Friday, 4 March 2016

A busy day in Bothwell

Bothwell is normally a sleepy little place with not much happening, streets empty and very little traffic, but today was different.

Normally this street would be deserted, but not today.
Wednesday was the opening of the Central Highlands Information Centre and a lot of people had come to town for the occasion from the outlying district and Hobart.  The centre was opened by the Governor of Tasmania, her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AM accompanied by her husband Richard Warner and a Navy Officer, don't know who he was and what looked like a security person.

( L to R) Mayor Deirde Flint, Mr Warner, Her Excellency, a Navel Officer behind her, Security Man and a Councillor

The information centre was full of people, about 50 I reckon, which is a lot for Bothwell. We met and spoke with the Mayor of the Central Highlands Council, Deirde Flint OAM.  The Deputy Mayor Andrew Downie and many other councilors where present as well as the designer and the builder of the Information Centre.  The Mayor was very friendly and told us about the house where she lives and said that many people stop to take photos.....we owned up as being one of them.

There were displays of accommodation around the area, some merchandise, three beautiful tapestries down by locals, each 4 inch square depicting some history or part of life in the area and old books and documents in the Historical Society.

Hard to see because of the downlight, but the tapestries were well done complete with a legend underneath giving credit to the person who made the square and their subject. 

A wall of old books, mostly leather bound with the particular "dusty old book" smell.
I found out about the opening yesterday when I was in the old information centre/golf museum, which is in front of the small caravan parking area where we are staying.  Yes, golf museum.  They take their golf very seriously here in Bothwell because the local golf links, Ratho, is touted as being the oldest golf links in the southern hemisphere.  I spoke with a couple of the staff at the Centre,  Roslyn & Colleen.

Colleen is a one-of-a-kind type person who always wears trousers as well as a strange hat, black fingerless gloves and has untidy long grey hair. She practiced curtsying on me which was a riot and the banter was going back and forth.  I told her she needs to wear a skirt if she was going to curtsy because it was not working for her in pants. She said she had a skirt, a very old one, that she only wears at home on very hot days.  I am pleased to report that on the day she did wear her trousers, fingerless gloves, no hat and she hair was tidy and neatly plaited.  She also had her camera with her and after the event, took a photo of Ian, Nick and I standing in front of the government car.  And, she said that she thinks that we should live in Bothwell because we belong never know what the future holds.

Well, enough about golf.  The dignitaries arrived sharply at 10.30 in a beautiful 2 month old Range Rover, with a glass top.  We know it is two months old because Nick and I had a long conversation with her smartly dressed driver, Ian, a bit later on after the opening.

The information centre joins together two beautiful heritage listed buildings.  One housing the golf museum and the other housing the Bothwell Historical Society. The opening ceremony was a very proud moment for all those who have been involved over a number of years....and, well done to them for a great job. The building itself took some time due to lack of supply of materials and weather which, last year included snow.

The Governor was in for a busy day.  She was to visit the school after the opening, then another place (forget where), then the Nant Distillery where she would be having lunch.  We had been waiting for a nice day to go to Nant ourselves (today turned out to be a nice day weather wise) and I said to Nick we should go today as well because I am sure that they would have the best food and service because of the Governor being there, but we decided against it.  Besides which we had to stay at home for a grocery delivery that was coming from Hobart.

There was going to be a civic reception in the evening and when I was speaking with Colleen  the day before the opening I was kidding her about not being invited to the reception and she said I couldn't come because I had nothing to do with the new centre or the old one etc etc (in the nicest way of course) and besides which, they had already ordered the cucumber sandwiches....haha.

After the opening, we went a couple of doors down to the craft shop, had another look around and purchased some very thin metal knitting needles for $2.50.  After that we noticed that there was a vintage Rolls Royce at the garage.  We took a walk down there to discover about 5 more of them at the coffee shop.  Nick took some photos and we spoke with a lovely lady who told us that there was a group of them (20 as it turns out) who had come over from Victoria and South Australia for a 12 day road trip.  The lady we spoke to had a 1921 model Rolls in silver.  See photo below.

She said they were having a marvellous time and we talked about us living on the road and she said we were making her quite jealous.  When speaking with Ian, the Governors driver, he told us that the Rolls Royce group was going to attend Government House as well.

We left Ian, still standing outside of the Information Centre, waiting to the Governor and saying that we were off for coffee.  He asked where we were going and I said "Cafe K"....that is our Kedron Caravan where we have the best coffee, from Skybury (Atherton Tablelands)  served with a huge dollop of Victorian Gippsland double cream.

Who would have thought that we would get to see the Governor of Tasmania and the Mayor of the Central Highlands Council, here in sleepy little Bothwell.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Updating my blog after 10 months in Tasmania

I have not been writing very often and to save you having to check the blog from time to time, I have added  a "follow by email" gadget to the right hand side of my blog.

So, if you add your email address you will get an email with the post that I have just written and links to the blog itself.... how good is that!

We have been here in Tasmania for ten months now and are still loving it.  What's not to like.... clean air, blue skies, rain, snow, wind (and more wind...maybe I will get used to it by the time we go back to the big island), great scenery (lakes, ocean, beaches, mountains), food and wine, and the friendliest people and fellow travellers.  We have certainly had a very social ten months down here and look forward to more of the same going forward into 2017.

Tasmania is a small island so there will be times when we will be staying at places that we have stayed at before so there may not be much for me to say about it unless we visit a new attraction/area and see something I have not blogged about before.

I am sure you don't want to read in minute detail what we get up do each day.

What I am saying is that my posts will less frequent and I recommend that you use the "follow by email" gadget.

In case you are wondering, we have lived in a caravan from 1 November 2013 and have been "on the road" since April 2014 and we have no regrets for choosing this lifestyle.  Quite the opposite.   We are reminded regularly of how lucky we are to be doing what we are doing.

Not Tassie, but is a great example of this wonderful country of ours.  This is Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grande, Western Australia.

Moving on again in Tassie.

Well, after just over 10 weeks, we have left Snug and travelled to Richmond to attend the St. Andrews Highland Gathering.

One of the things we have noticed in our travels over the years is that an event that you would like to see has either just occurred before you got somewhere or is going to occur after you have left.  So annoying.  So, I was pleased when our friend Sue told us about the St. Andrews Highland Gathering that her husband would be playing at so we booked a site in the local caravan park last year to make sure that we would be there.

Mind you, on the same weekend there was a festival at Kempton and the Penny Farthing race at Evendale near Longford.  You would think that in a small place like Tassie they could get their act together and have these events on different weekends.  At least, the Taste of the Huon is on in March, and not at the same time as the Taste of Tasmania.  But, alas, we will not be in the general area to visit the Taste of the Huon this year...maybe next year :)

And, we are so glad that we did go to the Highland Gathering because we had a fabulous day.  Not only was the weather supurb, but the event itself was great, the music stirring and the junior highland dancing competition interesting.   Plus, Richmond was buzzing, cafe's full and all the shops open.  A bit different from when we did a day trip to Richmond in June last year.

We met up with our friends who where also staying at the Richmond Caravan Park and their friends who were traveling with them.  There were a lot of Queenslanders in the park and we had a very social time whilst there.

The new owners of the Richmond Caravan Park have great plans for the place and we wish them well with it.  They used to run the caravan park at New Norfolk.  This park has an under utilised games room with a separate room with a lovely fireplace as well as an indoor swimming pool, which is not heated by the way, so there is no way I would be getting into it.  The owners are bucking the trend and instead of putting in more cabins, they are putting in more caravan sites....good news for the travelling public.  

The beautiful sandstone arches of the convict built Richmond Bridge completed in 1825

After Richmond, we headed to Oatlands, some
55kms away and enjoyed our first free camp of the year in the Paddock next to the Windmill.

The paddock is on the banks of the Lake Dulverton.  Not a lake in the true sense of the word, but more a wetland teeming with wildlife.

We couldn't count the number of swans....more than 5 (in-house joke) more like 500.  The lake is very big, some 2.64 km long and 1.6 km wide with its very own island....Mary's Island, just a small rocky outcrop really with a couple of trees on it.

The lake dried up completely in 1993 and it wasn't until 2010 when the lake filled up to rear full capacity after heavy rains.

Thats us...peeping over the wall.
Nick up the ladder cleaning the hatches

This is the Carrington Mill which was built in 1837.  It has been fully restored and is now a working mill, grinding locally sourced grain which you can purchase from the Mill Shop.  You can also do a tour of the mill tower.

Oatlands is one of Tasmania's oldest settlements.  Well worth a visit if you are into Georgian Architecture.    There are some 150 sandstone buildings which were built by convicts (of course) in the early 1800's.

The weather was a bit temperamental whilst we were in Oatlands.... we had a bit of everything, including a night of rain which is sorely needed down this way.   We enjoyed our stay at the Paddock next to the Windmill and will return there on our way from Kempton (where we are now) on our way back up the highway to Ross.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Kempton was once a bustling town

Like many small places, Kempton is now a small town where, dare I say it, not much happens these days. Well, not like it did in the old days, anyway and maybe the locals prefer it that way. Mind you, the night we went to the pub for dinner, the bistro was packed.  So there are plenty of people in the area.  We had a great meal, washed down with a lovely 2013 Margaret River Shiraz.

Anyway, I digress.  Kempton is 48 km north of Hobart on the Midland Highway.  We stayed there on our way to Snug.  It was a very windy day and we were lucky because the van was facing into the wind.  Kempton has a lovely little free camp for self contained vehicles and there are a small number of powered sites for a donation.  We took a powered site and left a $5 donation.  There is an undercover BBQ  area, very clean with two power points and if you want access to the toilet and shower then you can get a key from the council for $10.

Kempton was originally settled in 1820 and has sported a number of names since then.   The first was Green Water Holes, then Green Water Ponds and then it was shortened to Green Ponds.  This was in the space of just over a year mind you.

Then some 70 odd years later it was renamed Kempton after Anthony Fenn Kemp.  Mr Kemp had a colourful history in the then colony of New South Wales and played an important part in the rum rebellion against Governor William Bligh.  He settled in Van Diemen's Land in 1816, where he became a leading figure amongst graziers, merchants, importers and shippers.  He imported red deer into Tasmania and at some time, was a director and later, the chairman of the Van Diemen's Land Bank.

There were two convict stations in Kempton and a military barracks and it was the main coach stop between Hobart and Launceston between 1842 and 1845.  There are many lovely buildings in Kempton and Dyart House is an excellent example.

Built in1843 by William Henry Ellis, Dyart House was originally called the Green Ponds Hotel, then it became the Commercial Inn.  At one stage it was an educational facility for young ladies and then a private house.

Mr Ellis was sentenced to transportation in 1825 for embezzlement. He was pardoned after serving only 5 years of his 14 year sentence.  He opened a store, part of which still stands opposite Dysart House.  He expanded his trading store by opening one in Bothwell and one in Ouse.  His business enterprises were very successful and provided the finance to build the Georgian style Dyart House.  Apart from providing fine accommodation for travellers, Dysart House hosted many glamorous functions in its ballroom and the impressive stables could house up to 22 horses.

Dyart House is now in private ownership
Kempton was a wheat and sheep area and over time, the town provided for every need from goods at the Green Ponds Store (owned by Mr Ellis), to drapers, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, a brothel, an Undertaker (run by one family for several generations), a steam flour mill, a brewery (run by a lay preacher) and a cordial factory.  

Glad to show you some photos of the lovely buildings that are still standing and used as private residences.

Built in 1840, the Congregational Church - looks like it needs some TLC

Kent Cottage today

Kent Cottage as it was around 1890 when it was it as owned by George Lumsden

Glebe House - built around 1839 by Reverend George Otter, the Anglican Chaplain for Green Ponds.  It was described as "one of the finest houses in town, a capital dwelling, having every possible convenience and suitable for a gentleman's family or scholastic establishment, containing flower and kitchen gardens and paddocks" 

Wilmot Arms Inn built in 1843

Wilmot Inn is a lovely old building, with a separate flat as well as 6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a breakfast room, formal and casual living areas, a commercial kitchen and a couple of fireplaces, set on 1/2 in the main street of town. It has been fully restored to its former glory, it served as a B & B for a while and is now a private home. The Inn was sold to its present owners in May 2014 for AU$459,000....what a bargain.

St Peter's Church - now deconsecrated and privately owned.

Building of St Peter's Church commenced in 1918 with the original cost estimate being 1600 pounds. It was finished in 1923, with a cost blow out to 3400 pounds....sound familiar people!

We enjoyed our short stay at Kempton, a place that I would be happy to return to during our travels around Tasmania.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Port Arthur....20 years later

We visited Port Arthur in 1995 prior to the massacre in April 1996 where 35 people were killed and 23 wounded by 28 year old Martin Bryant from Hobart.  Bryant was given 35 life sentences with no possibility of parole.  After the shooting which is considered one of the deadliest shootings worldwide committed by a single person, the then Prime Minister, John Howard, introduced strict gun control laws which restricts private ownership of semi-automatic shotguns and riffles as well as pump-action shotguns and uniform firearms licensing.  Not a bad thing in my book.......

Model of what Port Arthur would have looked like

Anyway, visiting Port Arthur twenty years later was a very different experience.  It is more commercial now, with a variety of walking tours and a cruise and the cafe where the massacre occurred has been pulled down.   Even though it was a bit on the commercial side, we enjoyed our day there and would recommend a visit.

For us, it is the only place in Australia where we feel as real sense of history. I suppose that is because Australia is such a young country by comparison to the rest of the world, especially Europe and Britain.

As far as food goes, Felons Restaurant was just OK....service was slow and the food expensive.

We were glad of our hats, but unfortunately Brett did not have a hat and ended up with a very sunburnt neck and don't forget your headgear.

We enjoyed the cruise which provided a view of what the convicts saw as they came into dock at Port Arthur.  On the cruise we saw the dockyards which was a very busy and productive area between 1834 and 1848.  The convicts, under Master Shipwright David Hoy, crafted hundreds of whaleboats, brigantines and barques for the government and private enterprise.    To celebrate their achievements, local artists Ben Booth and Colin Langridge created a 25 metre long ship sculpture which gives a perspective of the size of the ships that were made at that location.

Ship Sculpture

Here is a link to information about the dockyard....interesting read..The Dockyard Guide

By 1840 over 2000 convicts, soldiers and free officers and their families lived in Port Arthur

Port Arthur was founded on the then novel idea that convicts could be reformed by a system based on punishment and discipline, classification and separation, religious and moral instruction, trade training and education.  The intention was to provide the opportunity for a convict to become a person that would fit in and be useful to society.   But, if you didn't want to take advantage of those opportunities,  just lookout, your life would be very unpleasant.

File photo of Port Arthur showing the lovely grounds

But while the intentions might have been good, the experiment of Port Arthur did not work for everyone.  Many ended up in the Paupers' Depot, too old or ill to be of any use to anyone and others ended up in the Lunatic Asylum.  Some, of course, did make good and lived useful, law abiding lives due to the skills that they learned there.

The Church facade is a popular choice for weddings.
Built in 1836-37, and never consecrated, the church could hold 1000 people.  As part of the religious and moral instruction element of the system, everybody had to go to church.   The Church was destroyed by fire in 1884.

The Penitentiary

The Penitentiary had four levels and it depended on how well behaved you were as to where your cell was.

136 convicts where housed on the ground (heavy irons) and 1st level (light irons).  They slept in hammocks, had a pair of blankets, a woolen rug, a small stool, a keg of water and a tin cup.

The top floor was for well behaved convicts and the dormitory style accommodation housed 348 men.  They had a mattress, a blanket, a rug, a spoon, a tine plate and a drinking cup.

The second level was the dining hall which was also used as a school room and there was a library and Roman Catholic Chapel.

The authorities program of reform included the separation of prisoners from each other for extended periods of time.  The focus was on psychological punishment. The facility was known as the Separate Prison because prisoners where always kept apart from each other in separate cells,  had separate exercise yards and separate cubicles in the chapel.  There was total silence and solitude.

The Separate Prison is the building on the right
File photo of inside the Separate Prison
The prisoners were given a number and they were never called by name.  They ate, slept and worked in their cell, being allowed out for an hours exercise per day.  When leaving their cell, the prisoner had to wear a hood over his face with slits for his eyes so that he could not be recognised by other prisoners.

And, god forbid if you broke a rule (of which there were many) you could be put in the 'Dark Cell' in total darkness and silence for up to 30 days on bread and water and 1 hours exercise each day.

I am sure the treatment of the prisoners in the Separate Prison gave rise to the Lunatic Asylum being built next door.

Originally the Post Office
This was the Doctors House. 
The ruins of the hospital up on the hill which was right next door to the flogging yard....wonder why????
Port Arthur is well worth a visit and the cruise gave a totally different perspective.  If we went again I would take a picnic and sit in the gardens to soak up the atmosphere.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Tahune Airwalk

Well, it's over...Christmas for another year and what a wonderful year it had been. Christmas was pretty good too with a visit from my son Brett and Christmas day spent with Nick and lovely friends in Snug Cabin and Caravan Park, Snug, Tasmania.

Whilst Brett was here we went to the Tahune Airwalk and to Port Arthur.  We had great weather on both days and in fact he got sunburnt when we were at Port Arthur.  It is easy to get sunburnt in Tassie....the air is so clean and clear and the hole in ozone layer over Tasmania (that extends from
Antarctica) is such that the sun damaging UV radiation has increased.  So we have to be very careful in the sun here.

We drove 53 km from Snug to the Tahune Airwalk through Huonville and Geeveston.  The Tahune Airwalk is situated in Arve Loop Forest Reserve, next to the 1.6 million hectare, world heritiage listed, Hartz Mountain National Park.    The Tahune Airwalk was opened in July 2001 and provides breath talking views of the forest canopy.

Brett and Nick Standing at the base of a very large tree...sorry, dont remember what sort of tree it was
View of the walk disappearing through the tree canopy.

View of the cantilever

I wasn't brave enough to go out on the Cantilever, but Nick did.  
There are 112 easy steps to get to the Airwalk itself and a number of walks/hikes as well as cable hang gliding.

There was a nice little cafe, a gift shop and although we didn't see it, there is an accommodation lodge as well.

Entry was only $28 per adult and I think it was well worth it.  

We did the Airwalk and then the walk to the two steel cable foot bridges that span the Huon and Picton Rivers, which took about an hour although when we saw the sign that it was only 500m to the bridge, it was a very long 500m in my book.

One of the swing bridges over the Huon River

Not much water...we need rain!

The bridge wasn't scary, but then we were the only ones on it at the time.  
Next day...Port Arthur....

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Simple Life living on the road in Australia - what is it all about....

Part of the attraction of living on the road in our caravan is that it is a simple life.  Nothing is complicated and our time is spent doing things other than cleaning, gardening and household maintenance.

There is some caravan maintenance and Nick is pedantic about that because the van has to last us a very long time.  Nick likes to keep the van (and the truck) clean so it gets a bath from time to time, and that is a task that he enjoys doing. He has diary reminders to check and clean the air conditioner filters and to change the anode  (which he did this morning) in the hot water system about every six months as well as the two water filters...and that is it as far as maintenance is concerned.  Oh, the other thing is emptying the toilet which Nick does every 2-3 days or sooner if we are bush camping and there are no toilets.

Yes, there is still washing of course.  But it is so easy, I don't even know I am doing it. For instance, I normally load the washing machine at night and then put on the wash in the morning when tea is being made.  Then we sit in bed with our tea and iPads and when we get up to shower, the washing is done. I may put another load on which will be finished by the time we have  finished breakfast.

I am the one who mostly vacuums and dusts, can do it in 15 minutes...maybe a bit longer if I take the floor mats outside to bash the hell out of them.

The shower is always clean because we use a natural soap free body wash that does leave soap gunk everywhere and the shower walls are squeegeed each time we shower by who ever is the last one to shower which is normally me because Nick is the king of breakfasts.

Making the bed is making a bed that is no different.  But we have simplified it by having woollen doonas of different weights for different weather temps. So pull the sheets up, throw on the doona, plump up the pillows, put the cat cushions on the bed for Teddy to rest his head, and bingo...its done.

The other thing that makes living in a small space very doable and a pleasure is that we are both neat freaks. So things are put away where they live rather than being left out and we have a place for everything. The secret to having a place for everything is not to have too much stuff with you.  In our previous van, every time we went away, when we came back we would take out of the van stuff that we didn't use so I think we have got it down to a fine art.

So, what do we do with our time you may be thinking.  We have the time to spend planning our meals and cooking from scratch.  Cooking is something that we both enjoy.

Nick in the kitchen...what no apron!!!!

Nick vacuum packing boerewors ....
wont last long though, my son will be here tomorrow

Although we have a large fridge/freezer (215lt) it is prudent to buy only what we are going to use in the next couple of days.

As for the freezer, we have a great vacuum system and vac pack all our meat, as flat as possible to fit it into the freezer.

The vacuum system is a small had held one which works on batteries or 240v and has various size reusable bags.

We still buy our coffee from Skybury on the Atherton Tablelands, Queensland and Nick grinds the beans each week so our coffee is nice and fresh and drunk with Gippsland Double Cream and no it coffee time yet?

Seed crackers ready to go into the oven 

Nick bakes two types of biscuits.....sesame biscuits (made with almond meal) and seed crackers (made with pepitas, sesame seeds, flax seed, cumin seed, salt and psyllium husks).  They are both favourites and lovely with cheese or home make chicken liver pate, which is another thing we make in 1 kg batches and freeze in portions.  I have even made butter, but to be honest, with the lovely butter from grass fed cows that Ashgrove produce here in Tasmania I don't bother making my own now.

Done...and ready for lunch...with avocado and triple brie...yum
Mise en place...all ready for the chicken liver pate
Sesame Biscuits & seed crackers
Tub of pate
Homemade butter
Peppermint coconut bombs

What else do we do, well pretty much the same as everyone I guess.  We read, play games on our iPads, ring/message friends, watch movies, that sort of thing.  We go walking and exploring.  We talk to and have sundowners with our neighbours.  And, we sometimes have afternoon naps...pure heaven.

Nick is working on his family tree and I have been sewing and knitting.  I am knitting a scarf for Nick for next winter and I have put in some pockets into my pants and covered my old pot holders.  All by hand, I might add.

New pot holders...pretty in pink and black
A pocket with a zip inserted into a pair of pants. 
So what it is all about?  It is about doing less and living more and doing what is important to us.

We are thoroughly enjoying the simple life on the wherever we want, doing what ever we want, going wherever we want, meeting great people and seeing this fantastic country of ours in our  fantastic mobile home.... a 23' Kedron XC3 Cross Country caravan.