Southwest Tasmania day 2 (part 1)

This morning’s plan was to wake up early—well, as early as I’d need to when the sun rises close to 8 am—and take some sunrise photos over the lake. This plan was somewhat thwarted by the fact that everywhere was enveloped in fog and the sun was nowhere to be seen.

20180712-011 Silhouettes in the fog at the lookout

At the Lake Pedder Lookout

Never mind, I’d heard that fog was good for photos so I was excited for what the morning might present.

Our plan was to go to Gordon Dam, which is at the end of Gordon River Road, about 12 km from Strathgordon.

A little bit of context. Lake Pedder was once a natural lake but has been in its current form since 1972 when the Gordon, Serpentine and Huon rivers were dammed as part of Tasmania’s hydro electric development. The power scheme includes the Gordon Dam on the Upper Gordon River and the three dams that form Lake Pedder (aka the Huon-Serpentine impoundment): the Serpentine Dam, the Scotts Peak Dam, which dams the Huon River, and the Edgar Dam. It’s 242 square km and 2960 million cubic metres in capacity. It’s 16 metres deep over the original Lake Pedder and 26 metres deep at its deepest part, just behind the Serpentine Dam.

The water from Lake Pedder flows into Lake Gordon through the McPartlan Pass Canal, a 2745-metre long canal between the two lakes, and is used in the Gordon Power Station, which is built 183 metres underground.

The original Lake Pedder had been a National Park but the Tasmanian Government revoked that status in 1967 to enable the Hydro development to proceed. There was considerable opposition to this development from the conservation movement both in Australia and internationally and it saw the birth of the first Green political party in the world. Then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam also opposed the dam and offered compensation to Tasmania to preserve the area. Since then there have been calls to drain the artificial lake and restore it to its original state.

We left the lodge in the fog and continued along the Gordon River Road. Our first stop was the Lake Pedder lookout, about two km up the road. It had one of those cool directional signs that tells you what mountains you’re looking at. All very well when you can actually see the mountains but not when everything is immersed in fog.

Nevertheless, there were some cool fog photo opportunities.

20180712-003 Silhouettes in the fog at the lookout

Sunlight and fog

Continuing along Gordon River Road for another seven km, you reach the turnoff to the Serpentine Dam. From there, it’s a short drive to the boat ramp. By now, the fog was starting to lift, so it was amazing to make photos half in fog and half in clear blue sky.

20180712-035 Serpentine Dam

Serpentine Dam from near the boat ramp

There was no wind and only a slight ripple on the water so the reflections were amazing. Parts of it reminded me of the reflections in the River Derwent along Boyer Road.

20180712-028 Serpentine Dam the other side

Serpentine Dam

This dam was constructed in 1971. It’s a concrete-faced rockfill dam, which is basically a compacted rock wall that is made waterproof by a thin layer of concrete on the upstream face (the left side in this picture). The wall is 41.5 metres high at its highest point and 134 metres long. It contains 114 000 cubic metres of rockfill.

20180712-043 Serpentine Dam wall

Serpentine Dam Wall

Our destination was literally at the end of the road, the Gordon Dam, a further three km from the turn off. Completed in 1974, it’s 140 metres high and is the highest arch dam and the largest storage dam in Australia. It’s curved both horizontally and vertically, which apparently allowed them to use less concrete to construct it, reducing the overall cost. The horizontal arch is apparent from the photos, the vertical one not so much, but the dual arch explains why it doesn’t look straight.

Lake Gordon, created by the dam, was still shrouded in fog so it was impossible to see how big it was, but we could see the dam wall itself, which is pretty impressive.

20180712-060 Lake Gordon

Lake Gordon

Apparently, people abseil off it.

I thought that sounded cool.

When I was at home in my lounge room.

When I got there and looked at it I was grateful I hadn’t decided to book in to do this. I was petrified just walking down the steps to get to the top of the wall where you’re allowed to walk.

20180712-100 Looking down on the Gordon Dam wall

Don’t look down! They are people down there . . . yes, you are going down there

I was glad when I got to the bottom of the steps. Walking on the wall wasn’t anywhere near as scary as walking down to the wall. It’s an amazing structure.

20180712-092 Looking down on the Gordon Dam wall

Gordon Dam wall

The climb back up is a lot less terrifying than the climb down and there’s a nice lookout at the top that you’d probably get great views from on a clear day. This was not a clear day. Still, it was a good experience and we were glad we’d made it.

There are more photos of the Serpentine Dam and the Gordon Dam on my photoblog.

 

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Catching up

So this blog-as-accountability-partner thing isn’t working out as well as I’d hoped and I’ve missed several weeks. The several weeks don’t have much going for them. All those 6/7 and 7/7 weeks seem like a lifetime away, and most of the healthy habits I’ve been trying so hard to put in place are back at 0/7 or 1/7 (on a good week).

There are a few reasons for this, and the thing is that now’s been the time I really should have been looking after myself, going to bed on time, drinking more water and less beer and pausing to breathe. But I can’t change any of that. What’s done is done, and it’s time to move forward again.

Something I’ve been neglecting for a long time has been making stuff. Arty stuff, journally stuff, scrapbooky stuff, writey stuff – just giving myself time to muck around in my room and make something.

A few weeks ago I signed up for a mini class called Creative Sandbox 101, which is a 7-day kickstarter to get people creating. I thought I’d whip through it in seven days. Turns out I was wrong and here I am six weeks later still on Day 4. The story of my life. Sign up for something, begin with enthusiasm, don’t make time for it, don’t finish, feel guilty forever about it. Yep. I can’t even finish a course that is seven days of 15-minute exercises.

This morning I felt better than I have for a long time, physically and mentally. I decided I was going to go for a walk (for the first time in at least three weeks), watch the sunrise and spend the time I would have otherwise spent moping in bed making something.

I did, and it was beautiful. I had breakfast with the boy and then it was time to make something.

201701008 Sunrise 2 IG

After clearing off my desk, it was time to make something.

After dusting up some cobwebs, it was time to make something.

I had a painting stuck to my craft mat. It had been stuck to the mat for months waiting for me to finish it and, at the same time, being an excuse for me not making anything else. It was time to call it done and go make something new. I didn’t want to waste another moment of the day shuffling stuff around my desk and not actually making anything. Action creates more action. Or something like that.

20171008 Taking the picture off the mat

Once I’d removed the picture, it was time to make something. After I’d removed the adhesive residue from the masking tape that had been on the mat, of course.

Ahem. Action creates action.

I started (yes, you read that right, I started) by making a really crappy painting based on an exercise from Flora Bowley’s lovely book Bold Intuitive Painting, which you can find on my Instagram feed if you really want to see it.

Then I went over to the Creative Sandbox 101 website and read up on Day 4’s activity. The activity I chose to do was to make photos of one person (or object) for 15 minutes. To capture different moods and angles. I decided I’d go out and photograph a tree for 15 minutes. I probably could have found one in my backyard, but I decided to make it a bit more challenging and go to the park where there would be people. I feel very uncomfortable

I feel very uncomfortable making photos when there are people around and it’s something I want to get more comfortable doing. I know most people don’t give a toss whether someone is photographing stuff around them (unless they’re photographing the person in question, I guess), and even if they do, what other people think of me is none of my business – but it still feels awkward. So today’s exercise was a two-part challenge. Excellent value for money.

I was sure I’d be safe anyway because the weather was crappy and no one would be at the park, right?

Nice try.

I tried talking myself out of doing it. I couldn’t find a tree I liked. The one I did like was too difficult to access. Wouldn’t people get worried about someone standing round a tree in a park for 15 minutes snapping pictures on their phone? Wouldn’t I be that weird woman who makes photos of trees? (I’m not sure why this bothers me. I’m probably already that weird woman who obsessively photographs 10 Murray Street, so over-photographing a tree is no big deal, right?)

No, no, no, no. You are not getting out of this.

I eventually found one away from the people, though they would have seen me if they’d looked, set the timer and started snapping.

It was an interesting exercise. The tree had lots of cool features and I was interested to see how the bark changed several times moving up the tree. There were little critters in there, things stuck between the bark and the trunk, spider webs, blackberry vines, new growth, lots of bark, some black bits, some interesting shapes. I saw faces! The 15 minutes went quickly and I only made 55 photos in that time. I was expecting more. I don’t know if any of them are any good. I wasn’t thinking much about composition and it was that glary middle-of-the-day light, so probably not. That wasn’t the point of the exercise. The point was to do something and to notice how I felt when I was doing it.

And I felt mixed things. Part of me wanted the timer to go off so I could stop. Part of me wondered if anyone could see me. Part of me enjoyed finding different parts of the tree to photograph, and wondered how old it was and if anyone had ever looked at it closely before. Part of me made me lie down on a log and look at it from that angle. That was actually one of the coolest angles. 15 minutes isn’t a long time, and I didn’t get bored. I enjoyed doing it. I’d do it again.

Maybe next time I will do this exercise with a person. Though getting up close and personal with a person might be somewhat more challenging than with a tree! (Any volunteers?)

 

 

Looking

I have walked past this tree hundreds of times on  my way to and from work, and I’ve never looked at it.

20170331 Tree in St David's Park 2 IG

Today I was in a go-slow mode and it caught my eye.

I noticed how it wraps around itself, whereas the surrounding trees are straight up and down. I had no idea that trees can be structured so differently. I always thought a tree was a tree was a tree.

It made me wonder how many other things I walk past without ever noticing them or looking at them.

I want to notice things. I want to pay more attention.

While I was walking with Kramstable to school this morning, some workers were in the process of cutting down a very large tree on a street corner. By the time we walked past that corner this afternoon, all evidence of the tree’s existence had gone, apart from the wood chipper and the roadworks signs. Looking across the road, it looked empty, and not quite right, but I couldn’t tell you what sort of tree it was, how big it was or anything about it, or even that there had actually been a tree there. Just that something was missing.

If we hadn’t walked that way this morning and I hadn’t seen the tree being removed, I wonder if I would have even noticed it had gone the next time I went past.

That scares me.

I want to notice things. I want to pay more attention.

Week in Review: 19-25 January 2014

Monday was the last day of our holiday. We took a short walk through the forest at the back of the hotel before we left.

Rainforest walk near the hotel

Rainforest walk near the hotel

Rainforest walk near the hotel

Rainforest walk near the hotel

The rest of the day we spent driving home and feeling a bit frustrated that we were stuck in the car on the day with the best weather of the whole trip!

Not to worry, we’d had a great time, and we got views like this on the way to Mole Creek, where we stopped for coffee.

View on the way home

View on the way home

I had a lovely day with Juniordwarf on Tuesday. Did I mention he’s now into the movie Coraline, and he likes to act it out? I was Coraline and he was Mother. I don’t know any of the lines, so it went like this:

He (or a teddy) says a line.

He says: ‘you say [whatever the line is]’

I say [whatever the line is].

He tells me what action to do.

Repeat for the entire movie.

I went back to work on Wednesday for a break.

I also found a strawberry in my strawberry patch. (‘Patch’ might be an exaggeration.) I got to it before the birds did. One strawberry. I’m an amazing gardener.

Gardening success!

Gardening success!

On Friday we went to Two Metre Tall Farm Bar for dinner. It was fun – there was a big group of fruit pickers there, and we were entertained by some French musicians from the group Chalouche. Somehow Juniordwarf ended up in the middle of the people who were dancing. He had a fantastic time.

Farm Bar

Farm Bar

My daily step goal (in preparation for the Care Walk in her Shoes challenge) is 13,000 on the way to 20,000. I achieved this on only 3 days this week, but my total step count over the week was 96,731. That means on average, I did about 13,800 steps each day, so over the week I met the goal.

I didn’t do less than 10,000 on any day, which I’ve decided will be my absolute minimum for any one day. So I think I can call this week a success.

I put a pedometer on Juniordwarf one day to see how much activity he actually does. He bounces around a lot, so I imagined that even if he doesn’t do any actual exercise, he would still be getting in a lot of movement.

I was right.

By the time he’d gone to bed, he’d done 10,814 steps just by being himself. At the same time I’d done 11,458 steps, which included an hour walk in the morning.

Pedometer experiment

Pedometer experiment

This says to me that I probably need to increase my activity level during the day. Something to think about.

Trip Day 3 (Part 1): Cradle Mountain

This morning the weather looked better, but that was just an illusion, and by the time we’d had breakfast, it was looking pretty ordinary.

Juniordwarf was thrilled with the all-you-can-eat buffet style breakfast. He said to Slabs, ‘you didn’t tell me about this!’ and Slabs had replied that he’d wanted to surprise him (when he’d actually forgotten and hadn’t thought too much of it – just goes to show how things that we don’t think are a big deal are huge and exciting to little people, who have much less life experience. It was great to see how excited he was over breakfast).

It was bitterly windy, and the rain came and went (mostly went, which was a relief, unlike yesterday), and we weren’t sure whether to attempt a big walk first or some of the smaller ones. We decided to do the smaller walks first and hope the weather improved after lunch.

Our first stop was the Interpretation Centre again, where we did the Enchanted Walk, which is listed as one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.

Enchanted Walk

Enchanted Walk

Enchanted Walk

Enchanted Walk

The walk is described as ‘[taking] you through buttongrass moorland before entering cool temperate rainforest along the edges of Pencil Pine Creek.

Enchanted Walk

Enchanted Walk

Enchanted Walk

Enchanted Walk

‘Along the track are three interpretive tunnels that kids and kids at heart will find fun to crawl through!’ (Juniordwarf did. We found it a bit difficult.) There were wombat burrows on the walk, but I hadn’t read that bit of the description and didn’t look out for them, and it was too late in the morning for the wombats to be about anyway.

Enchanted Walk

Enchanted Walk

Enchanted Walk

Enchanted Walk

Enchanted Walk

Enchanted Walk

King Billy Circuit

King Billy Circuit

At the end of this walk, we saw a sign pointing to the King Billy Circuit, so we decided to do that walk as well. This was another short walk through some forests that included old specimens of King Billy Pine.

King Billy Circuit

King Billy Circuit

King Billy Circuit

King Billy Circuit

King Billy Circuit

King Billy Circuit

Coming out of the King Billy Circuit

Coming out of the King Billy Circuit

The King Billy pine (Athrotaxis selaginoides) is thought to derive its common name from the Tasmanian Aborigine William Lanney, who was referred to as ‘King Billy’. The tree reaches a height of 40 metres and may reach ages in excess of 1200 years. It’s only found in highland rainforest regions above 600 m.

After that we went back to the Visitor Centre and decided it was time to ditch the car and take the shuttle bus further into the park. We picked up some sandwiches from the café and hopped onto the bus. We got off at the third stop, Ronny Creek, so we could do the Weindorfers Forest Walk. To get there, we had to get to Waldheim Chalet, which meant we started off on the Overland Track before turning right and heading up the hill to find the chalet.

Start of the Overland Track

Start of the Overland Track

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P1030075

IMG_7610

The view from the top of the hill

 

P1030080

The view from the top of the hill

The original chalet was built in 1912 by Gustav and Kate Weindorfer. Gustav was one of the people responsible for having the Cradle Mountain area protected as a reserve and sanctuary (now National Park). The chalet has been rebuilt and it now tells the story of Kate and Gustav and their work in the area.

Waldheim Chalet

Waldheim Chalet

The forest walk runs just behind the chalet and took about 20 minutes. We saw lots more King Billy Pines, and some fagus.

Weindorfers Forest Walk

Weindorfers Forest Walk

Weindorfers Forest Walk

Weindorfers Forest Walk

Then it was decision time. Juniordwarf didn’t want to do a 2 hour walk around Dove Lake. We did.

We debated it while we were having lunch in the day hut, and convinced Juniordwarf that we didn’t come all this way to sit around in the hotel, and that the whole point of coming here was to go walking. We were only staying in the hotel, we said in true parent style, because we couldn’t drive to Cradle Mountain, do all the walks we wanted to and drive home the same day. An incidental benefit, if you like. He couldn’t argue with that. (Parents: 1, Child: 0.)

The Day Hut near Waldheim Chalet

The Day Hut near Waldheim Chalet

Bird hanging around in vain for some lunch.

Bird hanging around in vain for some lunch.

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Beautiful view of the whole valley

Beautiful view of the whole valley

We made our way back down the road to the bus stop, and watched a group of walkers getting last minute instructions before setting off on the Overland Track. I’m not sure that I’d ever be able to do that walk, but I think it would be a pretty amazing walk to do.

We caught the next bus through to Dove Lake (they run every 10 minutes or so) and began the 6 km circuit of the lake.

Holiday Day 2 (Part 2): Cradle Mountain

If you know anything about Tasmania, you’ll probably have heard of Cradle Mountain.  It’s one of our most well-known landmarks and is a hugely popular area for visitors.

I’d not been there since I was in high school (so you know, about 12 years ago), when our family spent a weekend there. We stayed at what was then the Pencil Pine Lodge, now Cradle Mountain Lodge. I couldn’t remember much about it apart from some old pictures of Lil Sis and I looking at some wallabies.

This was our destination for the rest of the trip. We stayed at the Cradle Mountain Hotel, which is located outside the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.

When we arrived mid-afternoon, it was raining and very windy, so we weren’t really enthusiastic about heading out to do anything. Originally we’d thought we’d do two or three shorter walks in the afternoon, and then aim for one or more of the longer walks the next day. (There are heaps of walks in the National Park, ranging from 10-20 minute walks that almost anyone could do, to the longer overnight walks, including the famous Overland Track, a 6 day hike from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair.)

But the weather wasn’t exactly favourable (I’m not a fan of wind or regular downpours) and we were tired, so we drove the couple of kilometres down the road to the Visitor Centre to see what they recommended.

There are several ways to access the park. You can drive your car in, but access is limited and controlled by a boom gate, so there can be a wait if you want to do that. There is no access for campers and caravans.

You can drive to the Interpretation Centre, which is just after the park boundary. There are several short walks that leave from there, as well as the Cradle Valley Boardwalk that goes from the Interpretation Centre to Dove Lake, about 8 km. It’s also the Ranger Station and has a lot of information about the park.

Rather than drive your own car, you can catch a shuttle bus from the Visitor Centre to one of four stops within the park. This is the recommended way to access the park, because of the narrow winding road and the associated safety and insurance issues. It’s not a road either of us really wanted to drive on, so we decided the shuttle bus was going to be the best option for the next day.

After speaking to the staff at the Visitor Centre, we decided to drive down to the Interpretation Centre, have a look around and do one of the shortest, easiest walks in the park, the Pencil Pine Falls walk. It’s a 10-minute (500 metre), accessible circuit through a pencil pine rainforest, past the Pencil Pine Falls.

Pencil Pines Circuit

Pencil Pine Circuit

Pencil Pines (Athrotaxis cupressoides), are trees that grow sub-alpine areas above 800 metres, and can live for longer than 1200 years.

10 minutes was quite doable for us. We got a bit wet, the camera got a bit wet, but we saw an amazing waterfall and it was a lovely little walk as an introduction to the park.

Pencil Pines Falls

Pencil Pine Falls

Pencil Pines Falls

Pencil Pine Falls

Pencil Pine Circuit

Pencil Pine Circuit

Pencil Pine Circuit

Pencil Pine Circuit and mood-enhancing rain drops on the lens

We decided to leave the rest of the walks for the next day, when the weather was predicted to be better, so we went back to the hotel and spotted some wildlife outside.

20150117-123 Echidna at our hotel

We had dinner at the Grey Gum restaurant at the hotel. The food was fantastic. (The poor old iPhone 4 doesn’t do a great job of food photos.)

Pork Belly entree

Pork Belly entree

Duck main that Juniordwarf chose

Duck main that Juniordwarf chose

Steak main

Steak main

We were all looking forward to the next day.

Tahune AirWalk

20150110-018 Huon RiverSlabs and I went to the Tahune AirWalk  many years ago, pre-Juniordwarf. We thought he might like to go there, so after talking about it for ages, we finally picked a weekend and went.

The Tahune AirWalk is about 28 km from Geeveston in the Huon Valley. It’s located in the Southern Forest area, close to the Hartz Mountains National Park. It’s near the junction of the Huon and Picton rivers.

There’s 3 short walks in the area and we did them all.

The first one is obviously the AirWalk itself, which is a steel ramp up in the tree tops, which gave us wonderful views from the top of the trees. It’s a short walk through the forest – you have to climb 112 steps to get there, and then you start walking among the tree tops at an average height of 20 metres.

20150110-021 Climbing the 112 steps 20150110-022 Climbing the 112 stepsIt’s quite an amazing feeling, and we were lucky to be the only people doing the walk at the time so it was nice and relaxed. 20150110-023 View from the AirWalkThe AirWalk is 619 metres long, and right at the end is the cantilever section which is 48 metres above the river. From here you get a great view of the Huon and Picton Rivers junction, as well as the Hartz Mountains and the surrounding forest. It was pretty spectacular.

20150110-025 View from the AirWalk 20150110-030 View from the AirWalk 20150110-035 View from the AirWalk (River Junction)It’s an impressive engineering feat as well. According to the sign it took 3 months to build and uses over 120 tonnes of steel and 9000 nuts and bolts. The cantilever can support the weight of 120 people or 12 baby elephants – 10 tonnes –and can withstand winds of 180 km/hour. Luckily for us it wasn’t windy at all, so we didn’t need to test that claim out!

20150110-038 On the cantilever 20150110-041 On the cantilever 20150110-042 The cantilever 20150110-044 Part of the AirWalk 20150110-047 Looking down from the AirWalkIt was interesting on the way back down to see some of the anchors holding the AirWalk in place, and to look up and see how high we’d been. 20150110-052 Looking up

We did the second walk, the Huon Pine Walk, which is a 20 minute walk along the river. There’s lots of information about Huon Pine, which we got in reverse because we did the walk the wrong way. Huon Pine is only found in Tasmania. It grows on the edges of rivers and lake where there is high rainfall, and is used in boat building and craft work. It’s a slow growing tree than can live for a long time – apparently there are some specimens on the West Coast that are 2500 years old.

It was a nice little walk.

The final walk we did was the Swinging Bridges Walk, which is an hour long circuit that takes you across two narrow swinging bridges over the Huon and Picton Rivers. We managed to do this one backwards as well, so we crossed the Picton Bridge first before crossing the Huon bridge.

20150110-061 Picton River Bridge 20150110-065 Picton River Bridge 20150110-067 Picton River Bridge 20150110-069 A monster in the forestJust after (or before, if you do the walk the right way around) the Picton bridge is a short trail that takes you as close as you can get to the junction of the two rivers. If you look up, you can see the cantilever section of the AirWalk – the place where we’d seen the river junction from. It looks very cool.

20150110-070 The rivers join 20150110-074 Looking back at the AirWalk 20150110-082 Huon River BridgeJuniordwarf loved the bridges, and after we’d crossed the first one he said it wasn’t long enough and he wanted to make the most of it so he was going to go back and cross it again. He probably would have done it many more times if we’d let him.

These bridges are very narrow and it’s almost impossible to get past anyone walking across them (unless they are very small), so we had to wait for the family crossing from the other side of the Huon Bridge before we could cross. They were moving very slowly and looked a bit nervous – even more so when we told them they had another bridge to cross after that one.

20150110-092 Huon River BridgeThe walk back is very pretty and it passes underneath part of the AirWalk, including the cantilever, so again you get a feel for how high off the ground we’d been. You also appreciate more closely that there’s nothing underneath the cantilever holding it up!

It was a fun day.

20150110-096 The cantilever 20150110-099 Huon River 20150110-104 Huon River