Poatina Power Station

Poatina Power Station
Poatina Power Station
Poatina Power Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Poatina Power Station. What an incredible experience! As you approach by road, marvel at the views of the Great Western Tiers. Board a bus. Descend to the power station through an underground tunnel. Find yourself in a 1960s time capsule. Admire the engineering, the monstrous turbines, and the feat of creating electricity.

Artwork
Artwork © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

I was not expecting interior design in a power station. In the mid-1960s, when Poatina Power Station was built, aesthetics was clearly a priority! A myrtle bannister runs the length of the station. A commissioned artwork keeps time on the tiled back wall. The walls of the generators are painted bright red. Brass trim on the floor plates signals a time that was just a little bit classy. Some of the machines even have original control panels.

Traversing Poatina Power Station
Traversing Poatina Power Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

It’s not all about the décor though. Step onto the floor plates near an operational turbine and you’ll feel the power of it as it turns below you. Study the original drawings of the turbines and of the station. Look three floors down to the water beneath you. Ask one of the staff about what it’s like to work on the turbines, just above the water, in a noisy cavern. Admire the parts on display, including a selection of giant spanners and a turbine.

Generators
Generators © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The wonderful thing about Poatina power station is that it takes advantage of the lie of the land. From a 5.6km headrace tunnel in Great Lake above, through 1.8km of giant above-ground pipes, water falls 150m to the Poatina Station Turbines. Gravity does a lot of the work. In simple terms, the water hitting the turbines at speed causes them to spin, which creates electricity through a series of energy conversions (potential to kinetic to mechanical to magnetic to electrical).

What to Bring

Turbine
Turbine © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Safety gear is provided by Hydro Tasmania but you’ll need to wear a long-sleeved top, long pants and sturdy, covered-in shoes. It was quite warm in the power station. When possible, it is kept at a constant temperature in order to keep the machinery running smoothly so you probably won’t need a jacket. You aren’t allowed to bring food, water or other personal belongings. You should bring your phone for photo-taking, however, there’s no phone reception down there.

Getting There

Entry tunnel
Entry tunnel © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Poatina Power Station is about a two-minute drive uphill from Poatina Village. From Launceston, head south through Longford and Cressy. Keep heading south, following signs for Poatina. I absolutely love driving on the road towards the Great Western Tiers. What a view! From Hobart, you can take the highway through Bothwell before descending to Poatina. You’ll have spectacular views of the midlands.

Cost

Control panels
Control panels © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The lovely thing about Tasmania is that there are many free community events. Hydro Tasmania’s tours of Poatina Power Station may only happen occasionally but they are free and good quality. Keep an eye on Hydro Tasmania’s website and social media pages for more information about upcoming open days at power stations across Tasmania.

Read more about my adventures in Tasmania’s midlands, north and south.

Government House Tasmania

Traversing Government House Tasmania
Government House Tasmania
Government House Tasmania © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

I’ve always wanted to have a peek at Government House Tasmania. Driving past, looking up at the house from below, I was intrigued. What lay behind those fields dotted with trees and those elegant stone walls? In the past, I have read about the open days in the newspaper a day too late, which was always a bit of a letdown! Yesterday, my husband told me that Government House was open. Would I like to go? YES!

Lion's Court
Lion’s Court © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

We arrived 15 minutes early and there was already quite a queue to get in. I was amazed by the preparation some people had gone to, carrying camp chairs, picnic rugs and baskets of food. Weren’t we were just touring the house? When I heard bagpipes playing, I realised that this wasn’t the case!

Rose Garden and Vineyard
Rose Garden and Vineyard © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There were Tasmanian societies everywhere: RSPCA Tasmania, Country Women’s Association of Tasmania, Girl Guides Tasmania, Scouts Tasmania, Surf Life Saving Tasmania (guarding the two ponds), and so on. I appreciated the free water and sunscreen available, thanks to TasWater and the Cancer Council Tasmania. Music played and the Rotary Club of Howrah had a large BBQ going. Children played in the gardens or on the tennis courts. It was a festival!

Ceiling
Ceiling © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The first thing to do, of course, is to join another queue – the queue to tour the house. You’ll view a small, roped off portion of the house. Most importantly, you’ll be greeted by the Governor, which was a lovely experience. The house is absolutely gorgeous. Who knew that we had such an historic gem on our own doorstep?

Dining Table
Dining Table © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Building of Government House Tasmania was finished in 1857 and it is a beautiful building. It also contains many remarkable artefacts. A table set for eighteen guests, a giant portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and stunning carpets and ceilings are but a portion of the sights you’ll see. A nearby reporter commented on how homely it looked, compared to previous setups. I have nothing to compare it to but I can say that I would not mind being a resident!

Quarry Pond
Quarry Pond © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The best thing about Government House Tasmania is the secret gardens. You’ll find access to the tennis courts through an archway in a hedge. Sidle past the tennis courts and you’ll find yourself in the rose garden, overlooking the vineyards. Glimpses of two ponds, both with their own waterfalls and one with its own sail boat, can be seen from the driveway. Visiting these is a must! On our way out, we found a garden with plaques beside three of the trees, indicating that these had been planted, some decades ago, by members of the royal family, including none other than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Tasman Bridge
Tasman Bridge © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll enjoy the views. From the windows of Government House Tasmania, you can see the wharf at the Regatta Grounds. Ships pass, framed by ornate brickwork. Outside, the views from East Parklands of the Tasman Bridge are magnificent. It’s a special view for me – the reverse of what I’m used to seeing. Instead of whizzing past in a car, staring up at the house, I’m gazing at the bridge and the river from beneath shady trees. What a day!

Getting There

Garden
Garden © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Government House Tasmania is next door to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. You can access this area via the Tasman Highway or via the Domain Highway. Parking is available at the Botanical Gardens or along the Lower Domain Road. If you’re late, there is a overflow car park for the Botanical Gardens or more roadside parking.

Cost

Government House Tasmania
Government House Tasmania © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The Government House Tasmania open day is a free event. Tours of the state rooms, gardens and even the inner workings of the house are available once a month for a small price. Bring some money for the BBQ and for a jar of marmalade from the CWA and don’t forget to bring your camp chairs, picnic rug and basket of food!

Staying in southern Tasmania? Read more about my adventures in Tasmania’s south.

Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement

Traversing the Tessellated Pavement
Eaglehawk Neck
Eaglehawk Neck © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Prior to my Three Capes Track experience, I visited the tiny isthmus joining the Forestier Peninsula and the Tasman Peninsula. This is the piece of land that protected the rest of Tasmania from Port Arthur’s escapee convicts in the 1800s. Eaglehawk Neck also boasts incredible natural beauty, such as the famous Tessellated Pavement.

Eaglehawk Neck

Dog Line
Dog Line © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

A strip of land that’s about 30m wide (at its narrowest) by 400m long, blink and you’ll miss Eaglehawk Neck! There’s a lovely loop walk that will take you past the 1832 Officers’ Quarters Museum. This is perhaps Australia’s oldest wooden military building. It was closed when we visited. Next, you’ll see a series of outbuildings and a statue of one of the eighteen guard dogs that were posted along the Neck to alert watchmen of escaped convicts trying to cross. Finally, you’ll reach the beach. Parks and Wildlife Tasmania have created an intriguing map of the historical landmarks in the area. The guard dogs were even posted on platforms to prevent convicts escaping by sea!

Tessellated Pavement

Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement
Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Continue walking north along the beach and you’ll reach a flat, patterned rock shelf. The siltstone forms a beautiful, tile-like pattern. It is known as the Tessellated Pavement. You can view it from a platform above. Alternatively, walk along the rock shelf if the tide isn’t too high. The natural patterns make for stunning photographs.

Getting There

Tessellated Pavement
Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement are just over an hour’s drive east of Hobart. Allow extra time for stops on the way and for exploring the Tasman Peninsula. There is ample car-parking at both sites, including additional parking at the Eaglehawk Neck Community Hall.

Cost

Tessellated Pavement
Tessellated Pavement © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’d think that you’d have to pay to visit a place that is so historically significant and such a natural wonder, but you don’t! You can even access the Officers’ Quarters Museum for free when it’s open. Enjoy your visit!

 

Staying for a while? Visit Tasman Arch, Devil’s Kitchen and the Blowhole. About half an hour’s drive away is the fantastic Port Arthur Historic Site. You’ll need to book and prepare beforehand, but I highly recommend the Three Capes Track walk.

Longford Show

Traversing Longford Show
Woodchopping
Woodchopping © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There are several Tasmanian events that I really look forward to each year. One of them is the Longford Show. Why? Where else will you find woodchopping, show-jumping, alpacas, fairy-floss and a good dose of Australian humour all in the one place? Today, the Longford show did not disappoint, with its green grass, blue skies and stunning display of goodwill and talent.

Animal Nursery
Animal Nursery © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll be met by local Rotarians at the gate. When you enter, turn right for the woodchop. You’ll never want to leave! It’s my favourite sport! From here, work your way around the Showgrounds anticlockwise. The animal nursery and display by Tasmanian Fire Service were highlights for the little ones in our group today. Who doesn’t want to see a baby goat, sit in the driver’s seat of a fire truck or have a go at holding the fire hose?!

Fleeces
Fleeces © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

From here, it seems like the show-bags, merry-go-rounds, junk food stalls and rides have taken over but don’t be fooled! If you look carefully, you’ll find the wool-classing shed, floral arrangements, an art display (of local children’s work) and pony rides. Besides, who doesn’t love a merry-go-round?

Blacksmith
Blacksmith © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

After the exhaustion of side-show alley, grab a bite to eat and sit awhile by the show-jumping. It’s an elegant sport. From here, it’s a short walk to the snake display and the blacksmith’s shop, both of which are strangely fascinating. The craziest thing at the Longford Show, in my opinion, is the dog show. Have you ever seen people in suits prancing around with their pooches? It is hilarious, yet a very serious competition!

What to Bring

Show Jumping
Show Jumping © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Today was absolutely glorious. Blue skies and sunshine made the Longford Show delightful. Don’t forget your hat and sunscreen or you’ll turn into a lobster! Also essential is a bottle of water and sturdy shoes. You’ll do quite a bit of walking so practicality beats fashion. Cash is a must for your entry fee. Today, the line at the local ATM was very long so get cash out before you head to the Show.

Getting There

Fire Fighting
Fire Fighting © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Longford is approximately 20 minutes’ drive south of Launceston, towards Hobart. From Launceston, you can reach Longford via Perth or via a turnoff from the Bass Highway onto Illawarra Road. The latter is a very pretty, country drive. There is ample street parking in Longford but be prepared for a short walk (5 – 10 minutes) to the Showgrounds.

Cost

Alpacas
Alpacas © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At $12 per adult, I think that entry to the Longford Show is a bargain. You’ll pay $6 for children and $30 for a family (two adults and two children). I’d pay that much just to see the woodchopping, but I am a bit of a woodchop-aholic! Please note that prices may vary from year to year. I was also impressed with the range of food (and food prices) inside.

If you have time, stay in Longford for a while and visit nearby Brickendon and Woolmers, both fabulous attractions! You can also read more about my adventures in Tasmania’s north and midlands.

Port Arthur Historic Site

Traversing Port Arthur Historic Site
The Penitentiary
The Penitentiary © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Nestled in a bay, between wild capes and raging seas, is a very significant part of Tasmania: Port Arthur Historic Site. The area is home to cultural sites of the Pydairrerme people and is surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Tasman Peninsula. Originally, it was a penal station that played a vital role in the colony. More recently, it was the site of a heart-breaking event that lead to nationwide gun law reforms. Now World Heritage Listed, Port Arthur Historic Site is remarkable.

Port Arthur Historic Site
Port Arthur Historic Site © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The site is extremely picturesque. Ruins stand in sparse, grassed areas: a penitentiary, a hospital and a church. There are also more than thirty restored buildings, giving a glimpse of past elegance and ways of life. Each building and ruin contains information about the lives of individual convicts and workers.

Commandant's House
Commandant’s House © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

My favourite building is the Commandant’s House. The wallpaper, the multi-levelled hallway, the wood panelling… It is a very grand place! The restored buildings are opened from 9:30am, with a staff member on hand to answer your questions. Our host gave us an informative and fun insight into the house. Look for the time-travelling Commandant, the trapezium-shaped door and a letter written by a very accomplished five-year-old!

Gardens
Gardens © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

I’ve never visited Port Arthur Historic Site during Spring before. I’m very glad that I did this year! The gardens are beautiful. I particularly enjoyed the Commandant’s House garden – a secluded area that gave a hint at what the original garden may have looked like. The site is vastly different from my childhood visits – significant and tasteful landscaping has taken place, adding to the beauty of the site.

The Separate Prison
The Separate Prison © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The beauty of exploring Port Arthur Historic Site is that you can walk through the buildings and see what life was like for the convicts, soldiers, Commandants and other staff for yourself. It’s like being a child again, exploring imagined forts and dungeons… except that these buildings are real. There is a poignancy to walking through each building, to pulling closed the door to your church stall and to standing in the darkness of the solitary cell.

Getting There

View of the Penitentiary
View of the Penitentiary © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Port Arthur is about 1 hour and 45 minutes’ drive east from Hobart. Take your time travelling as there are many beautiful spots to stop at on the way, including Eaglehawk Neck and Tasmans Arch. There is ample parking at the site. Be aware that renovations are taking place; the visitor’s centre will look spectacular when these are completed though. You could easily spend an entire day at Port Arthur. The site is dotted with places to eat, shop and research, including small museums and cafes. The gift shop even sells last-minute supplies for those beginning their Three Capes Track experience. There are short walks to do in the area too.

Cost

Port Arthur Historic Site
Port Arthur Historic Site © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Tickets to the Port Arthur Historic Site cost $39 per adult, $32 per concession and $17 per child. There are optional extras to purchase too, such as a tour of the nearby Point Puer Boy’s Prison. Family tickets are available. Included in your ticket are a complementary 40-minute guided tour and a 20-minute harbour cruise. If you’re running short of time, or If you’ve visited Port Arthur Historic Site before, skip the tour but do the cruise! If you’re heading off to the Three Capes Track, entry to the site is complimentary for two years.

Staying on the Tasman Peninsula for a while? Read about my recent experience on the Three Capes Track or visiting the sea caves at Eaglehawk Neck. Alternatively, read about my adventures in Tasmania’s south.

Three Capes Track

Three Capes Track
Tasman Island
Tasman Island © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Walking the Three Capes Track is a remarkable experience. All at once, you have stunning views, aching muscles, artfully crafted accommodation to look forward to and, in the middle of nowhere, a beautifully designed resting place that tells part of the story of the area. You journey from Port Arthur to Denman’s Cove. From here, you walk 46km over four days from Denman’s Cove to Fortescue Bay, via Cape Pillar, Mount Fortescue and Cape Hauy. It’s incredible. The third cape, Cape Raoul, isn’t yet part of the walk – I am told that, in the future, it will be part of the walk too.

View of Cape Hauy from Cape Pillar
View of Cape Hauy from Cape Pillar © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

When you book your Three Capes Track experience, you have choices. You can choose to take the 11:30am boat or the 2pm (1:30pm from May – August) boat. Your ticket to the Three Capes Track includes a two-year pass to Port Arthur Historic Site. You could spend an entire day wandering through the site if you want to. Being locals, we’ve seen it before and were happy with a few hours then the earlier start to our journey. Rather than doing a very, very long post about the entire walk, I’ve written a full post about each day. Here are the links to the full posts, with highlights:

Day 1

Surveyors
Surveyors © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Enjoy complimentary access to Port Arthur Historic Site. Cruise around the bay to the start of the walk. Have a snack on the beach before walking for 1.5 – 2 hours to Surveyors. Incredible views of Cape Raoul and beautiful accommodation await you. Enjoy!

Day 2

View of Mount Brown and Cape Raoul
View of Mount Brown and Cape Raoul © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Up we go… up Arthurs Peak and Crescent Mountain. You’ll be rewarded with views of Cape Pillar and Cape Raoul. It won’t be long until you’ve made it to your destination: Munro – accommodation on the cliffs! What a fantastic view of Cape Hauy and Hippolyte Rocks! Have a hot shower and read about the wreck of the Nord.

Day 3

Cape Pillar
Cape Pillar © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Cape Pillar and The Blade. What a highlight! Stunning views of Cape Raoul and Cape Hauy. Directly in front of you stands Tasman Island. The lighthouse, the old tramway, the houses… a bygone era on display in such wild surroundings. Walk back to Munro, pick up your pack and head to Retakunna.

Day 4

Cape Hauy
Cape Hauy © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The finish line is near. All that remains between you and it is a mountain, Cape Hauy and an aching body. The views, both up close in the rainforest and further afield of the capes, are worth it. Should you walk out to Cape Hauy and back? Yes, you should! Beautiful 360’ views plus the Totem Pole and Candlestick (famous to rock climbers) beneath you make standing at the end of this this cape particularly spectacular. A short walk later, you’re standing by the clear waters of Fortescue Bay, waiting for a bus back to Port Arthur. What an incredible journey!

What to Bring

Cape Raoul from Surveyors
Cape Raoul from Surveyors © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Pack (one of) each item on the packing list provided by Parks and Wildlife. Remember that, although it is very luxurious, this is a hike and you need to self-cater. Make sure that your rainwear is good quality and covers you from head to ankle and that your boots are worn in. Blisters, bruises and getting wet are annoyances that you just don’t need on a journey like this. For the first night (or two), pack fresh food to enjoy. After this, dehydrated will do. You’ll need some trail mix to keep you going during the day. As a Tasmanian, I’m always devastated when tourists who go bushwalking end up hurt (or worse). Always, always, always carry water, sun protection, a jacket/jumper, rainwear, sturdy footwear, food, a first aid kit and a phone with you, even on short day walks.

What Not to Bring

Pillars
Pillars © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

My aching back reminds me that this section is of particular importance! I would NOT bring any luxury items with me. My mistake was packing a spare change of clothes (you need one outfit plus one contingency for wet/cold weather), a spare towel and small containers of shampoo, conditioner and moisturiser. Despite having a lovely hot shower on Day 2, I didn’t use these items at all. Things I didn’t bring and would strongly advise others not to bring are luxuries like make-up, extra food (you can only eat so much!) and gadgets. Enjoy going bush, in every sense of the word!

Getting There

Pennicott Wilderness Journeys
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Your cruise leaves from Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula. This is 1 hour and 45 minutes’ drive east of Hobart. There are many fantastic spots to explore (or detour to) on the way, including Eaglehawk Neck, Dunalley and Richmond so take your time. Alternatively, arrive early and explore Port Arthur and the Tasman Peninsula like I did. It’s a fantastic area.

Cost

Crescent Bay
Crescent Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At $495 per adult ($396 per concession/child), the Three Capes Track experience may seem expensive, but you’ll soon see where your money goes. Firstly, you’ll have a (short) Pennicott Wilderness Journeys Cruise and two-year access to Port Arthur Historic Site. The limit on walkers (48 per hut) means that you can have “alone in the wilderness” experiences. You are treated very gently, from the track underfoot to the thick mattress awaiting you of an evening. Once you’ve seen the rangers (and even the helicopters!) in action, as well as the story starters and some of the trickier sections of the track, you’ll appreciate that it’s a bargain!

For more information about my Three Capes Track experience, read my summaries of Day 1Day 2Day 3 or Day 4. Alternatively, read about places to visit on the Tasman Peninsula or in Tasmania’s south.