Travel – Bruny Island, Tasmania (Part 1)

Come with me to Bruny Island.  I hope you’re feeling fit, because we’ll be climbing these stairs every day.

Hideous, I know.  But, I promise it will be worth it.  Look at the view:

A much nicer view from this angle, right?  After all that exercise!  *phew*

Bruny Island has a long, thin neck connecting two bodies of land – isn’t it stunning?

We can take nice photos together like this one.

We can stay and watch the sunset from here too.

The barge over was nice.

Finally a reasonably priced barge for caravans!  A far better price than that they charge for Kangaroo Island or across from the Yorke Peninsula to the Eyre Peninsula, in South Australia.  I suppose it is quite a short distance in comparison.  Bookings aren’t required, the ferry goes often through the day and it only takes about 20 minutes to cross.

There is so much more of Bruny that I want to show you – including, most importantly, the delicious food!  I’ll post more on this fabulous location shortly.  I think, of all the places in the world I’ve been, Bruny Island is one of my favourite destinations.

What do you think of Bruny so far? 

Craft – Easter Crochet

I’ve been hooking away at some Easter crochet crafts, which I thought you may like to hear about.

Firstly, I made the above bunny, who is super cute and was super easy to make.  The pattern design is by the Green Dragonfly.  I’ve only recently discovered this blog, but have already made a long list of her crochet designs to try.  Her designs are gorgeous and this Easter Bunny’s pattern was really easy to follow.  You can hop along to this link to follow her tutorial and make a Bunny for yourself, just in time for Easter.

The other great and easy Easter crochet pattern I’ve been using this last week is by Lacy Crochet.  Unfortunately, I have packed up all the mini easter eggs I made from this pattern and sent them away as Easter gifts and I didn’t photograph them before they went to the post office.  There are great photos on Lacy Crochet’s blog though.  I made two eggs and stitched them together to make a 3D hanging ornament – perfect for your Osterbaum.  If you’ve never heard of an Osterbaum, or Easter tree, it is a fabulous German tradition and you can find a lots of inspiration to make your own at this Pinterest link, by Ana Meng.  I have many fond memories of blowing and painting eggs as a child for our family’s Osterbaum.  I’m sad to not have one up this year, but it’s a bit of a fragile construction for a caravan on the move.

Have you been crafting in anticipation of Easter?  If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Travel – Port Arthur

Our day exploring Port Arthur didn’t start well.

We pulled up in the car park at Port Arthur and jumped out.  I, luckily, heard a strange pfffft noise and looked down.  Flatty!  Our first, and hopefully last, flat tyre of trip.  Touch wood.  Adrian handled it like a pro.  It was with great fortune that we had pulled into a car space that had a wide space on the left hand side, providing enough room for us to empty out the car boot and get to all the tyre changing equipment.

As the stream of tourists flooded into the car park, many felt the need to gawk at our dilemma – offering sweet looks of sympathy.  There was, of course, the bloke who came on over to ‘kick the tyre’ in a ‘helpful’ manner.  After jumping out of his bright yellow baby hire car, a Hyundai Getz or some-such, he strode around with his chest excitedly puffed out and inspected our work.  He probably thought he was looking super manly in front of his girlfriend.  In truth, she just looked a little embarrassed.  I couldn’t help but giggle.

With this little chore out of the way, it was time to explore Port Arthur.

Port Arthur is a spectacular open air museum, documenting the convict settlement established here in the mid-1800s.

With more than 30 buildings, ruins and restored period houses spread over 40 hectares of accessible land, there is a lot to see at Port Arthur.

All the site seeing was a bit much for some.

I swooned over the details in the restored period houses.

Port Arthur has magnificent gardens and views over vibrant blue water.  Possibly the most beautiful prison grounds in history.

The Asylum was an interesting stop.

We certainly got our exercise quota in at Port Arthur.

Despite the pristine beauty of the site today, there is no doubt that the conditions at Port Arthur held hardships for all the members of its community – from the Commandants to the convicts.

Interestingly, the tour guides spoke often of Port Arthur being a testing ground for many justice policies we would recognise today, with trials in rehabilitation and juvenile justice, and interesting approaches to the issue of mental health and prison.  Despite the long history Australia has with justice and corrections policy, it sometimes seems we are still a long way from finding solutions which work.

Port Arthur is a special place for many reasons.  Our flat tyre hardly seemed an inconvenience, when you consider all the sorrow which has been felt on this land.

This, and all the posts before, are not sponsored posts – just my own opinions.

A drink with Sheila – Meet our caravan

We have a guest on the blog today – Sheila, our trusty caravan, would like to make you a drink and tell you a little about herself.

A few nights ago on the Yorke Peninsular – Tickera North

A little while ago, Tara, from In The Taratory, suggested I do a post about travelling this beautiful country in a caravan; what works and what doesn’t.  I thought to myself, who better to interview for this post than Sheila, herself.  She’s asked me to offer you a cuppa or to mix you a martini, if you like.  Sheila has a very generous soul.

Full name:  Sheila Matilda Bartlett

Family:  I’m a Jayco Heritage - first domiciled in Canberra, Australia

Age:  9, but I’ve only been on the road since July 2013.  Before that, I was a backyard caravan.  I think that makes me more youthful.

Occupation:  Full-time travelling home

Length:  In old terms my body is 21.6 feet long; with my A frame, I’m nearly 8 metres.

Likes:  Sunsets over the ocean, baking and rocking to good tunes.

Dislikes:  Mice, really dusty and bumpy dirt roads, road trains and fuel stations that don’t have room for me to enter and exit gracefully.

Describe yourself:  Well, I have an awning on the outside, which I flip out when we’re somewhere nice for a couple of days.  It’s a great spot for my owners to sit and cook on the Weber.  On the inside, up front, I have a kitchen with a decent size fridge (I don’t know how other caravan’s get by with those mini-bar fridges), a stove, oven, sink and cupboards.  My kitchen looks out of a big window, which I think is pretty neat.  Then there is an L shaped lounge/dining area and an extra couch on the other wall.  Beyond that is a queen size bed and then the en-suite with separate toilet and shower.  To keep things cool, I have three sky-lights and an air-conditioner.

Best qualities:  My owners think that my best quality is that I’m self-sufficient.  I provide for my owners without having to rely on anyone else for long stretches of time.  My udder (sometimes crudely called water tanks) holds 120 litres.  This can last my owners up to 8 or 9 days if they are careful.  I can hold on to my toilet waste for 3-4 days too.
Oh and I have this mega long antenna which means my owners get internet almost everywhere!  Phone reception isn’t as reliable though, unfortunately.

What lights you up:  My solar system.  I don’t believe in noisy generators, so I have my rooftop covered in solar panels.  I have 640 watts in total and my batteries are 240 amp hours.  Some said it was overkill, but my owners are power-hungry.  Between the laptops and TV, it seems my owners are always plugging something into my 12 volt or inverter.  I have never run out of enough power to keep my owners happy.  Even when it’s overcast, I can deliver.
My air-conditioner and microwave are the only things which require my owners to plug into a 240 volt source.  They don’t use the microwave really, so it’s just on really hot days that they look for a powered site.  Well, they can’t iron or blend things on their system either.  But, they can use a sewing machine and mixing beaters, so that keeps them pretty satisfied.

Worst thing about travelling Australia:  Ummmmm really the whole trip has been awesome.  But, the worst days were those when we had a mouse stowaway.  It’s happened twice now – thanks South Australia.  The first time was very distressing, but eventually the mouse left.  None of us got much sleep that time.  The second time wasn’t too bad, as a trap got the mouse on the first night.  My owners have cleaned everything down and sealed every conceivable hole now.  Mice seem to really like chewing that non-slip matting – so they got rid of all that too.  They even put the plugs in my drains every night now.  I have my wheels crossed that it doesn’t happen again.
It wasn’t real fun when Mr Owner was keeping his stand-up paddle board on my bed when travelling, either.  That thing is huge.  I’m so relieved he finally got roof racks on top of Tonka, the Pajero, for that.

Best thing about travelling Australia:  Pulling up to some of the most spectacular views and being able to camp there.

This is where we are at the moment – Lincoln National Park

Wishes:  Sometimes I wish I was as cute on the outside and inside as those spunky vintage vans I see around.  But, I’m not ugly.  Just a bit plain-jane.  What I lack in super cuteness though, I make up for with buckets of function.  I’m hoping that maybe Mr Owner will let Mrs Owner reupholster my lounges and maybe get some new curtains for my windows.  Oh, and maybe wallpaper my fridge with some funky out there design – that would be pretty cool.

It’s been lovely meeting you.  We’ll have to do this again some time.

Sheila xo

Travel – Fortescue Bay, Tasmania

Wow.  Firstly, following my last post, I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who provided descriptive and generous instructions on how to fix my sewing machine.  It really warms my heart to read everyone’s comments here.  I feel like we’re a little community now – and that it isn’t just me broadcasting.  Which feels wonderful and is exactly what I’d hoped this place would be.  I promise to try all of your wonderful suggestions until I fix my machine.  I’ll be sure to update you all on my progress – with many photos of swoon-worthy fabric.

Now, let me take you back to Tasmania.  I know, I know.  We’re actually in South Australia now.  My travel logs are somewhat behind.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending how you look at it, I still have a lot of Tasmania to show you.

This is Fortescue Bay, in the Tasman National Park.

We did see a pod of dolphins playing out in the water, but I was unable to capture the moment.

I did capture a Pacific Gull though.  We first spotted a Pacific Gull on Wilsons Prom.  Having never seen such prehistoric looking, giant seagulls before, we were both pretty excited with our discovery.  Not knowing their formal, and rather boring name at the time, we named them Dingleberries.  Which still seems like a much more fitting name to us than Pacific Gulls.  We’ve seen them again and again since Wilsons Prom.  At up to 65cms long, they are pretty hard to miss.

Dingleberries always look very serious, wearing their black and white suits with suspicious eyes.  But, there is something about their bright orange and red beaks that I find very endearing.  Business in the feathers… party in the beak.  Like a woman in a formal business suit with party stilettos on, ready for a big Friday night.

Fortescue Bay was the perfect base camp for exploring the Tasman Peninsular.  Port Arthur is the attraction which brings many to the Tasman Peninsular.  We loved our time at Port Arthur and I think it deserves a post to itself (so more on that to come).  However, this Peninsular has many amazing natural attractions and we spent a few solid days exploring.  Near Eaglehawk Neck, you’ll find the Tasman Blowhole, Devil’s Kitchen and Tasman Arch.

The scenery in the area is really the thing to write home about.

The Tasman Arch is pretty amazing to see, though very difficult to photograph.

Whilst in the area, we stumbled across the Tessellated Pavement.  Sounded interesting, so we pulled over for a look and I was really glad we did.  It is a rare erosion that forms in a way that looks like tetras blocks.  If I hadn’t read the signs, I would have assumed human intervention was involved.  It boggles my mind to think this is a natural formation.

Have you ever more appropriately renamed an animal?  Or stumbled across something in nature you thought was unnatural? 

Craft – March Stitched Journal

March has been a craft month devoted to crochet again.  After February’s play with shell crochet stitch didn’t yield the results I’d hoped for, I spent most of March deep in granny stitch to finish the baby blanket I was making for a friend.

I threw in a few different stitches to make it a bit more interesting and I was pretty happy with the result.  Not your ordinary set of baby colours in this blanket!  The mum-to-be has decorated the nursery with red and grey, in a very stylish and Danish design kind of way.  So naturally, this little baby girl will need a sophisticated blanket to match.  The colours remind me of lipstick, pearls and sprinkles – all the makings of a great dress-ups tea party, don’t you think?

When I popped this little number in the post last week, I though I should spend the rest of March tackling my patchwork quilt project.

Before we left on our little adventure, I bought the most beautiful Amy Butler fabric, aptly named Gypsy Caravan.

Isn’t the fabric entirely gorgeous?

Well, there is one thing standing in the way of my plans to run up row after row of Gypsy Caravan patches.

You guessed it, my sewing machine.

She is a baby machine.  The entry-level Singer.  The perfect machine for someone like me – a sewing novice.  Plus, she weighs a lot less than most sewing machines – so in theory, she was perfect to take on the road.

Unfortunately, the only stitch this machine has given me on the road has been thread nests.

It seems that the culprit lies somewhere in here or here:

I’ve pulled the machine apart and put it back together and I can’t, for the life of me, work out what is wrong with her!

I would be ever so grateful if the more experienced sewers out there could tell me what I am doing wrong, or what my little machine wants from me?  I’ve tried various tensions and nothing seems to help.  I’m quite tempted to throw her out in frustration.  Then I look at that beautiful fabric again and I want to try to make her work for me.  Hand-stitching such a large blanket seems beyond my patience.

In the meantime, a friend has put me on to this wonderful Stitch and Embroidery Picture Dictionary by Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials and I’m inspired to experiment with embroidery for April.

This post is part of Lola Nova’s Stitched Journal project.  You can see other bloggers’ March journal pages on Lola Nova’s blog as they are uploaded, if you click here.  There are some super talented and creative people joined up to this project.

Review – Dunalley Fish Markets, Tasmania

Fish and chips.  There is nothing better than great fish and chips.

We are always in search of the elusive ‘great’ fish and chips experience.  Too often, we are disappointed.  Soggy chips.  Dry fish.  Tasteless.  Or worst – tastes like old oily oil.  Yuck.

Sometimes the fish and chips aren’t bad, but the place doesn’t have any character.  Your view of the water (you know… where the fish come from) is no where in sight and you have to peel yourself off the dirty plastic chairs when you’re done.  No doubt they are over charging you too.  No thanks.

We still have 9 months of travelling to go and I’m going to call it.  I think we’ve had the best fish and chips experience we’re going to have on this trip – at Dunalley Fish Markets on the Tasman Peninsular.

Dunalley Fish Market on Urbanspoon

Yes, you read right – $15 for a 2 person serve of fresh and local fish and chips – in the form of a seafood basket.  No, you can’t choose what bit of fish you’d like or order the seafood salad (seriously – who ever picks that?).  They do one type of meal and they do it well.  You’ll have the fish and chips and you will enjoy it.  I love that attitude.

You’ll pass the Dunalley Fish Markets on the way from Hobart to Port Arthur, on the Tasman Peninsular.  We loved it so much, we went for lunch on the way to the Tasman Peninsular, and again for lunch on the way back from the Tasman Peninsular, where we camped at Fortescue Bay for a week (more on that to come).

To be frank – the fish wasn’t the greatest tasting fish.  BUT the calamari and squid was the best I’ve (possibly ever) had and the chips were absolutely delicious.  We also bought some fresh fish and oysters for dinner that night and were not disappointed in the slightest.

So, what was the atmosphere like?

The type of place that has hipster cred, without having any idea what hipster cred is.  Perfectly not pretentious.

But, what about the view?  Can you see the water where the fish come from?  You can judge this one for yourselves:

Finally, if you needed any further convincing – they have a great ice-cream selection too.

While I have you – I want to talk words.  I have some friends who are regular logophiles: word lovers.  Priscilla, from Pinknits, has put out a challenge for bloggers to consider and share their five favourite words.  Her five favs are quite a mouthful but make for a great linguistic romp.  I learned three new words on her blog and here they are in a sentence:

The petrichor caused me to have clinomania, before I needed to engage in some lalochezia when I realised I was late!

You really want to know what those words mean now, don’t you?  Go on, check out their definitions on Pinknits!

My favourite words are of a simpler flavour:

5 favourite words

Now please tell me: a) your favourite words, and/or b) the best fish and chips experience you’ve ever had!?!?!