Friday, September 27, 2013

Trip to Strahan Oct 12

Day 1 - Elwood seems to be a psychic when it comes to us leaving on a trip. He was more than a little excitable yesterday, and last night was glued to my leg.  

To try to tick him, we packed the morning we left, an interesting ploy, but I discovered I wasn't very organised when I looked for things I should have packed, later in the day.  However, he'll be happy with Jake looking after him at home I'm sure.  

Now to us. We left early (as the Elwood alarm went off as usual at 5:30 am)  Packed our gear and Graham's work stuff into a 3 ton budget truck and stopped by Parks HQ to check on the weather as it was cold and snowy in Kettering/Hobart. The forecast was … well it seemed OK for us stalwart Canadian drivers, but they were forecasting weather Armageddon, however  we left with the caviat, if it's too snowy we'll stop at Derwent Bridge.

The weather was cold but the snow had stopped so it was winter wonderland magic along the way. We travelled through beautriful snow laden branches, which released their burden of snow in slurpy plops as the temperatures increased. It was warm enough we stopped for a snow squeaking under our feet walk along the way... where I saw a snowman who looked a lot like Graham!

It was wonderful.

We came out of winter to the crest leading into Queenstown where you'd never know it had snowed.

We made the turn to go to Rosebery to find Montazuma falls to install a sign on our way to Strahan. Rosebery is a mining town with a wonderful bakery (the best coffee eclairs and puff pastry like my dear Mom used to make) which made us ponder if this was a place we might want to retire to?  Part time at least, as it was a picturesque town in the mountains, beautiful scenery, the people were lovely, with a real community feel. However we did laugh and wonder if it was too good to be true, sparking made up stories of what 'could' happen 
     "No one comes out after dark, at 7 PM the zombies and vampires come out." or something like that.

The city decorated itself with mining doo dads - which I thought looked great, it sported a golf course which looked good from the road, beautiful scenery and stunning mountain views. If only we knew about the local hunting and fishing… we'll have to think some more on this one.

We made the turn to Montazuma Falls and the drive in reminded me of seveal places we've been over the years. Paluma outside of Townsville, Cowichan or for that matter, almost any old forrest areas in Canada, with a range of beautiful scenery along the way.

It's physical work, this sign installation, I felt a sweat coming on just watching. Graham is mister "leave no trace" and even crinkled leaves and grass around the bottom of the sign so it looked like it had been there for ages. Job done, we carries on our way to Straham, via Zeehan - although the turn off was before we got into the actual township of Zeehan. Drat!! 

I cannot believe the difference in scenery we experienced in a day as we went from our village of Kettering, through the big city of Hobart, along the mighty Derwent river, through the central plateau, the forested area of Tarahlea, then the snow laden highlands, barren mine stripped Queenstown, more mountains, then coastal scrub to Strahan. Yikes, what a feast for our senses.

We finally arrived at Risby Cove in Strahan at 5:30 pm, to a wonderfully welcoming woman who apologised that she upgraded us to the waterfront top floor unit as there had been a cancellation. The suite was already warmed up, and on her advice, we opened a Tassie Pinot from the mini bar. Well, actually she gave me a 'taster' of the wine which I carried up to the room and finished, then opened the bottle.  Graham had pre booked us into their restaurant for dinner at 7 which gave us lots of time to relax on the deck sipping away while enjoying the amazing view of Strahan village, by sunset. (To be truthful, we quickly moved inside and enjoy the view from the couch as it was stupidly cold.)

Dinner was nice, but we were pooped, Graham having such a big day driving then digging through the rocky ground to install the signs, and I was exhausted from watching.  What can I say? I had sympathy back pains, as I'm a good wife.

Day two he'll be installing a sign for Hogarth Falls somewhere in the city, but I suspect instead of writing, I'll wander into the village, pick up a few things, check out his installation then have dinner with Mandi and Charlie our friends from Hobart, who coincidentally are also in Strahan on Friday night.  Re my writing - I think it's becoming apparent, I need to book 3 weeks away alone somewhere secluded, with no adventures or anyone to speak to… as I cannot ignore a new adventure…

Day 2

Even without "Elwood the alarm dog", we were up early as the sun brightened our room. I wandered through the living room, to the kitchenette appreciating the ocean view as I filled our little suite with the wonderful smell of coffee. We sat in bed sipping away enjoying the view. After our lazy start, we went on the hunt for somewhere to have breakfast in the Village. Clearly there is no early start in this lovely holiday town.

While Graham left messages to track down his Parks brethren, we settled on a coffee and toasties at Banjos, watching with interest as the tourists gathered on the docks for boarding on the first Gordon River cruise of the day.

Next we killed a bit of time, wandering through the cruise centres, then the wood turning centre waiting for Graham's calls to be returned. Being so drawn to the warmth of wood (and I do so love the amazing burl bowls) we discussed picking up some small trinket of wood to take home.  Once the door to the shop opened I closed my eyes and breathed in, my senses  overwhelmed with the wonderful smells of the exotic woods. I could sat on the floor and just breathed it all in, but we had a job to do so didn't linger. Mind you there were some lovely pieces, but the price tags were in the thousands. Yikes!!

"We should get our own chunk of wood, I could carve my own piece."  Graham murmured as we admired the words. Hmmm… the thought burbled in the back of our minds as we focused back on the reason for our trip here.

My planned two days of writing had already gone to pot with yesterdays adventures, and I knew I wasn't going to leave Graham to work on his own when there were no Parks folks on site for the day, so I put my little laptop aside, rugged up and was Graham's "off sider" for the day.  Interestingly enough, the sign install for Strahan ended up being about 400 meters farther along the road from our accommodation - in "People's Park".  While Graham tackled taking the old sign down, I wandered back to the Gallery in our accommodation to ask a few questions and put on warmer socks to battle the cold. By the time I wandered back, when Graham spoke to me from the cool of the shade as he wielded crow bar and shovel, I marvelled at the sweat running down his brow as puffs of steam formed from the cold as he spoke. 

My job then, was to locate a water source and hold tools as required. We both chuckled as I finally figured out the giant "P P" ornately worked into the iron gate of the toilet block actually stood for People's Park and not the other options which came to mind.

Install completed, we turned left to explore the other end of the Esplanade eager to see the shack we had thought of buying 8 years ago when we were in Townsville.  What a funky little community we discovered.

Next we drove to the opposite side of town to off load the old signs at the tip, and what do we drive past?  A large site filled with massive piles of Huon pine.

Note to selves - stop on the way back.  After the tip we took a short side trip to look at some waterfront lots, and scratched our heads as the water was visible waaaay off in the distance, then noticed a small sign which said in a high tide, water covered the planes in front of the lots.  Just goes to show, you have to do your homework when looking at land for sale.

Back to our wood yard, Graham pulled out his phone and dialed the number. As luck would have it, the fellow was 5 minutes away, so we looked through the fence at the masses of wood on the other side while we waited. What a coincident to find he's the forestry fellow Graham needed to contact about removing the signs at Montazuma Falls. Small world eh?  We wandered around the stockpile of salvaged Huon pine looking for the perfect piece.  They were piled in different lengths, but we focused on the off cut pile, where they were all manner of shapes and sizes,

Graham scrambled all over the great piles of wood, and of course the piece which caught his eye was in the very middle. Once discovered and pointed out, our new found friend went to get a truck with a crane to lift it out, and put it in the back of our truck. Funny how somethings are just meant to happen.

Try as I might, I couldn't convince him to take a second piece, he was totally focused on this big beauty

Graham's piece

To me this looked like a giant pair of pants.  However at home it's reversed (legs in the air so to speak) and he is working away taking off layers of old wood, bringing out the spirit of the wood within.

We did a quick grocery shop, on the way back to the hotel, made a sandwich - Graham had a shower and tidied up, then we headed back to the People's Park to do the 40 minute walk to the falls. Walking amongst all the lush green plants was beautiful, and humid although it seemed somewhat tropical with the man ferns fauna, it was still quite chilly in the shade. 

Our friends Mandy and Charlie arrived in Strahan and came over for a couple of drinks before we all headed into the village for dinner at a quirky local spot, The Bushman's Bar and Cafe. The food was home made, plain and good. Also full of locals, which is always a fair recommendation The owner warned us before we sat down

      "We have a table of local women who are celebrating a birthday, they've already drank 4 bottles of wine. It'll be noisy if you choose to stay".  We liked the honesty of that, and while we were there, watched as another bottle of wine disappeared, they were clearly having a fabulous time.

We called it an early night and wandered back to our accommodation along the waterfront path. Cool crisp air kept us moving briskly, and gave us a clear sky and lovely view of the stars Graham is really missing his telescope viewing nights.

Day 3 - Again an early wake up, but today with excitement in the air, as we were taking the Gordon River Cruise on "the red boat" with World Heritage Cruises. 

We met Mandi and Charlie for a coffee, then they carried on their journey to Corinna and we boarded our boat. We had window seats with a table as our home base. The cruise left at 9 am and the weather was absolutely perfect. We were lucky enough to spend some time in the wheel house, where the Captain tapped the 1st Mate's seat for me to occupy for a time. How fun was that! The ocean conditions allowed us to go through Hells Gate all the way out to Surging Point - his first time there since last summer the Captain assured us.  What a crazy little opening for anyone to try to go through in a commercial vessel or in the old days any boat without a motor.

We went back through Macquarie Harbour (the second largest harbour in Australia, twice the size of Sydney harbour) to Sarah Island were we went ashore for an hour with a tour guide who brought the horrendous life of those days gone by alive with a fabulous theatrical tour, very interactive as she drew tourists into the story giving them characters, mostly against their will. It was great fun.

Aquaculture is huge here, with Atlantic Salmon and Ocean Trout being farmed by 3 different companies. It almost looked like a marketing ploy as a rainbow appeared over the spray of feed pellets they shoot out over the pens with a pressure hose.  The water boils as the fish feed. 

Back on the boat for lunch (A buffet of assorted salads, smoked salmon, smoked ham, silverside, Tassie cheeses, fruit, bread and crackers) as we cruised along the Gordon River, where we went for a short environmental walk (a loop trail) at Heritage Landing. I was impressed to see a massive Huon Pine log which supports over 147 different species of plants growing out of it. I love the filtered light through the leaves, lots of mosses all looking very similar to old forrest growth in British Columbia.

Wine (and beer for Graham) in hand we snuck up to the top deck to enjoy the sun and calm waters before anyone else thought of it as we idled our way back up the river - then moved indoors as the winds picked up when we quickened our pace to return to Strahan. The Captain gave a lively and informative patter of information throughout the trip, finishing off by putting on a DVD called "The Oldest Tasmanian" - being a Huon Pine tree of course - for the trip home. 

When we docked, we pulled up to Morrison's Sawmill (a family operation) where they had a demonstration of an old saw running, and loads of little doo-dads of wood to look at or purchase. I did pick up a 'hot pot stand' which I somehow convinced myself had the shape of a wombat.. well, you know how it goes... $5 burning a hole in my pocket.

All in all, It was a great day! 

Day 4 - early to rise, early to leave. We hit the road by 6:30 and only saw 6 cars by Derwent Bridge. What a different view with the snow all but gone. Only the odd little patch in the shade to confirm it had actually been there. We hardly saw any traffic at all until we hit New Norfolk and Hobart. We were welcomed enthusiastically by Elwood when we pulled up the drive at 12:30 - which made coming home and laundry seem not such a bad end to the trip after all.