Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Tasmania - Meadowbank

Blackman's Bay Peter and Dany left for the mainland by an early flight. After chauffering them out to the airport, I flopped back into bed at Melinda's and slept away most of the morning.

With just an afternoon to kill before our respective flights, Jonnie and I began with a visit to Blackman's Bay. I overshot the main turnoff and ended up retracing an endlessly wiggling coast road back there. When I finally saw a sign saying "Blackman's Bay 1" I thought "…and Jonnie and Mike 0".

We stopped for a coffee and then turned back north and over the bridge one last time to find Meadowbank Winery.

 P1000544-549 Meadowbank stitch

The winery is a short detour from the road out to Hobart Airport and features a menu of entré-sized dishes. We tasted a few wines before settling on a bottle of their 2006 Reisling, very light and dry, to accompany the meal.

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In the middle distance we see two radio telescopes at Mt. Pleasant. The larger of the two was originally stationed near Canberra where it tracked many spacecraft such as the Apollo-Soyuz mission until its relocation in 1986.

20100209 Tasmania - Meadowbank Winery

Upstairs in the winery, the Flawed Gallery holds an amusing jigsaw built into the floor giving a history of winemaking in Tasmania.

… and so my short Tasmanian holiday comes to an end.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Tasmania - Hartz Mountain

P100046220100208 Tasmania - Hartz Mountain

The last big hiking day is through the Hartz Mountain National Park, a World Heritage Area about an hour's drive south of Hobart. I've been driver every day and call it quits at Lake Esperance while the others climb to Hartz Peak.

Lake Esperance 

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I meandered slowly back down the path, inspecting the plant life around the path. Back at the park's day shelter, I settle back into Matthew Kneale's English Passengers. The book is a merciful distraction from the mayflies that madly taunt me, disregarding my tropical strength insect repellent. I defend myself with a handled breadboard from our picnic box until the others return.

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P1000524 Peter on Big Stump stitch 

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Tasmania - Hobart II

P1000357-358 Salamanca fountain stitch

Another lazy day in Hobart. It's been raining all weekend in Sydney, but we've been blessed with fine weather all through this stay. I'm mindful also that as I sit with local friends for lunch, that a memorial service for my late inimitable friend Stuart Campbell is going ahead in Sydney.

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After lunch, Jonnie's perpetual quest for places with a view (accompanied by proffering a camera and squeaking "eh") took us up to Mt.Nelson's signal station where the view and the Station Cafe make a splendid pairing.

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Jonnie couldn't resist buying the brilliantly green sparkling mineral water. He's not familiar with the lime cordial that generations of Australians have grown up with and wasn't equipped to deal with its sharply sweet taste.

Hobart views from signal station

I was thrice spoiled for food that day: back at Melinda's, Peter had whipped up a huge batch of lasagna, and his friend Sandra brought over an amazing summer pudding she'd prepared from fruits in her own garden.

20100207 Tasmania - Dinner and possums

Possums in the greengage tree

Later that night, our dinner guests were replaced by a bunch of possums, greedily feasting on greengages, and not overly concerned about us lurking so close by with torch and cameras.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Tasmania - Hobart I

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The ignominy of waking up on my own birthday in a trailer park (following earlier birthdays starting French lessons in Paris, or dog-sledding in the Arctic) was greatly magnified by Jonnie and a stuffed penguin toy singing Happy Birthday from their top-bunk.

We checked out of the park and drove down to Hobart where we'll be based for the next few nights. Melinda, one of Peter's friends, has generously offered her house for that time.

We started with a walk through the Salamanca weekend markets and then a big brunch at machine, laundry/cafe.

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Following the suicide of my main camera two weeks ago, leaping from a cupboard to early retirement as a pile of lego fragments, I got a new camera, which I've been busily tested on this trip. After all the walking over the last two days, I was quite happy to split my afternoon between playing on Melinda's piano and testing the macro functions in her garden.

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Birthday dinner at Fish 349 restaurant to close out the day.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Tasmania - Maria Island

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For Jonnie's birthday, having woken up in a trailer park without undue disgrace, we caught the 9am boat to Maria Island for a day hike.

P1000178 Fairy Penguin

First stop were the Fossil Cliffs, where I unexpectedly found a fairy penguin - I think laying eggs - under a pile of rocks.

Fossil Cliffs 

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We followed a cliff path up towards Bishop and Clark Peak. I, having no head for heights straggled about 20m further inland than the other three.

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Borthday picnic Kangaroos and wallabies a-bound

After a champagne picnic lunch to celebrate Jonnie's birthday (he'd helpfully brought decorative bunting and garish paper napkins to festoon the trees around our site), Peter and Dany continued up to the peak, while Jonnie and I cut across country to the painted cliffs on the other side of our landing spot.

Wallabies and kangaroos trailed us along the hike, and I spotted a wombat's nest but missed any actual residents.

Cape Barren Geese Cape Barren Geese

near the Painted Cliffs Tasmanian Tiger Snake

I nearly trod on a (highly venomous) Tasmanian tiger snake in my last hour on the island. I'm not sure I'd have been happy waiting for antivenom treatment given our location.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Tasmania - Port Arthur

P1000037-42 Port Arthur stitch [ice]

Two centuries ago, the prison settlement at Port Arthur was one of the harshest known places of exile in the British empire. Today, it's a rather sombre collection of buildings and parkland reflecting its use since that time.

Governor's drawing roomisland in the bay

Port Arthur house - view from steps

P1000075-76 Tessellated Pavement stitchP1000089

The area around Port Arthur was almost an island, connected to the mainland by a very narrow well protected isthmus called Eaglehawk Neck. In that area is a stretch of rock - the Tessellated Pavement - whose regular divisions are created over long periods of time by the action of wind, water and salt. The formation is a great photographic subject (one day I'll get there at dawn or dusk!) but one should not overlook the flora lining the path down to the water, with a great diversity of colour and texture to lead the eye.

20100204 Tasmania - Port Arthur

P1000098 P1000113-115 Tessellated Pavement stitch [ice]

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Flickr slideshow