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Strahan to Hobart

...from the blowy west to the sunny east

sunny 28 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

On leaving Strahan, we bypassed Queenstown but not very far beyond, we spotted a sign pointing to Lake Burbury. We drove down and were set back by the beauty of the scene. The lake was like a millpond with beautiful light and wonderful reflections of the surrounding mountains. Quite a bit of 'digital film' was burned off before we stopped for a coffee break! The lake was man-made in the 1990s, covers 54 square kilometres and was named after Stanley Burbury, the first Australian-born Governor of Tasmania.

Girl meditating by lake

Girl meditating by lake

Lake reflections

Lake reflections

Reflections with girl

Reflections with girl

Although the distance from Strahan to Hobart is not very far, it was one that would take us quite a long time as our next detour was to Nelson Falls. We enjoyed a lovely walk through the forest to reach a viewing platform at the base of the falls which, although not huge, are very picturesque. By the platform, the area is fenced off to protect the riverbank but, not for the first time and not the last, some people had to clamber over, bash their way through the bush and stand, taking their time, in front of everyone on the platform to get their special shot. After a while I vented my spleen and, with other folk, was able to take my photographs - harrumph - again!

I can't find how the falls got their name but presumably they were named for the river of the same name, where again I hit a brick wall! In Hobart, Mount Nelson was originally named Nelson's Hill, by Captain William Bligh in honour of David Nelson, botanist on board the "Bounty", so my guess is that the river and falls were named after the same man. Another option is that the river and falls could be named after the 'Lady Nelson', apparently the first ship to sail through the Bass Strait, this proving that Tasmania was indeed a island. Frustratingly, I can not find after whom the ship was named but can only presume that it would have been after Horatio Nelson, although this predates the Battle of Trafalgar - any ides anyone?!

Rainforest along the track to the falls

Rainforest along the track to the falls

Nelson Falls

Nelson Falls

A closer view of the falls

A closer view of the falls

Tilly and Judith heading back through the rainforest

Tilly and Judith heading back through the rainforest

Further along the road we stopped at the Franklin River Rest Area for a picnic lunch in the ever present and magnificent rainforest. After lunch we had a very pleasant walk around the Forest Trail. The Franklin River was named after a former Governor of Tasmania, John Franklin, who later died while searching for the Northwest Passage.

View along the Franklin River

View along the Franklin River

Moss by Franklin River Forest Trail

Moss by Franklin River Forest Trail

Forest by Franklin River

Forest by Franklin River

Bracket fungi by Forest Trail

Bracket fungi by Forest Trail

Bracket fungi by Forest Trail

Bracket fungi by Forest Trail

We continued roughly south-eastward towards Hobart but turned off to see Lake St Clair, the other end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. It was very pretty but we did not have much time to explore so it suffered by comparison with Lake Burbury. From what we have seen, Lake St Clair has some beautiful scenery but our schedule did not allow access to any views with a comparable mountainous backdrop.

According to Aussie Towns, the lake is reputed to have been named by the Surveyor-General, George Frankland, after the St Clair family who lived
on the banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland - why? I've come across some odd name origins but this one takes the biscuit.

Shoreline at Lake St Clair

Shoreline at Lake St Clair

Lake St Clair

Lake St Clair

This was our last stop before reaching our accommodation at the Big 4 Barilla Holiday Park near Cambridge, less than 20 minutes away from Hobart itself. We had left the forests behind not all that long after leaving Lake St Clair and travelled through some very attractive pastoral scenery, still pretty undulating, and had a good run through.

Attractive but less forested and mountainous scenery near New Norfolk

Attractive but less forested and mountainous scenery near New Norfolk

In the early evening, we spotted a small creature not far from our cabin. It was snuffling into the leaf litter under a rose bush and we eventually got memories and resources working to identify it as a bandicoot, a southern brown bandicoot, to give it its full name. A very pretty little creature which we had only seen before many years ago at a friend's property in the hills near Perth.

Unlike Lake St Clair, Hobart's name is the usual toadying or mate's naming rights. The first Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land, David Collins, named the settlement after the then Secretary for War and the Colonies, Robert Hobart, 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire. I would love to dwell on the development of Hobart from penal colony to the lovely city that it is today but I think that is probably well beyond my remit!

Southern brown bandicoot

Southern brown bandicoot

We used this stop as a base for visiting Richmond, Hobart and the Huon Valley. First up was a trip to Richmond to see Australia's oldest intact prison. It's lucky we are not lactose-intolerant as we can't resist cheese factories, so we had to stop at the Wicked Cheese Factory on our way to Richmond. We actually ended up buying some cheese, after tasting several luscious varieties. On reaching Richmond, we headed straight for the gaol which was very interesting, with a helpful self-guiding leaflet and a few atmospheric sound effects. There were many information boards which helped to paint a picture of life in the gaol in the 19th century.

Our attention was drawn to Isaac 'Ikey' Solomon, allegedly the inspiration for Dickens' villain, Fagin. Certainly Ikey had a chequered, mainly criminal, career. He had been convicted of being a 'fence' and was sentenced to transportation but escaped and lived in the Americas until he made his own way to Hobart in order to try to have his wife assigned to him as she had been transported, with four of their six children, while he was on the run. Although he was successful for a while, the law finally caught up with Ikey and he was sent back to England where he was again sentenced to transportation! He spent some time in Richmond Gaol and then Port Arthur before finally gaining his freedom.

Wicked Cheese Company logo

Wicked Cheese Company logo

Racks of cheeses at Wicked Cheese Company

Racks of cheeses at Wicked Cheese Company

Courtyard at Gaol with almond tree

Courtyard at Gaol with almond tree

Passage in Gaol leading to solitary

Passage in Gaol leading to solitary

While in Richmond we admired the old bridge (the oldest in Australia still in use, having been built in 1823) and some lovely old Georgian buildings in the village.

Old cottage near the bridge

Old cottage near the bridge

Richmond Bridge

Richmond Bridge

View from the bridge along the Coal River

View from the bridge along the Coal River

View of the bridge from lookout point in the village

View of the bridge from lookout point in the village

On our way back, we stopped at a beautiful vineyard, Riversdale Estate, where we had tea on the verandah but decided that their wines were a little expensive for our palates. I can't recall whether I have mentioned the various foreigners on working visas whom we have met in our travels but on this day our tea was served by a delightful young German lass.

Estate buildings and gardens

Estate buildings and gardens

Superb display of agapanthus

Superb display of agapanthus

We decided we had time to continue to Hobart to visit the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. These were lovely, although in a few areas in a transition period. Also, I have to say that we had been rather spoiled by the lushness of the gardens in Queensland, the Blue Mountains and even Canberra. However, it was a very pleasant interlude and we saw quite a few birds, particularly in the Japanese Garden. To our surprise most of the birds we have seen on the eastern side of the island have been British imports - sparrows, starlings, blackbirds and goldfinches in particular. We did wonder what the indigenous birdlife would have been like before these interlopers were introduced and multiplied quite so freely. While there, Judith and I decided that it was hot enough to have ice creams (Tilly declined as sop to her diabetes). The ice creams were enormous and very helpful in cooling us down!

Plant showing the 'Golden Mean'

Plant showing the 'Golden Mean'

Water feature celebrating explorers

Water feature celebrating explorers

Tea House in Japanese Garden

Tea House in Japanese Garden

Tilly on bridge in Japanese Garden

Tilly on bridge in Japanese Garden

Waterfall and pond in Japanese Garden

Waterfall and pond in Japanese Garden

Our planning had not allowed for the fact that the famous Salamanca markets are held on Saturdays and our stay in the area unfortunately did not allow for a trip into Hobart on the Saturday. Nonetheless, we went into the city and found a parking near Salamanca Square so could enjoy the atmosphere and imagine the hustle and bustle of the markets. While in the city (which we enjoyed, other than the one-way system!), we walked through to the Mawson's Huts Replica Museum which was excellent. Mawson and the other Antarctic explorers featured achieved great things under appalling conditions but too many of them had tragic ends as a result of the effects of prolonged exposure to the awful weather they experienced. Many, if not all of the contemporary photographs, were taken by Frank Hurley and how he achieved such superb results in those conditions is truly amazing (and says a great deal for the quality of films and cameras back then!).

Mawson's Huts Replica Museum

Mawson's Huts Replica Museum

The 'May Queen' in the harbour

The 'May Queen' in the harbour

Floral display in Salamanca Square

Floral display in Salamanca Square

Water feature in Salamanca Square commemorating explorers

Water feature in Salamanca Square commemorating explorers

Whimsical sculptures in Salamanca Square

Whimsical sculptures in Salamanca Square

Not far away, on a hillside, we found the Cascades Female Factory which operated as a prison for women from 1828-1856. 'Female factory' was apparently a euphemism for a prison for women. Today, three of the five factory yards survive, together with the Matron's House. It is rather a pity that so many women transgressed, as the original purpose of the building was a distillery - far more useful. Unfortunately, there was too much competition so the distillery owner was glad to sell his property to the government for use as a 'female factory'. The women were classified into one of three groups; the lowest was the criminal for whom there was apparently no hope; next up were those whose behaviour suggested that they may be capable of redemption and the last group were recent arrivals of basically good character and others who were deemed to have promise. This last group was then assigned into service as and when jobs became available. The women seem to have had a slightly less harsh life in prison than male convicts and many certainly were better off, even in gaol, than they would have been back in Blighty - to the extent that re-offending was quite common! This interesting site is one of a number, with Port Arthur of course, which form part of the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage property. In a way I rather envy the descendants of convicts as so many had their lives documented in great detail, a real boon for family historians!

Tilly and Steve 'selfie' waiting for guide

Tilly and Steve 'selfie' waiting for guide

One of the yards (and the slope is real, not my camera!

One of the yards (and the slope is real, not my camera!

Matron's House and remains of yard and other buildings

Matron's House and remains of yard and other buildings

Our last day in the Hobart area was a bit of a foody day. We nipped up to the Wicked Cheese Company for Tilly to get some cheese then headed south to the Huon Valley. This drive has to have been one of the most enjoyable and scenic that we have travelled and is thoroughly recommended and not just for the food and drink available! We stopped at Willie Smith's Apple/Cider place but only had coffee before continuing down as far as Geeveston where we had been told we could have the best scallop pies in Australia! We found the Bakery & Pie Shop and indeed their pies were excellent. We had never heard of such things but we like scallops and pies so couldn't go far wrong! Subsequently we had scallop pies with more scallops but the pastry and sauce (mornay) was way better in the Geeveston pie. Geeveston is a little town but is very attractive and we found very good and interesting wood carvings scattered along the streets, including some of local characters.

Collection of suitcases at Willie Smith's

Collection of suitcases at Willie Smith's

Display of apple varieties (some drying out!)

Display of apple varieties (some drying out!)

Geeveston Bakery

Geeveston Bakery

The Pie Shoppe at Geeveston (the other side of the bakery)

The Pie Shoppe at Geeveston (the other side of the bakery)

Wooden Carving of Bill Trevaskis, local pharmacist

Wooden Carving of Bill Trevaskis, local pharmacist

Wooden carving of Simon Burgess, Olympic rower

Wooden carving of Simon Burgess, Olympic rower

Wooden carving of Tim Wotherspoon, local copper

Wooden carving of Tim Wotherspoon, local copper

Wooden carving outside bakery, depicting a pioneer couple

Wooden carving outside bakery, depicting a pioneer couple

For change, the origin of Huon in its many variations, is a bit less mundane than so many other place name origins. I'm not sure which came first but all were named after Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec who was an 18th century French navigator. He commanded the "Esperance" on the expedition led by Bruni d'Entrecasteaux in search of the lost expedition of Jean-Francois de la Perouse. Their explorations in the area were early enough and valuable enough that their names were given to a number of geographical features. I have a feeling that when I get back home, some of my 'spare' time will be devoted to reading some 17th and 18th century stories of the exploration of Australia and New Zealand.

We backtracked and stopped at Franklin so that we could have a quick look in the Wooden Boat Building which would have been really fascinating to enter and walk around, if we had the time - how unusual . Moored nearby was a lovely sailing boat which, we were told, was a wreck in the mud in Denmark when the current owner saw it. He asked the owner what he wanted for it and the price was a case of beer! The owner then spent several years restoring the boat before sailing her down to Tassie where he runs cruises along the Huon.

View of the mooring by the Wooden Boat Building

View of the mooring by the Wooden Boat Building

The sailing boat from Denmark

The sailing boat from Denmark

Pleasure craft 'Skomer'

Pleasure craft 'Skomer'

Dinghy from 'Punto in the reeds

Dinghy from 'Punto in the reeds

Colourful sailing dinghy

Colourful sailing dinghy

Once we reached Huonville we crossed the river and drove down the other side, round the tip of the peninsula and then back northwards alongside the D'Entrecasteaux Channel (see above for origin of the name) where we had some lovely views of the Bruny Islands (see above for origin of the name) before reaching Woodbridge where we visited GrandVewe (how punny!). Here we bought some luscious gin, sheeps' milk cheeses and a gorgeous grape paste before heading back and eating and drinking some of our wares.

I had thought Woodbridge had been named after a small town in Suffolk but apparently Aussie Towns) it was originally called Peppermint Bay but the locals decided to change it to Woodbridge after a property owned by a local bigwig (I wonder if their were some hints dropped?!). Of course, his property may have been named after the Suffolk town but that I can not verify.

Pied oystercatcher by the Huon

Pied oystercatcher by the Huon

Boats moored on the Huon near Huonville

Boats moored on the Huon near Huonville

Panoramic view over Egg and Bacon Bay to Bruny Islands

Panoramic view over Egg and Bacon Bay to Bruny Islands

The Beast outside GrandvEwe

The Beast outside GrandvEwe

Thanks as usual to Wikipedia and Aussie Towns for information but also this time thank to Think-Tasmania.com which I found a fascinating resource - if I hadn't found it, this blog would probably have been published a couple of days ago!

Posted by SteveJD 08:07 Archived in Australia

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