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Devil of a Time - Launceston to Scamander

The pilot had just advised that the plane was beginning it’s decent into Launceston, then as the Boeing jet gently tipped its wing I got my first glimpse of the rugged Tasmanian coast line. From here at 20,000 feet, the rich farming hinterland of Tasmania's North East appears as a patchwork quilt of deep chocolate soil, bountiful crops and verdant pasture. Here and there are decorations of neatly ordered vineyards and hop fields.

The plane duly landed and I was greeted with icy cold winds that formed south of Antarctica as I walked across the tarmac at Launceston Airport. “Welcome to Tasmania”, Shanksie smiled. I shivered.
Thankfully early the next morning, we were greeted with a cloudless morning and the smell of bacon frying nearby.

We’d decided to take a scenic route out of Launceston after visiting Richardson’s Harley-Davidson dealership, a definite must see if you’re down this way and love motorcycles. We meandered northward out of Launceston up the West side of the Tamar River before crossing the Batman Bridge then turned left towards Georgetown. From Georgetown we headed east towards Bridport, a spectacular coastal town. After a refreshing ale at Bridport we headed to Scottsdale, then the awesome fast pace dash to Shanksie’s favourite watering hole, the Dorset hotel at Derby, through the sweeping bends and hills along the Tasman Highway passing places with names like “The Billy-Cock” and “Rocky-Gully”.

The advantage of a local tour guide came in handy, with helpful pointers of the best corner lines and heads up on the pot-holes and cattle crossings.

Half an hour or so later, we were winding our way through the Weldborough Pass, slipping straight by the historic Weldborough Pub, however we stopped a little further on to visit the stunning Myrtle Forest and see some of the oldest myrtles and most densely populated ferns in Australia. The Weldborough Hotel is great little pub to drop in for a cold beer and they serve some of the finest counter meals in the North East using fresh local produce. They’re also a biker friendly pub.

All along the Pass there is one of the most spectacular fern displays that you will see anywhere in Australia, which huge ferns lining either side of the road. They are interspersed with stands of blackwood, sassafras and myrtle. The pass, which rises 595 meters offers excellent views on either side of the road and the range. Treasured giant myrtles, over 300 years old, stand as sentinels along our journey.

After our short walk through the Myrtle Forrest we road our Harleys into the next valley and detoured down to cascading St Columba Falls that plunge nearly 90 metres (295 feet) from the Mount Victoria foothills to the South George River valley. At St Columbia falls there is a short walk to the base of the waterfall where you get a beautiful view of the waterfall.

On the way out we dropped into the famous Pub in the Paddock, which has an interesting story of how it came into being. As well they have Priscilla the pig that loves sharing a beer with all the visitors.
The Pub in the Paddock offers country accommodation and meals. 
There are six rooms available with shared facilities. Choose from double rooms, a twin room or a single room. There is also a room with a double bed and two bunks, accommodating up to four guests.

Licensed since 1880, the Pub in the Paddock is one of Tasmania’s oldest country pubs. Literally sitting in the middle of a paddock in the verdant Pyengana Valley, the Pub offers hearty country meals or morning and afternoon teas along with comfortable pub accommodation.

Meantime you can also taste award-winning, traditionally made cheddar cheeses at the nearby Pyengana Dairy Company,

It took another half an hour or so, with a few photo stops to reach the seaside town of St Helens that’s famous for its game fishing. Twenty kilometers further south is the seaside holiday town of Scamander where we’d arrange to stay the night.

October 07, 2011 | Posted in: Tasmania