Looking

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

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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.

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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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The view from the top of the hill

 

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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

12 of 12 April 2014

12 April 2014 was a Saturday. It’s the weekend before Easter and leading up to the last three days of school for the term. I’m tired. After the Walk in her Shoes challenge ended, I couldn’t manage to get out of bed in the mornings to go for a walk. Not even my shiny new shoes could tempt me. This week, I finally started doing it again.

1 of 12 – The streets are deserted this early in the morning.

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2 of 12 – The leaves are starting to change. Autumn is here.Image

3 of 12 – On the weekend I can get up a bit later and walk when it’s light. We live in a beautiful place.

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4 of 12 – Saturday is local market day, and I look forward to laksa for breakfast every week.

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5 of 12 – I recently decided to stop having milk in my coffee. I’m a long black drinker now. We go through a lot less milk now, and I drink a lot less coffee. I think my coffee addiction was actually a caffeine milkshake addiction.

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6 of 12 – Juniordwarf said that knitting was his new hobby. He’s never knitted before, but he wanted to do it. So we went (in his space ship) to Planet Knitting and I started to show him how. I didn’t think I’d remember what to do, but it all came back to me quite quickly.

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7 of 12 – I filled this garden bed with chook poo and straw for 4 months, before starting on the next one. The idea is to fill them, let them rot for a few months and then start planting in them. This one is ready to go.

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8 of 12 – My poor zucchini plant.

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9 of 12 – I’ve managed to grow one paltry tomato this year. No, make that two. I suck at gardening.

Image10 of 12 – Juniordwarf has just started to read some Enid Blyton books for the first time. He said that the garden is “The Enchanted Garden” and we’ll have adventures there. Today we climbed the Faraway Tree.

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11 of 12 – The teddies’ Easter Party has been on the calendar for weeks. It was on tonight and involved singing, dancing and a 6 course menu.

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12 of 12 – I’m trying to increase my vegetable intake so I’m looking for ideas on different ways to cook them. Thanks State Library for your excellent selection of cook books.

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12 of 12 february 2014

12 February 2014 was a Wednesday, two days after a Public Holiday. This week is the second week of school and I’m still trying to get myself back into the routines. I’m struggling.

1 of 12 – The sun rose.

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2 of 12 – Juniordwarf’s current obsession is the TV show Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. He rather likes the Nanny Plum character, and he’s designated me as the Queen and himself as the maid, AKA Nanny Juniordwarf. So he’s given me his crown to wear. I have permission to leave it in the car when I go to work, because I’m not a Queen at work.

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3 of 12 – Hobart was hit by a major storm on Sunday and we were driving home right in the middle of it. Some trees in St David’s Park were badly damaged and the park was closed this morning while they assessed the damage and made the area safe.

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4 of 12 – All that can be seen of the old Print Building in Salamanca Place from street level now.

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5 of 12 – The mountain emerging from low-lying cloud. Today was a welcome relief from the heat. (If you’re on the mainland, my definition of ‘heat’ might differ from yours . . . I have a very low tolerance.)

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6 of 12 – Zoe hasn’t been to work with me for a while. There is weird stuff going on in Teddy Land, and Zoe is now a witch who lives in a very messy house separately from the other teddies. (If you watch Ben and Holly you’ll understand, otherwise you may nod and move on.)

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7 of 12 – There was quite a lot of activity going on in the park when I left work and there were a few people standing round watching branches being cut off this tree. There were also a few cruise ship visitors around, and I wondered what they made of walking in between the demolition of the Print Building on one side of the street and the chainsawing of the trees in the park on the other side. (See photo 4.)

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8 of 12 – We got home to a delightful display of birds in our garden. We think we have identified these as Yellow Crescent Honeyeaters.

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9 of 12 – Some days the chickens don’t want to use the laying box. Earlier in the month we thought they’d stopped laying, only to find a stash of about 15 eggs in what has been dubbed “The Egg Butty”. Blame Juniordwarf for that one.

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10 of 12 – Whenever we let the rabbit out, the chooks don’t take long to move in.

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11 of 12 – Juniordwarf has allocated himself some jobs to do in his new role as the maid. One is the washing, but it’s a magic washing machine and he has to say, “Washing machine: wash all the clothes. Abracadabra!” (If you watch Ben and Holly you’ll understand, otherwise you may nod and move on.)

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12 of 12 Coincidentally today’s Ben and Holly story was the one where Nanny Plum and the Wise Old Elf swap jobs for a day, and the Wise Old Elf has to do the washing. “Washing machine: wash all the clothes. Abracadabra!”

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