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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Nut

Isn't getting back to work a hum!
Do you remember that ducky cottage I told you about? It was here at Stanley in the far north west of Tasmania. You can just see little cottages hugging the base of the distinctive rock formation which is an old volcanic plug. It has very steep sides and is flat on top. There is a chairlift up and some like to challenge themselves to "climb the nut"

Settlement began in the mid 1820's, so about the same time as Richmond and Sarah Island (other places we visited). Today it is primarily a fishing village and crayfish is readily available in the shops and on menus in the season. Tourism is it's other main industry. 

It was very quiet when we visited in May but I like that.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Dead Reveal the Past

Beautiful monumental headstone in Strahan

While on our holiday we popped into a couple of cemeteries, at Strahan and Stanley. Not the usual place for tourists but I think they reveal so much about the area and the past and a lot can be gleaned from them.

For one thing the type of headstone typical to a certain era. They have become much more modest and simplistic now days. Many of these stones are "signed" by their maker and also from whence they came. I had assumed them to be locally carved but many came from Melbourne in the early 1900's which meant an order was sent off and then they were shipped by boat. It must have been quite an expense.

Now THIS is really something. This is a headstone erected in 1892 for a little one who died at the age of 11, not uncommon for this time but the headstone itself is made from a slab of Huon pine! No other timber could have withstood the weathering and is a true testament to the amazing qualities of Huon. Huon pine is indigenous to this area so would have been readily available but you would not commonly see this used in any other cemetery.

Here is a more modern one using Huon pine dated in the 1960's.
Another thing we noted about this cemetery in Strahan was that from the late 1800's - early 1900's there seemed to be more graves for males than females and many were in the 20's. Back in those times this area was still very isolated and quite wild, I would imagine females were definitely outnumbered. So many young deaths also suggests that medical attention may not have been readily available at that time, certainly no near hospital and supplies would take months to reach this area.

Stanley was quite different. There was a lot more monumental carvings also from Melbourne. I'm not sure if this implied more wealth in the area or whether goods were more readily accessed by boat. Certainly there were a lot more females in this cemetery. More females also meant more children's graves.

Clearly there was a lot more family settlement in Stanley in the same period of 1880-1920 than there was in Strahan. This marker above is inscribed for the Medwin children
Thomas died 1876 aged 1 hour.
Andrew died 1885 aged 4 months and 10 days
Phillip died 1888 aged 6 months and 11 days.
One can only imagine how these parents must have hoped and held their breaths praying their children would make it through those first couple of fragile years.

Here is another Medwin killed by a tree in 1887 at just 17yrs of age.
Again, during this time there were a significant amount of graves of people aged before 30 but many of them were women, quite a few with their infant children. When we think about the world's burgeoning population, we think of the advances in medicine and the much older age people live to now but we sometimes forget how rarely people die in childbirth now. 

The Medwin's were clearly a large extended family in the area.
This was one of my favourite inscriptions,

"She was ___________________________
But words I cannot find to tell you what,
Think what a good wife ought to be,
And she was that."

Was this literally what Matthias Medwin wanted on his wife's headstone or was it his grief stricken instructions, being lost for words to describe the depth of his admiration, that were misinterpreted? When he wrote to the stone mason was he asking for this to be carved or was he in fact asking the mason to come up with a brief fitting devotional?
What do you think.
Either way, I find it speaks volumes about loss, grief, admiration and respect.

Another beautiful inscription,

"Then why should the tears run down
And your hearts be sorely riven
For another gem in the Saviour's crown
And another soul in Heaven"

Monday, May 20, 2013

Holiday Knitting

This was my cosy knitting nook at the cottage with lots of light over my shoulder. The weather had turned cooler dropping to about 7C but the heater had us warm and contented. 
I love sock knitting because it is so portable. For our holiday I started a pair of toe up socks using Malabrigo sock yarn.

You can find the free pattern here and don't be shy to have a go, Liat from KNITfreedom even does full video tutorials of all the techniques, so if you have always wanted to but never dared, this is a great resource.
I favour double pointed needles, can't quite get the circulars to not tangle!

This is all I've got done! The holiday was far too intriguing and I found that staying at B&Bs you are meeting new people and involved in lot's of conversing. The cottage was our only stay on our own. Normally I can knit in the car but I did all the driving on this trip. I could have knit on the cruise but the scenery was so breathtaking. 
Yarn details etc here on my Ravelry projects
Did I tell you I got my wrap/vest finished in time for the trip?

This is from the pattern "Ripples and Waves" purchase here 
and you can see it on my projects list here.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Duckiest Cottage


There are a lot of you out there who like a bit of vintage, well we hit the jackpot with our Stanley accommodation when we stayed at Estowen House.

It was utterly charming and words are not needed. I was so excited and wanted to share so many delights that there were way too many photos, so I have created a few collages too. I am definitely going back one day soon and I hope you get the opportunity too.

Happiness is an entire collection of Georgette Heyer!
Isn't it duckie! I didn't want to leave.
I hope it never changes.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sarah Island

Sarah Island is situated in the Macquarie Harbour and was a penal settlement before Port Arthur. It was established about 1820 and was where repeat offenders were taken. Surrounded by water it made for the ideal "stockade" but really, WHAT were they thinking!!?

There was no fresh water source on the island so it all had to be brought to the island and one of the first things they did was cut all the trees down. Literally cleared the entire island leaving it exposed to the winds we call the Roaring 40s. There are lots of recorded tales and stories about the utter misery these prisoners were subjected to and it is no wonder people tried to escape the floggings, solitary confinement and the poor food and freezing wet conditions. 

The photo in the top right is taken from on the island. The high mountain peak that you can see that looks a bit like a shark fin is called Frenchman's Cap and was used as a visible navigation mark by many escapees but the terrain was tough and the bush dense to impassable in most places. The small island that you see beyond the jetty is another smaller island that they would put prisoners on. At first it was where they housed the women but they then used it for particularly unruly chaps. There was no shelter just a 5m cave.
Can you imagine working all day waist deep in water building ships, with only one set of clothes, no fire or good meal to go home to.... miserable doesn't begin to describe the conditions.

I have to also congratulate our guide Janelle who really brought the island and the times to life with her in-character story telling of the people of the settlement until it was abandoned and everyone packed off the newly built and much larger settlement of Port Arthur in about 1832. In the last few years of the island Huon Pine was being brought out of the Gordon River and boat building took on a frantic pace of 96 boats in 4yrs.  There is not much left now, just a few ruins and the island has naturally re-vegetated but I have to wonder if there aren't a few ghosts still from the past hanging around?

Further reading may include;
Alexander Pearce, Sarah Island's most notorious escapee (three times!) who survived by cannibalising his fellow escapees.
Franklin Manor, where we stayed 2 nights in Strahan. A beautiful historic house tastefully restored and very well hosted. Lovely warm fires, games and books in the library and nothing was too much trouble. We particularly enjoyed the fresh cut fruit salad every morning (disappointingly, a lot of B&B's offer tinned fruit!)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Exploring Macquarie Harbour

Macquarie Harbour is SIX times larger than the Sydney Harbour and as well as reaching into the Wilderness Area, it holds many stories of the past and keys to the future.
Dare I bore you with more holiday snaps!!!

"That's water not sky"

I'll be really brief....

Above in the largest box is a small snapshot of the atlantic salmon farms that operate in the harbour. The pens are covered by nets to stop birds trying to pick at the fish. Sometimes they might get a seal breaking in but not often as their colony is about 30km away. 

Top left, the pile of rocks??? Blows me away every time I think about it, This is part of the HAND made rock wall 3km long, 7m deep and 5m wide at it's base. It was suggested and designed by an engineer (wish I had paid more attention, forgotten his name) in about 1900 to keep the narrow channel to the harbour open and deep. That's amazing in itself but HOW they achieved this building works. They cut huge granite stones from the quarry and hauled it in carts to a ship then sailed to the wall site and dumped them off....then they went back and did it again, and again, and....massive undertaking. Later in the project they were able to employ the use of a locomotive engine.

There are still a couple of lighthouses used in navigating the channel but nowdays are solar charged rather than kerosene lit.

The entrance to the harbour is also known as Hell's Gate given it's name by the poor convicts brought to the penal island situated in the harbour.
But that's another story....

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Into The Wilderness

A day cruise on Macquarie Harbour takes us into the wilderness and close and personal with Tasmania's World Heritage area. To have an area listed as World Heritage, it must meet certain criteria and this area meets it in spades.

This area is particularly rich in exclusive and endangered flora. The area is heavily timbered with a number of unique rainforest species including rare and endangered.

Huon pine is common to this area, a slow growing tree that grows on average 1mm per year in circumference. The wood is dense and contains rich oils that make it ideal for marine projects like ship building as it is very strong and almost impervious to rot. When polished it has a rich warm honey gold glow with unique patterns. The smell of Huon Pine is rich and fragrant and I can't tell you how heady it was when we visited the Wall In The Wilderness

This area also features the Leatherwood tree in proliferation which is the key to the unique taste of Tasmania's famous Leatherwood honey. On the drive to the West Coast we noticed many patches by roadsides piled with dozens of bee hives. We were lucky enough to see one in flower.

The area is incredibly dense and damp as you would expect of a rain forest and many plants live together in parasitic symbiotic relationship creating unique micro climates

The mud mound with a hole in the top is the home made by the fresh water crayfish, a protected and endangered animal. The West Coast is also the home to the Orange Bellied Parrot which is sadly nearly extinction and there is only an estimated 50 left. 

Natural tannins leach into the water from the vegetation giving the water a brownish tinge hence enhancing it's reflective qualities. Sometimes when there is no wind and the surface is completely still, one can see the oil of the submerged Huon Pines slicking the surface.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Misty Mornings and Moody Mountains

We enjoyed a lovely stay at The Elms bed and breakfast in North Hobart which was within walking distance of my daughter Teddy's place and also the trendy restaurant strip. We by-passed the main street and slipped into a very old pub one block down on Argyle St. It is called the Wagon and Horses and the publican, Ken, is a super guy and will show you a good time. Among his many "charity" projects, he also helps raise funds for the local youth suicide group to support those left behind...he's a hero in my books.

We travelled up the Lyell Hwy along the river Derwent shrouded in mist, through the pasture lands of the Derwent Valley. I was looking forward to stopping in historic Hamilton and visiting the famous Glen Clyde House but unfortunately they had a sign out saying "closed for the winter and not re-opening till September" and the public toilet block was also closed for building works so we headed on further through Ouse and climbing the range into Hydro-country where Tasmania's electricity is generated by water in the highlands. 
We stopped at pretty Tarraleah, once a whole town housing the electricity workers in a self contained village, now it is tourist accommodation

Travelling on we climbed through rain forests and came out on the lakes plateau of central Tasmania. Our next eagerly anticipated destination was the "Wall In The Wilderness"

The Wall is literally a giant wall of Huon Pine carved with the story from the past and present of the Central Highlands. Each panel is 1m wide by 3m high and will eventually make up 100 metres length in total. The wall has been under construction for about 10 years so far and is just past the halfway mark. The exhibit is breathtaking and for me very emotional. The centre itself is very tastefully presented and is a warm inviting haven of log fires and soft music and dim lights. It's an experience! No photography is allowed and there is an admission fee. 

The trip through the central highlands takes you through rugged grassed plains de-stocked now for winter and the snow that will any day cover the landscape. The sign posts at the sides of the road are also marked with black so that they are visible in the snow season. The terrain is mountainous and wet and misty the further one travels towards the west coast. The saying here is that it rains for 360 days of the year and drips off the trees the rest. Closer towards Queenstown the mountainsides are lunar landscaped from the copper mining that is done in the area. Much of the bush is starting to regenerate but it has been many decades.

Flight enthusiast Craig also insisted I stop for a shot of the airport at Queenstown....

Very striking with the lowlands sun-kissed in the foreground and towering mountains behind. Very like the scenery used for the Lord of the Rings movie that was shot in New Zealand.
Finally after many, many kilometres of winding roads (I'm thinking of you Claire) we have arrived at Strahan on the West Coast of Tasmania.
More tomorrow......

Monday, May 13, 2013

Crumb Street Kitchen

Crumb Street Kitchen is the word around Hobart town for quirky dining.
Definitely not for the vegetarians, this hip little cafe serves about five different cuts of meat, smoked and BBQed in various ways. You can choose the option of sides of bread, potato salad and beans and lest you think these are just a nod and wink to the meat, think again, they are amazingly tasty.

The decor is very quirky too. The shot above is the window which contains planter boxes of grass and pavers that are "mortared" with lego bricks. The tables are old recycled cable reels and a bright array of chairs mis-matched complete the look. The owners took over the lease and inherited a huge stack of pizza boxes from it's past life as a pizza shop, so putting them to good use, that is how your meal is served, which is particularly suited for shared eating.

Teddy said we had to get there early as they often sell out due to popularity and as we left and were getting into the car people were streaming in. It was great to see a young couple doing so well from word of mouth. Run on the smell of an oily rag I really hope they expand and go from strength to strength. The food was hearty and tasty.

Crumb Street Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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