Bridestowe Lavender Estate

Traversing Bridestowe Lavender Estate
Bridestowe Lavender Estate
Bridestowe Lavender Estate © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

I have visited Bridestowe Lavender Estate before, in winter. Even then, it was impressive. In summer, the lavender is in bloom, making the farm a must-see. Fields of purple follow the contours of the land, pointing to the distant Mount Arthur. It is a spectacular sight!

Bridestowe Lavender Estate
Bridestowe Lavender Estate © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You can wander through the fields for as long as you like. Once the hazy smell of the lavender, the beautiful view of Mount Arthur and the thrill of taking the perfect shot have worn off, there’s more to do. Walk down to the dam, picnic under the oak trees or stroll near the pines, admiring the intriguing statues. When you’re finished, head to the buildings.

Ice-cream!
Ice-cream! © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You now have choices. Ice-cream first? A lavender blend is available from the very cute truck. What about Devonshire tea? Lavender scones and lavender tea with lavender jam on the side await you in the café. Prefer retail therapy? The Bridestowe Lavender Estate gift store is bursting at the seams with lavender produce, including the famous Bobbie the Bear. When you’re done eating and shopping, join a guided tour.

The Distillery
The Distillery © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

As Bridestowe Lavender Estate is a historic property, the lavender distillery is well worth having a look at. The farm was founded in 1921 and relocated to Nabowla in the mid-1940s. The distillery is a quiet testament to times gone by. You’ll find antique bottles, signs, tins and equipment, as well as a brief explanation of the distilling process.

What to Bring

Lavender Fields
Lavender Fields © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

It sounds obvious, given that you are visiting a farm, but do wear sturdy shoes. Even in summer, it will rain at times and the red earth turns to mud quite quickly! Wear weather-appropriate clothing and take your camera with you. Selfie-sticks are very popular (and useful) but I still can’t bring myself to use one!

Getting There

Mount Arthur
Mount Arthur © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Bridestowe Lavender Estate is approximately 45 minutes’ drive from Launceston. It is located in Nabowla, which is north-east of Lilydale. Allow extra time for sight-seeing. We stopped at Lilydale Falls Reserve on the way for a short walk as the falls are very peaceful and picturesque. You could also visit one of the well-known wineries in the area, such as Pipers Brook Vineyard or Jansz Tasmania. There is ample parking at Bridestowe Lavender Estate. Instead of driving, you can take a bus (either as a tour or just as public transport) from Launceston to the estate.

Cost

Gift Shop
Gift Shop © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll pay $10 per person to visit Bridestowe Lavender Estate when the flowers are in bloom. If you are a local or a Friend of Bridestowe (you can sign up for free on Bridestowe Lavender Estate’s website), you’ll get in for free! You can also visit the estate out of season free of charge. The shop and café both have EFTPOS facilities but I’m not sure about the ice-cream truck so take a little bit of cash with you. The estate is open from 9am to 5pm daily (except Christmas Day). Enjoy walking through the fields of lavender and soaking in a little bit more of Tasmania’s unique history.

Staying a while? Read about my adventures in Tasmania’s north and east coast.

Freycinet Adventures

Traversing Freycinet Adventures
The Hazards
The Hazards © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Recently, we celebrated our wedding anniversary by kayaking into Freycinet National Park with Freycinet Adventures. It was remarkable, bobbing around in the bay and staring up at the Hazards. A lunch stop at a hidden waterfall sealed the deal: I’d do this again!

Kayaks
Kayaks © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Our guide was very friendly and knowledgeable. At the start of your journey, you’ll receive tips for paddling well as well as the usual safety drills. Traveling in a double-kayak, you’ll depart from Muirs Beach (Coles Bay) and paddle past Picnic Island to Freycinet National Park. In the right season, whales and seals may surface. Your guide will stop the group at several points to discuss the history of the area, including the pink granite quarry.

Waterfall
Waterfall © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll alight at a hidden cove for a cup of tea and a snack (provided by Freycinet Adventures). The cove houses a gorgeous waterfall. From here, you’ll paddle past Freycinet Lodge and Richardsons Beach. Here, your guide will take a photo of you with the marvellous Hazards in the background. Finally, you’ll sail through the boats moored off Coles Bay on your trip back to Muirs Beach.

What to Bring

View of Picnic Island
View of Picnic Island © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

We did the half-day kayak trip. Wear bathers. While Freycinet Adventures have a policy of “on the water, not in the water”, your bottom will get wet at some point and bathers are much more comfortable! On cooler days, wear polypro or merino thermals for warmth, remembering that it is colder on the water. You’ll be provided with a fleece jacket and a wetsuit skirt. Bring your camera as there’ll be lots of chances for taking photos! Dry bags are provided for storing your electronics. A cuppa and biscuit is also provided for morning tea.

Getting There

Muirs Beach
Muirs Beach © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Your trip departs from Muirs Beach at the western end of Coles Bay. We booked online but you could also book via Freycinet Adventures’s office, which is located near Muirs Beach. There is no need to head to the office if you have already booked your trip. Just turn up at the beach! Coles Bay is just over two hours’ drive from Launceston via the Midlands and Lake Leake Highways. From Hobart, it’s about a two and a half hour drive via the Tasman Highway. Give yourself plenty of extra time for stops along the way.

Cost

Freycinet National Park
Freycinet National Park © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

In 2017, you’ll pay $98 per adult and $88 per child for the half day tour, which last for approximately three hours. Two and three day tours are also available. Booking online is very straightforward. Payment is processed after your trip in case the trip needs to be cancelled due to poor weather conditions. I’m sure that many a local will scoff at paying for the privilege of kayaking but the staff at Freycinet Adventures make your trip memorable (and not too much hard work!). Included in the cost is your outer layer (fleece jacket and wetsuit skirt), morning or afternoon tea and entry into Freycinet National Park. Of course, use of the kayaks and paddles is included. We had a fabulous time!

For tips on what to do nearby, read my posts about Tasmania’s east coast. If you’re happy to take a longer journey to your destination, I’ve had many an adventure in Tasmania’s south, midlands and north. Happy travels!

Mount Nelson Signal Station

Traversing Mt Nelson Signal Station
Signalmans Cottage
Signalmans Cottage © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

What do Tasmanians like to do on the weekend? Find sunshine, good food, stunning views and a little bit of adventure. The great thing is that you don’t have to travel far to do this in Tasmania. Mount Nelson Signal Station is only a short drive (or a few hours’ walk!) from Hobart’s CBD. Last weekend, I visited the historic site.

Views
Views © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Mount Nelson Signal Station offers similar views to kunanyi/Mount Wellington but is much closer to the city. Yes, you’re not as high up but you do have a lovely view of the river and the temperature is warmer. In summer, sit out in the sun on a beanbag (perhaps with your dog). In winter, sit on the enclosed verandah of the Signal Station Brasserie. This was formerly the Signalmans Cottage and was built in 1897.

Mount Nelson Signal Station
Mount Nelson Signal Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

After you’ve soaked in the sun, there’s more to explore. The Mount Nelson Signal Station lookout house (built in 1910 to replace the 1811 original) hosts a very small but lovely display of historic items. You’ll find signal flags, an Ericsson wall telephone and a semaphore mechanism, as well as other historic artefacts. You’ll also learn more about the story of the signal station. Although its 24+ metre mast has been dismantled and its last message was “forgotten”, the site is not. The lookout house is very picturesque. Take time to admire its round roof, pressed metal ceiling and 180-degree view of the River Derwent.

Mount Nelson Signal Station
Mount Nelson Signal Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There are two lookout platforms at the Mount Nelson Signal Station site. Due to the growth of surrounding trees, you’ll get better views from the carpark! Look up at kunanyi/Mount Wellington or down at the Tasman Bridge and Hobart. If you’ve got a spare few hours, you can even walk down to Sandy Bay or Taroona.

Getting There

View from inside
View from inside © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Mount Nelson Signal Station is at the upper end of Nelson Road. You can reach it by driving up Mount Nelson from Sandy Bay. This road has several hairpin bends but allows you to see a bit of the history of the area via the houses that line the road. Alternatively, drive out of Hobart towards Kingston on the Southern Outlet or Proctor’s Road, turning left for Mount Nelson at the top of the hill. Whichever road you take, the station is approximately ten minutes’ drive from Hobart’s CBD. There is ample parking on site.

Cost

Signal Station Brasserie
Signal Station Brasserie © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is no cost to visit Mount Nelson Signal Station. Completing the walks is also free. There are public toilets and barbeques available for use or you can visit the Signal Station Brasserie. The lookout house is open from 9am – 4pm on weekends (or 10am – 4pm on weekdays).

If you’re staying in the area for a while, I’ve got more ideas for adventures in Tasmania’s south.

Convict Farm Walk

Traversing the Convict Farm Walk
Suspension Bridge
Suspension Bridge © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Last weekend, we did the Convict Farm Walk between Woolmers and Brickendon estates in Longford. At 45 minutes one way, it’s a relatively short walk through fields with some interesting sights along the way. Being able to walk between the two estates was a treat as I really like both of them.

View from Woolmers
View from Woolmers © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

We set out from Woolmers, out the back gate of the Main House, following signs for the Convict Farm Walk. Here, you’ll have sweeping views of the plains below and the mountains in the distance. You can see Brickendon Farm Village below as a small cluster of buildings. Even if you don’t have time to do the walk, stand on the hillside and take in the view!

Pump House
Pump House © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At the bottom of the hill, you’ll reach and river and the suspension bridge that spans it. This is open from 9am – 5pm daily. You won’t be able to bring prams, wheelchairs, etc. over the bridge as it is very narrow. It was a lot of fun to walk across its two spans, swinging above the water. Look up and down the river as there are some great views to be had of the pump house from the bridge.

Through the fields
Through the fields © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

From here, it’s about two and a half kilometres to Brickendon. You’ll pass a clay pit (now grassed over) and interpretive signs about the lives and work of the convicts. Take in the views of the Great Western Tiers to your left and the mountains (Ben Lomond, Mount Barrow, etc.) to your right. Walking through wheat stalks and watching the farm in operation was also intriguing. We passed a field of sheep bleating a constant chorus of “maaaaaa!!!” It is an amusing experience to be under surveillance by sheep!!

Jetty
Jetty © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Take the five-minute detour to the jetty. There’s a lot of serenity with the pump going… watch The Castle if you don’t know what I mean! It is a lovely feeling to be by the water though, watching it flowing past on its way to Longford. From here, it’s a short stroll to Brickendon Farm Village.

Lambs!
Lambs! © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At Brickendon Farm Village, you’ll find photogenic historic buildings and a whole lot of animals! We said hello to a white horse, large cows, turkeys, geese, ducks, chickens, a pig and, best of all, Spring lambs!!! They were just gorgeous! It took us a long time to leave! One of the staff members spent some time with us, introducing us to the lambs, which was lovely. From the Farm, you can walk on to the homestead at Brickendon (which is a private residence) and surrounding gardens. We chose to head back to Woolmers.

What to Bring

Woolmers Estate
Woolmers Estate © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll need good walking shoes as, between the two estates and the walk, you’ll spend 3+ hours on your feet. The suspension bridge would also be difficult to cross in inappropriate footwear. Depending on the season, you’ll also need sun protection and/or waterproof clothing. Carry basic first aid supplies, a little bit of food and plenty of water with you. There is a café at Woolmers to relax in and plenty of places to sit down at both ends of the walk.

Getting There

Convict Farm Walk from Brickendon
Convict Farm Walk from Brickendon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You can begin the Convict Farm Walk at either estate. Both are about a two-minute drive out of Longford or you can turn into Woolmers Lane directly from the Midlands Highway. You’ll find ample free, all-day parking at both sites. Ask staff at reception for directions to the start of the track.

Cost

White Horse
White Horse © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If you just wanted to do the Convict Farm Walk, and not look at either site, you could probably do the walk for free. I paid for a self-guided tour of the historic sites at both ends as I like to support local enterprises. Both are worth having a good look around, even if you’ve been before, as they are quite different in each season. Make sure that you tell the receptionist at the second site that you have come from the first as you’ll then get a discount. It cost us $24 per adult to visit both sites and do the Convict Farm Walk, which I think is very reasonable!

Enjoy your time at Woolmers and Brickendon! I’ve visited several places in Tasmania’s nearby midlands, north and central highlands if you’re interested in more ideas for your own adventures.

Woolmers Estate

Traversing Woolmers Estate
Verandah
Verandah © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If I could sit all day on the verandah beneath the wisteria at Woolmers Estate, I would. Winter is an excellent time to visit as the purple of the wisteria contrasts beautifully with the house. I thought that I had missed out this year but I managed to see a tiny patch of wisteria on the last weekend in Spring!

National Rose Garden
National Rose Garden © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Also in bloom in Spring are the roses. Woolmers Estate is home to the magnificent National Rose Garden. If you don’t yet know your David Austins from your… well… other roses, you’ll find that a rose has many names and not all smell as sweet! The vast collection deserves a good half-hour stroll through. Old and young alike will also enjoy finding the flash of orange in the pond at the bottom of the garden.

The Wool Shed and the Cider Shed
The Wool Shed and the Cider Shed © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Woolmers Estate is a fabulous place to visit at any time of the year. Even if the flowers aren’t blooming, you could spend many hours exploring the grounds and historic buildings. These include the Blacksmith’s Shop, Stables and Servants’ Kitchen (now a café). You can even stay in some of the historic buildings. My favourite building is the picturesque Wool Shed. Treasures I’ve found around the property are the turret-like smoking room in the garden, a “twin thunder box” in the garden wall, a tiny vintage car and the wine cellar. Soon, Woolmers will also boast a first-rate function centre and restaurant.

Servants' Kitchen
Servants’ Kitchen © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Convict Site, Woolmers was once the home of six generations of Thomas Archer. Established in approximately 1817, the buildings show the fullness of the lives of the Archers. You’ll learn about their innovation, successes (one played golf in the Australian Open) and tragedies. Unlike nearby Brickendon, which was founded by Thomas Archer I’s brother, William, Woolmers is no longer a working farm. This is because Thomas Archer VI was a recluse who had no children, leaving the property as a time-capsule for future generations to enjoy. While I’m very thankful for this, it’s quite a poignant realisation that such an inventive line of the Archer family is no more.

The Main House
The Main House © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You must tour the house. This will cost more, and your guide will most likely take you through very slowly (my husband can’t stand this!), but you won’t fully understand the family until you view their private quarters. You’ll notice many points of difference between this house and others like it. Keep an eye out for the crockery set with the family crest (a bear paw holding an arrow), the shutters to protect from bush-rangers, the camera collection, the servants’ bell and the lack of mid-ceiling electric lighting. The latter was so that the aesthetics of the rooms would not be marred by the newfangled invention of electricity. This was a family who paved their own way.

Getting There

Roses
Roses © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Woolmers is located just south of Longford. You can reach it from the Midlands Highway, about five minutes’ drive south of Perth (Woolmers Estate is well signposted). Alternatively, drive through Longford down Wellington Street and Woolmers Lane until you reach the estate. You’ll enjoy driving down the hedged country lanes.

Cost

Function Centre
Function Centre © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Current prices are $14 per adult or $32 for a family for self-guided tours. You’ll pay $20 per adult, $7 per child or $45 for a family. If this is your first visit to Woolmers, do the house tour. It’s well worth it! Opening hours are 9am – 4pm daily. Note that Woolmers Estate is closed on several public holidays (see their website for more details).

Today, we walked between Woomers and Brickendon. Read about our experience here. You can also explore other places in Tasmania’s midlands – it’s a wonderful part of Tasmania!

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.