Friday 22nd November
Already the Hobart stage of our holiday is over and today we move on to Launceston. As soon as we woke up we said that we’d go for breakfast in the hotel café and then come back and pack – there was plenty of time before the 10am check-out. But David put the kettle on, and I just put a few things in a pile on the bed, and then gathered up a few more, and before we’d even finished our cups of tea or coffee our packing was done. It was no surprise to either of us, but still made us laugh at ourselves.
Down in the café, David ordered a breakfast of fruit with Greek yogurt. If I serve yogurt at home he gets several heaped tablespoonsful – here he got a teensy teaspoonful perched on the top-most chunk of his fruit tee hee! I ordered a cheese and tomato croissant but got a ham and cheese one delivered instead. Our usual cheery girl wasn’t here today and the relief seemed grudging. It showed! We had a coffee for David and a hot chocolate for me and then went straight back to the room. David put the cases in the car and we went to sign out, wondering how we could get into the garage without our room swipe key. It turns out that the lift, which we had never used, would take us straight there.
So in no time at all we were on the road for new adventures. We only used the navigator to get us out of Hobart and then turned her off. There’s only the one highway.
The scenery changed after an hour on the road and the land became flat, which was quite a surprise to us, we’d been convinced by now that the entire island was hilly, if not mountainous. There were vast distances of green, lush farmland and we travelled along easily on the good road. It was still too narrow, or lacking ‘shoulders’, to be able to pull over to photograph anything that took our fancy though. Mostly the road was one lane in each direction, though there were regular lengths with a spare overtaking lane in one direction only and these were sometimes appreciated. Trucks never seemed to be a problem though, they all travelled along easily at the 110 kph speed limit.
We had no mountains to climb along the way and the route really was almost flat.
There were a few things that we enjoyed looking at as we travelled and I did a few acts of ‘drive-by shooting’. This was the first sculpture of many in the same style, though this really was the biggest. It was 2D – they all were. How many did we see? So hard to tell, but I’d say about 10 over the distance of about 60 kms. The entire journey was 200 kms.
The highway seemed really sensible in that, for the most part, you had to leave it to go to the small towns that we passed by so that the speed limit was constant for a large part of the journey.
However, as we’d completed 1½ hours of the 2 hour journey we were approaching Oatlands, which I’d intended to stop in at anyway for morning tea. Along the highway was a sign advertising a Pancake & Crepe shop. I hadn’t known about this but it certainly answered where we would eat! As I told the server once we arrived “I didn’t know I was hungry until I saw that sign!”
We drove down the little road to the beginning of Oatlands and then down their High Street looking for the pancake café. It was actually a long high street and very wide, lined with houses built in the older style. Almost all buildings in Tasmania seemed heritage style, but this was even a little older and so interesting. We passed a few cafes, including one for a famous woollen mill that I probably would have stopped at had I not seen the pancake advert. We were almost ready to give up, seeing the far end of the houses coming into view, but there it was, on our left!
This was the footpath we parked next to. I couldn’t help taking the photo – how many other footpaths have gorgeous little pansies growing in them?
The man that served us was cheery, fun and welcoming and we sat down in the room belonging to the right-hand window in this shot. We could have sat in the left one as an option. There was a lady at another table in there and we chatted on and off through our meal. She too was really friendly!
Our meal was incredible. I’d looked at the menu and thought that I’d only order a single pancake because I wasn’t very hungry. I chose the apple – you can’t come to the ‘Apple Isle’ and not have apples even once, though we sure had wondered many times where the apple orchards were because we hadn’t seen a single one! David ordered the berry pancake.
Just look at these! My goodness they were *amazing*!!! And, most suitably, served on apparently vintage crockery.
Another couple came and joined our lady and they chatted amongst themselves, but also to us a little. It seems they come to this café daily for their chat and are all sheep farmers. I would go there daily too given the chance! A late breakfast of one of these pancakes would leave you only needing dinner at night.
Once we could manage to walk again, our tummies were so overly satisfied, we set off to find the windmill that we’d seen as we came down High Street. We didn’t have far to look – there was a driveway virtually opposite that went through to it and it had some silver birch trees along one side. These will always remind me of my primary school in England but I never get to see them in Perth so it was such a joy to see these again.
The mill was named Callington Mill, had been a flour mill, and was being rebuilt as a tourist attraction – Oatlands didn’t need the mill, they had already got the Pancake & Crepe Shop!
The houses left and right in this photo were both lived in. They were so quaint!!! This little house (below) belonged to the Mill and had apparently been the accommodation for the workers. The door to the left just led to one room that included a fireplace on the left and the lower central window. We guess the door to the right must have led to a single room and, presumably, the upstairs, including the window up there. I don’t see a chimney for that part of the house so I’m unsure of the details. I certainly appreciate my own home all over again by comparison!
We wandered around the Mill a little. There was an amazing playground for children, and a garden area. And *then*, wandering behind this little house, I found a May flower tree. They’re actually named hawthorn, but they have the May flowers that I’ve always loved, and are my namesake. And I adore white flowers regardless of what they are anyway.
I also adored all the lichen on the wooden fence tops. They surely spoke of a wetter climate than we are accustomed to, and there were massive puddles everywhere here. The sky looked to threaten rain, in a light grey and dull kind of way, but it very kindly held off.
We could have taken a tour of the mill but it wasn’t really gripping us and there was a farm gate with a beautiful rustic garden beyond that we were allowed to go into – so we did. Well, you’d have been hard-pushed to stop me actually.
Take note of the rusty roof to the left of centre in the photo above – I’ll show you the other side shortly. Looks like we were able to see a parterre garden after all.
We returned to the car, which was in need of fuel, and the petrol station had been back at the beginning of the town so I asked David if he would mind if I walked so that I could take some photos of the homes along the way. He drove off and left me for my photo walk. I passed several locals along the way and all returned my smile or spoke, they were so friendly! One lady in particular had a chat with me and I told her much I was appreciating the beauty. She told me that because she’d lived there all her life she never really saw it. I hope she tried to look a little more for a few days afterwards.
The buildings for the whole of Tasmania were amazing, but these in Oatlands had a special feel to them – the whole town did! It had a special rustic peace that I could have been happy never to leave. Here’s the other side of the rusty roof. I just don’t know, given what appears to be a massive hole in the centre of the roof, whether this is still occupied or not. And more photos from the High Street until David filled the car and came back for me.
In how many towns can you stand in the middle of the road, taking photos at your leisure?
David joined me and we walked over the road to explore the church, but it was all closed up and a big disappointment, as the few churches we had attempted to visit had all been. We had seen countless beautiful old rustic churches but never had anywhere to pull up and explore or photograph them. This is probably my biggest regret of the holiday. One day I will return to Tasmania and make it my mission to photograph them all. I guess I’ll have to do it on a motorbike to be able to pull over.
Anyway, I did get a photo of the most beautiful blossoms on a tree in the garden next door LOL
Then we were on our way again, heading for Launceston and whatever awaited us there. I was excited about the accommodation, this was always going to be a highlight of the holiday – but first we had to get there.
As we drove along there were tall, tall trees covered in what appeared to be more May blossoms, I could not believe my eyes. At one point they lined the road and must have been 20 feet high. Whether this is possible for a hawthorn to be so tall I don’t know.
We also passed a great number of sheep, some shorn and others still waiting. I think the farmers that waited had done the right thing, the wind was strong and bitterly cold!
Another surprise was a couple of poppy fields. We knew that poppies were grown in Tasmania for medicinal purposes but the surprise was that the fields of them were white! Again there was nowhere to stop, so this was a drive-by shooting travelling at 110 kph.
We came to a fork in the road where we could choose between going right to Evandale or left to Perth – yes, there’s a tiny town in Tasmania named Perth. We knew we were going to Evandale on Sunday so of course we had to go and see our hometown namesake!
The sun came out and it was actually quite hot while we drove around Perth a little. I totally fell in love with this amazing cottage and made David stop so that I could take some photos. What’s not to love about the incredible beauty of this?
Next stop Launceston so I activated Ms America with the name of the street we needed, and off we went. We found the streets a little misleading and the strangest thing of all was Launceston’s propensity for painting arrows on the road close to traffic lights with no warning before-hand that, out of the two lanes, one lane may only allow you to go left so you have to be in the right lane to go straight through or, at the very next set, the right lane only allowed you to turn right so you had to be in the left lane to go straight through. Needless to say, we took a few wrong turns. Ms America was brilliant at just changing her plans though and never once told us we were stupid or made us to a U-turn, she just plotted a new course.
So we found Balfour Street. The reviews had said that from Balfour you turn into a little leafy-lined road and were suddenly in a new world. We could not find a leafy-lined road at all so we pulled over and I looked up the street number to type in as well. We headed off down the road again, only to be caught out by one of those traffic lights that forced us to turn a left but we did manage to eventually arrive.
From the front it just looked like a normal house with a stone driveway on the left, but it said ‘Alice’s Cottages and Spa Hideaways’ so we drove in, past a hedged lawn, around a curve, and there were the 4 storybook cottages. I had expected them to be individual, but they were joined together.
Each had its little parking bay in front of it and we saw on the doors ‘Scottish Cottage’, ‘English Cottage’, ‘Welsh Cottage’ and ‘Irish Cottage’. I was almost literally buzzing with excitement and nostalgia for the ‘old ways’ as I urged David to pull into the parking bay for the Welsh Cottage – our destination. The bay had a large white rose tree in full and glorious bloom between us and what turned out to be the bathroom window. There were forget-me-nots by the stone steps up to the door and a little ‘dog kennel’ with chopped firewood inside. It was like the most beautiful home in the world and I loved it with all my heart already. We had not even checked in or opened the door yet!
We went to reception at the back of the main house and checked in with Rob, who introduced himself to us, gave us a map of Launceston, and pointed out some local spots of interest before giving us the key and wishing us a happy stay. He assured us that anything at all that we needed or wanted, please feel free to ask, and walked us to the cottage to open the door and show us around.
Now I want to tumble over myself telling the story and showing photos all at the same time. I just cannot begin to tell what a goosebump-making experience this was. The cottage was so incredibly authentic and beautiful, it was such a joy and honour to be able to stay there! And the cottages *were* genuine. They had been built around 1850 as workers cottages and now hold both National and Heritage listing. There was every necessary modern comfort, yet the over-riding feel was the age, history, warmth, comfort and welcoming.
We had been told in the reviews on Trip Advisor that if you leave the front door open the cats may come in and we didn’t mind that a bit. In actual fact, the 2 cats got into the cottage before we did, and were regular, and welcome visitors.
I guess it’s best if I show you photos – a picture speaking a 1,000 words and all that.
You’re right that the spa would be the least authentic part of the cottage but we sure weren’t complaining! I’d deliberately chosen the cottage *with* a spa as a part of David’s birthday present and it was a wonderful 2-person spa too!
Did you spot the little white stepping stool under the dressing table in the bedroom? I’m guessing some people would honestly need it – that bed was very high indeed!!!
I also want to mention the little supplies and inclusions that the cottage had. I just can’t explain how these extra touches added to what was already a perfect home away from home; they just blew us away!
On the kitchen table was a basket with 2 apples, an orange and 2 tomatoes, then there was tea, coffee, sugar, and an assortment of breakfast cereals. In the fridge was full-fat milk, hi-lo milk, even coffee for the plunger that was on the bench, a basket filled with the most generous breakfast supplies I have ever seen, and a few items with price tags on that we could purchase if we wished. There were such things as toothpicks in the kitchen and a huge range of books and some board games to play and a few children’s toys in the lounge. There was a really decent quantity of complimentary port with 2 huge chocolate truffles and a pack 2 delicious shortbread. Everything was carefully wrapped in cellophane and closed with lilac curling ribbon.
The breakfast basket held 2 croissants, 2 English muffins, 2 packs of 4 slices of bread, 2 tubs of ‘2-fruits’, 2 flavoured yogurts, 2 reasonably sized packs of flavoured cheese, an apple juice, an orange juice, some individual serves of butter as well as marmalade, honey, vegemite, peanut paste and assorted jams.
The bathroom had full-sized plunger bottles of the most heavenly scented lavender hand wash, bath gel, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion as well as a jar of make-up remover cotton pads, and there was bath oil or bath salts near the spa.
For sale were 6 bottles of wine, stored in the crate on its side that you can see in the photo of David peeping at me, a platter of 5 assorted flavour cheeses, beer, coke, bottled water, crispy chips, marshmallows, a box of chocolate truffles, peanuts and some individual chocolate bars. All of these had prices on and there was a little jar to put your money in if you wished to buy.
And I mustn’t forget – everything was so sparkling clean! That’s so important in accommodation I think.
Even if we’d been rained in for the whole 5 days it would still have been a wonderful holiday, but fortunately we were not. We heard later that the day before we got to Launceston the weather had been so bad that the airport had to close and planes were forced to land in Hobart instead – and we were to see much evidence of the bad weather over the next 4 days.
Well, I’m going to stop here, even though there are more adventures for this day, because this is long enough for any web page, even though so much of the length is photos.
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