Monthly Archives: May 2021

Day 88 – Sunday, 30 May 2021

Today is Alyshia’s birthday. Many happy returns. 

It was again very nippy this morning when we woke up, with the sun shining brightly. 

Last night I washed the towels and clothes, and this morning I stripped the sheets, doona and pillowcases from the bed. When the doona was washed, I took all the wash load (Russ carried it up the hill to the clothesline) and pegged them out. 

We then loaded our lunches and cameras and headed up the C843 road to Anson’s Bay, which is the top end of the Bay of Fires (so called because the rocks are coloured red/yellow). Much of this road was gravel but in reasonable condition with only a few sections of corrugations.  

The scenery was beautiful, and especially worth a mention was Bottleneck Ford. It was so serene today and that description really doesn’t do it justice. 

We arrived at Anson’s Bay and had a bit of a drive around. If you think of an obtuse triangle you will begin to understand the shape of the bay area, which only has one break in the coastline to provide access to the sea. The rips outside the bay appear to be ferocious. 

Time has stood still at Anson’s Bay, which is a small fishing village that hasn’t changed much since the 1940s. Temporary fibro houses are still standing with tinnies waiting to be pushed off in search of fish, and the quiet and sleepy holiday ambience makes it one of the wonderful secrets known only to locals and a select group of anglers. Having said all of that I wouldn’t like to live there. It is isolated and the stacks of wood beside the houses are huge! 

On 5 March 1788 Lt Henry Lidgbird Ball, whilst exploring the east coast of Tasmania, named the bay after George Anson, a British admiral fondly remembered as a great explorer, and who had been the first Lord of the Admiralty from1751 until his death in 1761. 

The first European to sight the area, however, was Captain Tobias Furneaux who, in 1772 when he was captain of the HMS Adventure and whilst accompanying Captain James Cook on his second voyage to the South Seas, was separated from the rest of the fleet and explored much of the eastern coast of Van Diemen’s Land. 

European settlers moved into the area in the 1830s and the dominant industry was logging. You can see the results of this as you travel along the road to Anson’s Bay, as the trees are more like open heathland than heavily forested areas. The stumps are also visible through the trees. 

As recently as 1913 the first motor car arrived in the district, driven by Dr Anderson, and in the same year a simple type of post office was opened. 

We then travelled to Policeman’s Point where we had lunch. This place is just to the southeast of Anson’s Bay and a popular camping area from the look of things. Very scenic. We took a stroll along the beach area and tried to take some shots that would indicate the beauty and wildness of the area where Anson Bay meets the ocean. 

After lunch we headed back along the road we had already travelled until we came to Kennel Hill Road (C850). This gravel track (it doesn’t deserve to be called a road) was narrow, winding and corrugated with big potholes and on par with most Victorian gravel 4WD roads. 

It brought us out at The Gardens, a seaside township halfway along the actual bay of the Bay of Fires. Apparently, it has some of the best vistas of the Bay of Fires but there are many houses built along the top of the dunes that restrict access to the views. 

It was named by Lady Jane Franklin, wife of the governor of Tasmania in the early 1800s, due to the abundance of wildflowers in the area. If you are very lucky when you are there you may spot a pod of dolphins or a humpback whale. It was not our lucky day, but the view with the wave action was terrific. 

We also called in and had a look at both north and south Cozy Corner camping areas, where we earlier contemplated staying for two days, and we both agree we are better off at St Helen’s. 

When we got back to the van the washing was dry, has now been folded and put away. The last load has been washed and is now in the dryer – $4 for 30 minutes, seems a bit expensive to me but beggars can’t be choosers. 

I forget to mention this little story yesterday. When we began our journey along the A3, I took my phone and brought up the mapping app on Google Maps and placed it on the magnetic holder (remember this bit) for Russ to be able to see where any possible roadworks would occur.  

We had been travelling for quite some time and taking a lot of interest in the Derby and Weldborough townships, and also Moorina where the Tin Dragon Discovery Trail starts. Also there was a congregation of mountain bike riders who had invaded Weldborough. Mountain bike riding in this area is BIG. Even St Helen’s has an internationally rated mountain bike trail and gets lots of visitors for this reason.  

The mountain bike trail from Weldborough takes all the C roads through the mountains and makes a loop around Moorina, Derby and Branxholm back to Weldborough. Or for the more adventurous they can bike on the C roads all the way to the Bay of Fires. There were heaps of them getting ready as we went through.  

While we were navigating our way along the twisty mountain highway, we talked about the possibility of taking an alternate route with the caravan. I said I would look it up and couldn’t find my phone anywhere. I knew I had carried it from the caravan to the car and checked under my seat and down the sides as it usually sits beside my right leg. Russ said to ring myself from his phone which I proceeded to do. We heard the chime while it was ringing but couldn’t find a direction to look. 

I said it is definitely in the car so I will look for it when we stop. It was another fifteen minutes or so when I looked to see what the road ahead looked like and then dug Russ in the ribs and pointed – yes, to my phone doing its job of navigating us. 

Day 87 – Saturday, 29 May 2021

It was another very cold morning today when we woke up. The heater worked just fine and we were feeling toasty while we had our breakfast and showers. 

We headed out along the A3 Tasman Highway with the idea of going to Branxholm and then onto the 4WD track with a few stops to see some more waterfalls. To get to this point of the journey we had to wend our way along narrow and very winding roads with lots of sign warning how slippery it gets when frosty or wet. And it was very frosty. The areas still in shadow looked like they had been snowed upon. 

This was the road we were supposed to take when leaving St Helen’s with the van to get to Scottsdale before turning north to Bridport. This decision is now immediately under review – there has to be a better way. The scenery was awesome though. 

The first road we detoured onto brought us to Legerwood and we stopped to take photos of the memorial carvings which were magnificent. The trees were planted on 15 October 1918 to honour the fallen heroes from around Legerwood who gave their lives in World War 1. They were chainsaw carved by Eddie Freeman in December 2004. 

The first carving depicts a bugler at Lone Pine with the cross and flag. 

The second carving depicts Lance Corporal John Risely who was born on 8 September 1881. He was a member of the 47th Infantry. He was in a fatigue party who were burning rubbish in a shell hole to keep warm, which was on top of an unexploded bomb. The heat from the fire exploded and he was seriously wounded. It instantly killed another member of the fatigue party named Blackmore. John died of his wounds on 13 April 1917. 

John was thought to have been working at the local sawmill before his call to arms. He left behind a wife, Alice May (nee McNally). 

The next carving depicts Private George Peddle who was a member of the 40th Battlion and was born on 4 April 1892. He was killed in action on 13 October 1917. His final resting place is unknown due to conflicting reports. 

One version says he was killed by a sniper bullet at Passendale in Belgium, and his body was never recovered, while another report says he is buried with a cross erected in his memory in a Ploegsteert, Belgium cemetery. This town is approximately 2 kilometres north of the French border. 

Next comes Private John Henry McDougall who was born in Scottsdale on 28 September 1897. He was a member of the 40th Battalion. John was killed in action on 13 October 1917 at Passendale aged 20 and had enlisted at Ringarooma. He worked as a railway porter at the Legerwood Railway Station. Many of his relatives still live in the area. He was the son of Archibald and Elizabeth. 

Then we have Private Robert James Jenkins from the 12th Battalion Australian Infantry who was born in 1889. He died of wounds on 7 January 1917 in France aged 28. 

Robert was a native of Chacewater in Cornwall, England, and came to Australia with his two brothers when he was 21 years old. He was known as a great singer (tenor) and was in much demand at local halls. 

He married Amy Francis (nee Forsyth) and nicknamed Trippy. She never remarried but for the rest of her life she kept her engagement ring in a box beside his photo on her dressing table. She was a great help to a lot of people in the community during her life and died on 5 June 1968 aged 76. The carving depicts Robert’s beloved Trippy and many other facets of life in the trenches. 

Next was Private William Henry Hyde who was in the 52nd Battalion Australian Infantry who was born on 1 May 1889. He died of wounds on 7 July 1916 at Armentieres in France aged 27. 

William was born in Longford, Tasmania and was the son of Henry and Mary of Franklin Village in Tasmania. He was employed by the local sawmill. Upon receipt of his death on 28 July 1916 the Union Jack was flown at half mast and the mill ceased work for the remainder of the day. 

Private Thomas Edward Edwards was born on 9 September 1883. He was killed in action on 19 February 1918 in Belgium aged 35. He enlisted at Ringarooma. 

Thomas was married to Florence Pathina (nee Down) in 1908. Florence and her sister Alice McDonald did a lot of catering and worked hard all their lives. In 1921 Florence remarried to George Henry McDonald, the brother of her sister Alice’s husband. 

George, whose nickname was Tas, was with Thomas when he was shot and Thomas asked Tas to look after his wife. Photos of Thomas were always on display at their home.  

On 11 June 1918 the North East Advertiser reported that five former employees of the sawmill had been killed. 

Last, but not least, comes Private Alan Robert Andrews of the 12th Battalion who was born on 9 May 1897. He was killed in action on 25 July 1916 at Pozieres Ridge in France aged 19 years. 

He was the son of Joseph and Anna Jane, and was another person who worked at the local sawmill. He was the first soldier born and raised in Ringarooma to give his life in World War 1. In the carving he is waving his hat and is accompanied by his faithful dog. 

We moved onto Ringarooma and from there onto the C423 which went to Mathinna. This road is partly 4WD gravel but does not have the many twists and turns of the A3. The gravel surface was terrific and we contemplated taking it with the van but unfortunately, it is also wet and slippery so that knocked that one out of consideration. 

Although the temperature hovered around 8 degrees when we left St Helen’s it had dropped significantly when we were in the mountain passes. At 12:30pm  the temperature was 4 degrees and the water lying in the ditches at the side of the road were iced over. I even put a heavy rock on a patch of ice and it didn’t break the surface. The frosts in the shadowed areas of the mountains made it look like it had snowed. 

We travelled a total of 211 kilometres and reached a height of 823 metres above sea level. 

We hurried back to watch/listen to the footy game. The Pies were playing Geelong and for most of the first three quarters they were absolutely woeful and couldn’t kick a goal to save themselves. The last time the Cats had the Pies goalless at half time was in 1896! The last time they endured a goalless first half at the MCG was in 2005.They came back somewhat in the last quarter and Brody Grundy was injured and the medical substitute was called onto the ground. It’s going to be a ,looong season. 

Day 86 – Friday, May 28 2021

The sun was shining brightly this morning when the alarm went off at 8:30am. The temperature, however, was another matter entirely registering 4.3 degrees with a feels-like temp of minus 2.2 degrees. Very nippy indeed. 

We were packed up and leaving the Bicheno caravan park at 10:15am. It was a slower drive than usual due to the narrow and winding road – mostly on a good surface – and with many interruptions for roadworks. We reckon that at least 5 kilometres of the journey was through roadworks at a speed of 40 kilometres per hour. 

St Helen’s Caravan Park is a Big4 and is really quite big and well set out. The joint would be hopping during summer. One of the locals the other day estimated that the area along this part of the east coast would swell by 14,000 people during Easter and Christmas, and there are many major trail bike events held around here also. 

St Helen’s itself is one of the larger business areas along the coast although it doesn’t have a Coles or Woolworths, only the IGA. It sits on Georges Bay. It is the largest town on the north east coast and Tasmania’s second largest fishing port and is known as the game fishing capital of Tasmania. It caters for everyone from deep sea fishing to rock lobster, two sorts of tuna, oysters and abalone. It is also the gateway to the Bay of Fires. 

Day 85 – Thursday, 27 May 2021

What a magnificent day. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and a gentle breeze is blowing. However, it didn’t last very long before the temperature plummeted and it got very cold, the sky was overcast and grey. 

We printed out the diary and posted it off from Bicheno. Only two more excerpts to go, and the last one will be printed at Lake Learmonth the morning we get back into Victoria off the ferry. 

I took all the mats out for a good shaking and swept the floor – again! It keeps getting tiny pebbles from outside. They catch in our shoes and don’t come out when we wipe our feet, so we end up bringing them inside. 

I also took the opportunity of checking all the buttons on the cupboards. Some of them needed tightening as they come loose from the road vibrations. 

Our afternoon was fairly quiet and we attended to all the items that needed checking before we head off again tomorrow. 

The diesel heater is still working, fingers crossed, although it blows out an enormous amount of smoke when first starting. Russ says it is in need of a really good service and this will happen when we are back in Victoria. 

Janelle (Trish, Janelle is our niece and Russ is her godfather) rang tonight and talked with Russ for a good catchup of all things happening. We hope to meet with her when we are attending my specialist appointment in Melbourne, Covid 19 allowing this we hope. The phone call lasted 2 hours and 16 minutes and there was a lot of chatter and laughter. I did the dishes and chuckled. 

Day 84 – Wednesday, 26 May 2021

We travelled a total of 170 kilometres today. 

 I went to sleep at the normal time of 10:30pm and slept until 12:30am when I woke up completely and was unable to go back to sleep. I made a cup of hot chocolate when Russ got up to use the bathroom, and he went back to bed and back to sleep straight away, and snored. 

I read until 3:30am and decided I might be able to go back to sleep, which did happen, thank goodness. 

We breakfasted while the washing was done, two loads, and I hung them out on the clothesline while Russ had his shower. 

We finally headed out for the day about 10:30am and headed to the Douglas Apsley National Park. We took a lovely stroll through the bush along the Waterhole Loop Track, and took a lot of photos. 

Then we headed north to St Helens to check out the caravan park we are going to on Friday. It will be an interesting drive as there are major sets of roadworks along the way. 

We had lunch at Diana’s Beach and then walked down onto the shore to take photos of the surf. We had a wonderful chat with one of the locals who was playing fetch with Stella, his dog. He was very angry that some people had come into the conservation area and lit a fire on the beach, and instead of taking their bottles and cans away with them they had buried them under the coals of the fire. This meant that the heat actually broke the bottles and there was glass all through the area where the local let their dogs off the leach. 

We then continued further south back towards Bicheno and stopped at Mariposa Beach. Here we not only got action shots of the tremendous surf and waves, but were able to get photographs of the surfers trying to catch a wave. 

We passed a beautiful two storey Georgian-style house that could have been plucked from a Jane Austin novel and further investigation provided us with a name, Enstone Park. The building was constructed in 1860 and is perched on the outskirts of Falmouth. Apparently it has been purchased by a man who intends to restore both Enstone Park and the neighbouring property, Glencoe, to their previous glory and open them as accommodation units with some land set aside for caravans. 

The buildings are close to a lagoon and part of the drawcard for tourists will be the local birdlife. The farm at Glencoe is also in the process of converting its 3,000 head sheep flock back to merinos. 

Enstone Park was built be J Steel in 1867 for the sum of 1,740 pounds. It was completed in 1868. The Launceston Examiner wrote, ‘On a gentle slope about half a mile from the sea stands the mansion known as Thompson Villa. The exterior of the building produces a highly picturesque and pleasing effect [It is built from yellow sandstone]. The principal rooms open onto a wide veranda, which is decidedly ornamental. The entrance hall is divided by Corinthian fluted columns, with pilasters and Corinthinian cornice, well lighted by a beautiful ornamental stained glass window, recognised as the handiwork of our enterprising fellow colonists, Messrs Ferguson, Urie and Lyon of North Melbourne’. 

It was named Enstone Park after World War 1 by LJ Steel who lived in the house until his death at the age of 102 in 1968. We didn’t get to see any of this inside beauty but the house itself looks classical and lovely. 

It has been another beautiful autumn day and the temperature peaked at 18 degrees. By the time we made it back to the van the clothes on the line were dry and I was able to remove them, fold them, and they were put away. 

Day 83 – Tuesday, 25 May 2021

It rained here overnight and was very overcast, grey and windy this morning. Surprisingly, I slept like a log and have only had to blow my nose a few times throughout the day. At least it has stopped leaking like a faulty faucet.  

We had a very lazy morning, then had lunch before heading into town. We had both cassettes to empty first off at the Dump Point, and after that we travelled to the Blowhole at the end of the Esplanade. 

Surprise! Surprise! It actually was a blowhole, and the tide was incoming, so along with the wild weather we were witnesses to some awesome scenes. 

We then did the grocery shopping, went to the Pharmacy for scripts and tablets. I also checked out the Surf Shop which has some beautiful stuff. I didn’t buy myself a single thing, but thoroughly enjoyed looking. 

Whilst we were strolling along the footpath we came across the Historic Society and a lovely sculpture of an indigenous woman. Her story is absolutely fascinating. Whalers and sealers settled in what would become Bicheno in the early 1800s. Originally the settlement was called Waubs Harbour after Wauba Debar. 

Wauba was an Aboriginal woman who had been kidnapped as a teenage to become the wife of a sealer. This was quite a common practice in those days, and slacery was still legal in Britain, and the girls were often taken as much for their hunting and fishing skills as for the fact that they could share a man’s bed. 

Wauba was a strong swimmer, and when her husband and another sealer were shipwrecked during a storm, she swam out to the spot about one kilometre off shore and rescued them. 

She died at sea in 1832, aged 40, during a raid on their campsite and was kidnapped once again but did not survive the ordeal, and in an act that was very unusual for the time, in 1855 some local settlers raised funds to put a headstone on her grave. 

Her remains are actually no longer here as her body, without the knowledge or consultation with her indigenous people or the Bicheno community, was exhumed in 1893 and sent to the Museum of Tasmania, a practice that was common in that period of time, as they were determined to have the remains as an exhibit. 

Wauba Debar’s remains were returned to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community in the 1990s and they were cremated. Her gravestone in Bicheno and her memory are still being tended to by the community in Bicheno today. Her memorial and empty grave remind us of the atrocities that were part of the European invasion. 

The sun came out shortly after we returned to the van, and Russ had his SCAN.  The surf is still very loud as it comes into the bay.  

We now have a man in a tent, with his golden retriever, camping in the tent area, and unfortunately, a whizz bang arrived and is parked behind our van for the night. 

Day 82 – Monday, 24 May 2021

I woke up at 4:00am this morning and sneezed silently five times, got up and took a pain killer then dozed until the alarm went off at 8:30am. The nose was running freely, and I took a Zyrtec in the hopes that it was a bout of hay fever, and the tablet would help with the nose. However, it did for only a short time so I may have picked up a head cold. I have no idea where and am not feeling too bad as yet. I spent the rest of the day with the tissues close at hand and sneezing intermittently. 

I was feeling so miserable by the time we were on the way back to the van that we rang ahead for takeout and picked up two bowls of seafood chowder at the Pondering Frog as we went past. Lester was still in fine form and asked how our adventures were coming along. 

The day was fine, and it was 15 degrees when we left the van this morning. We travelled 259 kilometres around the countryside and went from 7 metres above sea level to 717 metres as we travelled through the Elephant Pass, which is 27 kilometres north of Bicheno. The temperature dropped down to 9 degrees when we were at the heights. Thanks heavens we don’t have to travel the Elephant Pass to get to St Helen’s. It is a torturous and narrow winding road without any chance of it being made better because it is carved out of the rocky mountainside. 

We had made plans from our tourist maps to see several waterfalls in the area along with some 4WD tracks. It was a very frustrating time as several of the tracks were closed, or in such horrible condition that we turned around and left them alone. 

We came through the little village of Royal George which had once been a minor mining site but interesting as it was on the Old Coach Road, a gravel road through the hills. At either end of the section through the hills there’s a sign stating, ‘Built by convicts, re-opened by residents 1959’. 

In 1845 Charles Meridith, husband of Louise Meridith, moved his family from Swansea to Port Sorell and took this route which was then described as a bridle path. In his wife’s 1852 recount of her time in Tasmania (“My Home in Tasmania”, still in print) she noted the presence of a probation station along the way. There is, however, no actual record of any convict work actually being done on the road, and apparently the probation station mentioned in her book is described as abandoned before it was occupied. There was a convict outpost at Avoca and a sub-post at Fingal but no record of them working out past Mt Henry on this road. 

The town has a population of 28 people and is on the St Paul’s River. The village and mine were named after the Royal Navy vessel HMS Royal George, which was under the command of Captain Robert Hepburn during the Napoleonic Wars, and the captain settled nearby at Roy’s Hill in 1828. The scenery along the way was marvellous. 

Once we reached the highway at Cranbrook, we turned towards Rawlinna on the B34 road. We didn’t get to Rawlinna as our objective was to see Meetus Falls on a 4WD track which turned off before the township itself. This road was in fairly good condition, much like other 4WD tracks we have taking before today. 

However, the track takes a turn off the main 4WD area to get to the falls themselves, and this track was full of potholes brimming with water. It was a very uncomfortable and slow journey to the carpark. 

The track to the falls was a Grade 3 walk, but we didn’t find that out until we were well on the way home. Both of us handled it pretty well, and we commented that we could not have handled it when we first arrived in Tasmania all those weeks ago. It was very rocky with steep ascent/descent sections, but the view at the end was worthwhile.  

The Meetus Falls is a 35-metre cascade from Lake Leake to the Cygnet River. It had quite a volume of water pouring over the edge considering that it is autumn and there has been no significant rainfall in the area for a while. 

I was glad to make it back and have a cuppa before Russ had his SCAN. The seafood chowder was every bit as good as it had been two days ago. 

Day 81 – Sunday, 23 May 2021

We had intended to do the historic walk around Bicheno today, but Russ woke up with a migraine, had his breakfast, took some more medication, and went back to sleep for a while to see if he could get rid of it. 

It is another beautiful day with the temperature getting to 19 degrees. The breeze is mild but nippy. 

I hung the washing out on the line first thing this morning as I had washed the towels and clothes last night. I had a lazy day reading until the Pies game started at 3:40pm after cutting the steak for the casserole and turning on the slow cooker. 

The Pies put up a gutsy effort for a change and went down to Port Adelaide by a point. Apparently, Eddie Maguire was hosting a group of Americans who had come to watch the game, and the match was terrific so they shouldn’t have gone away too disappointed with the spectacle of Aussie Rules Football. 

All the clothes had dried on the line except for the mat, and the casserole was tasty and tender to eat. Neither Russ nor I are enjoying Tasmanian potatoes and are looking forward to some real tatties when we get back to Victoria. 

Did I mention previously that there are no emus in Tasmania? I have meant to do so on several occasions but then forgot. The early settlers hunted them to extinction as a meat product. 

The Caravan Park has been very quiet for the last couple of days, and we are the only van on site. 

Day 80 – Saturday, 22 May 2021

We went out to explore all the beaches and Conservations Areas for today’s excursion. We went as far south as the Mayfield Bay Conservation Area which is past Swansea. It was a beautiful sunny day with the temperature reaching 19 degrees, The Weather Gods have been very kind to us for most of this trip, and we won’t complain about the couple of insipid days we had. 

Cressy Beach is just around the corner from Webber Point, on the southern side, south of Swansea. It is about 500 metres long and is part of the Cressy Beach Coastal Reserve. Vehicle access is off the A3 Tasman Highway and it has a picnic area at the south end of the beach itself. It receives waves up to a metre in height, and usually has two rips flowing across the sand bar. It is an unpatrolled beach, so swimmers are on their own if they get into trouble. As you round the bend in the walking track you can hear the surf as it thunders onto the beach. It is a very pretty area. We didn’t get to see any of the migrating whales which are often sighted along this beach, but we have been told it is very early in the migration season. As you look out across the water you can see the outline of Freycinet National Park. 

Our next stop was Spiky Beach Conservation Area, and it is another Tassie gem with pristine sand and bright blue water, although the surf is not as loud as we heard at Cressy. There were no whales passing by here either, but the landscape is stunning. The beach is part of the Great Oyster Bay area. 

Just a tad down the road we come to Spiky Bridge. It’s another convict bridge, but it is really cool. The top of the bridge walls has the rocks pointing upwards, hence its name. The sides of the walls are very low. Apparently, there is no actual history of why the rocks point sharply to the sky, but some of the theories are that it is set in the lime mortar to strengthen it, or at was made spiky to keep the cattle from falling over the sides, or another has it that it is an idiosyncrasy of the surveyor and civil engineer, Laferelle, who was the Assistant Superintendent at Rocky Hills Probation Station. 

It was built by convicts in 1843 and it abruptly pops out of the landscape as you approach it, and unless you stop to investigate, it just baffles the passers-by with its odd design. The bridge is no longer in use and there is a car park on the roadside for everyone who wants a closer inspection. 

It was made from field stones laid without mortar or cement except for the actual top of the railings. There are also remains of the governor’s cottage on the hill overlooking the bridge, but we couldn’t see anything. 

The bridge was built to connect two small, but burgeoning districts, Swansea and Little Swanport. Workers were not in abundant supply in the area until the Rocky Hills Probation Station was constructed in 1841. 

The construction of the bridge was approved after a local man, Edward Shaw, gave the prison superintendent, Major de Gillern, a ride home over the barely kept road, apparently at some speed which made for an extremely uncomfortable ride, and prompted the initiation of building of the crude bridge. It was constructed with little but a small stone arch at the bottom to allow water to pass beneath it. 

Our last stop was at the Mayfield Bay Conservation Area, which is a free camping spot and has thunder boxes and a picnic area. It is first come who gets the spots available, and when we arrived, we were amazed at how many people were making use of the area. Campers can stay for up to four weeks before they have to move on. 

A thin row of vegetation separates the campground from the long sandy beach area, and the crashing of the waves on the beach is very relaxing. This beach is another that runs along Great Oyster Bay and has a large population of black swans, although we didn’t see them there. 

We took the short stroll along the walking track to find another hidden gem, Three Arch Bridge on Old Man’s Creek, upon which the new highway has been built over the top. 

This is another convict bridge, built in 1845, and hidden from the highway itself. It shows the workmanship of the convict labourers which is seen in so many of the bridges in Tasmania.  

During the probation station period a vegetable garden was established up Old Man’s Creek, and Mayfield was the site of a brick making works. The red bricks were used in the construction of the station buildings and both road and bridge construction. For a long time, Mayfield Beach was known as Brickmaker’s Beach. 

The Mayfield Bay Conservation Area encompasses 26.4 hectares, approximately 5 kilometres of coastline from the Mayfield Jetty to Freeman’s Beach in the north. 

When we finished the beaches, we turned around and headed back towards Bicheno (pronounced Bitch-en-o by the locals who say the way to remember it is the bitch you know, or the bitch you don’t know) and stopped for lunch at The Pondering Frog Café. 

Russ and I both ordered the seafood chowder and garlic bread on the side, and the bowl was so big and full that I began top wonder if I could finish it all. I soldiered on and did so, lol. The chowder was thick and creamy, full of pieces of fish, small strips of calamari, scallops, mussels, corn, peppers and potatoes – yummo! 

We finished off the meal with ice-cream, as it is also an ice-creamery. I had the passionfruit ice-cream in a cup and Russ had the mixed berries in a cone. They were very tasty. 

Our host was Lester who is a very proud Tasmanian and a font of information about the area. He kept producing tourist maps of the local areas and circling the walks, waterfalls and other item of scenic interest. It didn’t take him long to realise we were not the least bit interested in the wineries so ventured onto other delights we could explore. 

We bought a small bottle of Blueberry Fortified Wine, much like a liqueur, and we had a taste of the black current one, but it was only available in a big bottle. He had the most amazing collection of frogs I have ever seen. Unfortunately, they were made in China, so I gave them a miss. 

The ride back to Bicheno was far too short as I was still eating my ice cream while Russ drove. By the time we made it back the temperature was already starting to fall. It is not as cold as last night, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it got very nippy in the morning. And, just to confuse all of us, the heater worked when Russ turned it on last night. Not sure how long it will continue this time so we shall see. 

Day 79 – Friday, 21 May 2021

We set the alarm to get up with the sparrows. Well, not really, but it sounded good. 

The alarm went off at 8:00am. Russ says there was a very annoying whizz-bang making an awful racket until after 11:00pm last night, but I heard nothing. 

He also said that I twitched for a good part of the night, and I know nothing about that either. I thought I had a good night’s sleep. 

To add insult to injury he says that when I finished twitching, he started. So, obviously, he didn’t get a good night’s sleep at all. 

We left Triabunna at 9:35 am and arrived at Bicheno at 11:15am. There were a couple of interesting moments along the way, especially the narrowness of the road where roadworks were set up with lots of equipment and barriers. 

The Seaview Holiday Park in Bicheno covers several terraces and has a good view of the sea and the bay. It only has room for eight vans in powered and water sites, a larger area for tenting and lots of cabins and backpacker accommodation. The driveways, however, need quite a bit of attention. They are gravel with a lot of wash out and corrugations, which made for some Kodak moments while Russ was reversing down the hill to our site. 

Once we had set up the van, we had lunch. Breakfast was but a memory from the tight concentration during the drive, but I didn’t need to reach for my non-existent brake pedal. 

I did two loads of washing and got them out on the clothesline, which is just a hop, skip and jump out the back from our site. We posted the letters of the diary excerpts in Bicheno and grabbed some groceries while we were at it. The apples that Russ got are very big and look delicious. 

Bicheno looks like an interesting town with some history from colonial days. There is also a walking trail which we will do later on.  

Bicheno was named after ‘James Ebenezer Bicheno’ who was born in County Berkshire in England in 1785. In 1843, he was sent out to Van Diemen’s Land to take up the position of Colonial Secretary. 

The first permanent white settlement in the area was made at Apsley (now Apslawn and is a colonial bed and breakfast just before Bicheno) in 1826, by William Lyne and his family. 

Before this, sealers and whalers frequented the area. At times during the 1830s and 1840s, up to four whaling stations operated at the ‘Fisheries’, which is now Waub’s Harbour. Ships were bringing in goods for the farmers and whalers and exporting their produce. Whaling was limited to the winter months during migration periods. 

It was the discovery of coal in the 1840s which led to a permanent settlement at Bicheno. The Douglas River Coal Company shipped coal through Waub’s Harbour. Government officials were brought into the area, and support industries were soon established. The mines were ultimately unsuccessful, and closed eventually in 1858, around the same time as the Convict Coal Mine near Port Arthur. 

In the late 19th century, the commercial potential of the fishing grounds off Bicheno began to be recognised, and by the 1930s the industry was well established. 

Bicheno in its early days was fairly isolated by poor roads, and at that time was not seen as a visitor destination. Travellers who wished to come up to this area had to rely on steamer service or rail and coach.  

In the period following WW2 the tourist industry started to take off on the East Coast, and it remains an important part of Bicheno’s economy today. 

The area has many holiday houses, and it appears that there is a fair amount of money in the community. There is also a lot of older people who have retired here by the look of the people we saw when we were down the street. They are all very friendly, as are most of the Tasmanian we have dealt with on our adventure. 

It will be interesting when we embark on our self-guided tour of the town early next week, and the weather forecast is for mid to high teens.