Thanks Tassie

So, we’ve spent 2.5 weeks driving around the lovely Apple Isle without sampling a single apple!

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Today we’re on our way back to Hobart, but we made a quick detour over to Richmond again so Jenny could have her last curried scallop pie at the Richmond Bakery – by far the best scallop pie in Tasmania.

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We’re leaving Tassie not only full of fresh, local seafood, but also with the proud knowledge that we didn’t kill one single animal – that includes the hand sized arachnid at The French House in St Helens!

(believe me, I wanted to)

But we did manage to see a few live little critters.  Wombats, echidnas, pademelons… no devils though which I’m ok with as they’re not the friendliest looking of bunch – sure he looks friendly here, but you wait until he shows his teeth!

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We found a few more pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that is our family tree and gained even more of a love for the Tassie wilderness.  Luckily we left a little bit to explore for the next visit.

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Thanks for coming along for the ride.  It’s always great to have to you with us.  Remember, you can click the ‘follow’ button under the widget menu on the right and any future blog posts should shoot straight into your email inbox.

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Until the next adventure……

xxx

Meet You At The Newy

After a brief, but very enjoyable stay at the Tarraleah Lodge…..

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High Tea in the Lounge

We said our goodbyes to the Highland Coos, who I must say weren’t really that happy that we were leaving…. they’re giving us the silent treatment here, some pulling their hair over their eyes so they don’t have to watch us drive away…

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Then it was pretty much a clear run to our next stop – New Norfolk.

Here are a couple of highlights from the journey….

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This is Gretna Green ▼

We were wondering if people in Tassie race here to get married like they do a the Gretna Green in Scotland.  Back in the 1700s a marriage act was passed in England and Wales where people under the age of 21 who wanted to get married had to get permission from their parents and if a parent didn’t agree – that was the end of that, so the young sweethearts raced up and over the Scottish boarder to Gretna Green – the first village you come to, where they could marry without parental consent. Boys had to be at least aged 14, girls at least 12!   1 in 5 Scottish marriages still happen there.  I’m not sure the pub in Tassie has the same pull – the sign next to the door says “No meals today – I’ve gone fishing”

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New Norfolk is quite well known for its antique shops.  This one ▼ was HUGE.  The building is the Old Derwent Hospital – an old mental asylum and it’s now filled to the brim with antiques and collectibles.

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Something for everyone here….

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These are pianola scrolls ▼.  Our next door neighbour used to have one and I was fascinated by it.  Jenny’s Grandparent’s used to have one too and it was Jenny’s go to thing to play with as a kiddy.

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Antique toothpaste anyone?

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We’ve stayed at a couple of B&B’s that could have done with these old bed warmers.

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Another little shop in town was called The Drill Hall Emporium was full of the most beautiful things.

Glove manequins for gloves that would fit my hands!

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Lots of hat boxes and suitcases and baskets of lovely things….

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Super expensive and difficult for the non scale user to read….

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Beautiful displays….

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Such a lovely shop – if you’re ever in New Norfolk in Tasmania, it is well worth the look…. you  just might want to bring an extra kidney to sell though because the prices were numbers that I hadn’t seen on price tags before.

Tarraleah

Tarraleah is a strange little place and full of Tasmanian highlandian history.

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It is now a resort, but it was once a hydro village which began in the early 1930s and was a thriving town up until its closure in 1996.  The hydro station still operates, but is automated.

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What you’re seeing here is a miracle of human ingenuity.  These pipes and the two power stations down in the valley are jus some of the visible signs of a mighty hydro generation system that is so vast it is almost impossible to grasp.

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Built in rugged terrain against the odds of the Great Depression and WWII, the development includes three per schemes with 10 power stations, 16 dams and kilometres of canals, tunnels, pipelines and penstocks – pretty amazing!

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Now Tarraleah offers luxury lodge suites, art deco cottages and the old school house.  There are no permanent population now apart from the resort staff.

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The lodge was originally built to be a highland get away and was the place to go, then it fell in to disrepair and sat derelict for a number of years before it was completely restored and it’s absolutely gorgeous!

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They’ve restored all the old art deco doors and windows…..

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And kept all the pressed tin ceilings and decorative cornices – so lovely.

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One thing that probably wasn’t from the original plans was this bath in our room…… you turn the taps on from the wall, but the water comes out of the ceiling which when you are turning the taps on by leaning over the bath could possibly come as quite a surprise!

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The town was well built with every modern convenience of the time with unlimited electrical heating, housing for the hydro employees, 3 public bars, 2 churches, post office, butcher shop, police station, supermarket, school and sports oval.

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In 1996, when the town was officially closed down, most of the houses were sold then literally cut up and were loaded onto trucks to be relocated around Tasmania or simply bulldozed down, then the land slowly reverted back to bushland.

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The lady who was hosting us in the lodge grew up in Tarraleah, moved away and lived a whole life and is now back living here and there is one other chap who runs the golf club who also grew up here, which amazes me cause there is NOTHING out here!

Google Images - This isn't really her!

Google Images – This isn’t really her!

When people drive through Tarraleah, they can be forgiven for thinking that it is just a sleepy little village as the cottages look just like normal houses (from the movie Pleasantville!) but now apart from the minimal staff, the only permanent residents are 24 ducks, 2 goats, 6 geese and about 30 highland cows.

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But…. the most famous tenant over the last 100 years in the lodge was Madame Lash, who specialised in S & M services.

That was a random fact!

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She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes……

Today we said goodbye to come of the most beautiful places on Earth – Strahan, the Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River – not to mention the Wheelhouse Apartment, where we stayed and had this view!

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On our way out of town we passed the Police Station….. I must say that we felt much safer for knowing it was there.  Bless its heart.

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Then it was up and over the mountain for us.  The first town we came across was Queenstown.  I think, after driving through this quaint little town you would either have to have been born here, never learning how to get out or you were transferred there for a shit load of money and you have your eye on leaving very shortly.  I think I could live in most places, but if I had to live in Queenstown, I’d cry every day.

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It is a little bit like the towns people have given up with most of the shops having closed down or windows boarded up.  Lots of houses have been neglected and are in dire need of a paint or have been left to fall down.  Having said that, the scenery and surroundings are quite beautiful in their own unique way.  The town is set into a gully of bare rock mountains where they mine for tin.

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We did stop and get out of the car briefly to have a coffee and luckily found the best place in town – the railway station housing the West Coast Wilderness Railway that runs from Strahan to Queenstown.

Lovely coffee and we shared a lovely fresh scone with jam and cream.

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Then we hightailed it out of there, passing this lovely house on the way….  Gnome City!

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The real magic comes from high up on the top of the hill where you can look down at Queenstown from a distance….

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And if you squint through these letters that spell out the town….. it possibly even looks a bit better….. probably not though.

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Half way to our final destination for the day – Lake St Clair, was a lovely little stop – Nelson Falls.

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Another walk through a cool temperate rain forrest…

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Along a babbling brook….

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Surrounded by gorgeous, tall trees…..

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All leading to the most pristine waterfall.

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Every time I say to Me Jenny, let’s take a photo – she says “oh, ok, but they always look the same!”  Whatever!

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We also stopped to look at the Frenchman’s Peak that was dotted in snow.  I’m always excited when I see snow.  Growing up in WA will do that to a person.

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It had been recommended to us to stop in the Derwent Bridge Hotel for lunch.

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It’s a lovely big old tavern with a big open fire and pool tables etc…. we got there at 2.05pm and noticed the sign that said

“Lunch form 12-2”

We raced in thinking that surely 5 minutes would be ok, but inside was one lady going back and forth between the kitchen and the tables who wouldn’t make eye contact with us and at the bar was an American man who was ordering a large round of drinks from the only bar tender and shouting over to his friends about how glad he was that they had dragged him off that mountain, because: “Oh man, I’m really hurtin'” ?

So….. by the time he had faffed on about whatever part of his body was achin’ to the guy behind the bar, by the time we asked if we could still order lunch it was nearly 2.15 and the kitchen was closed.

Bastards.

So we were forced – yes, that’s right, I said forced to dine at The Hungry Wombat Cafe just up the road a bit.

The Hungry Wombat Cafe

The lady greeted us by saying, “We don’t have any fish, no steak and no veggie burgers.  There’s no pies left and we’ve got 2 spinach and feta rolls left.”

Moving right along……….

Our accommodation for tonight is such a picturesque spot.

The Pumphouse Point Retreat at Lake St Clair.

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Remote and gorgeous!

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This shot was taken from our bedroom window.

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‘Cause we stayed in the Shore House, which was lovely cause that meant we had a view to the Pumphouse.

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Front View

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Click here for the story of the Pumphouse.  It’s quite interesting.

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Here’s some actual proof that I was here….. I didn’t even ask Me Jenny to be in this one.  She’s banned until tomorrow for her negativity.

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There are lots of lovely walks around the lake…

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Another view of the pump house with some snowy mountains in the distance.

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Looking forward to tomorrow morning for the sun coming up.

xxx

The Criminal Minds of Sarah Island

We’re in the little town of Strahan (pronounced Strawn) on the west coast of Tassie.  There is a fabulous boat tour – ‘Gordon River Tours’ or ‘World Heritage Tours’ that leaves from Strahan and heads up the Gordon River via an old penal colony island called Sarah Island.  

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The boat first takes you across Macquarie Harbour and out of “Hells Gates” where the harbour meets the ocean.  The name was given to the entrance by the convicts who were being sent to Sarah Island – Hell on Earth and the name stuck.

Jenny has tried many times, over many trips to Tassie to get onto this boat and for whatever reason – the weather was too bad or the timing wasn’t right, she has never made it, so on this trip, she was determined to get on that boat!  We pre-planned, staying in Strahan for 2 nights, just in case and all our stars aligned, cause we had all the time in the world and the weather was perfect.

Jenny being very excited to be going to Sarah Island!

Jenny being very excited to be going to Sarah Island…. or she could have just been cold?

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Once on the island we were given the option to take a map and wander around on our own or we could join one of the two tour guides.  Normally,  I like to just wander around and generally if we do join a tour guide, we stay with them for the first 5 minutes and if they’re dull we peel off on our own.  However, this tour guide, ingrid was absolutely amazing.  She painted a mental picture of what life must have been like for the poor bastards to ended up there in 1822-1833. She told dramatic stories, she made us laugh and after a whole hour, I still wanted to hear more.

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Ingrid was part of tour guides from http://www.roundearth.com.au and was brilliant!

Sarah Island was named in 1815 by James Kelly after Sarah Birch, the wife of the doctor Thomas Birch who financed his expedition.  Although I’m sure she wasn’t too happy about it as it was designed to be a terrible place for convicts who had reoffended whilst still under sentence.  It had a reputation as a place of unspeakable horrors and a living hell, largely due to the exploits of one of the island’s ‘colourful’ characters, Alexander Pearce, the Cannibal Convict.  He escaped twice with a group of people.  The first time he was found alone….. and the second time he was caught with a sack of body parts!  It was also the setting for the novel For the Term of His Natural Life written in 1860 by Marcus Clark.

Who remembers this mini series starring Colin Friel?

Who remembers this mini series starring Colin Friels?

For the first half of the settlement it was a terrible life for the convicts.  They were punished every day receiving lashes from a special cat of nine tails – 3 cat of nine tails braided together with pieces of metal embedded to ensure it cut through their skin.  They weren’t allowed to fish and were given little food.  They were made to sleep in a draft hut and were put to work building boats with the Huon Pine.

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It apparently rains 300 days of the year here…… how lucky were we?

About half way through their time at the settlement a chap by the name of Mr Hoy arrived.  He was a wealthy Scotsman who was big time into boat building and had heard about the precious Huon Pine, so he made his way down there to get his hands on some.  Shortly after he arrived there was a broo-ha-ha with the Commandant who was losing control of the convicts. He spat the dummy and left the island in disarray.  My Hoy saw an opportunity and stepped up as the new leader.  He realised that punishing and starving the convicts wasn’t going to get him quality boats made, so he promised them better sleeping quarters, more food and better conditions.  Funnily enough the number of escape attempts and stints in solitary confinement dropped dramatically.  

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These were a row of solitary confinement cells that were the size of graves.

The new Governor, Governor Arthur heard about this new fangled way of doing things and how well the convicts were working and he built the new penal colony, named it after himself and ignored all the advice from Sarah Island, establishing yet another terrible place, complete with daily punishments and solitary confinement.  Welcome to Port Arthur!  Once this colony was ready to use, Sarah Island was dismantled and closed down. 

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The slipway they used to get the ships into the water

They built 160 ships on that island and the 161st ship was built with a My Hoy and a skeleton crew of convicts.  When it was finished, the convicts, who were bound for Hobart or Port Arthur decided to mutiny and take over the ship and they sailed it half way around the world to Chile!

There is a whole performance, in conjunction with Round Earth Productions dedicated to “The Ship That Never Was” – the Frederick, the ship that the convicts stole.  It’s held, conveniently, right next to where you get on and off the boat.  The play has been running for 20 years and was well worth it.  They included the kids, they were what I like to call ‘muppet hilarious’ where they slip in adult jokes whilst entertaining the kiddies.  There was a fair bit of audience participation of which we were not subjected, but there was an audience of good sports who got involved.

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Look how gorgeous this day was!

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On the boat we thought there were a few people that we would have liked to leave on Sarah Island…….

These people came and sat in an area that they weren’t meant to be, he rolled up his trousers and she proceeded to rub a dencorub like cream into his lower legs!  It stank – as dencorub does and there wasn’t one bit of concern for the people around them – none!

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Anyway….. after Sarah Island our skipper showed us the fish farms…..

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Our Captain – Andy

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One of the fish farms where the farmer feeds the fish by squirting pellets with a power hose.

Then it was up to the Gordon River for some amazing scenery and some Huon Pine spotting…

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The Gordon River

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It’s all about the reflections

Here’s an interesting fact:  Because the Gordon River is fresh water and lined with button plants which releases a tea-like tannin, the water is a murky, tea-like colour.  When you go out into the harbour the water is mixed with clear salt water, but because the fresh water is lighter than the salt water it sits on the top.  When boats move though it, it churns it up and makes it brown.

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Otherwise its a mysterious bluey black colour.

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and the ripples!

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and more reflections

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Some ladies enjoying the sunshine

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Huon Pine Tree

Jenny has spotted the elusive Huon.

This poor family behind Jenny.  The kiddy was obviously bored silly on the 7 hour tour that wasn’t designed for small children and where he was stuck on a boat with no opportunity to run around – even when we got off the boat he had to stick to the paths, so he whinged all day and the dad had to follow him chase him and hold onto him all day.

I’m not sure why people do it to themselves?

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A super interesting day was had by Me Jenny and me – sure, not so interesting for the kid, but that’s not my business.  I’m becoming more and more fascinated by Australian history and Tassie has it in spades!

We can definitely recommend the Gordon River Tour if ever you’re in Strahan.

Cold Snap!

After a balmy 22 degrees yesterday we got a tiny bit cocky, walking about in our one layer….. then last night something happened and it was FREEZING!

We woke up this morning to a freezing cabin with a small heater that heated about a foot in front of itself and stopped.  We have a fire place, but didn’t want to light it before we went out for brekky.  So a hot shower was the only thing to do…. just a quick question – who puts unheated slate floors in a bathroom in a climate where it snows?

We sat in front of the roaring fire in the dining room for brekky and thought our cheeks would melt off and then headed out for another walk.  This time we took the 40 minute circuit path to King Billy – a tree that was named after an English King William.

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It was freezing!  The temp is measured in a nearby town of Sheffield which was only getting a high of 12 degrees today….. but up here on the mountain – she was bitterly!

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The walk was beautiful.  Very similar to yesterday’s walk with a .5m path and lots of lovely mossy fallen trees and shrubs and animal poo and burrows.

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This walk (you’ll be pleased to know Madeline Kennedy) was uphill – all the way to the top at about a 25-30 degree gradient – with steps.

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There was a little bit of whinging about the steepness (I won’t say who from) but we reached the top and got to look at King Billy.  Now, I think it’s important for you to know in order to understand our slight disappointment….. we didn’t actually know what King Billy was when we set out.  We were thinking a view of some sort, as we were aiming for a ‘look out’, or maybe a tree shaped like a crown?  Or maybe the track was simply named after somebody….. so it was bit of an underwhelming surprise when we got to the look out and and found this.

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Let me give you a little run down about this tree.

King Billy was the name given to the Aboriginal tribal leader of the Oyster Bay people, after the reigning King of English, King William.

King Billy pines prefer step, broken country with well-drained, poor, shallow soils.  In this environment they can grow up to 40m high.  The potential devastation fire has on the environment makes this an important management issue.  Fire will destroy old growth trees and any seeds in the soil, affecting their chance of regeneration.

The use of the King Billy pine in Tasmania extends back to late 19th century.  The west coast proceeded a suitable habitat for the King Billy which was used as fuel for smelters and mines.  The extensive use of King Billy at Cradle Mountain can be seen today in the boat sheds and at Waldheim as shingles and support beams.  Generally, it is easily worked, durable in soil and in water, specifically used for boat building, palings, shingles and joinery, pattern making, in vats and for sounding boards of musical instruments.

The significance of the King William or King Billy pine in Tasmania extends to ancient super continent, Gondwana. This species has been found in the fossil record from the Cretaceous (97 to 65 million years ago) deposits in both South America and New Zealand. The only representatives of the family Cuppressaceae are found in the southern hemisphere.  Those endemic to Tasmania are the King Billy pine (Athrotaxis selaginoides), Pencil pine (Athrotaxis cupressoides) and a hybrid Athrotazis laxifolia.

It’s amazing the amount of specific information you can take in from just staring at a tree, isn’t it?

We finally came to the downhill bit and sat and looked at the beautiful vista…..

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Then turned our heads slightly to the right and look what we could see!

Crades!

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Home to get the fire roaring now.

Tasmanian Roadkill

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There doesn’t seem be enough people and cars in Tasmania for the amount of dead animals we have seen on the sides of the road.  It is phenomenal just how many we have seen.  I’m talking every 10 metres.  We’ve only passed a small handful of cars on our whole journey so far, so the numbers just don’t add up.

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The problem could be that the speed limits in Tassie don’t always match the quality or size of road you are on.  We’ve been driving on windy roads, up and down mountains, with no sealed shoulders and are really only wide enough for one and a half cars and they’re suggesting you can do 100kph.

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The animals don’t stand a chance!

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They just released 20 Tasmanian Devils into the wild and after a day of being free – A DAY!  2 had been found dead on the road.  Then a couple of days after that – 2 more were found.

Read about it here and here

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Devil Island CEO, Bruce Englefield is quoted as saying.”People in Tasmania have to decide; do they want the wildlife that Tasmania is famous for, or do they just want to drive as though there are no animals about?”

Slow down people!

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This state is so beautiful – why would anyone want to speed through it anyway – slow down and take it all in.