Tasmania and Friends


Tasmania has had some interesting friends. The image at the top of the page was taken by  Peter Dombrovoskis.  His images have drawn people to Tasmania and they have been used to save parts of the wilderness. 

So we three, Ian, Sandra and I, drawn to Tasmania,  are about to set off on our own Tassie trek. With fun to be had and places to be experienced this blog will be my piece of the story.
From Launseston to Burnie to  Strahan and Oatlands and many others along the way we begin.........

Lots of beginning days
We are now up to day four and it is the first time I have sat to make an entry! So much fun and action just where to begin? Arrival in Launceston we collected the vehicle that was to be our main mode of transport for the next ten days. All good except we were given a Camry Hybrid - and yes all good but where does the key go or where is the key? Just push the power button and away you go - very quiet and comfortable.

The Old Bakery Inn provided all the necessary comforts and some.We settled in and sought out food -  Launceston on a Saturday night didn't disappoint - Tapas at the late hour of 9pm - yum! 

The Old Bakery Inn is a beautifully restored place with an interesting history with lots of tea pots, clocks and other collectables.

Post breakfast it was off to the Gorge - I managed to catch the chair lift across - yes they are my feet in the air. Peacocks, sun and suspension bridge on the return walk - delightful. 

On the road again to  Burnie but with a few  meanders along the way. First it was Deloraine then Paradise then Penguin ( a late lunch) and finally Burnie - well sort of - our beach hut was in Cooee but views of the Strait - excellent!
Wandering the main street of Deloraine is an artistic experience, check the sculptures/ statues on the roadside..... 

And then there is the horse - 

Arrival at the beach house - key under the mat - what more can we ask for - just perfect.

Our evening's activity was decided - Little Penguin watching - how much fun was this - watching the adult return from a day's food collection and then the harassment from the chicks for their share - we know we shall return tomorrow night for these wonderful creatures - with our own torches and red cellophane.

Animals and activities

Now we have come to day three and  we are headed for Stanley - another picturesque town and it has The Nut - another chairlift yippee and then a simply wonderful walk around the top . We listened and watched birds, we stood and watched Pademelons and had the most spectacular views ....... 

The Nut in the background with a mural of the town in the foreground.
One of the views from the Nut.
Jumping onboard the chairlift.

Listen closely to the bird call.

Return to Cooee for a fish and chip nosh up and then back to the Penguins ... Just WOW! A most satisfactory day and a plan to catch more wildlife in the early morning - platypus. 

These crazy water squirting critters were our view  from the fish and chippy - quaint.

Having never seen a platypus in its natural habitat it was something that I considered fairly unlikely as they are so shy - but patience, quiet and not taking our eyes off the water surface provided all three of us with one of the greatest shows on earth - well in the Fern Glade at least - how precious are these fascinating creatures and it preened, swam dived and got on with being a Platypus and we got to watch!!!! 

Our dallying with the Platypus meant a quick return to the best beach house in Cooee (ours) for breakfast and on then on the road to Strahan. Oh I forgot to mention the quote of the day - "if only I had some Crayfish in my pocket" (Sandra - in the hope of the Platypus coming even closer to us!)
A green and  winding road brought us to a cosy cabin in Strahan - ready for the boat ride tomorrow through Hells Gates!
Before I finish - we decided to watch the performance of 'The Ship Than Never Was' at the tourist info centre - this has been performed daily for the last 20 years and it is great. Telling the story of the last 10 convicts and the ship designer Mr Hoy and their quest for 'Liberty or Death'. Ian became part of the performance - the stage beckons......

 A very drunk Captain Taw on board The Fredrick (the ship that ever was).
And then the sunset over Ocean Beach...

Sunshine, sea, trees and convicts

Messing about in a catamaran in Macquarie Harbour and heading to Sarah Island and the Huon Pines on the Franklin River with Ian, Sandra and a few others.

As the image shows it was windy but so much fun.
The opening of Hell's Gate is 50 metres wide and as the day was still and sunny the captain took us out the gates and into the winds blowing across from the roaring forties.
Some of the wild environment of the west coast of Tasmania has been reshaped and the breakwater wall in this picture was designed and constructed in 1900 to ensure the access to the narrow opening the Macquarie Harbour now known as Hell's Gate. Serious effort and design.
A deceptively peaceful image of the remnants of a courthouse on the brutal penal settlement of Sarah Island. It was here that a successful ship building business was quashed by the powers of the colonial government, Alexander Pearce escaped twice but cannibalised his fellow escapees, that 10 convicts escaped on The Ship That Never Was and this was only a scratch on the surface of the stories of Sarah Island.

This baby Huon Pine is 70 years old but it has a long way to grow to make the thousands of years it will stick around on the planet. The two of us may not be around for as long but we definitely had fun being around the old trees.

Toot toot - messing about on a steam train

To start the day we jumped on the bus at Regatta Point (remember that name we will return to it later). We wound our way to Queenstown (affectionally know as Queenie to the locals) and I was surprised to discover that the acid rain impact had softened a little as there was some evidence of green growth in this unique town. 
Outside the station
Looking towards the main street of 'Queenie'
So onto the train - A rack and pinion type - this means that the little steam engine has two ways of going - the usual method on the tracks under steam - powered by recycled oil and then with two cogs (pinion) and the rack (laid in the middle of the track to climb steep sections of the track.)

Ian next to number 5 engine with the rack in the middle of the track - (and yes Ian has a pinion or two of his own from time to time).

The track was built and in use just before Federation (1900). Its sole purpose was to get copper to the port in Strahan. But life grew around the line, the mines and port and so the railway became an integral part of it and although it ceased to run in 1963 its short run of 34 kilometres just 'wouldn't die' and in 2002 the line became the tourist run it is now. No simple construction in the first place and neither was it an easy reconstruction. Just check the landscape...... 
The now toxic 'yellow' Queen River on which Queenstown sits - full of the sulphur waste of the Copper mining.
Just some of terrain alongside the track.
The King River which the Queen River runs into and although the river isn't yellow it's still toxic -  a pretty stunning place in spite of the damage.

Interestingly there was no shying away from the story of damage and degradation but there was the story of how it came about - an acknowledgement of the extreme conditions all people struggled in to build the west coast and an indication of some of the efforts to fix things now. So an interesting day all round.
The trip did include a number of stops. Lynchford where Ian found gold and Tracy didn't!
Then there is the 'Petticoat Junction' water tower for the engine.
Lunch provisions at Rinadeena. We were informed that this was an Aboriginal word meaning little raindrops (it was the only part of the story that mentioned an indigenous connection).
The mighty little engine made it's way to Dubbil Barril - and my only statement about this picture was that it was a hot day!!
Then on to Regatta Point - remember I said we would get there again - to round off another most excellent day! Macquarie Harbour in the evening light after returning to Regatta Point.

On the road to Hobart

An easy start to the day and then on the road to Hobart. The road took us through Queenstown for a final look. 

The trek then wound - and I mean wound - through the Franklin Gordon Wilderness. Although most of us appreciated the ease in which we traveled I suspect that Ian may have felt a little better if he had traveled like Lady Jane Franklin in this image.....
Scenery viewed by us and Lady Jane - I suspect.
Sandra and I called in to Tarraleah and had a bite to eat while Ian slept off the winding road.
Tarraleah ducks flock to Sandra.
By the time Hobart Town loomed Ian was himself again and we checked out our new abode.
We then wandered along the the harbour front.
And then there this Water Rats moment....

A day of lots of things

Breakfast at the Salmanaca Market with a little shopping on the side. Having an early start was the idea to not be with the throng of people that gather at this delightful market - it almost worked although we did gather food for the day and a few other goodies. 
Ian being market walla on our way back to The Woolstore before checking out and making a line for MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)....
Waiting in line to enter MONA - quirky, kinky, curious and even smelly but it's all art of some form and it can be interesting....
words in water - impressive...
glass and ........ interesting.
From modern art to rustic cabin via Botanic Garden - briefly - to not get lunch and up to the top of Mt Wellington. Last time I remember the mountain having snow but today was Freezzzzzing - more than snow even but  winds that cut you up into little pieces!! Therefore pictures from such height are taken through glass.

Back on the road we are headed for Port Arthur and we will be staying in a 'rustic' cottage called "Classic Cottage" - award winning 'rustic' apparently ..... I shall leave you to imagine with just a few pictures or signs as the case may be.......
I guess we will get away tomorrow morning - we shall see.....

Convicts, tea and Georgian towns

A very peaceful awakening with birds singing and views from the bedroom window.
Breakfast prepared in the Huon Pine kitchen.
And then there is the Huon Pine floor. I love Huon Pine, and yes it is my foot. 

So leaving behind the 'rustic' Huon Pine cottage built on Kerosene Tins in about 1900 we head for Port Arthur. Stories of this place of punishment continue to be difficult to grasp, particularly on a warm, sunny morning like today. The men and boys who were there for re-offending once they had arrived in the colony were isolated, whipped, beaten just to name a few punishments let alone the isolation of being on Port Arthur.
The main penitentiary building which housed the working convicts. For those needing any more punishment there was The Separate Prison. Deprivation was the main focus. 23 hours of being locked in the single cells with one hour of exercise again in isolation. Many went mad.
Isolation Cells

On the other side of the story there were the doctors, soldiers, Governors and families.
The junior medical officer's home. At one time a doctor and his wife who resided here had 13 children (maybe not all at home at once).
So from convict stories we headed off towards to our next place of action, Oatlands. On the way we called in for afternoon tea at Richmond. This picturesque little Georgian town has elements of Berry without the crowds!
Yum - afternoon tea is awesome.

A windmill, and a friendly town to spend the day

Oatlands has the friendliest locals who are pleased to have you in town - and spend the day in their town we did. With a population of about 500 and a High Street we still managed to purchase local artisan goods, eat new and exciting food and discover the only working example of a Lincolnshire style windmill in the Southern Hemisphere. But there was even more.. but first things first... Above you can see me outside the most perfect cottage which was ours for the next two nights - we have all fallen for Jenny Wren (yes that is the cottage name) it is one special place.
Sipping afternoon tea in the sunroom at Jenny Wren.
View form the table whilst having tea. Yes we are that close to the windmill!
So after a very comfortable night and slow breakfast we headed to the Windmill. Known as Callington Mill. It has been restored to be a working mill and we ventured to the top of the mill where the turning of grain into flour begins. 
Ian purchased the flour and thanks to his commitment to bread baking we came to this excellent town - so should anyone think they will visit Tasmania my recommendation is come and stay in Oatlands and the Jenny Wren Cottage.
Around the town and Mill are various dry stone walls, most of which were recently made by the women ...
Sadly the local bakery that uses flour from the mill is not open on Monday and Tuesday but we did manage to have morning coffee at Pancakes and Crepes. A feast was served and thankfully Sandra and I had decided to share!!
Now we head off for the self guided High Street Walk. 
There are 40 or more highlights in this walking tour - just a couple of which I have included.. just as well Ian sorted out the gizillion photos on my phone so I could take a gizillion more!!!!
And finally the most wonderful, if it is possible on such a wonderful day, food was had for lunch. Scallop Pie!!!! Why haven't I come across this delicacy before? Well no matter - all I can now say is bring on the Scallop pies please - creamy or curried - both were delicious. Tomorrow we will head towards Launceston to fly back in the evening but not before we find the town of Ross where I am lead to believe the Scallop pie began!!

Bridges, Female Factory and a Suit of Armour

Our last day and it was difficult to wrench ourselves away from Oatlands and the very special Jenny Wren Cottage. There was the promise that maybe we would make a return visit which made the departure a little easier. So on to Ross, Evansdale and thence to Launceston.
Ross sits in the middle of the trek between Hobart and Launceston and was another of those garrison towns. There is an awesome bridge, once again convict built which you can see it the picture above and it is the third oldest bridge still in use in Australia.
The town also has the dubious honour of being one of the few locations where they held female convicts. Opened in 1848 and closed in 1854 it was known as the female factory and the women often had children as well.
Two females relieved not to be detained at the female factory but who appreciated the efforts of ensuring the stories of how many of the women of the colony managed to live and reproduce to build a growing community.
And so to lunch and yes SCALLOP PIE was on the menu and my plate! This was followed by a further wander through the this Georgian town and shops.
I considered the purchase of this suit of armour (it really is there, just a little dark) for our great hall but decided against it. In Tassie you can purchase almost anything.
So our last port of call was Evansdale and I think we might have found Miss Havisham's house.
It even has the wedding dress!
So we three adventurers, Team Awesome, have come to the end of this adventure. Much laughter, eating, exploring and general all round fun was had. I'm looking forward to our next adventure...........(watch this space).