Category Archives: Reviews

Devonport to Hellyer Gorge

Devonport

Devonport

We left Devonport early Monday morning. We decided not to stay longer than a day as there really isn’t much more to Devonport itself, but rather the surrounding areas hold the attractions and nothing seems to be very far away. We headed west of Devonport and drove through a number of small towns. What I didn’t know when I booked our trip over to Tassie was we were arriving on a public holiday long weekend so not much was going to be open.

First stop was Branddon’s lookout, which looked over the surrounding farmland. In true Tassie style, as I’m quickly learning, it was cloudy, overcast and prone to misting rain so we didn’t stay long.

Branddon's Lookout

Branddon’s Lookout

Next stop was Makers Workshop in Burnie. This gorgeous little centre has been brilliantly put together with sculptures, tours, an information centre, café and more. What really interested me about this place is that it is where a number of cheeses from Tasmania are actually made and they have them for purchase.  I was hoping I would find a cheese that maybe I hadn’t heard of before; however, I found that they produce the main brands that you can find in any supermarket. This didn’t stop me from tasting and buying a massive off cut of Brie for $5.

We did stop a while here as the little café sold massive chocolate wagon wheels and did tastings of Hellyers Road Whisky. As Hellyers Road Distillery was closed, damn public holiday, I thought this would be the next best thing so Hubby and I stopped and relaxed for a while in the cafe.

 

View from Makers Workshop

View from Makers Workshop

From here we meandered through more dairy farmland with rolling green hills spotted with cows until we arrived at Hellyers Gorge. Named after Henry Hellyer an English surveyor and architect who was one of the first explorers to visit the rugged interior of the north-west of Tasmania, Australia and made the most comprehensive maps of the area up to that time (thanks Wikipedia).  Hellyers Gorge had free camping in the rest area so we set up and stayed for a couple of nights.

Hellyer Gorge

Hellyer Gorge

 

Taste the Harvest – Mon’s Style

So Devonport threw a wine and food festival just for me, yay! I tend to be a bit of a foodie/boozie so to have a collection of wineries, breweries and food from around the local area, in one location is pretty much my idea of heaven. I was so excited that I dragged my very patient (non drinking) husband down to the festival as soon as it started at 10:30am.

(Please note that the photos included in this post are not shot with my DSLR Canon, but my iphone5 as i decided that operating heavy machinery while drinking was not advisable!)

As soon as we arrived it started to drizzle, not to be deterred, I bought my tasting glass (rookie error, totally should have thought to smuggle my own it) and started to make the rounds. I won’t go into every single wine and beer I tried, I’ll be honest, there was a lot and I don’t remember all of them. I did however pay special attention to my favs so here they are.

Spreyton Cider

WOW! This unusual cider has not yet made its way up to Brisbane so I haven’t had the pleasure of indulging before and I was blown away by what I tried (which was all of them). Spreyton make the cider in a dry style, perfect with food and not like other sweeter styles on the market. The Cider Maker (??) was there and was very patient with answering all my questions. I learnt that they don’t add any sugar for the first fermentation; however, they do add some into the second fermentation (either in the bottle or the keg) and this makes the bubbles, just like the traditional method of making champagne – very interesting! I managed to get a small taste of the apple juice they make as well and it was a-ma-zing (originally that was what they specialized in was making apple juice and more recently branched into ciders).

Spreyton Ciderery Goodness

Ironhouse Brewery

These guys had 6 beers on tap, all lovely. However, my fav was the Honey Porter, which is Porter with Leatherwood Honey added to it. Leatherwood Honey is produced around the center of Tas and isn’t well known as a table variety of honey due to its stronger flavour and smell.

Seven Sheds

I was able to taste their 5 beers on tap. My favourite was the Willie Warmer, named after one of the owners. Willie used to make this beer as a home brew before starting the brewery. The Willie warmer was a lovely dark beer, all spicy and yummy! I had a good chat to the other owner who was full of information. Did you know that earlier last century Cascade and Boags were part of one company? They bought out all the breweries in Tas and shut them all down. Seven Sheds is the only brewery in Tasmania’s North West to open since 1907. Also another fun fact,  IPA’s are generally more alcoholic as back in the old days, when they were shipping it from Britain to India, to stop the beer from going off on the journey they increased the alcohol content, interesting stuff!

Morrisons Brewery

Quite a new brewery and again I was lucky enough to corner the brewer and bombard him with questions while sampling his beers. The Saison was my favourite and boy was it amazing! Unfortunately as he is new to the game and a small brewer, getting hold of his beers is going to prove challenging so I will need to wait until Launceston to try and get hold of some takeaway.

Morrisons Brewery

Pagan Cider

The label first attracted me to these guys and my favourite cider was the Apple & cherry blend (Cerise) yum yum!

Pagan Cider, great labels

Blustery Banks Vineyard

Grows only 2 varieties of grapes (Chardy and Pinot Noir), has a small parcel of land and all their grapes are hand picked. Add this altogether and you get exceptional wines. The 2010 Chardy and the 2012 Pinot Noir were my picks from these guys.

General observation: A lot of the vineyards at the show were actually the farmers / owners of the vineyards. It seems to be the trend that the task of creating the wines is contracted out to the winemakers who make the wine and then the vineyards sell it.

Also, I’ve noticed that a large number of white wines I tasted are really light, almost like water in colour, strange!

Deloraine Fruit Wines

These guys were just quirky, lovely, but quirky. They use fruits, other than grapes, to make wines and the wine are made in quite a dry style rather than sweet and syrupy. The couple on the stand were quirky and advised us that we needed to go to Zeehan to a theatre where the famous Dame Nellie Melba performed. Now the only reason I know the name Dame Nellie Melba is because Downtown Abbey featured her character on the show so now I need to see this place!

Frenchman’s Cap

Named after a peak here in Tassie, these guys find grapes and then find winemakers to make the wine. They are kind of like a middle man, they don’t actually grow any grapes or make any wines themselves but their wines were lovely. My fav, Frenchmans Cap Pinot Noir

Ghost Rock Vineyard

Had a lovely stand and very knowledgeable vineyard owner. The wines were great and my favourite for the day was the Catherine Sparkling.

Iron Pot Bay Vineyard

The owner has only just bought the vineyard within the past 9 months so only a couple of the wines that she has produced were for tasting, plenty of other wines from the previous owner though. My favourite was the Late Harvest Riesling

Lake Barrington / White Rock Vineyard

Just released a variety that I’d never heard of before called Dornfelder, a red German variety. I bought a glass of this one to finish off my drinking for the day. Man, was it good!

Dornfelder

So even though my day was booze filled there was also some food happening behind the scenes. Tornado Potato, I ate 3 of them. It was a potato slinky on a stick, dipped in batter and deep-fried, kind of like potato scallops, yum!

Dornfelder and Tornado Potato

By about 2pm i’d decided (I meaning my husband) that i’d done my dash and it was time to go. Deciding that I had made a nice dent in the long list of places I’d hope to see on our travels (bonus that they were all in one convenient place), I didn’t make a fuss. So home (caravan park) we went for a big meal of pasta, shitloads of water, a couple of pannies and early to bed for me!

Atkinson Dam Cabin Village and Shoreline Camping

Address: 381 Atkinson Dam Road, Atkinson Dam, Qld 4311
Contact Details: (07) 5426 4211, atkinson_dam.cab.vi@telstra.com

Background: Johny and I hadn’t been out camping for sometime and this is what prompted me to try to find somewhere not too far out of Brisbane, somewhere quiet and relaxing so we could take the kayaks out. Unfortunately, I made the rookie error of assuming that a dam meant a nice still body of water that one could kayak on. Instead we were greeted by loud boats, louder bogans and a very below average visit.

On the upside we did have one seemingly normal neighbour with a brand new rig and they convinced Johny that we need to go to Tasmania asap!

Dates Stayed:

21st-22nd December 2013

Cost:

We stayed on a non-powered campsite on the shoreline for $9/per person. no powered sites are available in the campground area.

Facilities:

  • Kitchen / Cooking areas – BBQ’s and basic picnic area provided
  • Toilets – yes – watch out for frogs in the bowl
  • Showers -yes; however, not advertised as they are in the cabin village
  • Good lighting- no
  • Laundry- not in the camping area
  • Fitness & Leisure Facilities- boat ramp
  • Security- not in the camping area
  • Pets Allowed – yes
  • Fires -yes, on the beach
  • Noise Levels -generators allowed

Will We Return:

No. We were after a nice and relaxing camping experience and what we endured was anything but. The lower price point seemed to attract all manner of tenants. The camp areas were tiny and everyone was squashed in like sardines. The bogans with the motor boats were out all day and very early the next morning so there was no opportunity to go kayaking except at 5:30am before the boats came out. The day area visit area was mixed in with the camp area so all the day visitors were constantly walking through and around the camp site which, for security sake, was a bit scary. Lastly at 3 different points in our 24 hour stay there were 3 lots of fighting, swearing, screaming and hitting. Needless to say, we won’t be going back.

Lovely to look at, to bad for the bogans

Lovely to look at, to bad for the bogans

Campfire Dip

I’ve had a fantastic response from Pinners to the photo I uploaded from a trip to Moreton Island.

Ideally you would share this with a few friends and beers/wines in the late afternoon, maybe with some cheeses and dips.

Campfire Dip - Moreton Island

Campfire Dip – Moreton Island

Ingredients:

2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 x tub of pre sliced mushrooms

1 x small onion finely chopped

Tin of tomatoes

1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese

Glove or two of garlic, crushed

salt and pepper

Damper

Optional:

A splash of wine, red, white, doesn’t matter

Chilli to taste

Leftover sausages – I had some chorizo on hand

50-100g of sundried tomatoes or olives chopped finely

Directions:

  1. In the skillet put the olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until soft.
  2. Add the mushrooms, cook for a few more minutes.
  3. Add the tin of tomatoes, salt and pepper and any of the optional extras as this point.
  4. Loosely place some al foil over the top and cook for 10 mins.
  5. Grab small handfuls of mozzarella and put them in little piles on top of the tomato sauce. Put the al foil back on and cook for another 5-10 mins until the mozzarella has melted.
  6. Slice the damper and either dip it in or spoon the sauce on and enjoy with your beer/wine.

Note:

This can be made in a normal fry pan on a gas cook top if the fire isn’t an option.

Any leftover? Use it as a pasta sauce, filling for jaffles, on top of bakes tomatoes the next day.

 

 

The Ugly Side of Moreton Island

Everyone says that Moreton Island is beautiful, and it is; however, that beauty is marred by the amount of washed up rubbish littering these beautiful beaches.

Moreton Island Matress

About halfway through our trip I realised that the pictures I was taking weren’t accurately portraying the island at all; therefore, I was actually doing it a great disservice.

If someone had told me that Moreton suffers from a serious rubbish issue, I would have packed extra rubbish bags,  some gardening gloves and Johny and I would have done our little bit to try and help out.

Moreton Island Rubbish

 

 

Moreton Island RubbishThis problem hasn’t gone completely unnoticed with the SEQ Catchments teaming up with P7 Offroad Driving to try and alleviate some of the problem.

However, this is only a patch up job, the underlying issues still exist.

Moreton Island Rubbish

 

 

 

So, although we weren’t able to help much on this trip, I hope this blog inspires you to do the right thing and contribute when you visit Moreton Island.

 

 

Our Weekend at Beautiful Bribie Island

Finally we’ve had a break from the seemingly never-ending downpour plaguing Brisbane for the past 3 months. To celebrate, Johny and I took our newly decked out 4WD and went bush/beach for a night. Our destination this weekend was the beautiful Bribie Island. We had only ever been to Bribie once and had no idea that beyond the suburban sprawl of Bongaree was a stunning natural recreation area.

Friday night was organised our camping and vehicle permits* and early Saturday morning we took off. Bribie is only an hour’s drive from Brisbane so we arrived early in the day. There was plenty of 4WD action happening when we arrived at the car park where the off road track began. It seemed other people had the same idea to take advantage of the fine weekend. We quickly deflated our tyres and took off down the track straight onto soft sand and beach.

Driving onto the beach

This was the first time we have been sand/beach driving and was quite an experience. The sand was soft and churned up by the numerous vehicles that had come before us. The beach was glorious. A wide, white ribbon of sand wove along the coastline and we drove straight down the centre of it. The waves were crashing on one side of us with sand dunes and native shrubbery on the other. It was a 19km drive to our campsite, since the speed limit on the sand was 30km/hr we had a lot of time to enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

When we reached our campsite we set up our new roof top tent, opened up the side awning, took out our camp chairs and had some lunch. During the afternoon we went for walks along the beach, sat in the water and played frisbee. By about 5pm it was getting cooler so we had dinner and sat in the tent. We fell asleep to the gentle sound of waves rolling in the distance.

Decked out 4WD

I woke up at about 6am; I climbed out of the tent with my camera, went down to the beach and caught the tail end of the sunrise. I stayed out there for about an hour. I nearly had the beach to myself at that time of the morning with only a couple of fisherman to share with. I walked up and down and took numerous photos. The tide had removed nearly all the tire treds from the vehicles traversing the beach the day before. Everything felt fresh, new and peaceful. I could have stayed out there for hours if my tummy hadn’t started talking to me.

Morning Beach IMG_3763

I went back to our campsite, woke Johny, made breakfast and packed up the site. We drove a little further down the beach and parked. From there we went on a 5km return walk down to the World War 2 fortifications, which extend up to the northern tip of the island. There is no much left, just a few crumbling buildings set into the beach. I wonder what the island was like back in the first half of last century? Did the beach look the same? We’re there this many March flies and mozzies? How did they cope without A/C? Seriously, it’s bloody hot!

World War 2 Ruins World War 2 Ruins

To get back to Bongaree we took the Northern Access Track, which went inland and down. The sand was incredibly soft, the track narrow and we didn’t always have great visibility. We had to make a number of stops to let other cars through and more then one nearly slid right into us.

On return to Bongaree we stopped for fish & chips and a beer overlooking the water. We then went home to wash down the car and unpacked. Since Johny bought us a year vehicle permit to drive on Bribie, I know we will definitely be visiting a lot more over the next 12 months.

* A must for camping and driving through the recreation area. Obtained from http://nprsr.qld.gov.au

Washed out of Harry’s Hut

What was meant to be a relaxing weekend for two turned into mud. We decided to take a nice romantic weekend for two up to Harry’s Hut just north of Noosa.

The traffic was terrible as we attempted to leave the city. The intention was to leave early to miss the mass exodus of citysiders leaving Brisbane for the weekend. Unfortunately our planning was for nothing as we were caught in the mass crush of vehicles for over an hour. On top of this a constant rain was coming down heavily, which probably should have been a sign.

Eventually we got free of the jams and entered into more country areas. We drove through tiny pockets of settlements, a number of isolated properties and rolling green hills. I wonder, while we drive, what it would be like to live in these tiny pocket towns so far away from the city and isolated in nature? How do these tiny little towns survive? Where do people work?

Rolling green hills

Rolling green hills

As the case seems to be with all of our trips, the GPS got us lost. It took us down a road which turned out to be a dead end. There were no sign posts, nothing. I programmed the GPS to find an alternate route which we followed. The total lack of signage ensured that we didn’t know if we were even on the right road or heading in the right direction.

We slid around on a clay packed road (Johny was in 4WD heaven) and then turned onto a forest track. By this time is was getting dark. On either side of the wet pot holed road were tall trees, the scene looked like something out of a horror story. We drove through long vine tentrils hanging thickly down the middle of the road hitting the windscreen as we drove through. Our progression was long and slow going through puddles of unknown depth splashing the windows as we drove through. Always in the back of my mind was the fact that we mightn’t have even been on the right road and there was no option to turn around, we just couldn’t fit!

Eventually in the pitch black we came across a campground. We drove through slowly, no street lights here to guide us, and allocated ourselves a site. Completely stressed out by this stage we managed to set the tent up; dinner was and informal fare of cheese, wine and a few games of Blitz followed promptly by sleep.

It rained on and off during the night. Camping in the rain is an interesting experience. The sound of drops hitting the canvas on and off, hard and soft, in patches or constant; and it is loud, so loud. Thankfully there was no storm, no wind, just heavy rain.

We awoke early, as you do when camping, to the sounds of the bush. Native birds, insects and frogs. People moving about, the camp was stirring. We set up the annex area of the camper; cooked some breaky on our new Weber and took the kayaks down to the river.

Even though we had never been to Harrys hut; we could see that the river had risen significantly as the jetty was completely under water. This didn’t deter us and we took the kayaks onto the river. As we are novices we never take the kayaks far; but, we didn’t have to, we were completely alone. The river looked like a large container full to the brim of water. There were no dry, parched banks; everything was full to the top.

On our return the Park Rangers had arrived. Tewantin, further up the river, had a lot of rain overnight and the water was coming our way. They had been instructed to ask all of the campers to move out. So with a soggy heart we packed up our little campsite which we had just set up and drove ourselves out and back home.

Tree corridor on the way out

Tree corridor on the way out

Flooded road on the way out

Flooded road on the way out