This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2000 Travels February 5


We had some rain during last night, and today was cloudy and windy.

John was determined to stick to the plan, made yesterday, to go up into the Hartz Mountains, despite the weather. So I packed a lunch to take with us, and we rugged up and took the wet weather gear.

Drove to Geeveston – that road is becoming very familiar! Took the Arve Road again. Then took the Hartz  Road, to the south – unsealed and narrow. This took us up out of the forest country to more of a sub-alpine heath and scrub land.

As we climbed the range, beyond Geeveston, and wound south towards the Hartz Mountains, the weather got worse. By the time we got to the Waratah Lookout, there was light sleet, much wind and it was quite cold. We figured that would take care of the bushfire!


We stopped to look at the big tree stump remains. These were huge. The biggest one had a hollow in the middle that was so deep it had a railing around it. This area has been extensively logged at different times in the past – and present – and one wonders how many superb old eucalypts like these have fallen to the axe.

We walked the short distance to the Waratah Lookout, but of course could not see much, as the cloud was low.

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Waratah Lookout with low cloud

Continued the drive, to the Arve Falls carpark. Here there was much low cloud, racing over us. The sleet was heavier, and the wind even stronger. It was quite spectacular to watch, from the shelter and warmth of Truck. How quickly the weather changes in Tasmania. We ate our lunch, sitting in Truck, buffeted by the weather.

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Lunch in the car park

Then geared up in our japara raincoats and did the 20 minute walk to the Arve Falls Lookout. The falls were most impressive. The Arve River starts up in this area, with lots of little glacial bog land streams gathering into bigger ones – and much water going over the Arve Falls.

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The Arve River near its start

I loved these falls. They were quite high. There were several levels formed by large boulders and it was quite fascinating to stand and watch the water pouring over. On a more pleasant day we could have spent an hour or two sitting around, there, just enjoying the place. But it was too cold and bleak for us to linger, this day.

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Arve Falls

We continued driving, to the end of the Hartz  Road – at a carpark that is the start of the main walks in the mountains. There were no other vehicles there – I wonder why? We could not see much from there, so started the drive back down.

John got tempted to explore, and drove up several logging spur tracks in the forest. Some of these ended for us where trees had fallen over the track – and involved some tight turning around! Others just stopped dead in the bush. Guess this is what happens when logging tracks become unused in these parts.

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Not going any further this way……..

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…or this way!

When we got back into mobile phone range at Geeveston, there were messages from R and H. John phoned the latter and they had a long chat. While John was doing that, I walked around and looked at the old, For Sale, Cambridge House – a large old weatherboard house, with a tin roof, that reminded me in some ways of my former tower house in Hamilton. I indulged in a brief fantasy about renovating the Cambridge House – this would be quite a pleasant area in which to live. But I also thought the $150,000 price tag was far too expensive for the condition the place appeared to be in. I was able to go into the garden and have a closer look around, and decided I wouldn’t pay even $100,000 for it. But I hoped someone buys and restores it – beautiful old place.

Back in Dover, it had obviously been windy through the day, but it was finer there – and much warmer!

Tea was the last of the tomato bread soup, chops, potato and cooked tomato.

We drove 112 kms today.

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2000 Travels February 4


The morning was very hot, again. There was much smoke haze and the smell of smoke and charring. Cloud came over in the afternoon and cooled things down a little.

I washed the bedding (including the quilt cover, for the first time in ages).

John worked on the problem van brake. Eventually he found a bent piece in the brake that he does not think should be bent. He decided to phone Trakmaster and order a new piece to be sent over. I sat outside and sewed while he did the brake work, as the van was up on the jack.

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John working on the van brake that was getting too hot

Then we went and did some grocery shopping, locally.

Tea was frozen battered fish and fries.

The cricket final was on TV, to be watched. Australia won the series.

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2000 Travels February 3


Today was back-to-school day – woodwork lessons!

We were up at 8am to ensure a 9.25 departure for Geeveston, to make the 10am lesson.

Radio news was that they hoped to get that bushfire under control, this morning. There was still plenty of smoke that seemed quite close by.

I had a one hour turning lesson, but did not get to do much by myself, without R holding and guiding the chisel. I did learn quite a lot of procedural stuff though. I had rather naively thought I might end up with something simple made by me, but really only created a large pile of wood shavings!

John was allowed to be more independent, given his prior knowledge and experience, and he and R made a dibble stick in blackwood – nice. Also practical for the vegie garden in the future.

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John’s woodturning lesson

We would have used our money much more effectively, I think, if John had had the two hours’ teaching all to himself. He would have learned more than I did.

I have decided that I would like a blackwood desk, one day.

We went back to the timber place we’d been at, the other day. This time, the manager was there. He and John discussed timber. John can put in an order for silver wattle and he will fill it, when we are back living at home. He could also order some very nice black heart sassafras table top slabs.

John liked a table that was on display at the timber centre. I liked the concept of free form slab top and a slatted shelf under for magazines and the like; but I did not like the contrasting legs made of myrtle or blackwood. I find I am learning a lot about timber, here – and also getting really interested in it.

We had lunch in Geeveston. John had a pie. I had some chips, because there is no bakery in the town.

The bushfire looked worse as there was much dark smoke. They were doing helicopter water bombing.

Back at the van, John went to sleep. I read the paper, then had a nap myself. John went to bowls practice.

It had been a very hot day, for Tasmania, getting to about 28 in Geeveston.

Tea was the same as last night.

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2000 Travels February 2


We were up early in order to leave at 6.30am, to drive to Hobart. Truck was to be at the Landrover dealer at 8am for its service.

The dealership was quite central, so after dropping Truck off, we were able to walk around the city, all morning, shopping and browsing.

I found a one hour Kodak photo service, to get a roll of film processed. John interrogated the girl about the quality of photos from such places. She got very defensive. It turned out that the resultant photos were awful and I will have to have them reprinted elsewhere, at a later time!

John had half an hour on the internet at the Services Tasmania centre. I’d hoped to get some decent postcards of southern Tasmania parts, but could not find any here and we did not have time to look elsewhere. I spent the half hour looking at books and maps and at some old Time magazines – pretty boring.

We had an early lunch at a food court – the usual sort of mass produced selection there, that all looked rather greasy. There was no decent bakery there, although we had passed some back in the Mall. In the end, John had four doughnuts and a coffee. I had one doughnut – oily and not nice.

Truck was ready by midday. The rear brakes had been relined. John ordered a new striker plate for the rear door; we will have to collect that one day, or on the way back through.

We went to Dick Smith because John wanted a look about there. He bought yet another new aerial for the van – $91.

Refuelled Truck at Newtown – 84cpl now.

Drove back to Dover. On the way, out the back of Glen Huon, could see much bushfire smoke. News radio said that it was in the forests out that way.

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Bushfire smoke Glen Huon area – from Geeveston

When he opened the back door of Truck to get out the shopping, John got grease on his new Myer shirt from where the dealer had tried to improve the door working. I was able to wash it out, but we were a bit cross about the way they had spread grease everywhere.

John fitted the new aerial he bought today and spent some time fiddling about with it. I could not discern much difference!

We had a late snack of bread and cheese when we got back to camp, so only wanted a light tea: tomato bread soup – something different! – and some salads.

John watched cricket on TV – one day semi final.

I was feeling very tired and had an early night.

We drove 190kms today.

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2000 Travels February 1


Today was to be a recovery day and one for washing the huge lot of dirty clothes that had built up.

The washing machine here used 7x20cent coins, per load – and 20 cent coins are a resource that takes a while to accumulate! I was really scrabbling around. I did three loads, including the sheets and towel from R’s visit. It was a rare hot day, so good for drying.

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Our Dover site, with the bay in the background

Just after lunch, John decided that he wanted to drive to Geeveston – 23kms away, to go and visit the wood yard, Island Speciality Timbers, there.

I picked in the washing, which was not all dry, and strewed the damp items around in the van, hoping the interior heat would finish off the drying.

So, we drove up to Geeveston. There, it turned out that the man who runs the timber yard is only there Thursday to Saturday, anyway! A man who worked at the adjacent mill did give John some information about timbers. He showed us silver wattle, made up into cupboard doors there, and we thought it would be perfect for kitchen cupboard doors, that would blend in with the red gum of our big dining table. It is relatively cheap, too. We were told that black heart sassafras is too soft for things like desks and much furniture. So, it was not a wasted outing, after all.

At the Forests Centre, we booked an hour each, on Thursday, 10-noon, with the wood turner.

Back at Dover, John went to local bowls practice. I put away the washing, some of which was still a bit damp. There was too much to leave lying around in the van.

Tea was soup, steak, potato, mushrooms.

After tea, John phoned home and asked P to try to take measurements of the kitchen cupboards. Later, he phoned and got these from K, who was home by then. He is really keen on this timber, and to start seriously organising it for a kitchen renovation.

John told me that he’d said to P that we’d be settling back at home in November of next year – he has decided that this date will be his travel limit. Not as long as I would like – I would prefer to keep it all open ended for some time yet. But he seems to need a deadline.

I wasn’t sure the way he told me this sounded clear, so got him to phone home again, to clarify that it was 2001 he was talking about. Good thing I did because P had understood him to mean later this year! Bit of a fright for them.

I did not sleep much. The man in the next van snored really loudly, then I woke up again when John came late to bed, and couldn’t get back to sleep.

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2000 Travels January 31


Today we set out to tackle one of the adventurous challenges that was on the must-do list. It seemed a reasonably promising day, with some blue sky, quite a bit of cloud, but fine.

We headed south again, down the Huon Highway and to Hastings, the way we went yesterday, then continued further south – as far as the end of the road, in fact, at Cockle Creek.

The road was unsealed for much of the way past Hastings, apart from a few patches of sealed surface where there were concentrations of houses.

It was an attractive and varied drive, mostly through forest, and inland until we came down to the coast at the beautiful Recherche Bay, where the narrow road ran virtually beside the sea.

Recherche Bay was named by French explorers who spent some time here in 1792, for one of the group’s ships. The Catamaran River and Cockle Creek are both fair sized streams that empty into the bay – brown, tannin stained water.

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The bay at Cockle Creek

Along Recherche Bay there are a few pockets of settlement of sorts – Recherche, Catamaran and Cockle Creek. There were the occasional proper cottage or house, but mostly a number of shacks. I presumed that these were on privately owned land that dated from the times of whaling, coal mining and timber cutting in the 1800’s.

There were also bush camping areas strung along beside the road, wherever it was by the sea. These did not have the look of formal campgrounds, but more like places that successive campers had created in the scrub. Clearly, some people had set up more or less permanent camps in old buses and vans – rather unattractive, and feral seeming, mostly. There were some pit toilets in those areas, and some water available.

I suspect this area would be rather crowded with campers in the main summer holiday period.

At one stage, we’d thought about bring the van and camping down here – but I am glad we didn’t. As our main intent in coming down here today was to do the walk to South Cape Bay, we did not spend any time exploring around the Cockle Creek area.

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Cockle Creek – low tide

As it was, we did not begin the walk until midday; it would have been better to have begun earlier, but we are not great at early starts.

There was a bridge – one lane – over Cockle Creek, where it runs into the bay, and just past this was a parking area, information board and the start of the track. This is the South West walking track, a long distance one that comes from Port Davey/Melaleuca, along the coast. It is a similar length to the Overland Track – some 85kms – and takes about a week to walk. But the track conditions are tougher than those of the popular Overland Track, and as there is no road access to Port Davey, hikers generally fly one way. We were just going to do the 7-8km section to South Cape Bay, and back.

We did see several walkers, with packs, seeming to be waiting around for transport. Presumably, these had just finished the South Coast Track from Port Davey. They had that look about them that I recognized – just hanging out for a long hot shower and a really good meal!

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Starting the walk on track to South Cape Bay

The walk to South Cape Bay was lovely.  It was drizzly when we left Cockle Creek, but then cleared up and we had sun for much of the time.

The first part was through forested country, skirting hills. The track was a bit uneven and rocky, which was not good for John. We spotted a strong billed honeyeater – new bird!

The next part of the walk was over swampy heathlands, much of it on board walks, on which little lizards were warming themselves. It was the sort of area that required a careful watch for sunbaking tiger snakes, too!

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Boardwalk track through swampy country

The last section was through forested creek and gully country. It was a bit hilly and we had to step carefully due to rocks and lots of exposed tree roots.

The track came out at South Cape Bay at the top of an exposed coal rock outcrop. We walked across that to eventually get down to a beach that was about 800 metres long.

From the top of the coal outcrop, there were great views of the rugged coast. Off to the west, we could see South Cape, with Maatsuyker Island in the distance.

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Track over the coal outcrop. Distant South Cape and Maatsuyker Island

To the east, was South East Cape.

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South East Cape

We went down the steps by the black, coal-material bluff, and onto the beach of South Cape Bay. Walked along this to Lion Rock at its western end, on a lovely, empty beach.

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South Cape Bay Beach

A couple of hikers eventually appeared – one went up to the campsite that was behind the beach.

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Lion Rock

At the end of the beach, behind Lion Rock was a sort of rocky, shingle area. It was not possible to go any further along the coast from this point. The South Coast walking track swings inland here.

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The coast beyond Lion Rock, looking to South Cape

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Looking back along the beach to the coal outcrop and where the track back is.

We left there at 3.30pm, to walk back and got back to Truck at 5.45pm. Overall it was a 15km or so walk. Our legs were well and truly tired.

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Heading back – track, with boards, in heathland scrub

I phoned K from the phone box at Cockle Creek – Australia’s most southerly phone box – and left a message telling him that!

The drive back to Dover – almost 50kms – did not seem too long. We were grateful for daylight saving, though.

Had a lovely hot shower – very welcome on tired muscles.

Tea was beetroot soup, rissoles, potato rounds, onions, egg.

It was a wonderful day.

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2000 Travels January 30


The day began grey and continued that way throughout.

We decided to visit the Hastings Caves today. This was supposed to be quite spectacular.

The cave site was about 40 kms from Dover. We took the Huon Highway south, almost to the town of Southport, then took the Hastings road – unsealed – then the Caves Road off that. The road through Hastings is also the access road to points further south, so we would be coming this way again.

We aimed to reach the Caves in time for the 12.15 tour. One must do the guided tour to access the show cave – the Newdegate Cave. It cost us $10 each.

The Caves are in a really pretty forest area, although it has been logged in the distant past.

On the five minute walk from the carpark to the cave entry point, because we were early and ahead of the crowd, we heard – and then saw – a lyrebird. We had just been commenting that it was unusual for someone to be using a chainsaw, here, on a Sunday. Then saw the bird and realized that the totally realistic chainsaw noise was coming from him! He was doing much chattering to himself, too, and making a whole range of really interesting noises – one hell of a repertoire! I had not heard a lyrebird perform, ever before – it was wonderful.

The cave tour group was really too large. It was not a great idea of ours to come on a Sunday. There were some quite young children there, too, who were rather noisy and intrusive. There was also one very showy, loud, attention-seeking girl in her 20’s, with an entourage of three men for whom she was really performing – but she went really quiet when we got underground!

The cave was really spectacular, and in parts were caves within a cave. I do not like being underground, but made an exception to my usual rule because this was supposed to be so good. I liked it even less when the guide pointed out areas that flooded!

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Inside Newdegate Cave

We went down hundreds of steps, with the way fairly dimly lighted by electric light. Within the cave, strategically placed lighting highlighted the best of the formations. And they were brilliant. This is a dolomite limestone cave formation, which is fairly unusual. It was like being in a type of fairyland. The variety of stalactite and stalagmite structures was fascinating.

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Stalgmites and stalagtites

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Intricate flowing veil effect

The tour took nearly an hour. I was relieved to be above ground again, but really pleased I’d done the tour.

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Lighting enhanced the multitude of fascinating formations

We ate our picnic lunch beside a small river in the forest, then took the unsealed road Forest Drive back to Dover. This followed the Old Hastings Road, then what we assumed were main logging access roads through the forests. Eventually we crossed the Esperance River and the road followed this down to Dover.

There was much evidence of logging and its accompanying wastage, but it was a pleasant enough way to drive. The Esperance River crossing looked an attractive place to bring a picnic lunch out to, if we are ever at a loose end one day.

Back at Dover, we continued driving around the coast road, past the caravan park, as far as Police Point, which is up into the Huon estuary. Came back the same way – a really scenic and lovely little drive. There were great views across the Channel to Bruny Island, and across the Huon to the other side.

We had noticed salmon growing nets in the bay near Dover and there were more up near Police Point.

Back at the van, John took his fishing gear and walked up to the jetty to try his luck. No bites.

Tea was cold beetroot soup, cold pork and potato. I thought the soup was very nice but don’t think John was so sure!

I phoned K to let him know our location – left message on the machine. I had to use the phone box at the park – the mobile phone does not work down here.