Driving to Promised Land.

Welcome to Day 17 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

 

Today, we’re driving from Hobart to Tazmazia, which is located in Promised Land, a town located on Lake Barrington (Tasmania), Promised Land is 200km from Hobart, and about 80 km south of Launceston. The postcode is 7306.

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When the car heard us mention all the driving we’ve been doing,she went crackers. You sods with all  your “are we there yets?”Get real! You’ll just sit there, while I do all the work!

As you know, we’ve been doing a crazy amount of driving around Tasmania. However, we’ve been rushing so much, that I’ve barely had time to share scenery along the way.

So, before we head off to Tasmazia today, we’re having a horse stop beside the road and taking a look at Mt Roland.

Horses are in my husband’s blood. Both sets of great Grandparents bred horses and his Great Great Uncle, Daniel Griffin was a journalist who not only wrote a lot about horse-racing, he knew the horses and their pedigrees inside out. Another Great Great Uncle, James Newton was very involved in horse racing and cousins upon cousins were involved pacing, breeding, racing…you name it.

That said, it’s can be easy to forget that not so long ago, horses were commonplace before advent of the car. It wasn’t just his family.

Anyway, we had to stop when we spotted these horses beside the road. They were so lovely and friendly.

On that note, we’d better get back in the car and head up the hill to Tazmazia and the Promised Land.

xx Rowena

Art: When the Creator Becomes the Created…

Last week at the Royal Sydney Easter Show, my daughter and I crossed to the dark side and had our caricatures done.

For anyone else, this would simply be  a bit of fun, a memory to take home and it wouldn’t also turn into a soul searching analysis of what it’s like to be created, not creating. Of course, yours truly had to analyze the whole experience. Pull it apart and put it back together again…give or take a missing piece or two.

Obviously, you’ve experienced my photography. However, you might not be aware that I did the photography and publicity for my kids’ school for 6 years and gained a lot of experience photographing people.  I know what it’s like to peer into a face, observing details, responding to a smile, a twinkle or even the withdrawal of acute shyness to draw someone out. I know how to work with all these personalities to create a story in 6 x 4 and hopefully bring out their best.

However, it’s a rare moment that I’m in front of the lens. Or, as in this instance, at the mercy of the cartoonist. Sure, he might use pen, ink and crayons but he has an inbuilt lens. You have to have a good eye. Be an excellent reader of people to pull off any kind of caricature. After all, you’re not just reflecting the surface, but peering deeply into the pond needing to fish out hidden gems in a very short time.  BTW, although I’m usually behind the lens, I’m actually quite an extrovert and all the world’s my stage. I have no trouble performing for the camera, or the artist.

Surprisingly, it was actually my daughter who mentioned getting our caricatures done. I wasn’t entirely convinced.

You see, I’d been forewarned. While I was backpacking through Europe as a 22 year old, I caught up with Mum and Dad in Paris and had my portrait done outside Notre Dame. Being a serious, philosophical poet, I insisted on a more serious, reflective portrait. I did NOT want to look like an airhead. Ever since, my mother, who was standing back watching the proceedings with abject horror, has wanted to get that portrait fixed to show “my lovely smile”. I didn’t know what she was talking about until a few years ago and now I agree. “Smile, Rowie. Look at the birdie!” On the same trip, two of my friends decided to get their caricatures done in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower. They were dreadful and I don’t think those sketches have even seen daylight. My two very attractive friends, had nearly been turned into trolls. Of course, I photographed their reactions in situ. What a friend?!

So, when it came to getting our caricatures done at the show, I wasn’t naive. The cartoonist was warned! Yet, I became so relaxed with him, that I forgot to take my glasses off until it was too late. That is very unusual. Indeed, I’d be surprised if any of you have actually seen photos of me wearing the glasses I wear all the time. The glasses which are all but glued to my nose. I’m terribly short sighted and now near-sighted, and am becoming somewhat thankful for the glasses I’ve always despised.

artist

That’s not to say I was entirely at ease in my new role. Not that I’m a control freak. However, I did feel more than just a little curious watching him sketch away, especially when passers-by stopped and inspected OUR portraits in detail when WE couldn’t see it. Well, as usual, I exaggerate a tad. We did get to see quite a lot of the work-in-progress and I know both my daughter and I were noting which pens he used for what. She has a good chance of doing the tools justice, while I dream. I do a much better job writing about drawing (and dancing, skiing, playing my violin and making Nigella’s Nutella Cake) than actually doing it. However, I am starting to wonder about this life as a voyeur…Isn’t life meant to be lived?

However, of course, you also learn a lot watching…including the remote possibility that I might be a control freak after all!

That’s why I wondered whether the artist would ruin it by adding colour and whether the finished product would self-destruct when it went through the laminator, even though it was meant “to protect it”.

However, the thing about control freaks is that we like control for a reason. That when we don’t have control, things can go wrong. Get destroyed. Just like our caricatures when that blasted laminating machine turned us into a piano accordion. Been there, done that myself at home. That’s why I wasn’t sure about the laminator. That’s why I become the control freak. Things conspire against me.

caricature finished with Graeme

Wow! We were so impressed with how we looked. If you’ve ever watched the quintessential Australian movie: “The Castle”, you’ll know this is “heading straight for the pool room.”

It was at this point, that being a creator myself made such a difference. As much as I was very disappointed to see our portraits seemingly destroyed when they looked SOOOO good, I knew what it meant for Graeme to watch as his creation almost met its death. From this point, we were no longer artist and client. We were united in our desperate efforts to salvage the artwork. Performing CPR, twice we fed it back through the very laminator which almost destroyed it, largely melting out the creases. He said it was his best work of the day and that he’d struck a chord with us. Got a vibe. I know what that’s like and what his creation meant to him. It was no longer just a piece of paper. He’d poured heart and soul into each and every detail and you look at our larger than life smiles, and a real sense of joie de vivre really springs from the page. To have that destroyed in front of your very eyes, was horrible. Sure, much worse things can happen, but it’s a hard thing for a creator to see their creation munched up like that. Yet, like the subject, the phoenix has largely risen from the ashes and is about to sojourn underneath  our exceptionally think Webster’s Dictionary, which is the width of two city phone books…HUGE and weighs a tonne!

By the way,I’d like to give a huge shout out to our cartoonist…Graeme Biddel at http://www.caricature.net.au

How have you felt being the subject, instead of the author? The creation instead of the creator? Or, perhaps your creation has been lost in some way? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Love & smiles,

Rowena

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share April 23, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share.

This week, my daughter and I went to Sydney’s Royal Easter Show. A friend of my Mum’s very kindly gave us free tickets and our son didn’t want to go. I don’t think he liked all the crowds last year. Anyway, we started off by getting our caricatures done. They were hilarious and the artist did a fabulous job…especially when he told me I looked about 7 years younger. he really captured our joie de vivre. Next we were off to see the animals. It was the very last day of the show and due to my daughter’s dance classes, we didn’t get there until 4.30PM, so I wasn’t too sure what we’d be able to see, especially on the animal front. Miss was very keen to see the alpacas and there were some inside the Farmyard Nursery, which was something akin to anarchy with kids, parents and pat-able farm animals wandering around inside something like a circus tent. You’d have to be made of stone not to love it in there! Miss and I aren’t big on rides, but we decided to have one go on the dodgem cars….a family tradition. However, we could only find the kids’ dodgems and spent something like an hour wandering around try to find the elusive dodgems and almost gave up. In the meantime, we sampled food in the Woolworths’ Pavillion and saw some Donald Trumpkins. That man has been such a gift to satirists and comedians. Eventually, on the brink of physical collapse, we discovered the dodgems and I think we both decided “never again”. I must be getting old. All I could think about was “chiropractor”! Lastly, we were off to the infamous Showbag Hall. We didn’t go crazy and only bought a show bag for each member of the family. Then, it was time to catch the train home and surveying the crowds, my 11 year old daughter asked: “Why do so many adults have such big toys?” It’s not that I’m cynical. However, I told her that it was so guys could show they loved their girlfriends. I still remember “the trophies” from when I was back at school.

If you follow my blog at all, you’ll know that I’m in the throws of the annual Blogging A-Z  April Challenge and we’re Travelling Alphabetically around Tasmania. Yesterday, we visited Salamanca Place in Hobart visiting the markets in the present as well as it’s past as a warehousing area at the port. Naturally, there was a striking juxtaposition between the two, which made for an intriguing trip. I love time travelling.

As much as I love the Blogging A-Z Challenge, it is also very taxing and I’m completely spent by the end. It is definitely a marathon taken at the pace of a sprint, although I know I overdo it every year and am supposed to keep it simple…vignette’s and not the history of the known universe for every post. However, you are who you are. You just need to see all the tea cups meandering around our house, to know I’m prone to excess. .

At the same time, I could well have a body of work approaching 26,000 words at the end and that’s not something to complain or whinge about either. I also have a lot of other writing about Tasmania which I didn’t include in the series. So, you don’t need to be much past 10 finger arithmetic to know that a book’s well within my grasp. One that, at least at this stage, seems a lot easier to structure and put together than my much anticipated book project…a realist’s experience of the ups and down of living with a severe chronic illness and needing to squeeze the most out of life. It is anything but views from my deathbed, although that could be a good title in a funny sort of way. Indeed, it’s so dark, I love it.

If you’ve never undertaken the A-Z Challenge, I highly recommend you have a go next year. Many of us have a theme and it’s good to get your head around that well ahead of time. Last year, my theme was “Letters to Dead Poets”, which became understandably intense. That resulted in a 65,000 word manuscript I put aside to “stew” and haven’t quite managed to get back there. Although I often end up posting daily, I’ve found writing alphabetically through a topic shakes it up completely, because with my themes, alphabetical order has  actually made the progression quite random. That was particularly obvious this year, when we’re Traveling Alphabetically around Tasmania and our route has painted quite a spider’s web across the map. I also accidentally by-passed Tasmania’s capital city, Hobart, for “H” and instead wrote about “Home”…my husband’s home town of Scottsdale because I knew I had too many choices for “S”. So, that meant writing a prelude to our visit to Hobart’s Salamanca Place where the famous markets are held each Saturday.

I’ve also come to appreciate the challenge of “living in the now”, for lovers of history. I love research and just get drawn into the historic newspapers and the juxtaposition between then. I’ve found so many incredible stories, which are so much more interesting than a simple fire or burglary these days. I also believe that it’s really important to know our personal, family and cultural history. The flip side of this, unfortunately, has been the slaughter and attempted slaughter of  indigenous cultures right around the world. Many have been resilient and overcome so much, but that doesn’t undo what was done. After all, you may not be aware that the English wiped out the Tasmanian Aborigine and it’s pretty sobering to read settler accounts of “the natives are all gone”.

School goes back for term 2 on Wednesday. I am really trying hard to be organized for the new term (which is after all, a clean slate with all new characters LOL). However, our daughter has dance camp on the first three days of term and I’ll be driving her to Kurrajong, leaving no. 1 son to get himself to school. My daughter and I are planning to stay up there overnight but I haven’t booked anything as I baulked at the cost and need to revisit it. As much as I love her dancing, now that she’s pursuing it seriously, my life has complexified completely!

Well, I hope you and yours have had a great week and I realized after all this talking, that I haven’t even offered you something to eat or drink. My apologies. It’s not the first time, that I’ve been a lousy host and knowing me, it won’t be the last. Many thanks for popping by!

xx Rowena

S- Salamanca Place, Hobart.

Welcome once again to Day 16 of the Blogging A-Z Challenge. Today, we’re going to Hobart’s famous Salamanca Markets, which are held from 9.00AM to 3.00PM every Saturday in Salamanca Place. However, before reading about Salamanca Place, I recommend you read the preamble, which provides a quick snapshot of the early days of Hobart Town.

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Although I love markets, I must admit I was completely spellbound when we visited Salamanca Markets on our January visit. A few months down the track, the details of Salamanca Markets are a blur. I was absolutely dazzled by such a kaleidoscope of colour, texture, food and razzle-dazzle within its stoic historic setting. There was such a range of clothing, new and vintage and such an eclectic array of ephemera as well as scrumptious treats. It now feels like so much, so much of everything and almost overwhelming. In two hours, we’d barely touched the sides. I hope you enjoy the photographs and you get the opportunity to get there yourself.

However, there’s so much more to Salamanca Place than just the markets when you go back in time.

Originally called “The Cottage Green”, Salamanca Place was named after the Duke of Wellington’s 1812 victory in the Battle of Salamanca, Spain. Salamanca Place itself consists of rows of sandstone buildings, originally used as warehouses for the port of Hobart Town. To give you a feel for Salamanca Place during the warehouse era, I’ve sandwiched together numerous newspaper snippets:

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John Shirlow’s 1933 etching of Hobart’s run down Sailor’s Home in Salamanca Place.

“A SAILOR MISSING -a Water Police Sergeant Ward reported at the Central Police Station, Hobart, on Saturday that Mr. Vimpany, of the Sailors’ Home, Salamanca Place, had reported to him that James Corbet, seaman of the barque Wild Wave, had been missing since the 20th. Corbet is about 50 years of age, 5ft. 7in. in height, of medium build, grey hair and moustache. When last seen, which was in Macquarie-street at 11.40 and 11.55 the night of the 20th, he was dressed in a dark coat and trousers and a hard hat. He was then under the influence of drink… A deputation consisting of members of the Sailors’ Host (Salamanca-place) committee waited on the Premier yesterday to ask that tho Government grant them a site for new premises. Mr. Cleary, M.H.A., having introduced the deputation, Mr. Jno. Macfarlane (chairman of the committee) said the institution was established 36 years ago, and was an entirely unsectarian effort, churches of all denominations being represented on the committee of management. It proved an inestimable boon to sailors when in port, but the building was very old, ramshackle, and unsuitable, and was often crowded out with sailors. The committee proposed selling the present building, and erecting a new and more suitable one, anticipating that after the war, when so many vessels would be putting into the port, there would be a greater demand than over for accommodation, and all that was possible in that way should be done for our brave sailors of the mercantile marine, to whom the Empire owed so much in braving the submarine and other dangers. The Victorian Government had granted new sites ‘for sailors’ rests in Melbourne and Geelong. It would be a graceful act for the Government of Tasmania to grant a site as a peace offering. There were two sites which it was desired to submit as suitable. One was a piece of ground at the back of the Museum, and facing Constitution Dock, and the other a site next to where the Mariners’ Church stood. Both sites would be very central… Thieves who attempted to break open a safe in a factory in Salamanca Place, Hobart, on Wednesday night, gave up after jamming the door… HOBART HOSPITAL CASES. Eric Warne, 29, working at a pressing machine in a cider factory in Salamanca Place, Hobart, yesterday, got his left hand caught between one of the spindles and the bulb on the driving wheel, causing the fracture of two bones. He was admitted to the Public Hospital. Walter Cloak, 48, builder, of 13 Tower-road, New Town, fell from a ladder yesterday afternoon. He was admitted to the Hobart Public Hospital, and his condition is satisfactory… Fire at Salamanca Place. About 2 p.m. today a fire broke out in a large quantity of hay stacked in a yard at the rear of Messrs J . B Fryer and Company’s bay and chaff store, Salamanca Place. It appears that the hay, which is in a green condition, was carted from the Railway Station this morning and stacked in the yard, and when the men left at 1 o’clock everything appeared safe. At 2 o’clock a person named Hallett had his attention drawn to a cloud of smoke issuing from Mr Fryer’s yard. He immediately ran round to the scene of the outbreak and found flames bursting forth from the hay from several parts. With the Assistance of a number of Mr Fryer’s employees he pulled the bales apart. This, instead of smothering the flames, caused them to burn more fiercely. A few minutes afterwards the Brigade arrived, and by pouring a copious supply of water on the burning bales, they prevented the further spread of flames it is estimated that over 16 tons of hay are destroyed, The cause of the fire is at present unascertained. Experts attribute it to spontaneous combustion, while others think that a lighted match might have been carelessly thrown down…HORRIBLE STENCH IN SALAMANCA PLACE. SIR, For some time past a sickening stench has permeated the neighbourhood of Salamanca-place, caused by the storage of the offal meat which is collected weekly from the butchers, and during the recent hot weather the smell has been intensified, causing headache and nausea to those compelled to breathe the sickening odour…Parts of Salamanca Place had been the subject of many disputes up till comparatively recent times. What the merchants and their successors in title feared was that, if hidden by a row of high buildings, Salamanca Place would develop into a slum. The present City Council and Marine Bd. were working together in amity with a view to improving the harbour front… USE AND BEAUTY. Change In Salamanca Place STRANGE how one can live in a place and still know little of what is taking place except in the circumscribed area covered by one’s daily routine. Yesterday I took a walk down Salamanca Place and round by Castray Esplanade to Sandy Bay Rd. I was delighted with the work already done to get rid of the old eyesore of junk deposits in Salamanca Place. Beside No. 1 shed of Princes Wharf a vast concrete pavement is being laid about 20 or more yards wide, part of which is completed. The unsightly enclosures that disgraced this area have been pulled down, and soon their place will be taken by something much more inviting. The approach to Hobart from the water will be improved, and the road, with its row of finely-grown trees on one side and old stone buildings on the other, will be a spectacular asset of the city. After that the visitor can stroll along the esplanade, passing Princes Park-a lovely little spot -and, with a constantly changing view of the river, wend his way to Sandy Bay. Few cities I know can offer a more pleasing stroll than this… “That Tree”. RECENT criticism has made the tree in Salamanca Place, Hobart, look slightly ridiculous. It stands alone in heavy traffic and serves no useful purpose. Its removal would lessen traffic hazards on the waterfront without detracting from the harbour’s beauty. Lawns and shrubs in front of Parliament House would provide all the natural beauty one could desire in such a business area. The large concrete areas near the piers, and the present concreting of Franklin Wharf can only result in faster traffic and greater hazard to pedestrians.”

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Salamanca Place and Hobart Wharf.

 

Naturally, it is very hard to look at the Salamanca Place of today and even imagine this past. However, I think it’s very important we delve into our surroundings. That we scratch beneath the surface and try to glean something about all those many, many layers which have gone before us. Not to turn back the clock and live in the past, but rather to gain a better understanding of how we reached the present, and what has helped make us what we are as a community today. After all, as much as we have personal memories which need to be preserved, we also need to know, find out and preserve our community memory…that eclectic mix which becomes our culture.

Having this essential critical need to know my personal, family and community history, makes the genocide of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people resonate all the more with me. What was lost. It’s hard to know what to say so many years later, but I think our former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd got it right with a simple “sorry”.

I am sorry.

xx Rowena

 

S- Prelude to Salamanca Place, Hobart.

Welcome to Day 18 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

As you may recall, we are Travelling Alphabetically around Tasmania. Last night, we drove from the Richmond to Hobart to get an early start at the Salamanca Markets.

Although you might think I planned to get us here for the markets, it’s pure luck. I simply added places to letters and don’t have the brain power to calculate when and where we’re going to be on a given day, especially as we get towards the end of the list.  So, we’ll have to put it down to “serendipity”, that funny sense of “meant to be” you experience when random things collide. You see, Salamanca Markets are only open on Saturdays from 9.00 AM to 3.00 PM. So, they’re very easy to miss, when you’re trying to squeeze the entire island into such a finite time.

However, before we hit the markets, we’d better touch on Hobart’s origins.

Located on the Derwent River, Hobart is the capital of Tasmania and the second oldest city in Australia. Prior to British settlement, the area had been occupied by the semi-nomadic Mouheneener tribe, a sub-group of the Nuennone, or South-East tribe for at least 8,000 years, but possibly for as long as 35,000 years.[1] In 1803, the British established a settlement at Risdon Cove after explorers George Bass and Matthew Flinders proved Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) was an island and they were concerned about a French invasion. In 1804, Hobart was established in 1804 at Sullivan Cove at the mouth of the Derwent River where it make a major convict outpost. From 1803 – 1853, over 75,000 convicts served time in Van Diemen’s Land, but prior to 1812, all VDL convicts came out via NSW.

Drunken Admiral

While it’s hard to find a family connection with Hobart, we do know that Geoff’s 3rd Great Grandmother, Bridget Vaughan was accommodated at what in now the the Drunken Admiral Restaurant, on Constitution Dock when she first arrived in Van Dieman’s Land. An inmate of the Ennimyston Workhouse in Ireland, Bridget was brought out as part of the Orphan Immigration Scheme, arriving on board The Beulah. The Beulah sailed out of Plymouth on 15 July 1851, arriving at the Old Wharf at Hobart in Van Diemen’s Land. I don’t know how long Bridget spent in Hobart, but it felt quite profound and almost creepy walking over the same wooden floorboards Bridget had trod on our last visit.

This reminds me that, although Geoff came from Tasmania, he’s barely dipped his little toe in Hobart. Growing up in N.E Tasmania, Hobart was a 3 hour drive each way and they simply drove down and back in a day. Moreover, as Geoff’s older siblings had left Tassie when he was still a boy, family holidays tended to be on the Mainland or off to Nanna’s in Bridport. Even at university, he only ever visited Hobart for kayaking competitions. That was sufficient. Sounds  to me like Hobart was a different world.

Constitution Dock

Constitution Dock, 2017.

This reminds me of the intense rivalry between the North and South in Tasmania. For a small State which is frequently left off the map and struggles economically, it’s hard to conceive how this rivalry  could be so intense. Rather, you’d expect Tasmanians to stick together against their common enemy…the Mainlander and maybe they ultimately do. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t turn on each other with a passion. Oatlands, at least was,  considered the dividing line or “trench” between them. With Launceston being the “capital” of the North, Hobart was Tasmania’s official state capital. There were mostly free settlers in the North, and a higher concentration of convicts in Hobart. The battle between North and South, even extends to the beer. In the North, they’ve historically drunk Boag’s and in the South, it’s been Cascade and never the twain shall meet. When Geoff was there, it must also be remembered, there was also no National Aussie Rules Competition and the Tasmanian competition was divided into three regions, and never the three shall meet…South, North-East and North-West.

So, this means that while I’ve been researching Salamanca Place and trying to get an intimate feel for the geography of Hobart, I haven’t been able to consult my in-house Tasmanian expert. Rather, I’ve had to depend on historic newspaper sources and maps to establish that sense of Salamanca Place as a working landscape. That its been more than just a bunch of historical buildings and background canvas for the markets.

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Salamanca Markets January 2017 with historic buildings in the background.

So, prelude over, let’s adjourn to Salamanca Place! We’re only walking down the street, but it’s still a big day.

xx Rowena

 

R- Ross & Richmond Bridges, Tasmania.

Welcome to Day 17 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

My sincere apologies for waking us up before the birds again this morning. There’s coffees all round and then we’re off.

Map Queenstown to Ross

We have another long drive today. We’ll be driving 270 km from Queenstown and heading East to Ross Bridge on the Macquarie River where we’ll be having Scallop Pie for lunch. Then, we’ll be driving South to the Richmond Bridge, 25 kilometres North of Hobart where we’ll be sleeping tonight. As we’ve already been to the Red Bridge in Campbell Town, I won’t confuse you by taking you to three historic bridges in one day. That is, as much as I love squeezing the carpe out of the diem.

Preparing this post has highlighted a swag of difficulties confronting the travel writer. Not that I’m a travel writer per se. However, I travel, I write and probably more importantly, I produce quality photos, using a digital SLR and not a frigging phone!

Although I haven’t considered this before, perhaps the problems with travel writing are inherent from the start. As a traveller, you lack that local knowledge and could easily get all sorts of facts wrong. Or, produce an account no more interesting than a shopping list you’re ticking off before you move onto the next place. Ideally, if you’re covering a place as large and yet as small as Tasmania, you can also draw on multiple visits to expand your scope. I’ve certainly been doing that on our Alphabetical Tour of Tasmania. Another difficulty I’ve faced as a travel photographer, is trying to capture the landscape at its peak when you haven’t got time to lie in wait for the perfect weather, lighting, timing, composition, angle. You can bump up your chances, but you get what you get and just hope to bump up the second rate stuff when you get home. That said, dramatic storm clouds and rain, can create incredible moods. The landscape doesn’t have to be all sun and blue sky.

Finally, that brings me to my difficulties putting together this piece on the Ross and Richmond bridges. Although they’re both convict-built, sandstone bridges, they actually do look quite different to each other and you certainly couldn’t pass one off as the other anywhere except in my memory.

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A Family Photo at Sydney Airport as we left for Tasmania in November, 2005.

Back in November, 2005 we visited the Ross and Richmond River bridges on the same day when we were driving from Bridport to Hobart. I clearly remember buying a famed Scallop Pie and eating it in from what I thought was the Ross Bridge and yet there we are in front of the Richmond Bridge and the Ross Bridge and I’m so confused! Of course, given that was 12 years ago and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge, I’d be forgiven for forgetting the detail. That is, if I wasn’t setting myself up as some kind of quasi expert on the place simply by posting a few photos and text to the World Wide Web. Put the wrong name on the wrong bridge, and I might as well jump off it then and there. All cred is gone. Well, perhaps that is an excessive response, but you get my drift.

In addition to memory mix-ups like that, there’s also memory gaps, which no amount of prompting can dare I say: “bridge”.

While I was researching Ross Bridge tonight, I found references to numerous stone carvings on the bridge and wondered how I’d missed them. As a photographer, I have an eye, especially for something unique and exceptional like that. Hey, I find interest in simple reflections in a myriad of surfaces. How could I miss that? What was I thinking?

Truth is, that when I looked through my photos, sure enough I’d zoomed in on those carvings and they were there as large as life. My eye was good. My brain’s just been overloaded. Humph! What did I say about too much water under the bridge? Indeed, the bridge has well and truly been washed away.

This is why I’m so thankful that after the holiday’s over, I can go home and do my research. Go through the historic newspapers online, read other accounts and really ramp up those often sketchy travel notes.

I would also like to mention that by returning to our 2005 visit to Ross and Richmond, I was blessed to dig up a string of beautiful photos of our family as it was back then. Indeed, I felt like I’d jumping into a time machine and even if I couldn’t touch and feel our Little Man, I could sense him with all my being and so much love. That was a remarkable experience as he’s 13 and racing towards becoming a man.

Starting off with Ross Bridge.

The Ross Bridge, which crosses the Macquarie River, was completed in July 1836. This sandstone bridge was constructed by convict labour, and is the third oldest bridge still in use in Australia. Commissioned by Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur, it was designed by architect John Lee Archer, with the convict work team including two stonemasons, James Colbeck and Daniel Herbert.  Although Herbert was credited with producing the intricate carvings which run along both sides of the bridge, so much still remains unknown about them and they’ve become something of an enigma.

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This photo clearly displays the stone carvings attributed to Daniel Herbert.

As an aside, I thought you might enjoy this newspaper snippet about the town of Ross written in 1909. As much as we might enjoy these gorgeous, time-capsules of days gone by, they could also been perceived as “dying towns”. Or, places which have gone to sleep:

“Ross is a midland town, founded in the early days of Tasmanian settlement, and has been associated with her changeful history through many long years, but for very obvious reasons has not kept pace with the general progress of the State. Indeed, the present condition of Ross shows more of retrogression than progression.”

It goes on to mention Ross Bridge:

“Ross Bridge which is constructed of material taken from local quarries, is a fine, structure, and when first completed, with its stone pillared approaches and steps to the water’s edge, must certainly have presented a pleasing and artistic aspect. ‘Elaborate chiselling in leaf pattern has been executed round the edging of the double arches spanning the Macquarie River. The parapets are solid and massive. The centre block on the outer sides contains the following inscription: ‘ ‘Colonel George Arthur, Lieutenant Governor, 1836  while the end. blocks of the parapet show the words ‘Captain Wm. Turner. 50th, or’ Queen’s Own, Regiment, superintendent.’ An inscription’ on the inner side shows this bridge to be 69 miles distant from Hobart and 48 From Launceston.

Richmond Bridge2

Richmond Bridge.

Richmond Bridge is Australia’s oldest bridge. Crossing the Coal River 27 km North of Hobart, the foundation stone was laid on 11 December 1823 and construction continued using convict labour until completion in 1825. A painting of the bridge in it’s original condition was commissioned, which may be viewed here: http://bonniewilliam.com/honours/architects-and-masons/

Not to be outdone by the Ross Bridge with its impressive carvings, the Richmond Bridge has intrigues of its own, including murder and intrigue.

In 1832,  George Grover, a much hated convict overseer, was walking home after the Harvest Festival,  and fell asleep drunk on the Richmond Bridge. Seizing the opportunity, he was thrown from the bridge on to the rocks, seven metres below. He was found alive by a police constable early the next morning, and named the four men responsible before  dying of internal bleeding. However, no one was ever convicted for his murder, reputedly as Grover was so widely despised.

Grover had been transported from England for burglary in 1826. “By 1829 he was the javelin man and flagellator at Richmond Gaol. Apparently, he was employed to ride atop the man carts carrying stone quarried from nearby Butcher’s Hill, violently whipping the prisoners as they pushed the load. Grover relished his role as overseer and abused his power. He gained a reputation for cruelty. He whipped and beat men he perceived weren’t working hard enough.

However, the story doesn’t end there.

Grover’s ghost is reputedly haunting Richmond Bridge, along with another ghost known as “Grover’s Dog”. He is described as a dark silhouette without discernible facial features, which sometimes stalks people as they cross the bridge as he paces the length of the bridge in death as he did in life. In more dramatic accounts of this haunting, his ghost has been seen in the trees west of the bridge watching people as they crossed the bridge. At other times, people have sensed his anger, he evidently is still disturbed by the way he died.

Another ghost seen on the Richmond Bridge is a large, black or white ghost dog. This apparition is known as “Grover’s Dog.” This ghost is seen only after dark. Lone females and children who have crossed the bridge at night claim they have seen this dog and it’s friendly. Several women have said they were accompanied across the bridge by this ghost dog only to have it disappear once they reached the other side.

I’m not quite sure what to make of these ghosts, but I love a good story.

Map Richmond Bridge to hobart

Before we call it a day, we’ll be hopping back in our cars and heading to Hobart for the night. My apologies, especially as so many of you aren’t used to driving such distances. However, that’s what you sign up with on the A-Z Challenge… 26 day gallop through whatever it is your pursuing with only Sundays off to curl up under the doona (duvet).

Yet, I hope you like me, are finding the journey is worth it. Now, I’m itching to go back to Tasmania to appreciate all my research in the flesh.

Have you done much travel writing? Or, do you enjoy reading about travel? What are some of the pitfalls you’ve experienced with travel writing? Please share.

xx Rowena

References

http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php/article/the-mysterious-art-of-the-ross-bridge

http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/article/the-meaning-and-significance-of-the-carvings/http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/article/kim-peart/

Jorgen and Norah on the Ross Bridge

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-12/richmond-bridge-conservation-works-tasmania/8347030

https://seeksghosts.blogspot.com.au/2016/06/tasmanias-haunted-bridge.html

Q- Queenstown, Tasmania.

Welcome to Day 16 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

As you may be aware, we are Travelling Alphabetically Around Tasmania at Beyond the Flow this year. This morning, we left Port Arthur ridiculously early for the 5 hour (340 km) drive to Queenstown, on the West Coast. We will be going on a very quick detour to check out Russell Falls, which is a quick 10 minutes walk from the Mt Field Visitors’ Centre. So, if you’re wanting to get onboard the West Coast Wilderness Railway at Queenstown, we’ll have to hurry up. After all, we’re only here for one day.

The route we are taking today retraces my journey from Port Arthur to Devonport via Queenstown on my first trip to Tasmania in 1995…a trip I have always considered a big mistake. Back in the days long before I’d met Geoff my favourite Tasmanian, I’d flown down to Tassie to see the end of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. I was staying in the youth hostel in Hobart, when I hooked up with another backpacker and we hired a car to get around. When I tell you that we headed straight for Queenstown on the West Coast after leaving Port Arthur, you’ll know I hadn’t done my research because we completely missed the beauties of Freycinet National Park, including Wine Glass Bay.

Instead, we experienced Russell Falls, which were amazing from memory (I more remember photographing the falls, which won’t surprise you). From there, we kept travelling west and needed somewhere to stay. That’s how we ended up in Queenstown. It was a large dot on the map and off we went. For those of you who are uninitiated into travelling around Tasmania, you won’t appreciate the implications of this. Back then, Queenstown was nothing but a decimated moonscape after years of Copper mining:

“The copper smelters wreaked havoc on the surrounding landscape. Not only did the sulphur fumes kill off plants in the area but the eleven furnaces required vast quantities of timber and the mining company simply cut down the forests to fuel the fires. It has been estimated that hundreds of men were employed as timber cutters and that over 3 million tonnes of timber were cut down between 1896 and 1923. At its peak the furnaces were consuming 2,040 tonnes of wood each week. The combination of timber felling, the sulphur fumes and the heavy rainfall in the area (which washed away the top soil) ensured that by 1900 the whole valley looked like a desert.[1]

Queenstown

I also came across this piece about Queenstown written by Alan Banks, age 13 and particularly loved his description of the Galena crystals (Geoff has since told me his sister had such a lump):

“QUEENSTOWN, Tasmania, has a recorded population of 2800, but this has shrunk a great deal, for there were many people prospecting for gold some years ago. Nearby is Mount Lyall, the source of much copper. Many metals are mined here, including gold, silver and lead. Silver-lead ore, the galena crystal for wireless sets, for which one pays so much in the Sydney shops, was often dug up in lumps the size of a football in back yards and gardens. Sulphur is also extensively found here, and whenever the north-east wind blows Queens-town smells horribly, (Mt. Lyell is to the north-east of the town.) Bush fires in summer frequently occur; they presented a magnificent sight to us at night time, for our house was just opposite the mountain and we had splendid views of the broad sheet of flame rolling down the steep mountain side. The crackling of the fires could be heard in the town. Not far away are the pleasant sea side resorts of Zeehan and Strahan. Zeehan, where boating and swimming facilities are ideal, is famous, even in Tasmania, for fishing. Tourist trips on the Gordon River are very popular. Parties arc taken up the river in launches, and spend several days in camp on the edge of the impenetrable jungle. The rain fall is extremely high here, which, with the fertility of the soil, accounts for the heavy growth of trees and vegetation. The average annual rain fall is 100 inches.”

Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), Sunday 3 January 1932, page 2

While I’m pleased I made the trip in hindsight, I was a bit pissed off with myself once I’s seen photos of Wineglass Bay and saw what I’d missed. I’d only had about a week in Tassie at the time, so every day was precious and on your first visit, you want to do the best, rather than the more “educational” stuff.

Since that first trip, I’ve been back to Tassie about five times with Geoff and we really do tend to stick around the North and North-East with fleeting trips down south to Hobart and more recently Port Arthur. This means I’ve never been back to Queenstown and we’ve only made it down as far as Strahan on a previous trip. This has not been due to last of interest, but lack of time. There really is so much to see in Tassie and we tend to explore in detail, rather than spreading ourselves thin. However, we are planning to explore the West Coast on our next trip and take the West Coast Wilderness Railway.

That means we’d better start saving our pennies. We can’t get enough of Tasmania.

xx Rowena

References

[1] http://www.theage.com.au/news/tasmania/queenstown/2005/02/17/1108500205909.html