Road Trip Tasmania author: Jennifer Cossins
Our guest author, Jennifer Cossins, is a Tasmanian artist, writer, traveller, coffee addict, nature lover and freedom seeker. She runs her creative business, Red Parka Designs out of Criterion Street, Hobart in Tasmania. Whilst under COVID travel-restrictions Jen has been roaming around her island home. Here Jen describes her first three-day road trip and stay at Tin Dragon Cottages in North East Tasmania.
Day One of Road Trip Tasmania: Driving North from Hobart
Our mid-winter road trip north from Hobart began with a beautiful drive up Tasmania’s stunning East Coast, with an obligatory stop at the Bicheno Blowhole, which was blowing impressively despite the calm waters of the day. After a quick stop in the lovely seaside town of St. Helens for a coffee at Coffee Away, we took the road inland to begin our North East adventure!
The best thing about the North East is…. Well.. everything! Even the drive through these areas is stunning in almost every direction you look. The towns are small and quaint, the trees are amazing, the farmland is lush and the views as you climb up and down the winding hilly roads are stunning. And then, it all gets even more impressive once you leave the main road.
St Columba Falls, Pyengana
Our first stop was just past Pyengana where we walked to St Columba Falls. This incredible waterfall is one of the highest in Tasmania and is also wide and meandering. The walk in only takes about 20 minutes and is easy, catering to all ages and fitness levels, and is stunning in itself as you walk alongside the creek through the magnificent rainforest. This truly was a magical way to begin our North East adventure!
Myrtle Forest Walk
Our next stop was the short but incredible Myrtle Forest Walk. This is a great walk to take young kids on as it’s short and easy but so, so beautiful! It literally only takes 10 minutes (with photo stops!) but you get to see some of the oldest, most beautiful myrtle trees in the world.
From here, we drove on to Weldborough where we turned off the main road to Mount Paris Dam.
Mount Paris Dam
After getting a hot tip from my friend Rebecca Thomson (AKA @queenripsnort on insta) we took a short detour to visit Mount Paris Dam on our Tasmania road trip last week, and damn (😉) are we glad we did!
The dam was built to service the local tin mine back in the day, but has been abandoned since the 70s, and in the 80s a hole was blasted in the wall to allow the river to flow naturally again. The result is this gorgeous little river flowing through the old dam wall!
📌 To get to the dam, turn off the main road at Weldborough – it’s clearly marked – and then it’s about a 15 minute drive down a dirt road. The small road off this dirt road that takes you close to the dam is rough and muddy (at least it was when we were there in the middle of winter) so if you’d don’t have a 4WD (we don’t!), your best bet is to park at the top of the road and walk down.
My other top tip? Try not to jump around on the rocks in excitement at discovering a cool new place because they are super slippery and you may end up bruised and sore for the next couple of weeks. True story – I’m such a klutz!
From here we drove another 15 minutes to Branxholm and Tin Dragon Cottages. After settling in to our cottage, we walked along the river watching the setting sun…just beautiful!
Tin Dragon Cottages
I’ve wanted to stay at Tin Dragon Cottages since my friend Phillippa Moore (AKA @travelling_philbury on insta) posted about them last year. So now, whilst we’re taking some time to explore our home state and wanting to support all the great independent businesses here in Tassie, was the perfect time!
There are several eco cottages here on 36 acres of land and we loved how everything here is done so well with environment protection as top priority. The property is a haven for native wildlife and has a beautiful river running through that is home to platypuses! They sustainably generate all their power needs, are plastic free, provide compost options for guests and use recycled grey water… and there’s a herd of alpacas that live there too.
Christine and Graham are lovely and knowledgeable hosts who are passionate about protecting this beautiful part of Tasmania. They also are very Covid aware, so we felt very safe in our gorgeous, clean, eco cottage.
All in all, staying here felt good in all the right ways and we couldn’t recommend them more. That hot tub was seriously amazing too – there’s nothing quite like relaxing in the tub at night with a glass of wine and an incredible view of the stars above!
Oh, and did I mention alpacas?? 😍
Day Two of Road Trip Tasmania: Mining heritage, rainforest, mountains and a waterfall
Today we drove to Little Blue Lake (via Derby but unfortunately nothing was open so we couldn’t stop for coffee as planned). Note from Tin Dragon Cottages: in these uncertain COVID times it is best to contact our local eateries before heading out.
Little Blue Lake and Cube Rock
The magical Little Blue Lake in Tasmania has become a bit of an Instagram celebrity of late. But I had not heard of it till fairly recently despite living here my whole life, and finally last week we visited. It is truly beautiful and the colour is incredible!
The reason the lake is so blue is because this area used to be a tin mine and after digging up the area, it exposed the white clay which now forms the bottom of the lake. The blue colour is actually the reflection of the sky off the white clay!
📌 The lake is near the road between the small towns of Pioneer and Gladstone in Tasmania’s beautiful north east region, and is clearly marked.
Walk to Cube Rock
Despite what you see on instagram, there’s more to see here than just the lake, as impressive as it is. And although not being safe to swim here, the area has regenerated a lot since mining ceased. There’s a confusing maze of trails at the end of the lake, but by carefully following the sometimes hard to spot signs and markers on trees, we found our way to the Cube Rock trail. This path took us on a beautiful winding journey up the hills behind the lake – it’s quite a climb to get right up there but the scenery along the way is so beautiful, including some of the most impressive moss and lichen covered rocks I have ever seen. When you finally come out on top of the massive rocks, the views are incredible!
Cube Rock itself is at the end of this trail and is an amazing piece of geology to see. It looks as though it’s just balancing there, at the top of the mountain, waiting for someone to give it a nudge and watch it roll all the way down to land in the Little Blue Lake, but I suspect it’s far more firmly attached than it looks!
About three quarters of the way up there’s a large rocky expanse that was perfect for our picnic lunch with beautiful views of the rock up ahead. Whilst not too challenging, it’s a steady climb up hill for about an hour. So make sure you don’t do what we did and forget to pack the water bottle in your day pack!
The Blue Tier Forest Reserve
Once we’d returned from the rock and rehydrated, we drove south, through beautiful Gould’s Country, then into the Blue Tier Forest Reserve, where we walked the lovely Goblin Forest Walk, a beautiful 20 minute stroll in the heart of the Blue Tiers. There are several longer walking tracks around here but as we were limited in time, we only did this one this time.
Next stop was Halls Falls – this wonderfully peaceful spot provided the most special moment of the whole trip – just sitting on a damp, cold log, listening to the birds and the waterfall nearby – total peace!
So, this was probably my favourite walk that we did! Although that’s a big claim as I loved every single step of every trail we took.
📌 The trail here takes about an hour return and it is a relatively easy and very pretty walk. The falls are nice, but even nicer is this gorgeous river section, so be sure to keep walking about 10 minutes past the falls lookout to get here.
Home Base and a Meal at the Local
After cooking in our cabin the first night, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at the local pub in Branxholm tonight. Especially in light of COVID, we were keen to support the local pub. We were not disappointed by the friendly owner and locals who welcomed us warmly for the evening.
After a hearty pub meal, we enjoyed another bath under the stars at Tin Dragon Cottages… the perfect way to end a day of exploring!
Day Three of Road Trip Tasmania: Driving South from Branxholm
We drove south from Branxholm to The Mount Victoria Conservation Reserve to walk the Cashs Gorge and Ralphs Falls Walk. From here we drive home via Mathinna and Fingal, then back onto the highway and home to Hobart.
Ralphs Falls and Cashs Gorge
Ralph’s Falls and Cash’s Gorge can both be seen on this 1 hour circuit hike which takes in a beautiful range of Tasmanian landscapes in a fairly short time! We started the circuit heading off to Cash’s Gorge across the quintessentially Tasmanian buttongrass plains. Then we headed through forest to come out at the gorge lookout for stunning views across both the forest reserve and the distant farm land.
After a short backtrack, the Tasmania road trip continues around to Ralphs Falls. This is an amazing tall, narrow waterfall that pours over an incredible dolerite fault formation. This trail takes you through another patch of beautiful Tasmanian rainforests with a few picturesque stream crossings as well. It is an easy, flat walk and well worth the drive in from the main road.
Another thing you may not know about Ralphs Falls is the mighty community effort that made this walk possible. I loved this story of a community coming together to not only preserve and protect their land but also make it accessible and enjoyable for locals and tourists alike!
Shinrinyoku: The Calming Practice of Forest Breathing
Our trip to the North East of Tasmania was the perfect place for us to relax, explore and find some much needed peace.
But let’s face it, peace has been hard to find lately! Even here in Tasmania where there’s not been many COVID cases and our government is being financially supportive (which is why I’m not a giant ball of stress about the fact that my business is soooo quiet).
The constant thought of what might happen if… is hard to shake as the future feels so uncertain. But when I’m out in nature in beautiful places like this, it’s easy to relax and think this is all I need. And even though we can’t stay out in the forest forever, getting as much of that feeling and holding it close to my heart when I get back to the real world is what’s keeping me sane right now. More than ever, I’m so grateful to be a Tasmanian!
This year has brought so many challenges but there’s been one big silver lining for me, and that’s been discovering and appreciating my local area more. So I hope wherever you are, and however close to you the craziness comes, that you are finding your own ways to keep sane. And if you’re lucky enough to be a fellow Tasmanian, there has never been a better time than now to get out and explore our own backyard!
You can read more about Jennifer Cossins road trip Tasmania adventures on her Instagram page: @redparka_roams