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.