Tag Archives: family history

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- 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

N- The Nut, Stanley, Tasmania.

Welcome to The Nut at Stanley on Day 13 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. As you may recall, we’re Traveling Alphabetically Around Tasmania and now we’re halfway.

Well, I Hope you’re not all dying from a chocolate overdose, because we’re about to Carpe Diem, seize the day, and get back on the road. While I’m cruising around taking photos, I thought you could all go and climb the Nut…chocolate belly or not!

Map Deloraine to Stanley Tasmania

The Right Map: Deloraine to The Nut, Stanley.

Just to recap. We’ve been camping beside the Meander River in Deloraine and today we’re off to The Nut in Stanley on Tasmania’s North-West Coast. That’s just over 2 hours’  (176.9 km) drive away.

Map Deloraine to Stanley Victoria

This is NOT how you drive from Deloraine to Stanley!

By the way, I should warn you to make sure you specific Stanley, TASMANIA when you go into Google Maps. On my first search, I was directed to Stanley, VICTORIA and could have ended up submerged in Bass Strait instead. What the???!! Even with my dreadful sense of direction, I knew that was wrong!

Nut

How would you like that rock on your finger?

Now, before you start getting cheeky and asking whether I’ve moved to Stanley, the Nut is an old volcanic plug discovered by the explorers Bass and Flinders in 1798, who named it Circular Head. It’s also been referred to as Tasmania’s “Gibraltar”. It has steep sides and rises to 143 metres with a flat top. It is possible to walk to the top of The Nut via a steep track or via a chairlift. However, we’ve been to Stanley twice and haven’t done either. On our first visit, we were on a day trip from Bridport in the North-East and didn’t have time. Unfortunately, when we were there in January, it was ridiculously windy and the chairlift was closed. Indeed, it was so windy, that you could barely eat your ice cream without it splattering all over your face, in your hair and would have been heading across Bass Strait into Victoria, if the wind had been heading that direction.

Before the arrival of Europeans, the area around Stanley was occupied by the Tommeginne Aboriginal people, who were slowly decimated as Europeans arrived and settled. In 1798, English explorers Bass and Flinders were the first Europeans to sight the Nut when they circumnavigated Van Diemen’s Land in the sloop Norfolk in 1798, proving that Tasmania was detached from the Mainland. Flinders described the Nut as a ‘cliffy round lump resembling a Christmas cake’. In 1825 the Van Diemen’s Land Company was granted land in north-western Van Diemen’s Land, including the Stanley area. Employees of the company from England started settling in the area from October 1826.

Recently, I found out that Geoff’s 3rd Great Grandfather, William Burke, worked in Stanley for the Van Dieman’s Land Company after they first arrived in Van Dieman’s Land in 1830. I can’t imagine what it would have been like living there for him and his wife Catherine and young sons John and Daniel (I mentioned the Burkes in a previous post about Jail Journal. They were one of the families who assisted Irish Exile John Mitchel escape to New York). They didn’t stay long.

Anyway, as you may recall, I put together an amalgamation of newspaper snippets on our last stop when we visited the Meander River. That was so much fun, that I’ve sandwiched together  a few tales about The Nut:

“STANLEY. Octopus Grassed: An octopus was caught at the back of the Nut on Thursday by Capt. WE Leggett, and brought in to the wharf, where it attracted attention. When outstretched it measured about 7 feet from tip to tip of the tentacles. It was provided with a beak, much like that of a parrot, about three quarters of an inch long. Although it was not a large one, it could be seen that an octopus of this size would be a formidable object to meet in the water. During the past few days a large shark has several times been seen cruising about near tho deep end of the breakwater wharf.Large Whales: On Friday morning four large whales were watched with interest as they sported in the bay, not a great distance from the breakwater…During the past two or three weeks dogs have been worrying sheep on the Nut. A number of sheep have been lost. War has been declared on dogs going on the Nut, and already some have met their doom.  EXCITEMENT AT STANLEY.THE NUT DECAPITATED.STANLEY, May 23.About 3 o’ clock this morning the top of the Nut fell. Many thousands of tons of rock have fallen and the wheel of the large crane was smashed. There was a remarkable scene at the breakwater. The event caused great excitement. Fortunately it happened when the men were not working, otherwise many would have been killed…As a, deep-water port, Stanley, with its Old Barracks and Chapel (a relic of the “bad old days”), has attractions that more modern ports fail to possess, and if your “wind” is stout enough, a climb to “The Nut’s” top is well repaid by the entrancing view obtained….STANLEY.Lady Lost on the Nut: Some excitement was caused at Stanley last Saturday night when a rumour spread round the town that a lady had been lost round the Nut, and parties with lanterns went out in search… A Circular Head Phenomenon.’THE NUT CRACKED.’ TO THE EDITOR.Sir,— The old Nut still stands, though report says it is cracked, and no one can tell what queer prank may take place next, but it will take something to frighten us into opening our doors and windows, and fleeing for refuge to the open air about a mile distant a second time, leaving everything to the mercy of burglars…When perusing your journal of the 20th inst. I was somewhat amused on reading an interesting article giving a graphic account of a monster of gigantic proportions which the writer, signing himself. “The Nut,’ affirms to have seen stranded on Pelican Point some time back… BLOWING UP THE NUT FOUR THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED POUNDS OF DYNAMITE IN ONE CHARGE.UNSUCCESSFUL RESULTS (BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT ) [BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH] STANLEY.”

Well, after all that excitement, you’ll probably feel like some fish and chips, or a scallop pie, followed by an ice cream or possibly even some chocolate. I really enjoyed checking out the historic buildings in Stanley and you can even visit the birthplace of former Australian Prime Minister Sir Joseph Lyons.

You can read more about our visit to Stanley here: Blown Away By Stanley.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip to Stanley and are still somewhat conscious after climbing that monstrosity? Hopefully, we’ll make it up on the chairlift on our next visit.

xx Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share- Happy Easter Edition.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Before I even offer you a cup of tea or coffee, let me wish you and yours a Happy and Blessed Easter. In so doing, I’d like to offer you more than Easter eggs, Hot Cross Buns and give you something meaningful instead, which would be so much more appropriate. So, I’ll offer you a hug and a smile and I just remembered that if you’ve just walked through our front door our Border Collie, Bilbo, and Border x Cavalier, Lady will be there. Bilbo might bark and he takes awhile to warm up to people, even people he knows, unless it’s my Mum who he seems to know is Grandma. Besides, just like Grandparents bring treats for the kids, she bring ham scraps for the dogs. Their love is easily bought.

bilbo & Lady friends

I know you think the dog protests too much. Somehow, friendship seems to grow on you when you’ve been thrown in the same backyard. You can somehow get used to having another dog around. Indeed, after all this time, I might even like the Lady.

We’ve decided to stay home and spend Easter Sunday with just the four of us. Well, that is after we’ve been to Church and Geoff and the kids will be going to hear Martin Smith from Delirious at Church tomorrow night. I don’t think I’ll be going as my lungs are quite sensitive and reacting to the slightest irritation at the moment. I’m slugging ventolin, preventer and phenergan and still coughing. Off for a lung scan, but I don’t think my lungs are any worse.

Anyway, as many of you will know, I’ve been embroiled in the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. My theme this year has been Traveling Alphabetically Around Tasmania. Considering my theme last year was “Writing Letters to Dead Poets”, I’d thought this year’s theme was going to be relatively easy. However, I didn’t just want to produce some kind of bullet point, shopping list tour of the place. I wanted something personal, intimate and providing an inside-out view of the place mixing in a bit of history in with our recent trip to Tasmania and our photos.

Perhaps, I am the problem and it was inevitable my A-Z would get out of control again and break out of its box. I do have a tendency to bite off way more than I can chew. This week trouble hit when I started writing about the Irish Nationalists who were exiled to Tasmania. One of these, John Mitchel, wrote Jail Journal which covered the time from his sentencing, escape and arrival in New York. As it turned out, Geoff’s Great Great Grandfather, Daniel Burke and his brother, helped John Mitchel escape. So, there was quite a personal aspect to the story and it took quite a bit of research to get the family facts straight. By this point, I started wondering whether to continue with the A to Z and had a few days off. I don’t know what it was. However, I felt much better this morning and caught up.

The kids are currently on school holidays for 2.5 weeks and have had a few days away with my parents to give us a break. We certainly needed it and am so thankful. I feel like I’m always heading in so many different directions and yesterday I decided to go nowhere. I slept in until the afternoon and parked in my writing chair researching and didn’t budge. Indeed, my phone didn’t even record one step for yesterday. There was no data available.

It’s okay to have a PJ day no and then when it’s perfectly acceptable to wrap yourself up in your quilt and retreat. Stop fighting whatever it is you’re fighting for one day. Unless you’re really unlucky, it won’t be the end of your world. Indeed, I had a lot more energy to get on with things today.

We’ve decided to defer Easter lunch with my parents and brother until Monday, which is my brother’s birthday.

I’m also trying to work out how we’re going to get to the Easter Show this year. We’ve been given free tickets, but there’s only a few days left and things on. Hoping to get there on Tuesday.

Anyway, that’s enough about me. What about you? Do you celebrate Easter? Or, you have different traditions and beliefs?

Well, I hope you’re going well and I look forward to catching up.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

H- Home: A-Z April Challenge.

“The real voyage of discovery, as Marcel Proust famously said, consists not in seeing new sights, but in looking with new eyes. And of course, once you have new eyes, even the old sights, even your home become something different[1].”

-Pico Iyer, Where Is Home? TEDGlobal 2013.

Welcome to Day 8 of our Alphabetical Tour Around Tasmania for the A-Z April Challenge.

Today, we’re going “Home”.

Not that you’ll find “Home” on the map.

Indeed, the more I think about it, so many of us have moved around so much, that pinpointing “Home”on the map, is almost impossible.

Yet, we still carry that core of where we grew up somewhere deep inside us, whether we acknowledge it or not.  Not that I’m suggesting that we’re controlled by our environment or pre-programmed in some way. However, place does have an undeniable influence.

For us, so many of these notions about Home came to a head while we were travelling around Tasmania.

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband Geoff is Tasmanian and was born and raised in Scottsdale in the North-East.

So, as we were travelling around Tassie and people asked us where he came from, I was quite surprised, when he referred to our current home on the Mainland instead. After all, when we’re back at our home, he says he’s from Tasmania.

So what’s the story?

I guess it gets back to what I said about “Home” being complex, and much more of a composite of several different places, than just where we were born.

My dear friend Google, introduced me to an insightful TED Talk by Pico Iyer: Where Is Home? Here’s some of what he says about home:

“…when I go to Hong Kong or Sydney or Vancouver, most of the kids I meet are much more international and multi-cultured than I am. And they have one home associated with their parents, but another associated with their partners, a third connected maybe with the place where they happen to be, a fourth connected with the place they dream of being, and many more besides. And their whole life will be spent taking pieces of many different places and putting them together into a stained glass whole. Home for them is really a work in progress. It’s like a project on which they’re constantly adding upgrades and improvements and corrections. And for more and more of us, home has really less to do with a piece of soil than, you could say, with a piece of soul. If somebody suddenly asks me, “Where’s your home?” I think about my sweetheart or my closest friends or the songs that travel with me wherever I happen to be. And I’d always felt this way, but it really came home to me, as it were, some years ago when I was climbing up the stairs in my parents’ house in California, and I looked through the living room windows and I saw that we were encircled by 70-foot flames, one of those wildfires that regularly tear through the hills of California and many other such places. And three hours later, that fire had reduced my home and every last thing in it except for me to ash. And when I woke up the next morning, I was sleeping on a friend’s floor, the only thing I had in the world was a toothbrush I had just bought from an all-night supermarket. Of course, if anybody asked me then, “Where is your home?” I literally couldn’t point to any physical construction. My home would have to be whatever I carried around inside me. And in so many ways, I think this is a terrific liberation. Because when my grandparents were born, they pretty much had their sense of home, their sense of community, even their sense of enmity, assigned to them at birth, and didn’t have much chance of stepping outside of that. And nowadays, at least some of us can choose our sense of home, create our sense of community, fashion our sense of self, and in so doing maybe step a little beyond some of the black and white divisions of our grandparents’ age.[2]

Anyway, moving forward from these semantic and philosophical wonderings, welcome to Scottsdale.

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I’m not quite sure how long Geoff’s mother’s family has lived in Scottsdale, but his parents, grandparents and Great Grandparents are all buried in Scottsdale Cemetery. I’m not sure if that’s a measure of being a local. It’s been about 30 years since Geoff and his immediate family left Tasmania and although he has a number of cousins living in the district, I don’t believe the ones in the cemetery still count.

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Yet, Geoff can still go into town and ask for a “Curley”, which is local lingo for a Cornish Pasty, a local delicacy as far as Geoff’s concerned. According to him, you can’t buy an authentic Cornish Pasty anywhere else. Indeed, we bought at least a dozen, which we froze to take home. That is, to our current home.

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Geoff with his brother outside “Home”.

Anyway, Geoff was born at the local hospital and grew up in a white, weatherboard farm house set on 10 acres on the edge of town. By the time he’d arrived on the scene as the much youngest of four, his mum had learned to drive and had a car. She’d also stopped milking, so Geoff was spared that “joy” growing up. He swung from the walnut tree out the back, fought off allergies to the masses of farm cats and longed for the time he’d be old enough to drive his brother’s old car.

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Looking over the home paddocks to the swamp.

So, not unsurprisingly, the family home was our first port of call in Scottsdale. It was a very powerful and emotional time for the four of us. Geoff has shared so much of his time in Scottsdale with the kids, and this was the first time they were old enough to acknowledge: “That was Daddy’s house”. You could almost sense a solemn silence, a reverence. Of course, we paused for photos out the front, hoping the current owners weren’t home. Isn’t it funny how you still feel you “own” the family home generations after you’ve moved away?  That is, even after the house has changed hands a couple of times and the Newton era has all but been erased.

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After stopping off for Cornish Pasties, we drove into town and drove up and down the aptly named Main Street. I could hear Geoff’s Aunty Joy and Geoff’s sisters talking as we walked past the Lyric Theatre, where his mother sung Gilbert & Sullivan and school speech nights were held. He drove to check out the Scottsdale Football Club where his Dad had played and the trotting track with horse hoofs still indented in the grass. We even managed to go on a tour around Scottsdale High School, where Geoff and his siblings, cousins and his mother and her siblings all went to school. We walked also walked along the old railway track which ran behind the house where his mother grew up in. Geoff told the kids about how his mother had nightmares about getting the cows stuck on the line in front of the oncoming train. I remembered Aunty Joy telling me about how the family sold cream and butter back in the Depression to make ends meet and how proud she was to have home-baked bread and hand-knitted  jumpers. I also remember laughing because I remembered how Geoff loathed having a hand-knitted jumper when he went to school and yearned for a machine-knitted jumper like everyone else. Times had changed.

The only trouble was that these weren’t Geoff’s memories. They weren’t what he knew as “home”. Indeed, he ended up telling me that he rarely went into town and spent most of his time at mate’s places. It also sounded like there was quite a bit of time flogging that Datsun 120Y to nearly to death on dirt roads. Roads which I suspect were a lot more rugged than those in the John Denver’s Classic.

So, this leaves us with a concept of home which is far more complex and not very concrete at all.

Indeed, it just leaves me confused. It’s much easier to relate and connect to these buildings I can see, than the intangible experiences of an 18 year old male…a world I’ve never known, and can’t step into no matter how much I try. Geoff can’t experience it anymore either. He turned 50 last year and is hardly 18 himself anymore.

I guess this is what I like about that saying: “Home is Where the Heart is”. That’s because home ultimately is something within….be it in our hearts, our heads, our souls. It’s not caught up in a house, building, people, experiences or memories. Rather, it’s some mysterious and magical infusion or concoction of the lot…some kind of alchemy.

On that note, I’ll leave you with the words of -Pico Iyer, Where Is Home? TEDGlobal 2013:

“Movement is a fantastic privilege, and it allows us to do so much that our grandparents could never have dreamed of doing. But movement, ultimately, only has a meaning if you have a home to go back to. And home, in the end, is of course not just the place where you sleep. It’s the place where you stand.”

What about you? What are your thoughts of “home”? Where does it take you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Pico Iyer

 

[2] Pico Iyer

C- Convict Brick Trail, Campbell Town. ..A-Z April Challenge.

Welcome to Day Three of the Blogging A to Z Challenge.

As you may be aware, we’re Travelling Around Tasmania Alphabetically during April, which could involve some very interesting twists and turns and I’ll somehow have to draw our path on a map at the end of the month. I’m expecting it to resemble a spider’s web with threads darting all over the place. After all, we’re hardly travelling for economy, are we?!!

Today, we’re heading South from Bridport in the North-East to Campbell Town, which is in the Midlands region. However, before we reach Campbell Town, we’ll be driving via Scottsdale and into Launceston via the notorious Sidling Range, where the government hasn’t straightened out the vicious hair-pin bends or even installed guard rails. Although the famed Targa Tasmania Rally goes through the Sidling (with the locals watching out with great expectations of doom, gloom and action-packed crashes), most of us try not to eat before tackling this road. It’s seriously rough and you don’t want those Cornish Pasties going to waste!

While mere mortals and Mainlanders quiver and shake at the prospect of tackling the Sidling and usually take an alternate route, my husband’s face lights up glowing like a neon sign. He might’ve moved to the Mainland 30 years ago, but every single one of those hazardous twists and turns has been tattooed into his muscle-memory…not that I’m about to suggest he tackles the road blind-folded. Our car might be able to fly. However, landing equipment was NOT included.

Anyway, after surviving the Sidling, we’re clipping the outskirts of “Lonnie” (Launceston- pronounced Lonnceston in “Tasmanian”) and heading South.

Our claim to Campbell Town fame,  is Geoff’s third Great Grandfather, James Newton, who scored himself a brick on the Convict Brick Trail, which is dedicated to some of the nearly 200,000 convicts who were transported to Australia for almost 100 years from 1788 onwards. It runs along the footpath on High Street, commencing outside the historic premises known as the Fox Hunters Return, which is adjacent to the Red Bridge. It extends into the CBD on the western side and to the IGA Supermarket on the eastern side.

Obviously, this trail is rather different to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and could well be renamed the Campbell Town Walk of Infamy. Well, not exactly. Most of these convicts passed well under the radar.

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In my element at the Book Cellar, located opposite the Red Bridge.

While we’re in Campbell Town, I recommend you visit the Book Cellar located in the historic Fox Hunters Return, an 1830’s coaching inn. Being a self-confessed book-aholic, I had a field day in this place. I managed to pick up a book which had reprinted the writings’s of Geoff’s Great Great Uncle, Daniel Griffin who was a journalist. His writings included a series on the local history, which included quite a lot of family details. There was also a book about the history of Scottsdale, which included photos of a couple of my husband’s school teachers. That was another must have. Lastly, I picked up a Tasmanian school cookbook and plan to make Jelly Slice sometime. I’ve never seen it outside Tassie.

Before leaving picturesque Campbell Town, I’ll let you into a local traveller’s secret. Campbell Town has a public toilet which remains open 24 hours.

Well, you might laugh at the mention of that. However, Tasmania isn’t New York and the city which never sleeps. Tasmania closes at 5.00 PM on the dot other than the local take ways and you’ll find they’re generally shut by 7.00PM. We ended up ordering many counter meals at the local pub and yes, we were very thankful to find this toilet at about 10.00 PM.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed our visit to Campbell Town and feel free to hang around and have a look. There’s so much to see!

xx Rowena

PS Here’s a link to a more comprehensive port I wrote about Campbell Town while we were down there back in January: Campbell Town.