Monthly Archives: January 2017

Paradise…Driving from Hobart to Port Arthur.

If you’re planning to drive straight from Hobart to Port Arthur like a bat out of hell, think  again. Adjust your watch to “Holiday Time” and prepare yourself for a very stop-start journey. Perhaps, even more stop than start. Otherwise, you might as well just get out your pencil and ruler and play join the dots.

“The creative process is not like a situation where you get struck by a single lightning bolt. You have ongoing discoveries, and there’s ongoing creative revelations. Yes, it’s really helpful to be marching toward a specific destination, but, along the way, you must allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root, and grow.”

Carlton Cuse

At the same time, Port Arthur is a destination you don’t want to miss. More than an education, it’s an experience. You do need to get there.
So what did we find along the way?

Dunalley Bay

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Dunalley Bay, Tasmania.

I’m a sucker for a great beach and another photo opportunity. What can I say? I’m an absolute addict but at least my photography addiction isn’t hurting anybody (just don’t ask the rest of my family!) We really loved the streaky ripple effects in the sand here. Of course, it also helps when the weather cooperates so nicely.
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Father & Son at Dunalley Bay.

The Tessellated Pavement State Reserve

The Tessellated Pavement State Reserve is located on the Tasman Peninsula near Eaglehawk Neck.
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However, before we get too bogged down in geological explanations, let’s just pause for a moment and fully absorb the stunning view before we tackle the stairs. I assure you that you don’t need to be a photography addict to go absolutely crazy here and wish for something with far more grunt than your phone camera.
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Now, getting back to the tessellated pavement…

Unless you’ve been here before or you’re a fully-fledged geologist, you could well be asking…

“What on earth is a tessellated pavement and why should I stop here, especially when time is short?”

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Well, here’s a brief geology lesson…

A tessellated pavement has nothing to do with concrete footpaths. Rather, it’s an inter-tidal rock platform. Tessellated pavements are a common coastal landform. However, on the Tasman Peninsula an unusual set of geological circumstances have resulted in something truly amazing.

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The kids also enjoyed exploring the rock crevices for anemones, little black crabs    and more.  

The flat-lying siltstone was cracked by stresses in the Earth’s crust, possibly between 160 million years ago and 60 million years ago. The resulting cracks (joints) are seen as three main sets, one aligned to the north-northeast, a second to the east-northeast and the third to the north-northwest. This jointing, exaggerated by processes of erosion, has created the ‘tiled’ appearance.
When seawater covers the rock platform, fragments of rock are carried away. Near the seaward edge of the platform, sand is the main cause of the erosion.
When combined with wave action the erosional process causes ‘loaf’ or ‘pan’ formations.1.”
Anyway, that’s enough geology. You can read more about it here. I’m more interested in getting down those stairs and getting seeing what I can see through the lens.

The Tasman Blowhole

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The Tasman Blow Hole.

In case you hadn’t worked it out by now, I have quite a thing for photographing intriguing rock formations. Add surging water and kaboom!!  You have photographic magic. Time to fiddle with the settings on my camera to experiment a bit…fast, slow. Thank goodness for digital photography where you can experiment to your heart’s content without going broke. Our honeymoon in New Zealand had some hefty financial after shocks processing 50 rolls of film. Ouch! That could’ve paid for a backyard wedding.

Doo Town

Located 79 km southeast of Hobart, Doo Town is a holiday village in Pirate’s Bay where the house names contain “doo”. This “phenomenon” began in 1935 a Hobart architect, Eric Round, placed the name plate Doo I 99 on his weekend shack. A neighbor, Charles Gibson, responded with a plate reading Doo Me then Bill Eldrige with Doo Us. Eric Round later renamed his shack Xanadoo.[1][2]
I first visited Doo Town on my first trip to Tassie in 1995. I’ve never forgotten the bus driver introducing us to Doo Town.  Being a procrastinator, I’ve never forgotten “Gunnerdoo”. Indeed, it would be a very apt name for our current home, which is a renovating dreamer’s homage to an endless list of unfinished projects. Indeed, it has way too many applications to mention!

Tasmanian Devil Unzoo

We didn’t have time to make it here but I wanted to give it a mention. You can read more about it here.
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Although I advocated taking your time and stopping rather than driving straight to Port Arthur, you will need plenty of energy to cover the vast distances at Port Arthur. So, you’ll need to pace yourself to ensure you  don’t come to a grinding halt. We very nearly did.
xx Rowena
Sources

Cataract Gorge…Tasmania’s Somewhat Sleepy River Ghost.

Launceston’s Cataract Gorge and Basin are renowned for their rugged, natural beauty and it’s hard to believe you’re only 10 minutes drive from the CBD.  Indeed, you could almost believe you’ve wandered into a lost wilderness…another dimension…not unlike wandering through a wardrobe into mythical Narnia.

It’s so easy to get caught up in “the bright side”. I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last. As usual, I was too busy staring through my lens at heaven to even consider the destruction this river has wrought… or the heartache.

The earliest recorded visit to the Cataract Gorge was made by settler William Collins in 1804 onboard the ship: “Lady Nelson”. He was particularly impressed by the South Esk and its cataract and wrote: “Upon approaching the entrance I observed a large fall of water over rocks, nearly a quarter of a mile up a straight gully between perpendicular rocks about 150 ft high. The beauty of the scene is probably not surpassed in the world 1.”.

However, the South Esk River is like a mighty, slumbering ghost. Only last year, Launceston experienced devastating flooding when heavy rains sent the South Esk River into flood on multiple occasions. In June 2016, water per second (cumecs) reached over 2,000 cumecs 2. I don’t know how you translate that into something which makes sense. The best description I’ve found, other than photos and footage of the flooding, was a comment made by the State Emergency Service regional manager Mhairi Revie during the less devastating November floods:

“What they need to imagine is 24,000 Volkswagens worth of water passing them by every second,” she said. 3.

I sort of remembered these floods, but last year is a very long time ago for this bear of very little brain.

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At this point, I should probably clarify that while I’m what Tasmanians call “a Mainlander”, I don’t consider myself a “tourist” as we travel around Tasmania. After all, I’ve been married to a Tasmanian for 15 years… even if I haven’t “heard it all”. Yet, despite this familiarity, I was still very much viewing and experiencing the Cataract Gorge and the South Esk River as an outsider…an acquaintance with only a passing knowledge of it’s hidden depths.

So, of course, while I’ve been getting my head around the dark side of the South Esk River, I’ve been consulting my in-house, “Tasmanian Consultant”. Although Geoff was born and grew up in Scottsdale, lived and studied in Launceston and has witnessed such floods. Indeed, he was photographed by the local newspaper wading through flood waters in high school, just  around the corner from Parkside (see previous post).

While at university, the river flooded again and he noticed expert kayakers taking on the extremely dangerous floodwaters. Although Geoff used to kayak on white water rapids back then and played canoe polo, he wisely abstained from kayaking through the flood waters. However, he was watching the floods from a neighbouring rock and said he could feel that massive boulder vibrating from the sheer force of the flood waters. That’s pretty scary in itself and as I’ve looked at photos of the floods, I’ve been most amazed to see people standing so close to the edge. These flood waters are scary enough just watching the footage from the comfort of my couch.

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So, once again I’ve been reminded how easy it is to gloss over history and forget the lessons of the past. The dangers of zooming in on beauty with its inherent  dangers and forgetting to ask the questions or watch your back. This can be hard enough when you’re on your own turf. However, it is a serious consideration when you’re travelling and you lack that local knowledge.  You only need to watch the news to see the truth of that.

However, that’s not to say we shouldn’t make hay while the sun shines.

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Indeed, the day we were there, the weather was perfect…all blue skies. Hydrangeas  and agapanthus were flowering and I was struck by the enormity of towering trees, soaring rock faces reminiscent of Easter Island and the joys of catching up with old friends while returning to the pathways of the past.

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It was a beautiful day!

xx Rowena

 

 

Sources

  1. http://www.launcestoncataractgorge.com.au/history.html
  2. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-15/launceston-cataract-gorge-flood-fourth-time-this-year/8026974
  3. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-15/launceston-cataract-gorge-flood-fourth-time-this-year/8026974

We’re Going on a Peacock Hunt (with my camera).

Nothing like the jewelled splendor of a peacock’s feathers to animate even the most recalcitrant photographer, let alone excite this shutterbug.

We were meeting friends for lunch in Launceston’s  famed Cataract Gorge when we spotted one of their resident peacocks. Camera poised, I crept off in hot pursuit lucky not to fall head first into the pavement. It was a case of continuously pressing the shutter and seeing what I’d captured later, zooming into those stunning feathers with my lens extended to its full capacity.

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Although I am a serious animal and nature lover, there are parallels between hunting and trying to  get that perfect photographic shot. I have an absolutely roving eye, constantly looking out for that obscure angle or perspective as well as those perfect postcard shot of something as deliriously beautiful as a peacock’s feather.

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I don’t know whether you’ve also experienced this wonder. This all-consuming joy where you all but merge completely into whatever it is you’re peering at through the lens but it’s exhilarating. Better than jogging, that’s for sure!

Have you photographed or seen anything lately which has completely blown you away like this? Please share. It’s taking me awhile to get back to the  comments but I will get there. Life’s about to return to “normal”.

xx Rowena

BTW I did a quick Google search for peacock quotes. While I didn’t find any which complimented my post, this quote struck a chord and is a note to self about how I see myself:

“People are crying up the rich and variegated plumage of the peacock, and he is himself blushing at the sight of his ugly feet.”

-Saadi

 

Backpackers Launceston Revisited.

While staying in backpackers’ accommodation might not be the goal of most 40 something travellers, I couldn’t wait.

You see, I stayed at Launceston Backpackers when I travelled around Tasmania in 1995 for the 50th Anniversary of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. This turned out to be quite a memorable experience. The fire alarm went off in the middle of the night and while I immediately jumped out of bed, packed my bag and rushed out of the room, all the other backpackers slept through. Didn’t budge. This was before the Childers Palace, Backpackers Hostel fire on 23 June 2000 killed 15 backpackers. That said, I backpackers have short memories and I doubt they’d get up any faster.

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Geoff stepping back in time with our son.

However, more importantly, my husband lived at Launceston Backpackers in it’s previous life. The backpackers’ used to be Parkside, a boarding house for country high school students to complete the last two years of schooling as country high schools finished at the end of Year 10.

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The view from our room across to the park.

As expected, returning to Parkside brought back many memories and tales. This included the story of the house mistress dumbfounded by technology. She came in and asked the students if any of them knew anything about bombs. She told them there was a metal box behind the hedge which was ticking. Geoff took great delight in telling me that this was the water meter!

Parkside the building is interesting in itself. Built in 1905, it’s a grand two story Federation mansion…the kind often converted into boarding houses or broken up into flats in later life.

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What I noticed straight away, was the grand staircase with its imposing wooden banister, which was just crying out for me to slide down it if it weren’t for the rather painful ornamentation which ruined your fun. The stairs would’ve been great to go bumping down as well if it weren’t a public space. You know what it’s like. There’s always a killjoy out there!

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We stayed in the former house master’s room at Parkside but I did manage to photograph a few of the rooms the next morning and loved the quaint window seats. Would’ve made an ideal writer’s retreat.

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Old and new…Geoff thinks this is the original piano.

Anyway, our time at Parkside, or should I say Launceston Backpackers, passed without incident and even though we might be old and gray, we’ll be back.

xx Rowena

Not Quite “Hobart”.

As you might be aware, our family has been spending three weeks travelling through Tasmania. While the kids and I are “Mainlanders”, my husband was born and bred in Scottsdale on the North-East and we’ve been on a bit of a “Tasmanian Odyssey” exploring his old stomping grounds. Naturally, we felt seeing where Daddy came from was important. However, it’s turned out, that we’ve also been getting to know more about their grandfather as well as meeting extended family.

This brings me to the latest stop on our journey…Hobart.

Although Hobart is Tasmania’s capital city, Geoff hasn’t spent much time there. Scottsdale is closer to Launceston in the North and most of the time, there was no need to go there.

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I haven’t mentioned this previously, but historically speaking, Tasmania has been divided into three distinct regions: North, South and North-West with a particularly strong rivalry between North and South. Indeed, there was an unofficial border between the two around Oatlands. Basically what I’ve been told, is that the settlers in the North tended to be free settlers, rather than convicts and stuck together. I’ve also heard a bit of derogatory talk about inbreeding in the North while I was in Hobart. By the way, this divide even extended to beer. Northerners drank Boags and in the South, it was Cascade. Not sure how much of this has changed since Geoff left 30 years ago.

For better or worse, our plans for Hobart were rather derailed. Although we’d planned to drive down to the former convict settlement, Port Arthur; it was pouring with rain. So, we decided to head off to MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art) and have an indoor museum day instead. However, unfortunately Mona Foma, their  festival of music and art was on and out of our price range.

So, on our first day in Hobart, Port Arthur and MONA had been scratched off the list. Now, we were off to the Cascades Female Factory Site. As they say, the best laid plans of mice and men.

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Putting it very simply, the World Heritage Listed  Cascades Female Factory Historic Site was where female convicts were housed. They could be assigned from there to settlers but after arriving in Hobart Town, they’d do the “walk of shame” through town to the prison. Naturally, the prison wasn’t built for comfort and regularly flooded. It is located in the shadow of Mt Wellington, which can get covered in snow during winter. Therefore, the winds blowing through the prison were freezing. Women were frequently raped both as convicts within the jail, but also as assigned servants. Inevitably children were born within the jail and many of these inevitably died.  It was obviously very sobering to hear how these women lived and I was relieved that none of Geoff’s ancestors to date, were inmates here. We really enjoyed the tour and found it highly informative and the story was very well told. We’d highly recommend you visit.

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The creek which flooded the Female Factory.

We were quite hungry by the time the tour ended. So, we drove into the centre of Hobart for lunch.

If you’re an architecture buff, you’ll love Hobart. Unlike Sydney where much of its early architecture has been bulldozed, much of Hobart’s Georgian architecture  still shines. Indeed, walking around Hobart feels like you’re stepping back in time and you’ve just stepped off a Tall Ship in Constitution Dock into Hobart Town.

Anyway, it didn’t take long for the sands to run through the hour glass. Unfortunately, we missed the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

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Yet, the night was still young. Consequently, we found ourselves visiting Mawson’s Hut, which was still open. I really should be going into this in more detail as well. However, I am travelling and exploring so many places, foods and people, that it’s impossible to go into it all now. Suffice to say that when Mawson and his crew went on their historic expedition to Antarctica, they sailed out of Hobart and there’s quite a sense of connection with the expedition and Hobart. I am intending to read more about Mawson’s expedition and am so inspired by his grit and determination in such hostile conditions…along with the rest of the men. Their experience makes me wonder whether we have it too easy. That we need to toughen up.

While we were wandering around, we also stumbled across the Franko Food Markets in Franklin Square. This market features up and coming food producers and their products must use ingredients which come straight from the farm to the market. It’s a fantastic concept. While we were initially drawn to sour dough mini donut balls served with a very yummy chocolate sauce, we also had home made pork buns made from their own pork and a Dutch pasty  filled with beef and mushrooms and something else. It was so yum! I also really enjoyed chatting to the stallholders and hearing their stories…establishing  a personal connection. Such a shame these markets are in Hobart and are such a long way from home. Otherwise, I’d be there every Friday night.

Saturday morning, we headed off to Salamanka Markets before meeting up with Geoff’s second cousin we’d never met at the Tasmanian Museum cafe.

Given how much Geoff and the kids have complained about going shopping or to markets in the past, I didn’t allow for long at Salamanka and we were only there for about 2 hours. I think that was long enough. Although we didn’t get to see everything, we’re on a budget and we have very little space left in the car.

At the same time, I really wanted to buy myself something special there. Something I could look at and think Hobart, our 2017 trip to Tassie and feel all warm and gooey inside.

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It took awhile for me to find that something but in the end I bought a CD. I’ve buried it deep in our luggage at the moment. The guy was playing the Chapman stick or “the stick”. Being a violinist myself, this amazing string instrument really played my heart strings. Have you ever heard it?

After farewelling Geoff’s cousin, we walked around Constitution Dock. This is the finish line for the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. The yachts were long gone by the time we turned up, but I have always loved the historical buildings at Constitution Dock. We were admiring these when I strayed across a plaque saying that the women from The Beulah were housed at the building now known as a seafood restaurant, The Drunken Admiral. Geoff’s 3rd Great Grandmother was a famine orphan sent out to Australia onboard The Beulah so this was a great find.

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With much of Hobart now closed, we drove up Mt Wellington. We seemed to be driving round and round and round. This is a serious mountain, at least by mainland standards where much of the country is “pancake”. By the time we reached the summit, the trees were twisted and gnarled from the rugged conditions and the ground was covered in rocks. It was freezing up there, even in Summer. Couldn’t imagine the Winter chill.

Unfortunately, our list of what we didn’t see in Hobart way exceeded all we did. Moreover, what we saw was perhaps a bit off track but it was our Hobart.

Have you been to Hobart? Please share your thoughts and add links to any posts.

Xx Rowena

Campbell Town, Tasmania.

At this point, I’m simply dipping my toe into Campbell Town and will be returning down the track for a more extensive visit.

While Campbell Town provides a convenient and fascinating break while driving between the North and the South, our interest in Campbell Town was personal and branches of our family history are intimately intertwined with the early days of English settlement in Campbell Town.

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The Book Cellar, Campbell Town

Being ardent book lovers, our first port of call in Campbell Town was The Book Cellar. This is a fabulous bookshop located in the convict cellars of one of Tasmania’s most interesting heritage properties Foxhunters Return, an 1830’s coaching inn also offering heritage accommodation. I was really pleased to find a copy of Early Deloraine, based on the writings of Geoff’s Great Great Uncle, Daniel Griffin. Far from being a stale rambling about local history, this is full of riveting yarns trailing through the areas early history and includes detailed family snippets.

So, while there’s great food and shopping, we were mainly in search of historic Churches, graveyards and finding what was the family farm.

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In particular, we were following in the footsteps of James Newton, a former convict from Norfolk Island and Port Arthur and his wife Bridget Vaughan, who sailed out to Hobart on The Beulah, as a free settler under the orphan immigration scheme (I’ll go more into that later).

It would appear that although James and Bridget were husband and wife in this life, their religious differences saw them divided in the next with James buried at St Mathew’s Catholic Cemetery while James was buried at St Luke’s Anglican Church, Campbell Town. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find either of their graves.

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However, we did find their former home.

We ended up spending several hours at Campbell Town and really soaked up it’s colonial appeal. In particular, we loved historic Red Bridge, which crosses the Elizabeth River.

Unfortunately, time is marching on and I’ll never to leave Campbell Town there. Blogging and travelling are proving mutually exclusive.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Tasmanian Weekend Coffee Share.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share.

This morning, we’ve having coffee at the Hobart Airport Holiday Park in Tasmania. We’re leaving at 10.00 AM and unfortunately we’ve run out of the provided sachets of tea and we’re down to International Roast, which we Australians generally deride. This stuff is what I’d call “Clayton’s Coffee”…the coffee you have when you’re not having coffee.

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As we need to pack up and vacate the place, this is going to be a very hasty chat. If you could see the state of my bag which looks like an exploding volcano with everything piled up on top, you’d understand that I really have to get moving.

How’s your week been?

I’m afraid this is a rather rhetorical question as I’ve been having woeful, if any, WIFI.

So, I’d encourage you to look back through my recent posts to catch up on our Tasmanian adventures and stay tuned for more.

Catching the Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne to Devonport.

Pengiun, Tasmania

Exploring A Ferny Paradise.

Deloraine.

Blown Away By Stanley

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS My views are currently sitting at 59,734 hits. If I was at home, I’d eagerly watching the count and celebrating reaching 60,000 with a bang but must keep moving.