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The 2020 Drive 4x4 The Doc Event Overview
(postponed to February 2021)
7th February 2021 to 12 February 2021, Devonport to Hobart
Please bear in mind that the proposed route is subject to weather and other outside influences and may be changed at any time at the discretion of the event organiser.
Sunday 7th February: welcome drinks and dinner, Devonport
Monday 8th February: Devonport – Dip Falls – Stanley
Tuesday 9th February: Stanley – Corinna – Strahan
Wednesday 10th February: Strahan (free day)
Thursday 11th February: Strahan – Queenstown – Tarraleah
Friday 12th February: Tarraleah – Richmond – Hobart
Final night dinner, Hobart
This year sees the sixth Drive 4x4 The Doc spread its wings away from the Mainland to Australia’s Apple Isle, Tasmania. In the past the event has explored the High Country, the Great Ocean Road, the Grampian Mountains and the Mallee regions of Victoria, and the Hunter Valley and Barrington Mountains in NSW. Feedback from 2019 event participants encouraged us to look at taking the event to Tasmania in 2020 – so we did!!
The Drive 4x4 The Doc has four founding principles:
Travel to places we might not normally go to, on roads less travelled
Have a positive social & financial impact on the towns and regions we visit, and
Raise funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service
The Drive 4x4 The Doc does not require any previous 4WD driving experience or skills and is ideally suited to couples. Even if you have never driven a 4WD outside of the metropolitan area before – this is the weekend for you. The event will be conducted mainly over dirt roads and highways and will not require any advanced driving techniques. If you are looking for a weekend where you winch your 4WD across flooded creeks or rivers or rappel yourselves down rocky ravines – this IS NOT the event for you. There should be no need to pack any 4WD recovery gear; instead we suggest you should pack a couple of deck chairs and a wine cooler.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service
Medical services needed by people living in rural and remote areas of Australia are no different to services required in our large cities, but the vast distances that small rural populations have to overcome to access health services, provide a real challenge. The Royal Flying Doctor Service works to assist country Australians in many ways.
With a waiting room of 7.69 million square kilometres, the RFDS provides 24-hour aeromedical emergency services that can reach anywhere, no matter how remote, within hours. Combined with telehealth consultations, fly-in fly-out GP and Nurse clinics, mobile dental services, patient transfers, mental health clinics and a myriad of other health services, the RFDS is constantly working to see that those living in rural and remote areas can enjoy the same health outcomes as those living in city areas.
A note regarding accommodation in Tasmania
Tasmania hosts nearly 1.5 million visitors per year, mostly from November to March. Whilst the state has masses of accommodation available, in November it starts to get very busy and rooms can dry up at short notice in many areas.
In a couple of the towns I have asked venues to place rooms on hold for our group (normally close to where our evening meals are located) and I have made mention of those venues in the notes that follow. I have also included the web address of these locations so you can have a look and make sure you are comfortable with the options they offer. There is absolutely no expectation that you book into the venues that I have mentioned; feel free to book yourself wherever you like.
Transport to Devonport, and return
Most people will be bringing cars over from the mainland, and the Spirit of Tasmania is the only option (unless you live on King Island). November is the beginning of peak season and you will need to book early to make sure you get the dates & sailings you want, both ways. I spoke to the Spirit of Tasmania people regarding group rates, and we were unable to qualify for any discounts. There are a mixture of day and night sailings preceding the 8th November, providing you with several options. Some people may want to arrive early and do some touring prior to the event, and some people may want to have a look around Tasmania after we finish the Drive 4x4 The Doc in Hobart on Friday 13th. And some people might want to do both. Or Neither. Whichever you decide, my suggestion is that you book your sailing early.
Driving this week
Whilst you will need a 4WD this week (or a larger AWD), the Drive 4x4 The Doc is not the sort of event where you will find yourself employing many 4WD techniques. There will be no crossing of swollen rivers or rappelling yourself down muddy slopes, and we suggest that participants on the Drive 4x4 The Doc leave the winch and snatch strap at home and pack some comfy deck chairs and the drinks cooler instead. If you are after a hard core 4WD event, then the Drive 4x4 The Doc is not for you. If, on the other hand, you enjoy scenic driving and a natter over the bonnet of the car at a roadside morning tea stop, then you will fit right in.
Our charter for this week has been to find attractions that are off the beaten track, using the roads less travelled that also provide sensational sightseeing, plus fine dining and comfortable accommodation options each evening, at a reasonable budget level. We think we have achieved that aim, and hopefully you will agree.
Sunday 7th February – Registrations, welcome drinks & dinner
Our 2020 Drive 4x4 The Doc welcome drinks and dinner will be held at the DRIFT restaurant in the Devonport Surf Lifesaving complex from 6pm.
Monday 8th February – Devonport to Stanley
After a leisurely beachfront breakfast, we head out of Devonport and follow the northern coast of Tasmania via Ulverstone, Penguin & Burnie before we turn south, to the rugged and tumultuous Hellyer Gorge for morning tea. You will find it is a great spot to stretch your legs and take some photos. We then make our way through the aptly named Savage River National Park and the Arthur River Forest Reserve to a roadside lunch at Dip Falls, another great spot for photos and perhaps a walk to the bottom of the falls.
From Dip Falls it is a short drive to Stanley for the afternoon and evening, where there are a number of regional and local attractions that are worth visiting. You might include the Blue Hills Honey Farm on the drive from lunch, or the Nut Chair Lift in Stanley, on your list of things to do this afternoon.
Dinner tonight is at Jacos Fusion Bistro, right in the heart of town at 25 Church St, the picturesque main street. Stanley offers an enormous range of quality accommodation options across every budget level, and I suggest you use Google Maps or the Stanley Visitor Centre on (03) 6458 1330 or to find something that suits you. Make sure you double check when booking that you are within walking distance of Jacos – there aren’t any taxis in Stanley.
Tuesday 9th February – Stanley to Strahan
The picturesque main street of Stanley reflects the seagoing heritage of the area, and after a leisurely breakfast in the heart of the village we set off to Smithton for fuel, then from Smithton we travel through Edith Creek, Kanunnah Bridge, and then along the top of the mountain ridges of the Arthur-Pieman Conservation area, before we drop down to the extremely remote Corinna Wilderness Resort where we will enjoy a well-deserved lunch at the Tarkine Tavern.
After lunch we set off across the Pieman river on the tiny Fatman Barge, and wend our way past Granville Harbour to Zeehan, then on to Strahan for the evening. Postcard perfect Strahan might be, but it does have a dark and fascinating past, and tomorrow is a “free day” to allow you to discover the area.
Dinner tonight is right on the water looking back towards the ferry terminal and Strahan in the restaurant at Risby Cove, a level 550 metre walk around the seafront from the town centre.
Risby Cove has several accommodation options, from standard hotel rooms to two bedroom suites, and if you want to book there you can email or phone them on (03) 6471 7572. I also suggest you look at They are not big enough to host our entire group, but they are holding rooms for us until early August. If you do book there, mention “D4Doc” to gain access to those rooms. Risby Cove also has an interest in “The Crays” across the road. The website for The Crays is www.thecraysaccommodation.com.au phone (03) 6471 7422.
Wednesday 10th February – Strahan
Today is a “free day” and no meals have been arranged for you today. You won’t go hungry however, the food in Strahan redefines the word “fresh”. From seafood straight from the local fishing fleet, to the paddock-to-plate fruits and vegetables coming directly from the rich Tasmanian soil. The dining ranges from bistro-casual to chef-inspired, from tasty takeaway fish and chips on your lap to sumptuous sassafras lamb in a fine dining atmosphere that matches anything anywhere across the country.
Where there’s good food you can expect good wine, and the region produces world-class Pinot Noirs and sparkling wines which thrive in the cool Antarctic night breezes. If you prefer a little more bite in your tipple, gin and whisky are crafted locally, too.
There are a multitude of things you can do in or around Strahan, and we have set aside today for you to enjoy the delights of the region. Take your pick amongst lunchtime or dinnertime boat cruises, the Wilderness Railway half-day journey to Queenstown, maybe a fishing charter or helicopter trip, or much more.
Australia’s longest running play “The Ship That Never Was” is entering its 28th year and is presented by the Round Earth Theatre Company. Set in January 1834 the Frederick, the last ship built at the convict settlement of Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour, is about to sail for the new prison at Port Arthur. Ten convict shipwrights have other ideas. So begins the story of an amazing escape, an extraordinary voyage and an intriguing twist in the tale of The Ship That Never Was. The play is performed nightly at 5:30 pm near the Information Centre.
If you would like advice on what to do the local Visitor Information Office (03) 6472 6800 is easily the best and most friendly office of its kind in Australia.
Thursday 11th February – Strahan to Tarraleah
Breakfast this morning is at the View 42° Restaurant (it’s in the book). It is a stunning view from the top of the hill, but it is a big hill so I suggest you take the car…..
After breakfast we are off on a little drive down the beach – but it’s not just any beach drive for us. The next landfall from Ocean Beach is at Port Elizabeth in South Africa and the weather along the coastline is often wild & woolly!
We drive down the beach for about 30 km, past the Hells Gates at the narrow mouth to Macquarie Harbour. We will need to keep an eye on the tides and prevailing weather, but the sand is expected to be flat and hard, normally very wide and offering easy driving. Normally.
From Strahan we then head inland to Queenstown, whose history has long been tied to the mining industry. We will have lunch at the faithfully restored, 85 year old Paragon Theatre, where we will watch a local history movie on the big screen. A 20 minute guided walk around tour is available for those who are interested.
After lunch at Queensland we set off past Lake Burbury and Nelson Falls, through the St Clair National Park to Derwent Bridge. We have arranged a visit to The Wall at Derwent Bridge, a three-metre-high one-hundred-metre-long history of the harsh Central Highlands region.
From The Wall it is just a short hop to the fascinating Tarraleah Estate, a town built in the 1930s to house Hydro workers. Tarraleah is now a privately owned, faithfully restored art deco village that “combines accommodation, recreation and dining”.
Accommodation at Tarraleah
There are two distinct options at Tarraleah – the Tarraleah Estate, or the Tarraleah Lodge. If you fancy accommodation that is a little more exclusive, then www.tarraleahlodge.com.au/ might be for you and you should peruse their website for options and pricing. (Dinner tonight is at the Highlander Arms, a short stroll from anywhere.)
Tarraleah Estate www.tarraleah.com has set aside a range of houses, motel style “Scholars Rooms” and some cabins us to choose from. You should have a look at the website to help you decide what might suit you best. The accommodation options at the estate are:
Engineers Cottage (5-6 person max) - $210
Spacious 1930s Art Deco styled cottages. 3 Bedroom (differing bedding), 2-bathroom, laundry facilities, full kitchen, dining, lounge with fireplace, sunroom and backyard
Architects Cottage (5-6 person max) - $230
Spacious 1930s Art Deco styled cottages. 3 Bedroom (differing bedding), 2-bathroom, laundry facilities, full kitchen, dining, lounge with fireplace, sunroom, backyard and mountain and gully view
Superintendents Cottage (7-8 person max) - $250
Spacious 1930s Art Deco styled cottages. 4 Bedroom (differing bedding), 2-bathroom, laundry facilities, full kitchen, dining, lounge with fireplace, sunroom, backyard and mountain and gully view
Scholars Room (2 persons max in standard room, 2 x family room options) – $120.00 per night
Hotel style accommodation in the re-purposed Tarraleah School House. Each room has a queen size bed, ensuites (shower only) and lounge on the mezzanine level. When staying in the Scholars house you have access to the well-equipped communal kitchen, dining area and fireside snug in the centre of the building.
Highlander Cabin (2 persons max) -$110.00 per night
Functional cabin with a queen size bed and ensuites (shower only). The cabin has a small kitchenette allowing for self-catering.
Lake Villa Cabin (2 persons max) - $130.00 per night
Larger than the Highlander cabin, the Lake Villa has a view of the lake, a queen size bed, separate bathroom (shower only), lounge room and kitchen.
The people at Tarraleah have asked me to manage the booking process, so when you know what you want to book, please email me on email@example.com and I will take your payment and keep a listing of all rooms booked.
As mentioned earlier the dinner tonight is at the Highlander Arms, walking distance from everywhere, and a word of warning - leave your smart phones behind in your room, because rumour has it that tonight is trivia night!!
Friday 12th February – Tarraleah to Hobart
You will enjoy some picturesque driving around Lake Binney and Bradys Lake this morning, past the newly built Cattle Hill wind farm to the Waddamana Power Station Museum, located at the geographical centre of Tasmania. You will enjoy a private tour of the facility and learn about the history of hydropower in Tasmania, whilst enjoying morning tea.
Another majestic dirt road drive takes us to Bothwell, and from there we take the little used “back way” to lunch at the historic village of Richmond.
Initially established as a “police district” to oversee penal discipline in 1827, Richmond today is a vibrant tourist town full of art and craft stores and artisan shops. There will be plenty of time this afternoon to stroll the village before our 25 km drive to Hobart, arriving in plenty of time to frock up for our dinner this evening.
Dinner (and the auction) tonight is at “The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel”, one block back from Constitution Dock. We have booked a private room for dinner, and if you choose to stay at the Woolstore we have reserved a block of rooms for you to choose from. These include Hotel Rooms, Studio Apartments, One Bedroom Apartments and Deluxe Spa Apartments. The number to ring is (03) 6235 5355 and the website is www.oldwoolstore.com.au Quote code #505816 when booking.