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It is not hard to understand why early settlers fell in love with the region when you stand and peer out across Forth Valley from Braddons Lookout, ten minutes drive from the port city of Devonport. 
Words & photography by Kylie Bell

Braddons Lookout. Forth. Tasmania Photo by Kylie Bell

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Standing here, I try to envisage what it would have been like as an early settler in this region during the mid-1800's. I imagine that after berthing their ship, rowing ashore to the mouth of the Forth River, and finding a path towards the high ground above the river and valley below, I too would most likely have dropped down my swag, swung up the tent and declared, 'I have found home'. 


As a writer and modern-day explorer in the year 2023, I find my sincere appreciation for this place deepening. I have been one of the fortunate Tasmanians to call this place my childhood home, and I felt it was the perfect place to return to as the launch of this blog. In my growing up years, and particularly now that I am aware of travel trends in our island state, I am still amazed at the number of travellers who have unknowingly passed this by; missing, in my opinion, one of the most picturesque views on the North Coast. 


From the lookout, you can start to understand how the valley became a settlers' haven. Layered in chocolate soils and fed by the spring water of the Forth River, flowing from the Central Highlands, this region feels like the heart of the northern coast of Tasmania and its rich agricultural tapestry. For a few hundred years now, since James Fenton's arrival as the first settler, the trees were felled to build not only the new township of Forth and neighbouring Don, but Australia's second-oldest city, Launceston, and soon after, Melbourne. The soil was then turned to farming as more settlers braved the new colony at the bottom of the world, and those families grew. Today, some of those original families still carry on, along with the new - caring, nurturing and producing food in many different shapes and forms. 

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As a travel destination from my writer's seat, and to any travellers who ask me what I would recommend, Braddons Lookout would be my number one recommendation. Only a ten-minute drive from Devonport, the port city of our island for the Spirit of Tasmania, it gives you that first, impressive impression of what our region is all about. In fact, when thinking about what our shared explorer instincts are, and certainly my own travelling habits  - not that dissimilar to those early explorers - finding that high point in a new destination is second nature, to better understand where we have arrived and where to go next.


As a starting point, viewers can see west and east along the North West coastline and out across Bass Strait (somewhere over the bow of the horizon Melbourne lies). Views down into the Forth Valley showcase the village of Forth - one of Tasmania's earliest settled areas - surrounded by farmland and those first historic homes that still stand today. Looking south, Mount Roland stands tall and proud in the Sheffield region, and beyond, the mountains rise towards the Central Highlands where Cradle Mountain and the Overland Track begin.


As both a long-time local of Tasmania and having explored and lived in many different places around the island, this valley has it good. It feels like the pivot point of the North Coast, giving the traveller a host of different options no matter which direction they choose to carry on to.

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Come on the journey, as we explore our island state of Tasmania and beyond, through the medium of photography and travel stories. Lost Oar is my travel and photography journal, through which I hope to inspire you to seek out your adventure too. Lost Oar is fuelled by an insatiable passion for adventure travel, hiking, geology, and landscape photography.


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