St Helens to Richmond, where we will stay for our last 3 nights, is only 225 km by the direct route but we were planning a scenic drive down the east coast. That would increase the distance and require time for sightseeing. The final section yesterday from Scottsdale to St Helens had involved some tight twists and turns over the mountains and some needed extra sleep for recovery after that and yesterday’s early start . We set departure time for 8:30 am. Most were up and moving early in any case so we easily made our scheduled departure time.
Our first stop along the way was at Bicheno. We arrived there shortly before 9:30 am and stayed for just a short time to stretch our legs and look at the scenery and activity around the bay. A couple of people were fishing off a wall, some others were swimming off the beach, a boat was in the bay and signalling the presence of a diver below, and a group that appeared to be a scuba class was assembled near us and preparing to enter the water. The sky was overcast and there was a cool breeze blowing so we enjoyed the scenery, including the reddish rock shelf, for a few minutes but did not stay long. We drove on toward our next destination.
We arrived at Coles Bay shortly after 10:00 am. On the way in along the shore of Moulting Lagoon we had noticed what appeared to be a number of wooden structures out on the water. There was speculation about whether they were for oysters or crayfish but it was not until after we were driving south a couple of hours later that I used Google to find that they were actually hides used by duck hunters in season. By that time we were looking for morning coffee and I had spotted Tombolo on the map on my iPhone so we navigated there. They served good coffee and a variety of bakery treats that filled some cracks.
Majella had planned the itinerary to allow time for a walk in the nearby Freycinet National Park that was the reason for our visit to Coles Bay. She had identified the Wine Glass Bay Lookout walk as one that we might fit in our schedule. It is just 1.5 km each way but described as steep in places and the time estimate was 1 to 1.5 hours. Warwick, Russell, Majella, and I indicated interest in walking that track, leaving the others to wait. We thought that we would need to drop them at the park visitor centre and drive to the car park where the walk begins but once at the park we discovered that parking might be crowded where we needed to go and that there were alternatives for the others. The dropped us at the foot of the trail and then drove 15 minutes or so to the easily accessible lookout at the Cape Tourville lighthouse. They were able to enjoy that view and a short walk off the road while we climbed and returned.
The track up to the Wine Glass Bay lookout was steep in places but well developed with stone steps much of the way. Warwick steamed ahead, Russell followed, Majella described herself as puffing like a train, and I alternated among moving quickly, stopping for photos, and waiting for Majella to catch up for a drink from the water I was carrying. We made good time up to the lookout, paused for photos, and rolled back down the hill in about 50 minutes total. That beat the estimated time and had us there earlier than we had thought the rest of the group should come back for us. We called them and they soon arrived to collect us and continue on our way.
It was midday by then and time to begin thinking about lunch. Majella was determined to have a scallop pie from the cafe recommended by Gabrielle in Orford. That was 90 minutes or so away but we had been eating late lunches and morning tea had sustained most of us so we agreed that was a reasonable target. We made our way back to the highway and then headed south, stopping once at Swansea for fuel.
Gabrielle had described to Majella how we should enter Orford from the north, cross a bridge, turn left, and find the cafe with the scallop pies. As we entered Orford somebody asked if we had crossed a bridge. A voice suggested that we had. Majella spotted a sign on a roadhouse advertising scallop pies and we stopped. Scallop pies were sold out – more disappointing for some than for others – but we found alternatives including toasted sandwiches, Rosie’s chicken, and fish. While we were eating Maria called Gabrielle who called back shortly after missing the call. Questions and answers were exchanged about where we were and where we should be. Gabrielle was surprised that we were eating at the roadhouse rather than the cafe she had described. We did find it later but they were also sold out of scallop pies and the muffins that Gabrielle had recommended as an addition or alternative. We checked out the place where Gabrielle had lived briefly before heading on to Richmond.
Our accommodation at Richmond is at Hatcher’s Manor. We are staying here for the last 3 nights of our trip, four in a ground floor cottage and six in a 3 bedroom apartment on the first floor of the main building. Although the building looks old it was actually built by the owners starting in the 1990s. Majella was especially impressed to learn that the ornate cornices were all made by the woman who, with her husband, runs the place. We were greeted by a young man from Manchester via Brisbane who has started work there only this week but had been left in charge because the owners needed to run some errands in town. He sorted us out smoothly and we headed off to explore Richmond.
Richmond Village is close to Hobart and its airport so it is a convenient location for us. We plan to visit Port Arthur tomorrow and then the Salamanca markets in Hobart on Saturday before flying home on Sunday. It is an historic site, with many fine old buildings in the main street and surrounding area. We drove back into town soon after 4:00 pm and agreed to go our separate ways and meet back at the van at 5:30 pm to return to Hatcher’s where we had booked for dinner at 6:30.
Majella and I started wandering through the village. I was keen to get photographs of the most iconic structures in Richmond, the bridge over the Coal River built by convict labour and St John’s, the oldest Catholic church in Australia. Majella did not want to walk that far, at least at my speed, and thought that the rest of the group probably would want to visit those sites by car on the way back to Hatcher’s. She suggested that I go and do my thing for a while. I managed to visit the bridge and church for photos while she explored the village at a more leisurely pace. As I did so I bumped into multiple subsets of our group who were also wanting to view the bridge and church. Having done my thing I returned to find Majella (courtesy of iPhone tracking) and we viewed the bridge and church from the top of the river bank at the marked photo sites.
We did a little shopping for breakfast before heading back to Hatcher’s via the church which was closed up by that time. We had dinner in the Manor cafe/restaurant where both the food and wine were good and reasonably priced. That was all done in time for the final load of laundry on this trip to be done before we retired.