Farewell to Van Dieman’s Land

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’.

IMG_3558
The view from our van at Campbell Town free camp
Knitting?
Knitting?

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?

The Red Bridge
The Red 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.

The Ross Bridge
The Ross Bridge

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.

Concentrating!
Concentrating!
Monkeys in Launceston
Monkeys in Launceston
Des dog
Des dog
Des wants to travel
Des wants to travel

 

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.

The egg hunt
The egg hunt
The egg hunt
The egg hunt
The egg divvying up
The egg divvying up

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.

Forth River
Forth River
Free camp at Forth
Free camp at Forth

 

It’s complex

‘A complex high is forming over the east coast’, the weather bureau said. Hmmm, a ‘complex’ high. Is that weather man talk for, ‘we’re not sure but you might get wet’?  I think it is. High equals sunny. Complex high means it should be sunny but it might not be and we here at the weather bureau are all care and no responsibility. Fair enough too. It’s complex after all.

Well that was no help to us. One of our ambitions for this trip was to do an overnight hike and we always had Wineglass Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula in our sights. Before leaving we told ourselves we had heaps of time and if the weather was no good we would just wait. But time is now rapidly running out. Easter approaches and so too our departure for the big island (that’s what the Taswegians call it you know).

So what did we do? We did what any rationale parents with a tendency to prevaricate would do. We changed our minds a dozen times before breakfast before finally deciding, ‘bugger it, let’s go!

Every hatch in the van was opened to find the hiking gear. As we’d decided to go we had to get on with it. For two days the high pressure system bringing fair weather would be ‘complex’, thereafter the bureau’s prediction took on an assuredly certain tone. It was gunna rain.

About to set off!
About to set off!

By 1.30pm the packs were… packed, and we were on our way. Up hill to the Wineglass Bay lookout and where 9 out of 10 people turn back. Down the hill to the Bay itself where the vast majority of the remaining few also turn back, and along the beach to the other end of the Bay where only the most hearty reside. We pitched our tents, cooked dinner on the beach watching dolphins and leaping fish, with the sun setting over the Hazards (the tall and dramatic granite outcrops surrounding Wineglass Bay) and read books under the moonlight. What a wonderful experience, sitting out in the bush on the edge of a moonlit bay reading books as everyone giggles along to the antics of a good yarn.

Wineglass Bay lookout
Wineglass Bay lookout
Preparing dinner at Wineglass Bay
Preparing dinner at Wineglass Bay
Breakfast
Breakfast

The complex high remained straightforward and simple that night. All was clear and still. So too the next morning. We scrambled around the rocks searching for crabs in the lesser walked nooks and crannies. Amy tripped and fell. I soaked up the blood with my T-shirt before awarding her 15 brownie points for her trouble.

Rock scrambling
Rock scrambling
Sore knee - still managed a smile!
Sore knee – still managed a smile!
Crab!!
Crab!!

Then the high became complex again as we donned our packs for the return journey. Out to sea a clearly defined line marked the boundary between dumping and clear skies. It didn’t stay out to sea too long, but headed straight for us. We delved into out packs for raincoats, each one strategically positioned beneath everything else.

Before the weather became complex
Before the weather became complex
Complex weather on its way!
Complex weather on its way!

Merely a squall, we hiked on, retracing our steps to the lookout, here again to be joined by nine out of ten people. Including one group with a device that took the ‘selfie’ to a whole new level. A telescopic pole was extended to which an iPhone was attached. The pole was then held out in front of the group and a photo taken.

‘I guess that’s what they thought of next’ Oliver declared. We must have looked amused so they invited us to participate. Which we did, jumping in alongside the group to be part of the next ‘selfie’. I expect we will be proudly shown off as part of this photo all over Japan!

The next day it rained, then it rained some more, and then after that this strange wet stuff kept falling from the sky. Rain I think it was. We drove to Bicheno to wash every item of clothing we owned, it’d been awhile. The lovely lady at the laundromat took care of most of it while we ate delicious wood fired pizza next door, chased down by salted caramel slice, chocolate milkshakes and the best flat white I’ve had for three months.

On route back to Freycinet we attempted the Cape Tourville short walk – for the sweeping coastal views. The rain however came in horizontally and so we ran around the boardwalk, saw pretty much nothing and retired defeated.

Cape Tourville
Cape Tourville

The next day I learned to knit. Yep, that’s what I did. Up the back, round the tree, through the window and then off jumps jack! What could be simpler? (Emma has just reviewed my drafting and burst into laughter. Apparently that’s not right.) Amy fortunately seldom took her eye off my work and was there to retrieve my various dropped stitches. I’m learning to ‘pearl’ tomorrow. Then I will have graduated to working on my own beanie – just like Amy and Oliver’s.

The Hazards, view from behind our campsite
The Hazards, view from behind our campsite

Friends arrived the next day. The kind of friends you didn’t know you had until you met them. Wayne and Amanda pulled in with their daughters Shelby and Chloe. The four kids circled each other like a pack of wolves before finally working out it didn’t matter how the ice was broken as long as it broke.

It was Shelby’s birthday the next day and we were invited to lunch at the pub in Coles Bay. Will we be driving there? No we won’t. Wayne hoisted the tinny down from above their Cruiser and attached a mighty 12 volt battery powered outboard which puttered us across the Bay in an extremely leisurely but highly enjoyable fashion. Had the tide turned or the weather become complex once again I’m not sure we could have made the shore. But fortunately that wasn’t to be. Everyone but Wayne walked back after lunch. Wayne’s battery gave out after rounding just one of the numerous headlands requiring to be navigated and he rowed most of the way. Doesn’t seem fair really!

Boat ride with friends
Boat ride with friends
Chilling on the boat
Chilling on the boat

Between boat rides, hiking, new friends and learning to knit I also found time to scramble up Mount Amos, for that iconic view of Wineglass Bay, not once but twice. The sign says its 3-5 hours return. I did it in an hour forty on day one and an hour ten on day two. Just sayin.

View from Mount Amos - second day
View from Mount Amos – second day

Two routes north

There are two routes north from the Tasman Peninsula back to Launceston and ultimately Devonport to catch the ferry. One is the Heritage Highway, basically the main drag; the other is the coast road. We want to do both! What to do?

After leaving the Tasman Peninsula we thought we’d head for Richmond on the inland route, but the van park there was uber expensive. So back to Hobart it was. Again. We like the Seven Mile Beach van park though as evidenced by our two previous visits and Amy and Oliver like their friends Rex and Lola who we knew would still be there.

Richmond Bridge
Richmond Bridge

From here we took a day trip up the main route North as far as Oatlands and stopping in at Richmond on the way. I wanted to see the convict built bridge, which we did before also feeding the ducks and finding another maze to get lost in. I say another maze conscious that we never wrote about Tasmazia, which we visited on route to Cradle Mountain all those weeks ago. The Richmond Maze was not a patch on Tasmazia at which we spent nearly a full day, but we all still had fun and it wasn’t looking at old stuff, which pleased the junior members of our party.

Tasmazia!
Tasmazia!

Further up the road at Oatlands is the only wind powered flourmill operating outside of the United Kingdom. It fit in nicely with Amy’s lessons about farming. The mill was built in 1838 or so, by convicts of course. It then had a highly changeable history including being burnt out and turned into a water storage before being restored in recent years.

Callington Mill
Callington Mill
The miller at work
The miller at work

The restoration was largely undertaken by a millwright who flew out from the UK, measured the stone tower to within an inch of its life, went home and built the parts before sending them back to Tasmania ikea style – flat packed. Once installed, he provided two weeks training and the mill has been servicing the state ever since. The current miller received just two days training. It looked more complex than that to me. But I am just a humble public servant.

Maria Island was next and so we cut back across to the east coast. We packed up the van, said goodbye to Rex and Lola and drove 58km up the road to Triabunna. There are no cars on Maria Island so we loaded our bikes onto the oversize rubber ducky along with food and enough water for two nights staying in the Penitentiary. Maria Island, like much else in Tassie was founded as a convict settlement in the 1830s. The building we stayed in was then a gaol and our room would have housed 33 men at one stage. It was more comfortable with just the four of us.

The Penitentiary
The Penitentiary
Comfortable for 4 - penitentiary room
Comfortable for 4 – penitentiary room

Wildlife abounds on the island. Wombats wandered around the Darlington site, where the Penitentiary is located, like cows grazing in a paddock. We even saw a wild Tassie Devil, one of the population released here to guard against the virus wiping them out on the mainland.

Commissariat with Bishop and Clerk in background
Commissariat with Bishop and Clerk in background
Darlington Settlement Maria Island
Darlington Settlement Maria Island

We rode our bikes up hill and down dale, taking in the view across to the Freycinet Peninsula. We visited the stunning painted cliffs, twice. Water here seeps through the sandstone creating a most impressive cliff face. The water lapped gently at the rocks and the rock pools were filled with all manner of curiosities. The sun was warm and Amy and Oliver loved making face paint and huh-hmmm, poo, out of the colourful sands.

Sandstone face paint!
Sandstone face paint!
Painted Cliffs
Painted Cliffs
Making ...poo!!
Making …poo!!
Up hill!
Up hill!
Maria Island
Maria Island
Looking towards Bishop and Clerk (mountains)
Looking towards Bishop and Clerk (mountains)

We also embarked upon another fairly epic walk, up Bishop and Clerk, the craggy cliffs on the northern end of the Island some 650 meters above sea level. The guidebook said it was 5.6 km. It was 11km according to my GPS watch. The view was worth the effort though and I enjoyed the admiration of the majority of other hikers we came across, most of whom were quite impressed to find a 9 and 7 year old on the summit. We hadn’t thought that much of it, but it was nice to hear nonetheless.

Scree slope on way up Bishop and Clerk
Scree slope on way up Bishop and Clerk
At the top!
At the top!
Bishop and Clerk view
Bishop and Clerk view