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carmel’s Travel Diary

Monday, 14 Nov 2005

Location: New Norfolk, Tasmania

MapSaturday, 5/11/05

We are now the proud owner of a digital camera which means I’ll be able to put pictures into the diary – I hope.

We just had a quiet, taking it easy day at Kevin and Mary’s. Mary was minding Emma, James and Tess so she brought them around for a play before we left. We left Parkdale about 4.00pm. It was early, but it worked out really well as we were one of the first onto the ship (but not the first).

We were allocated a four berth cabin, which threw me into a tizz – fancy having to share! However it was only for us. As it was about 7.00pm by now, we decided to have a Tasmanian pie and a drink for tea. However as we were going back to our room, we checked out the restaurant and they had great meals (no longer free, of course) so we decided on a 2nd dinner after the boat left Port Melbourne. It was a beautiful sunset, so the departure was great. So, after we had got going, we went down for another meal – Tasmanian scallops with proscuito, sundried tomatoes and salad. The meals were so large we couldn’t eat them all – and I’d saved the scallops till last, however the waiter gave me a doggy bag, and I had them for breakfast. We’d bought cherryripes for sweets before discovering the restaurant (as you can see we are on a real health kick) and Barrie had his for breakfast.

By the time we left Port Melbourne, the wind had come up a bit, and the sea was slightly choppy, but we both slept like logs.

Sunday, 6/11/05

The ship came quite a distance up the Mersey river to Devonport. It must be a very deep river. And we were 2nd off. We didn’t stay in Devonport – we’ll catch up with it on the way home. But headed west to Boat Harbour. Barrie had been there 42 years ago with BMC, and he reckoned he could pick out the room at the motel he stayed in. The house prices there were exorbitant. They had these ‘townhouses’ (they looked more like bungalows to me) one street back from the beach (admittedly they had great views – for now) with prices ranging from $495,000 – 695,000.

From there, we went on to Stanley, The Nut, a very old and pretty town on an isthmas so it is surrounded by water. Prime Minister Joe Lyons lived there. Barrie had run a course for BMC here, so he went searching for the garage. It turns out it is now the Information Centre or the IGA store. A Mr W.T. House (everyone called him that) had both stores at some time, and no-one knew for sure which one Barrie would have been at.

From there we went on to Dismal Swamp, I’ve put in some photos as words wouldn’t do it justice, then to Arthur River and ‘The Edge of The World’ – 2 more places which need photos. Everything is so green, and all the dams are filled to capacity. Needless to say, the cattle were well-rounded. All bar one of the farm houses were really modern. (That one was so bad, the people were living in a caravan.) (One house had a garden full of stick deers.) However the wind!!! Even the dams had bigger waves than we get on the Passage. At the Edge of the World, the wind nearly blew us both over. As you can imagine, we both had a frightful night. The wind never let up. You could hear it roaring up to us, and then the poor little camper rocked. The area is called the wild west coast, and it is well named. We are having a trial run without the annexe, which means we have nothing on top of the trailer. It now takes us no time to pack up or set up.

Monday, 7/11/05

We had originally decided to have another night at Stanley, but were not game to chance another night like last night. (Road signs here say ’65 (or at times 55)kmp between dusk and dawn to protect the wildlife’, however we saw dead animals or birds every few kms.) So we came on to Cradle Mountain – and perfect weather. Cradle Mountain is even more impressive close up than in photos. This afternoon we went for a couple of walks around Dove lake, and we have more planned for tomorrow and then we are off to Strahan. You can drive up to the lake or take a shuttle. We took the shuttle and the driver was really informative.

The caravan park manager came from Gympie – it’s a small world. He told us wildlife come out to graze each evening, so we decided to see what we could see. AND we saw 2 pademelons just outside the camper. They were so tame that even the camera flash didn’t faze them. However that was all the wildlife we saw.

Tuesday, 8/11/05

It rained during the night. And we woke to drizzle and mist. We were so lucky we did the Dove Lake walk yesterday. You wouldn’t even see Cradle Mountain today. So we missed out on the walks we intended doing today and packed up and came on to Strahan. While Barrie was packing up, a leech landed on him, however he knocked it off before it could bury its head into his arm. Poor Barrie, it was a frightful trip (for the driver)., although very spectacular for the passenger. We had to go over the Murchison and Professor (?) Ranges, so it was a continual steep up and down on narrow windy roads with the bush so thick on either side I don’t know how the explorers managed to get through it. And, because of the mist and rain, he could only go about 40kmp. Its not called the wild west coast for nothing.

The weather had cleared by the time we got to Strahan, so, after our first call, as always, to the Visitor Information Centre and setting up the camper, we checked out the beach. We had intended doing some of the touristy bits this afternoon but down came the rain again – so we had a rest. I think Barrie even slept. We are going to see a stage show at the Information Centre this evening – The Ship That Never Was. I’ll let you know how it was tomorrow.

It’s stopped raining now, so we are going to go down town to buy some food.

Wednesday, 9/11/05

‘The Ship That Never Was’ turned out to be a good show. Neither of us was too sure at the beginning as it was one of those spectator involvement shows. It was a spoof on the escape of 10 convicts from Sarah Island, a convict settlement for difficult convicts. However there were only 3 actors, so they enlisted spectators for the other roles – and there were quite a few. Barrie was ‘William Cheshire’, a really hated convict, so every time his name was mentioned, Barrie had to sit up and the rest of the audience hissed and booed him. I was the main pirate’s parrot, which, in the beginning was a good part – I didn’t have to do anything, however that didn’t last. I was up on the stage (with a few others) for when the pirates set sail for Chile, then had to ‘fly off’ to see if the land they saw was in deed Chile. It was, so the pirates had a year’s freedom there, before being taken back to London for a trial. They weren’t charged with piracy because there was no record of there ever being such a boat (hence the name), so they were only charged with stealing logs and weren’t hanged. Apparently the show was based on a real incident.

Today we did the tourist bit. Strahan is a very interesting town. Unfortunately the weather is still quite bad, so we didn’t see it to its best advantage, however we persisted. The Ocean Beach is also called the Great Roaring Beach and it was. We also checked out Macquarie Heads, which are also called Hell’s Gates as it is only 75m wide.

From there, we went to the Water Tower Lookout, which is supposed to give an excellent view of the harbour, but, because of the mist and rain, we couldn’t see much. We then checked out the cemetery (I love cemeteries and check them out wherever we go, much to Barrie’s horror) and went to a hamlet which was definitely not on the tourist route – Lettes Bay. We’d never seen anything like it. I’ve enclosed a photo. The houses are just corrugated sheds built where the mood took them. The one in the photo had a 44 gallon drum on the roof (we guess for water) but an enormous satellite TV dish. We then walked to the Hogarth Falls, about 40 minutes round trip.

And finally, we checked out the Strahan foreshore, which is dotted with lovely old buildings. The main industry in Strahan seems to be tourism – rental properties (except in Lettes Bay), gift shops and eating places.

Thursday, 10/11/05

We left for Queenstown this morning, along the usual misty, rainy, narrow and windy roads, with lots of great photo opportunities – if only there was somewhere you could pull over! Our first stop was Queenstown, which was exactly as I had imagined it – barren. However there were some nice buildings there. We had intended stopping for the night at Tarralear, but when we got there, it turned out to be a hydro electric workers town, and don’t ask us where the supposed caravan park was. So we went on to New Norfolk. We are now in the Central Highlands, only 35 minutes from Hobart. The country became much less dramatic, there were even fields of wildflowers. We crossed the Franklin River which was not nearly as big as I had expected, but it is in a basin, which I guess made it suitable for flooding. Forrestry Tasmania does a marvellous job with their infrastructure. We went to look at the Nelson Falls, and had a wooden pathway almost the whole way – and, unlike National Parks, they don’t charge.

Friday, 11/11/05

We’ve got TV again – great - and we’ve just heard that the Western area has received the highest rainfall for this time of the year on record. We checked out New Norfolk today, plus the Salmon Ponds. We didn’t go to the Russell Falls as we went there last time. We intend staying here till Monday and going into Hobart from here.

Saturday, 12 November 2005

It’s now Saturday, 12/11, and we have spent the day in Hobart, firstly at the Salamanca Markets and Constitution dock, then at the Lark distillery, then the island market and finally at the Oast museum/craft shop/café. (Oast means kiln, this is a hop growing area). There was a contortionist/sword swallower among the buskers at the Salamanca markets. He was very good especially when you considered he was only 19, even able to manipulate himself through a tennis racket (of course, with no strings). All quite interesting but once seen is enough. The next time we are in Hobart, I’d like to see Battery Point, the Casino and some more of the historical places.

Sunday, 13/11/05

We went to the Glenorchy market today. I much preferred it, as it wasn’t nearly so crowded, then onto Richmond, a historical town about 20kms from Hobart. (I think even I am getting cultured out. When we crossed the Derwent River there were flocks of black swans swimming there. And finally we eventually found a supermarket and were able to do some shopping (they are very well hidden).
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