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Food & Wine : Hobart & Surrounds

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Tassie has an abundance of local food, wine, beer and whisky, we tried our best to visit as many as we could! There are a few places located in a the heart of Hobart, but there is also the Coal River Valley out to the east, and to the north west is the Derwent River Valley.

 

If a place was within 30 minutes of Hobart, then we included it in the surrounding area. We started our tasting trail to the east of Hobart in Richmond.

 

The Wicked Cheese Company

This was the first stop of our tasting tour of the Hobartian surrounds. The Wicked Cheese Company was established in 2007 and is an award winning cheesery. They use both goat and cow’s milk to create a variety of cheeses such as cheddar, brie and camembert. The outlet also sells various local produce like sausages and chocolate. We picked up a Mediterranean terrine to munch on later.

 

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Nearby is the historic Richmond Bridge, which was built in 1823. It’s the oldest bridge in Australia that’s still in use and is a popular stop with the tourists.

 

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Frogmore Creek

One of our favourite wine tasting sessions happened at this beautiful award winning cellar door. Even if you’re not into wine, you can still enjoy the architecture of the cellar door, great views of the winery or peruse the local produce available for purchase.

 

We were lucky enough to be just in time to grab one of the last bottles of 2008 Mardi, a delicious sparkling white wine with hints of orange and brioche – a little like a Panettone. We also loved the 2015 Riesling, with serious pineapple flavours.

 

Of the reds, we enjoyed the 2012 Pinot Noir. It had spent 10 months in French Oak and had luscious fresh berries, a hint of cedar, and smooth, silky tannins!

 

We walked away from Frogmore Creek with a bottle of the pinot noir and Mardi sparking. When we were strolling through Salamanca Markets, we saw a Frogmore Creek stall and got to try a few other wines. We learnt that Josef Chromy used to be their winemaker, which is why both wineries have a Ruby Pinot Noir – a delicious sweet wine with blackberry flavours and creamy cashew.

 

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Sullivan’s Cove Distillery

This distiller is located in Cambridge and while the exterior doesn’t seem like much, once you’re inside, you just want to sit down on the beautiful lounges and sip on a whisky while you watch the afternoon go by listening to some relaxed tunes like Neil Young.

 

Sullivan’s Cove Distillery take pride in their drops, and the convict symbol on their label is a historical footnote of the first drop point for convicts at Sullivan’s Cove. They also said that their whiskies are distilled with conviction.

 

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We forked out $25 to taste a dribble of three whiskies, and an additional $10 for Juz to taste the gin.

 

All their whiskies are aged 12 years minimum before being taste tested. Instead of ageing for a certain amount of time, each whisky is tasted every 6 months or so to ensure that it’s at its peak.

 

Of the whiskies that we tried, our favourites were the award winners. The American Oak was sweet with hints of banoffee and vanilla, and the French Oak was full of toffee and fruit cake flavours.

 

Cascade Brewery

Cascade Brewery is the oldest brewery in Australia. It was established by convict Peter Degraves, who was not happy with the quality of beer in Hobart. He was released from goal in 1831 and set about brewing beer, and by December 1832, the first Cascade beer was sold.

 

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We would have loved to go on a tour of the brewery but all we had time for was a stop in for a tasting session by the beautiful gardens. A paddle of four beers was only $12 and you can choose any four beers you like.  We opted for the Lager, Draught, Pale Ale and Stout – all flavoured with Pride of Ringwood Hops but with varying degrees of crispness, bitterness and flavour.

 

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Larks Distillery

Located in the heart of Hobart, this popular Whisky bar has an incredible selection of spirits. We stumbled across the cellar door by accident during our evening walk around the Waterfront. We loved the atmosphere of the place – it was almost like finding a cave of wonders.

 

We settled ourselves at the bar and got the tasting paddle that included three little nips for $20. The bar staff were really friend and happy to talk about the spirits that we were tasting.

 

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The first was the 43% Classic Cask, which was a bit rough. The second on the paddle, the 58% Cask Strength whisky was gorgeous. Yes, it also had a good burn but it smelt like maple syrup and the taste had hints of coffee liqueur.  The final little nip was a Whisky Liqueur. It tasted a little like Jaegermeister, which probably explains the secret herbs and spices in the recipe. While it was a little medicinal, it was sweet and syrupy.

 

Derwent Valley Estate

We needed to waste a little time so we stopped in at the Derwent Valley Estate for a tasting. Our session was hosted by a nearly deaf old codger who emitted an air of playful petulance and loose authority. We tried to be playful too but it was a little awkward because he couldn’t hear our jokes.

 

We made it through a tasting and walked away with the Rose – smooth and sweet like strawberry jam, but we would have loved to take the buttery but peachy 2014 Chardonnay home but it was simply too pricey to justify the purchase.

 

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Drink : East Coast Tasmania

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There isn’t a lot down the east coast other than beautiful coastline but there are a few places to sample a drink. We highly recommend the Ironhouse Point Centre and Gala Estate. Both are wonderful locations with a great selection of drink for tasting.

 

Ironhouse Point Brewery, Vineyard and Distillery

This massive complex by the sea is a combined restaurant, convention centre and hotel. They have a separate tasting station away from the bar and restaurant, so tasting sessions are more intimate and focused on tasting instead of just drinking.

 

We were surprised to find that not only did they do beer, but also wine and vodka. We tried everything, despite it being 10 o’clock in the morning.

 

First off the bat was the Grape Vodka, triple distilled for extra smoothness. It was basically just grappa, but good.

 

Beer tasting followed. There were six beers on the paddle – a wheat beer (4.7%) with soft unripe banana and clove flavours, a lager (4.7%) full of Cascade hops and a subtle honey flavour, our favourite – the Belgian Fox – a golden beer with coriander in the grist and flavoured with fruity Motueka hops.

 

On the more flavourful side of the paddle was the Belgian Pale Ale – a sweet beer with a good, smooth balance of bitter malt flavours, the Pale Ale (5.2%), a bronze beer with heaps of hoppy bitterness, and the Porter (5.2%), a very dark beer with lots of coffee and dark chocolate flavours that was surprisingly not too bitter.

 

Ironhouse Point did their first brew in 2007 and opened the complex in 2009. If you’re after a souvenir, pick up a growler for $7 and pay an additional $18 to fill it with your favourite beer.

 

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We then moved on to the wines. They had a few white wines, as well as a pinot noir because it’s the best stuff to grow in the Tassie climate. Our favourites included the Sparkling White, a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. It had heaps of supple apple flavours but was still very light and crisp. We also loved the Pinot Noir, a wine matured for 3 months in the bottle, with heaps of fruity plums and dark cherry flavours. It was a smooth, light and hesitantly dry wine.

 

The most interesting wine of the day was the Sauvignon Blanc. All we could taste was ASPARAGUS! This was highly unusual for us! The wine was clear, crisp and acidic with some grassy tones as well.

 

Devil’s Corner

This winery is owned by Brown Brothers so we were expecting some great things from this place. The Cellar Door overlooked the valley to Moulting Lagoon and adjacent to it was a lookout. Both the cellar door and the lookout building seemed to be made from shipping containers – and while this may be trendy for some, we heard that some of the locals don’t like it.

 

As predicted, we did enjoy a few of their wines. The NV Sparkling Cuvee was lovely, light and easy to drink with 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir. They had a great selection of Pinot Noir and we found something we liked in each one. Of course, with our expensive tastes, the Resolution Pinot Noir 2014, which spent 9 months in French oak for smooth mouth feels, cherry tart flavours and complexity and structure, was a winner, as well as the Mt Amos 2014 Vintage, a rich coloured wine with 12 months in French oak and a dryness that washes away quickly.

 

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Freycinet Vineyards

Our tasting session was hosted by John the comedian. He immediately congratulated us for being there to taste the wine, and because we didn’t introduce ourselves, Dave was dubbed Jason and Juz was Olivia. We called him Bruce.

 

This winery had a great and interesting selection of wines. We highly recommend a visit if you want to try something off the beaten track.

 

Our favourites included a 2013 Louis Riesling/Schӧnburger, with 85% Riesling and 15% Schӧnburger grapes. It still had about 18 grams of residual sugar to give it a hint of sweetness, while still maintaining a light and crisp flavour. A white wine that Dave actually liked! We bought a bottle.

 

We also enjoyed the Riesling and Chardonnay, but once we got past the reds to the 2011 Botrytis, we were in heaven. This was the last botrytis they had made since in 2004, and it was bright yellow with honey and apricot flavours. And with 200g of residual sugar, it was rich, thick and syrupy.

 

Gala Estate

One of our favourite wineries, not just because of the wine but the history of the cellar door.  There was an old man named Theodore Castle who lived in that house. He had a simple life – cooked on a cast iron stove, didn’t have electricity, and kept busy by fishing and hunting for kangaroos. He died in 2009 and in 2010, Gala Estate bought the property and gave it a new life.

 

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The small yield of wines produced by the Gala Estate are high quality and worth the stop. They have a marvellous 2012 Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay that has creamy and yeasty qualities, perfect to pair with a nice brie cheese.

 

They also have a great selection of Pinot Noirs, our favourite being the 2011 First Vintage – silky and fruity after 12 months in French oak. If you enjoy a sweet wine, give their late harvest Riesling a go as well. It only has 85.2 grams of residual sugar so it’s not overly sweet, but it is still full of honeysuckle and apricot flavours.

 

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Spring Vale Winery

We were the first through the cellar door to try wines that day.  We highly recommend trying their 2015 Gewürztraminer with exotic fruit flavours and a persistent, peppery finish, as well as the Sticky Gewürztraminer, a sweet dessert wine that might not be available much longer due to its popularity.

 

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City Profile : Launceston

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Launceston is the second largest city in Tasmania and the 3rd oldest city in Australia, but it still has a lot of firsts – such as being the first Australian city to have underground sewers and be lit by hydroelectricity.

 

History

The area was first explored by George Bass and Matthew Flinders in 1798 but the settlement of Launceston was not established until 1806. It was originally called Patersonia, but the settlement was renamed after Launceston in Cornwall UK, where the NSW Governor Captain was born. Launceston grew and became an export centre. Churches, schools and pubs were built, and sporting groups were established.

 

In 1871, there was a minerals boom when tin was discovered at Mount Bischoff. There was also a spurt of gold mining in 1877 and over the next 20 years, it grew substantially. By 1889, Launceston was officially a city.

 

These days, it a charming place to visit, and being so close to Tasmania’s premium wine growing region, the Tamar River Valley – it has its own culture and focus on local food and drink.

 

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Places of Interest

Cataract Gorge

Perfectly contrasted next to the city, Cataract Gorge offers a lush recreation area and swimming pool surrounded by beautiful 100 year old gardens, wallabies and peacocks, walking tracks and cafes that serve Devonshire teas.

 

 

On top of all of this, you can ride the longest single span chairlift in the world. Pay $12 one way or $15 return and see the gorge from 30 metres above.

 

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Boag’s Brewery

No visit to Launceston is complete without a tour of Boag’s Brewery. The great thing about this tour is that it ends with a cheese pairing. We never thought to pair cheese with beer but the combinations offered are outstanding.

 

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City Park

Located in the heart of the city, this beautiful and ornate park is just behind the historic Albert Hall and provides a recreation centre for the locals. Whether it’s a group training session or a relaxed yoga class, it seems City Park is a popular spot for many and was once called the People’s Park.

There is also the John Hart Conservatory, the pretty Jubilee Fountain and the Macaque Monkey House – but we didn’t see any monkeys.

 

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Tamar Valley

North of Launceston is the Tamar River Valley, Tasmania’s premium food and wine region.  We only visited three wineries because we were time-poor – we have to recommend Tamar Ridge for its great selection of sparkling wines and pinot noirs.

 

The Tamar River runs through the centre on the region and there’s only one point along the river that you can cross – Batman Bridge. It’s a nice bridge with a picnic area on the eastern side of the river.

 

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Further north is Beauty Point, where Seahorse World is located. Go on a tour and learn about the various breeds of seahorse.

 

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On the east side of the river is a free camp area at Lilydale Falls. It was fairly crowded as it’s one of the closest free camps near Launceston. We met two Aussies, Josh and Anna, and shared stories about our travels and car disasters.

 

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Food  & Drink

Amelia Espresso

We were actually looking for another cafe called Messiah but stumbled across this place and caffeinated ourselves here instead.

 

It’s a small place with only a few places to sit, but the duo behind the counter were friendly and knew what they were doing because the coffee they produced was fantastic. The coffee had a citrus tang and they are experts at frothing soy milk.

 

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Alchemy Bar & Restaurant

Always on the hunt for a bargain, we checked out Alchemy Bar for their $14 lunch menu. The joint seemed funky enough – a big bar that looks out onto the street, with a dining area out the back. The decor was eclectic and mismatched but overly bad in taste.

 

The lunch menu had a great selection – fish and chips, lamb salad, chickpea burger – we went with the chicken parmigiana and pulled beef burger. The parma was a succulent piece of chicken panko crumbed and topped with ham, cheese and sauce. It came with shoestring fries and a well dressed salad. The pulled beef burger was cheesy but could have used a bit more sauce to moisten the beef, and more pickles for extra tang, but overall it was good.  It came with well-seasoned fries too.

 

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Drink : The Tamar River Valley

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The Tamar River Valley runs from Launceston to the Bass Strait and is dotted with vineyards, wineries, orchards, farms and maritime motifs. We wish we had more time in the Tamar Valley – it was a great introduction to Tasmanian wines and the wide river is truly magnificent. We were also happy to meet some local inhabitants at Seahorse World up at Beauty Point…

 

Josef Chromy

Our visit to this winery was mainly to sample some Van Dieman’s Brewing beers but we ended up having a lovely wine tasting session at this stunning winery. There was a beautiful garden out the front with topiary and fountains.

 

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We tasted a few of the wines on the list but the following four stood out above the rest…

 

The NV Sparkling was delightfully fruity with the flavours of pears and apples. It was creamy and smooth without any acidity. The 2010 Sparkling had a gorgeous honey roasted nut smells, which was surprising. It was crisp, dry and refreshing with citrus and green apple notes. The Pinot Noir had spent 11 months in the barrel and was more ripe that the Pepik Pinot Noir that had matured for less time. This wine was much smoother, with more warm fruits and vanilla flavours.

 

Our favourite – the Ruby Pinot had hints of caramel and toffee, with plenty of spirit, fruitcake, roasted honey hazelnuts and burnt fig.

 

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Moore’s Hill Estate

This winery was quite fancy – the beautifully rustic cellar door overlooked the vineyard and something about the place was a bit intimidating. We did a quick tasting before moving on.

 

The 2015 Signature Riesling had lovely elderflower aromas and despite being acidic, it was smooth and bright with a quick finish. Juz’s favourite was the 2015 Chardonnay that had spent 4 months in oak. It had great aromas, was warm and peppery and had a buttery brioche aftertaste. Dave’s favourite was the 2015 Cabernet Merlot, pungent with sweet currents and very dry.

 

We also sampled the Late Harvest Riesling with 100 grams of residual sugar. It was just sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth and finish with a clean mouth.

 

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Tamar Ridge

This was our favourite winery of the region. Our tasting session was relaxed and friendly, and their wines were exceptional. The onsite resort overlooks the river and it seemed to be a popular place.

 

During our tasting session, we found that we liked a lot of the wines on the list. The NV Sparkling had gorgeous bready brioche flavours and we learnt that the word ‘structure’ actually means something like acidity. The 2009 Blanc de Blanc is a sauvignon blanc that is actually easy to drink – smooth refreshing without being too acidic.

 

We finished the session with a delicious Botrytis, harvested in June 2013. It was full of apricot jam flavours, and quite sweet at 147 grams of residual sugar.

 

Bay of Fires

This winery seemed very exclusive, and we felt a little uncomfortable walking into the place wearing a flanno and dirty jeans. But, as with most places, if you can talk the talk, the staff loosen up and realise you’re not just there to get drunk.

 

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We sampled their selection of sparkling wines and without a doubt, the best and the favourite was the $130 bottle of 2002 Late Disgorged Sparkling. It was a soft, creamy sparkling with shades of sourdough and nougat, honey and truffles. Complex and delicious.

 

Delamere Winery

We heard about this place because they did good sparkling wines, chardonnay and pinot noir. In a relaxed atmosphere, we tried their wines and scored a few favourites.

 

The 2014 Naissante Pinot Gris had beautifully fruity aromas with hint of guava. The Fumé Blanc with sauvignon blanc grapes had gooseberry and apple flavours with a hint of oak. Overall, the 2014 Delamere Pinot Noir was the winner – an earthy and elegant wine with great depth and smoky French oak.

 

Little River Brewing Co.

We scored a six pack from Scottsdale because the brewery was closed. Our favourites are the Golden Ale with its sweet honey smells and rich flavours, well balanced hops, and the European Dark Lager with heaps of chocolate and coffee without too much bitterness.

 

Bridestow Estate

Ok – nothing to drink here. This is a lavender farm and the only thing we had was the Lavender Ice Cream. It was creamy and delicious, and then we followed the winding road through Scottsdale through to St Helens.

 

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City Profile : Gladstone

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While Captain Cook sailed past in 1770, and Matthew Flinders had a brief glance in 1802, it was Colonel George Barney who steered the Lord Auckland into the port of Gladstone and started a penal colony in 1847.  The colony only lasted two months and a few years later in 1853, the area was looked upon again for the beginnings of a new settlement.  By 1863, Gladstone was declared a town of free settlers.

 

These days, Gladstone has a population of over 35,000 people and is the launchpad for tours of the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding islands.  Goondoon Street is the main street through town and it is rich with heritage and beautifully preserved buildings.

 

Our visit to Gladstone was supposed to be brief – get in, fuel up, restock the fridge and get out.  After a quick visit to the Information Centre to get a few maps of more southerly regions, we decided to stick around for the day and check out a few of the attractions, before popping into Dan Murphy’s to see if they had any specials.  Not only did they have a slab of Sail and Anchor for half price, we also got to sample a few ports and muscats at the tasting station and got a bit toasted before heading to Benaraby.

 

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Things to See and Do

Auckland Hill Lookout

Just a few hundred metres from town is Auckland Hill Lookout, which provides awesome views of the marina and Auckland Point, where calcite is stockpiled for shipment to Geelong in Victoria, where it will be used for a variety of things like plastics and toothpaste. There is also what seems to be a manmade waterfall.

 

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QAL Lookout

The local kids call it the Hogwarts Lookout because of the QAL refinery.  Queensland Alumina is one of the world’s largest alumina plants, refining 9 million tonnes of bauxite a year to produce nearly 4 million tonnes of alumina.

 

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Gladstone Marina and Spinnaker Park

The Gladstone Marina is a popular spot for boat owners and is the home of the Visitor Information Centre.  It’s a great place to start your time in Gladstone.  Nearby is Spinnaker Park, which is the official finish line of the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race.  The park has great picnic areas, BBQs and walking tracks.

 

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Tondoon Botanic Gardens

Specialising in native plants, the Tondoon Botanic Gardens covers 107 hectares and includes a Japanese Tea Garden and a gum forest, as well as picnic and BBQ facilities.

 

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Gecko Valley Winery

This multi-award winning winery is popular with both locals and tourists for a very simple reason – their wine is good!  Made onsite with local ingredients, they offer a selection of reds, whites and sweet wines.  Because Gladstone is along a similar latitude to the Mediterranean, it makes the climate perfect for growing grapes.  Unfortunately, a recent fire torched Gecko Valley and they lost all of their vines.  They’re waiting for the perfect season to start again, and once that time comes, they will be back to full production within two years.  We did a quick tasting session and these were our favourites.

 

  • Lightly Oaked Chardonnay – this was our favourite. The smell is very much like apricot and almond cream cheese, which reflects the fruity flavours and smooth finish with toasty oak and a citrus finish.
  • Special Reserve Verdelho – this was another delicious wine with plenty of tropical melon flavours and a smooth sweet finish.
  • Lightly Oaked Shiraz – this sweet red was very easy to drink and had a delicious port aftertaste.
  • Muscat Liqueur – floral, sweet and slightly viscous, this was just like drinking Turkish delight laced with rosewater.
  • Liqueur Mead – made with honey from the property, it didn’t have a strong scent but once sipped, sweet honey bloomed in the mouth.

 

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Tannum Sands and Boyne Island

About 20km south of Gladstone you’ll find Tannum Sands and Boyne Island, two communities separated by the Boyne River.  The combined population is around 12,000 people.

 

We rolled in to Tannum Sands on a Sunday morning and drove straight to the Millennium Esplanade, but we couldn’t find a parking spot – it was only 7:30am! What’s going on?  A little further down we found out that they were holding a Mothers Day Classic fun run.  That explains why we couldn’t find a park so we went back to town to get a coffee.

 

We found a fantastic little coffee place called Say Espresso Bar, and it was packed!  Lots of lucky mums were being treated to well made coffee and delicious breakfasts in the warm sun.  By the time we finished our coffees, we went back to the Millennium Esplanade, checked out the beach, saw an amazing seahorse sculpture and turtle-shaped speed humps that made us laugh.

 

 

Agnes Water and the Town of 1770

Considered to be the birthplace of Queensland, it was here that Captain James Cook and his crew from the Endeavour came ashore on the 24th of May 1770.  The exact point is called Monument Point, and a big cairn is there to mark the spot.  Nearby is Joseph Banks Conservation Area with a few lookouts over the headland and deep blue water.

 

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The area has been hyped as the New Noosa because of the area’s beauty and lack of commercialism.  It’s become a popular place for locals and visitors for holidays and draws in the fishing enthusiasts.  Because it was Sunday, we got to go to the markets and picked up some unpollinated avocadoes for $2 a punnet.  Also known as cocktail avocados, they look like little cucumbers and have no pit.

 

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Deepwater National Park

From Agnes Water, the road along the coast leads to Deepwater National Park.  It was a great opportunity to get some sandy 4WDing in before getting to Fraser Island.   There are three stops along the track.  The first was Flat Rock, which was barely visible under the tide.  Middle Rock and Wreck Rock were the next two destinations that also have nearby campgrounds.  They looked much the same as each other, except the beach at Wreck Rock had shells.

 

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On our way out, we crossed Deep Water Creek and were amazed at how still the water was.  It was almost a mirror, eerily still and stained with tannin.

 

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We stayed at two rest areas near Gladstone – our favourite was the Calliope River Campgrounds.  Despite the mozzies, the camping area was spacious, free for 48 hours and campfires were allowed.  The other rest area was near Benaraby. It was much smaller and crowded, but at least it had a toilet block with cold showers.

 

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