The Old Coast Road

After a bitterly cold, overcast weekend recently, we were greeted on Monday by a perfect autumn day. I don’t work on Mondays and so, we decided to drive along the old coast road to Ulverstone for lunch. With the top down, Cooper took us on a magnificent journey, reminding us of the natural beauty we have so close to home. We turned off the highway at Sulphur Creek, apparently named because of the perceived smell of sulphur in the area when first explored by Europeans.

1.Sulphur Creek

Sulphur is associated with volcanic activity, which has determined the landscape of northwest Tasmania. There is no longer evidence of the offending aroma, just a stunning, sandy beach.

2.Sulphur Creek3.Cooper at Sulphur Creek

There used to be a fabulous restaurant at Preservation Bay, hopefully one day there will be another to make the most of this wonderful vista.

4.Preservation Bay5.Cooper at Preservation Bay

Soon, we were in the gorgeous town of Penguin.

6.Penguin7.Penguin8.Ocean Road

As we travelled the narrow, winding road, I was boggled by the reflections of the sun on the glassy water.

9.Ocean Road10.Ocean Road11.Ocean Road12.Ocean Road13.Ocean Road

There is a house along this road that fills me with more than a little envy.

14.house15.house

The Three Sisters are a group of three small islands (the third is almost hidden behind the headland at the right of the pic)

16.Three Sisters17.2 of the 3 sisters

and, along with Goat Island, they form the 37 hectare Three Sisters – Goat Island Nature Reserve.

18.Goat Island

Goat Island is a granite island and houses a breeding colony of little penguins.

19.Goat Island

It can be walked to at low tide, a lovely spot for a picnic.

20.Goat Island

As we reached Ulverstone,

21.Ulverstone

we spied Pedro’s across the river.

22.Pedro's23.Pedro's

The restaurant has a lovely, relaxed ambience

24.Pedro's

and we were shown to a table on the enclosed balcony, warmed by the autumn sun.

28.Pedro's

The Derwent Estate Pinot Gris came highly recommended. A delicious shade of pink, I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

29.pinot gris

The salt & pepper calamari and crumbed scallops were exquisite, the real flavor of fresh seafood.

Outside, the gulls were enjoying a bathe in the shallows of the river’s edge, soon the tide would be high and their chance would be missed.

33.gulls

The Leven River glistened

34.Leven River

as we left Pedro’s

35.Pedro's

and retraced our journey.

36.old ocean road37.old ocean road

Table Cape emerged in the distance

38.Table Cape

before disappearing behind the next headland.

39.old ocean road

We were surprised to see the masts of a tall ship in the bay, not a common sight in these waters. I read the next day, poor weather conditions had forced the UK ship, Tenacious, to stop in Burnie for a couple of days on its way from Melbourne to New Zealand. Tenacious is the world’s largest operative wooden hulled tall ship and offers opportunities for people with a disability to experience a sailing voyage.

40.Tenacious

What a marvelous way to end our day.

Edinburgh

After leaving Inverness, we drove over the Grampian Mountains, with the intention of visiting Balmoral Castle. The snow became heavier

and as the temperature plummeted to -5ºC, we decided to head straight for Edinburgh instead. We arrived as the sun was setting

4.Edinburgh

and found a hotel we liked the look of. Unfortunately, they only had a room for one night but recommended another place for us. We were told it was opposite a big building, we couldn’t miss it. After driving past three times, we finally found Ashgrove House, but couldn’t see anything across the road in the dark. After a marvelous curry and a good night’s sleep, I opened the curtains and, sure enough, the Donaldson’s School, a residential and day school for the deaf, was certainly a big building across the road.

5.Edinburgh

Our accommodation was lovely, in the attic room of this beautiful Victorian villa built in 1868.

6.Ashgrove House

A short walk away, Edinburgh Castle loomed magnificently over the town.

7.Edinburgh Castle

Built on volcanic rock, there has been a royal castle on this site since the 12th century,

8.Edinburgh Castle9.Edinburgh Castle

with royals in residence up until 1633.

10.Edinburgh Castle,Half Moon Battery and Palace Block

The view from the castle over Edinburgh and beyond was stunning.

11.Edinburgh12.Edinburgh

As we left the castle, we caught a glimpse of the Firth of Forth between the buildings,

13.Firth of Forth

before setting off down the Royal Mile.

14.Royal Mile

The Scotch Whisky Experience was tempting but, as Michael isn’t keen on whisky, we opted for the 3D Loch Ness Experience instead.

15.Royal Mile16.Royal Mile

After treating ourselves to a pair of gold celtic rings, our keepsake from Scotland, we celebrated with a pint and bacon sandwich at the Royal Mile Tavern. I have seen condom machines in women’s toilets before, but never scotch whisky flavoured, nor with the advice to refrain from driving while using the product!

The old tenements and alleyways were fascinating

19.Edinburgh

as we made our way to the far end of the mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Queen’s Gallery is an art gallery that forms part of the palace and exhibits works from the Royal Collection.

20.Edinburgh

The palace as it stands today was built between 1671-1678 and is the official residence of the Queen when she is in Scotland.

21.Palace of Holyroodhouse

The fountain is a 19th century replica of the 16th century fountain at Linlithgow Palace, just 15 miles away.

22.Palace of Holyroodhouse fountain

We wandered back to the new town, absorbing the spectacular architecture of the Edinburgh skyline

23.Edinburgh24.Edinburgh25.Edinburgh26.Edinburgh27.Edinburgh28.Edinburgh

and the undying traditions of Scotland.

29.piper

The next morning, we detoured to Dalmeny to see the Forth Bridges before leaving Edinburgh. The magnificent railway bridge was opened in 1890 and is the second-longest single cantilever bridge span in the world.

30.Forth Railway Bridge31.Forth Railway Bridge

The 2.5km suspension road bridge was opened in 1964, six years after work began.

32.Forth Road Bridge33.Forth Road Bridge

We didn’t drive across it, instead heading in the opposite direction.

Canal Rocks

The coastline of the Margaret River region delivered one stunning spectacle after another. We had enjoyed a fabulous dinner the previous night at Lamont’s Restaurant at Smiths Beach Resort. Returning the next morning, the stretch of white sand and crystal-clear blue water of Smiths Beach was revealed.

1.Smiths Beach2.Smiths Beach

A little further down the coast,

3.Canal Rocks

the Indian Ocean has carved a narrow channel between ancient granite rocks, creating the remarkable phenomenon that is Canal Rocks. From the car park, a boardwalk skirts the granite outcrop

4.Boardwalk Canal Rocks5.Boardwalk Canal Rocks

and leads to a wooden bridge where we stood, mesmerized, as the ocean currents danced a briny ballet.

6.Canal Rocks7.Canal Rocks8.Canal Rocks9.Canal Rocks10.Canal Rocks

Across the bridge,

11.Canal Rocks

the rocks have been worn smooth over the centuries.

12.Canal Rocks14.Canal Rocks13.Canal Rocks

The water was turbulent enough on this relatively calm day,

15.Canal Rocks

I imagine it would be absolutely breathtaking when the storms roll in.

16.Canal Rocks

A short drive further, we warmed up with a coffee at the White Elephant Café

17.White Elephant Cafe

while enjoying the beautiful panorama of Gnarabup Beach.

18.Gnarabup Beach

Assisi

Following our wonderful morning exploring Spello, we drove to Assisi, another ancient town dating back to 1000BC. Sometimes it is difficult to discern where the roads end and pedestrian ways begin when entering these old towns. I was more than a little alarmed to find myself driving into the main piazza. I hastily retreated down the first apparent exit and sought a car park outside the town walls. We re-enacted the initial entry, sans vehicle, and proceeded with our Assisi adventure.

1.Piazza del Comune2.Piazza del Comune

In 238AD, Assisi was converted to Christianity by Bishop Rufino, his remains rest in Assisi Cathedral. Built in the 12th century and dedicated to San Rufino, it was in this church that Saint Francis of Assisi was baptized in 1182.

We wandered the streets of this beautiful town

6.Assisi

10.Assisi

17.Assisi

before enjoying a delicious lunch at La Lanterna. I finally got the chance to try cinghiale (wild boar) in a sensational stew and Michael had superbly cooked maialino (suckling pig).

18.La Laterna

We walked off our lunch climbing to Rocca Maggiore,

19.Rocca Maggiore

a huge medieval castle built as a military fortress around 1174 on the summit of the hill.

20.Rocca Maggiore22.Rocca Maggiore23.Rocca Maggiore

Stopping to catch our breath, we were rewarded with spectacular views of Assisi.

24.Assisi

The 13th century Basilica of Saint Clare featured majestically in the landscape.

25.Basilica of St Clare26.Spoleto Valley

There was much to explore at Rocca Maggiore.

35.Rocca Maggiore

41.Rocca Maggiore

47.Rocca Maggiore

This inscription commemorates Pope Pius II

48.Rocca Maggiore polygonal tower

who completed the polygonal tower in 1460,

49.Rocca Maggiore polygonal tower

as well as the passages linking it to the main fortifications.

50.Rocca Maggiore51.Rocca Maggiore

The castle was extensively renovated in 2002 and there are fantastic exhibitions of medieval life, weaponry and musical instruments.

From the top, the 360° views across the Spoleto Valley and Assisi were breathtaking.

69.view from Rocca Maggiore65.view from Rocca Maggiore66.view from Rocca Maggiore67.view from Rocca Maggiore70.view from Rocca Maggiore71.view from Rocca Maggiore

We ambled down the hill to town, had one last gelato for the road,

72.gelato

and returned for our final night at Il Castagno.

Hallam’s Waterfront

We recently had cause to travel to Launceston and so, seized the opportunity to meet friends for lunch. They suggested Hallam’s Waterfront and we weren’t disappointed.

1.Hallam's Waterfront

Established in 1996, this award-winning seafood restaurant sources only the highest quality, line caught sustainable fresh seafood from the pristine waters around Tasmania.

2.Hallam's Waterfront

There is a peaceful ambience,

complemented by an assortment of nautical-themed artefacts.

The views over the Tamar yacht basin are beautiful.

10.Tamar basin11.Tamar basin12.dry dock

The extensive menu offered plenty of scope to share and compare. Entrée of tea smoked spareribs with ginger & soy glaze;

13.tea smoked spareribs with ginger & soy glaze

tempura prawns with sweet chilli

14.tempura prawns with sweet chilli

and oysters Kilpatrick (I wasn’t quick enough – I missed one).

15.oysters kilpatrick

Main course of grilled harissa southern calamari & banana prawns with rustic guacamole, grilled summer vegetables, coriander & paprika oil;

16.grilled harissa southern calamari & banana prawns with rustic guacamole, grilled summer vegetables, coriander & paprika oil

Cape Grim porterhouse with potato galette, Yorktown organic leaves, goat cheese, pine nuts & sticky balsamic with green peppercorn jus;

17.Cape Grim porterhouse with potato galette, yorktown organic leaves, goat cheese, pine nuts + sticky balsamic with green peppercorn jus copy

tempura market fish & chips, green salad with lemon & garlic dressing;

18.tempura market fish & chips, green salad with lemon & garlic dressing

and yellow curry with white fish & mussels were all stunningly delectable.

19.yellow curry with white fish & mussels

Of course, we managed to find room for dessert, I was very happy with my vanilla bean crème brûlée with lavender sugar, pistachio cake & rosewater syrup.

20.vanilla bean crème brûlée with lavender sugar, pistachio cake & rosewater syrup

The lemon & lime curd, tamarind chantilly, five spice coconut crumble & smashed raspberry meringue was a colourful offering;

21.lemon & lime curd, tamarind chantilly, five spice coconut crumble, smashed raspberry meringue

while basil panna cotta, white peach foam, quinoa crisp & fresh berries was a little more subtle.

22.basil panna cotta, white peach foam, quinoa crisp & fresh berries

We lingered outside long enough to admire the gorgeous surroundings

23.Tamar basin24.Tamar basin

before heading back to the northwest. We will certainly return to Hallam’s Waterfront.

25.Tamar River