Freycinet was wonderful, but permanent accommodation was hard to come by. With a little time up our sleeve we went kickin’ down the cobblestones not quite sure which way to go. We landed in Campbell Town 80 or so kilometres inland from the coast. There was a babbling brook, ducks a paddling, a great big paddock with a sign indicating RV’s were welcome and the sun was shining. ‘This’ll do’ we said and pulled up stumps.
It was tough after that. We had to feed the ducks, have a cuppa, walk over to the swings and swing for a while and then read some more of Amy and Oliver’s latest book. Emma felt like making something and so added a few rows to Amy’s crochet blanket. This left Amy to teach me how to ‘pearl’ as part of my ongoing tuition in knitting. I also snuck off, between rows, to look at some more of that old convict stuff. Emma would have been interested I’m sure, but Amy and Oliver are getting a little hesitant when it comes to ‘more old stuff’.
Campbell Town, as it turns out, has a lovely old convict built bridge. The Red Bridge it is called, being made up of more than 1.5 million convict made red bricks. This, and the story of the convicts and their overseers who put it all together was rather interesting as was the fact that when they built the bridge there was no river. Nope the river was a couple of kilometres away. So why build a bridge?
Near as I can tell it’s to give the convicts something to do after the bridge is finished. You see once it was done they had to divert the river for a thousand metres up stream and down – to flow under the bridge! Crazy world. Anyway the bridge now carries more than 1.2 million vehicles every year on route between Hobart and Launceston and has never needed any significant maintenance despite pushing 200 years old.
Just down the road from Campbell Town is Ross, which much to the disdain of Campbell Town no doubt, has an even better convict built bridge. Ross’s bridge is much more aesthetically pleasing. In fact the convict in charge of this one did such a fine job, they let him go. While in Ross we also visited the Female Factory, which unfortunately didn’t produce females. ‘Twas the code name for a female convict prison. However there really isn’t much left to see other than the paddock in which it once stood.
We spent two nights in Campbell Town where some of us contemplated what it would be to live life as a duck before moving on to Launceston. Emma and I needed showers. So did Amy and Oliver, but they wouldn’t admit it. We spent a night at a van park, had the gas works on the caravan repaired, went shopping for a few new clothes and had the Falcon serviced. There was, thankfully, nothing wrong with it on this occasion. We also had a surprise visit from Uncle Pat who was down from Canberra – who woulda thought we’d see him here! An unexpected but most welcome surprise.
We moved back in to Nerida and Rob’s backyard the next day. I took their gravel driveway, a longish uphill haul, at speed this time and made it all the way to the top without the spinouts that accompanied our first visit months ago. Nerida and Rob’s hospitality made us feel almost as though we’d returned home. Together we all took a hike to the Duck Reach power station, upstream at Cataract Gorge, drank wine (or ice water for Amy and Oliver) procured culinary delights (more excellent bread and the like) from the markets, had a go at playing pool and just generally hung out. The spirit that drove us to do much had temporarily left us. We also fell in love with Des the dog. Des must have loved us too. She was reluctant to get out of our car when the time came to go.
Saturday night the Easter Bunny dropped eggs all up and down Nerida and Rob’s driveway. Sunday morning they were nowhere to be seen. To whomsoever stole our eggs I hope your teeth rot and fallout. Grrrrrrr. Emma and Nerida came to the rescue, just happening to have a spare stash that was hastily scattered after the dastardly deed was discovered.
Sunday we camped at Forth, just a stone’s throw from Devonport. The trees were resplendent in their autumn coats, the river water still like a mirror, the playground to Amy and Oliver’s liking and there were cricket nets for us to amuse ourselves. Emma and I are currently huddled side by side under an outspread sleeping bag, trapping hot air against the cold trying to weasel its way in. Tomorrow we rise early, 5.30am ish, to board the Ferry to the big island – our Van Dieman’s land adventure is at an end.