Thursday, February 07, 2008

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.

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