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Flavour Trail : Between Devonport and Launceston

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The drive from Devonport to Launceston is a tasty trip – make sure you stop at every location to get a true feel of the local produce of the region. Each place is worth a visit, and there is something that caters for everyone.

 

House of Anvers

This was our first stop out of Devonport and we were thoroughly impressed. The House of Anvers Chocolate Factory was established in 1931 and resides within a Californian bungalow on 1.1 hectares of gardens. The site offers chocolate tasting, viewing of factory operations, a museum about the origins of chocolate, and a delightful cafe.

 

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We went straight to the tasting station and tried the hazelnut truffle, rum and raisin truffle and cappuccino fudge. But the real treat was walking away with a block of Fortunato No. 4 chocolate – the rarest chocolate in the world.

 

Thought to be extinct since 1916, the Pure Nacional cacao plant was rediscovered in Peru in 2008 and is ultimate single origin source of chocolate. Believed to be the mother of cacao, the cacao pods contain white beans that are shipped to Switzerland to be transformed into couverture chocolate. House of Anvers is the only place in Australia that has the right to sell it.

 

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Cherry Shed

The Cherry Shed sells all things cherry – liqueur and port, ice cream, jams, chutney, cake, gifts and chocolate. There is also a huge tree made of cherry pips inside the cafe. Tastings are available and there are plenty of cherry themed things everywhere – including Cherry Ripe!

 

If you’re not going to stop for the cherry delights inside, at least stop for the Big Cherries outside. They’re so big, you can go inside.

 

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Seven Sheds Brewery

Seven Sheds Brewery has been open since 2008 and is located in Railton – the Topiary Capital of Australia.

 

 

We tasted five beers during our visit. Juz liked the Paradise Pale but her favourite was the Razzamatazz (5.2%), a light, tart and dry beer flavoured with local raspberries and blackberries.

 

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Dave’s faves were the Black Inca (5.8%) – infused with Peruvian Fortunato chocolate, toasted quinoa and oats – and the Kentish Ale (5.2%), a flavoursome, full bodied ale with a great balance of hops and malted barley.

 

Seven Sheds also grow their own hops – Fuggle, Goldings and others – and you can see the hops garden from the bar.

 

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Ashgrove Cheese

A must for any cheese lover – there’s a fabulous selection of plain and flavoured cheeses like cheddar and feta, even lavender cheese! They also sell a bunch of local produce like jams and chocolates, and there is a great display of colourful cows outside.

 

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Christmas Hill Raspberry Farm & Van Deimans Land Ice Creamery

A nice place to stop for some chocolate covered raspberries and interesting ice cream flavours.

 

Liffey Falls

About 30 minutes south of Deloraine, with a few kilometres of gravel road, Liffey Falls is definitely worth the detour.

 

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Stretch your legs on the 20 minute walk to the falls. There are a few stops along the way where the water cascades down shelves of rock, and if you’re lucky, you might spot a lizard or snake.

 

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If you still have energy, there’s a really short walk just behind the toilet to the Big Tree.  As the name suggests, it’s pretty big.

 

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Bracknell River Reserve

A great place to stop for the night, the Bracknell River Reserve on the western banks of the Liffey River offers free camping, toilets and a BBQ area.

 

If you enjoy fishing, drop a line in the river and you might just pull out a trout.

 

Ta Ta Lizard

Wildlife in our Backyard!

Asian House Gecko

Asian House Gecko

Scientific name: Hemidactylus frenatus 

 

Part of the lizard family, geckos usually hang around the warmer parts of Australia, so there is no wonder why they love Darwin.  The ones that hang around our house are Asian House Geckos, which are the only introduced species of gecko in Australia.

 

They love living around houses where lights attract insects. Geckos are the most successful invasive reptiles in Australia and prey on insects, spiders and even other small lizards. They usually come out at night and they have a distinctive call – “chuck, chuck, chuck” – which is surprisingly loud considering the size of the lizard.

 

Geckos have little toe pads that allow them to cling onto walls and ceilings, and what differentiates the Asian House Gecko from native geckos is that they have little claws too.  They can be grey or pinkish brown with bulging eyes that have no eyelids.

 

They breed all year round in the tropics and the lady geckos lay two eggs every month or two.  Rumor has it that geckos are parthenogenetic, which means that they don’t need males to reproduce, but it is also known that lady geckos can store sperm for up to 6 weeks.

 

Asian House Gecko

 

 

Ta Ta Lizards (aka Gilbert’s Dragon, Centralian Lashtail)

Scientific Name: Lophognathus gilberti

 

The name ‘ta-ta’ comes from one of their gestures.  After they run, they lift their front legs and look like they’re waving goodbye (ta-ta)!  We’re not sure why they do this, but it could be to distract predators, and we have also seen them bob their heads after a sprint.

 

They have small spines along their neck and two broad stripes along each side of their body.  Their colours vary from grey to reddish brown but they have been known to change colour from light to dark.  They are semi-arboreal, which means they love living in trees but are apt at swimming and running along the ground as well.

 

The breeding season is between September and February and they lay their eggs in a sheltered nest.  The sex of the hatchlings depends on the temperature of incubation, with higher temperatures producing more females.

 

We’ve had a few dragons launch themselves into the pool.  Luckily we’ve been around to fish them out.  They are so exhausted they don’t move for at least 20 minutes; we leave them propped on a tree trunk in the sun and they disappear in the scrub soon after.

 

 

Green Tree Frogs

Scientific Name: Litoria caerulea

 

Green tree frogs are usually bright green but can turn brown or khaki green, depending on their mood.  Their underside is creamy white and helps the frogs cling to smooth surfaces in conjunction with their toe pads.  Females can grow up to 12cm in length while males are much smaller.

 

Frog

 

They live in cool, damp climates and usually come out after the rain.  They munch on spiders, crickets, lizards, other frogs and are good to have around the house because they eat cockroaches too.

 

Their distinctive ‘wark-wark-wark’ call is only produced by males but both sexes can scream if they are taken by a predator, which is supposed to startle the predator to release them. After the rain, the males come out and ‘wark’ in chorus.  Sometimes, there will be one that sings out of time, and then all of a sudden, they all stop – as if on cue.

 

Noisy frogs! from Our Naked Australia on Vimeo.

 

 

Green tree frogs breed during the wet season and use still water such as water tanks and buckets to lay their eggs.  The eggs turn into tiny tadpoles which eventually develop into large tadpoles with legs and arms.  At this point, they leave the water and start their life as a frog.  Native to Australia, the Green Tree Frog has protected status under law.

 

 

Northern Brushtail Possum

Scientific Name: Trichosurus vulpecular arnhemensis

 

This is the most common possum to hang around built-up areas in Darwin.  They are nocturnal marsupials that eat fruit, flowers and seeds and are protected under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000.

 

We’ve seen a couple over the last few months but they disappear as fast as they appear.  We rescued this one from the pool filter.  After a quick towel dry, we released it and left some banana out, just in case it wanted a nibble when it had calmed down.

 

Possum - nawwww!

Possum - high and dry!

 

Frogs love the Kimberley

Experience : The Kimberley – Part 2

About halfway along the Gibb River Road is a turnoff that heads north to Mitchell Falls.  If you are well prepared for the trip, do it – the drive might be long but the hike to the falls is worth it.

 

Mitchell Plateau

Located in the Northern Kimberley, the Mitchell Plateau is home to the Mitchell River National Park, which covers about 115,000 hectares of rugged wilderness.  The road in is more rough than the western end of the Gibb River Road, with lots of sharp, rocky bits, river crossings and muddy tracks with big red puddles.

 

We saw a few dingoes that looked more like wild dogs and passed forests of livistona palms which really added some great character to the landscape.

 

 

Miners Pool

Our first stop along the Gibb River-Kalumburu Road, Miners Pool is a great place to stop and rest.  The camping area is equipped with oil barrel toilets and camping fees are payable at the Drysdale Homestead.

 

Drysdale Homestead

We needed to top up on fuel and water so we pulled into Drysdale H/S.  As expected, fuel prices were through the roof – even more expensive than the Nullarbor – petrol was about $2.40 p/L while diesel was $2.35 p/L.  The store wasn’t much different, with flour going at $6 a kilo and a box of shapes was just over $5.

 

Drinking water was free though, and we filled up every vessel we could.  There is also a beer garden and food outlet, and the people that we met were really friendly.

 

 

Lawley Lookout

In between the King Edward River and the Mitchell Falls National Park is a rest stop that overlooks a valley filled with livistona palms.  It’s a great view and worth stopping to take a look and stretch your legs before you continue on towards Mitchell Falls.

 

Mitchell Falls (Punamii-inpuu)

Located within the Mitchell River National Park.  Entry fees apply but if you have a WA Parks Pass you’re all sorted.

 

The 8km walk to the falls proved to be a great day out.  Some parts of the track were rocky and difficult while other parts are level and easy.  There were heaps of flowers along the way, as well as lizards and frogs.  Make sure you wear your togs because there are heaps of waterholes for a nice swim.  The area is sacred to the Wunambal people, please respect the area and approach waterholes quietly and courteously.

 

 

Little Merten Falls – This was the first water feature of the day, and even though it’s called Little Merten Falls, it’s a long drop down into the waterhole.  We saw a goanna basking in the sun, and climbed down behind the waterfall to check out an Aboriginal art gallery with a few Bradshaw style drawings.  We stopped here on our way back to camp to cool off under the spray.

 

Big Merten Falls When we arrived, we could see why this was called the Big Merten Falls.  The drop down in the gorge was at least 100 metres and it was daunting to look down.  We crossed the river via stepping stones at the top of the waterfall.

 

Big Merten Falls

 

Mitchell Falls – Wow – so much water, power and noise!  The hike was definitely worth the view as the Mitchell River cascades 150 metres down into the gorge.  The water in the river is drinkable so we sat down, had lunch and rehydrated before heading back to camp.

 

 

Camping

It’s $7 per adult per night to camp, and the facilities include Jumanji drop toilets, fire pits and generator/no-generator zones.  Ultimately, it didn’t really matter whether you were camped next to a generator or not, it was bloody noisy all day because of the helicopter operation next to the campsites that flew tourists over the Mitchell Falls.

 

The campfire curfew was between 4pm and 8am, which is just enough time to make dinner and breakfast!  While we were cooking up some faux fried rice, we got some camping neighbours and they turned out to be a great couple.  Andrea and James (aka Fox & Lamb) were holidaying for 2 weeks in their Lambcruiser and were on their way back home.  We sat around the fire, chatted and sucked cans well into the night, shared stories and had some great laughs.  It was totes awesomeballs to meet these guys – absolute tits!

 

The Lamb

 

Surveyor Pool

After spending the night at Mitchell Falls, we headed north to Surveyor Pool in the morning.  Access to the pool is via a 4WD track with 2-3 metre tall grass on either side, plus a short walk to the river.

 

It was like an oasis – the river tumbled down into a beautiful pool surrounded by pandanus and livistona palms.  We only saw one saltwater croc – and that was enough to confirm that we weren’t going to climb down into the gorge.  We stayed on top of the falls and had a refreshing dip in the shallow rapids.

 

 

Eastern Kimberley

The scenery in the east of the Kimberley is really picturesque. In the distance and at the side of the road, there were fantastic rocky outcrops, escarpments and mountains.  Once we got back on the Gibb River Road, the scenery became more striking but the road became shittier.  We were now a few days into our Kimberley adventure and we were definitely grateful for all our recovery gear, but felt silly that we didn’t properly stock up on supplies.

 

Eastern Kimberley

 

Take care of your vehicle

Don’t go during the Wet Season between September and April.  The roads are often closed or impassable and if you get stuck, it’ll cost you big time. The Dry Season is best – and if you go at the start of the season there will be more greenery and water.

 

Check with locals about the road conditions and always be prepared with spare tyres, a tyre repair kit, and even a snorkel to get you over the river crossings.  Petrol vehicles need not apply.

 

Stock up!

We did a shocking job of stocking up before entering the remote Kimberley.  Sure, there are stores within the homesteads where you can buy essential items, but we couldn’t justify playing $6 for a kilo of flour when we could have prepared better and got it for only $1.

 

Good things to stockpile include WATER, crackers, peanut butter, rice, tinned tuna, carrots, potatoes, canned vegetables and meals.  If you want to make damper, you’ll also need flour, butter and milk or milk powder.

 

 

Emma Gorge 

As soon as we got there, we wanted to leave.  Emma Gorge is occupied by a big, fancy pants resort with green grass, a gift shop, restaurant and stylish accommodation.  Plus, we had to pay $10 each just to be there.  We declined and left.

 

The Grotto

When you reach the end of the Gibb River Road, turn north at the Great Northern Highway and head towards Wyndham.  The Grotto is about 15kms up the road and is a shaded waterhole within a gorge.  There are 140 manmade steps down into the gorge and it’s a nice place to cool off.

 

During the Wet Season, there is a gush of water that pours down into the gorge.  It was a little dry when we were there so the water was murky and stagnant, but it was still a nice place to be.  Plus, the water can be up to 175m deep.

 

 

Warmun (Turkey Creek)

The roadhouse is a great place to stop and shop for groceries or a decent steak sandwich, and there is a nifty mechanic in town in case you need any spare parts for your 4WD.  Warmun is one of the Kimberley’s largest communities with a population of over 400.  Please be respectful – Warmun is a closed aboriginal community.

 

The Bungle Bungles

A relatively new discovery in the Kimberley, the Bungle Bungles and Purnululu National Park are definitely worth the 2 hour drive along the 50km dirt road.  Check out our post on the Bungle Bungles here.

 

Reflections - The Bungle Bungles

Sunset over our campsite

Camping : Narrung

After conquering the Coonawarra Wine Region, we awoke early the next day and drove two hours from a rest area just north of Kingston SE to Narrung Jetty Reserve, a free camping area by the ferry that ushers cars over the water between Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert.

 

We arrived just before midday and set up camp.  There were toilets, a tap that produced non-drinkable water, a sheltered picnic bench and fireplaces scattered around the area. We also had neighbours – a pair of grey nomads that had been travelling around the country for the last 18 months and still had another 18 months to go.  They had the complete set up – caravan with griller and stove, double bed, TV and CD player, toilet and shower, and banana bread baking in their FlavourWave oven. Of course, all of this was powered by a noisy generator.  They even had their cat with them – a gorgeous tortoiseshell kitty that lazed about in the hot sun.

 

 

It was a scorcher of a day but we were still curious to explore the area.  The birdlife that surrounded the jetty and ferry was dynamic, with cormorants and silver gulls sunning and preening themselves and the giant pelicans soaring above or skimming the water of Lake Alexandrina in search of a tasty morsel.

 

There were a few boats moored by the ferry – fishing boats that would leave first thing in the morning and return in the afternoon.  Apparently, all they would catch is carp. The ferry is a 24hr service that connects the northern and southern ends of Poltalloch Road.  We hitched a ride to the other side to check out the lighthouse on the hill.

 

 

The Point Malcolm Lighthouse is the smallest lighthouse and only inland lighthouse in Australia.  It was operational between 1878 and 1931 to mark the narrow passage between Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert, the passage that the ferry crosses.  The area was used frequently in the 1800s by fishing boats, sailing vessels and paddle steamers from the Murray River.  In 1931, the lighthouse was replaced with a light on a pole to guide commercial and recreational traffic on the lakes.

 

On the way back to camp, we purchased a huge bag of firewood from the ferry operator for only $5.   We stayed in Narrung for two days, enjoying the lack of reception and the quiet, whist loathing the flies.  One of the highlights of our lazy days was a visit from a shingleback lizard that decided that the best way to get from A to B was through our camp.

 

 

The nearest town is the aboriginal community of Raukkan.  It was established in 1982 (before then, the area was called Port McLeay) and is administered by the Ngarrindjeri people, has a population of about 120 people and is the birthplace of David Unaipon, the guy who is on the $50 note.  He was a preacher, inventor and was the first Aboriginal man to publish in English, writing for newspapers and magazines like the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

 

Shingleback Lizard

Wildlife : Shingleback Lizard

Shingleback Lizard

 

Name: Shingleback Lizard
Scientific Name: Trachydosaurus rugosus

Alternative Names: Stumpy-tailed Lizard, Boggi,  Sleepy Lizard, Bobtail Lizard, Two-headed Lizard and Pinecone Lizard.  This lizard has more alternative names than any other Australian animal.

 

Location: Through the southern end of Australia from WA to Victoria, and up through the NSW & QLD outback.

 

Fast Facts:

  • It is related to the common bluetongue lizard
  • His tongue is blue to ward off potential threats
  • They can be up to 40cm in length
  • They’re thick scaly skin protects them against water loss in their dry habitat
  • Their favourite food are flowers, but they also eat foilage, fruits, berries and insects.

 

Cuteness Rating : About as cute as The Thing

Danger Rating : Pick on someone your own size…

 

Shingleback Lizard Threat Display

Our Encounter

After spending the night camping by the Darling River, we drove south east along the Ivanhoe-Menindee Road to get to the Cobb Hwy.  This road is a little bumpy (especially if you’re driving Toyota Corolla Hatchback) and there was a lot of slowing down to avoid massive pot holes and roadkill, but we got to see a lot of wildlife.

 

We noticed that there were lizards on the side of the road, warming their scales in the hot sun.  We tried to stop a few times to take pictures but they scuttled into the grasses before we could get a shot.

 

We did get lucky though.  One lizard was social enough to stick around for a photo shoot and threat display. Even though he was 100 times smaller than us, he still had a go and we were hesitant to get any closer.  We admired him for a little longer before getting back into the Corolla for Ivanhoe.

 

We saw another shingleback in Narrung, SA – he was cruising through our campsite, looking for some shade from the harsh sun.

 

Juz checking out the shingleback that ventured through our camp.