Subject: Tasmania
Hi John,

We are back from our trip to Tasmania and I thought you might be interested to hear of some of our experiences.

We took our own car and travelled Melbourne/Devonport/Melbourne on the car ferry the Spirit of Tasmania. It normally takes about 10 hours each way. We had gale force winds and 5-7 metre waves so it wasn't a particularly pleasant crossing and if we ever go to Tasmania again we'll fly over and hire a car. Rough seas are the norm on this route.

Our first day we travelled from Devonport to Launceston, up to Scottsdale, across to the coast at St Helens and down to Swansea. The Launceston/Scottsdale section is well worth seeing. The countryside changes from grazing land with sheep and cattle; to forests of eucalypts and pines; a rain forest with tree ferns etc; and finally the east coast beaches and small towns. The road, however, is very windy and quite narrow and you tend to meet lots of timber trucks.

Another area we enjoyed was the West/Northwest coast. The trip from Hobart to Strahan in particular has varied and at times spectacular scenery. The road into Queenstown has to be experienced to be believed. Extremely narrow and windy with sheer cliffs on one side. In Strahan the Gordon River boat trip is worth doing. You cruise across Macquarie Harbour to the Gordon River with its World Heritage Wilderness and Huon Pines. An island prison for the early convicts is also visited.

Cradle Mountain is another World Heritage Wilderness Area and is a must if you enjoy hiking and dramatic scenery. Be warned, however, the weather there can change quickly and warm clothing is essential no matter what time of the year you visit.

We stayed at B& B's most nights and the accommodation was excellent and quite inexpensive. Three I could especially recommend are Meredith House in Swansea (on the east coast) ($120 AUD); Levenside Gardens in Ulverstone (north west coast) ($100 AUD); and Wellington Lodge in Hobart ($100 AUD). Wellington Lodge was about ten minutes' walk to the CBD and wharves/restaurants and the same distance to the Hobart Botanic Gardens. All three were beautiful old homes furnished with antiques. The rooms all had ensuites and guests had their own living room (with log fire) and small breakfast room. Delicious hot breakfasts were included.

We tried different restaurants each night. None stood out as being somewhere you must go to but all were quite good. Mures Seafood Restaurant at the dock area in Hobart served a delicious Seafood Chowder. The Salamanca Markets held each Saturday in Hobart are also worth visiting.

There is an excellent publication Tasmania's Temptations Holiday Book. The website is www.tastemptations.com.au. If you would like a copy let me know and I will mail you one.

Hope you enjoy your visit to Australia.

Regards Josie Figtree, Australia