What I learned this week

30 days of yoga is going well. I’m now 14 days into the challenge and I haven’t missed a day so far. I’ve had to incorporate my back exercises into my practice, because whatever I did to my back has either stirred up my old injury or resulted in a new one, and it keeps flaring up again.

I’m being Very Careful, especially with the back bends, and I haven’t been game to try any twists. My normal class starts up again this week so I’m looking forward to seeing if it will be easier to get back into it after almost three weeks away than it was last time when I didn’t do anything during the holidays.

Now onto what I learned this week.

1. In my drawing lessons, I’ve been learning about two-point perspective. This was fun. Lots of straight lines here!

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2. I read the book The Road to Lower Crackpot by Brian Inder, the Laird of Lower Crackpot. It’s a fascinating read. In the book, Mr Inder says,

“The name Crackpot comes from a real village in Swaledale, Yorkshire. It means ‘a low place where crows gather’. I added ‘Lower’ because we are in the southern hemisphere’.

 

This interested me because my mother’s family emblem is the crow. I asked her if any of her ancestors came from Swaledale, but she doesn’t believe that they did.

3. If you see something in a shop you want, buy it when you see it. It might not be there when you go back to get it.

In the same vein, take photos when you have the chance, because you might not go back that way again. We went to Freycinet National Park on the weekend. I took lots of photos.

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Don’t go chasing waterfalls

Don’t go chasing waterfalls
Apollo Bay, Australia

Apollo Bay, Australia


Today the road trip began. We said goodbye to the in-laws after breakfast and hit the road for the start of the Great Ocean Road: Torquay, surfer town. We stopped at Soul Fuel Cafe for coffee and, after a quick stop at the tourist centre, drove to Bells Beach, which we felt we had to go to because it’s, like, famous.

Did I mention it was raining? Sideways? Well it was, so it was perfect beach weather.

It rained all day as we made our way along the road. We went through Anglesea and stopped in Aireys Inlet to have a look at the Split Point Lighthouse. We decided not to do the tour and didn’t get out of the car in the end. What we saw of it looked nice. The plan is to have a look at Cape Otway Lighthouse tomorrow.

We went to the Aireys Pub, home of Rogue Wave Brewery, to sample some of their products. Decided not to stay there for lunch and drove through to Lorne, where we had lunch at the Lorne Hotel.

The brochures said that Lorne had heaps of waterfalls, so we went looking for Erskine Falls after lunch. On the way we stopped at Teddy’s Lookout, which has amazing views. Zoe and I were the only ones to get out of the car, and we braved the 100 metre walk to the lower platform in gusty winds and serious rain just to get a photo.

The rain got heavier the further up the hill we got, and we all decided that no one was going to get out of the car to find a waterfall in that, so we abandoned the waterfall chase and headed back to the highway to find our accommodation, just out of Apollo Bay.

The road was very windy and it was a slow trip in the rain, but the scenery was spectacular. We went through areas where the bushfires had obviously been earlier in the year, and several roadworks.

Our accommodation is beautiful. The views out to the coast are stunning and we had the best meal tonight. I have to admit defeat in the hummous world. Mine is good, but this one was sensational, and I need to know what they put in it! If I had more time (and a lot more money) I’d love to stay here for a week. This is our extravagant night for the trip and it’s glorious!

Channelling (10-12 July 2015) – Day 1

One of the good things about living so far away* from where I grew up is that a lot of the nearby places that Slabs and Juniordwarf haven’t been to are places I’m also not familiar with.

One of these areas is the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, which is the stretch of water between mainland Tasmania and Bruny Island. The Channel region is the area south of Hobart between the Huon Valley and the water. It includes the towns of Margate, Sung, Kettering and Woodbridge, and it’s from Kettering that you get the ferry to Bruny, as we did on one of our mini-breaks last year.

We thought that school holidays would be a good time to go away for a couple of days. I wanted to go to the beach (I’m not a beach fan, but I like them in winter), and Slabs wanted to go somewhere relatively close. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing we agreed Kettering would be a good base for the weekend.

We had a few options for accommodation, and finally settled on Herons Rise Vineyard, about 1 km out of Kettering. It has 3 self-contained cottages, which you can book with or without breakfast. There is also the option of including a 2 course dinner and a bottle of wine.

Herons Rise Vineyard

Herons Rise Vineyard

I wanted to be able to see the water, so we chose the Wine Loft cottage, which is above the wine cellar. It has two bedrooms and can accommodate up to 5 people. The thought of having a home-cooked dinner rather than having to cater ourselves or go out somewhere appealed, so we booked dinner for both nights.

The Wine Loft

The Wine Loft

The Wine Loft

The Wine Loft

Kettering is actually a lot closer to Hobart than I remembered, and it took us just over half an hour to get there. Heron’s Rise is about 1 km out of the town, up the hill, and we could just see the water through the trees. Criterion satisfied!

I can see the water!

I can see the water!

Juniordwarf decided he’d have the main bedroom, which had a queen bed and a single, leaving us the other bedroom, which also had a queen bed. I’m not sure how that even happened, he did it so smoothly.

Bedrooms and loungeroom

Bedrooms and loungeroom

This trip we finally remembered the board games, and decided to teach Juniordwarf the game of Qwirkle, which Lil Sis had introduced us to several years ago. She’s so good at the game that people who play against her call her “The Cheater”, which Juniordwarf found hilarious. He came out with this classic line, which cracked me up: “Lil Sis is a cheater. We have to defeat her.” (She says it’s all lies. I believe her.)

Thanks, in at least some part, to a double Qwirkle, Slabs won the game, and Juniordwarf didn’t disgrace himself coming second. I, on the other hand, deserve a place in the hall of shame for setting up the double Qwirkle without realising it, and not even the bonus points for using all my tiles first could lift me out of last place.

Lucky I’m not competitive isn’t it.

Juniordwarf's first Qwirkle game

Juniordwarf’s first Qwirkle game

Ordering dinner turned out to be an excellent decision. Our host Gerry brought down a big box holding our meals – tonight it was chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto, a potato gratin and steamed veggies – and laid it all out on the table for us. Dessert (because it was a 2-course dinner) was a divine chocolate cake with a berry compote, or whatever it is you call a sauce that includes the whole berries, and whipped cream. I decided to let my sugar-free lifestyle have a very small break, mainly because I know I’m now capable of having dessert every now and then without letting the whole thing go.

Dinner at Herons Rise

Dinner at Herons Rise

We topped it off with a bottle of one of our favourite wines, the 2003 cabernet sauvignon from Derwent Estate, that we apparently bought the very last bottles of a couple of years ago.

2003 Derwent Estate Cab Sav. Glorious!

2003 Derwent Estate Cab Sav. Glorious!

It was a lovely way to end our first night away.

* By Tasmanian standards

Travelling South

On our last trip to the Far South of the state, we talked about going to Hastings Caves, which is even further south than the Tahune Airwalk.

We decided we didn’t have enough time to fit it in on that trip and that we’d come back another time.

School holidays seemed like a perfect time for an overnight trip, when we had some time off and none of Juniordwarf’s regular commitments. Apart from it being school holidays and there being, you know, people around.

We spent the night in Southport. It’s very small – population is less than 400 – and has a history of shipping and timber.

After we arrived we had a look around the town. There are a lot of little shacks along the waterfront. It’s very quiet.

Selfie fun

Selfie fun

20150417-14 Roaring Beach

20150417-19 Paddock near Roaring Beach edit

20150417-20 Kingfish Beach

20150417-22 JD at Kingfish Beach

Southport boasts Australia’s most southern pub (and southernmost petrol outlet). Obviously we had to stay there, and we had dinner in the bistro. It was a really good meal.

20150418-14 Southport Motel & Caravan Park

In the morning we walked down to the beach and Juniordwarf collected some sea shells, which he then proceeded to drop off the side of the jetty.

20150418-01 Kingfish Beach

20150418-05 JD on jetty at Kingfish Beach

It was a nice walk along the beach, then out on the jetty and finally back to the motel.

20150418-09 Jetty at Kingfish Beach

20150418-10 JD on jetty at Kingfish Beach

20150418-12 Cows

After we’d checked out, we drove out to Hastings Caves.

The main activities in the reserve are the Thermal Pool which, despite its 28 degrees water temperature, we weren’t game to venture into (also we didn’t bring our swimmers), the Thermal Springs walk and the cave tour.

We arrived just before the Visitor Centre opened at 10.00, bought our tickets for the cave tour, and then set out on the Thermal Springs walk. Part of the track was closed due to a tree fall.

20150418-20 Thermal Springs Walk

The main thing you find out during this walk is how the water in the warm springs has been warmed because it’s soaked deep into the earth and has then resurfaced into the springs. The cold water in the streams is from rain and from snow melt.

20150418-23 Thermal Springs Walk

There are a couple of places on the walk where you can reach down into the springs and feel how warm the water is.

20150418-27 Thermal Springs Walk

20150418-29 Thermal Springs Walk

The point we had to turn back was a point where the spring water and the stream water meet – you can see the difference between the darker cold stream water, which has tannins in it and the spring water that has come from the earth and has a blue tint to it.

20150418-32 Thermal Springs Walk

When we returned to the Visitor Centre it was time to drive to the Newdegate Cave for our tour. It’s a short drive and then a short walk to the cave entrance. We met our tour guide Lauren at the entrance and, after she’d run though the rules (no eating, drinking, smoking, tripods or touching the crystals) it was time to go in.

The cave is called Newdegate Cave after a former Governor of Tasmania, Sir Francis Newdegate. It was found by some forest workers in 1917, and is unusual because its formations are dolomite rather than limestone.

20150418-37 Newdegate Cave

20150418-39 Newdegate Cave (Blanket)

The formations were really interesting and the cave itself is huge. The tour ran for about 45 minutes, and Juniordwarf was particularly taken by the name of the creek that runs nearby, Mystery Creek.

20150418-51 Newdegate Cave

20150418-53 Newdegate Cave

20150418-67 Newdegate Cave

Our final port of call today was the nearby Duckhole Lake walk, which is included in the 60 Great Short Walks of Tasmania. It was supposed to be 1 hour return, and one reviewer said they got there in 20 minutes. We usually find that estimated the walk times are overestimates, so we thought it would be about 45 minutes return.

20150418-73 Duckhole Lake Walk

In the end the walk took us almost an hour and a half. It was raining (Lauren had told us they get 8-10 mm rain every day around the caves, so we must have got some of that), the ground was wet and some of the boards on the board walk were a bit loose. Overall it was a pretty easy walk, with just a couple of places we had to tread very carefully.

Duckhole Lake is a flooded sinkhole. It was a lovely walk to get there, and the lake was very pretty. I would have liked to have looked around a bit more, but we didn’t want to get home too late, so we didn’t spend a lot of time there.

20150418-78 Duckhole Lake

A couple of things caught my eye on the way back that I’d missed on the way up.

20150418-84 Duckhole Lake Walk

20150418-88 Duckhole Lake Walk

We enjoyed the half-weekend away. It was great to be able to see another part of Tasmania we hadn’t been to before. Next time our plan is to go even further south and check out the Cockle Creek to South Cape Bay walk. It will be longer and more difficult than any walk we’ve done so far, so we might wait until Juniordwarf is a big bigger before we do this.

In the meantime there’s heaps of the state we still haven’t explored.

Bruny – day 3

The final day of our mini break and it was time to pack up the campsite and head home.

We weren’t sure what the queue for the ferry would be like, and didn’t want to get home too late, so we decided to just do a couple of things on the way back to Roberts Point.

ImageAfter a quick coffee at Adventure Bay, we headed to the Berry Farm for morning tea.

We got there before it opened, but a friend had told us about a pretty little beach nook near the Berry Farm, which (if we’d found the spot she was talking about) we agreed was gorgeous. We went for a walk before the Berry Farm opened.

It’s called Two Tree Point, which is at the mouth of Resolution Creek. Can you see why?

ImageThere is a board nearby that outlines the history of the area.  It says that the area is listed on the Tasmanian Heritage Register.

ImageIt has “historic and and cultural significance as it is able to demonstrate an important aspect of Tasmania’s history. The area has changed little since 1792 and is evocative of the landscape that would have been experienced by 18th century European explorers.”

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The board shows a picture painted by Lieutenant Tobin, the Principal Artist on Captain Bligh’s 1792 expedition aboard the Provenance. It is thought that the two trees that overlook the bay today are the same two that were painted by Lieut Tobin, though according to the Heritage Tasmania website, this has not been conclusively been established. If they are the same trees, this means they are at least 250 years old.

Either way, it’s a very pretty spot and I’m glad we had the chance to stop there.

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We walked over the road to the Berry Farm.

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Unfortunately we weren’t there at the right time to pick any berries, but made up for that with morning tea.

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And after that, what better place to go than the chocolate factory

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Yes, Bruny has so much great food, it was going to be hard to leave.

We tasted the delicious fudge and had to buy some. Well, we needed a present for our friend who was looking after our animals while we were away. We might have also had to buy some for ourselves too.

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Our final stop before heading back to Roberts Point was the Neck Lookout.

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There were steps.

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Re-igniting memories of Lady Barron Falls, Slabs counted them. 237.

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The view was worth the climb. There were clear views both to the north

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and south.

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I’m glad we came here today instead of yesterday when it was gloomy and overcast. That was great for the lighthouse, but wouldn’t have made good viewing from the top of 237 steps.

The Neck is also the place you come to see the little penguins come to shore at dusk. That experience is on our to-do list for next time.

So after a fun morning, all that was left to do was to drive back to Roberts Point to catch the ferry. We arrived at the gate shortly after the previous ferry had just left, and the queue was about three cars when we arrived, so we had just under an hour to wait.

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And then the ferry arrived.

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We were on it, and our mini-break was over.

Farewell Bruny.

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You are lovely, and we’ll be back.

Bruny Island – day 1 (part 2)

My criteria for a campsite are quite simple. I like my comforts. Specifically, I like to stay somewhere with an “amenities block”.

I have done roughing it camping (aka Proper Camping) in the distant past, so to distinguish that from what we normally do, I shall refer to our weekend as a “tenting” weekend rather than a camping weekend.

The public campsites on Bruny are, as far as I can tell from the Parks & Wildlife website, Proper Campsites. For people who do Proper Camping.

We stayed at the Captain Cook Caravan Park, near Adventure Bay, which is on South Bruny.

Adventure Bay was named after the ship “The Adventure”, which was the ship of Captain Tobias Furneaux, who first landed there in 1773.  Captain James Cook also landed there, in January 1777, and reportedly collected grass, water and wood. The area has several monuments and plaques commemorating the landings of various ships’ Captains from years past.

The caravan park has a mix of cabins, van sites and tent areas. Some privately owned sites, some basic cabins, some on-site vans, some new villa units and lots of families with kids. It has a huge “campers kitchen” with stoves, a sink, and basic appliances, plus kitchen tables and even a TV. There’s a barbeque area and, most importantly, an amenities block.

There are no designated tent sites if you want an unpowered site, so you can just set your tents up anywhere within the tenting areas.  The day we arrived there was heaps of room, so we didn’t have to set up anywhere awkwardly close to anyone else. And we were comfortably close to the amenities block. (You can see this is important to me can’t you?)

ImageOnce we’d set up the tents (which I’ve become an expert at due to weekends tenting with Juniordwarf in the back yard last summer), we went for a drive to the Mavista Nature Walk. It’s a fairly easy 45 minutes return walk through some pretty rainforest. It’s similar to the rainforests at Mount Field.

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And there were funghi (reminds self to take tripod on next rainforest walk to avoid this kind of result).

ImageAfter we did that walk, we went for a drive through some of the wet Eucalypt forest along Coolangatta Road. Wet Eucalpyt is the predominant forest here, with tall Eucalypts and a dense understorey of small trees shrubs and ferns – there are patches of temperate rainforest growing in the more sheltered areas. (Thank you to the sign at the Mavista Picnic Area for this information.)

We found one of the lookouts along Coolangatta Road, which gave us a decent view of The Neck that joins North and South Bruny, looking towards the Northern end of Adventure Bay.

ImageDinner tonight was at the Hotel Bruny near Alonnah.  It seems like a very popular place, and was very busy.

Apparently they are famous for their chicken parmy. So I went for the salmon. As you do. It was very good.

ImageWe weren’t there quite late enough to see the spectacular sunsets over Sunset Bay, but there was some very nice light to take some photos by as the sun began to set.

ImageI used an app called Autostitch for this photo.

ImageImageThis looks a lot darker than the sky actually was.

We got back to the campsite just before it got too dark. I’m not a fan of driving at night at the best of times, and even less so on roads I don’t know.

After it got dark, I wandered over the road to try and get a picture of the rising moon between the trees, over the water. Phone cameras are not ideal for this purpose but, sans tripod, mine did a better job than my camera did.

ImageI’d like to say I slept very well on such a beautiful night, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

Never mind. It was nice to be away and outside.

Bruny Island – day 1 (part 1)

We usually have at least one camping trip in January. This year we decided to go to Bruny Island, which is a place that apparently everyone in Tasmania, except for us, has been to at least once.

Whenever I’d I say I’d never been there, people would look at me in amazement, as if this was the gravest oversight a Tasmanian could ever make.

It was time to rectify this.

Obviously, because it’s an island, you get there by boat. The boat is a car ferry called the Mirambeena, which travels approximately hourly between Kettering on the Tasmanian mainland, and Roberts Point on Bruny. It takes between 50 and 70 vehicles, depending on the size of the vehicles, and you just turn up, pay your fare and wait.

How long you have to wait depends on how many other cars are ahead of you. Apparently in high peak times like Christmas and Easter, the queue can get very long and you can wait for a long time.  We were advised to take books and activities to keep ourselves entertained, possibly for an extended period.

After a scenic drive down the Channel Highway (which is a really nice drive), we arrived at the ferry terminal at about 10.30. The attendant told us we probably wouldn’t make the 11.05 ferry, which was correct, so we went into the coffee shop for morning tea, had a look at some boats and went back to sit in the car to read our books.

ImageImageThe ferry trip was very smooth and, despite Juniordwarf’s concern that we might get motion sickness (vomit is a big obsession with him right now), everyone was fine.

ImageThe crossing takes about 15-20 minutes, and then you just drive off the ferry and go where the road takes you.

ImageThe official tourist brochure says:

“Please don’t try and see all of Bruny in a day or two – you’d be surprised how many people don’t realise that Bruny Island is nearly 100 km long! From the tip of Dennes Point in the north to Cape Bruny Lighthouse in the south, the landscapes change dramatically – sheltered sandy beaches and farmlands in the north, tall forests, open bays and wild coastlines in the south”.

This is a great description of the island, and we decided to head north first, to Dennes Point. It’s a beautiful drive and you can see the Iron Pot Lighthouse from the road. We’ve also seen it from the other side, from South Arm.

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The main reason we went to Dennes Point was to have a look at Art at the Point, an art gallery featuring local Bruny artists. This includes jewellery, textiles, ceramics and prints.

It was a lovely way to start our adventure, although it was slightly marred by a cranky Juniordwarf, who wasn’t too keen on being asked not to pull open every drawer in the place and had to be removed.

We then made our way to a nearby beach, which I think is called Nebraska Beach, so that Juniordwarf could have a paddle in the sea.

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20140116-24 Nebraska Beach Dennes Point

ImageHe made a new friend in the water. The beach was calm, which, according to the little girl’s mother, was unusual for the area. She said it was usually very windy, so we were lucky to have nice weather while we were there.

The journey to the south of the island was next, and on the way we found out where the Get Shucked Oyster Farm and Bruny Island Cheese Company were, because they were high on our to-do list for the weekend.

After stopping for lunch at a beach near Alonnah, we drove to Adventure Bay to set up our camp site.