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Saturday, 23 February 2013

Two Tour Tassie, part 5

SWANSEA AND FREYCINET PENINSULA

Great  Oyster Bay

Idyllic spot on Oyster Bay

We'd programmed our GPS to find the accommodation which our totally trusted and ever-resourceful travel agent had found for us just outside Swansea.  All the documentation said was "Piermont" and gave an address. We were both surprised and curious when the GPS stopped us at the start of a private long gravel drive with the discreet words "Piermont Retreat" on a sign.  A few minutes later, we had the key to our own stone cottage and stood there with mouths open.  I might have said "bless me" or something a little less ecclesiastical.

There are 15 cottages in the bush close to the water and are designed to be environmentally friendly and totally compatible with their surroundings.  The shortest polite word is WOW!

Front of cabin with deck looking over the bay

I think they were built by Dr Who as they seem much larger on the inside than the outside - a stone version of the TARDIS.  As soon as we opened the door, we saw the King-sized bed up on a raised dais at the back of the living area with uninterrupted views!  Here 'tis.....

Understated luxury...

The next photo was taken from the raised dais looking down into the lounge.  A flat screen TV is in one of the recesses and a log fire is in the other.

Could get used to this!

The bathroom and spa pool areas of the cottage were also exquisite but I'm sure you get the picture - tasteful and understated luxury.  Piermont also had their own cordon bleu standard restaurant for guests and casual visitors and we were very much looking forward to trying it.  We wandered over to the restaurant with one of us looking elegant and totally used to dining like this every evening back in NZ.  The other one, for the benefit of the foodie moto-bloggers who read these posts, had brought a camera to take a few shots.  Predictably, this did not go down terribly well, with stern words about letting the side down being hissed through clenched teeth by the classy member of the family.  Regular readers may remember a similar incident on our Thailand trip involving a chauffeur-driven Jaguar so clearly no lessons learned!

Consequently, only 3 semi-surreptitious photos were taken but maybe they'll give a reasonable idea of the dining experience.

View from our table over Great Oyster Bay

Duck confit parcels, duck breast on layers of potato and blah blah..

Mixed berries marinated in a liqueur sauce, creme brulee and home made biscotti ...

To cut a long story short, the food was made in heaven and with the setting, it was hard to think of a better way of spending an evening after a long drive. A great bottle of wine will be going to Julie, our travel agent for pulling this one out of the hat!  Not often that you get to stay in such a wonderful place.  Not glitzy and overblown, just simple and perfect understated elegance - a big well done to the owners.

 Nightfall as we walked back to our cottage

Flowering Eucalyptus in the grounds near our cottage

Early the next morning, we headed off to Coles Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula to go kayaking.  There was another couple plus Leith, the guide so everyone got plenty of individual attention.  We have a couple of sit-on smaller kayaks at home but the ones we were due to use were proper dual sea kayaks with spray skirts, rudders and plenty of storage for long journeys.

Preparing for the adventure

It's surprising just how far you can travel in 3 or 4 hours in a good kayak and we covered a fair distance exploring lots of beautiful bays in flat calm conditions.  At the half way stage, we pulled up in a deserted bay and Leith dragged out magnificent home-made cookies, coffee, tea and Milo - we were in heaven again!  I like the 2-seater kayaks, if the person at the back (me) is quiet about it, he can stop paddling and let the person at the front do all the work :-).

Aquatic Kiwis with Mounts Parsons and Amos in the background

Leith paddling past an outcrop of pink granite

The pink granite was once prized for construction purposes and the remains of a crane used for loading ships can still be seen in the photo below.

Pink granite boulders

The word AWESOME must be one of the most over-used in the English language but it was totally appropriate for this trip.  Like the guides over at Strahan, Leith was a fine ambassador for both his state and country and it was his enthusiasm which was the icing on the cake.  It's also a small world as we discovered that when he was younger, he spent a couple of months as a counsellor at Camp Blue Star school camp facility in North Carolina.  Our youngest son was there as a counsellor at almost the same time after leaving university and making his way to Europe!

After a great day on the water, we headed back to Piermont to sample yet more of their culinary masterpieces!

More to come......

14 comments:

  1. Geoff:

    I didn't have any problems at all identifying which was the "classy" one, nor the non-elegant one either.

    those two in that yellow kayak look vaguely familiar, they seem to be in awe of the scenery and of their lodgings.

    I already thought you lived in Paradise, but it seems you are vacationing in Paradise too. Have a good vacation and keep snapping away in spite of noticing those "clenched teeth", and the murmurs that follow . . .

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

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  2. Bob,
    Should I be offended? ;-)

    We do indeed live in a lovely part of the world, but every country has so much to capture the interest of visitors.

    I'd sooner face an angry Tasmanian Devil than an irate Jennie :-)

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  3. WOW is what you get from me as well for the five star accommodation and food.
    I have never seen flowering Eucalyptus before, now that was a nice treat.
    I love paddling but I wonder if a double kayak would work for us too. We only used singles so far because of the not so unsignificant weight difference between the two of us...

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    1. Sonja,

      Isn't it great when you get a surprise which exceeds expectations by a large margin?

      I don't think weight differential would be a particularly big issue given the size of those doubles and they're built to carry substantial supplies too. With 2 paddling, those suckers are fast too (and surprisingly, very stable).

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  4. You two seem to be having way too much fun and the stone cottages look tremendous. Nice kayaks.

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    1. Gary,

      To not have fun is to grow old far to early! Hope that you're having as much fun in NZ and have enjoyed your stay. Best wishes to Jackie for a rapid recovery. Jennie did the same thing a few years back hopping over our neighbour's fence of all things!

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  5. ("Mouth gaping") - I double Sonja's WOW. What a fantastic spot to vacation.

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  6. Karen,

    Indeed, our travel agent is one in a million and it was the most wonderful surprise!

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  7. Poor Jennie!!!!!

    Looks like a fantastic holiday geoff, I love the nightfall photo.

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  8. Oi! Who are you siding with Steve??? Maybe she does have a lot to put up with, sigh....

    Thanks, that sunset over the poplars next to the restaurant was wonderful.

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  9. Wow, what a great find with that retreat. I find it odd that they have a TV in the cabin - with such surroundings as the bay you wouldn't think they'd even put one in.

    The kayaks looks a little frightening to me, we have a canoe but I've never been in a kayak.

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    1. Brandy,
      Wasn't it just? some of the places we stayed didn't have phones in the cabins but they all had TV's. Guess they're handy for after dark when wild things outside are waiting to kill you!

      I've never been in a fully enclosed sea kayak before as our ones at home a sit-ons but they were far more stable than we imagined - no anxiety at all.

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  10. Beautiful cottage. Wonderful layout and would consider building one of those here.

    And stop saying horrible things about Jennie trying to pull out cameras for food porn... ;)

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    1. Sure was, Lori! Looking out at sunrise over the bay whilst laying in bed was pretty special.

      I apologise unreservedly - at least that makes me the elegant and classy member of the family :-)

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