On Friday, February 13, we wake up to beautiful sunshine.
Today Hobart's Mt. Wellington looks beautiful
and the sky is mainly clear.
It's either now or never!
We quickly pack our gear and drive up to Mt. Wellington.
The road is steep at times and we climb a fair bit until
we reach the summit at 1'271 m over sea level.
Even though there are still a few bits and pieces of cloud
around the views of Hobart and the surrounding areas are
This definitely is one of our Tasi-highlights!
Close by the visitor centre some "organ pipes" have
been exposed by wind and weather.
After some shopping in Kingston we head
down to Kettering where we catch the ferry
to Bruny Island.
The "big" rigs (including the OKA ....) go below
deck, the small ones on top.
The trip does not take long and soon we reach the "ferry
terminal" on Bruny Island.
As we drive south we pass a very pretty "red" lake.
Then we reach the Bruny Island Neck Game Reserve and
stop at the Penguin and Mutton Bird rookery.
While reading the information signs we learn that during
the day the Penguin chicks hide in holes.
here for the information on Penguins.
We decide to come back after dinner to watch the Mutton
Birds coming back from their feed at Antarctica and the Penguins
Should you wonder what Mutton Birds (Short-Tailed Shearwater
or Yolla) are then
here for the detail sheet on the birds.
We pick a camping spot that is only 3 km south of the rookery
to stay for the night.
After diner we head north back to the rookery in Heidi and
Shortly after sunset the Mutton Birds start arriving.
They come in such large numbers that we just stand there
As we watch we remember details of the ranger talk that we
had had at Strahan.
These birds have just come from Antarctica, some 1'500 km
south of Tasi, and have flown non-stop for 5 – 7 days
to return to their burrow to feed their chicks ... isn't
It gets crowded and we don't feel comfortable anymore.
Besides that it is by now so dark that the chance of sighting
an arriving penguin will be pretty dim until the full moon
appears in a few hours.
So we decide to return to the campground and have a look
at the penguins further south where there should be less
As we head up hill on the board walk a Mutton Bird lands
in the middle of a group of people, skids along the planks
and falls over the board walk on the other side.
Well, they are known for their limited landing skills .....
Then we discover the Penguin chicks.
They have left their burrows and are standing besides them,
waiting for their parents to arrive with some tucker.
We can hardly get enough watching those cute birds.
They already are fairly large, have real feather and it won't
be long before they leave for the ocean.
After this great experience we head back to the camp full
How lucky have we been in Tasi so far with all these beautiful
On Saturday morning the sun is shining.
It looks like it will be another perfect day.
We head over to Adventure Bay and book
a boat trip with Bruny Island Eco Tours.
They will sail along the Bruny Island cost down to the Tasman
Head and back.
They promise we will see some stunning coast line and quite
certain some animals such as birds, penguins and seals.
The boats they are using are commercial copies of army landing
boats which are equipped wit 3 motors of 275 Hp each and
which can cruise at a speed of up to 100 km/h.
Even though the sun is shining and it is warm (... at least
for Tasi standards ...) with the speed of the boat the temperature
So we all are equipped with a large red raincoat with hood.
We head south past the colourful red cliffs.
Some outcrops and their names are pointed out to us.
The tour guide is very humorous and we enjoy his jokes.
Even though he must make them every day they feel fresh and
generate many laughs amongst the passengers.
We visit the blowhole; it even breathes!
here for a short movie on
(file type: .wmv, size: 1'029 KB).
We pass The Monument, a tall rock pillar.
The boat driver takes us on a thrilling ride in between the
pillar and the rock wall.
This is serious fun!
Next we visit some sea caves.
Apparently some dare devils used to swim through these wholes
with the waves .... but only until the day when they saw
a large shark swimming through it too ....
We stop at a rock face where some Great Cormorants and a
Black-Faced Cormorant live.
A White-Faced Heron lands gracefully on the rocks nearby.
Also some Seagulls add their "colour" to the scene
No, no, we don't know all those bird-names, it is the tour
guide that keeps pointing them out to us.
Mind you, coming here on a daily basis by now he must know
which bird is which one and where it lives ....!
We also learn about Kelp and how it is "glued" to
the face of the rock.
Apparently the rock breaks off before the "glue" lets
After leaving the Tasman Sea and entering the Southern
Ocean at Tasman Head the swell increases a bit.
We continue on to The Friars (islands)
where we see many male fur seals.
In fact, only male seals have ever been recorded at this
The seals do not breed here; the females stay near their
breeding colonies on islands in Bass Strait, while the males
come south to fish and prepare themselves for the rigorous
They haul out and growl; the big ones displaying their size
here for a movie on them
(file type: .wmv, size: 5'772 KB).
The young seals live on a separate rock.
They play around in the water and curiously come close to
here for a movie on the
(file type: .wmv, size: 4'646 KB).
A few big seals live with the young ones to teach them all
the tricks of the trade.
here for a movie on how
some manage ... and some don't!
(file type: .wmv, size: 3'514 KB).
On the way back we see many Common Dolphins, Albatross
and Bottlenose Dolphins.
here for a movie on the
(file type: .wmv, size: 3'232 KB).
The towering crags look very impressive.
The whole experience is exceptional. Not to forget the weather
which was absolutely perfect too.
It was an expensive trip but worth every single dollar spent.
We take the 4WD track trough the forest to the western side
of the island.
Then we reach a pastoral area and soon after Cloudy
It is a nice beach with an interesting phenomenon: parts
of the ocean are red ...
Some clouds start appearing on the sky.
Looks like the ladies at the Eco Tours were wrong with their
weather forecast ....
We head over to Great Taylors Bay and
the South Bruny National Park where we stay
at the Jetty Beach Camping.
If the weather improves we would like to do the short walk
.... let's see what tomorrow brings.
When strolling through the camping Susi and Heidi find this
moth that must just have left its cocoon a short while ago.
It is still expanding its wings ... fascinating!
After dinner Heidi and Peter bring a video of Bruny Island
Eco Tours they had bought as souvenir and we revisit this
glorious tip in all details .... including the jokes we heard
On Sunday morning the clouds turn into rain.
Hmmm ... no walking today ....
We head over to the lighthouse but with the rain falling
there too is not much to be seen.
Just a lonely black rabbit is having a bit of a feed on the
fresh wet grass ... apparently the black rabbits of Tasi
are special, same as the white wallabies ....
Via Alonnah we head north and visit the Chocolate
Their fudge is just heavenly .... it just melts on the tongue
... and the flavour!
We cannot resist and buy some.
Next stop further north is the Cheese Factory.
They have some interesting cheeses and some bread that was
baked in a wood-fired oven.
Well, it is the weather to do some shopping anyway .....
so why not if the produce are so nice.
We continue on and pass the southernmost hotel of Australia.
Next stop is the jetty at Dennes Point but
with the overcast sky and the rain clouds hanging around
the views are not really impressing.
Then we head back along the coast to Barnes Bay where
we find a camping spot with some nice views onto the bay
and some sailing boats.
As it is close to the ferry we decide to set up camp and
stay for the night.
On Monday morning the weather has not really improved.
We decide to head back to Hobart and sit out the bad weather
at a caravan park.
On the way north we visit Australia's Antarctic
Division in Kingston which is
definitely worth a stop.
On Tuesday the sun is shining which is good as it is washing
We also spend some time working on the diaries.
On Wednesday morning ... the sun is shining again ... Peter
and Heidi leave towards the Tasmanian Peninsula.
We stay an extra day to do some more work on the web pages.
We finally manage to finish the Savannah Way diary and start
work on the Cape York diary .....
In the evening we receive a mail from Heidi and Pete where
they suggest meeting up on Thursday morning at 10 or 11 at
the Tasmanian Devil Park in Tarana.
So we get ready to hit the road again early in the morning.
On Thursday morning, February 19, as we leave Hobart in
easterly direction the sun is shining but there are a few
clouds around in the east.
After Sorell it starts raining ..... we
are not impressed by the weather at all!
We had two perfect days while sitting in the caravan park
and now, as we start travelling again, the weather deteriorates
On the way the OKA every so often makes loud banging noises
but Ruedi recons that it is the leave springs.
Susi is not convinced.
It cannot be that leave springs make such a noise!
Ruedi agrees but does not know either what else this loud
metallic bang could be.
We also cannot agree on where the noise comes from.
Ruedi recons it has to do with the left wheel and Susi claims
that it come from the middle towards the back, behind the
compartment where the oils are kept.
We reach the Devil Park shortly before 10 AM and manage
to be ready for the first feeding of the devils.
here for a movie on their
(file type: .wmv, size: 3'514 KB).
Then the first group gets its food.
They are so funny to watch, how they fight over the meet.
here to watch them fight in a movie
(file type: .wmv, size: 3'342 KB).
But the size of their snout is just incredible.
here to see it in a movie
(file type: .wmv, size: 1'537 KB).
There are also some more animals in the park that can be
Most of them have had an accident and they cannot be released
into the wild anymore.
here for a movie on the
(file type: .wmv, size: 2'436 KB).
The Tawny Frogmouth has its name because it opens its mouth
like a frog to swallow its food.
The Eastern Quolls or Native Cats (Dasyurus Viverrinus)
are cute with their spots.
They are closely related to the Tasmanian devil and are quick
and efficient killer of small mammals and birds.
The female may bear up to 24 young but only six can survive
in the pouch.
Then we continue on to Fortescue Bay.
On the dirt track the banging gets more and more frequent.
Then suddenly the OKA jerks.
Hmmmm ... don't we know this feeling .....?
By now Ruedi is getting really concerned.
The wheels and hubs look normal ....
Susi leans out of the OKA and as we continue on driving she
tries to hear where the noise comes from.
We reach the entry of the National Park and stop to pay
the camping fees.
Susi claims that the noise comes from underneath the OKA,
as if it came from the drive shaft.
Ruedi says that it cannot be as he is driving in 2WD and
the drive shaft should not be turning at all!
So Susi gets instructions on what she has to check while
Ruedi drives backwards very slowly.
When checking the drive shaft Susi sees that it does not
turn in a normal way, it turns a bit irregularly and also
moves forwards and backwards.
When she asks Ruedi if that is normal he gets really worried.
The Ranger comes out of the office and has a look too.
He is not impressed ... and offers Ruedi his land line to
call Arthur at OKA and also our OKA guru Paul in Melbourne
It very much looks as if the rear differential has collapsed
We decide to set up camp and then have a closer look at the
The Ranger warns us that it is a bit smelly at the camp
ground because of a dead seal.
The seal will be picked up by Parks and Wildlife Services
later on or tomorrow as they want to conduct an autopsy on
the seal to find out if it starved to death or if it has
The Ranger tells us that there have been many dead seals
this year and also dead penguins.
He picks up about 30 – 40 dead penguins from the beach
So far he has lost but 50% of his penguins this year due
The schools of fish have not arrived this year.
Reason could be the missing Krill, climate change or what
But he recons that the whole food chain is affected and is
worried about his animals.
Back at the OKA Ruedi tries calling Paul on the Satellite-phone
but the reception is very bad at Fortescue Bay.
So Ruedi takes up the Ranger's offer to use the land line
and call Paul and also OKA to get some instructions on what
Paul and Arthur agree that it sounds very much like a problem
with the rear diff.
Paul recons that if Ruedi removes the rear drive shaft and
the damage is not too severe we should be able to drive the
OKA to Devonport on front wheel drive only to take the ferry
back to Melbourne.
Arthur also wants to know if and what parts Ruedi can find
in the diff oil.
So Ruedi goes to work and gets the rear drive shaft down.
Then he checks the pinion and sees that is has some slack.
Then he sees a crack in the paint of the diff housing.
That was not there two days ago when he greased the OKA ....
Scratching of the paint does not reveal any crack in the
diff housing but a deformation all around the housing is
Looks like something solid was dragged around inside the
housing generating enormous force ....
Next task is to remove the oil and see what parts will
come out of the diff housing.
The oil is dark and silvery, lots of small parts swim in
Ruedi gets his flexible magnet to remove the broken off parts
from the diff housing.
But some of the parts are too large, he can get hold of them
with the magnet but then they cannot be removed through the
hole in the housing.
Ruedi takes some of the parts with him and heads up to
the Ranger's office to call OKA again.
From Linden, the developer of the OKA, Ruedi gets the instructions
to swap the front locking hubs with the rear hubs.
With this set-up when engaging 4WD the OKA will be drivable
in front-wheel drive, the back axle will be degraded to a
lazy axle and the rear axle shafts will not be turning thus
preventing a blockage and possible complete destruction of
This should bring us back to Melbourne and we should even
be able to finish our trip with the exception of steep gravel
roads. No more off-roading.
In the meantime Paul and OKA will have time to figure out
how to solve this problem.
Here some stats:
Last time we busted the dog clutch in 2006 we had driven
some 10'000 km before the diff disintegrated completely
just outside of Perth.
Guess what ...
We busted the dog clutch at the CREB in September 2008 with
57'020 km on the clock.
Now we have 66'942 km on the clock ......
That makes 9'922 km ...... almost 10 000 km again ...
We wake up to rain on Friday morning.
It turns into drizzle and by 10:30 the sky looks a bit more
More and more people arrive with their trailers and their
If they go out into the ocean the weather forecast cannot
be that bad and we might as well go hiking!
We decide to tackle the 4 hour walk out to Cape
Hauy but to take all rain gear with us.
We get some great views of the cliffs.
There are no security chains or anything preventing people
getting to close to the steep drops.
To get pictures Susi and Peter, both not very good with steep
drops or heights, crawl to the edge of the rock (no, it was
not overhanging!) and then "look down" with the
camera ... while Ruedi keeps a watchful eye on them so nothing
happens ... he does not like those "escapades" at
Again an Echidna strolls along the track and is not worried
about humans at all.
It is too busy digging around the roots and dirt.
We can take pictures and movies as close as we want.
It is amazing!
here for a movie on the
(file type: .wmv, size: 5'084 KB).
On the way back the weather improves a wee bit and we get
some better views of the ocean.
After returning from the walk Ruedi starts the exchange
of the lockers.
It is a bit more work than he anticipated as a lot of LockTite
has been used to secure the screws as the hubs were assembled
and this has to be removed before the lockers can be put
back into place.
By dinner time he has only managed to finish one and decides
to do the rest tomorrow.
On Saturday morning after a fresh night with only 10°C
we tackle the work.
Peter also gets his overall and gives us a hand.
Thanks Peter, much appreciated the help.
Susi cleans the screws with the electric drill and a copper
Shortly after 11 AM we finish, just in time before it starts
to drizzle again.
We pack up and return to the main road.
The OKA is going well and it looks like we can continue on
We head south to Port Arthur an old convict
But we don't really fancy visiting old buildings so after
having a look around at the visitor centre we continue on
to the Remarkable Cave.
We just have time to visit the caves before the showers
set in again
We decide to head over to a camp in the Tarana
Forest and sit out the rain.
According to the weather forecast the weather should be better
Let's hope for it.
On Sunday, February 22, the sky is overcast but it looks
We continue on towards Pirate's Bay and
deviate to he Penzance Lookout that offers
a great view over the whole bay.
The sun is just starting to break through the clouds but
a cold wind is blowing.
After the 11°C over night it will take a while to warm
up today ....
Then we head down to Doo Town.
People living here like giving their houses names that contain "Doo" like "Dr.
Doolittle", "Doo come in", etc.
Close by are some interesting rock formations.
First stop is The Tasman Arch, next is Devil's
Then we stop at the Blowhole that in our
view would deserve the name Devil's Kitchen much better.
It is great to see the water coming through the tunnel and
then splashing against the rocks.
Then we head over to the Waterfall Bay.
The waterfall has no water but the bay is very pretty.
We continue on to the Tessellated Pavement.
Imagine how these "pavers" were formed by salt "blasting" the
rocks apart as it crystallized and then water and weather
finishing the job ....
Soon we are all busy, some taking pictures .... some having
a closer look at nature ...
In the water-gardens we spot many interesting creatures
including a Ghost Crab and some funny looking fishes.
here for a movie on the
(file type: .wmv, size: 3'506 KB).
During lunch a young man walks up to Heidi and Peter and
asks them if they have recovery gear.
Their friend's truck has "fallen" on its side
The recovery does not take long and luckily there is very
little damage done to the vehicle.
We head north via Copping, then deviate
onto the dirt road towards Kellevie and
The views from Marion's Beach Lookout are
not bad but there is too much wind up there to stay for the
As we climb up to close to 150 m the temperature drops
to 14 °C, not really what we like.
We come past Rhena Beach.
The temperature down here is back to 18.5°C and the views
are very nice so we decide to stay here for the night.
Heidi and Susi head down to the beach to have a closer look
at the shells ....
... and get stuck for then next few hours ...
Susi also finds the waves on the shells to be special.
On Monday, February 23, it is Susi's birthday and we wake
up to a stunning sunrise.
We head into Orford where after some shopping
and internetting we continue on to Triabunna.
At the information centre we find out details about the ferry
to Maria Island and decide to go there tomorrow.
We visit the small harbour, where large trucks pick up
the fresh seafood.
As the weather is deteriorating we decide to head back
to Louisville and check in at the caravan
First we get a bit of a shock when the lady at the counter
tell us, that their amenities block only has cold water ...
but then the lady says "... but there are public showers
at the heated swimming pool and Jacuzzi if you don't mind
We cannot believe our luck and quickly pay the 20$.
What a feeling to sit in the Jacuzzi, soak and watch the
birds outside having a feed at the many flowers in the blooming
In the evening we visit the local restaurant for Susi's
We can watch the storm clouds rolling in from the north;
the ocean already has white caps ....
During the night a thunderstorm brings the long awaited water
for the region.
On Tuesday morning it still rains so we cancel our plans
to visit Maria Island but decide to head north to the Freycinet
At Mayfield Bay we visit the Three
Arch Bridge that was built 1845 by convicts from
the nearby Rocky Holls Probation Station.
It is a shame that a new bridge was built on top of the old
The views of the Freycinet Peninsula from
the beach are impressing, even with the clouds.
Just south of Swansea we stop at the Spiky
Bridge, a bridge that was also build by convicts.
It was built without using mortar.
The ridge looks really funny with its stony spikes.
Spiky Bridge is part of the old convict built coach road
which connected Swansea with Little Swanport and the east
coast road to Hobart.
After Swansea the road climbs a bit and passes some small
Shortly after Cranbrook we stop at the
lookout to have a look at the Moulting Lagoon,
an important wetland.
We leave the Tasman Highway and head south towards Coles
We deviate to Friendly Beaches, an almost
endless stretch of white sandy beaches.
But the rain starts coming down and we have to flee into
As the wind is quite strong we decide to continue on and
find a better place to sit out the bad weather.
We check out the various camps along the way and head into Coles
As it is bucketing down we stay at the tourist information
and study the many interesting displays.
We would have liked to camp at Bluestone Bay but the track
to reach it is rated medium and we don't dare getting into
the sand with the crippled OKA.
So we return to the camping at Moulting Lagoon and set up
Some funny birds can be watched her.
here to listen to their shriek
(file type: .wma, size: 81 KB).
The weather stays unstable, rainy and very windy.
On Wednesday morning it does not look any better so we decide
to leave Heidi and Peter and to head west.
We have to return to Melbourne one week earlier as planned
anyway to get our rear diff fixed.
Heidi and Peter will make their way up further north and
join us again in a week's time in Melbourne.
The rain stays with us way past Campbell Town.
We head into Launceston and visit Cataract
We are so spoiled form all the pretty things we have seen
in the last few weeks that Ruedi's comment on the gorge is
"... if that is all Launceston has to offer ...."
Soon we are on our way again and head out to Mole
Creek where we stay at the local Caravan Park
for the night.
By now the weather has improved a lot; there are still clouds
around but the sun is shining most of the time and the temperature
has reached beautiful 25.5°C.
On Thursday morning we head up to the Mole Creek
Karst National Park to visit the caves.
The first one we choose is King Salomon Cave.
It is a mostly dry cave and has lots of very pretty shawls.
Also some large pillars can be seen.
Some of the needles have changed their direction of growing.
Next we visit the Marakoopa Cave to visit
the famous glow worms.
This cave also has very pretty formations.
We have chosen the tour which takes us to the subterranean
Even though the temperature is the same as in the Kind Salomon
Caves (9°C) it feels much colder in here, probably because
of the humidity in the air.
Impressive is the "tuning fork" that has been
protected with thick glass so people cannot destroy it.
All at the end of the tour the lights are turned off and
we find ourselves underneath the glow worms.
They are not that mind-boggling but the details the Ranger
gives us on the worms are quite interesting.
Fancy coming out of your cocoon without a mouth and having
some 5 days to reproduce!
And then giving yourself to your young ones, to become part
of the food-chain ... well, that gives me the creeps!
The Ranges later on gives us some details on the walk to
the Walls of Jerusalem and recommends that it should only
by undertaken if the weather is nice as he has been up there
and has walked on snow.
We find ourselves a pretty little spot just beside Arm
River for the night.
On Thursday, February 28, we wake up to pretty nice weather.
Just a bit of fog and a few clouds are visible so we decide
to tackle the Walls of Jerusalem walk.
The ascent to Trappers Hut is rather steep
but we manage the 500 m height-difference in just over 50
Then we reach the fog and walk through the forest in it.
After the fork that leaves to the Adelaide Lakes the
fog starts clearing and we can imagine what we missed regarding
We pass areas of moor-land and pretty little lakes.
We reach the Wild Dog Camp site and have a break on one
of the "helicopter-pads" provided to set up tents
Next time we come to Tasi we will take the tents with us
and stay up here for a few days.
Then we reach the main valley.
Here again the walkways are all covered with boards to protect
In the small areas where there are no boards the walkway
is swampy due to the wet ground.
Almost at the end of the valley Susi's feet just have had
it and she decides to take a rest and get fit for the descent
while Ruedi continues on for a bit more to see what can be
seen from the small pass ahead of us.
Time flies and it is already 1:30 PM and time to return.
Also some new clouds are forming and we want to be down at
the car park before it starts raining again.
The views on the way back are great and we really enjoy
We also pass a large spider and find the first signs of
the coming fall ....
As we head downhill we cross a lot of people that are heading
up with some large back packs.
Looks like a busy weekend up there ...
It takes us some 3 ½ hours to return to the car
park and only all at the end a few raindrops fall.
We have been very lucky with the weather.
We stop at the Lake Rowallan boat ramp
for the night and enjoy a hot shower and a good dinner.
On Saturday morning we get the OKA ready for the ferry,
cleaning some critical parts e.g. the shower tray / mud collector
at the entry where some seed and similar things could get
We don't want to bring weeds back to the mainland if possible.
Then we head up to the Devil's Gullet Lookout.
There is still a lot of fog and humidity in the air and the
views are not as good as it could be.
It must be an absolute stunning view on a clear day ...
Then we continue on via Paradise to Sheffield
where we shortly visit the lady with the glass marbles studio.
Then we head back Coles Beach in Devonport to have a quiet
afternoon before catching the ferry back to the mainland
And this is the end of the Tasmanian journal.
To cut it short: we love Tasi and hope to be back one day!