Boat,  Trains and Automobiles

February 10   Sister’s Beach – Spirit of Tasmania 

As we woke up for our last day in Tassie, it seemed as though it was going to put on a beautiful day for us, the sky as blue with patches of cloud floating through… Alas, it was not to be :p As we packed down the tent,  the sky started to cloud up and the first drops of rain fell as we pulled out from Andreas.  At least the tent went away dry!

By the time we reached Boat Harbour for coffee and a look at the beach it was grey and drizzly, it was obvious the beach would be stunning in fine weather, but in the grey conditions we didn’t stay long,  grabbed a coffee for the road and headed to Burnie.

The Makers Centre in Burnie is not like anything else we have seen so far, it is a government run centre, designed specifically to showcase the work of local artisans and producers. We browsed the beautiful woodwork and sampled the cheeses on display before grabbing a quick lunch and heading off to Ulverstone so Chelle could visit a quilt shop.

While Chelle was shopping, the kids had fun on the space themed playground, we all to a run down the massive slide before we left.

Finally it was off to Latrobe to give Blu a bath before the boat and try the chocolate at Anvers… Yum!

The trip back across was beautifully smooth and Chelle slept much better than on the way across. I stayed up late planning our route through the High Country before tucking in for a few hours sleep.

February 11    Puffing Billy & Phillip Island 

An early wakeup call had us all up and ready for a 0530 disembark. The whole way around Tassie, we felt like we were in a big extended country town, driving back into Melbourne was something of a shock to the system with crazy traffic and everyone rushing around even on a Saturday morning! At least they were thoughtful enough to send some hot air balloons up to greet us… Melbourne, you shouldn’t have!

We were all booked in on Puffing Billy (an hour south of the city centre) at 1030,  but the first item on the agenda was to stop back in at the Queen Victoria Markets to grab some breakfast and a set of Uggs for Chelle. (Seriously, if you want cheap genuine sheepskin ugg boots, QVM is the place to get them at an amazing price!)

With Chelle’s feet all toasty,  it was off to the station to catch a train! We arrived just before we were due and hurried along the platform with a couple of hundred others to find a seat. On Puffing Billy, the seats are long benches back to back down the middle of the carriages facing out so you are looking straight at the view. It is all open, there are no glass windows here and not a single sign telling you to stay seated or keep your arms inside the carriage, in fact the opposite is encouraged! You haven’t had the full Puffing Billy experience until you have sat on the sill with your arms and legs dangling past the rails on the outside of the carriage, soot blowing past you as the train rattles its way along the tracks.

After an hour of noisy fun, we arrived at our last station and had an hours break while the boiler was refilled and the engine was switched to the other end of the train. The staff and volunteers that run the railway all wear period railway uniforms and if felt like being in a life sized episode of Thomas the Tank Engine as everyone moved around efficiently being ‘really useful’!

The return journey was equally fun, and by the end, a pair of weary children were dozing happily to the motion of the train.

The dozing continued in the back seat as we continued to our next port of call… The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit! Zach and I raced the scale replica of the circuit in a tandem go kart, coming out with a fastest lap time within 3 seconds of the tandem kart record…not a bad effort for only 10 mins on the track (If I do say so myself :p )

We then headed inside to have a go on the Scalextric replica of the track, and in this format, Michelle’s smooth and steady approach reigned supreme with more laps completed in the time for less crashes than any of us as well as the best lap time (I still maintain that seeing how much you can make your car skid before it flies off the track is half the fun of slot cars :p )

After a long, full and expensive day, it was time to save some money and head to the free Bass Valley Campground in Poowong to pitch the tent for the night. The entertainment for the drive was provided by Google maps trying to say “Koo Wee Rup – Poowong Rd” every time we came to a roundabout or junction… It’s amazing what becomes funny when you are weary at the end of a long but fun day!