Monthly Archives: March 2021

Day 26 – Monday, 29 March 2021

We turned on the heater this morning when the alarm rang at 8:00am. It was just a tad cool at 9 degrees and hasn’t got any warmer. It went down to 8 degrees along some of the very high passages of road. 

We left New Norfolk at 9:30am this morning arrived at Derwent Bridge about 11:50am. We saw another two magpies fly across the road so now we have managed to see five of them for the three weeks we have been here. Magpies in Tasmania are predominantly white backs. 

We have climbed up to 900 plus metres since leaving New Norfolk, and the temperature is hovering around 8 or 9 degrees. The road around the Tarraleah area is very winding with massive ups and downs, all of which can be seriously scary. The trip required intense concentration, and the brake pedal on the passenger side was not working. 

When possible, Russ would pull over for cars or indicate when it was safe to pass. Most cars acknowledged his help as they passed with a wave. 

Derwent Bridge, located 174 kilometres north west of Hobart, is little more than a tiny service centre for Lake St Clair, which has become such a magnet for travellers that it recently built an extensive car parking area and Visitor Information Centre. 

This is a World Heritage wilderness area noted for its dramatically beautiful lakes and excellent bush walks, and the rich native fauna which inhabits the foreshore. 

By the 1920s people were campaigning to make the area a National Park. 

In 1922 an area from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair was set aside as a “scenic reserve and wildlife sanctuary”. 

The town of Derwent Bridge was officially named in 1959. 

In 1971 a National Park of 132,000 hectares was created. 

In 1982 the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and the Franklin-Lower Gordon Wild Rivers National Park were placed on the World Heritage list in recognition of their “outstanding natural, cultural and wilderness qualities”. 

The Derwent Bridge Wilderness Hotel (with two roaring fires) has an area around it for vans to pull into for short free range camping stays. All they ask in payment for its use is for campers to buy a meal at the pub – much more than normal pub fare. 

The menu looks fabulous (crispy duck – yum) and if there is room for dessert so does the dessert menu. 

I think we will have to pull out the larger doona for the night as it will be a bit chill. At 2:00pm in the afternoon it is 9.6 degrees but feels like 4.2 degrees and is expected to get down to 3 degrees tomorrow morning. 

Unfortunately, I was doomed to disappointment as the duck was not on the menu for now. I went for the roast pork instead, which was delicious, but I could have given lessons on how to make decent crackling. Russ had the chicken parmi and said it was lovely. Neither of us could fit sweets in so we came back for a quite evening in the van. 

As it turned out the temperature did not get down too low so the extra bedding was not required. 

Day 25 – Sunday, 28 March 2021

I forgot to mention when we were on our way to Duckhole Lake we stopped at the side of the road and were able to get quite close to a baby echidna. The tiny little mite was not much bigger than a little souvenir football, the ones that they sign, and you can put them on your shelves, and it was so cute. I was able to get within two feet of it to take photos, but he/she kept putting its snout under the rocks looking for food and was not the slightest bit scared of our presence. It quite made that part of our day. 

Today was such a lousy day to begin that we decided to make it a housekeeping day. We slept in until 9:30am which was lovely, then took our time over breakfast and showers. 

We re-organised the items in storage and took pout those items we expect to use in the upcoming weeks. 

Russ uploaded the latest sections of the diary and all the latest photos to the webpage. 

I did all the washing of clothes in the dirty linen basket and crossed my fingers that the wind would dry most of it before the rain showers arrived again, which it did, thank heavens. I has to leave out a pair of socks on the seat for the thicker section to finish drying but all the rest I was able to put away. 

We visited Woolworths and loaded up with grocery items we may not be able to access in the smaller towns ahead of us over the next week or so. The freezer is now full, and I have a variety of different steaks as well as casserole meats, and I managed to get Russ a small container of ice cream and fit it in the freezer too. 

The hot cross buns were a distinct temptation, but we were strong, and they remained on the supermarket shelf. 

I looked at my prescriptions before we are due to travel tomorrow and just realised that the doctor in Ulverstone has not listened and has limited me to only one Nexium a day, which just doesn’t cut it, so I have had to but some Nexium across the counter until the date I can get my next script dispensed. So very annoying when you try to do the right thing and it is a pain in the posterior. 

I went out and packed away my clothesline after I bought all the clothes inside, and the floor is badly in need of a sweep and wash, but there is not much good in doing any of it while we are parked in New Norfolk next to clay soils. Hopefully, I will be able to sweep if nothing else when we get to Derwent Bridge tomorrow. 

Day 24 – Saturday, 27 March 2021

It rained overnight quite heavily for a spell, but it was wonderful to hear it hitting the roof. 

The sun obliged and came out to shine for most of the day and waited until we got back to the van about 3:30pm before it rained again. 

Today we went to do the Tall Trees Walk and Russell Falls Walk. The Tall Trees is a Grade 1 walk of one kilometre through magnificent specimens of stringbark, but we would call them mountain ash. 

Russell Falls is a 1.4-kilometre loop track. The first part is Grade 1 (available for wheelchair access) and the second part is Grade 2 (some ups and downs but not too hectic). 

Russ took all his camera paraphernalia to Russell Falls and spent ages getting time lapse shots of the falls from a variety of angles. Me, I took lots of photos of lots of things and like the look of the running water through straight photography. 

There was lots of water overflowing the Falls, and lots of people enjoying the magnificent scenery and lovely fresh air. The Falls were formed when horizontal beds of soft rock eroded back to more resistant rock with vertical faces. The viewing platform is at the bottom of the falls and was well utilized by a changing crowd during the time we were there. 

On the way back to the van we stopped at the Raspberry Farm and bought fresh raspberries. We also rewarded our hard labour (lol) with an ice cream – Boysenberry for Russ and Raspberry (fresh) for me. They were yummy and hit the spot nicely. 

The temperature only made it to about 16 degrees and the sun when it was shining was not very warm. 

We have only used the heater on a couple of occasions here in Tasmania, and only once so far while we have been in New Norfolk. 

Day 23 – Friday, 26 March 2021

We set the alarm for an 8:00am wake up call. I hate early alarms, but we have a long day ahead of us. 

Weatherwise, the day was lovely. We picked up some honey for me at The Honey Pot as we travelled the Huon Valley, and will pick up apples for Russ on the way back. We are on our way to Duckhole Lake. 

The Lake is a flooded sinkhole that is part of the surrounding cave and karst landscape. It is not very far from Hastings Cave systems.  

Karst landscape is where the dissolving of the bedrock creates sinkholes, sinking streams, caves and springs, and is associated with soluble rock types such as limestone, marble and gypsum. 

The walk was a great, and 4,2 kilometres long, although there is no longer a loop walk around the lake and trees are now encroaching the banks. During our walk we heard more lyre birds but didn’t see any. Most of the walk is along various types of boardwalk and is very pretty. The air is fresh and clean and very invigorating. 

Hopefully we get some good photos from the trip. 

We bought some fresh Royal Gala apples on the way back through the Huon Valley. 

We were also extremely tired by the time we got back to the van. New Norfolk to Dover, where we turned off for Duckhole Lake, is 117 kilometres through narrow, windy roads so you take care and it takes a long time to travel a reasonably short distance, and then you do the same thing on the way back. Overall, the roads are in pretty good condition. There are a few sections that are the exception to the rule. 

The trip takes you through Hobart, and we came back through during Friday afternoon peak hour. We were waiting in line to get into the city, and then the two lanes narrow to one and you get the bottleneck happening and frustrated drivers. Haven’t missed that. 

Day 22 – Thursday, 25 March 2021

Well, I had a terrible night. My left hip and knee ached no matter where I put the leg, and even the pain killers took ages to work. I finally went to sleep around 3:00am. 

We printed out the next excerpt of the diary for Mum and Trish. Had to repeat half of page 12 but I am sure they will cope. I think I may owe both of them an apology as I reckon, I only put half the postage on the last excerpt we sent. Sorry, ladies if you had to pay some extra. 

We went into Glenorchy, a suburb of outer Hobart. Think narrow roads, small car parking spaces and parking at a premium. We did find a Chemist Warehouse and picked up some more Head and Shoulders cream for Russ. 

I went the looooong way to Big W. They don’t tell you that the entrance is via an escalator from the undercover car parking area, so I ended up walking around the block and then through the rest of the undercover car park to find the entrance door. We had parked just a stone’s throw away from the entrance but did not see any signposts and followed the Google Map instead. So, I finally got there and got some more exercise while I was at it.  

I also picked up 3 tins of my Jarrah Vienna coffee, and 4 tins of Russ’ Swiss Moccachino. The lady at the cash register said they were always having to restock the shelves for these products. I didn’t tell her I wasn’t surprised as Big W is the only store that stocks them and they keep closing them down. 

Went to Coles and picked up 5 fruit cakes for Russ. We need to get all these hard-to-find things before we go west as Coles, Woolworths etc are very hard to find. You usually wnd up shopping at the local IGA, most of which are aimed at the tourist trade, so you have a limited variety to choose from. 

I posted the diary excepts while we were in Glenorchy. 

When we got back to New Norfolk, we picked up fuel and Russ also picked up the last of his scripts which he had paid for yesterday. 

The rain has stopped for the moment, but it is still grey and overcast. I aim to wash the towels and hope the wind will assist with the drying. It did.  

Spent the evening watching Collingwood beat Carlton (great match apart from Jamie Elliott’s injury) so all is well with my world for another week. Thank heavens footy is back. 

Day 21 – Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Russ didn’t sleep real well last night as he waits to see the doctor this morning. 

The rain has finally arrived although it is not real heavy here, but is up north around Burnie and Launceston. 

We had a leisurely breakfast and Russ watched the end of a movie to keep his mind occupied. I wrote out the grocery list. 

We arrived at the surgery and it wasn’t long before the triage nurse called us in and took all the particulars – blood pressure, oxygen content, weight, height etc. and then we went to the furthest waiting room for our appointment. 

Dr Zoe was lovely. She put Russ at ease straight away and welcomed me as his carer (so to speak). We explained our situation and she said the second appointment was used by doctors on a patient to patient basis and she was more than happy to supply Russ with his prescription without using the second appointment tomorrow. 

Dr Zoe also said some of their systems were down as the practice had recently been sold and in three months had gone from three doctors to fourteen, and the new owners were upgrading all systems and practices which sometimes caused a few operating problems. 

Dr Zoe also indicated that she would be more than happy to supply any scripts required for the rest of our Tasmanian stay, and as the practice wasn’t using e-script just yet we could supply here with the Fax number of the chemist we were closest to and she would send them the script for dispensing. 

Russ was a much happier camper by the time we left the practice, and she even only charged us the Medicare fee for the consultation.  

It was still raining as we went to the chemist to drop in his scripts, and left then to grab our groceries, before returning to pick up the dispensed tablets. I also called into Shiploads to grab a two metre re-charge cord for my tablet as the old one decided to be a tricky connection and my tablet was almost flat. 

A lot of the people who had been staying in the caravan park have left now so it is reasonably quiet, and with the continuous rain it is getting colder. I may even have to break out the thermals if this continues. 

We are having a quiet afternoon, and reef and beef for tea this evening. I have enjoyed my reading while Russ has been snoring. 

Tomorrow we will evaluate the weather and what other places we would like to see around this area. It maybe that we will go into Glenorchy to Big W and get some more of our coffee which is not available anywhere else, and the Big Ws are all around Hobart. We also need to find a Coles store for Russ to get some more fruit cake, as the one he bought at Woolworths didn’t taste that great. 

Day 20 – Tuesday, 23 March 2021

It is supposed to rain later today, and we are a bit stiffer than we thought we would be after our adventures yesterday, so we are having a slow day. 

Heavy rain is forecast for tomorrow, as opposed to light rain today which hasn’t eventuated, and the sun has been shining. 

I finished all the washing before the rains arrive, have swept and washed the floors in the van, cleaned the shower recess and ensuite and the rest of the day will be taken up with writing the diary and picking the best photos. 

Day 19 – Monday, 22 March 2021

Today we paid for our second week here in the New Norfolk Caravan Park.  

We decided it was going to be another lovely day so we drove a long trip down through Hobart and the Huon Valley and went to Ida Bay. The Historic Train Ride is not open so we went further onto the gravel road to Mystery Creek Cave Walk. This is an old mining area and you can find relics of the past as you walk the track. 

We were incredibly lucky to see not one, but two, lyre birds. We heard many lyre bird calls as we enjoyed the walk. None of the shots Russ got turned out as they were deep in the bushland. 

Mystery Creek Cave Walk was supposed to be a Grade 2 track (which it was up to a point) but the last part to get to the cave was Grade 4. We clambered down the rocks so far before turning back. We had to take our time after putting cameras away into backpacks, as two hands were required to negotiate large rocks with twists and turns. The entire walk is 4.2 kilometres, but I swear it felt a lot longer than that. 

One of the lyre birds we saw flew across the road in front of us a s we were leaving. It was much too quick for the camera. 

We will NEVER AGAIN go via the Collinvale roads. It was narrow, winding along mountainsides and very scary. Russ loved it. We later found out that the road is closed for Rally Car races. 

We will return to the Huon Valley later in the week to do the Duckhole Lake Walk (4ks) and Russ will get some fresh Tasmanian apples. 

Day 18 – Sunday, 21 March 2021

We rang Mum first thing this morning to wish her a Happy Birthday but she was not answering her phone so we will ring her again this evening. 

I took the opportunity to do a load of washing as the day is going to be sunny and 24 degrees. I also washed my hair and Russ made a list of things he wanted to pick up at Bunnings before we went to Runnymede House for our organised and guided tour. 

We used that Google Maps app on the phone to navigate our way to both Bunnings and Runnymede. It didn’t take us as long as we supposed to finish at Bunnings and arrive early at Runnymede so we took the opportunity of walking around the garden areas and taking photos until it was time to ring the bell at the front entrance. 

Our tour guide was Steve, and he has been a volunteer and guide with the National Trust for about six months. He had a lot of studying to do as there is a wealth of history associated with the house and the families who lived there. 

Runnymede has been owned by three families since it was built in 1840 by Robert and Dorothea Pitcairn. 

It was built on five acres of land that sloped down to the shores of New Town Bay, and was laid out with extensive gardens.  

Robert Pitcairn was a prominent lawyer who did much to bring about the cessation of convict transportation and form responsible government in Van Dieman’s Land. He relaxed from the pressures of his busy public life in the secluded grounds of his holiday villa. 

The Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, Francis Nixon, his wife Anna Maria and their children lived on the estate between 1850 and 1862. 

The layout of the gardens remained as it was laid out by the Pitcairns, but Anna Maria was a keen gardener who planted a large number of trees and shrubs. 

When the estate was sold in 1864 the garden was described as being “in the highest state of cultivation, laid down in lawn, fruit, flower and vegetable garden……subdivided by hedges.” 

The estate was then bought by master mariner Captain Charles Bayley, and his wife Eliza. It was named Runnymede after the ship which was the flagship of the whaling fleet. 

Runnymede remained in the family and with their descendants until 1965 when the last surviving member, a spinster, arranged the sale to the State Government who leased the property to the National Trust. 

Much of the surrounding land was sold off piecemeal in time of need so that only the house and main flower gardens still remain. 

During the early part of the 20th Century much of the New Town Bay was reclaimed and is now heavily built up with homes and recreation facilities. Runnymede is close to the Botanic Gardens. 

The National Trust has been able to find artifacts of the same age as the house so that as you pass from one room to another you can see much of how it would have been furnished during its earlier lifetime. 

I didn’t take the GPS off my camera so most of my photos taken inside had inadequate lighting and haven’t turned out. Thankfully, Russ removed the telephoto lens from his camera and added the flash gun to the top so his photos have done well. 

The day remained cool and sunny and we reached 24 degrees. We have been very lucky with good weather so can’t complain that rain is supposed to be coming later in the week. 

We finally got through to Mum and wished her Happy Birthday. She had a busy day taking phone calls, and has advised us that none of the letters of the diary have arrived as yet. 

Day 17 – Saturday, 20 March 2021

In view of the watching of footy last night we had a late start this morning. By the time we were organised and packed we had decided to go back to do the Twisted Sister Walk, Russell Falls and Tall Trees on the way home. Twisted Sister is 21 kilometres beyond Maydena. 

The local market is being held in the closed off main street today, so we have filed that away for next week. 

While waiting for Russ to have his shower I arranged for all my tablets in the holder for the week and realised I needed to go to the chemist for two of them. I haven’t seen a Chemist Warehouse anywhere in Tasmania so far so we picked the Guardian Chemist in the main street. They were all very lovely and I had my scripts filled in no time. The chemist had to ask to see my Concession Card as the doctor in Ulverstone had put a wrong number on the scripts. 

I have to tell you a tale here about Russ keeping the windscreen clean for my photography. When we were travelling to Central Highland yesterday, I said there was a bit of dust on the windscreen, and he pulled the lever to get water, and nothing happened. It was decided to fill the screen water at our first stop for photographs, which is what we did. 

However, once we had started on our way again Russ pulled the lever, and nothing happened. It was then he realised he had been putting the lights on high beam and the windscreen wiper switch was on the other side of the steering wheel. We still haven’t stopped laughing about it. It’s almost like when he fills the vehicle with fuel and drives away leaving the fuel tank area door wide open. 

We have now eaten brambleberries and blackberries. Same thing but one is wild and the other cultivated. Lots of blackberry brambles along the roads all over the place but they are very bitter so not worth picking. 

We have passed many a murder of crows along the roadsides while travelling. The paddy melons and possums seem to get the worst of the traffic, but occasionally we see a dead kangaroo. They are all very smelly however, as you would expect. Other kinds of birds have been seen very little, a couple of eagles, some falcons, some fairy wrens and other small ones. None of them have been kind enough to stay in one place to be photographed. 

We arrived at the Twisted Sister track and kitted up with our backpacks and cameras. It was shortly after we had started down into the rainforest that Russ had his accident. He stepped over a fallen tree, caught his foot and went down heavily. We had just spoken to some people going the other way on the track and they held equipment while I checked him out on the ground. He was very lucky! 

There was a root sticking out of the ground and it swiped him as he fell instead of puncturing his side. In fact, it barely broke the skin but has left a bruise. He has broken skin on his elbow and hand, and a spot or two on his right knee. We do travel with a First Aid Kit so I was able to clean his wounds and put a bandage around his elbow area, and cross bandaids on his hand. 

We thanked the people for their assistance, and they continued on their way. Russ was badly shaken up but thinks he got out of it much better than he could have expected.  

We slowly continued on our walk as the Twisted Sister track is a twenty-minute loop of 1.5 kilometres. The fungi were amazing, and the fresh air was wonderful. The Twisted Sister is a tree whose trunk has twisted while growing and the results are stupendous. The tree and the wild area still surrounding it are because of the tireless efforts of different groups who banded together and co-ordinated Tasmania’s longest running blockade of the site and maintained it continuously for an extraordinary six and a half years. The tree is so tall you can hardly get it all in the one photo. 

As Russ was rather shaken from his big trip, we had our lunch when we got back to the car and then headed back to New Norfolk. Both Russell Falls and Tall Trees are in the same area of Mt Field National Park so we may go back and do them later. 

We got some groceries at Woolworths, including some more copy paper so we don’t run out when printing the Diary for Mum and Trish, and then filled up with fuel. Russ worked it out that we got 8.3 litres per 100 kilometres during our latest bout of travels. 

When we got back to the van we took off the bandages and re-washed all the areas before applying antiseptic cream. Russ had to open the abrasion on his hand in order to clean it properly. He is going to be stiff and sore tomorrow so it is lucky we are only doing a small bit of walking at Runnymede House, and then he can take it easy.