Are we really 'good with wood'?

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Oceania » Australia » Tasmania » Hobart
February 20th 2010
Published: March 4th 2010
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Day 300 - Hobart

A couple of birthday shout outs this morning, firstly to my fabo cousin Bert out here in Aus. Happy birthday little cous, hope you had a great day with Kim. The second shout is to Harry (Brown) of Thatadoo Racing back home in Thatcham. Hope you're back on the track soon buddy and we'll see you when we get back. Happy Birthday both!

Got to admit we were a bit weary this morning after our big day trip to Port Arthur. I must have been half asleep when Darryl left the caravan to visit the water tanks for a shower - he told me not the lock the door when I went out as he didn’t have his keys. I didn’t hear him so was a bit surprised to see him standing outside 30 minutes later when I returned. Oops! I even managed the innocently posed question of ‘Did you forget your keys?’ which afforded him the liberty of looking at me a tad crazily!

It’s another day out today with Jane and Tony, this time in their Landcruiser so we get to snooze in the back seats! Just joking, we don’t do that really … at least not very often.

We had plenty of things to keep us awake at our first stop of the day; the Salamanca Markets is a very popular place to be on a Saturday in Hobart. It’s crammed full of interesting stalls with plenty of variety in nik naks, fruit & veg, street entertainers and general market-like produce. Sellers are very creative in places like this, of course there’s the run on the mill embroidered towels (which are still lovely) but there are some fascinating wood items plus funny things made from cutlery including ‘Lamb Chop’ which was made from a couple of forks and knives and depicted a sheep with an axe in his ‘hands’!

Time wise it didn’t take us as long as we had allowed too get our fill of the market. With the exception of some old style postcards we left empty handed which over the coming days we might see as an oversight (never a ‘regret’ - we don’t do regrets!) but hey ho, sometimes it’s difficult to justify spending money at the markets especially when some of the ‘nik-naks’ are between $80 and $340 bucks!

We wandered off in the direction of Battery Point and found numerous cafes all brimming with early morning visitors. Bristol House caught our eye, then another called Pretoria which is the name of the road in Patchway, Bristol where Darryl was brought up. Ah home, less than 70 days and we’ll be back in good old blighty!

We crossed the road to continue on down the hill towards the wharf, thus missing an apparently beautiful period house which still has original wooden toys in its rooms. What we did find was a rather large marine research vessel which the boys had a good look around (from the outside of course!) and then we were back in the car park where we started.

Our choices now were to either pop back into the market and find snacks for lunch or to make our way towards this afternoon’s destination which is Westerway to spend time with Jane’s long lost cousin Johno.

There were quite a few people waiting for parking and while we were walking back we were followed by prospective shoppers looking for a free spot! We decided that lunch in New Norfolk, which is on our way, sounded good so gave up our car park slot and headed out of the city.

I had a quick look in Lonely Planet to see if New Norfolk got a mention, it does but not a particularly inspiring one although I guess it can be read in two ways. The phrase used is ‘You might want to pop into New Norfolk, a river mining town making something of a comeback’. The Tasmanian writer for Lonely Planet (in the edition that we’ve got) is very dry and witty for the most part The description under the town of Devonport is particularly blunt, straight to the point and is bound to have raised more than a few eyebrows although it had us rolling around in laughter but then we seem to share a similar sense of humour to the author!

It was a nice surprise to find that actually New Norfolk definitely is worth a lunch stop at the very least and it suited our needs well. The local Woolworths allowed us to get some supplies and with the Caltex-Woolworths fuel station close by we knew we could get some cheap fuel here on our way to Queenstown when we leave on Monday. Plus there is a beautiful little park here (Arthur Square) where we sat to eat our food. Pretty good all round really and the town itself looks very well kept and a nice place to stroll about. Putting the positive spin on the Lonely Planet phrase, indeed you MIGHT want to visit here, perhaps you even should!

We drove up to Westerway passing fields and fields of hops as we went. John was meeting us at the Shell service station and when we arrived he was ready and waiting. It was a nice reunion for Jane and Johno, they haven’t seen each other for 40 years or more. We’d decided to take Tony & Jane’s Landcruiser today which was just aswell because it fitted all of us in without too much drama. With Tony driving and Johno in the passenger seat directing, we set off into the Styx State Forest.

Johno has been living in Tasmania for six or so years now and clearly adores his surroundings. He’s a bit of a greenie, runs his diesel ute with the use of cooking oil & a bit of methanol and just loves bush walking. He’s currently seeking out a couple of prospectors that have settled in the local area - one lives in a caravan and has found platinum in the banks of a local dam, the other lives in the forest with his pet snakes and he’s found gold! Beautiful, we’re very intrigued and wondering if we should extend our stay in Tasmania to earn the chance of finding our fortune somewhere!

We’re on the outskirts of the Mt Field national park and it’s a good job we’re travelling with a local because when we come off the main road we’re faced with a series of forest tracks and who knows where they might lead. We’re officially ‘off the beaten track’ now and heading for a walk through the forest leading to a sinkhole called Growling Swallet. The access road leading to the start of the walk is simply signed F8 East. If you don’t know that this walk exists then you’d be very lucky to find it by chance! Our walk isn’t a bush bash, there’s a track but it’s not marked and we need to navigate our way over fallen trees. Its great fun and a fabulous rain forest walk with plenty of tall trees for us to look and gaze up at. Growling Swallet is the entrance to Junee Cave, we’re not going down into the cave itself though as we’ve not got the safety equipment to ensure we’d get back out in one piece. It’s a long drop down once you’re in there. Darryl goes off for a bit of investigation with Jane and Tony deciding shortly after that it was worth a look too. I stayed at the top with Johno just chatting about the forest and how many times he’d been here on visits - quite a few!

Darryl had a great time in the entrance to the cave, he found some magnificent spider webs and got as far as the initial ledge but then it disappeared into darkness so it was difficult to go further without much light. Tony made it down to Darryl too, the clamber across wasn’t easy though so they both decided to come back - airing on the side of caution incase I changed my mind and wanted a look I think! After a bit of a photo session we followed our track back through to the car and then set off to see if we could find the elusive platypus. From memory I think it was the Florentine River that we looked at, either way the platypus weren’t close by to the bridge today. We’d parked the car 100 metres away so the engine noise didn’t scare them and we were pretty quiet when we walked towards the watching spot but they were either long gone or swimming elsewhere today.

Johno’s adventure trip wasn’t over yet though and on the route to the next stop we saw the less attractive side to the logging industry. Cleared sections of forest left with piles of now dead trees lying on the ground. Johno tells us that some of these trees would have been over 300 years old and that Forestry Tasmania have been accused of making paper out of these magnificent trees which means they’re going into the chipper. What a tragic waste. Yes we all need paper, loo roll, cardboard etc etc but there’s no need to use that quality of tree. Isn’t that what plantation forests are used for? This sort of drive through the forestry area really opens your eyes to the industry and gives us something to think about the next time we’re mindlessly throwing paper away and not recycling it. I can see our front yard at home becoming a mass recycling station, there’s certainly a need to recycle paper and save the trees.

Our next stop was way up high on the mountain Tim Shea. Good old Telstra have a signal station up here so the route is driveable although you do need to be careful as the hairpin bends are too tight to get the Landcruiser round in one go! We are rewarded with unsurpassed views over the Florentine Valley. We climb up to the trig point and it’s stunning but very, very windy - definitely hold on to your hat sort of wind!

What a great trip out we’d had with Johno and it was good to see the forest first hand, afterall Tasmania is well known for its make up of trees - Huon Pine, Sassafras, Myrtle; we got to see them all today.

We’d brought some of the fresh Tuna for Johno, we couldn’t possibly eat it all so it was good to be able to share it. We did indulge in some back at camp though, it was gorgeous. We’d been told to cook it lightly and quickly on the BBQ. It was beautiful but tasted nothing like the Tuna you buy in the cans from the supermarket!

We spent time tonight getting ourselves ready for another day trip tomorrow. This time it’s to South Bruny Island and the weather forecast is for another bright, sunny day. Hurrah!

Dar and Sar

PS - blog title inspired in part by Mr Mark Coulsell who is indeed very 'good with wood'!

Additional photos below
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5th March 2010

'Lamb Chop'
Was 'Lamb Chop' at the 'Silly Billy's' stall? - Really clever guy that makes them. Did you stop at the fudge stalls? Yummm
10th March 2010

Indeed he is good with wood but also with new race cars but boy is he going to need your help when you're back so good job your not going to be long now!!! A little prayer - please god give Sarah the strength to resist buying one of those hats - Amen xxxx

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