Getting to Ben Lomond
From Launceston to Ben Lomond was only 54 km and about 1 hour drive. Ben Lomond though was not one the places where tourists would go, its pictures on the internet looked too good not to visit this place.
Many of the pictures we had seen of Ben Lomond were taken during sunset time. We would love to visit Ben Lomond near sunset too, unfortunately our next destination after Ben Lomond was Binalong Bay which was another 2.5 hour drive away, if we stayed for sunset at Ben Lomond we would reach Binalong bay too late in the night. There were also no suitable accommodation in the vicinity of Ben Lomond. Taking all these into consideration we decided to visit Ben Lomond earlier in the day.
On our way from Ben Lomond to Binalong Bay we encountered many challenges. Our Tom Tom GPS navigated us through a long route which passed through Mathinna, Fingal, Chain of Lagoon to Binalong Bay. But on google map we saw a shorter route which linked Mathinna to Argonaut Rd to Binalong Bay, this route was not shown on our Tom Tom GPS. We decided to go with google map as the travelling time was cut almost by half.
At Mathinna we branched left to the shorter route, unfortunately the road got narrower and narrower, from paved road to unpaved road then we hit dead ends and more dead ends when trying to circumvent the dead ends.
To worsen the situation there was no data connection and so we could not reroute on google map. It was terrible so after wasting an hour “turning to nowhere” we had to return to Mathinna to take the longer route. At St Marys we found that we had to do a big loop south to Chain of Lagoon before heading north as another shorter route was inaccessible due to flood water!
Ben Lomond was in the Ben Lomond National Park. It was about 10 km from the main road. The road to Ben Lomond was not paved but still good to go.
We were amazed by the beautiful terrain when we reached Ben Lomond. The cliffs were spectacular. There were made out of thousands of column-like spikes of different lengths standing tightly side by side.
We drove up Jacobs Ladder a switchback that brought us further uphill. At the top there was a observation lookout where we could look down at the terrain and beyond.
From the top of Jacobs Ladder the road led further inland into the plateau to a Alpine village. We drove to the village hoping to find a place for coffee break but the place was closed. It was the wrong time of the year. This Alpine Village was a winter place where visitors came to ski. In Spring the place was closed for renovation and improvement works!
Binalong Bay was one of the most scenic parts on the “Bay of Fires” and it was where we booked a two-night stay. Unlike St Helen which was further south of Binalong Bay, there was no hotel at Binalong Bay so we had to rent holiday homes from owners.
Binalong Bay was a very nice place to stay, it was not touristy and the beach was very easily accessible. Just a couple of steps and we were down to the striking orange lichen-cloaked boulders.
During our stay at Binalong Bay we went down to the beach a couple of times. It was lovely in the day and also during sunset hours. At the bay was a resident Pelican. Everytime we were at the beach we would see it either perching on a tall boulder or walking on the rocks. It was more interested in being fed by the random fishes thrown to him by anglers than to work for its lunch!
“The Garden” was another scenic place along the Bay of Fires it was further north of Binalong Bay. It was about 16 kilometers from Binalong Bay. Along the way to “The Garden” there was a couple of sandy beautiful beaches for swimming. It was a pity that these beaches could not be seen from the road. From the main road we turned into Jeanneret Beach and had a lovely time sitting on the rock to enjoy the breeze and the scenery.
At “The Garden” we saw more Lichen coated boulders. The boulders were huge and we jumped from one to another to look for the most “orangy” patch.
One of the highlights of “The Garden” was the “Koala Rock”. It was a small set of rocks stacked together and from certain angle it did have the silhoulette of a koala bear. From a distance we could not tell it the rock formation was natural or man-made.
St Helens was 10 km south of Binalong Bay. It was very touristy with many Hotels and tourists crowding the place.
Unlike Binalong Bay, the place was full of shops, restaurant and cafes. We were in St Helens for a coffee break.
Our Stay at Binalong
We rented an holiday home at Binalong. It was a house built on stilts, so even though we were not by the sea, we could see the sea over the top of the house in front of us. The two day stay costed about AUD$400.
Our holiday had a huge bedroom with two beds and an ensuite toilets. The view from the bedroom was lovely too.
The holiday house had a lovely full size kitchen, a living cum dining room. The place was clean, bright and spacious and lovely to relax in during our two days at Binalong Bay
Unlike St Helens, there was only one restaurant at Binalong Bay which was Meresta Eatery. We figured that it would be fully booked as we did not place a reservation so no point wasting time making a “fruitless” walk to the restaurant. To console ourselves we cooked lazagnes, crispy tuna pizza, salmon and fish fingers for our meals. Yummy Yummy!!