Brickendon

Traversing Brickendon
Brickendon Entry
Brickendon Entry © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If you find yourself in Northern Tasmania, I highly recommend a visit to Brickendon. Run by the Archer family continuously since 1824, this property is a unique place. Parts of the property, such as the Farm Village, seem frozen in time. You can walk into buildings such as the smokehouse, the blacksmiths’ shop or the pillar granary and feel as if you could be right there, back in the 1800s, on a working farm. Brickendon is also UNESCO World Heritage Listed (one of 11 such listings in Australia) due to its convict heritage.

Pillar Granary
Pillar Granary © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Your first stop is the farm village. This is both a time capsule and a working farm. If you are there at 10:15am, you will be able to participate in feeding the animals. Even if you’re not there at 10:15am, there are plenty of animals to see. There are sheep in the paddock near the farm village. I was greeted (loudly!) by a turkey upon arrival and found a group of ducks sitting under the pillar granary. There are also geese, chickens and more ducks near the poultry shed (which has been set up as if it were a country kitchen).

Brickendon Farm Village
Brickendon Farm Village © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The buildings have a few concise information panels and this brevity works very well, particularly if you have already seen the introductory DVD. I highly recommend viewing the DVD upon arrival. It is a first-rate production and gives you a lot of insight into the Archer family and Brickendon’s history (and future aspirations). You also get to sit in a Sussex barn while viewing it which is a lovely experience in and of itself!

Shearing Shed
Shearing Shed © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

As the farm is a working farm, some of the displays are actual work sites, such as the shearing shed and stables. Here, you’ll see beautiful timber walls and relics from times past alongside modern shearing machines. It is a privilege to see generations of hard work, progress and innovation preserved in one property.

The “working” aspect of the farm village extends to more than farming. You can stay at the Farm Village in the Farm Cottage. What an awesome experience that would be! While I was at Brickendon, a wedding was taking place in the gardens of the main house and one of the Sussex barns was set up as a reception venue. I accidentally had a sneak-peek and it looked gorgeous!

Brickendon to Woolmers Walk
Brickendon to Woolmers Walk © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Brickendon and nearby Woolmers Estate are joined via family history and a walking track. Two Archer brothers, Thomas (Woolmers) and William (Brickendon), originally owned and ran the two farms. I plan on doing the walk between them later this year (when it’s not too hot or too muddy!). It is a 2.8km walk via a suspension bridge (closed between 5pm and 9am daily). Your entry fee to Woolmers Estate is reduced if you have come via Brickendon.

Brickendon Homestead
Brickendon Homestead © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The actual Brickendon homestead is across Woolmers lane and this is where the second part of your visit takes place. Simply drive across the road, up the gravel drive, and park near the homestead. You then have access to stunning gardens and a view of several heritage buildings. These are also used as accommodation so please be mindful of guests. When I was there, the wedding was in full swing in the garden so I took a couple of photos of the house and then left them to it. I think I’ll have to return to do the walk to Woolmers and to view the rest of the garden. I don’t mind; it’s an enchanting place!

Getting There

Brickendon
Brickendon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

As I stated in my post on nearby Longford Berries and Cherries, there are several ways of reaching Longford (and therefore Brickendon). My two preferred approaches are via the B52 with a view of farming countryside or via Woolmers Lane from the Midlands highway. These routes are both picturesque and allow you a glimpse of years gone by in the form of overhanging trees and hedgerows. If you are travelling via Woolmers Lane, Brickendon is clearly signposted with the carpark on the right. From Longford, turn left at the fork, following signs for Brickendon and Woolmers Estate.

Cost

Brickendon Gardens
Brickendon Gardens © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Entry to Brickendon currently costs $12.50 per adult, $11.50 per concession, $5 per child and $38 per family. For up-to-date prices, see the Brickendon website. There is also a small gift shop in the entrance Sussex barn. The Farm Village and Heritage Gardens are open from 9:30am – 4pm year-round except for Mondays and Christmas Day. Opening hours are extended until 5pm in summer. The Main House is the reception during winter. Whenever you visit, you’re sure to be in for a treat as you walk through the lives of the convicts and experience the past and present of the Archer family.

Brickendon Animals
Brickendon Animals © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Read my other posts on Tasmania’s Midlands here.

Longford Berries and Cherries

So many strawberries!

Tucked away down a backstreet in Longford is Longford Berries and Cherries Berries and Cherries. Their strawberries are perhaps the best in Tasmania. No, I haven’t been to every berry farm in Tasmania to test this definitively but they are the best that I’ve found so far!

Strawberries
Strawberries © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Sometimes, berry picking can be a little disappointing, particularly if you arrive later in the day. I arrived at Longford Berries and Cherries at about 2pm yesterday and there were so many berries that I could have picked until they closed! They are only open three days a week (Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday) which sounds inconvenient but it’s not. It ensures that everyone can enjoy a plentiful pick. The farm may be open on other days if there is an excess of berries. Keep an eye on their Facebook page.

Longford Berries and Cherries
Longford Berries and Cherries © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Another thing that is fabulous about Longford Berries and Cherries is that the berries are organic. This means that you can bring your kids and not worry if someone stuffs a sneaky, unwashed berry into their mouth. Even though it’s always best to wash your fruit, at least they won’t be eating pesticides! Dennis also treats children very kindly. He even has a sandpit and play equipment set up for them.

Beautiful view
Beautiful view © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The farm is in a serene location. There is a lake (not accessible), a nearby farm to look up at while you pick berries and stands of gums surrounding the strawberry patch. Make sure that you have sunscreen, a hat and sturdy shoes and you’ll have a lovely time. Berry picking is also quite communal and you never know who you’ll meet. I found myself in very good company; thank you for the good conversation!

Getting There

Strawberry Patch
Strawberry Patch © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Longford is a beautiful, heritage town located approximately 20 minutes’ drive from Launceston. You can drive towards Hobart on the Midlands Highway, turning off to Longford at Perth. This is the least interesting way of getting to Longford. Instead, continue towards Hobart through Perth and take the next turn to Longford. This will take you through hedgerow lanes past the UNESCO World Heritage Listed properties, Woolmers Estate and Brickendon (add more travelling time though). You can read my post about Brickendon here. It is worth spending a full day in Longford to see these sites (and pick berries!). The other interesting way of getting to Longford is via the Bass Highway then the B52. This takes you past farming properties and stunning countryside! Once in Longford, follow signs towards Cressy and then turn right opposite the Longford Show Grounds (if the berry farm is open, a sign will be out on the road).

Cost

Pick your own berries © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Longford Berries and Cherries always has reasonable prices. Jars of jam cost approximately $4. If you’re in a hurry, there are often pre-picked berries in the refrigerator, often for the same price per kilo as to pick your own. Currently, pick your own strawberries are $10 per kg. There are also other berries available (raspberries, blackberries and red currants are my other favourites!) but these are now out of season. The cost includes the use of a picking bucket (small enough for littlies to hold). Have a fabulous time at Longford Berries and Cherries!

Read my other posts on Tasmania’s Midlands here.

Bay of Fires

Sunrise, Bay of Fires
Bay of Fires
Bay of Fires © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Bay of Fires was named by explorer Tobias Furneaux who sailed by in 1773 and saw the fires lit by the Aboriginal people. These promoted plant growth and kept mammals, an important food-source, close to the coast. The area continues to be an important place for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. A large midden at one end of Jeanneret Beach has yielded many Aboriginal artifacts. Another sacred site in the area is larapuna (Eddystone Point), which is also a large midden. Respect these sacred sites by adhering to signage and fencing.

Binalong Bay
Binalong Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Today, the Bay of Fires is renowned for granite rocks covered with fiery orange lichen. It is also famous for its pure white sand and turquoise waters.  Due to its unique flora and fauna, the Bay of Fires is a conservation area. You can access approximately half of the coast by car. It is much harder to access the northern half of Bay of Fires in Mount William National Park. You can walk through with local tourism companies or you can sail past like Furneaux. I saw the area from the water on a Bay of Fires Eco Tours cruise, which you can read about here.

Taylors Beach
Taylors Beach © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The southern part of the Bay of Fires Conservation Area stretches from Binalong Bay through to The Gardens and contains several excellent campsites. You can camp here for up to four weeks at a time. Amenities are limited (drop toilets) and you will need to bring your own water but the location is sensational! If you have a motorhome, Swim Cart beach gives you an amazing view and excellent beach access for surf fishing (swimming is not advised). The most popular camping site is Cosy Corner. For more information about camping in the Bay of Fires, see the Parks and Wildlife website.

Shacks, Taylors Beach
Shacks, Taylors Beach © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There are many holiday rentals in Binalong Bay or the area near The Gardens. I’ve found that renting directly from an owner (when possible) is a better experience. There are no general stores in the Bay of Fires area so pick up supplies in nearby St. Helens on your way in. You can purchase a coffee at Moresco Restaurant or the Bay of Fires Eco Tours at Titley’s Shack.

Grants Lagoon
Grants Lagoon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The beauty of the Bay of Fires is that it is largely uncommercialised. You can cruise the bay (read about my experience here) or do a four-day walking tour departing from Launceston. There is also a viewing platform and information boards at The Gardens. You’ll be swimming, kayaking, fishing, walking the pristine beaches, encountering the wildlife and just taking in one of the most picturesque places on the planet.

Getting There

The Gardens
The Gardens © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Bay of Fires is about a three-hour drive from Launceston and a four-hour drive from Hobart. From Launceston or Hobart, take the Midlands Highway to Campbell Town then turn onto the Lake Leake road to the East Coast. Alternatively, drive northeast from Launceston to Scottsdale (via Lilydale or Myrtle Park). If driving from Hobart, you can follow the coast the entire way. Wherever you are travelling from, allow yourself additional time to explore the regions that you are passing through as there are some top-notch attractions along the way.

Cost

Binalong Bay
Binalong Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is no cost for visiting the southern section of the Bay of Fires Conservation Area from Binalong Bay to The Gardens. If you choose to visit Mount William National Park, you need to have a Parks Pass. You can enjoy the Bay of Fires for a relatively low cost if you are camping or having a day at the beach. Enjoy the pristine waters and beautiful wildlife of the Bay of Fires!

Read about my other journeys on Tasmania’s stunning east coast here.

Bay of Fires Eco Tours

Lichen
Bay of Fires Eco Tours
Bay of Fires Eco Tours © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

On a sunny, calm day, we took to the seas in the exquisite Bay of Fires on Infurneaux. The sole ship in the Bay of Fires Eco Tours fleet, it is luxurious! The seats are very comfy, which doesn’t sound too important, but it will be once you’ve been sitting for three hours! We were provided with warm, waterproof jackets.

Bay of Fires Eco Tours
Bay of Fires Eco Tours © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

To prepare for your journey, limit your cups of tea beforehand! I had one too many and needed to use the loo on board. While I can now tick that off my bucket list, it’s probably best if you don’t need to use it at all! Another thing that you need to be aware of is that, while it might be a hot day on the sand, it’s always much colder out on the water. Wear layers (lovely Tasmanian merino is a great idea) but don’t wear a hat as it may end up overboard. If you think that your head might get cold, wear a hooded jacket or jumper. Even though the boat has a canopy, I would also recommend wearing sunscreen due to the sun, wind and spray. If you experience sea-sickness, see my Bruny Island Cruises post for tips from the Ancient Mariner (Dad).

Aboriginal Midden, Jeanneret Beach
Aboriginal Midden, Jeanneret Beach © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Your journey through the Bay of Fires will take you up the coast, showing you a range of beaches and sites. The Aboriginal midden (bone and shell heap) at the end of Jeanneret Beach is enormous and it’s a privilege to see it from offshore. You’ll also have a few opportunities to take stellar photographs of the lichen-covered granite rocks from the sea. Our guide paused to show us various bird life, including a gorgeous sea eagle and several black-crested cormorants. We sailed very close to Sloop Rock (named so because it looks like a ship rising up out of the water). This rock plunges 18 metres down to the ocean floor and is quite a sight to behold. The best part of the tour, in my opinion, is seeing Mount William National Park. The park is quite hard to get to so it was very special to see Anson’s Bay, the Park’s pristine beaches, Bay of Fires Lodge, Eddystone Point Lighthouse and Mount William itself from the water.

 

Eddystone Point Lighthouse
Eddystone Point Lighthouse © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At larapuna (the Aboriginal name for the area where Eddystone Point Lighthouse stands), you’ll have the opportunity for a complimentary biscuit and a fabulous photo of the Lighthouse and the Keeper’s Cottages. After this, you’ll take to the open waters in search of wildlife.

 

Shy Albatross
Shy Albatross © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

We saw three shy albatross (one of which wasn’t shy at all and posed for several pictures!) on the return journey. These birds are beautiful. We also encountered a lone seal who was a bit annoyed that we were interrupting his meal. Pufferfish, anyone? It was then a lovely boat-ride, with only a pot-hole or two, back to base.

Brown Fur Seal
Brown Fur Seal © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

 

Getting There

Titley's Shack, Binalong Bay
Titley’s Shack, Binalong Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

For instructions on how to get to the Bay of Fires, read my post about the region. Once you’ve made it to St. Helens, follow signs for Binalong Bay and then drive along the coast, past Moresco Restaurant, until you reach Titley’s Shack on the left (look for Bay of Fires Eco Tours signage).

 

Cost

Sloop Rock
Sloop Rock © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

As for similar cruises in Tasmania such as Bruny Island Cruises (you can read about my experience here), adults cost $135, children (5-years-old and above) cost $85 and a family costs $380. There are two shorter afternoon cruises which cost slightly less. It would be fabulous to see the small seal colony at St. Helens Island and I am considering doing this tour in the future. I recommend doing the full Bay of Fires tour instead of The Gardens tour, if time permits. Seeing Eddystone Point Lighthouse is well worth it!

To read about my other journeys on Tasmania’s stunning east coast, click here.

Bruny Island

Traversing Bruny Island

Bruny Island lies off the coast of Southern Tasmania, about half an hour’s drive south of Hobart. It is roughly 100 kilometres long and boasts some of Tasmania’s finest produce, wilderness and attractions.

View from The Neck
View from The Neck © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The island is divided into two halves: North Bruny and South Bruny. The ferry from Kettering (mainland Tasmania) arrives at Roberts Point on North Bruny. There are small settlements at the beautiful Dennes Point and Barnes Bay (follow signs from the ferry terminal). If you keep driving south, you’ll end up at the cheese factory, oyster bar and scenic flight base. Once you’ve passed these places, you will arrive at a thin strip of land joining North and South Bruny: The Neck.

The Neck
The Neck © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

It is worth stopping at The Neck, even if you’ve been to Bruny Island before. Climb the wooden stairs and see the ever-changing view of Bruny. You should also read the information about the original inhabitants of Bruny Island such as Truganini. If you are at The Neck at dusk, stop and watch the penguins emerging from the water. Take a red-light torch for optimal viewing without disturbing the penguins too much and make sure that you keep to the paths rather than damaging the penguins’ burrows.

Adventure Bay
Adventure Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Heading south from The Neck, you have choices! You could turn left to Adventure Bay. This is a beautiful, sweeping bay with stellar views, a caravan park and a nice little café (The Penguin). You can also catch a Pennicott Wilderness Journeys’ Bruny Island Cruises tour from Adventure Bay (read about my experience here) or you can walk to the ruins of the whaling station at Grass Point. There is a general store with an ATM at Adventure Bay.

Cloudy Bay Lagoon
Cloudy Bay Lagoon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If, instead, you turn left after The Neck, you’ll find your way to Alonnah and Lunawunna. lunawunna allonnah is the Aboriginal name for Bruny Island. At Alonnah, Hotel Bruny has a lovely view and serves a fine meal, happily catering for dietary requirements upon request. There is also a general store and History Room at Alonnah. After driving through Lunawunna, you have two choices. You can turn left towards Cloudy Bay for excellent camping and surfing, as well as access to South Bruny National Park. Or, you can turn right towards Cape Bruny Lighthouse (you can read about my experiences here), as well as access to another part of South Bruny National Park.

Barnes Bay
Barnes Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Wherever you choose to be on Bruny, you can expect good food, superb scenery and space to relax. Make sure that you check opening hours as some places vary their hours seasonally. Take a good book, a bit of cash, a full tank of petrol and clothes for all seasons and you’ll have a lovely time.

Getting There

Mirambeena
Mirambeena © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If you have a car, simply take the vehicle ferry from Kettering. The current timetable is available here; make sure that you arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled departure and that you bring cash or a payWave capable card (EFTPOS or credit cards requiring pins/signatures cannnot be used). While petrol is available at some locations on Bruny, fill your car up before you venture over for maximum relaxation time. Hire cars can be problematic. Some hire car companies won’t allow you to drive their vehicles on Bruny Island due to the amount of dirt roads and consequent traffic incidents involving inexperienced drivers. Your GPS system may also cut out as phone reception has “black spots” on Bruny Island. Everything is well sign-posted though. If you’d prefer not to take a car onto Bruny, book a tour with one of the local companies.

Cost

Bruny Island's southern tip
Bruny Island’s southern tip © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Getting to Bruny currently costs $33 per car (prices are seasonal and dependent on vehicle size; click here for current rates). Food, supplies, fuel etc. are all reasonably priced, considering that you’re on a small island, but accommodation can be a bit expensive. You’re paying for the privilege of staying on Bruny. It’s a unique, unforgettable island and is well worth a visit… and another visit… and another…

To read more about my travels in Tasmania’s south, click here.

Cape Bruny Lighthouse

Traversing Cape Bruny Lighthouse
Cape Bruny
Cape Bruny © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Cape Bruny Lighthouse is a sturdy yet elegant lighthouse. Due to being made from sterner stuff than other historic lighthouses, it now boasts being the second oldest original lighthouse in Australia. It was Australia’s fourth lighthouse at its time of lighting in 1838. Constructed by convicts from local dolerite, the lighthouse took just 18 months to build. The three keepers cottages still sit below it, as does a graveyard, the ruins of a convict vegetable garden and some of the best scenery in the world.

Cape Bruny Lighthouse
Cape Bruny Lighthouse © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Cape Bruny Lighthouse is a monument to times gone by. Now replaced by an automated light on the tip of the cape, the old lighthouse was recently restored internally and opened to the public for tours. You can book a tour online or at the base of the lighthouse on the day. Tours go up the tower every half hour. We had a private tour, which was lovely. The guide was friendly and knowledgeable. His boss grew up in various lighthouses around the state as the child of one of Tasmania’s last lighthouse keepers.

Fresnel prism
Fresnel prism © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Inside, you’ll find a beautiful metal spiral staircase, the original Fresnel prism, kerosene vents, the weight system used for keeping the light revolving and a working phone to the keeper’s cottage. You end up circling the lighthouse on its balcony. We saw a wedge-tail eagle from above (they have a stunning pattern on their wings which you can’t see from the ground). It is breathtaking to view the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, the Southern Ocean and the southern tip of Bruny Island from above.

Cape Bruny
Cape Bruny © emily@traversingtasmania 2017
The Lighthouse Station
The Lighthouse Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Once you are on the ground again, enter the museum for a glimpse of the machinery that made it all happen. The museum also houses artefacts found on site (ceramics, name plates, etc.). From the left-hand side of the Number 1 Keepers Cottage, take a walk down to the beach, past a small graveyard and the ruins of a convict garden. The Tasmanian flora in South Bruny National Park is magnificent. Watch out for my least favourite of all Tasmanian fauna: the Tasmanian Tiger snake. If you do come across one, make a decision to run or stand very still and make sure that you commit to your decision 100% as half-doing either option is not worth it!

Getting There

Convict Garden
Convict Garden © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

To get to Bruny Island, follow the advice in my Bruny Island post. Drive south from Alonnah, turning right at the T-junction near Lunawanna. Follow signs for Cape Bruny Lighthouse. The road is primarily gravel and is quite rough. There are two scenic lookouts on the way; stop at both. There is parking at the lighthouse although it is only a small carpark so you may have to park alongside the road – don’t block the driveways to the keepers cottages as two of these contain residents (the third is the museum).

Cost

View from the Lighthouse
View from the Lighthouse © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Tours up the lighthouse (highly recommended!) are $10 per adult, $7.50 per child or $35 per family (not suitable for children under 5 years old).  You can book your tickets online here. This is recommended as tours can book out because they are for only eight people at a time. If you do book online, keep your booking number to quote for the guide. For those who arrive at Cape Bruny Lighthouse without a booking, it is worth the half hour wait. The views from the lighthouse are spectacular.

To read more about my travels in Tasmania’s south, click here.