This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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1999 Travels December 24

FRIDAY 24 DECEMBER     HOBART

John went and picked up the turkey from the Glenorchy butcher, while I finished clearing up after breakfast. The turkey weighed 3.2kgs and cost $30.

For a pre-Xmas treat, I made smoked salmon and avocado sandwiches for lunch.

We went for a drive up Mt Wellington. There is no way to do this from where we are without going through part of the central city. Fortunately Hobart traffic is not too bad.

The road up the mountain is the most scenic road to drive up. There were very steep roadside drops in parts! For a road that must receive so much visitor traffic, it is extremely narrow, and has steep drops mostly unguarded. At intervals, there were signs showing where walking tracks intersected the road. There are numerous walk tracks on the mountain.

Most notable was the changing vegetation, with altitude, transitioning from forests and fern gullies at the edge of the lower suburbs, to exposed rock and sub-alpine plants at the top. There were lots of dead tree skeletons – maybe from the disastrous 1967 bushfires?

We parked in the carpark at the summit, then walked down the ZigZag walk track for a distance, until it began to get really steep. Not wanting to have to do too much of an uphill climb back, we turned around at that point.

I took some close-up photos of the alpine scrub plants, which quite intrigue me. I have a concept of a couple of good such photos, enlarged and framed in rustic wood, on a wall at home.

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Alpine plants on Mt Wellington

We spent some time at the lookouts at the summit, and reading the explanatory information boards and signs. I noticed that whoever planned same could not do basic maths – there were a couple of glaring date discrepancies to do with the new Tasman Bridge and the accident when a ship ran into it.

The original bridge over the Derwent from the city to the eastern shore was a floating pontoon bridge that stretched around in a curve. It had an opening section to allow ships through. The new bridge, designed to take a lot more traffic, was opened in 1964. I have a photo, taken from up here in the summer of early 1964, showing both bridges crossing the river.

In 1975 a freighter collided with a bridge upright, taking out a section of the bridge roadway, sinking itself and killing some crew and some motorists who plunged over the gap in the bridge. The missing link was a major inconvenience for those who needed to travel across the river, as the next bridge was miles upstream at Bridgewater. However, it was good business for a man who built and operated little ferry boats! Repairs were done and the bridge reopened in 1977, after nearly three years. In 1984, the Bowen Bridge, near our camp, was built and opened.

12-24-1999 from mt wellington

Hobart’s northern sprawl. Bowen Bridge at right.

It was cool up on top of the mountain, at just over 1200 metres, with the occasional wisp of cloud coming over. Although it was fine down below, up here we were almost into the cloud ceiling.

12-24-1999 Hobart city from Mt Wellington

Hobart’s centre and south. Tasman Bridge at left.

We made our way back down the mountain. I found navigating through the suburbs on the lower slopes to be hard, and John was not happy with my efforts, saying I was not giving him enough advance notice when turns were coming up. When I did give him good notice about a left turn coming up, he ignored it because “it did not look right”! Tasmanian signposting could be greatly improved!

We drove 80kms today.

Back at camp, there was no one practising on the adjacent Berriedale Bowls Club rinks, so John took us both there for a practice for a couple of hours.

Then John drove off to get fish and chips for him, and chips and squid rings for me. While he was gone, I cooked the frozen fish left from last week, for me. Unfortunately, the shop was really stingy with its chips and there was not really enough for two. The squid rings were far too greasy. It was a disappointing meal.

Fairly early night for me because I would have to be up early tomorrow to cook.


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1999 Travels December 23

THURSDAY 23 DECEMBER     HOBART

After breakfast, went to the Glenorchy shops. Picked up more mail. Did the final Xmas shopping. There is only the turkey now, to be picked up tomorrow.

At the Claremont shops, where John goes to get the morning papers, we bought wine at the discount outlet.

Ate bread rolls for lunch – very late.

The mail contained a Xmas gift from H – a Tatts ticket and some gem tweezers – thoughtful. There were two $20 book vouchers from V – much appreciated.

One of the wild ducks that frequent the park has a large batch of baby ducklings – we think there are about 12 of them. Their chances of survival are not great, with seagulls to attack them, aggression from other ducks, the occasional cat about the place. I feel sorry for mother duck – she has a hard task ahead of her.

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Mother duck and her brood

For tea, finished the vegie and barley soup I made last Monday, and had some salad.


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1999 Travels December 22

WEDNESDAY 22 DECEMBER     HOBART

We went to Glenorchy Post Office to pick up the bag of mail from home. There were lots of Xmas cards in it.

We then continued on for a drive, across the other side of the river on the Bowen Bridge, then south, to Lauderdale and on to South Arm and Opossum Bay. This is the hook of land that curves around and encloses the lower Derwent estuary. We went that way just because of sheer curiosity to see what this narrow, strange looking promontory was like.

It was a pleasant drive, through some newer suburbs, initially, but then into small acreage open country, with the shallow coves of Ralphs Bay to one side. Going towards the village of South Arm, the road was right beside one of the shallow inlets, only a couple of metres from the water. There were so many places with superb views of the Derwent estuary. Water views are so easy to come by in Tasmania.

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The D’Entrecasteaux Channel from South Arm

We ate lunch sitting in Truck, overlooking the Derwent at Opossum Bay, which is as far as it is possible to go. This, we decided, was once an area of fishing shacks that lined the bay and both sides of a narrow lane. That lane is now the sealed road through Opossum Bay, but it is still very narrow and some front doors open virtually onto the road. Some of what were once beach front shacks have been converted into very nice, modern, beach houses, Mediterranean style. However, they are small, due to the constraints of being on a very narrow strip of land, fronting the beach.

We went for a walk along the beach, looking at the brilliant river view, and at the seaward sides of the houses we’d driven behind.

Then drove back to Hobart and went for a walk in the Botanic Gardens, where John had not yet been. We visited the Conservatory, fuschia house and Japanese garden. I was struck again by the excellent use of conifers and their display in these gardens. I am coming to think that we should use small conifers around our swimming pool, in the problem areas. Some of the ground cover ones are lovely.

I particularly wanted John to see the French Fountain, which is made completely of timber. It was built about thirty years ago, to mark the bicentenary of the first French exploration voyages around the Tasmanian coast. It is certainly unusual.

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The French Fountain

Refuelled at Glenorchy on the way back. 77cpl – much cheaper than on the east coast.

We drove 121kms today.

Back at the van, opened the mail and cards. Some had lovely newsy letters in too.

Tea was marmalade and soy coated chicken breasts with potato and salad. Very nice.


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1999 Travels December 21

TUESDAY 21 DECEMBER     HOBART

We slept in until 8.30. A bit surprising, since we are back in an area of urban noise.

I did four loads of washing, including the bedding, at $1.60 a load. Both the amenities and the clothes lines are up on top of the hill, so I trekked up and down between loads. This place will keep up my fitness! It is hard work with a loaded washing basket. The windy hilltop is great for getting the washing dry.

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Our site at Berriedale Caravan Park – Derwent River in background

Went and bought a paper and read that. John washed Truck.

After lunch, we went for a bike ride, mostly along the suburban streets. We rode 7.5kms, so it was exercise but not a really pleasant ride.

Jon walked across to the bowls club and booked us in to play at 8.15am on New Years Day. That is NOT my idea of a great way to start a new year – and a new century!

John has been drafting letters to the Tasmanian authorities regarding tourism in the State, and his view that caravanners should be encouraged to visit. We have grown to feel that tourism here is heavily B&B oriented, and much more should be done to encourage visitors like us. John thinks that there could be a boat fare subsidy for caravanners who visit for an extended period – maybe two months or more.

When John went to print off his letters, the printer was playing up. After tea (rissoles, potato, salad, and the luxury item of fresh lychees), he decided to re-install the printer program on his computer, so un-installed what was there. Then he found that he’d wiped the printer installation disc clean and stored photos on it! Since we have plenty of blank discs, the reason why he did this is a mystery to all concerned!

That was the end of letter writing activity for the duration.


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1999 Travels December 20

MONDAY 20 DECEMBER     HOBART

Today was a day of catching up with assorted chores, appropriate to being back in the city.

Firstly it was off to the Glenorchy shops. At the Post office, John completed his passport renewal application. There was some mail for us there – birthday cards for me from H and R, a Xmas card and letter from S, a computer solitaire game that John had sent for. I went to the Library for a fresh set of books. We renewed our Keno ticket; John bought a $50 share in a syndicate for the $21million Tattslotto draw on New Years Eve. Winning that would be a memorable way to see in the Millennium!

Whilst we were in the newsagent, R phoned. She wants to come to Hobart to visit us on 21-26 January. It is pleasing that she wants to come and see us, but the timing is not the best. We will have to adjust our plans to be here at that time. She said she had received her Xmas parcel.

I put two rolls of film from the east coast in for processing.

We did a grocery shop, including a lot of Xmas food, in order to be sure we got same before it was sold out. I ordered a small turkey from the butcher. John did some banking.

All this took much of the day, and we were glad to return to the caravan for a rest.

I had a chat with some people from SA who were a few vans along from us. They are on Long Service Leave and have been right round the continent, including up Cape York. That’s a lot of country to pack into a few short months.

At about 7pm, brother C phoned. Our card and John’s 17 page letter had hit the decks today! C and Z loved the letter and wanted a chat. Then friends E and A phoned for a talk. They were not upset that we had crossed the Simpson this year and had not waited for them. A is somewhat tempted to go back up the Kimberley way next year, so we may yet meet up for travel with them. I enjoyed hearing from them.

In amongst all this, I was trying to cook tea. This was vegie soup and pasta with garlic crumbs. I managed to get it cooked all right, but after phone calls ended up eating mine cold. It was still nice though. We followed with the last of the Tasman Peninsula raspberries. The roadside stall near here charges $5 for a large punnet. I may get some, closer to Xmas.

I read a library book for the rest of the evening.


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1999 Travels December 19

SUNDAY 19 DECEMBER   COLES BAY TO HOBART   238kms

We were up at 7.45am and left the park at 9.45, so it was an excellent pack up of everything.

After studying the Road Atlas, I gave John a choice of routes: the standard way we had been before, down the east coast, through Sorell. On this, he had previously found difficult patches on the narrow river stretch out of Orford and on Bust-Me-Gall Hill, near Buckland. Or he could choose the unknown B route from Cranbrook to Campbell Town, over the Lake Leake Plateau. He chose the latter, for something different, and because coming down from Royal George yesterday, through similar country, had not been too difficult.

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The Hazards and Freycinet Peninsula, across Moulting Lagoon and Great Oyster Bay

The way was a good road, wide and well sealed. There was a steady climb up to the plateau, but it was not too steep or bendy. Up the “top” the forests of closer to the coast had given way to semi alpine timbered country.

We could see glimpses of Lake Leake through the trees.

Then there was a gradual descent to Campbell Town. As we drew closer to this historic farming region, there were some beautiful old houses on the sheep properties.

Then we were onto the main Midland Highway.

I persuaded John to deviate into the Ross township, as I have never had a chance to stop and look around there. Ross dates from the very early 1800’s, not long after the initial settlement of Tasmania. Governor Macquarie named the Macquarie River and also the future township – after a friend.

Ross was rather like Richmond, but the buildings were not quite as substantial. Nor was it as crowded with tourists! We went to the Tasmanian Wool Centre, where they had some interesting produce – this being the heart of the wool industry in Tasmania.

We bought sausage rolls and pasties for lunch from the bakery.

Took some photos down by the interesting old stone bridge that spans the Macquarie River. This was completed in 1836 and designed by the then Colonial Architect, John Lee Archer. It is unusual in having carved arch stones, showing people, animals and Celtic symbols.

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On the Ross Bridge

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The carved arch stones on the Ross Bridge

We saw a quaint little caravan park, beside the river. It was very open, but has an historic building amenities block.

We continued south, through the various old villages along the way, that date back to the early settlement times.

We went back to the Treasure Island Caravan Park at Berriedale, where John talked the management into a 10% discount if we paid for three weeks all at once. So we paid $266.40, which worked out at about $12.65 a night. Since this is the peak summer period, we were quite pleased with that. It is our intention to stay here until after the first week in January – that should get us past the peak public holiday period, and we will, by then, have a better idea of where it will be feasible to go next. I hope! It will still be school holidays and peak mainland tourist time.

We set up – down the bottom of the hill, as before. Then relaxed.

Tea was tinned fish and salads.

John is so pleased to have lots of TV channels to choose from, and clear pictures again.

12-19-1999 to hobart


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1999 Travels December 18

SATURDAY 18 DECEMBER    COLES BAY

This was our last day here.

The weather was showery. What had happened to summer?

We had a driving day, to try to explore a little more of the east coast area, because I couldn’t see us getting back up here on this trip.

We drove north to Bicheno, then a bit north of the town, took the road inland to the Douglas Aspley National Park and the Aspley Gorge area.

There, we did the Lookout/Waterhole circuit walk. There was not much water at all in the river, but it was a pleasant short walk. We dawdled, looking at birds. Back in the carpark, John found $4 on the ground.

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Aspley Gorge

Refuelled at Bicheno. 87cpl.

We then continued driving up the coast. Had lunch at Seymour Beach, looking south towards Bicheno along a superb long beach. We’d had to do a bit of moseying around to find a spot to access the beach, as most of the little tracks led to private property, but John found one beach access track.

On the beach, we saw the rare hooded plover again, and a dotterel type bird we could not identify.

Continued driving north, then left the coast road and climbed up the winding Elephant Pass, to St Marys. That road was narrow in places – almost single lane. Fortunately, we met no logging or business trucks on it.

St Marys seemed small and languishing, but with some nice old houses.

We then followed the Esk Highway further inland, through Fingal to Avoca, down the valley of the South Esk River. This was sheep country, though there was coal mining at Fingal.

At Avoca, we turned off for Royal George – quaint name, but a real little backwater. Then took the unsealed track through the forest – the old coach road – to Cranbrook, back on the highway.

Overall, it was a pretty day’s driving, though John was getting tired towards the end. We drove 256kms, which he said was about 100kms too long! But we got to see some varied country, and places I’d not been to before.

12-18-1999 circuit

Today’s driving circuit

We decided that all the packing up could wait until tomorrow! It was still very windy at Coles Bay.

Tea was smoked salmon, avocado and salads, followed by raspberries and fruche.