Saturday, December 28, 2019

The train that never was

During our trip to Tasmania's wild west coast just before Christmas, we had booked a full day trip on the West Coast Wilderness Railway from Strahan to Queenstown and return. Unfortunately, just 15 minutes into the journey the loco broke down and we were returned to the main station with a full refund. The staff were all really good about it. And at least we have completed half of the journey before. We'll go back one day no doubt.

So that left us with a lot of free time that day. I sat on the front verandah of the terrace cottage we were staying in with views over Macquarie Harbour and read most of Tasmanian author Heather Rose's terrific book Bruny.  Before dinner, we went to see the longest running play in Australia (25 years and still going strong), The Ship That Never Was. It didn't sound like quite my thing and we were in two minds about going, but with unexpected free time we decided to go. I'm glad we did. The cast tell the story of a group of convicts who stole a ship being built at the Sarah Island penal settlement and sailed to South America - but in a fun, entertaining and participatory kind of way. Heave-ho.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Peace and goodwill

Unlike many parts of Australia blanketed in bushfire smoke, we were lucky in southern Tasmania. Christmas showed up with mostly clear sunny days. It came and went far too quickly. There was the now traditional Christmas Eve cruise on the Nancy with friends. On Christmas Day our dear friends and former neighbours included us in their family Christmas lunch, which was followed by a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity. Then a dog walk and a beer down on the river. Perfect.

Friday, December 20, 2019

The wild west

I took the week of my birthday off work. David and I drove via Queenstown to Strahan on the wild west coast of Tasmania, a five hour trip from our place. I had been there once before, at the start of the Tasmanian Leaders program, when it was 30+ degrees for four days straight! This was the first time we've been there together. The highlight was absolutely the Gordon River Cruise. David had booked so long ago that we had the very front seats upstairs. The staff were friendly, the food delicious and it was incredible to see Hells Gates, Sarah Island and a glimpse of the World Heritage Wilderness in Tasmania's south west. I am thankful for those who fought for its existence. We also visited the extensive West Coast Heritage Centre museum in Zeehan and walked to Montezuma Falls and Hogarth Falls, two of the 60 Great Short Walks in Tasmania. A good short break.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The inaugural Tassal Ten

Until recently, I was one of the those who think the words "fun" and "run" don't belong in the same sentence. Well today I completed my first 10km fun run, the inaugural Tassal Ten at beautiful Dover in Tasmania's far south. It was great fun and I'll definitely be back for more. While I walked a few (mainly uphill) sections, I was happy enough to have run most of it. For proof of actual running see photo right - that's me in the purple shirt.

It was such a great community run event, raising funds for Hobart's Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. At about the halfway point the rain came down but it didn't stop the smiles on everyone's faces. There was an excellent contingent of Huon Runners / Geeveston parkrun folk with infectious enthusiasm to share. After the adults run there was a 2km run called Annabelle's run. It is so great to see so many local kids getting out there with their family doing something both healthy and fun. And great work by the volunteers who made it happen.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Summer, apparently

The first week of summer, well, wasn't. But then the warmer, drier weather of summer doesn't really seem to start in Tasmania until January. Then it runs through to the end of March. We've had a lot of rain and wind this week and temperatures down to about 4 degrees. On one of our morning dog walks this week, all three of us got completely drenched in the pouring rain. So when David spotted dog coats for sale at the local pet store later that day he snapped one up in XL for Gretchen. It's even in the Tassie state hi-viz uniform, you can't miss her. We thought she may object to it, but to our surprise, she really seems to love wearing it, even seems a little proud! She's given passing drivers a laugh too... but she doesn't seem to know she looks a bit silly. At least it saves a lot of towel drying.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

End of an era

After a few false alarms and more comebacks than John Farnham (just joking guys), the wonderful Village Antiques of Franklin has finally closed its doors, going out with a bang of the auctioneer's gavel. The Bowmont building which housed the store has been sold and lovely new owners have moved in - more on that later I am sure. After viewings on Friday and Saturday, a good crowd turned up on Sunday for the huge auction of remaining stock, held in the old evaporators factory on the Franklin foreshore. We popped in and out during the day and missed out on the few items we had our eye on, but never mind. I could see just how much work had gone into it by owners Shane and Jane and some trusty helpers. Luckily for Franklin, they are not going far, just a short way up the hill. Now, who wants to buy the huge evaporators building and be part of the exciting renewal of Franklin?

Friday, November 22, 2019

Six cygnets

We'd heard from our friends at the good ship Yukon that there were cygnets around in Franklin, and on one of our dog walks along the Huon River in Franklin this week we got lucky, spotting this pair of proud parents with six beautiful tiny babies! I don't recall seeing so many in one batch or such little ones before. They came close for a look before sailing away across the river, hopefully to a safe spot.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Not quite the Point to Pinnacle

"Good morning and welcome to the Point to Longley!" boomed the man on the loudspeaker at the start line of the Point to Pinnacle event this morning, to a mixture of cheers, boos and laughter from the crowd. I had found out half an hour earlier from one of the friendly registration people that due to ice and snow on the last 4km of road leading to the top of kunanyi / Mt Wellington, we would be using the alternate route to the Longley Pub. It was not considered safe for all the support buses to get to the finish line.

While it looked sunny up on the mountain from Hobart, I had seen the piles of snow on Sleeping Beauty as I drove in, and as we walked closer to Fern Tree, the wind was very icy and waves of rain were passing through - so probably snowing at the top. You can see the rainbow over the mountain in one of my photos below. All along the route local residents came out to watch and cheer, some playing music (see the couple on the bagpipes at Fern Tree below!), some handing out snacks or water and others offering high fives. It was pretty incredible seeing the runners come past. There are some super fit folk out there.

Completing the Point to Pinnacle, a half-marathon length walk (for me anyway), has been on my bucket list for ages, and despite finishing the course today in 3 hours and 1 minute, I still haven't done it! Now I'll have to try again next year. You just never know what the mountain is going to throw at you.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Huon Show 2019

It was a pretty damp and chilly morning, so we thought the crowds might be down a bit at the Huon Show as we drove out there this morning, but no. The car park was almost full and there were plenty of people streaming in. We headed straight for the dog show, just in time to catch the Bernese Mountain Dogs. Such a beautiful and handsome collection of dogs, and as we know some of their handlers and breeders, we were allowed to hold onto their leads and pat and cuddle them while other dogs were in the show ring, lucky us! Our friend Chris will no doubt be pleased with his first placing and best in section in the inaugural beer brewing competition, and another friend Peta took out of the several baking and crafts prizes as usual - she's a talented cook. There was poultry, cattle, horses and the very popular baby goats. Wood chopping, dog high jump, historic machinery displays... what's not to love at a country show.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

New eatery in town

Last week the revitalisation of Franklin continued, with the much-anticipated opening of Osteria at Petty Sessions, a lovely new Italian bistro. It's wonderful to see the old Petty Sessions building, a former court house so beautifully renovated and being used again. And it's less than 500m from our front door! We wish Sofia and Martino much success with their new venture. As much as we will miss the best-ever pizza they used to make at their old premises, the menu at Osteria has something for everyone. To start, we shared a salumi board with house-cured meats, house bread and pickles, and our group opted for pasta, osso buco and scallops for mains. The desserts were generous with some Italian favourites you'd expect like gelato with brandied cherries (I loved it) and and kick-ass tiramisu (as it said on the menu). And then there's the all-local beverage list. Yum.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


Almost ten years in Tasmania and it doesn't get any easier to see the large number of dead native animals on our roads. But this morning's roadkill sighting as I jogged back down New Road in Franklin was particularly devastating. A dead pademelon, and less than a metre away, her dead joey. I shed a little tear as I moved them off the road.

In the nine years we lived at the very top of that road, I was lucky not to have hit any animals, but we saw hundreds dead on the road in that time. Mostly pademelons, wallabies and possums, a couple of our beloved wombats and some bandicoots. Many of them are killed thanks to people driving too fast for the conditions, especially at dusk. But sometimes they just hop out of the bush and straight under your car, and you've no hope of seeing them in time. Poor little guys.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The first bit

This morning I completed my recce of the Point-to-Pinnacle course, in three stages. This time I did the first bit - from the event start at Wrest Point Casino down on the River Derwent up along the Huon Road to Fern Tree, all the while looking up at the top of kunanyi / Mt Wellington in the distance and thinking, yikes! That's where this thing ends. For the return trip I chose the scenic route, down the Pipeline Track and through Waterworks Reserve before hitting the side streets of Sandy Bay back to the car. 18.7km all up.

It was a gorgeous morning before the rain passed through this afternoon. I hope the weather is kind for the actual event. If I add together the three stages I've walked, I did it in just over 3 hours 30 minutes, with just a few stops to take photos and tie shoelaces. So walking it in one go I guess I'll be tired and a bit slower, but I think I can complete it within the 4 hours and 40 minute time limit. Two weeks to go...

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Urban echidna

We came back from our drizzly dog walk this morning to find an echidna in our driveway! They were a regular sight at this time of year when we lived up in the hills, but not what we expected to see down here on the main road. We were worried that he (she?) might wander out across the highway so we set up a barricade across the side gate. David tried to pick him up to relocate the prickly fella to a better location, but he dug in firmly and stuck like a limpet - see picture below.

Later on, David spotted that he had moved to some gravel on the other side of our yard, where he was able to pick him up (with thick gloves) and deposit him in a recycling tub. We let him go in the paddock behind the neighbour's place where he's less likely to venture out on the busy road. Such amazing little creatures.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Springs to the Pinnacle and back

My legs were already a bit sore from yesterday's Geeveston parkrun when I set out from the Springs halfway up kunanyi / Mt Wellington at 7.45am Sunday morning. The road to the Pinnacle was closed at first, so it was a lovely, quiet uphill road walk without the noise and fumes of passing cars. Until the final kilometre that is, by which time the road was open again and carloads of visitors streamed past. A few runners passed me on their way to the summit, I guess training for the Point-to-Pinnacle as well. I reached the Pinnacle just after 9am, about a 500 metre climb in 7km. At the top, I took a short break, long enough for a few quick photos and a snack before walking back down via the Zig Zag and Organ Pipes Tracks, arriving back at the car by 10.15am. I am feeling more confident that I can complete the walk within the allotted 4 hours.