Today was golf day for our three golfers, Jim, Russell, and Warwick. Barnbougle Dunes is reputedly the best links style golf course in Australia. It is near the small town of Bridport on Bass Strait, a bit more than an hour of driving from Launceston. Our itinerary had been planned to allow 5 hours or so within which time it would be possible to play an 18 hole round. The rest of us would be able to enjoy some of the other local offerings while waiting for the golfers.
There was some apprehension among the golfers on at least two counts. For one, none of them had played a links course previously and they wondered about dealing with sand, wind, and long grass in the rough. For another, the weather forecast had suggested rain was possible and the early morning sky in Launceston was grey with cloud.
Jim had booked the round of golf for 10:00 am and the plan was to arrive there about 9:00 to allow time book in, hire clubs, and get organised to play. We left Launceston just before our scheduled departure time of 7:45 am. Despite some navigational adjustments that took us via Scottsdale, we reached Barnbougle just after 9:00 am. We all went in for a look while the golfers sorted out booking and gear. Once they were sorted we headed off, leaving them to practise while they waited to tee off. By that time the sky was mostly clear blue with a few fluffy white clouds, dissipating their second source of apprehension and leaving just their games to think about.
With Michael at the wheel we drove off to explore the area. Majella had listed Bridestowe Lavender Farm as one place to visit. We had passed the turn for it before we reached Scottsdale earlier but planned to take a different road back to avoid retracing our path too often. On the way we would look for a winery with good coffee where we could take our morning break.
Pipers Brook winery was marked on our maps about 20 minutes away and the web page described it as serving good coffee and food. We headed that way and arrived a few minutes after it opened at 10:00. We all had coffee and a variety of tasty treats. Majella and I shared a piece of pecan pie and then tasted the Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris. They were excellent but we were not prepared to carry any in our luggage. I was interested to find that 9th Island wines, a familiar brand, came from the same group. They blend material from the local area with some from the Tamar Valley to achieve the desired characteristics.
The track in to the winery from the road had wound quite some distance through the vineyards. We were surprised to find that signs for the exit directed us by a different route. The reason became clear when we arrived at the adjacent Jansz winery before reaching the road to continue on our way. Next stop was Bridestowe Lavender Farm.
It was not far but a short distance up a side road that we had noted as we came through earlier. Our plan was to visit Bridestowe and then follow that side road back toward Bridport, avoiding a repeat trip via Scottsdale. As we turned off the road to enter Bridestowe we noticed that the road onward was gravel. The women enjoyed the shop full of lavender goods but I was inclined to think that a motorcyclist I overheard had it right. When his female companion commented about his helmet being still on he responded by asking how long they would be there.
We stayed a while before heading back to Bridport via Scottsdale rather than take the gravel alternative. Majella’s Lonely Planet guide described Scottsdale as having some interesting old buildings but we saw few of those on our drive by visit.
When we arrived in Bridport we found a parking space at the top of the town and walked across toward a cafe. The women wandered into a store where they were advised that the best place to eat was the Bunker which was in the RSL club at the bottom of town.
We headed down the street but Michael, Maria, and I soon realised that we were a long way ahead of the others who had been distracted by bargains in a clothing store. We also realised that we would be walking further than Maria and some others would want to walk back. Michael headed back to move the van closer. I went back in a vain attempt to hurry the shoppers. Maria carried on. I caught up with Michael and Maria in the restaurant where we sat and waited until the shoppers eventually joined us. Majella and I had smashed eggs – poached with bacon and avocado on good bread – with cider for her and local dark ale for me.
After lunch Majella, Fay, and I went for a short walk along the foreshore while the others waited on the verandah. Then we headed back to Barnbougle to find the golfers.
As we arrived somebody noticed a group of 3 golfers on a fairway near the clubhouse. I’d noticed in the morning that the back nine went out in that direction and 3 being an unusual number of golfers agreed it might be our golfers. I bolted for the lookout near the clubhouse and got some photos of them as they approached the green and putted out. The rest of the group joined me on lookout to watch them finish.
We spent a short time in the clubhouse relaxing while they got sorted out with souvenirs. Then we hit the road for St Helens, our stop for tonight. That required our third pass for the day by Scottsdale. From there the road went through some beautiful scenery and several times through some winding stretches. Eventually we emerged from the mountains and arrived at St Helens. Our accommodation is around the bay on the eastern arm. It is a 2 storey building with 2 three bedroom apartments, one up and one down.
Once we had dropped our bags in the rooms we headed off to see a little of the Bay of Fires. We drove as far as Binalong Bay at the southern end of the Bay of Fires. After a quick walk in the beach there we drove back to St Helens where we picked up take away (mostly fish and chips or other seafood) for dinner and headed back to our apartments for the night.