A Travellerspoint blog

May 2018

Melbourne to Merrijig

...we change plans and catch up with old friends

sunny 32 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

In my haste to publish the last blog, I omitted to provide place name information, so for those who missed that, I will give a brief run down now:

Launceston was originally named Paterson's after Lieutenant Colonel Willam Paterson who had moved there from Port Dalrymple (now George Town). However, colonial sycophancy saw the town renamed after the birthplace (Launceston in Cornwall) of Governor Philip Gidley King.
Windermere was named after the lovely lake in England's Lake District by the first settler in the area, Dr Matthias Gaunt, who had the church built there.

George Town was named after King George III, surprise, surprise!.

Low Head is aptly named and most probably was given this name when Bass and Flinders sailed into the Tamar while circumnavigating Van Diemen's Land.

Deloraine was named after a character in Sir Walter Scott's poem "The Lay of the Last Minstrel". This seemed a refreshing change but the surveyor who named the town was Thomas Scott, a relative of Sir Walter.

Mole Creek apparently gained its name from an early comment that the creek disappears into the local karst limestone "like a mole".

Paradise owes its name to the first European settlers who were devout Calvinists and one of them gazed on the view around and said "This is Paradise" - the name stuck!

Sheffield has two possible origins. The first and most likely is that it was named by the first European settler, James Powlett, who came from Sheffield. There is an alternative claim for the name to have been given by another Sheffield native, Edward Curr, Manager of the Van Diemen's Land Company.

As usual, acknowledgements are due to the Aussie Towns website http://www.aussietowns.com.au/ and also the Discover Tasmania website https://www.discovertasmania.com.au/ (for Paradise).

On the ferry, we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise then disembarked and drove through to Ferntree Gully (named for the abundance of tree ferns which were there before we built roads and houses!) where we had booked a motel. As we were unable to check in at that stage we headed into the Dandenongs (generally thought to derive from an Aboriginal word meaning 'lofty mountains'), where Gladys led us a merry dance and in the end we decided to drive on out to Healesville Sanctuary. This is called a zoo but the 78 acre site actually is, for the most part, better than the general notion of a zoo. There are several walks which wind through the sanctuary offering very good viewing of some of the more difficult creatures to find (e.g., cassowary and lyre bird, both of which we searched for in the wild in vain). One which endeared itself to us was a helmeted honeyeater which land on Steve's camera as he was trying to take a photograph of it! It is the State Bird of Victoria but is vulnerable which is why Healesville keep it separate and carefully secure, in the hope of creating a breeding population.

The town of Healesville was named after Richard Heales, the Premier of Victoria 1860-61.

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We had been going to stay with friends in Kyneton but one of them had an operation which meant that their spare room was no longer available, so we decided to make a trip to the Victorian High Country and booked a couple of nights at Merrijig near Mount Buller. The Landcruiser was in for a service in the course of which it was found that we needed a new clutch plate - ouch! Judith tried to take the blame as she has a tendency to ride the clutch but I suspect it is just that the vehicle is about 20 years old!

We were delighted that my old school-friend, Kevin Thompson and his wife Jasmine were able to time a visit to Jasmine's sister, Sue, to coincide with our visit. They all came over to our motel and we were able to cover several years apart quite easily, in Sue's case, decades!. Unfortunately Sue couldn't stay but the four of us enjoyed dinner at a nearby restaurant where we could continue to catch up on who had been doing what and, of course, to set the world to rights.

Once we had the Landcruiser back, we headed out into the Dandenongs again and visited the William Ricketts Sanctuary. A lovely place although I would have to say that Ricketts was, to say the least, somewhat eccentric.

Judith in the Sansctuary

Judith in the Sansctuary

A group of children's heads

A group of children's heads

Statuary in the Sanctuary

Statuary in the Sanctuary

From the peace of the Sanctuary we drove up to the Sky High Mount Dandenong viewing area for superb views over Melbourne.

Looking out towards Melbourne

Looking out towards Melbourne

Panoramic view

Panoramic view

After lunching at altitude we eventually found our way to Grants Picnic Site. no thanks to Gladys who really excelled in misdirection on this day as, on our way to the picnic site, she took us down a steep hill which petered out into nothing and we had an interesting hill start to perform after doing a three point turn in someone's garden! While walking through the forest, we met an American twitcher who had just seen a lyrebird 'just around the corner' - of course it did not show itself to us! However, we had a good walk through some beautiful forest and saw quite a few other, more co-operative birds.

Tall trees along the walk

Tall trees along the walk

Steve engrossed in tree ferns

Steve engrossed in tree ferns

Lovely backlit tree ferns

Lovely backlit tree ferns

Judith dwarfed by forest giants

Judith dwarfed by forest giants

Eastern yellow robin posing

Eastern yellow robin posing

We had hoped to meet up with Kevin & Jasmine in Melbourne but they had other commitments so we took the train into the city and a tram down St Kilda Road as far as the Shrine of Remembrance which was impressive and interesting. We then walked into and through the the Royal Botanic Gardens. These were beautiful, as most of the Aussie gardens are, and we thoroughly enjoyed a warm wander through and out to the Yarra River. The city of Melbourne is named after William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, probably better known these days for his role in mentoring the young Queen Victoria, as shown in the recent television series.

Flinders Street Station

Flinders Street Station

Melbourne Tram

Melbourne Tram

Shrine of Remembrance

Shrine of Remembrance

View from Shrine of Remembrance to the city

View from Shrine of Remembrance to the city

National Herbarium in the Royal Botanicc Gardens

National Herbarium in the Royal Botanicc Gardens

Artwork in the Royal Botanic Gardens

Artwork in the Royal Botanic Gardens

There were a few roadworks by the river so we had to follow a few detours on our way back to the city, via Queen Victoria Gardens, and we were glad to have some beers and pizza at Fatto's overlooking the river, before wandering back along the South Bank to Flinders Street Station and a train back to Ferntree Gully.

Statue of Queen Victoria in "her" gardens

Statue of Queen Victoria in "her" gardens

Reflections in city buildings

Reflections in city buildings

View towards the city from South Bank by Princes Bridge

View towards the city from South Bank by Princes Bridge

On our last day in Ferntree Gully, after a bit of admin., we managed to get away to Olinda Falls Picnic Ground where we had a picnic lunch watched by many hungry kookaburras. The walk to the falls was quite steep but worth the effort and we then had a scenic drive through the forest back to the motel to pack up ready for the off on the morrow.

Forest near Olinda Falls

Forest near Olinda Falls

Crimson rosella

Crimson rosella

Tall trees flanking path to the falls

Tall trees flanking path to the falls

The following morning, on the way to Merrijig, we stopped for coffee at Silvan Reservoir Park which was much more attractive than it sounds. Further along the road we came across the De Bortoli vineyard which had a lovely restaurant which was just able to squeeze us in for a delicious lunch. Naturally we had to taste a few wines and took a few with us, just to keep the wine box from rattling as it was a bit empty by now.

Restaurant at De Bortoli Wines

Restaurant at De Bortoli Wines

Sunflowers and vineyards

Sunflowers and vineyards

View across some of the vineyards

View across some of the vineyards

Jet Set and Bobbie came too

Jet Set and Bobbie came too

We finally reached Merrijig and were glad to check into our room. A little later, the afternoon light was lovely so we had a wander through the field behind the motel taking our cameras for a walk. I was pleased to learn that the town name is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'good, well done'. This rather suits this pleasant little town or village.

Hillside behind our motel later afternoon

Hillside behind our motel later afternoon

Horse on hillside behind our motel

Horse on hillside behind our motel

Posted by SteveJD 15:32 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Launceston to Trans-Tasman Ferry

...we leave the Apple Isle and start the return journey

sunny 30 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

To avoid any confusion, I should perhaps mention that we are indeed back in England but are only now catching up with the remaining part of our journey, still with many photos to process and more words to write.

We took Tilly to the airport so that she could return to work (poor thing!) and then headed up the Tamar Valley, as our hosts for the next few days, Alan & Barbara, were not available until the afternoon. I can’t remember what Al had been up to but Barb was volunteering at Clarendon House, of which more later.

The Tamar Valley area, in particular, was very like British countryside, even down to the birds - and the fine weather! On the way down the river, we detoured off the main road to visit Windermere which was very pretty and while not like the English town of the same name, had its own charm with lovely views over the river. Even the church was very English, compared with many we have seen, built of bluestone in 1842 following a promise made by a Dr Matthius Gaunt to his wife, before they left England, that he would build a church if they did not find one where they were to live. With its equally ancient graveyard sloping down towards the Tamar it is one of the prettiest churches we have seen.

St Matthias's Church

St Matthias's Church


Sailing boat on calm Tamar River

Sailing boat on calm Tamar River

We ducked off the main road again to see the Batman Bridge over the Tamar and then continued to our target of George Town where we treated ourselves to coffee and cake at the Bass & Flinders Museum.

Batman Bridge over the Tamar River

Batman Bridge over the Tamar River

George Bass was a British naval surgeon and he came to Australia accompanied by, among others, Bennelong and Matthew Flinders. The museum houses beautiful replicas of the Tom Thumb (an open dinghy), the sloop Norfolk and the whaleboat, Elizabeth. Matthew Flinders and George Bass were two of the earlier British explorers and Flinders had brought the Tom Thumb out with him. He and Bass explored Botany Bay and the Georges River but then had a second Tom Thumb built, with a sail, which enabled them to explore further. They were both sure that there was a strait between Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) and the mainland and persuaded Governor Hunter to place the Norfolk at their disposal. They proceeded to demonstrate the existence of a strait and completed the first known circumnavigation of Van Diemen's Land. The strait was named after George Bass who left Australia in 1803 and disappeared, with his ship, while voyaging to the South Seas. Flinders returned to England but returned for further voyages of exploration.

After a short stay in Goerge Town we carried on north to Low Head where there is a magnificent lighthouse and many buildings remaining from when pilots were stationed there. This is a very attractive, interesting and well-kept area.

Lighthouse at Low Head

Lighthouse at Low Head

White-faced heron at Low Head

White-faced heron at Low Head

Old buoy at Low Head

Old buoy at Low Head

Nautical artefacts and pilot's buildings at Low Head

Nautical artefacts and pilot's buildings at Low Head

On our way back down, we stopped at Mount George which provided sweeping views over the Tamar estuary, before continuing to Longford and our hosts, Al & Barb.

Panoramic view over Tamar fom Mt George

Panoramic view over Tamar fom Mt George

Al took us for a drive up to the Western and Central Tiers and the Central Highlands with its many lakes, very good for fly-fishing. Alan is very involved with the fly-fishing fraternity of the area. We came down to the lovely town of Deloraine where we had a picnic lunch by the river.

View in the Central Highlands to the Tiers

View in the Central Highlands to the Tiers

Open seed pods in the Central Highlands

Open seed pods in the Central Highlands

View over Great Lake in the Central Highlands

View over Great Lake in the Central Highlands

View across the Tiers

View across the Tiers

Weathered bluff in the Tiers beside the road

Weathered bluff in the Tiers beside the road

Colourful seedheads on shrub in the Central Highlands

Colourful seedheads on shrub in the Central Highlands

Deloraine Hotel

Deloraine Hotel

Street furniture in Deloraine

Street furniture in Deloraine

Another day we all went to Franklin House, a fascinating National Trust property in Youngtown with a very interesting garden. We lunched in the lovely village/suburb of Evandale before Barb took us on a tour of Clarendon House (another National Trust property), where she volunteers, and then Al took us into an outbuilding behind the house where he curates the Australian Fly Fishing Museum. Both the house and the museum were again very interesting. On our way back, we stopped to look at the gorge on the Lower Esk - not as big as some we have seen but quite impressive nonetheless.

Franklin House

Franklin House

Part of Franklin House gardens

Part of Franklin House gardens

Our lunch stop at Evandale

Our lunch stop at Evandale

Gorge on the Lower Esk River

Gorge on the Lower Esk River

Barb, Al and Judith by Lower Esk river - I make no comment on the sign!

Barb, Al and Judith by Lower Esk river - I make no comment on the sign!

After leaving Al & Barb, we headed for the Tamar Island Wetlands Centre. As our end destination was Devonport and we had other calls to make on the way, we only had time for a walk on the boardwalk to the first island where we saw several swamp wallabies although none posed nicely for a photo! Not surprisingly, we saw several birds, some in great numbers (waterfowl - we think probably mainly black ducks).

Paperbark swamp

Paperbark swamp

White-faced heron

White-faced heron

We then drove westwards and stopped at the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe - what a disappointment! The service was slow, the food was indifferent and the staff were some the most 'unsmily' we have come across in out travels. We had a look at the Ashgrove Cheesery but it was rather expensive and we didn't really need any more at that stage. From there, we still headed west, through Mole Creek to Marakoopa Cave which I had hoped to go down but we arrived too late for a tour that would finish in time for us to complete our journey so instead we headed north towards Sheffield.

Field of poppy seedheads

Field of poppy seedheads

Ashgrove Cheese building

Ashgrove Cheese building

One of several colourful cows at Ashgrove Cheese

One of several colourful cows at Ashgrove Cheese

A combat cow (?!) at Ashgrove Cheese

A combat cow (?!) at Ashgrove Cheese

Anotherl colourful cow at Ashgrove Cheese

Anotherl colourful cow at Ashgrove Cheese

Just before the aptly named Paradise, we stopped at a picnic spot where the forest ended. A creek ran through and there was a bend a short distance from the picnic table. The first time I walked round the bend, I saw strong-billed honeyeaters, the next time a satin flycatcher and the last time black-headed honeyeaters and blue wrens! All except the wrens were new to us, so a lovely spot.

Lovely picnic site near Paradise

Lovely picnic site near Paradise

Tall grasses at picnic site

Tall grasses at picnic site

Finally we reached Sheffield and found the murals over many, if not most, of the town buildings were even more numerous, colourful and interesting than we had expected. A lovely last stop before driving on to Devonport and boarding our ferry away to the mainland.

Last view of the Tasmanian Highlands, near Sheffield

Last view of the Tasmanian Highlands, near Sheffield

One of the murals

One of the murals

Shanty with dreams of the future?

Shanty with dreams of the future?

Sweet shop mural

Sweet shop mural

Mountain cabin interior mural

Mountain cabin interior mural

Mural commemorating Dr Leslie Sender

Mural commemorating Dr Leslie Sender

Whimsical signpost in Sheffield

Whimsical signpost in Sheffield

Thanks Tassie for a delightful few weeks!

One last view of Tassie

One last view of Tassie

Now off to Melbourne for a few days.

Posted by SteveJD 14:43 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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