Wednesday, August 05, 2015



Winston and George from next door enjoy the snow.


On Monday it snowed all over southern Tasmania. We had snow on the ground in the Hobart suburbs, even down on the beach, for the first time since 1986. I captured it for posterity. Tuesday was just plain cold, but today we are expecting more actual snow.

Stage one; out on the back deck before dawn. It felt so weird underfoot; it was very powdery.
The trampoline caught a good amount so we started small snowman.
Front deck and the comprehensively snowy mountain.
The daredevils at the top of Nevin Street consider how they are going to get down alive.
I unintentionally turned this snowman into a sort of two-bun Bronwyn Bishop.

Wellesley Park soccer ground, the community gathers

Before, during and after a daring snowball attack.

Either Winston or a yeti has been this way. Phone for size comparison.

Winston had sore paws by the end of the day. He ate a lot of snow and tried to eat the snowmen's noses.

The snow lasted a lot longer on the dark side of the valley. 
View from the lounge room. The wind up there was lifting the snow and blowing it around in little ground-clouds, it looked amazing, like moving campfires.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The circus comes to town - a football report

We went to see Richmond play North Melbourne at Bellerive Oval on Saturday. Here is the piece I wrote for Tiger Tiger Burning Bright, a collaborative website I started last year with Dugald Jellie.

Today I am going I dodge the real issues at Richmond. Everyone who reads this will have seen the game or at least be familiar with the score. We have lost four of the last five to teams that no-one would have considered finals material, until they played us. I had a marathon vent on Twitter about that last night and I feel that is out of my system now. 
Yesterday was the first time Richmond have played for keeps in my home town of Hobart. I saw them play Hawthorn in Launceston in Buddy's first season, maybe 2007. We went in hot favourites and were shown up as pretenders. Long drive home. 
So I had been looking forward to this since the draw came out last year, and feeling increasingly tense over the last month as our form went flat. If I had gone alone, I would have made an effort to catch up with all the visitors to town that I know through TTBB and Twitter, but it turned into a whole-family event, which of course was fantastic in its own way. There was the usual torrent of pre-game puff as always when the big league comes to town, but for it to feature the Tiges was novel.
Continued over on TTBB 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

More paddle therapy

A super morning at the Collegiate boat ramp. So calm!
I have been keen to paddle under the Tasman Bridge. On Thursday I tried out a new launch point; the Collegiate rowing club between the bridge and Cornelian Bay. It was an absolutely perfect morning (I generally only go on perfect mornings so if that comes up every time I am really not making it up). I chatted to a retired couple from Perth who park their camper there to walk into town. They come to Tasmanian to get away from the hot summer and are staying deeper into the year each time.

I set out at about ten. Launching from the wide rowers boat ramp was very easy, and then I paddled around towards a big concrete block in the water. I believe this was one of the anchor points of the floating bridge that crossed the river before the Tasman was built in 1964. I was a fair way out into the stream and the current was surprisingly gentle.

Looking back through the modern bridge at the anchor point of the old bridge. Cold in the shade.
I have heard that the currents are tricky and I know on the Montagu Bay side there is an extremely deep section, where the Lake Illawarra sank after it hit the bridge in 1974. So I am generally taking it very easy, and keeping within swimming distance of the bank. I paddled under the 3rd span into the shade, and the temperature dropped. It is a very beautiful bridge and being under it, on land or sea, is always a profound feeling. The view back through upriver was terrific. I took some pics on my phone which I hope I can get off it again. I thought I would head for the regatta grounds, just to stickybeak around the boatyards there. There is a Naval Reserves clubhouse or depot or headquarters, called TS Huon. It looks very lovely indeed and I have heard it muttered that the whole deal is just a bit of federally funded fun for Tasmanian political dynasty the Hodgmans and their pals.

It was so calm that I was able to actually get my tiny sketchbook out and draw this on the water.
Mt Wellington and Government House through the bridge
From a lovely spot in the sun, on a bench above the boat ramp
Drawing done at the same spot, Cornelian Bay cemetery on the left, and smoke rising from the zincworks
A few drawings I did from memory, in which Mt Direction is a lot steeper than strictly accurate 
It was so nice out there. I turned around after I got down to TS Huon and came back under the bridge again, and decided to just keep going upriver while the going was easy. I was on a heading for Lindisfarne Bay on the other bank, and felt then like I could have made it over in reasonable time if I kept on. 

But again I got to a point were I felt I was going nowhere, so I turned and pointed my nose at St Johns church steeple in New Town. Paddling quite hard that way and drifting with the current got me back to my start point.

I was glad I reached land when I did as something quite big went past and created a wake that might have spelled trouble if it had caught me unawares. I dried off a bit, sat in the sun on a bench and drew the cemetery hill, zincworks and Mt Direction.

I think I will work on more drawings of this scene and try to get the elements to gel together better. I am really happy with the cheap phone's camera though, and now I have deduced I can bluetooth the pics straight to my computer I might be doing this a lot from now on.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Paddle therapy

Some days I have no client work to do and no money coming in. Jobs get put on hold, clients appear to be ignoring invoices that are due - this combines to throw me into a bit of a funk.

One approach is to work on my t-shirt business, but some days I see that for what it really is -  a hobby that generates a bit of pin money but no more than that. What I should do is update my website, but I find its hard to enthusiastically self-promote when I have a lot of negative feelings bubbling around.

So this week I had a few days of feeling low and just doing work around the house, knocking off errands in town etc. But I can tell you, doing housework and going to second hand shops in the middle of a Wednesday morning is a great way to feel unemployed - when you have gone into it with the aforementioned neggo attitude anyway.

I resolved to do something different yesterday morning - just go for another paddle. It wasn't sunny but it was still and reasonably mild. I didn't make up my mind until the last minute, when I chose Geilston Bay. Mum and Dad are away in Fiji (hi!) but I have a key so I thought it would be a good spot, as I could let myself in there and warm up afterwards. I didn't take my camera so I have plundered the internet for photos.

View from Geilston Bay boat ramp by ronrainbow
I slid into the water beside the boat ramp at a little after nine. It's a pretty sheltered bay and the water was like glass. Ducks and cormorants took off as I paddled between the yachts and gave them a fright. One of the yachts was called Jacana - which was the club from which Carlton recruited Bruce Doull. That's right, football trivia never leaves you alone. In fact, that one set of footsteps on the beach? - That's when football trivia was carrying you along.

I was intending to paddle out into the Derwent then upriver to Shag Bay (named for the ubiquitous cormorants). Long ago I fished there with Nick in the early morning and did this drawing of the view. It is not accessible by road, so it has a bit of an air of solitude and mystery and I was keen to paddle around it.

I found this in my 1997 diary so that's 18 years ago. That day
I caught three cod, cooked and ate them. They were mushy.
Geilston Bay is opposite Selfs Point, and the oil storage facility that I talked about in the last paddling post. I was heading straight for it as I came out of the bay, and it looked close enough, and the water still enough, that I could have gone straight over. Would I have got back though? As I hadn't told anyone where I was going I thought it was not a good time to be too bold.

Upriver from Selfs Point the next major feature is the Nyrstar zincworks, which I still think of as "EZ". It was EZ for decades, then Pasminco, then Zinifex briefly and now Nyrstar. I have always found industrial sites like this really fascinating. Dad worked here in his school holidays in about 1959 or so.

Nystar Zincworks from the Bedlam Walls track. Pic borrowed from TasTrails site. 
Again the smell changed once I was out in midstream of the Derwent - the fresh morning salty tang of Geilston Bay took on a more metallic sort of flavour. I was paddling upstream but it was flat, no wind and fairly easy. The eastern shore here is called Bedlam Walls, according to various sources because of an aboriginal massacre that occurred here. The Mou-maire-mener people lived on both banks of the river at the time of white settlement in 1803. A famous massacre occurred that year at Risdon nor far up the river. I am not sure if they are the same event or not. The aboriginal history is discussed a little here. There are caves all along Bedlam Walls that were used as shelters. That page also talks about an aboriginal quarry site where chalcedony was ground into tools.

I had remembered being told that the rusty remnants around Shag Bay were from the whaling industry which used to be synonymous with Hobart. However from the reading I have just been doing the industries here were shipbreaking, a bone mill (making fertiliser) and a Marine Board quarry. The quarry is in my drawing above and also this pic from the blog Walking The Derwent - author unknown but I have borrowed a couple of their pics.

The old Marine Board quarry on the north side of Shag Bay.
I paddled into Shag Bay and looked for a good spot to land. In the quarry there are piles of rusting metal, and at the head of the bay an old boiler that I recalled from the previous visit. I wanted to check them all out but I was lairy about slipping on the slimy rocks. I ended up finding a good rock shelf just below the waterline near the quarry that would be safe enough to climb out on.

The whole area is is fascinating and the lack of signs is surprising. Today I have been reading about the boiler - it is a remnant of the bone mill, which shut down after a fatal accident when a different boiler exploded and killed a father and son. An inquest was held and you can read the newspaper report here. The roof of the boiler shed blew hundreds of feet into the air.

Edit: after an anonymous tip-off I have found some images that suggest the boiler was a relic of the shipbreaking business which makes more sense.

I wandered around the quarry area and collected a rusty iron spike to bring home for Michael, and some good big flakes of rust for Marcus's chemical experiments. There was not a soul in sight, and it occured to me it would be a beaut place to spend a day painting, untroubled by critics. Then a kayaker went by out in the Derwent and gave me a wave. I had just got back into the wave ski and pushed off when two yachts rounded the point and came into the bay with four or five old blokes on each. So my quiet enjoyment of Shag Bay had just been luck, it seems.

Shag Bay is just a little notch really. Pic from TasTrails
The paddle back to Geilston Bay was a bit choppier and slightly harder work, and my back started to ache. But I really felt that my deskbound worries were getting further away, the colder and wetter and more tired and sore that I got. It was amazing. I just focussed on the thought of beaching the wave ski, getting dry, getting some coffee inside me. Nothing else seemed remotely important.

The kayaker I had seen had got to shore just ahead of me and we had a brief chat. He was similarly inexperienced to me which was nice! I asked him if he'd ever been across the river, and he said no, but we agreed that on a calm day it would be do-able.

When I got home the coffee was marvellous, the ugg boots were fantastic and I even had a couple of emails with work to do, so all up it was very effective therapy.

Thank you to all the people and sites I have pinched photos from. I will try to take my own on the next paddle.

An old ship named the Nelson being broken up in Shag Bay. From the Australian National Shipwreck Database.

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Norfolk

Photo © Annette Bailey via Twitter, actually taken yesterday.
Elf suggested we take the last day of the school holidays and drive up to New Norfolk. This area, the Derwent Valley, is famous for its beautiful autumn colours. Some say they are best in May, but the poplars were terrific today.

On the drive up (stunning day, lovely reflections on the river) we were just coming up the last hill into New Norfolk when a family of turkeys wandered out of the swamp by the highway and I had to stomp the brakes to just miss cleaning up the last one.

On the other side of New Norfolk I took us off up a winding hilly road that promised to take us to Rosegarland, my vote for the loveliest name in Tasmania. We ended up at a dizzy elevation with a choice of three narrow dirt roads and a sign saying ALL DOGS WILL BE SHOT. We turned around.

On the way up we had passed a bus-turned-into-a-shed so although we didn't get to Rosegarland at least we got another look at that.

I have an admission; despite living in southern Tasmania since 1986 and hearing a great deal about Willow Court Asylum, I had never been there until today. I thought it was over by the old Royal Derwent Hospital, and that I had just never quite found the right spooky dead end road. In fact it's close to town, and a new Woolies has been built on what used to be the Willow Court football ground. 

I am going to go back and have a better look one day and also document some other buildings and footy history in the area.

Administration building, Willow Court
We parked near Willow Court where a small daggy market was underway, not intending to go to it but just to go for a walk along the river there. When we came back I ducked up to take one photo of the 1930s red brick admin building, and a man named Mr Garwood carrying a Woolies bag came over to talk.

I hadn't been thinking of it at all, but as he was telling me about the bad old days the penny dropped; my grandfather's twin brothers were here. When they were about 6 or 8, one of them was kicked in the head by a horse. He was never the same and sadly the other twin also lost his faculties, and they were committed together.

My Grandfather was nicknamed Didds. He was the youngest of 11. My Dad told me that he and his sister would go up to New Norfolk with Didds when he went to visit his brothers in at Willow Court, but they had to stay outside and play in the park.

The buildings on the very large site are a mixture of different eras. The barracks here is older than Port Arthur, Mr Garwood said. He remembers the screams and moans of inmates drifting across the town as people went about their business. When I was little in Burnie (oblivious to the family connection) we would joke about people being sent to New Norfolk to the funny farm. It's a stigma that has stayed with the town.

While I was stuck talking to Mr Garwood, who had a lot to tell me, the family had decided they might as well go and look at the market. The daggy bits we had seen outdoors were just a small part of the market which was largely indoors. I bought an old footy book for $8 and Elf got some lemon butter.

Then we drove around for a while, and then came back to the Bush Inn for lunch. Old fashioned fried everything counter meals. The waitresses in their 60s, most of the diners in their 70s. There is a lovely old fashioned Tasmanian way of speaking that is really warm, lacking in the grammar department but that just makes it warmer. Our waitress said "OK darl, alright love, and now I'll get you yer knives and forks and that". 

I was wearing my Bones McGhie t-shirt. The way in and out of the dining room was via a tiny public bar, squeezing past a few standing drinkers around an open fire. As I approached, a man eyeballed me without stopping his conversation, then when I reached him he said " Ah, it's good to see some fuckin' decent colours around here at last eh?"