If I’m not feeling too adventurous in seeking a place to park for the night, I open up our Camps Australia Wide and browse through the local options. Gravelly Beach is half an hour north of Launceston and is a designated free overnight stop for travellers. We like this spot because of its playground, its tranquil water views and the friendliness of locals and travellers alike.

Rose Bay Park, Gravelly Beach, Tasmania, December 2012
The rest area is adjacent to a mooring location on the Tamar River estuary.

Rose Bay Park, Gravelly Beach, Tasmania, December 2012
A dual playground — for older kids and todders — provides entertainment for our girls and gives us a natural venue for making friends with a local girl.

Rose Bay Park, Gravelly Beach, Tasmania, December 2012
Although it's not suitable for swimming, the girls like to explore the waterfront and climb on the rocks.

Today as I was running with the girls around the park, Brioni said to me, “You’re not usually this playful.” Her words are a painful reminder of how busy I’ve been with driving and how tired our long voyage has made me. I’m glad to once more be back in a playful mode — with time to race the girls around the parklands, explore the creatures on the rocks and watch the jellyfish blob their way past in the river.

Brioni with sea snails, December 2012
Brioni amasses a small collection of sea-snails and arranges a "home" for them on a large, flat rock.

Sunset over the Tamar River, Rose Bay Park, Gravelly Beach, Tasmania, December 2012
In the evening, we're rewarded with a spectacular colour show as the sun goes down.

We parked with company at Gravelly Beach. Caravans, motorhomes and one little van also stopped here for the night. I was able to chat with some of the other travellers, and I especially enjoyed my conversations with a French couple who were parked behind us. It gave me an opportunity to use my French again, although I soon realised that I had forgotten much basic vocabulary (playground, sunset), and the French Alsatians were most gracious in helping me fill in the gaps!

Free campsites like these are great for travellers, and when I talk to the locals who come to the boat ramp, I thank them for letting us stay. Gravelly Beach has been a welcome stop along the way, and it’s the perfect launching pad for exploring more of the Tamar Valley.