Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Winter skies

One morning this week, we took the dogs for a walk along the river at Franklin. As the fog lifted, the sun cast long shadows southward and the trees stood bare against the sky. Winter is so lovely here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The St. Ayles skiff project

On the weekend we got a glimpse of progress on the lovely St. Ayles skiff currently being built by the Women on Water group at the Living Boat Trust in Franklin, with huge oars to match. Isn't the wood beautiful?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kermandie Falls

Today I walked to beautiful Kermandie Falls south west of Geeveston. It was a "reccie" for a walk I am leading for our social walking group in a few weeks. I have wanted to walk there for some time, for a couple of reasons. First, the walk forms the first part of the Hartz Track, the  historic route to Hartz Peak from Geeveston. According to a Parks and Wildlife Service document, the track was constructed in 1896 by the Geeves family, who were well known in the region as explorers, track cutters and prospectors. Second, in Bryce Courtenay's book The Potato Factory, the main female character Mary goes in search of her sons in the bush along the Kermandie River then the alpine Hartz region, which sounded like a highly improbable feat to me given how thick the bush would have been. Never mind the cold and the wet and the bands of timbergetters. I was keen to see it for myself.

I'm not sure why, but when I read "cross here" in the online instructions, I didn't think it meant "cross river here"... so only about 20 metres into the walk I found myself walking across a river. It wasn't deep, but I dithered about a bit deciding what to do because I wasn't keen on walking for a couple of hours with wet and cold feet. It is winter after all and I'm prone to chilblains on my feet. In the end I decided to avoid the stepping stones and just charge straight through the water. Happily, the combination of my new LOWA boots (purchased on holiday in Switzerland) and gaiters meant my feet remained dry and warm on the other side.

After a very short section on forestry tracks, the remainder of the track follows the course of the Kermandie River. I saw two lyrebirds, one at very close range. I heard a noise and looked up to see the bird's head poking out from behind a large tree. Pity my camera was in the backpack at that point. The rainforest is beautiful - thick and lush - and the track is wet. There were logs to clamber over and under, covered in bright green moss and various colourful fungi. Reaching the falls at the end, I had to walk through some falling water to get to the main falls. Boy did they roar. It was difficult to take photos as the lens fogged up. I'm a little worried about taking a group of people into this wild and watery wonderland, but would love to go back and keep walking through to Hartz Mountains - about 13km according to the sign.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cable car for Mount Wellington

On our trip to Switzerland in June we went on five different cable cars. Add to that several funiculars and chairlifts and many rack railways. We even went on a cable car that is "self-drive", quite a little adventure for us. It departs from a shed, takes a maximum of four people and has no operator - instead, there are instructions on the wall for how to operate it. Close door, wait for bell to ring, press button twice... that kind of thing. The Swiss sure know how to transport people, livestock and materials into steep and high places. Every town seems to have either a funicular or a cable car or both. They are either primarily for tourists or simply part of the local public transport network.

Although I'm not sure if the volume of visitors warrants it, or how it would be funded, I am having some trouble understanding the objections to the idea of having a cable car going up Mount Wellington in Hobart. I would have a problem with any proposal that means more cars on the mountain, such as increased parking, a new or wider road or a hotel at the top. It was actually pretty hard to spot most of the Swiss ones from from a short distance away, so the 'great scar on the landscape' argument doesn't hold water. They do use power of course, but otherwise the environmental impact seems to be low. And it's such a peaceful way to travel.

Last time I flew into Hobart, the view of a snow-capped Mount Wellington in the sun was stunning. I reckon if more people can experience the beauty of Hobart from the top it would be a good thing. Aside from the tourists, I think it would be a popular option for people who want to go up the the top and walk or mountain bike down or take the kids to play in the snow. Maybe, like some Swiss ski resorts, Mount Wellington could even become car-free? If you're interested in following the progress of the Mount Wellington cable car proposal, sign up to this Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Small joys

Today was full of small things that made me happy.
  • Positive feedback about my team at work.
  • The new butcher (Ziggy's) that has just opened in Huonville sells 'continental smallgoods', including some of my favourite German style cold meats like Paprikawurst, Schinkenwurst and Lachsschinken. I couldn't help but buy some. It's all made at his premises in Moonah. He can count me as a regular customer, that's for sure.
  • The hens laid two eggs for the second day in a row. One of them started laying an egg every few days in late June, but now production has expanded and soon we'll be eating quiches, cakes and eggs for breakfast again. Can't wait.
  • I have made it though the first 10 days of Dry July.
  • Cooked a delicious Massaman curry for dinner.
  • Made some progress on the jigsaw puzzle.
As I said, small things. But nice ones.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Meehan Range

Today we went on a short hike on the Meehan Range, the row of hills opposite Hobart looking north across the Derwent. They can also be seen alongside the plane when landing at Hobart airport. We climbed to the top of Flagstaff Hill for lunch and returned to same way. The walk is mostly on fire trails, perhaps not the most interesting walk but the views are lovely from the top - out to Pitt Water on one side and to Mount Wellington and surrounding peaks on the other. It was still very frosty at the bottom of the hill when we started out around 10am. The wattle was starting to bloom but its leaves and flowers were dusted in white. Puddles were frozen over. However, we all warmed up quickly on the uphill climb.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Window boxes

I returned home from Switzerland and Germany keen to install some window boxes or pots on our balcony filled with red and pink geraniums, like those that brighten up the houses there. It's on my to-do list for spring. Aside from being a reminder of our holiday, they will also remind me of doing jigsaw puzzles with pretty Swiss chalets on them as a child. Sweet.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Dry July

I have mentioned before how much I enjoy a nice Tassie cider, or pinot, or beer... so maybe I'm insane to sign up for Dry July, a month without alcohol. The goal of Dry July is to raise funds to help adults living with cancer (in my case, via the W.P. Holman Clinic at the Launceston General Hospital here in Tasmania) and also raise awareness of personal drinking habits and associated health issues.

After several weeks in Switzerland and Germany sampling the local brew in many different cities (sample below), my liver probably needs a break too. If you can support my effort through sponsorship, or fancy joining me, please do!