rocks!” The rocks create some great photos but we spent a lot of time exploring the tide pools amongst them. The kids missed this activity from Vancouver Island. They loved finding crabs, anemones and fish amongst the tide pools. The marine life was different from Canada so they couldn’t play with and catch the critters (we didn’t know which were safe to touch). Regardless, the different species of starfish and anemones kept them entertained for hours.
We had another vintage Isabella moment on the beach at the Bay of Fires. Isabella was teasing the waves. She would run at them as they crashed on the beach and then flee before the water crested and got her shoes wet. Needless to say, she tripped and the ocean drenched and muddied her clothes. But Izzy was a trooper and marched back to the car in freezing clothes and then stripped down and hung them out her window to dry. Two hours of driving later, she had her clothes back.
Final mention. Driving in Tasmania outside of the main highways is work. You get some incredible scenery and remote landscapes. Still, the road is always winding and you have to pay attention to passing cars (it feels you only have inches on each side of you). Up some of the hills, there are no guardrails or shoulders requiring you to pay close attention. Even though the speed limit is 100km, you rarely come anywhere close to it. St. Helens wasn’t very far by distance but it took forever to get there. And don’t listen to Google! It often took us on small back roads that were sketchy at best. But the drive wasn’t all bad. After an hour-long drive on a sketchy mountain road, we stumbled upon an echidna crossing the road! He became my new favourite creature. Later on, I almost crashed the car trying to pull over to spot one. Paige was not impressed.
Where we stayed:
- Panorama Hotel: Excessively spacious hotel and rooms
By the numbers:
- Echidnas seen: 5 – hadn’t seen any but some 5 on our last day
- Chocolate frogs eaten: 2 – served on top of orange jello, a very weird kids dessert
- Time we spent at the waterfall: 20 minutes and 15 seconds – 10 minute hike in, 15 seconds looking at the waterfall, 10 minute hike out – the kids aren’t interested in waterfalls anymore unless they can play in them
- Cost of Vegemite scrolls at Baker’s Delight: Free – Isabella was so upset they didn’t have cheese bread, the employee comped us a package of their Vegemite scrolls
Ciao for now