Jim & Noeleen (Tassie case study)

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Grey nomads in Tasmania
Jim and friend have a chat around the fire

Veteran travellers Jim & Noeleen have just spent 10 weeks on the Apple Isle

How much was the crossing?
Our caravan and tow vehicle’s combined length is 14m. This cost us $2100 return on the ferry (pensioner rates), includ­ing an overnight cabin both ways; meals were extra and only average quality.

What did you travel in?
Our tow vehicle was a 100 Se­ries turbo diesel LandCruiser and our van a 23’ off-road Island Star.

Where do you go?
We travelled 3,200km all over the accessible points of the is­land – who said Tassie is small? We were unable to visit Port Arthur due to the fires.

What did you like?
The most positive aspect for us was the stunning mountains, forests and rivers scenery. Absolutely beautiful! This was followed by the attractive old buildings and bridges in every town we visited that dated back to the late 1800s/early 1900s. The island is virtually graffiti free with only a few pockets in the larger cities/towns. Similarly, the boat cruises we took were exhilarat­ing, having exceptional coastal, river and forest scenery. The Bruny Island coastal cruise and Gordon River wilderness cruise were both expensive but well worth it.

Downsides?
The biggest negative for us was the poor weather – windy, cloudy, cold, some rain. We calculated that, on average, we had clear, warm (not hot) and sunny days on an average of only two days per week. The road system was also of a poor quality! Very narrow, very hilly, very winding. Mostly very poor, bumpy, patched road surfaces. Mostly no shoulders to run off if needed (eg. when meeting log trucks) and very few lay-bys or park bays to pull into.

Was it cheap?
Diesel fuel costs ranged from $1.52 per litre to $1.65, but mostly under $1.60. Attrac­tions/venues were expensive (eg. cruises, museums etc.) exacerbated by the high cost of entry to national parks @ $24 a day visit, plus camp fees of $20 on top. It is much cheaper to buy a two-month pass, cost­ing $60.

What about cheap camping?
The free and low-cost camp­sites are quite small with regards to the few rigs that can fit in, and also the small-sized bays available. Caravans are in the minority and are much smaller than those on the mainland. Ours (23’) was huge in comparison, making it difficult to free camp, together with it being the busy summer holiday period.

What about the van parks?
We rated the caravan parks we stayed at as ‘dumps to passa­ble’; scoring overall 5 out of 10, with only one good exception – Hadspen near Launceston. We also heard similar stories from others we met. The parks are generally poorly laid out, with small, cramped bays that are difficult to get into, and the grounds are usually scruffy with old amenities.

Were the locals friendly?
We found a very ambivalent at­titude towards tourists and the provision of associated quality infrastructure. We discussed this with a few shopkeep­ers and they agreed with our observations. Given the recent loss of industries and jobs in Tasmania, this is a surprising attitude if they are seeking economic alternatives.

Will you be back?
Overall, the positives out­weighed the negatives, but we won’t be back. Once is enough for our budget! Been there, done that!

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