Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Launceston 18/04/2010

To not include photos of our trip to Tasmania would do great injustice to this beautiful island.

I will post up our Tasmania experience as day-by-day accounts. I hope that our photos can inspire you to visit Tasmania for yourself.

We took the Jetstar flight to Launceston at 10:30am. It took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes by air.

All set to fly! Thanks, Jetstar!

One of KT's colleagues warned us that Launceston airport was not as advanced as we would expect; we would need to take out our check-in baggage from the airplane itself. I was a bit sceptical about that. The colleague must have been to Launceston ages ago; our check-in luggage were on the carousel not long after we touched down.

What we did find was Launceston airport was not busy at all, given the time of the day. Our conclusion was not many people travel to or out of Launceston; hence, Jetstar has only one flight a day to and from Launceston.

The next thing we did was to rent a car. After asking the available companies, we realised the rates were pretty similar. We ended up with Avis and rented a Hyundai Getz, with $300 excess, sat nav, and a full tank of petrol at 99 cents a litre. When we return the car in Hobart, we wouldn't need to refuel the car. So far, so good.

Having just got my Australian licence not too long ago, I was keen to have some practice. Launceston roads were a breeze to drive on, and other drivers seemed to not be in a rush at all. The other thing we noticed on signposts were some roads were not named, but coded, e.g. C615. To make sure, we rang the hotel to ask for directions. The man who picked up the phone curtly told me that he didn't know what I meant by C324... and told me to follow the sat nav, it would be the correct route. So,
with the help of Garmin, we got to the Country Comfort Coach House in about 15 minutes' time.

How did we find the Coach House? Well, we started looking for accomodation about one week before the trip. Most hotels had already been booked on the days we would be there for, it was down to Mercure and the Coach House. After reading the reviews on Trip Advisor, the Coach House seemed to have more decent reviews. That was how we found the Coach House.

Moral of the story: plan well-ahead if you want more options.

The entrance to the hotel was a steep declining driveway. The parking lot was also at an angle. Not good.

The same man who talked with me over the phone greeted us, or more like acknowledged our presence. Room rate was $130 a night not including breakfast (I was under the impression that breakfast included when made the booking), which was more expensive than the Hobart booking. Oh, well...

Ye old Coach House - looked nothing like the promotional photos

Fake flowers in keeping with the old west theme

Our room on the top floor - no lifts, so poor KT had to lug all the heavy luggage up four flights of stairs.

Rose / some fragrance perfumed the air of the room.

The redeeming features of Coach House is the location - minutes' away by car from the CBD, walkable if you are up for a 15-minute stroll, it's clean and well-kept, and it provides free Broadband. There is cable TV, only if you're into nostalgia - movies at least 10 years post-release, Steve Irwin on the documentary channel. At $130 a night base price, it was decently priced.

We were excited to tour Launceston as soon as we offloaded our luggage, and we were hungry, too. The receptionist gave us directions to Racecourse Crescent, where the Centro Launceston was located...

Home to Kmart...

and Coles...

We had lunch at the Centro, chicken and mushroom pie, seafood pie, and Mexican salami "pizza" from a pie shop. The pies were more expensive than the average pies in Sydney, but the filling was chunky and plentiful. KT declared the pies to be better than Harry's Cafe de Wheels'. I agreed.

We did a bit of shopping at Coles, stocked up on tit bits and bottled water, and drove to the Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston attraction #1.

The Gorge was literally minutes away from the CBD, and according to Tourism Tasmania, truly a "wilderness in the city".

Posing with our chariot.

Entrance to the Gorge.


The First Basin chairlift, purportedly the longest single chairlift in the world, located on the southern side of the reserve.

The ticket to the chairlift - single way to the northern side, then we would walk our way back to the entrance.

The chairlift - since opening in 1972, there has not been a single accident. Amazing.

The aerial view of the First Basin swimming pool and its surrounds - far left is the Alexandra suspension bridge.

Spectacular view of the reserve.

The suspension bridge.

The cliffs - people hike and jog around the bush paths.


Cafe next to the Victorian gardens, on the Cliff Grounds, the northern side of the Gorge.

Our feet touching the tree tops.

Peacocks roaming the Gorge.

Wallabies out to play.

View from the Cataract Lookout.

The hauntingly beautiful cliffs.

Notice the sign.

About to do some serious damage.

Taken from the other side of the bridge - the way to the Duck Reach Power Station.

Not sure which bird this is.

Ice-cool water. Cold day. People still swam in the pool???

True to the website - peacocks roaming the reserve.

We worked up an appetite by 5pm, made a booking at the Mud Bar and Restaurant at the Seaport Boulevarde, set up the GPS, and headed off in the sunset.

Launceston perched on hills. Get ready for a rollercoaster car ride!

Launceston at sunset.

The Seaport Boulevarde.

Mud Bar and Restaurant at the Seaport Boulevarde.

On a Sunday night, the Mud Bar and Restaurant was quiet. We chatted with the attending waitress, and she told us Sunday nights were usually quiet. What did the good people of Launceston do on a Sunday night then?

The atmosphere at Mud Bar and Restaurant was a cosy one, I even kicked off my shoes and sat cross-legged, tired after a good walk around the Gorge. We were advised of a 30-35 minute-wait for our dinner, since grilled meals took longer to prepare. Lulled by the ambience, we were contented to wait and talk about the day just passed.

Waiting for our meal.

The waitress mentioned to KT his pork chop would be large. When it arrived, we could not believe the size of the pork chop. The sides were plentiful. We could have shared it! The crackling on the pork was crunchy, and the meat moist and tender.

I loved the horseradish cream on my steak. The meat was also moist and tender. The highlight was the steamed asparagus with the chardonnay vinaigrette, freshened up with mint leaves and dill.

I struggled to get through my meal, but was reluctant to leave it as it was delicious. KT ordered the chocolate tart, knowing that I loved my chocolate. It was delicious, but very very rich, so rich that I wished it was smaller portion. Launceston people must love their food in generous portions, more so than Sydney-siders.

KT's dinner - local pork chops with house-made relish, garlic rosemary baked potatoes, and dressed leaves.

Mine was a scotch fillet with horseradish cream. Sides were the same as KT's.

Steamed asparagus with a chardonnay vinaigrette, topped with herbs. Refreshing.

Chocolate tart, jaffa mousse, hazelnut praline. Sinfully delicious!

Night cap - a trip to the 24-hour public toilets.

We didn't want to end our night so soon, as it was still early at 8:40pm. We drove around the city, to find very little shops opened, a pharmacy opened until 9pm, and surprisingly, Sportgirls was still opened! Or had it been an illusion?


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