We’ve been looking at a tranquil lake all week, catching glimpses of the platypus that feeds in it each evening. Our free camp at Scottsdale is maintained by the local council, and with hot showers, electric barbecues, a playground and that platypus!, it’s a great location to call home!

Australian native trees in bloom, Sideling Range, Tasmania, December 2012
The road to Scottsdale from Launceston passes through the Sideling Range. The Australian native forest is in full bloom as we drive past.

Northeast Park, free camp, Scottsdale, Tasmania, December 2012
The council has provided Northeast Park for the travelling public, limiting the stay to seven days which is more than enough for us!

Northeast Park, free camp, Scottsdale, Tasmania, December 2012
We're parked alongside the water's edge where it's easy to keep an eye on the girls as they play around the water.

Northeast Park, free camp, Scottsdale, Tasmania, December 2012
Northeast Park is a sanctuary for wildlife as well as travellers like ourselves.

Wild platypus swimming at Northeast Park, free camp, Scottsdale, Tasmania, December 2012
On the first evening that we arrive, a fellow camper notifies us that the platypus is active in the lake, and we see it playing in the water every day thereafter.

Northeast Park, free camp, Scottsdale, Tasmania, December 2012
The park stretches around the lake to other public lawns on the other side where wallabies graze in the quiet of the evening and morning.

Northeast Park, free camp, Scottsdale, Tasmania, December 2012
A small playground provides added to interest for our family.

The Gifted Gypsy at camp, Northeast Park, Scottsdale, Tasmania, December 2012
It's lovely to set up our awning and string of colourful lights to brighten the night. I only do this at sheltered camps where we'll be staying for more than one night.

As well as being in such a gorgeous location, I’ve been enjoying the different interests the girls have found in our vicinity. We’ve been surrounded by ducks, native hens, bugs and more.

Tasmanian cicada, December 2012
A little cicada finds itself on Brioni's finger. This is the smallest cicada we've seen, and we've seen plenty in our Australian travels!

I wish I had a field guide that would help me identify all the insects we find around our camp. We use our bird book all the time, supplementing its information with that provided by Ms Google, but it’s much harder to identify bugs, especially as they come in so many different stages of life!

Girls looking at a duck's egg nest at Northeast Park, Scottsdale, Tasmania, December 2012
One morning, the girls discover a duck's egg in the grass.

Ducks egg, Scottsdale, Tasmania, December 2012
It isn't very protected, and so the girls make a nest around it in an attempt to keep it safe. I don't know whether they're doing more harm than good, but they certainly enjoyed the little project, transplanting the egg several times before they were satisfied.

Brioni balancing on the top of bridge, December 2012
A little bridge gives us a safe way to cross the water, but Brioni prefers to balance on its edge.

Delaney paddling in shallow water, December 2012
Part of the creek is within a shallow concrete ditch, and this is perfect for paddling.

Brioni makes a tipi, December 2012
The girls start cutting lengths of bamboo for projects, and this turns into a tipi-making session. Together, we learn about the best way to tie the poles together to support the weight of the blankets.

Brioni makes a tipi, December 2012
She uses pegs to hold the blankets on the poles, and though it's barely big enough for one, Brioni's happy with the end result.

Northeast Park was a great place to rest for a couple of days and make new friends among the campers around us and those who came to visit. The girls will remember this place, and I hope to bring us back for another stay in the future. I’d love to capture the platypus on video — it’s quite active and not camera-shy — and maybe we’ll go for longer walks as a family.

The Scottsdale area has other attractions that we haven’t yet seen. We stopped at the Forest Ecocentre, but it was closed, so we’d like to explore that another time. Yes, this place is calling us back!