The perfect dog friendly road trip
Join Henry, Jill and Billie the rescue kelpie on an overnight, dog friendly road trip to Tahune to celebrate Billie's adoption anniversary, with plenty of pit stops and sniffs to enjoy along the way.
We found Billie at the Dogs' Home of Tasmania, from what we’d been told, Billie was found roaming between rural properties on the outskirts of Hobart’s Eastern Shore. As skinny as a rake and with no sign of a collar or microchip, this well tempered, Kelpie-cross was simply down on her luck, looking for any kind of scraps, shelter or sympathy.
How Billie found herself in this situation is a question that we will never be able to answer, however my wife Jill and I will forever be grateful that a kind person put a stop to that chapter in Billie’s life by taking her off the streets.
My name is Henry James, in a way I’ve always considered myself to be an adventurer and thankfully so has my wife. While in some ways we have settled, as adventurers at heart we are always looking for new ways to celebrate the ordinary and to find the most fun in the things that we do and the decisions that we make, which is why we're taking our dog Billie on an overnight road trip for her adoption anniversary.
Due to covid, colds, weather and whatever else, this trip had been a long time in the making. When piecing it together the planning was guided by one common theme, creating a truly memorable, dog friendly road-trip before staying the night at Tahune Adventures.
Our first location, The Mount Nelson Signal Station Cafe was an obvious stop as it gave us an early morning caffeine boost, it gave Billie a chance to stretch her legs, but most importantly it gave our adventure a defined starting point.
“...and who do we have down here?” The café attendant asked while taking our order through the outdoor kiosk window. My wife Jill cheerily replied;
“This is Billie and today we're celebrating her third adoption anniversary."
Sipping on our piping hot long blacks, we overlooked the picturesque city of Hobart and its surrounding suburbs below, while allowing Billie to sniff the first of the countless new scents she was set to encounter for the day.
As soon as we’d arrived at the Willie Smiths Apple Shed market, our girl Billie, almost as if she has a sixth sense for it, found a stallholder that was more than willing to give her a scratch and a smooch.
Every Saturday Willie Smiths Apple Shed puts on an artisan makers market that runs in parallel with their existing restaurant and cellar door. During our visit we were able to browse from locally made leather craft, jewellery, artwork, spirits and lots more, opting to take home a bag of dried apple chips after a sample tasting left us intrigued and wanting more.
Naturally as the social girl she is, Billie said hello to almost everyone as we made our way through. I find it amazing how two humans that would otherwise not communicate in any way will suddenly find themselves striking up a friendly conversation simply because there’s a cute canine companion involved.
Continuing to make our way south, Geeveston was the next obvious spot to stretch our legs and to let Billie do what dogs love to do most in new places, sniff! The enclosed dog park was a great place to let her run and the Town Hall Visitor Information Centre was more than accommodating, letting the three of us look around at their fantastic displays paying tribute to the timber and logging industry that’s been such a keystone of this region for years. From here we got in the ute one final time, making our way to our stop for the night, Tahune Adventures.
“So that’s you guys all checked in to the dog friendly cabin and it seems the three of you will be the only ones staying here at Tahune tonight." The attendant continued;
"After we close up the whole place is all yours.”
It had been a big day for us and Jill and I were excited to have arrived at our final destination for the night, Tahune Adventures. Billie, the turbo Kelpie on the other hand was keen, as always, for the adventures to continue. Channelling some of her infectious attitude we quickly dropped our bags in the room and began our dusk adventure up to the famous airwalk.
“This is brilliant, she’s not freaking out!"Jill couldn’t believe it, Billie was walking as calm as can be above the tall trees, some 30 meters in the air. In retrospect we’d really hedged our bets on Billie enjoying the airwalk and thankfully she was taking this new and truly unique experience in her stride.
It’s clear that accessibility has been a big consideration when designing this park. The airwalk itself is wheelchair accessible, there's a shuttle service to bypass the steps from the visitor center over to the attraction areas, plus there is an all access riverside boardwalk and path known as the Huon Pine walk.
Families have also been taken into consideration, with a find the animal game setup during the walk. Billie was quick to find the Tasmanian Devil metal cut out and was very confused when it didn’t come closer to say hello. Further along the walk was a cross section of Tasmanian timbers on display - standing there in the middle of this ancient forest with little more than the noise of the flowing Huon River and Billie’s standard let’s keep going pant I suddenly found great interest in the cross cut differences. It was something I didn't expect to enjoy so much, but in that situation was a great opportunity to embrace and enjoy nature for what it was.
After making a meal from the groceries we’d brought with us and cooked up in the cabin kitchenette - while we were tempted to light up the outdoor firepit and toast marshmallows supplied from the cabin mini bar - we instead sat down for a glass of red wine and a good old book read. Billie the turbo kelpie didn’t make it past the first page before the toils of her big day all became too much and the eyelids of this little farm dog could be held open no longer.
“You know, we didn’t even link up to the Wi-Fi last night, just read our books and fell asleep, it was so relaxing."
Reentering the park at first light we revisited the airwalk, before continuing south along the riverside path. Being within the tall trees after having been above them helped to give incredible perspective of just how unique a native experience like this is. Crossing the Picton and Huon Rivers by a pair of connected swinging bridges it wasn’t until we got half way did Billie’s confident stride morph into confusion, almost like she’d thought "dogs can’t walk on water, what’s this all about?".
Experiencing the park in this way, alone and afterhours I must say was brilliant and we were so fortunate to have the opportunity. On site, Tahune have (where we stayed) the cabin, a two bedroom self-contained unit perfect for couples or small families. They also have the lodge, with its eight bedrooms and ability to sleep up to 20. For a large group you can book the entire building, or if you're open to sharing a kitchen and bathroom you can book what you need at a fair price. Self contained camping is also available, at an extra cost of just $10 with any park admission ticket.
I encourage anyone who is considering a trip this way to look into staying on site, both the lodge and cabin are cheaper than many other accommodation options in the area and on top of that includes free admission to the park. Being able to take our time and not rushing back into the car to make tracks for the next location, we both feel that we got so much more out of the wilderness experience. We loved that they’ve created this opportunity for folk like us to share such an experience with our four-legged companion.
If you do however opt for a day trip, don’t forget as a member you’ll get 10% off the retail price of Tahune Airwalk site entry plus their eagle hang glider and twin river rafting experiences. Just head to our Tahune Adventures partner page for more information.
From what had already been a massive weekend so far, just prior to 11am we arrived at downtown Cygnet and jumped out of our trusty ute. Held on the first and third Sunday of the month, The Cygnet Market allows dogs through the outside areas. While we had been to a market the day before and some of the stallholders did overlap, this one is known for having a good selection of food and a variety of main street cafés that were all seemingly happy to cater for us and our tail wagging companion. The Terrapin Theatre - human sized - ibis puppet was quick to single out Billie, which was funny and odd for all to see.
I’ll be the first to admit that not all animals are right for all circumstances, nor are all families right for all animals. With Billie, we hit the absolute jackpot and will be forever grateful to that kind stranger who took her off the streets and the good folks at the Hobart Dogs' Home Tasmania who made our life with this bean filled, eternally smiling, turbo kelpie possible.
Happy adoption anniversary Billie, we hope you enjoyed your adventure.