Tour of Bruny Island Seas

Hi again – BloggiE here.

Look at this queue of cars. You must be wondering why we are taking a photo of this queue. It is kind of important because we were getting on a ferry to Bruny Island and this was the line.

In a very short time of 1 hour and 45 mins, we finally got onto the ferry!

Once we arrived on Bruny Island, we took a scenic tour round the curvy roads to the cruise on South Bruny Island. When we had parked the car, we ran for our lives to the cruise because we were late. Being the last ones on, we jumped right up the back.

On the cruise, they supplied us with red spray jackets, much like the ones we wore on the Rottnest island cruise. When the boat started, it went slowly at first.

We passed the local species of black faced cormorants, rare on the mainland, but common in Tasmania.

The cliffs were like the cliffs of insanity. There, hollowed out, was a tiny little cove and in that hollowed out tiny little cove, there was a hollowed out tiny little hole.

When you look at this photo, you might think the cliffs are amazing, but also look at the small rock island. It looks like a king with a dog, doesn’t it? Our boat went through the gap between the cliffs and the king!

Now it’s time to crank up the speed. Next stop Antarctica!

Oh! Look who’s driving!  Abandon ship! It’s billichilli in charge!

Next we saw the Australian fur seals, the cousins of our dear old friends the New Zealand fur seals from Esperance.

It was so windy, rough and wet that the spray on the water flew off the rocks.

We saw some gannets – very interesting…

Albatross – massive wing span, largest of any bird.

The dolphins were just amazing. They followed us alongside the boat and one even did a series of jumps out of the water, like in the Barbie movies. He was as fast as the boat.

When we had finished the cruise, we drove back to the North island. When we arrived at the neck, that joins the two islands, we took some steep steps to the lookout (and we saw some teenagers kissing!).

The neck – a beautiful view from the lookout.

Tune in for my last blog, next time,


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On the Eastern Shore

In the week before Christmas, we settled into our house in Akaroa, up the road from St Helen’s. There were 4 bedrooms, a full kitchen, 2 TV’s and a cracking verandah out the front for dinner (and plenty of other meals) each day. It was a coastal town with a beach, where we enjoyed walks, fishing and jumping off the jetty. There were sand dunes for afternoon fun.

There were enough little shops to pick up a few last minute pressies and a $2 shop from which we bought supplies to decorate our house.  We took our chance to go with a totally out there theme – beach meets winter wonderland! We found a white tree and plenty of blue beachy decorations, with an icicle on top!  –  It said “cold weather by the beach.” In a fabulous coincidence, the girls put together a Christmas Eve dance to “Winter Wonderland.”

Amongst the preparations for Christmas, we had time to fit in a little sightseeing – incredible really, considering what our life is usually like at this time of year. To the north was the Bay of Fires. The sand stretched out past orange, lichen-covered rocks to the blue sea beyond.

It was fairly spectacular and we enjoyed rock hopping, beach walking and even a little wading.

The kids loved just playing with their old friends at last.

After our first off road track for a while, Eddystone Point boasted a great lighthouse.

The wind was high…and the kids were crazy.

A second excursion during the week took us to the Freycinet Peninsula. Optimistically we selected the Wineglass Bay – Hazards Beach Circuit walk. 11kms, 6 kids, packed lunch.

A steep track to Wineglass Bay at the beginning gave us a stiff dose of reality, but the view was lovely.

Although it is possible to make out a kind of wine glass shape to explain the name of the bay, it turns out that Wineglass Bay has a much more sinister moniker. Once a place where whales were dragged into the bay and slaughtered, it ran with blood giving the water the appearance of wine. On the beach itself, we saw bluebottles. We had high hopes for a swim, but decided (foolishly as we later repented) to wait for Hazards Beach for a dip. We also followed up our research from WA and decided that no – the sand was not as white as that at Lucky Bay.

Hazards Beach

The weather cheered up as we walked and we made it to Hazard’s Beach. Unfortunately the bluebottles were in plague preportions on this side of the isthmus. No swim. High whingeometer reading.

But blue blue blue..

The last part of the walk was long and undulating. Hot and tired, the adults did make it to the end with a real sense of satisfaction. We followed up with a swim in the Southern Ocean (minus bluebottles) and fish and chips in the car on the way home and suddenly the kids felt a real sense of satisfaction too!

The view across Wineglass Bay put us in mind of the Bay of Fires from earlier in the week...

A seaside week was over all too soon and we found our time in the East drawing to a close.

Posted in Kate | 10 Comments

Crossing the Strait and Flying Fox Fiesta

Tasmania. Our last state. Also ours to enjoy with friends! It all started when we, after a dinner with our friends, departed on the words; “See you in Tazzy!” None of us believed it was actually going to happen until at Coral Bay we got a call from the Bolgers saying, “Do you want to meet in Tasmania?” And in Perth, I was Skyping my friend Zac and all of a sudden we were seeing him too!

There was a massive queue to the ferry and we had to wait, like, 45 mins to get on.

We were thrilled to discover that the Loofs, Zac, Oscar, Jean-Jacques and Hermione, were only 2 cabins away, but the Bolgers were virtually on the other side of the ferry. It was fun sharing our excitement  with our best friends and looking in each other’s cabins.

We had dinner with each other at the “Captains Table”, which had a very shippy-at sea- aarrgggghh me’hearties! kind of taste. It was steak, potatoes and vegies. Xav and I had some ginger beer that tasted suspiciously alcoholic…… which made it a whole lot better anyway. Kung-Fu Panda 2 was on, which I, unfortunately, had never got the chance to see. We sat down and turned our eyes square for a bit in front of a small-big screen (with a bonus 2 tv’s – 1 on each side). After the movie finished, we went to have a look at the outside deck. It was wet and spraying but we had a lot of fun staring out into the black, rainy night.

Out on the deck. From right to left; Zac, Oscar, Xav and behind him, Me

At last it was time to get some rest and so we all parted and went into our various cabins.

Our quarters were very cosy and snug and I possibly had the best sleep of my life.

I woke the next morning and looked out the porthole to see, settled there in the misty fog, Devonport, Tasmania.

We now had to go through the Quarantine and get checked for fruit and all that stuff. We now were to go to the “Treetop Adventures” where you soared down a massive flying-fox. It was so so so sooooooooooo FUN!!!!!

High above the trees in a cloud station

We weighed ourselves first. People over 40 kilograms were solo flyers…HOORAY! But under 40 you had to go with a Parent.

Solo Flyers

We practised first on a mini cable outside and then walked out to the big set.


Mum and SiSi

Dad and BloggiE

The 3 biggest runs were called Papa bear, Mama Bear,and baby bear. The last run was called Goldilocks. Jean-Jacques went so fast on the biggest run that we figured he got up to 90 kmph. He was the ultimate cannonball!

We then went our own ways as the Bolgers and us set of for Akaroa.


Posted in axo1000 | 5 Comments

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all our dear family, friends and fellow travellers! We are spending our first Christmas away from home at St Helen’s on the East Coast of Tasmania, with our friends The Bolgers. We have decorated the tree, cooked the Christmas cake and wrapped the presents. Tonight we joined the townsfolk of St Helen’s at the Annual Christmas Parade. It was fantastic to soak up the Christmas Spirit in the local way.

Back at home we prepared for Christmas Day with carols, accompanied by Spike on the guitar, and a few stories. We checked Santa’s progress on NORAD Santa Tracker, put the kids to bed and watched a Christmas movie.

We are grateful for this blog which has helped us to keep in contact with so many of our friends and family and want wish you all a peaceful, blessed Christmas wherever you are celebrating. We hope that you can enjoy this special time of year with your loved ones too,

With love from Spike, Kate, axo1000 and BloggiE!!!



Posted in axo1000, BloggiE, Kate, Spike | 5 Comments

Mornington Mansions

Famous for the mansions of the Melbournian elite and rich, the Mornington Peninsula has some fancy abodes. Surprisingly it’s not the old school Newport Rhode Island style mansions around Portsea and Sorrento that are the most impressive, its the setups on the Mornington Peninsula foreshore camping that take the prize!

It seems that camping on the peninsula, is a summer ritual. Families, actually generations of families, lob en masse on the first day of the school holidays to set up these camping mansions as their holiday homes for the next 6 weeks. Vacant for most of the year, come the peak season in December, the foreshore reserve becomes a tent/caravan city stretching for about 20kms along the bay.

We were just looking for a few days to camp with some beachside vibe before embarking on the Spirit of Tasmania. So we stayed on the foreshore to check out the Peninsula before being kicked out on Saturday, the day the madness of this institution (an appropriate term indeed!) begins.

Mornington Mansions - there is a caravan hiding in there somewhere.

Yes that is a steel frame over the Jayco.

For all our fellow travellers in vans....cant wait to see the ceiling fan in your next setup!

and for the hardcore campers we meet on the road.....don't forget to pack your steel frame roof as well!

As for the rest of the Mornington Peninsula, we did managed a great bike ride along the foreshore Bay Trail, lunch at the Portsea Pub, a few refreshing swims, book reading on the beach and a visit to the hills for some wine.

Mornington foreshore - soon to be a seething mass of campers behind those trees.

Cooling the heels during the bike ride.

Bathing Victorian!

Lunch at the Portsea pub.

Portsea pub, contender for best beer garden in Australia.

The hectic last week before Christmas!

More pre Christmas hecktivity!

After escaping this Victorian institution we wandered up to Melbourne for one last night before our Tasmanian Odyssey.

Posted in Spike | 3 Comments

A Day in The Life of a Gold Miner, or Sovereign Hill

If I was a gold miner, in 1853 I would be at Ballarat hoping I would find gold today. This isn’t any Minecraft server where you dig down to Obsidian and find gold or diamond. This is the Gold Rush Era, the GRE. It all started when some dude’s horse kicked up a massive gold nugget, known now as the Welcome Stranger Nugget. The guy shouted EUREKA!!!!!!! and the gold frenzy started. People came from everywhere like Melbourne, Sydney, China and Belgium*.

We traveled to Sovereign Hill to get that old day experience and because mum said it was a unit of my school work. When we set foot on the gold fields we had a look in one of the huts/shelters. A lady dressed in GRE clothes told us about how the miners and their families got on in those days.

old European huts

Old chinese huts. Much more neat. make better tea. have better hats.

Each day a family got one bucket of water per day. That water was their washing, bathing, drinking , and cleaning water. If you were the miner/dad you got to bathe first and then on went from dirtiest to cleanest. and mind you the tub was only about 3x your bowl you eat your breakfast cereal from. A big slab of meat was nailed to a post. high enough so that the dogs could not get it. If you were a girl, you were to be married at the age of 15 and the boys aged 20. Young women were supposed to have 5 kids by the age of 20.

So down to Business, the type of business with flaky bits of gold in it, GOLD PANNING …..Gasp!!! The “pans” were these metal tins that you filled up with the stuff at the bottom and scraped all the rocks off. At the bottom you might find gold.

Me must find gold to be rich!

Gold pouring. The art of pouring melted gold into an ingot. A bit like what you do in Minecraft. The liquid is pure gold. Literally. It comes out of the jug glowing and very pretty. Gold melts at 1064°celsius and when touched with a stick, the ingot burst into flames.

yummy honey!

The red-coats, who were the British soldiers, came marching down the main street and made a speech about the war that was going on at the time. They said stuff about winning and how if you were the with Germans you will FAIL. They fired a round of shots and then posed for pics with everybody.

hut 2,3,4 hut 2,3,4........ wait! Imposter at back of the line!!!

the local army accepting children!!

We also had a tour of a mine It was interesting and had a few train rides. People who did gold panning got all the gold they found for themselves, but with company mining, people got payed to mine. They mined underground because there was more gold there. We went down in a sort of mine cart/tram/train sort of thing. We walked along a tunnel with wooden beam supports and the guide showed us  things like drills, gold, and even massive caverns with gold pillars. They hadn’t mined the gold pillars because the pillars were holding up the roof.

The mine shaft. not the mine craft

We also had a horse and cart ride around the gold fields. It was just like being in an olden day carriage except we had better clothes.

Luxury taxi ride around town.

Main Street of Sovereign Hill

Walking around the town we saw all the old buildings and the houses that the rich people lived in. Their houses had more than one room.

Some of the town, with the houses of those who have struck it lucky up on the hill.

Strike me lucky.

Business on the goldfields

We did some candle making too, where we learned about how to make candles and the dipping process. They needed candles because they didn’t have electricity in the mine and they needed 1000 per day to keep on mining.

My candle. a bit pimply and slightly colour sick

All this old stuff just goes to show how much we have changed and how much we have learned.


*Just tricking – no Belgians.

Posted in axo1000 | 3 Comments