Tag Archives: adventure

Yet Another Paradise…Swansea, Tasmania.

When you’re travelling around Tasmania, it’s easy to sound like you’ve overdosed on superlatives. Indeed, there are even towns named: “Paradise”, “Promised Land”…and we’ll just gloss over “Lower Crackpot”.

It’s also inevitable, that you run out of time.

That with such much to see and the need to become one with it all, that the sun sets well before you do.

Indeed, trying to stuff in all these awesome, superlative sights, is like stuffing yourself with so much gourmet food, you can’t move and your poor stomach is about the throw itself into reverse.

At this point, we were driving from Port Arthur to Devonport  via Swansea on the East Coast…a bit of a scenic deviation from the most direct route home. The sun had already set and we were oozing the dregs out of those very last moments of twilight, we we drove into Swansea.

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Being after dark, I wasn’t quite sure where we were  and had to do a bit of Googling to confirm locations. It’s not a good form to stick the wrongname on a place and you might have noticed that I’ve already called Orford: “Whatsymecallit Beach”. When you’re seeing and experiencing so much, it very hard to keep up with the details. While gaps are forgivable, making glaring mistakes is another story.

Swansea is a town in the heart of Tasmania’s east coast, on the north-west shore of Great Oyster Bay and overlooking Freycinet National Park, which is home to the superlatively stunning, Wineglass Bay.

I would really like to come back and spend a couple of days here.

It truly is Paradise.

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

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.

Blown Away By Stanley…Tasmania Continued.

If you have ever dreamed of flying, then you’d better head off to the historic town of Stanley in North-West Tasmania. The winds were so strong, that they nearly lifted this mighty heavy hephalump right off the ground like a kite. So, we’re talking about seriously heavy winds and by the end of the day, I could have inflicted grievous bodily harm to get hold of a hair elastic to contain the wilderness on  top of my head. I’m not even going to try to describe what it was like trying to eat an ice cream with my hair whipping my face and going all over the ice cream. It was truly annoying…irritatingly annoying.It provides a different interpretation of having “lashings of ice cream”.

 

However, to be fair to Stanley, the weather was particularly bad that day. So, I wouldn’t necessarily say that Stanley is an exceptionally windy place, though I did spot this sticker…

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By the way, for those of you who are into maps and can actually read and follow them, here’s a map of Tasmania and you can spot Stanley on the North-West coast.

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Then, we headed into Stanley for lunch. I don’t know whether I’ve exactly pointed out how many times I’ve had fish & chips on this trip and how I’m keeping a bit of a log of their performance. So far, the fish & beer battered chips from Stanley are right up there with the best. They were exceptionally good and the fish melted in my mouth and the portions were also very generous.

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Normally, I love alfresco dining, but the wind was so bad that sitting outside became a test of endurance. The wind was bad. Have I mentioned that yet?

Stanley is built into the hillside of a volcanic plug known as: The Nut. This very striking geographical feature helps give Stanley its own character and really adds to its appeal…along with its gorgeously quaint, historic cottages.

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Geoff with “The Nut” in the background.

After lunch, we set off on foot to explore the town. That’s when we came across former Australian Prime Minister, Joe Lyons’ birthplace. The house has been turned into a museum and restored to its original condition with hand split timbers throughout the house etc.

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Our son making himself comfortable at the Prime Minister’s childhood residence.

While looking look through the museum, I was intrigued to find out that his grandmother was a Burke from Shanogolden, County Tipperary, Ireland. This is where Geoff’s Griffin family came from originally. A number of Griffins and Burkes married each other here so I’m curious to see if Geoff’s family has any connection with the former Prime Minister. It’s not something the family is aware of, but until proven otherwise, it’s still a possibility!

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The Stanley Hotel.

While we were in Stanley, we also wanted to check out the Stanley Hotel, which has a connection with Patrick Brehenny who married Ellen Griffin, Geoff’s grandmother’s aunt. It’s quite a building and of  interest quite aside from the family connection.

Personally, although our family connections to these old buildings go back a long way, they have meaning for me. While I’m walking around trying to put myself into their shoes, I get that sense of talking walls . I can almost hear their whispers and feel their pulse. I love doing this, even though it can get a bit eerie and even painful at times. Some of these people led such hard lives, and I do absorb some of their grief. After all, I’m not made of stone. Yet, at the same time, I try not to hold onto these feelings. It’s supposed to be a case of slipping into their skin, walking around looking, breathing, sensing and then stepping out again. I need to let them go.

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Speaking about letting it go, I’d better finish this off and get to bed. We’re off to Hobart’s famous Salamanka Markets in the morning.

xx Rowena

Exploring A Ferny Paradise…

When we walk slowly, the world can fully appear. Not only are the creatures not frightened away by our haste or aggression, but the fine detail of fern and flower, or devastation and disruption, becomes visible. Many of us hurry along because we do not want to see what is really going on in and around us. We are afraid to let our senses touch the body of suffering or the body of beauty

Joan Halifax

As you might be aware, our family is currently roaming around Tasmania, where my husband was not only born and bred but has family ties going back as far as 1828. Indeed, all branches of his family go back to early settlement and it’s probably just as well that he married a “mainlander”.

I don’t know what your approach is to exploring a new place. However, to really get a feel for the place, I always like to get out on foot and explore as well as asking the locals about secret nooks and crannies.

This is how I found out about Ferndene.

While we were onboard the Spirit of Tasmania (the ferry running between Mebourne on the Australian mainland and Devonport, Tasmania), I asked Tasmanian staff onboard for their recommendations.

This is what saw us driving up and down Ironcliffe Road, Penguin searching for a spot where it’s only a 20 second walk from the car, to see giant tree ferns.

The only trouble was that it took us a lot longer than 30 seconds to actually locate Ferndene, which I guess can be quite a problem with these sights off the beaten track…a complication of the “road less travelled”.

While the tourist office told us this park was called Ferndene, we had some trouble finding it and had to make further inquiries and return the next day.

These tree ferns, by the way, are so big the Tasmanians call them “man ferns”. Indeed, they are the size of a man.

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I was quite keen to chase after these tree ferns when I heard about them because and Geoff always associates them with “home”. He also tells me that Tasmanian tree ferns are a different species to those on the mainland, which aren’t quite the same (or is that a nothing like the original??)

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Anyway, we finally found Ferndene and opted to go on what was sign posted as a 30 minute walk, although that doesn’t take into account numerous photo stops or jaw dropping gasps staring up through the fronds into the sun drenched sky.

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The track which does have some ups and downs and requires some level of fitness, takes you through towering fern and eucalypt canopies, past a tea-tree stained creek and onto an abandoned iron mine.

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Along the way, we also encountered an unidentified species of local dragon, which could well be a more extroverted relative of the “Nessy’s” (the famed Loch Ness Monster). Friendly, its apparently featuring in an amateur film.

Anyway, I’m going to keep this trip short and sweet and please forgive the rush. We’re now in Hobart about a week down the track. It’s been very difficult to get any writing time and Internet connections have been very slow.

Take care & best wishes,

Rowena

 

Writing Memoir…Paris Encore!

A few days ago, I started getting stuck back into writing a memoir about my time as an Australian in Paris in the Summer of ’92.  I spent 6 weeks in Paris during a rogue backpacking trip after graduating from university.

The memoir revolves around a solo poetry reading I gave at the Shakespeare & Company Bookshop and spins out from there. It was a time of particularly deep thought and soul searching, not only for me but also most of the recent graduates we met. I’ll add that that there was also falling in love, being dumped and all the usual things that come with scraping up the entrails of your heart off the tarmac after taking a direct hit.

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Poetry Reading Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris.

At the moment, I’m only at the early planning and dare I say research stage, although I’ve handwritten a few pages a day of actual text. (I usually find handwriting my work helps gets me into the flow).

I had been making great progress on “Paris” about a year ago, until a hail storm peppered holes through the office roof and brutally destroyed my flow. The entire office had to be evacuated and the mess wasn’t pretty.

Anyway, at the moment I’m seriously trying to immerse myself back into my Paris. Kick start all those near-dead neurons and getting the party started.

Unfortunately, I’ve hit a frustrating hitch. I can’t remember the name of the cafe we used to hang out and it is rather central to the plot. So, yesterday I started hitting the problem with every tool at my disposal…from the sledgehammer through to the magnifying glass, but I’m still not convinced that I’ve found it.

Finding the cafe isn’t only hampered by a lot of water under the bridge. I also have no sense of direction and struggle to find my feet, let alone retrace my steps from 24 years ago. Indeed, after all my meanderings yesterday, I was lucky to make it out of the labyrinth alive and am pleased to report that the Minotaur didn’t get me either.

My first step was to dig out my Paris photos for clues.

Immediately, I hit another hitch. The album was missing. I was pretty sure it was readily accessible but with so many photo albums, books, book cases, nooks and crannies, it was looking like mission impossible.  Don’t you hate it when this happens!! As if the frustration isn’t bad enough, there’s also that self-righteous voice in your head saying you should be more organised. Declutter! (That’s where a fly swat comes in handy. Whack! That should do the job!)

Humph!

I try to wing it online and try various Google searches.

Nothing!

Nothing!

Nothing!

Finally, I find the photo album but there’s only one shot of us sitting outside at the cafe. Even after scrutinizing the photo, I can’t find a name anywhere. What I do remember is cheap coffee, not having to pay extra to sit outside and a broad area of outdoor seating. Also, it was on a sweeping corner with plenty of space.

Yet, this physical description fits many cafes.

Fortunately, despite my abysmal sense of direction, I’ve been able to limit the search zone. The cafe is on the Left Bank in Quartier Latin somewhere near Rue Dauphine, the Luxembourg Gardens and St Michel. In retrospect, I’m thinking that was something of a “pedestrian passenger” blindly following my friends to the cafe  without gouging the route into my neuropathways.

Yet, through the fog, there is a glimmer of light.I cross over Pont Neuf into Rue Dauphine in my head. I have a general direction but then the vision suddenly goes dead with no cafe in sight.I simply don’t remember. So, that leaves me playing detective trying to piece together foggy memories, Google searches, walking through the streets on Google maps. I even emailed a friend.

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My feet in the Luxembourg Gardens. Aren’t those flowers spectacular!!

I must’ve been in one of my doggedly persistent moods because I wasn’t going to let it go until I found it. I Googled cafes and boulangeries around St Michel. I consulted Google maps and walked at street view round and around and around the streets of the Left Bank and crossed one by one off my list. Indeed, I was trawling through Google like a crazed stalker and I wasn’t giving up.

By this stage, I was starting to think writing memoir was seriously over-rated and that I should turn this thing into a novel and be done with it. Then, I can simply make everything up without all this arduous digging.

But I’m NOT GIVING UP!!

Instead, I’m off to Paris. Well, I’m off to Paris via Google maps.  As much as I would sort of love to be in Paris and retracing my steps in reality, it doesn’t matter if I get lost in Google maps. Eventually, I’ll make it back to Pont Neuf without being exhausted.

Well, to read about my virtual cafe crawl through Paris, you’ll have to wait for the next installment.

Hey, if you have any idea where the cafe might be, please put me out of my misery!!

PLEASE!!!

Have you spent much time writing memoir or non-fiction? How did it compare to writing fiction?

I’d love to hear from you!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

Sleepy Bay & Our Sleepy Boy.

Thank goodness for Sleepy Bay and Daddy to carry our Little Man back to the car!

If you’ve read my last post Tasmanian Holiday featuring our exuberant Little Man on our pre-baby 2 Tasmanian trip in 2005, you’ll know what it meant for the energy to drain out of our little boy and to have a breather. After all, there’s a reason they say: “there’s nothing like a sleeping baby.”

Our Little Man turns 13 next year and is now taller than Grandma. Nothing little about him anymore!

Does this bring back any memories for you? I look forward to hearing from you!

xx Rowena

 

An Ant’s Road Through the Roses.

the ants’ road
from peaks of clouds
to here.

Issa

When I saw this luscious red rose, I immediately metamorphosed into an ant crawling through it’s mountainous red petals until it finally reached all those golden pollen at the centre of the universe and slept.

Come to think of it, do ants actually sleep? Have you ever seen an ant taking a nap?

Just a thought…

xx Rowena

The Fork in the Tree.

What do you see when you look at this tree?

Initially, I saw the fork in the road but when I look at it now I see a very flexible, headless dancer whose toe is pointing up into the clouds. Mind you, when I came up with that image, I’d chopped the top off the photo on my laptop screen. or, maybe, the dancer hasn’t shaved her legs?

Unfortunately, I also noticed this tree isn’t looking very healthy.While it is deciduous, it’s neighbours are all sprouting Spring leaves and there isn’t so much as a bud on this one. I’m hoping my suspicions are wrong but is this tree deceased?

“C’mon! Grow, baby. Grow!…Just a leaf? A sign? A glimmer of hope?”

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My Pathway is Lost in a  Jumble of Twigs. Where am I going?

Meanwhile, looking further up the tree, I spotted “chaos central” where there is no clear-cut fork in the road… the A & B options. Rather, these twigs graphically portrayed:

“My life is such a Mess!” or “I’m soooo confused”.

There are no patterns and no pathway through. No exit from the maze but at least there is no minotaur but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a spider’s next in there…a tribe of Huntsmen.

When you have complicated decisions to make, what do you do? How do you choose which way to go? Toss a coin? Phone a friend? Write about it? Make a list of pros and cons?

I use a range of these strategies but what I’ve finally come to appreciate the hard way, is that action outranks procrastination. That even if you make the wrong decision, that’s better than doing nothing at all. Procrastination is not my friend and yet…

Hey, I just went chasing up a quote to illuminate this post and this was the first quote I found and it was so about this tree. It must be a sign:

“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”

Robert H. Schuller

Perhaps, this tree should be renamed: “The Philosopher’s Tree”. Well, it’s certainly got me thinking and fired up a few brain cells. Dare I say, cleared out some “dead wood”?

Surely, there’s life in the old tree yet!

xx Rowena

Sailing to the Soul- Quotes Day 2.

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.
Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. was an American Catholic writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion. Wikipedia
Born: January 31, 1915, Prades, France
Died: December 10, 1968, Bangkok, Thailand
Today, we are going sailing so I thought I’d find a good sailing quote to share with you.
opti Pittwater
When it comes to sailing, I must confess that I’m much better at photographing sailing and being ballast than actually sailing the boat. Steering isn’t exactly my strength and I have no sense of direction and when it comes to reading maps, I’m better at turning them into origami masterpieces…paper aeroplanes, flapping birds and the like.
All the same, I love sailing with the wind rushing through my hair and that sense of absolute freedom. It’s fantastic!

I would like to thank Olive Ole from https://travelmuch.net/  for nominating for the 3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge.

Olive lives in Denmark and produces a stunning travel blog with some very striking images. Being Australian, I really appreciate being able to explore other parts of the world with her.  So don’t hang around here – go check her out!Let me talk you through the rules of the challenge:

  1. Three quotes for three days.
  2. Three nominees each day (no repetition).
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.
  4. Inform the nominees.

On Day 2, I am nominating three people who are into sailing or water sports:

Destination Everywhere: https://mrssuvi.com/
I hope your week is smooth sailing.
xx Rowena
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