A double surprise trip to Tasmania

The week before Christmas, my boss phoned me and told me that I was now required to take 3 days of my precious annual leave between Christmas and New Year. Having previously been ‘relaxed’ on the issue, the company would, after all, be doing a Christmas shut down.

Warning: extended rant alert.

Now, my vacation days are a very precious resource to me. I may only be in this country for another 10ish months (#visastruggles) and I want to see as much of it as I can. I get 20 vacation days per year here in Australia, and even though that’s a whole 5 fewer than I had in the UK, trust me I know how lucky I am to have those 20. However, I had planned to make each and every one of those days work for me, so to lose three felt like a big deal.

Apparently, this whole Christmas shut down thing is quite normal in Australia and frequently lasts for two weeks – the first week in January is often taken as well. Personally I don’t like to take any vacation days at Christmas if I can possibly avoid it because, as I say, I like to use those to go away and Christmas is an expensive time of year to travel. I’m not bound by school holidays so will always opt to travel in the off-season where I can.

So upon learning I was to have a surprise vacation thrust upon me, I decided there was nothing for it. I wasn’t just going to sit back and let a vacation happen to me. I was going to plan the heck out of this thing.


So I booked a trip to Tasmania less than a week out, and didn't tell my husband. Click To Tweet

Ok, so he found out on Christmas Day when I told him that we were leaving for his favourite place on earth in two days – I’m pleased to say he was very happy about this and didn’t freak out at all, which I was slightly worried about.

And that’s how we ended up on a truffle farm in Tasmania.

Here’s what we did with our time.

Patted wombats and a Tasmanian devil

Our visit to Trowunna Wildlife Park was the highlight for me.

Post coming soon!

Visited a salmon and ginseng farm

We got to feed some monster fish, try all kinds of salmony delicacies, and go for a peaceful walk around a lake. Oh and meet their gorgeously placid dog, George.

The walk was perfectly fun (although the maze and boardwalk element were closed, to our disappointment) but I would go for the free tastings and leave with as much of their delicious salmon as you can carry.

Had a taste of farm life

As we were staying on a farm, we had the opportunity to join the wonderful owner Jennifer for a tour of the place. This included giving the sheep (Willy, Wally and Dolly) a good back scratching, trying not to get our fingers nibbled by the cheeky ponies with awesome hairdos (Harry and Larry),

feeding the chickens and holding a newly hatched chick.

Basically it was cuteness overload and I loved every second.

Hunted for truffles

As an addendum to farm life, we toured the truffle orchard with Jennifer’s two truffle hunting dogs, Chicken and Toby (in training). We learned lots of things about truffle hunting and even got to have a practice truffle hunt with Chicken and Toby. Apparently I have a good voice for commanding dogs (grew up with a dog) whereas poor S does not (grew up with a cat). Hey ho.

Spotted some fairy penguin chicks

This not-so-hidden gem is courtesy of a newly rebuilt penguin viewing platform on Lillico Beach conservation area. It’s a pretty sophisticated place, all staffed by volunteers and funded by donations which enables visitors to see adult fairy penguins emerge from the waves to feed their waiting chicks.

The first penguins emerged about 20 minutes before sunset, to give you an idea of the best time to go. We saw some absolutely adorable chicks pottering about and practicing flapping their tiny wings. It’s not the best photo but the only lights allowed were red lights to avoid disturbing the penguins. Hopefully the cuteness still comes across.

Ate delicious food

Alright, full disclosure, for #budgetaryreasons we mostly self catered this trip. However, we did have a delicious meal out at the Drift Cafe in Devonport. We enjoyed views out over the Bass Strait, watched the Spirit of Tasmania embark for Melbourne, and quite frankly stuffed our faces.

I had a gluten free burger that was decent, a potato gratin that was excellent,

and a trio of chocolate mousses that was absolutely divine. See, gluten free puddings don’t have to be just fruit.

Didn’t get bitten by a venomous snake

We were warned that we might encounter snakes on our walk around the Narawntapu National Park but we figured that was just the rangers being over cautious. There are only three snake species in Tasmania! Sure, they are all venomous but what are the chances?!?

Turns out…

It was a stressful situation for all concerned but we are all still alive to tell the tale and let’s move swiftly on.

Saw wild kangaroos

Our walk ended on a much more happy note when we got to see various mobs of kangaroos all hanging out on an area of open grassland. Some had joeys, some were bouncing around looking purposeful, some were lazing around in the long grass.

It was the perfect stereotypical Australian end to the walk.

Do you like animal type holidays? Foodie ones? Tell me everything!


Stuck for ideas of what to do in North West Tasmania? Here are some ideas of fun activities including cute animals, good food and stunning nature.



  1. 8th January 2018 / 17:08

    Oh I totally get the forced holiday thing! I used to get 13 weeks off in the uk so 20 DAYS is not working for me! And 3 of my precious days has to be taken …. so I have taken unpaid leave! It’s so hard!!!! We are still poised to book Uluru at Easter when we eventually get the go-ahead from my husband’s job 😱 – the poor travel agent is having palpitations hoping the hotel doesn’t get booked up … oh the joys!! Ok I will stop moaning!!! We just had a fabulous 5 days in Melbourne and Tasmania looks awesome too!!! Cairns is next on the cards after Uluru but tassie is definitely next after that!!!!

    • 9th January 2018 / 04:23

      Thirteen WEEKS?!?! This American is practically green with envy… I have 15 days (with 6 federal holidays and one floating holiday) and that is considered pretty solid. However, that 15 days are vacation and sick days together. Wahhhhh!

  2. 8th January 2018 / 23:05

    I’m so lucky to get good holiday leave with my current job – which somehow accumulated while I was on maternity leave too…and resulted in me being made to take the mandatory Christmas shutdown period as well as some before and I’m still on leave now…ha! Only working 3 days a week means a lot of time off when you have to take it!

    Your trip looked amazing even if it wasn’t your first choice, what a great way to use your holiday days! The snake story sounds scary, glad it had a happy ending. I’ve heard so many good things about Tasmania but never been.

  3. 9th January 2018 / 02:02

    oh my word what a lovely trip! all your time off has me green with envy. we get 15 days which is about 5 more than most. and two days for holidays. wild right? damn americans haha. ANYWAY all the cute animals – i can’t even with them. the chick! the penguin! sigh.

    xoxo cheshire kat

  4. 9th January 2018 / 04:09

    That is AWESOME!!! I can’t wait to read more. It does stink when you’re forced into using vacation days, but you seem to have capitalized on it. As someone who usually books big trips months in advance, I love the thought of booking travel mere days or weeks before departure. I’ve only been able to do that once, though, and that’s when I bought a flight to London the night before leaving. And I was only there a weekend. 🙂 It’s still one of my all-time favorite travel memories, though! I’m giddy just thinking about it!

    So whenever I think of Australia, one of the first thoughts that come to mind is “all the poisonous things” (followed closely by someone saying “g’day, mate” with a cheeky grin; seriously, if no one says that to me if/when I do visit, I will be very disappointed; okay, maybe not, but still…). So I’m sorry and yet not surprised about your hint here and on IG about a brush in with a copperhead. We have copperheads in Virginia, but I’m not sure they’re the same. We don’t see them too terribly often, but saw a lot of them last year since the 2016-2017 winter was so mild.

  5. 9th January 2018 / 08:32

    Forced holidays can be annoying, but wow, did you make the most of it. Your trip looks awesome!

  6. 9th January 2018 / 09:45

    That’s such a bummer that they forced you to take vacation days, but that’s so awesome that you were able to get a vacation planned in such a short amount of time! And those penguins and kangaroos are so adorable! I’d love to see them in person!

  7. Jen
    9th January 2018 / 12:44

    What a beautiful trip!!! 🙂 These pictures are amazing.

  8. 9th January 2018 / 15:49

    Ah I love Tassie. If I was forced to take vacation, I would go there too! The truffle farm sounds so fun and unique!

  9. 10th January 2018 / 01:44

    I love that not getting bitten made the list! #australianstruggles and I totally get it about the annual leave days, I hate being forced to take days off! Sounds like a fab trip though!

  10. 11th January 2018 / 05:36

    Boo to forced holiday! But, you really did make the most out of it, and I love that it was all a surprise too. What a truly great place to spend some time 🙂

  11. 11th January 2018 / 17:35

    Argh, totally feel you!! I was forced to take an unplanned holiday earlier this year when I switched companies, though technically the same company (work that one out! ;)). Was a great holiday but in the end, lost out on 6 days I intended to use later on in the year! Oh well.

    OMG. Tasmania is SUPER HIGH on my list!! Hoping to make it down this year!! Your trip looked amazing and I want to do the same!! I’m still sulking because I’ve been to Oz twice now and I’ve still not seen a kangaroo or a koala. Hrmph. I so want to see wombats and tasmanian devils and quokkas!!

  12. 14th January 2018 / 01:40

    If they are shutting down, you shouldn’t have to use vacation days! That’s crazy! Two week shut down at Christmas… I can’t imagine that. LOL I am glad your husband enjoyed the surprise – I love that you did that!! I’m so desperate for an impulsive getaway like that right now!

  13. 14th January 2018 / 19:27

    Oh how annoying that your company forces you to take your own annual leave when it’s their shutdown time, that sucks!

    It looks like you totally made the most of the time though! What a fun trip!

  14. 23rd January 2018 / 01:37

    Ooooh I really want to visit Tasmania – probably when I’m back living in NZ one day, rather than from here. Love the many animal pics, especially the roo! I’m definitely one for the foodie holiday (as I’m sure you would have guessed) but I’ve nothing against wildlife spotting like this.

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