Lesson 1: Bush camping in Tasmania, while cheap, is STUPID!!! Not having a powered site meant that we could not use our fan heater. Consequently, the van was cold when we went to bed and we could not warm up the van in the morning.

We headed out of Scottsdale early with the heater in the cab turned up high to thaw out our numb feet!!!

Heading east we passed through some lovely farmland with just a light frost. As the sun came up and melted the frost we started to notice frost in tree shade or on only one side of a sheltered road. 

We stopped at the old tin mining town of Derby. There was a really nice picnic/camping ground on the banks of the Cascade River. The only downside to camping here was that the town water is not drinkable, there was a sign alerting people to the fact that ALL water must be boiled for 3 minutes before drinking.

Further east we came to the town of  Pyengana where we turned off and went for the short 11km drive to St Columba Falls. These falls are the tallest in Tasmania falling 90 meters into the George River. These falls are always falling so they were well worth the 10 minute walk into the forest.  Many of the other falls we had wanted to see, we had been told by locals not to bother about because there has not been much rain and the falls have not been at their best. At the start of the walk is an information hut with stories of the local area and its settlers.

Back on to the main road and heading east again we reached the seaside town of St Helens.  St Helens is a large town with reputedly Tasmania’s best fish and chippery. So of course we had to try it!!  We got their “fish and chips”-  $8.95 each for Flake and chips!!!! To their credit it was very nice, not oily batter and the fish was very fresh, but we decided that Tassie’s need to come to Qld to learn how to have fish and chips!! 

Following the coast via the A3 highway, Auto Rent Hertz told us not to take this vehicle down the A4 which is the way south via St Mary’s and Elephant Pass. The A3 highway brought us to Scamander and on to Bicheno. 7km’s before Bicheno we stopped at East Coast Nature Park to see our first Tassie Devil. They are smaller than we imagined, being not much bigger than a large cat. These ones, being in captivity, were reasonably friendly. We arrived just before feeding time, so all the animals thought we were there to feed them!! The park was reasonably priced to enter ($12.90 each) and was well worth it. There were the usual animals, as well as many exotic species of birds and reptiles. At the rear of the park was a tin mine display.

We kept going to Bicheno to book into the caravan park and arrange our penguin viewing tour at dusk. Bicheno Penguin Tours leave at various times depending on sunset for a 1 hour tour of the local rookery and the fairy penguins which come ashore each night. They are cute little birds and totally unafraid of people.  The rookery here at Bicheno is one of the closest rookeries to a populated area and because of this, the penguins have learnt to fish by streetlight. They use the streetlights like the full moon by which to fish. We were amazed at the ruckus that they make. They really do carry on for such a little bird. The ones here at Bicheno even commandeer rabbit burrows, banishing the rabbit to find somewhere else to live. After the tour, we came back to the van and put the heater on before settling in for another early night.

Temps: Scottsdale – 0ºc at 7:00am

             St Columba Falls – 4ºc at 10:30am

            St Helens – 10ºc at 11:30am

Weather:  Light frost in Scottsdale under a lightly overcast sky. Mist rain entering Bicheno.

Travel: Scottsdale  to  Derby – 41kms

            Derby to St Helens – 93kms

            St Helens to Bicheno – 69kms