Important, nay vital, news before I start the blog. For those of you who read the last blog, my camera died. I took it to Olympus Repair Centre in Sydney and got it back all repaired and good as new. When the repair centre heard I was leaving on the next leg of our travels they replaced all the innards, in a day, and did it all under warranty so it didn’t cost me a cent. It’s practically a brand new camera. Thank you Olympus Australia.
Following on from when we left off, we drove from Sydney to the delightfully named seaside town of Mollymook. We were meeting up with John and Madeline Pitt for dinner. I worked with John in Burroughs Machines from 1976 to 1982 when they emigrated to Australia. I used to babysit their kids Stephen and Amanda. Stephen is now 6ft 2in and Amanda is now Mayor of Shoalhaven. A lot happens in 33 years I guess. It was wonderful catching up with them after all this time. We now have a stopping point on the map on our return trips back up the East coast.
While in Mollymook we took a walk along the beach and saw this poster from Take 3 for the sea.
Next day we drove the 5 and a half hour journey to Marlo for our overnight at the Marlo Hotel. The last few kilometres were in pitch dark through a forest. We always drive slowly at night on country roads in case we hit a wild animal. We’ve seen quite a few small animals and a kangaroo or two on our previous drives in similar conditions but this time we saw not one but two deer grazing at the side of the road on two different parts of the journey through the forest. Jenni grabbed the phone and fired of a few shots to capture the moment. It was pitch black, the deer was far away and running for it’s life and we were going at 30kph. This is the best picture we got. No Photoshop editing was used in this picture. Honest.
Anyway, that’s what it looks like in my head. This is what it really looked like. That’s the Deer’s ass as it ran away from the lights.
From the outside the Marlo Hotel looks like a basic boozer with rooms. And that’s what it is, however, what a welcome we had. Check in was from the guy in the bar who gave us a free drink each as a welcome pack. He then personally showed us to our room which was clean and basic but the newly built bathroom was space age and amazing. Food in the restaurant was pretty good too. Portions were HUGE. Drink measures weren’t, measured that is. One round Jenni asked for a brandy, he dug around, found a bottle, dusted it off and poured nearly a half pint of it into a glass. I love this place. Jenni had a couple more brandy’s just to be sure that wasn’t a one off. It wasn’t.
They also had a No Straw policy, it just got better.
After dinner we repaired to the public bar to watch some live music. In the tiny front bar two guys were sitting in the middle of the games machines belting out rock tunes like pro’s. No idea who they are but they could definitely play and sing. I had a curious thought they were two Rock Gods who retired to live in the peaceful sleepy sea side village of Marlo and who do this on a Friday Night for the mate who owns the pub and for a couple of free beers.
Before we left Marlo to drive to catch the ferry to Tassie we took a quick look around. Marlo sits on an estuary and is surrounded by water. It’s off the beaten track as the main road to Melbourne goes right past it. It is very beautiful and very quiet. Yet another place we put a pin in the map to stop a while longer next time through.
Next Stop Tasmania
We drove to Melbourne and caught the night ferry to Devonport.
The crossing was calm and we got a good nights sleep. The next morning we woke up to a crisp, cloudless sunrise in Devonport.
This time, rather than going down the A1 again, we took the scenic route to the Shack over the Central Lakes region. The morning was clear and bright and yet again Tasmania had put on a show for us. I must have stopped 10 times on the road just to try and capture the views. It was so very beautiful. The Central Lakes are on the mountain plateau that sits in the middle of Tasmania. From Deloraine you turn right and head into the hills through the forests.
Along the road is Pine Lake which also has one of the Tasmania’s Short Walks.
It was cold in the mountains but very still and clear and bright.
There are information signs about the lake and the Pencil Pine trees it is named after all along the path.
A few steps farther we disturbed a kangaroo having a drink. Again, I raised my camera as quick as I could and fired off a few shots. This is the best I got. I guess my dreams of being a professional wildlife photographer should be put on hold for a while.
Pine Lake is quite picturesque, especially on a day like this.
We had to do the obligatory Selfie.
Did I mention picturesque?
A Currawong came to see us off. Sat in it’s tree and screeched us a salute as we left. It was a fitting send off. Although it could just as easily have been signalling to Skippy who was just out of sight waiting for us to disappear.
We drove onwards and upwards until we reached the Lake district in the Central Highlands. There are many lakes in this area, some man made by Hydro Tasmania. Hydro Tasmania is the main power company in Tassie, 98% of Tassie power is generated from renewable energy like wind and hydro. From Wikipedia, here’s a list of all the lakes in this area.
Lagoon of Islands
Lake King William
Little Pine Lagoon
I suspect Little Pine Lagoon is where we have just come from. Might come back next July when Lake King William traditionally turns orange. Passing the Great Lake the mist sat patiently on the horizon like it wanted to have a picture taken, so I obliged.
A cormorant sat on a submerged tree focused on catching it’s dinner, oblivious to the wonder that surrounds it.
Last time we were here Central Tasmania was devastated by bush fires, 187,000 hectares of forest was destroyed. That’s 463,000 acres an area the size of Buckinghamshire. We drove though that area and the burned out trees were all around. There was no place to stop to take the pictures to show you but we did manage to stop on the way back so some picture of this later in the blog. Here’s a satellite picture of the size of the area affected. I did not take this picture, I’m not tall enough.
All the houses are built of wood around here, we saw some houses with burned out trees just metres from the walls. I’ve no idea how they survived.
At the end of the Central Highland’s drive we stopped in Bothwell for the 2 P’s only one of which is petrol. Bothwell is very Scottish-ish and is home to the Australian Golf Museum.
This is the State School.
Outside the visitor centre was was a big red bearded guy in a kilt reading the sign. It was a perfect scene for a picture. But every time I tried to take his pic he looked over at me so I nonchalantly dropped the camera, whistled a bit of a tune and looked away as if I wasn’t interested. Never did get his picture. I guess my dreams of being a professional street photographer should be put on hold for a while.
We made it to Carlton and our Airbnb. It’s a lovely place very near the shack and the beach.
Maddy and Steve came for dinner the night we arrived and it was lovely.
We’re going to be in Tassie for about 3 weeks. We’ve some final jobs to do on the Shack. Some of which include, moving the new shed to a new and better place across the garden, fitting a sink to Shack One, sorting out the grey water recycling, installing a rain water capture system and fixing the toilet flush. Quite a bit to do while still holding down a full time job and looking after Andy and walking him along the beach every day. How did we get on? Read on.
Moving the new shed
Although it wasn’t mentioned in the previous blog we bought a shed, a tin shed off Easyshed on line. It was for storage and for some extra space to do stuff. Steve, Maddy, Jenni and I built this new shed in the perfect place, beside Shack One. Perfect to get power and water to it and to block the neighbours view. When it was up we realised it wasn’t a good place at all. It looked incongruous, out of place, wrong. So we decided to move it across the garden to a better place under the trees. So I moved it with the help of a guy called Simon who I found on Airtasker. It took us a week to build it and me a day to move it with Simon’s help. It was a big day. Here’s the pics, few words.
Scrappy supervised the whole shenanigans from his observation post.
You can see the sunset in the clouds, nearly ran out of daylight.
Next day I dug a trench across the garden and dragged some electrical cables and conduit across to it so we could have power and lights.
The new water pump was a bit too powerful for the old toilet. The pressure made the inlet run and run and waste water. I got a new inlet and fitted it so all good. I really didn’t think you needed to see pictures of that.
Rain Water Harvesting
Water is precious. When you are off mains water grid you become even more aware of how much water you use as you have to fill up the tank and can see it go down with every turn of the tap. Harvesting rain water was important therefore but, due to a slight miscalculation of scale the water inlet of the new tank was above the level of the roof of the shacks. Now I’m not sure if you know this but water will not flow upwards, no matter how much you kick yourself about the slight miscalculation of scale. The solution I came up with was to fit a small 300 litre holding tank and direct the rain from the shacks into that, then use a submersible fresh water pump with an automatic sensor to pump it up to the big tank. The solution was designed, fitted, tested and it worked extremely well. Better than I could imagine. I forgot to take any pictures of my design and handiwork, maybe when I go back I’ll do that.
New Kitchen and grey water system
It started raining, so I used the new shed to do this project. The project was to install a sink in Shed One and a waste water outlet to go into the grey water recycling system.
I designed a basic frame for the sink and kitchen unit. A trip to Bunnings later I had all the bits I needed. The frame was 4 rectangles joined at each corner to form a long box I could set a counter top on. I’d cut a sink sized hole in the counter top and fit the sink.
I plumbed it in, removed the old temporary tap and ran the waste water out to the grey water catchment tank. We still have to build the grey water filtering system so for now the water is used for the trees and the plants. I installed the shelves the cooker and the work bench. It all works a treat.
Although we were staying in a different house Andy followed us on our walk between the two and sat outside while we were there.
We had timed our trip this time to coincide with Maddy’s birthday. On our last weekend we all went out to Lucinda, a wine bar in Hobart for some food and good drinks.
Lucinda’s is a really interesting place. They don’t have an large menu but what they do have is excellent.
The wine list was extensive but they had only two beers, Spotty Dog IPA and Venom Golden Ale. I had to try both. The Spotty Dog was excellent, hoppy and full bodied. The Venom Golden Ale didn’t have enough venom in it for me but was good all the same.
Most pictures I saw of Lucinda’s on the internet was of this poster of Naturist Wines they have on the wall. I thought I’d try a different angle on it and get in the Lucinda logo at the same time.
I’d got a ping from my Aurora Watch app that the Aurora Australis was going to be visible tonight. On the way home we stopped by the beach and I set the camera on a fence post, pointed it southwards, set the timer for 30 seconds and let it rip. It was dark but the moon was high. This was the result. The Aurora was barely visible but I like the mood of the picture. I guess my dreams of being a professional Aurora photographer should be put on hold for a while.
It was a fitting end to a perfect day. The next day we were leaving the shack on the next part of journey.
Leaving the shack
This section should really be titled “Leaving Andy”. This last morning I was up early and went to the shop for some milk for our coffee. The sky was filled with wonderful light so I stopped at a few spots along the short drive a fired off a few shots.
Another person with the same idea as me was there that morning. We nodded at each other as I passed as an acknowledgement of mutual interest. He checked out my camera and lens and I checked his out. He looked broken as he raised his camera one handed to his eye as I left. Thank you Olympus, again.
I spotted the perfect place for Andy and Jenny to park their boat when they come visit.
We packed the car for our next trip. Doomsday preppers have two acronyms for how they are packing their rucksacks, BOB and INCH. BOB means Bug Out Bag which you pack for short stays, INCH means I’m Not Coming Home where you pack for all eventualities. We’d had a BOB pack for the last few months, this was our INCH pack. The roof box was back on, the tent was tied down to the roof rack and the car was filled with all our stuff. We swung by the shack to say bye to Maddy and Andy and take him for a last walk along the beach. I’ve not shown the walk from the shack to the beach before, here it is.
One of the constant companions on this journey around Australia has been the seagulls. I’ve been observing their behaviour. In Stanley we got swooped by dozens of them who were protecting their nests, every time you stop for a meal at the side of the road they turn up and screech for scraps. The young ones with the brown flecked feathers just stand and chirp annoyingly and constantly like the moaning, winging little teenagers they are. This young one on the beach this morning was doing just that. It was whining and poking its mothers beak hoping for a feed from mum. Mum was obviously pissed off with junior still living at home and leaching off its parents and was having none of it. Tough love from mum, go feed yourself junior.
And so with a tearful farewell to
Andy Maddy we set off for Devonport. Andy was heartbroken. He almost woke up from his sleep in his comfy bucket.
We drove back to Devonport along the Central Plateau drive again. As we drove up into the mountains we witnessed the secret Tasmania Space Agency rocket launch taking place. Not many people know about this. You heard it here first folks. Rumour has it they have a breeding pair of Tasmanian Tigers they are planning to send into the future, like Buck Rogers, to come back and breed when humans are more enlightened.
As we drove through the forest this time I managed to stop and get a picture of the burned out trees. The pics do not, in any way, portray the scale of the fire. We drove through scenes like this for many kilometres.
The area is still beautiful though and will recover. I took this on the descent down towards Deloraine.
We were in Devonport for two nights. Earlier Jenni discovered Aussie Rock legends Mental As Anything were playing in Devonport the night before we left so we went a day early to see them. We checked into our Airbnb, got suited and booted and caught an Uber to the Pub Rock Diner.
Pub Rock Diner, Devonport
Avargo Groove warmed us up before the Mentals came on. They were pure rock, I loved them. I’d go see them again.
Then Mental As Anything came on. The only original member still touring with the band is Greedy Smith. Martin Plaza is battling cancer and can’t tour a lot. Greedy Smith really threw himself into the songs, a true showman. Their tunes are catchy and the night was a blast.
We’re staying in a small studio Airbnb as I am writing this. The ferry terminal is right next door. I took a wander to the end of the road, about 20 meters, this is the view.
Devonport is situated at the mouth of the Mersey River. Devonport used to be two towns on opposite sides of the river called Formby and Torquay. For 160 years a ferry service operated between the two towns, even after they were joined as Devonport in 1893. In 2014 it was stopped. Sometime after it was started up again as I saw it operate this morning. This therefore is the Ferry across the Mersey. The small passenger ferry is called the Spirit of Devonport that, for $3, transports you from one side to the next.
This sculpture stands at the mouth of the Mersey river. It’s called the Spirit of the Sea.
Tomorrow night we board this ferry and leave Tasmania. Forecast is calm, hope it is correct.
After 3 weeks or so we leave Tasmania. Our travel plans take us from Melbourne, across the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide then across the Nullabor to Albany and WA.
Till next time.