Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pope of the Week: Pius XI 1922-1939

Born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, his father owned a silk factory near Milan. He was ordained as a priest in 1879, then studied for and obtained three doctorates (in philosophy, canon law and theology). His speciality was paleography, a study of ancient and medieval Church manuscripts. He then became a librarian. He was also an avid mountaineer in his spare time, reaching the summits of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc among others. In 1911, at Pope Pius X's invitation, he moved to the Vatican to become Vice-Prefect of the Vatican Library, and in 1914 was promoted to Prefect.

In June 1921 Ratti became Archbishop of Milan. Pope Benedict XV made him a Cardinal. In January 1922 Benedict XV died unexpectedly of pneumonia. Ratti was elected Pope (or "poped up") on February 6, 1922. In 1929 he signed a treaty with the Italian state that recognised the independence of The Vatican.

He signed treaties with various other states including Germany. Pius XI made clear his opposition to the extreme anti-semitic policies and acts of Germany, and also to Stalin's persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union. Stalin is reputed to have said "The Pope? How many divisions has he got?"

Pius XI died on February 10, 1939, aged 81. He had been in poor health for some time. He had been scheduled to deliver a blunt strongly worded address attacking fascism and anti-semitism on February 11, 1939. According to a French cardinal named Tisserant, twenty-four hours before delivering this address, the Pope was given an injection by Dr. Francesco Petacci the Vatican doctor, whose daughter Clara Petacci was the mistress of Mussolini. As a result of the injection, the Pope reportedly died hours before delivering his historic attack on Mussolini and European fascism.

Mussolini's reported reaction to the pope's death was "Thank God that stubborn old man is gone!"

Michael starts kinder, Marcus can read.

Yesterday was Michael's first day at kindergarten. No-one knows why, but they stagger the start of classes for kinder kids. Half of them miss out on day 1. Then they are all there on day 2. If anyone can explain the point of this I'm all ears.

I haven't got a picture of the two boys in school uniform yet, but its coming. (Major camera problems since it dropped out of my backpack). The poor little snoot has had quite a few new situations to get used to lately. He has moved into a new room at Friends daycare, and he's also been spending some time at Lady Gowrie daycare. Kinder was just another new room, new couple of grown-ups, new set of kids to get his head around.

Michael came with me to drop Marcus at his classroom. He started chatting to Marcus' teacher Mrs Corney, and he was halfway in through the door of that room when I said "Oi - your room's up this way". He was quite reluctant to go into the kinder room, so we had a little bit of corridor time. I went in and got a book to read to him. Halfway through a page I moved inside and he followed as I kept reading. I moved further in a few times and he followed, until we were in sight of all the blocks, train set, drawing stuff etc etc. By the time I finished the book he was a lot happier.

I left him working on a bit of typography, recreating the cover of the book "Open the Door" which he loves, (because of the way the long bit of the "p" is also the back of the "D"). From what I can gather, during the day they went to the library, and sang a song about frogs. When kinder ended at 3 the teachers' aide took Michael and some of the other kids next door to Lady Gowrie for after kinder care. When I picked him up at 4.30 the girls there said he'd been very happy at the end of kinder, and full of talk about what he'd done.

I hope dropping him off will be a bit smoother on his next kinder day, Thursday. Which is also Marcus' 6th birthday.

We have got a bike for Marcus. Its actually a 2nd hand one given to us by Elf's workmate. We bought a helmet and training wheels for it today. You would think putting training wheels on a bike would be a simple manual task. We took the bike in with us to show the experts in the bike shop, to make sure we were buying the right thing. Sadly I was the first to notice, back home as I was trying to fit the training wheels, that the bike's axle bolt thing was not long enough to accommodate more stuff. I phoned the shop and they gave me some advice to make it work. In following said advice I cracked the rim of the rear hub housing (or something) and little ball bearings started falling out.

So now, we are purchasing a new rear wheel with longer axle bolt thing, the experts are fitting the training wheels, and I am going back to doing what I am actually competent to do - graphic design and making sandwiches.

I picked Marcus up from school the other day. One of his classmates, Jessica, said to me "Hey - how did Marcus get to be so smart?". I really didn't know what to say. I did OK at school but I don't think I ever romped ahead in maths and reading quite like Marcus. Elf comes from a very smart and academically successful family, but they are also surprised and delighted by his abilities. So - I said "Marcus asks a lot of questions and he reads a lot of books". A lame answer. Jessica said "Marcus can read?"


I went to the supermarket on Thursday night, filled up a shopping trolley with groceries, then couldn't find my wallet. I parked the trolley quietly in an aisle while I went out to check the car and the carpark. I assumed I had just left home without it, so I drove home for a quick look (mindful that all my meat and dairy stuff was warming up by the second). Got home and rummaged. Gave up, drove back to the supermarket. I wanted to ask if anyone had handed a wallet in at the checkouts, but I didn't want to ask this with a full trolley in front of a queue of people. In a foul mood, I walked around the supermarket putting back the stuff that seriously needed to stay cold. Then I took what was left and joined the (very long) queue. When I finally got to the front, no wallet had been handed in. It had only had about 20¢ in it, but I was sunk without all the cards.

The lady on the checkout is very nice, a motherly Chilean lady named Soledad. Months ago I had a chat to her about Chile, having visited there nearly 20 years ago. I've wanted to continue, but its hard to talk to someone about their dear far away homeland in 2 minute sessions. Her name translates as "Solitude" or even "Loneliness". She said she was the youngest of 10 kids and her mother had just run out of names. Anyway - I gave her my name and phone number and said "I'm just leaving this trolleyload here, I've put back the meat, I've really got to go."

I drove home with no wallet and no food. Yesterday I cancelled my bank card, and devoted several hours to hunting all over the house for documents I could use to get a new drivers licence. I could not lay my hands on enough to qualify. As a last resort I called the police Lost and Found. They had my wallet! I shot down there and picked it up, then went to the bank and got out some cash to last a week or so until the new card comes in the mail.

Last night I went back to the soopy to deal with unfinished business. I shopped in record time as I knew exactly where everything I wanted was. When I got to the fruit & veg section, a burly greek employee was crashing pallets of oranges and apples around very angrily and swearing. His anger was not overtly directed at anyone or anything in particular, but I deduced as I quietly picked out my bananas and celery that this guy might have got the job of putting back all my groceries.

So, two lessons here. Call the Lost and Found first, not last. And do not go back to the same supermarket at the same time of day that you abandoned a large trolley of slightly rummaged-through perishables. Actually three lessons - number 3 is don't lose your wallet.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Still blogging on Christmas...

Photos taken by Mum, preserved by Sally. Thanks, you can both stop looking now!

Grandfathers hold breath as Michael carefully selects letters by colour...


While Marcus masters the tricky art of playing marbles on polished wooden surfaces.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Buildings around Tasmania

Although I took bazillions of photos on our camping jaunt, there are so many more I wished I had stopped for. These ones have already appeared over at the Tines. I am going to draft in occasional snippets from thence, if I think you folks over here will be interested.

Low Head lighthouse, north of Launceston.

Low Head. The fog horn is housed in this shed.

Low Head, old lighthouse keepers house, on the edge of cliff.

Outbuilding at Highfield House, Stanley.

Cape Tourville Lighthouse, Freycinet National Park

Shed in a back yard, Weldborough

Shed in a front yard, Weldborough

Lilydale Memorial Hall, near Launceston

Peace Symbol 50 years old today

I never knew (until I just noticed in Wikipedia) that the peace symbol is based on the semaphore flag signals for "N"and "D". This is because it was designed for the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. I am staggered that I have always just accepted that it is what it is, and never wondered why. I remember a loopy Christian friend stating dogmatically that it represents a broken crucifix, the peace movement being so anti-christian and all. Even this patent nonsense didn't stimulate me to find out what it really represents.

In fact today is its 50th birthday. It was designed on 21 Feb 1958 by Gerald Holtom. Nice one Gerald. And peace to everyone out there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Random Thought Day

1. Barack Obama (US democratic party candidate) is extremely impressive. I have just been YouTubing a few of his speeches. Is there a ghost of a chance that a young, well-spoken intelligent man with integrity might actually be elected in the USA?

2. Am feeling glum (as I do periodically) about very sparse feedback to blog. I think I need to do something else. Blog might go on holiday for a while so I can direct creativity, time and thought-power into other avenues. I am prepared to listen to heartfelt pleas of the blog readership. In other words I am desperately fishing for compliments.

3. On a very hot evening (still 30° at 11.30pm) I set myself up on the back deck, with the radio and a good view of the full moon, to listen to the cricket. Just as I settled in the radio was drowned out. By a cricket. Chirping right in my ear from the elevated garden bed right where I sat. Irony eh?

4. Boo hiss to Channel 9, for not showing Sri Lanka v India match. First time they have EVER not shown a match of annual one-day tri-series, since it started in 1980. Turned out to be most exciting of the season, with fantastic sub-continental atmosphere from surprisingly big crowd.

Monday, February 18, 2008

At Home with Marjorie Bligh

I have a few Marj Bligh books. I just found this one in a carton of stuff, and its probably the best. Drop me a line if you would like the full recipe for any of these tempting offerings.

Pigeon Pie With Mushrooms [Clean 3 young pigeons, cut off the feet and wrap each bird in a slice of fat bacon...]
Delicious Brain Pie [Soak 3 or 4 sets of sheeps' brains in salted water 1 hour...]
Scrambled Brains [Soak brains in salt and water 20 minutes...]
Tongue and Potato Pie [Wash 6 sheeps' tongues...]
Tongues in Jelly [Cover 6 sheeps' tongues with water...]
Mutton Bird Dish [Soak birds in washing soda for 1/2 hour...]
Dulcie Schneider's Salmon Puffs
Mrs Shackcloth's Savoury Mince
Cold Porridge Scones
Foam Biscuits
Tuesday's Blowaway Sponge No. 2
Cold Water Sandwich
Glamour Custard
Rabbit Paste

It's true, I have chosen selectively for the purposes of mockery. There are some excellent recipes in there, and she is beyond reproach as a pioneer of organic gardening and recycling.

But who else would give advice on the correct approach to sewing buttonholes, in rhyming couplets?.

Pope of the Week: John XXIII 1958-1963

This week we are looking at John XXIII. He was a fat and smiley pope, who is mostly remembered for holding the 2nd Vatican Council, which resulted in a broad modernising of the Catholic Church. He died before the Council was concluded.

He was born Angelo Roncalli, in 1881, 4th of 14 children of a sharecropping family from Bergamo, Italy. He was ordained in 1904. During World War I, he was drafted into the Royal Italian Army as a sergeant, serving in the medical corps as a stretcher-bearer and chaplain. In 1935 he was made the Vatican's delegate in Greece and Turkey, and during WW2 was Nuncio (ambassador) to France. In these roles he was able to help the Jewish underground save thousands of Jews.

He succeeded Pius XII. His papal coronation was the last one to run for the traditional five hours.

John XXIII was fond of wearing the papal tiaras. On formal occasions he wore the traditional 1877 Palatine tiara he had been crowned with. However, on other occasions he wore the lighter and more comfortable 1922 tiara of Pope Pius XI. In 1959 he was given an expensive silver papal tiara by the people of Bergamo. It is the lightest in the papal collection at 2 lb (900 g), When asked about the tiara during its manufacture, John asked that the makers halve the number of jewels with which they planned to decorate it and give the financial saving to the poor.

John XXIII is remembered fondly as "The Good Pope". He was beatified on September 3, 2000, and is now correctly referred to as Blessed John XXIII.

Elf's sunflowers.

Last summer Elf had a crop of mammoth sunflowers at the Beach House. They were freaks in many respects, but they did do that endearing sunflower thing of turning to follow the sun through the day.

This year's sunflowers are also giants, but they refuse to swivel. They face east, all day, all night, to Elf's disgust. Still, they are impressive specimens, amazingly anthropomorphic. When I am out among them hanging out the washing, I really feel like I have sentient company. It amazes me how fast they get to this size, without any particular cosseting or fertilising. 12 weeks from planting a seed to a head-high flower, and a stalk as thick as a Elf's forearm. They are apparently great for the soil, and quite apart from the uses of the seeds, look at the sheer bulk of the stalks. Surely they should be a natural for bio-fuel, or paper, or something?

Rohypnol Raiders 7 d Knackered 3

These guys are on top of the ladder, but we have had two close losses against them, so we thought we had a chance. I ran myself ragged in about the first 3 minutes, and subbed off first. While I was off we conceded our first goal through a defence mix-up. Pretty soon we were 4-0 down. At the kick-off after one of their goals, i gave myself a bit of room and then poked a fast toey from the half-way line. It was on target and almost snuck in but the keeper got a knee to it at the last minute.

I was double-teamed up front. Every time I got possession I was hemmed in and just couldn't turn, and didn't have the fitness and speed on the burst to knock it through and run on to it. We hung on pretty well until half time, without giving up any more goals.

We had a much better second half. We got it back to 5-2 at one stage through great individual goals to Brett and Paul. Andy was getting a peppering in goal but was doing a great job. His positioning was spot on and his throws were giving us heaps of attacking impetus. Nevertheless, they put the game away with two more goals. I squeaked in a consolation goal near the end. Cam copped a ball in the face, and is in doubt for the Highland Pipe Band gig on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Oompah Loompah problems

Auntie Sal bought the boys Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on DVD (the 1971 Gene Wilder version, not the latest Johnny Depp version). Working in the factory are a tribe of unusual humans, called the Oompah Loompahs. They have orange faces and green hair. And they are 3 feet tall. One of the extras on the DVD is the obligatory "making of", with these interesting interviews shedding light on casting the Oompah Loompahs.

[Deeply tanned greying 3 foot tall actor, voice like Sir Laurence Olivier] Of course we were shooting in Germany, and there was terrible trouble finding actors of smaller stature who could speak English, so a number of us were brought over from Britain...

[Cut to producer Mel Stuart, broad Brooklyn accent]. We had a lotta problems gettin' the midgets...

Friday, February 08, 2008

It just feels good to say them

Try starting your day with one of these Italian words, yelled while stretching;

Sfilacciatura!: fray!, fraying!
Sfoggio!: display!, show!, parade!
Sfebbrato!: recovered from a fever!
Sfregamento!: rubbing!
Sgangheratamente!: immoderately!, rudely!
Sghignazzare!: to guffaw!
Sgocciolatura!: drip!
Sgretolare!: crumbling!
Sgranocchiare!: to crunch!
Sgualdrina!: strumpet!

Knackered 5 drew with Untouchables 5

I had missed two losses while camping, one shocking (28-7) and one quite honourable (10-8). This team caned us in the last game before Christmas.

I bought new sandshoes today. The smell of the old ones is such that they have not been allowed indoors for the last few weeks, and the sole is tearing away from the upper - I thought they might not last another game.

We had Cam, Brett, Paul and myself. We scored first through Brett, then I added another with a left footed toey. It was 3-3 at half time, and we were reasonably happy to be staying with them. They had two subs and were all young and fit. I had one of my better goalkeeping stints, only let in one. They scored most of their goals from solo runs and long shots. They went ahead 5-4 through one of these, then Brett equalised with an amazing solo run from the back corner. The last 2 or 3 minutes were extremely frenzied, but for no return to either side. A good result for us I think.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Camping Log, days 10 & 11

Wed 30 Jan - stayed in Launceston.

We loved Low Head Caravan Park, absolute winner. And we loved Low Head. We had been going to morning tea in Launceston at Joe and Jill's, but they had ditch diggers in their backyard pulling up pipes, so we rescheduled that for tomorrow and spent more time at Low Head instead. First to East Beach, a very long surf beach, had a swim there but bad march flies. Lighthouse looking over western end, used to have surf carnivals here in the 50s and 60s. Then back over to the Tamar side of the head, to Lagoon Beach. Saw heaps of baby flathead in the shallows, and crab strolling along. Seen that in rock pools but not on open sand in the shallows. Marcus found a cone shell with its' inhabitant inside - who was patterned just like the shell! Amazing. Drove into Launceston, had a quick sandwich lunch in City Park so as not to arrive at Scott and Lynn's with empty tummies. Boys ad Elf went on the "train" what I would call a moon buggy. Driver said "I've been around this park 74,000 times". I accidentally followed a woman down the street with a steak knife (and nothing else) in my hands. Was going back to the car to get $ for the train, and thought I would make packing up easier by taking something back to the car on that trip - dumb idea. Carried it by the very tip and tried to avoid concealing it or brandishing it - very hard. May have whistled a little. Up to Scott and Lynn's. Isobel (8) and Tom (6) had been on tenterhooks waiting for the boys. Those four disappeared immediately, and the grown-ups had a very nice chat for a couple of hours. Kids and dads took to the pool. Michael was cracking everyone up, loving a new audience for his tricks, esp. ear squeaking. Bel adopts Michael, Marcus tries to impress Bel, Tom tries to impress Marcus and Michael is in awe of all Tom's boysie stuff. BBQ dinner, some wasp problems but excellent. Slept on fold-out couch, just like ours, and inevitably both rolled into the middle. S and L have Vanishing Tasmania by Frank Bolt. I'd love to track down a copy. B & W photos of cottages, ruins, mine workings, huts, farmhouses etc, taken in 1980s.

Thurs 31st of Jan - Wynyard

Up early at Scott and Lynn's, thought I might get a quiet hour with Vanishing Tasmania. Michael joined me in the lounge room. "I am being quiet so I don't wake up the other children". Kids didn't flake until about 11pm - all in Isobel's room. Kids all straight back into it after breakfast. Lovely visit over too soon - had to drag the boys away, due at Joe and Jill's at 10. Van a mess. Stuff just poked in and tossed everywhere. Needs a major clean before we give it back. Good to see Joe, and William (4 months). Jill was out, we saw her briefly just as we were leaving. Joe is doing a history PhD on the Tin Pot Rebellion, Norfolk Island. He is the housedad, Jill is back to nearly full time work this week. An extension is under way out the back, will make their funny old house more liveable. Out of Launceston, stopped at Elizabeth Town Cafe for lunch. Boys asleep, woke up in the carpark and consumed delicacies. On to Turners Beach, Dad looking well, Mum off lunching and organising her exhibition. Made a few calls and found accommodation at Leisureville, Wynyard. A funny old "cabinette", No. 12, $79 for all of us for one night. Cold water tap only in the micro kitchen. Elf really likes Wynyard. Now travelling in our car. Am I allowed to keep writing in the van log book? To Stanley and back to Burnie tomorrow for Mum's exhibition opening.

Camping log, days 7-9

Sunday 27 Jan - still at Weldborough

Lovely quiet night's sleep, muggy, rained briefly. Man from Qld camped near us (with invisible wife and shitsu terrier) sleeps outside every night. He slept through rain. Cooler today, hot down in Launceston according to the radio. After brekkie we drove back up into W'bro pass to do short Myrtle Forest walk, and visit Little Plains lookout. Overcast, not best day for lookouts. Walk was signed with slightly annoying "meet Granma Myrtle" stuff, that we read to the kids. After the lookout I made a special dirt-road request, so we could see the old stamper battery at the Anchor tin mine. The river turned a 20m diameter waterwheel, which powered up to a hundred stampers, used to crush the ore. The crushed ore fell through a grate onto a special table which vibrated the heavier rock apart from the lighter tin. The interpretation boards there are very good. 100 years ago it was a massive well organised site, with a large building that looks about the size of the Derwent Entertainment Centre housing the works. It's gone back to nature very thoroughly since the mine closed. There is a working model of this same waterwheel at the St Helens History room, which is well worth seeing (free). On the way back to W'bro we stopped at Pyengana roadhouse for Pyengana milk. They don't stock it for some obtuse reason, perhaps a clash of personalities with the dairyman. I asked but the roadhouse man was not forthcoming. Back to camp at W'bro Pub, Elf and I were struck by strange desire to go into the pub for coffee and lemonades. They have a few chinese artifacts, v. nice woven coolie hats on wall. They don't do fancy coffee, but are pleased to charge $4 each for a small cup of plunger coffee. Big waste of money as we are on a powered site and can easily make our own. Sigh. Apparently unpowered sites here are free if you have a meal. Some European ladies were huffily leaving this morning after one night as they didn't like the food. We came back from the pub, had sandwiches and played chess, and did have our own coffee. Played soccer on the lovely expanse of grass, then went for a walk down a farm road to the edge of the State Forest. Noodled the day away, good for all of us, and such a nice place. Cool and windy, listened to cricket, while Michael scamped about with sticks most of the afternoon. Early dinner, tomato tuna pasta. Early to bed - first time I've written log by daylight. Boys together in van for the first time. I have arranged a funnel and hose connecting van window to little zip on corner of tent. It works very slightly, but is amusing to us all. Going to pub now for chocolate and payphone change.

Mon 28 Jan - at Scottsdale

Writing this lying in tent, so will be brief. Lovely late breakfast in the sun this morning, no-one else around. Left Weldborough around 10.30 and went to Derby. Took photos of Derby football ground and grandstand. Coffee and cake at Berries, run by Anne. Iced layer cake (cream inside) comes with a) whipped cream with streaks of jam? berry coulis? ink?, ii) ice cream and 3) plain poured cream. Not complaining. Anne showed us folders full of info on the area. The old info bureau has been closed, the new one (Called Planet Tin or something very now like that) was meant to be open by now, and they are saying possibly March. Met Sandra who runs Bankhouse - oldest wooden bank building in Australia, now chinese museum/curiosity shop. I recommend Berries and Bankhouse. Sandra was flying the Eureka flag. Marcus asked what it was and I explained - then got talking further to her about it. She is a historian by training, and she agreed with me that Eureka is blown out of proportion in Australian history, as it was a rare armed conflict between whites. More died in Lambing Flats miners riot, but the dead were chinese and aborigines. Must look up numbers later. Derby was a bit of a sad place - I wished we had a bigger budget and could have spent more time and money there. I hope the new museum will revive it. We drove on, and did the Briseis Race walk at Branxholm, a bit disappointing. It was a 38km channel to bring more water from Ringarooma River to the Derby tin mine to power machinery. We drove off from Branxholm with the back of the van open - Elf realised 2km later due to noise of wind. Went back - only one sleeping bag had fallen out as we went over hump in Branx. car park, recovered it. My fault. On to Legerwood, fantastic carvings in the main street. Old memorial trees, planted in 1918 for fallen soldiers from L'wood. Trees were condemned as unsafe in about 2000. Locals decided to save stumps and commission chainsaw portrait sculptures of the men. Very good, and quite moving. Then on to Scottsdale, did shopping while Elf put up the tent again. Staying for free at Northeast Park - cold showers, by noisy highway, but lots of drinkable water. Filled tank first thing. Beaut BBQ area, bird sanctuary and 'flora park' attached. Quite full. Van near us has run generator non-stop for at least five hours. Really bothering me now that everything is quiet. Seem not to have anything in particular electrical running. Infuriating. They have a boat - am learning to be suspicious of boat types. Met Mervyn from Queensland while BBQing dinner - on his 36th trip to Tasmania. "The first one was the year Danny Clark won the Burnie Wheel".

Tue 29 Jan - at Low Head

Atrocious night at Scottsdale. TRUCKS. Log trucks. All night. We had the worst spot in the park, didn't realise. Generetaor finally switched off about 10pm, soon after first trucks came by. Free camping, nice facilities, lovely birdlife, but DO NOT camp at Northeast Park in Scottsdale unless you have industrial earplugs and can get a spot as far as possible from the road. We set a new record, up at 6 and on the road by 8. Straight out of town, decided to skip Bridport, headed for Lilydale. Down very long and steep hill on approach to town. Had coffee and awful vanilla slices there in shop with incredible bare shelves - v. funny. One jar of Vegemite [space] one pack of Brillo pads [space] one tin of Keens curry [space] one bottle of Domestos etc. It's a deep fry bain-marie type place that opens early for truckies, not what we had in mind, but it was only 9 and nothing else open. After that we set off across B and C roads to the Batman Bridge, en route for Beauty Point on the west bank of the Tamar. Bought expensive apricots from a lady who sits there every day. Cherries were $7 per half kilo. To Seahorse World at Beauty Pt. Family ticket was $50. Elf opted out, Michael was free, so I took both boys in while Elf read the paper in strangely overheated cafe. It was very interesting. Michael was playing up at the Touch Tank. I told him he had to sit down and stop touching. Wails. A bit later he sniffed "I am thinking about my behaviour". It can be so funny to detect the imprints of other peoples techniques on your children. A little later he said to Elf "I am thinking about my fish behaviour". We skipped the Platypus House next door to the World. Next stop, Beaconsfield, to the south. Had lunch in the park, and saw the Grubb Shaft Museum adjacent to the current working gold mine. Excellent - $9 adult and $4 children over 4. Boys loved it - lots of touchable stuff. At the end we sat and looked over the current mine's surface activity, centred around main shaft and lift. Saw the famous tag board where Todd and Brant emerged from the lift and tagged out. Red side headed IN · UNDERGROUND and green side headed OUT · SAFE. Felt quite emotional when I described the rescue and final scene to Marcus. A worker came out of the lift with some gear. Sent lift down with some other gear. Tagged out like he probably has thousands of times. We all felt like cheering. Next we drove back over the elegant Batman Bridge, up the East Tamar Hwy to Low Head. A lady camping at Scottsdale recommended Low Head Caravan Park to Elf this morning (at about 5.30 am). Its is fantastic, incredibly clean, only quarter full if that tonight. Great facilities. We put up the tent, swam at a little beach, then went into George Town (large town sth of Low Head) for fish to grill for dinner. G Town is better than it was a few years ago. Low Head is very very nice. After dinner, we drove to the end of the road and walked around the Low Head lighthouse. Elf wants to buy a holiday house here. At one stage when my mobile was actually getting a signal and I was about to call Mum and Dad, Elf said "Tell them we're at Low Point and we're thinking of selling up". I said no, that will give me them 180° the wrong idea. 10pm now - quiet and lovely.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Camping log, days 4-6

Thurs 24th - Coles Bay, inside Freycinet NP Can't find log book, have written this on back of Marcus' Kelly Sports certificate. Slept very snug with Marcus in the van. Wind died down justafter bedtime. Beaut sunset. This morning met Louise Browne, old Burnie schoolfriend. Family next to us includes a teenage girl in a wheelchair - brain injury perhaps. Together with the Muslims its like Camping Diversity Week. I saw the damage to the Maui van from Mayfield - its going to cost them their deposit. Michael's birthday today, he's been very grumpy about it. 4 presents: spinning top from Marki and Baba, special BLUE Lightning McQueen car from film Cars (he's usually red, but this one is from the dream sequence where he is imagining he is saving Earth from spark plug monster aliens- you know). Colouring book from my Mum and Dad and little pull-back cars from Marcus. We packed tent and van up and went down to cafe for cake (2 vanilla slices shoved together). Went inside out of wind to blow out candles. Babycinos $3.50! For a cup of milk froth! To FNP visitors centre - very nice, calm. Booked into a powered site, and went off to do Cape Tourville, and Sleepy Bay walks. SB walk ends at Little Gravelly Beach - gravel like a handful of Atlantic salmon risotto. Next, to Honeymoon Bay for a swim - very lovely, good for kids. Visit there ended by Michael toilet emergency. Back to campsite, it was rock hard. Couldn't get a tent peg in for love or money. Asked some other tenters how they had put up theirs. A man called Paul was lending everyone his drill and bucket of long wood screws. Once we were set up, we drove a short distance to Richardsons Beach where a P&W ranger named Alex gave a talk on shorebirds. He was a herpetologist, and had to look up a lot of bird stuff in a handy book he had brought along. Back to camp again, no power! I drove to town for fish and chips and to ring Dad on payphone. Got the answer after lots of guessing games with - it was a cutout switch inside the clothes cupboard we had tripped by accident. Didn't have quite enough F & C so bulked it up with more spaghetti. Michael is making up DVD titles. "Have you seen the film Little Tiger 2, Return to the Snow?" Discovered you can send short SMSs from payphone by toilet block, so I sent a few cryptic messages before bed.

Fri 25th - St Helens, Big 4 Caravan Pk Today not such a success. Feeling better now - pleasant cool evening, showered and kids and Elf off watching DVD in Recreation Room. Last night I had Michael in the van. Elf prefers tent but didn't sleep wll due to rock-hard ground. Borrowed drill again to remove screws. Others agreed it was a pretty dud campground in that regard. Apparently when it is wet it turns to soup - which explains groundsheet texture imprinted in what is apparently granite. Morning swim at Richardsons Beach. Cold but clear and delightful. Am swimming all over Tasmania in my underpants. No-one has seemed to care. We heard of cold showers at Vis. Centre but no sign of them. Drove to Iluka CP where an elderly German couple were enjoying use of the rubber doormat we had left behind the previous morning.They relinquished it but said it was a very good doormat. Continued out of Coles Bay and up to Bicheno. Sealife Centre sounded good, an aquarium and with a touching tank. Cost $20 the family, all in one room. OK but not really value. We couldnt resist the seafood restaurant attached. Deep fried lunch for 4, another $76. And that was Bicheno. Drove off stuffed and drowsy. [Found out later that the little aquarium in a tin shed on the edge of a cliff is much better. We stopped there briefly while looking for the big one. They said they gave up on the touch tank concept when they got sick of removing all the dead critters.] We met Susan and Rick from South Hobart by the road sth of St Helens - their youngest had been carsick. Heading for Cosy Corner, nth of St Helens. I did something to my back while packing up this morning - possible pinched nerve. Then Elf had a sudden twinge under her rib when hoisting herself into the drivers seat. She put frozen peas on it and it came rightish after a few minutes. Coastline up to Scamander is just amazing. You have to laugh at the miles and miles of absolutely perfect deserted beaches. Into St Helens about 3.30, went to look at Big 4 Caravan Pk. $28 for site plus $8 each for boys - pricey. Big camp, lots of amenities. Showed DVD in games room tonight. Tuna and salad for dinner, all very tired. Marcus has cold sores erupting all over his face. I tried to put up the tent myself. 2 long poles and 1 short one, I had a short/long mixed up. Keep tripping over. Spilled Cold Power through van. Lots of little things going wrong.

Sat 26th Australia Day - Weldborough Noisy night at St Helens. I went off to ring Lynn and Scott, who we are going to stay with in Launceston on the 30th. Also rang Nick and Anna, good to just have a chat. When i got back Elf was in a foul mood due to noisy foul-mouthed group of about 10 adults in a cabin very close to our site. I asked them to be quiet and they were, for a while. Couldnt hear them in the van but Elf could in the tent. Very comfy night's sleep. Couldnt get myself out of bed until 7. We ate and got going pretty quickly. Big 4 were apologetic about noisy people, they are annual regulars and they always get complaints. We drove up through town, Regatta on today, so quite busy. Stopped at St H. History Room - nice little museum, free entry. A bit of a spat with the Grubb Shaft Mining Mus. at Beaconsfield, judging by some of the photo captions. Bought cherries and pickled onions at market. Drove to Binalong Bay, 1st half of road atrocious, 2nd half excellent. Amazing colours, sea so blue blue-green. Not a bright day but white sand still impossibly glare-y. Boys and I paddled. Marcus caught waves, waves caught Michael. From B. Bay up into hills, through Goshen, to Pyengana. Cheese factory now has v. nice cafe with tastings, and a playground. Their milk is superb, had top class iced coffee, iced choc and milkshakes. V. impressive. Lost Marcus' cold sore stuff, so back to St Helens to buy more, and some dinner makings. Had lunch at St Columba's Falls carpark, then walked to very beautiful falls. Interesting epiphytes - trees growing out of manferns. Recent bushfires between St H and Pyengana. Back to Pyengana to take photos of cows, then up through Weldborough Pass to Weldborough town. Farm country between St H and W'brough is as beautiful as I have seen in Australia. Not massively green at present, sprinklers on - little household ones, looked like. Old shingle-roof barns and sheds, rolling hills, freisian cows etc. Weldborough pub campground has no drinkable water, but its $22 for a powered site, no extra for kids, lots of green space and so quiet. We love it and we're going to stay another night. Some short walks and lots of rest tomorrow, its going to be 28°. A much better day today. Scrambled eggs for dinner.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Camping log, days 1-3

Mon Jan 21 Left Hobart at 9.30, went to Carlton River to see our old house. Looking amazing. Coffee with Terry. Back to Sorell and up and over Bust-Me-Gall Hill and Break-Me-Neck Hill to Buckland. Lunch there, looked in old church (John Lee Archer I think). Cemetery full of Turveys, McConnons. Beaut stained glass. On through Orford to Trianbunna. Stayed in Caravan Park there. Forgot my list of what to do. Put the tent down on dirt, made a little porch with groundsheet. Everything worked OK. Put boys in tent, we slept in van. Boys yakked for hours so we put Michael in van and I slept in tent with Marcus. Reasonable night but quite cold.

Tues Jan 22 Porridge in microwave for brek. A bit lairy of gas burner setup. Packed up no trouble, back to Orford to look at "Convict Road". Undistinguished track, no information there about it. Drove along to Raspins Beach north of Orford. Surf v. flat. Spectacular, classic white sand, azure water. I swam while boys paddled in shallows - idyllic. We drove on intending to stop at various things that weren't signed, Boltons Beach and Little Swanport. Got to Mayfield Bay campsite around 1pm. Had a look and decided to stay. $2 donation per night, no water or power. Quite crowded by evening, lots of long stayers. One well set up camp has satellite dish! The beach here also stunning but surf pounding, might swim tomorrow. We walked along the beach to old Mayfield Jetty, saw the 3 Arch Bridge (convict built) on the way back - hard to spot when heading south. Spaghetti for dinner. Tried to wash dishes in surf to save water. Had to use our water to wash sand off feet back at camp. Groan.

Wed Jan 23 Gave UK cyclists some water. Twice. Michael in and under old campfires and rubbish piles the whole time. Had to clean them all up to get some peace. Much calmer sea this morning. Camp filled to brim by nightfall. Muslim man with white cap and full beard, drove his Maui van into a tree. The over-cabin part that you can't see while driving clipped a solid bough and made an awful noise. I washed dishes in sand (more successfully) this morning then bodysurfed. Last night Michael and I in van, Elf and Marcus in tent. I prefer van, Elf prefers tent, but she worried all night about falling branches. Sea was very loud. Forgot to pay $2. Elf swam in sea this morning, first time in years. Set off about 10, first stop Spiky Bridge. Really first class beaches along here, Kelvedon Beach and Spiky Beach. Walnut plantations. Cranbrook, practically a ghost town. Into Swansea. Checked bank balance, rang a few people on payphone - mobile not working. AAPT cover only cities it seems. Ice creams and coffees. Heard in cafe on radio that Heath ledger died. Bought groceries and 4 litres drinking water. Carried on to Coles Bay. Probably should have got powered site in the Nat. Park since everything we want to do tomorrow is in the Nat. Park anyway. At Iluka Caravan Park. Boat ride to Hazards Bch is $210 family, so we'll do drives and short walks instead tomorrow. Not sure if we need to boil local water here or not, certainly do in Swansea. (Lunch today ham and salad sandies at Iluka. Dinner, sausages & mash). After lunch noodled without setting up, then walked down to nearby beach. V. shallow, lovely view of Hazards, beaut colour to water. Saw white-bellied sea eagle. This camp very noisy today and tonight. Big party happening in bbq shed. VERY windy. Tent very hard to put up. Now flexing around all over the place. Everyone around has been friendly. Saw muslim man again, and wife in full cover-up hijab. Head to toe black. In boozy bikini-clad caravan park. Good on them. 9.40pm Marcus finally asleep. Man beside us with serious looking rigid metal-framed camp arrangement, backed his boat up to give us a bit of shelter from wind. He said not to worry, tent would be fine. First shower and clean shirt. Barking at kids is tiring, but not much different to home - I'm really quite enjoying it.

An anti-clockwise survey of Tasmanian beaches