We unpacked our bags at the little beachside town of Bicheno on the east coast of Tasmania. It was our anniversary night, so priority was getting hold of dinner – of course!

It was too late to sit down in a restaurant that night, but we bought the most delicious lobster rolls and chips from the Lobster Shack and took them back to our balcony. Washed down with a Tasmanian sparkling gifted by our hosts, and I was very happy! Certainly not something we would have been doing at home in Melbourne.

This was the view from our balcony. Not too shabby.

Lobster rolls may be delicious, but they aren’t really photogenic. You’ll have to settle for this gorgeous specimen that I devoured a few days later. Life was hard in Tasmania.

As we were waiting for our rolls we saw about six dolphins jump one after the other past us, just as if they were literally watching their school teacher and following instructions. I was too stunned to capture it and just watched open mouthed. Seriously? Had Tasmania really made this effort to put on a show for us as soon as we arrived?

The next day we wandered around the Gulch (home of yet another super popular fish and chip shop), and I sketched this just where the dolphins would have emerged. Shhh dolphins, cover your ears! It does seem a little hypocritical to be admiring dolphins swim happily past as we munch on their housemates ….

One of the attractions at Bicheno is the blowhole. Stephen and I walked along the beaches, over lots of these amazing orange and yellow lichen covered rocks, and after walking in the wrong direction (decisively) looking for a bakery for a long time, we turned back and eventually ended up with a good view of the blowhole. We didn’t need to walk over there – it was just fun seeing the water explode suddenly out of the rocks, soaking the delighted onlookers. Sadly I didn’t manage to capture the moment in my video, but you can just see my attempt at drawing it on the left side of my sketch.

This coastline is full of natural beauty, but we were told that we definitely needed to visit Freycinet National Park. We also apparently needed to have lunch at the Freycinet Lodge, so we obliged. Gee, we seemed to do a lot of eating on this trip – because I sure needed more kilos in addition to my lockdown weight gain. But holiday kilos don’t count, do they?

It was a really windy day, so not perfect for outdoor sketching in a book that likes to flap its wings. We wandered up to the Cape Tourville lighthouse, an easy walk for those filled with lunch. The views were incredible, and you could really sense the curve of the horizon looking towards the east. From there it is about 1000 kilometres to the west coast of New Zealand’s south island, so this feeling of vast infinity suddenly makes sense.

Looking for a sheltered spot to draw, we walked down to Sleepy Bay with its rock caves and autumn hued rocks. I set myself up on a comfortable piece of stone, wedged my water cup between the cracks, and settled to sketch the scenery and the families exploring the other side. Stephen went for a scramble over the rocks to stretch his legs.

On our last day in Bicheno I wanted to capture the almost impossible brilliance of the orange and yellow rocks that we had seen when we got lost wandering the beaches earlier. We couldn’t find that exact spot, but with a stocked picnic hamper and camping chairs conveniently stored in the car, we checked out a couple of likely locations and settled for a quiet corner on Redbill Beach. Well it was quiet to start with, but as I sketched a group of kids arrived to snorkel and muck around in the water. There is something so joyful about hearing the excited squeals and laughter of children – especially when someone else is responsible for them! They provide the background chatter in my video.

I wanted to draw a longer landscape, and I had packed some wide strips of Bockingford cold press paper that I folded into a makeshift accordion sketchbook. It’s my favourite paper at the moment, as it is affordable, easily available in Australia and it copes well both with fountain pen ink and watercolour.

I know it looks like I’m exaggerating the oranges and yellows, and I admit guilt in turning up the volume of most of my colours by habit, but really that is how many of the rocks appear along this coastline. The way the light shines on them, and whether or not they are wet from the tide also makes a difference. Anyway, those colours are what I really wanted to take away as my most precious visual memories of this visit, so I’m standing by them!

Oh, and thanks to my friend Pat, who asked if that was a fried egg she could see in my sketch. After checking that she wasn’t referring to me (because I did get a bit sunburnt regardless of hat and sunscreen), now all I can see is a fried egg on a rock in one side of my picture. Thanks a lot Pat …!

We spent four nights in Bicheno, three days really, and more than anything we enjoyed just relaxing and soaking up the change of scenery. Just being away from home was such a treat.

One night we went on a local tour to see the fairy penguins come in for the night, and that was pretty cool. I liked that it was low key, and penguins were literally walking amongst us, not at all stressed by our presence. We saw greedy baby penguins pestering their parents, and others guarding their burrows. Some can apparently walk inland a kilometre to their burrows, which is an awful lot of steps for those little legs! A possum raced past our group at one point. At least that was what we thought, until it was identified as a water rat. Sometimes ignorance is bliss …

In between walks we discovered the scallop pies at the Blue Edge bakery, and the lamingtons and vanilla slices. Other than my daughter’s lamingtons (which are fantastic, hint, hint) I haven’t really had a good lammy from a bakery in years, but they featured pretty large (literally) during our Tassie trip. As every bakery in Australia surely claims the honour of best pie or best vanilla slice, we feel it is our duty to test these thoroughly wherever we travel. The scallop pies got a big thumbs up from us.

When we packed a picnic for the drive to Hobart, we stocked up at this bakery. Enough said 🙂

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