Waddamana Power Station

Waddamana Power Station
Entrance
Entrance © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

The central highlands is an excellent yet underrated part of Tasmania. Boasting dramatic landscapes, world heritage wilderness, freshwater fishing, pencil pines, engineering feats of yesteryear, Australia’s oldest golf course and luxury accommodation, it is a good idea to add the area to your “must see” list. One of the fascinating things to explore in the central highlands is the power scheme. I’ve visited Pumphouse Point and Poatina Power Station (open to the public only occasionally) and can now add Waddamana Power Station to the list. Although very different to the other two sites, it is equally as impressive.

Waddamana B Power Station
Waddamana B Power Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

It is difficult to imagine how on earth the power stations, pumphouses, watercourses and so on that criss-cross the central highlands were built in the early 1900s. When you see the terrain for yourself, you’ll understand what I mean! Many of the workers arrived on foot from Launceston, something that I don’t recommend trying out yourself! Waddamana A Power Station is the station that has been restored and is now open to the public. You can catch glimpses of Waddamana B Power Station but it is not open for inspection.

Why visit?

Exposed turbine
Exposed turbine © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

You’ll find the building itself impressive. It a tribute to a bygone era where industrial buildings were both functional and beautiful. The fall of the pipes to the power station down the hillside also makes for a spectacular backdrop. Inside, visit the original offices, see the logbooks, explore a store of tools. If you’re feeling cold, sit in the heated history room and view footage of some the station’s key events. My favourite thing to do is to walk between the turbines. There is a large array of them, all restored and one stripped so that you can see the inner workings.

Turbines and alternators
Turbines and alternators © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Walk to the end of the hall and have a look at the smaller exhibits too. I learnt that ceramic insulators were used originally (before the invention of polymer and plastic insulators). They are rather beautiful works of art! Upstairs, you’ll find another exhibit, this time showcasing life in Waddamana and the central highlands in the early- to mid-1900s. On your way out, make sure that you say hello to Joe the dachshund (sausage dog) and his lovely owner.

What to Bring

Traversing Waddamana Power Station
Traversing Waddamana Power Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

You’ll want to bring food and water with you. Between the drive in and out of the power station and the hour or so that you spend exploring it, you’ll have worked up an appetite and there are no cafes nearby. I also recommend dressing appropriately for the weather forecast as it can be very cold in the central highlands. The history room is the only heated part of the station, so you can shelter there if needed!

Getting There

The yard
The yard © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Waddamana Power Station is located between the towns of Miena and Bothwell. Take the A5 and then detour via the C178. Check for road closures before you start out. Even though it wasn’t snowing, we were caught out by unexpected roadworks. We had to double-back towards Bothwell, making the trip longer than anticipated. It will take you approximately one hour and forty-five minutes to drive from either Launceston or Hobart to Waddamana, if all of the roads are open. Hydro Tasmania currently advise that the roadworks are ongoing (check their website here), although you can time your trip to coincide with a break in the roadworks. Give yourself more time and enjoy the scenery!

Cost

Waddamana Power Station
Waddamana Power Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

You’ll visit Waddamana Power Station for FREE!!!! Even better, the museum is open daily from 10am – 4pm, except for major public holidays (Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday). You will shell out quite a bit in petrol to get there. That said, the central highlands region is well worth the visit.

Want to visit more of the central highlands’ power scheme? Pumphouse Point is magnificent and, although rarely open, I highly recommend exploring Poatina Power Station. Other nearby attractions include Ratho Farm (housing Australia’s oldest golf course) or you can head further afield to the westsouthnorth or to the midlands.

The Tasmanian Arboretum

Looking for Platypus
Founders Lake
Founders Lake © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Way back in mid-October, we visited The Tasmanian Arboretum. My only regret is that we didn’t spend more time there! What will you find? You’ll cross lakes and streams, watch for platypus, explore quarries, wander through groves of trees from different parts of the world and learn something of the history of the area. Make sure that, at some point, you climb up a hillside. The views are lovely!

Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

You enter The Tasmanian Arboretum via the Japanese Gardens. This part of the garden is small but worthy of some attention. The bridges are beautiful, taking you over streams and between gorgeous plants. From here, walk to the café. You might not be hungry yet but it’s worth purchasing a few snacks to take with you as you will be walking a good distance! The café is also the place where you’ll be able to grab a map and pay your entry fee (if you didn’t have cash to put in one of the boxes in the car park).

Views from the Arbor
Views from the Arbor © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

From here, head wherever you want to! The Tasmanian Arboretum is a sprawling park with themed areas to explore. Click here to view a map of the arboretum and its walking trails. We enjoyed walking the Lake Circuit and admiring the views back towards the lake from the Arbor in the Tasmanian plant section. Do take the time to climb up Lime Hill Lookout, again, for the views! You can even cross Founders Lake onto a small island.

Platypus and Bird Hide
Platypus and Bird Hide © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

A real highlight of The Tasmanian Arboretum is the chance to see a platypus. The volunteers in the café will be able to tell you where the platypus currently are most likely to be spotted or you can take a chance (and find shelter!) in the Platypus and Bird Hide at the edge of the main lake. You’re more likely to see platypus in the early morning or at dusk so plan your visit accordingly.

History

Views from Lime Hill Lookout
Views from Lime Hill Lookout © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

I wasn’t expecting local history to be such a feature of The Tasmanian Arboretum. There are two quarries to look at (or not, if, like Mr. Traversing Tasmania, you find disused quarries uninteresting!). The garden also boasts limestone formations (including small caves). If you have time, you can walk out to the Don River and an old railway track. We saw a family walking along the hand-dug tramway that runs parallel to part of the Lake Circuit and it looked to be a fantastic walk. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to follow them. Another reason for a return visit!

What to Bring

Traversing The Tasmanian Arboretum
Traversing The Tasmanian Arboretum © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Bring your pram, your walker, your bike or your wheel chair because the main circuit around The Tasmanian Arboretum is a level gravel path. Fantastic! Note that, although it would be possible to take a bike off the main circuit and onto the smaller paths, bikes are restricted to the main circuit. If you are a person with a disability, you can even drive around the main circuit.

Public Barbecues
Public Barbecues © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

If you’re walking and want to explore the smaller pathways up the sides of the hill, comfortable shoes are a good idea. Always where weather appropriate clothing. You will want to bring (or buy from the café) some food and water too you’ll be visiting for a few hours at least, particularly if you’re pausing to watch for platypus. There are plenty of places to sit at a bench or table or you can bring a picnic rug. Public barbecues are available. You’ll find an amenity block near the entrance and a composting toilet a few hundred metres up the main path from the Platypus Observatory. If you wish, you can even bring your pooch (on leash) with you!

Getting There

Blossoms
Blossoms © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

The Tasmanian Arboretum is about 15 minutes’ drive south-east of Devonport. Head south on Middle Road (stop for a tour of Home Hill). Turn right in Spreyton onto Kelcey Tier Road.  If you’re travelling from Ulverstone, follow the Bass Highway to Turner’s Beach and then follow the B15 and the C145 to The Tasmanian Arboretum. There are many twists and turns this way so drive carefully.

Cost

Look up!
Look up! © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Entry to The Tasmanian Arboretum is for the bargain price of $5 per adult (children free). If you think that you’ll be visiting often, you can pay for a membership, which gives you free entry. The Tasmanian Arboretum is open from 9am to sunset each day. Enjoy your walk through one of Tasmania’s most interesting gardens!

There’s more to do in and around Devonport! Visit Home Hill, sail on the Julie Burgess, catch the Spirit of Tasmania to Melbourne or head further afield in Tasmania’s north west or north.

Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden

Traversing Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden
Amphitheatre
Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

If you want to feel like a child again, visit the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden. The hillside forms a natural amphitheatre surrounding several springs. You’ll find the garden covered in gorgeous fauna, sectioned into various culturally-themed garden “rooms”. There are bridges to cross, scents to inhale, colours to admire and many lovely places to rest. Keep an eye out for birds and waterfalls too. Although there are indeed rhododendrons aplenty, chances are that you’ll find your favourite flower somewhere in the garden. We loved walking through the wisteria archways!

Bridge
Bridge © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

We were told that we would need about three hours to see the entire garden. I don’t doubt that this is true as there are many small pathways and areas to explore. It is possible, however to have a quicker visit. If you have less time, head to the Chinese and Japanese gardens first. Make sure that you have a look at the lakes on your way there and back. You might like to ask the staff in the Tearoom for their recommendations too, which will vary according to the season.

Wisteria Archway
Wisteria Archway © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden is particularly picturesque in Autumn or Spring. In Spring, you can expect to see living colour everywhere! We visited in late October and the gardens were in full swing. It was incredibly beautiful! You’ll enjoy a magnificent floral display anytime from mid-September to mid-November. I have seen photographs of the gardens in Autumn too and the deciduous trees look resplendent in their yellow, orange and red hues. If you want to know what to expect to see in a particular season, have a look at the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden website here.

What to Bring

Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

I highly recommend bringing a picnic with you to the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden, particularly when the garden is in full bloom. You will want to spend as long as possible in your favourite part of the garden so taking a rug and a spread of food with you would be an excellent idea! You can purchase food from the Tearoom overlooking the garden if you prefer. If you have young children with you, do be aware that the lakes are not fenced. You will find places to settle in for a while that are away from the water features though. As always in Tasmania, wear sturdy shoes and weather-appropriate clothing. On a hot day, I recommend visiting earlier in the morning as you will have to walk up and down the hillside to see the garden.

Getting There

Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

From Burnie, drive for just over ten minutes towards Romaine via Mount Street or Old Surrey Road until you reach Ridgley Highway. It’s a twisting-turning route through backstreets to the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden. It is well signposted though (including on the way out). When you arrive at the gardens proper, you’ll pass through two gateways, one that is open and one that wallaby-proofs the gardens. The second gate will automatically open as your car approaches. Winding down the hill, I was impressed with the flowers and the scenery but it’s just a small taster of what’s to come! You’ll find ample parking at the end of the driveway.

Cost

Tearooms
Tearooms © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

You’ll pay $12 per adult and $10 per concession to visit the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden. When you see the enormous amount of work that has gone into establishing, maintaining and extending the gardens, you’ll understand what a bargain that is! I certainly would gladly pay the entry fee again, just to see the garden in a different season. The Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden is open daily (excluding Christmas Day and Good Friday) from 9am – 5pm with the Tearoom open from 10am – 4pm (closed from Christmas to New Years’ Day). Enjoy!

Staying a while? Visit other attractions on the north west coast or on the not-too-distant west coast.

Table Cape Tulip Farm

Traversing Table Cape Tulip Farm
"Irrigation Piping Run Over by Tractor"
“Irrigation Piping Run Over by Tractor” © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

When you arrive at Table Cape Tulip Farm, you may wonder what you’re in for. It is a farm, so you’ll see machinery (including a shed full of historic bits and bobs), mud and mayhem. This year, I noticed piping artfully decorating one of the shed walls – a man walking by us aptly named it “irrigation piping that has been run over by a tractor”. This is the kind of place that Table Cape Tulip Farm is: an honest-to-goodness working farm.

Tulip Field
Tulip Field © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

You’ll soon realise why locals and tourists flock here in droves each Spring. Firstly, Table Cape Tulip Farm is in an incredible location. You’ll wind your way up from Wynyard to the top of the cape. From here, the farm boasts views of the historic Table Cap Lighthouse and Bass Strait. On top of this windswept plateau, colourful fields of tulips bloom for the month of October. It is a sight to behold! This year, the field in bloom (which is rotated annually) didn’t have views of the lighthouse but the tulips did not disappoint.

Treasure
Treasure © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

The sight of a patch-work field of living colour stretching up over the hill is breathtaking. Even better is walking between the colourful rows. There are many special treasures hidden in the tulip fields: choosing your favourite bloom, spying an “odd-one-out” (a lone white tulip in a row of red, for instance) or even finding a tulip-painted rock! Of course, people-watching is also fun. Apparently, the thing to do this year was to bring your dog along for a great Instagram photo-shoot!! If you visit during the Bloomin’ Tulips Festival, you can pay to have your portrait taken by a professional photographer.

Tiptoe through the Tulips
Tiptoe through the Tulips © emily.j@traversingtasmania 2018

The main business of Table Cape Tulip Farm is selling tulips but you won’t find many for sale during Spring. Why? Because they sell bulbs! The farm’s flower-selling season is at a completely different time of the year. Head to Van Diemen Quality Bulbs’ site for a peek at what’s on offer. One of my favourite things to do when I visit Table Cape Tulip Farm is to choose a few new varieties of tulips and daffodils to order for my garden. If you’re not fortunate to live in a tulip-friendly climate, you’ll at least have memories and photos to cherish.

What to Bring

Tulip Shed
Tulip Shed © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

I always say to wear sturdy shoes when you go out and about in Tasmania, but you actually don’t have to at Table Cape Tulip Farm! If you want, you can swap your fashion shoes for a pair of sturdy blue gum boots, for free. If the ground is wet, this is particularly important as the north west coast features some of Tasmania’s richest dirt and it sticks in giant clods to your footwear! As always, do dress appropriately for the weather conditions. You’ll stay longer than you had imagined in the field of tulips and can end up frozen or sunburnt. If you’re particularly unlucky, you might end up both frozen AND burnt; it does happen in Tasmania! The farm has amenities and a small café. I highly recommend Café Umami in Wynyard, particularly for those with dietary requirements.

Getting There

Tulip
Tulip © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Table Cape Tulip Farm is a 5-minute drive from Wynyard in Tasmania’s north west. There is plenty of parking at the farm but you are parking in a field so it’s not necessarily a smooth drive. Remember that visitor numbers swell enormously during the Bloomin’ Tulips Festival so arrive early for a park that is closer to the main attraction. The farm is open from 9am – 4:30pm daily when the flowers are in bloom (late September to late October each year). You can visit at other times of the year to buy bulbs if you phone ahead but it really is worth visiting when the flowers are in their full splendour.

Cost

Table Cape Tulip Farm
Table Cape Tulip Farm © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

The rather wonderful thing about Table Cape Tulip Farm is that kids (under 16 years old) are free! Adults cost $12 per person in 2018 ($10 per concession or $8 per student). You can purchase bulbs and gift items from the shop or treats from the café. You can also order the bulbs online if you’d prefer. Apart from your entry fee, though, the main “cost” will be displaying your gorgeous photos… Enjoy!

Staying a while? There’s plenty to do in Tasmania’s north west or, further afield, west coast and north.

Ratho Farm

Traversing Ratho Farm
Ratho Farm
Ratho Farm © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

I love Tasmania’s central highlands. You’ll find snow in winter and clear blue skies in summer, with the lakes and mountains giving a stunning backdrop to rural pastures year-round. Some of Tasmania’s best country is here. The early Scottish settlers obviously shared my sentiments. Ratho Farm was established in the early 1800s, along with Australia’s oldest golf course (Rath Farm Golf Course), which winds its way around the homestead. The homestead looks rather grand but is quirky! You’ll enjoy exploring the homestead, golf course and the grounds of Ratho Farm.

Accommodation

The Stables
The Stables © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

You can choose to stay in convict-built cottages that have been tastefully renovated. These converted farm outbuildings are grouped quite closely together, closer than I expected. If you want more privacy, the Bakery is a separate building but it is still close to other cottages. If you travel with family and friends, you can book out an entire building (or the entire site!). Ratho Farm staff suggested paying a little extra for a premium suite with views of the Clyde River and I’m glad that the Scottish penny-pinching side of me didn’t win out. Waking up to views of a spectacular purple sunset over the river on our first day there was AMAZING!

Food

Homestead
Homestead © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Bothwell is in rural Tasmania and is a long way from the major cities. For this reason, I highly recommend booking breakfast and perhaps dinner for your stay. At the very least, you’ll need a plan of where you’ll eat dinner as the local pub is only open on certain nights of the week. You can choose to eat some of your meals at Nant Distillery too (expensive but lovely food). We brought our own lunch with us. Our host was very good at catering for dietary requirements which was lovely! If you give a few days’ warning, your requests will be accommodated. Having breakfast in the aged, stately dining room or cheese and wine by the fire in the lounge room is a wonderful experience. You can imagine, if you ignore anything reliant on electricity, what life might have been like for the Reid family who built the homestead.

Dining Room
Dining Room © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

The best thing about eating at Ratho Farm is being in the homestead and getting to know the other guests over a meal. Being Tasmanian, you never know who you’ll meet where. We checked in at the same time as family friends (one of whom taught me many years ago too!), neither of us knowing that the other was going to be there. We ended up having a lovely time with them, sharing meals and playing golf together. Getting to know the other guests was also lovely.

Animals

Cows
Cows © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Ratho Farm has a handful of “hairy coos” (Scottish highland cows), a peacock (heard but not seen by us), wallabies, platypus and a whole lot of sheep. At the suggestion of our host, I was up early to see the platypus in the river directly opposite our cottage. I was teased with a five second swim across the surface and then platypus got down to the business of eating (on the river bed), which meant that there were no more sightings despite me trying to wait it out! The sheep were not so shy. We saw ewes and lambs on our way to dinner, out on the golf course, on our evening walks and even in the loungeroom after dinner on our second evening. A young family had joined us for dinner in the homestead and our host brought in the two orphan lambs to entertain the kids (and us!).

What to Bring

Springtime
Springtime © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

You’ll definitely need warm clothing. When we visited, in early Spring, the days heated up nicely but, being in the highlands, the temperature sure did drop overnight. I donned my beanie and gloves on the walk to dinner. Sturdy shoes for dodging the sheep poop and mud are a must! Otherwise, bring your usual creature comforts, including a good book. For tips on what to bring for a game of golf, see my post on Ratho Farm Golf Course.

Getting There

Verandah
Verandah © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Ratho Farm is a minute’s drive north of beautiful Bothwell in Tasmania’s Central Highlands. The farm is an hour away from Hobart and an hour and a half away from Launceston. From Hobart, head north on the Midlands Highway, turning left at Melton Mowbray and following signs for Bothwell. From Launceston, drive south via Longford and Poatina (or Deloraine via Miena), following signs for Bothwell. Make sure that you allow for extra time to explore Tassie’s picturesque countryside.

Cost

Clyde River
Clyde River © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

You are welcome to visit Ratho Farm for a round of golf or a squiz at the farm anytime of the year. Staying overnight is not cheap but it is enjoyable. For a double/twin-share room, 2018 prices are $175 for a standard room or $195 per night for a premium suite. The extra $20 per night gives you either a view of the Clyde River or a working fireplace. Firewood, meals and golf are additional extras although you can sometimes find package deals available. You’ll be glad to know that, unlike similar Tasmanian establishments, there is no minimum night stay (except possibly in peak seasons) so you can book a night on your way somewhere else. Mind you, if you want to play a round of golf, I recommend booking two nights and making the most of the relaxing setting. Enjoy your stay at Ratho Farm!

If you enjoy a round of golf, read my post about Ratho Farm Golf Course. For more to do in the central highlands, click here. If you’re passing through, enjoy your trip south, north, west or to the midlands.

Ratho Farm Golf Course

Traversing Ratho Farm Golf Course
The Homestead from Hole 15
The Homestead from Hole 15 © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Dodging sheep poo while playing a round of golf probably doesn’t sound like fun but Ratho Farm Golf Course is fantastic. Disclaimer: I don’t play golf. I do, however, spend quality time walking various courses with Mr. Traversing Tasmania and I highly rate Ratho Farm.

Sheep
Sheep © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

A quality that Ratho Farm Golf Course has in bucketloads is entertainment factor. There’s poop to dodge, parts of the Clyde River to navigate, tricky holes to play and, of course, the wildlife. We visited in Spring when the lambs were newly born (or being born, as happened on our last morning there!) and it was lovely to have them as our golfing companions; the course is sheep-grazed in places. We saw a wallaby and heard a peacock.

Hole 15
Hole 15 © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Even if all the animals go into hiding when you visit, the course itself is enjoyably tricky. The par 70 doesn’t really indicate what lies ahead (the 5.373 km course length gives you a hint though!). What might seem at first to be a straightforward hole can bring you undone if you misplace your shot because you’re liable to land in some “rabbit scrape” (as is noted in the historic rules). Hole 15 is particularly challenging as you need to tee off cleanly to avoid the trees and the river (Mr. Traversing Tasmania succeeded on his second go!). You’ll also have to navigate over (or through) hedges in places. It’s a lot of fun to watch, if not to play!

Australia’s Oldest Golf Course

Teeing off near the Toilet..
Teeing off near the Toilet… © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Ratho Farm Golf Course begins and ends at the historic homestead. It’s a beautiful building. You can even hire hickory clubs to really feel part of the setting. When you tee off at the first hole, note the outdoor toilet with removable waste tray – ingenious! Ratho Farm is Australia’s oldest golf course, first created by Scottish settlers to the Central Highlands in the early 1800s. Just playing a round of golf here makes you feel like part of history.

Farm meets Golf Course
Farm meets Golf Course © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

It’s easy to see why the Scottish Reid family chose this land for a golf course. The Clyde River meanders through the back few holes and gorgeous trees line the course. I also enjoyed the humble farming setting. Someone was burning off across the road, the farm next door had been freshly ploughed and cows and sheep created a chorus with the birds. Bliss! That said, some parts of the course were rough but this only added to the charm.

What to Bring

Ratho Farm Homestead
Ratho Farm Homestead © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

You can bring your own golf clubs or you can hire a set from Ratho Farm homestead. They even have hickory sets for hire if you’d like to really embrace the heritage of the course. Be prepared to scrape poop off your gear though so don’t bring anything too precious!! As always in Tasmania, be aware of the weather and dress accordingly. The Central Highlands can be very cold and at other times you can end up with a touch of sunburn, speaking from experience!

Getting There

Highland Views
Highland Views © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

Ratho Farm Golf Course is located in Bothwell in Tasmania’s Central Highlands. You can take the scenic route between Launceston and Hobart via the Central Highlands and stop off for a round of golf. From Hobart, drive up the Midlands Highway, turning left at Melton Mowbray and following signs for Bothwell. It will take you just over an hour to reach Ratho Farm. Alternatively, drive south from Launceston via Longford and Poatina (or Deloraine via Miena), following signs for Bothwell. You’ll travel for over an hour and a half from Deloraine or just under two hours from Launceston. Whichever way you drive, the views are sensational!

Cost

Ratho Farm Golf Course
Ratho Farm Golf Course © emily@traversingtasmania 2018

You’ll pay $25 to play nine holes. The back nine are apparently easier than the front nine – take your pick! Alternatively, pay $40 to play all eighteen holes. You can hire a buggy and set of clubs for an extra $15. If you know that you’ll be there for lunch, organise this with Ratho Farm staff in advance as they are very obliging if given enough notice. Enjoy having a hit on Australia’s oldest (and quirkiest?!) golf course.

Interested in visiting Ratho Farm Golf Course? Read my sister post on Ratho Farm (coming soon!). Heading elsewhere in Tasmania? Visit historic Richmond (in the south), Woolmers Estate (in the north) or Stanley (on the north west coast – there’s a lovely golf course there) or have a round of golf at Quamby.