A Travellerspoint blog

Arthur River – Launceston

Day 280

rain 18 °C
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Awoke to rain. With howling winds last night I thought the van might be pushed over during the night. The rain continued throughout the day. We had 300kms to get back to Launceston for the Environmental Building & Lifestyle Expo, so got underway. Stopped at the very busy Wynyard for lunch and then continued on.

Made it to Launceston in time to catch Love the Beast – Eric Bana’s latest very personal offering. What a hoot. It was quite interesting. Even more so as we recognised some of the scenery that the Targa Tasmania “the big race” was filmed in. It was an interesting look at life, passion and of course, cars.

Stayed in a park in the rain.

Posted by cssc 21:30 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Arthur River

Day 279

overcast 18 °C
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Today we took the Arthur River “Reflections” boat trip. We left around 10:30am with about 10 others. We went up the river to where the Frankland (not the Franklin). Its quite long and wide, but it shallows out a bit about 20kms up stream. We met the two resident pairs of White Bellied Sea Eagles who resided in the river. They were thrown a salmon each to munch on. They flew down to the photographing masses and did put on a great show. Such regal creatures. Very impressive flying display.

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We then stopped back at the boat’s personal 50 acres of bush and waterfall to enjoy a lunch in the shelter provided and then a great walk out to the waterfall. We were each given a small photo album which had numbered pictures which we matched up with numbered plants along the walk. I think the walk was the best bit. The lunch was nice, apart from cask wine – eeew!

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I don’t think the trip @ $85PP with no eftpos or credit cards was a bit steep. I think the Gordon River World Heritage trip was much more beautiful and interesting.

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THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
North West Coast Tasmania

I cast my pebble onto the shore of Eternity.
To be washed by the Ocean of Time
It has shape, form and substance.
It is me
One day it will be no more.
More witness from the aeons
That today I came and stood
At the Edge of the World.

Brian Linder

Posted by cssc 02:04 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Stanley – Arthur River

Day 278

rain 18 °C
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Got a late start again after another rocky windy night. It was quite overcast today. Headed down to the Breakfast Bar for breaky. It was packed. It was also the cheapest place we’d seen in a long time. Enjoyed a nice breaky before walking up the street. Passed the Art Knot Lawyers shop, which if you look closely to the letters you can see they were pulled down and it previously said Stanley Art Works. Quite funny! But what a shop! There was no recession happening in here. With $4,000 blanket boxes, and $9,000 dining room tables – I didn’t even ask how much the chairs were – and they were sold! Awaiting collection. Amazingly beautiful handcrafted pieces of Tasmanian timber artwork. The blanket boxes were stunning. There was also painting, jewellery, hand woven woollen scarves, glass, pottery and all just lovely.

Oh by the by… The VDL Co still owns about 50,000 acres in the north western most corner of Tassie. They’ve fenced the lot off and only let people in who’ve paid lots of money. It appears its just as strange now as it was back in the 1800s! Not sure who owns it these days, but there is no mention made of it in town, as if they’ve disappeared. Very strange.

Up the road further were lovely artisans crafting cheese boards, jewellery boxes, pepper mills and many other great bowls and such. It was busy and bustling with tourists galore.

Decided we should move on to Smithton, just 15kms up the road. Stopping along the way at a lovely timber workshop; we were amazed at the fabulous timber collection on this massive rural property with the largest shed I’d seen in ages chock-a-block with timbers of all sorts!

Smithton was not as pretty as Stanley. Home to Gunns – need we say more, and also McCains, and other multinationals. It was factory city and not very appealing. Although they did have a nice waterfront area. We did hear from people in Stanley that they picked up some freshly caught and shucked oysters for $10/doz! We found out where they were but were closed by the time we got there.

Headed off down the road further to Greens Beach. We could see across the bay the fabulous wind farm that had been installed at the most West point of the state. Of course, it too, was windy. It was actually quite a distance on a dirt road, so we didn’t drive out, but found it peaceful and tranquil watching the blades slowly turn from this side of the bay.

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sunset @ Greens Beach

We then headed down to Arthur River where we’d heard there was another great boat trip to be had.

Stayed in the State Park run stopping spot as there was no where else to pull up. The car ferry crosses every day from 9am till 5pm. Only other way across was the pedestrian walk way or boat!

Posted by cssc 01:54 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Stanley – Day 2

Day 277

semi-overcast 19 °C
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Got a late start as we were shook around all night during the wind. It wasn’t much better in the morning, but it eased enough to allow us to nod off occasionally. Enjoyed breaky at one of the many eating establishments in town. We then felt empowered to try and crack The Nut. First we strolled around town and then down to the graveyard. We found these beautifully carved sandstones scattered around the town keeping the history out where people could find them. The oldest grave appeared to be 1815 but we can’t be sure as it was quite illegible as the sea and wind had scoured its sandstone cuts. The cemetery was really well placed on a hill overlooking the crashing waves crossing bass straight. It was eerie and tranquil all at once.

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The walk to The Nut was fraught with wind. We staggered up the very steep incline and met some people walking down who offered us their tickets to ride back on the chair lift. We walked the 2km track around the top of The Nut, almost being blown off at points around the cliff edges. They’d had some tree replanting (?) and it provided a fabulous windbreak, but many of the lookouts were dangerous and blocked off as they didn’t have the money to repair them and fix them up.

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view from Highfield to The Nut

I took the chairlift down, which was quite scary as it was so steep! Steve braved the walk down the hill.

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We then hightailed it over to Highfield, the HQ of the VDL Co Agent. What a fabulous house. Steeped in history and with $3m already spent you can hardly see where its gone! The National Parks & Wildlife who run the estate, have done a fabulous job of interpreting the history and famous people connected with the site. They have great plans for the site including café and further renovations throughout.

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We made it back in time to await the 5:30pm opening of the pub for the Bush Slam night of nights! It looked like most of the town turned out to see it. What it is is a 6 part program hosted by HG Nelson. He is given 6 different locations around Australia that are unique and interesting. He takes along a famous poet and they meet up with a local poet and they have 3 days in the town to meet the locals, tour around and then they have 2 minutes to recite a poem on the meaning of the town. Its quite interesting. When we met James Blundell yesterday after the filming, we were admiring the building and he offered to take a photo of us in front of it. Steve said he’d rather a picture of him with me. We walked and talked with him back to his cottage and he was just fascinated with the appeal and history of the town. He ended up doing his poem, and as it turned out a song he wrote that afternoon also, on Juliana Curr, the nearly 3 year old daughter of Edward Curr who tragically died on the property while playing with their pet dog in a cart. There is a memorial in the garden to her. It apparently affected her mother so much, she was never the same again. I was quite taken by his poem. It was quite heart warming when you knew the tragic story of Juliana.

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Anyway the show goes to air around Grand Final time we were told. It was quite interesting being part of a studio audience as it were. HG had to make the legal announcement that; anyone who was in the room agreed to be filmed and if there was anyone in the room who was with someone they shouldn’t be with then they should leave. It was really funny, but they had to give their legal statements before they could begin filming. We also had to do some pre-recorded clapping so they could dub it in later if the sound wasn’t quite right! It was quite surreal. And as quickly as it started, it was all over. Then they got on to James doing his song and everyone kicking back and enjoying the band for the rest of the night. We were the last ones to leave the bar for the night. Met some interesting people from Sydney and chatted to them for most of the night. I think Steve is going to have a saw head in the morning.

Posted by cssc 00:35 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Wynyard - Stanley

Day 274

sunny 20 °C
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Got a late start and Midget off to the vet for her second injection. Enjoyed a lazy coffee and muffin at the nice florist café and then decided we really should head out of town.

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Finally got our 1.2kms walk in from town to Fossil Bluff. Its an amazing 380 million years old and deposited by glacial action. The view is spectacular 360o of fabulous coastline can be seen from the top.

Meandered our way to Stanley. It was a comfortable 60km trip down the road to the Northern and most Western town on the Island. Steeped in history is Stanley, and full of stories as well as the buildings that tell the tales.

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The claim to its modern day fame is “the Nut”. Stanley’s point is covered in what is believed to be a huge lava vent that came up from under ground and overflowed into a huge mound of solid rock. In 1892 while upgrading their port facilities, they lit some humongous amount of explosives to try and use some of the rock for their boat harbour, but all it managed to do was chip the surface of a bit of rock and there it stayed. Until 12 years later it fell off the side of the cliff making a large straight edge to the rock. No one has ever tried to mould it again since then.

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VDL Office - now accommodation

Stanley also has a very chequered past from the dealings of the Van Diemen’s Land Company’s ownership and opening up of the area. VDL Co were a company commissioned by Royal Ascent from England. They fought tooth and nail for a large chunk of what was thought to be the most prosperous part of central Tasmania. They were not well favoured by Governor Arthur who would only give them this untamed corner of the Island, as he didn’t wish them to have any power. They are well known in the history of the area as the Government of NW Tasmania, as they appeared to be a law unto themselves.

Though plagued with problems, they set up shop in Stanley building a granite stone building in 1825. They managed to kill 95% of their 5000 sheep within the first 12 months of arriving in the area. Its now considered the most fertile land in the country. Sadly due to the total deforestation of the countryside, its also the windiest part of the country too!

They appointed an Agent as their manager in Tasmania. The first was Edward Curr. He was not very well liked and was blamed for many an Aboriginal massacre in the region. The VLD Co posted a fifty pound reward for the capture of the last Aboriginal family in the region. They were responsible for the extinction of the Aboriginal people from this corner of the island.

The company constructed a managers’ residents called Highfield House from 1832-1835. This housed the Curr’s and their 15 children! It was built entirely of convict labour. They even built a fortress to house the convicts in while constructing the house.

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The town consists of a well preserved main street where the Stanley Hotel still appears to stand as it did in all the old photos that survive of the town. The rest of the street consists of cute eating places, art gallery, and many holiday accommodation places.

We also drove up the main street to see HG Nelson and James Blundell filming their up and coming TV show on ABC ”Bush Slam”. We couldn’t believe our luck. We’d heard they were working on it, but had no idea when it was on. We walked past the pub to see the sign emblazoned on the balcony inviting all and sundry to join in the studio audience tomorrow night at 5:30pm. What timing!

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James Blundell and me

We managed to score a table at the pub for dinner and there was a huge wait. We’d heard that the Stanley Hotel won the Hotel’s Association of Australia’s Award in 2008 for Best Bistro Counter Meal. It was certainly showing in the packed atmosphere of over 250 people fed in about 1.5 hours! It was buzzing. We really enjoyed our dinner.

Staggered back to our van on the waterfront. In for a very windy night.

Posted by cssc 00:28 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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