Flying from Singapore to Melbourne to Hobart
There was no direct flight from Singapore to Hobart so we flew into Hobart via Melbourne. The original flight itinerary on Jetstar was a 3 hour layouver in Melbourne which was just nice. Unfortunately two months before our departure there were some changes/cancellations of flight and our layover extended to 7 hour. HORRID!!
Before our flight out of Singapore, after we checked in and crossed the custom we went to rest and relax at SATS Airport Lounge using our Priority Pass. In the past we frequented “The Green Market” for a delicious Japanese meal unfortunately TGM had exited the “Priority Pass Program” and had moved out of the departure hall, so we had to made do with the other lounges.
SATS Airport Lounge served some decent local favoured fares and they suited our palates.
At Melbourne we cleared custom easily with our new bio-metric Passports. In our declaration forms we stated that we were carried ginger powder (to be added to our morning tea) and the some traditional chinese medication as we knew that Melbourne border restriction was very stringent and heavy fines were frequently imposed on undeclared items. The customer officer glanced over our declaration forms and waved us through without checking our bags!! .
From Melbourne Terminals 2 we dragged two big and two small bags over to Terminal 4. It was unfortunate that Jetstar could not directly transfered our bags to Hobart as Hobart terminal was considered a domestic terminal so all bags stopped at Melbourne international airport. We had four hours to kill and bag drop was available only two hours prior to boarding.
Finally after dropping our bags we made our way to the security gate and entered the departure hall which was surprisingly so much more vibrant that the external hall. There were shops, cafes and people everywhere.
We checked online and read that Terminal 4 had only one “pathetic” looking airport lounge which would be a total waste of time and money to visit. Instead there was a cafe “Quikstops” which accepted priority pass. At the cafe we used “one priority pass visit” in exchange for AUD$36 worth of food and beverages. Yummy Yummy!!
We had brought two Telstra data cards which we bought in Singapore before departing. They have 30G for 27 days with free local calls and free calls to several countries and free sms. too The cost per card was only SGD$25. Though Testra had the best coverage in Australia there were still certain areas in Tasmania without connection/signal.
Installing the data cards and getting the connection up was no easy task. We followed the written instruction closely but at the very last step the “processing” just went on and on and on. After several tries and after deviating from the instruction we finally got the connection!!
Rental Car from Apex
At Hobart airport we walked to the pickup location to meet our transport/tranfer to Apex Car Rentals outlet near the airport. It was a short 10 minutes drive. Apex Car Rentals airport outlet closed at about 4 pm and our arrival into Hobart was 5 pm. We had an after office hour pickup arrangement which incurred an additional charge of AUD$40. The transfer driver handed us an envelop with a car key and a rental contract and pointed us to a blue car in the big carpark. It was a Hyundai I-30 (2000cc). The boot was big enough for our two big/medium bags and two cabin bags. The car came with a car GPS but we decided to use our own TOM TOM car GPS as we had already preset many locations co-ordinates in it.
The car rental car for 23 days was a total of AUD1372. It included additional insurance(optional) to reduce damage excess from AUD$3000 to AUD$750, 24/7 road side assistance and after office hour pickup. Before our arrival we had checked out many car rentals and Apex gave the best rate. We added on the additional insurance and road side assistance to give us better peace of mind during our road trip.
Since this was an after-office-hour-pick-up there was no Apex staff on site to carry out a joint inspection of the condition of the car upon pickup. Luckily Apex had a procedure for such a situation, as earlier in the day Apex had sent us an email with attached images of the car. These were pictures of the car taken after washing in preparation of handing over to us. We verified the pictures as we walked round the car. We photographed every scratch and dent and attached the images to the earlier email we had received as documentation proof of the actual conditions of the car upon pickup.
In one of our earlier trips we had a bad experience when returning a rental car, we were charged for a scratch that already existed but not documented upon pickup. That was when we decided that in all future car rental where we did not have zero damage excess insurance we would document every scratch big or small upon pickup to prevent being unfairly charged on “damages” when returning the car!!
Our first stop after picking up our car was Coles, to shop for grocery for the next two days. Then we would be on our way to our accommodation for two nights at Port Arthur.
For this 23-day trip in Tasmania we had booked many accommodations with good size kitchens. The reason being that hotel rooms were usually tight and small and not always available at scenic locations. We rather paid more to rent houses with kitchens available for our uses. Cooking our meals (breakfast and dinner) would be a convenient ways to travel around Tasmania where restaurants and cafes were not easily found in the rural towns.
We stopped at Coles in Sorell which was just 11km from the airport and was also along our way to EagleHawk Neck. On the way to Coles, our car crossed two bridges and we were treated with picturesque sights of vast green land over bluish water with mountain ranges backdrop and distance never-endling bluish grey sky. Oooo..what a bliss to be travelling again after being locked down for two years in Singapore due to Covid19.
At Coles we quickly picked up our 2 days of groceries. Most products were either the same or cheaper than when bought them in Singapore. We bought milk, eggs, bacon, pasta, some greens and chips!!!
Random stop for a Scenic Sight
From Coles to our stay at Port Arthur was about an hour drive. We left Coles just after 7pm which would mean we would reach our stay at 8pm. By then the sun would had set and the areas would be dark. Our earlier “hope” to stop along the route whenever we came upon a scenic sight were dashed as it would meant more longer driving in darkness on a car-less road.
Tasmania was going into mid Spring so greens were everywhere. The landscape was very scenic with rolling green valleys and hills. We had taken a route that bordered the water (on the map) so occassionally we caught sights of the lovely sea. We resisted several temptations to stop and enjoy the scenery. But at last some 45 minutes into the drive, from the side of our heads we saw a beautiful sunset. Our car speeded past the scene and 300 metres later we turned back! We found a safe parking area for our car and came down to enjoy the gorgeous sunset.
This place was called EagleHawk Neck so we thought there must be a “Neck” and it seemed so from the map. We thought there would be a place/viewpoint where we could see two bays which formed the neck. We drove around along the road that passed the neck severak times looking for a high viewpoint where we could see the “Neck”. Unfortunately all the possible high viewpoints were in some private backyards. We stopped in front of someone’s gate and took a not so great picture of the “Neck”.
We did chance upon a picnic area, “The whale trail lookout” that looked into Pirate Bay. We read somewhere that Humpback and Southern Right whales could be sighted off the Tasmanian coast between May and December as they migrated from the polar water northward. We stayed a while looking out hoping to see a “passing whale” which we knew were highly unlikely.
Fossil Bay and Blowhole
Fossil Bay and Blowhole were just a short distance (4km) from “the Neck”. There was a walking trail that forked out shortly, one was a path that circled round the Blowhole and the other went gently uphill to a viewpoint over looking Fossil Bay.
The Blowhole was much bigger than we expected. The waves came in through a hidden channel and splashed high up. Nice!
At Fossil Bay Lookup we saw a gigantic steep cliff across a rough channel of water. The cliff terrain looked very rugged and weatherworn.
Tasman Arch & Devil’s Kitchen
Tasman Arch and Devil’s Kitchen were only 2 km south of the Blow Hole/Fossil Bay Lookout. It took us about five minutes just to reach a carpark where the walks to to Tasman Arch and Devil’s Kitchen began.
In Tasmania a Park Pass was needed for visitors to enter National Parks. Tasman National Park required a such a pass. We looked around but could not find any Visitor Center where we could buy the pass instead we saw a sign board giving us the website where we could purchase the pass online.
We bought a Holiday Vehicle Parks Pass which gave us and our vehicle access to all National Parks including Cradle Mountain, this Pass was valid for two months. We were supposed to print the pass and placed it on the windscreen of our car. Unfortunately we doubted we would have access to a printer for the entire duration of this trip. To be on the save side I copied down the Pass number and wrote down the name of the Pass on a piece of paper and sticked it on our windscreen. Hopefully this would deter an inspecting Park Personnel from issuing a “fine”.
The Tasman Arch was a short distance from the carpark, it was a gigantic arch full of trees and undergrowth on the top of the arch.
The sun was out and the sky and sea looked amazingly blue. The yellow colored cliff rocks contrasted beautifully with the green, white and blue. The Arch was the amazing creation of Mother Nature over the thousands of years.
There was a walking track that looped from the carpark to the top of the arch and back to the carpark. Further down the road was a carpark which was nearer to the Devils’s Kitchen but the road leading to the carpark was barricaded. Luckily the track leading into Devil’s Kitchen was still opened. A short walk to us to a viewpoint.
At the Devil’s Kitchen we saw a tall cliff (60 metres) with a wide flat apron base near the sea level. Apparently it was once an arch like the Tasman Arch but its roof had collapsed long ago. It got its name from the furious waves that crashed into its base and swirling into its channel just like “hot soup” in a gigiantic pot.
We saw the Devil’s Kitchen on a calm wave day, its height and ruggedness were still an impressive sight!!
Tessellated Pavement was further north of the Blow holes. It was just a 5 minutes walk from its carpark. There was a board documenting the formation of the Tessellated Pavement. Definitely an interesting “read”.
We walked a short distance and saw the Tessellated Pavement from a high view point, it looked like square mosaics. One would have easily mistaken that this was the remains of an ancient ruins.
From the high viewpoint we continued down the path wanting to find another viewpoint to see the Tessellated Pavement at a nearer distance. Surprising we found that the path lead down to the beach and we got to STAND directly on the “pavement”!!
At a closer range we saw that the “square mosaics” were much larger than they seemed from the high viewpoint. It was wonderful to walk on them and to explore them up close.
Tessellated Pavement upclose
We walked from one end to the other end of the pavement stopping often to enjoy the view. We loved to see the waves crashing in. A lovely and forgettable experience.
Cape Huay Abandoned!!
At about 1.30 pm we drove toward Cape Huay. It was a half hour drive to the trail head where we would trek for about 2.5 hour (return trip) to Cape Huay.
The road to Cape Huay turned into a non-tar road once we turned left from the main road. It was a well made dirt road with hardly any pot holes or gravels. We reached the trail head but found that there was no suitable parking nearby. There was a camping ground, the camping ground looked private and not where we could park our car to start our walk.
We drove backward 400m to “parking” location and around there we saw a signboard near a “visitor center”. The walk (return) to cape was 4 hours and not the 2.5 hours as based on google map. We checked with some returning trekkers and confirmed that the walk is indeed 4 hours no less!!
It was already near to 2 pm, from our experience we usually trekked slowly stopping often for breaks and photos. A 4 hours trek would be at least 5 hours for us. We figured that on the return walk the sun would have set and we would be trekking in the dark. So with much deep regrets we abandoned our chance of seeing Cape Huay!!
Port Arthur Lavender company
To console ourselves for missing Cape Huay we turned back and patronised a lovely cafe which we spotted earlier. It was a cafe owned by Port Arthur Lavender.
We found a seat by the window that looked out to small patches of lavender brush and a lake. We ordered a cappuccino, a cafe latte and a chocolate cake. We were too busy visiting sights that we forgot to rest and relax!
After an hour of coffee break we still had a couple of hours before sun down. It was too early to call it a day and return to our stay at Port Arthur. We decided to drive south to Maingon Bay. Visiting Maingon Bay was an optional item on our itinerary as it did not seem too “exciting”.
At Maingon Bay capark we came down to see the Bay, it was a lovely looking bay.
On the left of the lookout were layers of high cliffs. The furthest one looked very unique, it had spike columns rising up to the sky. From google map we figured that unique cliff could be Cape Roaul. A Cape Roaul visit was not in our itinerary as it would be at least a return trip of 5 to 6 hours from the carpark. So a chance view of it even from far was a “bonus”.
At the Maingon Bay carpark we saw a directional sign pointing to Remarkable Cave with only 15 min return trip of trekking. We saw steps going down and then a covered walkway inward.
The walkway brought us to a spot that looked directly into the entrance of a channel running at the bottom of the cliff . The “Remarkable” quality of this channel was that the exit of the channel hole looked like the map of Tasmania!!
On our way back to our stay at Port Arthur we saw a sign point to Port Arthur Historic Site. At the visitor center we found that we needed to purchase an entrance ticket to the Historic Site which featured old buildings and ruins of Port Arthur Convict Settlements.
The entrance fee was AUD$30 per person, the ticket was at a discounted rate as there was only 30 minutes till the site closed. A good walk around the site would take about two hours so there was no point going in. We took a peek though the glass window to catch a glimpse of some of the old buildings, we figured that was good enough and there was no need to return the next day to walk the ground of the site.
Our stay was an Airbnb whole house at Port Arthur. We booked it because we wanted the space to relax and a kitchen to do our cooking.
The house had two bedrooms, sitting room, toilets and a huge kitchen
This house could easily take in 4 persons so with two of us there was ample space to rest and relax. The cost for two nights was AUD$200.
We cooked two breakfasts and dinners. The owner of the house had provided many items that made cooking easier. There were cooking oil, spices, fresh milk, tea and coffee. Whipping up a delicious meals were pretty quick and easy!