Tag Archives: bushwalking

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

 

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

 

The Virgin Campers…Friday Fictioneers.

Blood-curdling screams echoed through the night and the dog was going psycho.

Half-awake, Jack saw that young bloke grabbing his missus by the throat.

“I’ll get the bastard. Ring 000!” Jack yelled, putting on his pants.

“Jack? Stay out of it. You’re too old to play the hero. Leave it to the cops.”

“That couple camping at the creek… He’s killed ‘er.”

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.

Margaret was so afraid, her teeth almost leaped out of her mouth and into the bush.

“P…p..p.lease h…h..h..help. The…the…there’s a h..h…h..huge ssssspiiiider in our t..t.t.ttent.”

“Struth! Thought you’d been murdered.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

This has been a contribution to Friday Fictioneers. This week the photo prompt comes from © Jan Wayne Fields

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Drop Bear

To give a bit of background, I’m Australian and to be perfectly honest, I’ve never seen anyone go camping with a power generator thingy here. I was rather stuck on this prompt and showed my husband. He grew up in NE Tasmania and did a lot of real camping growing up, which included hiking up Cradle Mountain. His immediate response was: “You call that camping!!” They definitely struck both of us as virgin campers and they were just begging for some Australian wildlife to enter their tent. There is so much to choose from…the dingo, possums which are known to tear open tents to steal your food, snakes, spiders…even drop bears! My husband suggested writing about all forms of wildlife converging on the tent at once.

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Huntsman Spider. Photo Jon.

However, then I remembered a hilarious situation I heard on the radio where screams were heard from a flat in Sydney. When the Police turned up convinced there’d been a murder. They found a guy standing on a chair with a spider on the wall…a huntsman. Not poisonous but it can give a nasty bite. There story makes for an excellent read! http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-27/police-respond-to-domestic-after-man-screams-over-spider/6979724

Our daughter was terrified by a huntsman only the other night so even though it’s not poisonous, it’s still up there with Nightmare on Elm Street.

xx Rowena

 

Birthday #WeekendCoffeeShare!

Welcome to Weekend Coffee Share with a difference. It was my birthday on Saturday and we took our celebrations outdoors enjoying a history-themed cruise around our local waterways, followed by a bush walk. Although many consider Everest a challenge, for me this mountainous “hill” was challenging enough. While it was great starting off with a down hill trajectory, what goes down must walk up unless you get a piggyback. Or, in the case of the kids, Dad picks you up.

 

You can read more about our birthday celebrations Here. We had a great day!

Sorry that I can’t quite offer you a piece of birthday cake with your beverage of choice. We didn’t have one. The cake is waiting until we catch up with my parents. Makes the party last longer.

How was your week? What did you get up to?

I’m currently beavering away on a short story for a local competition. It’s probably what you’d call historical fiction and it’s seen through the eyes of a little girl whose father becomes delusional and cuts her mother’s throat and then his own. He survives. The little girl and her baby sister in my version are adopted out and she remembers nothing until her husband’s death opens Pandora’s Box and fragments of memory started flashing back. To establish the historical framework, I’ve set the short story in Sydney’s Balmain and the entire neighbourhood is seemingly jammed into the tiny terrace to watch the moon landing on TV. I was supposed to be born on the day man landed on the moon. So, it’s always been a big part of my own story, even though I ran ten days late.

Stay tuned. Although I can’t post the short story, I intend to post a write up about the case. What makes it even more tragic, is that it’s not about about a bad or evil man and it wasn’t what I’d consider domestic violence in the traditional sense. This was a  happy couple living an ordinary life with their two daughters. However, in the aftermath of the depression of the 1890s, debtors weren’t paying up and he was facing bankruptcy…at least in his mind. He literally lost his mind with depression and a week beforehand said he wanted to jump of Sydney’s famous suicide spot The Gap but wasn’t taken seriously. This was a guy who loved his wife, his daughters, went fishing and read the paper…a tailor running what appeared to be a thriving business.

Who would have thought?

I am wondering how far I can take this story and feel it really has legs.

So, I’ve been head down doing research, writing the story and crossing my fingers . It’s due 5th August.

By the way, if you remember watching the moon landing, I’d love to hear from you and find out where you were and what it was like.  It was such a phenomenal moment of our time, and yet as time’s gone by, it’s easy to forget what an achievement it was.

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Lady contemplating her next escape attempt.

On the home front, our naughty little black dog Lady, has been tunneling to freedom mimicking the Great Escape. With her black coat, Lady becomes completely invisible in the dark and having come from a farm where she went hunting with the other dogs, she knows how to hide herself well. Too many times lately, she’s been waiting for me out the front of the house when I’ve arrived home wagging her tail…the fiend! Given her black coat and camouflaging capabilities, blending in with the road and getting run over is a major concern. So, all of this means that last weekend, Geoff banged in more wooden slats and this weekend, he laid pavers over the side path… hopefully bringing an end to her excavations!

Lady at Ocean Beach

I hope Lady didn’t make it as far as the beach on her travels.

Not that Geoff had nothing else to do!

The rest of last week, has been a blur.

How was your week? I hope you had a good one!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click the  linky to read the other posts.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Happy Birthday To Me…Enjoying the Australian Outdoors.

Happy Birthday to me!

We cruised by the sea.

Bushwalked to the lookout.

Then went home for tea.

Welcome to my virtual birthday party. Once upon a time, one of my friends would’ve turned up with vodka jellies and chocolate mouse, but I can offer you a Tim Tam. You could also join us to watch a great Australian movie: Oddball. It’s based on a true story of a Mareema Sheepdog, Oddball,  who saved a endangered colony of fairy penguins from foxes. We loved it.

Today, I reached the magical age of 21…again!

After opening presents this morning with the family, we set off bright and early for a history cruise along our local waterways with the kids’ Scout group. Although I’d originally planned to head into Sydney to the Koi Dessert Bar for my birthday, this cropped up and it felt like a ready-made party. We just had to turn up…perfect!

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Fisherman’s Wharf, Woy Woy.

The cruise set out from Woy Woy, which is is roughly 2 hours drive North from the Sydney CBD. You might recall that Spike Milligan placed Woy Woy on the world stage, although you could say the publicity was hardly positive. He described Woy Woy as “the world’s only above-ground cemetery”.

Indeed, this is what he had to say about Woy Woy back in 1959, when he wrote a portrait of his parents’ home “Goon Fishing”:

“There is, somewhere in the steaming bush of Australia, a waterside town called Woy Woy (Woy it is called Woy Woy Oi will never know).

 

Sunset Down the Street!

So often, you feel you have to travel and have buckets of money to experience the Earth’s beauty.

Yet, there can be so much to soak up right under your own nose when you bother to look. Jump out of your couch. Switch of the TV. Detach yourself from your phone, electronic devices and other leashes and open your eyes to what’s right there. Indeed, all too often we can be standing right in the midst of exquisite beauty and yet absolutely oblivious to it, and miss it all.

As a photographer, I have some kind of unconscious, automatic inner switch or alarm which goes off when conditions are “photogenic” and before I know it, the camera and I are out the door and chasing clouds, sunsets….pure magic!

Although we live near the beach (which was by design and not luck, by the way), these photos were literally taken in my street when the entire sky lit up turning an electric orange.

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Absolutely mesmerizing! The entire sky was a brilliant sunburnt orange…even including the air!

Personally, I feel you need clouds for a truly magnificent sunset and once you’ve photographed numerous sunsets, they have to be good to catapult you out o the chair and in the zone.

This sunset didn’t disappoint. Indeed, it was good. Really good!

So, I hope you can appreciate our sunset vicariously and feel a bit more motivated to do a bit of cloud chasing yourself!

It’s great fun but watch out for those snarling, deep purple beasts with dripping tentacles. Take it from me! They’re something to photograph from a sheltered distance with a good zoom.

Rowena Storm

I’d do anything for a photo- including venturing out into the rain.

Have you seen something close to home that’s blown you away recnetly? Please share in the comments!

Wishing you a fabulous weekend!

xx Rowena