... a dreamer, freelance writer, massage therapist, naturopath, mother & drop-out social work student living, working and writing in the Blue Mountains. When not occupied with the real world, she writes fantasy.
Moments after arriving in Launceston, Angie has come face to face with peacocks, an echidna and a wallaby. This isn't the zoo, but the tranquil grounds of Cataract Gorge. As they ramble like royalty through the garden, the peacocks and their brood of chicks keep Angie rapt for ages without the adult guilt associated with viewing animals in cages.
Cataract Gorge, Launceston - filled with magical wandering peacocks and the odd wallaby and echidna.
The large-scale wilderness and slowed down time of Launceston offers children the chance to explore the natural world and see animals in their own habitat. With cheap fares available through budget carriers like Jetstar, combined with less expensive room rates than popular family destinations such as Byron Bay, Sydney and the Sunshine Coast, Launceston offers an intriguing alternative to the family coastal summer holiday.
Cataract Gorge suspension bridge - thrilling for the little ones
A mere fifteen minutes from the city CBD, the Gorge is evidence of the plethora of things to do within close range of the city. Looking down at the chasm of rock and tumbling water below I'm impressed that such a wilderness lies so close to the city. Crossing the breadth of the gorge single-file on the suspension bridge provides a bit of a thrill for the little ones.
Only twenty minutes or so away by car, the kids succumb to some local culture in the form of pony rides, face-painting, jumping castles and hot-dogs at Evandale Markets. There's plenty to keep both adults and children occupied with quirky handcrafts, bargain books and toys, clothes, fresh produce and more to peruse.
Pony rides and more for kids at Evandale sunday market, Launceston
The following morning finds us sampling delicious homemade jams, muffins, pikelets, stewed fruits and porridge at Windmill Hill Lodge, one of Launceston's charming B&B's. Steve, the proprietor and host, serves up allergy-friendly breakfast options for guests such as gluten free bread, soya milk and vegan butter, perfect for children and family members with food intolerances.
The breakfast offerings at Windmill Hill Lodge include home-made muffins, jams, porridge and more.
It's summer and the lavender bloom is out. Fields of lavender stretch to the horizon like a purple blanket. Angie takes a path through the field and stands immersed waist high in purple like Dorothy in the magical land of Oz. I feel gratitude to witness such a thing – the lavender season is brief. Sadly there's no time to visit Seahorse World and we're onto our next destination.
By afternoon we reach the Mole Creek Caves and purchase tickets to the Marakoopa Cave Underground Rivers and Glow-Worms Tour. The 30-50 million year old cave was the discovery of children in 1906 and harbors 2,000-3,000 glow-worms.
Our guide Dave is full of facts. "They're not actually a worm, but a fungus-gnat," he informs us. The glow-worms position themselves above the river and near the cave entrance to be close to the source of their food. They drop a sticky web to catch insects then suck it up and eat it. Dave explains how the glow-worms use their light to attract food. Up close they look like a stringy bit of mucous – a fact that Angie finds both 'gross' and hilarious.
Dave turns off the light and the cave plunges into darkness. Angie's little hand tightens in mine, but as our eyes adjust to the darkness, we can see the glow-worms shine magically like scores of stars on the roof of the cave. Their reflections hover in the water while the subterranean river rattles atmospherically over the rock.
Subterranean rivers and glow worms at Mole Creek caves
There are several young children on the tour. At question time they're given a chance to ask questions, many of which are very good. On the way out, we pass a pool with a reflection that resembles an underground fantasy world.
The next day we embark on the trip to Cradle Mountain, a part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area. A shuttle bus delivers visitors to the Dove Lake Cradle Mountain area. Golden Rosemary, heath flowers and Tasmanian Waratah are in bloom along the way while alpine coral fern, pencil pines and pink mountain berry provide contrasting foliage and colour to the landscape.
Checking out the heath at Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park.
Angie enjoys her bus trip. We spot another echidna by the side of the road. A tourist queries the name behind Snake Hill and we learn that all the snakes in Tasmania are venomous. "Actually it's much more dangerous to have a partner than a snake," the bus driver says. "No-one's died of snake-bite in Tasmania since 1972." With this reassurance we exit the bus and explore the lake and the surrounding alpine views. Fortunately, the walk isn't too arduous and a small beach by the boat-hut provides a spot to cool off in ice-cold water.
The icy water is refreshing on a hot day - Cradle Mountain/Dove Lake.
Our trip concludes with a stay at Tamar Valley Resort. The Swiss style resort is ultra kid-friendly and has a lake to go paddle-boating on, pirate ship, village atmosphere with shops and a massive jumping structure positioned conveniently just outside the onsite restaurant. Rabbits rampage around the hotel grounds providing more fodder for Angie's attentions.
Paddle-boating on the man-made lake, Tamar Valley Resort
Angie samples everything on offer finishing up with a visit to the onsite ice-cream store. When it's time to leave and reflect on the trip, it seems everyone has had a great time with plenty in Launceston to interest both adult and child alike.
The joys of ice-cream at Swiss-styled, kid-friendly Tamar Valley Resort