Over the new year period we decided to jump in the van and just go.
We packed the van and we hit the road the very next day. We headed across the coast to the North East corner. We had two nights booked in at the Tomahawk caravan park. I had great expectations as I had heard amazing things about this part of our island. When we arrived on the we were a little frazzled by 15mins of tolerated baby crying just to get there.
After set up I had a look around the park and I have to say I was disappointed, very disappointed. The caravan park was completely unloved. The toilet block was ratty and the shop was sad, however the sites were grass (so that's one good point). I was told that the park has just been taken over by another family so I really hope that they can make a go of it. The new owners are trying very hard and completely lovely, I really wish them all the best.
The park itself was made up a huge number of permanent sites. I have never seen such space allocated to permanents, which was very limiting to normal drive in campers. Some permanent sites had the most amazing outdoor areas set up while most were completely unloved and run down. A few were for sale and if it was my park I would be trying to buy them at a discount rate, do up the site (and perhaps try to regain some camping ground) then sell them on. Eventually the park would benefit greatly from it.
I took a walk down to the beach with visions of amazingness. Since the park was such a let down I felt for sure the beach was what bought people here. To be honest after that one look I was not compelled to go back. The north west of the state, 10 mins from my house, has far superior beaches. It was a beach, that was nice, end of story. The many tractors I viewed amongst the permanent sites indicated that it must be the fishing and boating people that were attracted here and that is why it is talked about so highly.
We needed to free camp for one night before heading to Bridport to spend two nights with friends so on our second day we took a drive to Waterhouse point upon hearing about its amazingness. I must admit I had high hopes - again. The camp spots were OK but you camped on that awful black dirt/sand that is so common on the east coast. The road to get in would not suit most vans and certainly not big vans. I think tenting is a good option in this sort of area and a four-wheel-drive a must.
The beach was Ok/good, certainly not as good as our North West beaches. I think the appeal is probably the fact that it is great fishing directly off the beach and its isolation...yep... that's got to be it.
I sound a bit negative but compared to camp grounds on the mainland, Tasmania still has a lot to aim for. It is a huge industry and I really wonder when communities will 'get it'. Free campers bring money into your town and the rarity of available sites in the main centers of our caravan parks in peak times show the popularity of this leisure activity.
After not finding a pleasant free camp site in that area we spent the third night at Scottsdale at their free camping site. Now THIS is a community that gets what good free camping sites can do for the community. The toilets block were modern and had HOT showers. The free camp site had a park attached, it had a dump point and two BBQ areas. I would have happily stayed there longer if needed. Well done Scottsdale.
Our fourth and fifth nights were spent on a driveway of friends where we celebrated New Years Eve. They had great facilities - I would stay there again (HaHa). Our friends live in Bridport and we got to take a walk to the beach and had a bit of a swim. Bridport have amazing beaches but to get into the camp ground you really need to book a lot in advance or be very lucky.
I'm not sure how much we will get out in the van this month, I think that might be it for a bit as we have a big trip planned and need to save some holiday days for it. We will see.
Have you been down that neck of the woods and have better things to report? Where is your favorite Tasmanian camp ground?