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Published: January 12th 2012
On Thursday morning, 5th January, Steph and Gerry went through their regular early morning swimming routine which we could have joined, but we had a leisurely breakfast whilst admiring the views. We popped out to have a look around the town and were slightly disappointed to find that parking meters were everywhere so we drove back to the area where we saw the penguins and parked outside ‘The Makers’ Centre where there was free parking. It seemed an interesting place so I had a quick look in and discovered that conducted tours went round about every half an hour - we decided that we might go in later. I had offered to make a fruit salad for that night’s dinner so we walked into the centre of town, had a cup of coffee and then got the fruit and also some yoghurt. Time was going on so we drove back to the house and the rest of the morning was spent with more reminiscing and an exchange of life stories while watching the second cricket Test Match between Australia and India.
After lunch, Steph had to take Evan to a State hockey development programme which was taking place at Devonport
and then on to the dentist so Gerry took us on a short drive along the coast West of Burnie. We arrived at a place called Boat Harbour which was one of the most idyllic beach settings we have ever seen and it proved to be too inviting. The bay was quite small, the sand was perfect and the sea was a glorious turquoise blue. Gerry had suggested we take our bathers and, after a brief walk around the rocky headland, we all swam in the sea which was “fresh” but absolutely delightful. The sun was really strong so drying off was not a problem and we sat at the nearby café for a while with some refreshments. Being a deputy head of a large school in a smallish town where he has taught for 40 years, Gerry is well known to adults and children alike and we often stopped for conversations with fellow teachers, appreciative parents and ex-pupils covering a couple of generations. Apart from teaching, he has also coached a variety of sports both at school and in sports clubs so his “standing” in the area is extremely high and, unlike many teachers we know back home, he
has clearly enjoyed his work. We returned to Burnie along a little used but beautiful coastal road which gave fantastic views along the coastline towards Burnie. That evening Gerry had invited a couple of special friends to come over for a barbecue. It turned out to be Frank and Helen, near neighbours of ours at Wangaratta Caravan Park, with whom we had spent quite a bit of time chatting and also we met up with them again at a lakeside picnic place while we were travelling on our way to Mansfield. It’s a small world and we were thrilled to meet them again along with another close friend of Gerry’s who hadn’t been invited but who often calls round for a chat. Brian was another fellow from school who was heavily into sport and Frank, now retired, had been a long-time cricket team mate of Gerry’s and a former Tasmania State player. Needless to say, sport again dominated the conversations, though not entirely. We had a splendid bbq on the ‘lower balcony’ (still with the stunning views) followed by the fruit salad and it proved to be a delightful evening.
Friday was another beautiful day and it was a
pleasure to wake up to such glorious views. Both Steph and Gerry were fully available all day today so after a very leisurely breakfast, with yet more reminiscences of schooldays, contacts since school and of the Forest of Dean, we set off on a day’s sight seeing east of Burnie. We drove inland towards Cradle Mountain which was visible at times in the far distance. We stopped off at ‘Tasmazia’, in a place called ‘The Promised Land’ which was near ‘Nowhere Else’ and ‘The Garden of Eden’! It’s a magnet for both families with children and ‘oldies’ like us. The main attractions are the lavender farm, eight mazes, a miniature village called ‘Lower Crackpot’ and the scrumptious sounding fayre on the café menu! We settled for some refreshment in the café – Graham succumbed to some ‘Irish Stew’ on toast, Steph and Gerry shared a fruit pancake and a very large round of scones whilst I stuck to the more mundane fruit toast! I was slightly envious especially of the pancakes but was pleased that I had kept my resolve! Next stop was the venue of the World Rowing Championships in 1990 – Lake Barrington. It was created in 1969
to provide a head of water for the Devil’s Gate Power Station and is in a magnificent setting. It often hosts the Australian and Tasmanian Rowing Championships.
From there we drove to the small town of Sheffield which is famous for its annual “mural” competition. The contributions to the last competition were still on display and they were spectacular. Some buildings were used for the murals but there were lots of specially built “walls” to accommodate the many paintings. We spent time in an old-fashioned department store which still had the old “tube” system for processing cash and cheque transactions although, with the onset of credit cards, it gets very little use these days. It looked like a scene from “Are You Being Served?” and it would have been easy to spend a lot of money there but I just bought some postcards. Afterwards we drove to the nearby town of Railton which was bestrewn with fascinating Topiary exhibits, mainly of animals but also many other exhibits including the brilliantly done name of RAILTON. It was here we visited a small brewery where beer and cider were brewed. After a few tastings of some very pleasant light ales we
bought some bottles, all with curious names, and then drove on to The Cherry Shed. Cherries are extremely big business in this area and apart from it being a fascinating place to visit with all its cherry based products, it was where Steph and Gerry’s daughter, Olivia, worked during the university holidays. She’s currently studying at Hobart University but works during the holidays to supplement her grant and to earn a bit of pocket money. She works very long hours and stays in nearby digs with other students who work there. Luckily we timed our visit to coincide with her tea-break and we were able to have a bit of a chat before she had to return to serving. She performs a variety of different tasks as part of her duties but today she was behind the main counter. We all indulged in some delicious home-made cherry and raspberry ice-cream after sampling some of the local cherries that were available for purchase.
On our return to Burnie we began some preparation for our departure in the morning but this evening we invited Steph and Gerry out for a meal at a restaurant of their choice. They chose a restaurant
called Fish Frenzy which is right on the Burnie waterfront. We were lucky enough to get a large table with a lovely view across the beach and enjoyed a splendid meal interspersed with brief conversations with many of Steph and Gerry’s friends and work colleagues – they seem to know everybody in Burnie!! It was a delightful way to spend our last evening with them and on our return to the house Graham and Gerry continued their nostalgia trip by looking at old school photographs accessible on the internet while Steph and I chatted while watching one of her favourite programmes on the TV – Wallander. The nostalgia trip continued late into the night but eventually we turned in for our last night in Burnie – what a fantastic few days it had been.
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