Tag Archives: Scottsdale

X- Railway Crossings, Tasmania.

Welcome to Day 24 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge…”X”.

While “X” has traditionally “marked the spot”, “X” became understandably tricky when it came to continuing our alphabetically travels around Tasmania. There were no places starting with X in Tasmania and we’ve already mentioned a beach shack called “Xanadu” during our travels at Doo Town in Eaglehawk Neck.

So, I needed to be a bit creative, even inventive and in the process, I could well have over-extended my creative license, ending up with a fine.

This left me with Railway Crossings and when you look at the sign, there is a very definite X. Although we do have a local railway crossing, most of the old railway crossings have been removed in New South Wales and replaced with bridges. However, they’re very common in Tasmania, unlike passenger trains. If you start looking for passenger trains in Tasmania, you’ll be waiting an eternity in quite the literal sense.

There are no conventional passenger trains in Tasmania and services stopped back in the 1970s and there’s seemingly no hope of them opening up again.

However, freight trains are still operational.

While we didn’t spot many freight trains while we were there, we observed loads of track, mostly running right along the coast and to be perfectly honest, scarring the landscape. Although I get that Tassie’s quite hilly and train’s down like climbing mountains, it seems a pity to have sun pretty coastal scenery dissect by track and I’m sure it’s something Wordsworth would have lamented.

Geoff’s mother grew up beside the railway track in Scottsdale in NE Tasmania. She had to walk the cows across the railway line to the other paddock. She used to have nightmares about the cows getting stuck on the line and being hit by the train. That was back in The Depression the 1930s and their cow was about the only thing making money when her Dad was in between building jobs and tin mining. Losing the cow, would’ve been a serious financial blow.

However, those trains through Scottsdale turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After growing up in Penguin on the North Coast, Geoff’s Dad was working as a lad porter with the railways and was sent to Scottsdale, bring his parents together.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I’m extending my creative license today and we’re actually heading off to the Don River Railway near Devonport. While railways and trains don’t exactly start with X and I can’t remember whether there were any actual railway crossings when we were there, this was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Above: Don River Railway, 2005

So this means we’re driving from Wineglass Bay to Don River Railway, near Devonport, which is a 2 h 38 minute drive (231.1 km) via National Highway 1.

Map Wine Glass to Don Railway

We last visited the Don River Railway back in 2005, although we’d really wanted to get there in January and ran out of time. Indeed, it was down to the clock hoping we could squeeze it in after stocking up on Lavender Cheese at Ashgrove Farm and saying goodbye to family and having a rushed picnic with friends before boarding. As you’re starting to understand, our trip to Tassie in January was hypo-manic. Yet, still we missed so much!

The Don River Railway is located on Forth Road, Don, Tasmania.  To give a brief history:

“the Van Diemen Light Railway Society was formed in December 1971 as a voluntary organisation with the basic aim of preserving a representative selection of former Tasmanian Railway equipment for future generations to enjoy. After much searching for a suitable site the society decided to use the track bed of the former Melrose line and began trading under the name “The Don River Railway”. The railway was established on the Don site in 1973, and trains commenced running in November 1976, the achievement and result of countless thousands of hours of voluntary labour provided by members of the Van Diemen Railway Society Inc.” http://www.donriverrailway.com.au/history.html

Meanwhile, on the home front, my laptop has taken a nasty hit. The power cord was partially severed by the recliner mechanism in my chair. For what seems like the last month, I’ve been able to jiggle things but it died completely two nights ago. I’ve since been told it’s the third power pack I’ve destroyed this year and I have to “wait”. So, I’m back on my much faster desk top and a day behind on the A-Z.

I must admit that after a month of deeply immersing myself in Tasmania, I’m feeling that the blog has become rather disjointed and out of sync with “the real world” and  what’s going on in the here and now. That’s been especially true in the last week as I’ve been away again, exploring new old worlds. Our daughter attended a three day dance camp at Kurrajong in the Blue Mountains and I ended up exploring the area, along with historic Richmond and Windsor. However, they’ll have to wait until next week.

Meanwhile, I’m off to pick our dancing girl up again and hunt down dinner at the supermarket.

xx 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.

DSC_0297.JPG

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.

DSC_0333

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.

geoff-6 and terry-22 feb 73

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.

DSC_9893

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.

DSC_0153.JPG

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.

cellar-bookshop

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.