A Travellerspoint blog

April 2018

Taranna to Launceston

...via St Helens

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

While based in Taranna and on our way northwards, we peeled off to see the Tasman Arch, the Devil's Kitchen and the Blowhole, the latter near the little town of Doo where many residents name their houses (and some dog kennels!) making a pun on the town name (Gunnadoo, Humpty Doo, Just Doo It, Doggie-Doo etc.). The impressive geological features have been created by aeons of wave action on the siltstone which forms the cliffs along this coastline. All were originally sea caves and the arch is what is left of the roof of the cave or tunnel. The Devil's Kitchen is basically an arch where the roof has collapsed, leaving a channel through which waves are forced into 'boiling' white water. The Blowhole is similar but there is a channel under the partly collapsed arch with a platform at the landward end. When the sea rushes in hard enough, the water is forced along the channel and bursts into the air through a hole in a small 'roof' over the end of the channel. This did not happen while we were there unfortunately!

View south along cliffs by Tasman Arch

View south along cliffs by Tasman Arch

Tasman Arch

Tasman Arch

Bent old scribbly gum by Tasman Arch

Bent old scribbly gum by Tasman Arch

Epacris flowers by Tasman Arch

Epacris flowers by Tasman Arch

The Blowhole

The Blowhole

The Blowhole

The Blowhole

Tasmanian thornbill near the Blowhole

Tasmanian thornbill near the Blowhole

After driving up the coast for a while, we stopped, for a coffee break, at Kelvedon Beach where we found many mounds of thousands of very varied seashells. Across the bay we could make out a building which is the old Cotton Boat Shed (named after the family who owned much of the land in the area).

The beach

The beach

Selection of shells on beach

Selection of shells on beach

Cotton Boat Shed

Cotton Boat Shed

We drove on towards Bicheno (named after James Ebenezer Bicheno, British Colonial Secretary from 1843 to 1851) but, shortly before reaching the town, we saw a sign to the Spiky Bridge. To quote from the information board on site, "It is popularly thought that this bridge was built after Edward Shaw (of 'Redbanks') gave Major de Gillem, Superintendent of Rocky Hills Station, a ride home one night after a game of piquet. Shaw drove his gig through the gully at full gallop so as to impress on the Major the need for more road works. Needless to say, the ride was very unpleasant and the bridge was erected shortly afterwards.". The bridge was built by convicts in 1841 but the reason for the stone 'spikes' is not known for certain.

Spiky Bridge

Spiky Bridge

Road over Spiky Bridge

Road over Spiky Bridge

Some of the "Spikes"

Some of the "Spikes"

Further on we stopped at Milton Winery where we tasted a few wines and bought some to take with us to our friends, Alan & Barbara, in Launceston. There were some lovely views from this winery but a little further up the road, we wound up to a point where there were some magnificent views over Moulting Lagoon but, as is so often the case with wonderful views, there was nowhere to stop. A short way down the hill we came to Devil's Corner Winery and the folk here had been smart enough to build a tower from which we had some excellent views, if not quite as good as they would have been from the road!

Milton Winery

Milton Winery

Vineyards at Milton Winery

Vineyards at Milton Winery

View from Devil's Corner over Moulting Lagoon

View from Devil's Corner over Moulting Lagoon

View from Devil's Corner to Freycinet National Park

View from Devil's Corner to Freycinet National Park

One of our friends in Perth came to Tassie some years ago and took a wonderful photograph of Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park. We had hoped to go there and try to get photographs which may have been almost as good as his. Unfortunately we did not find Freycinet National Park anywhere nearly as 'user-friendly' as we had expected. I suppose we should have guessed as it was school holidays but it was the only place we came across in Tasmania that was so congested. The nearest parking to Wineglass Bay was about a kilometre away before getting to the beginning of the track to viewpoints and we had not allowed anything other than short walks on the day, so sadly we decided to give that a miss. Most of the accessible coast by the road was allocated to campers with only two day-use areas (we were hoping to have our picnic lunch here). One was jam-packed with vehicles so that it was impossible to get in and the other we didn't find until later. A big disappointment. We detoured to Cape Tourville where we found parking but nowhere for picnics, so we sat on rocks by the car park and had our lunch before walking around the site. This area had some magnificent views, plus a very low-flying white-bellied sea eagle, so we left in a rather better frame of mind! The only downside at the cape was that there was a very strong wind and considerable haze which made taking photographs quite challenging.

The Freycinet Peninsula was named after one of two brothers (there is uncertainty as to which one) who sailed with Nicholas Baudin, who established that it was not an island, as previously recorded by Abel Tasman. I have been unable to find anything about Cape Tourville's name but there were French military folk of that name in the 18th and 19th centuries so I assume one of these characters was probably a friend of one of the early French explorers in this area - or may have actually sailed with one of them.

Lighthouse at Cape Tourville

Lighthouse at Cape Tourville

Small rocky island off Cape Tourville, home to seals and seabirds

Small rocky island off Cape Tourville, home to seals and seabirds

Rocks encrusted with red lichen below Cape Tourville

Rocks encrusted with red lichen below Cape Tourville

View south from Cape Tourville towards Wineglass Bay

View south from Cape Tourville towards Wineglass Bay

The Hazards behind Honeymoon Bay in Freycinet National Park

The Hazards behind Honeymoon Bay in Freycinet National Park

The last photograph above shows the Hazards which were named after an African-American whaler who plied these waters, Captain Richard "Black" Hazard.

To cap off a day of rather mixed fortunes we checked in at Big 4 St Helens, where we found our accommodation did not match its cost by quite a long shot. The layout was probably one of the worst that we have come across in our travels thus far and in terms of value for money was at rock bottom!

While based at St Helens we visited the Bay of Fires. On the way up the coast we had seen quite a few red lichen-encrusted rocks but nothing prepared us for the beautiful rocky scenery at Binalong Bay - marvellous. We had stopped at Grant's Lagoon on the way in and had seen some interesting birds although none to add to our bird count! Further north we called at Cosy Corner where there were yet more red lichen-encrusted rocks and then continued to The Gardens which was the end of the sealed road. Most of the unsealed road was blocked off for some reason, so that was the extent of our northerly explorations.

Little cormorant calling

Little cormorant calling

Grant's Lagoon

Grant's Lagoon

Beach at Binalong Bay

Beach at Binalong Bay

Judith found wading a bit chilly!

Judith found wading a bit chilly!

Pelicans catching fish at Binalong Bay

Pelicans catching fish at Binalong Bay

Rocks covered with red lichen at Binalong Bay

Rocks covered with red lichen at Binalong Bay

Silver gull 'photo bombing' pic of rocks with red lichen

Silver gull 'photo bombing' pic of rocks with red lichen

Lovely bay at The Gardens

Lovely bay at The Gardens

Apparently the Bay of Fires was named by Captain Tobias Furneaux after the many Aboriginal fires that he saw as he sailed close to the coast. However, equally likely is that the name arose from the red lichen which covers many of the rocks in the area. Personally, I favour the latter explanation. Binalong has Aboriginal origins but there are competing claims for the meaning; one suggests the meaning is 'under the hills, surrounded by hills or towards a high place, while another proposes that the name was given after the famous Aborigine, Bennelong, from Sydney. My guess is that Taswegians would opt for one of the former three alike meanings.

On the way back, we stopped at Sloop Lagoon and had lunch under the shade of our pull-out awning before cutting inland to the Cheese Factory at Pyengana. Cheesaholics that we are, we bought some cheese as well as having coffee or ice creams before driving on to St Columba Falls. There was a very pretty walk down but I turned back only about 200 metres from the foot of the falls as my hip was aching and I had doubts about making the return trip. Judith and Tilly carried on and I slowly ambled back and concentrated on taking photos of a very pretty and obliging Tasmanian thornbill.

Saint Columba Falls

Saint Columba Falls

Rain forest around the base of the falls

Rain forest around the base of the falls

Saint Columba Falls

Saint Columba Falls

Tasmanian thornbill

Tasmanian thornbill

On our return, we bypassed St Helens in order to drive over to Stieglitz, on the opposite side of the bay. There were some attractive views across the bay but also saw some rays (manta rays?) quite close to shore near a jetty there.

A ray in the bay

A ray in the bay

Pacific gull

Pacific gull

Our trip from St Helens to Launceston was quite slow. We stopped at Weldborough Pass Reserve for a '15 minute' walk through the forest of beautiful, mainly myrtle, trees and then continued to the Weldborough Hotel for well-deserved coffees and almond and apricot biscuits.

Old shack on Weldborough Pass

Old shack on Weldborough Pass

Path through beautiful forest

Path through beautiful forest

Tilly using her camera - a rare event!

Tilly using her camera - a rare event!

Tree ferns and fallen, mossy, tree in the forest

Tree ferns and fallen, mossy, tree in the forest

A group selfie in the forest

A group selfie in the forest

Our route, we then discovered, was called the Tin Dragon Discovery Trail which took us on to Derby where we stopped to post some presents to rellies in England and also for a light lunch. Derby is a quaint town which appears to be on at least two levels and is apparently a hot spot for cyclists - you know, those odd critters on two wheels who take up the road you want to drive on!

For the origin of the name Derby (and a bit of history too), I can do no better than quote from the Aussie Towns website: "When the Krushka brothers started mining tin in the district they called their operation 'Brothers Mine' and the settlement that grew up around the mine became known as 'Brothers Home'. The name persisted until, in 1887, it was decided to change the name to Derby. No one is sure why the town was named Derby although it has been argued that it was named after Edward Smith-Stanley, the Earl of Derby, who had been British Prime Minister from 1866-1868."

We lunched at Crank-it Cafe

We lunched at Crank-it Cafe

Bikes reign supreme here

Bikes reign supreme here

The Post Office - workers have one leg shorter than the other!

The Post Office - workers have one leg shorter than the other!

Old (1888) National Bank of Tasmania building

Old (1888) National Bank of Tasmania building

A short distance beyond Derby is a little town called Branxholm and this has a wonderful red bridge which commemorates the Chinese involvement in the tin mining industry. It also has one of the best free camping areas we have seen with excellent showers and toilets and even a swimming pool.

The first settler in the district was James Reid Scott and he named the settlement after a village in Scotland.

View of the red bridge and part of the the town

View of the red bridge and part of the the town

The red bridge showing Chinese characters

The red bridge showing Chinese characters

Our last stop before Launceston, after a bit of a detour, was Bridestowe Lavender Estate (probably named after a small town in the county of Devon in England). We had arrived not long after the harvest but there were a couple of rows of flowering lavender which gave an idea of what the estate would have looked like the previous month. We opted for a self-guided tour but did latch on to the end of the previous tour so picked up some odd snippets. It was all very interesting and we also enjoyed a tea break there. To cap the day, Jet Set picked up a lady friend - Bobby (Roberta if being formal) Bear - love at first bite apparently.

Visitors wandering through the rows of harvested lavender

Visitors wandering through the rows of harvested lavender

Flowering rows of lavender with harvester

Flowering rows of lavender with harvester

Jet Set with his new friend, Bobby, resting in her natural habitat

Jet Set with his new friend, Bobby, resting in her natural habitat

We then headed on to the Abel Tasman Motor Inn which was very comfortable and roomy although the parking was a little bizarre.

There will be a slight intermission in the continuation of this blog as we are off to South Africa on the way to England where normal service will be resumed.

Posted by SteveJD 21:44 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Hobart to Port Arthur

...and other places on the Tasman Peninsula

semi-overcast 26 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

The next stage of our journey took us across to the Tasman Peninsula and our accommodation at Taranna in one of Mason's Cottages. These are quite new, well-fitted out and very comfortable. Taranna is an Aboriginal word meaning 'kangaroo' suggesting that these animals were rather more numerous in past times than now. On the way onto the peninsula, we came to Dunalley where the calm water and lovely reflections were too tempting to be ignored.

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While wandering around, looking for photo angles, we came across a monument and information board where we learned that Abel Tasman's 1642 expedition had made their first landing nearby and planted a flag claiming this new land in the name of the Netherlands head-of-state, Prince Frederick Hendrik. However, the Dutch did not follow up and the island was settled by British settlers, soldiers and convicts. Dunalley was originally know as East Bay Neck but was later renamed in honour of Henry Prittle, 3rd Baron Dunalley.

A little further on, at Eaglehawk Neck we pulled off again, this time to walk down to the tessellated pavement, one of the best-known of this type of geological formation. It is made of siltstone which, over time, was subjected to local stresses which caused fractures throughout the rock causing the tile-like appearance. Closer to the sea, the edges of these tiles are worn away leaving a loaf shape but further away from the water, the salt wears away the stone between the joints, causing pan-like tiles to be formed (at Eaglehawk Neck, we only found the loaf-shaped tiles). Eaglehawk is another name for the wedge-tailed eagle, which was evidently a more common sight in the past than now, and this neck of land joining the Tasman Peninsula to the mainland of Tasmania was named after this majestic bird.

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After a coffee break we headed down to Port Arthur where we booked a cruise and a tour. Port Arthur was established as a penal settlement in 1830 by Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur, after whom the settlement was named. Until it ceased operating as a prison in 1877, some 12,500 convicts were transported, mainly from Britain, to serve prison sentences here.

The cruise took us out to the Isle of the Dead and Point Puer. The Isle of Dead was the last resting place for about 1,100 military and civil officials, their wives and children and some convicts while Point Puer was the first boys' reformatory in the British Empire (Puer is a Latin word meaning 'boy'). This cruise did not allow for landing on the islands so we have no photos of whatever can be found on them.

View from Ferry Dock to buildings across Mason Bay

View from Ferry Dock to buildings across Mason Bay

'Our' ferry coming in to the Ferry Dock

'Our' ferry coming in to the Ferry Dock

Isle of the Dead

Isle of the Dead



Back on terra firma, we joined a very strict Kiwi lady who provided an entertaining tour which ended at the Separate Prison. This prison was intended to reform convicts through isolation and contemplation - in other words, solitary confinement. Not surprisingly, many convicts were driven into insanity and ended their days in the asylum (now the Museum). The model for this prison came from Pennsylvania in the USA and was used as a model for Pentonville Prison in England - one wonders at the mentality of some people!

Doors leading to the Separate Prison yard

Doors leading to the Separate Prison yard

The Museum (formerly the asylum)

The Museum (formerly the asylum)

View across the site to the Penitentiary (main prison)

View across the site to the Penitentiary (main prison)

After the tour, we wandered over to some old buildings, including two churches, one just a shell, to the west of the settlement and then down through the Government Gardens on the north side on our way out and back to Taranna.

The Junior Medical Officer's House

The Junior Medical Officer's House

First sight of the Church

First sight of the Church

The front of the shell of the Church

The front of the shell of the Church

Arches inside the shell of the Church

Arches inside the shell of the Church

We had hoped to take sunset photos down by the water but the elements did not combine so we just enjoyed a pleasant walk among the trees and along the waterside.

As a rule, we do not go to zoos on principle but the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo sounded worth a visit, if for no other reason than to see a Tassie Devil alive in Tasmania! We arrived in time for one of the feeding times for one of the devils and heard all about the horrible disease which is seriously affecting the population just about all through the state. The devils were in enclosures, as in a zoo, but there was plenty of room for them to escape from our attention when not being tempted out with food. Elsewhere in the grounds, we found plenty of kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons which were free to come and go - usually some food was provided to tempt them in from the bush. Some birds were 'on show' usually as they had been injured and were recuperating but others made use of the wooded environment and flew in for food. The people who fed the animals and talked to us about them were enthusiastic and well-informed. Overall, it was a most enjoyable experience and one we would recommend to other visitors.

Tasmanian Devil living up to its name

Tasmanian Devil living up to its name

Pademelon

Pademelon

Couple of Cape Barren geese

Couple of Cape Barren geese

Forester kangaroo with an itch!

Forester kangaroo with an itch!

Pademelon with joey in her pouch

Pademelon with joey in her pouch

Tawny frogmouth

Tawny frogmouth

Green rosella

Green rosella

Two Devils

Two Devils

After a quick trip back up the road to the Heritage Chocolate Factory where we tasted and bought some of the best chocolate we have had, before or since. We also watched some of the chocolates being formed, an interesting process.

Since Port Arthur has so much to offer, a repeat trip there was next on the agenda. Our travelling partner, Tilly, treated us to lunch at Gabriel's on the Bay - a really lovely place with great views and super food. We have mainly self-catered so this was a very pleasant change. Fully replete, we now returned to Port Arthur and walked through to the old Dock Slipway with a very clever metal creation which enabled us to imagine what it may have been like (complete with some of the sounds that are found in docks). On the way back to the main area, we spotted a snake on the path and we think it was a tiger snake but are not 100% sure. Whatever it was, we allowed it to quietly disappear!

Tilly and Steve at Gabriel's

Tilly and Steve at Gabriel's

Tilly and our lunches at Gabriel's

Tilly and our lunches at Gabriel's

View over Stewart's Bay from our lunch table

View over Stewart's Bay from our lunch table

Dockyard sculpture

Dockyard sculpture

Dockyard sculpture

Dockyard sculpture

Tiger snake?

Tiger snake?

Just near the, rather spooky, Memorial Garden created in memory of those who died or were injured in the 1996 massacre, we found a buggy and hitched a ride up to the Commandant's House. We were then able to make our way through or past other buildings or ruins of other buildings on our way to the remains of the Penitentiary. In here, three volunteers played out an amusing but very interesting tableau involving the Commandant, a prisoner (who played the fool very well!) and another official whose title I did not get but I think was the Comptroller-General We then had a good walk through the Government Gardens, which were superb, before taking our leave of Port Arthur.

The Commandant's House

The Commandant's House

Judith and Tilly behind bars in the Penitentiary

Judith and Tilly behind bars in the Penitentiary

Part of the Penitentiary with ruins of the Hospital behind

Part of the Penitentiary with ruins of the Hospital behind

White-faced heron hunting near Mason Bay

White-faced heron hunting near Mason Bay

View of some of the buildings and ruins in the area of the Penitentiary

View of some of the buildings and ruins in the area of the Penitentiary

View into the Wisteria Walk

View into the Wisteria Walk

View through the middle of the Government Gardens

View through the middle of the Government Gardens

Tilly and Steve in the Government Gardens

Tilly and Steve in the Government Gardens

Tasmanian native hen with chicks

Tasmanian native hen with chicks

We drove past Taranna back to Eaglehawk Neck where we found the metal sculpture of a dog, marking the notorious 'Dog Line' that escaping convicts had to get through - amazingly, some desperate men were successful! To deter escapees during the convict era a cutting was excavated through the sand dunes on Eaglehawk Neck using convict labour. A line of six to nine large, vicious dogs were then housed in kennels, made from old barrels, across the 32 metre wide gap from Pirates Bay to Eaglehawk Bay; close enough to touch each other but not close enough to fight each other.

Oil lamps were fixed on posts at around chest height along the dog line and cockle shells were scattered on the ground to reflect the light. Later another two or three dogs were chained to wooden platforms in the shallow waters of Eaglehawk Bay. A bronze sculpture of a dog with its barrel-kennel and oil lamp is now a feature on the Neck. The dogs were apparently a rather motley but ferocious collection of animals. Desperate measures for desperate men! A convict named Martin Cash escaped twice and after the second 'success' was sent to Norfolk Island, one of very few to get past the dog line. Apart from the monument, there is a fresh cutting through the dunes to mark where the 'dog line' ran.

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Posted by SteveJD 23:41 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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 Comments (0)

Strahan and Queenstown

...including a river cruise

semi-overcast 23 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

Before Strahan was named after Governor Sir George Strahan, it was called Long Bay or Regatta Point (both retained as locality names) and served the local mining industry as a port. In the 19th century, it was also a hub for the forestry industry (principally felling and transporting magnificent Huon pines). Although the town, with the lovely Macquarie Harbour, also served as a port for passengers and goods into the 20th century, the only long-lasting industry has been fishing and these days relies heavily on tourism. The harbour was named by Captain James Kelly, the first European to see the harbour, in honour of the Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie.

Our route from Strahan to Hobart would take us through Queenstown and, having seen the nature of the roads (very twisting), we decided to visit this town from Strahan rather than take up a great deal of time on our outward route. The journey was as expected, relatively slow, with not only a winding road but also involving some quite steep ascents and descents. The scenery was magnificent but as the driver for a change, I saw little of the mountains and forests as the road took 100% of my attention!

Ar first glance, Queenstown seemed a rather dull place but it has some very attractive old buildings and some excellent sculptures near the railway commemorating 100 years of history of the town (mainly mining and logging). The landscape around is pretty stark with some fairly unusual colours. Some of the colours come from the conglomerate rock but the harsher hues are the legacy of tree felling and subsequent sulphurous deposits from mining operations, until technology improved the latter. There is some regrowth but it will clearly take many more years for the scars to heal. The remaining mine, Mount Lyell, had been closed for several years following three fatalities in two incidents but was due to open around the time we were there, so underground tours were no longer on the agenda!

Old Post Office

Old Post Office

View along main street

View along main street

Hunters' Hotel

Hunters' Hotel

Empire Hotel

Empire Hotel

Main sculpture

Main sculpture

Main sculpture reverse

Main sculpture reverse

View along water feature

View along water feature

Detail of one of the plaques along the water feature

Detail of one of the plaques along the water feature

There is also a lovely little old railway station which is now mainly a shop but if we had had more time we would have liked to travel on the West Coast Wilderness Railway which runs between Queenstown and Strahan. We saw the train at Regatta Point, Macquarie Harbour from the cruise vessel and the station buildings when we visited Queenstown. Queenstown was originally called Queen Crossing, referring to the crossing of the Queen River. Surprisingly there seems to be some uncertainty as to the origins of both names but they were almost certainly named after Queen Victoria.

Train pulling out from Strahan

Train pulling out from Strahan

War Memorial with old and new railway station buildings in the background

War Memorial with old and new railway station buildings in the background

Spion Kop is a high point on the edge of the town and gives superb views of the town and the surrounding countryside. It was named by soldiers returning from South Africa after the site of a Boer War battle, actually more of a massacre of many British troops who thought they had gained the high ground but were in fact in a 'killing ground' from a higher slope. As the day was rather dull, the starkness of the hillsides and the sulphurous colouration do not show up as well in photographs as they did to the naked eye.

View over town from Spion Kop

View over town from Spion Kop

Old cast cannon on Spion Kop

Old cast cannon on Spion Kop

Old Miner's cottage on Spion Kop

Old Miner's cottage on Spion Kop

While in the town, we enjoyed visiting a community market which happened to occur on the day we were there (a Sunday). We then drove eastwards out of Queenstown as far as the Iron Blow Lookout. Iron Blow was an open cut mine and is now a tourist draw with a cantilevered viewing platform giving excellent views down into the lake formed in the old mine and the many-hued layers of workings, as well as superb views over the surrounding mountains.

Community Market

Community Market

View back along winding road from Queenstown towards Iron Blow

View back along winding road from Queenstown towards Iron Blow

Old open-cast mine at Iron Blow

Old open-cast mine at Iron Blow

Many-hued and stained rocks at Iron Blow

Many-hued and stained rocks at Iron Blow

View from Iron Blow Lookout

View from Iron Blow Lookout

Horsetail Falls near Iron Blow

Horsetail Falls near Iron Blow

The following day we went to Macquarie Harbour to board the boat which would take us on the cruise mentioned above. Before boarding, our 'waiting room' was a Huon pine sawmill where timber aromas were quite intoxicating. Samples of Huon pine and other lovely Tasmanian timbers were available for inspection (and purchase, in raw or worked forms).

The water was calm, so we had a pleasant voyage through the harbour to Hell's Gates (believed to have been so-named by convicts for the hell that awaited them). The water in the Southern Ocean was a bit more uppity so we were glad to re-enter the harbour past the old lighthouse and cruise down to Sarah Island, passing several salmon farms en route. Subsequently we have learned that thousands of fish had either died or been killed because of a disease, both before our visit and later on.

Lighthouse at Hell's Gate

Lighthouse at Hell's Gate

Leaving Hell's Gate

Leaving Hell's Gate

Fish farm in Macquarie Harbour

Fish farm in Macquarie Harbour

The above-mentioned Captain James Kelly named Sarah Island after the wife of a merchant, Thomas Birch, who had financed his voyage. We landed on Sarah Island and were taken around the former convict settlement by a very animated and informative guide. The settlement was established in 1821 and operated from 1822 to 1833. Nearby Grummet Island (possibly named after the rings used to shackle prisoners) was used for solitary confinement for those who bucked the system on Sarah Island. The convicts were mostly men who were employed, initially, in felling Huon pines. They lived under harsh conditions and the island was considered escape-proof although a handful of men were successful. In order for the penal settlement to pay its way, the convicts were employed buildings ships and for a while it was the largest ship-building operation in the Australian colonies. Ironically, the last escape was made by ten convicts who hijacked the last ship to be built there and sailed it to Chile. The leader was one James Porter who later wrote his autobiography "The Travails of James Porter". This story was also turned into a pantomime "The Ship That Never Was" which is performed regularly in Strahan. Our guide regaled us with many other fascinating, and some awful, tales of life on the island. With the felling of the timber, much of the island was exposed to the 'Roaring Forties' blowing up the harbour and a wall was built across the island to provide some protection (mainly for the prison guards and their overseers) but little or nothing of this wall now remains and protection is now afforded by significant regrowth - nature will always win! It is a pity that only ruins remain but some remnants of the boat-building industry have survived. It would have been great to have more time to explore at leisure or for our guide to take us around at a less frenetic pace but there was a timetable that had to be adhered to.

Sarah Island with Grummet Island in the background

Sarah Island with Grummet Island in the background

Remains of slipway for launching boats built on the island

Remains of slipway for launching boats built on the island

Ruins of bakery

Ruins of bakery

Ruins in a clearing

Ruins in a clearing

Our guide in full flow

Our guide in full flow

While cruising through the harbour, we were entertained by films showing the lives of several 'piners', men who had worked their way steadily through the Gordon River valley, felling Huon pines which were then floated down the river. The conditions these men endured as they went deeper into the rainforest were quite astonishing. Our cruise then took us into the Gordon River, threading our way through dense rainforest to the Heritage Landing (named in 1989 when it was opened, coinciding with an enlargement of the existing World Heritage Area) where we disembarked for a walk through the forest. As with all rainforests we have been in, this was a humbling experience and it is amazing to see the density of growth with so many different plants being reliant on other plants and the creatures that live in the forest.

Travelling up the Gordon River, flanked by dense rainforest

Travelling up the Gordon River, flanked by dense rainforest

Reflections in the river

Reflections in the river

Heritage Landing - moss 'dripping' from trees

Heritage Landing - moss 'dripping' from trees

Heritage Landing, layered bracket fungus

Heritage Landing, layered bracket fungus

Forest giant with bracket fungus

Forest giant with bracket fungus

Heritage Landing, leatherwood flower

Heritage Landing, leatherwood flower

Sunset over the harbour

Sunset over the harbour

Grummet Island at sunset

Grummet Island at sunset

The Gordon River was named by the ubiquitous Captain James Kelly after James Gordon who provided the whaleboat for Kelly's journey. Kelly's career was fascinating to read and could undoubtedly form the basis for an excellent book (and film?).

Credits for information, as usual, go to Wikipedia and Aussie Towns but also to the Tasmanian Parks Service for much of the information on the naming of Macquarie Harbour and other places in the area.

Posted by SteveJD 01:56 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

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